3 AUGUST 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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: IR Club Academics and the Fair Work Act Debate

● Mike Carlton’s Leadership Confusion

● Tim Soutphommasane Bags Tony Abbott –  Without Evidence

● A Linda Mottram Moment: All Praise China – All Bag America

● Can You Bear It?  Lateline & Gore Vidal; Geoffrey Barker, Tony Abbott and the  Colorado Massacre; Paul Comrie-Thomson’s Counterpoint; Leslie Cannold’s Battle of the Remote Control

Q&A and Same-Sex Marriage – Episode 417

● Nancy on the Couch : Thinking About Bruce Springsteen, Gore Vidal, Stephen Mayne and Other Compulsives

● Correspondence: Nick Partridge on Mark Latham Daniel Brooks on Robert Manne


● The Industrial Relations Club Is Back In Town

On RN Drive last night, presenter Waleed Aly called on John Buchanan to analyse the review of the Fair Work Act. He was described as the Director of the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney.  No reference was made to the fact that Dr Buchanan is a self-declared socialist and a professed John Howard hater who is a long-time supporter of trade unions and a highly regulated industrial relations system.

Waleed Aly said nothing as John (“I’m a socialist”) Buchanan bagged the Productivity Commission and endorsed the views of Professor John Quiggin (who declared in November 2007 that the Liberal Party would never win a Federal election).

Earlier in the week on Tuesday, Fran Kelly had introduced Andrew Stewart as “an independent observer of the Fair Work Act”.  Ms Kelly had to be reminded during the middle of the interview that far from being an independent observer, Professor Stewart had advised Labor on drawing up the Fair Work Act.  He was now being asked by RN to comment on his own legislation.

It’s just like the days when the IR Club prevailed.  IR Club members are asked by journalists to comment on the IR system which they support and which employs them.  Little wonder that the likes of Dr Buchanan and Professor Stewart automatically endorse the status quo.

Richo on “These (Assange) Women”

MWD has just viewed the DVD of last Wednesday’s Richo program on Sky News.

Lo and behold, there was Graham Richardson challenging Four Corners and running a they-asked-for-it line against the two leftish Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange of sexual assault.

Richo described the behaviour of “these women” as “very odd”.  And he even suggested a conspiracy involving the women, the British and Swedish governments and the Obama Administration. Really.

Richo concluded that Assange’s current refuge in the Ecuador Embassy in London would be “almost akin to being in a prison”. In which case, MWD sympathises with the prison guards. After all, as Kathy Lette has revealed, Julian Assange is not house-trained.  See MWD 143.



MWD just loves Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton – and will forever be grateful for his kind (after lunch) endorsement of MWD which is on the front of this blog.

Mr Carlton is one of those columnists who like to tell political parties who should lead them. So is Phillip Adams.  And so is Janet Albrechtsen. On 21 July 2012 Mike Carlton told his SMH readers that it was time for Julia Gillard to go:

Time to face facts. Time to pull the pin. Julia Gillard is leading the Australian Labor Party towards a catastrophic election defeat, probably the worst in its federal history. For the good of the party and the good of the country, she must quit the prime ministership or be prised out of it. I write this with a heavy heart. Like millions of Australians, I had great hopes for her. When she replaced Kevin Rudd in June 2010, it seemed national politics had shifted up a gear to a new maturity.

Well, yes he did.  Carlton once declared that Julia Gillard was the answer to Labor’s problems.  Just as he once declared that Mark Latham was destined to become prime minister of Australia. This is what your man Mike wrote about the Lair of Liverpool in the SMH on 22 March 2004:

Mark Latham, usually described as the firebrand Member for Werriwa, may not be the next leader of the Labor Party, but he will most likely be its next prime minister. He will have to stop biffing taxi drivers, of course…

Of course. But Mike Carlton did not see why the leader of the workers’ party should be deprived from attaining the highest office in the land just because he bashed up the occasional taxi driver.  Fortunately, in the 2004 elections, the voters decided otherwise.

