GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 226
23 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.
- Can You Bear It: Alan Stokes’ Beard; Elizabeth Farrelly’s World & Nicholas Stuart’s Anti-Catholic Sectarianism
- Nancy’s Five-Paws-Award Goes to The Spectator Australia for Remembering the Late Professor David Armstrong
- Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week : How Tax Payers are Funding Artistic Research Into Snail Orgasms & Spider Penises
● RACHEL GRIFFITHS, THE ST KILDA BATTLER, CALLS JON
What a stunning performance by “Rachel in St Kilda” – otherwise known as the actor Rachel Griffiths – on 774 ABC Melbourne’s “Mornings with Jon Faine” earlier today.
When Mr Faine identified the caller, Ms Griffiths declared : “Oh – I’m just a St Kilda girl” but went on to state “I’m actually ringing as a Star of the Sea girl”.
Quite so. You see, Rachel Griffiths (1968 – ___) was educated at Star of the Sea in fashionable Gardenvale in Melbourne’s south east, not far from fashionable Brighton. Ms Griffiths phoned your man Faine to object to the fact that a Star of the Sea student had been arrested in the demonstration in Melbourne on Wednesday. Here’s how the conversation commenced:
Rachel Griffiths: I’m actually ringing as a Star of the Sea girl today because I was horrified to realise that, reported in The Australian, that a girl from Star of the Sea, “an exclusive Brighton school”, which it’s absolutely not. It’s a battler school, founded by the Presentation Sisters, who have always been for social justice and equality of opportunity. And the fact that the Star girls were yesterday part of that protest, I thought was fantastic. And it’s kind of disturbing, Jon, to hear the patronising “Oh children shouldn’t be protesting” when it’s pretty clear that these are bright girls who within two years will be going into a higher education system that’s unlike anything we’ve seen probably since the 1950s. My grandparents, you know, didn’t buy a house because they wanted their five children to go to University.
When Germaine Greer went to Star of the Sea in the late 1950s/early 1960s it was more a school for Catholic middle classes than for “battlers”. Also in the 1950s and 1960s, university students paid full fees unless they were in receipt of a Commonwealth scholarship or a State bursary.
That was then. Today there are few Presentation Sisters at the Star of the Sea and the fees – while not astronomical – are still high by the “battler” measurement, running from over $8000 in Year 7 to over $9000 in Year 12 and peaking at nearly $10,000 in Year 9. In other words, fees for a student attending all six years of secondary school at Star of the Sea would amount to around $55,000 in today’s dollars.
And Ms Griffiths reckons that Star of the Sea is a battler school – so much so that its graduates are entitled to substantial support from the taxpayers when they attend universities. The demonstrations in Melbourne last Wednesday called for “no fees”.
In her rant to “Mornings with Jon Faine”, the gorgeous Rachel in St Kilda :
▪ seemed unaware that it was Bob Hawke’s Labor government which abolished free tertiary education in Australia (which had been introduced by the Whitlam Labor government) and established student loans – and that the Abbott government’s proposal simply extends the Hawke government’s reforms.
▪ was unaware that Joe Hockey has a young family, all of whom will do tertiary studies after 2016 and all of whom will be subjected to the provisions of the 2014 budget.
▪ was unaware that Labor, not the Coalition, abandoned and then restored negative gearing.
Still, Rachel Griffiths did not have a script this morning.
Ms Griffiths’s message was that, Down Under, the “middle class are really going to get, you know, slaughtered”. Which, apparently, is why she wants the middle class to be supported at university by the taxes of the working class among others.
A truly remarkable performance, to be sure. Had it been a stage gig it would surely be worth a standing ovation followed by an encore. It was also a wonderful tribute to the Catholic Presentation Sisters by a self-declared atheist.[You should remind your avid readers that in 2005 you wrote about Rachel Griffiths’ interaction with such other “battler” schools as St Kevins and that you also covered the brilliant career of that other Star of the Sea graduate, Dr Greer – see here and here – Ed].
● ERIK JENSEN BORES FOR HENDO
In the inaugural edition of multi-millionaire property developer Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper, Erik Jensen pompously editorialised that the publication was about permission. As in the permission to say this or say that, presumably.
At the time, Nancy’s (male) co-owner did not know what he meant. But after reading The Saturday Paper for 12 boring weeks, it’s clear what Young Mr Jensen was all about. The Saturday Paper is about the permission to bore as a publication – of the inner-city Sandalista, by the inner-city Sandalista, for the inner-city Sandalista.
