HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 185
7 JUNE 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.
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See the end of this week’s MWD for details of much appreciated comments on/endorsements of Nancy’s work by Sinclair Davidson, Mike Carlton, David Marr, Peter Munro, Mike Carlton (again), Jonathan Green & Michael Rowland, Malcolm Farr, Bob Ellis, Tom Cowie, Mike Carlton (yet again), Mark Latham, Robert Manne, Marius Benson, James Jeffrey, Andrew Crook and more besides. Well done chaps – and lotsa thanks.
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● Stop Press: Yet More Group-Think on Lateline; Leigh Sales Interviews Kevin Rudd Sans Doubt
● Five Paws Award: Virginia Trioli and Jack Waterford Star
● Can You Bear It? Grace Collier Identifies Labor “Thieves”; Whitlam Doco Confuses Head of Government and Head of State; Now Factless at The Age – Tim Soutphommasane’s Lazy Verballing
● Your Taxes at Work: A Melbourne Case Study; A Leftist Stack at La Trobe University in Praise of Julian Assange; Ramona Koval Fawns All Over Robert Manne
● Jonathan Holmes Refuses to Address the Potential Conflict of Interest of his ABC Mates; David Marr Refuses to Answer Questions re his Errors Concerning “The Punch” – With a Little Help from MWD Readers
● Correspondence: On The Age & George Pell; On Greenpeace’s Search for a Civil-Obedience Platform
● Anti-Coal Group Think on Late Night’s Lateline
What former ABC chairman Maurice Newman depicted as evidence of group-think at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster was in evidence again last night on Lateline. Kerry Brewster did a story on coal exports where everyone who appeared on the segment opposed coal exports for environmental reasons or investment reasons – or both. No other view was heard.
Last night’s program was a beauty. The segment started with a middle-aged pastor – a certain Rev Brian Brown Head of the Uniting Church of Australia – preaching to his small elderly congregation at the Turramurra Uniting Church. It was cold. So much so that even the organist was wearing an overcoat. Perhaps the anti-coal set at Turramurra Uniting Church had the heating turned off. Rev. Brown’s sermon was that the Uniting Church should not invest in coal.
Late in the program there was another evangelical experience – albeit of a secular kind. The American anti-coal activist Bill McKibben was depicted preaching to an essentially young audience at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. In between there was footage of McKibben addressing what was said to be a meeting of fund managers. John Connor of the Climate Institute was in the audience. Dr John Hewson fronted up as chair of the Asset Owner’s Disclosure Project and Peter Lambert, the chief executive of Local Government Super. Both sympathised with McKibben’s line.
Kerry Brewster’s message was simple and simplistic. Words such as “dire” and “catastrophic” were used as she ran the line that the use of coal would destroy the earth – or the environmental movement would destroy the coal industry. Lord Stern (of the Stern Report) made cameo appearances. The take-away message was that Civil Disobedience was required to stop coal exports.
No one mentioned whether anyone appearing on the program had a financial interest in opposing coal exports from Australia. And Ms Brewster did not talk about the fact that coal is Australia’s second largest export earner and, as such, makes a significant contribution to the taxes that fund the ABC’s $1 billion annual budget handout. [Due to public demand, you should revamp your oh-so-popular Maurice Newman Segment for next week. – Ed].
● Leigh Sales Short of (Kevin Rudd) Doubt
7.30 presenter Leigh Sales frequently asserts that she is into doubt. She even admires Martin Luther, the late founder of the Protestant Reformation, whom she insists was the doubting type. [I doubt it – Ed. See MWD Issues 14, 15, 19].
Last night Ms Sales expressed not an iota of doubt when Mr Rudd declared that he had decided in February 2012 that Julia Gillard would lead Labor to the 2013 election. In fact, the forces who supported Simon Crean’s move to replace the Prime Minister with Kevin Rudd in March this year had a meeting with Mr Rudd. Kevin Rudd decided not to challenge Julia Gillard for the leadership when he was advised by the likes of Joel Fitzgibbon, Chris Bowen and Martin Ferguson that he did not have the numbers. Yet Ms Sales expressed not a word of doubt when Kevin Rudd declared that his position on the leadership “hasn’t changed since February of last year”.
