GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 193
2 AUGUST 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.
- Five Paws Award – Kate Crosby for prevailing over Julian Burnside & David Marr for bluffing the Aussie media
- Can you bear it? Emma Alberici & the Pope; Peter FitzSimons & Islam; Jennifer Robinson and Julian Assange; Wikileaks: a public sector party
- Nancy’s Pick of the Week: The ABC’s Fact Checking Unit; an update with Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly, John Barron, Russell Skelton & Nice Mr Scott
Good pick by James Jeffrey in The Australian’s “Strewth!” column this morning. MWD was suspicious of this reference by Mark (“Kevin Rudd will not challenge Julia Gillard”) Latham in his Australian Financial Review column yesterday. The Lair of Liverpool wrote:
When Joel Fitzgibbon, a Rudd numbers man now sitting in cabinet, was asked by The Australian newspaper last year if he believed Rudd could pull off a miracle victory, he responded, “I hope not. We just need him to save seats for the rebuild. If he somehow wins, God help us, we’d be stuck with him as Prime Minister for three more years.”
Nancy’s (male) co-owner was suspicious of this reference for two reasons. First, he did not remember the quote. Second, Mark Latham fell out with Joel Fitzgibbon some years ago and he has a habit of verballing his opponents. [Is there anyone the Lair of Liverpool has not fallen out with? I note his recent ructions with such AFR luncheon companions of recent memory as Andrew Bolt and Michael Kroger. Ed]
It turns out, as revealed by Mr Jeffery today, the original quote – in a Peter van Onselen article – was sourced to “a former Gillard backbencher who has switched allegiance to Rudd”. PvO says that his source was not Fitzgibbon (then a backbencher) but rather a front bencher. Clearly the AFR needs to fact check the Lair of Liverpool.
Peter Lloyd bangs on, on The Drum – at length
Nancy’s (male) co-owner is still attempting to recover from the super-loquatious performance of the hyped-up ABC reporter Peter Lloyd on ABC News 24’s The Drum last night. He’s hoping to have recovered by the time Nancy’s (female) co-owner appears on The Drum this evening.
As to Peter Lloyd last night. Well, wow. He raved and he ranted as he contradicted himself while emoting at a very fast rate. In one single comment on the ICAC report into corruption in NSW, your man Lloyd went for almost a staggering three minutes without interruption.See here. Well, there was one interruption as presenter Julia Baird loudly cleared her throat. But it didn’t stop Lloyd who boasted at the end of the program, “I could talk for an hour.” Yes, we know.
MWD’s favourite from the Thought of Lloyd occurred when your man discussed his attitude to leadership:
We like to reward ourselves with this idea that we’re this great, compassionate nation. But I don’t think that in the last few years we’ve seen that demonstrated at a leadership level. I mean, I’m a voter. I want leaders who lead. I want leaders who inspire me.
I mean, call me romantic, but I actually think that the role of the politician is to appeal to our better angels and to appeal to everyone’s better angels, not to play cynical games and again to let the institutes of power – the Immigration Department, these bureaucrats have been empowered and they have got enormous power to prevent us in the media from finding out what you, the taxpayer, deserves to know.
And they have walls of people in Defence and Immigration whose job it is to lie for a living, to stop the public from finding out what they should know. We don’t say that enough. This is what’s going on. This is what we’re paying our taxes for.
So there you have it. The public servants in the Immigration department and the Department of Defence lie for a living. Earlier, Peter Lloyd accused Work Cover of bullying. What was he on about?
In Honour of Bob (“The False Prophet of Palm Beach”) Ellis
INAUGURAL WINNER – DENNIS AITKINS
Nancy’s (male) co-owner has decided that the time has come to praise media types who, influenced by the False Prophet of Palm Beach, try their hand at soothsaying. It takes a degree of courage, plus a bucket of hubris, to go down this Nostradamus track. But, on occasions, someone has a go.
What a stunning performance by Dennis Atkins on Insiders last Sunday. The Courier Mail’s national affairs editor impressed with his research – and then wowed viewers with a courageous prophecy.
Initially, Mr Atkins had this to say about Labor’s plan to get young people to vote:
Dennis Atkins: It could have an impact in very close contests and it could have impacts in seats where the Greens polled well in 2010. One of the things in the polling that has been done since the change of leadership in late June has been the big jump, the biggest jump of any age group has been in young people and they’ve just spiked up.
These are in the main what pollsters call “low information voters”. They pick up their information about what’s going on in politics and most other things from here and there – not from the mainstream media, not from traditional sources and they stick with things for a while and then they go on to something else. And I think that at the moment they have picked up information that Kevin Rudd, the guy who behaves like the dad-joking dad at the dinner party, is back and they like him. They think “yeah, well at least he’s interesting”.
I met a guy in a pub in Sydney this week, who I was talking to after the Caucus meeting on Tuesday – a young guy, he would have been in his early 20’s – was behind the bar he said to me: “Well at least Kevin Rudd gets what I’m on about” and then he said some negative things about Tony Abbott. It is quite amazing. So if there are more young people on the rolls if they do actually get out and vote if they put aside what might be a predilection for the Greens, Labor could do well out of it.
What a hard worker your man Atkins must be. And what knowledge he has come to possess. The Courier Mail’s national affairs editor spoke to one guy in one pub in one capital city who supports Kevin Rudd and opposes Tony Abbott and from this exchange he drew conclusions. As Mr Atkins declared, “It is quite amazing.” Quite. Amazing.
Then, at the end of the program, DA threw the switch to Nostradamus. Here we go:
Dennis Atkins: I think one of the reasons we won’t hear an election announcement tomorrow is that the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales is bringing down some reports possibly – Wednesday or Thursday – into the activities of some former state Labor ministers.
I think that there’s going to be some very bad news in it for a couple of people, some very bad news in it for the [Labor] Party generally. But the shock surprise could be that Eddie Obeid has managed to tip toe his way through this minefield and might get a slap over the wrist but nothing to really worry about.
Go on. A shock/surprise to be sure. On Wednesday, ICAC Commissioner David Ipp QC handed down his findings. He found, inter alia, that former NSW State Labor minister Eddie Obeid had engaged in corrupt conduct and that he was an unimpressive witness who gave evidence which was deliberately untrue. Mr Ipp recommended that criminal charges against Mr Obeid be considered for the criminal offence of conspiracy to defraud. Which is something to really worry about, MWD believes.
