GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 215
28 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.
- Maurice Newman Segment Returns With A Wind-Power Bang: Everyone Agrees with Everyone Else on RN Breakfast
- Can You Bear It? Melbourne Luvvies Oppose Chicken Farm; Stephen Bartos Returns; Mark Latham’s Hendo Obsession
- Richard Farmer’s Challenge Met: MWD Names the Names of Left-of-Centre Types Employed by Fox News on Prominent Programs
- History Corner: Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown) Rewrites History Concerning the USSR’s Invasion of Afghanistan
● RICHARD ACKLAND’S WHITE AUSTRALIA RANT
What a stunning column by Richard Ackland in today’s Sydney Morning Herald under the title “Welcome back to the days of White Australia”. Of course, multi-racial Australia will never return to the days of White Australia – and the SMH seems unlikely to return to the days of considered headline writers.
SMH columnists like Richard Ackland, Mike Carlton, Elizabeth Farrelly, Peter FitzSimons and the like seem to enjoy getting stuck into the views of SMH readers and SMH advertisers. So is it today with your man Ackland who criticises the border protection policies of the Howard and Abbott governments – without mentioning that the left’s hero Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention two decades ago and that it was Kevin Rudd who initiated the current off-shore detention on Manus Island and Nauru. RA also fails to mention that around 1000 asylum seekers drowned during the first Rudd and the Gillard governments.
In today’s rant, Richard Ackland:
▪ claims that Scott Morrison has “dead” eyes.
▪ suggests that Philip Ruddock, during the Howard years, turned “into a stick of chalk”.
▪ maintains that Australia has a “dark heart”.
▪ accuses those who hold different views of being “well meaning types” who “hyperventilate” and
▪ advocates a scheme more generous to people smugglers than that proposed by the Greens.
Richard Ackland believes that all of Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake should come from those who make it to Indonesia. This means that he would leave refugees in camps in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. And he believes that if Australia took some 14,000 asylum seekers from Indonesia that would be a maximum figure. Which is even more naive than the suggestion that White Australia is here again – as illustrated by Letch in today’s Herald.
● AN EARLY ENTRY FOR MEDIA FOOL OF THE YEAR
MWD understands that Jack the Insider (aka Peter Hoysted) is a comedian. Even so, his Short History of the Liberal Party – released onThe Australian’s website today – is so bad that it’s really, really good.
Jack the Insider’s account of Australia’s involvement in the early days of the Second World War, under Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ leadership, is hopelessly wrong. He seems unaware that Menzies committed the Second Australian Imperial Force to the war against Nazi Germany. Labor, at the time, under John Curtin, was opposed to the Second AIF’s overseas deployment and the pro-communist left was part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and barracking for an Adolf Hitler victory.
Jack the Insider has Menzies winning the 1948 election [I feel a little sic – Ed]. He also maintains that the only reason why Tony Abbott won in 2013 was due to Labor’s self-immolation. How humourous can you get?
Due to unprecedented demand, the “Maurice Newman Segment” returns this year. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group-think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch former presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.
What a stunning conversation – of the ABC genre – on ABC Radio national Breakfast yesterday. Aunty’s in-house environmental activist Gregg Borschmann put the program together. The topic turned on just how beaut alternative energy is. This is how the RN Breakfast website presented the piece.
Wind power cut costs 40 per cent during heatwave
Thursday 27 February 2014 8:13AM
One of the key criticisms of renewable power is that wind farms and rooftop solar panels have increased retail power bills up to five per cent or more in some cases.
But a new report commissioned by Meridian Energy Australia confirms what’s long been predicted: renewable power is helping to cut wholesale energy prices. In the recent heatwave in South Australia and Victoria, the SKM report says that on certain days, wind energy reduced wholesale prices by 40 per cent.
In fact, the claim that wind power cut energy costs by 40 per cent during the heat-wave in South-east Australia is meaningless. Ditto Meredian Energy Australia’s claim about renewable energy.
But you would never know this from listening to RN Breakfast on 27 February 2014. ABC journalist Gregg Borschmann agreed with Dr Iain MacGill (Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, University of New South Wales) who agreed with Professor Mike Sandford (director, Melbourne Energy Institute) who agreed with Ben Vanderwaal (ROAM Consulting) who agreed with Dr Hugh Saddler (Principal Consultant, Energies Strategies, Pitt & Sherry) who agreed with Gregg Borschmann who agreed with himself – that alternative energy is just, you’ve guessed it, beaut.