Stand by for another boring edition tomorrow – if Erik Jensen’s tweet of midday yesterday is any guide. Here it is:
Erik Jensen@ErikOJenson: Got two mentions of the DLP in the@SatPaper this weekend. I hope, for Gerard Henderson’s sake, that at least some of the dates are wrong.
Gosh what a challenge. How frightfully interesting. And so on.
As avid MWD readers will be aware, the audience analysis presented at the commencement of each Q&A program is wilfully false. Perhaps this is the case for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Or perhaps for the team at the ABC’s Fact Checking Unit (which is often praised by Virginia Trioli on ABC News Breakfast).
The problem is that the political make-up of the audience is self-declared and often bears little resemblance to reality. Take last week’s program with Treasurer Joe Hockey, for example. According to the ABC, the audience composition was as follows:
Coalition: 40 per cent
Labor: 32 per cent
Greens: 9 per cent
Not specified: 19 per cent
An idea of the real composition of the audience can be gauged by the applause at the commencement of the program when Mr Hockey was criticised by a hostile questioner and when he responded to a question. The applause for the hostile question was overwhelming while the applause for one of Mr Hockey’s responses was quite underwhelming.
The idea that nearly half the audience at Q&A last week was Coalition voters simply does not stack up.
● ALAN STOKES WRITES ON HIS AREA OF EXPERTISE – HIMSELF AND HIS (BRAND NEW) BEARD
When columnists have nothing of substance to say, they invariably write about themselves. And when columnists have nothing of substance to say about themselves, they invariably write about their beards. Or the male ones, at least.
Last Wednesday, intrepid Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Stokes wrote about how after a “five year absence” away from Fairfax Media [Really? I didn’t notice this. – Ed] he has “morphed from a fresh-faced 40-something” to someone who deserves to be taken seriously because he has grown a beard. [Does SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir really run such tosh? – Ed].
Besides a photo of his (newly) bearded self, this is how your man Stokes commenced his column:
Joe Hockey needs to grow a beard. He can hide all sorts of nasties in there, like that “Detailed Family Outcomes” table missing from the budget papers and all his broken promises. A hairy face will help him sell this budget, too, because he looks far too young to be believed when he says he’s spreading the pain evenly.
And while we’re talking midlife makeovers for our slimmed-down Treasurer, he should shave his head as well. Imagine, a federal Treasurer who looks like Ned Kelly and fights for justice. Instead, we have Joe in his classy suits, with designer cigars and a full head of hair, looking like a right-wing ideologue from a private school who is out of touch with the real world; a lawyer or a banker or a politician or all three.
And so Stokes went on. And on. And on. Until the SMH’s top columnist reached his (truly dreadful) conclusion:
With a beard we feel healthy enough to repel the parasites that fester beneath the sheath, feeding on flaky skin and injecting their fertilised eggs which will hatch in days and irritate so much that mere scratching will not do, so instead we shall take a scalpel dipped in hot water and pierce the boil, setting free the maggoty mites.
With a beard we show aggression and masculinity. We are seen as having a higher social status. We look older and wiser. Joe, we owe it to our children to grow this nation. As that doyen of Adelaide rock bands the Beards said, “If your dad doesn’t have a beard, you’ve got two mums – two beardless mums”.
Such is life…
Funny eh? There is a saying that light-weights attract light-weights like light-bulbs attract moths. So it came as no surprise that, the very morning his SMH column on beards appeared, your man Stokes was invited on to ABC Radio 702’s Mornings with Linda Mottram. This time Alan Stokes went to motive, his own of course – and explained why he had grown a beard. Here we go:
Alan Stokes : I was feeling pretty depressed after the Abbott government was elected. And I thought “What am I going to do?” And I had a couple of weeks off and I thought: “I need something liberating, something that’s going to revolt against this economic rationalism.” I thought “Well I’ll grow a beard.” And I feel one hundred percent better I can tell you.
Go on. Alas, he did. Can you bear it?
● ELIZABETH FARRELLY WRITES ABOUT HER AREA OF EXPERTISE – HERSELF AND THE END OF THE WORLD
While on the topic of Sydney Morning Herald columnists, this is how Elizabeth Farrelly commenced her piece yesterday:
I know. I’ll just keep working and paying taxes so that Tony Abbott can lock lost children in concentration camps from which all press and observers are banned, spend billions on killer jets and billions more on roads while sucking the lifeblood from education, health and our already abject renewable energy performance. That way he gets to spend $4.5 million on the Lodge as well. Yay. Sound like a plan?
