GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 220
4 April 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.
“[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”
– Mike Carlton, Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm
For additional endorsements of MWD see the end of this issue.
- Stop Press: 7.30 Gives Greens Soft Run; Clive Palmer & Tony Jones Call It Quits; Mark Scott On the ABC’s Media Report
- Can You Bear It? Leslie Cannold on Theocracy; Christine Milne on The Old Testament; Hugh White on China’s Displeasure
● 7.30’s CLAIRE MOODIE GIVES GREENS’ SCOTT LUDLAM A PRE-ELECTION LEG-UP
Interviewed by Miranda Devine on Radio 2GB on 15 December 2013, Tony Abbott was asked whether he believed that there is “bias in the ABC”. The Prime Minister replied:
Well, I agree that the ABC gives both sides of politics a hard time – but often the critique of both the Coalition and of the Labor Party is from the left.
This is a put-down to ABC managing director Mark Scott’s constantly repeated refrain about how, once upon a time, the ABC received criticism of a Kerry O’Brien interview with John Howard from both Coalition and Labor voters. See Issue 215. Nice Mr Scott’s parable does not include any criticism of the Red Kerry interview from Greens voters.
The coverage of the Western Australian Senate election on 7.30 last night tells the story. The “star” of the report was Green candidate Scott Ludlam – who failed on the first count of the 2013 election and narrowly succeeded on the recount. But Liberal Party candidate Linda Reynolds who won a Senate seat on both the first and second counts in September 2013 received unenthusiastic coverage. Meanwhile Labor’s Joe Bullock and Palmer United Party’s Dio Wang were comprehensively bagged.
Scott Ludlam got to say 107 words on his own terms. Linda Reynolds was allowed to put 65 words to air and Joe Bullock scored 33 words. In other words, the Greens candidate got more 7.30 time than the Liberal and Labor candidates combined.
Moreover, Claire Moodie editorialised that Reynolds was “reluctant to stray” from the Liberal Party message. And Claire Moodie put Bullock on the defensive by querying him about his use of slush funds as a trade union official. Dio Wang declined to be interviewed and Claire Moodie homed in on this in her brief interview with PUP leader Clive Palmer.
Claire Moodie’s 7.30 report provided much needed support for Scott Ludlam and the Greens on the eve of the special Western Australian Senate election.
● IT’S OVER – CLIVE AND TONY BREAK UP ON LATELINE
It seems that Clive Palmer’s one-way love affair with ABC 1 presenter Tony Jones may be at an end. During his all-too-frequent appearances on Lateline, your man Palmer never loses an opportunity to praise Jones as the greatest interviewer of all time and the greatest mind since Plato. But not last night.
Tony Jones in Sydney interviewed Ross Garnaut and Clive Palmer in Perth. It seems that Dr Garnaut (for a doctor he is) has taken leave from the University of Melbourne to campaign against the Coalition in general and the carbon tax repeal legislation in particular during the Western Australian Senate election campaign.
ABC types invariably just love Clive Palmer since he has a habit of criticising Tony Abbott – albeit from the right. The problem Palmer ran into on Lateline last night turned on the fact that he has indicated that the Palmer United Party senators will support the repeal of the carbon tax in the Senate after 1 July.
Let’s go to the transcript where – after a long and ponderous sermon by Garnaut – Palmer attempted to state his case. Note that the ABC transcript has been corrected to include some of Jones’ repetitive sayings which were deleted by the ABC:
Tony Jones: Yeah, Clive Palmer, I think what’s being said there by Professor Garnaut is that if you’d actually had a more emissions-friendly, or if you’d actually managed to reduce your emissions at your refinery in Townsville, you could have actually made a profit rather than end up
Clive Palmer: that’s not –
Tony Jones: – paying out this large sum in the carbon tax that you’ve just written a cheque for, evidently.
Clive Palmer: Well isn’t it ludicrous to have a carbon tax that makes you think you’re doing something, when in reality you give all the industries a free permit so they have to pay less and they can make a profit? You know, that’s just a ludicrous policy. And what I’m concerned about is the loss of jobs.
Tony Jones: But can I just interrupt you there? Doesn’t that …
Clive Palmer: Well, no, you can’t. I listened to what you were saying …
Tony Jones: isn’t that – isn’t that –isn’t that – well – isn’t that only the case if you don’t reduce your emissions?