NANCY’S “EXCLUSIVE” OF NEXT MONDAY’S Q&A SET FEATURING THE LAIR OF LIVERPOOL’S CHOSEN CHAIR
MARK LATHAM SIGNS UP TO SELF-FLAGELLATION ON Q&A
Nancy was so excited to learn that Mark Latham will appear on Q&A next week that she could not fight it – and issued a special issue of MWD before lunch on Tuesday. See here.
The MWD special reminded readers that, in his “Latham’s Law” column in The Spectator Australia on 13 August 2011, the Lair of Liverpool had declared that appearing on Q&A would be equivalent to voluntarily sitting in the dentist’s chair. He said that those who appeared on Q&A were media tarty masochists seeking an hour of self-flagellation and that those who watched the program were political tragics.
The Lair of Liverpool, once again, reacted unfavourably to MWD. So much so that he fired off a response to Joe Aston who published some of it in his Australian Financial Review “Rear Window” column on Wednesday. This was cited in yesterday’s “Cut & Paste” segment in The Australian.
MWD was hoping to run Mark Latham’s sprays at Gerard Henderson and also (for some unexplained reason) at Anne Henderson today. But, believe it or not, Mr Latham has refused to give the AFR permission to release the so far unpublished paras of his missive. Shucks. Perhaps he wants to deny MWD of yet another endorsement – see the end of this issue.
In any event, MWD will certainly be tuned into Q&A on Monday when the Lair of Liverpool enters the Dentist’s Chair. Moreover, Nancy hopes that your man Latham gets paid for his efforts. After all, he has to support a wife, three children and half a dozen bookmakers on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation handout of a mere $78,000 per year (fully indexed). Sure Mr Latham tops up his meagre stipend with payment by Fairfax Media for his piss-poor Australian Financial Review column and his appearances on 2UE in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne (which, being deaf, Nancy does not hear).
Recent highlights of Mark Latham’s AFR column are set out below:
▪ 1-2 June 2013. ML pays homage to veteran horse trainer Bart Cummings but still manages to include himself in the story. [Has Mark Latham, by chance, become an equine writer – Ed].
▪ 6 June 2013. ML advocates labour market deregulation. Fair enough. But Mark Latham fails to explain why he was not in the labour deregulation cart when he was Labor leader. ML opposes business welfare but fails to mention his advocacy of Medicare Gold when he was Labor leader. That’s it, folks.
Let’s hope the Lair of Liverpool comes up with something more interesting when he voluntarily goes into Lateline's [As Cut & Paste has pointed out this is a John Laws style “deliberate” mistake. It should read Q&A's] Dentist’s Chair on Monday. And let’s hope that he is not allowed to use this taxpayer funded venue to attack his political opponents, who will have no adequate right of reply. Mark Latham used such a tactic on Sky News before the powers-that-be at Macquarie Park decided not to renew his contract.
▪ Identifying Gough-Fudge
Asked by ABC News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland last Monday about what she thought of the ABC documentary on Gough Whitlam titled The Power and the Passion, Virginia Trioli replied:
It became quite irritating. I think, in the second part….Just a little bit overplayed, I thought and a bit hagiographic at the end.
▪ Identifying Anti-Catholic Sectarianism
The Canberra Times’ Jack Waterford is a long standing critic of Cardinal George Pell. However, Mr Waterford called it correctly on 29 May 2013 when he indentified the nature of some of the criticisms made of Cardinal Pell by Liberal parliamentarians Andrea Coote and Georgie Crozier. Here’s what Jack Waterford had to say:
His [Cardinal Pell’s] impatience with the inquisition he was facing was manifest – the more notably as several of his (presumably non-Catholic) inquisitors demonstrated basic ignorance of well-understood precepts of church governance. (The going on about palatial hotels in Rome, though a scandal in itself, was, for example, simply gratuitously anti-papistry, playing to a gallery, given that Pell was not claiming that the dioceses could not, or would not, pay damages to victims.)
La Trioli and Jack Waterford – Five Paws each.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
▪ Grace (“Call Me Darl”) Collier brands Labor As The Party of Criminals and Thieves
What a wonderful return to the Sunday night edition of the Sky News Paul Murray Live show by Grace Collier – whom Mr Murray invariably addresses as “Darl” or “Dear”. [What’s wrong with “Love” – Ed]. Here’s how the program started on Sunday:
Paul Murray: Thank you very much for watching. It’s nice to have the Sunday night gang back together again…. It’s nice to have my colleague at Radio 2UE Jason Morrison, one of the best broadcasters to have ever roamed the land and the airwaves. Mike Jeffreys, nice to see you.
