31 January 2014

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.

nancy's back

Nancy's back

Media Watch Dog resumes at last – often after what the journalistic profession likes to term a Well Earned Break. Nancy’s (male) co-owner had to break his WEB to do MWD Specials – on 6 December 2013 and 13 December 2013 – covering Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly’s green/left activist rant on ABC Radio National Breakfast and Nice Mr Scott’s self-praise for the ABC and more besides (6 December 2013) followed by Greens’ Senator Lee Rhiannon’s (nee Brown) true confession that she did graduate from the International Lenin School in Moscow in 1977 and more besides (13 December 2013). Arise Senator Rhiannon BSc Hons (UNSW), Dip. Class War (Kremlin).

MWD promised to resume this year by announcing “Nancy’s Anti-Walkley Awards for Particularly Poor Media Performers and Excessive Journalistic Self-Indulgence in 2013”. However, there were so many entrants that the judges ran out of judging time. So the announcements of the winners will be spaced out over the weeks and weeks ahead. [It sounds just so exciting – Ed]. Also, so many people have been working so hard to get a run in MWD over December and January that acknowledgement just had to be given to their efforts – which, alas, cannot be handled in one issue and will have to be spaced out over the next couple of weeks – God willing.

As is customary at this time of the year, MWD extends thanks to those who have provided endorsements – they are proudly printed at the end of this edition. Thank you Mike Carlton, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne and – of course – Malcolm (“Gerard Henderson is a f_ckwit”) Farr.


  • A Special Maurice Newman Segment On How The ABC Reported The PM’s Criticism Of The ABC

  • Also Meet The One-Time ABC Supremo Who Had Plans To Kill His Fellow Australians At A Time Of Revolution.



What a stunning performance by Erik Jensen, editor of The Saturday Paper (forthcoming) on ABC News 24’s The Drum last night. He was the Melbourne- based member of a panel which comprised David Hetherington (Per Capita) and Anne Henderson (The Sydney Institute). Julia Baird was in the presenter’s chair in Sydney.

When discussion got around to the Abbott government’s decision not to provide $25 million Commonwealth funding to the re-structure of SPC Ardmona, Mr Jensen said that this decision had blunted the influence of “those protectionists who are there in the National Party and those people who have DLP tendencies in the Coalition”.

Whereupon Nancy’s (female) co-owner pointed out that the Democratic Labor Party was an entity of her – not Jensen’s – generation. She suggested that Morry Schwartz’s choice of person to edit his Saturday newspaper did not know what he was talking about – in this instance at least – and was using the label DLP as a bogeyman.

Correct. Here are the brief facts. The Democratic Labor Party was born in 1955 as a product of the Labor Split. It was formally wound up in 1978, a few years after losing all its Senate seats in the 1974 double dissolution election. That was some 36 years ago.

In 1978, Tony Abbott (born 1957) was still a university student. Moreover, the DLP was no more protectionist than the ALP or the Coalition at the time. It’s a myth to present the DLP as a protectionist party – its leaders rarely, if ever, discussed this issue. The DLP’s policy focus turned on foreign policy, anti-communism and education.

Erik Jensen, following David Marr, uses the term “DLP” as a soft way of alleging improper and irrational Catholic influence and reminding an audience of Tony Abbott’s social conservatism which apparently so upsets him.

John Madigan, the DLP senator in the current parliament, is part of a new DLP which has no formal links to the original entity. According to media reports, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane was the key supporter of assistance to SPC Ardmona within the Abbott government. He has no connections of any kind to the DLP in any of its formats. The other key supporter of assisting SPC Ardmona is Sharman Stone, a prominent Liberal Party backbench MP. Like Mr Macfarlane, Dr Stone has no connections to the DLP or the National Party. Clearly Mr Jensen was out of his depth on this issue last night.

To be fair to Young Erik (born 1988) [I hope you will be; after all he has provided a terrific endorsement for MWD – see below – Ed], he had a difficult time on The Drum. For starters, the audio link to Sydney failed on occasions. And Young Erik complained on air that he had to do his own hair and make-up. For all that, Young Erik looked great with that post-primary-school-yard-fight-wave he worked up all by himself and tender baby face skin. Really great.

