GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 141

15 JUNE 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.

“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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: Aunty’s Anonymous Apology to Mr Morrison; Mark Scott in Denial on ABC Group-Think

Paul Bongiorno’s Unfulfilled Prophecy: Episode III

Can You Bear It?  : Tim Hawkes, ABC News 24, Peter FitzSimons & Liberty Sanger

MWD Exclusive: Mark Latham’s Lore – As Hacked By Nancy

Morris Newman Segment Returns

Same Sex Marriage and the Public Broadcaster

STOP PRESS

● The ABC’s Anonymous Apology to Scott Morrison

The lead story in yesterday’s Crikey – by Matthew Knott – concerned the ABC’s decision to issue an apology to Coalition frontbencher Scott Morrison following Stephen Long’s claim that Morrison had acted in a “racist manner”  in the asylum seeker debate.

Long’s statement went to air on The Drum on ABC News 24 on Monday 11 June.  He was on a panel with leftist blogger Antony Loewenstein and The Australian journalist Adam Creighton. Steve Cannane was the presenter.  Matthew Knott’s story missed the point that, in his apology, Cannane failed to mention the fact that his colleague Stephen Long had made the initial remark.  Here’s Steve Cannane’s apology in full – which went to air at the end of The Drum on Wednesday 13 June:

Steve Cannane : Just before we go, on Monday’s edition of The Drum there was a discussion about the Federal Opposition’s policy on asylum seekers. During that discussion one of the panellists, an ABC journalist, made comments about Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison, which questioned his motives and integrity. Now, the comments were inappropriate for an ABC journalist to make, going beyond ABC editorial policies, and we apologise to Mr Morrison.

That was it. There was no reference to ABC economic correspondent Stephen Long as the ABC journalist who made the “inappropriate” comments. The “ABC journalist” was anonymous.

Knott quoted Mark Scott as having said that his advice to ABC staff was as follows:

Provide insight and analysis where you can and when you can’t, don’t.  You shouldn’t be delving into the realm of personal opinion.

This directive comes as some surprise.  ABC journalists have been presenting their personal views for eons.  However, this tendency has increased since Mark Scott became ABC managing director in 2006 – particularly due to the ABC’s decision to move into the area of opinion with respect to both the written word (The Drum website) and the spoken word (The Drum on ABC News 24).

In a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Radio National presenter Fran Kelly described herself as an “activist”.  See MWD Issue 129.  She frequently presents her personal views on RN Breakfast, The Drum, Insiders and in media interviews.  Kelly is not alone. The likes of Stephen Long, Marius Benson and James Carleton – appear regularly on The Drum. And then there is RN Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams – the ABC created a special category of opinion for Adams so that he could state his leftist opinions daily.

The essential problem with The Drum last Monday was not that the leftist Long stated his predictably leftist positions.  It was that there was no balance in the views presented on the program. Lawyer Jessie Taylor essentially agreed with leftist activist Antony Loewenstein who essentially agreed with Stephen Long. And Adam Creighton dismissed the entire debate about asylum seekers as “just politics”.  In other words, not one of the guests on the program was prepared to defend the Coalition’s policy on border protection.

Early on Loewenstein said that “the bottom line here is that the Opposition doesn’t actually care much about refugee lives” and claimed that  both Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison “openly lie about the reasons why people  are coming [to Australia] in the first place”.  Then Stephen Long made the following comment which caused the ABC to apologise, albeit without mentioning his name:

Stephen Long : I think that it’s a cynical manipulation of an underlying prejudice in the Australian community, and that it has very little policy merit. It’s fraught with problems and it’s really awful, actually. And I think Scott Morrison, in particular, as a spokesman in this area, has just pushed way beyond acceptability in the way that he is willing to pander and manipulate that level of prejudice in what is essentially a racist manner. He’s my local member in the electorate for Cronulla, scene of the Cronulla riots.

The fact is that Stephen Long is not the first ABC journalist to bag the Coalition on asylum seekers – and he will not be the last.  It is not clear how nice Mr Scott will distinguish between analysis and personal opinion when ABC journalists appear on opinion shows or write their opinion on The Drum’s website.

