29 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.


“[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


This is the final Media Watch Dog for the year. In terms of modern verbiage, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has decided to take a W.E.B. – as in well earned break – in order to pursue projects on assignments. MWD will return on Friday 31 January 2014 with a special edition announcing Nancy’s “Anti-Walkley Awards” for particularly poor media performances and excessive journalistic self-indulgence in 2013. [I can barely wait – Ed]. So, once again, MWD will finish after, and re-commence before, such taxpayer funded programs as Four Corners, Media Watch and Q&A.


Great piece by Canberra Press Gallery’s very own Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review today. It even commenced with a defence of the Canberra Press Gallery. Quite appropriate in the lead-in to the Silly Season.

Then, in a lengthy piece, on the Abbott government’s relationship with business, it was appropriate for La Tingle to cite sources. Here they are: (i) “one business leader”, (ii) “another business source”, (iii) “a source” and (iv) “some on the other side of politics”. Pretty compelling, don’t you think?


Fascinating interview with Black Inc’s Morry Schwartz on RN’s The Media Report last evening. During a soft interview with Richard Aedy, Morry Schwartz was able to get away with running the line that The Monthly is not a left-of-centre magazine. Really.

MWD begs to differ. MWD sees no reason to amend its depiction of Black Inc’s line under publisher Morry Schwartz – since it invariably focuses on 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.

This depiction upset the oh-so-serious Erik Jensen who has signed up to edit Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper. See this week’s “Correspondence” section below.


And what a great Paul Murray Live on Sky News last night. The highlight occurred towards the top-of-the-hour when Paul (“Can I call you ‘Darl?’”) Murray asked Grace (“Call me ‘Darl’”) Collier about the Shane Mosley v Anthony Mundine fight on Wednesday which saw the latter defeat the former on a TBB decision – as in Temporary Bad Back.

The Weekend Australian’s columnist Ms Collier wowed many viewers when she declared:

I know this is going to shock people – and probably horrify people. But I’m a fan of the fights. I’ve been a boxing and cage-fighting fan forever. I love a good punch-up. And I’ve done three years of boxing myself so I’ve got a great right hook.

Wow. And Pow. No wonder Grace Collier recently quit the genteel corner managed by AFR editor Michael Stutchbury and crossed the ring to use her right-hook on behalf of The Australian’s Chris Mitchell. She’s due to come out to fight in The Weekend Australian’s Opinion ring tomorrow.


The British satirical magazine Private Eye has described Geoffrey Robertson – or, as he calls himself, Geoffrey Robertson QC – as “an Australian who has had a vowel transplant”. This is unfair. Most unfair. As MWD readers will be aware, GRQC has what is best defined as an “Epping accent”.

An Epping accent is the verbal affliction suffered by those who, like your man Robertson, hang out with the Notting Hill/Sloane Ranger set in London and want to disguise the fact that they were brought up in the Sydney suburb of Epping. The accent is acquired by juggling two miniature statues of Little Lord Fauntleroy in your mouth while speaking on television or radio or at public events and attempting to disguise your Epping Man origins.

Nancy’s (male) co-owner has just acquired a copy of Geoffrey Robertson’s latest tome Dreaming Too Loud: Reflections on a Race Apart (Vintage Books). It contains the usual endorsements from such luvvies as Mike Carlton, Peter FitzSimons, David Hill and Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG (of course). [Don’t women read Epping Man’s work? – Ed].

This is what Epping Man has to say in the introduction to Chapter 28 – pretentiously titled “The Queen and I”:

One of the more arcane duties of a Queen’s Counsel is to advise the monarch, when called upon, free of charge. I have for that reason taken the liberty of regaling her from time to time in public print, although whenever we accept her invitations to Buckingham Palace, my wife and I are berated by Australia’s more common commentators (Gerard Henderson and Andrew Bolt) for somehow betraying our republican principles. They do not seem to understand …the virtue of politeness.

Go on. So Geoffrey Robertson rationalises the reason for his visits to The Palace as resulting from a wish to provide legal services to the Queen “free of charge”. Really. He has depicted Nancy’s (male) co-owner as “common” for pointing out that his bowing and scraping before Her Maj is somewhat inconsistent with his republican principles. Shucks. Moreover, Epping Man does not understand that an invitation to the Palace can be declined with politeness. How convenient.

