GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 228
6 June 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.
“There’s no sense that Gerard Henderson has any literary credentials at all.”
– Anonymous comment quoted, highlighted and presumably endorsed by Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger, The Age, 31 May 2014
- Can You Bear It? – Louise Adler, Jason Steger Strip Bare the Literary Set; SMH’s Class War Beat-Up; The Age & Victorian Politics
7.30 WITH SARAH FERGUSON – WHERE QUESTIONS (NOT ANSWERS) SET THE NEWS
What a stunning performance by 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson during her interview with Malcolm Turnbull last night. For it was Ms Ferguson HERSELF who initiated the rumour that the criticism of Malcolm Turnbull by commentators Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones was part of a co-ordinated campaign involving the Prime Minister’s Office. Let’s go to the transcript:
Sarah Ferguson : Malcolm Turnbull, welcome to 7.30.
Malcolm Turnbull : Great to be with you.
Sarah Ferguson: Now earlier on you described Andrew Bolt as “unhinged” and “demented”. How would you describe Alan Jones’ attack on you?
Malcolm Turnbull : Well I did describe it on radio this morning and you’ve just played a bit of it. I don’t need to rehearse it here. What I – as we agreed earlier in the week, I’m coming on to talk to you about the very considerable progress of the NBN under the new government and that’s what I’d like to talk about. We have made great progress of pulling this failed Labor project into line.
Sarah Ferguson: Alright. I’m just going to interrupt you there if I may because we will certainly get to that, and as I said in the introduction, we are going to talk about it. However, these are very significant attacks on you by two of the Prime Minister’s best friends in the media. Why do you think they’re attacking you in that way?
Malcolm Turnbull : Well I’m not speculating on that. I think it’s – the Abbott Government is totally united, cohesive. It is – there couldn’t be a more united and cohesive government. Nobody – there’s no-one in the press gallery in Canberra, who keep a good eye on these things – none of them are suggesting there’s anything untoward. And so, out of the blue came this campaign from a few people in the media to…
Sarah Ferguson: You say out of the blue – you say out of the blue; do you think it was co-ordinated?
Malcolm Turnbull : Um – it certainly – you could form that view, you could form that view. There was a series of events that would give you – people could come to that conclusion.
Sarah Ferguson: And whose hands do you see in that co-ordination? Do you see the Prime Minister’s office, for example?
Malcolm Turnbull : No, I don’t see – absolutely not. Of that, I am absolutely certain. That would be – that really would be mad.
Sarah Ferguson: So who do you think was coordinating it then?
And so it went on. However, as the transcript demonstrates, it was Sarah Ferguson who:
▪ suggested that the criticism of Malcolm Turnbull by Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones was “co-ordinated”.
▪ suggested that the Prime Minister’s Office was involved in “that co-ordination”.
▪ and suggested that if the PMO was not “co-ordinating” Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones then someone else was.
Needless to say, the 7.30 presenter had no evidence of any kind to justify her assumptions. Yet the Ferguson/Turnbull interview led the news this morning with suggestions of a co-ordinated campaign against Malcolm Turnbull. How about that?
Meanwhile compare and contrast Sarah Ferguson’s interview with Education Minister Christopher Pyne (14 May) and Palmer United Party leader, Clive Palmer (4 June).
In her school-teacher style, Ms Ferguson lectured Mr Pyne that 7.30 has “rules about repeating lines”. But Sarah Ferguson said nothing when Mr Palmer repeated his line criticising the Paid Parental Leave Scheme by referring to “stay at home mums” and “women on farms” on no fewer than four occasions.
It seems that there is one 7.30 rule for Christopher Pyne and quite a different one for Clive Palmer.
HOW THE AGE CENSORS CRITICS OF ITS COLUMNISTS – IN THE MATTER OF NICK DYRENFURTH (2014) AND ROBERT MANNE (2012)
Last Monday The Age ran an article by Nick Dyrenfurth, a left-wing academic based at Monash University.
In his piece, Dyrenfurth described Gerard Henderson as a “spiteful” person who runs “jihads”. Dr Dyrenfurth (for a doctor he is) also described The Spectator Australia’s columnist and highly regarded writer Peter Coleman as “boorish”. [How frightfully interesting. At least your man Dyrenfurth did not run the line of the Sneering-Morning-Herald’s literary editor Susan Wyndham who described Peter Coleman as merely a “former Liberal MP”. Mr Coleman retired from politics in 1987 – almost three decades ago. – Ed].
In order to correct some of the inaccuracies in Nick Dyrenfurth’s article, Gerard Henderson sent the following polite and brief missive to The Age’s Letters Editor – with copies to Paul Austin and Sushi Das (The Age’s Opinion Page editors) and Andrew Holden (The Age’s Editor-in-Chief). Alas,The Age censored Nancy’s (male) co-owner. His spiked letter is set out below.
Gerard Henderson’s (Censored) Letter to The Age – Monday 2 June 2014
Nick Dyrenfurth’s emotive piece – in which Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a troll and I am running jihads – may suit The Age’s Comment Page (“Can you bear it: Abbott declares a culture war”, Comment 2/6). However, my disagreements with Dr Dyrenfurth are of the mundane historical kind.
