20 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.



    What a stunning piece by ABC journalist Thomas Oriti on AM this morning. He reported former Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Fraser’s appearance at the left-wing “Politics in the Pub” gig at the Harold Park Hotel in Glebe in inner-city Sydney last night.

    There is no-one ABC journalists and producers more admire than a past or present Liberal Party or National Party identity who criticises the Coalition policy on any matter.

    Last night Mr Fraser declared that – on asylum seeker and other issues – both the Coalition and Labor have moved to the right, making him a “progressive”. Declared Malcolm Fraser:

    Malcolm Fraser: Both [major parties] are wriggling around at the bottom of the deepest, worst barrel. When they say they’ve stopped people drowning at sea, they’ve done it
    by the most inhumane methods.

    Mr Fraser did not identify a humane method of stopping men, women and children drowning at sea.

    Perhaps this is yet another manifestation of Mr Fraser’s self-declared “notoriously fallible” memory. The fact is that, between November 1975 and March 1983, the Fraser government relied on the off-shore detention and processing of asylum seekers. Individuals, who were classified as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), were hand-picked to enter Australia. They then arrived on Qantas aircrafts with valid visas.

    Unlike the Keating, Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Rudd governments – the Fraser government did not have to face problems, including drownings at sea, caused by unauthorised boat arrivals.

    As Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons acknowledge in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (MUP, 2010) the total number of unauthorised boat arrivals during the entire period of the Fraser government was 2059. Just 2059. In other words – with unauthorised boat arrivals running around two dozen a month – Malcolm Fraser did not confront a fraction of the difficulties faced by Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – or, potentially, Tony Abbott if he relaxes off-shore detention.

    Mr Fraser should remember that. Even at the Harold Park pub.


    Laura Tingle, the Australian Financial Review’s political editor, is a supporter of the retention of Sections 18(c) and 18 (d) in their current form in the Racial Discrimination Act. After her column today, titled “The fog of war rolls from Jerusalem to Canberra”, you have to wonder why.

    Now first, let’s break Ms Tingle’s code. Ms Tingle’s reference to “the Israel lobby” is, in fact, a reference to the so-called Jewish lobby. It is just a softer way to talking about Jewish Australians without talking about Judaism.

    This morning, Laura Tingle effectively accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General George Brandis of changing the Coalition’s policy on the Middle East following the receipt of money from Jews. That’s it. Here is what the AFR’s political editor wrote this morning – in somewhat jumbled prose:

    As George Brandis, Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott have tied themselves in knots, the fact no one seems clear whether this was just a stuff-up or a deliberate policy move is damning. Many people in politics and business drew a pragmatic line from the shift of position to money, noting the Israel lobby switched its funding allegiance last year from Labor to the Coalition.

    Others thought Brandis was trying to make up ground with a Jewish community outraged by his declaration that Australians “have the right to be bigots” when he declared at a Senate hearing that references to “occupied East Jerusalem’’ were “neither appropriate nor useful’’, preferring the term “disputed’’.

    It’s the old allegation – familiar through the ages – that wealthy Jews pressure non-Jews to implement their agenda as a result of making financial contributions to individuals and/or organisations.

    Ms Tingle would never make such a claim about wealthy Muslims or wealthy Hindus. However, a different standard seems to apply to the Jewish community in Australia.

    Needless to say, Laura Tingle did not provide any evidence of any kind to support her implied conspiracy theory that the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Attorney-General followed the money trail and changed the Coalition policy on the Middle East to appease Jewish donors. She just seemed to rule out the possibility that senior members of the Coalition would come to a genuinely held position on the Middle East which was contrary to her own without the issue of “money”.