Erik Jensen

Meanwhile the February 2014 issue of The Monthly contains a you-beaut incentive provided by Mr Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper. What are termed “Foundation Subscribers” will have the chance to win “a luxury escape for two to Bruny Island, Tasmania”. Wow.

It was not so long ago, in Van Diemen’s Land time, that people sought to escape from Bruny Island. Now, per courtesy of multi-millionaire property-developer Morry Schwartz’sThe Saturday Paper, it may be possible to escape to Bruny Island. Go for it. And good luck.

leigh sales anticipates nancy

Thanks to one of MWD’s young readers, who occasionally goes by the name of “Darren”, for drawing attention to this twitter conversation last Tuesday.

Leigh Sales@leighsales @jamesmassola ABC is the most heavily scrutinised and accountable media organisation in the country.

Sir Liberal@SirLiberal Jan 29 @leighsales @jamesmassola Who are you accountable to?

James Massola@jamesmassola Jan 29 @SirLiberal @leighsales the ACMA has oversight of the ABC, for one thing. Also Media Watch, and other media orgs inc. Fairfax & News.

Leigh Sales@leighsales Jan 29 @SirLiberal @jamesmassola Who aren’t we accountable to? Give a politician a tough interview & I face internal & external investigation.

Sir Liberal@SirLiberal Jan 29 @leighsales @jamesmassola Sorry Leigh you misunderstand. I was asking for an answer, not another question. Who is the ABC accountable to?

Leigh Sales@leighsales Jan 29 @jamesmassola @SirLiberal & also Senate estimates, internal complaints unit and most scary of all, Gerard Henderson!

Sir Liberal@SirLiberal Jan 29 @leighsales @jamesmassola You are saying Gerard Henderson can sack you? #soundsodd

James Massola@jamesmassola Jan 29 @Nosdrachir49 @chriskkenny @leighsales yes, scrutiny and accountability are not quite the same thing.

Leigh Sales@leighsales Jan 29 @SirLiberal @jamesmassola Err, that was a joke for those among us unfamiliar with the comic stylings of Nancy.

This presumably is a reference to Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s Media Watch Dog which, in the not too distant past, did correct young Ms Sales’ positive interpretation of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation starring Martin Luther.

Not a sacking offence at the ABC yet – but no doubt will soon become one under the Abbott/Clerical/Fascist dictatorship (currently a work in progress).

anti walkley


ABC Radio 774 presenter takes the prize for the greatest number of interruptions inflicted on a politician in a calendar year.

The victim was (then) Opposition Shadow Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and the date was 23 August 2013 – during the 2013 election campaign.

Liberal Party Senator Cormann responded briefly on 25 occasions to Jon Faine’s questions/comments. And Faine interrupted Senator Cormann’s replies on 16 occasions. (See the transcript here) That is, an interruption strike rate of 64 per cent.

Well done, Jon Faine.

nancy's pick graphic


The Australian’s “Media” section reported this week that the management consultant Bain & Company has recommended that The Weekend Australian Financial Review be closed. Apparently the AFR is not making money – and the Saturday edition – featuring Mark Latham, the Lair of Liverpool – makes less than nothing.

These days the AFR does not have the money to pay some of its contributors. But it pays failed Labor leader Mark Latham to write a column, often about himself. [Don’t be too tough on the Lair of Liverpool. After all he has a wife, a horse, three kids and half a dozen bookmakers to support – all on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation handout of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed). – Ed]

Nancy just loved The Weekend Australian Financial Review’s front page on 25-27 January 2014. There was a heading:

“Australia Day special

Mark Latham: why I back losers”

This was published over the AFR Weekend’s logo.

The Lair of Liverpool backs losers – and writes for the AFR Weekend edition. Yeah, got it. Brilliant.

AFR - Mark Latham

five paws graphic


Stan Grant On Why His Parents No Longer Watch the ABC

Nancy’s Male co-owner tunes into Paul Murray Live on Sky News at 9 pm every night – primarily hoping for the return of Grace (“You can call me Darl”) Collier to the panel. Alas, not this year – so far at least.

