GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 219
28 March 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.
- Stop Press/Maurice Newman Segment: Everyone in Agreement With Everyone Else on ABC Racial Discrimination Act “Forum”
A (VERBAL) UNITY TICKET OF THE ANTI-GEORGE BRANDIS KIND
Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to former ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.
How frightfully Aunty on the “Journo’s Forum” on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 late yesterday evening. Wendy Harmer was in the presenter’s chair (standing in for Richard Glover) and her guests were Emma Alberici (ABC TV), John Mangos and Malarndirri McInerney (SBS/NITV News).
Soon discussion got around to the Racial Discrimination Act – Section 18 (c) and Section 18 (d) – and all that. Plus George Brandis and Andrew Bolt and all that. Soon Wendy Harmer agreed with Emma Alberici who agreed with John Mangos who agreed with Malarndirri McInerney who agreed with Wendy Harmer who agreed with herself that the Attorney-General’s proposed amendment to the Racial Discrimination Act was a BAD THING. No other view was heard as everyone agreed with everyone else in the usual ABC way.
Maurice Newman : 4
Jonathan Holmes : Zip
BRIGHTON-HATING RACHEL GRIFFITHS STARS ON Q&A
What a wonderful performance by Rachel Griffiths, Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s favourite thespian, on Q&A last Monday. Sure there was a slight hitch when the gorgeous, pouting Ms Griffiths appeared to accuse someone of attempted murder and presenter Tony Jones was a bit slow to suggest that the word “alleged” should have been used. But there you go – and Nice Mr Scott seems to have plenty of taxpayers’ money to throw around when it comes to defending The Chaser “Boys” (Average age 381/2) from defamation writs. So – no worries.
What did worry MWD, however, was Rachel Griffiths’ comment that unruly behaviour in the House of Representatives reflects “the private school legacy of Eton and Harrow”.
Let’s hope Ms Griffiths is wrong here. After all, she told journalist Gabriella Coslovich a decade ago (The Age Melbourne Magazine, December 2004) that she went to Star of the Sea in Melbourne’s Gardenvale. Ms Griffiths added that she and her husband were thinking of sending their son Banjo to either the private school Xavier College or to the private school St Kevin’s College. As Ms Coslovich reported at the time:
Moments ago, Griffiths was making small talk with stylists, discussing face masks and moisturisers, sunscreens and hair-dryers. Now she’s wanting to discuss the pros and cons of private schooling and public education. “You know, are we going to send Banjo to Xavier with the creme de la creme, or are we going to send him to St Kev’s, which is more of a battler school, or do we send him to a public school where he’s with Iranians and Lebanese, the big mix?
MWD does not know where Banjo ended up – education wise. But MWD does know that St Kevin’s is not a “battler school”. Ms Griffiths also convinced Gabriello Coslovich that Star of the Sea was a “battler school”. Really.
In fact, Star of the Sea is a fashionable Catholic school where the daughters of well-to-do Catholics from Melbourne’s bayside suburbs go before they marry the sons of well-to-do Catholics who attend Xavier College in Kew or St Kevin’s in Toorak. Ms Griffiths’ husband – the artist Andrew Taylor – went to St Kevin’s. Enough said.
Later on Q&A, Rachel Griffiths declared – in a reference which was incomprehensible to anyone outside of Brighton, and possibly to some Brighton residents as well – that:
I felt very compassionate for that man in Brighton and I don’t say that lightly, because I very rarely have compassion for men in Brighton. But I think he, like a kind of a dog, got his hairs up. He felt under attack. I think had she been obviously hurt on the pavement he would have had a different response.
No one knew what the thespian was on about. But she looked so gorgeous that no one seemed to care.
In 2004 Rachel Griffiths told Gabriella Coslovich that she calls Gardenvale “Catholic Brighton”. No one knew what Ms Griffiths was on about then, either.
The Brighton-hating Griffiths is the second most famous graduate of Star of the Sea – after the thespian-turned-polemicist Germaine Greer. This is what the playwright Jack Hibbert wrote in Memoirs of Melbourne University about GG during her time at Melbourne University in the late 1950s/early 1960s:
Germaine Greer was around Melbourne University in those early years. She ate men for breakfast. After her first tutorial with Chris Wallace-Crabbe, she accosted the poet and asserted that she would like to wrap her sexual organ around his. She went to Star of the Sea.
