8 MARCH 2013

The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.

See the end of this week’s MWD for details of much appreciated comments on/endorsements of Nancy’s work by Jonathan Green & Michael Rowland, Malcolm Farr, Bob Ellis, Tom Cowie, Mike Carlton, Mark Latham, Robert Manne, Marius Benson, James Jeffrey, Andrew Crook and more besides. Well done chaps – and lotsa thanks.

    Where Is Nice Mr Scott? – As ABC Online Editor Caught Out Campaigning For Labor/Greens And Against Tony Abbott

    Great story in The Australian this morning. James Madden reports that ABC journalist Nick Ross has been disciplined by ABC management for having failed to meet its “standards of objective journalism”. The circumstance was confirmed by an ABC spokeswoman. Which raises the question – where is managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott?

    The story so far. Independent telecom consultant Kevin Morgan (who served on Kim Beazley’s committee on Telecom reform on behalf of the ACTU) wrote a column in The Australian today titled “ABC’s Man leaves Objectivity on the Cutting-Room Floor to Spruik NBN”. In it Kevin Morgan documented how Nick Ross – the ABC’s online and technology games editor – has used the ABC’s technology website to campaign against the Coalition on the National Broadband Network. Nick Ross’ gems include the following comment:

    With it being an election year, there is a great deal to be done in informing the public about the current NBN policy and the consequences of ditching it in favour of a Coalition alternative.

    So, what’s happened? According to reports, Nick Ross has been told by the ABC to stop campaigning for Labor and the Greens and against the Coalition. Er – that’s it. The matter has been handled by an anonymous spokeswoman. Er, that’s also it.

    This is not the first occasion in which Mark Scott has delegated the handling of an issue in which an ABC employee has acted unprofessionally down the line of (ABC) management. Yet, a documented accusation that a senior ABC employee is engaged in a political campaign is perhaps the most serious charge that can be made against the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

    Mark Scott continues to preside over the public broadcaster which does not employ one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent outlets. Not one. Yet it employs literally scores of leftists and social democrats in prominent outlets. Like The Age, the ABC attempts to disguise its lack of balance by employing former Liberal senator Amanda Vanstone. In the ABC’s case, her outlet is named Counterpoint – highlighting that it is contrary to the prevailing ABC group-think. Also Counterpoint runs at 4 pm on Monday afternoons.  It’s a low profile, low-rating program.  Unlike the programs presented by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams.

    Now ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott has let a documented case of political bias against an ABC editor be handled by an anonymous member of the public broadcaster’s corporate affairs team.

    Black Inc’s Morry Schwartz Breaks Black Inc’s Embargo On Mark Latham’s Mea Culpa

    What fun that The Australian’s  Troy Bramston got the scoop – such as it is – on the release of Mark Latham’s Quarterly Essay titled Not Dead Yet: Labor’s Post-Left Future. Bramston’s story ran yesterday – despite the fact that the Australian Financial Review had obtained exclusive rights from Black Inc for extracts.

    So, what happened? Well, Morry Schwartz’s team at Black Inc just happened to send out copies of Not Dead Yet before the AFR published its extracts. Troy Bramston – along with Nancy’s male co-owner – received their copies on Wednesday.  See below.

    It seems that in Not Dead Yet Mark Latham is now doing a suck-up to the likes of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – having completely bagged them in The Latham Diaries. Yet another Lathamesque U-turn. We’ll keep you posted.

    David Marr To Write On George Pell – A Warning

    Australia’s leading anti-Catholic sectarians these days – in alphabetical order – are Mike Carlton, Peter FitzSimons and David Marr.

    MWD has received a tip that Mr Marr has been commissioned to write a study on Cardinal George Pell. Now here is some gratuitous advice to friends/associates of the Cardinal. It’s likely that David Marr’s account of George Pell will be as obsessive and as unfair as his account of Tony Abbott.