Maurice Newman: 5
Jonathan Holmes: Zip
● MELBOURNE LUVVIES – SUPPORTED BY THE AGE – CAMPAIGN AGAINST FACTORY WORKERS’ JOBS CIRCA CASTLEMAINE
“The Guardian on the Yarra” goes compact as of Saturday and a rumour prevails that The Saturday Age’s “Life & Leisure” section will become subsumed by the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Spectrum” section. Whatever the outcome, let’s hope that Jason Steger’s Melbourne-focused “Bookmarks” column survives in some format. It’s indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand what your sandal-wearing, Fitzroy-residing, Wheeler-Centre-attending, bicycle-riding, global-warming conscious members of the green-left intelligentsia of Melbourne are up to. In a literary sense, of course.
Here’s a taste of Jason Steger’s literary gossip column in The Saturday Age of 22 February 2014:
This column has reported before on Raimond Gaita’s involvement in the Keep Baringhup Clean campaign, which is attempting to prevent a chicken factory being built on Moolort Plains. That area is, of course, the landscape of Gaita’s childhood that featured in his memoir Romulus, My Father. He has said it affected the mood and tone of the book ”even, I believe, the rhythm of its sentences”. He has organised a series of fund-raising conversations featuring Arnold Zable, Helen Garner and Robert Manne to be held at Castlemaine’s Phee Broadway Theatre. The first at 7.30pm on March 5 features Zable. Admission is $15 and you can book at trybooking.com. Further information: 0419750485.
How wonderful is this? A group of members of the Melbourne intelligentsia will head up to fashionable Castlemaine to engage in a series of fund-raising conversations to prevent a chicken factory being built on the Moolort Plains nearby which would employ locals. Admission a mere $15 a head.
Why? Well because Philosopher King Rai Gaita looks back in happiness on the Moolort Plains of his childhood when there was no chicken factory. And because Australia’s Philosopher King needs Moolort Plains as a chicken-factory-free-zone since, the presence of such birds might affect the rhythm of his sentences. That’s why.
To which Nancy’s (male) co-owner retorts: “What about the (chicken factory) workers?” Especially since Professor Rai Gaita and Professor Robert Manne and Dr Arnold Zable (for a doctor he is) and Helen Garner have spent all or most of their professional lives living off taxpayer subsidised salaries or grants.
When the curtain goes up at the Phee Broadway Theatre, writer Gaita will agree with writer Zable who will agree with writer Garner who will agree with writer Manne who will agree with writer Gaita that there should be no employment for factory workers on the Moolort Plains – lest this affect the written rhythm of Rai Gaita’s (future) sentences. Can you bear it?[Er, no. Here’s a thought. If the luvvies Zable, Garner and Manne each attract an audience of 130 at $15 a head for this event, Gaita will pocket $5850 for the anti-chicken-factory cause. But Gerard Henderson has promised Robert Manne $6000 for a refugee charity of his choice if he can provide evidence that Hendo ever wrote a “dossier” demanding that Manne be dismissed as an Age columnist in 1993 or maybe 1995. See MWD Issue 214 and earlier.
Being the kind of guy that Hendo is, I am sure that he would approve the $6000 being donated to the cause of the Moolort Plains rather than a refugee cause. And this would mean that the likes of Gaita, Zable, Garner and Manne would not have to cycle to Castlemaine – commencing this Wednesday. Over to Professor Manne to finally come up with the (alleged) dossier concerning which he maintains that there are at least three extant copies. – Ed]
● FALSE PROPHET STEPHEN BARTOS BACK IN THE PULPIT
How wonderful to see Stephen Bartos, executive director of ACIL Allen Consulting and former deputy secretary of the Finance Department, on 7.30 last Tuesday. Your man Bartos ran the familiar line that all of Australia’s economic discontents are due to the tax cuts of John Howard’s government – and, apparently, have nothing much to do with the spending of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor governments supported by the Greens. Let’s go to the transcript:
Stephen Bartos, Executive Director, ACIL Allen Consulting: The budget’s unsustainable basically because all of us in Australia got income tax cuts at the height of the mining boom, so the Howard government introduced a succession budget after budget of income tax cuts when we were getting heaps of money in from the mining boom.