In his edited 2010 collection All That’s Left, Dr Dyrenfurth suggested that I am one of a group of commentators who believe, among other things, that “Labor has returned to its socialist ways” and that “everything is symbolic and hollow”. I have never expressed either view, and the author failed to provide any evidence to support his assertion.
In his 2011 book Heroes & Villains, Dyrenfurth again bracketed a group of people together whom, this time, he implied held similar views in their opposition to conscription in 1916 and 1917. Dyrenfurth suggested that the one-time Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Daniel Mannix “argued that pro-conscriptionists wanted to destroy White Australia, inaugurating a Prussian-style militarist society”. Dr Mannix never expressed such views and the author failed to support his assertion with evidence.
That’s about it. All my correspondence with Nick Dyrenfurth on history and all that can be viewed on my Media Watchdog blog.
Two days after Gerard Henderson’s letter was emailed to The Age, and following correspondence with The Age’s literary editor Jason Steger, Sushi Das finally advised Hendo that she was “afraid that we were unable to find space” for his letter. How about that? However, last Wednesday The Age did have space for the following letter by Stewart Monckton of Mont Albert who said that the Australian government supports “similar ideas” to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime which ruled Germany between 1933 and 1945. Here it is:
In trying to connect his government to the actions of Australians fighting in the D-Day invasions, Mr Abbott seems to overlook something (”Tony Abbott raises eyebrows”, theage.com.au, 2/6). The D-Day invasions were part of a plan to remove a government based on the spreading of lies, the corruption of science and the victimisation of parts of society. I hope we can find a different way to remove a government that seems to support similar ideas.
Stewart Monckton, Mont Albert
Brilliant, eh? The editorial team at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra cannot find space to give a reader and purchaser of the paper a right-of-reply to correct errors by an Age contributor. But Andrew Holden and the editorial team at The Age can find space to run a letter comparing Prime Minister Tony Abbott with the Nazi genocidal mass murderer Adolf Hitler.
As avid MWD readers will be aware, this is not the first time The Age has censored a letter by Hendo. On 17 September 2012, The Age published an article by left-wing La Trobe University academic Robert Manne. It was yet another article by Professor Manne critical of Tony Abbott. Manne’s article took the form of a response to a column by Gerard Henderson about David Marr’s book on Tony Abbott. In other words, The Age ran a response to an article by Henderson which it had not published in the first place.
Robert Manne’s September 2012 article commenced as follows:
In his new Quarterly Essay on Tony Abbott, ”Political Animal”, journalist David Marr records an alleged incident that took place at Sydney University in 1977. Abbott was at the time a campus operative of a party linked to B.A. Santamaria’s conservative Catholic National Civic Council…. Abbott has already been particularly staunchly defended by two senior journalists, Gerard Henderson and Greg Sheridan. Both were once associates of the National Civic Council.
So here Professor Manne suggested that there was something improper about a past association with the political activist Bob Santamaria. However, Robert Manne went into denial about his own past significant association with Santamaria. The Age refused to publish the following two paragraphs of Hendo’s brief response to Manne. Here they are:
Gerard Henderson’s (Censored) Letter to The Age 17 September 2012
In his article (“Sparring in the ring of truth”, 17/9), Robert Manne comments that Greg Sheridan and myself were once associates of B.A. Santamaria’s National Civic Council – as was Tony Abbott. This is accurate. I was associated with Santamaria between 1965 and 1974.
However, Manne failed to tell Age readers about his own close association with Santamaria. In 1991, Manne was a keynote speaker at the NCC’s 50th anniversary celebrations – along with the now Cardinal George Pell. Moreover, as the author Patrick Morgan has documented, in the 1990s Manne was in discussion with Santamaria and Malcolm Fraser about the possibility of establishing a new political movement. When Santamaria died in 1998, Manne commented favourably on him.
The Age refused to publish Gerard Henderson’s letter and refused to explain why it chose to protect Robert Manne from criticism for hypocrisy.
And Now For Some Documentation
In view of the likely high interest in this matter – and in the cause of full disclosure – Gerard Henderson’s correspondence with Jason Steger and Sushi Das is published in full in the Correspondence segment.
In view also of the high interest of MWD readers in the learned professor, here is the report in B.A. Santamaria’s News Weekly of 26 October 1991 covering Robert Manne’s paean to Santa.
IF MARK SCOTT CAN’T MANAGE THE CHASER BOYS, HE CAN’T MANAGE THE ABC
ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott can be strong in public. For example, when defending the taxpayer funded public broadcaster at Senate Estimates Committees or bucketing anyone who points to the ABC as a Conservative-Free-Zone as “absolutely simplistic”.
However, since his appointment in 2006, Mark Scott has not been able to prevail over the numerous self-selecting leftist cliques which control various sections of the ABC.
