25 October 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.


Who’s the most influential figure in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster? Well, it’s not the ABC managing director Nice Mr Scott who seems just too nice to act in the role of editor-on-chief and run the organisation on a day to day basis.

But it could well be Phil Craig, the ABC Head of Factual, who has defended historical howlers in self-proclaimed “definitive” ABC documentaries on the basis that they express the “lyrical” truth. See MWD Issues 193 and 194.

Yes, folks, LYRICAL TRUTH. It’s the kind of truth which you have on the ABC when everything is true – except for the facts.

There was lyrical truth aplenty on ABC1 Lateline last night when presenter Emma Alberici interviewed novelist Thomas Keneally about his recently published edited collection A Country Too Far (Viking) on asylum seekers and all that.

It seems that Lateline’s other presenter Tony Jones is on a WELL EARNED BREAK – since he usually does the Thursday night gig and since he has not been able to respond to Nancy’s male co-owner’s email advising of his howler on last Monday’s Q&A about boat people. See Nancy’s “Pick-of-the-Week” below. And so it came to pass that La Alberici repeated the very same “lyrical” truth on Lateline last night as Mr Jones had stated on Monday.

Tom Keneally’s uncorrected howlers last night – which were not challenged by Emma Alberici – included the claim that Vietnamese refugees who settled in Australia in the late 1970s came by boat and the assertion that there was a bipartisan approach to asylum seekers during the early years of Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition government.

Not so. Some 97 per cent of Indo-Chinese asylum seekers in the late 1970s came by plane and Labor’s Gough Whitlam tried to stop Vietnamese refugees from settling in Australia. Emma Alberici claimed that her parents came to Australia as “economic refugees” – ignoring the fact that they arrived in Australia with valid visas and were not claiming to have fled persecution.

Everything was true in the Alberici/Keneally discussion. Except for the facts. A truly “lyrical” night on Lateline, to be sure. Inspired by the ABC Head of Factual Aunty’s very own Phil “Lyrical” Craig. What a night.


Wasn’t it great to see Grace (“Call me darl”) Collier back on Paul Murray Live on Sky News last night? Nancy, who has been missing sassy Ms Collier of late, was upset that Paul Murray seems to have ceased calling Ms Collier “darl”. [There you go again. If you had not poked fun at Mr Murray on this one he might have kept referring to Grace as “Darl” and you would have more copy. – Ed].

In any event, Nancy just loved it when – at the end of Paul Murray Live – Grace Collier was asked to nominate her winner-of-the-week. Here’s what she had to say:

Grace Collier: Oh look. My winner of the week is Richie Benaud for doing what all people of a certain age should have the privilege of doing. And that is just crashing randomly into a brick wall with your car.

“Darl” caused some embarrassed laughter on the set. Then Paul Murray attempted to salvage the situation:

Paul Murray: That is a unique take on it, I’ll put it that – But all the best to Richie and hopefully he’s watching us in hospital. Get well mate.

Er, not really. Perhaps it would have been best if the former Australian Test captain and current cricket commentator happened not to watch Grace Collier’s contribution to Paul Murray Live last night. Just a thought.

MWD Issue 204 contained the following reference to Jonathan Green – author of that alienated tome The Year My Politics Broke

By the way, when plugging Jonathan Green’s recently published The Day My Politics Broke, Crikey referred to this tome as “Jonathan Green’s new book”. Naaa. It’s his first book.

As Mr Green was quick to point out, this is his second book. Now you know. Apologies all round for so grievous an error. – and see the “Correspondence” section.


The word is that Alan Rusbridger – every luvvie’s luvvie – has a gig at the Opera House on 13 November. The editor of The Guardian will be in a discussion with Annabel Crabb on the topic “Phone Hacking Was Just The Beginning”.

It seems fitting that Mr Rusbridger will be interviewed by a taxpayer funded presenter at the taxpayer subsidised Opera House as part of its taxpayer subsidised “Ideas at the House” series.

