8 JUNE 2012

[Proudly Proof-Read By Mark Latham – After Publication]

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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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

“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

“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”

– Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)

Stop Press : Leftists on Lateline; The Point of Laura Tingle?

● Paul Bongiorno’s Prophecy Still Unfulfilled

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Political Peek-a-Boo re Jonathan Green, Waleed Aly and Linda Mottram

● Can You Bear It? Step Forward Mike Carlton, Gael Jennings, Germaine Greer and John Pilger

● Your Taxes at  Work : Melbourne Law School’s Non-Debate

● On the Couch: How Christian Kerr Became a Monarchist

● Nancy’s Old Bones: What Paul Howes Thought of Mark Latham in 2010

● Five Paws Award: And the Winner is Douglas Kirsner

● Correspondence : Thanks to Michael Kirby and George Megalogenis


Lateline’s Free Kick to Leftist Academics

Last night Lateline presenter Emma Alberici interviewed Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott concerning the BCA’s report Pipeline or Pipe Dream on Australian productivity.  The report examines Australia’s costs and productivity with reference to the US Gulf States.

Rather than let viewers make up their own minds about the Alberici/Westacott exchange, Lateline rustled up two left of centre types to bag the BCA’s report before the interview took place.

First up, reporter Kerry Brewster spoke to Professor John Quiggin. He told the mining industry to “stop complaining”.  Then Ms Brewster spoke to Dr John (“Yes, I am a socialist”) Buchanan who accused the BCA of trying “to foster a sense of moral panic”.  That’s pretty clear, then.

Then Quiggin was heard dismissing Pipeline or Pipe Dream as wrong. Just wrong.  Then it was over to Buchanan who described the Southern States of the United States as “not socially desirable places”. He was talking about the likes of Texas. Fancy that.  For the record, States such as Texas have the highest level of employment growth in the United States.

Readers of MWD will be aware of John Quiggin’s rant against Tony Abbott (Issue 102) and John Buchanan’s rant against John Howard (Issue 125). Surely Lateline could have found one commentator – just one – who might have supported the BCA’s report.

● La Tingle Buries Howard/Costello Achievement

Nancy’s co-owner finished reading Laura Tingle’s Occasional Essay Issue 46 titled “Great Expectations: Government, Entitlement and an Angry Nation” just before Matins this morning.

At Page 26, La Tingle raises a big question. Namely: “The point of all this?”. It’s a good question – since you can read the first 28 pages of her tome without working out precisely what her point is. The only problem is that the remaining 36 pages do not resolve the query either.

The gist of “Great Expectations” seems to be that the Labor government headed by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating was GOOD and the Coalition government headed by John Howard with Peter Costello as Treasurer were essentially BAD.

Certainly the Hawke/Keating government performed well.  However, Tingle overlooks the fact that Labor took a while to move into economic reform mode.  Initially Paul Keating opposed foreign bank entry and Bob Hawke opposed privatisation.  Also, there were no industrial relations reforms under the Hawke government.

Yet Keating is praised for “leading the economic education of the Australian populace” – as if he did this on his own without input at the time from John Howard and the Opposition, business, economic reform advocates and the like.  And Howard’s contribution in government is dismissed – since Tingle maintains that “by the time Howard came to office, the headline reform issues of the 1980s had been largely addressed”. According to Tingle, “Howard and his treasurer Peter Costello stopped talking about the economy in the way Keating had…”.

It is as if tax reform and industrial relations reform never occurred under the Howard/Costello government and the budget was not returned to surplus.  A proper interpretation of the period from 1983 to 2007 is that this was essentially a time of bipartisan economic reform.  You would never know this from reading “Great Expectations”.

And what about the idea that Australians are an “angry mob” – which occupies the final quarter of Tingle’s Quarterly Essay. Well, believe it or not, La Tingle got this idea when dining with born-again philosopher Amanda Vanstone when she was Australian ambassador to Italy a few years ago.

What’s missing here is a bit of self-analysis.  For example, how to explain Ms Tingle’s own apparent anger?  After all, following the 2010 election, La Tingle said that Tony Abbott’s Opposition were either “liars”, or “clunkheads” or “liars and clunkheads”. That sounds pretty angry.  Then, in April this year, La Tingle complained that Australia was “producing a nation of hairdressers and taxi drivers”. Sounds pretty angry as well.