Well done Dennis Atkins. And your prize is – a one-way bus ticket to Palm Beach (to meet the False Prophet).
FIVE PAWS AWARD – KATHY CROSBY FOR HER VICTORY OVER JULIAN BURNSIDE Q C
Julian Burnside appeared on the Sky News Viewpoint program last Sunday and continued to misrepresent the situation of Indo-Chinese refugees who came to Australia in the late 1970s. Burnside QC (for a QC he is) told Chris Kenny that in the 1970s we received tens of thousands of Indonesian boat people. Julian Burnside repeated the assertion in his extremely soft and loving interview on the Adam Hills Show on Wednesday where he claimed that 25,000 boat people a year arrived in the late 1970s.
This is not so – as was documented in MWD Issue 192. Only 2059 Indo-Chinese came to Australia by boat between the beginning of 1976 and the end of 1982. The remainder came to Australia by plane with valid visas after being processed off-shore. In other words, they were not boat people.
When “Cut & Paste” corrected this howler on Tuesday, m’learned friend claimed that he had been misquoted by The Australian. The following Twitter exchange ensued:
Yeah. And it would help to get the facts correct in the first place.
Kathy Crosby – Five Paws
FIVE PAWS AWARD – DAVID MARR FOR FRONT ON THE ANTI-ABBOTT
David Marr has more front than Myer’s. [You’re in Sydney now – the reference should be to Mark Foy’s? Ed]
The only scoop in David Marr’s Quarterly Essay titled Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott turned on the (unsourced) allegation that Tony Abbott punched a wall on both sides of a left-wing female student’s head at the University of Sydney in September 1977.
This was taken up in the extract which ran in the Good Weekend on 8 September 2013 and was widely reported in the media. It also featured in the soft interviews which the author did on Lateline (with Emma Alberici) and on Radio National breakfast (with Geraldine Doogue). There was no independent witness to the alleged incident and no contemporaneous record of such an event having taken place. But Alberici and Doogue accepted Marr’s account without question.
In his Quarterly Essay, David Marr also referred to another controversial incident concerning Tony Abbott which he claimed took place at the Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education in August 1977.
Political Animal – The Making of Tony Abbott came out in book form, published by Black Inc, earlier this year. Without explanation or acknowledgement, David Marr changed both dates. He now claimed that the alleged “Punch” occurred at Sydney University on 28 July 1977 (not in September) and that the Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education incident took place in October 1977 (not in August).
David Marr is perhaps Australia’s best known biographer and Tony Abbott is one of Australia’s best known politicians. Yet, David Marr has been able to change the date of an allegation which he made about “the Punch” without anyone in the mainstream media having the courage to ask the author why he made the change and why he did so in secret.
For pure front – David Marr: Five Paws
La Alberici wants the Pope to be less Catholic than the Church
Support for same sex marriage is almost an article of faith at the ABC. ABC presenters barrack to formalise the union between a man and a man and a woman and a woman in much the same way Anabaptists bang on about the Risen Christ. It’s not fashionable at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to bring attention to the fact that the Muslim faith is against not only same sex marriage but homosexuality itself. But it is fashionable to criticise the Catholic Church. This is a convenient target – since the ABC is replete with former Catholics and disillusioned Catholics who would like the Church to do the fashionable thing.
This is what Lateline presenter Emma Alberici had to say on Monday about Pope Francis’ recent visit to Brazil:
Emma Alberici: The Pope has spoken out against the marginalisation of gay people, saying they should be integrated into society. Pope Francis made the comment on a flight out Rio de Janeiro after presiding over World Youth Day celebrations.
The pontiff told reporters that gay and straight people must be brothers, asking, “Who am I to judge?” While it’s a more compassionate public stance on gays than his predecessor, Pope Francis stopped short of contradicting Church teaching, which considers homosexual acts to be sinful.
Apparently, Ms Alberici, or whoever wrote the script, thought it possible that Pope Francis might contradict Church teaching. Can you bear it?
Fitz not concerned about Islam’s social conservatism
While on the matter of same sex marriage, this is what the very fashionable Sun-Herald red-bandanard columnist Peter FitzSimons had to say on the topic on Sunday 21 July 2013:
You heard it here first. My pound to your peanut says that Kevin Rudd will further mark out the ALP’s new direction since the Gillard era, and indeed announce that if elected he intends to move on making gay marriage legal. And why wouldn’t he? With more than 65 per cent of Australians in favour of removing this blatant discrimination, it would put a wedge into the heart of the Coalition and the spotlight on just how conservative are Abbott’s views. After all, even Britain’s Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron, supported that country’s own gay marriage legislation that passed through the House of Lords last week, but Abbott still refuses to countenance it.
Ideally for the ALP, such a move might even have the Opposition Leader standing beside Cardinal George Pell, as Australia’s most famous Catholic leader could take a break from the many inquiries into priestly abuse of children for generations to wag a severely moralising finger at adults in committed relationships with adults of the same gender who want the same rights as everyone else.
Your man FitzSimons rarely passes up an opportunity to throw the switch to anti-Catholic sectarianism. On this occasion, he managed to link Tony Abbott’s decision to honour the Coalition’s 2010 election promise not to support same sex marriage with past child sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church – throwing in Cardinal George Pell for good measure. Quite an achievement, to be sure.
In his rush to tell Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party and the Catholic Church what to do, Fitz overlooked the fact that David Cameron’s decision to support same sex marriage has caused considerable disquiet within the rank and file of the Conservative Party in Britain. Fitz seems ignorant of this.
Also, when detailing the opponents of same sex marriage, Fitz always mentions the Catholic Church. However, he never concedes that Islam disapproves of homosexuality and same sex marriage – which is why Labor MPs in Western Sydney are nervous about this issue. Fitz is happy to lecture a Catholic bishop in Sydney about same sex marriage but not a Sunni or a Shia imam out Lakemba way. Can you bear it?
Jennifer Robinson’s naivity – as told to Boss
MWD just loved Claire Stewart’s soft interview with the sassy lawyer Jennifer Robinson in the July issue of Boss magazine. Julian Assange’s legal adviser was photographed on a farm – presumably on the NSW south coast down Berry way. In fact, the pic took up more space than the words. This is what Ms Robinson said about Mr Assange, currently a resident of the Equador Embassy in London:
I think there is still a huge amount of public support for Julian [Assange] in Australia and people really care about what’s happening to him and why. The Australian government has been absolutely horrendous on this issue. We were only asking two very simple things. Can he be interviewed [in London], and [given] assurance that he not be sent onwards to the US. Australia wouldn’t even ask the question [of America].