On 21 November 2013 Geoffrey Robertson received the usual soft interview which is reserved for luvvies on the taxpayer funded broadcaster. On this occasion, the show was RN Drive and Jonathan Green was in the presenter’s chair. Mr Green enjoyed the ridicule as Epping Man depicted Australian intelligence services as “moronic” and declared that Bob Carr “wouldn’t know a human right if he fell over it”. Funny, eh?

Geoffrey Robertson – with Little Lord Fauntleroy miniature statues firmly implanted in his mouth – went on to bag Australia under Prime Minister Tony Abbott as being in a “galling” state of decline – far behind Canada and New Zealand. Then, in last weekend’s Sun Herald, Geoffrey Robertson [You’ve forgotten his QC – Ed] wrote an article which, in just one paragraph, told the Prime Minister what he “must” do on no fewer than three occasions. Can you bear it? Epping Man, shut up.


What a truly fascinating piece by Mark Kenny on the Fairfax Media website last Monday. Mr Kenny revealed Tony Abbott’s results in his Philosophy Politics and Economics (PPE) course at Oxford University some three decades ago. This followed research by journalist James West published in the Junkee website and in The Guardian. In fact, Mr Abbott received a respectable Second Class degree – quite good in view of his non-academic interests in politics and sport.

Your man Kenny wrote that “Mr Abbott struggled to gain the highest marks for his efforts” in the PPE program but provided no evidence of any such “struggle”.

Meanwhile, neither Mark Kenny nor any of his fellow members of the Canberra Press Gallery have bothered to follow-up on, or even report, MWD’s “scoop” about Lee Rhiannon’s (nee Brown) apparent post-graduate study at the International Lenin School in Moscow in the mid-1970s.

The Greens Senator has refused to confirm or deny that she did a course in Moscow during the time of Leonid Brezhnev’s communist dictatorship. As Professor Helena Sheehan of Dublin City University has documented, the International Lenin School was established by the Soviet Union “to train leaders of the communist movement” and “to facilitate” the progress of Bolshevik revolution around the world.

Graduates of the International Lenin School include Stanlinist hacks like Erich Honecker and Wladyslaw Gomulka. And then there is Lee Brown (who changed her name to Rhiannon), the daughter of Communist Party of Australia members Bill and Freda Brown.

According to Mark Kenny, Tony Abbott “struggled to gain the highest marks” at Oxford University in the early 1980s. But Mr Kenny has shown little interest in exploring Lee Rhiannon’s (nee Brown) intellectual struggles at the International Lenin School in Moscow in the mid 1970s. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of what the Prime Minister “must” do, consider the case of the Melbourne-based Grattan Institute.

Last Monday, ABC Radio News described the Grattan Institute as “independent” – failing to mention that it was set up with a $30 million taxpayer funded grant – provided per courtesy of the then Labor governments in Canberra and Melbourne.

So what has the Grattan Institute been doing of late? Well, last Saturday Susan Wyndham reported that the Institute “has for the fifth year issued its Summer Reading List for the Prime Ministers”. Mr Abbott was advised to read, inter alia, Richard Flanagan (of course) and Michael Wolff and Amanda Ripley and so on.

Does anyone care? Well, reporting this big news in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Susan Wyndham commenced her piece as follows: “There is no evidence that prime ministers do their homework”. In other words it is essential for prime ministers to read your man Flanagan’s alienated scribbling. Can you bear it?


One of MWD’s favourite TV programs continues to be ABC’s News Breakfast. It manages to attract a range of regulars who are willing to rock-up at the ABC Southbank studio in Melbourne before 6 am ready to participate in the “Newspapers” segment at 6.45 pm. For no fee. [Why would anyone do that? – Ed].

As far as MWD is concerned, you can know them by their dress. Dr (for a doctor he is) Scott Burchill of Deakin University usually fronts up at Southbank on his way to the tip – and dresses accordingly. See MWD passim.

Not so much MWD’s favourite ambulance-chasing luvvie lawyer – the sassy Liberty Sanger. On Monday 18 November, dressed in a little black dress and obviously bound that evening for a social function, Ms Sanger declared her love for the ABC.

