28 OCTOBER 2011

“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”

Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.

“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time.  Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep. For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”

– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.

“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago

I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails

are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s

Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”

– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”

– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

Stop Press: Laura Tingle on Tony Abbott

● Can You Bear It? The Age’s Agony Aunt Fully Engaged; The Sunday Age and Ray Cassin Support “Occupy Melbourne”

● A Deborah Cameron Moment : In Which Ms Cameron Rails Against “Filthy Business” and Lectures Grahame Morris

● A Lachie Harris Experience: A Never-ending Form Slump

● The Bolt Case: Justice Bromberg’s Incomprehensible Language

● Maurice Newman Segment: Everyone Agrees With Everyone Else on Poker Machines & (Good) Communist Vietnam

● Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Virginia Trioli Steps Up

● Robert Manne Wins Inaugural “Deliberate Mistake” Prize



In her “Canberra Observed” column today, the Australian Financial Review’s political editor Laura Tingle gets stuck into Tony Abbott.  Once again.  According to Ms Tingle, the Opposition leader’s policies amount to “complete schlock” and he is a “negative, opportunistic and hollow man” who speaks “nonsense” and presides over a “shambolic front bench”.  Apparently this is as considered and as reflective as the AFR’s political editor can be.

Ms Tingle’s column is replete with such phrases as “oh for goodness sake” and “oh, please” and there is a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail along a re-working of the “emperor with no clothes” cliché. There are only two sources cited – “a colleague” of the Opposition leader and “a Labor figure”.  At one point in her piece, La Tingle declares that “it is worth reading the whole quote” from Tony Abbott’s address to a rally organised by Clubs Australia.  But she just can’t help herself and inserts the following comment in the middle of the Abbott quote, in square brackets:

[We pause for a brief interlude while the Opposition Leader pauses at the beginning of a tumbling run, involving manoeuvres such as round-offs, whip-whips, punch fronts and backflips].

[Such interpretative skills are worth a Walkley. Surely.  Don’t you like Ms Tingle’s use of square brackets? – Ed].

MWD was most impressed with La Tingle’s call for a higher standard in the public debate:

Thus has Tony Abbott prospered until now instead of being called for the hollow man that he is, even in an age when it is apparently OK for others to advocate the drowning of the Prime Minister and for the television networks to broadcast the views of people who refer to her as a “lying scrag”.

Laura Tingle did not state who seriously advocated “the drowning of the Prime Minister” or who ever said it was okay for networks to broadcast the views of people who call Ms Gillard a “lying scrag”.

For the record, Ms Tingle said nothing when Alan Ramsey called Kevin Rudd – the former prime minister – a “prissy, precious prick” or when he referred to Julia Gillard as “Mrs String bag from a West Footscray by-election” and Natasha Stott-Despoja as a “beguiling clothes horse with minimum talent”.  Fancy that.


The Age’s Real Life Agony Aunt

There were lotsa news last weekend.  But the Saturday Age chose to give pride of place on its front page to a story titled “Andrew Bolt: His ‘secret’ fiancee tells” which was published in “Forum”.  Turn to Page 24  and there was a piece by Suzanne Walshe titled “Bolt from the past: a heartfelt history lesson to the man I loved”.

There followed some 700 words by Ms Walshe about an engagement she claims to have had with Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt – wait for it – a quarter of a century ago.  Ms Walshe said she still has “the engagement ring Andrew gave me” and declared that “she ended the relationship”. Can you bear it?

[By the way, in the olden days did not etiquette require that a female breaking off an engagement should return the engagement ring?  Perhaps The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra could give the matter Page One treatment tomorrow – Ed].

Ray Cassin’s Distaste for “Whiney” Business Owners

While on the topic of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, what about the treatment of the Occupy Melbourne demonstrators? – who occupied Melbourne’s City Square for around a week until broken up by the Victoria Police last Friday.

The demonstration adversely affected the medium to small businesses located near the City Square – many of whom might well buy, or advertise in, The Age.

