9 May 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.



    It’s 5.10 am and this morning’s bundle of newspapers has just landed on Nancy’s kennel. Not as loudly as usual – since the Sydney Morning Herald’s “BusinessDay” lift-out consists of a mere four pages. But loud enough to alert Nancy’s (male) co-owner, who is working nearby.

    Today’s SCOOP is in the Australian Financial Review’s “Rear Window” column. Unlike most of his Fairfax Media comrades, Joe Aston has not been on strike and has come up with an “exclusive” from Sandalista Central in Ultimo, Sydney. According to Mr Aston, ABC managing director and (allegedly) editor-in-chief Mark Scott has come up with the you-beaut idea that the ABC should employ one conservative presenter for one of its prominent programs.

    A brilliant idea, to be sure. But, what’s the rush? Nice Mr Scott has only been in the job for eight years and there is plenty of time for the ABC to employ one presenter or producer or editor for one of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. Just one will do. And Nice Mr Scott has a couple of years to run on his contract.

    Does anyone remember that it was only as recently as 2 May 2013 that the ABC managing director told ABC presenter Jonathan Green that it was “absolutely simplistic” for Gerard Henderson to state that the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone? [Yes, I remember. Especially since Hendo had no right-of-reply. It made me wonder whether Nice Mr Scott was really so nice – Ed].

    According to Rear Window’s intrepid reporter, it seems that Aunty has in mind a conservative presenter to present a program aimed at a conservative audience. This sounds like tokenism. The equivalent of putting a single woman in a management position or on a public company board filled with men. Or perhaps employing a tea-lady in an all-male environment.

    It seems likely that any such program would soon be labelled by the in-house leftists – who control the various ABC cliques and collectively run the public broadcaster – as “Fascism’s Half Hour” or some such.

    Here’s a really and truly brilliant idea. Why not encourage the ABC leftist cliques simply to appoint people other than their personal and/or ideological mates to key positions on prominent ABC programs? Simple, don’t you think? [I wonder why Nice Mr Scott did not insist on such transparency in 2006 when he became ABC managing director. Perhaps it’s time to update MWD’s Mark Scott clock. Just a thought. – Ed]


    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: 394 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.

    clockface mwd mark scott


    While on the topic of the ABC, a certain TT in Melbourne has written to MWD disputing the assertion that the ABC has not one presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets.

    Not so, declares TT. TT draws MWD’s attention to a certain Eoin Cameron who presents Breakfast on ABC 720 in Perth. Mr Cameron was the Liberal Party MP for Stirling between March 1993 and December 1998.

    Alas, this is not news. Some years ago, ABC Melbourne 774 presenter Jon Faine proudly told Liberal Party deputy leader Peter Costello that Eoin Cameron was a conservative within the ABC. Mr Costello said that it was ironic that the only ABC conservative Faine could name ran a program in Perth – some 3500 kms away.

    For the record, MWD will not be changing its position. The 720 Breakfast program is not a prominent ABC outlet. Moreover, Eoin Cameron presents a program devoid of political partisanship of any kind.

    Can you bear it graphic


    If Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy had only read this humble blog, he could have expected that last Monday’s Q&A would be invaded by a soviet of university radical leftists intent on censoring Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

    As MWD has explained on numerous occasions, the political allegiance of the audience which Q&A depicts at the beginning of each program is wilfully misleading. See MWD passim, ad nauseam.

    As MWD has documented, political identification is by way of self-identification. Since Q&A is filmed in the ABC’s inner-city studio in Sydney’s Ultimo, it tends to be stacked by members of the Green Left who hang out nearby and from the neighbouring University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the University of Sydney.

    So the best way for a follower of Vladimir Lenin or Leon Trotsky to obtain admission to Q&A is to take off his/her sandals and Che Guevara tee-shirt, put on sensible shoes and a shirt – and present themselves as Tony Abbott supporters. Then it’s “Welcome” in order to seemingly make up a representative audience.

    Last Monday, Peter McEvoy and the Q&A team depicted the audience as follows: Coalition 47 per cent, Labor Party 38 per cent, Greens 9 per cent and Not Specified 6 per cent.

    In reality, the audience was stacked with young Green Left/Socialist Alternative types who tried to stop Christopher Pyne from talking and then closed down the program for some minutes by chanting such slogans as: “No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities.” After the event, the ABC issued the following comment :

    Q&A already identifies all audience members and puts together a representative audience based on voting intention but as we saw it only takes a small group to disrupt the discussion.

    Everything is true about this statement – except the facts. The truth is that the Q&A audience last Monday was nowhere near representative and the ABC is easily hood-winked about its audience members’ voting intentions. Can you bear it?


    Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald’s very own Judith Ireland last Tuesday defended the university students who attempted to silence Christopher Pyne and eventually closed down all debate by chanting. Unlike the demonstrators, Mr Pyne happens to be an elected member of parliament who is part of a Coalition government which was democratically elected by the people of Australia.

    According to Ms Ireland, preventing those with whom you disagree from being heard “is exactly what democracy is all about”. The SMH journalist believes that “people with dissenting opinions” deserve to be heard – even to the extent of preventing others from saying anything. Can you bear it?


    What a woeful scholarship in last Monday’s Crikey. Crikey’s media reporter Myriam Robin wrote an article titled : “Who you gonna call? Meet Australia’s biggest media tart”.

    Crikey sent iSentia a list of 19 people who thought will “take your call” and “hurry down to your studio when something breaks”. Crikey did not ask iSentia to assess the media tartship of its leftist mates such as the garrulous David Marr, Clive Hamilton, Dee Madigan, Jonathan Green, Anne Summers and the like. Despite the fact that David Marr, for example, appeared on Insiders last Sunday, The Drum last Monday and will be on Q&A next Monday.

    According to iSentia as reported in Crikey, Gerard Henderson did “545 interviews” in the period between November 2013 and March 2014. In fact, Henderson does very few electronic media interviews. He did no more than a dozen interviews in this entire period – which is a long way south of 545. Also Henderson has never appeared on The Drum, has appeared on Q&A twice in the past six years and once on Lateline during the same period.

    Gerard Henderson wrote to Crikey about this issue. Crikey published his response but spiked this sentence concerning Myriam Robin and Crikey’s editorial standards, which reads as follows :

    I understand that Myriam Robin graduated from media studies at RMIT to become Crikey’s media reporter. It’s a pity that apparently no one has told her that it’s a good idea to check facts and make phone/email contact before launching into print.

    Censorship aside, Crikey editor Jason Whittaker declined to give Gerard Henderson’s response to Myriam Robin’s lead story any prominence. It was hidden in the second last page on Tuesday, under the heading:

    Donations an attempt to buy influence : Cyclists, George Brandis, Political Conservatives, Political Donations

    There was no reference to “media tarts” or to Gerard Henderson’s response in the heading. And Crikey is forever lecturing others about media standards, the evils of censorship and so on. Can you bear it?


    While on the topic of Crikey’s hopeless scholarship, consider this item in yesterday’s “Tips and Rumours” section:

    Plimer’s conversion. Yesterday we told you about the new anti-environmentalist polemic from Australia’s darling of the climate sceptic movement, Ian Plimer. It comes out in a few weeks. Like his previous work, Heaven and Earth (the climate sceptic’s bible), it’s published by Connor Court, a small Ballarat publishing house that specialises in Christian books. George Pell is a key author in the Connor stable.

    Oh, the irony – as some of our readers pointed out. Plimer made a name for himself in the 1990s by taking on Christian creationism. Plimer, a geologist, argued that scientific evidence shows the earth was not created a few thousand years ago, as creationists believe. He took out joint legal action against historian/minister Dr Allen Roberts, who had claimed to have found Noah’s Ark in eastern Turkey (Plimer lost the case, but was given some comfort from the findings). Plimer wrote a book about it in 1994, Telling Lies for God: Reason vs creationism…

    Now, of course, Plimer is writing books claiming anthropogenic climate change is not real for a Christian-aligned publishing house. Telling Lies for God, indeed?

    Obviously the anonymous Crikey writer does not know what he/she is talking about. Anthony Cappello, the managing director of Connor Court, is a mainstream Catholic. As is George Pell. Neither is into creationism. Yet Crikey editor Jason Whittaker, in an act of invincible ignorance, saw fit to publish this tosh. Can you bear it?


    Mark Latham crew cut


    MWD has always been a strong supporter of failed Labor leader Mark Latham’s right to make a living in the Australian media. Otherwise he would be forced to live on an annual taxpayer funded superannuation hand-out of a mere $74,000 a year (fully indexed). And your man Latham has to support a wife, a horse, three kids and half a dozen bookmakers. That’s why MWD campaigned, albeit unsuccessfully, against Sky News’ decision not to renew Mr Latham’s contract in early 2013.

    These days the Australian Financial Review cannot afford to pay some of its occasional contributors or to pay an air-fare for its leading reporters to travel to, say, Indonesia. So it is great, really great, that Michael Stutchbury and the AFR team can still pay the Lair of Liverpool for his anger-charged columns. Long may this be so.

    Yesterday Mark Latham wrote that Prime Minister Tony Abbott had addressed “hundreds of Tory grandees at a Sydney Institute dinner last week” and asserted that the audience’s “reaction” to the PM’s speech was “morbid”. In fact, Mr Latham was not present at the function (which was attended by some 970 guests) and managed to report an event at which he was not present. [Don’t be too tough on the Lair of Liverpool. Perhaps the AFR could not afford to buy him a ticket – Ed].