● JONATHAN GREEN ACCUSES SOMEONE ELSE OF INVENTING “FACTS”
What a stunning performance by Jonathan Green, the ABC’s man-for-all programs, on the “Newspapers” segment of the ABC 1 News Breakfast yesterday.
Discussion turned to Andrew Bolt’s syndicated column concerning Justice Mordy Bromberg’s decision in Eatock v Bolt in the Federal Court in September 2011.
In commenting on Bolt’s columns – which led Justice Bromberg (formerly a labour lawyer) to rule against the columnist for, inter alia, his “tone” – your man Green declared that the principal reason Bolt lost the case was that he just “made stuff up”.
Really. Could this be the very same Jonathan Green who, in his book The Year My Politics Broke, made stuff up? The reference is to Mr Green’s undocumented assertion that in August 2010 Prime Minister Julia Gillard qualified her “there will be no carbon tax” under the government she led promise by adding that she “was determined to put a price on carbon”. The answer is, er, yes. Can you bear it?
● THE AGE’S MR HOLMES DEFENDS AUNTY’S MR HOLMES AND SOME OTHERS
Nice Mr Scott, the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief, maintains that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster does not run a line because it does not matter how ABC presenters vote. Not that anyone said it did – since, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pointed out, ABC presenters and producers and editors invariably criticise both the Coalition and Labor from the left.
The essential reason why the ABC does not have one conservative presenter or producer of editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets turns on the fact that, at the ABC, the like-minded appoint other like-minded types to key positions and invariably support each other once they join the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
Former ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes – who is but one of a series of leftist presenters of the program since it commenced in 1989 – now writes a column for “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”.
Writing in The Age last Wednesday, Jonathan Holmes defended his successor Paul Barry whom he described as “my friend”. When Mr Holmes held the position of Media Watch presenter, he conceded that he was softer on the ABC personnel than on non-ABC types. Last year, while calling on Institute of Public Affairs staff who appeared on the ABC to declare who funded the IPA, Jonathan Holmes declined to answer questions as to whether ABC presenters should declare their non-ABC income received from companies for presenting or speaking at corporate functions. Clearly Jonathan Holmes believes that there should be one rule for conservatives who appear on the ABC and quite a different rule for his one-time ABC colleagues.
And now Jonathan Holmes is writing columns in The Age defending his Media Watch predecessors David Marr, Monica Attard along with his successor Paul Barry plus, wait for it, HIMSELF. Can you bear it?
● THE GUARDIAN-ON-THE-YARRA : AN UPDATE
The Age must be in serious competition these days on the streets of Melbourne with Green Left Weekly and Professor Morry Schwartz’s (for a junk professor he has become) The Saturday Paper.
This is The Age’s contribution to the political debate yesterday:
▪ An editorial titled “Abbott’s vision is fixed in the 1950s” which bagged the Prime Minister on the new honours system and proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act.
▪ Five out of five letters criticising the Abbott government’s proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act.
▪ A Spooner cartoon mocking the Prime Minister
▪ A leading Opinion piece by The Age senior writer Michael Shmith titled “Abbott drags us back in time to a knights’ realm”.
▪ Another opinion piece by University of New South Wales academic Dr Peter Balint (for a doctor he is) titled “Free speech is often not so free, Mr Brandis”.
In short, one editorial critical of the Coalition along with 100 per cent of the letters published plus 100 per cent of opinion pieces. Neither Green Left Weekly nor The Saturday Paper could do better than this.
Today’s Age carries 12 letters on national politics – all of which are critical of the Coalition – plus a column by left-wing academic Waleed Aly which is also critical of the Coalition. Another 100 per cent score-line.
The fact is that there is more political diversity in The Australian than there is in The Age which increasingly resembles the content of a university student newspaper like, say, Farrago. Can you bear it?
● NEW MATILDA’S “HUMOUR”
Here is New Matilda’s tasteless contribution to the current political debate.
Can you bear it?