    The Opposition leader erred in speaking to Marr on a background basis. Abbott would have spent his time more usefully on, say, a triathlon. As to Pell’s Catholic friends/associates, they would be well advised to avoid David Marr and devote time saved to, say, making friends with a Freemason.


     What a stunning performance by taxpayer funded superannuants David Oldfield (the failed One Nation member of the NSW Legislative Council) and Mark Latham (the failed Labor leader) on Paul Murray Live on Monday – which was filmed live at Rooty Hill RSL before a drop-in  audience of five. Or was it six? Oldfield and Latham were on a panel with Labor MHR Ed Husic and NSW Liberal MLA Stuart Ayers.­

    Unlike nearly all Sky News panellists, the Lair of Liverpool is paid for his appearances on Paul Murray Live. [That’s fair enough. You can’t expect a retired politician with three kids, a wife and half a dozen bookmakers to support to live on his taxpayer funded superannuation annual handout of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed). – Ed].   It appears that one-time Pauline Hanson flame David Oldfield is now also a paid Sky News contributor.  Apparently Sky only pays panellists who are failed ex-politicians.

    Discussion soon got around to the National Broadband Network. Latham advocated the most expensive system – that is, fibre to the home. But Oldfield regarded the NBN as a low priority for government expenditure. Let’s go to the (Mickey Mouse inspired) transcript:


    David Oldfield: We keep hearing about the NBN. Do you really seriously think there are a lot of people in western Sydney – particularly those, particularly those who are having trouble, not just in western Sydney across the nation having trouble paying their gas bills, their water bills, their electricity bills, people who are working their guts out with both parents working some of them working more than one job each so they can put their kids in a decent school – how worried about the NBN do you think they really are? How concerned do you think they are about speed?

    Ed Husic: That’s just patronising. You know, most people, most people will have –

    David Oldfield: Mark’s talking about his kids how they’re looking forward to it. You know I mean, I mean my kids love watching Mickey Mouse and Wiggles and downloading on YouTube. They don’t need to do it any faster. I’m not saying that we don’t need to have IT improvements –

     Mark Latham: My kids aren’t watching Mickey Mouse, pal.

    David Oldfield: I know. We don’t have to have IT –

    Mark Latham: My kids are doing useful things related to their education.

    David Oldfield: My kids are under 3 years old, Mark.

    Mark Latham: How do you know what my kids are doing? You’re saying my kids are watching Mickey Mouse.

    David Oldfield: No. I said my kids are watching Mickey Mouse.

    Mark Latham: Your kids are watching. That’d be right, that’d be right.

    David Oldfield: They are. Because he’s [i.e. Mickey Mouse] the leader of the gang and you’re not. Now, let me tell you –

    Mark Latham: Your kids are watching Mickey Mouse.

    So, that’s clear then. David Oldfield’s kids are watching Mickey Mouse. And Mark Latham’s kids are not watching Mickey Mouse. How about that?  Could there be a clearer division in contemporary Australia? Could there be a bigger issue in world politics?

    It’s clear why Sky News has chosen to match Latham and Oldfield on Paul Murray Live on Sky News. Your man Oldfield is all for Mr Mouse. But your man Latham reckons Mr Mouse stinks. Just the policy debate that Australia needs.

    Can you bear it graphic
    Beverley O’Connor Describes Tony Abbott As Not Very Helpful

    Beverley O’Connor is yet another leftie ABC presenter. This week she has co-hosted News Breakfast on ABC 1. This is the very same Ms O’Connor who last year described one of Tony Abbott’s daughters as not very modern. On Tuesday, Ms O’Connor declared that Tony Abbott himself was not very useful. Clearly she is a presenter who doubles as a political commentator and gets the roles confused. How very ABC.