Clive Palmer: No, I’m sorry. Can I answer what you’ve said and then you can have a chat? It’s my turn now….
Finally, Clive Palmer got a word in edgeways over Jones’ constant interruptions of what had been a brief response. But the body language indicated that the former no longer believes that the latter is the greatest journalist the world has known. Thank God for that.
● HOLD THE FRONT PAGE – ABC MD DEFENDS ABC ON ABC (YET AGAIN)
Did anyone hear ABC managing director Mark Scott being interviewed by ABC staffer Richard Aedy on ABC Radio National’s The Media Report yesterday afternoon? Your taxes at work, to be sure.
It seems that Nice Mr Scott likes nothing better than being the recipient of soft interviews by his employees where he states and re-states the current ABC mantra. Yesterday Mark Scott repeated – for the 79th occasion – the claim that Keith Murdoch (i.e. Rupert’s old man) attacked “the ABC back in the 1930s”. Nice Mr Scott also ran the line that the ABC is a “Town Square” – but once again failed to recognise that no conservatives get to enter any prominent parts of this location.
Mark Scott increasingly engages in indirect speech these days – of the “I would argue” and “I suppose my argument is” genre. This is what the ABC managing director had to say about why he regards the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s role in competition with the commercial print media, especially News Corp.
Mark Scott: I would argue that whilst there are more voices, you know, there are blogs and websites and twitter and social media conversations taking place everywhere, there seem to be a lot more voices. But I suppose I’d argue that a whole lot of that new activity is simply responding to the news agenda that is being set still, fundamentally, by traditional media outlets. And I suppose my argument is that News Corporation in that context is more authoritative in setting the news agenda than they’ve ever been.
And if, in fact, you get to a situation where you have one newspaper towns, as is the case already in Brisbane and Adelaide and Hobart and Perth – even though the one in Perth isn’t a News Corporation paper – then those newspapers are very dominant forces. People around the world are already astounded by the concentration we have in Australia in the newspaper market. And if it was to become more concentrated, and to have fewer companies having an even more dominant position, I think that would be something that would generate significant debate and would have significant impact on how our media operates.
If it’s okay for the ABC’s managing director to speak about the ABC on the ABC, it should be okay for Nancy to approach Nancy’s (male) co-owner for a comment on Mark Scott’s criticisms of the ABC’s critics including those whom he refers to as “certain columnists”. Nancy’s (male) co-owner offered this comment to MWD in Mark Scott AO, BA, Dip-Ed, MA, MP Admin (Harvard) speak.
Nancy’s male co-owner: I would argue that Nice Mr Scott never got over swallowing those Masters of Public Administration crib sheets at Harvard when he was sent there per courtesy of Fairfax Media shareholders. I would like to think of it as the Fred Hilmer Syndrome.
I would not hesitate to suggest – well, I would hesitate, but not for long – that Mark Scott learnt at Harvard that the best way to administrate to the public is to pretend that the public does not exist. That’s what a Master of Public Administration really does.
I suppose that what I’m saying here is that Mark Scott pretends that all his critics write editorials or columns for The Australian – so he can convince himself that other critics of the ABC, like Tony Abbott, are only channelling what they wrote as journalists for The Australian in 1980. Or perhaps it was 1981.
All I can say, if I can say it, is that I would like to argue that people around the world are astounded how Nice Mr Scott is locked in denial. Will this do?
This is what took place on 13 March 2014 when Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed Network 10’s political editor Paul Bongiorno on Radio National Breakfast.
Fran Kelly: And just briefly, Paul, the political leaders have been campaigning in WA ahead of that Senate re-run there. But one person who’s not been seen much on the hustings is Labor’s number one candidate on the second ticket [Joe Bullock]. Why not?
Paul Bongiorno: Ah, that’s a really good question. Labor noted that the number one and two Liberals weren’t with Tony Abbott the other day – that’s because they’re ministers and they’re overseas on government business.
Joe Bullock doesn’t have that excuse. He’s the head of the Shop Assistants Union. He has an interesting history, Fran. He was in the DLP Club with one Tony Abbott in their Sydney University days and Mr Bullock actually suggested and – that Tony Abbott go off and join the Liberal Club as a good idea of fighting the lefties on the campus.