Mike Jeffreys: Paul, all the gang back together – and
Paul Murray: It is nice. And hello the lady who, who – let’s be honest – people turn up for you Grace. The lovely Grace Collier there from dismissals.com.au, an industrial advocate. Hello my dear.
Grace Collier: Hello. Hello everyone.
Paul Murray: Hello. Oh. My apologies to Gerard Henderson [in] referring to you as “my dear”. Obviously that’s an act of disrespect – it’s so early in the show.
Jason Morrison : Is he still edgy about that?
Paul Murray: Yeah. I don’t care.
Grace Collier: Oh dear, my dear.
Oh dear, indeed. And, then, it was on with the program – with the audience awaiting the inevitable Grace Collier spray. She didn’t disappoint. Let’s go to the transcript where Ms Collier was invited to comment on the fact that ALP MP Jason Clare had posed with his supporters all dressed in blue – not in the traditional Labor colours but, rather, in Liberal Party colours. Then Dear Grace stepped up to the anti-Labor plate. Here we go:
Grace Collier: Oh yeah. Look, I mean. Yes look, isn’t it hilarious, though? And I think, you know, when I saw the photo I just started laughing because I think this really backfires on them because, you know, the Labor Party have a reputation in the community for being criminals and thieves. And now it looks like: “Look they’ll, you know, they’ll steal anything that’s not nailed down.” And now they’re stealing the other mob’s colours. So, you know, it just makes them really stupid and terrible and of course the ballot papers’ going to trip them up unless they start spelling their name LIEB,um,ER, or something like that. Try and confuse people – put an “I” in there somewhere.
So according to Grace (“call me Darl”) Collier, the ALP is the party of “criminals and thieves”. That’s all. Can you bear it?
▪ ABC’s Head of Factual Misses Whitlam Documentary Howlers
Alas, ABC TV’s publicity department declined to give MWD an advance copy of the two hour documentary on Gough Whitlam titled The Power and the Passion. A pity really since it meant that MWD’s millions of followers were prevented from reading Nancy’s review prior to the show going to air. We’re off to buy a copy of the DVD and a full assessment will be published in due course.
The Power and the Passion was signed off by Phil Craig in his capacity as “ABC Head of Factual”. Fancy that. Although advertised as “the definitive account” of the Whitlam years, The Power and the Passion was rife with factual errors. Some have been identified by Troy Bramston – see MWD Issue 183.
One of MWD’s favourite howlers was the claim that Elizabeth Reid, Whitlam’s adviser for women’s affairs, worked for Australia’s “head of state”. Let’s go to the transcript:
Judy Davis (narrator) : Women’s rights became the first battleground to modernise the nation. Whitlam appointed the first advisor on women’s affairs to a head of state anywhere in the world. A thirty year old single mother named Elizabeth Reid. It shocked both sides of politics.
When Gough Whitlam became prime minister, the Queen was Australia’s head of state and the Governor-General (Sir Paul Hasluck) was the Queen’s representative in Australia. Mr Whitlam was the head of government. The ABC’s Head of Factual should know this. And yet nice Mr Scott has set up a Fact Checking Unit to enquire into the (alleged) factual errors of political parties, business and the like – but not the ABC itself. Can you bear it?
▪ Tim Soutphommasane & The Age of Verballing
Remember Tim Soutphommasane? Dr Soutphommasane (for a doctor he is) used to write the “Ask the Philosopher” column for The Weekend Australian Few, if any, did. So Dr Soutphommasane soon found refuge among various left-wing columnists who write boring pieces on the Opinion Page of The Age’s print edition.
Readers of MWD in 2011 will recall that Tim Soutphommasane was co-author with Nick Dyrenfurth, of the truly hopeless All That’s Left tome. It contained neither sources nor endnotes nor footnotes – just undocumented assertions. Both authors are taxpayer funded academics at taxpayer funded universities. Tim Soutphommasane at Sydney University with Nick Dyrenfurth at Monash University.