    Early in the program on Tuesday, at around 6.15am, Beverley O’Connor and her co-presenter Michael Rowland focussed on the issue of 457 visas. This followed Julia Gillard’s criticism of foreign workers taking Australian jobs. Beverley O’Connor was all the way with the Prime Minister on the matter of 457 visas. Let’s go to the transcript:

     Beverley O’Connor: We’d like to get your thoughts on Tony Abbott’s comments. Quite, er. Well, there’s almost a sort of bun fight, a very inelegant fight breaking out between the two leaders over foreign workers. And we saw the Prime Minister really clearly stating that she would be putting local workers first. It’s become a bit of an issue with the 457 visas. But Tony Abbott’s saying that that is very jarring to him. And, sorry, it’s going in a direction that I think is not very helpful.

    Having described Tony Abbott as “not very helpful”, Ms O’Connor went on to criticise the fact that the Opposition leader was supporting the position of business leaders who back 457 visas:

     Beverley O’Connor:AndTony Abbott going, I guess. The Prime Minister is in western Sydney where, of course, there are a lot of foreign workers who”ve become very much Australianised. And really – and he’s [Abbott’s] in fact really playing to business to say that they will be keeping very strongly those 457 visas because business really does want that as well in terms of some of the worker shortage.

     Pardon the convoluted expression. What Ms O’Connor is really saying is that Mr Abbott is a lackey for business. This, according to Ms O’Connor, is not a good show at all. Consequently, Tony Abbott should do something really useful by supporting the Gillard Labor government. Can you bear it?

    Adam Bandt’s Penguin Obsession

     During a speech to the Sydney Institute on Monday, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said that a high speed train between Melbourne and Brisbane would require 144 kilometres of tunnelling – much of it in Sydney. He also said that, on land, the width of the track corridor would be 200 metres and that the noise levels would reach 100 decibels.  Mr Albanese said that he supported high speed rail in principle but wanted a realistic debate on the pros and cons.

    Naomi Woodley reported the Albanese speech on ABC Radio AM last Tuesday. For another view, she went  to Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt. It was predictably fatuous:

     Adam Bandt: Australia and Antarctica are now the only two continents in the world where there is no high speed rail project underway. And I worry that if we leave it up to Labor, the penguins are going to beat us to it.

    Australia has a population of around 24 million people. The population of the other continents is estimated at 4.2 billion (Asia), 1 billion (Americas), 750 million (Europe) and 1 billion (Africa). By the way, Antarctica has a population of 5000 people and 23 million penguins, some of whom like trains.

    Adam Bandt seems to believe that high speed rail is just as affordable on a continent of 24 million as it is on continents ranging from 4 billion to 750 million. Can you bear it?

    It’s The Insecure Andrew Jaspan, Actually

    On Wednesday, Crikey drew attention to the views of Andrew Jaspan – managing director and editor of the taxpayer subsidised The Conversation. Mr Jaspan – BA (Hons) Manchester University – was a dreadful editor of The Age between 2004 and 2008. He was recruited to The Age by nice Mr Scott (now managing director of the taxpayer funded ABC) from the Sunday Herald in Glasgow. [The what? Ed]

    These days, Mr Jaspan likes to bag The Age – from which he was fired in 2008. This is what he said about Fairfax Media editorial director Garry Linnell last Tuesday in a discussion with Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes:

     I don’t actually know Garry. My understanding is his real area of interest is crime rather than politics. I actually edited The Observer in the UK, and I sat on the board of the Guardian Media Group. I’ve actually worked at a higher level than Garry will ever work editorially. There is nothing in me that is mid-market. I’m actually a serious journalist.

     Actually, Andrew Jaspan uses the word “actually” quite a lot – actually – when telling us all that he is “actually a serious journalist”. It’s true that Mr Jaspan once editedThe Observer in 1995-96. But he did not last long and was soon managing The Big Issue – which is not quite The Observer. Actually. From there, Andrew Jaspan went to the piss poor Sunday Herald in Glasgow from which he was rescued by nice Mr Scott and brought to Australia, where he proved a disaster at The Age.

    These days Andrew Jaspan likes to tell anyone who will listen – including many who do not want to listen – that he is a SERIOUS JOURNALIST. Wow. So serious, actually, that he knows Garry Linnell’s real area of interest – despite the fact that he has never met him.