There has been huge interest – absolutely huge – in MWD’s reference last week (MWD 139) to Paul Bongiorno’s announcement on Ten News on 25 May 2012 that the Australian Federal Police had decided to investigate the call made by Tony Abbott for newly Independent MP Craig Thomson to quit Parliament.

It is not clear what criminal offence might have been committed by Mr Abbott suggesting that Mr Thomson should retire from politics.  So far there is no news from the AFP on this issue.  And no follow-up from the Bonge about when his prophecy might be fulfilled.  We’ll keep you posted.



Jonathan Green, Waleed Aly & Linda Mottram Project Their Dislike on to the Electorate

According to last Monday’s AC Nielsen Poll, published in Fairfax Media Newspapers, the Coalition is leading Labor by 57 per cent to 43 per cent on a two party preferred vote. Moreover, Labor’s primary vote is 26 per cent to the Coalition’s 48 per cent.  Tony Abbott has an approval rating of 39 per cent with a disapproval rating of 57 per cent and he leads Julia Gillard by 46 to 44 per cent as to who is the preferred prime minister. In other words close to 50 per cent of Australians would prefer Tony Abbott to be prime minister and close to 40 per cent of Australians approve the way he is doing his job.

This suggests that, if an election were held tomorrow, Tony Abbott and the Opposition would achieve one of the biggest election victories in Australian history. And yet if you merely listened to the ABC you would get the impression that Tony Abbott has a real problem with the electorate.  Here’s a sample.

On RN Sunday Extra on Sunday 3 June presenter Jonathan Green declared that Tony Abbott is “loathed”.

On ABC 1 News Breakfast on Monday 4 June, RN Drive presenter Waleed Aly asserted that Tony Abbott is “really, really unpopular”.

On ABC Radio 702 on Monday 4 June, presenter Linda Mottram claimed that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are running “neck and neck heading for the bottom”.

If you had just arrived in Australia from overseas and followed the views of Jonathan Green, Waleed Aly and Linda Mottram you would come to believe that Tony Abbott was despised by all and sundry.  Yet he enjoys the approval around 40 per cent of the population.

In any event, in recent times Malcolm Fraser, Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Helen Clark in New Zealand all won elections by big margins without being overly popular. [Interesting. You must look at this issue again when you have more time. – Ed].


● Mike Carlton on Tony Blair’s Tonsils

It was not so long ago that Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton was asking readers to reflect on his view that the standard of political debate was higher in Britain than in Australia.  See MWD Issue 115.

Currently on a three week holiday in Britain [Don’t you mean a well-earned break? – Ed], Mike Carlton last Saturday fantasised that he had dreamt that he had lunch at the Palace with the Queen. [How frightfully interesting. – Ed].  Then Mr Carlton provided examples of what he regards as proper standards in public debate.

Mike Carlton referred to former Labour prime minister Tony Blair as “insufferable” and “all teeth and tonsils”. And he depicted Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne as “shallow and facile figures”.

All in the interest of improving the level of public debate in Australia, apparently. Can you bear it?

Dr Gael Jennings’ LOL Moment on Northern Territory Aircraft Accident

MWD just loves the Newspapers segment on ABC 1’s News Breakfast.  Believe it or not, some residents of Melbourne arrive at the ABC Studio  in Southbank at 6 am, newspapers in hand, ready to pontificate on the news of the day at around 6.45 am – for no fee.

Sometimes Dr Scott Burchill (for a doctor he is) drops in on his way to the tip with a full load.  Well, he’s dressed as if he is on the way to drop off something. And, on occasions, the sassy Liberty Sanger uses the occasion to lend solidarity to striking Fairfax Media journalists (See Issue 139). And then there is Dr Gael Jennings (for a medical doctor she is) who can invariably look on the funny side of life.

Last Tuesday Dr Jennings used her slot on the Newspapers segment to laugh hilariously at a report in the NT News about a plane crash in the Northern Territory. Let’s go to the DVD.