    By the way, Ms Tingle also threw the switch to hyperbole this morning by suggesting that members of the Abbott government regard the leaders of the Australian Medical Association as “communists”. She did not name one member of the Abbott government who holds this position. Not one. Ms Tingle is the AFR’s political editor.

    ray evans rip

    Ray Evans, one of the most influential Australians of his time, died in Melbourne earlier this week. His death was reported in The Australian.
    There is an important editorial in The Spectator Australia today and John Roskam has done a fine obituary in the Australian Financial Review this morning. Also there is a more detailed analysis of Ray Evans’ life by Patrick Morgan in Quadrant Online
    (19 June 2014.

    Needless to say, The Age (which used to be Victoria’s newspaper of record) seems unaware of Mr Evans death – and perhaps of his existence.

    Ray Evans’ politics consisted of working with individuals and through organisations (quite a few of which he created). Over the last three decades, he was a highly influential figure in advancing the cause of economic reform in such areas as protection and industrial relations. Ray Evans was an influence on the politicians who introduced Australia’s economic reform agenda – particularly Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Peter Costello and John Howard. Some knew him well; others not at all.

    Earlier in his career, Ray Evans was a brave anti-communist in the then pro-communist Victorian Labor Party. In his final years, Ray Evans had the courage to confront the catastrophists who dominate the climate debate. He is an example of the fact that you do not have to be a big name to have a big influence.

    Vale Ray Evans.



    According to ABC publicity, the failed Labor leader Mark Latham will make his third appearance within a year on Q&A next Monday.

    As avid MWD readers will recall, the Lair of Liverpool once famously declared that only media tarts appear on Q&A and said he would
    prefer a session at the dentist in the patient’s chair than an hour with Tony Jones in the presenter’s chair. Your man Latham described Q&A as
    a “self-flagellation hour for political tragics” (The Spectator Australia, 13 August 2011).

    A couple of possibilities may explain Mark Latham’s decision to front up at the Media Tart Shop on Monday evening.

    MWD has discovered that some Q&A panellists are paid an appearance fee. This could be attractive to your man Latham – since he currently has to support a wife, a horse, three kids and half a dozen bookmakers on a lousy taxpayer funded pension of a mere $73,000 a year (fully indexed). A bit of extra taxpayer funded money, per courtesy of the ABC, could work a treat. Especially at Warwick Farm.

    ● As the Lair of Liverpool revealed in his “Relativities” column in last Saturday’s Weekend Financial Review, he has a new book coming out in July titled The Political Bubble. [I can barely wait – Ed]. Perhaps Mr Latham wants to flog this tome on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster this
    very Monday.

    ● Perhaps Mark Latham is craving on-air publicity – something he has been deprived of since Sky News refused to renew his contract. [Don’t tell me that Mr Latham once took money from a company part-owned by Rupert Murdoch. – Ed]

    ● Maybe Mark Latham – a one-time Julia Gillard critic and political-stalker who became a Julia Gillard booster – wants to use the ABC to repent for his past sins.

    The beauty of Mark Latham’s Australian Financial Review column and his occasional media appearances is that he does not see himself as others see him. This is what the Lair of Liverpool wrote about Clive Palmer MP on 5 June 2014 in his column titled “The allure of the Elephant Man” :

    Within the major parties, most of the authentic parliamentary characters have disappeared, replaced by heavily scripted machine apparatchiks. Accordingly, a niche market has opened up for crossbench infotainment politicians – independent MPs who attract publicity by offering the media colour and movement. It’s not just the Palmer phenomenon. Walk right up and see the astounding Mad Hatter [Bob Katter], a North Queensland original. Then, further along sideshow alley, try to spot the Invisible Man [Ricky Muir], hurling kangaroo poo on behalf of the nation’s motoring enthusiasts.

    A large part of Palmer’s electoral appeal comes from the novelty of his media appearances. As public disillusionment with the major parties has grown, a certain kind of voter has emerged. They are disinterested [sic] in the details of politics, but strongly committed to anyone who appears to be “shaking up the system”.