Mark Scott and The Australian

Last Wednesday Mark Scott spoke at the launch of the book Australian Journalism Today – which is edited by Matthew Ricketson. He used the occasion to state his own political views – having a go at former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the process – and saw fit to criticise News Limited’s The Australian.  The essential problem with Mr Scott’s address is that he appears to be in a state of denial about the content of ABC TV, ABC Radio and ABC Online under his management.

This is what Mark Scott had to say of the ABC during his time as managing director and editor-in-chief:

Not long after I started at the ABC in 2006, in a speech to The Sydney Institute, I set out the direction the ABC would be taking editorially. How, in all our content, we”d deliver balance, diversity and impartiality, the full range of voices and perspectives as set out in our new Editorial Policies. And I think it”s pretty clear to the public that those editorial standards, diversity of opinion and impartiality I set out six years ago, are part of the ABC”s editorial DNA today.

This is delusion.  Mark Scott claims to have delivered “diversity and impartiality” within the ABC.  Yet the public broadcaster has not one political conservative as a presenter or a producer or an editor of any of the ABC’s major programs or publications.  Not one. That’s why the ABC can be said to stand for Anyone But Conservatives.

The only program which has a conservative presenter is the obscure Counterpoint which goes to air at 4 pm on Monday on Radio National with Michael Duffy and Paul Comrie-Thomson in the chair.  The program was named so as to distinguish it from all the other “points” which are aired on the ABC – in the ABC group-think, to be conservative is to be contrary, or to offer counter opinions.

Mark Scott consistently refuses to name even one conservative who is a presenter or even a regular commentator on any ABC program – rather, he chooses to avoid the question. That’s because there are none.  It is self-delusion for the ABC managing director to maintain that the public broadcaster delivers a “full range of voices and perspectives”. Under Mr Scott’s management, some areas of the ABC have improved in terms of balance – 7.30 for example.  However, there has been a significant increase in the number of left-wing voices heard on Radio National.

It is the prevailing left-of-centre fashion at the ABC which created the environment for Stephen Long to say what he said on The Drum last Monday. Within the ABC, it is all but impossible to hear a view supportive of a strong line on border protection or critical of same sex marriage (see this week’s Maurice Newman Segment below) or sceptical about Julian Assange.  So it’s not surprising when the likes of Stephen Long go on ABC TV and say in front of the cameras what they say over coffee at the ABC studios. Last Monday, Long was just expressing ABC group-think on live television.

Last Wednesday, Mr Scott bagged The Australian. Yet, unlike the ABC, The Weekend Australian does employ one high profile leftist columnist – none other than Phillip Adams.  It’s much the same with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.  The Fox News “News Watch” program contains a diversity of views – some right-of-centre, some left-of-centre.  The ABC’s Media Watch program, on the other hand, has only had left wing or left-of-centre presenters in over two decades.  No diversity of views can be heard on Media Watch.  As Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes conceded on Twitter last Tuesday, he is Media Watch’s “judge and jury”.

BONGE’S UNFULFILLED PROPHECY – A MOVING FEAST

There has been a huge interest in whether Paul Bongiorno’s (so far unfulfilled) prophecy that the Australian Federal Police will interview Tony Abbott about his call for Craig Thomson to resign might come to fruition.

So far, alas, Bonge’s prophecy remains unfulfilled.  Who knows? Our Bonge may be a bit like Leon Trotsky.  Some Trotskyites said of Trotsky that he was so far ahead of his time that, even decades after his death, his prophecies have yet to be fulfilled.  We’ll keep you posted.

CAN YOU BEAR IT?

● Dr Hawkes’ Music to Snog-Along With

Timothy Hawkes, B Ed [Hons] (Durham), Grad Dip Ed Studies (UNE), Ph D (Macquarie), FACE, FACEA, Headmaster The King’s School, Parramatta appeared on the Political Forum on Radio 702 on the Queen’s Birthday Holiday last Monday.