So there you have it. Julian Assange jumped bail and went into the Equador Embassy in London. He is wanted in Britain for breaching bail and he is wanted in Sweden for questioning concerning the (alleged) sexual assault of two young left-wing women. And Jennifer Robinson reckons the Labor government in Australia is horrid, absolutely horrid, because it has not brought about a situation whereby Swedish authorities would agree to interview Assange in Britain and give assurance that he not be sent to the United States.
Jennifer Robinson, a leading member of the Julian Assange Fan Club, seems unaware that the Australian government cannot tell British or Swedish authorities what to do. Can you bear it?
HAVE GOVERNMENT HAND-OUT: WILL RUN FOR WIKILEAKS PARTY
Meanwhile excitement grows apace within the Julian Assange Fan Club Down Under about the prospect of Senate success in the forthcoming Federal election. Late last week, the Wikileaks Party announced its candidates. An astute MWD reader (from out Western Australia way) has pointed out that the Wikileaks Party Senate line-up seems to consist of current or superannuated beneficiaries of taxpayer funded largesse.
In Victoria, there are Julian Assange himself (currently housed in London per courtesy of the Equadorian taxpayer) and Leslie Cannold and Binoy Kampmark. Dr Cannold and Dr Kampmark (for doctors they are) are on the payrolls at Melbourne University and RMIT University respectively.
In New South Wales, the Wikileaks Party’s Senate ticket consists of human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter and retired public servant Dr Alison Broinowski (who is currently attached to the Australian National University). Dr Broinowski (for a doctor she is) told The Drum on 25 July 2013 that her decision to take on the Assange cause was motivated by Professor Robert Manne of La Trobe University.
In Western Australia, it is social justice campaigner and Ph D candidate Gerry Georgatos along with economist Suresh Rajan who will head the ticket.
Julian Assange’s essential message is that governments cannot be trusted. Yet the Wikileaks Party’s candidates for the Senate ticket overwhelmingly are – or have been – dependent on government payments. Can you bear it.
How frightfully interesting to hear former Liberal Party senator Amanda Vanstone declare on The Bolt Report on Sunday that she is a true-blue Liberal. Let’s go to the video tape:
Andrew Bolt: Indonesia’s Defence minister, a couple of days ago, gave us plenty of hints of the deal they want to do and that is: “Give us the ships, we’ll intercept them [asylum seeker boats] for you; give us the naval ships, we’ll do it.” That’s the deal.
Amanda Vanstone: Well I’m sure when we are in government, should we win the next election, we’re of course going to work with the Indonesian government.
So, as of July 2013, Amanda Vanstone is a self-declared backer of the Liberal Party who is willing to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party. Surprised? Well. Yes. Because this is what the very same Ms Vanstone said about her political allegiances on Q & A on 7 February 2011. Let’s go to the transcript:
Tony Jones: Okay, we’ve got another question. … It comes from Hayden Fletcher.
Hayden Fletcher: This is directed to Amanda. How does the Liberal Party respond to commentary in the newspapers that Tony Abbott is playing politics in times of intense human suffering rather than presenting a united front to rectify the [flood] damage in Victoria and Queensland?
Amanda Vanstone: Well, I don’t know. I’m not a spokesman for the – spokesperson, sorry – for the Liberal Party.
So, in 2011, Amanda Vanstone was not a spokesperson for the Liberal Party. But in 2013 she is.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner just loves The Monthly – multi-millionaire property developer Morry Schwartz’s house-journal of the left, by the left, for the left. Indeed Nancy’s (male) co-owner played a crucial role in getting The Monthly to install a Correspondence section – even if it consists of one column in a 60 page magazine.
The recently released August 2013 edition runs yet another “The Nation Reviewed” section where leftists write to each other. This time it’s Don Watson and Judith Brett and Amanda Lowry and Mungo MacCallum.
Your man MacCallum’s piece is titled “The Liberals’ Plan B”. He has taken comfort in Labor’s improvement in the opinion polls since Kevin Rudd resumed the prime ministership. Believe it or not, MM has found a “model” for a Liberal Party “Plan B” and it can be found in China.
Mungo believes that the Liberals could adopt “the Criticise Confucius Campaign” as waged by the Chinese Communist Party in the 1970s. Really. According to the Seer of Byron Bay, the backlash to Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution motivated the Chinese Communist Party to encourage the locals to re-direct their anger at Confucius. And Mungo believes that in Australia in the 2010s, News Limited commentators have been encouraged by News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch to direct their anger at Kevin Rudd. Confused? [Yep, you bet. Ed]
According to Mungo Man, the likes of Henry Ergas, Judith Sloan, Peter van Onselen, Paul Kelly, Dennis Shanahan, Greg Sheridan, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt have been instructed by Chairman Murdoch “to pursue their lifelong task of simple-minded denigration, the equivalent of the hoons who chalked ‘Confucius is a pig’ on the walls of Beijing.” It’s as simple – and as simplistic – as this.
Mungo Man concluded his rant in The Monthly as follows:
Will the onslaught work? Well, perhaps for a while: Confucianism was stopped in its tracks in China, or at least driven underground. But the chairman [i.e. Mao] died, and quite soon afterwards the sage was, if not completely rehabilitated, at least pronounced an acceptable subject of study. The problem for Rudd is that, although the press baron shows signs of frailty, he can’t wait that long; he has an election to fight. As a student of China himself, Rudd should recognise the campaign against him for what it is: an orchestrated attack by a power elite who cannot bear the thought of losing their privileged positions.
Fancy that. Mungo Man is convinced that Kevin Rudd is under attack from a “power elite”. This overlooks the fact that Mr Rudd is the prime minister and, presumably the head of any Australian elite which might exist.
Also, Mungo Man is worried about “the campaign” against Kevin Rudd. This is the very same Mungo MacCallum who, in his 2004 book Run, Johnny Run, 1) referred to John Howard as “the lying rat” and “little c-nt” and “shithouse rat”, 2) claimed that it was hard to imagine Howard reading a book, let alone writing one, 3) compared a Liberal Party election launch with a Nuremberg rally and 4) described Australia’s second longest serving prime minister as an “unflushable turd”.
