GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 209
22 November 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.
- Stop Press: Paul Bongiorno on the Abbott “Dictatorship”; Michael Smith on Himself;Jonathan Holmes’ Double Standard
- Correspondence:Robert Manne Fails to Accept a $5000 Wager to Produce Evidence In Support of His Own Conspiracy Theory
The ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Conservative-Free-Zone is a microcosm of the public broadcaster’s big picture Conservative-Free-Zone. RN Breakfast has many leftist commentators – led by presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly – but not one regular conservative commentator from Australia or overseas.
When a decision was made, for whatever reason, to scale down the number of days each week The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan commented on Australia’s politics – RNB replaced her with Channel 10’s Paul Bongiorno. Mr Bongiorno has described himself as a left-liberal. Moreover, he is regarded by the Coalition as the most pro-Labor/Greens journalist in the commercial media part of the National Press Gallery in Canberra.
Discussing the Abbott government’s parliamentary tactics on RN Breakfast this morning – and those of Speaker Bronwyn Bishop – Bonge condemned the Coalition’s behaviour as “a brutal use of the numbers that smacked of, of, eh, more of dictatorship than of democratic argument”. Yeah, go on.
MICHAEL SMITH’S SHINGLE
Many journalists and commentators have never worked in government or in opposition or in the public service. Yet some assume a first-hand knowledge of how the national and international political system works – including the technical area of diplomacy.
So it is of no surprise that recent days have been replete with journalists and former journalists advising Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about how they should handle Indonesia – consequent upon the publication by The Guardian Australia and the ABC of documents stolen by Edward Snowden, now voluntarily resident in Putin’s Russia.
But in the “Newspapers” segment on ABC1 News Breakfast this morning, one-time Age editor Michael Smith not only gave gratuitous advice to the Prime Minister. He also used the occasion to plug his PR company Inside Public Relations. Mr Smith told viewers that he was an expert on “issues management” and gave a very clear impression that he has his shingle out. Who knows? Maybe Indonesia will approach him for advice?
JONATHAN HOLMES’ DOUBLE STANDARD
Earlier this year (then) ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes expressed concern about Institute of Public Affairs staff appearing on ABC programs without viewers/listeners having access to all the organisation’s funding details. But he has never asked PR operatives – like Michael Smith – to declare their clients.
More seriously, Jonathan Holmes specifically refused to address payments made by businesses direct to some of the biggest names at the public broadcaster.
The Australian’s decision to reveal details of the 2011-12 salaries of the highest paid ABC employees has caused considerable interest. Sarah Martin’s exclusive last Wednesday was revealing about salaries – especially with respect to Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams – re which see below.
But what was missing from Ms Martin’s report – and the subsequent coverage – was that no mention was made of the fact that ABC’s high profile presenters earn substantial additional income from doing paid presentation gigs on the side – over and above their ABC salary.
Jonathan Holmes believes that we should know who funds the IPA – despite the fact that no businesses pay money direct to the IPA staff. However, according to Jonathan Holmes, no one has a right to know how much money businesses pay direct to ABC celebrities for presentation/compere duties. It’s what’s called a double standard that has the effect of protecting your man Holmes’ ABC mates. That’s all.
SOCIALIST PHILLIP ADAMS WANTS MORE
What a wonderfully aggrieved tweet from the ABC’s Man-in-Black yesterday when he learnt – per courtesy of The Australian’s exclusive – that he is not earning as much as some of his fellow socialists at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Here it is:
Just learned that my fellow b’casters at ABC get paid lots more than me.Despite LNL’s enduring success.naughty management
Gosh. The ABC’s Late Night Live presenter is just so upset that he is not earning as much as some of his ABC comrades-in-arms like Quentin Dempster, Fran Kelly, Waleed Aly, Linda Mottram, Peter McEvoy and Sally Neighbour.
Asked about this grievance, Nancy proffered this advice: “This is an outrage. Australia’s best known and richest socialist should be paid more. Lots more. Mr Adams should take this matter to the Human Rights Commission. Immediately.”
LAIR OF LIVERPOOL BAGS “TWO-BAGGERS” IN SUN-HERALD
As any deaf canine knows, life is about change – and compromise. Take former Labor leader, Mark Latham, for example. When he left politics in early 2005, the Lair of Liverpool had to make do on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation handout of a mere $78,000 per year (fully indexed). Not much for a man with a wife, a horse, three children and half a dozen bookmakers to support.