I’m never asked what my views are on anything other than on your program and other ABC programs. I only watch the ABC and listen to the ABC so I don’t understand why the ABC is coming third [behind Channels 7 and 9 in the ratings war].

Gorgeous, don’t you think? Ms Sanger does not watch SBS or Foxtel or any of the commercial channels. And she wonders why only the ABC asks her to do interviews. Last Monday, Ms Sanger led off the “Newspapers” segment with considerable excitement. You see, the AC Nielsen Poll was published in the Fairfax Media that morning. She reported that “Labor has surged ahead [and is] leading on a two-party preferred basis” by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. Liberty Sanger then reported the story in The Age by Michael Gordon – opining that this is an historic lead so early in an Opposition’s term. Ms Sanger continued:

This probably speaks more to a very rocky start for the Coalition government more so than Labor’s own progress. But, nevertheless, Labor will be heartened by this result.

Ms Sanger seems unaware that polls have to be assessed over a period of time. Who knows? The AC Nielsen Poll may be correct. But on Tuesday Newspoll in The Australian had the Coalition ahead of Labor by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. And, also on Tuesday, the Essential Poll in Crikey had the Coalition ahead – 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

But last Monday Ms Sanger led with the ACNielsen Poll rather than Iran. Can you bear it? [On this special occasion, yes. – Ed].

correspondence header caps

Nancy was devastated, just devastated, to learn that Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams earned less than $171,041 in 2011-12 presenting the low rating Late Night Live on ABC Radio National. Shocking. No wonder Australia’s richest socialist told Crikey that he was “not happy”. Declaring that his taxpayer funded salary was “heavily discounted” and “half price”, your man Adams indicated that he would be taking up the issue with Nice Mr Scott – the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s managing director. Adams also sent out a tweet about the ABC’s “naughty management”.

MWD shares Phillip Adams’ pain. So much so that Nancy has commenced a campaign to get the ABC’s Man-in-Black a pay rise. Immediately. MWD readers are invited to sign and send this pro-forma letter to ABC management – demanding that this wrong be righted. Now. Here it is:

Dear Nice Mr Scott

I was shocked and saddened to learn that the ABC’s Late Night Live presenter gets paid less than $171,041 a year for 4 hours of work a week. This is an outrage – even unAustralian. I’m not sure that I can continue to live in a country which so ignores talent that we can pay our richest socialist so little for so much. Consequently, I am seriously thinking of exiling myself from Australia and joining forces with Julian Assange in freedom-loving Ecuador or Edward Snowden in freedom-loving Russia.

Comrade Phillip is beloved by all inner-city Greens-voting sandalistas in North Fitzroy and elsewhere – like Thornbury. Moreover, he has to support not only a house in Woollahra (with all that antiquity to maintain) but also a farm in fashionable Scone.

I don’t know how he gets by on less than $171,041 a year. Unless it’s all that money he receives from Rupert Murdoch for his column in The Weekend Australian. Or perhaps he is living off the money he made in advertising all those years ago working as a whore of capitalism. Anyrate, the point is that Phillip Adams needs much more money from the taxpayer.

Why not increase Phillip’s salary by cutting the salaries for his four- person production team at Late Night Live? Just a thought.

Yours in indignation

Concerned Taxpayer

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.


What a terrific “debate” on ABC News 24’s The Drum last Friday. Towards the end of the program, discussion turned on the proposed Zoe’s Law in New South Wales whereby a person could be charged with respect to the destruction of, or harm to, the foetus 20 weeks or over of a pregnant woman. The proposed law is intended to handle such a situation as when a mother is involved in a motor accident, due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else, and loses her baby.

This is a contentious issue – as was demonstrated when the legislation was debated in the New South Wales Parliament. However, there was no contention on The Drum. Presenter Julia Baird agreed with Kate Carnell who agreed with Miriam Lyons who agreed with Mike Seccombe who agreed with Julia Baird that Zoe’s Law was a BAD IDEA. No other view was heard.


Maurice Newman: 2

Jonathan Holmes: Zip


On Wednesday 20 November 2013, The Australian broke the story about the salaries paid in 2011-12 to ABC management and journalistic staff. Money paid to those engaged as contractors to the ABC – like the Chaser “Boys” (Average Age 371/2) was not revealed.