It is some kind of secret as to whether the ABC managing director involves himself in the selection process for key program and editorial appointments. If Scott does, he has not been able to oversee the appointment of one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of the ABC’s prominent television or radio or online outlets. If Scott is not involved in selection committees for key appointments he is not doing his job as managing director or editor-in-chief.
Scott has been ABC managing director and editor-in-chief for eight years and promised to make the ABC more diverse when he took up this key taxpayer funded job which pays a salary equal to that of the Foreign Minister and the Treasurer combined.
Mark Scott’s weakness and his inability to control the ABC was never more evident than in his mishandling of the unfunny and juvenile use of porno-politics by The Chaser Boys (average age 381/2) against ABC critic Chris Kenny.
Mark Scott could have ordered the ABC to apologise within days of The Chaser’s attack on Kenny – which took place on election night last September. Initially Scott refused to act, then his own Audience & Consumer Affairs outfit cleared the sketch, then Scott did apologise but failed to instruct his legal staff to formally apologise and settle Kenny’s defamation claim, then ABC staff leaked documents with a view to forcing Kenny to withdraw his defamation action by means of a threat to financially strangle him with legal costs and then on Wednesday the ABC issued an apology to Mr Kenny which was read out at 9 pm on ABC 1.
What a disaster. It was made worse by Scott’s instruction to The Chaser Boys that, as part of the settlement, they were not to comment on the case. Julian Morrow and Andrew Hansen defied Scott within hours – demonstrating once again that the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief does not run the ABC. On this occasion, Scott used taxpayer money to cover the legal and damages cost borne by the ABC to cover The Chaser Boys’ unprofessionalism.
Mark Scott can be strong when criticising the ABC’s critics in politics and elsewhere. But he is hopelessly weak in managing his own organisation.
The lesson from the Chris Kenny/Chaser Boys fiasco is clear. If you can’t manage The Chaser Boys – you can’t manage the ABC.
● LITERARY SET DEFROCKED BY LOUISE ADLER & JASON STEGER
The left-wing stack that was the 2014 Sydney Writers’ Festival has just concluded. And the left-wing stack that will surely be the 2014 Melbourne Writers’ Festival will soon commence. [I can barely wait – Ed].
Meanwhile some valuable insights into the mindset of the Writers’ Festival clique has been provided by the gorgeous MUP chief executive Louise Adler and the not-so-gorgeous Age literary editor Jason Steger.
In a letter to The Age published on 27 May 2014, Louise Adler wrote that “book people” who attend literary events “aren’t generally conservative in their voting preferences….”. In his “Bookmarks” column in The Age last Saturday, Jason Steger self-assessed the audience at the 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards dinner as being made up of “left-leaning luvvies” – with one exception. [I wonder just how that might have been. Nancy’s (male) co-owner, perhaps? – Ed].
So according to Louise Adler, the literary set don’t vote for the Coalition. And, according to Jason Steger, book awards attendees are overwhelmingly left-leaning luvvies. Yet the literary-set seem to expect that taxpayers will fund their leftist-stacked literary festivals and their grants. Can you bear it?
● SYDNEY MORNING HERALD’S EVIDENCE-FREE PAGE ONE LEAD
Last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald carried a page one lead titled “Pyne sparks class war” which spilled to Page 6. This is SMH’s education editor Alexandra Smith’s first paragraph:
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has told Christian school leaders that his government has an ”emotional commitment” to private schools, prompting fears the Abbott government will abandon public schools.
So that’s pretty clear then. Just because Christopher Pyne said that the Abbott government has an “emotional commitment” to private schools this entails that it might abandon public schools. Ms Smith’s evidence? Zip, actually. And what about the class war thesis? Well, this was thrown in for good measure by a sub-editor.
Sure, this story was worth a page one lead. But only in the Green Left Weekly. Can you bear it?
● THE AGE – “INDEPENDENT ALWAYS” BUT NOT ON ITS OPINION PAGE
While on the topic of Fairfax Media, how has the Guardian-on-the-Yarra handled the current political ho-ha in Victoria?
Here’s how. Yesterday The Age ran two comment pieces on this matter on its Opinion Page. The first by Ken Coghill, the former Labor speaker of the Victorian Parliament. And the second by John Cain, the former Labor premier of Victoria. And The Age boasts that it is “Independent Always”. Can you bear it?
MIKE (“I’LL POUR THE GIN”) CARLTON’S COLUMN CRISIS
Nancy has been restless in her kennel since Tuesday morning when Mike Carlton sent out the following tweet at 8.36 am. Otherwise known circa Whale Beach as “It’s time for an early morning Bloody Mary in mankind’s ongoing battle against the hangover” time. Here it is:
One (uncourteous) avid MWD reader was unkind enough to suggest that Fairfax Media may now be paying Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton precisely what his Saturday Sydney Morning Herald column is really worth. That is, zip. However, Nancy’s (male) co-owner looks forward to your man Mike Carlton’s weekly rant each Saturday – since it invariably provides fodder for the following Friday’s MWD – and hopes it will return tomorrow.