Last Monday in The Age, Tim Soutphommasane wrote a column titled “Racism, bigotry and debate, Australian style”. He criticised two commentators – Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and The Australian’s senior editor Nick Cater, who is the author of The Lucky Culture. This is what Tim Soutphommasane wrote about Andrew Bolt:
According to Bolt, a so-called New Racism has been at fault. Apparently, the AFL's indigenous round “is a fashionably racist event that encourages people to divide the world into a white ‘us’ and an Aboriginal ‘them’.” It has encouraged people “to see in Goodes the black victim, rather than a 34-year-old sports star taking outsized offence at the rudeness of a girl”. As for Eddie McGuire, his error was evidence of nothing remotely close to racism – it was just silly behaviour.
It takes a certain chutzpah to go down this path. But we shouldn’t tolerate such perverse denial of racial bigotry. Nor should we accept the distortion of racism that accompanies it.
It also takes a certain lazy chutzpah to write columns without checking facts. On Tuesday, The Age – which does not like Andrew Bolt – had to run the following response from the Herald-Sun columnist on its Letters Page:
Tim Soutphommasane claims that I described Eddie McGuire’s King Kong insult of Adam Goodes as “evidence of nothing remotely close to racism – it was just silly behaviour”. This is false. In fact I called it “racist” and a “slur” that left me “astonished”, given McGuire “knows perfectly well ‘ape’ can be a racially derogatory term”.
– Andrew Bolt, Southbank
When is “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” going to wake up that Tim Soutphommasane makes claims for which he has no evidence. Outside the academy, it’s called verballing. Can you bear it?
YOUR TAXES AT WORK (FOR LEFTIST CAUSES) – A MELBOURNE CASE STUDY
▪ Robert Manne Convenes (Yet Another) Leftist Stack at La Trobe University
Professor Robert Manne, formerly Professor of Politics at La Trobe University in Melbourne, now holds the exalted position of Vice-Chancellor Fellow, La Trobe University. In this taxpayer subsidised position he convenes the taxpayer subsidised Ideas & Society Program at the taxpayer subsidised La Trobe University. Nice subsidy, if you can get it.
On Thursday 23 May 2013 Mary Kostakidis chaired a panel of The Ideas & Society Program at La Trobe University’s Melbourne campus on the topic “Julian Assange and WikiLeaks”. In short, it was a complete leftist stack.
The panel consisted of civil libertarian barrister Julian Burnside QC, Samantha Castro, co-founder of the Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance and Professor Robert Manne.
One of Nancy’s email-pals attended the gig – at which the facilities of La Trobe University were used to promote the Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance, which is, in effect, a political party. No other view was heard as Mary Kostakidis agreed with Julian Burnside who agreed with Robert Manne who agreed with Samantha Castro who agreed with Mary Kostakidis who agreed with herself that Julian Assange has been let down by Australia and Britain and Sweden and the United States and so on.
Unfortunately, Nancy’s email-pal fell asleep during Robert Manne’s sermon but heard m’learned friend Burnside QC’s apologia – along with Samantha Castro’s advocacy of the WikiLeaks Party. Apparently, both Burnside and Castro felt that the charges of sexual assault of two left-of-centre Swedish women against Assange in Sweden were unwarranted. Then Professor Manne bagged both Foreign Minister Bob Carr and The Australian. Then Mary Kostakidis and Julian Burnside sang Julian Assange’s praises.
Nancy’s email-pal has raised the old gag. Here it is (yet again) in a slightly revised format. Question: What’s the opposite of diversity? Answer: La Trobe University.
▪ Ramona Koval Praises Robert Manne on the Taxpayer
While on the topic of La Trobe University’s taxpayer funded sandalista love-ins, MWD’s attention has been drawn to Ramona Koval’s brilliant performance in this genre. The occasion was the La Trobe University function set up to honour Robert Manne’s career as Professor of Politics. It was titled Thinking for Yourself: A Conference in Honour of Professor Robert Manne. See MWD Issue 172.
Needless to say, every speaker agreed with every other speaker that Robert Manne is brilliant and wise – when he isn’t wise and brilliant. A Melbourne MWD reader has pointed out that, on this occasion, Ramona Koval was the lead groveller, with a grovel which runs to 14 eye-glazing minutes. It’s self-indulgent, boring sludge. Listen here. And weep later at how your taxes are spent in praise of the taxpayer subsidised Robert Manne at the taxpayer subsidised La Trobe University.