The piano-playing Mr Rusbridger is much loved by the Sandalista set Down Under. After all, The Guardian in London dumps all its content online for free as does its recent online start-up The Guardian Australia which carries the thought of Lenore Taylor and David Marr.

Malcolm Muggeridge – who once worked on The Manchester Guardian – said that his ambition was to play an organ in a brothel. It seems that Mr Rusbridger is continuing to play “Abide With Me” as The Guardian continues to lose at least $50 million annually.

When he delivered the 2010 Andrew Olle Lecture, Alan Rusbridger said that the business model for his hand-me-down online paper was doing fine. All he and his colleagues had to do was to work out how to “monetise” the product (ABC Radio PM 5 November 2010). That’s all folks. All that stands between Mr Rusbridger and black ink are bucket loads of red ink.

As Ken Auletta writes in his article titled “Freedom of Information” in the 7 October 2013 edition of The New Yorker:

[The Guardian’s] print circulation, of a hundred and ninety thousand, is half what it was in 2002. The Guardian, which is supported by the Scott Trust, established nearly eighty years ago to subsidize an “independent” and “liberal” newspaper, has lost money for nine straight years. In the most recent fiscal year, the paper lost thirty-one million pounds (about fifty million dollars), an improvement over the forty-four million pounds it lost the year before.

Last year, Andrew Miller, the director of the trust and the C.E.O. of the Guardian Media Group, warned that the trust’s money would be exhausted in three to five years if the losses were not dramatically reduced.

But don’t expect that our very own Ms Crabb will raise this issue with The Guardian’s editor – he would much prefer to discuss the problems of other newspapers. Can you bear it?


Soon after the release of the release of the ABC’s 2012-2013 Annual Report last Friday, Nancy’s (male) co-owner went online to check out the “Governance” chapter. And what a truly wonderful job Aunty has done, with a close-up pic of a man with only one tooth missing. Just one.

The big news is that the ABC Canberra based bureaucrats in the Audience and Consumer Affairs Department approved of a truly staggering 6.9 per cent of complaints received in the financial year with a further 2.6 per cent resolved. This means that, in 2012-13, only 90.3 per cent of complaints were totally rejected by ABC bureaucrats in Canberra. That’s all.

MWD eagerly awaits the ABC’s 2013-14 annual report which will cover The Hamster Decides presentation by The Chaser Boys (Average Age 371/2) of Chris Kenny as a dog fu_ker – a sketch found by Audience and Consumer Affairs as being in line with ABC’s editorial standards. How about that?

One of the reasons given by Audience and Consumer Affairs turned on the (alleged) fact that the program was rated MA15+. However, a MWD fan has advised that that the same segment on ABC iView is classified as G rated and, consequently, suitable for children. Can you bear it?


Wonderful insight by the normally well-informed Mark Kenny on Insiders last Sunday. Here it is:

Mark Kenny: ….given that Labor’s finally now got its team there, its front bench team, we now know what the match-ups are. And I’m just struck by how many Catholics are sort of facing off in this secular nation. We’ve got Abbott versus Shorten. We’ve got Bowen versus Hockey. We’ve got Tony Burke versus Chris Pyne, as leader and opposition leader in the house. So it’s really quite interesting.

Fascinating, eh? Except for the fact that Chris Bowen is an atheist. And, according to the AFR’s “Rear Window” column, Bill Shorten has converted to Anglicanism. So it’s really not so interesting, after all. And there aren’t so many Catholics facing off as first thought. Can you bear it?


What a wonderful interview on Tuesday between Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and ABC Radio National’s house-greenie Greg Borschmann who just happens to be RN Breakfast’s environment editor. That’s all.

Here’s how the interview finished – as the RN Breakfast presenter wound up her interview with RN Breakfast’s environment editor about the NSW bushfires in the Blue Mountains. Let’s go to the transcript:

Fran Kelly: And just very briefly, Greg, we’ve almost time to go. But I know you do a lot of walking in those mountains, you love those mountains. What’s your feeling about the fact that they’re being burnt?