Nancy sent your man Carlton a supportive email on Wednesday afternoon – around Gin & Tonic time circa Whale Beach. It seems that Mike may have pushed the wrong key in acknowledging Nancy’s best wishes. Instead of a “thank you” email, Mike Carlton appears to have forwarded his planned points for tomorrow’s column.
In case Mr Carlton’s column does not appear tomorrow, MWD readers may be interested in his tentative topics. Here they are:
Mike Carlton’s Notes for a Column – As Revealed by Nancy
▪ First up, have a sneer at the remaining Christians who still buy the SMH. Tell ’em they’re f_cking idiots. Have a sneer at the Catholic George Pell, the Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen, the late Bob Santamaria, the late Mother Theresa and the very late Saint Peter.
▪ Remind readers to hate Tony Abbott who has “bludgeoned” the ABC by reducing its $1 billion annual budget by an appalling 1 per cent. Which is sure to upset the missus.
▪ Sneer at anyone who has ever run a business – big, medium or small. Demonstrate that a veteran journo – who has spent his entire career waiting for someone else to make up his pay packet – really knows how to run the world/Australia/the Sydney Morning Herald.
▪ Condemn the Tories. Don’t worry that this is a term of abuse in Australia which was pinched from British politics. It will do – and the few remaining Coalition voters who still buy the Herald can cancel their subs. On second thoughts, be careful. Fairfax Media may not be able to pay my weekly stipend covering “The Thoughts-of-a-Whale-Beach superannuant”. That would be a shame and could lead to an emptying out of my gin cupboard.
▪ Remember to write about SELF. Also my brilliant young son. And brilliant wife. And brilliant former wife. This will always work towards making up a column. Comment again about the sexual practices of teenagers and fill in with details of my memories of this matter while attending the Anglican private school Barker College on Sydney’s leafy North Shore in the early 1960s.
In short, kick arse/Christians/Tories/business but not brilliant kids/wife. Come to think of it – why not simply re-run last week’s column or the one before that. Who would know?
THANKS TO THE LIKES OF MIKE SECCOMBE & DAVID MARR
Nancy’s (male) co-owner tends to read Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper on Monday. There is not much news in it and he does not feel a need to examine the full-page advertisements from Mercedes Benz, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Anzup Cancer Trials Group, Sasco Capital Markets, the Supernormal restaurant in Melbourne, Aesop design stores over the weekend. Monday will do.
On 10 May 2014, The Saturday Paper ran a full-page advertisement for, er, The Saturday Paper :
Dan Nolan @dannolan – apr 25 I had to go to 11 different newsagents in surry hills to find a copy of @SatPaper – everywhere was sold out.
Not living in inner-city Surry Hills in Sydney, or inner-city Fitzroy in Melbourne, Nancy’s (male) co-owner does not have your man Nolan’s difficulties of having to wear out his sandals tramping from Surry Hills newsagent to Surry Hills newsagent for a copy of The Saturday Paper. [Are there really 11 newsagents in Surry Hills? – Ed].
During the relaxed atmosphere on Monday, there is time to reflect on the BIG STORIES in The Saturday Paper. A couple are cited below:
▪ Mike Seccombe On the IPA
Last Saturday, the second lead story was by Mike (“Private schools make us dumber”) Seccombe. Mr Seccombe had the BIG STORY that the Melbourne based Institute of Public Affairs is running the country. It was a great (unintended) promotion for the IPA but somewhat over the top.
MWD observes that if IPA supremo John Roskam was running the country he would not be expressing concern that the Abbott government might back down on its commitment to amend Section 18(c) and 18(d) of the Racial Discrimination Act – and IPA operative Chris Berg might not be so busy criticising the Coalition on a range of issues.
▪ David Marr on Tony Abbott
The previous Saturday contained (yet another) David Marr critique of Tony Abbott. Yawn. According to your man Marr, Abbott has morphed from being a “loudmouth bigot”, a “homophobe” and a “Mad Monk” to something else. Fascinating, eh?
David Marr (once again) alleged that B.A. Santamaria “directed” Abbott to join the Liberal Party in late 1982. How strange, then, that in December 1989 Santamaria wrote a column for The Australian which was titled “Why I want Bob Hawke to Win”.
Marr simply does not understand that Santamaria never liked – and never voted for – the Liberal Party. As Patrick Morgan documents in his book B.A. Santamaria: Running the Show, by 1992 Santamaria was working with Malcolm Fraser and Robert Manne (yes) to set up a new political party which would replace the Liberal Party.
Like many a leftist, David Marr believes what he wants to believe. So does Mike Seccombe.
This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. 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 its hundreds of thousands of readers.
There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows.
So here we go again.
● JAMES MASSOLA AND GERARD HENDERSON
This week, Fairfax Media’s James Massola attempted to help out Hendo by writing in defence of his journalistic colleagues Kerry-Anne Walsh and Jonathan Green concerning former prime minister Julia Gillard, the carbon tax and all that.
James Massola to Gerard Henderson – 31 May 2014
I found myself reading your Media Watch Dog column this morning – something I sadly don’t have a chance to do each week, as much as I enjoy the column – and one of the snippets in it caught my eye.