Dr Hawkes (for a doctor he is) seemed somewhat excited during the panel discussion. James O’Loughlin was in the presenter’s chair and the other panellists were John Kay and Margie Osborne. Midway through the program, panellists were asked to associate music with events in their life.  It was, after all, a public holiday – and it was, after all, after lunch.  Let’s go to the audio tape where Dr Hawkes talks about himself, music and all that.

Tim Hawkes: Well, when I’m feeling nostalgic I will go back to something like Santana’s Samba Pa Ti. Why?  Because I used to snog to this music. It lasted a long time, it was gentle and it was romantic. Now if I want something a little higher….  [That’s enough – Ed].

Dr Hawkes is 59 years of age.  Can you bear it?

ABC News 24 Goes All Batty

For a brief time last Sunday, Nancy’s co-owner was deprived of access to Sky News and Fox News on Foxtel/Austar.  So he switched to ABC News 24 at around 2 pm to catch up with the BREAKING NEWS OF THE MOMENT on the 24/7 media cycle which we all endure.

Guess what?  The powers that be at ABC News 24 had decided to run a Big Ideas program which was filmed in the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains. Really.  It was a poetry reading event. Fair Dinkum.  There were five poets in attendance (David Brooks, Brenda Saunders, David Malouf, Judith Beveridge and Mark Tredinnick), a seated audience of what appeared to be about 50 and lotsa flying bats.

The Big Ideas flyer describes what the poetry in the Jenolan Caves was all about:

There are numerous references to Orpheus, the ancient Greek poet of poets; who descended into the Underworld in search of his beloved Eurydice and then lost her forever as she was following him out of Hades. He contravened the one condition, that if Eurydice was to be reunited with him, as she followed him out of the Underworld, under no condition was he to turn back to look at her until they’d both stepped into the daylight. Orpheus turned back too soon and she was lost to him forever.

Yeah, right. That’s pretty clear then – perhaps clearer than what’s going on in Greece. A worthy occasion, to be sure.  But hardly the breaking news which ABC News 24 was supposed to provide.  Can you bear it?

The Fitz Files – Smarter than Shakespeare

Is Peter FitzSimons running out of topics?  In last weekend’s Sun-Herald, the one with the red-bandana commenced his “The Fitz Files” (TFF) column where he had left off the previous week – i.e. bagging religion and writing about himself, viz:

TFF”s mention last week that I will be debating with a priest and a minister this Tuesday at 7.30pm at North Sydney”s Independent Theatre on the subject of religion, and that my opening position will be that all notions of a magic man living above the clouds watching us are equally ludicrous, drew an enormous response.

Well, fancy that.  The clever Mr FitzSimons – whose Sun-Herald dinkus these days takes up almost as much space as his words [Just as well –  Ed].   And FitzSimons reckons that all believers are absolute idiots and their brains are but putty compared with what lies under his attention-seeking red bandana.

On 3 June, FitzSimons had  urged his readers to attend his planned gig: “Come along! Shout at me, that there is SO TOO such a Magic Man, because you”ve personally read about Him in a book. See if I care!”

Your man FitzSimons seems to think it a you-beaut idea to confront Christian readers who buy the Sun-Herald and who advertise in the paper or support its advertisers.  However, his one-line attempted demolition of Christianity was a little, shall we say, lightweight.  Over the ages believers have included William Shakespeare, William Wilberforce and Catherine of Siena – all of whom had somewhat greater intellectual firepower than the Sun-Herald’s columnist with a red bandana. Can you bear it?

Liberty Sanger Tells the Coalition What to Do – Again

Nancy’s co-owner just loves the appearances of sassy Liberty Sanger on the ABC 1 News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment.  Indeed, Ms Sanger is MWD’s favourite Maurice Blackburn lawyer.  If Nancy’s co-owner is ever suffering from work-induced stress he will be on the first plane to Melbourne to seek her legal advice.