And some have even described Joe Bullock as a one-time mentor for Tony Abbott and certainly on some issues, for example, he is against gay marriage, he has been critical of his running mate who is openly gay, Senator Louise Pratt. And he even thinks that Tony Abbott is magnetic and charismatic. And he’s the number one on the Labor ticket. He’ll have to show his face eventually.
Fran Kelly: I guess he will. Paul, thank you very much.
First a correction. Tony Abbott was never a member of the Democratic Labor Party Club – or DLP Club – at Sydney University in the late 1970s. No such entity existed. The DLP effectively went out of existence in mid 1974 and was formally wound up in 1978. It seems that Bonge has repeated an error in David Marr’s Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott was a member of the Democratic Club at Sydney University – not the DLP Club.
Bonge did not identify the “some” who have (allegedly) described Joe Bullock as a one-time mentor of Tony Abbott. Nor did he provide any evidence to support his assertion that Bullock thinks that Abbott is magnetic and charismatic. According to a report by Andrew Burrell in The Australian today, Joe Bullock told a meeting last year that he believed that Abbott “potentially can be a very good prime minister”. That’s all.
It now seems that Joe Bullock may have adopted a low profile during the WA Senate campaign for his own reasons. But your man Bonge, who seems to see Tony Abbott at the centre of everything, missed this.
This is Leunig’s cartoon as published in The Age yesterday.
The Age is a land of – alienated sandalistas
Always has been, always will be.
MWD is looking forward to entries from our avid readers.
● LESLIE CANNOLD LOOKS AT AUSTRALIA AND SEES, WAIT FOR IT, A THEOCRACY
Thanks to an avid MWD reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet from Leslie Cannold which went out on 24 March 2014:
Leslie Cannold @LeslieCannold Mar 24 Check out @ABCTV 1st episode of The Moral Compass. Feisty debate about Oz’s soft theocracy, what to do w/ Woody plus. http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/compass-special-the-moral-compass-2014/ …
The reference was to the inaugural episode of ABC TV’s The Moral Compass which aired on iView on 24 March 2014 – featuring presenter Geraldine Doogue and panellists Dr Cannold (for a doctor she is), John Dickson, Greg Sheridan and Tim Soutphommasane [I think your man Soutphommasane also flashes around his doctor-hood – Ed].
MWD readers will form their own conclusions. But Nancy’s (male) co-owner found the program replete with interjections and interruptions supplemented by loud laughter from Ms Doogue. This was especially so during the discussion concerning Greens Senator – Richard Di Natale’s proposal that “The Lord’s Prayer”, as said in Parliament each sitting day, should be junked.
Mr Sheridan and Mr Dickson were in The Lord’s Prayer tent but Dr Cannold and Dr Soutphommasane were outside planning arson. So to speak.
Clearly the “star” of what is now termed THE CONVERSATION was Leslie Cannold. She declared that Australia has an “established religion” – but did not identify it. And then Dr Cannold tweeted about Australia being a “soft theocracy”.
You see, in Cannold-land, there are theocracies like Iran where the imams rule and religious law is enforced – including with respect to how women behave and dress. And there are “soft” theocracies like Australia where, er, atheists like Dr Cannold are invited to appear on the state funded ABC where they allege that their “minority rights” are being trampled on while enjoying the freedom to interrupt their critics. Iran has Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Down Under we have Tony Abbott. To Dr Cannold, it appears that the latter is merely a “soft” version of the former. Really.
So there you have it. The free-range atheist Leslie Cannold BA, Ph.D. reckons she lives in a theocracy of sorts. Can you bear it? [Perhaps you should have mentioned that Dr Cannold is an academic. – Ed].
● CHRISTINE MILNE IDENTIFIES TONY ABBOTT AS A MAN OF THE BOOK – BUT GETS THE TITLE WRONG
While on the subject of religion and politics, didn’t Greens leader Christine Milne receive a soft reception when she addressed the National Press Club in Canberra on April Fools’ Day?