In The Latham Diaries the Lair of Liverpool treated the media with contempt and, at the end of the tome, vowed and declared that he would have nothing to do with editors, journalists and the like once he left politics. That was then. Now, having to top up his lousy taxpayer funded handout, your man Latham is busy selling his wares to any editor or producer who might supplement his income.
There have been some bad times. Your man Latham resigned as a columnist in The Spectator Australia (following an argument over Nancy, no less). And he did not have his contract renewed with Sky News. These days the Lair of Liverpool has a column in the Australian Financial Review and paid gigs on a couple of Fairfax Radio stations.
Until last weekend, when your man Latham commenced writing for the Sunday tabloids – witness his article in The Sun-Herald called “Bachelor party is what this country needs”.
The story? Well, believe it or not, the Lair of Liverpool is addicted to watching The Bachelor Australia on Channel 10 each Thursday. He declared his addiction to the program in a paid article in The Sun-Herald on 17 November 2013:
It’s not just the stupidity of SlideShow or the annoying superficiality of Leigh Sales that has driven me into the arms of Tim Robards and his harem of lovelorn beauties. I genuinely like the show. Already I’m bracing myself for having to visit a Dickensian church hall one day, announcing myself to a circle of similarly troubled souls: “My name’s Mark and I’m a Bachelor addict.”
It seems that the Lair of Liverpool (born 1961) has the hots for “Danielle, a 24 year old events co-ordinator from the Gold Coast”. He also reckons that Anna and Rochelle are great leaders – even if suffering from a dose of “emotional retardation”. [Does The Sun-Herald really pay the Lair of Liverpool for this verbal sludge? And do any of the Bachelorettes have surnames? – Ed].
At the end of his piece, your man Latham attempted to give Aussie sheilas a morale boost, declaring:
So cheer up, ladies. Even if you’re a two-bagger, or worse, the host of the Ernie Awards, you’re not without hope in the meat market of life.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner has been advised that a “two-bagger” is a woman who is so ugly that both she and her male flinger have to wear bags over their heads. The woman to hide her face. The man just in case the woman’s bag falls off. This is a Sunday paper which, from time to time, lectures at large about treating women with respect. [Perhaps you should have run this in your oh-so-popular “Can You Bear It?” section. – Ed]
YOUNG ERIK JENSEN TO CHANNEL OLD NATIONAL TIMES
Did anyone catch Erik Jensen, editor designate of Morry Schwartz’s proposed start-up The Saturday Paper coming to a newsagent near you early next year, on The Drum last Friday? The Saturday Paper will be published by Morry Schwartz, MWD’s favourite multi-millionaire property developer and the Conscience of High Rise.
When he’s not pouring concrete, your man Schwartz runs the publishing company Black Inc which prints books along with The Monthly and Quarterly Essay – both of which are house-journals for the inner-city sandal-wearing left. The Monthly is a journal of leftist secular opinion which reminds Nancy’s (male) co-owner of The Holy Name Monthly – a journal of Catholic religious opinion – in his youth. Same intense conviction – different cause.
Young Mr Jensen should have no trouble editing a Morry Schwartz production. After all, the Black Inc set are only required to cover any one of four usual topics, viz:
John Howard is a real bastard
Tony Abbott is a real bastard
George Pell is a real bastard and
Rupert Murdoch is the biggest real bastard of all.
Er, that’s it.
Erik Jensen made a wonderful appearance on ABC News 24’s The Drum last Friday. He presented as the editor of such campus publications as Farrago and Honi Soit – with an ideological aversion to hairdressers.
Young Mr Jensen told viewers that Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper will be targeted at a whole market of Gen Y readers who never read newspapers. Brilliant – don’t you think? Most articles will occupy a whole page. Wow – this will surely be loved by young Australians who never read newspapers. Moreover, according to Erik Jensen, The Saturday Paper will sell 100,000 copies a week across Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Nancy was just so impressed with the Jensen pitch. Until he declared that The Saturday Paper will be modelled on The National Times of recent memory. The National Times was long on left-wing opinion and inciting defamation writs but short on fact, balance and sales. It never made a profit and did its publisher, Fairfax, considerable harm.