    What’s more, Mr Jaspan has “actually worked at a higher level than Garry Linnellwill ever work at editorially”. Maybe. But Mr Jaspan has been fired more often than Mr Linnell.  Moreover, Andrew Jaspan was primarily responsible for turning The Age into the “Guardian-on-the-Yarra” – with Michael Leunig and his sandal-wearing leftist comrades setting the paper’s tone.

    These days, Jaspan and the taxpayer subsidised Conversation team are forever banging on about the need for full disclosure. Yet The Conversation’s website does not disclose that it has received government funding. And, Andrew Jaspan did not tell Mumbrella about the fact that was dumped by The Observerand ended up putting together an insignificant Sunday newspaper in Glasgow. Can you bear it? [No, actually – Ed].

    All aboard the ABC board

    According to young Matthew Knott of Crikey, the list of contenders for the position of ABC staff-elected director is “long and impressive”. Well, it is long.  But impressive?  You be the judge.  It’s certainly attractive. The ABC staff-elected director position, which is being restored by the Gillard Labor government, pays an honorarium of close to $70,000 a year plus lotsa business class travel and some silver service fine dining.

    And now for the candidates – some of whom seems to be unaware that this is a board position where all board members have to accept board decisions and where independent advocacy is against corporate law.

    – Ian Henschke reckons he deserves the gig because, wait for it, he “helped select Russell Balding as the new MD” way back in 2002.  Go on.

    – And Matt Peacock reckons he deserves the gig because he can obtain another bucket load of taxpayers’ funding.  Your man Peacock is opposed to advertising and sponsorship on the public broadcaster but maintains that a 23 per cent increase in the ABC’s hand-out would work quite nicely for the comrades in the Ultimo/Southbank Soviet.  Perhaps he hasn’t heard about the budget deficit. Can you bear it?

    This new feature has been introduced by popular demand, of course. You Must Remember This – based, as it is, on the chorus line in “As Time Goes By” which was popularised  by the film Casablanca – is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of how what they once said is contrary to what they now assert. In other words, the target of the You Must Remember This segment is demolishing fudge.

    John Hewson Forgets How He Lost The Liberal Leadership

    On 22 February 2013, Radio National Drive’s Friday panel was devoted to the topic “Blood on the Floor”. According to the program’s publicity, this involved “three of Australia’s most brilliant political minds” speaking to RN Drive presenter Julian Morrow about the human dramas behind political life”. The “most brilliant political minds” belong to Bruce Hawker (Labor political strategist), John Hewson (former Liberal Party leader) and Niki Savva (columnist for The Australian).

    There were two problems with the concept. Julian Morrow (RN Drive’s Friday presenter) is a comedian who freelances as – yet another – leftist presenter on the ABC. He is tops for jokes and sneering – but somewhat light on history. What’s more, those who are advertised as having “brilliant political minds” do not always have reliable political memories.

    This is what John Hewson had to say about the circumstances which led to his being replaced as Liberal Party leader on Monday 23 May 1994 by Alexander Downer. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Julian Morrow: What about, you know, at the risk of asking you to reflect on things that you might not look on so fondly. What about your departure from the Liberal leadership? Do – that seemed to be not defined by policy issues. How did you experience that?

    John Hewson: The truth was that, at, when I lost in ‘93 I wasn’t going to stand again. I thought about it for a while and I saw that [John] Howard would become leader and I was worried that the unity that I’d built – and the policy credity [sic], credibility, that I built – would be sacrificed because he’d divide the party. In my view, he was going to polarise the party on the basis of two issues – the republic and native title. So I stayed on to handle those two issues. I said to my closest colleagues, I didn’t imagine that I would survive.