Sabra Lane: With that boom long gone and public spending on health, education and disability care set to increase in the future, the Government has to find other ways to pay for it. Stephen Bartos was a former deputy secretary of the Finance Department during the Howard government era.
Stephen Bartos: One solution could be just to reverse all those tax cuts, but no one’s arguing for that – it’s political suicide for anyone to say we want people to pay more income tax. So the Government has to find other ways of getting the budget more sustainable.
Mr Bartos speaks with the authority of a former senior bureaucrat in the Finance Department. But how seriously should we take his pronouncements? Not much, MWD suggests. You see, this is the very same Stephen Bartos – writing in Crikey in his capacity as ACIL Allen Consulting public policy and government expert – who declared on 5 August 2013 that a minority government was a very real possibility.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said yesterday that “under no circumstances” would the Coalition enter into a minority government if the federal election delivers a hung Parliament. While there are still five weeks of campaigning left, opinion polls suggest a hung Parliament is a possibility — even though it is not the outcome Abbott might wish for.
Steve Bartos then went on – and on – about how a hung Parliament could be the result of the September 2013 election. In fact, Tony Abbott led the Coalition to one of the biggest victories in Australian political history. And now your man Bartos is again proclaiming his wisdom. Can you bear it?
● LAIR OF LIVERPOOL’S APPARENT OBSESSION WITH NANCY’S MALE CO-OWNER
MWD understands how Mark Latham feels. After all, the Lair of Liverpool has to support himself, a wife, a horse, three kids and half a dozen bookmakers – all on a lousy $78,000 a year (fully indexed). So the failed Labor leader really needs his column in The Australian Financial Review to keep food on the table (as the cliché goes).
Once upon a time, your man Latham wrote a “Lunch with Mark Latham” column for the AFR. Then he ran out of people willing to endure such a free lunch. Now your man Latham writes a column in the AFR Weekend each Saturday – which nobody much seems to read.
So far this year, two of Mark Latham’s “Relativities” columns have focused on Gerard Henderson – including last weekend. That’s about 25 per cent. And the AFR pays the Lair of Liverpool for this. Can you bear it?
MARK SCOTT CLAIMS ABC BOARD ENDORSES THE LACK OF POLITICAL DIVERSITY AMONG ABC PRESENTERS, PRODUCERS AND EDITORS
Thanks to one of MWD’s avid Brisbane readers who drew attention to the interview of Mark Scott, the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief, with presenter Steve Austin on ABC Metropolitan Radio 612 in Brisbane which took place on Friday 21 February 2014.
The interview gives a clear example of Mark Scott’s unwillingness to acknowledge any problems of any kind at the ABC – and his propensity to use the facilities of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to take on his critics (who have no right of reply) and, on occasions, his own staff if they ask inconvenient questions or raise inconvenient truths.
Moreover, the ABC managing director maintains that the ABC Board endorses the status quo at the public broadcaster – which has led to a situation where the ABC has not one conservative presenter or producer or editor on any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. There is no way of checking Mark Scott’s claim since Board deliberations are secret.
ABC MD BAGS “PROFESSIONAL CRITICS” OF THE ABC
The first question and answer gives a flavour of the interview as the ABC managing director engages in denial followed by passive aggression:
Steve Austin: You’ve been in the job now for, what, seven years I think it is. Where are there any conservative contracted commentators employed by this organisation in any of the flagship programs of the ABC?
Mark Scott: Well, you know, there’s an assumption behind your question, Steve, that we put labels on people – and that’s not the kind of broadcasting that we run. I know there are some critics who run that line – but I think it’s an important one to engage on. But take you, for example, I have no idea how you vote. It’s of no interest to me how you vote. But it is of interest to me how you conduct yourself as a broadcaster.
And we have clear editorial policies that guide the way you conduct this program. You are to be fair, you are to be balanced, you are to be impartial, you are to be open minded. And so what I worry about is not how our people vote, I worry about how they do their jobs.
We have clear standards and clear expectations about the kind of broadcasting that we expect our journalists to perform on air and that’s what we hold them to account for. So there are some, you know, professional critics of the ABC out there who somehow miraculously think they know what happens in the ballot box for our journalists. The key question is how our journalists perform on air and that’s how we hold them to account.
