23 NOVEMBER 2012


Jonathan Green: “Nancy, will be taking notes, I suspect”

Michael Rowland: “Nancy…yes.  We’ll get a nice write-up on Friday.  Good morning as well, Gerard. Thanks for  watching, by the way.

– ABC 1 News Breakfast, 18 October 2012

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

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

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

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

“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

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work” 

– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.


Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”

– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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.

“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

“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.


“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.

Stop Press: Breaking News – Nice Mr Scott Not BBC Director-General

Misogyny Update: Eric Campbell Before the Senate Beaks Next Week

Can You Bear It?: Mohammed El-Leissy; Andrew Clark; Lindy Edwards

MWD Exclusive: Quarterly Essay Censors David Marr Critic As the Errors in “Political Animal” Remain Uncorrected

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Er, Ah, It’s Malcolm Farr

● Nancy’s Old Bones: The Full Story of the Whitlam/Latham Split

● Correspondence: Jonathan Holmes, Crikey’s Matthew Knott & David Marr Help Out (Thanks to all)





Nancy’s co-owner awoke, in the very early hours of the morning, to hear that Tony Hall has been appointed to succeed George Entwistle as the director-general of the BBC.

This is no reason for excitement, or otherwise.  The evidence from the public broadcasters the world over – the BBC in Britain and our very own ABC included – is that nobody runs them. Rather they are controlled by various cliques – primarily made up of leftist or left of centre presenters, journalists, producers, editors and the like. The heads of both the BBC and the ABC claim to also hold the role of editor-in-chief. However, they rarely – if ever – exercise authority with respect to editorial decisions.

This explains Mark Scott’s decision – or, rather, non-decision – to support Four Corners  decision to cut/censor the extended interviews which are on the ABC website without the permission of the interviewees concerned.  See MWD  Issue 163 re how Four Corners’ executive producer Sue Spencer and her staff culled a key section from Cardinal George Pell’s extended interview with Four Corners which is on the ABC website.

In any event, the appointment of Tony Hall puts paid to the media conjecture that the ABC’s managing director Mark Scott might be appointed to head the BBC.  There is no evidence that nice Mr Scott ever wanted this position.  However, the supposition was consistent with a tradition in the Australian media to speculate about Aussies landing big jobs overseas.

In the late 1950s, there was much speculation that Australia’s very own Cardinal Norman Gilroy might succeed Pius XII as Pope. He didn’t .

Then, in the 1990s, there was much speculation that Australia’s very own Gareth Evans might succeed someone or other as Secretary-General of the United Nations.  He didn’t.

More recently, there was speculation that Australia’s very own Mark Scott…you know the story.

Meanwhile, due to enormous readership demand, Nancy has updated her scoreboard on pluralism – or lack of same – at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster Down Under during the reign of nice Mr Scott.

The Aunty (Balance) Clock – Updated

This segment is dedicated to holding ABC managing director Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch, there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.

▪ Number of weeks since Mark Scott

promised greater diversity on ABC                             Total: 317

▪ Number of conservative presenters/

producers/editors on prominent ABC Radio/

ABC TV/ABC Online outlets                                        Total: Zip

When something is about to happen, it’s a cliché to talk about it being: “5 Minutes to Midnight”. In view of the fact that nice Mr Scott is doing nothing to provide a greater diversity of voices on the ABC, Nancy reckons it is already “5 Minutes past Midnight”

new clockface-mwd-mark-scott-875x1024


While on the topic of Mark Scott, MWD understands that the ABC managing director will advise Senate Estimates next week that Foreign Correspondent journalist Eric Campbell has breached the ABC’s Social Media Policy. At the previous Senate Estimates meeting, Mr Scott’s attention was drawn to a tweet which Eric Campbell sent out concerning Tony Abbott and his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin on 10 October 2010. It read as follows:

Complete this joke.  Tony Abbott’s COS and a mussel walk into a bar. Ouch that hurt said the mussel. Why didn’t you duck? said the COS.

Pretty funny, don’t you think? Especially for a taxpayer funded foreign correspondent.  However, the powers-that-be at the ABC did not think so.  Not in these “Misogynists Beware” times.  It remains to be seen precisely what will happen to the happy-tweeter Campbell.  MWD suspects not very much at all.  We’ll keep you posted.




▪ Mohammed El-Leissy Regrets Labor’s Performance in AC Nielsen Poll


What a stunning performance by Mohammed El-Leissy during the “Newspapers” segment on ABC 1 News Breakfast last Monday.  Mr El-Leissy commented on that morning’s AC Nielsen poll which was published in the Fairfax Media newspapers.  The poll suggested that Labor’s recent recovery in the opinion polls has stalled.  The ALP’s primary vote was at 34 per cent compared with the Coalition’s 45 per cent.  This gave Tony Abbott’s Coalition a lead over Julia Gillard’s Labor Party of 53 per cent to 47 per cent in the two-party preferred vote.  The polls also revealed that 95 per cent of Australians support the establishment of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Assault with only 3 per cent opposed.