Mike Carlton’s 21 July 2012 column was replete with such sayings as Kevin Rudd “must”, “Caucus must be allowed”, there “will have to be a tap” on Gillard’s shoulder and so on.  Carlton concluded by predicting that Rudd would replace Gillard in “late August”.

Then, last Saturday, your man Carlton decided that Bob Carr – not Kevin Rudd – was the way for Labor to go. After lecturing Julia Gillard about how she should respond to the Health Services Union scandal, Carlton set out the scenario by which Carr can succeed Gillard. Here we go:

Carr would have to descend from the Senate to a winnable seat in the House of Representatives. That would be Kingsford Smith, his lifelong home and his power base as the state MP for Maroubra for 23 years. Peter Garrett holds that now on a slender-ish margin of 5.2 per cent, and he would have to graciously stand aside. The by-election would be furious and the risk would be huge with the Tories throwing the kitchen sink at it, but I suspect Carr could pull it off. Triumphantly. Think Honest Abe”s second inaugural.

So there you have it, bingo, easy as that. Bob”s yer uncle, our next prime minister, and the saviour of party and nation. Who dares wins.

Well, maybe Bob is Mike’s uncle. But Julia is not his aunt.  For the Mike Carlton thesis to work (i) Julia Gillard would have to stand down as Prime Minister, (ii) Peter Garrett would have to stand down as the Member for Kingsford Smith and (iii) Labor would have to hold what is now a marginal seat with a margin of just 5.2 per cent in a by-election.

Mike Carlton advised his readers to “think” Abraham Lincoln’s “second inaugural” address. Maybe. But Mike Carlton forgets that Lincoln’s second inaugural came from his re-election in 1864 – not before.



What do leftist academics – who write books without footnotes and endnotes and refuse to support their assertions with evidence when challenged – do in their spare time? (See MWD 2011 passim). Write for The Age, it seems.

Last Monday, The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra ran a predictable leftist rant against Tony Abbott by political philosopher Tim Soutphommasane. Dr Soutphommasane (for a doctor he is) used to write the “Ask the Philosopher” column in The Weekend Australian.  When nobody bothered to ask a question, Dr S moved to The Age.

In his article titled “Australia under Abbott”, Tim Soutphommasane:

▪ accused Tony Abbott of “thinking that Australia must seek security from Asia rather than security in it”.  Dr S did not reveal that his line was pinched (without acknowledgement) from Paul Keating.

▪  declared that Tony Abbott’s promise to “introduce a generous paid parental leave scheme” would be funded from the budget. This is hopelessly wrong.

▪ referred to Tony Abbott’s (alleged) “muscular Christianity”. This is yet more fashionable anti-Catholic sectarianism.  Dr S would never refer to a democratically elected politician’s “muscular Islam”. Christians, however, are easy targets for advocates of a multicultural Australia or so it seems.

▪ concluded that Abbott’s “hyper-partisanship is based on the templates of American Republicanism and Tea Party political activism”.  This is mere sloganeering – no evidence was cited in support of the allegation.

Tim Soutphommasane managed to write an entire column on the Liberal Party leader in The Age without quoting anything that Tony Abbott has written or said since 1994. Dr S is an academic.

[Interesting. You should return to this topic soon and also check out what Nick Dyrenfurth is on about over recent months.  I suspect that he has also found refuge in The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra. – Ed]


The Spin Doctors segment on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 is one of the most extraordinary  slots in the public broadcaster’s output.  Each Thursday two PR hacks [Do you mean Public Relations consultants? – Ed] are invited on to the so-called advertisement-free ABC to flag their wares.  The format entails that the PR types, who are introduced with reference to their professional status, are required to express their views of the issues of the day.  The Spin Doctors has been running for some years now.

