7 February 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.





Stunning decision by ABC 1 News Breakfast this morning to run a clip from musician John Butler’s interview with Jane Hutcheon which will feature on the ABC News 24’s One Plus One all over this weekend. Don’t you think?

Presenters Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland introduced the piece by boosting John Butler’s views on leadership. Really. This provided a rationalisation for the muso to bag both the Coalition and Labor – but not, of course, the Greens – without having to discuss, er, music.

Here are the (incoherent) thoughts of John Butler on leadership which were highlighted on News Breakfast this morning – as told to the ever-smiling-ever-nodding Ms Hutcheon:


John Butler: Like all things in life, it’s a balancing act. And, ummm, to be a good leader I think you have to be on the same level as the people that you’re leading. I think the minute you, you, hear of, you there’s a hierarchy that takes place where you can’t be told that you’re being a jerk or that, nah, you’re a bit off, I think you’re wrong, I think this is a bit [sic]. “I don’t think you’re listening to me John, or I don’t feel like I’m being respected or heard”. If I don’t have that kind of two way street of dialogue and respect, I feel that you’re then not being a good leader.

At the same time, yeah, I am the leader of this thing and I should be – If it’s something I think about, if it’s something I get anxious about and think about too much, is offending people and how to kind of lead in a way that doesn’t disenfranchise people and doesn’t disempower people. But, you know, doesn’t step on their toes. And we live in a country that the the tall poppy [sic]. So like, you know, lead but not too much because then they will hate you. Uumm, ummm, so, you know, I think leadership is an amazing thing. Someone told me the other day, which was really great, a leadership is not being a delegator of all the information. It’s about being a visionary. It’s about having the big ideas and then having the great people around you that you respect and you trust and you [sic] can do things that you can’t do to help dedicate that and help bring that to life.

Jane Hutcheon : In your view in Australia, who is a good leader, who’s a visionary?

John Butler: I think there’s a great senator, a great Greens’ senator called Scott Ludlam, he’s a great visionary. I think people like Tim Winton are great visionaries.

Jane Hutcheon : Any of our politicians?

John Butler: Umm, I think, I think, I think Peter Garrett actually is a very brave and, um, powerful visionary. Somebody who’s, he was happy to put everything on the line in what he believed in. So, I, I, I, admire bravery – and bravery to throw reputation to the wind almost in a way because you believe in a cause.

So, um, Christine Milne I think she stands for – I think Bob Brown is great. I mean, I think all the viewers are going to go “Oh classic Greenie” here. But two-party, two-party politics in this country or America is a joke. It’s an absolute joke. I think Labor and Liberal are exactly the same thing and I think Tony Abbott, is, is, is an embarrassment to have as a leader, personally.

Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s comments, “Your man Butler is obviously leadership material. I mean, ummm, Butler is, is, is just amazing in the, ummm, leadership stakes. He has great people around him and himself out front. As to the Coalition and Labor jerks – well they’re jerks. He goes for Scott Ludlam, Bob Brown and Christine Milne. And he goes, like, correct. And yet some jerks think that he’s a “classic greenie”. Nannn. John Butler wants to live in a country where they smoke tall poppies – and he wants to be a visionary, of the poppy kind. Jane Hutcheon is right to identify John Butler as one of Australia’s finest minds. Why, he even regards Tony Abbott as an embarrassment. Who has ever said that on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster before? [ Hold it – or we will run out of space – Ed].




What a truly wonderful experience by Channel 9’s Lisa Wilkinson on Richard Glover’s Drive program on 702 yesterday.

Ms Wilkinson, who was chosen by the ABC last year to deliver the 2013 Andrew Olle Lecture, declared that it was a “damn good thing” that the ABC leans to the left since it balances commercial media which leans to the right. So the ABC fulfils a balancing role, you see. The discussion continued:


Richard Glover: That’s not the ABC’s view though, that’s not the BBC’s view either. That’s not the charter – that you [the ABC] are there to make up for others’ errors. The idea is that you’re there in the middle of things, that you’re unbiased.

Lisa Wilkinson: Which I tend to think is something that leans more to the left than to the right. Because it’s about free speech and it’s about a natural conversation…

So according to Lisa Wilkinson, it is in the interests of free speech that the ABC leans towards the left.



Can you bear it graphic




Tom Switzer has had some problems lining up a leftist or social democrat columnist to fill a page in The Spectator Australia. First up, he tried the former failed Labor leader Mark Latham who wrote “Latham’s Law” column for a while. [Perhaps the Lair of Liverpool should have called it “Latham’s Lore”. Just a thought – Ed].