    It seems that the AFR’s most famous columnist has poor self-esteem. Not so long ago, the Australian Labor Party was led by a colour-and-movement politician. He bashed-up a taxi driver after yet another dinner in honour of Gough Whitlam. And he gave a resignation media conference in a park having just received a hair-cut per courtesy of a self-purchased shearers’ wide-comb and looking like the CEO of Dodgy Brothers Funerals who has just told the recently departed’s relatives that the corpse has gone missing. He was called Latham Man.

    Latham and Nancy coiffure

    five paws graphic


    On Paul Murray Live last Wednesday, discussion turned on the possibility of a double dissolution election in Australia. And Miranda Devine was the best informed. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Paul Murray: Troy… is there a famous example in Australian history where someone has called on a double dissolution and the government got destroyed? Removed

    Miranda Devine: Fraser?

    Troy Bramston: umm.

    Paul Murray: I mean there’s obviously one [in 1975] – not quite called by Whitlam of his own volition.

    Troy Bramston: No. Most governments have tended to get back in, certainly, since the Second World War. But the most famous double dissolution, of course, is the Whitlam government double dissolution in 1974, May 1974, which then enabled them to have what is the only time both houses of parliament had sat together in a joint sitting. And Whitlam did that for six bills. And the most famous of those bills was Medibank….

    Miranda Devine: Didn’t Fraser try one and lose? Wasn’t that a double dissolution?

    This comment was treated with absolute silence. But Miranda Devine was correct.

    In 1983 Malcolm Fraser called a double dissolution election – and lost it.

    Miranda Devine – Five Paws.

    Can you bear it graphic


    Nancy’s (male) co-owner is a great fan of Dee Madigan. Indeed, he has campaigned for Dee Madigan to be given adequate notice before her occasional appearances on Sky News’ The Contrarians program so she can find time to put on a skirt when required. See MWD passim.

    Ms Madigan was well ensconced under the table on Q&A last Monday when presenter Tony Jones called a final question in the final topic – despite the program having already run over time. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Gillian Harrex : It’s a question for Dee. Clearly this budget has been a challenge for the Coalition to sell. What’s one piece of advice you’d give them on how to sell it better on social media?

    Ed Husic : Just one?

    Gillian Harrex : Just one.

    Dee Madigan : There is actually nothing you can do, because you can’t roll everything in glitter. And this budget is shit.

    Tony Jones : That is a tough one to leave the program on but I’m afraid it is. I’m being told we are over time. That is all we have time for tonight. Please thank our panel…

    In introducing the guests, Tony Jones described Dee Madigan as “an author and advertising creative”. How frightfully interesting. The wonderful Ms Madigan is a long-time Labor Party operative and was creative director of the ALP’s 2013 election campaign. This certainly was a “tough one” on which to conclude Q&A. Especially for the Coalition since Tony Abbott’s parliamentary secretary Josh Frydenberg was not given a right of reply. Can you bear it?


    An avid MWD based in Canberra has commented on this section of Mike Carlton’s Sydney Morning Herald column of 7-8 June 2014 – which was quoted in Issue 229, viz:

    In truth, we are saddled with a gang of punishers and straighteners [sic], of cutters and slashers, run by the sort of bossy former private school prefects who enjoy enforcing dress codes at golf clubs. To borrow from that American wit, the late H.L.Mencken, these Abbott Tories are racked by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might not be working hard enough.

    The term about governments as “punishers” comes (unacknowledged) from the left-wing historian Manning Clark (1915 – 1991). Except, as MWD’s
    Canberra correspondent points out, your man Clark referred to “punishers and straiteners” – not straighteners. And your man Carlton is invariably banging on about declining journalistic standards. Can you bear it?

    nancy's pick graphic


    What a stunning performance by David Marr on Insiders last Sunday.

    This is Mr Marr on Tony Abbott’s alleged “trance” when the Prime Minister met President Barack Obama in Washington last week :

    Fran Kelly: David, you’ve watched a few of these interactions. What did you think of the atmospherics of it? Tony Abbott seemed glowing about the President.