However, there were some valuable insights about the taxpayer funded public broadcaster on PML last Wednesday when the panel comprised Janet Albrechtsen, former CNN and ABC reporter Stan Grant and ABC Triple J personality Tom Tilley.

This is what Stan Grant had to say:

Stan Grant: I think there is a need for conversation about the ABC – what it represents, the standards of its reporting, its editorial decisions….I remember when I was a kid growing up in the country and the ABC was our broadcaster. In fact it was the only one. And Mum and Dad would watch Bellbird. I might be showing my age but Bellbird was like the Country Practice of its day. They’d watch that before the News. There was This Day Tonight, there were a whole range of programs and if you watched the ABC, my parents who were, you know, my dad was a saw-miller, grew up in the country, pretty ordinary working family, they could watch the ABC and could get something out of it. They don’t watch now. Because they feel alienated and isolated and they feel as if they’re being talked down to and they feel as if there is smugness about the ABC.

…I love the ABC and I’ll just say I loved working there. And I have a lot of good friends who work there, my wife works there. But when I turn on [the ABC] – I’ve said this to my wife before – do I need to hear another story about gay marriage or, you know, AIDS or indigenous issues or whatever? Constantly? All the time?

What about the issues that affect the rest of Australia and the broader range of people – my parents and ordinary working people? I don’t know that they are represented to the extent that they should be at the ABC. And I don’t know [that] the ABC’s employment policies, the people that it recruits, represent that broad spectrum of Australia either.

As recently as last year, ABC managing director Mark Scott declared on RN Drive that it was “absolutely simplistic” for anyone to call for a greater diversity of views to be engaged by the ABC. But Stan Grant, one of Australia’s best qualified and most experienced journalists, sees the ABC’s lack of plurality as one of the reasons why so much of the public broadcaster is fixated on a narrow range of issues, talks down to its audience and is a turn off for many mainstream Australians.

Stan Grant – Five Paws.

Tom Tilley’s Revolutionary Idea That The ABC Should Employ A Conservative

Also on PML last Wednesday, Triple J journalist Tom Tilley – after a steadfast defence of the public broadcaster – addressed the issue about the ABC’s abundance of leftist and left-of-centre presenters, producers and editors.

Tom Tilley: I mean a solution to that problem would be to have more hosts, maybe, that have conservative backgrounds

Janet Albrechtsen: Oh my, oh that’s an idea.

Brilliant. Nice Mr Scott is on the public record as stating that it is “absolutely simplistic” for anyone to argue that the ABC needs to throw the switch to pluralism and employ a conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its main television or radio or online outlets.

But the youthful Mr Tilley produced an idea from left-field which, while not original, was as startling as the highlighted blonde colour of his hair last Wednesday.

Tom Tilley – Five Paws

nancy matters


In recent years, MWD has pointed out how Deakin University Scott Burchill used to dress for the tip whenever he appeared on the Newspapers segment of the ABC 1 News Breakfast program. Presumably because he did really drop in at the ABC’s Southbank studios in Melbourne on the way to the tip.

Not anymore. Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) told presenters Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli on Tuesday that he had responded to past criticism of his dress style. Mr Rowland thanked the academic for reading the “note” – presumably containing a News Breakfast dress code – to coincide with the new set design.

Your man Burchill said that he had travelled to Japan to purchase a brown shirt. So there he was – with matching brown shirt and slacks – sitting in front of News Breakfast’s partly brown background.

The academic was so browned out that all viewers could see was his head. Thankfully Burchill did not sport a summer tan or we would not have seen him at all. Quite a distraction really. MWD presumes that he had nothing of interest to say. But Nancy’s fashion critiques clearly have an impact. Her next task is to improve the dress of academics heading for tips in Melbourne.

Scott Burchill

special request mark scott clock


Acting to overwhelming demand, here’s an update of MWD’s Mark Scott 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: 379 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.

new clockface-mwd-mark-scott-875x1024

While on the topic of ABC appointments, an avid MWD reader has advised that a certain Daniel Golding has taken the familiar route from the left-wing Crikey newsletter to the public broadcaster where he has joined ABC Arts.