Media Fool of the Week – step forward Mungo MacCallum.
ABC FACT CHECKERS VOTE: SO IT’S OKAY IF THEY DON’T LIKE CONSERVATIVES
This issue’s Correspondence section (below) demonstrates that ABC TV documentaries, which are cleared by the ABC Head of Factual, contain all too many howlers. Yet the ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, recently went to Canberra with an empty suitcase and came back with it crammed with an additional taxpayer funded hand-out of $10 million. This has been partly used to set up a Fact Checking Unit, headed by leftist Russell Skelton, which will check the facts of business and political parties – but not of the ABC itself.
Russell Skelton is head of the ABC’s Fact Checking Unit. ABC journalist John Barron will be the unit’s on-air presenter. On 10 July 2013, Mr Barron was interviewed by Fran (I’m an activist) Kelly. It was a soft interview, as was evident from the first question:
Fran Kelly: Why does the ABC need a fact checking unit, John?
John Barron: That’s a good question. It’s, as we’ve heard, it’s become quite a useful tool in the United States where there is, perhaps, a more obviously partisan media environment and also more constrained media environment – there are 40 per cent less working journalists in the United States now than there was ten years ago. So, there are an awful lot of reporters who are not getting to leave their desk and go out and investigate stories. A lot of reporters that aren’t necessarily even checking the facts, they’re often repeating things that they’ve heard other journalists —
And so the interview proceeded – with John Barron saying just how important his new job really was. It was only at the end that Ms Kelly asked a challenging question – namely, who will check the fact checkers? The answer, of course, was Comrade Skelton:
Fran Kelly: When this was announced, there was some controversy over the appointment of journalist Russell Skelton as the editor of our Fact Checking Unit. The Coalition pointed to some past political tweets of his as evidence that he was biased against the conservative side of politics. What’s your response to that? Is Russell Skelton the right person for this job?
John Barron: Well that all happened before I was involved with the Fact Checking Unit. But also those tweets, I understand, happened before Russell was an employee of the ABC. Voting is compulsory in this country, journalists vote. So, you know, voting intention – if you can glean that from a few tweets – you know, does it matter? I don’t think it does, in the sense that we’re bound as journalists to – but we’re also private citizens – to express an opinion at the ballot box, not to make that partisan preference permeate our work, not to make it guide our decisions in what fact or you know fact check or who to favour. It’s ah – I don’t see it as an issue, I think, you know, the unit will be judge on its performance and I’m pretty confident that there’s not going to be bias evident in the facts that we’re checking and the way that we check them.
Fran Kelly: And when we see you on our television or hear you on our radio or read you online –
John Barron: Well, we’re looking forward to launching online within a month or so and we’ll be doing reports for the news and for Lateline and appearing on radio, hopefully even on Radio National Breakfast from time to time.
Fran Kelly: You’re always welcome, John. Thank you very much for joining us.
John Barron: Thanks Fran
Yes, thanks a lot – Fran. Talk about a soft interview. John Barron just ran the same line as did his boss, Nice Mr Scott, at the senate Estimates Committee on 29 May 2013. Nice Mr Scott declared that Russell Skelton’s tweets hostile to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey had been tweeted before he joined the ABC. John Barron repeated this line on RN Breakfast. Nice Mr Scott also said journalists have to vote – a line repeated to Fran Kelly by John Barron.
So you had a situation where Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly agreed with John Barron who agreed with his boss Nice Mr Scott that it was a you-beaut idea to get another Abbott-hater on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s payroll.
Well, at least Russell Skelton’s not going to interfere with MWD’s line that the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone.
In an article in The Age on 25 April 2008, Russell Skelton mocked John Howard and Paul Keating – but not, of course, anyone from the Greens. He also described conservatives as “pesky possums”. See MWD Issue 184. However, as Nice Mr Scott and John Barron would say – Fran Kelly concurring – Russell Skelton bagged conservatives before he joined the ABC. And he’s a voter. So everything is okay in Australia’s very own Conservative-Free-Zone.
On Gough Whitlam, Phil Craig, Gerard Henderson, Paul Clarke, Phillip Adams, Jean Kittson, George Negus, Junie Morosi and much, much more.
This hugely popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually takes the format where somebody thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson and he obliges by responding. On occasions, however, Nancy’s (male) co-owner initiates the correspondence – frequently when he is after some information from the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
Recently ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott obtained a bucket load of money from the Commonwealth government to set up a Fact Checking Unit – this has been established under the direction of the leftist Russell Skelton. However, Nice Mr Scott still presides over a public broadcaster which does not check its own facts.
The ABC advertised the documentary Whitlam: The Power & the Passion as the “definitive” account of the one-time prime minister Gough Whitlam. Gerard Henderson decided it would be a you-beaut idea to check what were purported to be “facts” in the documentary with Phil Craig who signed off on the “definitive” documentary in his capacity of ABC Head of Factual.
The correspondence is published below – in the public interest, of course.
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 18 July 2013
Dear Mr Craig
I note that you are listed in the credits of the documentary Whitlam: The Power and the Passion which, as you know, recently aired on ABC 1. You appear under the designation of “ABC Head of Factual”. I assume this means that you accept responsibility for the factual content of the documentary – which, according to the ABC’s publicity, claimed to be the “definitive” account of Gough Whitlam.
In view of this, I would be grateful if you could provide me with the empirical research which documents the following claims that were made in Whitlam: The Power and the Passion. As ABC Head of Factual, I assume that you – or your staff – will be able to provide this information.
- Graham Freudenberg is reported as saying:
Graham Freudenberg: There were three things he [Gough Whitlam] took from his father: A devotion to the public service, an absolute rejection of racial intolerance and, third, an internationalism. I think those were the three things that he just absorbed.
What is the proof of Mr Freudenberg’s claim? I note that that Clyde Cameron, in his book China, Communism and Coca-Cola, wrote that Gough Whitlam told the Cabinet in April 1975 that he [Whitlam] was “not having hundreds of f—— Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their religious and political hatreds”.
How is this view, expressed in 1975, consistent with Mr Freudenberg’s claim that Gough Whitlam’s stance involved a lifelong “absolute rejection of racial intolerance”?