    David Marr: Obama is the leader of the free world, he doesn’t have to get frosty with somebody like Tony Abbott. He can be perfectly friendly with him – and he was. And Abbott – when Abbott is really, really thrilled about something he has this peculiar habit of closing his eyes. He goes into a kind of trance.

    Tory Shepherd:Not just one eye, not the wink?

    David Marr: No no, no no. We’re talking a both-eye kind of trance of pleasure. And he did it a few times during that, during that exchange. These things are stage-managed, Obama is in total command. Abbott behaved obviously with, you know, Abbott behaved perfectly but the differences between the men are very clear.

    Brilliant don’t you think? Yes, President Obama is head of state and head of government of the world’s biggest economy. And Tony Abbott is head of government of the world’s 13th largest economy. So it’s not surprising that the differences between Obama and Abbott are very clear. As to the allegations of Abbott’s “trance” – it was just another Marr Sneer.

    Then Insiders showed footage of the surf-board which Abbott gave to Obama:

    Tony Abbott: He [President Obama] said: “I might be Hawaiian but that doesn’t mean I’m the world’s greatest surfboard rider.” But he said: “That’s the kind of big board
    that will help me hone my surfing skills.” So let’s hope Surfboard One is a common sight off Waikiki beach.

    Fran Kelly:Surfboard One, gotta love it.

    David Marr:It’s very important, it’s very important. Because this is an indication from Abbott that he believes Obama was born in Hawaii – that he was not born in Kenya.

    This was just another Marr Sneer. Tony Abbott has never claimed, or implied, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Never. The rumour that Obama was born in Kenya was a conspiracy theory invented by some members of the Lunar Right in the United States – and supported by businessman Donald Trump. This view has never found expression in Australia on the conservative or right-of-centre side of politics. David Marr just made this up.

    And then it was time to discuss the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption headed by The Hon. Dyson Heydon AC. David Marr rushed to defend Julia Gillard against allegations that she had received money for house renovations from the slush fund which was established two decades ago by officials of the Australian Workers Union, including her former boyfriend Bruce Wilson.

    David Marr: The case against Gillard, as I understand it, has now been stated before the Royal Commission. The anti-Gillard witnesses have all had their say. And, as things stand at the moment, there is no evidence that she connived in any kind of fraud. There is no evidence that money from the slush fund was used on her house. There are allegations, there are hypotheses, there are hunches. But these are very serious allegations against the former prime minister and, as of week’s end, there is no evidence.

    How frightfully interesting. Dyson Heydon may, or may not, make findings with respect to the one-time AWU slush-fund and where the money went. Time will tell. However, the allegations against Mr Gillard were supported by evidence before the Royal Commission.

    It seems that David Marr has one standard for what contributes evidence when allegations are made against Julia Gillard and quite another standard when allegations are made against Tony Abbott.

    In his Quarterly Essay Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, David Marr stated that Abbott had punched a wall on both sides of the head of a female student at Sydney University in 1977.

    Marr is still convinced that there is unequivocal evidence to support his assertion, despite the fact that:

    ▪ No independent witness saw Tony Abbott punch the wall.

    ▪ No one complained to Sydney University authorities, or to the police, about the alleged incident.

    ▪ There is no contemporaneous report of the incident – despite the fact that the left- controlled student newspaper Honi Soit at the time and the campus leftists were hostile towards Abbott. There were a number of critical letters on Abbott published in Honi Soit at the time – including from the alleged victim of the “Punch” – but no one referred to the alleged “Punch”. [see MWD passim, in particular Issues 154 and 181].

    ▪ Reports of the (alleged) “Punch” did not become public until nearly 40 years after the (alleged) incident – when Tony Abbott was a serious contender to become Prime Minister by leading the Coalition to victory against the Labor Party.

    In the revised edition of Political Animal (which was published as a book by Black Inc), David Marr changed the date of the (alleged) “Punch” without drawing the attention of his readers to this or attempting to explain why his initial claim was erroneous. [Interesting. I note that, despite this (disguised) howler, your man Marr won the John Button Prize for journalism].