Fancy that. And here is what Daniel Golding tweeted on 22 January 2014:

Daniel Golding @dangolding I also genuinely mean that Australia’s refugee policies should be compared, regularly and specifically, to Nazism and the Holocaust.

This demonstrates that Aunty’s new man in the arts is totally ignorant about Nazi Germany and contemporary Australia. Fancy that.

Can you bear it graphic


Here’s how Stephen Koukoulas – currently a research fellow at the “progressive” (aka left-wing) Per Capita think tank and a former economics adviser to Prime Minister Julia Gillard – commenced his article in The Drum on 18 December 2013:

Joe Hockey’s first fiscal policy announcement as Treasurer was a bit like the Irish joke when a tourist in Cork asks a local shopkeeper the quickest way to get to Dublin. The shopkeeper replies, “Well sir, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here.”

If MWD were The Kouk (as Stephen Koukoulas likes to be known), he would not start a column with so old a joke. Nancy’s (male) co-owner remembers first hearing this joke on the banks of the Liffey River in Dublin in 1991. Or was it 1979?

How come The Drum’s editor Chip Rolley does not strike out such old material? Or perhaps The Kook thinks this old chestnut is relatively new.

Can you bear it?


Fairfax Media in general – and The Age in particular – has been campaigning against the Catholic Church over the crime of child sexual abuse. For example, this is how The Age illustrated a story on paedophilia in December 2012 – with an image of a Catholic priest at prayer replete with rosary beads containing a crucifix. Get the picture? Fairfax Media has the picture and constantly used it as an illustration – implying that there is a link between prayer and crime.

Priest with Rosary beads

Last weekend Fairfax Media ran a soft story that the mother of the late Peter Roebuck wants to clear her son’s name. In November 2011 Roebuck jumped from a hotel window after being questioned by South African police concerning the assault of a 26 year old black man.

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times ran the story last weekend. But only The Age placed it on Page One.

The fact is that The Age, along with the ABC, was remarkably soft on Peter Roebuck during his life-time. This despite the fact that Roebuck worked for The Age and the ABC after he had pleaded guilty to smacking the naked backsides of several young black men in Britain with a cricket bat. Then when Roebuck apparently suicided, The Age ran positive story after positive story in praise of him – despite the clear evidence that he was a sexual predator of young, poor, black men.

Last weekend The Age illustrated its story with a photo of Peter Roebuck’s mother and one of him and his siblings. The Age consciously chose not to illustrate its soft story with, say, an illustration of an adult white male belting the naked buttocks of young black men with a cricket bat.

Which suggests that The Age has one standard for sexual predator Catholic priests and quite another one for sexual predator cricket commentators.

Can you bear it?

[You must publish your recent email exchange concerning The Age’s double standard on the late Peter Roebuck in your hugely popular “Correspondence Section” next week – Ed]


While on column commencements, here’s how Canberra Times columnist Jenna Price commenced her piece on 7 January 2014:

I’ve still got a nostalgic box of tampons in my top drawer. It sits alongside the photo of my diseased uterus, which I also insisted on keeping. The photo, that is, not the uterus. And I never thought either would come in handy again.

Turns out that the tampons – at least – are going to be very useful. I’m going to send one a month to the federal Minister for Inhumanity, Scott Morrison, as a little gift. Perhaps he would be as horrified by the photo of my uterus as I am by his government’s continued treatment of asylum seekers.

Pray tell MWD. Does the editor of The Canberra Times really believe that readers are interested in the contents of Jenna Price’s top drawer or the profile of her (former) uterus. And did Ms Price ever send tampons to Immigration Ministers in the Gillard and Rudd governments protesting at their treatment of asylum seekers. Jenna Price is an academic – at the University of Technology, Sydney – no less.

Can you bear it?


While on the topic of academics, did anyone hear the soft interview between ABC 702 presenter Linda Mottram and Emeritus Professor Rodney Tiffen on Tuesday 28 January 2014.