Er, no. Not really. It just sounds like Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is). It wasn’t long before she was predicting the end of the world. Really :
The $2.3 billion defunding of ARENA, Australia’s renewable energy agency, may be less colourful than some other budget cuts. But in global embarrassment terms (excepting the camps, of which we should all be profoundly ashamed), abandoning renewables takes the cake. And frankly, if we don’t have a planet, it isn’t going to matter what your GP costs. Right?
Yeah, right. Except for the facts. Dr Farrelly seems unaware that it was the Rudd/Gillard government which put children back into mandatory detention and decided to buy the Joint Strike Fighter and was committed to road building programs and agreed to necessary maintenance on the Lodge in Canberra. But, according to the SMH columnist, IT’S ALL TONY ABBOTT’S FAULT THAT THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH. No wonder, Elizabeth Farrelly is the Sydney Morning Herald’s star columnist.
Can you bear it? [I note that Elizabeth Farrelly still seems to believe that Justice Peter McClellan – the chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse – does not get it. Perhaps you should return to this topic next week. If you do, it would be a you-beaut idea to check if ANU Professor Desmond Manderson has got around to correcting his howler concerning Cardinal George Pell or is too busy reading D.H. Lawrence – or is it T.E.? – and remains in a modernist fog of the kind which is frequently found in contemporary universities. Just a thought – Ed].
● NICHOLAS STUART THROWS THE SWITCH TO ANTI-CATHOLIC SECTARIANISM
The Catholic political activist B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) was never a member of any political party and always declared that he had never voted for the Liberal Party or for the Australian Labor Party after 1954. Moreover, Santamaria was not a member of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) which broke away from the ALP in the mid 1950s.
However, some 16 years after his death, some journalists believe that Santamaria is running Australia. David Marr is one.
The most recent journalistic fool to push this line is none other than the Canberra Times’ Nicholas Stuart. This is what he had to say on Tuesday:
It took a long time, but Bob Santamaria’s finally done it – we’ve got our first ever DLP Prime Minister. There’s no other way to describe someone who rips the guts out of education yet finds money for a school chaplaincy program; for a person who eviscerates payments to single mothers but still has a few bucks left over for family planning. This Budget marks a waypoint on a long march to possess the soul of the Liberal party. It’s intellectually incoherent: cutting services to all while listening to special interest groups.
For starters, Tony Abbott has not ripped the guts out of education. Nor has be eviscerated payments for single mothers. Even if he had, there is no evidence that the late Bob Santamaria ever proclaimed such policy outcomes. Over his career, Santamaria’s policy priorities were national security, anti-communism and government assistance to Catholic schools.
It seems that the normally sensible Nicholas Stuart has swallowed much of the anti-Catholic sectarianism which these days pervades much of Fairfax Media. This is what Mr Stuart had to say about the 2014 budget:
This, by contrast, is a flabby effort that reflects its self-indulgent craftsmen. It genuflects, grudgingly, towards everything discovered since the 1930s but the Catholic mafia (Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Kevin Andrews, et al) have demonstrated convincingly that they can shape government in their image. Indulgence available upon application; see the padre.
This is not only absolute tosh. The 2014 budget bears no relationship to the 1930s. More seriously, it is just anti-Catholic sectarian abuse. The likes of Nicholas Stuart feel free to accuse Australia’s democratically elected leaders of comprising a “Catholic mafia”. But Mr Stuart and his masters at the Canberra Times would never refer to an “atheistic mafia” still less a “Muslim mafia”. Can you bear it?
What a surprise. On Monday, ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Paul Barry favourably showed ABC managing director Mark Scott being favourably interviewed by ABC presenter Virginia Trioli on ABC 1’s News Breakfast the previous Wednesday. It was the kind of analysis which gives journalistic in-breeding a bad name.
Paul Barry referred to the Abbott government’s decision to axe the Australia Network – a tender which the ABC had only won over Sky News after Labor Communications Minister Stephen Conroy twice overruled a decision made by an independent panel. Barry also mentioned that the ABC’s budget had been cut by 1 per cent and that more cuts might be on the way if the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – like virtually every other Commonwealth entity – has to abide by an efficiency audit.
The Media Watch coverage of the effect of the budget on the ABC contained nothing fresh. But, Paul Barry did have a story which justified a run on Media Watch. Namely, Mark Scott’s extraordinary out-of-date critique of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ officers went unchallenged by Media Watch along with such other ABC outlets as ABC 1’s News Breakfast and ABC Radio National Breakfast.