Yesterday discussion included a focus on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent visit to Poland, Britain and Israel. Linda Mottram was the chair and the spin-doctors were former journalists Peter Wilkinson (Wilkinson PR) and Sam North (Ogilvy Public Relations).  Let’s go to the audio tape to hear the exchange between Mr Wilkinson and Ms Mottram about just how dumb American presidents – and presidential candidates– really are:

Peter Wilkinson :  ….we assume that American politicians are really up on foreign affairs. American politicians are brought up on American media, which is all about America. The United – It’s a bit like being brought up in the middle of China – all you get is Chinese media.  And so they don’t have, for example, Radio National, which gives us a really good diet on the Middle East in the mornings.

Linda Mottram : Yeah, yeah. It’s a truism that American presidents tend not to grasp the international dimensions to their job until about the last year of their term. However, this is 2012 –

So there you have it.  According to Peter Wilkinson, growing up in the media saturated United States is just like being “brought up in the middle of China” where there is no free press and widespread political censorship.  Few commentators would be so silly as to claim that the American media is no more informative or open than its Chinese equivalent.  Yet Linda Mottram did not challenge Wilkinson’s ridiculous assertion.

Mr Wilkinson told ABC listeners that what every American needs is ABC Radio National in the mornings.  He seems unaware that RN is replete with left-of-centre and leftist presenters, producers and commentators and does not have one conservative presenter or producer or regular commentator on any of its prominent programs.  See MWD Issue 143 et al.  There’s more diversity on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News than on ABC Radio National.

Then Linda Mottram declared it a “truism” that United States presidents “tend not to grasp the international dimensions to their job until about the last year of their term”.  What a load of tripe. It’s a given that George W. Bush is regarded as something of a joke on the ABC. But it is hopelessly wrong to regard American presidents like Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush (i.e. Bush Senior), Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, J.F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower as ignorant of international relations until the last year of their term.

Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.


Lateline’s Gore Vidal Fantasy

When such significant Americans as Ronald Reagan and Milton  Friedman died in June 2004 and November 2006 respectively, their deaths were ignored by the influential ABC Lateline program.

But when the alienated American leftist Gore Vidal crossed over (to use John Edward’s terminology) this week, Lateline devoted much of its program on Wednesday to the American writer.  There was a news report by Anna Maria Nicholson and, later, Tony Jones interviewed Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Abu Dhabi.  Senator Carr is a fully financial member of the Gore Vidal Admiration Society.  So it was unlikely that Bob Carr would be critical of Vidal – and he did not surprise.

Neither Anna Maria Nicholson nor Tony Jones mentioned  on Lateline that Gore Vidal was a conspiracy theorist who believed that (i) the CIA was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kenney in 1963, (ii) the Bush Administration was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 and (iii) that the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a misunderstood rebel with a just cause.

In other words, Lateline viewers were told all about the late Gore Vidal. Except for the embarrassing truth.  Can you bear it? [I note that you return to Gore Vidal and Australian politics in today’s “Nancy On The Couch” segment – Ed]

Geoffrey Barker’s Tony Abbott Fantasy

This is how Geoffrey Barker commenced his column titled “Friends, but not family” in last Tuesday’s Australian Financial Review:

Just days after the Colorado cinema massacre, Tony Abbott told America’s Heritage Foundation that “few Australians would regard America as a foreign country”. “We are more than allies. We’re family,” he said. It was a dumb, toadying remark. The shootings and the US political response to them confirmed again that the United States is a strange and at times troubling foreign country.  We may be allies and friends, but we cannot and should not aspire to be “family”.

Telling point about Tony Abbott’s insensitive poor timing?  Eh, not really.  Geoffrey Barker did not bother to check his facts. The Colorado massacre took place on Friday 20 July.  Tony Abbott addressed The Heritage Foundation on Wednesday 18 July – some two days before the massacre.

In other words, Geoffrey Barker’s comment was incorrect.  But he has not corrected his howler – despite the fact that the AFR publishes corrections on occasions.  Can you bear it?