STEP FORWARD JOHN MASANAUSKAS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION SCOOP
MWD just loves obsessive types. You would have to be somewhat obsessive to lodge a Freedom of Information request concerning the Human Rights Commission’s end-of-year knees-up last December. But this is precisely what intrepid Herald-Sun reporter John Masanauskas did – with stunning results. So MWD just loves Mr Masanauskas.
It turned out that the Human Rights Commission hired the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney Harbour for its knees-up at the end of 2013. But only after HRC bureaucrats had prepared a 16 page report on venue options. Asked about the propriety of holding an event with a focus on the poor and oppressed at such swanky premises, HRC president Professor Gillian Triggs declared:
I really do take umbrage at the idea that somehow because you’re a human rights body you’ve got to do things in some sort of shabby way. We don’t want to be in a village hall in Koo Wee Rup just because we haven’t got a lot of money.
Quite so. In any event, Koo Wee Rup may not even have a village hall. Or even what Mike Carlton calls a “village idiot” to go with it. See MWD Issue 218. No doubt Koo Wee Rup’s facilities were tackled in the HRC’s venue options paper.
Highlights of the HRC end-of-2013 function, as revealed in the Herald-Sun, were:
▪ Despite the fact that Professor Triggs and other HRC staff paid their own way – and despite the fact that the event achieved $35,000 in sponsorship (including $10,000 from the Department of Social Security) – the knees-up still made a loss of $1800. Quite an achievement, when you think about it.
▪ HRC organisers paid someone or other $400 to do a “Welcome to Country” ceremony to welcome attendees to their own country.
▪ Craig Reucassel – one of the Chaser “Boys” (average age 381/2) received a $2000 gratuity plus $280 in expenses for trying to be funny, all in the name of human rights. [No doubt he did a great send-up on children with terminal illnesses or some such. – Ed]
MWD’s modest proposal for the HRC’s 2014 end-of-year knees-up is as follows:
▪ Hire out the Koo Wee Rup village hall and put some photos of Sydney Harbour on the wall. Get Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton to play the village idiot. After pre-dinner drinks, of course.
▪ Get a local to do a “Welcome to (Koo Wee Rup) Country” for free.
▪ Find a comedian who will pay the HRC to tell undergraduate jokes.
In the meantime, John Masanauskas – Five Paws.
On 28 February 2014, Geoffrey Luck wrote an article in The Australian on the ABC’s reluctance to admit errors or make corrections.
One of MWD’s (many) avid readers, has tipped off Nancy’s (male) co-owner re a Twitter link to Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton. The suggestion is that Mr Carlton became HIGHLY angry about Mr Luck and threw the switch to abuse mode. You be the judge:
@Mike Carlton01: I knew Geoffrey Luck at the ABC. He was a plodding dickhead, justly passed over for high editorial command.
@markwillacy: given he left the joint in 1976 he’s not exactly a current source either.
@MikeCarlton01: He was a dill. I remember having to sub his copy. Heavilty [sic].
@markwillacy: Pity no-one at the Oz administered a heavy subbing. Although as sheer comedy it’s great.
Mark Willacy is an ABC reporter who exhibits the familiar ABC sensitivity to criticism. And your man Carlton writes an abusive column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Apparently Mr Carlton and Mr Luck had a falling out when the latter (in his capacity as the ABC’s London editor) declined to send a hire car to pick up your man Carlton at Heathrow Airport. An unforgiveable snub, surely.
CHINA AND THE JESUITS – THE COURAGE OF THE LATE FR FAN S.J. & THE ONE-TIME NAIVETY OF AUSTRALIA’S VERY OWN FR GERALD O’COLLINS S.J.
In London on 19 March, The Telegraph published an obituary of Fr. Joseph Fan Zhongliang S.J. (1918-2014) – the Jesuit priest who was persecuted by China’s communist regime during Mao Tse-Tung’s time and beyond. It was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 March.
Fr Fan was ordained a priest in 1951. He was arrested in 1955 for refusing to follow Mao’s order that Chinese Catholics should renounce the Vatican. Fr Fan was released from prison in 1978, following Mao’s death in 1976. After his 2000 appointment by Pope John Paul II as Coadjutor Bishop of Shanghai in China’s underground Church, Fan was placed under house arrest and suffered considerable state harassment until his death.