Alas, Mark Latham resigned in anger from The Spectator Australia – after discovering that he had been criticised for misogyny on the ABC Radio National Sunday Extra program by his editor Tom Switzer.

The Lair of Liverpool did not listen to the program. But he does read MWD. And your man Latham learnt about Switzer’s criticism when he read in MWD that Mr Switzer had won one of Nancy’s prestigious Five Paws Awards for his comments on Sunday Extra about the Lair of Liverpool.

This was the first occasion in the history of the print media in Australia that a columnist quit his job in protest at his editor receiving an award from a canine. But there you go.


Then The Spectator Australia provided a column to Labor’s Chris Bowen when he went to the backbench after supporting Kevin Rudd against Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership. This worked well enough – but Bowen dropped his column when he returned to the front bench after Rudd replaced Gillard.

And now the position has been taken by a certain Michael Koziol who describes himself as a graduate of Sydney University’s media department and a former editor of the student newspaper Honi Soit. [I thought it was called “Hanoi Soit” – Ed].

It seems that “Young Koziol”, as he likes to be called, has learnt from Mark Latham – in that half of his “On The Contrary” column in last week’s Spectator Australia is devoted to attacking someone and the other half is about himself. Young Koziol spent the second part of his column bagging The Australian’s Greg Sheridan. He also quoted from an article in The Monthly – it was written by a part-time comedian – which mocked the fact that Sheridan writes occasionally about Tony Abbott, whom he has known for close to four decades.

Well, at least Sheridan knows Abbott. And Tony Abbott is prime minister – which makes Sheridan’s insights of value. So, what does Young Koziol write about? Well, about half of his column last week was devoted to – wait for it – YOUNG KOZIOL HIMSELF.

Last week’s “On the Contrary” column commenced with YK declaring that he has “lost lots of friends” in his area – which he described as the “Sydney University, Glebe and Newtown, left and liberal circles”. You see, two friends “fled the shores of Sydney for the cocoon of Canberra”. Really. One went into the public service, the other to the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery. Another friend went to study law in Melbourne. And another to practise law in London. Gosh. Hold the front page, etcetera.

Young Koziol described such movements as “shocking”. It seems that the Sydney University/Glebe/Newtown redoubt will never be the same again following such a mass emigration. This made YK reflect on his “life trajectory”. Go on. Alas, he did :

When others move on, you are forced to consider your own immobility. Could I pack up and leave my family and friends? Do I have that internal resilience, or am I dependent on a known environment? These departures — marked with their long goodbyes at restaurants and cocktail bars and their midnight promises of continued correspondence — are ultimately positive in their effect. Because the fewer ties you have to a place, the freer you are to leave it — and however nebulous that Maslowian notion of self-actualisation might be, the closer you are to achieving it.

What a load of absolute tosh. Young Koziol reckons that The Australian “has a problem” because Greg Sheridan writes about Tony Abbott. But YK reckons that it’s just fine if he writes in The Spectator Australia about himself. And Young Koziol believes that, outside the Sydney University/Glebe/Newtown redoubt, Australians are forever contemplating the “Maslowian notion of self-actualisation”. [The what? – Ed].

Can you bear it?


While on the topic of “the Maslowian notion of self-actualisation”, did anyone see La Trobe University (“Proudly one of Australia’s top 500 Polluters”) academic Lawrie Zion do the Newspapers segment on ABC 1’s News Breakfast last Tuesday?

It being the tenth anniversary of the birth of Facebook, Dr Zion (for a doctor he is) was invited to reflect on the subject. Big mistake. Let’s go to the transcript as Zion quickly moves from Facebook to a discussion of his tomatoes and his dogs (one of which thinks she is a cat). Yes, a cat:


Virginia Trioli: …We’re joined now by Lawrie Zion an Associate Professor of Journalism at La Trobe University – former journalist as well – to look at the papers today. G’day Lawrie.

Lawrie Zion: Good Morning – Virginia, Michael.

Michael Rowland: Good morning.

Virginia Trioli: On Facebook?

Lawrie Zion: I am. And I do find it useful for all the obvious reasons. I’ve got friends all over the world, keep in touch there. But one thing I’ve noticed is if I share an article from our magazine the La Trobe Upstart or comment on something that’s going on in the media – yeah I get a few comments or likes. But if I put up a photo of either my tomatoes or my dogs then guaranteed to get thirty or forty likes.

