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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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

“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”

– Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)

Stop Press : Featuring Geoff Kitney, Bob Ellis & Marieke Hardy

Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: A (Sad) Fran Kelly Moment

Maurice Newman Segment : ABC Carbon-Tax Group Think

By Popular Request : Some Gratuitous Advice for the Mid-Winter Ball

● Can You Bear It?  Mark Latham at Lunch with Michael Kroger; Louise Adler Forgets Ceausescu Aussie Visit; Mark Riley On Tony Abbott’s Soul & the Jesuit Order

● Five Paws Award – Paul Ormonde and Ita Buttrose

Nancy’s Old Bones: Tim Flannery’s False Prophecy On the Drought

● Correspondence – With Special Thanks to Julian Morrow & Malcolm Farr (What a Unity Ticket)


● Geoff Kitney’s Political Sauce

Great  “Canberra Observed” piece by Geoff Kitney in The Australian Financial Review this morning titled “Abbott, the politician who cried wolf”.  [Hasn’t your man Kitney written much the same article on 87 previous occasions? –  Ed]. And what great sources.  The AFR’s senior national affairs writer reported that “Labor’s optimists are seeing faint signs of hope” in the battle against Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

And what about Kitney’s exclusive sources?  Here they are, namely – (i) “a senior Labor figure”, (ii) “A Labor minister”, (iii) “Labor MPs”, (iv) “some” Gillard supporters, (v) “ministers”, (vi) “a senior minister” and (vii) “Labor optimists”.  Wow.

● Over The Top With Bob Ellis and Friend Marieke Hardy

It is just four days since leftist activist and GetUp! director Simon Sheikh fainted on Q&A. So, it’s time, to nominate the winners of the prizes for the most over-the-top reaction.

Immediately after the event Bob Ellis wrote a piece in his Table Talk blog.  The False  Prophet of Palm Beach opined:

Now that assassination is official American foreign policy I did not find it hard to imagine, five minutes ago, that Simon Sheikh had been poisoned and there would be more men and women of the Left so dealt with in the future.

Your man Ellis continued to bang on about the CIA and all that before concluding:

If Simon has a history of epilepsy, fine. If he ate a dodgy oyster tonight, okay. But you wonder, you really do.

So there you have it.  The (evil) hand of the CIA reaches even into the Q&A’s leftist sandal-wearing audience and strikes down Mr Sheikh.

And there is the case of ABC favourite Marieke Hardy who is a regular on The First Tuesday Book Club.  Simon Sheikh’s head had barely hit the Q&A table before Ms Hardy criticised fellow Q&A panellist Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella for not responding sooner. According to the tweet:

Marieke Hardy @ mariekehardy

Sophie Mirabella: “Oh look, someone”s collapsed. But he”s a political opponent so he can go f–k himself.”

In fact, only two Q&A panellists stood up and moved towards Mr Sheikh following his collapse. Greg Combet was the first, followed by Graeme Morris. The rest, including Tony Jones, seemed stunned.  Yet, according to Marieke Hardy, Ms Mirabella wasn’t interested. [Could this be because Ms Hardy believes her mentor Bob Ellis’s theory that the CIA was responsible and that Mirabella was placed next to Sheikh to thwart resuscitation as part of a cunning Langley (Virginia) plot?  Could it? – Ed].



Nancy’s co-owner was touched, quite touched, by Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly’s appearance on the Insiders program last Sunday.  Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly is a well known barracker for a carbon tax.  So, it was moving to note Ms Kelly’s evident sadness that the hoi polloi apparently does not agree with the Labor/Greens position on climate change.

Let’s pause for a moment to respect Ms Kelly’s sadness – as told to Insiders viewers. After criticising Tony Abbott and the Coalition, the RN presenter reflected:

The Coalition’s message is : “This is all awful, it’s going to be terrible, the pain is going to be there for no gain.” The Government’s saying: “It’s not going to be so painful because we’re compensating you, just relax and it’s the only way to get something done on climate change”.

Sadly, the Government is giving that message against a great drop in the polls in terms of the general community’s unpreparedness to take any pain on action on climate change.