This is how Mr El-Leissy interpreted the figures – commencing with his assessment of the Royal Commission issue:

Mohammed El-Leissy: It’s very rare for a political decision like this to have such wide support….But it hasn’t helped Labor, unfortunately, at the polls.

So there you have it.  The person chosen by News Breakfast to comment on the news, believes it is “unfortunate” that Gillard Labor’s support in the AC Nielsen poll did not increase following the Prime Minister’s popular decision to establish a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse? Can you bear it?

AFR’s Andrew Clark – Catholic in His Historical Confusion

Andrew Clark, who is not a Catholic, seems to have spent the last three decades as the Australian Financial Review’s own in-house expert on all matters concerning Catholicism.  The problem is that his articles on Catholics and politics in Australia invariably contain howlers.  This was the case again last weekend when Mr Clark’s article titled “Catholics and bitter politics” appeared in the AFR’s “Perspective” section.

▪ Andrew Clark declared that Cardinal George Pell’s father was “a former heavyweight boxing champion”. He did not say what George Pell Senior was the heavyweight champion of.

▪ Andrew Clark referred to Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1864-1963) as “Cardinal Daniel Mannix”. Mannix did not like the Vatican.  And the Vatican did not like the Archbishop of Melbourne. Mannix was never made a Cardinal – a decision which was criticised in 1945 by the Labor Party identity Arthur Calwell.

▪ Andrew Clark wrote that B.A. Santamaria gained a wide audience and became highly influential through his use of the Catholic Worker and later News Weekly.  Santamaria commenced the Catholic Worker in 1936 but was forced out of the paper a few years later and Catholic Worker became the base of Santamaria’s Catholic critics.

▪ Andrew Clark seems unaware that the original Democratic Labor Party was formally wound down in 1978 and that there is no causal connect between the current DLP and the original entity.

▪ Andrew Clark seems to see Catholic conspiracies everywhere.  This is what he wrote about the ALP and trade union operative Joe de Bruyn – whom Clark claims once had “close ties to the DLP”. Here we go:

It was a close confidante of de Bruyn, and former SDA official Don Farrell, who recently supplanted Finance Minister Penny Wong as number one on Labor’s Senate ticket in South Australia, although Farrell later relinquished the position after uproar in party ranks.  Wong is in a same-sex relationship.

There is no evidence that the contest between Don Farrell and Penny Wong for the number one Senate spot on Labor’s ticket in South Australia had anything to do with Ms Wong’s same-sex relationship.  It was merely the continuation of a long-standing battle within the ALP in South Australia between the right (Farrell) and left (Wong) factions. That’s all.

The evidence suggests that Andrew Clark is obsessed with Catholics and Catholicism.  Can you bear it?

Guardian-on-the-Yarra Verbals Tony Abbott


Dr Lindy Edwards is one of The Age’s many leftist columnists. Last Wednesday, the University of New South Wales political scientist commenced her column in The Guardian-on-the-Yarra as follows:

As Tony Abbott dug himself in deeper trying to escape his remarks about ”authentic Aborigines” last week, his comments were revealing. The way he described Aboriginality had a significance that went beyond rudeness or violating political correctness.

White settlers have described Aboriginal people in a variety of ways over the years, and it has always served a political purpose. Aboriginal people were described as ”dangerous savages” when a rationale was needed to shoot them to clear them off the land. On the other hand, they were described as ”passive natives” who had quietly given up their lands and died out due to disease when we needed to justify their decimated numbers to the rest of the world.

There was one problem in Dr (for a doctor she is) Edwards’ column. Namely that Tony Abbott has never referred to such an entity as “authentic Aborigines”.  Never. Lindy Edwards – in her haste to bag the Liberal Party leader – just made this up.  Nobody at The Age bothered to check the (alleged) quote before publication.

On Thursday, The Age published a small letter by Mr Abbott correcting the howler – but it was tucked away in the “And another thing…” section.  Moreover, The Age is still running Lindy Edwards’ false quotation attributed to Tony Abbott on its online edition – see below.  Can you bear it?




The “Correspondence” Section in Quarterly Essay Issue 48 (released this week) is primarily devoted to an analysis of David Marr’s essay in Quarterly Essay Issue 47 titled “Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott”. There is (i) an interesting piece by Senator George Brandis on Abbott’s days at Oxford University, (ii) a somewhat bland contribution by ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann which restates prevailing mythology about the Labor Split of 1955, (iii) a predictable rave by Mark Latham (which already has been published in the Australian Financial Review), (iv) a psycho-babble analysis by academic Judith Brett who describes Abbott as a “post-feminist man”, (v) a comment (which has already been published in the Canberra Times) by Jack Waterford who maintains that Abbott “does not really belong to the Liberal Party” and (vi) David Marr’s “Response” to none of the above.

