GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 135
4 MAY 2012
“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.
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
are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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)
“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”
– Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012
● Stop Press: Linda Mottram & ASIO; Aunty’s Continuing Howlers
● Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s Sectarian Gong
● Nancy on the Couch Discusses : La Trobe Uni VC; Murdochphobia on News Breakfast; Mark Latham on Bob Brown; Ken Davidson MIC (Missing in Carlton)
● Can You Bear It? Michelle Grattan, Laurie Oakes, Gideon Haigh
● Maurice Newman Segment: Tim Flannery and John Doyle Agree on Bill Henson
● Nancy’s Old Bones: Phillip Adams’ Dud AIDS Message, 1988
● Correspondence: Let’s Hear from Ross Fitzgerald and Nicholas Wapshott
▪ Linda Mottram Bags ASIO As Out-of-Control
Morale was HIGH in Nancy’s kennel this morning. Tuning into the ABC Metropolitan Radio 702, Nancy’s co-owner heard the Mornings with Linda Mottram presenter declare:
Linda Mottram : ASIO seems to be able to do pretty much anything it likes these days, doesn’t it?
In fact, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s activities are heavily constrained. ASIO is subjected to internal reviews, external reviews, ministerial discretion, tribunals and the courts of law. The idea that Ms Mottram believes that Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has given ASIO carte blanche to do what it likes is both ill-informed and bizarre.
But it’s good news for MWD. Virtually every day in 2010 and 2011 MWD could rely on Deborah Cameron – Linda Mottram’s predecessor – to provide copy of a fashionable sandal-wearing leftist genre in 2010 and 2011. So much so that when Ms Cameron’s contract was not renewed by ABC management late last year, Nancy initiated an “Occupy Ultimo” campaign designed to have Ms Cameron returned to her rightful – but leftist – slot on the taxpayer funded ABC. The campaign was a dismal failure. Alas.
However, the signs are good. Gradually Linda Mottram is showing that she is yet another fashionable ABC leftie. Her bagging of ASIO today shows the way. Here’s hoping. [Perhaps you should return to this topic next week – Ed].
▪ Why the ABC Needs A Fact-Checker (Continued)
The ABC has an annual budget of around $1 billion. Even so, the public broadcaster does not seem to be able to employ a fact-checker for its various products.
As recent issues of MWD have pointed out, The Drum cannot afford a fact-checker. So the ABC’s website contains uncorrected howlers. The All The Way Vietnam documentary – which aired on ABC 1 last month – contains a gross factual error on the timing of, and reasons for, the introduction of conscription by the Menzies Coalition government in the early 1960s. Kim Dalton, the ABC’s Director of Television, refuses to correct even the most obvious error in All The Way – namely, the claim that Sir Robert Menzies was prime minister in May 1966. Menzies resigned on 26 January 1966.
There were more howlers last night – which remained on the ABC’s website this morning. The transcript for last night’s Lateline reads: “Court upholds verdict against James Hardie directors”. In introducing this story, Lateline presenter Tony Jones declared: “After a gruelling legal battle, the High Court has upheld a guilty verdict against the directors of former asbestos manufacturer James Hardie”. Then it was over to reporter Kerry Brewster:
Kerry Brewster : Today the High Court upheld the NSW Supreme Court”s judgement that the directors and executives breached their duties by approving a misleading statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, a significant win for the corporate regulator ASIC.
There are numerous errors in this report. First, the High Court of Australia in ASIC v Hellicar did not uphold the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal. On the contrary, the High Court overturned the decision in this case.
Second, this was not a criminal case – so reference to “guilt” is inappropriate. The High Court found that the directors of James Hardie misled the market and breached their duties as directors when they said that an asbestos compensation fund was fully funded. The compensation fund was to cover claims concerning asbestos, which James Hardie Industries ceased making some 30 years ago. ASIC v Hellicar was a civil case which will lead to civil penalties – they will be resolved in the NSW Supreme Court.
ASIC v Hellicar is likely to become a key case in Australian company law. The public broadcaster should be able to work out, for example, whether or not the High Court upheld – or overruled – a decision of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. It’s called fact- checking.
ANTI CATHOLIC SECTARIAN OF THE WEEK GONG – STEP FORWARD THE AGE (YET AGAIN)
Can you imagine “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” sending up a Muslim politician and a Muslim cleric – or, indeed, a Buddhist or Hindi duo? Or, come to think of it, a Green like Sainted Bob Brown and an atheist like Richard Dawkins? Not on your Nelly. [Quite so. As I recall The Age even reported Bob Brown’s “Fellow Earthians” secular sermon seriously – Ed].