    Had Mark Latham turned up at The Star on Monday 28 April to attend The Sydney Institute’s 25th Annual Dinner, he could have caught up with such “Tory grandees” as his one-time Labor besties Graham (“call me Richo”) Richardson and Robert McClelland. There were also quite a few ABC types who did not look like “Tory grandees” – unless, of course, you were reporting the event from your bed in Mount Hunter in Sydney’s west, as was apparently the case.

    MWD is pleased to report that none of the nearly one thousand guests got tired and emotional. Moreover, no one assaulted a taxi driver during the trip home. [It was , obviously, a Latham-free occasion. – Ed].

    By the way, did anyone read Mark Latham’s critique of Bob Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister in the AFR on 12-13 April 2014? It seems that your man Latham did not like his former employer’s book – describing it as “wearisome pap” and replete with “eye-glazing boredom”.

    Perhaps Mark Latham would have liked to see more of this kind of Carr diary. Here’s an entry in Bob Carr’s diary of 14 March 1989 (which was published in Marilyn Dodkin’s The Reluctant Leader in 2003).

    Bob Carr – 14 March 1989 : As soon as got the news I summoned Peter [Anderson] and did a news conference in which I boldly endorsed him as my choice. Earlier I’d had a phone conversation with Mark Latham, unsuccessful right-wing candidate and staff member. He in tears. Hung up on me. He later phoned in to resign. Bugger him. He failed to do the grassroots organisation that was necessary for a clear cut, unambiguous win.

    Now that’s a real diary entry – with the Lair of Liverpool bawling his eyes out over the phone to Bob Carr because he had failed to win pre-selection for a safe Labor seat in the NSW Parliament – and, as a consequence, might never be the beneficiary of a taxpayer funded life pension (fully indexed, of course).

    * * * * *

    Chicken Factory



    There was an enormous feedback from avid MWD readers concerning last week’s coverage of the Melbourne-based Professor Robert Manne’s appearance with the Melbourne-based Professor Raimond Gaita at the No Poultry Matter big event at the Phee Broadway Theatre in Castlemaine on 1 May.

    The story so far. Your man Gaita (1947- ) grew up on the Moolort Plains in Central Victoria. He believes that his childhood experience on these very plains influenced the “rhythm” of the “sentences” he used as an author and which can be found in his books Romulus My Father and the incomprehensible After Romulus.

    So the learned professor wants to keep the Moolort Plains plain – so to speak. To this end – as avid MWD readers will be aware – the Stop the Baringhup Chicken Factory campaign has been launched to prevent the construction of a large chicken factory at Baringhup.

    This year Professor Gaita decided to invite his bestie leftist intellectuals to leave the bowels of such places as Fitzroy and Cottles Bridge and travel to Castlemaine to have a chat with him and raise money (at $15 entry) for the anti-chicken factory cause. First up, it was author Arnold Zable (5 March), followed by writer Helen Garner (15 April) followed by Australia’s leading public intellectual Robert Manne (1 May).

    MWD has not been able to obtain reports of what Dr Zable (for a doctor he is) and Ms Garner told the Castlemaine audience. However, yesterday a transcript of the No Poultry Matter conversation on May Day arrived in Nancy’s inbox. Here is the transcript which has been edited by Nancy’s (male) co-owner for reasons of space and comprehension – as is required when Australia’s leading philosopher goes IN CONVERSATION with Australia’s leading public intellectual.

    * * * * *

    Professor Rai Gaita: Robert, many thanks for coming all the way from Cottles Bridge to Castlemaine. It’s great that you could find the time to travel from your taxpayer subsidised position at La Trobe University to Castlemaine to campaign against the prospect of men and women in this area obtaining good jobs in a chicken factory. Greater love has no man – as the philosophical saying goes.

    Professor Robert Manne: It’s an honour to be here. I regard you as Australia’s leading philosopher and it’s the very least I can do to be here, in your esteemed presence, and at this hugely important time in the cultural life of Australia.

    Professor Gaita: I, too, am honoured. After all, you have twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual – a fact which I gleaned from reading your very own website.

    Professor Manne : I was truly moved by your comment in the Bendigo Advertiser on 11 April about how much the Moolort Plains mean to you. Especially since you live in inner-city Fitzroy and can only see this place in your fine photo which hangs on your fine terrace wall in fine old Fitzroy.

    Professor Gaita : That’s correct. As I said to the Bendigo Advertiser, I am so pleased that you and Helen and Arnold are appalled by the prospect of a chicken factory on the Moolort Plains because you know how much the plains mean to me.