Michael Rowland: Goes gangbusters, ay?

Lawrie Zion: Yeah. In fact my younger labrador Elka started being a commentator in the previous election campaign. And I do little short films with her from time to time and they almost went viral. So, I think she thinks she’s a YouTube cat actually.

Michael Rowland: Oh, right.

Virginia Trioli: I was going to say, where would the internet or Facebook be without cats?

Lawrie Zion: Exactly.

Virginia Trioli: So, yep, your dog clearly holds up the tradition.

Michael Rowland: How did that work? Bark once for Labor, bark twice for?

Lawrie Zion: [interjecting] Well actually she got into the Labor leadership issue at the time when Rudd was challenging Gillard. And I said: “Elka, who do you think should be leader of the Labor Party, should it be Julia Gillard?” So she walks up, licks me while I’m filming her, goes back. “Or Kevin Rudd?”. She just stands there. So, she’s very much a Gillard girl, though, Elka, you’ve got to take that into account.

Michael Rowland: Canine sense.

At this point La Trioli had the good sense to change the subject matter. Nancy’s (male) co-owner was so focused on The Thought of Elka that he does not recall anything else the learned associate professor said. But, my, your man Dr Zion did turn up in a fine green matching shirt and pants. Obviously, he went straight to the ABC Melbourne studio at Southbank after watering his tomato patch.

Can you bear it?


Last Monday, the Australian Electoral Commission released data covering political donations for the financial year 2012-2013. Naomi Woodley commented on this matter for the ABC’s The World Today program. The only person interviewed was Senator Lee Rhiannon – who is, believe it or not, the Greens democracy spokesperson.

Now, as MWD readers will be aware, Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown who became variously Gorman and O’Gorman) worked with the Socialist Party of Australia in its various formats from its formation around 1971 to its demise around 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. The Socialist Party of Australia was that part of the Australian communist movement which remained loyal to the communist dictatorships in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. For a time, Lee Gorman (or O’Gorman), as she then was, edited the magazine Survey which ran East-European communist propaganda.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Lee Rhiannon (as she became) travelled extensively in Eastern Europe. As MWD has revealed, she studied at the International Lenin School in the mid-1970s – it trained communists in political work. It seems that Lee Gorman graduated with a Diploma in Revolution or some such – alas, Lee Rhiannon refuses to provide details.

Senator Rhiannon also constantly refuses to disclose how much money the Socialist Party of Australia and its magazine Survey received from the communist dictators in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. But Naomi Woodley did not raise any such, eh, delicate matters as Senator Rhiannon declared that the electorate is “very cynical” when “large amounts of money are handed over by corporate Australia” to political parties.

So it’s wrong for an Australian company to give money to a political party – even though this has to be declared. Yet it was quite okay for the Soviet Union and its communist satellites in Eastern Europe to hand over (undeclared) money to the Socialist Party of Australia’s comrades during the Cold War of recent memory.

Can you bear it?



While on the topic of barrackers for the Soviet Union, consider the case of Arthur Gietzelt (1920-2014) who died recently. Gietzelt was a Labor senator for New South Wales between July 1971 and February 1989. In his book The Family File, Mark Aarons (the son of leading Communist Party of Australia functionary Laurie Aarons) identified Arthur Gietzelt as having held dual memberships of the Labor Party and the Communist Party. Arthur Geitzelt was one of Laurie Aarons’ important contacts in the ALP. ASIO also held the view that Arthur Gietzelt was a secret member of the Communist Party.

Yet Harriet Veitch, in her obituary on Arthur Gietzelt in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 February 2014, all but dismissed his communist connections. This is what she wrote:

In 2010, Gietzelt was back in the news again, accused of having been a member of the Communist Party in his younger days. He was well-known as being on the left of politics and had often spoken of his admiration of the Soviet Union because its people had mangled the Wehrmacht in 1942 and 1943. In the end the fuss died down; it has never been against the law to be a communist in Australia.

How about that? Harriet Veitch reckons it was okay for Arthur Gietzelt to support the Soviet Union during the dictatorship of Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev in the late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – because the Red Army fought the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War. True. But it is also true that the Soviet Union was the ally of Nazi Germany during the early period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact from August 1939 until June 1941. As far as the Gietzelt obituary is concerned, it was a case of don’t-talk-abut-the-Nazi-Soviet-Pact.

