27 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.


● “If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita and co would have been shot”

– Laurie Ferguson via Twitter – 22 June 2014 [By-line: Mr Ferguson is a member of the House of Representatives who speaks in riddles.]

● “[Gerard Henderson] is the Eeyore of Australian public life”

– Mike Seccombe in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – 21 June 2014



    Did anyone hear the red-bandannaed Peter FitzSimons on Richard Glover’s Drive program on ABC Radio 702 yesterday afternoon? If not, you didn’t miss much. Your man FitzSimons did his usual rant against religion in general and the “Magic Sky Daddy” (read God) in particular. Fitz ran the same line in his Sun-Herald column last Sunday. Yawn.

    Perhaps the Red-Bandannaed One will use his column next Sunday to explain how he survived the influence of the “Magic Sky Daddy” when a student at the Uniting Church’s Knox Grammar on Sydney’s North Shore. And how it came to pass that Mr Fitz and Mrs Fitz decided to enrol their sons in the very same Knox Grammar – presided over by the very same “Magic Sky Daddy”.

    Can you bear it graphic


    While on the topic of Knox Grammar consider the case of one of its high profile alumni – a certain Mark Scott who is managing director and editor-in-chief of the ABC.

    Nice Mr Scott is forever telling his staff at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster that they should be very wary of their resort to social media. Think before you tweet – and all that jazz.

    How, then, to explain the following tweet from Nice Mr Scott which went out at 5.41 pm on Wednesday 25 June when – consequent upon the Clive Palmer/Al Gore joint media conference – many ABC journalists believed that Tony Abbott would not get his Carbon Tax repeal legislation through the Senate?

    This is Mark Scott’s tweet:

    Sensing hyperventilation in The Australian’s editorial room.

    Somewhat inappropriate for the managing director and editor-in-chief of the ABC, don’t you think? Nice Mr Scott was clearly barracking against The Australian’s position on the carbon tax which, on this issue, also happens to be close to that of the Abbott Government. Moreover, being a teetotaller, Nice Mr Scott doesn’t have the Mike Carlton after-some-gin-and-tonic excuse. Can you bear it?


    The Age has been heavily into predictions about its obsession – Tony Abbott and all that. This is how “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” reported the Prime Minister’s planned meeting with President Barack Obama recently – in VERY LARGE LETTERSon Page 1:



    Fundamental differences over climate-change policy continue to hamper Tony Abbott’s capacity to build links in the US as both President Barack Obama and UN

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon want more support from Australia for international action on carbon dioxide emissions. Mr Abbott meets Mr Obama in the White
    House on Thursday (2am Friday AEST) for their first formal talks

    The Age, 12 June 2014

    Within days, it was evident that Prime Minister Abbott’s meetings with President Obama and the UN Secretary General had gone extremely well. And this is how The Age reported last Wednesday’s joint press conference between Clive Palmer and former US Vice President (and inveterate fossil fuel consumer) Al Gore, also on Page 1:



    James Massola, Mark Kenny, Heath Aston

    Clive Palmer has thrown into chaos Tony Abbott’s plan to abolish the carbon tax, demanding the Prime Minister instead create an emissions trading scheme

    that would swing into action when Australia’s major trading partners adopt similar measures.

    The Age, 26 June 2014

    That was Thursday morning. By 10 am the very same day, it was clear that Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party would support the Coalition’s legislation to repeal the carbon tax – without insisting on the immediate creation of an emissions trading scheme.

    “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”’s Page 1 carries the logo “Independent. Always”. Perhaps it should also add: “Wrong. Often”. Can you bear it?


    Hugh McDermott, who appears regularly on such Sky News programs as The Contrarians and Paul Murray Live, is a regular sufferer from Murdochphobia. Not so long ago, Dr McDermott (for a doctor he is) declared that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp controls 70 per cent of the Australian media. He meant to say that News Corp controls 70 per cent of capital city newspapers – or some such. Your man McDermott seemed to forget the existence of television and radio – including the ABC with its $1 billion annual budget.