    Professor Manne: As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I believe that I have a duty to speak out on this issue. Australia can’t live without the cadences in your sentences. And the construction of a chicken factory at Baringhup would affect the rhythm of those sentences – a thought too dreadful to behold, especially at La Trobe University.

    Professor Gaita: As Australia’s leading philosopher, I am so grateful to have Australia’s leading public intellectual as a supporter of this just cause. Your input is particularly valuable because you – like Helen and Arnold – have stayed at my shack at Baringhup which overlooks the plains. You three have first-hand knowledge of the cadences, released from the Moolort Plains, which affect the rhythm of my sentences.

    Professor Manne: A moving experience, it was. For my part, as Australia’s leading public intellectual, I do not believe that the Moolort Plains have affected the cadences of my own sentences. But I do know that, after spending a week at Baringhup, I certainly began to use more full-stops. An occurrence which did affect the rhythm of my punctuation. My sentences became shorter, you see. And shorter. Short.

    Professor Gaita : A brilliant point. You are right to put a stress on the full-stop. Tonight, as you will see, we are having this conversation in front of a Phee Theatre audience – who have put on their sandals and duffle coats and come out on a cold May Day night in Central Victoria to campaign against their fellow comrades getting a job in a chicken factory. As Australia’s leading philosopher, I take great comfort from this. We need more tax-payer subsidised universities and fewer privately run factories. To rephrase that other great philosopher Karl Marx: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need of a government funded handout.

    Professor Manne : Speaking in the capacity of Australia’s leading public intellectual, I have nothing against chickens. Indeed, at a recent Melbourne Writers Festival I shared a chicken pie with you and Helen and Arnold. It’s just that I am opposed to chicken factories. I prefer to buy my chicken at the Cottles Bridge markets where they have not gone through the process of private sector production, distribution and exchange which that other leading public intellectual Karl Marx once condemned.

    Professor Gaita : Interesting. But what do you say to critics who complain that my concern to maintain the rhythm of my sentences – as explained by The Age’s wonderful literary editor Jason Steger – will deprive workers in Central Victoria of good paying jobs?

    Professor Manne : Good question. I have been a university academic all my life. During this period, I have never met a worker in the private sector although I have heard that they exist. I’m sure that the toiling masses of Central Victoria will be able to find alternative work. Perhaps they could be employed in the public sector turning off lights in Castlemaine in order to slow down global warming. This would end the catastrophe the world faces as we all cook to death – a matter on which I have written and spoken so eloquently in my capacity as Australia’s leading public intellectual. Or perhaps they could be employed by La Trobe University to put pins into images of the Great Satan, Rupert Murdoch. Just two helpful proposals.

    Professor Gaita : Very helpful, indeed. I have another idea. When I addressed the Maldon Focus – in nearby Maldon – a couple of years ago, I acknowledged that I am appalled by the clumsiness of my own prose. The good people of the Maldon Focus state that they are a group of people from Maldon and the district who believe that “thinking people make a difference”. Perhaps the Australia Council could provide a grant for a thinking person from Maldon to translate my philosophical prose into readable English.

    Professor Manne : A brilliant idea. Perhaps they could start analysing what you really meant when you wrote in After Romulus that “many people wonder whether there is such a thing as who someone really is”. With a suitable amount of taxpayer funding, this task could employ hundreds of locals – from Baringhup, Castlemaine and Maldon – who will then work for years on this awesome project. In fact, more work than would be provided by any Baringhup Chicken Factory – and all for just another taxpayer funded grant.

    Professor Gaita : Good idea. As Australia’s leading philosopher, I’m hoping that you will join me tonight at my Baringhup shack “Shalvah” and discuss such matters in a more personal environment.

    Professor Manne : As Australia’s leading public intellectual, I would love to do so. I took the advice you proffered in After Romulus to read your work slowly and often if I could not understand it on first reading. I have been reading and re-reading Chapters 2 and 3 for the past three years. Slowly and often. However, there are some bits of your prose that I would like to ask you about tonight…. [Transcript continues for 79 pages and ends “Sustained Applause – 10 minute Standing Ovation for the Two Professors”.]

    pell farrelly manderson


    As avid MWD readers will be aware, the Sydney Morning Herald spiked Professor Frank Brennan’s letter correcting Elizabeth Farrelly’s column of 3 April 2014. Dr Brennan’s letter had been presented for publication on 5 April. Subsequently the SMH agreed to publish an article by Professor Brennan on 21 April – but only in its online edition and only if he deleted any reference to Dr Farrelly’s howler. A clear act of censorship of a prominent and well-qualified Australian who, unlike Farrelly, had read the available evidence before writing to the Herald.

    Last Monday, over a month after Farrelly’s column first appeared, the SMH finally conceded that its columnist had been wrong in claiming that it was Cardinal George Pell who came up with the idea that Catholic priests should insure themselves against the crime of child sexual abuse. This led her to write a vicious attack on Pell.