Yet last weekend The Sunday Age supported the Occupy Melbourne demonstration – declaring that “grassroots demonstrations do not threaten civic life, but in many ways enhance it”.

Then last Monday The Age ran a column by Ray Cassin on the Opinion Page, in which “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”’s senior writer wrote this about Occupy Melbourne:

It didn’t block Swanston Street or Collins Street. Nor did it threaten anyone, though some cafe and bar owners complained that their business had suffered because of the new presence in the square. This complaint, if true, suggests that Melbourne’s vaunted cafe culture is not quite the pinnacle of urban sophistication it is sometimes claimed to be.

Ray Cassin, a life-long journalist who has never run a business, went on to bag the “whiney cafe proprietors” whose businesses are close to Melbourne’s City Square.  Can you bear it?



The ABC Metropolitan Radio 702’s “Green-Left-Daily” presenter Deborah Cameron was in top form yesterday in introducing her program at 8.30 am. Ms Cameron advised her listeners that the key topics of the day would involve (i) parking tickets wrongly issued, (ii) the colour of jacaranda trees and (iii) poker machine gambling.

Parking tickets are about parking. The colour of jacaranda trees involves a discussion about blue, purple, lilac and mauve.  However, reference to poker machines made it possible for Deborah Cameron to go into another rant about business. Let’s go to the transcript:

Deborah Cameron…Think about this poker machine debate, the mouthpieces that have been lined up, stacked audiences variously bought, cajoled, put up in this fight. Now it is filthy, startling at times, arguably unconscionable. But, hey, that’s business in this city.

So there you have it. According to the ABC 702 Mornings with Deborah Cameron presenter, business in Sydney is “filthy” and “arguably unconscionable”. Ms Cameron has never worked in business and these days collects her taxpayer funded salary when nice Mr Scott makes a payment into her bank account each month.

Also Deborah Cameron is a fully financial member of the Error Has No Rights Club in that she seems to believe that those with whom she does not agree should not be heard.  For example, DC cannot comprehend why anyone would disagree with her on gambling.  Consequently, to Ms Cameron those who are opposed to the Gillard Government’s proposal to further regulate gambling on poker machines do not believe what they claim to believe. Rather, they are “bought” or “cajoled” and have become mere “mouthpieces” for business interests.

This is a common view among contemporary leftists.  In her profile in the October 2011 issue of The Monthly on Andrew Bolt, Anne Summers suggested that Bolt could not really believe what he claimed to believe and said what he said because there was money in being right-of-centre. Writing in The Saturday Age on 15 October 2011, the Melbourne novelist Anson Cameron had this to say about Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones:

And now, in the formative years of the 21st century, Gorgeous George Syndrome is endemic across the airwaves, internet and newspapers. Australia’s political commentators are frocked up and playing to a fan base. Today every famous mouthpiece in the country wears a cape and mugs a hard-line pantomime of left or right.

Andrew Bolt, for instance. Does he really believe all the rightist palaver he spouts? Or is he just the latest incarnation of Gorgeous George, banking big bucks off the left’s desire to see him whupped and the right’s need to feel normal or generous? He worked for the Labor Party once. And anyone who has met him will tell you he is an affable, humorous bloke. Both these facts are totally at odds with his writing. So consider this possibility: maybe Bolt, before he sits down at the desk to type his latest piece, dons the leotard and the blond wig and sprinkles the study with perfume. Maybe it’s an act.

Does Alan Jones really believe what Alan Jones says? Or did he choose his position on the bell-curve of belief as the most profitable place to be? In a market where extreme opinion pays, it might be that a lot of opinion the reader or listener is nodding along with is not held by the writer or speaker. Jones might be playing his audience as one would play an oboe. A dumb, truck-driving oboe.