GREAT MEDIA U-TURNS OF OUR TIME (CONTINUED)
▪ Rod Cameron on Why Tony Abbott is Unelectable (2009)
[Tony Abbott is] unelectable. This is a description I reserve for a very small group of politicians.
– Australian Financial Review – 2 December 2009
▪ Rod Cameron on Why Julia Gillard is Not Re-Electable (2013)
The majority of the modern Labor Party – the caucus, the leadership, the machine and, importantly, the union bosses who now dictate policy – has totally lost the plot. When they reaffirm Julia Gillard’s leadership, they really were turkeys voting for Christmas – and what a Christmas it will be. It will be a total wipe-out in the outer suburbs of all the capital cities and the regional and rural areas to boot.
– The Age, 6 June 2013.
So there you have it. In December 2009 former ALP pollster Rod Cameron said that Tony Abbott was unelectable. And in June 2013 Rod Cameron believes that Julia Gillard cannot be re-elected in a head-to-head contest against Tony Abbott.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: A CONTINUING SAGA
● JONATHAN HOLMES REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT ABC PRESENTERS’ POSSIBLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
On ABC 1’s Media Watch on 27 May 2013, Jonathan Holmes raised the issues of proper identification and potential conflicts of interest concerning political commentators in Australia.
Mr Holmes believes that each time a commentator makes a comment on television or on radio or in the press he/she should identify if he/she is a member of a political party. But the Media Watch presenter refuses to say whether or not his mates at the taxpayer public broadcaster should declare whether or not they are members of a trade union. See MWD Issues 183 and 184.
Mr Holmes also believes that commentators who work for the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) or the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) should ensure that their employer provides a full disclosure as to where the funds of the organisation comes from. But the ABC Media Watch presenter refuses to say whether or not his mates at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should declare what money they receive from companies and organisations for presentation and speaking occasions – i.e. payments from the private sector which are in addition to their ABC salaries. See MWD Issues 183 and 184.
If Jonathan Holmes ever gets around to responding to MWD’s questions, we will let you know. His refusal to enter into correspondence suggests an unpleasant double standard on the Media Watch presenter’s behalf which seems to go like this: Before Tim Wilson is interviewed on, say, Lateline he should declare whether he is a member of a political party and provide full details as to who funds the IPA. But the ABC presenter of say, Lateline, interviewing Tim Wilson does not have to say whether he/she is a member of a trade union or declare whether he/she has ever received funds from companies or organisations and the quantum involved.
It is important to note that it was Jonathan Holmes who first raised the issue about political identification and about possible conflicts of interest. It’s just that he appears to believe that ABC employees should be exempt from answering his questions which he wants CIS and IPA employees to answer.
● DAVID MARR REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHY HE CHANGED HIS STORY ON TONY ABBOTT’S (ALLEGED) PUNCH AT SYDNEY UNIVERSITY IN SEPTEMBER 1977 – OR WAS IT OCTOBER 1977?
David Marr continues to refuse to answer questions about why he changed his account of the alleged punch which Tony Abbott landed on a wall on either side of Barbara Ramjan’s head following a Students Representative Council election at Sydney University in late 1977. Yet Mr Marr continues to insist that what he calls “It” happened.
There is one account of this event in the first edition of David Marr’s Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott – which was published as a Quarterly Essay in September 2012. Here David Marr declared that “The Punch” took place at Sydney University in September 1977 following an incident, also involving Tony Abbott, at Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education in August 1977.
There is a different account of this event in the second edition of Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott – which was published by Black Inc in March 2013. Here David Marr says that “The Punch” occurred on 27 July 1977 – sometime before the Ku-ring-gai College incident, which he now re-dated as having occurred in October 1977. He now claims that there was a second SRC election in September – after which “The Punch” was not thrown. Clear, eh?
More seriously, David Marr does not explain, or even refer to, the corrections which he has made in the second edition of Political Animal. They were discovered by Gerard Henderson and have not been reported in the media. David Marr reluctantly conceded the errors in personal correspondence with Gerard Henderson. See MWD Issue 181.