Now, we have Phillip Adams who’s a champion of the left. I mean he’s held down a position on Radio National for a long time. And Amanda Vanstone has a program on Radio National. But I must say, people who are strongly –
Steve Austin: [interjecting] She doesn’t call herself a conservative though. She’s a small “l” liberal –
Mark Scott: Well, but she’s been a member of the Coalition cabinet for a long period of time, Steve. And she’d identify herself broadly with the right of politics, I think you’d find. And people would identify her in that way. But what I’d broadly say is – if you look at the style of journalism that we are conducting here, we are hosting a conversation where we’re encouraging a wide range of voices from our guests and from our audience, rather than having identified partisan figures on air in broadcasting roles.
Now, some critics won’t accept that but that’s the way that we’ve set it up. That’s the way that the [ABC] Board has endorsed our strategy and that’s the way the overwhelming majority of public hear our content. Because when you look at it, when you survey the public, the ABC overwhelmingly is viewed as the most fair and balanced media organisation in the country.
Mark Scott’s reply to Steve Austin was quite disingenuous. Here’s why:
▪ Mark Scott attempted to divert the question by stating that Steve Austin was talking about how ABC presenters voted. This is not the point – it is not even that important. Even ABC chairman, Jim Spigelman, acknowledged in his recent speech to the National Press Club in Canberra that ABC presenters, producers and editors were more interested in gay marriage than electricity prices. Supporters of gay marriage might vote for the Coalition or Labor or the Greens – but they are not conservatives. In other words, Mark Scott’s focus on voting habits is just a distraction.
▪ Mark Scott then threw the switch to abuse by describing critics of the ABC as “professional critics” – an ad hominem argument. In fact, the only professional media critics in Australia, outside of universities, are employed by the ABC 1 Media Watch program or the ABC’s Fact Checking Unit.
Mark Scott then resorted to ridicule by maintaining that these professional critics “miraculously think they know how” ABC journalists vote. No one has made this claim. Michael Danby – a leading critic of the ABC – is a Labor MP for Melbourne and parliamentary secretary to Opposition leader Bill Shorten.
▪ Mark Scott then contradicted himself drawing attention to how two ABC presenters voted. He contrasted the “champion of the left” Phillip Adams with the former Coalition cabinet minister Amanda Vanstone (whom Scott implied voted for the Coalition).
Mark Scott also overlooked the fact that Phillip Adams’ program goes to air four nights a week at the key time of 10 pm – compared with Amanda Vanstone’s program which airs just once a week during working hours between 4 pm and 5 pm on Mondays.
Mark Scott simply dismissed the fact that Ms Vanstone regards herself as a small “l” liberal and rejects the term conservative when applied to her. Yet this is an important point.
Mark Scott glossed over the fact that Vanstone’s program – consciously titled Counterpoint to indicate that it is counter to the prevailing views heard on Radio National – is the ABC’s right-of-centre token offering. Also, he ignored the fact that Counterpoint is not one of the ABC’s flagship programs.
▪ Mark Scott claimed that the ABC Board has “endorsed” the fact that the ABC has only one presenter who can be cited as right-of-centre. He provided no evidence for this. MWD understands that the lack of diversity of political views within the public broadcaster has been raised at ABC Board meetings.
ABC MD BAGS ABC RADIO 661 PRESENTER
When Steve Austin persisted with his line of questioning, Mark Scott told him to “be a bit more sophisticated”. The ABC managing director then took on his staffer on live radio with comments close to workplace bullying – when the relationship between the two men is considered. Let’s go to the transcript:
Mark Scott : The lines you’re reciting this morning, Steve, I read these criticisms from time to time. There are critics of the ABC and I welcome those critics. But I think we need to be fair-minded around that criticism and really look at the performance of the ABC. And what I sometimes say is: the ABC at its best is outstanding, we’re not always at our best but I think overwhelmingly we do an outstanding job.
It is unfair and unprofessional for the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief to accuse an ABC staffer of “reciting” lines allegedly written by others during a live interview. Especially when he has no evidence to support his assertion. Steve Austin is an experienced ABC journalist and does not need his questions written by others. Mr Scott should be able to do better than this.
▪ Mark Scott overlooked a number of recent polls which qualified his claim that the ABC does an outstanding job.