Now back to the topic.  On News Breakfast last Tuesday Liberty Sanger was, once again, telling viewers not what was on the news – but, rather, what should have been in the news.  Commenting on the asylum seeker issue, Ms Sanger declared:

Liberty Sanger : It’s ridiculous. I mean, both parties are committed to offshore processing.  There’s semantics about which country they process in.  And really, I do think it’s incumbent on the Opposition to allow the Government to proceed with their proposed method.  It’s just splitting hairs.

Ms Sanger went on to condemn the “fear-mongering associated with asylum seekers [which] we’ve had to endure for at least a decade”.  Well, this is one approach.  But why is it not incumbent on the Greens to support Labor on this issue and pass the Gillard Government’s asylum seeker legislation?  After all, the Greens signed an agreement with Julia Gillard – not Tony Abbott.

Can you bear it?

Once again, Nancy has been able to hack into a draft of Mark Latham’s “Latham’s Law” column on its way to The Spectator Australia.  Here we go:

On Earning Filthy Lucre From Rupert, Gina, The Barclay Brothers – Or How I Latched On To the  Rear of a Conga Line of Suckholes

It’s been a terrible week. Still, I’m not whingeing.  A superannuated bloke – with a wife, three kids and several bookmakers to support – needs to earn an extra dollar or two to sustain his livelihood.  It would be unfair to expect aspirational Aussie battlers living in suburbs like Liverpool in Western Sydney to be my sole financial supporters.  As a matter of principle, I top up my taxpayer funded, fully indexed, parliamentary superannuation scheme by working with journalists.  Otherwise known as the scum of the earth.  So I’ve had to write some columns and appear on Sky News when I could have been talking to horses at the race track.

InThe Latham Diaries I set out, day by bloody day, my detestation for the media.  Proprietors, editors, producers, presenters, journalists and all that scum.  I meant every word of it.  However, the fact is that Latham Man can’t live by taxpayer funded superannuation alone.  So I’ve become a part-time journo.

Every second Thursday the Australian Financial Review runs my column.  I know that it’s owned by Fairfax Media and I know that at least 13 per cent of Fairfax Media is owned by that Tory Gina Rinehart and I hate Tories (except for Michael Kroger).  But I need the money.  I need to invest for my family’s future and the next meeting at Warwick Farm is on 23 June. So if Gina pays 13 per cent of my income as an AFR columnist this week, it’s just one of those things that has to be done.  As Stalin said: “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”  Or was it my hero Vladimir Lenin? – who, as I wrote in The Specator Australia on 21 January 2012, led a “healthy human existence”. [What about Lenin’s victims? – Ed].

It’s hard to believe, but I had nothing of substance to say in my last AFR column. So I decided, once again, to bag both the Labor Party and the trade union movement.  It works every fortnight.  No one ever complains.  I hope this is not because my column is unread.  I believe it”s because readers admire my expertise on the labour movement.  After all, every job I ever had I got as a result of sucking up to the NSW Labor Right and/or the trade union movement.  So I know what I’m talking about when I say in the AFR that the ALP is rotten to the core and that trade union bosses are thugs and logs.  After all, they made me Labor leader – just before Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Kevin Rudd and the person I describe as “childless” Julia Gillard.

Last Friday, I drove all the way from Western Sydney to Macquarie Park to appear on The Contrarians program on Sky News.  Okay, I know that Sky News is part owned by the media-fascist Rupert Murdoch but I need to invest in a certainty for the fourth race at Warwick Farm and I need Rupert’s money.  I can hardly believe that I am on a 4 pm program which is chaired by that young Tory idiot Dr Peter Van Onselen.  Fellow panel members are the dickhead Dr Greg O’Mahoney and the mother fu-ker Troy Bramston.  Come to think of it, there are more non-medical doctors on The Contrarians than on the set of Doctor in the House. Still, I need the money and, on occasions, a bloke has to mix with the scum of the earth in the late afternoon to supplement the lousy $75,000 (fully indexed) pension I get from Mr and Mrs Liverpool.