Compared with the ABC’s decision to promote The Guardian Australia’s story on Australia’s alleged spying on Indonesia in 2009, this was a trivial issue. Yet it was a big story. So much so that ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott was interviewed that morning by ABC presenter Jon Faine, who presents Mornings with Jon Faine on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne. MWD has just obtained a transcript of the ABC’s Black Wednesday discussion between Mark Scott and Jon Faine thanks to a Melbourne-based reader.

It was a wonderful occasion. Jon Faine opened his program by pretending that the ABC doesn’t usually talk about the ABC but, on Black Wednesday, there was no option:

Jon Faine: November the 20th. It’s only with great reluctance here at the ABC that we end up talking about ourselves. There’s no avoiding it, though, this morning. Whether or not you’ve in fact yet caught up with the front page of today’s national broadsheet, The Australian newspaper, let me tell you what’s there. And let’s deal with it and grab the bull by the horns rather than wish it would go away or maybe even pretend it hadn’t happened. I suspect copies of The Australian will be sold out within close proximity of ABC studios and offices around the country today – because on their front page they have published what they claim is a leaked list of pay, salaries, income, contract payments made to ABC presenters and management….

Well, what do we do with it? We can wish it wasn’t there, we can pretend it went away, but it doesn’t. It’s out there; it’s on the public record. So, let’s deal with it. The managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott joins me in just a moment.

Soon the ABC managing director was being interviewed on ABC Radio 774 by ABC presenter Jon Faine about the ABC. Nice Mr Scott declared that “payroll information should be confidential, it shouldn’t leak” and added that he was “very concerned”. Mr Faine responded that, while not embarrassed that his own salary has been revealed, he was “annoyed because you always like this sort of stuff to stay confidential”. However, Faine then suggested to Scott that “we’re a public broadcaster and we get treated the way we treat others”. This was the response – to which the interviewee and interviewer readily agreed:

Mark Scott : Well, yes and no, Jon. I think there is, I’m saying it’s a legitimate debate as to whether, in fact, this information should be revealed… Be that as it is, that information is out today and we feel that its release is not in the interests of the ABC, but I think it’s a long way removed from the other story that you’ve referenced, Jon.

Jon Faine : It certainly is….

The “other story” reference was to the ABC’s release of documents stolen by Edward Snowden concerning Australia’s alleged spying on Indonesia in 2009. ABC presenter Jon Faine agreed with ABC managing director Mark Scott that he was “certainly” correct that there was no comparison between his claim that releasing Snowden’s stolen material was in the public interest whereas releasing ABC’s salary information was not in the public interest. Fancy that.

The discussion went on and on between Faine and the man he described as “my boss’, boss’, boss’, boss”. Then it was time to hear from a human resources expert – a certain Neil Waters from Egon Zehnder. Mr Waters agreed with Mr Scott and Mr Faine that releasing salary information was “the last taboo” Here we go:

Jon Faine : As Mark Scott was saying before, it damages an organisation when some of its confidential information, such as payroll, is released. Do you agree?

Neil Waters : Absolutely….

Yes. Absolutely. Then Jon Faine went to callers. Guess what? After Jon Faine agreed with Mark Scott who agreed with Jon Faine who agreed with Neil Waters who agreed with Mark Scott – the callers were of an almost identical mind.

“Tony in the Yarra Ranges” disagreed with Mark Scott on running the Snowden material but praised Jon Faine. Then came “Melissa in the City” who thought that Faine was underpaid. Faine responded positively – declaring just how hard he worked. “Kevin in Chelsea” then agreed with “Melissa in the City” that the ABC was “priceless”. Then “Pete in Westwood” agreed with “Kevin in Chelsea” who agreed with “Michael in Yarraville” (who managed to bag Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop) who agreed with “Melissa in the City” who agreed with Jon Faine who agreed with Mark Scott.

Jon Faine then completed a near 30 minutes of self-indulgent radio by declaring that “we don’t want to indulge in” the issue. No other view was heard.


Maurice Newman: 6

Jonathan Holmes: 0


While on the topic of Mark Scott and the ABC, here’s how Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight depicted Aunty’s managing director’s double standard on what constitutes the “public interest”.