    On Wednesday, Hugh McDermott seemed genuinely upset that Rebekah Brooks, the former Chief Executive of Murdoch’s News International in Britain, had been acquitted by an Old Bailey jury of engaging in phone-hacking. Dr McDermott, who heard none of the evidence, declared that Ms Brooks was guilty. Despite the jury’s not guilty verdict. This is what he said on Paul Murray Live on 25 June:

    Hugh McDermott: …But, you know, just because Rebecca Brooks walked away from this court case – now something I’ve learnt over the years as a barrister is that just because the court finds somebody not guilty, it doesn’t mean they didn’t do the crime. And I think that the perception of the Cameron government and their links to News Corp, especially to Brooks and Coulson, it dirties them. And for her to go back to work as editor or back into News Corp somewhere – I think that she’s too undermined in the fact that all this scandal has gone out….

    In response to a vigourous challenge from Janet Albrechtsen, the learned doctor returned to his theme:

    Hugh McDermott: Rebekah Brooks got to walk away this time. She got to walk away. We’ll see if she gets to walk away in the future.

    So there you have it. A jury found Rebekah Brooks not guilty. But Dr McDermott – who was not present at the trial – knows better. According to his position, a guilty woman “got to walk away”. And Dr McDermott prophesied that she would not get to walk away in the future – despite the fact that she is not facing any other charges.

    Hugh McDermott is a barrister and a senior lecturer in law at Charles Sturt University. Can you bear it?


    You cannot but admire Peter Hartcher’s scoop in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday. Mr Hartcher interviewed the former Liberal Party leader – and constant Liberal Party critic – John Hewson.

    Guess what? Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) presented himself as a constant critic of Tony Abbott and the Abbott government. No kidding. Indeed, Dr Hewson told Mr Hartcher that he is critical of pretty much the entire Abbott agenda so far. Surprise. The former Liberal Party leader declared that the Abbott government lacks focus and discipline. Fancy that.

    In fact, John Hewson has been a constant critic of the Liberal Party for two decades, at least. The day after the SMH ran the Hartcher story on Hewson, the learned doctor appeared outside Parliament House in Canberra. He was taking part in the Climate Institute’s “Stop the Dinosaurs” campaign in support of a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme.

    It was oh-so-much different when John Hewson led the Liberal Party two decades ago – losing the so called “unloseable election” to Labor’s Paul Keating in 1993. In those days, the Liberal Party had focus and discipline – didn’t it? Can you bear it?

    john hewson stop the dinasours 2014

    John Hewson takes part in the Climate Institute’s “Stop the Dinosaurs” rally in Canberra last Sunday. That’s Dr Hewson on the left. (As shown in
    Fairfax Media newspapers)



    Last weekend, The Saturday Paper ran an article titled “The Henderson gigs” by its sneerer–in-chief Mike (“Private schools make us dumber”) Seccombe. Believe it or not, Secco’s piece (including a large photo of Hendo) occupied the whole of Page 3 – indicating that whatever it is that editor Erik Jensen puts out in the inner-city of Melbourne and Sydney each weekend it is not news. [Don’t be too hard on Young Erik. His paper goes to press on Thursday and is almost 24 hours old when it hits the coffee shops of Fitzroy North and Balmain at brunch time on Saturday – Ed].

    Gerard Henderson submitted a 340 words letter in response to Mike Seccombe’s 1300 word feature. Erik Jensen has refused to print Hendo’s response in full.
    In a confused correspondence, Mr Jensen suggested that Henderson’s letter was the same length as Seccombe’s feature article (wrong) and that it was three times the length of letters that he publishes (wrong again). Moreover, after devoting the entire Page 3 of last week’s issue to Gerard Henderson, Erik Jensen rationalised his decision to censor Henderson’s letter since – to print it would amount to “too much Henderson”. How about that?

    Apparently, The Saturday Paper tomorrow will run a truncated/censored version of Hendo’s letter. Here is the entire letter – with what Erik Jensen has indicated he intends to cut marked in red:

    What a hoot that Mike Seccombe, whom I barely know, reckons that I am “the Eeyore of Australian public life”. I shall regard this as an endorsement.

    I make the following comments on “The Henderson gigs”, June 21.