But young Mr Jensen reckons that The National Times (died 1987) is the way to go. Can you bear it?
ALL ABOARD AUNTY’S CLIMATE RIDE WITH CHRISTINE AND TIM
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 former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.
Last Sunday evening, ABC TV News led with a story on – of course – DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE. The presenter introduced the segment as follows:
About 60 000 people around the country today rallied in support of climate change action. Recent extreme weather events are on many people’s minds as the Federal government presses ahead to repeal the carbon tax. Anna Fromberg reports.
And so she did. Well, sort of. There was no justification for the 60,000 figure – which appears to have been a beat-up by rally organisers. Then it was so ABC. Let’s go to the transcript:
Anna Fromberg: They came in colours to represent a sunburnt country they argue is only getting warmer. From Hobart to Brisbane the chants may have been different, but the message was the same.
Protester: I’m here for future generations – my daughter Evelyn. I’d like to see a planet left for her to grow up in.
Protester: They’re not listening to the people of Australia and I’m really, really fed up with it.
Anna Fromberg: It’s just days since the Prime Minister introduced legislation to repeal the carbon tax.
Professor Tim Flannery: We cannot leave a matter as important as Australia’s climate change to the fickleness and whim of Australian politics.
Anna Fromberg: The Federal government wants to move to a direct action plan to combat climate change.
Christine Milne : This is about sending a very strong message to Canberra : “Tony Abbott we will not repeal the only legislation that is actually bringing down emissions”.
Anna Fromberg: It wasn’t just politicians and scientists addressing the crowds, but fire-fighters reeling from recent extreme weather events.
Dean McNulty (United Fire-fighters Union) : We will need an increase of 40 per cent in fire-fighter numbers by 2020 to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Anna Fromberg: The younger generation is worried.
Young Protester: We’re going to see some horrendous changes in the next 50 to 100 years.
Young Protester: We have to do something so future generations like us can enjoy our country.
Anna Fromberg: According to Tony Abbott, the Federal election was a referendum on carbon tax. But there’s no denying the tens of thousands of Australians that have spoken on climate change action today. Anna Fromberg, ABC News.
So there you have it. Anna Fromberg agreed with Protestor 1 who agreed with Protestor 2 who agreed with climate change activist Tim Flannery who agreed with Greens leader Christine Milne who agreed with trade union organiser (and former Get Up! activist) Dean McNulty who agreed with Young Protestor 1 who agreed with Young Protestor 2 who agreed with Anna Fromberg.
No other view was heard. And no one asked Professor Tim Flannery about his prediction about global warming – namely that rain would never again fall over Australian dams and that the likes of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth would run out of water. It was not that sort of program.
This wasn’t news. More like a (secular) Church where preacher Anna Fromberg got the congregation to join in her climate change chorus in a choir where everyone agreed with everyone else.
Maurice Newman: 5
Step Forward Stephen Crittenden formerly of ABC’s The Religion Report and formerly of The Global Mail. Oh yes, and formerly executive producer of ABC Radio’s Religion Department. [I got it. But does your man Crittenden do anything now? – Ed].
This is what Stephen Crittenden wrote in Crikey last Monday : “The fact is that Catholic clerical culture is a machine that produces sick people.”
Quarterly Essay Issue 52, published last Monday, contains a Correspondence section on David Marr’s The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell. Contributors are Geraldine Doogue, Michael Cooney, Robbie Swan, Barney Zwartz, Frank Bongiorno, Paul Collins, Amanda Lohrey and, of course, David Marr himself.
Geraldine Doogue, Michael Cooney, Barney Zwartz, Frank Bongiorno and Paul Collins On The Drum
In view of the coverage of The Prince in recent issues of Media Watch Dog, the following comments may be of interest.
● ABC Journalist Geraldine Doogue said that she “did approve” of Cardinal George Pell’s response to The Prince which was as follows:
A predictable and selective rehash of old material. G.K. Chesterton said: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth of its author.” Marr has no idea what motivates a believing Christian.
In his oh-so-soft interview with Phillip Adams on ABC Radio National Late Night Live on 24 October 2013, David Marr dismissed Cardinal Pell’s response to The Prince. However, Geraldine Doogue conceded that Pell did “land some blows” on Marr.