    In fact, it was Justice Peter McClellan, the chair of The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, who said this. Pell merely responded to the judge’s thought bubble. Here’s the SMH (belated) correction as published on 5 May 2014:


    Gerard Henderson has written to Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) to see if she makes the same criticism of Justice McClellan as she made of Cardinal Pell – now that the SMH has conceded that it was the judge who came up with the idea in the first place. We’ll keep you posted if a reply is received. [Don’t hold your breath – Ed]. By the way, Farrelly’s corrected 3 April 2014 column on the Fairfax Media’s website still does not even mention Justice McClellan – it just bags Cardinal Pell for an idea which was not his.

    Meanwhile, the Canberra Times – which also ran Farrelly’s inaccurate claim about Pell – has yet to publish a correction. We will also keep MWD readers in the loop on this one.

    The Canberra Times also published an article by Professor Desmond Manderson on 7 April 2014 titled “Pell doesn’t get it; money won’t fix child abuse”. The learned professor simply accepted Farrelly’s howler and re-presented it as his own. The Canberra Times has yet to issue a correction on this one as well.

    Gerard Henderson followed up this issue with Professor Manderson this week. Hendo asked the learned professor whether be believed that, like Pell, McClellan “didn’t get it” when it came to child sexual abuse. Their email exchange is published in today’s Correspondence section. See below.

    In case you are wondering just who this fellow Manderson is – well, he’s a Future Fellow at the ANU College of Law and ANU College of Arts. That’s who. This suggests that Professor Manderson is well qualified to write about the future – but perhaps not the past. Which might explain his Pell howler. Or not.

    Here’s how the learned professor describes his current research interests in the ANU website:

    My current research interests include Bakhtin and Bourdieu, legal history and modernism in the early twentieth century (particularly through the work of D H Lawrence and Carl Schmitt), the rule of law, and the relationship between art and concepts of law and justice. My principal research project is The Sight of Justice: Art and the Rule of Law.

    Pretty impressive, eh? If you could only understand what he is on about. But, wait. Professor Manderson’s research projects cover the following ground:

    Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law–The legacy of modernism explores the continuing legacy of modernism for the rule of law, the nature of legal judgment, and the relationship of law and literature.

    Wow. Perhaps this explains Professor Manderson’s article on Cardinal Pell. Perhaps he was using the tactics of a kangaroo court while engaging in modernism where facts don’t really matter.



    Wendy McCarthy on Why It’s Okay to Extrapolate Public Policy on a Case Study of One If It’s Wendy’s McCarthy’s Story

    Wendy McCarthy : I have not been told by any woman that her paid parental leave scheme [is essential]…. The constant cry, and I’ve been mentoring young women in business and senior women in business going through first pregnancies and I’ve worked on maternity leave projects, it’s always about the care of the children. And, you know, once it was about neglecting your child and now it’s about. “How do we get decent care?”. And I see very competent women, you know, bursting into tears and saying: “There’s nowhere to put my child down”. …And my own grandson was on a list for two years before he could get any care and that’s one day a week.

    Wendy McCarthy On Why It’s Not Okay to Extrapolate Public Policy on a Case Study of One If It’s Tony Abbott’s Story

    Wendy McCarthy : The Prime Minister is surrounded by smart women. They ought to be able to tell him this and I think it’s always dangerous when he said that he [Tony Abbott] realised this bit, his daughters, I always have to remember it’s dangerous to extrapolate public policy on a case study of one.


    Jonathan Green on Why The Proposed Debt Levy Makes Sense Because it Gives Tony Abbott the Chance to Advocate Shared Responsibility

    Jonathan Green: Well, I think quite seriously, I mean, this is why this debt tax is so important to the government because it is this fig leaf of shared responsibility. You know, this will give them – once they make presumably the tough cuts that they’re going to make on the other side of the ledger – the fact that they are going to be taxing the rich will give them this air of, you know, “We’re all doing this together”. It’s very important. It’s worth breaking the promise, you know, it’s worth creating that sort of political negative for its balancing effect.

    Jonathan Green On Why The Proposed Debt Levy Makes No Sense At All Because It Reveals Tony Abbott as a Two-Bit Shyster

    Jonathan Green: I mean the problem with it is, it’s probably not the sort of tax that you would introduce if you were as serious about addressing the issues around the budget. This does not fix structural problems.

    Michael Rowland: [interjecting] No it doesn’t. It’s very much a short term fix.

    Jonathan Green: Short term lump of money….