You see Dr Tiffen (for a doctor he is) has just released – yet another – biography of Rupert Murdoch. Yawn. The interview was a bit like this. The highlight occurred when the learned professor declared:

Rodney Tiffen: On 16 October in 1953 he [Rupert Murdoch] became a director of News Limited. And so he’s now been a director and basically in charge for more than 60 years. I’m claiming that this would be a record in the Guinness Book of Records – I don’t know anyone else who’s come close to that.

So at both ends of the age spectrum, it’s a remarkable career. He took over when he was 22,23 [sic]. And at 82, 83 [sic] he’s still going. And his career goes through about four or five different stages but, you know, when you think back to what media was like in 1953, television hadn’t started in Australia, geostationary communication satellites hadn’t been invented because there was no such thing as the internet, no such thing as digitalisation and so on and so forth. So it is an amazing story.

Yeah. Gosh. Who but another emeritus professor would know that Australia did not have the internet – or even television – in 1953. From memory, Australia did not even have emeritus professors back in 1953. Go on.

In any event, Dr Tiffen has done well out of Rupert Murdoch. He’s done a biography. And the emeritus professor picked up a cool $88,000 from the Gillard Government for a mere four months work on the Finkelstein Report which attempted to regulate newspapers – including those of Murdoch’s News Corp.

Can you bear it?

whatever happened


When President of the United States and well before the onset of his terminal illness, Ronald Reagan is said to have joked that some of his clearest recollections were of events which had never happened. It is not an uncommon phenomenon. Malcolm Fraser is an Australian example – but at least the former prime minister has publicly acknowledged that his memory is “notoriously fallible”. For an example of Malcolm Fraser’s false “memory” concerning his conversations with George Bush Sr during the Falklands War, see Gerard Henderson’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January 2013.

As readers of MWD will be aware, on 21 November 2013 Gerard Henderson wrote to Professor Robert Manne concerning his chapter “By Way of Explanation” in Gwenda Tavan’s taxpayer subsidised collection State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne (Black Inc). Henderson pointed to some comments by Manne concerning his very own self were inconsistent with previous comments he had made on the very same subject. (See MWD Issue 209, 22 November 2009).

In his letter, Gerard Henderson promised to pay $5000 to a refugee charity of Robert Manne’s choice if the learned professor could – finally – produce evidence to validate one of his recollections.

In 2011 Professor Manne alleged that in 1993 Gerard Henderson had sent a “dossier” to Paul Austin – The Age’s Opinion Page editor – in an attempt to “dissuade the paper from employing him as a columnist”. In short, the allegation was that Henderson attempted to get Manne sacked from The Age in 1993. Professor Manne also asserted that Henderson sent a copy of this very same “dossier” to Manne’s friend Morag Fraser – without explaining why Henderson would send a copy of such a document to one of Manne’s besties. (See MWD Issue 99, 17 June 2011).

When Henderson pointed out that Paul Austin was not working at The Age in 1993 – Manne changed the date to 1995 but stuck by the rest of his (undocumented) allegation. He provided no explanation for altering his allegation.

So, according to Manne, there are at least three issues of this “dossier”. Paul Austin has the alleged original (sent by Henderson). Morag Fraser has an alleged copy (also sent by Henderson). And Manne himself has another alleged copy (received from Austin).

In other words, at least one copy of such a “dossier” should be easy to locate. But Professor Manne declined to answer Henderson’s letter of 21 November 2011 and produce the evidence he claims to have – and has declined to try for the $5000 reward.

Robert Manne has twice been judged Australia’s leading public intellectual – as his own website attests. Australia’s leading public intellectual should be able to produce evidence to support a serious allegation against another columnist – especially since he claims that there are numerous copies of the “dossier” around.

In case the consideration is not sufficient, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has decided to increase the incentive to $6000 effective immediately.

Robert Manne has a number of options:

● With a little help from his mates Paul and Morag, Professor Manne should be able to find the alleged document – and score $6000 for a good cause.

● Or Professor Manne could concede that he has a recovered “memory” of an event which never happened and withdraw the allegation.