    In the Quarterly Essay version of Political Animal published in 2012, the (alleged) “Punch” took place in September 1977. But in the Black Inc book version of Political Animal published in 2013, the (alleged) “Punch” took place in July 1977. There is no independent evidence for either claim and David Marr has never explained why he changed the dates or why he did not publicly acknowledge the change.

    Yet David Marr maintains that the testimony against Julia Gillard by the likes of former AWU officials, Ralph Blewitt, Ian Cambridge, Wayne Hem, Bob Kernohan and retired builder Athol James is not evidence at all. A double standard, to be sure.

    Finally, David Marr exhibited extraordinary naivety when he made the following comment on Insiders :

    David Marr: …I think a Royal Commission into corruption in the union movement is a fantastically good idea. On this particular area now, the mystery of the week is – what on earth did Thiess expect from the payments it was making?

    Fran Kelly: Thiess construction company?

    David Marr: Thiess construction company.

    Tory Shepherd: Which put money into the slush fund.

    David Marr: – which they paid into that slush fund. Something like forty invoices for work which appears never to have been done. But they’ve never complained, they’re still not complaining. Thiess isn’t saying a fraud’s been committed. Thiess isn’t whinging, they’re not complaining…. Where the Royal Commission has to go is to investigate what precisely was the understanding between Thiess Construction and the AWU official [Bruce] Wilson because that’s really what the story is about now. What was that arrangement?

    How naive can you get? Anyone who has any understanding of the trade union movement in Australia would know that Thesis Construction contributed to the AWU’s slush fund in order to buy industrial peace on its worksites. David Marr has been a journalist for nearly all of his professional life but apparently has no knowledge about how some unions operate on some worksites. Or perhaps he has developed the habit of only believing what he wants to believe.



    The Byron Bay Writers Festival will be held at Byron Bay (no less) in Sandalista Country on 1-3 August 2014. Edwina Johnson, the Festival director, recently released the program.

    Clearly Ms Johnson has continued the Australian literary festival tradition whereby the leftist organisers get a bucket load of taxpayers’ funds and invite their leftist ideological besties to a discussion – where everybody agrees with everybody else in a leftist kind of way and a wonderful ideological time is had by all. [Don’t you mean “shared by all” – Ed]

    The Australian contingent at Byron Bay seems to have been chosen from Sandalista Casting. It includes Malcolm (“My memory is notoriously fallible”) Fraser, Julian Burnside QC, Tim Flannery, Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, Mungo MacCallum, Antony Loewenstein, Christopher Warren, Andrew Denton, Frank Moorhouse, Benjamin Law, Bob Brown, Bob Maguire, Hugh Mackay, Mungo MacCallum, Kerry O’Brien and – you’ve guessed it – David Marr.

    Even the oh-so-fashionable Sydney Morning Herald literary editor has described this meeting of (similar) minds as a “left-wing boys club”. For the record, the few Aussie sheilas on the platform are also members of the Sandalista Class – Jane Caro, Sophie Cunningham and Lisa Gorton. [Could Ms Gorton be the late Prime Minister John Gorton’s granddaughter? – Ed].

    By the way, Ms Wyndham is still defending her bizarre assertion that the inner-city leftie Louise Adler is “like-minded” with the suburban conservative Tony Abbott (See “Spectrum” Sydney Morning Herald, 7-8 June 2014). Susan Wyndham concedes that “their politics differ strongly”. But she reckons that Ms Adler is an “enthusiastic Abbott booster” because her employer Melbourne University published his book Battlelines. Er, that’s it.