Mark Knight: Five Paws


In today’s issue of The Spectator Australia, Tom Switzer editorialises that “no self-respecting editor would have turned down the opportunity to be part” of publishing Edward Snowden’s stolen intelligence material. Well, Mail Online’s Martin Clarke seems like a respected editor to MWD. This is what he had to say on RN Breakfast to Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly yesterday:

Fran Kelly : Recently, very recently Martin, the ABC and Guardian Australia has recently published some of the Edward Snowden leaks purporting to show that Australian intelligence hacked the phones of the Indonesian president and his wife. Do you think we can expect similar scoops from The Mail Online Australia?

Martin Clarke: …I’m not sure Edward Snowden’s revelations are ones which we, as a newspaper, would have published. Our view, as a newspaper, is that he has done more harm to Western governments than good.

Fran Kelly : So your paper wouldn’t have published that?

Martin Clarke: I very much doubt, I very much doubt we would have wanted to have assisted in that operation – but that’s not to say we don’t want to be doing great exclusives of our own. And, yes, I will be expecting our Australian team, once it’s up and running, to be breaking some great tales.

Martin Clarke: Five Paws


Nancy’s (male) co-owner may be about to go on a Well Earned Break. But he is conscious of some unfinished business to which MWD will return next year. Here they are:

● Gerard Henderson has offered to pay $5000 to Robert Manne’s favourite charity. All Professor Manne of La Trobe University (“Proudly One of Australia’s Top 500 Polluters”) has to do is this. Your man Manne claims that there are at least three copies in existence of a dossier which Gerard Henderson sent to The Age – maybe in 1993, possibly in 1995 – demanding that Manne be sacked as an Age columnist. To win the $5000, all the learned professor has to do is to produce the evidence. It’s what academics once were good at. We’ll keep you posted.

● Gerard Henderson has asked ABC celebrity Jon Faine why it is that he said that News Corp newspapers should consider “cleansing” right-of-centre columnists after Labor’s big victory in 2007 – but has not said that the ABC should consider “cleansing” its bevy of left-of-centre presenters after the Coalition’s big victory in 2013. So far, Mr Faine has gone under the bed and refuses to enter into correspondence. We’ll keep you posted if he comes out in the open on this one.

● ABC managing director Mark Scott went on ABC Radio National on 2 May 2013 and branded Gerard Henderson as “absolutely simplistic” for stating that the public broadcaster is a Conservative Free Zone with not one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or on-line products.

Yet, so far, Nice Mr Scott has not named one such conservative. Not one. We’ll keep you posted if he comes up with just one name. Meanwhile, due to overwhelming public demand, here is an update of MWD’s most popular Aunty Clock.


This (highly popular) segment is dedicated to holding ABC managing director Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.

Number of weeks since Nice Mr Scott

promised greater diversity on the ABC Total: 370 Weeks

Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid

regular commentators/editors on prominent

ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets Total: Absolutely Zip

When it comes to the issue of attempting to ensure some political balance at the ABC on Mr Scott’s watch, it’s already 5 minutes past midnight.


Tony Abbott has brought this foreign policy disaster upon himself. True, the gung-ho cowboys at Defence Signals were fiddling with the phone calls in 2009, on Kevin Rudd’s watch. The Labor government must have known about it and should share the blame. But as opposition leader, Abbott – with a tin ear for diplomacy – had long been riling the Indonesians. So, too, had Julie Bishop and the frightful Scott Morrison….

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2013


Here is an olive branch: it would be a good idea to give Tony Abbott some time to prove himself as prime minister. No, this is not satire. Nor have I gone soft in the head. As I have written, he won the job in an unprincipled campaign of deceit and low cunning. I still believe he is unfit for the office. But history shows that the prime ministership can sometimes have transformative powers, elevating those who attain it….

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2013

So there you have it. Or not.

correspondence header caps

This hugely popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other – oftentimes a Very Angry Person – writes to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And Gerard Henderson, being a courteous kind of guy, replies. Then – lo and behold- the email exchange is published in MWD.

This week Erik Jensen wrote a Very Angry note to Gerard Henderson following the coverage in MWD Issue 209 concerning his recent appearance on The Drum announcing the birth of The Saturday Paper. Erik Jensen used this platform to predict that The Saturday Paper would sell a total of 100,000 copies a week in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. The correspondence is published below – along with a reminder of Mr Jensen’s appearance on The Drum on 15 November 2013.