Verily – and sadly – A Fran Kelly Moment.



Due to unprecedented 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 Monday, the ABC Radio PM program addressed the issue of human induced climate change. It was the day after the introduction of the carbon tax/ETS, and PM interviewed only carbon tax advocates who either support the Gillard Government’s scheme or who believe that Labor should be doing more.

PM presenter Mark Colvin handed over to PM reporter Timothy McDonald who essentially agreed with Tim Flannery (Chief Commissioner, Climate Commission) who essentially agreed with John Connor (Chief Executive Officer, Climate Institute) who essentially agreed with Hugh Outhred (Professorial Visiting Fellow, University of New South Wales) who essentially agreed with Peter Newman (Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University) who essentially agreed with Peter Christoff (Associate Professor, Melbourne University) who essentially agreed with Timothy McDonald who essentially agreed with Tim Flannery.  Get the picture? None of those interviewed was a climate scientist and neither Connor nor Christoff have formal qualifications in science or a related field.

No other view was heard from either those who believe that Australia should not be out in front on this issue or who doubt that a carbon tax/ETS in Australia will achieve anything.

The likes of Messrs Colvin, McDonald, Flannery, Outhred, Newman and Christoff are all on taxpayer funded payrolls.  Mr Connor is not – but he is employed by an advocacy group to advocate what is called action on climate change.  Also, the Climate Institute does receive some government funding. Peter Christoff is on the board of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Sounds like ABC group-think to MWD. So the score for this week’s challenge is:

Maurice Newman : 5

Jonathan Holmes : Zip


MWD is genuinely surprised by the journalistic glass jaw to criticism – which was evident again in the response by some members of the Canberra Press Gallery to last week’s essentially light-hearted piece on the 2012 Mid-Winter Ball.

It is known that many journalists, who spend their lives criticising others, do not much like anyone criticising them – even in an irreverent and not completely serious tone.  MWD’s contacts in Canberra have advised of the reaction within sections of the Gallery to MWD Issue 143.  And both Malcolm Farr and Julian Morrow were silly enough to vent their anger by emails and tweets.  See the Correspondence Section, MWD Issue 143 and today.

Since sections of the Canberra Press Gallery and others have reacted with such evident hostility to what were, after all, irreverent comments in a blog – here is some serious criticism. Journalists should recall that their profession, on occasions, does criticise the charity fund-raising dinners of others. So, here is MWD’s oh-so-serious (gratuitous) advice about the charity fund-raising Mid-Winter Ball.

▪ If Malcolm Farr, speaking on behalf of the Mid-Winter Ball Committee, calls together sponsors in a large room to thank them – it helps to have the microphone on.  If a political leader addressed a meeting without checking the audio – he/she would expect to be criticised by the media.

▪ If, unavoidably, a Dinner is running late – it helps if the organisers advise guests that this is the case and give reasons.

▪ If guests are asked to assemble at 7.30 pm, it helps if organisers say something – anything – before 10.20 pm. It’s simply common courtesy to welcome guests – especially  such figures as the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader.

▪ If the Prime Minister and Opposition leader have given up valuable time at the end of a very busy day to attend the Mid-Winter Ball, they don’t deserve to be slagged by a comedian like Julian Morrow – however funny he is on occasions.

In particular, Julian Morrow should have been counselled not to bag Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott after their respective speeches.  It’s called courtesy – and professionalism – since neither Ms Gillard nor Mr Abbott had a right of reply to Julian Morrow.

▪ If, for whatever reason, a  Dinner is running late, it makes sense to cut planned speeches and performances.  Julian Morrow’s oration – at the suggested 20 minutes length – was too long in view of the circumstances in which the function was running about 40 minutes behind time.  And “The House Howlers” could have cut their somewhat tired act.

▪ If Julian Morrow claims that he will be an equal-opportunity critic on the night, he should honour his promise.  This would have required laughing not only at Labor leader Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott – but also Greens’ leader Christine Milne or her predecessor Bob Brown.  This did not happen at the 2012 Mid-Winter Ball.  Morrow’s performance was a standard ABC affair – where Labor and the Coalition are criticised from the left.