- According to narrator Judy Davis, “Whitlam appointed the first adviser on
women’s affairs to a head of state anywhere in the world”.
The reference is to Elizabeth Reid. But Ms Reid advised the head of government (Prime Minister Whitlam) not the head of state (Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented in Australia by the Governor-General). How can such a fundamental error get though the ABC’s fact-checking procedures?
- According to narrator Judy Davis, prior to December 1972 the Liberal Party
had “spent 23 years resisting change, maintaining a White Australia beholden to God and Queen”.
In view of the fact that the White Australia Policy was effectively dumped in early 1966, when Harold Holt was prime minister , what is the empirical research which supports the narrator’s assertion? Moreover, how was Australia ever beholden to God? – and, if it was, how did this manifest itself?
- Phillip Adams told Whitlam: The Power and the Passion.
Phillip Adams: Gough loves naughty stories and Gough was particularly thrilled by a story which had Jim [Cairns] and Junie [Morisi] stay in Kirribilli House as acting prime minister and staffer when they were seen cavorting naked on the lawns. Now the lawns of Kirribilli House are extremely perpendicular. You couldn’t – I don’t know how they mow the damn things, it’s more like trying to mow Mount Everest. But apparently Jim and Junie were romping up and down these grassy dunes and Gough to this date is paralytic when retelling the story. It’s the one thing about Jim’s career in politics that Gough really likes.
What is the evidence for this assertion? As Phillip Adams related it in his 2010 book Backstage Politics, it is mere hearsay. Apparently Gough Whitlam told his story about Cairns/Morosi during a dinner at Kirribilli House in early 2008. Adams did not attend this function but the “goings-on were duly reported to him”. So someone told Adams that Whitlam had told someone in 2008 about an event which occurred in 1974 or 1975 which unnamed Kirribilli House staff members had told Whitlam about some time after the (alleged) event.
On my count, this is hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay – unsupported by any contemporaneous evidence. Is this acceptable to ABC’s Head of Factual? Moreover, do you believe that the weight of the evidence was such as would warrant the documentary doing a re-enactment featuring a nude Cairns and a nude Marosi chasing each other around the lawns of Kirribilli House? The re-enactment seemed like a soft core pornography meets hearsay evidence occasion.
- Jean Kittson told Whitlam: The Power and the Passion.
Jean Kittson: We heard about it [the Dismissal of 11 November 1975] and we immediately gathered in Bourke Street, at the top of Bourke Street. And then very soon the mob started chanting “Hang Fraser” and then “Kill Fraser” and then everyone starts chanting “Hang Fraser, Hang Fraser”. I’m going, “well-”. Then we were going down St Kilda Road, where there’s the American Embassy. And, suddenly, there’s rocks flying over my shoulder from someone behind me, starting to smash the glass windows of these buildings. And, it’s just, from there it just turned into something really, really unpleasant. A mob.
What is the empirical research which indicates that the Dismissal led to violence against United States property in Australia in late 1975? How come ABC fact-checking did not reveal that the US Embassy is in Canberra – not Melbourne? There was a US Consulate in St Kilda Road, Melbourne – it was the occasion of demonstrations during the Vietnam War. However, I am unaware of any evidence to support Ms Kittson’s assertion that there were violent demonstrations outside US diplomatic posts in Australia in 1975. What was notable about the period between the Dismissal (11 November 1975) and the subsequent election (13 December 1975) turned on the lack of violent protest.
* * * * *
I know you are busy. However, in view of the fact that Whitlam : The Power and the Passion was promoted by the ABC as definitive and that the documentary is likely to be shown to students, it would be appreciated if you could let me know the evidentiary material on which the above claims were based.
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 19 July 2013 – 10.03 am
Thanks for your comments and questions.
I’m really proud of the Whitlam series but I also believe that a broadcaster should always react to criticism and make amends if necessary. With that in mind I want to take some time to talk to the producers and writers of the series, and their historical advisers, before replying in full.
I’m also away on a course at the moment, so that will add another day or so until I can reply.
On initial reading I suspect at least some of this will come down to the difference between the conventions of narrative television history and those of academic literary history, something I’d enjoy discussing with you.
Head of Factual
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 19 July 2013
Alternatively, perhaps we can meet and I can talk you through my reactions to the points you make over a coffee in a week or so? I’m aware of your earlier writing about the ABC and, as the new boy at factual here, I’d really like to meet you.
Head of Factual
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 19 July 2013
Thanks for your prompt response. I do not want to make a big issue of this but I will probably write about the Whitlam documentary in the forthcoming issue of the Sydney Institute Quarterly.
I found the Whitlam documentary entertaining but, like the recent ABC documentaries on Robert Menzies and the Vietnam War, it did contain a number of serious errors. I have found in the past that when errors are drawn to the ABC’s attention, it tends to go into denial mode. It’s pleasing that you have not done this and I would be happy to talk about the issue when you are ready to do so. However I believe that it is now too late to make any corrections. As you’ll be aware, the labour historian Troy Bramston also picked up a number of errors in Whitlam: The Power and The Passion.
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 19 July 2013
Hi again Gerard,
I appreciate your tone and I look forward to meeting you. If you do criticise the show in print then I hope I get the chance to respond. Did you read Graeme Blundell’s review in The Australian, by the way? I thought it was an interestingly nuanced take on the series and, especially, it’s somewhat lyrical use of narration.
I met with Troy recently and I’m hoping to develop an idea he pitched me along with Paul Kelly. But I didn’t and don’t accept that his comments on Whitlam merit the description “error”. I don’t have all my notes with me on this course, but as I recall we only made one change to the series as a result of his article….correcting a caption which mis-stated an MPs years of service by a single year.
He also pointed out some errors on the website, which we thanked him for and corrected. His other comments, such as the jumps in chronology in the film, we don’t accept. It was simply film style with no intention of misleading.
I’ve worked in written and TV history, and there are some important differences.
Anyway, as I said, I don’t believe in being defensive and I will answer your own comments in that spirit soon.
Head of Factual
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 23 July 2013
Re your note of last Friday – once again apologies for the fact that I hit a wrong button and sent my email twice. This is a response to your email sent at 5.49 pm on Friday.
Unlike large sections of the ABC, The Sydney Institute encourages diversity and accepts criticism. If, as I expect, I critique Whitlam: The Power and the Passion in The Sydney Institute Quarterly, you are welcome to have a response published – either in the same issue or the subsequent one.