On Monday, Deborah Cameron admonished former Liberal Party staffer, Grahame Morris for saying that Julia Gillard was not in the same league as Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard and Kevin Rudd and was “a very good Number 3 or Number 4 in a team which is where she was under Rudd”.  This was hardly a surprise coming from Grahame Morris.  He was appearing on the program’s political forum with former Labor Party staffer Bruce Hawker who invariably criticises Tony Abbott.

To Deborah Cameron, Grahame Morris’ comment was a “put down” which was “not at all productive”. Fancy that.  As MWD readers will know, from time to time Ms Cameron puts down political leaders with whom she disagrees. Here’s a flash back.

MWD Issue 101 reported that Deborah Cameron had said this about both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott on 28 June 2011:

The major parties have leaders who have so far not captured the public imagination with a greater meaning to their leadership. They’ve both been caught out on the character test – both are duplicitous, both are plotters, both have been involved in political coups. The polls reveal that neither of them is particularly trusted. And that goes with the whole shallow and repetitive question around popularity. Now if popularity if the only test, then bring out Donald Trump. Is that really the best you can do in Australia?

A bit of a put-down. Don’t you think? MWD Issue 117 reported that Deborah Cameron had this to say about the Opposition leader on 17 October 2011:

Now how do you think the Liberal Party are going to deal with the problem of Mr Abbott’s continuing, sort of – he just can’t get off. He’s finding it hard to convert success into popularity, personal popularity. So can you picture a Tony Abbott who’s not bellowing, and who can actually stop and talk, and listen, and think quietly?

This week there was many a Deborah Cameron Moment.



This increasingly popular segment has been set up to honour the memorable occasion on Q&A (15 August 2011) when Lachlan Harris took up the invitation extended by Tony Jones to comment on whether the London riots of recent memory may have been amplified by the social media.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Lachlan Harris: I don’t know. I mean, sometimes I find it compelling but otherwise I think it’s kind of blaming Twitter – is a bit like blaming umbrellas for bad weather. You know what I mean? Like, I mean, it was going to happen and what, is there kind of armies of lesbian mothers in the UK teaching their kids subservient tweeting courses? Like, I mean, there’s – how did the French Revolution happen without Twitter, you know? I just think –

The good news is that Lachlan (“know what I mean”) Harris was in top form in his Sunday Telegraph column at the weekend.  Mr Harris’ thesis was that Australia is currently experiencing what cricket commentators term a “form slump”. Meaning it’s temporarily not performing well.

To make the point, Lachie made the following references to (i) “a ‘form slump’”, (ii) “a form slump”, (iii) “a form slump”, (iv) “a slump”, (v) “a severe form slump”, (vi) “a form slump”, (vii) “Australia’s current form slump”, (viii) “our mini-slump”, (ix) “a form slump”, (x) “a form slump”, (xi) “not in the best of form”, (xii) “our form is off”, (xiii) “this form slump”, (xiv) “a form slump”, (xv) “this form slump”, (xvi) “this form slump”, (xvii) “a bit of a form slump”, (xviii) “a severe form slump”. [Is Mr Harris tying to say that Australia is experiencing a form slump? – Ed].

There were two you-beaut features in the Lachie Harris column.  He made one mention of “the Kardashians” – which made it possible for the Sunday Telegraph to run this HUGE photo of the gorgeous Kim Kardashian, in a leopard-print body-con dress stroking a cat, while in the best of form.

And then there was this Lachieism:

Australia is not the first country to experience a form slump. The Irish had one during the potato famine in the 1840s, the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s, and Somalia hasn’t been in the best of form for at least a decade or two. Of course, Australia’s current form slump is nothing like the above, and even in our mini slump we are still in better form than the US, Greece, Italy and Spain. So don’t worry, Australia may be in a form slump, but we are definitely not alone.

Now here are some facts.  Over a one million Irish died during The Famine of the 1840s which reduced the Irish population by around 25 per cent due to a combination of death and emigration.  Some one million Chinese died during the Cultural Revolution and perhaps one hundred million were persecuted. Clearly, as a columnist, our Lachie is quite out of his depth.  Still what a great pic of the sassy Ms Kardashian – with cat – which took up as much space as Mr Harris’ thoughts on Australia’s FORM SLUMP [That’s enough – Ed].