It was great to see that my new best friend Robert Manne wrote to Crikey on 6 June 2012 bagging that factoid-fascist Gerard Henderson.  Hendo had written in his Media Watch  Dog blog that I receive a lousy $75,000 annual pension under the parliamentary superannuation scheme. Gee the learned professor really gave it to Hendo.  Professor Manne wrote: “Latham told me that the figure Henderson invariably uses to slur him is actually wrong.”

What a useful idiot Robert Manne is – he believes what I tell him.  Manne seems unaware that I wrote in Crikey on 8 June 2011 that I had an annual superannuation income of $78,000. Hendo has been rounding it down to $75,000.  Yet I got Manne to believe that this round-down was a gross error on Hendo’s part.  Can you believe it?

Also, Manne seems unaware that I got the generous parliamentary superannuation scheme abolished for all the politicians who came after me.  That useful idiot wouldn’t know a double standard even if he was nailed to one. Still it’s great to have Manne on my side in the Latham/Hendo Wars.  We taxpayer funded types should stick together.  Here’s my new slogan:  “Academics and Superannuated Pollies of the World Unite – You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Pensions.”  I got this line from Karl Marx.  Or was it his son Groucho?  Anyrate, it sure beats the “Ease the Squeeze” line which I ran in the 2004 Federal election.

On Monday 11 June, I appeared on Paul Murray Live at Sky News.  I now have a regular gig on Paul Murray Live on Monday.  This meant that I had to drive across Sydney on the Queen’s Birthday Holiday to appear on a low-ratings show with young Paul Murray and the radio journalist John Stanley. I spoke at some length about psychiatry, a subject I have studied extensively, albeit in a self-diagnostic way.  I also called for labour market reform.  This should appeal to my new best Tory friends – the fascist capitalist Michael Kroger and Dr Janet Albrechtsen. It’s great that she has forgiven me for calling her a skanky ho during my days as a Labor MP.

I’m off now to write my regular column for Tommie  Switzer’s “Aussie Speccie”. Sure, I know that The Spectator Australia is funded by the tax-dodging fascist David Barclay and fascist Frederich Barclay from their tax-haven shelter in the Channel Islands.  But I have no qualms about accepting filthy capitalist lucre from the Barclay brothers.  As I’ve said before, I need the money from journalism and commentary. After all, who can live on $75,000 a year (if you believe Hendo) or $78,000 a year (if you believe me) or almost nothing (if you believe that useful idiot Manne)?

After I file my  copy, I’m hoping to have another candle-lit dinner with Michael and Janet and Tommie.  Michael went on ABC Radio in Melbourne to declare that he found Peter Costello to be a boring luncheon companion.  It was the most significant declaration since the Gettysburg Address.  I’m going to tell Michael that I’m on the labour market deregulation cart. Who knows? – I might score an invitation to next year’s HR Nicholls Society conference.  It’s fun being a new bloke at the rear of what I used to call the “Conga Line of Tory Suck Holes”. As Cromwell once said: “No man goes so far as when he knows not where he is going.”  Or was it my mentor Lenin?

NANCY’S PICK-OF-THE-WEEK

MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT – THE ABC’S GROUP THINK: A SAME SEX MARRIAGE CASE STUDY

Latika Bourke Agrees with Fran Kelly Who Agrees with Linda Mottram and Her Guest Mark Riley that Julia Gillard is Wrong on Same Sex Marriage

Due to overwhelming demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week.  As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former 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.

Last Wednesday ABC managing director Mark Scott weighed into this debate. He declared that diverse views are heard on the ABC. Well, let’s judge nice Mr Scott’s theory with respect to the same sex marriage debate as covered on ABC TV and ABC Radio.  And let’s take last Tuesday morning, following Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s comments on Q&A on Monday 11 June that she did not approve of same sex marriage, as a case study.