Once again, Senator Milne attempted to draw a link between Tony Abbott (1957-____) and the Catholic political activist B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998). Let’s go to the written text:
Tasmania’s magnificent high conservation forests listed in 2013 as World Heritage are to be delisted and logged if Abbott has his way, in addition to high country grazing in Victoria’s National Parks, and shooting in NSW and now considered ok for WA’s national parks. Shocking but hardly surprising as our Prime Minister has said that “the environment is meant for man”, an insight into Tony Abbott’s Old Testament, Bob Santamaria philosophical view.
As someone who was educated at St Mary’s College in Hobart, Christine Milne should understand that Catholics like B.A. Santamaria were not Old Testament kind of guys. Rather, they were New Testament kind of guys. The Old Testament may have provided guidance and stories for Protestants and Jews. But Catholics were more focused on 33 AD and all that – and what came after that. Like Tony Abbott, Nancy’s (male) co-owner went to Jesuit run schools. His experience is that the Old Testament was referred to less frequently than the racing form guide.
Also Senator Milne should know that, in his day, Bob Santamaria expressed considerable concern about the environment. His publications include The Earth Our Mother which could be a good title for a tome by sandal-wearing green-leftists. Come to think of it, this might work as a title for Christine Milne’s memoirs.
Senator Milne seems to believe that Tony Abbott is a man of the book. Maybe. But the last book the Prime Minister is said to have read is 50 Shades of Grey. Can you bear it?
● HUGH WHITE FEARS CHINA’S DISPLEASURE
While on the topic of Tony Abbott, what a stunning piece in the Canberra Times last Tuesday by Hugh White of the taxpayer subsidised Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University.
Your man White, a China expert, is best regarded as a “whateverist”. Meaning that his line on China is that Australia should adapt itself to whatever line is being run by leaders of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing at any time.
You see, Hugh White is constantly upset that China might not like us enough if we do something or other that upsets the leadership in Beijing. In his Canberra Times piece, Hugh White:
▪ suggested that Tony Abbott – in his forthcoming trip to China, Japan and South Korea – “will be very lucky if his trade agenda does not get buried by politics”
▪ predicted that the Prime Minister’s trip “could turn out to be the most difficult overseas visit an Australian prime minister has made in many years”
▪ declared that it is “likely…that Abbott will get carried away in Tokyo” and will talk up the Australia/Japan relationship “even further” which will upset China and
▪ predicted that, in such a circumstance, this “would turn a difficult trip into a disastrous one, for Abbott and for Australia”.
Oh yes. Hugh White also declared that “Beijing will be displeased” with the Prime Minister’s view that the Australia/China relationship will improve as China liberalises.
Hugh White unhappy? Beijing displeased? Surely not. Can you bear it?
NICE MR SCOTT SPOONS IT UP
There was a time, in days of yore – before Nancy’s (male) co-owner became Nancy’s male co-owner – that Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch provided a “Sycophantic Spoon Award” for sucker-up media types. This was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in fact, when “Red” Kerry O’Brien was a habitual winner with respect to the Labor government. For good reason.
Due to popular demand, this prestigious award will now appear in Media Watch Dog. Who knows? In time, it may even out-prestige the hugely prestigious “Nancy’s Five Paws Award”.
The winner of the inaugural born-again Sycophantic Spoon Award is, wait for it, Nice Mr Scott.
It seems that ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott delivers the annual A.N. Smith Memorial Lecture at Melbourne University at least twice in each decade. He gave the lecture in 2009 and again last Tuesday.
The managing director of the ABC is appointed (and, if it happens, re-appointed) by the ABC board. Not by the Commonwealth government.
This is what the ABC managing director said about the ABC board at Melbourne University on April Fools’ Day:
The ABC Board is an outstanding group of eminent Australians – trustees of the corporation for the taxpayers – determined to keep standards high, ensure the organisation is compelling and relevant – and delivering a strong return for the funds invested.
Mark Scott – your Sycophantic Spoon is in the post.
What a stunning performance by Egyptian American activist Mona Eltahawy on Q&A last Monday. It certainly helped to propel the program’s growing reputation as Australia’s leading taxpayer funded entertainment show.
Ms Eltahawy used the word f-ck or f-cking on no fewer than four occasions. Wow. How daring – and so on. And she bagged “old, rich, white men”. Also on no fewer than four occasions. A brave reference to Tony Jones, it seems.