MWD will keep you informed if David Marr ‘fesses up as to why he got the dates of the (alleged) incidents wrong in the first place and to how he came to discover his mistakes. In the meantime, three MWD readers have raised some pertinent questions about “The Punch” – concerning which there are no witnesses and no contemporaneous evidence. Here they are:
▪ MWD Reader No 1’s Query – 15 April 2013
Dear Mr. Henderson
This is lightweight stuff compared with the superb job you are doing in keeping these people accountable. But, here in Victoria maybe last year, an irate AFL coach punched a wall in the coach’s box after his team’s loss. To the delight of the media, it made a fist-sized hole in the plaster.
As a hand therapist, I treated many young men who’d damaged their hands punching walls or people….
▪ MWD Reader No 2’s Query – 11 May 2013
I got a bit confused by the [Gerard Henderson/David Marr] correspondence.
Is it the case that the election for president of the SRC occurred in the July and the election of office bearers occurred in September?
If that is the case, wouldn’t (then) SRC president Barbara Ramjan’s experience of “The Punch” have been a big issue in the later election of office bearers? If not, why not?
(Name withheld by request)
▪ MWD Reader No 3’s Query – 21 May 2013
When David Marr claims so certainly that 'it' occurred, has he ever been asked to physically explain or demonstrate “it”? Was “it” a left-right combination so to speak? Was “it” fast or was “it” slow? Was “it” meant as an intimidatory gesture, or was “it” a sudden expression of anger? Might “it” have been “delivered” as it were in slow motion such that “it” was really nothing at all apart from youthful swagger and arrogance?
One could almost draw up a chart to see how these permutatively possible gestures may or may not tally one with another. They clearly can't all be correct as assertions in this specific instance.
It happened he says. Even if “it” occurred, what really did take place and how?
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Good questions, don’t you think? In short, was there damage to hands or a wall after “The Punch”? Why wasn’t “The Punch” raised in the September 1977 SRC election if it had taken place in July 1977 and was (presumably) a big campus story? And precisely what form did “The Punch” take?
MWD will forward the above comments to David Marr and seek a response. But don’t hold your breath. Mr Marr is a kind of journalist who excels in asking questions of others – but does not readily respond to enquiries directed at him.
● CONCERNING GEORGE PELL, DENIS HART, THE AGE, BARNEY ZWARTZ & POPE JOHN PAUL II
This popular segment of MWD usually works like this. Someone or other writes to Gerard Henderson about something or other to do with the media and he replies. The correspondence is then published in full.
On this occasion the format has been moderated somewhat. The writer has been granted anonymous status – because he/she seems like a nice bloke/sheila – and personal identifying comments have been deleted. The remainder of the material is unaltered.
Bill of Melbourne to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2013
I read your article in The Age today regarding Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart. I feel that you too are out of touch with the common man. All the abused people want from the church is some sympathy and compassion both are sadly lacking from both these men
The distinct impression they created at the hearing was “we are here to protect the church and other matters come second “. They both got first class honours at the hearing for “Legal Speak”. This opinion came from my watching and reading of the news items and comments from a friend of mine on the Parliamentary board hearing the matter. So in writing to you this is no knee jerk reaction but a cold response.
I was brought up by the saying “Faith without Works is dead”. I feel that these two men do not practice what they preach. As a total aside I wonder if Pell voted for Pope Francis because he certainly does not practice the same vows of charity and poverty
Gerard Henderson to Bill of Melbourne – 4 June 2013
Thanks for your response to my Sydney Morning Herald column this morning. I understand that you read this online – since The Age refuses to run my Sydney Morning Herald column in its print edition. Also The Age overwhelmingly runs critical accounts of – and comments on – Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Denis Hart. Especially by Barney Zwartz – concerning whom The Age had to issue a grovelling apology to Dr Pell following a defamatory comment in one of Schwartz’s recent Age articles.
I am not surprised by your criticism. Indeed, I predicted that my unfashionable approach to the handling of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia would upset the critics of Pell and Hart.
You have your interpretation of how Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart performed before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into Child Abuse. And I have mine. In my opinion, both performed well – especially in view of the condescension and sarcasm they were subjected to by Coalition and Labor MPs alike.