Karina Carvalho : A complete change of pace now and let’s move to the Northern Territory News.

Gael Jennings: Oh hilarious. I was looking for – it sounded hilarious – I was looking for something a little bit lighter. And then there’s this really great “Skippy Causes Air Disaster” [heading].  So, of course, Skippy with his little hat on there in the cockpit –

Karina Carvalho: [laughs]

Gael Jennings: – flying into a mountain or something. But in fact it was only a mob of wallaroos on an airfield just outside of Darwin – a rural airfield – and a light plane ran into them. Wallaroos, by the way, are not a cross between – but they’re an animal marsupial the size in between a wallaby and a kangaroo.  So innovatively called wallaroos. But it’s actually an Australian Transport Safety report saying what’s been the most problematic thing for planes.  And it’s still birds – it’s one in a thousand planes in the Northern Territory will suffer a crash because of birds.  But Sydney and Brisbane also have a lot of trouble with birds.

Michael Rowland: And wallaroos. And we should point out it’s not quite as hilarious for the pilot, who’s sadly has broken his back and fractured an eye socket –

Gael Jennings: [laughs] No, I was going to tactfully try to leave that out.  Yes, because the poor pilot suffered a broken back, a broken jaw, a broken nose, a broken eye socket –

Karina Carvalho :  Right ankle.

Gael Jennings : with lacerations and everything. So he was just taking off and then this little mob of wallaroos sort of broke out from the bush and he didn’t see them. So if you’re living in Australia it’s really difficult [laughs].

Michael Rowland: Yes it is dangerous.

Laugh.  How hilarious can you get?  What’s more funny than a plane crashing into a pack of wallaroos on a runway?  Laugh.

It was only when co-presenter Michael Rowland intervened to mention that the pilot of the plane had been seriously injured that Dr Jennings (for a medical doctor she is) acknowledged this fact. Can you bear it?

Germaine Greer – Ugg

It was just several weeks ago that The Age announced on Page 1 that Dr Germaine Greer (for a doctor she is) was to become a columnist for The Saturday Age. See Issue 136.  It turns out that Dr Greer is contributing to The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra on a fortnightly basis.

And what a brilliant contribution she has made to the public debate so far.  The first Greer column was the BIG ISSUE OF OUR TIME – namely Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s jackets.  The second reflected on the Concise Oxford Dictionary or some such issue.  And then, last Saturday, Greer wrote an entire column on – wait for it – “the ubiquity of the ugg boot”.  Ugg.

According to GG, “everyone in Britain seems to be wearing” ugg boots whereas “Australia is the one country where no one would be seen wearing uggs”. [Funny that. I didn’t notice the Queen wearing royal ugg attire at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. – Ed].

Before recounting her account of searching the website of Ugg Australia, GG reflected:

In the far-off “70s we occasionally wore long Tibetan sheepskin boots, embroidered all over with flower patterns in coloured silks. These, having nothing in the way of a proper sole, were meant for padding over carpet and lounging round the hookah. They swiftly became revolting, because the hairy inside of the half-cured goatskin was great for fomenting all kinds of yeasty organisms and the outside collected filth from the environment so efficiently that within a month or two the gaudy flowers were greasy black, and the boots were in the bin. At that very time the dreaded ugg was coming into being on the beaches of Byron Bay (where else?).

So Germaine Greer occasionally wore long Tibetan sheep-skin boots four decades ago before experiencing a yeasty organism. Really.  All this from The Saturday Age’s top columnist. Can you bear it? [Ease off a bit.  At least Dr Greer has ceased writing about the Prime Minister’s dress sense. – Ed].

John Pilger Plagiarises Himself on The Drum Online

While on the topic of the The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, consider the apparent influence of the left-wing weekly New Statesman magazine on the ABC’s The Drum Opinion website.

The 21 May 2012 issue of the New Statesman – which hit the newsstands around 15 May 2012 – carried a column by left-wing conspiracy theorist John Pilger titled “Never forget that Bradley Manning, not gay marriage, is the issue”.  It was a familiar outburst.  John Pilger pilgered on about how Barack Obama is into “mass murder”, how Tony Blair is a “war criminal”, how “banks are little more than criminal enterprises”, how Joe Biden is a “zealous warmonger” and so on.