● Or Professor Manne could continue to fudge the issue.

We’ll keep you posted. [I can hardly wait – Ed].

correspondence header caps


This highly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And Hendo – being a courteous kind of guy – invariably responds. Then the correspondence is published in unedited form in MWD – much to the delight of its tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of readers.

As avid MWD readers [are there any others? Ed] will recall – on 23 October 2013 David Marr wrote to Gerard Henderson criticising his critique of Marr’s monograph The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell (Quarterly Essay, Issue 51 2013, Black Inc). Marr’s letter and Henderson’s reply – along with the ensuing correspondence – was published in MWD Issue 205, 25 October 2013 and MWD Issue 206, 1 November 2013 much to the delight of MWD readers.

At issue was Gerard Henderson’s comment that while David Marr focused in The Prince on celibacy as a key factor in child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church he did not mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of sexual crime in the Catholic Church took place by adult men against young boys.

Marr objected strongly to this statement. He accused Henderson of making “a nasty dig”, expressing “unpleasant views”, uttering “a nasty barb”, possessing a “strong hatred” of him and making “homophobic jibes” against him.

This was a highly emotive response to what was a statement of fact. Clearly David Marr, who sneers and ridicules others, is super sensitive to criticism of his own work.

But the facts remain the facts. David Marr’s The Prince did focus on clerical celibacy as a factor in child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church while failing to mention that the overwhelming number of assaults were by men against boys – which, presumably, is a factor worthy of a mention. In other words, in The Prince Marr did discuss male celibacy but declined to discuss male homosexuality.

On 10 January 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issued its Royal Commission First Anniversary Fact Sheet.

On 15 January 2014, Janette Dines – the Royal Commission’s chief executive officer – was interviewed on the ABC 1 News Breakfast program where the following exchange took place:

Paul Kennedy: Now, you’ve released some statistics over the weekend about what we saw and they were in private sessions as well as public sessions. Any of the statistics surprise you at all?

Janette Dines: What we’ve found is that – we’ve done over a thousand private sessions with people, people have come and spoken to a Royal Commissioner in private and told their story – the vast majority of those people who’ve come forward so far are males between the age of 50 and 70.

Paul Kennedy: Some two thirds have been male. Does that specifically surprise you?

Janette Dines: That’s probably consistent with the statistics of what we understand the pattern of abuse against children in institutions has been historically.

Since Gerard Henderson’s comment that the “overwhelming majority” of child sexual abuse cases have been crimes by men against boys is remarkably similar to Ms Dines’ reference to such crimes constituting the “vast majority” of cases before the Royal Commission. Henderson wrote to David Marr. As he would. As he did. Fortunately, David Marr responded – somewhat angrily at times. Thank God – otherwise you would not be reading this today. Or, indeed, tomorrow.

And so the correspondence continued – with David Marr alleging that Gerard Henderson is a compulsive liar since his letters contain “a fib in every line”. Gosh. Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 16 January 2014


As you will recall, you objected to my Sydney Morning Herald comment on your monograph The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell, particularly where I wrote:

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.

[As previously advised, this column was cut by the SMH without consultation. This is the unedited version of what I wrote.]

You objected to my comment that “the overwhelming majority of sexual child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys”. You asked me what was “the purpose” and “the point” of my comment and wondered why I attached “any weight at all to the sex of the victims”. You ended up accusing me of making “a nasty dig at homosexuals” – and directing “homophobic jibes” at you. You also accused me of hating you.

You publicly added to this line of criticism in the “Response to Correspondence” section of Quarterly Essay Issue 51 – despite the fact that I did not send correspondence concerning The Prince to Quarterly Essay. In other words, I received a reply to unsent correspondence – a bit like an encyclical letter in reverse.

In view of all this, you may be interested in what Janette Dines, the chief executive of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, had to say when interviewed on ABC 1 News Breakfast on Wednesday 15 January 2014.

Ms Dines said that the “vast majority” of people who have taken their cases to the Royal Commission “are males between the ages of 50 and 70” – that is, men who were boys in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and who were assaulted by adult men.