Moreover, Ms Veitch’s comment that “it has never been against the law to be a communist in Australia” is simply wrong. The Communist Party of Australia was banned during the early part of World War II because it supported Nazi Germany – Australia’s enemy – and was attempting to undermine the war effort.

It’s interesting just how many one-time Stalinists get fine send-offs in Fairfax Media publications – without anyone mentioning that they once supported mass murderers. Comrade Arthur Gietzelt scored a state funeral despite spending a considerable part of his life attempting to overthrow the state in Australia.

Can you bear it?


nancy's pick graphic



On Monday 3 February 2014, ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott was interviewed by Mark Colvin on the PM program. The ABC was under pressure to defend – or apologise for – an ABC report that the footage of asylum seekers with burnt hands “appears to back allegations” that they were forced by the Australian Navy to place their hands on hot pipes. In short, an allegation of torture.

Mark Scott invariably uses the ABC to support the ABC and criticise its critics. At one point in the interview with Mark Colvin, Nice Mr Scott dismissed the critics of the ABC on this issue as engaging in “semantics”. Here we go:

Mark Colvin: Was it correctly handled?

Mark Scott: Well people will come to judgements on that, Mark. And as many journalists as there are out there, and former editors there are out there – you’ll have different judgements.

I suppose what I’m saying to you is I think it was an important story to report, the right story to report, the result of investigations by the ABC. And what’s very important in this context is that it’s clear that the ABC was not judge and jury on that matter. The ABC did not say that these allegations had been proved. The ABC said that they were important allegations and –

Mark Colvin: Sure, but –

Mark Scott: – we went pursuing the truth.

Mark Colvin: The ABC used the phrase that “the footage appears to back the allegations.”

Mark Scott: Yeah.

Mark Colvin: Should it have used that phrase?

Mark Scott: Well some people can second guess the semantics, Mark. I think what I’m saying is that the allegations had been raised, had been reported everywhere. Then the videotape came to light. And that videotape, along with the claims of the asylum seekers again, sent that story forward.

So on the afternoon of Monday 3 February 2014, Mark Scott defended the ABC’s coverage of the issue – and dismissed critics of the ABC’s reportage as engaging in “semantics”.

The following day, Tuesday 4 February 2014, Mark Scott issued a written statement in which he contradicted what he had said the day before:

The ABC’s initial reports on the video said that the vision appeared to support the asylum seekers’ claims. That’s because it was the first concrete evidence that the injuries had occurred. What the video did not do was establish how those injuries occurred.

The wording around the ABC’s initial reporting needed to be more precise on that point. We regret if our reporting led anyone to mistakenly assume that the ABC supported the asylum seekers’ claims. The ABC has always presented the allegations as just that – claims worthy of further investigation.

So there you have it. According to Nice Mr Scott on Monday, those who focused on the wording of how the ABC had covered the story were into “semantics”. But according to Nice Mr Scott on Tuesday, the ABC’s reporting of the issue “needed to be more precise”.

And what happened between Monday and Tuesday? Well, Paul Barry – presenter of the ABC 1 Media Watch program – declared on Monday night that the ABC had “overreached” in reporting the issue, “should have been more cautious”, had “got it wrong” and should “admit…the mistake”.

Mark Scott is paid to be ABC’s editor-in-chief. However, it seems that on this issue Paul Barry, Tim Latham and the team at Media Watch are laying down editorial standards at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and the ABC’s editor-in-chief is following his staff.


History Corner




It is most unlikely – but not impossible – that the Liberal National Party’s Bill Glasson will prevail over Labor’s Terri Butler at the Griffith by-election in Brisbane on Saturday.

On only one occasion since the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 has an incumbent government won a seat from the Opposition at a by-election. Namely, in 1920. Well, that’s true. However, the precedent should be qualified by the most unusual facts which applied in that case – almost a century ago.


At the Federal election held on 13 December 1919, Labor’s Hugh Mahon held the seat of Kalgoorlie for the ALP:

E.E. Heitman Nationalist Party 8480 votes (47.91 per cent)

Hugh Mahon Labor Party 9220 votes (52.09 per cent)


Mahon, who was born near Tullamore in Ireland, remained with the Australian Labor Party at the time of the 1916 Labor Split over conscription for overseas service. William Morris Hughes, the incumbent prime minister resigned from/was expelled by the ALP over this issue and became prime minister of the National Labour and then Nationalist Party government.