– According to a Fairfax-ReachTEL poll (published in the Sun-Herald on 2 February 2014), of the 40.4 per cent of respondents who regard the ABC as biased – 32.2 per cent depict it as biased to the ALP and 8.2 per cent depict it as biased to the Coalition.
– According to Newspoll (published in The Australian on 11 February 2014), 35 per cent of Coalition voters believe that the ABC is biased against the Coalition.
– According to an ACNielsen poll (published in Fairfax Media newspapers on 18 February 2014), 46 per cent of Coalition voters believe that ABC news and current affairs is politically biased. On the other hand, 80 per cent of Greens voters do not regard the ABC as biased.
Whilst it is true that the majority of Australians trust ABC news, these are big numbers which should not be ignored or denied by the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief.
ABC MD SUPPORTS RACIAL BUT NOT POLITICAL DIVERSITY
Towards the end of the interview Mark Scott defended the ABC’s decision to employ other than middle-aged white men – suggesting that the ABC is determined to alter the composition of its workforce with respect to all matters apart from political philosophy. Let’s go to the transcript:
Steve Austin: There’s a lot of nervous middle aged men around this place.
Mark Scott: Yeah, let’s be frank about it. The decisions aren’t arbitrarily made on, you know, ethnicity or age. There’s an engagement made on what’s the best talent you can have in the best roles to engage with audiences. And we change talent over time significantly. What I’d say, though, and I think this is quite important for the ABC. We want to talk to modern Australia, we want to represent modern Australia and I think we want to look and sound like modern Australia.
I would subscribe to a view that says we’ve probably lagged the country on television and radio in that I don’t think we always look and sound like the audiences that we want to serve. Now that’s not to say you make a whole series of arbitrary decisions. But, yes, we’ve tried to recruit more indigenous staff, we’re trying to recruit more staff who perhaps weren’t born in Australia or come from a non-English speaking background.
I think if you look at the BBC, this is something the BBC has done wonderfully well. I think they look and sound more like the melting pot of the modern UK than we have looked like. So we’re not trying to become like SBS, we’re just trying to reflect Australia. And I don’t think it’s triggering arbitrary programming or staffing decisions but it’s something that we look to in our recruitment over time
So there you have it – as told to Steve Austin. Mark Scott believes that the ABC should reflect modern Australia with respect to racial background of its presenters. However, he ridicules the view that the ABC should reflect modern Australia with respect to the political philosophy of its presenters.
ABC MD TAKES THE “RED” KERRY AMENDMENT
During the interview, Mark Scott reverted to his tired cliché of how critics and supporters of one-time Gough Whitlam staffer Kerry O’Brien demonstrated just how fair and balanced the ABC is. See “Documentation”. But if it’s good for the ABC to have prominent ex-Labor staffers on the ABC – why is it not good to have prominent ex-Coalition staffers on the ABC’s flagship programs?
Mark Scott contrasted the ABC’s token right-of-centre Amanda Vanstone with Phillip Adams. But the Late Night Live presenter is just one of a bevy of left-of-centre types in key ABC positions. Including Fran Kelly, Jonathan Green, Chip Rolley, Waleed Aly, Linda Mottram, Russell Skelton, Andrew West, Geraldine Doogue, Paul Barry, Peter McEvoy and more besides.
And now it’s time to update MWD’s highly popular Mark Scott Clock – in response to the overwhelming demand.
SPECIAL REQUEST: MARK SCOTT CLOCK UPDATED
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: 383 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. Yet, according to Nice Mr Scott, the ABC Board endorses this.
MWD used to read “Richard Farmer’s Chunky Bits” column in Crikey – until Mr Farmer got sacked. Your man Farmer always managed to be informative and refrained from writing about himself – unlike his successors at the leftist Crikey newsletter like Jane Caro (See MWD Issue 214). And now for something quite substantial.
In his blog Politicalowl last Saturday, Richard Farmer referred to this comment by Gerard Henderson in The Weekend Australian of 22-23 February 2014, viz:
The ABC declines to acknowledge the point. But a greater plurality of views can be heard on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel in the United States than on the taxpayer funded broadcaster in Australia. The ABC does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets.
Richard Farmer went on to cite examples of some conservative or right-of-centre presenters and commentators and concluded:
I’ll leave it to Gerard to give some examples of Fox’s left-wing commentary in his Media Watch Dog blog next Friday.