● Former Labor Party staffer Michael Cooney declared “Cardinal Pell is…not always wrong” and made the following observation:
And facts matter. When Marr says “most priests are part of the sexual under-world; gay, straight and at times criminal,” that’s an important claim. It’s not supported by any of the facts offered. David Marr doesn’t know this. I don’t know this. No one does. Sometimes the facts are convenient; just because a claim suits David Marr’s argument doesn’t mean it’s false. But in the absence of any evidence, it’s hard not to read this as a part of the text of David Marr’s life and work, rather than a part of the empirically discoverable world; hard not to hear in his attitude to celibacy an echo of the myth of Queen Victoria’s attitude to lesbianism. He really can’t believe there’s any such thing.
Michael Cooney also referred to Bishop Pat Power – one of the usual Pell critics who was reported making critical comments of the Cardinal in The Prince :
[Pat] Power was auxiliary bishop of a diocese where abuse took place, where criminal trials have occurred. Power has stood alongside clerics accused of sexual wrongdoing. Power says the facts vindicate his prior, private theological opinions. That’s what bishops do – not because they’re conservative, liberal, neutral, but because they’re bishops.
● Barney Zwartz, The Age’s religion editor and a well-known Pell critic, had this to say about Marr’s focus on Pell’s celibacy in The Prince :
…Marr’s claim is that Pell has paid a terrible price for abjuring sexual activity…. I cannot say that Marr is wrong about Pell. I can say that I know many Catholic clerics whom I presume to be celibate who are warm, convivial, concerned and pastoral. Indeed, large numbers of ordinary people lead sexually barren lives, through choice or circumstance, without the cost to personality Marr attributes to Pell. Obviously sexual fulfilment contributes to emotional fulfilment – and its absence can damage emotional fulfilment – but it is not a necessary condition of emotional fulfilment, as Marr implies. Serious psychological studies have been made of celibacy and its effects. I am told that it is possible to sublimate sexual instincts in a healthy way.
● Historian Frank Bongiorno makes a special point that is virtually ignored in The Prince – that many of the cases of child abuse in the Catholic Church occurred on the watch not of traditional conservatives like George Pell but liberal progressives like Archbishop Frank Little (Melbourne), Bishop Ronald Mulkearns (Ballarat) and Bishop Henry Joseph Kennedy (Armidale):
How could all of these horrible things happen on the watch of a good, decent man like Archbishop Sir Frank Little? Anthony Whitlam QC’s report on the (New South Wales) “Father F.” case is especially enlightening in its treatment of this matter of church decision-making….
● Former Catholic priest and one-time ABC broadcaster Paul Collins, another Pell critic, concedes that The Prince “is the brief for the prosecution”. Also Collins dismisses Marr’s claim that the late B.A. Santamaria and his Catholic Social Studies Movement had an emphatic influence on George Pell:
Marr traces Pell’s approach back to his roots in the Santamaria “Movement”, but a Movement background doesn’t mean that you inevitably end up with a “boots and all” confrontational style of Catholicism. I too grew up in a Melbourne household influenced by the Movement. Like Pell, I heard Santamaria speak in my adolescence….. But my temperament obviously differed from Pell’s….
David Marr on The Prince
● And then there was David Marr’s approach. Marr claimed – without evidence – that Pell’s friends did him a “service by not feeding the flames” by criticising The Prince. Marr seems to be suggesting that his essay was so strong that it could not be challenged.
First Marr criticised commentators whom he deems sympathetic to Pell for having ignored The Prince. Marr then criticised Gerard Henderson’s critique which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald (1 October 2013) and his analysis in Media Watch Dog. According to Marr, Henderson “couldn’t help himself” and his critique was not only less than civilised but also constituted an “attack”. David Marr continued:
There are those who clearly think the essay is way off the mark. But since its publication in September I have experienced something that hardly ever happened before : strangers thanking me for something I’ve written. “I’m steeped in Mickdom,” said a middle-aged man at Adelaide airport the other day. “And you got it right.”