Greg Borschmann: Fran, this – look I understand the concern and I understand that the first priority is to protect people and towns. But what really worries me is that this is the way we are going to manage the Australian landscape into the future. We are changing our country in ways that we can’t even imagine now. It is really a concern because already there are species that I know about that have been changed from the increasing fire routine that we’ve already had. And if we’re going to start to fight every single big fire we have with even more fire then goodness knows what the future holds.

Fran Kelly: Alright Greg well there’s a short term future of much more concern for you and other locals at the moment I guess so good luck with that. Thank you so much for joining us.

So here’s Greg Borschmann, who lives in the Blue Mountains, expressing concern about fighting fire with fire – without suggesting an alternative.

And Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly refrained from asking her environment editor to name the species he maintains have been changed by the existing fire management routine within the Blue Mountains National Park. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. Not really. Perhaps you should analyse Ms Kelly’s interview with your man Bongiorno about global warming and bushfires (also last Tuesday) in next week’s MWD. Just a thought – Ed].


Tony Jones was in fine (editorial) form on Q&A last Monday – including telling Amanda Vanstone that she was “wrong” on a particular issue.

In view of Mr Jones’ insistence on accuracy, it is appropriate to bring a significant howler to attention of MWD readers. Last Monday, Jones interrupted a somewhat lengthy comment by Amanda Vanstone on asylum seekers to make the following comment, viz:

Tony Jones: We took an awful lot of Vietnamese, as well, and they came here on boats.

The reference was to Indo-Chinese refugees who arrived in Australia in the late 1970s. The comment is completely false – as should be evident to anyone who has followed the asylum seeker debate.

The majority of Vietnamese refugees who arrived in Australia came during the period of Malcolm Fraser’s government – i.e. between November 1975 and March 1983. The facts are set out in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (MUP) which is co-authored by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons. At Page 421, the following sentence appears:

By the end of the Fraser government, almost seventy thousand Indochinese refugees had settled in the country, only 2059 of whom were boat people.

So, according to Malcolm Fraser’s calculations, only 3 per cent of all Vietnamese refugees came here on boats. The remaining 97 per cent were processed off-shore and arrived in Australia by plane with valid passports and visas and were sent to designated accommodation, sometimes with families.

The precise breakdown for unauthorised boat arrivals during the time of the Fraser Government is listed in the document Boat Arrivals in Australia since 1976. It can be located in the Parliament of Australia website

The figures are as follows:

1975-76 5

1976-77 204

1977-78 1423

1978-79 351

1979-80 56

1980-81 30

1981-82 0

1982-83 0

The highest number of unauthorised boat arrivals (during any one financial year) under the Howard Government occurred in 1999-2000 at 4175 persons (including crew).

The highest number of unauthorised boat arrivals under the Gillard/Rudd Government occurred in 2012-2013 at 25,173 (excluding crew). In other words, the monthly average of unauthorised boat arrivals during 2012-2013 exceeded the total number for the entire seven year period of the Fraser government.

Nancy’s (male) co-owner wrote to Tony Jones and Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy pointing out the howler and suggesting that – in view of the importance of the subject matter – a correction should be made on air. So far, Hendo’s correspondence has not been acknowledged. [I’m not surprised. Perhaps Tony Jones knows that if he had responded you would have published his missive this week in MWD’s (hugely popular) “Correspondence” section – along with the whinges of the oh-so-sensitive Jonathan Green and David Marr – Ed].



Nancy’s (male) co-owner is very sympathetic to failed Labor leader Mark Latham. After all, these days the Lair of Liverpool has to support a wife, three children, one horse and half a dozen bookmakers – all on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation hand-out of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed).