As H.J. Gibbney makes clear in his entry on Hugh Mahon in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Mahon was a difficult type. He was a great hater and lacked a sense of humour – which led at times to tense relationships with his parliamentary colleagues along with the public servants he dealt with during the time he held a ministerial position during the Fisher Labor and Hughes Labor governments.

Hugh Mahon was a practising Catholic who had an abiding love for the land of his birth. On 25 October 1920, during the Anglo-Irish War, Terence McSwiney, Cork’s lord mayor, died following a hunger strike while incarcerated by the British in Brixton Prison. McSwiney’s death had a big impact on Irish Catholics, including in Australia.

On 7 November 1920, during a public meeting at the Richmond City Reserve in Melbourne, Hugh Mahon condemned British rule in Ireland in general and McSwiney’s death in particular. The most comprehensive report of Mahon’s speech was contained in The Argus on 8 November 1920. It read as follows:

The chairman [Hugh Mahon] said that the outrage committed upon Archbishop Mannix in England would never be forgotten by the Irish people of Australia. Never in Russia under the worst ruler of the Czars had there been such an infamous murder as that of the late Alderman McSwiney. They were told in the paper that Alderman McSwiney’s poor widow sobbed over his coffin. If there was a just God in heaven that sob would reach round the world, and one day would shake the foundations of this bloody and accursed Empire. (Loud applause).


The other day he was reproached by a vinegar-faced “wowser” who said that the police in Ireland were being shot in the back. If they were shot in the back it must be because they were running away. But there were no police in Ireland. They were spies, informers and bloody cut-throats. (Applause). He read with delight that some of those murdering thugs had been sent to their account, and he trusted that Ireland would not be profaned by their carcases. (Applause). Their souls were probably in hell, and their bodies should be sent to England. (Applause). He would to have the sweet pastures of Ireland poisoned by their carrion clay. (Applause).

On 12 November 1920, the Hughes government successfully moved a motion in the House of Representatives to expel Mahon on account of his disloyalty to Britain. It passed on party lines. The motion read as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie, the Honourable Hugh Mahon, having by seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting on Sunday last, been guilty of conduct unfitting him to remain a member of this House and inconsistent with the oath of allegiance which he has taken as a member of this House, be expelled [sic] this House.

Hugh Mahon decided to contest the by-election which had come about as a consequence of his own expulsion from Parliament. The Kalgoorlie by-election took place on 18 December 1920 and the result was as follows:

G. J. Foley Nationalist Party 8382 votes (51.36 per cent)

Hugh Mahon Labor Party 7939 votes (48.64 per cent)

George Foley did not last long in politics. At the general election on 16 December 1922, the result in Kalgoorlie was as follows:

G. J. Foley Nationalist Party 7331 votes (42.57 per cent)
A.E. Green Labor Party 9889 votes (57.43 per cent)

Clearly Labor’s defeat in Kalgoorlie at the 1920 by-election – from Opposition – took place in special circumstances. There was a large dose of anti-Catholic sectarianism sweeping the land – which was fanned by Prime Minister Hughes and included attacks on Daniel Mannix, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, who was a supporter of Mahon.

In other words, the facts in December 1920 were quite exceptionable. They were not repeated. By the general election of 16 December 1922, the Anglo- Irish Treaty had been negotiated and the Irish had gained autonomy in 26 out of 32 countries. The Irish Free State had been attacked by the Irish Republican Army in what was called the Irish Civil War – this led to a loss of interest in Ireland by many Australians of Irish descent.

Around the time of the Anglo Irish Treaty and the return to Australia of Archbishop Mannix, who had been prevented from visiting Ireland in 1920 by the British Navy, anti-Catholic sectarianism began to wane and never reached the heights of 1916 to 1921.


In short, the only by-election in which the Opposition in Australia had lost a seat to the incumbent government took place in circumstances that are not likely to be repeated.

If – and it is stressed, if – the LNP’s Bill Glasson prevails over ALP’s Terri Butler on Saturday it will be the first occasion on which, in normal circumstances, a government won a seat in a by-election from the Opposition. For the prevailing situation in Kalgoorlie in December 1920 was truly an aberration – unlike the situation in Griffith in February 2014.





The four part documentary Persons of Interest has recently concluded on SBS One. Written and directed for Smart Street Films by Haydn Keenan, Persons of Interest runs the familiar leftist critique of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Interviewed by Fairfax Media journalist Bridget McManus, Keane declared that in the 1960s he regarded himself “as a humanist and, therefore, probably left of centre and leaning towards socialism”. (The Age Green Guide 2 January 2014). Probably. Almost certainly – judging from Persons of Interest.