MWD just loves a challenge. Here is a list of Fox News presenters and/or paid contracted commentators who are left-of-centre types – or “liberals” in the American sense of the term.
▪ Bob Beckel: Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in Jimmy Carter’s administration and former national campaign manager for Walter Mondale.
▪ Kirsten Powers: Formerly a Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Public Affairs in Bill Clinton’s administration.
▪ Geraldo Rivera: A self-proclaimed Democrat voter and vocal supporter of President Barack Obama.
▪ Alan Colmes: A self-proclaimed left-liberal commentator who is consistently critical of conservatives.
▪ Joe Trippi : Formerly a campaign manager for Howard Dean, Tony Blair and Edward Kennedy.
Fox News has one channel. The ABC has two – ABC 1 and ABC News 24 along with numerous radio stations. There is not one conservative employed by the ABC as a presenter or paid contracted commentator on any of its prominent outlets. But Fox News has at least five left-of-centre presenters or paid contracted commentators who appear on its prominent programs.
LEE RHIANNON (NEE BROWN) & THE SOVIET INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN
As avid MWD readers will recall, MWD Issue 213 had some fun that Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown who became Gorman or O’Gorman by marriage and then Rhiannon by deed poll) wrote a piece in New Matilda on 6 February 2014 praising the fact that her comrades in the Seamen’s Union of Australia supported the Australian Olympics Federation team going to the Moscow Olympics in 1980. MWD’s position was – well, she would wouldn’t she?
The point being that in 1980 Lee Gorman/O’Gorman was a member of the pro-Moscow wing of the communist movement in Australia. MWD went on to make the point that Lee Rhiannon (as she became) would have supported the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The partial boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games was initiated by nations opposed to the invasion of Afghanistan – e.g. the United States.
Thanks to a Melbourne based avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the twitter exchange which took place before MWD Issue 213 (14 February) came out. Here it is:
Fancy that. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon now claims that she opposed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in November 1979. This despite the fact that she was a member of the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) which, at the time, was headed by her father W.J. (Bill) Brown.
Bill Brown and his wife Freda Brown remained loyal to Josef Stalin’s heirs in Moscow until the collapse of Soviet communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union. But Comrade Rhiannon (Bachelor of Science UNSW; Diploma of Revolution, International Lenin School, Moscow) now claims that she opposed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1986 W. J. Brown published his book The Communist Movement and Australia: An Historical Outline – 1890s to 1980s. The acknowledgements sections of the Brown tome commences as follows:
To my daughter Lee O’Gorman without whom this project would not have been possible…
The SPA published a monthly magazine titled Survey. Lee O’Gorman became assistant editor of Survey in January 1982. She was editor of the last issue of Survey which was published in July-August 1990 and praised Bill Brown’s role in producing the magazine in the 1970s and 1980s.
This is what W. J. (Bill) Brown had to say about the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the January-February 1980 issue of Survey under the title “An Australian view of Soviet support for free Afghanistan”:
The unprecedented propaganda campaign unleashed against the Soviet Union by the capitalist press and politicians of the Western world stands truth on its head. The charge that the Soviet forces acted to stifle the national independence of Afghanistan reverses the facts.
The following factual evidence will show that the Soviet Union, at the request of the Afghanistan Government is supporting the Afghanistan people’s right to national independence and social progress. The evidence shows that the imperialist forces, led by America in unison with reactionary Governments including the present rulers of China support a course aimed at denying the Afghanistan people the right to decide their own destiny.
In other words, W.J. Brown – and Survey – specifically supported the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The SPA was a communist party, run according to autocratic lines, which took its orders in Moscow. The SPA leadership insisted that all Australian comrades followed the line. As an SPA member, Lee O’Gorman would have been required to follow the lines. There is no evidence that she did otherwise.
HOW NICE MR SCOTT RELIES ON THE “RED” KERRY DEFENCE – YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR
Nancy’s (male) co-owner is rapt, absolutely rapt, in the way ABC managing director Mark Scott runs lines to support his position that the ABC “overwhelmingly” does an “outstanding job”. Backed up by a bevy of taxpayer funded spin doctors, Nice Mr Scott has become adept at running lines.