You write: “As avid MWD readers will be aware, early in her tome Ms Walsh claims that Prime Minister Julia Gillard qualified her 2010 promise “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” by stating that she would put a price on carbon. Jonathan Green makes a similar (undocumented) claim in his book The Year My Politics Broke. Despite repeated requests, neither Ms Walsh nor Mr Green has been able to provide a source to validate their claim.”
I get the feeling there might be a longish back story to this particular snippet in your column, so perhaps I am missing or misunderstanding some of the context. If so, I do apologise. However, I seem to recall (for I was working at the newspaper at the time) that the former prime minister signalled she could move to legislate a price on carbon in The Australian on the front page on August 20, 2010.
Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan wrote:
Julia Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term. It will be part of a bold series of reforms that include school funding, education and health. In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step. “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”
I do hope this email may assist in shedding some light on this debate and the ensuing unfortunate misunderstanding. Or, as Ignatius taught us, ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominem salutem. I have cc’ed Jonathan to this email (I do not have Kerry-Anne’s email address).
Until next time, may you both keep morale high.
Gerard Henderson to James Massola – 4 June 2014
How wonderful of you to write to me concerning last Friday’s Media Watch Dog. But how sad to learn that you “don’t have a chance” to read MWD each and every week.
As regular avid readers of MWD know, there is a back story to this issue with respect to both Kerry-Anne Walsh and Jonathan Green.
It’s just so kind of you to attempt to provide a source for their comments in The Stalking of Julia Gillard and The Year My Politics Broke respectively. Especially since neither has provided a source for the comment they made in their opera magnum (I’m getting a bit rusty on Ignatius of Loyola – whom you quote with such authority – but I still retain a modicum of school-boy Latin).
This is what Kerry-Anne Walsh had to say in The Stalking of Julia Gillard at Page 8:
Public support for Gillard and her government started crashing in February 2011, after she announced she would introduce a carbon pricing scheme. Her critics claimed she had broken an iron-clad election promise not to introduce a “carbon tax”. During the election campaign she had stated: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but let me be clear: I will be putting a price on carbon and I will move to an emissions trading scheme.” This is what she announced, but not as far as those in the Opposition and hysterical commentariat were concerned.
And this is what Jonathan Green wrote in The Year My Politics Broke at Page 141:
“There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead …” is probably one of the most infamous pieces of political quotation in Australian history. The other quotable snippet from those last days of the 2010 campaign— “but I am determined to put a price on carbon” – trips less readily off the tongue, largely due to its quite conspicuous lack of endless repetition. That one phrase would become the unwelcome motif of the Gillard government while the other, explicatory portion went largely unheard and unremarked says a lot about the balance of authority in political messaging since 2010: the political reality has been determined by the forces ranged against Gillard, overwhelming the extended version of actual events. History might be written by the victorious, but in politics reality is constructed by the determined and competent. Relying on the subtle complexities of truth just doesn’t cut it.
Kerry-Anne Walsh has not been able to produce a source for her claim that in August 2010 Prime Minister Gillard said: “I will be putting a price on carbon”.
Jonathan Green has not been able to provide a source for his claim that in August 2010 Prime Minister Gillard said: “I am determined to put a price on carbon”.
In view of your ready access to Fairfax Media’s great library – perhaps you might do a search to locate the source of one or both quotes, assuming that such a source exists.
I am aware of Julia Gillard’s August 2010 comment to Paul Kelly which was quoted in The Australian on 20 August 2010. However, the source makes it clear that Julia Gillard was talking about an emissions trading scheme of some sort. She said explicitly: “I rule out a carbon tax.”
Yet Kerry-Anne Walsh claims that Prime Minister Gillard said “I will be putting a price on carbon” and Jonathan Green claims that Prime Minister Gillard said “I am determined to put a price on carbon.”
Neither statement appears in the report in The Australian on 20 August 2010 to which you have referred. All Prime Minister Gillard said to Paul Kelly is that she had not “ruled out the possibility of legislating an emissions trading scheme”. That’s all.
There are two additional points which challenge the Walsh/Green assertion:
▪ If Julia Gillard had promised to put “a price on carbon” before the August 2010 election, this would certainly have been taken up by Tony Abbott and the then Opposition. It wasn’t.
▪ If Julia Gillard had promised to put “a price on carbon” before the August 2010 election, the Prime Minister and her supporters would certainly have quoted such a comment when, after February 2011, she was severely criticised for breaking a firm election promise. They didn’t.
Keep morale high.
● JASON STEGER, SUSHI DAS, THE AGE & GERARD HENDERSON
The Age’s literary editor Jason Steger, who devoted a significant part of his “Bookmarks” column last Saturday to Hendo, elected to respond to a query from Nancy’s (male) co-owner.
Then, lo and behold, The Age’s opinion page editor Sushi Das decided to write to Hendo on the very subject of the Henderson/Steger correspondence. Believe it or not, Ms Das came up with an offer which could be refused. It was. So was Sushi Das’ request that her missive not be published. Nancy’s (male) co-owner has long held the view that it is a bit much for newspaper editors – whose profession entails revealing the private words of others – to demand confidentiality when they write to others on a business related matter.