Paul Comrie-Thomson’s Phillip Adams Fantasy

In last Friday’s Spectator Australia, Paul Comrie-Thomson reflected on his times as co-presenter (with Michael Duffy) and briefly sole presenter of the ABC Radio National Counterpoint program.  He concluded his column as follows:

So what was it like playing the role of a “right-wing Phillip Adams”?  Early in 2007 a Radio National presenter whispered to me in the stairwell: “You know, my partner listens to Counterpoint and he quite likes it!”  I responded with a warm smile and whispered back, “Never fear, Comrade, your secret is safe with me.” Six and a half years later, on my last day, the online RN “Editor’s Pick” flagged the Counterpoint interview “Clash of Economic Ideas”. Interesting times.

Turn it up.  Nancy’s co-owner knows Phillip Adams – and Paul Comrie-Thomson is no Phillip Adams.  Counterpoint goes to air at 4 pm on Mondays and repeats on Friday at 1 pm.  Neither is an attractive time slot.  Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live airs at 10 pm Mondays to Thursday with a special program on Fridays.  LNL repeats at 4 pm Tuesdays to Fridays.

In other words, Phillip Adams receives about five times the air-time allocated to Counterpoint and has a much more attractive time slot.

Moreover, Late Night Live is promoted on RN – including on the RN Breakfast program.  Counterpoint receives virtually no promotion.  Indeed, it was not even mentioned when RN announced its programs for 2012. See MWD Issue 143.

Despite Counterpoint being a poor relation at the ABC, Paul Comrie-Thomson believes that, for a time, he really was a right-wing Phillip Adams. Can you bear it?

Leslie Cannold’s Olympic Television Fantastic Whinge

Question: What does an ethicist do when confronted with a son who will not surrender a TV remote control? Answer: Nothing. Zip.

Interviewed for the Newspapers segment on ABC News Breakfast last Monday, the following discussion took place between the presenters and ethicist Dr Cannold:

Leslie Cannold : I just wish I could get to my TV. My son won’t actually let me get anywhere near the TV so I can’t – I can’t it watch it properly.

Michael Rowland: He’s not watching the Games? No?

Leslie Cannold : [sighs] No. There’s a lot of junk television out there to be watched and –

Michael Rowland: He’s unAustralian. What’s he doing?

Leslie Cannold : He’s watching crap and the footy [laughs]. I shouldn’t say footy’s crap but he’s watching crap and the footy.

Karina Carvalho : I think you need to get hold of that remote control

Leslie Cannold : I know, it’s all about the remote and believe me he’s got it wedged under his legs so I can’t access it.

Shucks. Fancy that.  Dr Cannold (for a doctor she is) saw fit to tell Australians that she cannot watch the London Olympics because her son monopolises the TV. This at a time when you can purchase another television for under $200. Can you bear it?


Sometimes it’s the question.  Sometimes it’s the answer.  But, no matter what the topic, the issue of same-sex marriage invariably finds its way on to ABC 1’s Q&A program.

Last Monday, the official theme was “A Q&A of Olympic Proportions”.  The panel was comprised of former tennis great John Alexander MP, Australian Rugby Union captain David Pocock, former swimming star Shane Gould, Olympic and Paralympic gold medallist Louise Sauvage and former Australian Football League great Michael O’Loughlin.

Viewers might have thought that the focus would be on the London 2012 Olympics, sport and all that.  And it was.  For a while at least.  Until 45 minutes into the program when audience member Kym Griffiths got the call from Tony Jones.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones : ….on a related subject, we’ve got a Kym Griffiths.

Kym Griffiths : Thanks, Tony. Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham struggled to attract sponsorship even after his 2008 Olympic gold medals or medal. Does the panel think that there”s still discrimination with regard to gay athletes, particularly in attracting corporate sponsorship?

Tony Jones : Let”s go to David [Pocock]. You mentioned by the way – we’ll before we move on to that –  I mean you mentioned your issue with gay marriage essentially.  And I understand you and Emma have actually refused to have a wedding ceremony until your gay friends can actually get married. Is that correct?

Brilliant, don’t you think?  Tony Jones managed to turn a question from Mr  Griffiths on whether some gay Olympic gold medallists struggle to attract sponsorship into the seemingly mandatory Q&A discussion on same-sex marriage.