In China, Catholic priests are required to renounce the Vatican and to join the Communist Party approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is controlled by bishops approved by the Chinese government. Fr, later Bishop, Fan was one of those heroic Chinese Catholics who remained loyal to the Pope in Rome. For this he was persecuted for some six decades.
When reading of Bishop Fan’s death, MWD was reminded of what some Jesuits said about Mao’s China at a time in the 1970s when Fan was in China’s gulag and Mao was fashionable among the Western intelligentsia.
This material can be found in Michael Chu S.J.’s edited collection titled The New China: A Catholic Response (Paulist Press, New York, 1977) which contains chapters by Michael Chu S.J., Julia Ching, Paul Rule, Robert Faricy S.J., Domenico Grasso S.J., Francis A. Sullivan S.J. and Gerald O’Collins S.J. At the time of publication, Paul Rule was a lecturer in history at La Trobe University in Melbourne and Fr Gerald O’Collins, an Australian, was teaching at the Gregorian University in Rome.
Paul Rule’s essay titled “Is Maoism Open to the Transcendent?” was as ridiculous as it sounds. For example, in 1977 Mr Rule wrote that the “personal rituals of Maoism” resembled “the culmination of a religious pilgrimage” such as a “Holy Year ceremony in St Peter’s Square”. The fact is that some 100 million Chinese were purged in the Cultural Revolution which ran from 1966 to 1976 and millions died. Yet Paul Rule maintained that “the personal rituals of Maoism” were similar to a religious ceremony at Fatima in Portugal. Mr Rule was an academic.
And then there is Gerald O’Collins S.J.’s chapter which is titled, wait for it, “Christ and China”. This is what the Jesuit O’Collins wrote about Mao Tse Tung while his fellow Jesuit Fan was in a Chinese communist prison.
▪ First up, Fr O’Collins bagged Fr Robert Greene’s 1954 book Calvary in China. Fr Greene was imprisoned in China in 1949 and expelled from the country in 1952. O’Collins criticised Calvary in China since it “reduced readers into concentrating on the sufferings of individual Christians” and into ignoring “the enormous suffering endured by the Chinese and other non-Christians”. The argument was that somehow Christians were responsible for the suffering in China in the early 1950s.
▪ Fr O’Collins went on to make the extraordinary suggestion that “books like Calvary in China – against the intention of their authors – contributed to the widespread and ruthless indifference towards the dead of Biafra, Chile, Iraq, Vietnam and all those other scenes of mass death”. The implication was that Jesuits like Fr Robert W. Greene were responsible for the dead of Biafra and elsewhere. Fr O’Collins made no reference to “the dead” of the Soviet Union, or North Korea or North Vietnam or Cambodia.
▪ Fr O’Collins reflected on Chinese lives “cut short by warlords, Japanese invaders and natural disasters, as well as the lives freely given to bring about the New China”. He made no reference to the lives taken by Mao and his communist comrades in establishing and maintaining a totalitarian dictatorship in China.
▪ Then Fr O’Collins referred to St Paul’s reflections on Christ’s fate “and reflected on Chinese heroes and martyrs”:
Quite ordinary soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army prove capable not only of hard work but of utterly selfless patriotism. They became heroic and powerful. The strength to save others (like comrades or children) bursts though their weakness. Power comes to these Chinese heroes, because they have reflected on Mao’s thought. Simply hearing the words of Chairman Mao can produce powerful effects. At the point of drowning in icy water, one Red Guard “heard the shouting on the shores: ‘Be resolute, do not fear sacrifice, overcome every difficulty, be victorious.’ Suddenly he acquired new energy.”
In brief, the Communist heroes and martyrs exemplify in their own way the Pauline principle of power in weakness. The source of their strength is not, of course, the death and resurrection of Christ, but the thought of Chairman Mao. What emerges if we confront the figures of Jesus and Mao?
Here Fr O’Collins sounded like a spruiker for the Cultural Revolution and The Thought of Mao Tse Tung.