I am currently working on getting a transcript of Whitlam: The Power and the Passion. If you have access to the printed script – I would very much like to receive a copy.
I don’t really see the point in contacting the program’s historical advisers to check whether Gough Whitlam was Australia’s head of state in 1973. He wasn’t. I know where the error originated – it was sloppy research to re-circulate the howler in the documentary. Nor is it necessary, for example, to hold a seminar to determine whether or not the US Embassy was located in Melbourne during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t.
Before John Faulkner’s Gough Whitlam: In His Own Words documentary aired on SBS around a decade ago, he had it widely fact-checked. I was one of the fact-checkers. It seems that Whitlam: The Power and the Passion was not properly fact-checked. As indicated, this is the fate of most recent ABC TV documentaries – including such high profile programs as Menzies & Churchill at War, I Spry (on ASIO director-general Charles Spry) and All the Way (on Australia’s Vietnam commitment). I’m not talking about small errors concerning names and positions and dates. But, rather, significant howlers.
There was also an evident lack of balance in Whitlam: The Power and the Passion among the commentators – many of them comedians – who were invited to comment on the program. I have argued for years that the ABC is a Conservative -Free-Zone. Whitlam: The Power and the Passion was all but bereft of conservative commentators as befits a production from a Conservative-Free-Zone. Of course, there was Malcolm Fraser, John Howard and Ian Sinclair from the Coalition. But they were players who described or defended their own positions. There was no conservative to match the essentially pro-Whitlam stack of commentators. The left-of-centre commentators included Andrew Denton, Anne Phelan, David Peetz, Jane Caro, Jean Kittson, John Nicolades, Max Gilles, Mungo MacCallum, Pat Turner, Patrick Cook, Phillip Adams, Susie Carleton, John Mant and George Negus (by the way no mention was made in the documentary that he worked for Lionel Murphy who was a senior minister in the Whitlam government).
On my count, three of the above are comedians. Moreover, not one is a historian. Mungo MacCallum has written much political journalism but he does not disguise his partisanship.
I can understand why Whitlam: The Power and the Passion was loaded with former ALP parliamentarians, operatives and staffers. But the effective leftist stack among the commentators once again demonstrates the lack of balance in ABC documentaries. At the end of Episode 2, David Peetz and Mungo MacCallum got all teary about Mr Whitlam.
No commentator was interviewed who was critical of, or who welcomed the end of, the Whitlam government. James Curran, the only non-leftist commentator interviewed for the documentary, was descriptive rather than critical of the Whitlam government’s foreign policy. Geoff Didier appeared briefly towards the end of the documentary. He said that he had publicly supported the Whitlam government’s dismissal in Canberra but expressed some regret that he had done so. That was all.
In response to your query, I did read Graeme Blundell’s review of Whitlam: The Power and the Passion in The Weekend Australian on 18-19 May 2013. By the way, ABC TV Publicity now refuses to send me review copies of ABC documentaries before or immediately after they are aired. It means that I cannot review ABC documentaries in my Sydney Morning Herald column. This seems defensive and unprofessional behaviour.
I agree with many of Graeme Blundell’s technical comments on the documentary. But he did not mention the factual errors or the lack of balance with respect to the commentators. Also, Graeme Blundell concluded:
I loved it, and I loved Gough; I laughed out loud as I watched and cried too, just as I did then. I was there and that’s how I remember it. As Midnight Oil’s song concludes: “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
Graeme Blundell is an actor and reviewer who tears up at the memory of Gough Whitlam’s government. Perhaps Graeme Blundell, too, should have been interviewed for The Power and the Passion – at the end to accompany the tears of David Peetz and Mungo MacCallum.
My position is quite straightforward. If the taxpayer funded public broadcaster presents a TV program as a documentary, it should be fact-checked and there should be a plurality of views heard on the film by commentators.
I understand that you are not the writer/director or the producer or the executive producer or the historical script consultant for the documentary. I note that Professor Jenny Hocking – another member of the Gough Whitlam Fan Club – filled the latter role.
However, it seems to me that the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief should accept responsibility for its products. I raised similar issues with Kim Dalton when he was ABC Director of Television. It is a matter of record that Kim Dalton went into denial when confronted with historical howlers in ABC documentaries shown on ABC TV.
I am heartened that you are taking this correspondence seriously in your role as ABC Head of Factual.
Here’s hoping you can send me a copy of the Whitlam script.
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 23 July 2013
I’ll be sending a full response to this and your previous email in a day or so.
But, in passing, I don’t accept that your Head of State line is as much of a slam dunk as you think it is.
And I’m not as surprised as you are that a film about a Labor leader should contain a high proportion of people from the left. I’d also argue that some of the most damning commentary about Whitlam’s character and political abilities — and the series has plenty of that — came from his former comrades, including those who sometimes feel teary about him now. You could say the same about Margaret Thatcher.
Anyway, more from me later…
You should also have the transcripts by now.
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 24 July 2013
Many thanks for forwarding the transcripts. Much appreciated. I will send you my critique of Whitlam: The Power and the Passion soon. As previously advised, I will publish a response by you in The Sydney Institute Quarterly if you choose to submit one.
I have a couple of responses to your most recent email:
- You and your advisers seem quite confused about Australia’s Constitution.
The Queen is Australia’s head-of-state and the Governor-General represents the Queen in Australia. The prime minister is head of government. In 1973 Elizabeth Reid was an adviser to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (the head of government). She did not advise either Queen Elizabeth II or Sir Paul Hasluck on women’s affairs or any other matters. It seems like a slam-dunk to me. I don’t really know why you seem to want to argue about this.
- Contrary to the implication in your recent email, I did not express surprise
“that a film about a Labor leader should contain a high proportion of people from the left”. In fact, I acknowledged that Whitlam: The Power and the Passion needed to interview numerous ALP parliamentarians, Whitlam government staffers and Labor Party operatives.
My point that there was not one conservative among the bevy of left-of-centre and leftist commentators (who were neither one-time Labor parliamentarians nor advisers nor operatives) that were interviewed for the documentary. Not one.
I am not aware of any documentary on Margaret Thatcher where only right-of-centre or conservative commentators were heard. In any event, this is not relevant to my critique of the Whitlam documentary.