    The discussion soon moves to a discussion of Mark Latham’s AFR column yesterday in which he attacked the proposed debt tax and continued :

    Jonathan Green: And he [Latham] says that this is all having the effect of further eroding public confidence in the entire political process. And I think there is a grain of truth in that, when you look at stuff like the broken promise…. I think all these things cumulatively diminish the esteem in which we hold this entire process….. As Latham points out, Abbott campaigned that he was the knight in shining armour who would restore some sort of certainty and decency to the process. And as Latham also said, he now reveals himself to be just another two-bit shyster.

    So there you have it. Or not.




    Nancy’s (male) co-owner has known Stephen Crittenden for many years. Mr Crittenden was a leading leftist at ABC Radio National before he went to the (now disbanded) Global Mail online newspaper which was funded by the leftist businessman Graeme Wood – who gave over $1 million to the Greens in the 2010 election campaign.

    A disillusioned Catholic, Stephen Crittenden devoted many programs when he presented The Religion Report on ABC Radio National to criticising the Catholic Church in general and individual Catholics such as George Pell and the late B.A. Santamaria in particular. On occasions, Stephen Crittenden invited his mates on to the program where they all agreed with one another that, for example, Bob Santamaria was a bad influence on Australian politics and that George Pell is a bad influence on the Catholic Church in Australia.

    Stephen Crittenden has been a persistent critic of Cardinal Pell – even to the extent of claiming that Pell was not fully cleared of the allegation that, as a young seminarian, he sexually assaulted a young boy. Both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald – both critical of the Cardinal – have acknowledged that he was cleared of this charge by former Victorian Supreme Court judge A.J. Southwell Q.C., a non-Catholic.

    In any event, as Gerard Henderson was walking down Bent Street last Tuesday morning, near the corner of Bent Street and Phillip Street, he glanced at a certain Stephen Crittenden out of the corner of his eye. A subsequent conversation took place – along the following lines:

    Gerard Henderson: Good morning Stephen. You’re looking very CBD-ish.

    Stephen Crittenden: That’s because I’m in the CBD.

    Gerard Henderson: Really. So, what brings you to the CBD?

    Stephen Crittenden : I’m working here.

    Gerard Henderson : Interesting. What are you doing?

    Stephen Crittenden: I’m senior adviser to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    Whereupon, Nancy’s (male) co-owner went into a how-frightfully-interesting mode. Cardinal George Pell has already appeared as a witness before the Royal Commission and will make another appearance. And the Royal Commission has appointed to the position of senior adviser one of the Cardinal’s most strident and consistent critics. [Is this some kind of scoop? I have not seen this referred to in the media – Ed].

    correspondence header caps


    As avid MWD readers will be aware, this hugely popular segment of MWD usually works like this. Someone or other believes it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And Hendo, being a courteous and well brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of our hundreds of thousands of readers.

    Occasionally, however, Hendo initiates the correspondence – frequently in response to a false claim made about him. Set out below are both kinds of exchanges. Here we go:


    Gerard Henderson’s rejection of Crikey’s ludicrous claim that he is a “media tart” – who will turn up at a television/radio studio on request and who did “545 interviews” between November 2013 and March 2014 – was covered earlier in this issue. This led to a correspondence with Crikey’s media reporter Myriam Robin who declined to respond and who apparently handed over the task to editor Jason Whittaker.

    Gerard Henderson to Myriam Robin (with copy to Jason Whittaker) – 5 May 2014


    I refer to your leading article in Crikey today and to our follow-up conversation.

    I note that you describe me as a “media tart” and declare that – according to iSentia – I did 545 interviews in the period between November 2013 and May 2014. I note that you did not bother to contact me to check this assertion before writing your completely ill-informed piece.

    I have had a very tech-savvy student look at the iSentia website today. It contains no useful information about how its material was collected. I would be grateful if you could advise me as to what iSentia did to obtain this information.

    The fact is that I have been interviewed once in the studio by Lateline in the past 6 years. Once by Radio National Breakfast in the past 6 years. Twice on Q&A over the past 6 years. I have appeared on ABC1 News Breakfast once in the past 6 years. And I have appeared once on Radio 702 in Sydney in the past 6 years. Also I do very little commercial television or radio. The only regular interviews I do are on Insiders (usually about 6-7 times a year) and I have appeared on The Bolt Report on around 4 occasions over the past year.

    The suggestion that I am some kind of media tart who is attempting to get coverage on television and radio is totally false and professionally damaging.

    I understand that, following our conversation, you will provide me with full details as to how iSentia reached its ludicrous conclusion. After I hear from you, I will write a note to Crikey for publication. I trust you will provide the information you promised by 10am tomorrow.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Gerard Henderson to Myriam Robin (with copy to Jason Whittaker) – 6 May 2014


    I note you have not replied to my request for information by 10 am this morning. Presumably that you have no idea how iSentia came up with the ludicrous claim that I did “545 interviews” in the six month period between November 2013 and March 2014. On my rough calculations my total electronic media appearances during this period would have been around a dozen.