MWD campaigned (unsuccessfully, alas) for the Lair of Liverpool’s contract to be renewed by Sky News. And MWD was delighted when Australian Financial Review editor Michael Stutchbury extended Mark Latham’s paid columns in that august financial journal. Mr Latham has surely rewarded Mr Stutchbury’s faith in his work – as demonstrated by the intellectual vibrancy of your man’s two latest columns.

19-20 October 2013: ML picks the big issue of the day. Wait for it. It’s News Corp columnist and Sky News presenter Chris Kenny. Yeah, Chris Kenny. ML supports The Chaser Boys’ (Average age 371/2) portrayal of Kenny having sex with a dog on ABC1’s The Hamster Decides and being branded a “dog fu­_ker”.

Mark Latham has a bad memory and he sometimes fails to recall who his enemies are. Or, perhaps, there are just too many names to keep count.

Last weekend in the AFR, Latham defended both The Chaser and the ABC. However, during the 2010 election campaign Mark Latham had the good sense to describe Chaser Boy Craig Reucassel as a “fu_king idiot”. And in 2010, when the very same “Boy” Reucassel attempted to present him with a trophy, the Lair of Liverpool declared: “Haven’t you got some sick children to pick on?” The reference was to The Chaser Boys’ attempt at humour which made fun of the “Make A Wish” Charity and, consequently, children with terminal illnesses. How funny can you get?

But, now, it seems that all is forgiven and The Chaser Boys’ humour is just fine to Mr Latham – especially when depicting ABC critic Chris Kenny as a dog fu_ker.

Also the Lair of Liverpool appears to have changed his attitude to the ABC. Writing in The Spectator in March 2012, Latham referred to the ABC’s “left-wing culture” and called for the public broadcaster to be “dismantled”. Yet in “The Fin” last Saturday, Latham called on Chris Kenny to acknowledge “the impartiality of the ABC”.

● 24 October 2013. Once again, ML picks the big issue of the day. Yes, it’s Andrew Bolt. Believe it or not [I believe it – Ed]. The Lair of Liverpool went on and on about why he has not been asked on Channel 10’s The Bolt Report since its inaugural show in May 2012. Yawn. This is how your man Latham rationalised his decision to write about Bolt – and himself – in his AFR column:

Normally, this would be a piddling matter, one relatively obscure newspaper columnist blackballing another. But with September’s change of government, Bolt has acquired a special status in our political system.

What a load of tosh. Andrew Bolt is a columnist for News Corp publications. And Mark Latham is a columnist for the AFR. That’s about it. Mr Bolt is not about to run the country. The Lair of Liverpool wrote about “The Bolter” in the AFR on Thursday because he has nothing else to write about. That’s about it.

In view of the fact that the AFRI journalist is obviously struggling to find suitable topics, Nancy has proffered a few modest proposals which might assist Mr Latham in his search for topics and might please Mr Stutchbury:

▪ Janet Albrechtsen – a column on her role in giving the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship a pretty face.

▪ Andrew Bolt. [Ridiculous. ML has already done this. Nancy should know better – Ed].

▪ Jack The Ripper – an opinion piece on how different his career might have been if Jack had focused on bashing up hansom cab drivers rather than cutting up women of the night.

Due to unprecedented demand, the “Maurice Newman Segment” gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group-think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch former presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

The British writer G.K. Chesteron is said to have commented that when individuals stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing – rather, they believe in anything.

These days there are not many theological believers in the ABC – apart, that is, from managing director Nice Mr Scott. But secular believers still exist within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster where many proclaim the twin secular truths of Forthcoming Climate Catastrophe (FCG) and Same Sex Marriage (SSM).

The Sydney based legal academic George Williams, who unsuccessfully sought Labor Party pre-selection before the 2007 election, is widely heard these days on ABC TV and radio discussing same sex marriage. Particularly with reference to the legislation which recently passed the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) parliament and which is under consideration by the Labor/Greens government in Tasmania.