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 3 June 2014
Further to our brief conversation of a moment ago I am forwarding to you the release from Black Inc about your appointment to the PMLA judging panel. I was hoping to ask your views on what Morry Schwartz and Chris Feik have to say about you and the awards. Would you be able to email me a response, please, for a news story that I am writing?
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 3 June 2014
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 3 June 2014
Best to you,
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 3 June 2014
Re your article today.
As you may – or may not – know, I wrote to The Age on Monday in response to Nick Dyrenfurth’s article. Copies were sent to Paul Austin, Sushi Das and (eventually) Andrew Holden.
Not for the first time, The Age refused to publish a brief letter from me in response to an article critical of me. Such is life at “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”, I guess.
As I indicated during our brief phone conversation, I am absolutely delighted with your apparent endorsement of the comment that I do not have “any literary credentials at all”. I can only assume that you endorsed this comment since you gave such prominence to an anonymous source.
So I will be running you in the hugely popular “Endorsements” segment of my Media Watch Dog blog on Friday – it will remain in MWD for perpetuity. God willing – and Nancy permitting.
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
Thanks for letting me know of my forthcoming appearance in MWD. I should point out for your future reference that there is a difference between reporting comments – even anonymous ones – and endorsing them. But I am sure you are well aware of that.
Best wishes to you – and Nancy,
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 4 June 2014
That’s true – provided the source is not anonymous. I do not know why any literary editor would want to report the views of someone who did not have the courage to put their name to a critical comment – unless the literary editor concerned endorsed the comment.
Keep morale high.
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
I suppose the fact that the person was a former judge persuaded me to report the comments. I am not sure that they were run in a position of great prominence – fourth or fifth item in a column on the last of eight books pages is not exactly the front page.
Again, best wishes,
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 4 June 2014
That’s not much of an argument for running a professionally damaging comment from an anonymous source.
I note, in passing, that you seem to support The Age’s most recent act of censorship with respect to me.
Over and out.
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
If you refer to your email, Gerard, you will see that you didn’t ask my view on whether your letter should have been published. I had no idea you had written a letter to The Age and therefore have not read it. So to infer I support “censorship” is drawing something of a long bow.
Best to you,
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 4 June 2014
I did not ask you for your view on The Age’s censorship of my letter. I assumed (correctly as it turns out) that you would comment on the fact.
You phoned on Monday, in your capacity as The Age’s literary editor, following an article published by The Age that very day.
And you did not bother to even ask the Letters Editor or Paul Austin or Sushi Das or your editor-in-chief Andrew Holden whether I had responded to the article in question.
This seems like lazy journalism to me.
But what would I know?
Nancy’s (male) co-owner
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
I phoned in response to Morry Schwartz’ statement, Gerard, not that opinion piece. His statement was issued on Tuesday and if you refer to our chain of emails you’ll see that was when I rang you and subsequently forwarded the statement to you as requested. My story about the Black Inc. statement went online last night and was in the paper in shorter form today. I have not read your letter, nor am I privy to the decisions of the letters editor. However, given that we ran a strong opinion piece about the PMLAs, it might have been wise to run a response.
Best to you, as always,
Sushi Das to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Thank you for your letter in response to Nick Dyrenfurth’s op-ed. I’m afraid we are unable to find space for it.
However, given that appointments on the judging panel of the PM’s Literary Awards are the subject of debate, would you be interested in writing an op-ed for The Age and SMH on this topic? I’d be happy to take anywhere between 700 and 900 words….
Thank you for taking the time to consider this request and for respecting the fact that this a personal correspondence and therefore not for publication.
Gerard Henderson to Sushi Das – 4 June 2014
I note that, after two full days, The Age has finally acknowledged receipt of my Letter to the Editor dated Monday 2 June 2014. I also note that you are “afraid” that The Age is “unable to find space for it”. Fancy that? I was naive enough to assume that this was an act of censorship.
I have no wish to write for The Age.
Gerard Henderson to Jason Steger – 4 June 2014
Sushi Das has just written to me saying that she is “afraid” that The Age is “unable to find space” for my letter which was sent on 2 June. Quelle surprise, as the saying goes.
Au revoir to you and the censorship set at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra.
Jason Steger to Gerard Henderson – 4 June 2014
Quelle surprise, indeed. Nothing to do with me, Gerard, I assure you. I am but a stoker in the boiler room of the good ship Age and never make it up to the bridge.
● TROY BRAMSTON AND GERARD HENDERSON
As foreshadowed in last week’s MWD, labour historian Troy Bramston’s latest letter to Hendo concerning Malcolm Fraser, the Vietnam War and the Australian American alliance was held over until today. The response went out this afternoon – just before Nancy took refuge in her kennel for what journalists like to call a well-earned break over the long weekend.
Troy Bramston to Gerard Henderson – 30 May 2014
I am disappointed that you have again written provocatively to me with the unstated, yet clear, purpose of publishing it on your blog, hoping to draw me out for a protracted debate. This is especially disappointing given our association since the 1990s, when I joined The Sydney Institute.