▪ Then Fr O’Collins saw spirituality in Mao’s reported claim that power grows out of the barrel of a gun:
The best known sentence from the Little Red Book announces that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. Ninian Smart has recently argued that Mao’s greatest achievement lies in his shaping a new spiritual force. Power grows out of the barrel of a spirit. It may well be so. Nevertheless, granted that Mao has never shown himself a paranoid killer like Stalin, he views opponents as people to be ruthlessly crushed or forcibly re-educated. Violent class struggles shape his vision. He dismisses love of the oppressors for the oppressed as paternalism, and love of the oppressed for their oppressors as servility. Mao’s implicit rejection of that Christian love which transcends class conflict and hostility has been quoted a thousand times. But one more time won’t hurt: There will be a genuine love of humanity after classes are eliminated all over the world. Classes have split society into many antagonistic groupings; there will be love of all humanity when classes are eliminated, but not now. We cannot love enemies, we cannot love social evils, our aim is to destroy them.
Jesus, however, preached love for one’s enemies. He did not join the Zealot guerrilla forces. In fact he was so uninterested in combating imperialism, that his preaching hardly indicates that he lived in an occupied country under the Roman Empire.
Here Fr O’Collins was comparing Jesus Christ with Mao. Jesus emerged as a nicer kind of guy but the impression was given that Mao may become like Jesus when class is eliminated. Really. And Fr O’Collins asserted that Mao was not a killer like Stalin. In fact, Mao probably killed more individuals than Stalin did.
Then Fr O’Collins found something nice to say about the treatment of women in China :
We have lined up some major contrasts between (1) Maoism and (2) the Christian faith, which bases itself on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We can also sort out some points of convergence. To begin with Mao has effectively worked against the subjugation of women. He has destroyed concubinage, given women equal opportunities, and made Chinese women the envy of their sisters in the Western countries. There women still seem condemned in many ways to be little more than objects.
It was Mao’s rule rather than the Christian missions which allowed women in China to make a huge leap forward in their rights and responsibilities. As Julia Ching observes, “Women are present in the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, but not in the College of Cardinals.”
The idea that women were more free in China in the mid-1970s than in the West was quite delusional. During the Cultural Revolution women, like men, were continually purged for their (alleged) political opinions. Sure, women were not in the College of Cardinals circa 1977. But the Vatican did not run labour camps – a fact omitted by the Australian Jesuit.
At the end of his essay, Fr O’Collins suggested that there might be “convergences and parallels between the teaching of Mao and the Good News brought by Jesus Christ”. Really.
At the same time as the Chinese Jesuit Fr Fan was incarcerated within Mao’s gulag, the Australian Jesuit Fr O’Collins fantasised that Mao was the “idolised leader” of 800 million people. O’Collins made no mention of the tens of millions who died in the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1962 – which was, in effect, Mao’s forced famine.
In 2012 Gerald O’Collins S.J.’s memoirs, titled A Midlife Journey (Connor Court) – were released. The book contains just one fleeting reference to Mao and no mention of Fr O’Collins’ contribution to The New China: A Catholic Response. But Nancy’s (male) co-owner has a library where such tomes are stored – ready for a run in History Corner.
ON THE GREEN LEFT SILENCE ON PRESIDENT PUTIN & RUSSIA’S AGGRESSION IN CRIMEA
This hugely popular segment of MWD usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something of other. And Hendo, being a courteous kind of guy, responds in spades. And then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of MWD’s hundreds and thousands of avid readers.
This week the focus is on a certain Jim Fish who emails Nancy’s (male) co-owner from time to time. Mr Fish’s original missive ranged over a variety of issues. The material published here turns on his claim about what Gerard Henderson said on the Insiders program last Sunday concerning Russia, Ukraine, Crimea and, of course, the green-left. Here we go.
Jim Fish to Gerard Henderson – 24 March 2014
Hi Mr. H,
Been a while. I’m writing to you after another dose of you on the Insiders…. That tragic little bit about the green left not standing up against Putin – what bizarre nonsense.
I hereby state – as would any lefty you asked – that Putin is a nasty piece of work, as are his recent actions – what, are you seriously trying to link people from the contemporary left with support for Soviet-style intervention? Do you expect to be taken seriously when you say stuff like that?