However, it is rarely mentioned that Mr Williams is an advocate of SSM who has advised both the ACT and Tasmanian governments on the best way to get around the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

On 15 October 2013, Mornings with Linda Mottram, on ABC Radio 702, invited Mr Williams to discuss same sex marriage with ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell and Tasmania Greens leader and education minister Nick McKim.

What a wonderfully self-righteous time was had by all as Linda Mottram essentially agreed with George Williams who essentially agreed with Nick McKim who essentially agreed with Linda Mottram who essentially agreed with herself. Or something like this.

First up, Ms Mottram introduced Mr Williams as “a constitutional expert from the University of New South Wales”. No mention was made of the fact that Williams has provided legal advice to both the ACT and Tasmania as to how to implement same sex marriage legislation. In other words, he is an adviser to both governments.

Then it was over to the ACT’s Labor attorney-general Simon Corbell who used Williams’ analysis to argue that the ACT “does have power” to legislate with respect to SSM. According to Corbell:

We assert that our law is capable of concurrent operation. The reason for that is that the Commonwealth Marriage Act is a scheme explicitly constructed only to be available to people in heterosexual relationships. Therefore people who are in a same sex relationship are able to be covered by other schemes, operating in the States and Territories. And therefore our laws are capable of sitting side by side with the Commonwealth law.

Then Ms Mottram threw the switch to Nick McKim by asking what was Tasmania’s position on SSM. Let’s go to the transcript:

Nick McKim: Well, in effect it’s very similar to the position that Simon’s just put. I mean obviously, in general terms. States have broader rights under the Constitution than do Territories. But the argument that Simon’s put is effectively the advice that George [Williams] actually provided to me way back in 2005 when I was actually the first person in any parliament in the country to table marriage equality legislation. And look, I’ve got no doubt that – well I’ve got full confidence in George’s advice. As he quite rightly says, you never really know how the High Court is going to decide on an issue until you get there and certainly there are other people who – in terms of legal experts – who have contrary views. But I think the point that George implied in his opening comments is really interesting in terms of the state of mind of the framers of the constitution and my personal view is that it’s likely that there is a very strong argument that in framing the constitution they were simply considering marriage between a man and a woman which may lead to the conclusion that the Commonwealth cannot legislate in the area of marriage equality and in fact that it is entirely an issue for States and Territories.

Stop it there. Not only did Nick McKim agree with Simon Corbell. But he revealed that George Williams had been both an advocate for – and an adviser on – same sex legislation as far back as 2005. In other words, the ABC key legal commentator on matters SSM is in fact a player in the debate.

So Linda Mottram went along with Simon Corbell who agreed with Nick McKim who agreed with George Williams that the High Court of Australia might approve of Territory (i.e. ACT) legislation or State (i.e. Tasmania) legislation approving same sex marriage. No other view was heard.

Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment. And, verily, a Maurice Newman Segment.


Maurice Newman: 4

Jonathan Holmes: Zip

This hugely popular feature of MWD usually works like this. Someone gets it into his/her head that it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And Hendo – being the kind of guy that he is – returns the compliment by replying. Then, within less than a week, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the interest of the prurient who enjoy reading the emails of others. This week it was the ABC’s very own sneerer-in-chief Jonathan Green who stepped up. Followed by The Guardian On-line’s sneerer –in-chief David Marr. Here we go:


Jonathan Green (that inner-city leftist, bicycle-riding sandal-wearer) is a MWD favourite. Mr Green is a regular talent on ABC TV and radio and presents Sunday Extra on ABC Radio National. His advance to the position of Sunday Extra presenter was seamless – with a background as the editor of ABC’s The Drum on-line journal of opinion, as an editor of the left-wing Crikey newsletter and as editor of the left-wing The Sunday Age. Say no more.

Last Friday evening, your man Green got mightily upset with an irreverent reference to him in MWD Issue 204 where it was suggested that his recently published The Year My Politics Broke (MUP) was not his first tome. See Corrections/Clarifications. So the ABC’s sneerer-in-chief decided to write to Gerard Henderson – from his phone, no less.