Gerard Henderson analysed Persons of Interest in his column in The Weekend Australian on 11-12 January 2014. MWD plans to return to this issue over the year – since the documentary, despite its anti-ASIO line, does contain some very interesting material. About Darce – then Jon – then Darce Cassidy, for example.


Michael Hyde – Monash Revolutionary


During the second segment of Episode 2 – which covers the student revolutionaries of the late 1960s and early 1970s – discussion turned on the so-called Worker Student Alliance (WSA) based at Monash University in Melbourne. This WSA contained many a middle class student but barely a worker. Still the middle class radicals of the day liked to believe that they had the support of the working class at the barricades.

Episode 2 of Persons of Interest focused on Michael Hyde:


Michael Hyde: I became chairman of the Monash University Labor Club which was the most radical organisation in Australia. I helped organise the Vietnam Moratorium campaigns. I was chairman of the Worker Student Alliance and I was an active leading member of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).

The Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) owed its allegiance to the Communist Party of China in Beijing. The Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) split from the Communist Party of Australia during the Sino-Soviet dispute of the 1960s. Hyde and his fellow comrades supported all the crimes of Mao Zedong’s totalitarian regime – including the Great Leap Forward (which amounted to a forced famine in which some 40 million Chinese died) and the Cultural Revolution (in which 100 million Chinese were purged).

Comrades Albert Langer & Darce Cassidy

Michael Hyde’s comrades at Monash University included Darce Cassidy (who for a period called himself Jon Cassidy) and Albert Langer (who subsequently changed his name to Arthur Dent). This is what Langer/ Dent had to say towards the end of the second segment in Episode 2 of Persons of Interest.

Albert Langer (Arthur Dent): What appears to be a total waste of time of [ASIO] recording all these trivial phone conversations – they’re building up a matrix of “who knows who?” right? So if you are considering appointing someone for some position and you realise they have had a lot of contact with dangerous radicals, you can exclude them from that senior position. That’s one thing they do with them. But in a future situation, if there’s a genuine mass upsurge where they really are in trouble and they have to start organising death squads, well then you [i.e. ASIO] know who to kill.

Forget the fact that Arthur Dent (nee Albert Langer) is seriously delusional. He really believed four decades ago – and he still believes today – that if the WSA engendered a “genuine mass upsurge” for revolution, then ASIO would use its lists, gained from previous surveillance, “to start organising death squads” to kill people like him.

WSA’s Plan to Eliminate the “Entire Bourgeoisie”

That’s what the Worker Student Alliance expected ASIO to do at a time of revolution. And what did the WSA intend to do at such a time? It’s over to Darce Cassidy, who had this to say immediately after the Langer/Dent rant to camera:

Darce Cassidy : In fact, that was one of the prime functions of ASIO – to decide who would be taken off to the soccer stadium and dealt with. And, you know, I think we held the view that if there was a revolution then we’d probably need to do the same sort of thing.

So clearly, some four decades later, Darce Cassidy still shares Langer’s delusion. Cassidy really believes – even today – that one of ASIO’s prime functions could have been to take WSA revolutionaries “off to soccer stadiums” – in South American military dictatorship style. According to Cassidy, the revolutionaries would then have been “dealt with” (i.e. murdered) by ASIO.

But that’s not all. Darce Cassidy admitted to Haydn Keenan that he and his comrades were prepared to do “the same sort of thing”. That is, Cassidy told Persons of Interest that, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, he was willing to kill Australians in order to stop a counter-revolution against the WSA.

This segment of Persons of Interest concluded with a report by an ASIO operative who told ASIO about a WSA meeting which Albert Langer had attended:

[Anonymous ASIO operative]: Worker Student Alliance conference. Albert Langer stated that little was known of the operational methods employed by ASIO. He stated that the revolutionary struggle was essentially a race between ASIO and the WSA. He claimed that if the race was won by the WSA, ASIO operatives and the entire bourgeoisie would be executed – but that, in the interim period, ASIO would be striving to put all WSA members up against a firing squad.

So, at the time, Langer was contemplating the mass killing of ASIO operatives “and the entire bourgeoisie”. Wow.

Arthur Dent (nee Albert Langer) is relatively well known. Unlike many of his comrades at the time, Langer/Dent did not land a government funded job after university where he lived off taxpayer funded employment for the rest of his career.