I should make the point that, in its coverage of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, ABC News 24 engaged only one commentator. Namely John Keane, the left-wing Sydney University academic. In his final comments, Professor Keane comprehensively bagged both Margaret Thatcher and the Thatcher government. The ABC’s super for the live coverage read as follows: “Professor John Keane discussed Thatcher’s divisive funeral.” I cannot imagine the ABC referring to Gough Whitlam’s (future) funeral as “divisive”. Enough said.
Moreover, John Keane’s commentary on the Thatcher funeral was littered with errors which I documented in Issue 178 of my Media Watch Dog blog. I can only assume that they were not sanctioned by the ABC Head of Factual.
Best wishes. Don’t feel under any obligation to reply to my earlier missive.
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 24 July 2013
In terms of replying to your comments from the two long emails, as the TV quizmaster used to say “I’ve started so I’ll finish…”.
Apologies that it is taking me some time. It’s not so much the problem of mustering my arguments its more about finding the time and checking a few things with people who are now spread around the globe
But I will be back in touch.
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 24 July 2013
Fine. No hurry.
Phil Craig to Gerard Henderson – 29 July 2013
[Phil Craig’s response to Gerard Henderson was inserted into GH’s original letter. Rather than repeat sections of GH’s correspondence, only Phil Craig’s comments have been published below. The references to the parts of GH’s correspondence have been identified in the text and inserted into square brackets]
I look forward to discussing all of this over a friendly coffee sometime soon.
Please feel free to publish this exchange, although I’d appreciate you asking me for permission if you want to edit my words.
I’d make one general point. I’ve worked in literary and television history and the conventions are quite different. A TV hour has a script of about 15 A4 pages and so compression is a necessary skill. Whilst this should never be used as an excuse for inaccuracy or for misleading the viewer, it is one reason behind the judgment calls I made on this series, some of which you consider mistaken.
But, to your points…Yes, I accept responsibility for all aspects of all the programmes that are commissioned and broadcast from the Factual department.
I think this was a convincing “warts and all” television biography that was also an entertaining social history of the Whitlam era.
[Re Graham Freudenberg’s claim that Gough Whitlam had an absolute rejection of racial intolerance]
In my view, this has less to do with fact checking than “matter of opinion”. Freudenberg’s remark is a part of the matrix of subjective impressions and anecdotes that make up any biography, literary or otherwise. And he is well placed to deliver his opinion.
Admittedly, through the process of editing, we have selected to highlight his view of Whitlam’s father, but it is not an unusual view.
And even if Whitlam was later prone — under pressure — to bursts of language such as “fuc*ing Vietnamese” it does not negate the statement that he absorbed lessons from his father’s life, or that his father set standards he sought to match.
It would seem strange to me in a television documentary to follow up a quote like this with a heavy handed qualifying line of narration effectively saying “ah yes but x years later he was reported saying y”.
This statement is an observation, by someone who knew Whitlam very well.
Documentaries such as this depend on observations to give insight into what drives a character.
It is true that Whitlam remarked that people who escaped Communist regimes tended to vote for right wing parties. Clyde Cameron’s anecdote, therefore, could be the result of a snappy moment of political resentment rather than racial intolerance.
[Re the claim that Gough Whitlam’s adviser on Women’s Affairs reported to the head-of-state]
I may have misjudged this, but here is my reasoning:
Firstly this is a film that opens with a line describing Whitlam as “an Orpheus in a bogan underworld” and so right from the start it is clearly embracing a lyrical, colourful style of narration.
Again, this should never be an excuse for inaccuracy or misleading the viewers, but when I accepted the Orpheus line I did not expect anyone to ask me ‘Phil, have you carefully fact checked the ABC’s claim that 1970s Australia was populated by the dead, where is the empirical evidence to support this claim?’
What I expected is that people would understand that this documentary has a free writing style.
Now, of course, implying that Whitlam was Head of State is different to a tongue-in-cheek remark about Orpheus. But do we really do say that he was Head of State? I don’t think we do.
What mattered to me here was the impact of the comparison. And the comparison we’re making is between a forward thinking Australia and the most powerful elected leaders in the rest of the world, such as the Heads of State of the USA and various European nations.
We’re saying that no other country had done what Whitlam did, a remark that has real impact.
Changing the line to add in a sub clause or two explaining that Whitlam was a head of a government rather than a head of state (like an American President) would have spoiled the moment in my judgment.
And I then further reasoned that since Whitlam served on behalf and in the name of the real head of state then there was no harm in making this punchy comparison.
I’d still argue that this was a victimless crime, but on reflection and prompted by your criticism I concede that it may have been a mistake. Whether it rises to the level of ‘fundamental error’ I leave others to judge, and I don’t think it misleads anyone. It’s a powerful statement of a note-worthy comparison.
[Re the program’s claim that the Liberal Party from December 1949 to December 1992 maintained a “White Australia beholden to God and Queen”]
The God remark you quote above is simply another example of lyrical writing, and not something I’d expect to fact check. You either like this style or you don’t.
There are competing accounts of when the White Australia policy was definitely “dumped”. What we are doing here is using a turn of phrase to sum up a pre Whitlam era where religion, devotion to the Monarchy and a reluctance to accept non white immigrants were defining features. Does anyone seriously doubt that?
If this was a documentary about the White Australia policy it would probably have stated that it was under pressure from the late 1950s because of the growing power of the United Nations and the impact of the declaration of human rights.
Whitlam was part of a generation of politicians who clearly articulated that the time had come to move on from defining Australia in racial terms.
[Re Phillip Adams’ claim that Jim Cairns and Junie Morosi did a nude romp on the lawns of Kirribilli House]
There was much reporting of this incident in the newspapers at the time, and subsequently, and Ms Morosi herself was happy with the program, indeed she was grateful to us for representing her point of view.
I think the re-enactment dovetails nicely with the evident pleasure Adams takes in telling it, and his account of how Whitlam himself enjoys the story.
Pornography is definitely not in the ABC charter, but if you care to freeze the frame, you’ll see that neither actor is nude. I admit it was cheeky. I doubt it was porn.
[Re Jean Kittson’s claim that the glass at the United States Embassy (sic) in Melbourne was broken by anti-dismissal demonstrators.]
I see no reason to question an interviewee’s memory of what happened inside a crowd 40 years ago. She talks of stones being thrown and the mood turning ugly and that is her version of events.