On 18 May 2012 – some days after Pilger’s article first appeared – The Drum Online ran the entire John Pilger rant without mentioning that it had originally appeared in the New Statesman and that Pilger was plagiarising himself. Can you bear it?


Melbourne Law School Series With Rai & Larissa & Robert & Gerry  Agreeing With Each Other In A Leftist Kind Of Way

Nancy’s co-owner received a copy of the May 2012 issue of newslɯ [sic – yes, that’s the title] this week.  Sub-titled “For Alumni And Friends”, the Melbourne Law School News [that’s its full title] arrives occasionally by post. Nancy’s co-owner is not a Friend of the Melbourne University Law School. And so, presumably, must be part of the Alumni – if so, it was a long time ago.

When you open the Melbourne Law School News, a self-addressed envelope invariably falls out.  It’s the facility by which you can make a financial contribution to the Melbourne Law School.  At the bottom on the Page 2 Contents Page, the following (oh-so-fashionable) statement appears:

Printed on environmentally responsible paper which is 100% recycled and carbon neutral.

Thank (the secular) God for that. Before deciding whether to send a donation to the Melbourne University Law School, Nancy’s co-owner decided to turn over more of the magazine’s (carbon neutral) pages to see how the team at the University Square is spending the taxpayers’ money it already receives.

Page 19 covers “MLS Events”. Good grief, there is  large photograph of Professor Rai Gaita. Your man Gaita advised readers of his latest book After Romulus, who were having trouble understanding what he was on about, to read his tome time and time again. And VERY SLOWLY. (See MWD Issue 116).  Rai Gaita is a philosopher and has a professorial fellowship gig at the Melbourne Law School.

The big news from the Melbourne Law School this winter is that, once again, Rai Gaita is hosting “The Wednesday Lectures” series.  Despite the Melbourne winter and all that, “The Wednesday Lectures” are once again a sandal-wearing occasion with only left-of-centre types – and Professor Gaita’s mates – lecturing on Wednesdays.  Here’s the line-up:

6 June : “Political Dignity” by Rai Gaita.

13 June : “Whatever Happened to Reconciliation?” by Larissa Behrendt. [I might skip this one since, in view of Professor Behrendt’s well established positions, I already know the answer to her question. – Ed].

20 June : “Political Literacy” by Gerry Simpson. [Is this the same Professor Gerry Simpson who criticised Leigh Sales’ book on David Hicks in The Age (11 May 2007) – since he claimed that Detainee 002 had a “distracting insistence on balance and pragmatism”? If so, do students in Gerry Simpson’s law courses get marked down for balance and objectivity? – Ed].

27 June : “Whatever Happened to Argument?” by Robert Manne. [I think I know the answer to this one, too.  Professor Manne’s arguments are “good” but the arguments of those who disagree with him are “bad”. – Ed].

4 July : “Panel Discussion” – with Larissa Behrendt, Raimond Gaita, Robert Manne and Gerry Simpson.

It seems that “The Wednesday Series” have been set up to appeal to the ABC TV and ABC Radio – since they embody the ABC groupthink mindset where everyone agrees with everyone else and a great ideological time is had by all, in a leftist fashionable way.

MWD is no prophet.  But it seems certain that on 4 July Rai Gaita will agree with Larissa Behrendt who will agree with Robert Manne who will agree with Gerry Simpson who will agree with Rai Gaita.  At the Melbourne University Law School, this is now called a discussion.

Special Announcement – Nancy to Channel MLS “Discussion”

On April Fool’s Day, MWD will sponsor a discussion on the topic “Whatever Happened to Discussion at the Melbourne Law School?”

The (diverse) panel will consist of Gerard Henderson, Nancy, the editor of Media Watch Dog,  MWD’s in-house psychologist Inky, Nancy’s (other) co-owner, Luke and Leia and Attila the Hun’s closest living relative.  The seminar will be filmed by the ABC Big (Leftist) Ideas program. Bring your own sandals.