    I released the report of the committee, which I chaired, into the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards on my Media Watch Dog website two weeks ago. It was not a Saturday Paper exclusive.

    I am not in the habit of appointing myself to remunerated government positions. Neither I, nor any member of the committee, had any intention of judging the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The aim of the recommendation to pay judges a reasonable fee was to improve the standard of judging. That’s all.

    I did not persuade the (then) NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to conduct a review of the NSW Premier’s and History Awards in 2011. Out of the blue, he asked me to do a job.

    I understand that O’Farrell was concerned that Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs had won the top award in 2010 despite the fact that it was littered with errors. Neither Malcolm Fraser, nor his co-author Margaret Simons, has disputed the howlers in their book, which I have documented. Nor has either contested Michael Sexton’s judgement that there was too much “rose-coloured light” in the book.

    Whenever I have been asked by a prime minister or premier or senior minister to do a job, I have always said “yes”. This applies to the Keating, Howard, Rudd, O’Farrell and Abbott governments. Judging books is a time-consuming task and I would never volunteer for such a role. I took the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards position without any discussion of remuneration. If there is any, it will be very small.

    My book Mr Santamaria and the Bishops, which was my PhD, was critical of Santamaria and not the work of a “handmaiden”. If Mike Seccombe has read the book – which was very well reviewed, including in the Fairfax press and on the ABC – he would know this.

    Mike Seccombe’s suggestion that Ida Lichter is an “obscure psychiatrist” and that Peter Coleman is not a suitable person to judge a book prize is mere abuse. Both are published authors. Also Ida Lichter has a medical/scientific background which gives greater authority to the panel than would otherwise be the case.

    Mike Seccombe’s claim that there is a “3-2” divide on the PMLA judges panel is ill-informed. As I understand it, he has not spoken to any members on the panel. Presumably, he just made this up.

    Gerard Henderson


    Fancy that. Erik Jensen plans to censor those parts of Gerard Henderson’s letter which:

    ▪ stated that he barely knows Mike Seccombe. In fact, Gerard Henderson has never had a conversation with Mike Seccombe – their only discussions have amounted to perfunctory comments before and/or after their occasional appearances on the ABC1 Insiders program.

    ▪ demonstrated that Mike Seccombe’s so-called “exclusive” about the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards was pinched, without acknowledgement, from MWD. Remarkably unprofessional journalism, to be sure.

    ▪ described Barry O’Farrell’s concern that he awarded the taxpayer funded NSW Premier’s Literary prize to Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons in 2011 for a book which was littered with errors.

    ▪ demonstrated that Mike Seccombe’s comments on Gerard Henderson’s relationship with the late B.A. Santamaria were totally false and were formed without reading Henderson’s published work.

    ▪ deleted reference to Mike Seccombe’s personal abuse of Ida Lichter and his unprofessional put down of the well-regarded writer Peter Coleman.

    That’s censorship – per courtesy of Morry Schwartz & Black Inc publications as enacted by Erik Jensen. The full correspondence between Erik Jensen and Gerard Henderson is published in this week’s “Correspondence” segment – for the record, of course.



    How is Bob Ellis seeing the world through his crystal ball? Here’s how. This is the seer’s latest prophecy – which he handed down on his blog at 12.15 pm on 25 June, around pre-lunch drinks time.

    The Palmer-Abbott shakedown inconclusive. Outside chance J. [Julie] Bishop will force a spill when Abbott reveals to the Ministry the abject surrender [on the carbon tax] he has in mind and her old ally Turnbull comes back as Prime Minister by Saturday.

    Wonderful. Just wonderful as Saturday approaches.


    Here is Mike (“I’ll-pour-the-gin”) Carlton’s tweet sent out on Wednesday 25 June at 6.51 pm around pre-dinner drinks time:

    Cute of Palmer to front with Al Gore, though. It will drive the climate change deniers at News Corpse to an apoplectic frenzy. Just watch.

    Your man Carlton seemed unaware that Clive Palmer announced that he would support the Coalition’s repeal of the carbon tax.