    Many thanks to an avid MWD reader who has felt compelled to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about Mike Carlton’s sneering at Christian believers and private schools – and more besides. See MWD passim. Even last Saturday in his Sydney Morning Herald column, the Philosopher King of Whale Beach – who himself went to the Anglican Private School Barker College – described NSW Premier Mike Baird as having suffered the “handicap” of “an education at The [Anglican] King’s School”.

    avid reader has advised that such is Mike Carlton’s alleged dislike of private schools, “Tories” and all that – that he sent his first son to the private Barker College. Moreover, in the 1990s Mike Carlton was the home-ground “announcer” at Barker College’s First XV (i.e. Rugby Union) matches. “Bravo!”. “Up School!”. “Come on the Tories!” and so on.

    MWD’s avid reader also drew attention to Mike Carlton’s time at Barker College half a century ago. MC has written previously about his attempts at social interaction as a young man. Here is the TRUE STORY of The Young Mike in all its appalling detail.

    At Barker College, your man Carlton was :

    ▪ a prefect. (This was a special position invariably attained by conscientious students – not even Malcolm Fraser became a prefect at the Anglican Melbourne Grammar School).

    ▪ vice-captain of Wade House.

    ▪ a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Barker College School Cadets – “all present and correct, Sir!” (Membership of the cadets was compulsory at Barker. But those who sought officer rank usually were aiming to become a prefect. The RMO invariably ranted and raved and yelled at younger cadets who were mere privates. Well done Regimental Sergeant Major Carlton. Attention!)

    ▪ and, wait for it, a poet.

    Here is Mike Carlton’s poem “On Leaving School” which was published in The College Barker on 31 December 1962:


    Above our heads floats vast uncertainty;

    At our heels lies a worn but ended path.

    We pause, suspended above the valley of wonder.

    A warmth of memories in our hearts.

    For we are at the cliffs of Youth.

    That lead us outwards to the sea of life.

    Opportunity’s Excalibur rests within our range

    We tell ourselves.

    Yet is there not a chill of fear,

    A fluttering in the breast that calls us back:

    Our early years were joy and light and love;

    Now we must leave and face our fear alone.

    For we are in the hands of destiny,

    With surety surrendered to her will.

    Although horizons stretch before our eyes,

    And doubts and fears may plague us till the end,

    We face the world with comfort in our hearts,

    For therein lies the golden glow of moments to remember.

    M.J. Carlton

    Nancy’s (male) co-owner was completely overcome with emotion after digesting your man Carlton’s school-boy verse. He all teared-up when reading about “the cliffs of Youth” and was a complete wreck by the time MC referred to “the golden glow of moments to remember”.

    Little wonder that Mike Carlton graduated from Barker College to become the Philosopher of Whale Beach – from where he sends the occasional endorsement to MWD, after Gin & Tonic time. Of course. [Could this be the very same Mike Carlton who write in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7- June 2014 that the Abbott government is “run by the sort of bossy former private school prefects who enjoy enforcing dress codes…?” If so, perhaps this item should have been given a run in your hugely popular “Can You Bear It” segment. Just a thought – Ed]

    correspondence header caps


    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.

    As hundreds of thousands of avid readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press” – and, of course, after lunch. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katherine Murphy’s counsel. So here we go again.


    Following the media beat-up concerning Tony Abbott’s brief “Canadia” verbal typo, Erik Jensen – editor of The [Boring] Saturday Paper

    sent out the following tweet: “What can you expect from the Austrian prime minister?”. Your man Jensen believes that this was not only thigh-thumpingly funny but self-evident as well. [He’s an inner-city leftist, correct? – Ed]

    In his column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, Gerard Henderson wrote “Australia” for “Austria” when quoting the Jensen tweet – which at least made the tweet understandable. This fired up the editor of The Saturday Paper – which goes to press on Thursday – to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner on Sunday. [What happened on Friday? – Ed]. Erik Jensen complained that his learned thought-bubble had been misquoted. Now read on:

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 15 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    What a treat to see my name among the “serious commentators” in your column this weekend.

    Unfortunately, you misquoted me. Indeed, you completely misunderstood me. Troubling as this sounds, we were making the same point: that a clumsy pronunciation, immediately corrected, does nothing to demean the prime minister and should not become the focus of his trip.