I am not anti-American, nor am I pro-Russian. In fact some of my views are quite distinct from what might normally be expected of someone who invariably votes 1 for either Green or Labor. So it is interesting that you tend to paint black and white pictures of social democrats while being far more extreme in the expression of your own views than the vast majority of us. But keep doing it, because it’s funny, albeit in an annoying sort of way. If, however, you did someday wish to redeem some of your former reputation, part of my advice would be to just occasionally exp opinions about the current government’s actions.
Gerard Henderson to Jim Fish – 26 March 2014
How wonderful to hear from you again. And how wonderful that you watch Insiders and appear to be still reading my columns now that I have moved from the Sydney Morning Herald to The Weekend Australian.
The only problem is that you are still distorting my position. This is what I said in the predictions/observations segment at the end of Insiders last Sunday:
It’s interesting how little the green-left in Australia has said about Russia’s conquest of Crimea which, under international law, is part of Ukraine. Had the United States done it, I think the green-left would have gone berserk.
As you will note, I criticised the attitude of the green-left to Russia’s military action with respect to Ukraine. I did not mention social democrats in this context. After all, President Barack Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton are social democrats and all have been very critical of Russia and President Putin of late.
The fact is that commentators whose views I would place on the green-left part of the political spectrum have been soft on Russia. Take, for example, the letter which was given prominence in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 March 2014 by Alan Ward, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Newcastle – who wrote as follows:
The response of the Western powers to the Crimea crisis, and Moir’s cartoon on Tuesday attributing the crisis to Putin as (allegedly) a power-mad aggressor, reflects a poor understanding of east European history. Under the tsars, Russia sought warm-water ports on the Black Sea, and in 1854-56 successfully fought Turkey, Britain and France to secure them. Colonisation of the region by ethnic Russians, which had begun under the Vikings by a people called the Rus, continued apace. Now, in ethnic terms, the Crimea is overwhelmingly Russian.
Anti-Russian posturing, including that of Hillary Clinton, is all too reminiscent of Cold War attitudes. It is facile to liken Moscow’s recent support of Crimean Russians to Hitler’s courting of German minorities in the 1930s. What a cheek. Had Britain and France stood with Moscow against Nazi aggression in 1935-38, instead of appeasing Hitler, World War II would probably never have occurred.
As it is, Western liberties owe a great deal to the sacrifices made by the Russian people in the anti-fascist war and it would behove us never to forget it.
As for Nikita Khrushchev putting the Crimea within the jurisdiction of Ukraine in 1958, that occurred under the overarching authority of the USSR. The USSR no longer exists and it is facile to regard Khrushchev’s arrangements as binding in international law.
The West, and Australia, would do better to spend their energies negotiating for the full civil liberties of Ukrainian, Tatar and other minorities in Russian Crimea.
– Alan Ward Emeritus Professor of History, University of Newcastle, Merewether
Your suggestion that members of the green-left have not been sympathetic to Russia is not supported by the evidence. Professor Alan Ward is not a voice in the green-left wilderness.
I am comfortable in being classified as a conservative. As I understand it, Dr Michael Fullilove would be comfortable in being classified as a social democratic – after all, he once was an adviser to Prime Minister Paul Keating. This is part of what the executive director of The Lowy Institute wrote in The Interpreter on 20 March 2014:
…where are the voices on the left speaking out against Russia’s sinister and brutal conduct against its smaller neighbour, Ukraine? Did Crimea appear on any of the placards in the March in March?. Where are the outraged op-eds?
Imagine if the US were moving tens of thousands of troops, wearing uniforms without national insignia, into a bordering country on a trumped-up pretext. Imagine if Washington were fomenting, and then exploiting, secessionist fervour. Imagine if the Americans were annexing and formally absorbing chunks of other countries. The resulting brouhaha would envelop Australia. Parliament would be seized of the matter. The letters pages would be groaning with denunciations. The streets would be full of protesters. Essays would most certainly be written.
Yet Russia has done these things, and the reaction has been indifference. The only peep I’ve heard is from Antony Loewenstein in The Guardian Australia. I encourage everyone to read Mr Loewenstein’s article, purely for its comic value. He makes a few cursory references to the unpleasantness of the Putin regime, in particular its homophobia. But when it comes to what he coyly describes as Russia’s “involvement” in Ukraine, Mr Loewenstein is silent. For him, the real villains are the Western media – which he faults for running unflattering pictures of a shirtless Mr Putin – and, naturally, the US.