Compare and contrast Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly who had this to say to this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly – while shoeless and dressed, apparently, in her pyjamas.
I meditate every morning at 4am before I go into work – rain, hail or shine. It helps me process all the information I am going to need to get through the next few hours on radio.
So there you have it. Activist Eltahawy eats glass for breakfast in preparation for going on Q&A. And Activist Kelly does some transcendental meditation.
For the record, Nancy is in the Kelly camp. She’s a transcendental meditation kind of sheila.
FRANK BRENNAN CORRECTS ELIZABETH FARRELLY’S HOWLER CONCERNING GEORGE PELL
Anti-Catholic sectarianism is rampant in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald these days – especially in the columns of Mike Carlton and Peter FitzSimons.
The “Correspondence” section of this issue includes the email exchange between Gerard Henderson and Peter FitzSimons concerning last Sunday’s “The Fitz Files”. The email exchange also includes a discussion on Elizabeth Farrelly’s column in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald titled “Exit Cardinal Pell, with a bombshell”. In MWD’s view the Farrelly piece was not only ill-informed and vicious – it was also defamatory.
Fr Frank Brennan S.J. is no barracker for Cardinal George Pell. But he is a fair man and took exception to Elizabeth Farrelly’s specific assertion that “George Pell wants to insure priests against being sued for child sexual abuse”.
Attached below is a note prepared by Professor Brennan on this matter. MWD understands that Frank Brennan has written a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald for publication tomorrow concerning Cardinal Pell’s appearance before Justice McClelland at The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Cardinal Pell and Insurance – A Note by Frank Brennan
In the Sydney Morning Herald, Elizabeth Farrelly writing under the headline “Exit Cardinal Pell, with a bombshell” (3/4) claims that Cardinal Pell proposed “a third trivialising layer, his priestly child abuse insurance scheme”. I became a little suspicious when the usually very careful Elizabeth Farrelly did not actually quote the Cardinal’s evidence directly. On checking I find that Justice McClellan first floated the idea of insuring a religious superior against negligence in failing adequately to supervise a pedophile. Pell then returned to that idea. It was Justice McClellan, not the Cardinal, who floated the idea of a “priestly child abuse insurance scheme” – priests insuring themselves against their own abuse! I stand to be corrected but here are what seem to me to be the three relevant pieces of the transcript.
As far as I can ascertain, the first time there was mention of insuring priests, the suggestion came from Justice McClellan when questioning Cardinal Pell on 24 March 2014 about vicarious liability:
Q. You’re aware of the position in relation to vicarious liability in Australia?
Q. Are you aware that there has been some disagreement amongst judges about it?
A. In Australia or overseas?
Q. In Australia.
A. I’m not well versed on the differences in Australia.
Q. I’m not expecting that you would be; you understand.
Q. Are you aware of the position in England?
A. To some extent, yes, I’ve read about it.
Q. You know that it is different to Australia, don’t you?
A. I do.
Q. The English have moved, effectively, to impose vicarious liability.
A. My understanding is that they’ve redefined the role of the priest to something like an employer. My own view would be like that of the dissenting judge in that case, who said that because the paedophilia was so contrary to everything that the church
stood for and it wasn’t in the normal – couldn’t be appropriately described as being in the normal course of his duties, the imposition of vicarious responsibility in that case was not appropriate. I mean, I suspect it’s going to be a big issue. The only other thing I would say is that if this is changed, it should be changed right across the board, not just for church organisations but for the other organisations, too, and lawyers have told me that it will be difficult to achieve this. But if I could go back, my position is clearly that if, for example, a priest offends, it is appropriate – even if you don’t accept vicarious liability, it is appropriate for the remorse and sorrow of the church to be expressed in monetary terms.
Q. Of course, it’s always possible to sue the priest, isn’t it?
A. That’s correct.
Q. Do you think there might be wisdom in the Royal Commission recommending that priests should be insured?
A. I think that might be a very useful development.
Q. And it would solve a lot of problems very quickly, wouldn’t it?
A. I think so.
Q. And you understand that many professionals are required by law to carry insurance?
* * * * *
On 26 March 2014, this exchange took place between Justice McClellan and Cardinal Pell:
Q. That would mean that someone who couldn’t establish liability otherwise than against the church’s officer – that is, the priest – and the priest had no money, the church would have control over any compensation that person would receive, wouldn’t it?