● Latika Bourke On What The PM Should Have Said

ABC reporter Latika Bourke appeared on ABC News Breakfast shortly after 7 am on Tuesday. Let’s go to the video tape:

Latika Bourke : The other thing you can bet your bottom dollar on, Karina, is that anyone appearing on Q&A will be asked about gay marriage. And, so it was, that the Prime Minister was asked this very question and asked to explain how she, as an atheist prime minister, she as a woman in a de facto relationship as our prime minister can hold a view against allowing same-sex couples to marry. Now the Prime Minister of course would have expected this question and she did try and elaborate further on her position. Let’s have a listen to that.

After playing the Prime Minister’s comments on Q&A, Latika Bourke returned with a comment that Julia Gillard’s position was wrong on same sex marriage. Just wrong.

Latika Bourke : So, Karina, the Prime Minister there acknowledging the difficulty many Australians have in reconciling her own personal circumstances with her publicly held view. Now the problem for the Prime Minister’s elaboration or explanation last night was that it immediately opened her up to criticism of – well, it’s all very well to point to your own circumstances but you have a choice to make those circumstances. And the whole point about same-sex marriage is that those couples don’t have a choice. And that’s something that the Prime Minister and her colleagues in Parliament can change.

Fran Kelly On What the PM Should Have Said

In her daily slot on Radio National Breakfast last Tuesday Michelle Grattan was interviewed by Fran Kelly on a number of issues – including the PM’s comments on Q&A.

Fran Kelly : …The PM is sticking to her opposition to same-sex marriage, but this time with a bit of a different form of words.

Michelle Grattan : Well she’s clearly attempting to empathise with those who are saying that she should be supporting gay marriage. She was confronted by a Vietnam vet with a gay son who had put the same question to Tony Abbott and made a strong case in the question. She said, well, everyone knew her own circumstances, where she had a loving and committed relationship outside marriage. But nevertheless she did stick to her view.  And she said that what had changed since she appeared last on Q&A and answered questions on this topic, is that her colleagues would have a conscience vote but she would be voting differently from them.

Fran Kelly : Yes she made the point that two people could have a relationship of love, commitment and understanding without a marriage certificate, as indeed she does. But I guess that’s not really the point for those who think that same-sex couples should have the choice of marriage, or otherwise – as she does.

So, like Latika Bourke, Fran Kelly opined that Julia Gillard’s position on same sex marriage was wrong.  Just wrong.

Linda Mottram & Mark Riley On What The PM Should Have Said

Then just before 9.30 am on ABC Radio 702 last Tuesday, presenter Linda Mottram interviewed her regular guest Channel 7 reporter Mark Riley about contemporary politics. Discussion, of course, turned to what the PM said on same sex marriage.

Linda Mottram : And of course we saw the Prime Minister on Q&A last night. Interesting, I thought, that she referred to her own relationship in relation to her position on same-sex marriage. That she thinks it’s perfectly capable, er, perfectly possible – and she’s an example of it – to have a solid, you know, affirming relationship and not be married.

Mark Riley : It was an interesting little change in nuance wasn’t it? You know, that you can have a loving and committed, understanding relationship without a marriage certificate. But as I was sitting watching I thought : “Well yes, but the big difference here, Prime Minister, is that you can get married if you want to and other people who are in loving and committed and equally understanding relationships can’t.” And that’s the point. I”m really surprised about her personal position on gay marriage and civil unions. You know, it’s one of those stark contradictions, I think, in what we assume is the ideology of Julia Gillard. I would have thought that she would be a bit more progressive with her views on gay marriage. But maybe it’s years in the Labor Party and being thumped by the, you know, the Catholic Right and to accepting that Caucus won’t go for it as a set piece but – and that a conscience vote is always unpredictable.

Linda Mottram : Yes, I do puzzle a bit over Julia Gillard’s position on that and I think – I like your take on it. I think that is the political reality that she’s been a part of. But clearly she – I mean, it’s just really interesting. She’s feeling it very personally, I think.