This segment, which commenced with Issue 116, is devoted to the ditty penned by Irish humorist Brian O’Nolan about the somewhat obscure Ezra Pound:

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound –

My reference is to Ezra £

Last Saturday, the Herald-Sun published a 500 word statement, which was ordered by the Federal Court following Justice Mordy Bromberg’s judgment on 28 September 2011. See Issue 114.  The statement, titled “Eatock v Bolt and the Herald & Weekly Times Pty Ltd: Corrective notice ordered by Federal Court of Australia”, included the following comment:

The writing of the Newspaper Articles for publication by Andrew Bolt and the publication of them by the Herald and Weekly Times Pty Ltd contravened s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and was unlawful in that:

(a) the articles were reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate some Aboriginal persons of mixed descent who have a fairer, rather than darker, skin and who by a combination of descent, self-identification and communal recognition are and are recognised as Aboriginal persons, because the articles conveyed imputations to those Aboriginal persons that:

(i) there are fair-skinned people in Australia with essentially European ancestry but with some Aboriginal descent, of which the individuals identified in the articles are examples, who are not genuinely Aboriginal persons but who, motivated by career opportunities available to Aboriginal people or by political activism, have chosen to falsely identify as Aboriginal and…

The Herald Sun is Australia’s best selling newspaper for numerous reasons – including the fact that it is very well written and readily understood by virtually everyone who is literate, irrespective of their lack of formal education.

The Federal Court’s corrective notice, on the other hand, is written in legal sludge and is certainly not readily understandable by Herald-Sun readers with law degrees (like Nancy’s co-owner).

For example, the notice seems to be saying that Andrew Bolt’s articles were reasonably likely to offend some Aboriginal persons of mixed descent because the articles “conveyed imputation to [emphasis added] those Aboriginal  persons” that “there are fair skinned people in Australia with essentially European ancestry but with some Aboriginal descent…who are not genuinely Aboriginal persons”.

In other words, the Federal Court’s corrective  notice appears to be saying that Bolt’s articles offended some Aboriginal persons because he conveyed imputations to those Aboriginal persons about themselves.

All Nancy can say is that – her grasp of what Justice Bromberg wrote on meant in his corrective notice is only four or five percent. Perhaps less.



This (popular) segment is devoted to ABC Chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

Maurice Newman’s term as ABC chairman expires on 31 December 2011.  It seems that some ABC personalities are helping out to demonstrate that Mr Newman’s complaint about the ABC group-think was based on a keen assessment of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Yesterday on ABC Radio 702, Deborah Cameron spoke with Anthony McClellan (who is principal of AMC Media) and Bob Lawrence (who works for Jackson Wells) during her “Spin Doctors” segment.  There were two main topics.  Here we go:

▪ Poker Machine Gambling. Deborah Cameron claimed that James Packer – in his “great big clodhoppers” – was engaging in “outright conflict” in the debate over the regulation of poker machines.  Anthony McClellan agreed with Deborah Cameron that clubs in NSW are running a political campaign against the  Gillard Government and declared: “The clubs are going to be putting up huge photographs of the [Labor] MPs that they’re opposed to – big mug shots in all the clubs – they’ll probably end up with a target on their heads”. Then Bob Lawrence agreed with Anthony McClellan, arguing that the clubs in NSW are involved in “a totally dishonest campaign”.

▪ The Proposed RSL Reconciliation with the Vietnamese Army. Deborah Cameron commenced the discussion by declaring that the RSL’s proposal “to reconcile with Vietnamese veterans” was well-meaning but “handled badly”.  Bob Lawrence agreed with the presenter and praised contemporary Vietnam.  Then Anthony McClellan agreed with Bob Lawrence – describing the RSL move as “admirable and brave” and described the Vietnam War as “totally unjustifiable”.