However, it’s all okay for “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” to throw the switch to sectarianism – provided the jokes are on Christians, especially traditional Catholics.
So here is Dan Boermans’ cartoon published in the May Day issue of The Age (see above).Here the Catholic Tony Abbott is in the confessional box – with a hard on, no less. And there’s a Catholic priest conducting what Catholics regards as the sacrament of confession. Funny, eh?
The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra might be dropping sales among social conservatives in the suburbs. But it’s sure admired among the sneering secularist sandalistas in Fitzroy North and Carlton. The Age – Newspaper of the Year (Anti-Catholic Sectarianism Division).
NANCY ON THE COUCH TALKS TO INKY – A CONTINUING SERIES
▪ About La Trobe University VC’s Serious Case of Murdochphobia
Nancy Asks : I was watching the ABC’s News Breakfast program on Monday and was absolutely delighted to see Dr John Dewar – the Vice Chancellor of La Trobe University, no less – discussing Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation and all that. Professor Dewar seems a very nice man. Too nice, you would think, to be getting up well before dawn in order to tell viewers of a low rating program what is in – and (sometimes) what is not in – the morning’s newspapers. But I digress.
You see, Professor Dewar seemed to make a mistake last Monday. After News Breakfast presenter Michael Rowland asked about the Rupert Murdoch/News Corporation controversy in Britain, Professor Dewar referred to the British prime minister David Cameron as:
…busily denying that there is any deal between his government and the Murdoch government on the BSkyB takeover.
How can this be? How can so learned a man as John Dewar – BCL, MA(Oxon), PhD (Griffith) – believe that there is such an entity as “the Murdoch government”? But, if your man Dewar is correct, where might I locate such an entity?
Inky Responds : Professor David Dewar is the vice-chancellor of La Trobe University – and, as such, the ultimate employer of Professor Robert Manne. As I understand it, Professor Manne has been writing taxpayer subsidised polemics for almost a quarter of a century – he has not done any serious academic work since his publications on the Petrov Affair and Wilfred Burchett in the 1980s. La Trobe University apparently encourages polemics.
It may be that Professor Dewar has read Professor Manne’s latest polemic titled Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of a Nation. It’s all about how Rupert Murdoch runs the world. If Mr Murdoch runs the world, it’s fair to assume that he heads at least one worldly government. This, I believe, explains Professor Dewar’s confusion. Blame Robert Manne.
▪ About News Breakfast and the Rupert
Nancy Asks: Can I ask a follow-up question? I heard News Breakfast’s co-presenter Michael Rowland on Wednesday make the following comment when interviewing Dr Scott Burchill just after the doctor arrived at the ABC studios, en route from the tip. Said Mr Rowland, with reference to Mr Murdoch: “We want to chat about the fact that Hamid Karzai has been criticised for not being a fit and proper person to run Afghanistan. Similar accusations labelled against another international figure!” Who said that Rupert Murdoch was not a fit and proper person to rule Afghans?
Inky Responds: Good question. I can’t remember. Was it Leonid Brezhnev? Or possibly Robert Manne? What about David McKnight? I’ll ask nice Mr Scott to ask nice young Mr Rowland and try and answer your query next week.
▪ About Mark Latham’s Falling-Out with Bob Brown
Nancy Asks : I read Mark Latham’s “Latham’s Law” column in last week’s edition of Tommie Switzer’s “Aussie Speccie”. I see that Mr Latham got stuck into the beloved Greens Senator Bob Brown by mocking his “Fellow Earthians” speech which was delivered in Hobart on 23 March 2012 some five weeks earlier. How come it took Mr Latham over a month to wake up that Bob Brown made a dippy speech?
Inky Responds : Don’t be too critical. I believe that, due to his isolated abode, Mark Latham has trouble despatching and receiving material. That’s why your co-owner has not received the book Not By Politics Alone which Mark Latham said he posted to him in January 2012 (see MWD passim). Presumably it took Latham over a month to learn that Bob Brown had made a dippy speech about extra-terrestrial life. That can happen when you live out Camden way. It’s quite a journey for pigeons.