▪ Julian Morrow should be advised that it is bad manners to cite Mark Scott’s salary before an audience of 600 – unless Mr Morrow is prepared to reveal how much money he also receives from the ABC in front of the same audience.   Especially since the ABC was one of the sponsors of the 2012 Mid-Winter Ball.

In conclusion, it’s appropriate to mention that the catering side of the 2012 Mid-Winter Ball went very well. The food was fine and the service great.  But, then, this part of the evening was not organised by Malcolm Farr and his journalistic colleagues on the Mid-Winter Ball Committee.


● Once a Liberal Hater, Mark Latham  Does Lunch With Michael Kroger

It’s less than a decade since failed Labor leader Mark Latham led the Opposition to defeat at the hands of John Howard in the 2004 election campaign.  Once a media hater, the Lair of Liverpool has now joined the media in order to augment his $78,000 (fully indexed) taxpayer funded superannuation pension.

These days Mark Latham can be heard on Sky News (part owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited) and can be read in the Australian Financial Review (part owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Limited) calling for a Howard-like approach to asylum seekers and advocating labour market deregulation and bagging the ABC as a “bastion of the Australian left”.  Can you believe it?

Now the Lair of Liverpool is the host of the Weekend Financial Review’s lunch series.  Last Saturday, Latham reported on lunch with his inaugural guest and new best friend. Step forward former Liberal Party operative Michael Kroger. It’s just a decade since Mr Latham told Maxine McKew: “I’m a hater. Part of the tribalness of politics is to really dislike the other side with intensity and the more I see of them the more I hate them (The Bulletin, 2 July 2002). Latham also told Ray Hadley that he hoped his “little boy” would hate John Howard just as, as a boy, he learnt “to hate Bob Menzies” (2GB, 26 June 2002). Now Mark Latham does fine dining with Michael Kroger.

What’s more, the Lair of Liverpool seems to have become – wait for it – a food snob.  Last Saturday’s column contained such insights as: “On earlier visits to Gemelle, I found the chilli crab shell entree to be irresistible”. Fancy that. And : “By now Kroger is picking lightly at his main course of crumbed whiting”. How frightfully interesting.

Can you bear it?

Louise Adler Forgets Ceauşescu’s Aussie Official Visit

What a stunning performance by Louise Adler – MWD’s favourite publisher – on Q&A on 25 June.  Early on, in response to an approved question from the audience, Ms Adler got stuck into Gina Rinehart – as they do (on Q&A at least).  Ms Adler thought it appropriate to reveal personal details about a time when she had been a house guest of Lang Hancock (Gina Rinehart’s father). Let’s go to the transcript:

Petar Rajic : Thanks, Tony [Jones]. With the Australian press soon to become a Coles and Woollies style duopoly of Murdoch and Rinehart, would the panel advocate stricter media ownership rules before we reach the stage where all we see, hear and read in this country are the talking points of two rich demagogues?

Tony Jones : Louise Adler?

Louise Adler : Well, if I could, very briefly. I think your question is an excellent one. I have my own sort of very special experience of the family Hancock. I had a sleepover at the Hancock home – let”s call it a home or hacienda or estate – some years ago when Lang Hancock was still alive.  And I remember there was an evening I stayed over in the villa in the Rose Garden, underlined Rose, and I slept upstairs. My husband is very keen on me not saying I slept on top of Joh Bjelke-Petersen. But I was upstairs and he was downstairs. And over dinner, Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Lang Hancock and his wife at the time and someone from the National Party, whose name I can’t remember, actually talked about the strong leadership that was missing in Australia today and they mused about the strong leaders they knew and loved and admired and thought that we needed them.

The first name that came up was the Shah of Iran and the second name that came up was a chap called “Nicky” and I really couldn”t figure out “Nicky” was until bolt of lightning hit me and I realised that they were talking about Nicu Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator with whom Lang [Hancock] was trying to do a mining deal. And so I agree with you that we should be very worried. We should be deeply worried.