Chris Curtis Censored by Quarterly Essay


Chris Feik, the editor of Quarterly Essay censored a letter from Chris Curtis (an ALP member in Victoria) who criticised David Marr’s interpretation of Tony Abbott’s university days.  Curtis picked up several howlers in Marr’s essay – including his belief that Abbott was active in the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and his total misunderstanding of what the campus Democratic Clubs – including the one to which Abbott belonged at Sydney University in the late 1970s – were about. Following initial rejection, Curtis offered to cut his piece – which can be found here.  But Feik was not willing to publish any of Curtis’ corrections of Marr’s errors, however long or short. And so it came to pass that there is no substantial criticism of Marr’s Political  Animal  essay in Quarterly Essay 48.

David Marr’s Inadequate Response

In his Response, David Marr did not bother to even mention the contributions of Brandis, Uhlmann, Latham, Brett or Waterford.  All five were totally ignored.  Nor did Marr bother to explain the errors in Political Animal – which have been identified by Greg Sheridan and also by Gerard Henderson (See MWD Issue 154). Instead David Marr banged on about how David Marr was right all along.  MWD was particularly impressed by the extent to which Marr will go to deny his errors and misinterpretations – even to the extent of fawning. Here are some highlights.

▪ David Marr described David Patch as a “witness” to Barbara Ramjan’s claim that Tony Abbott had punched the wall behind her head on two occasions at Sydney University in September 1977.

However, in David Patch’s article which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 13 September 2012, Patch conceded that he “did not see the incident”.  Marr should understand that you cannot be a witness to an event which you did not see – or witness.

▪ David Marr referred to “another witness – unnamed but willing to go on the record if need be”. This person is described as a male but is anonymous.  The fact is that this man also did not – like David Patch –  see the incident.  This is what he told journalists Mark Coultan and Phillip Coorey – as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald online on 14 September 2012: “I saw Abbott throw a punch at Barbara Ramjan but didn’t see it land”.  Since the difference between a punch commencing and hitting a target would be a fraction of second, this evidence is not evidence at all.

▪ The (alleged) punch took place in 1977. In his “Response”, David Marr writes that “he first heard about the punch early this year from a number of judges at the fortieth anniversary of my law school graduation class”. In other words, Marr first heard about the punch some 35 years after the (alleged) event.  He sought to give credibility to the story by saying that he was told the story by a “number of judges” – not mere barristers or solicitors  or former lawyers. Judges, no less.

▪ It seems that David Marr is something of a snob when it comes to the judiciary, barristers, solicitors and the like.  At Page 19 of Political Animal, Marr quotes a highly critical account of Abbott at Sydney University by “a distinguished Sydney lawyer active in university politics then”. If this lawyer is so “distinguished”, why did he so insist on anonymity?  Marr should know that anonymous sources are worthless and that a case is not strengthened by the distinction of its advocate.

In his “Response”, David Marr continues his legal snobbery – referring to Barbara Ramjan as “a respected figure in Sydney, with connections to the highest levels of the judiciary”.  Wow. Apparently Ms Ramjan is married to a man who became a judge. Wow again.  Moreover, apparently Ms Ramjan mixes not only with judges but also with judges who have reached the highest levels of the judiciary. Wow – and wow.

The Questions that David Marr Will Not Answer about his Political Animal Essay

1. David Marr says that he, or his researcher, read the Sydney University newspaper Honi Soit covering the period when Tony Abbott and Barbara Ramjan were students.

In view of this, why did Political Animal omit to mention that when Barbara Ramjan complained on two occasions in letters to Honi Soit about Abbott’s behaviour during the 1977 Student Representative Council election, she made no reference whatsoever to the now famous (alleged) punch?  David Marr will not say.  Nor will he admit that Ramjan’s letters to Honi Soit in 1977 suggest that there was no “punch”.

2. How does David Marr justify referring to David Patch and an anonymous man as having witnessed the punch – when Mr Patch never saw the alleged punch incident and the anonymous man never saw where the alleged punch landed?

3. What is David Marr’s evidence to support his claim in Political Animal that the Democratic Clubs were “extreme as far to the right as the Maoists and Trotskyites on campus were to the left”. The only source cited in Political Animal  is an anonymous article in Honi Soit in 1977, written by a left-wing activist.  This is not evidence for anything.  As the acclaimed biographer of Patrick White, Marr should understand this.

4. In Political Animal, Marr attributed to the late B.A. Santamaria the following strategy: “When you haven’t got the numbers, be vicious.”  What is Marr’s evidence for this undocumented assertion?  There is no evidence in Political Animal or in Marr’s response in the current issue of Quarterly Essay. This suggests that David Marr just invented the quote in an attempt to damage Abbott with reference to his one-time association with Santamaria.