    I will be writing to the editor about this immediately and I expect to be published in Crikey later today.

    Since you have declined to respond to my request for information, I expect that you will not provide an answer on this question either. However, I am interested in the political slant of the names you sent to iSentia for assessment – all of whom who seem to come from the conservative or social democratic sides of politics. My question is this: Did you ask iSentia to assess how many times the likes of David Marr, Clive Hamilton and Anne Summers were (allegedly) interviewed on the electronic media during this period?

    Gerard Henderson

    Jason Whittaker to Gerard Henderson – 6 May 2014


    The methodology was explained in Myriam’s story:

    Our figure show total quoted interviews, which means they take into account both exclusive interviews, things uttered and repeated in press conferences as well as interviews syndicated across a number of outlets. As such, they show who journalists think is newsworthy as well as those commentators who are happy to speak to the media.

    As such, iSentia recorded 1336 “mentions” and 545 “interviews”. As usual, we’re happy to publish any response.


    Jason Whittaker

    Gerard Henderson to Jason Whittaker – 6 May 2014


    I will send you a letter shortly. The methodology, as explained by you, does not justify the editorial content of what Myriam wrote in Crikey yesterday.

    Since you have responded to my first question to Myriam – perhaps you might also respond to my second question. Did Crikey request iSentia to assess whether the likes of David Marr, Clive Hamilton and Anne Summers are “media tarts”. If not, why not? I would appreciate a response by 11 am.

    Gerard Henderson

    Jason Whittaker to Gerard Henderson – 6 May 2014

    We choose 20 people we believed were the most exposed, Gerard. It wasn’t an exhaustive list.

    Gerard Henderson to Jason Whittaker – 6 May 2014

    If Crikey does not believe that David Marr is highly exposed, you cannot be following the Australian media very thoroughly.

    Gerard Henderson to Jason Whittaker – 6 May 2014


    A letter for today’s Crikey is set out below. I trust you will give it the same prominence as Myriam Robin’s story yesterday. The Crikey piece was professionally damaging to me since it implies that I am a “media tart” who cannot stay away from a TV or Radio studio. In fact, I run a business and I simply would not have time to do what Crikey and Ms Robin alleges I have done in the period cited.

    Best wishes



    Gerard Henderson writes: Re “Who you gonna call? Meet Australia’s biggest media tart” (Monday). According to Myriam Robin, I am one of Australia’s top 20 “media tarts” who will take a journalist’s call “and hurry down to [a] studio when something breaks”. Ms Robin’s story directs Crikey readers to an iSentia list which declares that I did “545 interviews” between November 2013 and March 2014.

    I understand that Myriam Robin graduated from media studies at RMIT to become Crikey’s media reporter. It’s a pity that apparently no one has told her that it’s a good idea to check facts and make phones/email contact before launching into print.

    I do very few electronic media appearances. Over the past six years (not six months) my appearances on the main TV and radio outlets are as follows: Lateline (1), Q&A (2), The Drum (Zero), Radio National Breakfast (1), ABC 702 (1), ABC 774 (2), Paul Murray Live (Zero), The Contrarians (Zero) and AM/The World Today/PM (about 10). The only programs on which I appear regularly are Insiders (about 6-7 times a year), The Bolt Report (about 4 appearances since the program commenced) and Australian Agenda (twice this year).

    If Ms Robin had bothered to contact me before writing her lead story in Crikey yesterday, I would have told her that the total number of interviews I did in the six month period between November 2013 and March 2014 would have totalled to no more than a dozen.

    I also would have asked why Crikey did not submit the names of such luvvies as David Marr, Clive Hamilton and Anne Summers to iSentia for assessment as “media tarts”. David Marr, for example, does many, many more media appearances than I do. If I am a media tart, then David is the King of Media Tarts.

    I am surprised that Crikey, which lectures-at-large about media standards, runs such intellectually shoddy analysis as appeared in Myriam Robin’s piece yesterday. Also iSentia should be able to do better than the lightweight material it prepared for Crikey’s “Media Tarts” exclusive.

    Gerard Henderson

    Jason Whittaker to Gerard Henderson – 6 May 2014

    Received, Gerard.

    Published minus the line about Myriam’s studies. Totally unnecessary.

    Gerard Henderson to Jason Whittaker – 6 May 2014


    Thanks. I look forward to reading Crikey later this afternoon. However, I am surprised that Crikey censored my line about Myriam Robin. My point was straightforward. Either RMIT or Crikey should instruct a young journalist to check facts and/or make personal contact. To the extent that RMIT and/or Crikey did not do this, then one or both has failed in its educational duties.