    I left for personal reasons, er, related to miscarriages and that sort of thing. Personal reasons at home. But I decided that I wanted to force the party to make a choice. It wasn’t a choice on policy. It was really a choice on who was going to replace me cos I wanted them to organise an alternative and to run that alternative. And I personally thought it would be Costello but as it turned out it was Downer, backed by Costello….

    But having said all that, I mean, I, er, felt it was important that they did address the issue of leadership. It wasn’t about a policy direction – although they weren’t going to go back to Fightback!, easily go back. Tax reform was inevitable. But they weren’t necessarily go back to Fightback! Or go back to GST.  But it was important, I thought, that they actually made that decision. So that’s – I handled it as best I could.  But I’d made a decision to go and announced that decision.

    Brilliant political memory? Er, no. Not at all. Here’s what really happened.

    As Opposition leader, Dr Hewson led the Coalition to defeat in what was called “the unloseable election” on 13 March 1993. Hewson was re-elected as Liberal Party leader after the election. But many Liberal MPs doubted whether they could win government with him as leader.

    Leadership speculation commenced on Sunday 14 May 1994 when Liberal frontbencher Peter Reith criticised Hewson on a policy issue. Hewson initially said that Reith’s comments were unexceptional but later publicly rebuked him. On Tuesday 17 May, Hewson – during a live interview on Lateline – was presented with critical polling which had been released by a Liberal Party operative – Malcom McGregor. On the same day, former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser suggested it was time for a leadership change. Hewson declared that he would not stand down.

    On Wednesday 18 May, Hewson said: “I am here and I am going to stay and I’m going to fight all the way, let me tell you.” The following day, Hewson stated: “I am going to stay … and lead the party to the next election and we are going to win.”

    At 4pm on Friday 20 May, Hewson announced that there would be a spill of leadership positions the following Monday and said that he would re-nominate: “I have always been absolutely confident that I have the support of the parliamentary party – and I remain so. What is at stake at the present time is not so much the future of John Hewson as the future of the Liberal Party itself”. He challenged his Liberal Party opponents “to put up or shut up”.

    Soon after, Alexander Downer and Peter Costello issued a joint statement headed “Liberal Party Leadership”. They stated their belief that “it is in the interests of all the Liberal Party members and all Australians for the Liberal Party to make a fresh start and elect a new leadership team on Monday”. The statement announced that Downer would stand for leader and Costello for deputy leader.

    On 23 May, the morning of the poll, Tony Staley (the Liberal Party’s federal president) called on Hewson to withdraw from the ballot. Moreover, former Liberal leader Andrew Peacock supported the Downer/Costello ticket. Staley said that even if Hewson survived the leadership ballot it would only be a “temporary “arrangement. Senior Liberal Party frontbenchers Peter Reith and Bronwyn Bishop also publicly supported the Downer/Costello ticket.

    On Sunday 22 May, John Hewson said that his re-election as Liberal leader was vital for the future of the party:

    Discussions with my colleagues since last Friday have confirmed the view that I put last Friday that at tomorrow’s special party meeting I will be reconfirmed as leader of the Liberal Party. There’s a fairly widespread view that we need to be a tolerant and inclusive and broadly based party in order to win the next election. There’s a very strong view that the best way for us to win that election is to reconfirm my position as leader tomorrow.

    The Liberal Party’s leadership ballot commenced at 2.30 pm on Monday 23 May 1994. Shortly after, it was announced that Alexander Downer had defeated John Hewson by 43 to 36 votes with Peter Costello being elected unopposed as deputy leader.

    So, there you have it. On RN Drive on 22 February 2013, John Hewson claimed that he “left” the Liberal Party leadership for “personal reasons”. In fact, he fought a bitter leadership contest and lost.

    The contest was so bitter that, on the Friday before the ballot, Hewson released an open letter to “Liberals and all Australians”. In this, Hewson declared that he was “not from ‘the Establishment’” and did “not attend a private school”. He added: “I got an education through my own hard work, not my parent’s [sic] money. I didn’t belong to the ‘right’ clubs or play the ‘right’ sports or even believe in the ‘right’ religion.” The implication was clear – Hewson was running a class war line in an attempt to save his leadership. He even pointed out that he was not a member of the Melbourne Club.