An Opportunity to Correct The Revised Edition of Political Animal

David Marr has told Gerard Henderson (see Correspondence Section of this issue of MWD) that there will be a revised edition of Political Animal published in 2013.  This will give the author and his publisher a chance to correct errors, junk exaggerations and provide evidence for undocumented allegations.  Stay tuned – but don’t hold your breath.





Nancy’s co-owner just, um, er ah, loves News Limited’s Malcolm um Farr – primarily because Mr Farr wears wonderful tight-fitting $5 shirts on Insiders and has kindly endorsed Nancy’s co-owner as a “complete f-ckwit”. See MWD front-cover of every issue.  Mr Farr has also accepted Mark Latham’s allegation that someone else writes Nancy’s co-owner’s columns.

So, um, Nancy’s, ah, co-owner just loved Malcolm ah Farr’s ah wonderful performance on ABC Radio 702 Drive With Richard Glover last Monday.  Let’s go to the highlights:

▪ Malcolm Farr responds to the suggestion that Tony Abbott’s current focus is on family friendly policies:

Malcolm Farr: Look I – my view is that much as the Opposition might, might like to think that what they call the relentless negativity and attacks on Mr Abbott have- have been the cause of his – his rather uh, low personal poll ratings, my – my view is that it’s the man himself. He just – it’s just his nature. He has the capacity to terrify some  people without trying. And he certainly is rough and tough and hard to bluff on a lot of issues and that’s carried through – that’s, that’s, that’s his persona.  And, and, look, I don’t think you’re a million miles wrong that ah, draping Mr Abbott in – in, in,  some, uh, these ah women-friendly, family-friendly issues such as this ah, couldn’t hurt his – his, couldn’t hurt his – his standing with the electorate, ah. And there’s-there’s a lot of ground for him to catch up on but there’s plenty of time for him to do it.  So, I – in short I think you’re right.  I think we’ll be – we’ll see Mr Abbot, ah, um, being more softly softly gentle kindly, ah – ah, on issues over the next, ah, ten months or so.

▪  Malcolm Farr responds to a question on the current state of the opinion polls and the suggestion that the Gillard government’s renaissance may have come to an end:

Malcolm Farr: Well it was never – look.  It was exaggerated in, in, in some quarters , eh.  Both the major polling groups had at one stage fifty fifty on ah, two party preferred. It was never like that. Also we’ve got to remember that any pickup that Labor had in the polls was ah very likely to have been in safe seats where its numbers were regain – going back to natural levels as it were.  But it wasn’t- any, any gains weren’t spread throughout the country and in the seats that it would need to win because the Government  needs to get a net, um, a net advantage of seats if it’s going to retain government.  But ah look, I – I still think that um, ah, it’s not at the level that Labor strategists wanted which was more like 38 per cent of two party – oh sorry, of primary vote, it’s a long way from that. And ah Nielsen today in Fairfax newspapers had 53-47 ah favouring ah, ah,  ah, ah, favouring ah, the um. Sorry, I’ve got that wrong haven’t I?  I can’t even read my own writing. But let’s, let’s, let’s just be clear about this. The Coalition was whopping the, ah, ah, ah, the, the Government ah, on two party preferred – well ahead as usual.

▪ Malcolm Farr responding to a suggestion that Tony Abbott’s negativity rating is pretty high:

Malcolm Farr:Well yeah. And, and, and, ah,  and the Prime Ministers’ ah – ah, approval rating and disapproval rating now for a couple of months has been almost, you know, almost equal –  47, 48, ah, now. But for the Opposition and for Mr Abbott his performance rating is ah, 60 per cent disapproval only 36 per cent approval. So there’s a – there’s a big difference there. So the Coalition is still streets ahead in terms of the vote and has consistently been there, ah. But it’s – it’s Mr Abbott’s personal performance that will be worrying, ah, the Coalition. Now people do – do elect ah, personally unpopular people but ah, it’s not the sort of ah, weight you would like in the saddlebags as you go into an election year.

▪ Malcolm Farr responding to a suggestion that Tony Abbott’s negativity might have helped get the Opposition’s message through about the Gillard Government:

Malcolm Farr: Yeah, yeah, look I – I know what you’re saying. I don’t think – I think there were things other than, than, than the way Mr. Abbot delivered his message but although that might have been contributing. I just think that it’s – you know, it’s the whole persona. He’s, he’s, he’s very physical.  He’s eh, he’s very, very blokey – and he comes across that way. And, and, uh, I think part of the problem is that over – over the years he’s – he’s developed, or allowed to be seen, this persona, as a man who is outside the ruck of uh, of normal, sort of, MPs, particularly Coalition MPs. He’s got strong views, stands by what he thinks, he’s a  conviction politician and – and he’ll take on all sides to ah, to defend his principles. And – and that entails a certain amount of ah, being rough and tough and hard to bluff. And he can’t escape that ah, sort of background even – even when he must which is as uh, as leader and as uh, alternative prime minister.