    Yet more Northern Beaches’ wonder.

    five paws graphic


    Sky News’ Paul Murray no longer calls the gorgeous Grace Collier “darl”. A pity really.

    But they are still good mates as last night’s Twitter exchange demonstrates.

    grace collier (@MsGraceCollier) 26/06/2014 9:12 pm: @PMOnAir looking dapper in brown corduroy with pale pink shirt. 10/10

    Following a friendly response on from Paul Murray on PML, Ms Collier sent a second tweet:

    grace collier (@MsGraceCollier) 26/06/2014 9:49 pm: @PMOnAir oooh thanks for the mention, just got a big shiver up my spine x

    Step forward Paul Murray and Grace Collier – Five Paws Each.


    Can you believe it? Finally someone at the ABC has subjected Greens’ leader Christine Milne to an intellectually rigorous interview. It took place on ABC AM on Thursday 26 June. Fair dinkum.

    Chris Uhlmann Five Paws.



    Nancy’s (male) co-owner could not make it to the “SMH Live: Comment event” at the Sydney Opera House at 6.30 pm on Tuesday. Consequently, he did not witness Sydney Morning Herald personalities Darren Goodsir (editor-in-chief), Julie Lewis and Marc McEvoy (Letters co-editors) and Helen Pitt (Opinion Page editor) in action. They delivered “tips to writing the perfect letter and what makes a great opinion piece plus insights into how the Sydney Morning Herald develops its editorials”.

    Perhaps those attending ($10 for subscribers, $20 for the general public) might have been advised to follow the perfect letter and a great opinion piece along the lines of two recent specimens which were published. If so, here’s what they might have learnt:

    ▪ Example of a SMH “Perfect” (Anti-Catholic Sectarian) Letter – 23 June 2014

    It was an interesting observation in Peter Hartcher’s article that, after Cory Bernardi opposed the 2per cent ‘‘rich tax’’, Tony Abbott did not chide him publicly but, ‘‘in a convivial mood’’, took him into the Prime Minister’s suite during a Senate barbecue. Perhaps this special treatment for a policy deviant is an indication that the main game of the Opus Dei cabal trumps all other sins.

    Bert Candy, Lemon Tree Passage

    How about that? The reference to Opus Dei is a nudge-nudge reference to the fact that both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Liberal Party backbencher Cory Bernardi are Catholics. Also, Opus Dei is the evangelical arm of the Catholic Church and has sinister undertones.

    Bert Candy’s missive – which was approved for publication by the Letters editor – suggests that both the Prime Minister and Senator Bernardi put their religious beliefs before policy. The SMH would never run such a letter with reference to a Muslim politician. By the way, Mr Candy produced no evidence that either Abbott or Bernardi is – or ever was – a member of Opus Dei. This was just an anti-Catholic sectarian rant approved for publication by the SMH’s Letters Editor.

    Earlier, on Saturday 21 June, the SMH led its Letters Page with this:

    Vatican-based George Pell was one of the most vocal advocates of the schools chaplaincy program. So it is hardly surprising the Catholic-dominated
    frontbench of the Abbott government is still so ardently attempting to exercise his proxy (“Abbott to look at state grants after decision over chaplains”,
    June 20).

    John Lewis, Port Macquarie

    In fact, George Pell is based in Rome. There is no evidence that the Coalition front-bench “is attempting to exercise his proxy”. This is just Sydney Morning Herald approved sectarian abuse. Moreover, the evidence suggests that the strongest support for the schools chaplaincy program comes from the non-Catholic Christian churches and movements. [Wonder if anyone mentioned the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters Page of 13 June 2014 titled “Class War Lies Within the Hockey Budget”? As I recall, the SMH ran nine letters – with a 100 per cent strike rate against Joe Hockey – Ed].

    ▪ Example of a SMH (Great) Opinion Piece

    Here’s how Elizabeth Farrelly commenced her opinion piece on 19 June 2014:

    Leonardo di Caprio mentions our shameful Barrier Reef devastation and we act like it’s a bad thing. Like tourism is our biggest issue here? What about truth? What about climate change?