Jonathan Green to Gerard Henderson – 18 October 2013


Second book actually. Fwiw.


… from my phone.

Jonathan Green

ABC Melbourne

Gerard Henderson to Jonathan Green – 21 October 2013

Dear Mr Green

I am writing to advise that your communication of 18 October 2013 has been received. I note your claim that the reference in Media Watch Dog Issue 204 that The Year My Politics Broke is your first book is incorrect.

In view of the seriousness of this matter, it has been decided to treat your communication as a formal complaint. Consequently, the matter has been referred to The Sydney Institute’s Audience & Consumer Affairs Department which happens to be based in Canberra.

In accordance with the official guidelines, it is expected that the Audience & Consumer Affairs will deal with this matter in no less than 6 weeks – unless consideration takes more than 6 weeks. If you are not happy with any determination, you are free to take this matter up with Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) – in which case you should get a decision sometime before Christmas (2016).

Yours sincerely

(Dr) Reg U. Lation

Principal Adviser to Nancy on Ex-Kennel Complaints

Jonathan Green to Gerard Henderson – 21 October 2013


The simple fact is however, that you made a snarky slap down and were wrong. And sure, neither book might be up to much, but there are indisputably two of them. In constant wonder that you bother ….


(And much as you mock it, I think the ABC formal complaint process is a credit to the organisation. A pity that more of our media was not likewise accountable.)
… from my phone.

Jonathan Green

Gerard Henderson to Jonathan Green – 21 October 2013


Hilarious – as the saying goes. I am truly honoured that you would come off your Well Earned Break to write to me.

For someone who spends so much time sneering at others, you obviously take yourself very seriously indeed. After all, Media Watch Dog is just a blog published after lunch on Fridays. Yet it seems to upset some people. How about that?

I will make the correction today and acknowledge the error next Friday. That’s the kind of guy I am. I note, however, that the ABC invariably refuses to correct errors. In your PS, you defend the ABC’s formal complaints process and describe it as “a credit to the organisation”. As someone who is on the ABC’s payroll, this rationalisation is understandable.

Yet the fact remains that the ABC rejects around 95 per cent of all complaints. Consequently, I am not surprised that people – like you – who work at the ABC are happy with Audience & Consumer Affairs.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your WEB. Until next Friday.

Best wishes


* * * * *


As MWD readers will be aware, David Marr’s The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell (Black Inc) has been analysed in recent issues.

On Wednesday, Mr Marr wrote to Gerard Henderson concerning the latter’s Sydney Morning Herald column, which was published on 1 October 2013 – see here. Hendo replied. And so it came to pass that the following correspondence ensued.

David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 23 October 2013


I’m preparing my response to the responses for publication in the next Quarterly Essay. For that purpose I was wondering if you could clarify what you were getting at in your SMH column when you wrote:

What’s missing from The Prince is that the overwhelming majority of sexual child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys.

Are you perhaps drawing some distinction between “homosexual” and “heterosexual” paedophilia? If so, I’m wondering what the basis and the purpose of such a distinction might be.

All the best,


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 23 October 2013


I refer to your note. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain what I wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 October 2013 when commenting on your essay The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell.

In fact, my SMH column was cut at late notice and without consultation. This is the comment to which you refer in its full context:

Andrew West in the Religion and Ethics Report was one of the few ABC journalists to challenge Marr’s thesis. West suggested to Marr that his criticism of the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse stems from a small “l” liberal point of view and a rejection of mainstream Catholicism. The author regarded such criticism as “most unfair”.

But West has a point. In The Prince, Marr concentrates on Pell’s celibacy in a way which Marr himself would object to if an author focused on, say, someone’s homosexuality. Marr told West that “it was the celibate Church that gave paedophiles safe haven”. This does not explain why paedophilia is widespread outside the Catholic Church. What’s missing from The Prince is that the overwhelming majority of sexual child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys.