This is how the interview concluded:

Richard Glover:  I guess all I’m saying is you’ve got to give him [Tony Abbott] some credit for the fact that his party is in the lead and the other party is not.

Malcolm Farr : Well, well, uh. I mean Governments lose elections as well as win ’em, but I, I, I think that, that, he – he hasn’t had that accommodating voice, that uh, let’s say a John Howard had. Howard was very good in terms of – of politics and, and ah, including all groups of- of voters. Ah, Tony Abbott has not been able to do that and people such as ah, Malcolm Turnbull keep saying, “Well look if you’re going to win in government you’ve got to win Labor voters over too.” And there’s something that ah, that Mr Abbott might ah keep in mind.

Richard Glover: Good on you Malcolm, thanks.

Yeah, good on you, um, you, ah, Malcolm.  Keep that after-lunch analysis, ah, going. Er.



MWD Issue 162 reported how Nancy had led to Mark Latham quitting his role as a columnist for Tom Switzer’s The Spectator Australia. The story goes like this. On Friday 26 October 2012 (after lunch), The Aussie Speccie’s Tommie Switzer was awarded Nancy’s prestigious Five Paws Award for drawing attention – on the ABC RN Sunday Extra  program – to the fact that Mr Latham threw the switch to misogyny in 2002 when he described Janet Albrechtsen as a “skanky ho”.  Switzer’s point was that the likes of Nicole Roxon said nothing when Latham attacked Albrechtsen in 2002 with vile language but criticised Abbott a decade later for alleged misogyny.

Apparently Mark Latham learned all about Tim Switzer’s reference to him from Media Watch Dog. How about that?  Having discovered Switzer’s reference to the skanky-ho incident, Latham did a dummy-spit and quit The Spectator Australia.  How about that?

Nancy’s co-owner was not at all surprised that Mark Latham has had yet-another fall-out with someone or other.  This has been the story of Latham’s not-so-brilliant career.  Even after he went into semi-retirement to live off his yearly $78,000 (fully indexed) taxpayer funded superannuation hand out.  The fact is that Mark Latham has turned on everyone who has supported him and advanced his career.

The Rise and Fall of the Whitlam/Latham Friendship

The most recent case study in how Mark Latham falls out with his former mentors and supporters can be found in Jenny Hocking’s biography Gough Whitlam: His Time.  Here goes:

Gough Whitlam first met Mark Latham in 1973 when he presented him with the year 7 History Prize at Hurlstone Agricultural High School.  In 1975, Latham wrote to Prime Minister Whitlam seeking guidance with a school project – the Prime Minister’s Office assisted. In 1979, Latham joined Gough Whitlam’s office as a research assistant.  Around this time, Lorraine Latham (Mark’s mother) said that Gough Whitlam was “like a second father” to Mark – while the Whitlam family acknowledged that Mark Latham had become like a “fifth child” to Gough and Margaret.  Later, Gough Whitlam walked with Lorraine Latham down the aisle at Mark Latham’s first wedding. Later still, Mark Latham named his second son (from his second marriage) Isaac Gough.

In 1984 Gough Whitlam brought Mark Latham to Paris (presumably at taxpayers’ expense) to work on his book The Whitlam Government .  At the time, Whitlam was Australian ambassador to UNESCO and Latham resided at the Australian Embassy in Paris for a month (also, presumably, at taxpayers’ expense). Whitlam showed Latham around Paris. As a former prime minister, Mr Whitlam is entitled to a staff allocation.

As Jenny Hocking reports, Margaret Whitlam was none too pleased with the relationship which had developed between her husband and his researcher.  Dr (for a Doctor she is) Hocking writes:

Margaret, always a more astute observer of individuals and judge of character than Gough, was unimpressed.  She found Latham brash, insensitive, bordering on rude in the air of expectation he carried with such confidence.  Not for the first, or last, time Margaret worried about Gough’s discretion.  It led to a repetition of what had become a pattern in Whitlam’s flawed personal judgment – an unerring faith and unqualified trust in Latham, personally and politically.  He had soon anointed his young assistant as the next member for his seat of Werriwa, and a future Labor Prime Minister.

Mark Latham never would have made it to the House of Representatives or to the leadership of the Labor Party without Gough Whitlam’s backing. Whitlam even wrote a foreword to Latham’s oh-so-tedious and quite unreadable book Civilising Global Capital: New Thinking for Australian Labor.  Addressing The Sydney Institute in April 1998, Latham admitted that he would not read his own book from cover to cover. Yet Whitlam described Civilising Global Capital as “fresh and thoughtful”.