About Christian Kerr’s Queenly Conversion In the Wake of the Diamond Jubilee

Nancy Asks: What’s this monarchy thing – you know, the Queen (aka Mrs King), the Diamond Jubilee and all that?  It seems to be having a profound effect on some  Australians.  I saw that nice chap Christian Kerr debating my (other) co-owner on Sky News Late Agenda last Monday – with Helen Dalley in the presenter’s chair. Guess what?  Once a republican, Mr Kerr said he has now become a constitutional monarchist.  All because he had dinner at the Goring Hotel with some British monarchists on the eve of the Diamond Jubilee and they told him to think with his heart and not with his head or any other part of the anatomy.  He stepped out of the Goring Hotel, looked towards Buckingham Palace and made a commitment to the House of Windsor.

Watching Christian Kerr advocating a hereditary head of state, he also seemed close to calling for a hereditary head of government as well. What’s going on?

Inky Responds :  The House of Windsor has captivated many. So I’m not surprised that – once a republican – Christian Kerr is now a constitutional monarchist, following his brief sojourn in London Town.

Mrs King sometimes has this effect.  For example, I saw her declare on national television that the Diamond Jubilee thingo was a “humbling experience”.  Really. And the people believed this.  Just like Christian Kerr believes that the Queen should remain as head of her Australian “realm”.

The Diamond Jubilee days were full of the Queen’s subjects singing just how “victorious” and “glorious” she is.  Yet the Monarch felt humbled.  The Royal Air Force flew over Buckingham Palace in a salute.  And yet the Monarch felt humbled. Come to think of it, some politicians now adopt this language. When I win a dog-fight, I feel like a winner.  But when Barack Obama or David Cameron win an election, they feel humbled.  It’s a strange world we’re living in. You could now say that the humbled will inherit the earth – but only if they are of royal birth.  As to Christian Kerr – forget it.  Born again monarchists, especially those who first see the (monarchist) light at the Goring Hotel (residents have included Mr & Mrs Middleton), are likely to remain monarchists forever.

It’s partly the Middleton effect.  It would be foolish to dismiss the benefit to the constitutional monarchy of the fact that the commoner sister-in-law of the Queen’s grandson has a fine derrière. While the Duke of Cambridge’s sister-in-law – the gorgeous Pippa – maintains a slim rear, I would expect that the House of Windsor will continue long to reign over us, to the pleasure of Christian Kerr and others.



Australian Workers’ Union national secretary and Sunday Telegraph columnist Paul Howes is one of MWD’s favourites.  Previous issues of this (esteemed) online journal have praised young Mr Howes’ take on a number of issues – including the Greens’ Senator Lee Rhiannon – B.Sc. Hons. UNSW; Graduate Diploma, Lenin School, Moscow (re which see MWD 116).

In a truly stunning address to the National Press Club in Canberra on 22 May 2012, Paul Howes was true to form in bagging the Greens – which he defined as an anti-jobs movement. [Hear, hear – Ed].  However, Howes surprised some of his followers when he referred to Kevin Rudd and Mark Latham as “the cousins at Christmas you don’t speak to but are still part of the family”.

Paul Howes also called on Labor Party members and supporters to “embrace the inherent contradictions within the movement” and declared : “I’d rather be fighting Mark Latham inside the movement than outside”.  He urged the ALP to bring back “big characters” and “big thinkers” like Mark Latham.

In order to prepare Mark Latham for his (possible) re-entry to the Labor Party, Nancy has dug up some of the more colourful references to Mark Latham in Paul Howes’ 2010 book Confessions of a Faceless Man: Inside Campaign 2010 (MUP).  Here’s hoping the material published below is helpful the next time Brother Paul meets Cousin Mark around the barbie at the 2012 Labor Party Christmas gathering.  Let’s go:

Pages 63-64 : On ML’s Pathological Jealousy of Julia Gillard

After another bout with Kroger on MTR, I head back to the office and have a read of Latham’s Financial Review article.  It’s a three-page feature in the “Review” section titled “Labor’s Fatal Flaws”, much larger than his usual 800-word spray at the party that was so loyal to him for such a long period of time. I wonder about Latham’s motivation for writing such a long article this early in the campaign, besides the fact that he is pathologically jealous of Gillard because she is the Prime Minister.  Perhaps he needs the money, or maybe he’s just lost the plot and has decided to do all he can to damage Labor’s chances.  Either way, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we hear from him during the election.