    And, nearly two decades later, John Hewson would have RN Drive listeners believe that he stepped down from the Liberal Party leadership for personal reasons, having groomed his successor. But MWD remembers what he said and did in 1994.

    Tim Flannery Forgets False Prophecy That The East Coast Will Run Out Of Water

    As the saying goes, Tim Flannery has more front than Myer’s – or Mark Foys – or whatever. Last Sunday, the Climate Commission released its latest report titled The Angry Summer, about the Summer of 2012/2013. The report concluded that “it is highly likely that extreme hot weather will become even more frequent and severe in Australia and around the globe over the coming decades” due to global warming.

    The report was released on Sunday. Which meant there was lotsa media coverage on the following Monday. On 4 March, Climate Commission chairman, Tim Flannery, who is not a climate scientist, appeared on such programs as ABC 1’s, News Breakfast and 7.30. Michael Rowland (on News Breakfast) and Leigh Sales (on 7.30) did raise with Dr Flannery the fact that the world has not warmed for the past 15 years. But your man is a clever polemicist and he got around the problem.

    Now here’s the relevant question. Why should anyone take Professor Flannery seriously on heat when he was so manifestly wrong about water – only a few years ago – in the New Scientist?  Here is what Tim Flannery wrote in New Scientist on 16 June 2007, under the heading, “Australia – not such a lucky country.”

    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—

    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.

    So there you have it.  Less than six years ago, Tim Flannery said that the dams in Australia will no longer fill even when it does rain and that water tanks on roofs were more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane.  The line was that Australia’s East Coast cities are running out of water – due to global warming.

    Currently the main dams in Sydney and Brisbane are over-flowing with water. So Dr Flannery has dropped his claim that Australian cities will run out of water due to climate change.  It has been replaced by the claim – in The Angry Summer –  that climate change will lead, inter alia, to “extreme rainfall and damaging flooding”. So the lack of rain is due global warming (2007 version) and the increase in rain is also due to global warming (2013 version).

    By the way, Dr Flannery will not enter into correspondence concerning his past claim that such cities as Brisbane and Sydney will run out of water.  See MWD Issue 135.  In May 2011, Flannery told AFR journalist Marcus Priest that he “can’t remember everything” he said just four years earlier. Really.  In May 2012, Flannery told the ABC’s Jonathan Green that his previous predictions had been taken “out of context”. Really.  But MWD remembers.

    Milton Osborne Nails David McKnight’s Pol Pot Fudge

    MWD Issue 172 referred to last week’s Praising-the-Manne two day conference at La Trobe University on Robert Manne – with speakers including Robert Manne, Anne Manne and David Manne plus many more. Earlier on Friday 1 March, in his Australian Financial Review “Rear Window” column, intrepid journalist Joe Aston referred to the fact that David McKnight was speaking in praise of Robert Manne at the Praising-the-Manne conference. Mr Aston was unkind enough to refer to Dr McKnight as a “former Khmer Rouge apologist (since recanted)”. [Gee, that’s pretty safe. At least he didn’t refer to him as a mummy blogger or penisblogger – descriptions much loved by Mr Aston that seem to upset the gorgeous Mia Freedman. Ed.]

    Being a sensitive soul, Dr McKnight (for a doctor he is) wrote the following letter to the AFR – it was published on Tuesday. To MWD, McKnight’s epistle seems to be confessing that he is really a former Khmer Rouge apologist (now recanted). Here we go:

    Cambodia mistake

    Your columnist (“Manne of the moment”, Rear Window, March 1) described me as a “former Khmer Rouge apologist (since recanted)”. This is false. In 1976 I wrote an article which was sceptical of claims about mass murder by the new regime. I quoted an article which was also sceptical. My article was written in ignorance and was not a defence of genocide. Moreover, it acknowledged that “there does seem grounds for assuming that some reprisals followed the war in Cambodia”. I realised my scepticism was misplaced shortly afterwards when the invasion by Vietnam revealed the horrors of Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