What I wrote is completely correct. Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was primarily a crime by men against boys. Moreover, this fact is not mentioned in The Prince. I doubt that you would deny either statement.

There is a serious point here. In The Prince – as Andrew West pointed out – you focus on celibacy as a factor in the crime of child abuse in the Catholic Church. But you completely ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of such crimes involved men committing crimes against boys. In other words, your analysis is incomplete.

It could be that your judgment on this issue has been affected by fact that – as Gerard Windsor pointed out in his review of The Prince in Fairfax Media newspapers – you see “Pell as an enemy” and want to sneer at his celibacy. Or it could be that you do not regard it as relevant that the majority of crimes committed by both diocesan clergy and priests and brothers in religious orders were crimes by men against boys. Or it could be that, for some reason or another, you want to avoid discussing the nature of the crimes.

Obviously, paedophilia is a crime whether the victims are boys or girls. But to fully understand what took place in the Catholic Church two decades and more ago, it is helpful to at least mention the gender of both the criminals and their victims.

I thought you would have understood this – since you frequently call for full disclosure and uninhibited debate.

By the way, I have documented a number of errors in The Prince in recent editions of my Media Watch Dog blog. You may wish to take note of this material if you are intending to publish a second edition of The Prince.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 23 October 2013


It seems to me you are being coy here not me. What is the point you are trying to make? What moral, legal or psychological difference does it make that paedophiles are abusing boys rather than girls? I see these as indistinguishably awful crimes. What is the incomplete analysis?


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 23 October 2013


I am not being “coy”. Rather, just stating facts.

In The Prince, you draw a connection between the “celibate” Catholic Church and paedophilia. According to you, this is a statement of fact.

However, when I point out that the overwhelming majority of paedophilia cases within the Catholic Church involved crimes of men against boys, you imply that this truth should not be stated.

So you are entitled to draw attention to celibacy but I am not entitled to draw attention to the gender of most paedophiles and their victims. This seems like a double standard to me.

In conclusion, I don’t know why you bother about anything I write – since you maintain I am a “crank”. I have a policy of not engaging with people I consider to be “cranks”. It works for me – why not give it a try, it could be quite cathartic.

Have a lovely evening.


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 23 October 2013


I am perfectly happy to say the victims are overwhelmingly male. This is obvious from the essay. The sex of the victims is never obscured. You are too gutless to say openly what you seem to be hinting at here: that in your view these are somehow “homosexual” crimes. If I’m wrong just say so and we can end this exchange. Though that would leave me still curious why you attach any weight at all to the sex of the victims.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 23 October 2013


It was not “obvious” from a reading of The Prince that the victims were overwhelmingly male. It would only have been “obvious” had you acknowledged this fact. But you didn’t. Yet you did link celibacy to the crime of paedophilia.

An attack by a man on a boy is precisely that. And an attack by a man on a girl is precisely that. I do not know whether or not the Catholic priests/brothers, mentioned in your essay, who committed crimes on boys were homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual.

But I do know that the majority of crimes were by men on boys. And I do know that you refrained from stating this fact inThe Prince. Since you are asking me a lot of questions – how about answering the question as to why you omitted this central fact in your essay The Prince.

That’s all. I am off to a meeting.


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 23 October 2013


If you can’t give a decent explanation for demanding this of me, it has to be read as it reads: a nasty dig at homosexuals. Try to follow this: paedophiles abuse children. The sex of the victim makes no difference – except perhaps to you. But for a few who may share your unpleasant views on this one, I think it’s game set and match, to me.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 24 October 2013


I thought we were having a correspondence – since you commenced this exchange by asking me to answer a question. But now I find it was really a tennis match – in which you have achieved a “game, set and match” ending in a competition in which you were a player, the umpire and the match referee. Moreover, you will not answer my question.