Gerard Henderson thinks not. Having himself refused my requests for an interview, the columnist commends the cardinal for not talking to me either; birches the ABC for granting me “numerous – and overwhelmingly soft – interviews”; puts my criticism of the church down to “a small l-liberal point of view”; declares me a “secularist”; and downplays the role in this tale of his old mentor Bob Santamaria. Henderson has a way of blaming contrary points of view on blind ignorance and partisan hostility….
Traditionally, Quarterly Essay runs comments on the previous issue and then gives the author the opportunity to respond to the commentators. Not this time. This time, David Marr did not specifically refer to Geraldine Doogue, Michael Cooney, Robbie Swan, Barney Zwartz, Frank Bongiorno, Paul Collins or Amanda Lohrey. Instead he only mentioned by name one commentator – namely, Gerard Henderson. But Quarterly Essay did not run Henderson’s Sydney Morning Herald column of 1 October 2013 in its Correspondence section. Nor did Quarterly Essay editor Chris Feik invite Gerard Henderson to contribute a piece to Issue 52.
The evidence suggests that David Marr does not want to enter into a considered debate on The Prince. Not one of those who contributed to the Correspondence section of Quarterly Essay Issue 52 could be regarded as a supporter of George Pell. Nor was anyone of this group a contemporary traditional conservative Catholic in the Pell mould. Yet David Marr specifically refused to engage with even the low-key critique of Geraldine Doogue, Michael Cooney, Barney Zwartz, Frank Bongiorno and Paul Collins.
As mentioned, Marr only cited Henderson to argue his case even though his comments were neither sought nor published in Quarterly Essay Issue 52. Since Gerard Henderson has no access to Quarterly Essay, the following comments are set out below:
▪ Gerard Henderson did refuse David Marr’s requests for an interview about George Pell. He gave Marr reasons for this decision. Namely, that The Prince was destined to be a hatchet job on Pell and nothing that Henderson would say could alter this. This assessment was subsequently confirmed by Paul Collins (a Pell critic) who assessed The Prince as “the brief for the prosecution”.
▪ Gerard Henderson did say – for the same reason – that Cardinal Pell was wise not to speak to Marr for his profile. This would only have given legitimacy to what was a hatchet job.
▪ The ABC has given David Marr a number of one-off soft interviews for his essays on Tony Abbott and George Pell. David Marr has never been required by the ABC to take part in a radio or television discussion with a commentator who is knowledgeable about Tony Abbott and George Pell and the religious and political influences on them.
▪ David Marr does express “a small l-liberal point of view”. And he is a “secularist”. Marr has publicly acknowledged both positions.
▪ Gerard Henderson’s 1982 book Mr Santamaria and the Bishops was critical of the late B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) – a fact which Santamaria acknowledged in his life time. Marr’s claim that Santamaria is Henderson’s “mentor” merely demonstrates that the author of The Prince is not well read in this area.
▪ As Gerard Henderson has documented in his Sydney Morning Herald column and his Media Watch Dog blog, David Marr knows little about Catholic politics in Australia or the Catholic Church. His essays on both Tony Abbott and George Pell contain numerous errors – which David Marr simply denies.
▪ David Marr does exhibit partisan hostility to those he opposes.
▪ Finally – as MWD readers will be aware (see Issues 201 & 202) – David Marr refused to respond to Gerard Henderson’s analytical analysis of the historical errors in The Prince. Instead he accused Henderson of homophobia and alleged that Henderson hated him (See Issue 206). Not much of an argument for someone who is regarded as one of Australia’s leading biographers.
GERARD HENDERSON OFFERS ROBERT MANNE $5000 (FOR CHARITY) IF HE CAN PRODUCE EVIDENCE FOR UNPROVEN ASSERTION
This hugely popular segment of MWD usually works like this. Someone writes to Nancy’s (male) co-owner and he replies. Then the correspondence is published. However, on occasions – especially when he is willing to fork out $5000 – Gerard Henderson writes to somebody. He/She usually replies. However, on this occasion Robert (“Look Mum, No Facts”) Manne has not responded so far. We will keep you posted if Professor Manne can find the “dossier” he claims Gerard Henderson prepared on him and thus able to claim $5000 for his favourite charity. MWD readers may wish to query Professor Manne about this matter – in which case he can be contacted at La Trobe University (“Proudly One of Australia’s Top 500 Polluters”) out Bundoora way.