Mark Riley : Yeah I think, I think, that may be right. She has weathered some criticism because of her own personal circumstances but – and that’s utterly unfair. But I think it’s also unfair to project your own circumstances on to others and to use yourself as template for, you know, kind of moral guidance. Goodness me. But I also think that, you know, we have a tradition in Australia of prime ministers who take a very conservative position on this. You know, the community’s way out ahead – we’re much more progressive, we’re much more accepting than our political leaders and it may take a grassroots campaign, the sort of thing we’re seeing now with GetUp! and other organisations to just build some awareness and a bit of indicative polling to tell politicians to get with it.

Linda Mottram: To catch up. Yeah, yeah indeed.

Yeah, indeed.  So on Tuesday 12 June Linda Mottram joined Mark Riley and Latika Bourke and Fran Kelly in declaring that Julia Gillard is wrong on same sex marriage. Just wrong.  No other view was heard – just the ABC group-think position on same sex marriage.

● Philip Clarke’s Interviewing Style Highlights ABC Same Sex Marriage Group-Think

While on the topic of the ABC and same sex marriage, consider the interviews conducted by Philip Clarke on Radio National Breakfast on 14 May 2012. Philip Clarke was standing in for Fran Kelly who, presumably, was on what journalists call a well-earned break.

First up, Clarke interviewed Dr Lachlan Dunjey, one of 150 doctors who signed a petition opposing same sex marriage on the grounds that having same sex parents may be detrimental to the health of children of the union.  Clarke mockingly accused Dunjey of “ignoring medical and scientific research” and of expressing a “preferential view”.  Clarke also verballed Dunjey by implying that he believed that “homosexuality is an abnormality”.  Clarke then suggested that Dunjey had a “judgmental view about homosexuality”.

Then it was time for another sneer.  Clarke said to Dunjey: “So, some of your best friends are gay?”  The interview concluded as follows:

Philip Clarke: Some listening might say – well, look, Dr Dunjey is just really. homophobic.  That’s all there is.  I mean, that there are people in the community who are homophobic and there are people that are not – and Dr Dunjey is homophobic and that’s where his views come from. Is that a fair observation?

Lachlan Dunjey : I, I, I think that’s very sad. It’s disappointing just how many interpret our defence of marriage as being an attack on homosexuals.  Doctors have always accepted people of different beliefs and behaviours with care and compassion.  That is what we do, that is who we are.  No, definitely not homophobic; I’m quite happy to have gay people as patients. I have at least several, and they respect my judgment on matters medical.

Philip Clarke: Mm, okay. Alright, Dr Dunjey, we’ll leave it there.  Thank you.

Mm. Okay.  Philip Clarke concluded the interview having suggested to Dr Dunjey that his views on same sex marriage were wrong – just wrong – and that he was a bigot.

Then gay activist, Dr Kerryn Phelps, got the right of reply to Dr Dunjey.   Immediately Philip Clarke reverted to a soft interviewing mode.  However, at the end of interview, Clarke suggested that Professor Kuruvilla George – who also signed the petition – should be removed from a government position which he held.

Philip Clarke : Mm. One of the signatories to the submission is Professor Kuruvilla George. Now, he’s Victoria’s Deputy Psychiatrist, Chief Psychiatrist, and he’s also on the board of the state’s Equal Opportunity Commission. Is that a tenable position for Professor George? Should he be removed from his public position?

Karen Phelps : I think it’s an untenable conflict of interest to be honest. And I really think that the Victorian government should today be looking at his publicly held positions. Because, it might be one thing for him  to hold a private view, but to publicly state that on a Senate submission, and to put his name to the piece of rubbish that was submitted to the Senate in the name of Doctors for the Family, I think makes his opposition as a publicly appointed official untenable.

Philip Clarke : Mm. Alright, Doctor Phelps, we’ll leave it there, thank you.

Mm. Alright.  Philip Clarke concluded the interview seemingly in agreement with Dr Phelps that opponents of same sex marriage have no right to sit on government commissions. In other words, the ABC’s group-think on same sex marriage prevailed.

Final Score

Maurice Newman : 5

Jonathan Holmes: 0

Mark Scott (who replaced  J. Holmes at half-time):  0

* * * * *

Until next time.