A. Yes, it would mean, though, also, that the church was recognising its moral responsibilities, which the state of the law prevented the survivors obtaining through the law.
Q. Well, no, it’s not the state of the law; it’s the fact that the priest doesn’t have any money. That’s the problem, isn’t it?
A. Well, the law might have required the priest to take insurance. The law might – I wouldn’t support it – change the notion of vicarious liability for the superiors.
* * * * *
On 27 March 2014, this exchange took place between Justice McClellan and Cardinal Pell:
THE CHAIR: Q. Cardinal, the criminal conduct we’re talking about is a deliberate tort; you understand that?
A. That’s a deliberate legal offence.
Q. No – well, it’s that, but it’s also a civil wrong.
Q. I mean, if you hit someone in the street, you may commit a criminal assault, but you will also be liable in the civil law for assault. Do you understand?
A. I understand that now.
Q. There’s no reason why the insurer couldn’t provide insurance for a civil wrong, could it?
A. I simply don’t know, but if you say that they can, good.
Q. They often do.
* * * *
With all respect to His Honour, I don’t think you can or should be able to insure against your own commission of a deliberate tort or criminal act. Any such insurance policy would be void. It is another matter whether you might insure yourself against the negligence of failing adequately to supervise another person under your authority who commits a deliberate tort or criminal act.
Fr Frank Brennan S.J.
Professor of Law
Australian Catholic University
127 Philip Avenue
Watson ACT 2602
ON PETER FITZSIMONS AND GEORGE PELL – BUT INCLUDING FRAN (“I’M AN ACTIVIST”) KELLY, TIM BLAIR, ELIZABETH FARRELLY, THE LATE ABC CHAIRMAN RICHARD (“MEN WILL SLEEP WITH YOUNG BOYS”) DOWNING, RICHARD NEVILLE AND MORE BESIDES
This hugely popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other comes to the view that it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And Hendo, being a courteous kind of guy, invariably replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of MWD’s hundreds of thousands of avid readers.
However, there are occasions when – being an enquiring kind of guy – Hendo initiates the correspondence. With much the same outcome.
This week Gerard Henderson wrote to Peter FitzSimons – he of the Red Bandana – about his Sun-Herald column last Sunday. There was a response and another missive. The entire correspondence is published below. In the public interest of course. Here we go:
Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 2 April 2014
“The Fitz Files” may never be the same again – now that Cardinal George Pell has been appointed to a gig at the Vatican. But it’s possible that you will find a new principal target to sneer at among Catholic believers. We shall see.
For the sake of historical accuracy, I thought I should draw your attention to an error in your Sun-Herald column last week titled “How has George Pell risen to such heights?”. In this piece, you asserted that George Pell “presided over an era that has seen the widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands and worse of priests whose care they were entrusted to.” (emphasis added).
These are the facts:
▪ George Pell was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 (where he immediately set up the Melbourne Response to deal with child sexual assaults by clergy).
▪ George Pell was appointed Archbishop of Sydney in 2001 (where he inherited the Towards Healing approach to child sexual assaults by clergy which was set up by his predecessor).
▪ As Justice Peter McClellan pointed out in a speech last Monday, 90 per cent of the people who have attended private sessions of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are 40 years or older. That is, in 90 per cent of cases, the child sexual abuse occurred in the 1980s and earlier. As you should be aware, Pell was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1987 and promoted to archbishop for the first time (i.e. in charge of an archdiocese) in 1996. Virtually all the crimes which have come to the attention of the Royal Commission with respect to the Catholic clergy occurred before the mid-1980s.
There are legitimate criticisms about how Cardinal Pell – and others – handled compensation for child abuse cases. However, it is false for you to tell your Sun-Herald readers that George Pell “presided over an era that has seen the widespread of sexual abuse of children at the hands …of priests”. He didn’t – as even a modicum of research would reveal.
I know that Fran Kelly made a similar error when she made the following claim on Radio National Breakfast on 25 February 2014:
Fran Kelly: Currently there is a royal commission into institutional responses into child sex abuse. One of the major responses of that is child sex abuse within the Catholic Church by Catholic clergy along with other religious and institutions. Cardinal Pell, of course, has been the head of the Catholic Church in this country during much of the time that some of these complaints have been investigated allegedly occurred.