You published your previous correspondence to me without informing me beforehand. I provided you with a detailed reply. I asked if you were going to publish it on your blog but you did not reply; instead you just published your correspondence without my reply. Later, you emailed saying you were not sure if I wanted my reply published. Clearly, I would have allowed you to publish my reply if I knew you were going to publish your demonstrably false assertions.
The bottom line, Gerard, is that the claims you have made in these emails about my writings are wrong. Further, the comments you make about Malcolm Fraser are not substantiated by the evidence. You are entitled to scrutinise Fraser and make your contemptuous views about him widely known. But you are not entitled to your own facts.
You write that I have “seriously misinterpreted” Dr Peter Edwards’ recent book Australia and the Vietnam War. You say that I “imply” that he opposes the Vietnam War. You are wrong. I have never – in two articles in The Australian – implied that he opposed the war. Nor did I write it.
You say Dr Edwards told you this. But I spoke to Dr Edwards on Wednesday this week. He agrees with me that your claim that I wrote or implied that he opposed the war is false. He, like me, is disappointed that he has been drawn into this ridiculous cat and mouse debate.
Further, Dr Edwards does not agree with your view that there is no evidence in his work that Fraser’s contemporary views had started – or as I wrote “seeds were sown” – to form during the Vietnam War.
My central point that there is evidence to support Fraser’s contemporary views that his concerns about the US started – again I stress this word – to form while he was prosecuting and defending the Vietnam War. Fraser may have been defending the “cause” of the war in the 1960s, and indeed still in the 1990s, but he had clearly expressed concerns about how it was being handled at the time.
Dr Edwards agrees with this. Indeed, Dr Edwards told me on the phone that it was “a fair comment to make” that Fraser’s views were changing at the time and ahead of others in cabinet. He added that Fraser was aware the Americans were starting to pull out of Vietnam and popularity for the war was declining in Australia. He said there were disagreements within government about Fraser’s preferred “graduated withdrawal” approach.
I also noted to you that Fraser had been pressing for a withdrawal of troops in the late 1960s. Dr Edwards told me on the phone: “Fraser was on the one hand defending the commitment but also leading the push to withdraw in a graduated fashion. So he had come to that view before others.” Exactly. This was my point – indeed as it is Fraser’s point and it is also Dr Edwards’ view. I obtained Dr Edwards’ permission to write to you about his views.
Further, you say that Fraser had “never” before in his interview with me claimed that his contemporary opposition to the war and the alliance began during Vietnam. But again, here you have set up an false argument – inventing what I and Fraser said – then seeking to demolish it.
Fraser told me, and I wrote, that he supported cause of the war at the time. But as Fraser told me, and again as I wrote, his views began to change. How else can you interpret a minister proposing, against opposition, that troops be withdrawn? There is clear evidence, drawn from the cabinet papers, that support Fraser’s assertion that his views about Vietnam had begun to change at the time.
Moreover, you mention a range of books that you say do not support these views. But have you read these books? I have already referred you to passages in Dr Edwards’ latest book to support this view. Dr Edwards agrees with me on this point. Again, pp. 219-22 has Dr Edwards writing that Fraser “pressed his military advisers to end their opposition to the withdrawal” of troops in 1969. Of course Fraser “defended the commitment” at the time but that does not mean he didn’t start to have doubts about it or pressed with for a withdrawal at the time – which he did.
In Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (2010) on pp. 184-85, Fraser notes that Australia had not been consulted about US troop withdrawals in Vietnam. Fraser recalls “We had no impact at all on American strategy or policy. We had no information. The students who were demonstrating on the campuses of Australian universities had more influence over the conduct of the war than did the Australian government.” Further, in the lead up to his resignation as defence minister in 1971, Fraser recalls “I was probably hoping for a good outcome from Vietnam, while realising that it was getting very unlikely”. So you are wrong, again, that he hasn’t expressed views like this before.
And then in Fraser’s recent book, Dangerous Allies, on pp. 143-47 he makes it clear that US assessments of the war were too “optimistic” and did not reflect the more “cautious” assessments of the CIA. This is what I teased out in my interview with him.
In Dr Edwards’ A Nation at War, he writes: “(I)n 1995, Malcolm Fraser said that he would have reconsidered his support for the United States if he had known of the American involvement in the 1963 coup that overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem.” Edwards went on to write that this indicated that Australian policymakers knew little of American “policy and actions” in Vietnam. So again, here’s Fraser nearly two decades ago expressing a view similar to what he told me a few weeks ago.
And here is Fraser, writing in The Age in 2002 about the Iraq war but commenting on Vietnam: “Some time ago I made it plain, admittedly with all the wisdom of hindsight, that I believed the Vietnam War had been misguided. In addition, it was clear during the conduct of the war that the United States administration was not completely open about their own strategies and attitudes. (US defence secretary) Robert McNamara’s book In Retrospect gave an insight into the disordered manner in which the American administration approached that conflict. The chapter concerning the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, in particular, demonstrates a total disregard for any interest but their own. As a consequence, I would want to be much more cautious about future conflicts. If we are to join in a new war, we would need to establish a real partnership with the major participant to make sure we were fully informed at all times.”