This is what Mark Scott told Virginia Trioli on News Breakfast on Wednesday 14 May:
Mark Scott: I think on Australia Network there can be debate around where public diplomacy money is best spent. What we find confusing and disappointing about this is that we signed a deal with the Department of Foreign Affairs for Australia Network less than 12 months ago and we’ve hit all our agreed targets – we’re growing audiences, we have some tremendous partnerships with broadcasters in the region, we’re a real leader on social media. So we’re doing what we agreed was important to do. And so if a decision is made to cut that it’s clearly nothing to do with performance.
And I would have thought that for $20 million a year, it represents exceptional value for money – to reach out and connect with our neighbours in the region. It’s a real person to person diplomatic initiative, rather than being on the diplomatic cocktail circuit. So I’m very surprised that they don’t think that that’s value for money.
And this is what the ABC managing director told Ellen Fanning on RN Breakfast – also on Wednesday 14 May:
Mark Scott: The deals we’ve struck in the region, with the Indonesian broadcasters, with the Chinese broadcasters, are very significant. They fundamentally are deals with the ABC. We need to look at how we keep them alive and how we keep the tremendous opportunity that we’ve created to communicate with the people of the region. This isn’t the diplomatic cocktail circuit – this is people to people diplomacy that media opportunities create. And we’re going to look very hard at how we can keep those deals alive in light of this very significant unilateral funding cut.
So Mark Scott, speaking in his capacity as the ABC’s managing director, mocked the hard-working men and women of the Foreign Affairs Department – on secondment in the Asia Pacific – as merely interacting with the “diplomatic cocktail circuit”.
This is but a very weary cliché. Perhaps Mark Scott has seen too many re-runs of the 1959 film Carlton Brown of the F.O. and/or The Communications Room scene in “The Moral Dimension” in the Yes Minister series. He told ABC viewers and listeners that contemporary Australian diplomats communicate with foreigners by attending cocktail parties. And that the money (allegedly) wasted on the so-called “diplomatic cocktail circuit” would be better spent on funding the ABC to send English language programs into the region.
If Mark Scott really believes that modern day diplomacy is all about diplomatic cocktail circuits, he does not know what he is talking about. Also, quite a few Australian embassies in the region are located in Muslim nations where cocktail parties, in the traditional sense, do not take place.
The Australian Financial Review’s Tony Walker is no ABC critic. Yet in last Saturday’s AFR Weekend, Tony Walker commented:
There is little evidence to show the ABC, having been given a reprieve in the tender process when former communications minister Stephen Conroy put his thumb on the scale, embarked on the sort of remodelling of its overseas broadcasting assets that would have replicated a BBC model on a regionally focused scale.
The ABC might have combined – and rebranded – Radio Australia and AN [the Australia Network] as part of this process to emphasise a revitalised commitment to international broadcasting using new opportunities provided in a digital age. That it chose not to do so decisively and emphatically remains something of a mystery. In the end, this played into the hands of its critics, who displayed their commitment to independent journalism by criticising the AN news service’s coverage of the Edward Snowden revelations, including the fact Australian spooks have been monitoring the Indonesian President and his wife’s private mobile phone calls….
Scott insists the ABC was moving towards an integrated overseas broadcasting service by “leveraging” the organisation’s TV, radio and online services, but an impression lingers this was all a bit haphazard.
Tony Walker’s analysis is essentially correct. Under Mark Scott’s management, the Australia Network failed to make an impact in the Asia Pacific region. The ABC’s managing director’s suggestion that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster knows how to get Australia’s message across in the region, while Australia’s diplomats partake of “diplomatic cocktail parties” is mere self-serving nonsense.
Yet Virginia Trioli, Ellen Fanning and Paul Barry let him get away with it.
– STEP FORWARD THE AUSSIE SPECCIE ON THE LATE PROFESSOR DAVID ARMSTRONG (1926-2014)
Professor David Armstrong died on 13 May 2014. One of Australia’s greatest philosophers and a prolific author, he was Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney between 1964 and his retirement in 1991.
There has been no coverage of David Armstrong’s death in the Sydney Morning Herald. However, The Spectator Australia has stepped up to recognise the achievements of a truly great Australian.
The current issue of the “Aussie Speccie” contains a fine editorial by Tom Switzer along with a personal reflection by Peter Coleman in his “Australia Notes” column.