You say that “all the abused people want from the Church is sympathy and compassion”. This is substantially true. However, many victims or their families also want financial compensation – and properly so. I understand that the Foster family announced recently that they received compensation of over $750,000 from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. As a senior client adviser…you will be aware of the legal and insurance complications and responsibilities which invariably kick-in when compensation claims are involved.
I note your assertion that Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart created the “distinct impression” at the Inquiry that they were there to protect the Catholic Church and that all other matters came second. This is not my impression from following the comments of both men.
In any event, even if your assessment is correct, it does not diminish my thesis in any way. The gravamen of my column was that Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart were leaders – both within the Catholic Church and, more generally, in the community – in addressing child abuse. This is correct. I note that you have not contested this comment.
I am a great admirer of the late Pope John Paul II – especially his opposition to totalitarianism. However, it is a matter of record that John Paul II did almost nothing to deal with sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers. Pope Benedict XVI did more. I hope that Pope Francis will do more still.
And now for a brief fact-check. As I recall, members of religious orders (i.e. Jesuits) take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. But diocesan priests – like Pell and Hart – take vows of chastity and obedience only. So your reference to Cardinal Pell not observing his “vows of charity and poverty” is ill-informed since he never took such vows in the first place. Pope Francis did – because he joined the Society of Jesus (i.e. the Jesuits).
I thought you might like to know this…. This information also might be of value to some of your clients.
● CONCERNING GREENPEACE
This correspondence follows that between Julie Macken and Gerard Henderson which was published in MWD Issue 184.
Julie Macken to Gerard Henderson – 31 May 2013
I had just one final query. I understand The Sydney Institute cannot get into the business of right of replies and I also understand your aversion to a “stack” like the panel idea I suggested earlier: I would still like you to consider whether it would be useful and informative to have David Ritter speak at the Institute.
As you can see from our site before joining Greenpeace David was an academic, a lawyer and has authored a number of books on the legal issues surrounding native title and numerous articles. He is a thoughtful and reflective man and his expertise and curiosity range over a number of critical areas within the national debates.
Certainly with a federal election pretty well underway I'm sure you are being inundated with these kinds of requests. Nevertheless I would ask you to consider an invitation to David at a later date when his contribution could be particularly timely.
Gerard Henderson to Julie Macken – 7 June 2013
Thanks for your note of last Friday. I was in Melbourne when it arrived. Hence the delay in responding.
It’s true that The Sydney Institute is receiving many requests for a platform in the lead-up to the September election. We try to avoid politics while the election campaign is on – but make occasional concessions.
I am sure that Greenpeace CEO David Ritter is everything you say he is. The problem is this. Greenpeace, under Mr Ritter’s leadership, advocates civil disobedience. Moreover, Greenpeace activists attempt to thwart coal exports and to disrupt the public meetings of companies which Greenpeace opposes on environmental grounds.
I fail to see why an organisation like The Sydney Institute – which is devoted to hearing a diversity of views – should give a platform to Mr Ritter – who advocates that the lawful movement of goods – should be interdicted and that lawful public meetings should be disrupted.
My problem here is of hypocrisy and double standards. As you are aware, Senator Christine Milne recently addressed The Sydney Institute. It’s just that the Greens leader does not advocate the tactic of civil disobedience as a means of closing down activities and discussions.
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READ ALL ABOUT IT – COMMENTS ON/ENDORSEMENTS OF MWD
“[Gerard Henderson] is a moral dwarf …Gerard, pull your head in”
– Professor Sinclair Davidson, 24 April 2013.
“[Henderson] You are mad. In the 18th century you would have been caged, with the mob invited to poke you with sticks.”
– Mike Carlton, 5.23 pm (Gin & Tonic Time) 25 March 2013.
“I like to think of Gerard [Henderson] as the Inspector Clouseau of forensic journalism”
– David Marr, ABC News 24 The Drum, 21 March 2013.
“[Media Watch Dog is] not a moan, more of a miserable dribble”
– Peter Munro, 21 March 2013
“You are a fool, Henderson, a malicious and mendacious piece of shit… Now F_ck off”
– Mike Carlton, 11 March 2013 (Hangover Time).
“[Gerard Henderson is] an internet pest”
– Dr (for a doctor he is) Jeff Sparrow, 26 February 2013.
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.
* * * * * *
Until next time. In the meantime, keep morale high.