There is a bigger issue involved here. In The Latham Diaries, your man Latham wrote that he liked Bob Brown and that “other than economic policy, our beliefs are quite similar”. This suggests that Brown/Latham once held similar positions on extra- terrestrial life, talking to the stars, the Cosmos and so on. Maybe Mr Latham wants to break from the Greens leader now that Senator Brown is about to quit politics.
I hear that Mr Latham will be appearing every Monday night on the Paul Murray Live show on Sky News – which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch. Please don’t write to me about this. You should realise that Latham is attempting to eke out an existence on the lousy $75,000 taxpayer funded (fully indexed) pension which he currently receives. No wonder he is willing to accept some extra moolah from what his one-time soul mate Bob Brown calls the “Hate Media” for turning up at the Sky News studio in Macquarie Park every Monday night to talk with journalists.
▪ About Kenneth Davidson’s Inner-City Abode
Nancy Asks : As you may or may not recall, I wrote to you two weeks ago concerning The Age’s Kenneth Davidson. For eons, Mr Davidson told Victorian politicians what to do from the comfort of his Canberra home. But then he moved to Melbourne and his Age by-line read: “Senior columnist Kenneth Davidson lives in Carlton.” Now, in The Age this week, his by-line merely states: “Kenneth Davidson is a senior columnist” or “Kenneth Davidson is a contributor”. Does this mean that he has moved out of inner-city Carlton – possibly in response to public opinion?
Nancy Responds: Probably not. Age experts like Mr Davidson who criticise both Labor and Coalition MPs from the left, when telling them how to run Victoria, usually live in Carlton. Or Canberra. I suspect that Ken is now anchored to Lygon Street – somewhere between Readings Bookshop and Jimmy Watson’s wine saloon. Every man needs his kennel-equivalent.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
▪ Michelle Grattan Channels Phillip Adams
Once upon a time, it was Phillip Adams who regarded it as his task to tell the Labor Party who its leader should be. The man-in-black’s most famous intervention occurred in April 1968 when Adams backed left-winger Jim Cairns to take over from Gough Whitlam as Labor leader. The occasion is documented in Paul Strangio’s Keeper of the Faith: A Biography of Jim Cairns (MUP, 2002).
In his poorly written, repetitive and error-ridden book Backstage Politics: Fifty years of political memoirs (Viking, 2010), Adams claimed that “neither Jim nor I wanted to win” against Whitlam in 1968. This comment is not believed by Gough Whitlam today. And it was not Jim Cairns’ position in 1968. These days, Adams wants to present himself as a long-time supporter of Whitlam rather than as the one-time candle-bearer for the hopeless leftie Jim (“call me Doctor”) Cairns who did much to de-legitimise the Whitlam government.
In any event, it seems that The Age’s Michelle Grattan has acquired Adams’ mantle as the commentator who tells Labor who should be its leader. Last Monday, The Age placed a comment piece on its front page by Michelle Grattan titled “Credibility gone, PM should fall on her sword”. The piece commenced with a “should” and ended with a “would” and a “could”. Wrote the Grattan:
Julia Gillard should consider falling on her sword for the good of the Labor Party, because she can no longer present an even slightly credible face at the election. Her spectacular U-turn on everything she”d said before on Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper has left her looking nakedly expedient, and further exposed the state of crisis within the government.
If Labor had any functioning party elders, they would be advising Gillard to consider the good of the party and relinquish the leadership gracefully. That would lead Labor down another fraught path, but it could hardly be worse off than now.
Go back to December 2009. Then Ms Grattan was warning the Liberal Party of the political danger of replacing Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott. Fortunately for the Coalition, Liberal MPs did not follow her advice. Now Ms Grattan is warning the Labor Party of the political danger of not replacing Julia Gillard with someone else. Anybody else, apparently. Can you bear it?
▪ Laurie Oakes Remembers Assange – But Forgets Carbon Tax
And then there is the case of Canberra Press Gallery supremo Laurie Oakes. In his Daily Telegraph and Sun Herald column last Saturday, Mr Oakes accused Julia Gillard of hypocrisy. He was not only referring to the Prime Minister’s state of mind over the likes of Peter Slipper and Craig Thompson. Not at all. According to Laurie Oakes, Ms Gillard’s lack of authority stems from – wait for it – her handling of Julian Assange:
Journalists who report on politics for a living see plenty of hypocrisy. We”re seeing plenty now from Julia Gillard. Gillard asserts Peter Slipper should not be sidelined until sexual harassment allegations are dealt with by the courts because he”s entitled to the presumption of innocence.