GERARD HENDERSON TO ROBERT MANNE – 21 NOVEMBER 2013
I refer to the recent publication of Gwenda Tavan’s edited collection State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne (Black Inc) following last year’s taxpayer subsidised conference at La Trobe University in praise of your good self.
If, per chance, someone decides – at taxpayers’ expense – to organise a conference “to honour” my work, I’ll make sure that you get an invitation to make a contribution and provide some critique. It’s so boring when everyone agrees with everyone else that The Honoured One is without stain. That’s why it’s taking me so long to read Gwenda Tavan’s collection in praise of you and your work.
I have yet to wade through the various paeans of praises from your left-wing mates such as Raimond Gaita, David McKnight, Clive Hamilton, Carmen Lawrence, Ramona Koval, your publisher Morry Schwartz, Tim Soutphommasane, Patrick Dodson, Mark Aarons, Jean Curthoys and more besides. But I will get there. You even co-authored a chapter in honour of yourself. Well done.
I note, from your Prologue titled “By Way of Explanation”, that you “suggested to the editor that an abbreviated personal political history might prove helpful to the reader”. I could not agree more. After all, you must have only written a dozen personal histories – a record which is perhaps only exceeded in Australia by the late B.A. Santamaria. An extra personal history cannot do any harm.
In view of the fact that you take your “personal history” so seriously, I thought it appropriate to raise a few matters concerning your latest version – in order to iron out some inconsistencies.
Your Claim That I Have “Lied” Re Your Student Days Disproven
In State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne, you made the following claim about your involvement in student politics at Melbourne University in the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s:
Shortly after arriving at the University of Melbourne in 1966, I joined the Democratic Socialist Club. It was positioned between the once communist Labour [sic] Club and the fiercely anti-communist and curiously named ALP Club…. Over the next three years my politics was pulled hard in contradictory directions. As the campus became even more radical during the time we now call “the sixties”, I moved further to the left, eventually becoming, very briefly, a member of the Labour [sic] Club committee.
This comment is of no surprise to me. However, it does contradict the position you took when you wrote to The Australian on 30 October 2007. As you may recall, in responding to an editorial criticising you, you wrote that:
Unlike certain recent converts such as Paul Kelly and Imre Salusinszky, I was an anti-communist at a time when, among the intelligentsia, there was a social cost to pay.
When I wrote to The Australian (31 October 2007) suggesting that your assertion that you incurred a social cost for your anti-communist political views was contrary to the facts, you became quite upset. My point was that a student at Melbourne University in the mid to late 1960s did not pay a “social cost” for joining the Democratic Socialist Club or the Labor Club or for opposing Australia’s commitment in Vietnam – since your stance was intellectually fashionable at the time. In response, you wrote an article in Crikey on 31 October 2007 titled “Why does Gerard Henderson lie?” in which you made the following claim:
In his letter [to The Australian] Henderson claimed I joined the left-wing Labor Club. This is true. What he doesn’t point out is that I left the Club after a few weeks. The reason was that I came to see that it was pro-communist and even had an ambivalent relationship to Joseph Stalin, someone who by now (I was a second year undergraduate) I had come to think of as one of the most evil political figures of the twentieth century.
Henderson implies that I was a member of the Labor Club at the time it supported sending aid to the National Liberation Front. This is also completely untrue. The issue only arose after I had quit the Club. In fact I was opposed to sending aid to the NLF which I regarded as an offshoot of the North Vietnamese Communist Party.
So what you wrote to Crikey was this. Namely, that you joined, and resigned from, the Labor Club in your second year at university – that is, 1967. It is a matter of record that the Labor Club decided to support the National Liberation Front (or Viet Cong) – which was killing Australian soldiers in the field – in July 1967. It follows that, if your “personal history” as told to Crikey 2007 is correct, you had left the Labor Club by July 1967.
Once again, your “personal history” is blurred. In State of the Nation, you write that you commenced at Melbourne University in 1966 and, “shortly after”, joined the Democratic Socialist Club. Then you moved further to the left “over the next three years” – i.e. 1967, 1968 and 1969 – “eventually becoming, very briefly, a member of the Labor Club committee”. This implies that you joined the Labor Club in 1968 or 1969. But in Crikey on 31 October 2007 you said that you quit the Labour [sic] Club before July 1967.