Pretty soon David Pocock, who believes in same-sex marriage, agreed with Michael O’Loughlin who agreed with Louise Sauvage who agreed with David Pocock who agreed with Tony Jones’ implied position.  Tony Jones put a lot of pressure on Liberal backbencher John Alexander who demonstrated a certain difficulty in defending the Coalition’s opposition to same-sex marriage – as the following exchange demonstrates:

Tony Jones : So are you actually saying that you’d favour gay marriage personally but you can”t vote for it because of your policy?

John Alexander : Um. Are you saying personally? I think Jill would disagree with that.  But, not for me personally.

Tony Jones : No. No. I don’t mean that.

John Alexander : I was just trying to squirm around and get out of that.

Tony Jones : Well, perhaps you could just give us a straight answer now and we”ll be happy.

As it turned out, John Alexander remained uncomfortable but ended up saying that at the moment his electorate does not support gay marriage.  Tony Jones did not ask Shane Gould for her opinion. [How frightfully interesting.  Could this be because Ms Gould, a committed Christian, might have opposed same-sex marriage – which would be heresy in the Q&Gay Church. – Ed]

Perhaps the highlight of the segment occurred when David Pocock warned against marginalising what he termed “the LGBTI community”.  Let’s go to the transcript where – after a stream of unconsciousness ramble covering football codes, athletes, Jason Akermanis – Pocock declared:

We have to be challenging homophobia so that people, regardless of their sexuality, can express that. And with John I think, you know, the biggest thing in this debate is that we”re dealing with people here. And how can you blame someone for what they are? People don”t choose their sexuality and we marginalise the LGBTI community for what they are. So I think this is a conversation that needs to be had…

No one bothered to spell out what “LGBTI” stood for.  Presumably Tony Jones thought that no such clarification was necessary since Q&A is filmed before a live audience in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Ultimo types are very LGBTI aware – unlike folk in the outer suburbs and regional centres.

True to form, Q&A is using last Monday’s exchange between Michael O’Loughlin and David Pocock on same-sex marriage to promote next week’s program.

If there is to be another same-sex marriage discussion on Q&A next Monday, Nancy proposes the following (spontaneous) question from the audience: “In view of the support within the ABC for same sex marriage, why not do a Q&A on the topic at, say, Lakemba. We’ve heard about the Christian opposition to same sex marriage.  Why not hear the Muslim position?”


● On the Media’s Fascination with “Bruce” Swan & “Gore” Carr

Nancy Asks: As you know, I’m totally deaf. So perhaps you might lend your ears to my inquiry.  On Wednesday, I saw moving pictures of Treasurer Wayne Swan dressed up in a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt and showing off his collection of The Boss’s records from around four decades ago. Could it be that that the media believes that Mr Swan’s views on Bruce Springsteen’s music are relevant to Australia?

Then, on Wednesday night, I saw Tony Jones interview Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Lateline.  The discussion was preceded with footage of the recently departed Gore Vidal – including past interviews with Lateline’s Tony Jones.  Could it be that the media believes that Senator Carr’s views on the late Gore Vidal are more interesting than his views on, say, Syria or Libya?

Inky Responds: Good questions.  In the 24 Hours News cycle, the media needs some distractions. Some props, in fact. Wayne Swan banging on about inequality – as he did in his book Postcodes – would be totally boring.  But Mr Swan channelling The Boss on inequality can even make his recycled attacks on Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart worth re-cycling again.  What’s more, most of us love a “Back to Nambour High” occasion and it was truly moving to hear the Treasurer discussing such Springsteen hits as Born to Run and Badlands.

Then there is the point that Mr Springsteen is a working class man. Of all the working class heroes who live on millionaire’s row, he is my favourite.

Without The Boss and all that, I doubt that journalists would have bothered even reporting Wayne Swan’s John Button Memorial Lecture. Also, I note that the attention has been of some assistance to John Button himself.  Writing in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Bruce McDougall referred to the New Democracy Foundation and declared that “former senators Fred Chaney and John Button” are “linked” with the organisation.   This is a quite remarkable achievement – especially since John Button died in April 2008.