Here are some facts.  The Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu was killed in December 1989 during the anti-communist uprising some two decades ago.  Gina Rinehart (nee Hancock) was not present when the alleged conversation between Lang Hancock and Joh Bjelke Petersen took place – presumably some time in the 1980s.  Yet, according to Ms Adler, it is appropriate to link Gina Rinehart with a conversation which (allegedly) took place between her late father and someone else many years ago.  By the way, the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1978 and he died the following year.

There is another point which neither presenter Tony Jones nor any other member of the Q&A panel mentioned. The fact is that, in the late 1980s, the likes of Hancock and Bjelke Petersen were not the only Australians who had time for Ceauşescu. So did some of Louise Adler’s Labor mates.

Believe it or not, in April 1988 Nicolae Ceauşescu made an official visit to Australia.  He met Prime Minister Bob Hawke in Canberra.  And he was fawned over by then Western Australian Labor premier Peter Dowding who went so far as to visit Ceauşescu in Bucharest in September 1988.  Yet Louise Adler saw fit to criticise Gina Rinehart’s non-association with Ceauşescu while ignoring Peter Dowding’s one-time apparent infatuation with the Romanian dictator.

Can you bear it? [Er, not really. – Ed].

Mark Riley on Mr Abbott’s Jesuitical Battered Soul

According to 702 presenter Deborah Knight, Mornings with Linda Mottram presenter – the one and only Linda Mottram – is on a “well-earned break”.  [Don’t any members of the journalistic profession take holidays? – Ed].

So MWD has gone back to last week – when Linda Mottram spoke to Channel 7’s Mark Riley about national politics on 26 June.  There was a predictable criticism of Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s approach to asylum seeker issues.  And then the very ABC Ms Mottram suggested that Mr Abbott put politics above saving lives. Let’s go to the transcript:

Linda Mottram : …that leads to the accusation that Tony Abbott’s government [sic] is putting politics, building its political future on the top of those dead bodies off the sea off Java.

Mark Riley : Yeah, look, it’s an extreme accusation. And look, you know, Tony Abbott is a very complex person but I know one thing about him. He’s, I’m sure he is – within that battered soul that was shaped by the Jesuits – at war with himself about this.  And, you know, I think that’s a really, yeah, it’s a tough accusation to make against a man and a party. I think what they’re doing at the moment is playing the politics to the end and I think politics here is trumping policy to the determent of the country and to Australia’s international standing. And I think it will continue to do so until such time as the people, as your listeners and my viewers and the readers of newspapers (as many of them who remain) say: “We’ve had enough of this, seriously.”

So according to Network 7’s political editor, the asylum seeker problem is all Tony Abbott’s fault.  Moreover, according to Mr Riley, Tony Abbott possesses a “battered soul that was shaped by the Jesuits”.

Nancy’s co-owner read (once upon a time) the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  Even so, he has no idea what a “battered soul” looks like – let alone a “battered soul” that is “shaped by the Jesuits”.

What is Mark Riley on about?  Alternatively, what is Mark Riley on?  Can you bear it?


● Paul Ormonde- On The White Australia Policy

One of the myths of Australian history is that Labor’s Gough Whitlam abolished the White Australia Policy in the early 1970s. In fact, Coalition prime minister Harold Holt effectively dismantled White Australia in March 1966.

So, well done to journalist Paul Ormonde who wrote this in his obituary on Anthony Marum Harold, which was published in The Age on 31 May 2012:

The lay journal Catholic Worker, to which Harold contributed a biting monthly column, devoted its issue of March 1960 to the cause of immigration reform, and tentatively suggested that 50,000 Asians a year, in an average total intake of 100,000, should be a long-term objective.

The Immigration Reform Group launched  a national campaign featuring a cartoon by the late WEG (William Green) showing a multi-wired visitor from Mars, confronting in a puzzled way two earthlings, one white and one black, and asking them to please explain what was the difference between them. Harold loved the cartoon and the Catholic Worker featured it. The White Australia policy was formally abolished in 1967 by Harold Holt’s Coalition government….