This series is made up of personal memories and experiences. In our view we were painting a portrait of an individual and a period in Australian history. Memory, interpretation, individual reactions and personal anecdotes and are all essential ingredients.
If you believe that the difference between an “embassy” and a “consulate” in someone’s story of a demonstration that took place four decades ago is important, then so be it. It’s a little like demanding absolute technical accuracy around the use of a term such as “head of state”. In both instances the fundamental meaning and the point is clear and there’s no intention to mislead.
As I say above, you have made me think twice about the Head of State line. Maybe that needed an extra qualifying phrase, or maybe I should have dropped it. But I say to you that your focus on technical, semantic and peripheral points does not, in my view, detract from the overall success of this series.
[Re the fact that no conservative commentators appeared on the documentary].
With respect, I think you’re wrong about this. From the outset we worked hard to make sure this series was impeccably fair minded and balanced. If anything, especially in the second programme, we made a determined effort to draw attention to Whitlam’s personal and political failings, revealing character traits that made him a great campaigner but a less than effective PM.
In a series about a Labor politician it’s surely no surprise to find a majority of left-leaning interviewees. But listen to what they are saying. It’s by no means always complimentary, and sometimes it is damning.
We interviewed a handful of comedians who were young at the time because they tend to deliver incisive and entertaining comments. I don’t feel any need to apologize for that.
There is a sentimental, teary, moment or two at the end, that’s true. And I thought long and hard about it. Given that we had comprehensively laid bare Whitlam’s failings I thought it was allowable. I was partly influenced by the fact that many people – and by no means only his natural allies – do indeed feel sentimental about Gough. That’s partly a consequence of his age but I think it’s also because even his old enemies accept that some of the changes he made to Australia were important and necessary. After a rather downbeat episode, therefore, I thought it was nice to end on an “up”.
Many commentators were critical of the Whitlam government. And several of our interviewees clearly welcomed its demise.
* * * * *
I appreciate that Gerard, and I enjoy our exchanges.
With best wishes,
Gerard Henderson to Phil Craig – 2 August 2013
I refer to your response. I’m not surprised by it. It is part of the ABC mindset for ABC managers to go into evasion and denial in response to virtually any critique of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
I do not intend to continue this correspondence. However, I do offer a few comments – sure in the knowledge that they will not change your position on Whitlam: The Power & The Passion or your attitude to evidence as ABC Head of Factual.
- When the ABC commissioned John Moore’s Menzies & Churchill at War
(which was shown in October 2008), it was considered appropriate to interview left-wing critics of Robert Menzies at length. Namely, the left-wing historian Dr David Day and the former editor of the Marxist Arena Journal Dr Judith Brett. I was interviewed for the program but all my comments were censored since they did not fit with the documentary’s thesis which was critical of Menzies during his first period as prime minister. Kim Dalton, when head of ABC TV, defended this.
Now, in your capacity as Head ABC Factual, you defend the fact that only left-wing commentators appeared in Whitlam: The Power & The Passion. This is further evidence that the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone.
- Your defence of Gough Whitlam’s position on Vietnamese refugees in the
mid 1970s is pure rationalisation. Gough Whitlam never denied the Clyde Cameron quote. Moreover, the Cabinet Papers for 1975 demonstrate that, as prime minister, Mr Whitlam tried to prevent the admission of Vietnamese refugees to Australia.
I can understand Graham Freudenberg wants to maintain that Gough Whitlam exhibited no racial intolerance at anytime during his career. But I do not understand why you want to go along with Mr Freudenberg’s spin or why you defend the position whereby the Freudenberg claim was not challenged in the documentary.
- The fact is that Whitlam: The Power & The Passion did say that Gough
Whitlam was Australia’s head of state. This has nothing to do with Orpheus – that’s just a distraction on your behalf to rationalise a factual error. By the way, Barack Obama is both the US head of state and head of government.
- The White Australia Policy was dismantled from March 1966 – soon after
Harold Holt succeeded Robert Menzies as prime minister. You seem unaware that there was virtually no Asian immigration to Australia during the time of the Whitlam government.
- Contrary to your claim, there was no reporting “in the newspapers at the
time that Jim Cairns and Junie Morosi” did a nude romp at Kirribilli House in late 1974/early 1975. If you have evidence of your claim, you should provide it. Phillip Adams’ account is second-hand gossip revealed decades after the alleged event. I have checked the matter with Cairns’ biographer Paul Strangio and he is not aware of any such romp having taken place.
- Contrary to your claim, there is no evidence that a violent demonstration
took place against United States embassies or consulates in Australia in November or December 1975. It would seem that Jean Kittson has a “memory” of an event which never happened. It’s likely that she is confusing the events of late 1975 with the Vietnam War protests which did witness demonstrations outside the US Consulate in Melbourne in the late 1960s and early 1970s. If you have evidence to support your claim, you should provide it. It is a unique situation for the ABC Head of Factual to accept the veracity of a comment based on a person’s recall, some decades after an alleged event, without providing any documentary evidence.
* * * *
In conclusion, I simply reflect on what the ABC offers as political documentaries. No conservative commentators are heard on the Gough Whitlam documentary. And no conservative commentators were heard on the Robert Menzies documentary. And you expect me to believe that such a situation is an example of balance at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
As indicated, I will write a critique of Whitlam: The Power & The Passion in The Sydney Institute Quarterly – and you are welcome to submit a response which will be published, in unedited form. Unlike the ABC, The Sydney Institute welcomes a diversity of views.
Over and out.
PS: As previously indicated, I appreciated you sending me a copy of the script. By the way, the correct spelling of Labor’s Senate leader in the 1970s was Ken Wriedt (see page 56).
“The nation mourns Gerard Henderson. He’s in perfect health.”
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 2 July 2013 (favourited by Virginia Trioli)
“Old Australian saying. ‘He wouldn’t know a tram was up him unless the bell rang’. Wholly appropriate to Gerard Henderson”
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 7 May 2013
“I said publicly once that I thought that Gerard’s views on the ABC came not from his brain but from his spinal cord”
– Tim Bowden as told to Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams, Late Night Live, 11 June 2013 – Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday.
“Gerard Henderson is a crank”
– David Marr at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival (as reported by Mike Carlton)
“The great Australian media nutter Gerard [Henderson is an] ungrateful bastard”.
– Mark Latham, Q&A, 10 June 2013.
“[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.