Of course! Washington is to blame! With its “record of flagrantly breaching international law”, says Mr Loewenstein, it would be hypocritical for Washington to criticise “potential Russian breaches of law.” (Notice that while Washington’s breaches are flagrant, Moscow’s breaches are only potential.) Somehow an article about Russia’s invasion of its neighbour becomes a discussion of neoconservatism in the State Department. I’m surprised Mr Loewenstein didn’t follow his reasoning to its logical conclusion and blame Tony Abbott too.
Mr Loewenstein and his friends complain about double standards. But they also practise them. Silence and indifference are not confined to Australia, of course. We have not yet heard from Edward Snowden, who lies secure in the bosom of the KGB. Yesterday the Washington Post published another Snowden leak on the NSA. Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that none of the zillions of documents that Mr Snowden stole seem to reflect poorly on Mother Russia?
And what of Julian Assange, late of the Russia Today network? The other week he poked his head up on a screen at South by Southwest to implicitly endorse the annexation. “Geopolitically, it is utterly intolerable for Sevastopol to fall into the hands of NATO,” he opined. (Mr Assange fancies himself as a grand strategist.) That would be “an existential threat to Russia.”
I am a supporter of Australia’s alliance with the US; I think America’s effect on the world is largely benign. However, when Washington launched its wrong-headed and foolhardy invasion of Iraq, I opposed it publicly. But then, I see consistency as a virtue.
So, as you will note, members of the green-left defended Russia’s conquest of Crimea (Alan Ward, Julian Assange) or were silent on the issue (Edward Snowden). Moreover, I am not the only Australian commentator to reflect on this – as the comments by Michael Fullilove demonstrate.
As previously advised, you should do some research before writing to me.
Best wishes – and keep monitoring my comments.
Jim Fish to Gerard Henderson – 28 March 2014
Hi Mr. Henderson
Thanks for that, but your reply rests on the premise that the green left is some (real) enterprise distinct from social democracy. I stand to be corrected, but as far as I know they’re not dramatically different in any objective sense and you’re splitting some hairs you made yourself – I mean, if you’re talking about Assange et al., why not mention names? A tendency of yours I have noted frequently is to take extreme examples of a position and use it to deride a larger population – the ABC, the left etc. There are many positions taken by Assange or Pilger and others with which I vehemently disagree. But I am of the left, and I often vote Green, and I am an environmentalist. But I strongly affiliate with people like Obama who you identify with social democracy.
So what am I? A social democrat? A greeny? A left greeny or a green lefty? Frankly I don’t care… but the fact that I took your comments to have been directed at people who tend to opine like me means that perhaps you need to revise your labelling, or be more specific, or … something. Failing that you could send me the literature that defines “social democrats” and “green lefties” and I can thereby figure out who I am and where I belong. (In or near Crimea, I hear you say).
Mostly, however, I wasn’t really specifically talking about your final comment. I write rather quickly when I’m agitated, so apologies for not being clearer .
And no, I don’t read The Australian, so I guess I’ll have to wait with bated breath for more ABC appearances.
Gerard Henderson to Jim Fish – 28 March 2014
I refer to your recent note.
At the end of Insiders last Sunday, all three panellists had no more than 15 seconds to make a prediction or an observation. As you will note, my comment ran for a mere 39 words.
Within this time frame, I did not have time to define the green-left or to name its top ten personalities. I assumed that viewers would understand my point. You are the only person who has queried what I said.
I cannot advise you whether you identify with the green-left or with the social democrats. All I can say is that my friends and contacts in the Labor Party identify as social democrats and oppose left-wing extremism, i.e. the contemporary green-left.
If you cannot work out who you are – or where you stand – I cannot help. Life’s too short for such a task.
I note that you now say that you did not focus on my final comment on Insiders about Ukraine and Crimea. But in your email of last Monday you did criticise my claim that the green-left has been very quiet on President Putin and Russia with respect to Ukraine. Yet when I supported my comment with evidence, you stated that you were not “specifically talking” about my comment on the green-left. Once again, if you are unsure about your own position, I cannot resolve this for you.
For the record, I stand by everything I said on Insiders re the green-left.
Until next time – keep morale high.
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.