There’s certainly no love lost between Latham and me. In the past I’ve described him as inhuman, and it seems he’s decided to take this opportunity to have a crack back.  In fact, the article really makes me cross.  It’s so factually inaccurate….

Page 65 : On ML’s Life on the Taxpayer Funded Public Tit

Latham once worked in a pub for six weeks but other than that he’s been sucking on the public tit his whole life as a political hack, staffer, head office official, councillor and member of parliament, and now he’s sitting pretty on his pension.

Page 84 : On ML’s Life-Long Madness

Bob Ellis, the dishevelled genius who has crafted a career for himself as a Labor scribe, has told me that Abbott is in fact a really great guy, smart as a whip and incredibly personable – it’s just that his politics are so odious, and his party line is so loathsome.  In fact, I do not believe that Abbott, a Jesuit-trained Catholic, believes a word he says about asylum seekers.

Maybe that’s why Mark Latham went mad.  Being forced, as party leader, to remain disciplined and repeat lines that you don’t believe, could really send you over the edge.  But then again, in Latham’s case, I’m sure he was mad beforehand – it’s just that the Caucus was equally mad enough to elect him as their leader.

Page 113 : On ML as a Drunken Sailor

This is the week many will remember for Mark Latham stumbling into the campaign like a drunken sailor falling into a bar….

Page 145-146 : On ML as a Suitable Subject for a Decent Tasering

Watching the car crash happen on TV, I yell at the screen, hoping that some magical force will alert the Federal Police officers guarding the PM to my screams of “Take him out, take him out!”.  I would have given good money to see Mark Latham tasered.

Pages 145-146: On ML as an Attention-Seeking Rat and a Cheap Whore

The whole exchange was plain crazy. The guy looked drunk or disoriented.  It was without a doubt one of the most bizarre episodes in Australian political history, even more bizarre than the infamous handshake between Latham and Howard during the 2004 campaign.  Frankly, it was a pathetic sight, the former federal leader of the Labor Party reduced to a snivelling, attention-seeking rat, selling himself like a cheap whore to the highest media bidder.

Before this intervention, while Latham had been disloyal and mischievous in his personal attacks on the people and institutions that had been so good to him, he had at least carried himself with a little decorum and reserved his attacks for the odd column in The Australian Financial Review. But this was a new low, one never before reached by a former leader of the Opposition, and it makes me sick to the stomach to think that I once campaigned for him….

Now he is reduced to the modern-day political equivalent of the bearded lady or one of the other sideshow freaks you used to see at travelling circuses in small country towns. It’s sad, really. But it’s sadder to think that Labor once had him as its leader.

Page 175-176 : On ML as an Inconsistent “Journalist”

One thing the internet is clearly good for is research. My sometimes surly but always-on-the-ball media officer, Andrew Casey, has a terrible habit of trawling the internet at all hours of the night. Usually the things he finds are only interesting to obsessive personalities like my own, but tonight he finds a gem. He stumbles across a speech that Mark Latham gave in parliament back in March 1999, when he was an outspoken backbencher.

The speech dealt with a dispute that was taking place at the time between former prime minister Paul Keating and the Packer family over Channel Nine’s reporting of allegations, later proven to be false, that Keating had been involved in dodgy dealings over a piggery investment. Interestingly, Latham had said “It is time to seriously examine the question of journalistic ethics and professionalism, especially when they are so hopelessly abused by programs like 60 Minutes.” Too right, Mark – and more so since they inserted you into the 2010 election campaign!

By giving Latham a gig as a “journalist”, the program and its network have caused the raising of many more red flags over their ethics and professionalism. I worry that I”m developing an unhealthy obsession with Mark Latham. I seem to be blaming all the troubles of the campaign on him, probably because he makes such an easy scapegoat. I resolve to stop fretting about has-beens like him.