You are nit-picking at what I wrote, what Dr Edwards has written and what Fraser has told me and written and said in the past. You have not carefully considered the evidence or judged it correctly. I’m afraid, Gerard, that you are wrong.
I do not intend to reply to any further emails about this topic. I frankly have other things to concern myself with. My writings were clear. The evidence for Fraser’s central assertion that he began to have doubts about the US during the Vietnam War and pressed early, and ahead of others in the Australian government, for a withdrawal of troops is supported by the documentary evidence. I suggest you spend time reviewing and reading it.
You have my permission to publish this correspondence.
Gerard Henderson to Troy Bramston – 6 June 2014
I refer to your email received last Friday – too late for publication in MWD. As indicated last week, your email of 30 May 2014 will be published in today’s MWD.
You seem super-sensitive to (perceived) criticism. As would be evident from a reading of MWD, my disagreement is with Mr Fraser – not you. In this dispute you are the journalist who reported Malcolm Fraser’s views in The Weekend Australian on 10-11 May 2014. That’s all.
You emailed me on 23 May 2014 concerned that in MWD Issue 226 I had described your interview with Malcolm Fraser as “tosh”. This looked like a letter to the editor – and I published your email along with my reply dated 27 May 2014 in MWD 227. I deleted one sentence from my letter concerning Peter Edwards because I wanted to check something with him before going to print. I now realise that my comment was accurate and I need not have deleted it.
My response to your long email of 30 May 2014 is as follows:
▪ I have checked with Peter Edwards. Dr Edwards confirmed that he was surprised by the implication in your Weekend Australian article that Edwards has a similar view to Fraser on Vietnam. Peter Edwards is critical of the way the Menzies Government handled Australia’s Vietnam commitment in 1965 but he still supports the decision. Edwards’ view is that Australia should have worked out an exit strategy to take place circa 1969.
Unlike Fraser today, Edwards does not oppose the decision to commit combat forces to Vietnam in 1965. Dr Edwards made this clear during his address to The Sydney Institute last Wednesday – you may wish to listen to this on our website.
▪ My disagreement with Malcolm Fraser on this issue turns on the following two paragraphs in your Weekend Australian article, viz:
Although Fraser’s book contains several revealing anecdotes about his involvement in making foreign policy as a minister and prime minister, it does not deal at length with the catalyst for his journey from ANZUS enthusiast to ANZUS critic.
But interviewing Fraser for this article, coupled with insights from his book, it is clear that the seeds of his contemporary views were sown during the searing experience of prosecuting the Vietnam War.
The fact is that there is no evidence in your current letter – or in the various sources you quote – that Mr Fraser’s contemporary views on the Australian-American Alliance in general or the Vietnam commitment in particular “were sown during the searing experience of prosecuting the Vietnam War”.
As I documented in last week’s MWD, in 1976 as prime minister Fraser offered President Ford much better terms on the Pine Gap joint intelligence facility. This was not the action of a man whose attitude to the Alliance had been re-assessed “due to the searing experience of prosecuting the Vietnam War” some years earlier.
The fact is that, as Minister for Defence between November 1969 and March 1971, Fraser followed the Nixon administration’s policy of gradual withdrawal from Vietnam. Consequently, the Australian government’s decision on this matter was not a manifestation of any disillusionment with the Australian American Alliance.
▪ Neither Malcolm Fraser nor anyone else has produced any contemporaneous evidence to support the view that the seeds of Fraser’s current position on the Vietnam War and the Australian American Alliance were sown during the searing experience of prosecuting the Vietnam War – i.e. sometime between 1965 and 1972.
▪ Malcolm Fraser’s claim that he was not aware of the role of the CIA and the US Embassy in Saigon in the 1963 overthrow of South Vietnam’s leader Ngo Dinh Diem is simply not believable. But it is consistent with Fraser’s acknowledgement that his memory is “notoriously fallible”.
I was in secondary school in 1963 and the US’s involvement in the anti-Diem coup was discussed in class. Among Australian supporters of Australia’s Vietnam commitment at the time, the coup was supported by Denis Warner and opposed by B.A. Santamaria. Neither was ignorant of the event.
It is simply impossible to accept that a well-informed man like Malcolm Fraser was unaware of the US’s role in the removal of Diem until he learnt of the coup some two decades after the event from former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
In conclusion, my advice to all historians – including labour historians – is to be wary of Malcolm Fraser’s recollections. For example, Fraser now maintains that his government retained Medibank. It didn’t. That’s why the Hawke government established Medicare in 1983. The demise of Medibank under the Fraser government is documented in R.B. Scotton and C.R. Macdonald The Making of Medibank (UNSW, 1993).
If Malcolm Fraser’s memory is so totally unreliable with respect to events in the early 1980s – why should historians rely on his memory with respect to events in the 1960s and 1970s?
* * * * *
* * * * *
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.