    I asked what we might expect from the “Austrian” prime minister. A reminder that George W. Bush had made slips of his own at the “OPEC” summit in Sydney in 2007. Abbott’s “Canadia” was no worse, no more telling, and this was my point – a point lost entirely when you print that I criticised the “Australian” prime minister.

    It was a joke, Gerard. Like an actress meeting a bishop or you judging a literary prize.

    Of course, I hope you will correct the error.

    All the very best,
    Erik Jensen


    The Saturday Paper

    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 18 June 2014

    Dear Erik

    I refer to your email of last Sunday concerning my column in The Weekend Australian. I note that, apparently, you did not write to The Australian on this issue. I have had some problems with my computer of late – hence the delay in responding to your missive.

    Unlike Black Inc types, I am willing to acknowledge errors.

    Unlike David Marr – who made a correction concerning Tony Abbott’s (alleged) Punch of 1977 in the second edition of Political Animal but failed to acknowledge the original error.

    Unlike Robert Manne – who, despite the enticement of a $7000 gift to a charity of his choice, has yet to provide evidence that I sent a submission to The Age urging that he be sacked as a columnist in 1993 (or maybe 1995). He refuses to provide the evidence or withdraw the allegation. This despite the fact that Robert Manne maintains that there are at least three copies of the (alleged) submission in existence.

    And unlike Morry Schwartz – who refused to run corrections by me in The Monthly or Quarterly Essay.

    But – there you go.

    To say the least, your tweet “What can you expect from the Austrian [sic] prime minister?” was ambiguous – especially in view of the constantly critical tone of The Saturday Paper towards Tony Abbott.

    However, I concede that I made a mistake. I will correct it on Saturday.

    By the way, I was delighted that you respect the fact that I described you as a serious commentator. As I recall, you were not so generous to me in a recent editorial in The Saturday Paper. But, then, I am a courteous kind of guy.

    Lotsa love to The Saturday Paper team – especially Secco.

    Gerard Henderson


    As avid MWD readers will know, last weekend Gerard Henderson scooped The Saturday Paper’s Mike (“Private schools make us dumber”) Seccombe by releasing the report of a committee which reported to the NSW premier concerning the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Hendo chaired this committee. Secco asked numerous people for a copy of this report, except from its principal author. Strange, eh?

    After MWD’s coverage last week, Secco wrote to Hendo requesting to interview him for “The Boring Paper”. As the saying goes: Please don’t ask; a refusal often offends. You be the judge.

    Mike Seccombe to Gerard Henderson – 17 June 2014

    Hi Gerard,

    I’ve been asked to do something on your involvement in the literary/history awards at state and fed level. Would like to talk about it, when you have a minute or 10.


    Mike S

    Gerard Henderson to Mike Seccombe – 17 June 2014




    Gerard H.

    Mike Seccombe to Gerard Henderson – 17 June 2014





    A Pedant Writes.

    Keith McLennan to Gerard Henderson – 16 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    Surely B.A. Santamaria did not write “a man’s fate and a man’s desserts are different things” (MWD 229)?

    Granted, a man’s fate and his desserts are very different things. But desserts are ice cream, pudding, or other such delicacies.

    A man’s deserts (or as Shakespeare has it, desert) are what he deserves for his conduct: “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?”
    – Hamlet, II.ii.491-2.


    Keith McLennan

    Gerard Henderson to Keith McLennan – 20 June 2014

    Dear Keith

    Thanks for your note of 16 June 2014.

    The fact is that I was quoting what B.A. Santamaria wrote half a century or so ago – and the quote is accurate.

    My advisers in matters pedantry inform me that the words “deserts” and “desserts” are inter-changeable in this context. This was the case last century.
    Apparently, in the 21st Century the use of “desserts” has become more common than deserts. It is a bit, I guess, the verbal version of the tomatoe/tomato dichotomy.