Like you, Fran Kelly was completely wrong. But, unlike you, Fran Kelly’s comments will not remain uncorrected in print and on the Fairfax Media website – since there is no transcript on the ABC’s website.
I just thought you might like to know this in case you write about the matter in the future.
Peter FitzSimons to Gerard Henderson – 3 April 2014
Hope you are well!
Not sure if you are familiar with the stuff of Tim Blair on Iraq?
A great cheer-leader for the whole thing at the time, he has totally ignored since the fact there were no WMD and delights in going on and on about the fact that while at one point the accusation was made that the Thanksgiving turkey that George W Bush was famously photographed serving to the troops was a plastic prop Turkey, it really was a REAL turkey!
And he might be right. But it is rather . . . beside the point?
Respectfully, may that be the case below?
Whatever the technical position of George Pell in the Australian Catholic hierarchy, I would suggest his recent promotion to no.3 in the Vatican is a fair indicator that he is the leader of the Catholics in Australia, the most influential, the most potent force.
And against the horror or what has come out of the Royal Commission, is his technical position the real story?
Where is your own outrage on this?
I think Elizabeth Farrelly captures it very well in the paper today.
All the best,
Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 3 April 2014
Good effort. However, I do not believe that Tim Blair’s reported view on the Iraq War a decade ago has anything to do with what you wrote about Cardinal Pell in your Sun-Herald column last Sunday. That’s just (attempted) spin.
I note that Fairfax Media is replete with columnists who like nothing better than to sneer at the Catholic Church. Including Richard Ackland, Mike Carlton, Elizabeth Farrelly and yourself. Perhaps this explains the fact that both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald are a turn-off for many (previous) newspaper consumers and/or advertisers who are of socially conservative ilk.
You have simply avoided the point that your comment on George Pell last Sunday was wrong. Simply wrong. As the archbishop of Melbourne and later Sydney, Pell did not preside over “an era that has seen the widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands….of priests”.
The fact is that George Pell was probably the first archbishop in the world to tackle the crime of clerical sexual abuse of children. Pell did so when he established the Melbourne Response, shortly after being appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.
Contrary to the imputation in your column, clergy sexual abuse of children in Melbourne and Sydney appears to have stopped by the mid-1990s. That’s why the overwhelming majority of such cases heard by the royal commission involve crimes which took place in the 1980s and earlier – i.e. before Pell presided over a diocese.
As to Elizabeth Farrelly’s column in today’s Herald, it seems replete with big words – as is her wont. Including “daudhindom”, “fissle solipsism” and the like. As to the context, it contains the usual undocumented assertions. Whoever said, for example, that sexual assault “was the child’s fault”? Just the source will do. Moreover, Dr Farrelly’s assertion that the punishment for child sexual abuse by clergy is “feather light” is hopelessly wrong. In fact, literally scores of one-time priests and brothers are serving long jail sentences in the various Australian states.
Elizabeth Farrelly’s suggestion that Cardinal Pell was “the ringleader” of such criminality is wilfully false and seriously defamatory.
Moreover, Dr Farrelly’s suggestion that “rock-spider clerics may be the only conduit to God” is just anti-Catholic sectarianism. So is the assertion that George Pell has offered child abusers a “licence-to-sin”.
I am not surprised that you enjoyed Elizabeth Farrelly’s rant this morning. And I expect that it will receive praise in the Herald’s Letters Page tomorrow.
The fact is that, as evidence to the royal commission indicates, there was a serious level of child sexual abuse in both faith and non-faith based institutions between the 1950s and 1980s.
I note that your mates at Fairfax Media and the ABC have not reported my revelation that in 1975 the then ABC chairman, Professor Richard Downing, described pederasty as understandable and publicly defended the situation where “men will sleep with young boys”. Those were the days when leftist hero Richard Neville ran radio programs on the ABC where everybody agreed with everybody else that pederasty was a good thing.
I don’t expect that I will be reading about the one-time advocacy of Professor Downing or Richard Neville in your Sun-Herald column anytime soon.
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.