Also Adam Brereton of New Matilda wrote an infantile note to Gerard Henderson about Chris Kenny, the ABC and “state terrorism”.


Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 24 November 2013

Dear Gerard,

What a thrill it was to find I had made it into the locked ward you call Media Watch Dog. As a long-time reader, it was a pleasure to finally see my name among the scribbling that makes this pamphlet a must-read in Australian letters. It’s not often you can say you were attacked by an old man pretending to be a dog.

Youth is inherently offensive, and so I will accept this charge without dissent. Ditto hair. Ditto sandals. But I have to take exception to your bizarre obsession with Morry Schwartz’s publishing.

It is hard to blame “secular opinion” for the publication of Kevin Rudd’s important piece on religion and politics. God was not much to be seen in Richard Flanagan’s landmark essay on Gunns. There was no “leftist secular opinion” in Chloe Hooper’s fine reports on the death of Cameron Doomadgee. Morry Schwartz publishes work on much more than John Howard, Tony Abbott, George Pell and Rupert Murdoch – although of course you are blind to this. I am yet to finish the collection of poetry by Dorothy Porter he just published, but I have seen no mention of your Fantastic Four thus far.

You view the world through a [sic] obsessively Catholic lens. This is the only explanation I can find for your constant meditations on a secularist media. You were the only man left standing in your defence of George Pell’s unfeeling approach to clergy abuse. You have now written more about David Marr’s past two Quarterly Essays than the combined word count of these exceptional pieces, and still you haven’t made a point. You are in so many battles a sclerotic warhorse – unhelpful to debate, unwilling to think, unable to look beyond your own ideology. How else to explain your bitter dismissal of the National Times and its era-defining journalism.

You are not a journalist, Gerard. You are not interested in disclosure. We are honest about our funding: we pay for our journalism through advertising and issue sales, and are owned by a single proprietor. You refuse to disclose the source of your income at The Sydney Institute. Your column in the Sydney Morning Herald is – for all we know – an ideas laundry for your donors. When I edited you – briefly, and from memory not in Farrago or Honi Soit – you went mad at the thought of declaring interests. You are a wonderful study in delusion, who sees ideology everywhere except in your own ideologically-constipated work.

You seem troubled by good journalism. We will be producing a lot of this at The Saturday Paper, so I look forward to troubling you on a weekly basis for many years to come.

As I said, a pleasure.

Keep morale high,

Erik Jensen


The Saturday Paper

Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 27 November 2013

Dear Erik

How wonderful to read your email on my iPhone last Saturday afternoon advising that you are a Media Watch Dog reader. And how complimentary that you have borrowed my “Keep morale high” cheerio and used it as your own. It does not say much about your originality but does speak well about your judgment.

My (gratuitous) advice is that you don’t do abuse well. You describe me as an “old man” and a “sclerotic warhorse”. If you bothered to check out Who’s Who in Australia, you would discover that I am roughly the same age as your new employer Morry Schwartz and his “bestie” Robert Manne. So, on your own analysis, you have gone off to work for an Old Man – aka Mr Schwartz. How about that?

Warming up the abuse meter, you describe me as “sclerotic”, “unhelpful to debate”, “unwilling to think”, “ideologically-constipated” and “a wonderful study in delusion”. I would have thought that the editor of The Saturday Paper could do better than this.

The reference to The Monthly as “a journal of leftist secular opinion” in MWD Issue 209 was a joke – it was contrasted with the late Holy Name Monthly which was a journal of right-wing Catholic opinion in my youth. In your eagerness to defend my favourite multi-millionaire property developer Morry Schwartz, you have become a literalist. Fancy that.

My serious point is that Morry Schwartz’s Black Inc publications overwhelmingly publish left-wing writers. This is true of Black Inc books, Quarterly Essay and The Monthly. I presume that The Saturday Paper will follow in this tradition, particularly as you have advised that it will effectively channel The National Times. You may remember that the principal reason why Sally Warhurst was sacked as The Monthly’s editor turned on the fact that she attempted to commission Peter Costello (when he was treasurer) to write for the publication. And you accuse me of being “unable to look beyond” my “ideology”.