Paul Ormonde: Five Paws.

● Ita Buttrose – On ABC1’s Paper Giants

At long last Ita Buttrose has spoken publicly about what was known privately to some.

MWD Issue 138 referred to a substantial damages settlement which ABC and Southern Star reached with Alisdair Macdonald, following the screening of Paper Giants on ABC1.  Paper Tigers completely misrepresented the nature of Macdonald’s marriage to Buttrose in the film.

In an interview with Mumbrella on 4 July, Ita Buttrose commented:

I told them it was incorrect – and that was before the show ever went to air. I couldn’t persuade them to change it.

The revised edition of Ita Buttrose’s A Passionate Life contains the following passage:

Overall I was pleased and thought it [Paper Giants] captured well the spirit of the seventies, but I was always concerned that the drama was a mixture of real people being portrayed as themselves with experiences that actually happened plus ones that didn’t, being portrayed as fact rather than fiction.

This turned out to be particularly true in the way my first husband was depicted. I was upset about this and sent Southern Star producer John Edwards an email on 6 March 2011 – before the show went to air – about my concerns. I also relayed them to scriptwriter Christopher Lee, who was sympathetic but told me “You win some you lose some, Ita”.

The real loser here is the Australian taxpayer which, due to the ABC’s unprofessionalism in this instance, had to fund a substantial settlement.  At least, Ita Buttrose has revealed who is to blame – namely the ABC and Southern Star.

Ita Buttrose: Five Paws.



While on the topic of Professor Tim Flannery (see above), didn’t he put on a stunning performance with the ABC TV’s very own John Doyle – on the Two on the Great Divide series?  This documentary recently completed its showing on ABC TV1 and the DVD of the program is now being advertised on the advertisement-free broadcaster. [Hang on a minute. When the ABC flogs its DVDs, books etc, this can’t be advertising because the ABC does not believe in advertising.  Surely it must be “product endorsement” or some such – Ed].

Episode 2 of Two on the Great Divide was MWD’s favourite.  It depicted your man Flannery and your man Doyle on Queensland’s Gold Coast.  This gave the opportunity for Flannery and Doyle to sneer at the locals and their chosen life-style.  Doyle declared “this isn’t the place for Tim” and Flannery declared that Surfers Paradise reminded him of a “hybrid between Miami and Dubai”.  Then John Doyle threw the switch to inner-city snobbery and bagged Surfers Paradise with the following put-down:

John Doyle : It doesn’t look like an Australia here I recognise at all. But this is someone’s vision and I’d say it’s a confused vision. I hope we see more balance than we’ve seen….

John Doyle should not worry too much. If Tim Flannery’s prophecy is correct, Surfers Paradise will fall victim to human induced climate change and will be wiped off the map.  And soon – or relatively soon.

Nightmare in Paradise

Earlier in the program, looking down on Surfers Paradise, Tim Flannery predicted the end of paradise – as we know it – in this part of the world. Let’s go to the DVD:

Tim Flannery : This 77 storey-tall building [Skypoint] is built on a little beach ridge. You can see just a couple of sand dunes. And behind it is this enormous area that used to be a swamp that runs all the way back to the mountains. And those mountains ring the swamp like at the edge of a bowl. And just look at how densely populated it is – the number of houses, bridges, every sort of human infrastructure. You can imagine what would happen here if a big storm blew in. You’d get a storm surge that could easily come over this little, insignificant sand dune here. You’d have enormous amount of rainfall, all of the rivers flowing into the basin and flood. So this is really Australia’s nightmare scenario, I think, in terms of a big catastrophe.

So there you have it – yet another “big catastrophe” as forecasted by Tim Flannery.  Later on, Tim and John went house/apartment viewing at  Surfers Paradise.  Flannery said that the “sea level is projected to rise by over a metre by the end of the century”.  Whereupon Doyle declared that “you’d market this as the St Mark’s Square of Australia or Australia’s Venice”.

Funny, eh?  And, who knows? The pundits may be correct on this.  Or not – as the case may be.  The problem is that Tim Flannery is very much a failed prophet – despite his protestations to the contrary.