The ABC does not employ one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. Mark Scott invariably defends the lack of political pluralism within the ABC by pointing to one interview by “Red” Kerry O’Brien with John Howard some years ago. Since the ABC managing director never cites the date of the interview, there is no way to checking his story. Here it is:
● The “Red” Kerry Story – As Told to Rod Tiffen (The Conversation 11 April 2012)
Mark Scott : One of the things I think I’ve learnt about bias is that the audience member brings so much to this bias conversation. We’d get these audience logs after Kerry O’Brien had done a vigorous or torrid interview and there’d be 200 phone calls, a hundred saying: “How dare Kerry O’Brien be so tough and rude to that political guest?” and the other hundred saying: “Why has Kerry O’Brien gone soft? Why won’t he go hard?” and you realise that the audience is bringing this kind of perspective.
● The “Red” Kerry Story – As Told to Jonathan Green (Radio National Drive, 2 May 2013)
Mark Scott : ….Pretty soon after I started I remember Kerry O’Brian gave a, you know, had the Prime Minister in for an interview. And there were 200 phone messages the day after complaining about the interview. And 100 of them said, you know: “Why have you gone so easy on the Prime Minister?”. And the other hundred said “Why have you been so tough on the prime minister?”. A lot of these perceptions are what you bring to the conversation as a listener and I think we do a good job, I think we’re hosting a broad conversation and I think we allow a range of views to be heard.
● The “Red” Kerry Story – As Told to Steve Austin (612 ABC Brisbane, February 2014)
Mark Scott : …Kerry O’Brien was doing the 7:30 Report, John Howard was Prime Minister and he’d just arrived and there was a pretty, kind of, strong and robust interview. And I got in the next morning and I was told that there were 200 complaints about the interview. And I said, “Well what did they show?”. And I was told that around about 100 showed: “Why had Kerry O’Brien been, you know, rude and opposed to the Prime Minister”. And about the other hundred said: “Why had Kerry O’Brien gone so easy on the Prime Minister?”.
How about that? Mark Scott has been running the “Red” Kerry O’Brien defence for at least three years. At best, it covers the (alleged) reaction to one interview conducted between Kerry O’Brien and John Howard at least seven years ago.
ALL QUIET ON THE ALLEGED JULIA GILLARD CARBON PRICE QUOTE: THANKS TO JONATHAN GREEN AND KERRY-ANNE WALSH
This hugely popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other writes to Nancy’s (male) co-owner concerning something or other. And Gerard Henderson, being a courteous kind of guy, responds. On occasions, however, Hendo writes to someone or other and receives a response. Irrespective of who initiated the correspondence, it is published in unedited form in MWD – much to the delight of our hundreds of thousands of readers.
As MWD readers will be aware, ABC Radio National presenter Jonathan Green has refused to enter into correspondence concerning his book The Year My Politics Broke (MUP, 2013). Jonathan Green asserts that, when Prime Minister in August 2013, Julia Gillard qualified her promise that there would be no carbon tax under a government which she led by saying that she was determined to put a price on carbon. According to Green, both the Coalition and the media quoted the former prime minister out of context.
Jonathan Green does not provide a source for this claim in The Year My Politics Broke – and he has subsequently refused to support the claim at Page 141 of his book with evidence. It seems that Mr Green believes that if he ignores the issue, it will go away. [Fancy that. Your man Green obviously does not know how obsessive Nancy’s (male) co-owner is – Ed].
Gerard Henderson has also asked Kerry-Anne Walsh (aka KA) to provide evidence to support a similar – but not identical – assertion in her book The Stalking of Julia Gillard (Allen & Unwin, 2013). Unlike Mr Green, Ms Walsh has been courteous in that she has replied to Hendo’s correspondence. How nice.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that, so far at least, Kerry-Anne Walsh, has not been able to address the issue – due to travel and the like. Here is the Hendo/KA correspondence so far. Let’s hope it has a happy ending. Once again, we’ll keep you posted.
Gerard Henderson to Kerry-Anne Walsh – 29 January 2014
I am hoping you can help me out. I have left my copy of The Stalking of Julia Gillard at home. However, as I recall, you maintained that JG qualified her promise in the lead-up to the August 2010 election that there will be no carbon tax with the statement that she would be putting a price on carbon.
I do not recall such a statement. But I may have missed it. So I would be grateful if you could let me know the source for your comment cited above.
Hope everything is going well. We may catch up on the Insiders again this year.