Page 186 : On ML as a Re-Writer of History

Credit where credit is due – Latham does have a knack for rewriting history and reinventing himself. In actuality, Latham couldn’t handle the 2004 defeat; his delicate ego wouldn’t allow him to face the prospect that maybe the Australian people didn’t respect him or want him as their leader. So he picked up his toys and stormed out of the sandpit to live a comfortable life on the parliamentary pension that he worked so hard to abolish for everyone except himself.

Page 157 : On ML as a Modern Day Billy Hughes

I arrive early at the AWU’s Sussex Street office and tune in to Seven’s Sunrise program to find that Jason Morrison from 2GB is on, trying to defend Mark Latham. It’s like listening to someone try and defend Billy Hughes. I don’t mind a loyal conservative, but trying to score points by defending Latham’s disgusting behaviour is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Page 161 : On ML’s Delusional Behaviour

I switch on Sky News to catch Latham’s reappearance on Paul Murray Live. Delusional doesn’t even begin to cover it. Clearly relishing being the centre of attention, he makes sexist, condescending remarks about the PM. Then, just when you think he’s reached rock-bottom, he digs the hole just that little bit deeper. He launches into what I can only describe as a verbal stream of consciousness, ripping into Laurie Oakes about his weight and other such madness. It is a cruel and pointless attempt to settle some old scores.

Page 171 : On ML as a Convert to (Pauline) Hansonism

…I learn that Latham has again made a goose of himself, this time by stalking Abbott at a function at the Penrith RSL club in the seat of Lindsay. An old digger actually strode up to him and yelled, “Piss off, Latham. This is about veterans, not you”. It was well said. A few other veterans looked like they were ready to bear arms again and do the nation a favour, but unfortunately they didn’t.

When Latham approached, Abbott looked like he might use his well-known physical fitness to remove Latham from the venue. If he had, I may even have been tempted to vote for him. In fact, I reckon Abbott would win with a record majority if he thumped Mark Latham. Anyway, Latham carried on about something to do with Abbott bringing down Pauline Hanson, which is curious because Abbott’s well-publicised role in Hanson’s downfall is one of his few redeeming efforts; I certainly admire him for it. Has Latham gone so far off the deep end now that he is backing Hanson? Surely not, but then again, it would fit in with his general spiral down into the world of nut-jobs.

Page 190 : On ML and the Turd Way

You know who I don’t like? Mark Latham. Naturally, Latham’s story last night on Channel Nine gets some attention in today’s media, which should be focusing on Labor’s campaign launch in Brisbane. Once again, Latham takes the shine off. He reminds me of the old saying “You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter”. We tried desperately to roll Latham in glitter in 2004. Thank God no-one fell for it.


So there you have it.  A reconciliation between Mr Latham and young Mr Howes seems unlikely at this year’s Christmas gathering of the Labor family – especially if either gentlemen brings along a copy of Confessions of a Faceless Man.

Still, stranger things have happened.  It is not so long ago that Mark Latham used to proclaim how he hated Liberals like Michael Kroger and labelled Janet Albrechtsen as a skanky ho.  Now Mark, Michael and Janet can be seen dining together at the Melbourne Cup or at the Rugby League State of Origin match in Melbourne.

Since Mark Latham came to love some Tories he may yet come to once again love the Labor Party of his hero, the mad-as-a-Hatter Dr Bert Evatt (who led the ALP from 1951-1960) and, like Latham, had a 100 per cent failure rate in contesting elections as Opposition leader.


Douglas Kirsner on Peter Craven About Q&A

This week’s prestigious gong goes to Professor Douglas Kirsner who wrote the following letter to The Age on Wednesday in response to a column by Peter Craven the previous day which praised the let’s-mock-Gina-Rinehart Q&A featuring Barry Humphries, David Marr, Miriam Margolyes which went to air on 28 May 2012.  See MWD Issue 139.

Breach of ABC code

Sorry to spoil the Q&A party, Peter Craven, but I fail to see how gratuitous and offensive personal comments about Gina Rinehart are just larrikin or even funny.

While there is a legitimate place for satire, the comments crossed the line into schoolyard taunts. With no discouragement from Tony Jones, riffs developed as to who could poke the most fun at the appearance of Ms Rinehart. Jones should have known better, given Germaine Greer”s inappropriate comments on a previous program about the Prime Minister”s appearance and fashion sense.