No one mentioned that Vietnam is a communist one-party state which persecutes dissidents or that some of the leading opponents of the RSL’s move were Vietnamese Australians who fought in the South Vietnamese Army against the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War.

Maurice Newman: 2

Jonathan Holmes : Zip



This week’s prestigious award goes to Virginia Trioli, co-presenter of the ABC TV News Breakfast program.

Last Monday, in The Australian, Amos Aikman reported that Tim Flannery had spoken out in support of the coal-seam gas industry as “utterly necessary to modern life” at a conference in Wollongong.  On Tuesday, in The Australian, James Madden reported that Dr Flannery claimed that he had been misinterpreted.

The matter was discussed during the newspapers segment on News Breakfast.  Virginia Trioli declared that she had been with Professor Flannery at forums where “he had point-blank said ‘No, I never said that’ when he had in fact made the statement in question”.  La Trioli added that Tim Flannery “has a little bit of a reputation of saying things and then denying” that he had never made the comment.

This reminded MWD that on 1 March 2011 Gerard Henderson wrote to Tim Flannery asking him the following question: “What do you say in response to the comment that you predicted that, without drastic measures, Brisbane would run out of water?”.  See the extract from MWD Issue 93 here.

Alas, Tim Flannery did not respond.  Professor Flannery was asked about his one-time prediction that Brisbane would run out of water when interviewed by Marcus Priest for the “Lunch with The Financial Review” feature which was published on 27 May 2011. Flannery replied:

I can’t remember everything I said back then but there may have been things that were prevalent in the science back then which today may have changed.

What a load of tripe.  Tim Flannery’s comments about Eastern Australia were not made “back then” – but just a few years ago.  See, for example, Flannery’s article in the New Scientist on 16 June 2007.  And yet in May 2011 – just four years later –  Tim Flannery was in denial that he had ever said that Australia’s east coast would run out of water.

Virginia Trioli is one of the first Australian journalists to acknowledge that Professor Flannery is a very inconsistent thinker.

La Trioli – Five Paws.


Nancy gets a walk just before midnight every night.  Her co-owner rises at 2.30 am every Friday morning and over 4000 words are produced for MWD by just after lunch on Friday.  The pressure of production is such that some typos are inevitable.  MWD is grateful to a number of honorary proof-readers who advise of typographical errors, which are quickly corrected.

In order to spice up MWD, as from last week, a new segment has been introduced.  Nancy has decided to follow John Laws who instituted the concept of the “Deliberate Mistake” – which accompanied his unintentional mistakes.  We hope that this will encourage MWD readers to pick the erroneous wheat from the deliberate chaff – so to speak.

In recent years, Robert Manne has been chosen by his (left-wing) peers as Australia’s Leading Intellectual.  So it’s fitting that Professor Manne – a devoted MWD reader who provided an endorsement for the front page – wins Nancy’s inaugural Deliberate Mistake Prize.  Here’s the winning entry in full.

Robert Manne’s Email to Gerard Henderson, Friday 21 October 2011

57% to 47% ?!?  A poll result of 104%. Please correct in next edition of Media Watch Dog.

Professor Manne’s email was sent at 6.45 pm.

The reference was to the “A Deborah Cameron Moment” in MWD Issue 117 which stated that “the AC Nielsen poll in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that Tony Abbott’s Opposition was leading Labor by 57 per cent to 47 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis”. After almost four decades at La Trobe University, Professor Manne knows that 57 plus 47 equals 104.  He was the first – and only – MWD reader to find last week’s Deliberate Mistake.

[I note that there was another “Robert Manne Diary” in a recent edition of The Spectator Australia.  I wonder if Nancy might be able to hack into Professor Manne’s computer and find if there were any other drafts which might be suitable for MWD next week. Just a thought – Ed].

* * * * *

Until next week.

Robert Manne – your time to find this week’s Deliberate Mistake starts NOW.