In 2004, after a dreadful campaign leading the Opposition and Labor’s defeat by John Howard, Latham’s future was in doubt.  There was pressure for him to step down as Labor leader and as Member for Werriwa. Latham did so – but came to blame Gough Whitlam for his fate. As Jenny Hocking writes:

With Latham’s protracted but inevitable resignation as leader, Whitlam released a statement describing his former assistant as a person of “outstanding character and capacity” and lamenting the premature end of his public life.  Privately he was greatly concerned by Latham’s health problems, believing that it was in neither his nor the party’s interests for him to remain in the parliament, telling Labor member Joel Fitzgibbon that it was “unsustainable” for Latham to stay on as the member for Werriwa: “No parliamentarian could tell his electors that he was too ill to be the leader of his Party but was well enough to look after their interests in the Parliament”, he later explained.

Like so many Labor leaders before him, Latham was a good hater with a long memory, and when he heard of Whitlam’s comments he simply refused to see or speak to him again, cutting all contact with the man who had been his greatest political and personal mentor.

Aprés the Latham/Whitlam War What’s Next?

So Mark Latham fell out with Gough  Whitlam – much the same as he has fallen out with virtually everyone who assisted his career.  Tom Switzer is just the latest to experience THE REAL MARK. Having quit as a paid columnist for The Spectator Australia, all Mark Latham has got left to supplement his annual taxpayer superannuation handout of $78,000 (fully indexed) is his column in The Australian Financial Review and his gigs on Sky News.  Nancy’s co-owner does not claim to be a prophet.  However, precedence suggests that yet another Latham dummy spit is due anytime soon.  Now that Latham has dropped his recent bestie Tom Switzer, how long will his new bestie relationship with Michael Kroger – the co-host of Showdown with Mark Latham and Michael Kroger last?  Nancy will keep sniffing away and will keep MWD readers in the loop – so to speak (or both).



In a column published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 November 2012, Gerard Henderson wrote about the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.  At the conclusion of the article, he made reference to the media’s double standards with respect to the late Peter Roebuck (See also MWD Issue 163). Gerard Henderson also referred to journalistic double standards in Britain concerning the late Jimmy Savile.  This excited Jonathan Holmes, presenter of the taxpayer funded Media Watch  program (which commenced some time after The Sydney Institute’s media watching initiative). The following correspondence ensued.

Jonathan Holmes to Gerard Henderson – 15 November 2012

Hi Gerard

I’ve belatedly read your SMH column published Wednesday 14 November. You write: “As is now known, the BBC spiked a Newsnight program on Savile’s criminality so as not to upset a program scheduled for Christmas 2011 praising the molester.”

As someone who has followed the Newsnight saga with some attention, this is certainly not known to me.  I was under the impression that the former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, is conducting an investigation precisely to discover why the Newsnight program was pulled, and at whose instigation.  I am not aware of any evidence in the public domain that it was spiked “so as not to upset a program scheduled for Christmas 2011”, although certainly some people suspect that that might have been the reason.

Perhaps you can point me to the evidence, which I have obviously missed, that allows you to claim that it “is now known” that the program was not pulled, as its editor claims, because he did not feel that his team had compiled sufficient evidence to justify blackening the reputation of a man who could no longer defend himself, but to preserve the BBC’s Christmas schedule.



Gerard Henderson to Jonathan Holmes – 16 November 2012


I have belatedly read your email received last night – when I was at a dinner. I am busy at the office today writing my Media Watch Dog blog. I am travelling to Melbourne this afternoon for the weekend. I am very busy on Monday. However, I hope to answer your query on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

I’m sure you will understand. At Media Watch, you apparently have a total journalistic crew of seven (including yourself). At Media Watch Dog, I have a total journalistic crew of just one (that’s me) and this is something that I do during my free time on Fridays. That’s why MWD comes out on Friday – after lunch of course.

I wrote to Sue Spencer at Four Corners (on Media Watch Dog matters) on 31 October 2012 and sent a reminder on 7 November 2012. I received a reply from Ms Spencer on 8 November 2012 – that is, over a week later. I hope to beat this time in responding to your query. I will first need to check my files, which are at home. Stay tuned.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Jonathan Holmes to Gerard Henderson – 16 November 2012

Hi Gerard

I should have made clear that this was not a formal Media Watch email.  We are not intending to address the matter on the program.  It’s really just for my own interest.  Respond as and when you like, or not at all, if you choose – it’s entirely up to you.

I appreciate you have many calls on your time.  It’s just that you seemed to know something I didn’t.



Gerard Henderson to Jonathan Holmes – 22 November 2012



As advised, I was in Melbourne at the weekend and busy yesterday. I have had time to check my files this morning concerning my Sydney Morning Herald column published on 13 November 2012.

As you will be aware, Miles Goslett first broke the Jimmy Savile story in the March 2012 issue of The Oldie. He had not been able to get his piece on Savile published in leading British newspapers – see the “Diary” section of The Oldie, November 2012. Goslett’s article led to the ITV program which aired on Four Corners last night.