My comment was not a “nasty dig at homosexuals”. In your evident sensitivity, you take offence at a documented fact – namely, that sex abuse within the Catholic Church has been overwhelmingly a crime committed by men against boys. Apparently, no one is supposed to mention the gender of either the offenders or their victims. Consequently this fact is excluded from your essay The Prince. However, it’s quite okay for you to dwell on the celibacy of George Pell and others. As I have said, this is a double standard.

My view on this matter is not “unpleasant”. Just accurate. And you have taken an easy way out by accusing me of homophobia rather than address – or even acknowledge – the issue. You should be able to do better than this.

I am busy for the rest of today. I will listen in tonight as the secularist Phillip Adams interviews the secularist David Marr on the Catholic George Pell in front of an audience primarily made up of leftist secularist luvvies at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas. All this on the taxpayer funded Radio National Late Night Live. I’m predicting a “game, set, match” outcome for you and Phillip – as judged by you and Phillip. Well done – in advance.

Gerard Henderson

PS: Please excuse the misfire this morning. I can only surmise that my copy of the Holy Bible fell on my mobile phone. There may be a (divine) message here – or perhaps not.

David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 24 October 2013

Sex of victims always clear in the essay. My view: this is a terrible crime whatever the sex of the victims. All I’ve sought from you is an explanation for you declaring that most victims of priests are boys is a “central fact” of the situation. Still looks to me like a nasty barb you can’t now justify.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 25 October 2013


Wonderful performance at the Adelaide Festival of Idea [sic] – as played on Late Night Live last night – where everyone tends to agree with each other on the one idea being discussed.

And, just as I predicted, Phillip Adams agreed with you. And you agreed with Phillip. And the audience laughed at your sneers at Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church and agreed with you and Phillip. And no one asked a critical question of you, or made a critical statement about you, during the Q&A period. Not even the one self-declared Marxist who was a mate of Phillip. And, at the end of the love-in, Phillip Adams awarded you with LNL’s Elephant Stamp. Literally. As the audience gave enthusiastic applause. All subsidised by the taxpayer.

My critique of The Prince remains the same. You regard celibacy as a central fact in child sex abuse in the Catholic Church – and The Prince is replete with mentions of George Pell’s celibacy. Yet you do not regard it as proper for me to state another central fact – namely, that the crimes discussed in your essay were overwhelmingly committed by men against boys and that you did not draw attention to this.

You asked me a question. It just happens that you do not like my answer. As far as I am concerned, this particular correspondence is concluded.

As promised I will be back in touch next week re your subsequent email about B.A. Santamaria and the Liberal Party – which is quite different from the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, which was your focus for this week.

Have a lovely weekend.

Gerard Henderson

Until next time. Keep morale high.

“The last time Gerard Henderson smiled was in 1978, when he saw a university student being mauled by a pitbull.”

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 13 October 2013 [Editor’s Note: Mr “Why Can’t I Score an Invite on Q&A?” Pobjie is wrong. In fact, the year was 1977 and the dog was a blue-heeler – like Nancy]

“I think Henderson is seriously ill. There’s enough there for an entire convention of psychiatrists.”

– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton (after Pre-Dinner Drinks tweet to Jeff Sparrow), 8 October 2013

“Wrong, you got caught out, off to Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog for you!”

– Tim Wilson tweet to Jonathan Green and Virginia Trioli, 8 October 2013.

“Nancy as ever will be the judge”

– Jonathan Green to Tim Wilson and Virginia Trioli (conceding to the arbitral authority of Nancy), 8 October 2013

[Gerard Henderson’s analysis of the ABC] is absolutely simplistic.”

– ABC managing director Mark Scott talking to ABC presenter Jonathan Green on ABC Radio National Drive, 2 May 2013.

“Oh my God; you’re as bad as Gerard Henderson.”

– Dr Peter Van Onselen (for a doctor he is), The Contrarians, Sky News, 20 September 2013.

“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.