Switzer points to the important role Armstrong played in defending scholarship at Sydney University four decades ago against the attempt by the radical left to march through educational institutions – including the Philosophy Department. Coleman makes the point that, despite his considered positions, Armstrong upheld the value of disinterest. As Peter Coleman puts it:
The other theme is that so many of his opponents became in the end his friends and supporters. They recognised his virtue, his disinterestedness. Most philosophers, he said, are good people. They may be silly or unpractical. But their follies do not spring from badness of heart. He brought this disinterestedness to the Sydney University wars and it won his opponents over.
Emeritus Professor David Armstrong was a great Australian. He was always on the side of representative government and always opposed to totalitarianism. Above all he was a tolerant democrat at a time when so many universities became intolerant adherents to fashion, even at times authoritarianism.
The Spectator Australia – Five Paws.
How fascinating that Paul Barry, the left-wing presenter of ABC 1’s Media Watch, chose to comment last Monday on the hostility of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to the Coalition government. Here’s what Paul Barry had to say last Monday:
…after Fairfax’s front pages on the budget, Mr Abbott certainly won’t be warming to them. Here’s page one of Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald : “Hockey’s world of pain” — Sydney Morning Herald, 14th May, 2014
“Budget backlash grows” — Sydney Morning Herald, 15th May, 2014
And here’s Friday:
“A budget built on lies”— Sydney Morning Herald, 16th May, 2014
And here’s a piece in The Age by Michael Gordon… which is not 100 per cent supportive.
Abbott defiant on broken promises
Phase one of Tony Abbott’s strategy to sell the budget is to deny, point blank, that it is based on the deceit of broken promises made before last year’s election. More than that, it is to assert —again point blank—that there were no broken promises and, in effect, that black is white
— The Age, 15th May, 2014
Fairfax returned to this theme on Saturday with a blistering column from Mike Carlton headed: “Oh yes, he’s the great betrayer” which began: “The Prime Minister is a liar.”
The anti-Tony Abbott line in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age must be pretty blatant if the anti-Abbott ABC notices it. However, politics aside, here’s now what passes for professional journalism in Fairfax Media newspapers:
“Treasurer for sale” – The Age’s Page One headline, 5 May 2014
“Treasurer for sale” – The Sydney Morning Herald Page One headline, 5 May 2014
“Tony Abbott is a liar” – Mike Carlton, SMH, 17 May 2014.
“In the lily-pond of life, [Ralph] Blewitt is scum” – Mark Latham, Weekend AFR, 17-18 May 2014.
These days the Sneering-Morning-Herald and The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s motto on their mast-heads is “Independent Always”. It’s not clear what either newspaper is independent from. Certainly not from hostility to the Liberal and the National Party. And certainly not from abuse which is supposed to pass as comment.
YOUR TAXES AT WORK – ON SNAIL ORGASMS AS TOLD TO THE AGE
You just cannot go past The Age or The Sydney Morning Herald for the latest update on the impact of the Abbott Clerical-Fascist dictatorship on such good causes as arts grants and the like.
For example, what a wonderfully sympathetic story by Bhakthi Puvanenthiran in The Guardian-on-the-Yarra yesterday. The Age’s reporter covered the tale of Colombian-born artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso who is married to Ross Harley, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of NSW. An artistic couple to be sure.
You see, Ms Cardoso is following up her Ph.D. project on insect sex organs. She scored an Australian Council grant for this important project. Her latest challenge is to examine Australia’s smallest spider species – the one and only Maratus – and has scored another Australia Council grant. Previously, Ms Cardoso did ground-breaking work on snail penises.
As Ms Cardoso told The Age :
I think spiders are artists themselves. They know how to dance, they know how to sing, they know how to make visual display, all while mating….Now I will be able to produce artwork to the best standards, better even than BBC documentaries. I will really be able to really push the limits of macro videography.
I have been developing this project for the last two years, I have been taking test shoots and now that the next mating season is coming up between September and December, I will be ready.
Ms Cardoso condemned cuts to the Australia Council’s budget by the Abbott government. Here’s why:
[The cuts are] very unfortunate because artists are the ones who are innovating culture and innovating what it means to be a human.
So there you have it. With the grant from the Australia Council, Maria Cardoso can tell us “what it means to be a human” – with reference to the penis of a snail and the orgasm of a Maratus spider.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner can barely await the coming of the September to December spider mating season and a lesson about what it means to be human (while on an taxpayer funded grant).
MALCOLM FRASER: THE (VERY) LATEST
There has been overwhelming response to MWD’s coverage last week of the errors in Malcolm Fraser’s Dangerous Allies.