    David McKnight

    Bondi. NSW

    On Wednesday, the AFR ran a letter, in response to David McKnight, by Gerard Henderson. A second letter, written by Milton Osborne, was published yesterday. The AFR cut Milton Osborne’s letter for space reasons and added the title “Dr” to his name. This was not in the original letter – which is published in full below:

    David McKnight protests too much (Cambodia mistake AFR letters, March 1). It is correct that his article of 1 December 1976 in Tribune, the Communist Party organ, expressed scepticism about claims of Khmer Rouge atrocities rather than clear support for the Pol Pot regime, but any fair reading of it leaves other issues worth examining. Not least is the fact that McKnight bolsters his position in the article by relying on the conclusions of Ben Kiernan, then at Monash University, who later, in 1978, wrote a public declaration of his errors in analysis of the Democratic Kampuchean regime in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, acknowledging that he had failed to recognise the awfulness of what had been happening in Cambodia.

    More to the point, an accumulating range of evidence was available to McKnight, Kiernan and a regrettably large number of others, but ignored for two to three years, indicating beyond dispute that something terrible was happening in Cambodia. The forced exodus of Phnom Penh’s population in April 1975 was known to all, and in July 1975 Henry Kamm of the New York Times published the first of his detailed reports, based on extensive refugee interviews, that gave a clear picture of the tragedy occurring in Cambodia. (A declaration of interest: Henry Kamm is a personal friend, but we did not meet until 1980.)

    For McKnight to write that he “realised his scepticism was misplaced shortly afterwards”, in fact a full two years later, is a remarkable comment. Well before the Vietnamese toppled the Pol Pot regime in January 1979, Barron and Paul had published their book, Murder of a Gentle Land, an important contribution despite some errors, and Francois Ponchaud had published Cambodge, annee zero. Additionally, there were continuing news reports by Kamm and others, including from Associated Press, which left no doubt about what was happening in Cambodia.

    For the record, and without being sure about magnitudes, I was convinced that terrible things were happening in Cambodia before the end of 1975. At the beginning of 1976, I was asked by the Japanese journal Pacific Affairs to write on the subject and my article, published in October, admitted doubts about the size of the tragedy but observed that if “only ten per cent of the stories told by refugees fleeing Cambodia are correct the situation is of an awfulness that beggars description”. And I concluded, in relation to academic writers on Cambodia, that the silence of foreign observers who previously had claimed to be knowledgeable about Cambodia was “a contemporary treason of the clerks”.

    Let us never forget that 1.75 million Cambodians died during the Pol Pot regime, who otherwise might have lived. That was one quarter of Cambodia’s population.

    Milton Osborne

    Milton Osborne demonstrated that the likes of Henry Kamm, John Barron, Anthony Paul, Francois Ponchaud and others (Osborne himself included) had written about the mass murder in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge well before the end of 1976, when McKnight downplayed the extent of the killings.
    In his article in the Communist Party’s Tribune on 1 December 1976, McKnight accused what he termed the bosses’ press of beating up allegations of Khmer Rouge genocide. He also asserted that the reprisals that occurred after the communists came to power in Cambodia in April 1975 were not related to official policy. In other words, don’t blame Pol Pot.

    David McKnight only turned against the Khmer Rouge when communist Cambodia was invaded by communist Vietnam.

    Milton Osborne demonstrated that the Khmer Rouge’s murderous regime was no secret to those who wanted to know what was going on in Cambodia in 1975 and 1976 – and who were prepared to believe the testimony of the refugees

    Milton Osborne – Five Paws

    Ida Lichter Nails The Sell-Out Feminist Left

    Great piece by psychiatrist and author Ida Lichter in The Australian on Tuesday. After summarising recent news about women in Muslim lands – including a Hamas daily accusing women of spreading swine flu and an Iranian cleric linking women with earthquakes – Ida Lichter turned her attention to the sisterhood:

    …the Western feminist movement that was once an inspiration for human rights has become a shadow of its former self and, in its postmodern form, third-generation feminists are silent on Muslim women”s rights. Instead, they are preoccupied with issues dear to the far Left, such as radical versions of moral relativism, post-colonialism and anti-Americanism.