I don’t need a lecture from you about the contents of The Monthly. Perhaps you do not know that I was a member of the judging panel which awarded Chloe Hooper the John Curtin Prize for Journalism for her essay in The Monthly on Cameron Doomadgee’s death. The award was shared with Gideon Haigh. However, Ms Hooper’s article does not detract from my central point. Namely that Black Inc’s publications are obsessed with running leftist critiques of conservatives – including John Howard, Tony Abbott, George Pell and Rupert Murdoch.

The Monthly’s November 2013 cover story had Robert Manne fulminating on Rupert Murdoch. The December 2013 issue contains an attempt by academic Russell Marks to ridicule Greg Sheridan due to his long-time association with Tony Abbott. Russell Marks evens sneers at Greg Sheridan’s recollection of how Tony Abbott, when a young man, rescued a child from drowning at a Victorian surf beach. Sounds like an obsession to me.

I guess that Morry Schwartz and I have a different view on debate. Morry Schwartz runs a publishing company which is essentially a left-wing outlet. At The Sydney Institute, I invite a diversity of speakers and publish their views (unedited) in The Sydney Papers Online. Recent speakers at The Sydney Institute include Tony Abbott, Christine Milne and Bill Shorten. On Tuesday, Professor Gillian Triggs spoke at the Institute. It is a matter of fact that I am not a big fan of the Human Rights Commission. It’s just that, unlike Morry Schwartz, I am willing to provide platforms for a variety of views.

In your abusive rant, you claim that I “view the world through a [sic] obsessively Catholic lens”. If you had done any research, you would know that I am on record as describing myself as an agnostic. You describe David Marr’s essays on Tony Abbott and George Pell as “exceptional pieces”. But you overlook the fact that David Marr himself has demonstrated an obsessive interest in Tony Abbott’s Catholic faith and George Pell’s celibacy. It is impossible to write about David Marr’s two essays without covering Catholicism.

As to the coverage of David Marr’s essays on Tony Abbott and George Pell in MWD – all I can say is that they have been well received by the blog’s diverse readership. Also MWD has revealed errors in Marr’s work. So much so that – like you – he has thrown the switch to abuse. David reckons that I’m a homophobe who hates him. That settles the argument, apparently.

Like Robert Manne and David Marr, you seem to have a bad memory. Yes, you were briefly acting opinion editor at the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012. But the email trail shows that you never asked me to disclose any information about The Sydney Institute. Not once. This is a figment of your (lively) imagination. Moreover, I did not go “mad at the thought of declaring interests”. This is the height of hyperbole.

The only disagreement between us occurred when you suggested that I should include in a column a reference to the fact that I worked part-time for B.A. Santamaria in 1971 and 1972 – i.e. four decades previously. I said that my past associations with Santamaria were on the public record – as was my criticism of Santamaria in my 1982 book Mr Santamaria and the Bishops.

My point was that were no other columnists who were required to list their past employers – going back 40 years – in their SMH columns. That was all. You have forgotten the details. I hope your memory improves when you take up the editorship of The Saturday Paper.

Your implied assertion that I launder the views of business in my SMH columns is defamatory – and made without evidence of any kind. If you bothered to check, you would know that I do not write on business and rarely on economic issues. It’s the kind of undocumented claim that is well received in Honi Soit or Farrago. I would hope that The Saturday Paper has a preference for facts over assertions.

For the record, I have never demanded that Morry Schwartz publish diverse views in The Monthly, Quarterly Essay and his books. After all, unlike the ABC, it’s his money and he can do what he pleases with it. At times I requested a right of reply and the acknowledgement of corrections in the print editions of his publications – which Morry Schwartz or his editors always refused. In The Sydney Institute publications, on the other hand, I have even published Robert Manne. I guess I’m just a pluralistic kind of guy. Unlike Mr Schwartz.

By the way, I have never sought to be advised as to how Morry Schwartz runs his company, whom he does business with, whom he borrows money from etc. He runs a business and that’s his business. I have never suggested that Mr Schwartz use his publications to launder the views of his business supporters. But, then, I am not into evidence-free assertions of the defamatory kind.

In conclusion, you seem to confuse “good journalism” with journalism that reflects your opinions and that of the man for whom you work. I hope that The Saturday Paper goes well. It’s just that I don’t see any sense in you attempting to imitate The National Times which never made money. Moreover, in Melbourne there are already left-wing weekend newspapers. They’re called The Saturday Age and The Sunday Age.