Kerry-Anne Walsh to Gerard Henderson – 29 January 2014
I’m not at my work place this week and most of next week, as I’m travelling, and my book files are on my work computer so can’t assist you immediately. The book has been out for seven months now, so wondering what is prompting your interest at this point? I’m happy to help, I will just need my research as my memory will need kickstarting.
Gerard Henderson to Kerry-Anne Walsh – 29 January 2014
Thanks for getting back to me. Don’t bother about this since you are travelling.
It’s just that I am reviewing Jonathan Green’s book and he makes a similar claim. I have asked Jonathan for his source and he has not replied. So I was wondering about your source since he seems to have taken the quote from you.
My problem is that a detailed web search reveals that no such comment was made. But I also like to give authors a chance to provide evidence if they have it. Hence my note to Jonathan and you.
Feel free to contact me if you are able to respond sometime in the future. In the meantime I will confine my comments to JG’s The Year My Politics Broke.
Kerry-Anne Walsh to Gerard Henderson – 29 January 2014
Thanks – I’ll put it into my diary for a few weeks’ hence. I’m not actually travelling this week, just not in the office for personal reasons. Next week it is the Cape, Melbourne for the Insiders then Sydney. So I won’t see my office for a few weeks.
I haven’t seen Jonathan’s book. And I didn’t know that’s what JG’s book was called. Clearly I have some reading to do.
Gerard Henderson to Kerry-Anne Walsh – 29 January 2014
Thanks. No hurry.
Gerard Henderson to Kerry-Anne Walsh – 25 February 2014
I am following up our recent (brief) correspondence concerning your book The Stalking of Julia Gillard. I understand that you are about to return to your office – this note is aimed at making my enquiry more specific.
Jonathan Green has not been able to come up with a source to support the claim in his book The Year My Politics Broke (MUP, 2013) that Julia Gillard qualified her August 2010 promise that “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” by adding “but I am determined to put a price on carbon”. I can only assume that Jonathan Green does not have a source for this quote.
I am wondering what is the source for a similar – but not identical – quote in your book The Stalking of Julia Gillard. At Page 8 of The Stalking of Julia Gillard you wrote:
Public support for Gillard and her government started crashing in February 2011, after she announced she would introduce a carbon pricing scheme. Her critics claimed she had broken an iron-clad election promise not to introduce a “carbon tax”. During the election campaign she had stated: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but let me be clear: I will be putting a price on carbon and I will move to an emissions trading scheme.” This is what she announced, but not as far as those in the Opposition and hysterical commentariat were concerned.
You made a similar point at Page 19-20 of The Stalking of Julia Gillard, where you wrote:
Gillard has been hounded and pilloried for stating before last year’s [i.e. 2010] election that her government would not introduce a carbon tax. The quote, which has been hurled at her thousands of times by the anti-Gillardites in the Land of the Lunar Right in the tabloid and shock jock world, is this: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.” What is deliberately omitted – including in the mainstream political press, which uses the quote to flagellate Gillard – is the second half of her sentence. Her full comment on commercial TV during the 2010 election campaign was: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but let me be clear: I will be putting a price on carbon and I will move to an emissions trading scheme.” This is exactly what she announced in February , when she laid out a path to an emissions trading scheme via a fixed carbon price. It was Abbott who labelled it a “tax”, and it stuck.
As you will be aware, the above paragraphs in The Stalking of Julia Gillard contain a significant claim. You assert that both the (then) Opposition and the media “deliberately omitted” Julia Gillard’s qualification of her August 2010 promise that there would be no carbon tax under a government which she led.
However, I cannot locate any source anywhere to support your assertion that Ms Gillard ever said in August 2010 that “I will be putting a price on carbon”. Moreover, I am not aware that Julia Gillard has ever claimed that her promise that “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” was taken out of context.
My question is this. What is the source of your comment on Page 8 and Pages 19-20 of The Stalking of Julia Gillard that Ms Gillard qualified her “there will be no carbon tax” comment” by saying that she would put a price on carbon?
I am sure that you will not mind me asking this question since, in writing The Stalking of Julia Gillard, you sent an email to journalist Peter Hartcher seeking information.
Kerry-Anne Walsh to Gerard Henderson – 26 February 2014
I don’t mind at all you asking the question. But I am not in my office this week again. My work schedule changes, as you would appreciate. You also know that I travel a lot. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Complete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.
– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014
“[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.