On the evidence of the latest versions of your “personal history” in State of the Nation, you joined the Labor Club in 1968 or 1969 when it had a record of recent support for the communist National Liberation Front. Yet you called me a liar for suggesting that you were not as anti-communist in your student days as you have claimed subsequently. In view of your revision of your personal history in this instance, it would be appropriate to withdraw your 2007 allegation that I consciously lied about your student days at Melbourne University.
Your Claim About Your Role in the 1970 Vietnam Moratorium
Then there is your participation in the May 1970 Vietnam Moratorium demonstration in Melbourne. As you know, the aim of the Vietnam Moratorium campaign – which was controlled by the left – was to bring about the immediate withdrawal of all Allied forces from Vietnam. If achieved, this would have led to an immediate victory for communist North Vietnam.
In State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne you write:
When Rai [Gaita] and I marched against the Vietnam War in the 1970 Moratorium, we did so under a banner which read: “Neither Washington nor Hanoi”.
Once again, the current version of your “personal history” is inconsistent with the facts that exist. Your friend Rai Gaita has conceded that you and he did not even get close to this (alleged) “Neither Washington or Hanoi” banner. You and he simply imagined that you marched under such a banner. This is what Rai Gaita wrote on 10 September 2008:
[At the May 1970 Vietnam Moratorium march] we were relieved to find a banner that expressed what we believed: that neither Washington nor Hanoi were deserving of support. Though the many people between us and the banner prevented us from getting close [to] it…we “gravitated” towards it and took ourselves effectively to be marching under it.
In other words, as Rai Gaita has acknowledged, fellow demonstrators prevented you from getting close to the banner. Consequently, you did not march “under” a “Neither Washington nor Hanoi” banner – you just regarded yourself as having done so. Clearly, you have a “memory” of an event which never took place.
Your Claim That You Were An Anti-Communist in the 1960s & 1970s
You called me a liar for writing that, early in your career, you were on the left and did not pay a social cost for your views. But the evidence suggests that your own accounts of your early university years are shifty and contradictory. As I have previously written, by 1968 you were a strong opponent of the Soviet Union. But this was hardly an intellectually unfashionable position at the time. Even the Communist Party of Australia broke with the communist leaders in Moscow in protest at the Soviet Union’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The 1970 Vietnam Moratorium was organised and controlled by the left – and you and Rai Gaita joined the teeming masses in the demonstration. Enough said.
A $5000 Donation to Charity If You Can Prove Your 2011 Claim About Me
While on the topic of accuracy – and memory – how are you going with your (unproven) allegation that, in the 1990s, I attempted to get you fired as a columnist for The Age? As you may recall, I published our correspondence on this matter – which you initiated – in my Media Watch Dog blog Issue 99 which went out on 17 June 2011.
You originally alleged that in 1993 I sent a “dossier” to Paul Austin, The Age’s opinion editor, as part of an attempt to “dissuade the paper from employing” you “as a columnist”. You maintained that I also sent a copy of this “dossier” to your friend Morag Fraser and that Paul Austin gave a copy of the “dossier” to you. After I reminded you that Paul Austin was not working at The Age in 1993 – you changed the date to 1995. Convenient, eh?
In any event, on your analysis, there are at least three copies of this (alleged) “dossier”. Paul Austin has the original. Morag Fraser has a copy. And you have another copy.
In view of this fact that you first made this serious allegation in June 2011 – over two years ago – it is surely time to produce the evidence or withdraw the charge.
Here’s an incentive. If you produce a copy of this (alleged) “dossier”, I will donate $5000 to a refugee charity of your choice. I am not asking you to match this wager. However, I would regard it as professional behaviour for you to withdraw the allegation when you cannot produce a skerrick of evidence to support it.
As I have commented in the past, you have a bad memory with respect to your own “personal history” and a tendency to recall events which never happened.
Interesting behaviour to be sure – especially since the La Trobe University website still records that in 2005 you were “voted Australia’s leading public intellectual”.
Go to it.
“[Gerard Henderson is] a sclerotic warhorse, unhelpful to debate, unwilling to think…a wonderful study in delusion…ideologically-constipated.”
– Erik Jensen, editor of Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper [forthcoming], 23 November 2013
“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.
Until next time, keep morale high.