Q&A is arguably in breach of the ABC”s code of practice. Section 7 states programs “”should never gratuitously harm or offend””. In cases of unexpected actions, attempts should be made to mitigate such harm.

Douglas Kirsner, Caulfield North

Douglas Kirsner – Five Paws.



Nancy’s co-owner just loves correspondence along with product endorsements.  The best product endorsements – from the likes of Mark Latham, Mike Carlton, Bob Ellis and Robert Manne – are printed at the start of MWD each week.  And the Correspondence section willingly runs missives received in our mail box, letter box, thunder box etc.  Here we go for this week:


The Hon. Michael Kirby AC, a former judge of the High Court, wrote to MWD about a howler – and an apparent obsession – in last week’s issue.

Michael Kirby to Anne Henderson – 1 June 2012

Dear Anne,

I think a shocking error has slipped into this week’s Media Watch, which I always so look forward to. On line 10 of the first item it is surely ‘’riven’’ with errors. Not  “ridden’’? Perhaps we learned differently in our humble public schools.

To “rive’’, v. in the Macquarie Dictionary is given as meaning  : “to tear or rend apart’’. Perhaps Gerard was getting confused by the thing one does to hobby horses.

Beg Nancy to give us respite from the Fraser Memoir next edition.

Best wishes ,

An avid reader,


The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

Gerard Henderson to Michael Kirby – 4 June 2012


Anne passed me your note of Friday afternoon concerning the need to correct “ridden” with “riven”. In fact this was a typo – the reference should have been to “riddled”. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. The correction has been made.

I am not sure that Fort Street High was a “humble” government school in your day.  As I have previously acknowledged, English teaching there may have been better than at Xavier College in Kew.  It’s possible that the Jesuits in the late 1950s/early 1960s (they were traditional Catholics then) were more interested in continuing the work of the Counter Reformation than teaching about split infinities and the like. Or maybe I did not pay much attention during English lessons.  Or maybe the problem turned on the fact that Xavier in those years had many lay masters who supported the left-inclined Catholic Worker magazine and were too busy proof-reading to instruct us mere students in grammar. Alas, it was a long time ago.

As to hobby horses – well, I like riding them.  And I invariably find that it is unwise to dismount just because the jockey is annoying someone or other.  So I expect that Nancy will return to the Fraser Memoir reasonably soon – perhaps by testing the author’s claim that he saved the Nato Alliance by intervening in a meeting of the National Security Council – which Margaret Simons believes took place at 5 am (Washington DC time). Nancy hopes to riven this somewhat implausible claim.

Best wishes


* * * * *


George Megalogenis wrote to Gerard Henderson concerning the reference to his appearance at the 2011 Sydney Writers’ Festival in MWD Issue 139.

George Megalogenis to Gerard Henderson – 1 June 2012

Hello Gerard,

Did you watch the clip of my SWF session with Robert Manne and Waleed Aly the other year? Robert kept telling us how he disagreed with us.

His rebukes were interrupted by a protester who rushed the stage, stripped, before throwing his sandals at us.

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson to George Megalogenis – 4 June 2012


Re your note.  I removed the reference to you in MWD Issue 139 on Saturday morning. Unlike Robert Manne, The Drum etc, I am always willing to make corrections/clarifications.

What I was trying to say was that the SWF did not invite someone with a Tony Abbott/Andrew Bolt/Katharine Betts position on to the panel.

By the way, I assume that the sandal-thrower was not a “stop the boats” type.

Best wishes


George Megalogenis to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2012

Thanks Gerard,

I appreciate that. You general point was nonetheless valid.

Regarding the sandal thrower — he wanted the audience to follow him out the room to free the refugees at Villawood….

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson to George Megalogenis – 5 June 2012


Thanks for your note of yesterday.

I’m not surprised about the political identity of the sandal thrower to whom you referred.

There is a rumour going around that Margaret Simons recovered the discarded sandals – and wore them to Ray Finkelstein QC’s Media Inquiry hearing in Sydney.  The rest is history – as they say.

I should know.  I started the rumour.

Best wishes


* * * * *

Until next time.