    A new solar roads project shows what we all know. We can’t wait for governments to make this call. It’s time to act. A people’s revolution is required. Democracy is failing us. So far, smugness and stupidity seem a more likely sinkhole for the democratic experiment than the bloodshed and tyranny that George Washington predicted, but if climate change really gets going it could still come to that. Democratic governments are abject moral cowards. Like bad parents they yield to our demands before we even voice them. Tony Abbott is a particular embarrassment….

    And here’s how Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) made a reference to matters Africa in her SMH opinion piece yesterday – which, believe it or not, was about Tim Blair:

    The dark [Africa] continent has a way of whacking you with inescapable life-truths: climate change, food insecurity, mass unemployment. A few recuperative days on safari also illustrates the wild and ridiculous things males of a species will do to attract the female.

    Many creatures – hornbills, ostrich, lion, kudu – afford the male extra colour and equipment for this purpose. But where the male is drabber than his objet d’amour, extraordinary feats must be assayed. The male lesser masked weaver bird, for instance, nesting in reeds near the Botswana border, will painstakingly weave and reweave his elaborate teardrop edifice a dozen times, if necessary, to entice a discerning female. Likewise the lesser Aussie journo… [Tim] Blair….

    It seems that your man Goodsir just loves running this incomprehensible verbal sludge.

    As avid MWD readers will know, previous issues have featured the Irish writer Flann O’Brien’s take on the writer Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

    Literary Criticism

    By Flann O’Brien

    My grasp of what he wrote and meant

    Was only five or six %

    The rest was only words and sound –

    My reference is to Ezra £

    Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Nancy’s literary criticism of Elizabeth Farrelly:

    Literary Criticism

    By Nancy

    My grasp of what she wrote or meant

    Was only five or six per cent

    The rest of it was total diz

    The reference is to Dr Liz

    Nancy Ezra MWD 116

    nancy's pick graphic


    “It’s usually pretty easy to tell if someone is happy. They smile. They laugh. They react warmly. And then there is Gerard Henderson. Even by…joyless
    standards…he is exceptional….perennially po-faced.” (The Saturday Paper, 21 June 2014).


    Gerard-Henderson-and-team (1)


    ▪ 2014: Mark Latham on the Value of John Howard

    “…in Australia generally, we make very poor use of our former prime ministers and there are other countries where, in similar circumstances, they would send a former national leader, in this case to Egypt, as a special emissary to plead the case and seek reviews and the like. And it just strikes me as an instance where a Paul Keating, a John Howard, a Bob Hawke could play a useful role bringing a special status to Australia’s appeal on behalf of [Peter]

    – Mark Latham, Q&A, 23 June 2014

    2002: Mark Latham on John Howard as an “Arse Licker”

    “Howard is an arse-licker. He went over there [to Washington] kissed some bums, and got patted on the head.”

    – “Mark Latham: Lunch with Maxine McKew”, The Bulletin, 2 July 2002.

    2004: Mark Latham on John Howard as a “Weak Animal”

    “29 October 2004: John Howard deserved a lot more than a firm handshake. Throughout the campaign, every time I saw him, he kept on trying to give me a
    bone-crusher, squeezing tight and shaking with his arm, instead of his wrist, like a flapping motion . It’s a small man’s thing, trying to show you can match the big guy at something. I wasn’t too worried about it, thought it was funny, until the last Sunday of the campaign at the St George Leagues Club lunch, when Howard did the same thing to Janine [Latham]. She said to me, “That man just tried to break my hand. It really hurt”. Enough was enough. Next time I saw him, at the ABC Radio studio in Sydney, I put on the squeeze and got a bit closer to him, so he couldn’t do the flapping thing. The weak animal looked startled, so it had the desired effect. It’s ironic, however: I’m supposed to be the intimidating one in politics, but I have never tried to break a woman’s hand. How does Howard get away with it?”

    – Mark Latham, The Latham Diaries (MUP,

    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 Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. 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 Katharine Murphy’s counsel. So here we go again.


    As avid readers will be aware, last week MWD published a letter from Erik Jensen and Gerard Henderson’s response. There was additional correspondence last Friday – and this is published below.