Unlike Michael Hyde – who ended up at a taxpayer subsidised university with a Ph.D and all that.

Darce Cassidy – Aunty’s Very Own Revolutionary

And unlike Darce Cassidy – who, wait for it – ended up at the ABC. In fact, according to available evidence, Cassidy commenced at the ABC even before he contemplated killing people, if necessary, at soccer stadiums in order to save the WSA revolution. A taxpayer funded revolution, it seems.

According to Linkedin, Cassidy commenced as a journalist at the ABC in Melbourne in 1964 and remained in this role until 1989. He was, variously, a radio and television broadcaster and, later, an executive producer. From 1989 until 1997, Cassidy was the ABC’s manager for South Australia.

During his time at Monash University, Cassidy called himself “Darce”. When at the ABC he was commonly known as “Jon”. And now Cassidy again goes by the name of Darce.

So, who looked after Darce/Jon Cassidy at the ABC? Well, the ABC’s house-leftist Allan Ashbolt (1921-2005) – who was responsible for commencing the stacking of ABC with leftists in the 1960s and 1970s – that’s who.

K.S. Inglis, in his book This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932-1983, lists “Jon Cassidy” as someone to whom Ashbolt was a “mentor and protector” and who came to produce “some very adventurous work”. According to Inglis, Alan Ashbolt also mentored and protected such ABC leftists as Malcolm Long and Marius Webb.

In his sympathetic obituary in Australian Policy Online (15 June 2005), David Bowman traced how Allan Ashbolt moved from being a “social democrat” to a “radical activist” who supported the causes advocated by such left-wing activists as Jim Cairns and Tom Uren and ended up a barracker for the communist dictator Ho Chi Minh – all the while enjoying permanent tenure at the ABC. Bowman added the names of Liz Fel and Mark Aarons to the list of what became known as “Ashbolt’s Kindergarten”. It was the first leftist stack at the ABC.

And so Darce (“Aunty calls me Jon”) Cassidy worked for the ABC while considering the possibility that he would need to kill Australians – come the WSA Revolution. Fancy that – brought to you by Haydn Keenan and Persons of Interest per courtesy of SBS TV.


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As readers – avid or otherwise – of this highly popular segment of Media Watch Dog will be aware, this section usually works like this. Someone believes that it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo – being a courteous kind of guy – invariably replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of hundreds of thousands of readers. How about that? Now read on – if you wish.

In his newspaper column between Christmas and New Year each year, Gerard Henderson looks back over the previous twelve months and acknowledges untrammelled hyperbole, fallible soothsayings and poor judgment of an unprecedented kind. On a month by month basis.


In his column in The Weekend Australian on 28-29 December 2013, Gerard Henderson commenced his section on April as follows:

April. Writing in The Age, Michael Lynch gives credence to the view that Margaret Thatcher was a “heartless bitch”.

Believe it or not [I believe it – Ed], Michael Lynch, of The Age’s Sports Section, took exception to this comment. On 2 January 2014, he emailed Gerard Henderson. Hendo was delighted to use his response to draw attention to The Age’s apparent double standards. Now read on.




Hello Gerard. We haven’t met, but it is gratifying to find myself quoted in your review of the year. I did, as you write, give voice to one set of views which held that Mrs T was a ”heartless bitch”. But I also reflected an alternative view which regarded her as a ”dynamic moderniser” who drove the resurgence of the UK.

The paragraph in question in my piece in the Fairfax press following her death read: ”For everyone who painted her as a dynamic moderniser and the driver of a resurgent UK, there was another who regarded her as a heartless bitch who destroyed jobs and communities and paid little heed to the dignity and needs of ordinary working people.” It might have been more accurate to say that I was trying to reflect both points of view.

I actually grew up in Thatcher’s Britain – born in 1957, I completed University just a month or two after her historic election victory in 1979. Much of the first decade or so of my adult working life was spent with her as the PM, until I came to Australia at the tail end of 1987 to work for the Australian Financial Review.

I became a journalist in 1980 (a trainee at the Redditch Indicator, near Birmingham) and subsequently worked in Nottinghamshire and then on a major evening paper based in Sheffield, so I was always close to the political and industrial news agenda.