It”s the same excuse the Prime Minister uses when she refuses to intervene in the Craig Thomson affair, and says the Labor backbencher accused of grossly rorting union credit cards still has her full confidence.
Yet when WikiLeaks infuriated the US Government by publishing a stack of leaked diplomatic cables, Gillard immediately accused editor-in-chief Julian Assange of acting illegally. There was no presumption of innocence for him. Assange had been charged with nothing. There was no evidence he had broken any law. Australian Federal Police confirmed that within days.
Laurie Oakes would want us to believe that Julia Gillard’s lack of moral authority does not stem from her broken carbon tax policy but, rather, on her handling of Julian Assange. Next he will be maintaining that the Assange matter will be an issue in the next general election. Can you bear it?
▪ Gideon Haigh’s Office
MWD is very fond of the prolific Gideon Haigh who has just completed his latest tome The Office: A Hardworking History (MUP, 2012). It’s just that, at times, he just can’t stop his habit of intellectual-flashing. The late Malcolm Muggeridge once said that he regretted the dreadful floods which occurred in Venice five decades ago which destroyed much art work. But, he suggested there was one upside. If paintings were destroyed, the likes of Kenneth Clark would be less likely to talk about them.
Nancy’s co-owner thought of Mug on Monday when he heard Gideon Haigh respond to a suggestion that there is not much fiction about offices. Let’s go to the audio tape:
Gideon Haigh : Well, I guess once you begin to look, you realise that it’s perhaps not quite as poverty stricken as you imagined. And, you know, I began to, you know, be able to read novels by Balzac and Dickens and Gogol and Dostoyevsky and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shirley Hazzard and Joseph Heller and Michael Houellebecq and Rona Jaffe….and Frank Kafka.
Can you bear it?
MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT
It’s Back: With The Latest Aunty Nudes – As Tim Agrees with John who Agrees with Helen who Agrees with Tim about Norman and, of course, Bill (Henson)
Due to overwhelming demand, the Maurice Newman Segment is returning to MWD. [Good Show. I observe that the ABC seems less balanced since Mr Newman stepped down as chairman late last year – Ed].
As MWD readers will know, this (highly popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” is 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 and ad nauseam.
Last Sunday, ABC1 aired the second episode of the documentary Two On The Great Divide. The two are environmentalist Tim Flannery (who doubles up as a chief commissioner of the taxpayer funded Climate Commission) and ABC personality John Doyle AM (who doubles up as comedian Rampaging Roy Slaven). In recent times, Professor Flannery (for a professor he is, at Macquarie University) has also tried his hand at comedy – with his prediction that there would never be substantial rain again over the catchment areas on Australia’s East Coast.
Nancy’s co-owner did not watch all of Two On The Great Divide – so he is not sure whether Tim Flannery repeated his prophecy that Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne would run out of water on the film. But Nancy’s co-owner did notice that your man Tim is now an expert on culture and manners – per courtesy of the taxpayer funded ABC – and feels free to talk about art and artists.
And so it came to pass that, in their travels on the Great Dividing Range, Tim Flannery and John Doyle dropped in at the museum which used to be the Springwood abode of painter Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). They were filmed in discussion with Helen Glad – a granddaughter of Norman Lindsay. It was not long before the discussion turned on the famous Lindsay nude paintings of adult women. Perhaps the most controversial was titled Crucified Venus. As the Australian Dictionary of Biography describes it, Crucified Venus depicted a tonsured monk nailing a naked woman to a tree to the approval of a mob of exultant clerics and wowsers below. How artistic can you get?
And it was not long before this ABC assembled cast of “I’m more libertarian than thou” luvvies saw fit to defend inner-city luvvie artist Bill Henson – who found himself in some controversy in 2008 on account of his graphic and seductive photography of nude pre-pubescent children – primarily girls. And it followed that Tim agreed with John who agreed with Helen who agreed with Tim who agreed with John that the likes of Bill Henson should not be censored in any way at all and that anyone who does not endorse Henson’s art is a philistine – and worse – and so on. [Er, What’s all this got to do with the Great Dividing Range? – Ed]. Let’s go to the transcript:
Tim Flannery : Well, we are a community of wowsers, too, I think, John. There’s a deep wowser streak in Australian history – going right back, probably, to first settlement.