Flannery Denies Previous False Prophecies on RN

Interviewed by Jonathan Green on RN’s Sunday Extra on 6 May 2012, Flannery defended his past (failed) predictions:

Jonathan Green : Now, your opponents in this country made a lot of play of predictions that you’ve made in the past. Should you have been quite so precise in the things you were saying, or should you have been more cautious, hedged your bets?

Tim Flannery : Look, I stand by what I’ve said. You know, what I’ve talked about is the range of projections that scientists can see may eventuate in future. Now, when you hear some of those quotes, they’re tiny snippets that are out of context, that can be twisted to sound, you know, strange, or unbelievable. But, you know, the truth is that as we look at a century or so, the sort of changes that we could bring about if we keep polluting are actually quite substantial, and very adverse. You know, they create really challenging circumstances for our children and grandchildren, and no-one wants to see that.

The Real Thing – Flannery’s 2007 Prediction That Dams Would Never Fill Again

Jonathan Green readily accepted Tim Flannery’s claim that his predictions have been taken out of context. What a load of tosh.  This is what Tim Flannery himself wrote in an editorial titled “Australia – not such a lucky country” in the New Scientist magazine on 16 June 2007 – shortly before the drought ended in Eastern Australia.  This is the first paragraph:

Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.

Tim Flannery continued:

The cities need drought-proofing by, for example, installing water tanks in all dwellings that can accept them. Because in affected areas the decline in river flow is three times that in rainfall, water tanks that use roofs as catchments are now far more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. Recycling can help too. This needs new investment and in some instances will require state government water monopolies to be broken up. It will cost more, but the benefits in terms of water security and recapture of nutrients in solid wastes are immense. Desalination plants can provide insurance against drought. In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources.

That was in June 2007.  Just four years later, the dams which supply Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are over-flowing or near full.  Yet Tim Flannery confidently predicted that the dams which supply Australia’s principal East Coast cities would “no longer fill even when it does rain”.

Contrary to Flannery’s assertion in his soft interview with Jonathan Green, his false prophecy is not taken out of context.  It’s just wrong, that’s all.

So the question is this.  If Tim Flannery’s prophecies are capable of being discredited in just four years – why should anyone take his 100 year predictions seriously? Except on the taxpayer funded ABC, of course.


Once again, thanks to MWD’s correspondents who have made it possible to run this enormously popular segment again this week.

Well done Julian Morrow – one of The Chaser Boys (average age 36).  MWD is quite flattered that Master Morrow takes himself seriously enough to write to Nancy’s co-owner. And thanks to’s Malcolm Farr whose tweet and article sparked this correspondence which ended in a (cheerful) whimper.  Thanks also to Mr Farr for providing an endorsement which has been placed on the cover page. Not quite up to Bob Ellis’ standards – but a good effort, nevertheless.


The Chaser Boy’s email takes over from the correspondence printed in MWD Issue 143.  Here we go:

Julian Morrow to Gerard Henderson – 1 July 2012

Dear Gerard

Well I guess it was nice of you to be complimentary about my speech in your email (26 June 1:41pm). I was amused by the contrast between the content and tone of that email and then your description in Media Watch Dog – I guess it”s reassuring to know that when you write, you even misrepresent yourself!

I know that accuracy or good humour are not part of the house style at Media Watch Dog, but I thought you might be interested in the attached extract from the rundown for the Mid-Winter Ball. It shows that what you called “narcissism” is in fact called “being asked to give a 20 minute speech”. (Since maths haven”t always been a strong point either, 9:45pm to 10:05pm equals 20 minutes).

It also shows that the event did indeed run a bit late – which is hardly surprising given the events of the day. For what it”s worth, you are the only person I”ve heard complain about that.

Please don”t feel the need, indeed try to resist if you can the urge to reply to this. It”s obvious that the intended audience for your replies is the readership of Media Watch Dog, so it”d be better for all concerned if you just go straight to that step. You are indeed more concerned about good manners than I am, so I”ll leave it to you to decide if you should correct your errors on the way, no doubt, to adding a characteristically sour rejoinder.