This week MWD moves forward (in cliché terminology) with additional analysis of the former prime minister’s latest missive – which was written with Melbourne University researcher Cain Roberts. This week MWD analyses some of Malcolm Fraser’s media interviews following the release of Dangerous Allies.
▪ Mr Fraser’s Revisionism on Israel
In an interview with Jon Faine on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne on 9 May 2014, Malcolm Fraser declared:
Israel years ago, during one of the wars, killed 30 to 40 Americans on a spy ship in the Western Mediterranean. The Americans tried to cover it up. It wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate.
This is a re-working of the old conspiracy theory that Israel deliberately bombed the research ship USS Liberty in 1967. In fact, the United States accepts – and always has accepted – that the attack on the USS Liberty, during the 1967 Six-Day-War was an accident due to a mistaken identification.
Jon Faine asked Malcolm Fraser about the evidence for his serious assertion that in the 1967 Six-Day-War Israel launched an attack on its ally the US. This was his reply: “Information I have. I am not going to tell you the source.” That’s it, folks. Almost 50 years after the event, Malcolm Fraser maintains that he has evidence to support his conspiracy theory but will not release it.
By the way, Malcolm Fraser made virtually no reference to Israel in Dangerous Allies. Nevertheless he told Jon Faine’s The Conversation Hour on 774 that Bob Carr’s allegation that there is an Israel lobby in Australia which wields too much power is “absolutely correct”. Fraser also alleged that Jewish Australians “seek to get Australia to accept policies as defined by Israel”. Mr Fraser did not state why he had previously not made such an allegation.
The implication is clear. Successive Australian governments – including those headed by Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser himself have adopted policies on the Middle East at the direction of the Israeli government. Needless to say, Mr Fraser did not provide any evidence in support of his assertion.
▪ MF’s Revisionism on Australia’s Vietnam Commitment
Then, in an interview with Troy Bramston in The Weekend Australian on 10-11 May 2014, Malcolm Fraser came up with a new line on his erstwhile support for Australia’s commitment to South Vietnam in the Vietnam War. Here it is – as reported by Bramston:
Fraser says he became concerned because Australia was not privy to US strategy in Vietnam. He is troubled by the decision of Harold Holt’s government to escalate Australia’s involvement in the war. “When Holt committed three battalions in 1966-67, the CIA (was) saying that it didn’t matter what we did, we can’t win. If Holt had seen the CIA assessments, he wouldn’t have sent three battalions. He hated sending conscripts to war but he believed it was the right thing to do.”…
Some readers will bristle at Fraser’s interpretation of events [in Dangerous Allies] and disagree with his policy ideas. The book, however, is well-researched, respectful of the challenges governments have faced and offers a thoughtful, if heterodox, view of future foreign policy.
These ideas are far removed from Fraser’s realpolitik world view of an earlier era. It could never have been imagined when he was prime minister. But Dangerous Allies reflects views that had started to form a decade earlier, amid the quagmire in Vietnam.
What a load of tosh.
Malcolm Fraser was appointed Minister for the Army by Prime Minister Harold Holt on 26 January 1966 and held this position until 28 February 1968. In this period, Australia substantially increased its military commitment to South Vietnam. Malcolm Fraser was also Minister for Defence between 12 November 1969 and 8 March 1971.
There is absolutely no evidence to support Malcolm Fraser’s claim that his current views on the Australia-American alliance “started to form…amid the quagmire in Vietnam”.
Mr Fraser has not previously made such a claim. There is nothing in the Cabinet papers from the late 1960s and early 1970s which supports his present assertion. Nor is there any contemporaneous evidence that Malcolm Fraser had serious doubts about Australia’s Vietnam commitment anytime between 1965 and 1975. As both Minister for the Army and Defence, Mr Fraser acted in accordance with the advice which he received from his senior public servants. If Malcolm Fraser was a critic of Australia’s Vietnam commitment in the 1960s and early 1970s, Australians certainly would have heard about his position before now. The former politician is no shrinking violet when it comes to stating his own views – and never has been.
By the way, Malcolm Fraser does not claim in Dangerous Allies that he had serious doubts about the Vietnam commitment when he was Minister for the Army or Minister for Defence. He does, however, imply that he had no direct involvement in the force deployment decisions made during Holt’s government – a claim which is somewhat difficult to believe. But then, as is made clear in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, the former prime minister acknowledges that he has a “notoriously fallible” memory.
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.