By the way, I have added your comments about me to the “Endorsements” section at the front of Media Watch Dog – for which lotsa thanks.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *


Adam Brereton to Gerard Henderson – 27 November 2013

Dear Gerard,

Today, as I made my daily pilgrimage through Andrew Bolt’s blog, I saw the post Mr Bolt wrote on the Chaser Dog F***er Scandal, in which Chris Kenny is seeking aggravated damages.

Bolt: I have never known the ABC to be so stridently partisan and so abusive of conservative critics. It has betrayed its charter and abused the trust – and taxes – of taxpayers.

I attempted to contact Chris Kenny on the matter via twitter, with no success. So I thought I’d correspond with you and ask your opinion on a few questions, given you’re also a critic of the ABC and state terrorism more generally. If you’d like to publish this corro on[sic] Media Watch Dog that’s fine with me.

1) Are taxes inherently tyrannical and a form of state theft (whether justified or otherwise)?

2) If so, and if Mr Kenny wins, is he entitled to a taxpayer funded payout taken from stolen goods?

3) If he is entitled to the payout, should he donate it to charity or some other cause, to put that money back into general circulation?

4) Finally, what is your opinion of his quest for aggravated damages? If the growing salaries at the ABC are a concern, surely Mr Kenny should hope for the smallest possible payment, a token gesture, to minimise the burdern[sic] on taxpayers of the ABC’s reckless behaviour?

Warm regards,

Adam Brereton

Associate Editor, New Matilda

Gerard Henderson to Adam Brereton, 29 November 2013

Dear Adam

I refer to your email of Wednesday. How wonderful to learn that you, too, are a Media Watch Dog reader.

I assume that you are the one and same Adam Brereton who demonstrates the wisdom of the late Vladimir Lenin who warned that left-wing communism was “an infantile disorder”. I refer to the infantile anger-prone tweets that appear under your name.

I also assume that you are the one and same Adam Brereton who, writing in New Matilda on 25 November 2013, depicted me as a monarchist – along with Tony Abbott, David Flint and John Howard. If you had done any research of any kind, you would know that I am a republican who voted “Yes” at the 1999 referendum.

I note that, in this same infantile New Matilda piece, you urged that I should spend time “in Pentridge”. As I recall, Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison closed nearly two decades ago and the site now contains expensive inner-city housing. I suggest that you travel out to Coburg some time. Rest assured it is not that far from Fitzroy North but somewhat south of New Matilda’s Paddington office.

And now to your email. I have no idea why you choose to write to me concerning the views of Andrew Bolt or the actions of Chris Kenny. I am not responsible for what either say or do. However, in view of your request, I have decided to answer your questions. Here we go:

▪ I have never argued that “taxes [are] inherently tyrannical and a form of state theft”. This sounds like some kind of conservative put-down which has been learnt in, say, a leftist dominated sociology department somewhere or other. As a conservative, I have always supported the raising of taxes for the defence and police forces, education, health, welfare and so on. I do not understand your reference to “state terrorism”.

▪ Since your assumption is based on a false premise, it follows that your second question is meaningless. Surely New Matilda’s associate editor can do better than this.

▪ I have no idea whether Mr Kenny will obtain financial compensation from the ABC and, if so, what he might do with it. All I do know is that Chris Kenny appears to be carrying all the risk. He has engaged lawyers while the ABC can rely on its taxpayer funded in-house lawyers or use taxpayer funds to engage commercial lawyers. It is not a level playing field.

▪ I don’t care what Mr Kenny might do with any damages which he might attain. As I understand it, Chris Kenny sought an apology from the ABC for being depicted as a “dog f-cker” by the infantile Chaser “Boys” (average age 371/2). The ABC declined to issue an apology and the legal action commenced after that.

I am not aware what associate editors at New Matilda learn. But I would have thought that suing the ABC is not dissimilar from suing a public hospital or a state education department or the police or corrective services. I’m surprised that you seem to hold a contrary view.

In conclusion, I should state that I have not expressed concern about “growing salaries at the ABC”. Quite the contrary – since I have initiated an appeal in Media Watch Dog to get Phillip Adams, Australia’s richest socialist, paid more. I hope you will support my campaign and supply the requisite solidarity.

In the meantime, Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

“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.