    As you know, when Santamaria wrote about Diem the latter was very much in requiescat in pace mode – and physical desserts were of no interest to him.

    I’m afraid that I cannot cite Hamlet. Alas, this stands testimony to the fact that – as a youth – I was more interested in Sabrina than Shakespeare.

    Keep morale high

    Gerard Henderson


    Gerard Henderson was one of a number of commentators who appeared on the ABC 1’s Compass program “God in the Lodge” two-part documentary.

    This week John Dillon wrote to Gerard Henderson about comments which were aired on Compass concerning Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He received a response.

    John Dillon to Gerard Henderson – Letter received on 18 June

    Dear Gerard Henderson,

    On the ABC TV Compass program on 11th May you asserted, no doubt dutifully, that the Prime Minister Tony Abbott had never allowed, and presumably would never allow, his religious beliefs to influence his political decisions.

    If Mr Abbott faithfully upheld and adhered to certain of his church’s official teachings your assertion would be impossible to substantiate. I reference, for example, the subjects of same-sex marriage, homosexuality in general and so-called “artificial” contraception.

    The Vatican has irreversibly ruled that all are mortal sins, the practice and even support of which render offenders liable (even automatically) to excommunication and eternal damnation.

    How then, could any devout Roman Catholic politician not be influenced by religious beliefs when deliberating on such matters as itemized? And how could they conscientiously circumvent such religious dicta while, as required, officially and democratically implementing the will of the electorate if such is clearly contrary to the said religious rulings?

    Yours Sincerely

    John Dillon

    cc : Geraldine Doogue

    Gerard Henderson to John Dillon – Letter sent on 18 June 2014

    Dear Mr Dillon

    I received today your letter, pre-dated 20 June 2014, concerning my comments on the ABC1 Compass program on 11 May 2014.

    These days I am an agnostic. However, I have some knowledge of some religions – including Catholicism. In your letter, you referred to such “subjects” as “same sex marriage, homosexuality in general and so-called ‘artificial’ contraception” and added:

    The Vatican has irreversibly ruled that all are mortal sins, the practice and even support of which render offenders liable (even automatically) to excommunication and eternal damnation.

    You obviously know nothing about Catholic teaching. Here are some facts which may, or may not, be of interest :

    ▪ A “mortal sin” in Catholic teaching depends on a state of mind. In any event, the Vatican has never ruled that homosexuality in itself is a mortal sin.

    ▪ Sin – mortal or venial – in Catholic teaching can be confessed and forgiven. It’s called the Sacrament of Penance. It is simply false for you to assert that in Catholic teaching mortal sin “automatically” leads to eternal damnation. If this were the case, quite a few sinners who are canonised saints would be in Hell. According to Catholic theology – The Fall and all that – we are all sinners. The Church teaches that sin followed by contrition can lead to redemption.

    ▪ Your comments on excommunication are hopelessly wrong. As I understand it, in recent times excommunication has been enacted against a handful of Catholics – usually for publicly defying a teaching or a direction of the Pope. There is no such phenomenon as automatic excommunication.

    There is no evidence that Tony Abbott has ever sought to impose his religious beliefs – whatever they might be – on Australian society. He has had many homosexual friends – including the late Christopher Pearson. True, the Catholic Tony Abbott opposes same-sex marriage. But so does the atheist Julia Gillard and the Muslim Ed Husic. When Health Minister, Mr Abbott never sought to change the operation of Medicare with respect to contraception or even abortion.

    Your letter suggests that you are a product of anti-Catholic sectarianism of old. I would suggest – respectfully of course – that you learn more about the Catholic Church before putting your prejudices to print.

    Best wishes

    Yours sincerely

    Gerard Henderson

    cc: Geraldine Doogue

    Until next time – keep morale high.

    “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”

    – Katharine Murphy, Twitter, Friday 6 June 2014

    “[Gerard Henderson is] an unhinged prick”

    – Mike Carlton, Twitter, Thursday 12 June 2014

    “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

    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.