Ms Dines’ point is the same as mine – since I referred to the fact that “the overwhelming majority of child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys”.

My questions are these:

1. Do you propose to contact Janette Dines and demand to know the purpose and point of her comment on News Breakfast and why she attaches any weight at all to the sex of the victims?

2. Do you intend to accuse Ms Dines of making a nasty dig at homosexuals and engaging in homophobic jibes?

3. Or do you just apply one standard for me and another standard for everyone else?

Over to you. By the way, best wishes for the New Year. I’m off on a writing assignment but will be back at work on Monday.

Gerard Henderson

David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 16 January 2014

She is not making absurd demands for me to state the obvious in my essay. You are. You still haven’t explained why you’re on your high horse on this one. The only explanation I can see is that you are in some bigoted way conflating padeophilia and homosexuality. Many do. I thought you were above such things. Apparently not.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 20 January 2014


I’m back on the job today – with time to wonder at your continuing super-sensitivity to criticism. This is surprising in view of the fact that you get so many soft interviews on the ABC – where you face virtually no criticism at all.

As the record demonstrates, I never made demands – absurd or otherwise – of you concerning The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell. You have just made this up.

My only comment was a reflection on what you had already written. I simply stated that there was no mention in The Prince of the fact that the “overwhelming majority of sexual child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys”.

This was an accurate statement. It was not a demand.

I thought you might be interested to note that Janette Dines, the CEO of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said on ABC 1 last week that the “vast majority” of people who had come forward to the Commission were victims who said that when boys they had been abused by an adult male.

As far as I am aware, Ms Dines is not a homophobe – an assertion you have made about me for making the very same point concerning child sexual abuse in Australia.

That’s all.


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 20 January 2014

Gerard give up. Anyone interested in my detailed response to your weird attack here can look at our exchanges from last October. I presume the emails all there on your website. Most victims of clerical sex abuse are boys. Everyone who studies this subject knows that. Contrary to your seedy innuendo, I have no problem as a homosexual facing that fact. Readers of my Pell essay will see that clearly for themselves. Enough.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 21 January 2014


You are always so frightfully rude. But, I will take your advice and “give up”. Certain in the knowledge that:

▪ When I wrote that the “overwhelming majority of victims” of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are male – you responded by calling me a homophobe.

▪ When Janette Dines, the chief executive of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said that the “vast majority” of victims of child sexual abuse are male – you had no objection whatsoever.

So, as you have kindly suggested, I will “give up”.

For the record, I have not engaged in “seedy innuendo” with respect to you. But you did attempt to make much of George Pell’s celibacy in The Prince.

Yes, you are correct. Our exchanges from last October are on the web. You will be pleased to know that the “Correspondence” segment of Media Watch Dog is just so popular.

Over and out.


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 21 January 2014

You are misrepresenting your original claim. So what’s new there? There is nothing whatever homophobic in the statement that most victims of clerical child abuse are boys. It is plainly true. This all began with a seedy claim by you that as a homosexual I can’t face that fact. There is nothing whatever in my essay to justify that complaint. You attack me for this supposed failure. Janet Dines doesn’t. That’s the difference. Enough, enough, enough, enough. I waste my time.


Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 22 January 2014


I have not changed my position. My original point was that in The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell you did not mention that “the overwhelming majority of sexual child abuse cases in the Catholic Church have involved attacks by men on young boys”.

My comment was accurate – I have not changed my position at all.

In my Sydney Morning Herald column, I made no mention of your sexuality. However, in The Prince you made much of George Pell’s celibacy.

I did not “attack” you. I just criticised your monograph. Of course, Janette Dines did not refer to you. But she did state a truth which you, for whatever reason, ignored in The Prince.

Once again, I’m surprised at your super-sensitivity to criticism. Especially for someone who so readily criticises others.

I await a reply – if you decide to again “waste” your “time” by writing to me.

Keep morale high.

Best wishes


David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 22 January 2014

Gerard, you’re getting desperate. There is a fib in nearly every line. Time to stop.


“[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.