Perhaps to help the Mid-Winter Ball”s fundraising next year, as others do the Sydney Institute could donate a dinner for 4 with a guarantee that you won”t attend the dinner … I reckon they”d raise a motza. As I say, please feel as free as you did last time to publish this in full.

Very best wishes


Gerard Henderson to Julian Morrow – 3 July 2012

Dear Julian

Thanks for your note of Sunday evening.

For someone who has made a profession out of laughing at others – with a little assistance from applied trespass – I am genuinely surprised at your apparent lack of self-awareness.

My first email to you (26 June, 1.41 pm) commenced as follows:

Brilliant performance as master of ceremonies at the 2012 Mid Winter Ball last night with some good jokes and some bad taste (as expected from “the Chaser Boys” – average age 38).

Absolutely brilliant speech in fact, albeit not quite as funny as Rob Oakeshott’s Parliament House gag of recent memory – even if your monologue was somewhat longer.

I now learn that you regarded this comment as “complimentary”. How about that?  Most non-narcissists with a degree of self-awareness would have picked the irony.  After all, most of us would not regard it as a compliment to be told that one of our speeches was not as funny as Rob Oakeshott’s oration of September 2010 – but longer.

Then there is the matter of your evident sensitivity.  At the Mid-Winter Ball, you referred to Gina Rinehart as “the elephant not in the room” and reassured Julia Gillard that she would become “Australia’s first female ex-prime minister”. But you are aggrieved that I described your speech as a case study in “narcissism”, while conceding that it did contain some good jokes.

I am willing to correct errors in my review of the Mid-Winter Ball in MWD 143 – but, so far, you have not identified any.  In my view, since the speeches started some 30 minutes late, you could have reduced the length of your monologues.  But, then, I am neither a comedian nor a trespasser. So, what would I know?  I’m merely a scribbler for MWD – which seems to upset some media types. Your good self included.

Good joke in your final para.  But, alas, not sparkling new.  Your Chaser “Boy” colleague Chris Taylor ran an almost identical joke about me in Crikey on 21 June 2012.  No doubt Boy Taylor will be flattered.

Best wishes – and keep morale high.


Julian Morrow to Gerard Henderson – 3 July 2012


* * * * *


Gerard Henderson responded to Malcolm Farr’s tweet and article about MWD’s exclusive review of the Mid Winter Ball in Issue 143. Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to Malcolm Farr – 3 July 2012


It’s just four days since you posted the following tweet:

GHenderson critical of MidWinter Ball. Those puzzled by this must take into account that Gerard is a complete f-ckwit.

My reaction was immediate.  I put a cold towel on my forehead and lay down for a day – or two.

When I arose from the bed, I read your piece on titled “Mid Winter Brawl: ‘Why I called him a complete f-ckwit’.”

Pardon the one error in my MWD piece on the Mid-Winter Ball. I was so impressed by the colour photo of you on the program that I cut it out and placed it in my cult-of-personality file.  Consequently, because of the subsequent hole in my program, I was not able to check your correct position when I wrote MWD last Friday. That’s how it came to pass that I described you as a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery committee – rather than a member of the Mid-Winter Ball Committee. I will correct this.

As for the rest, all I can say is that – as a journalist who criticises others – you are remarkably sensitive to light-hearted criticism.  All I said about the event was that someone should have said something before 10.20 pm. That’s all.

One final point.  You referred to an unnamed “researcher who provides some of the deep thoughts Henderson parades as his own in columns”.

No such person exists.  I do my own research for my Sydney Morning Herald column and for my Media Watch Dog blog.

You seem to have accepted as true a rumour which Mark Latham put around in Crikey. You should know that Mr Latham makes things up and that Crikey does not engage a fact-checker. I would counsel you against running unchecked material which may come across via Google. It’s not good journalism.

By the way, I loved the shirt you wore on Insiders last Sunday. Wonderful.

Best wishes


Malcolm Farr to Gerard Henderson – 3 July 2012


* * * * *

Until next time.