In his March 2012 article in The Oldie, Miles Goslett wrote:

The BBC’s official line has always been that the report was abandoned purely because there were not enough facts to substantiate a particular angle they were pursuing relating to the Crown Prosecution Service. Their spokesman said: “Any suggestion that a story was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons is completely untrue.” However a BBC News source has revealed to me that this is a smokescreen and there were unquestionably other reasons underlying the decision.

First, the extreme nature of the claims about Savile meant that the Newsnightreport was going to seriously compromise the lavish BBC tributes scheduled to run later the same month. And second, the allegations directly involved the BBC in that the woman who gave the interview said that she and others were abused by Savile on BBC premises. To be precise,she told Newsnight that some abuse took place in Savile’s dressing-room at BBC Television Centre in West London after recordings of Clunk-Click, a children’s programme which he presented in 1973 and 1974; she also alleged that two other celebrities, both still alive, sexually abused Duncroft girls at Television Centre.

As you know, I quoted the Goslett piece in my Herald column. In my view, Goslett’s revelations justified my claim that the “BBC spiked a Newsnight program on Savile’s criminality so as not to upset a program scheduled for Christmas 2011 praising the molester”.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Jonathan Holmes to Gerard Henderson – 20 November 2012


Thanks Gerard.

I note that you believe that someone claiming that an unnamed source inside the BBC had “revealed” to him that there were “unquestionably” other reasons for dropping the Newsnight program, together with some now well-known facts about the content of the main Newsnight interview (the relevant parts were aired by BBC Panorama at the end of October this year) is sufficient evidence for you to feel justified in making an unqualified statement of fact about the matter.

To my mind it is nothing of the sort.  Your statement is based on speculation, pure and simple.  We’ll see what Mr Pollard comes up with.  He may of course conclude that such suspicions are amply justified, in which case heads will undoubtedly roll.  He may not. If he doesn’t, I’ll be interested to see whether you are prepared to correct the record.


Jonathan Holmes

Gerard Henderson to Jonathan Holmes – 20 November 2012



I do not need a lecture from an ABC staffer about journalistic standards. Unlike the ABC, I have a policy of making corrections and issuing clarifications. This is evident to anyone who reads, for example, my Media Watch Dog blog or The Sydney Institute Quarterly.

The ABC has no such policy. As I documented in MWD recently, Bruce Belsham refuses to correct a piece on The Drum by Professor Robert Manne which made three incorrect comments about me in just one sentence. As MWD readers will be aware, Sue Spencer defends the right of Four Corners to edit/censor the so-called “extended” versions of interviews which are placed on the taxpayer funded ABC website – despite the fact that Four Corners’ culling of Cardinal George Pell’s interview has had misleading consequences.

And then, of course, there is your own record since – upon arrival in Australia in 1982 – picking up the key role of executive producer of Four Corners despite the fact that (according to your own account) you knew nothing – absolutely nothing – about Australia. I note that you have never corrected the howlers in your 1990 Hindsight program – titled “The Party’s Over” – on the Communist Party of Australia. Your (uncorrected) errors were documented in my letter to you dated 20 August 1990 which I reproduced as a link in MWD Issue 93, 6 May 2011 – for old time’s sake, of course.

As to the Newsnight matter, I believe that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to support my claim that the program on Jimmy Savile was junked so as not to upset a BBC program scheduled for Christmas 2011 praising the paedophile. As you should be aware, circumstantial evidence can be very compelling.

If the Pollard enquiry demonstrates that I am wrong – then I shall correct the record. Unlike many of your colleagues at the public broadcaster – including previous ABC Media Watch operatives – I admit to mistakes when I make them.

Have a great final Media Watch next Monday – before going on your much deserved WEB – as in well-earned break.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson



In his Sydney Morning Herald column on Tuesday, Gerard Henderson referred to his visit to Israel last year.  This ignited the interest of Matthew Knott at Crikey – and the following correspondence took place.

Matthew Knott to Gerard Henderson – 20 November 2012

Hi Gerard,

I hope all is well. I’m sorry for the short notice but I was wondering if you could give me a hand. I am writing a story today about media coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict – especially media study tours to the region. I noticed in your article today that you said you were in Sderot last year. I am just wondering if you visited the region in a private capacity or as part of a study tour? If not, have you ever attended a Middle East study tour?

If you could get back to me by 12ish that would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,


Matthew Knott: Media reporter, Crikey and The Power Index

Gerard Henderson to Matthew Knott – 20 November 2012


I am surprised that Crikey – which publishes anonymous rumours and has published details of my home address – is interested in hearing from me before rushing to print.