John Doyle : Were you aware of the controversy that surrounded Norman’s work?
Helen Glad : Yes I was, because my friends didn’t have any nudes hanging on their walls; we had them. And when they came to visit us, they were a bit shocked.
John Doyle : It’s difficult not to see parallels with what’s happening now – if we take, for example, the Bill Henson debate.
Helen Glad : I thought, I wonder what Norman [Lindsay] would have said about this?
John Doyle : Yeah, yeah.
Helen Glad : Because it was exactly the same thing, for artistic freedom.
Tim Flannery : Did Norman Lindsay have prime ministers attacking him, as we saw with Henson? [The reference was to Kevin Rudd’s comment in 2008 that Henson’s photography was “revolting beyond description”.]
Helen Glad : In fact, Sir Robert Menzies was a great supporter of Lindsay. Wowsers, he [Lindsay] fought all his life against the wowsers.
John Doyle : Looking at Norman’s work, it’s what it reveals about yourself that I think’s interesting. And, the same with Bill Henson. It’s what, it – it reveals a darkness within yourself that can be frightening, and that’s what’s being explored, isn’t it?
Helen Glad : Yes, I think, it’s the whole response to art is, should always be a personal one, and that thing of liking art because of the response you get to it. And Henson’s work, a lot of people find difficult to accept.
John Doyle : Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a typical ABC discussion – where everyone agrees with everyone and a highly ideological and self-righteous time is had by all. Tim Flannery dismissed Kevin Rudd – who, when prime minister, had condemned Henson’s photography of nude children. John Doyle agreed. And together, with the support of Helen Glad – they condemned Henson’s critics, including Kevin Rudd. Then John suggested that only truly intellectual types like Tim and Helen could truly understand that art appreciation is about self-revelation. To which, of course, Tim and Helen agreed with John who agreed with himself – or something like that.
So the only view heard on Two On The Great Divide was that it’s perfectly okay for a photographer like Bill Henson to take and display nude photographs of children – and that no other view should be entered into or heard on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
Maurice Newman: 3
Jonathan Holmes: Zip
NANCY’S OLD BONES
PHILLIP ADAMS’ 1988 HIV/AIDS HOWLER – AS FORGOTTEN BY DAVID McKNIGHT
It’s good to see David McKnight – former Communist Party of Australia member and one-time defender of the Khmer Rouge (see MWD Issue 87) – back on the telly. He bobbed up on ABC 1 News Breakfast last Wednesday, having been invited on the program to have a swing at Rupert Murdoch.
Dr McKnight (for a doctor he is) recently wrote Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power. The doctor is an academic at the taxpayer subsidised University of New South Wales and the research for his book was supported by the taxpayer funded Australian Research Council to the tune of around $196,000. In view of this, MWD takes some interest in McKnight’s work.
Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power was reviewed by Nick Cater in The Australian on 27 February 2012. It so happened that, in his review, Cater drew attention to McKnight’s column in the Communist Party newspaper Tribune on 1 December 1976 when he criticised reports in The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald about the Khmer Rouge’s murders in Cambodia. McKnight dismissed The Australian and the SMH as “bosses’ papers” for drawing attention to Pol Pot’s murderous regime. According to McKnight at the time, the Khmer Rouge were just another lot of communists whom he supported.
David McKnight is ready to dig into everything Rupert Murdoch said over the past half century or so and, where possible, use it against the head of News Corporation. But he was none too pleased when Nick Cater reminded readers of his one-time defence of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge.
In his response to the Cater review – published in The Australian on 5 March 2012 – Dr McKnight referred to his past Khmer Rouge comments as “poorly based scepticism”. That’s all, folks. He saw the light, you see, when the communist Vietnamese regime invaded the communist Cambodian regime and banished Pol Pot and his communist mates and replaced them with a lot of pro-Vietnam Cambodian communists.
In any event, David McKnight elected to use part of the 400 words made available to him by The Australian to elaborate on his point that Rupert Murdoch is a “deeply ideological media owner”. He attempted to illustrate his point this way:
As my book shows, some years ago a number of Murdoch newspapers ran a campaign against what they called the “medical establishment”” and the idea that the HIV virus causes AIDS. This well-based science was treated as a politically correct “orthodoxy””.
The Sunday Times undermined all public health warnings for the then fatal condition. When reputable scientists strongly criticised it for AIDS denialism, the newspaper loudly accused them of censorship. The Sunday Times simply believed in debate, it protested. If that sounds familiar, it is. This has been the approach in The Australian on climate change….