This shows the impact of “Bruce” Swan.  The Treasurer does Springsteen at the John Button Memorial Lecture, and the very next morning, John Button is alive and well – albeit only in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

●  On Election Compulsion & Stephen Mayne

Nancy Asks : I note that the self-proclaimed shareholder activist Stephen Mayne – who has more front than shares – seems to believe that it is compulsory to run in Federal/State/Local Government elections and by-elections.  As I understand it, in the by-election for the Victorian State seat of Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, Mr Mayne came in fourth – under not only Labor and the Greens but also under the gorgeous Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party.

As I recall, Jon Faine had a panel of three in his pre-election coverage of the campaign on ABC Metropolitan Radio 774.  Stephen Mayne was on the panel – along with Labor’s Jennifer Kanis and Greens’ candidate Cathy Oke.  Ms Patten was excluded since Jon Faine reckoned that Mayne would come in third. So did Mr Mayne, who told Crikey on 17 July 2012: “I’m confident I’m going to finish third.”  Mr Faine was fooled.  Mayne came in fourth.  How is it that Stephen Mayne always loses elections but manages to convince the likes of the ABC and The Age that he is always going to campaign well and consequently receives so much media attention.

Inky Responds: You’re on to something here.  Know how heavy drinkers have to imbibe to quench their thirst?  Well, it’s much the same with campaignoholics.  It’s a case of the short-term narcissistic benefits, which come from contesting elections, prevailing over the long term negatives of election failure. In other words, the contest is more important than the result.

Stephen Mayne loves to believe that people love him.  He always anticipates lots of election support – until reality hits when the ballot boxes are opened.  But, like the poor, elections are always with us. So it’s not long before Mr Mayne can contest another election campaign and go on television and radio yet again to talk about himself yet again.  Until he fails yet again.  And then the cycle commences yet again.

I know you are thinking about possible therapies. Well, I understand that a certain Professor Ross Fitzgerald is intending to establish a start-up obsessive/compulsive institute which could cater for obsessive election candidates who are doomed for failure. Redfern Ross has had success in talking “cold turkey” to alcoholics and drug addicts. I understand that he’s now got plans for a new organisation to be called Candidates Anonymous.

CA should work well for Stephen Mayne. Once Mr Mayne acknowledges that he is defeated by election fever (and resultant media publicity) and goes cold turkey – then recovery can follow.  But first he must acknowledge that the compulsion to nominate for Parliament is an illness and agree to desist from talking about himself.

I believe that Candidates Anonymous will be a thriving business.  Fiona Patten herself may need to use the facility soon. And so may comedian Austen Tayshus who, I understand, is contemplating running (yet again) in the next Federal election on behalf of the Australian Sex Party.



MWD readers will be familiar with the saga of Mark Latham’s devotion to Vladimir Lenin.  In January 2012, Mr Latham declared that he had sent Gerard Henderson a copy of Tamara Deutscher’s Not By Politics Alone : The Other Lenin (1973). Mr Latham just made this up – the book was never posted.  However, a reader chipped in and forwarded Gerard Henderson a copy of the book.  Clearly Latham never read Not By Politics Alone – since, despite her best efforts, Deutscher revealed that Lenin was not at all a fun-and-games bloke.

The film-maker Nick Partridge wrote to MWD – surprised that a person  like Mark Latham, who aspired to be prime minister, could be so ignorant of the one-time leader of the Bolsheviks. The correspondence is printed below:

Nick Partridge to Gerard Henderson – 15 July 2012

Dear Gerard,

Was the book Not by Politics Alone, meant to echo the book below [Vladimir Dudintsev’s Not By Bread  Alone] I wonder? The endless trials of Lopatkin- I think it was – the engineer, were inevitable given Lenin’s character.