I am busy this morning. My response – in haste – to your questions is as follows:

  • My attitude to Israel has not changed significantly since, when a student at Melbourne University in 1967, I supported Israel in the Six Day War
  • I paid my way to and from Israel in 2012, along with my accommodation. I also travelled to Ramallah during my 2012 visit to Israel and had meetings with senior Palestinian Authority members. I also had a meeting with Dr Mustafa Barghouti who addressed The Sydney Institute some years ago – and is currently Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative. On my previous, privately funded, visit to Israel in 1996, I met with PA officials in Gaza and stayed overnight in Gaza City.
  • In the late 1980s, I did take part in a media study tour of Israel which was funded by an Australian Jewish organisation. But that was a quarter of a century ago.
  •  In view of Crikey’s apparent interest in paid overseas trips, I look forward to Crikey’s investigative journalism into Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon’s many trips to the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s – including details of who paid for her study course at Moscow’s Lenin School which trained communist functionaries.

In conclusion, you have my permission to publish my entire response. You do not have permission to cut or edit this reply to your email.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Matthew Knott to Gerard Henderson – 20 November 2012


Thanks a lot for that Gerard.



David Marr and Gerard Henderson – along with Lenore Taylor – appeared on the ABC TV Insiders program on Sunday.  Marr and Henderson enjoyed a lively discussion in the Green Room before the program commenced – concerning Mr Marr’s “Response” in Quarterly Essay Issue 48 to his earlier essay titled Political Animal (Quarterly Essay Issue 47). After Insiders, Marr emailed Henderson and the following correspondence took place.

David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 18 November 2012



Splendid exchanges today – off and on camera. I do, in fact have Chris Curtis’s email. It was forwarded to me after publication (of course) and I’ll take it into account when the essay is reissued next year. Your objection, if I remember right, was to me using the expression “DLP club” (or some variant of that) to describe the Democratic Club. But where do I do this? I’ve just done a computer check through the essay. In the context of Abbott’s university years, “DLP” appears only twice, both times in quotes – on p.17 I quote Barbara Ramjan saying “DLP types” and on p.18 Turnbull writing “old-fashioned DLP image”. But have I misunderstood what you’re getting at?


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 20 November 2012


I was busy yesterday and now am in a position to respond more fully to your email of last Sunday.

My main point about the Chris Curtis piece is that it was censored by Quarterly Essay in order, I presume, to protect you from criticism for some of the errors in Political Animal. On Sunday, when you asked for an example, I mentioned the “DLP Club” issue. But, as you know having read the Curtis piece, there were more matters. Many more.

In your email of last Sunday, you queried as to where you had used the term “DLP Club” with respect to Political Animal. You refer to the term DLP being used in quotes from Barbara Ramjan (Page 17) and Malcolm Turnbull (Page 18).

As I have commented in our correspondence of March 2012, you do not have a very good memory as to what you have previously written and/or said.

In your (soft) Lateline interview with Emma Alberici on 10 September 2012, you said that Tony Abbott came “out of the DLP” and at Sydney University was a “leader of the DLPers”. You also referred to Abbott as having addressed some “DLP students” in Adelaide in 2004. In fact, he addressed the Adelaide University Democratic Club.

The fact is that all DLP senators lost their seats in May 1974 and the DLP was formally wound up in 1978. Subsequently, a new entity, also titled the DLP, was formed. But there is no causal link between the contemporary DLP and the DLP which existed between the mid 1950s and the mid 1970s.

As I tried to explain on Sunday, the campus Democratic Clubs were linked to B A Santamaria’s National Civic Council. They were never linked to the DLP which had no connections of any kind to university student groups. In other words, it is incorrect for you – and Ms Ramjan – to depict Tony Abbott as a “DLPer” student.

Needless to say, Chris Curtis had numerous other criticisms of your Political Animal piece. Since Quarterly Essay refused to publish Chris Curtis’ contribution, I shall give it a run in next Friday’s issue of my Media Watch Dog blog. I shall also raise the issue of why you did not refer to Barbara Ramjan’s 1977 criticisms of Abbott – which did not mention the (alleged) punch. This will follow up my critical review of Political Animal which appeared in MWD Issue 154 on 7 September 2012.

Best wishes – and have a truly wonderful time in Barcelona.


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 20 November 2012


I’m in the departure lounge at Mascot and in no position to reply at length. Two things. Your DLP point is furious nit picking. In the language of the time people like Abbott were called ‘DLP types’. One example is the contemporaneous Turnbull quote in the essay. Ramjan today uses the same term. Have a row with them if you want to reform the language.

One reason for us not using Curtis was his same passion for insisting on these minute to pointless distinctions. Same politics, same movement, same leader. To pretend at this late stage that the DLP/NCC/Democratic clubs weren’t inextricably entwined in the late 1970s is wasting all our time.

The punch happened. By all means keep on insisting it didn’t but there’s an old saying in newsrooms worth remembering: when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Now that we’re corresponding it’s worth me saying my researcher did – contrary to your hostile speculation – spend days in Sydney University archives. Endlessly fascinating stuff. I recommend it.

I’m off to do the camino…

All the best,


* * * * *

With David Marr enjoying himself on The Way of Saint James (El Camino to Spanish speakers), that’s all until next time.