    I am also surprised that you think it “totally unnecessary” to refer to Myriam’s studies and employment experience but perfectly reasonable for her to describe me as a “media tart” without any proof whatsoever to support this theory.

    Best wishes



    Earlier in this issue, MWD dealt with Professor Desmond Menderson’s ill-informed and unoriginal contribution re Cardinal George Pell’s appearance at The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This is the email exchange which took place.

    Gerard Henderson to Desmond Manderson – 7 May 2014

    Professor Manderson

    I refer to your article in the Canberra Times 7 April 2014 titled “Pell just doesn’t get it: money won’t fix child abuse” concerning The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in which you wrote:

    It has long been said that Cardinal George Pell has shown too much indulgence for child abuse in the Church on his watch. Never has this been truer than in his evidence to the royal commission this past week.

    In times past, the church was notorious for corruptly selling pardons for the commission of sins; they were called indulgences. Now Pell appears to be suggesting much the same thing – a proposal to insure the Church against the expenses incurred by child abuse by priests. This tells us, in a nutshell, everything we need to know about Pell and his baleful influence.

    First, his tin ear for the way his views come across. Second, his assumption that the problem is fundamentally financial…..Third, Pell’s proposal betrays how blind he is to where the real responsibility lies…. Fourth, Pell again reveals how little he understands the gravity of the wrongs of child abuse. You can’t insure yourself against your own criminal conduct….. Pell fails to appreciate that child sexual abuse is criminal conduct; not some terrible accident. Finally, Pell shows he cannot grasp the extent of the problem. Insurance – really?…. In short, Pell doesn’t get it.

    As you will be aware, the Sydney Morning Herald published a “Correction” last Monday in which it acknowledged that it was the Royal Commission’s chair Justice Peter McClellan (not Cardinal Pell) who initially raised the proposal that priests could be insured against child sexual abuse. George Pell, a non-lawyer, followed the thought-bubble of one of Australia’s most senior judges.

    In view of this, do you now hold the view that – in making this proposal – Justice McClellan

    ▪ has a tin ear?

    ▪ believes that the problem with child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is fundamentally financial?

    ▪ portrays blind ignorance as to where the real responsibility for child sexual abuse lies?

    ▪ reveals how little he understands about the gravity of the wrongs of child sexual abuse? and

    ▪ cannot grasp the extent of the problem?

    In short, do you believe that Justice McClellan doesn’t get it? If not, why would you make criticisms of what Cardinal Pell allegedly said but remain silent with respect to what Justice McClellan really said on exactly the same topic?

    Also, have you – or do you intend to – correct the serious error in this article in which you were identified as professor of “the ANU College of Law, Australian National University” and, consequently, linked the ANU to your error?

    Over to you.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Desmond Manderson to Gerard Henderson – 7 May 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    I do think that Justice McClellan would be subject to the same criticisms as I make of Cardinal Pell. But I don’t think that just because the proposal was made by the good judge excuses Cardinal Pell, especially considering how closely the mindset parallels Cardinal Pell’s well documented attitude to these very questions in the past. The reply was illuminating. So I don’t propose to retract what I said about the cardinal. In legal contexts we are held to what we agree with; this context is no different.

    I am also rather at a loss as to what the serious error might be in my affiliation.


    Gerard Henderson to Desmond Manderson – 7 May 2014

    Dear Desmond

    Interesting. You also believe that Justice Peter McClellan “just doesn’t get it” concerning child sexual abuse. I look forward to you writing about this in a future issue of the Canberra Times.

    The fact is that Cardinal Pell was a witness at a royal commission where he took numerous critical questions. If an experienced judge like Peter McClellan put a proposition to Pell, it is quite understandable why the Cardinal went along with it. After all, McClellan is one of Australia’s most senior judges and Pell has no qualifications in law.

    Obviously you did not bother to read the royal commission transcript before writing your piece in the Canberra Times. It appears that you just followed Elizabeth Farrelly – who also showed no sign of having read the transcript. As you will be aware, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is one of the most reported events in Australia. It is interesting that only Elizabeth Farrelly and you reported the Pell story – which turned out to be a non-story.

    The Sydney Morning Herald has made a correction. But you – and apparently, the Canberra Times – do not propose to retract your error.

    There was no error with respect to your affiliation. My point was that you used your position at the ANU to give authority to your claims and, consequently, associated your employer with your error.


    Until next time – keep morale high.

    On boyfriend’s insistence, watching the notorious Gerard Henderson/@Kate_McClymont Lateline segment. GH: What an odd, angry gnome of a man.

    – Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:21 pm

    Can’t believe I just spent my Thursday evening with a video recap of Gerard Henderson. I’m a f-cking moron.

    – Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:23 pm

    “[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”

    – Mike Carlton, via Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm

    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.