So how about that? According to David McKnight, the view which found expression in The Sunday Times about HIV/AIDSboth reflected Mr Murdoch’s own attitudes and was evidence of his “deeply ideological” position.
This reminded MWD of a campaign which the ABC house-leftist Phillip Adams – AO 1992, AM 1987, Hon. D Univ (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt (Syd) – ran in The Australian a quarter of a century ago. In those days, Dr Adams (for an honorary doctor he is) used to preach that AIDS was a disease virtually exclusive to male homosexuals and could not be spread by heterosexuals. Oh yes he did.
Take, for example, Phillip Adams’ column titled “AIDS ads: making war on love” which was published in The Weekend Australian on 24-25 December 1988. Adams, who has no medical or scientific qualifications of any kind, told the likes of medical specialist Dr John Dwyer that they did not know what they were talking about. Professor Dwyer was concerned about the spread of AIDS from men to women and women to men. Adams, on the other hand, declared that AIDS could not be spread by vaginal intercourse and he was prepared to tell medical specialists like Professor Dwyer this.
Here are some extracts from The Thought of Phillip Adams – Christmas 1988 – as told to readers of The Weekend Australian.
…it’s pretty hard to catch AIDS heterosexually. Unless you’re living in Africa, Haiti or a United States ghetto, where the circumstances and the epidemiology of the disease are very different, you’re about as likely to die the death of Escehlus – that is, by being hit on the head by a falling tortoise.
The western world, and particularly in Australia, the number of heterosexuals who have caught AIDSthrough conventional sexual intercourse are few and far between…. Women have got it through transfusions, sharing dirty needles or through anal intercourse with bisexual men. I challenge the AIDS establishment – Neil [sic] Blewett, John Dwyer et al – to produce unequivocal evidence of many Australian women being infected through vaginal intercourse.
Professor Dwyer will, of course, trot out the African experience or present case-studies from the US ghettos. I’d be more impressed if our AIDS authorities presented local case-studies. If they can show that a significant number of women have been infected through conventional intercourse, I’ll eat my hat. And if they can show cases of men catching AIDS from women including prostitutes, I’ll bare my bum in Bourke Street which, all things considered, would be a highly appropriate gesture.
Alas, Phillip Adams never did bare his bum in the Melbourne CBD’s Bourke Street. Yet it is generally accepted today that Adams’ 1988 advice was erroneous and irresponsible.
But what does it tell us about Rupert Murdoch? The answer is – nothing. There is no evidence that Murdoch agreed with, or even read, Adams’ column in The Weekend Australian on 24-25 December 1988. Just as there is no evidence that Murdoch agreed with, or even read, the articles in The Sunday Times which David McKnight believes should not have been published. Dr McKnight is an academic.
Here’s a glimpse at Phillip Adams’ column in The Weekend Australian 24-25 December 1988. Brought to you by “History Corner”.
And here’s yet another glimpse of David McKnight’s (1976) denialism about Khmer Rouge massacres.
● ROSS FITZGERALD WRITES TO MWD REPAUL HAM & VIETNAM
Recent issues of MWD carried criticism of the Screen Australia documentary All The Way (which recently aired on ABC 1) and Paul Ham’s book Vietnam: The Australian War on which the film was based. Ross Fitzgerald, who was mentioned in last week’s MWD, has written to clarify a comment made about him by Paul Ham.
Ross Fitzgerald to MWD – 30 April 2012
Last Friday’s Media Watch Dog published an email which Paul Ham had forwarded to Gerard Henderson. In his email, Ham made the following claim about my review of his book Vietnam: The Australian War – which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 February 2008:
Poor Ross Fitzgerald. His review made one correction of fact: a single footnote I got wrong.
This is not true. In my review of Paul Ham”s Vietnam: The Australian War, I wrote :
Ham makes several factual mistakes. For example, he states that in 1964, “the Australian Government and most ALP ministers firmly backed the US air strikes, notably Gough Whitlam”. Labor was then in opposition and the only reference Ham gives is “Hansard” – no year, no other details. He also makes remarkable but unsubstantiated claims. For example, he states that the opening line of The Communist Manifesto – “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism” – was written by “Karl Marx”s aristocratic wife, Jenny (nee von Westphalen)”. This seems extremely unlikely, especially as the only reference Ham cites is, “Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, p.39″. Certainly in Gareth Stedman Jones”s encyclopedic 2002 annotated introduction to the manifesto, there is no mention of Jenny at all.