    The movement has sunk into hypocrisy and double standards. It has allowed an alliance with the far Left to trump women”s rights. Sadly, feminists have ignored the victims of patriarchy, and abandoned the reformers battling to reinterpret religious texts in favour of sexual equality. Choosing to share their bed with Islamist misogynists, feminists are betraying their Muslim sisters. At the same time, they forgo historic feminist ideals based on absolute values and guarantees provided by international protocols.

    Quite so.

    Ida Lichter – Five Paws.

    Patryk Pleskot Suggests That World War II Really Commenced in August 1939

    Addressing The Sydney Institute last Tuesday, a speech recorded for A-Pac Channel 648, Polish historian Patryk Pleskot traced the commencement of the Second World War to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Let’s go to the transcript:

    There would have been no Second World War without the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact on 21 August 1939. On 1 September 1939, we get Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. And, not more than two weeks later, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland. We have no chance to win this war. Facing the two totalitarian regimes simultaneously attacking Polish states, it was impossible to resist.

    Quite so.

    Dr Patryk Pleskot – Five Paws.

    Michael Rowland Confronts Sandalista (Queensland Division)

    Jim McIlroy, retired public servant and Socialist Alliance Queensland candidate for Griffith in this year’s House of Representatives election, managed to get a run on ABC 1’s News Breakfast  this morning.

    Comrade McIlroy dressed up in his red Australia-Venezuela T-shirt and threw the switch to apologist for the recently deceased dictator Hugo Chavez who all but destroyed the Venezuelan economy. It so happened that News Breakfast  presenter and interviewer Michael Rowland knows quite a bit about Latin America and demolished Comrade McIlroy’s Trotskyite rationalisation for Chavez’s economic madness.

    Michael Rowland – Five Paws.


    Last week’s segment of the invincible ignorance of Jim Middleton (on Australian history) and Stephen Crittenden (on the Papacy) created enormous interest. Absolutely enormous.

    However there was also a degree of controversy as pedants arose from around the globe to query this comment in MWD Issue 172:

    Mr Crittenden seems to have forgotten King Henry VIII’s split with Rome, the Protestant Reformation and all that. The Catholic Church was banned in Britain from the time of the Reformation until the 19th Century. There were no British cardinals in the conclave during this period because there were no British cardinals.

    Pedant No 1 – from Thailand – sent the following cryptic remark:

    Wrong! You’ve forgotten Reginald Pole who was himself Papabilus.

    Not really.  Reginald Pole (1500-1558) left England in 1532 – and only returned when Mary ascended to the throne.  He was denounced by the Pope as a heretic in 1557 and died soon after.  This is not what Stephen Crittenden was on about.

    Pedant No 2 – from China – sent the following cryptic note:

    Your assertion that “there were no British cardinals in the conclave during this period because there were no British cardinals” skips lightly over King Henry IX of Great Britain (so styled after the Act of Union of 1707) whose very large statue stands in St Peter”s in Rome. He was an elector in four papal conclaves, viz. those of 1758, 1769, 1774 and 1799.

    Not really.  Henry Benedict Stuart (1725-1807) – who was variously known as the Cardinal – Duke of York and Henry IX – lived all his life outside of Britain.  This was not what Stephen Crittenden was on about.

    Nancy’s Verdict – Stephen Crittenden’s invincible ignorance remains invincible.  And pedants should retreat to their kennels.

    • 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. Thank you 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 Mann, April Fool’s Day 2011.

    • ”Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails are private correspondence and not for publication.”

      – 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.