Of course everybody knew that Lenin was a “fun” guy, great with jokes, solid drinker, sang like a Cossack, one of the boys, always good for a few roubles, and as straight as a gun barrel, and kind to animals and children; A real Mark Latham kind of guy. Pity it all went wrong- for several hundreds of millions of souls. But it was worth it! Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? Now, whilst Not By Bread Alone rang some good bells, it’s also the case that  “Not without it Either” is fact. The Left always leaves that bit out.

Every good wish,

Nicholas [Partridge]

Gerard Henderson to Nick Partridge – 2 August 2012

Dear Nick

Thanks for your note.  I delayed responding in order to check out Vladimir Dudintsev’s Not By Bread Alone. As you know, it’s a great account of Soviet bureaucracy and repression during the dictatorships of Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev.

Yes – it’s interesting to note just how little Mark Latham knows about contemporary European history.  As you indicate, ML seems to believe that Vladimir Lenin was a hand-holding-let’s-love-one-another-sandal-wearer who wanted to give peace a chance. Clearly Latham has no understanding of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and has not read Richard Pipes’ The Unknown Lenin which documents Lenin’s calls for the extermination of the Cossacks, his rampant anti-Semitism and his closeness to Stalin – all from original documents.

However, in defence of the Lair of Liverpool, it’s possible that Latham confuses Lenin with John Lennon.  The late Beatle seems to fit Latham’s description of a bloke “geared to his life’s purpose and yet enjoying all the full pleasures of a healthy human existence”.  Well, not so healthy with all that drug use perhaps – but you get what I mean.

The view that Lenin, who founded the Soviet secret police, was really just a fun-loving guy tells us a lot about Mark Latham.  But nothing about Vladimir Lenin.

Contrary to his claim in The Spectator Australia on 21 January 2012, I doubt that Mark Latham has even read Not By Bread Alone: The Other Lenin by that dreary Marxist Tamara Deutscher.  Of course, Ms Deutscher was going to praise Lenin.  After all, she devoted her whole life to supporting such Bolsheviks as Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin.

In his (taxpayer funded) superannuated state, Mark Latham would be well advised to desist from making media appearances on Sky News and to spend his freed-up time to learn about the real Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union, Europe in the 20th Century and so on.  Right now, Latham seems to think that abuse is an acceptable alternative to argument – and confidence an adequate compensation for invincible ignorance.

Best wishes



The promptness with which MWD handles errors/complaints is illustrated in today’s correspondence from the very pleasant Daniel Brooks.  The Monthly, the ABC and Professor Manne himself would learn from MWD.  This Nancy’s co-owner believes.

Daniel Brooks to Gerard Henderson 2 August 2012

Dear Mr Henderson,

In MWD Issue 147 you misquote Robert Manne. In his July 2012 article, Robert Manne wrote that Kevin Rudd is “one of the more popular prime ministers in the postwar history of Australia”. However, you quote him as writing that Kevin Rudd is “one of the most popular prime ministers in the postwar history of Australia”.

Best wishes,

Daniel Brooks

Gerard Henderson to Daniel Brooks – 3 August 2012

Dear Mr Brooks

I’m delighted that you read Media Watch Dog. And how kind of you to write to me drawing my attention to a minor misquote concerning Robert Manne in MWD Issue 147.

I don’t know that there is much difference between Robert Manne saying that Kevin Rudd was one of the “more popular” prime ministers in the post-war history of Australia – rather than one of the “most popular”. However, I am always willing to correct errors or make clarifications – and will do so on this occasion.

It’s a pity that Professor Robert Manne does not have a similar approach.  A couple of months ago, he wrote an article in The Monthly’s website which was picked up by the ABC’s The Drum. In this article, Robert Manne made three errors about me in just one sentence.  Quite an achievement, to be sure.  Even for an academic like Robert Manne with a fading memory.

Alas, neither The Monthly nor The Drum engage a fact-checker before publication.  And neither has a policy of correcting errors or making clarifications.  So Robert Manne’s howlers remain uncorrected on both websites.

In view of your commendable diligence volunteering your services as a proof reader/fact checker, you might seek to get Professor Manne to correct his own howlers. If you cannot locate the references in MWD, I will provide full details.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Until next time.