I have had the opportunity to check my review and I stand by my comments. Certainly Ham has not challenged my critique in person or in correspondence.
In his correspondence published in MWD last Friday, Paul Ham made an additional point concerning my 2008 review of his book, viz:
Incidentally he [Fitzgerald] seemed to think my book a right-wing interpretation, at least in part. Odd that..
Nowhere in my review of Vietnam: The Australian War did I say this.
Professor Ross Fitzgerald
● NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT ON CURTIN/CHIFLEY & LORD KEYNES
On 4 January 2012, the Australian Financial Review published an article titled “Out of the mouths of Keynesians”. The sub-title read as follows: “In a new book Nicholas Wapshott shows how the ideas of John Maynard Keynes were adopted with evangelical zeal by his economic acolytes and politicians around the world”. Including, it was claimed, Australian politicians.
In MWD Issue 126, the History Corner segment criticised a paragraph of Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes/Heyek: the clash that defined modern economics – which appeared in the AFR extract. Nicholas Wapshott has written to MWD about this matter. The correspondence is published in full below:
Nicholas Wapshott to Gerard Henderson – 1 May 2012
I have just caught up with your blog of Feb 24 2012 in which you say:
According to Nicholas Wapshott:
▪ Australian Labor prime minister John Curtin “attended Keynes’ London memorial”. A remarkable achievement, surely – since Curtin died on 5 July 1945 and John Maynard Keynes died on 21 April 1946.
▪ John Curtin in 1946 introduced a “full employment in Australia” legislation “mandating the government to find a job for everyone capable of working”. No such legislation was introduced by the Curtin Government or by Ben Chifley who succeeded Curtin.
▪ John Curtin visited Britain in 1945. In fact, he went to the United Kingdom in 1944.
I acknowledge that I got the wrong prime minister who attended Keynes’s memorial in London. It was Chifley, not Curtin.
But I did not say Curtin introduced “full employment in Australia” legislation. What I wrote was this: ‘The Australian Labor premier John Curtin … in 1945 introduced “Full Employment in Australia,” mandating the government to find a job for everyone capable of working.’ FE in A was a White Paper, not legislation, that did just that. It set a full employment aim for economic policy in Australia that was followed for 30 years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Paper_on_Full_Employment_in_Australia. Nor did I write that Curtin visited London in 1945. Not sure where you got that from.
I know what a stickler for facts you are so I am sure you will correct your statements without delay.
Gerard Henderson to Nicholas Wapshott – 3 May 2012
I refer to your email of May Day concerning the “History Corner” segment in Media Watch Dog Issue 126, 24 February 2012.
As you are aware, I commented on the extract from your recent book which appeared in the Australian Financial Review on 4 January – in which you wrote:
The notion of full employment as a government’s prime responsibility was not restricted to Britain. The Australian Labor prime minister John Curtin, who attended Keynes’s London memorial, in 1945 introduced “full employment in Australia”, mandating the government to find a job for everyone capable of working.
I accept that you did not specifically say that John Curtin visited Britain in 1945. But you did write that Mr Curtin attended Keynes’s London memorial – and this was held in 1946.
I do not know what the statement that John Curtin “introduced ‘full employment in Australia’, mandating the government to find a job for everyone capable of working” means. A White Paper is only a white paper – that is, it is a statement of intent. The Curtin government’s Full Employment in Australia white paper was a statement of policy intent. It did not mandate anything – since there was no legislation introduced to implement the white paper.
It’s pure mythology for you to claim in your email that the Curtin government’s Full Employment in Australia white paper “set a full employment aim for economic policy in Australia that was followed for 30 years”.
As you know, the Chifley Labor government was defeated in December 1949. When Robert Menzies became prime minister on 19 December 1949, he changed Australia’s economic direction and moved away from the nationalisation/regulation agenda of the Curtin and Chifley Labor governments. It is simplistic to regard the conservative Coalition governments led by Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton and William McMahon as following Curtin’s economic agenda for some three decades until the election of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in December 1972.
In conclusion, I should state that I do not regard Wikipedia as an authoritative source for Australian economic policy in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Nicholas Wapshott to Gerard Henderson – 3 May 2012
* * * * *
Until next time.