At The Star I was the Industrial Correspondent, covering, amongst other things, the Miners Strike of 1984-85, the aftermath of the steel strike of 1980-81 (when Sir Ian McGregor was brought from America to manage the closure of parts of the British Steel Corporation before he moved to the Coal Board), and the revolution in the newspaper and printing industry effected firstly by Eddie Shah, at The Stockport Messenger, and then more completely by Rupert Murdoch with his movement of News International to Wapping.

I had a close up view of the way she was regarded in the country by all classes and types of people. To some she was indeed a heroine who broke the mould and shaped what became contemporary Britain, sweeping away the shackles of statism and union tyranny. To others she was a destroyer of jobs and communities, the creator of a materialist culture where greed and its impulses were always good.

I was reflecting both those views in that piece, and also trying to look back through the prism of personal (she was the MP for the area of north London in which my grammar school was located) and social history.

Anyway, she will always be a fascinating figure and one of huge historical and cultural significance. I look forward to reading Charles Moore’s new biography of her. Thanks for the namecheck though – these days I am a sports writer, so usually don’t get involved in the larger sweep of history…..

Sports Section
The Age, Melbourne



Thanks for your note re your comments on Margaret Thatcher – following my column in The Weekend Australian on 28-29 December 2013. As you state, we have not met. But I have followed your journalism in Australia and I read your sports writing in The Age. So I was interested to read about your life and times in Britain.

As you will have noted, my end-of-the-year review is somewhat irreverent in tone. Yet it is intended to make a serious point. It seems to me that many journalists/commentators work hard on their hyperbole, false prophecies and misjudgements in order to get a mention (by me) each year.

I was delighted to be able to accommodate you this year and hope that you at least make the short-list in 2014. And now for something completely serious, as the saying goes (or went).

The Age’s “Heartless Bitch” Double Standard

In my reference to you in The Weekend Australian on 28-29 December 2013, I was careful to get the nuances correct. That’s why I expressed my reference to you as follows:

April. Writing in The Age, Michael Lynch gives credence to the view that Margaret Thatcher was a “heartless bitch”. [The reference is to The Age, 10 April 2013.]

The statement is accurate – and telling. I do not believe that The Age would have run a piece in April 2013 which included words to this effect: “For everyone who paints Julia Gillard as a dynamic moderniser, there is another who regards her as a heartless bitch who put up energy prices and paid little heed to the dignity and needs of single mothers with young children.”

In my view, The Age would not have printed any reference to Julia Gillard as a “heartless bitch”. Fair enough. But The Age was prepared to run a reference to Margaret Thatcher as a “heartless bitch”.

The Age’s Peter Roebuck Double Standard

It was much the same with Fairfax Media and the ABC with respect to the late Peter Roebuck – who was a sexual predator, primarily of young black men.

As you will be aware, The Age has been running a veritable campaign against the Catholic Church – and Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Denis Hart in particular – over child sexual abuse, despite the fact that there is no evidence that either man has committed any crime of any kind.

Yet when Peter Roebuck jumped to his death in Cape Town from a hotel window in 2011– after being questioned by South African police concerning an alleged sexual assault on a young black man – The Age exhibited a significant double standard.

Peter Roebuck’s death was reported by Greg Baum on Page 1 of The Age on Monday 14 November 2011 in a report which spilled over to Page 2. But Baum made no reference to the fact that Roebuck had pleaded guilty to assaulting three young men in Britain in 2001 – by hitting them on their bare buttocks with a cricket bat and then examining the welts on their naked skin. The 2001 offences were briefly mentioned in another story (on Page 2) by Andrew Stevenson and Chris Barrett – but there was no reference to buttocks or nudity.

Then all of Page 9 was devoted to Roebuck – including an obituary by Malcolm Knox. There was also an editorial that described Roebuck as “a humanist” and which played down the serious charges against him. Then, in the Sports section, there were tributes to Roebuck by Chris Barrett & Andrew Yu, Tim Lane, Peter Hanlon, Chloe Saltau and also Vic Marks (from The Guardian). Jim Maxwell sang Roebuck’s praises on ABC TV and ABC Radio – as did Andrew Hamilton in Eureka Street.

But imagine how The Age, the ABC and Eureka Street would treat the death of a bishop – who had caned the bare buttocks of a young seminarian with a crucifix and then examined the welts – and who had jumped from a window following an allegation of sexual assault against a young man. Just imagine.


What The Age published about Margaret Thatcher it would never publish about Julia Gillard. And The Age was willing to cover for Peter Roebuck in a way which it would never have covered for a Catholic bishop. That’s my point.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

“[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.