    On Friday, Gerard Henderson wrote that any reference to him in The Saturday Paper should acknowledge that it was he – not Mike Seccombe – who released the 2011 report concerning the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It was published in Issue 229. Hendo’s request was ignored. In a bout of remarkably unprofessional journalism, Secco pinched the MWD exclusive and presented it as his own “exclusive”. Such actions run the risk of giving journalistic plagiarism a bad name.

    On Monday, after reading The Saturday Paper, Gerard Henderson wrote to Erik Jensen and forwarded a letter for publication in tomorrow’s edition.
    Mr Jensen said that he would publish about half of the letter and indicated that he would edit (read censor) the remaining half. The correspondence is published below. Go to it.

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 20 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    Thank you for writing back.

    I am happy to hear you are reading The Saturday Paper, and our editorials. Happy, also, that you so graciously acknowledge the error made in your column. Of course, I will pass your love to Secco.

    In the spirit of graciousness, I should let you know that we have a piece this weekend on your review of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

    All the best,

    Erik Jensen


    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 20 June 2014

    Dear Erik

    How unusual to receive a polite note from you. However, I do prefer your rantings about me – since I use them as endorsements on my Media Watch Dog blog. So feel free to revert to type.

    I note you had nothing to say about the tendency of Morry Schwartz’s authors and mates to refuse to acknowledge – or correct – errors.

    I do read The Saturday Paper – on Monday. I trust that Secco’s “scoop” tomorrow will reveal that I released the report he was after last Friday – and that he was too shy to ask me for a copy of same.

    Keep morale high.

    Gerard Henderson

    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 23 June 2014


    I have attached a letter to The Saturday Paper – concerning Mike Seccombe’s piece – which I assume you will publish next Saturday in the print edition. [see earlier in this issue].

    It would be appreciated if you could acknowledge receipt of this email.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 23 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    Thank you for your letter. As requested, I confirm its receipt.

    This is somewhat longer than the correspondence we usually run on our pages, but I will certainly print as much as can fit.

    I’m happy that you continue to read us on a Monday.

    Best wishes,

    Erik Jensen


    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 23 June 2014

    Dear Erik

    In view of the fact that The Saturday Paper devoted the whole of page 3 to me at the weekend, I do not believe that a letter of 434 words in response is too long.

    I do not believe it proper that you should edit (censor?) my response.


    Gerard Henderson

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 23 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    The question of how much Henderson is too much Henderson is not asked often enough in public life. Although it has been answered categorically at times, by Radio National and more recently The Sydney Morning Herald.

    Unfortunately, it is also a question we will have to answer on a letters page that calls for submissions almost a third the length of yours. Either you can edit it to 150 words, or I will.

    Best wishes,

    Erik Jensen


    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 23 June 2014

    Dear Erik

    Can you bear it? – as the saying goes.

    The Saturday Paper
    ran 1300 words on me, on page 3, at the weekend – I also made the cover of the online edition.

    And you refuse to publish my response – which is a third of the length of Mike Seccombe’s piece – on the basis that there would be “too much Henderson” in The Saturday Paper.

    It sounds like censorship to me – along the lines which Morrie Schwartz used to practise when he refused to run my responses to criticism of me in the print edition of The Monthly.

    I withdraw my letter from The Saturday Paper – since I do not want it censored. I will run it in next Friday’s Media Watch Dog for the attention of my avid readers – many of whom just love stories about left-wing censorship.

    Over and out.

    Gerard Henderson

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 23 June 2014

    Dear Gerard,

    This is not what censorship looks like. It is what newspapers look like. Letters cannot be the same length as features. They have to, by their nature and clearly not yours, make their points briefly.

    Withdrawing a letter because it is three times the length of accepted submissions is childish. As a guide, I have edited your letter and attached it below. I intend to run it. Because I am a nice guy, and an admirer of your studied pettiness, I will grant an extra 64 words.

    Best wishes,

    Erik Jensen


    Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 23 June 2014

    Dear Erik

    I never said that letters should be the same length as features. For the record, my letter was a third of Mike Seccombe’s feature article. Also, my letter was not three times the length of what your term “accepted letters” – just twice.

    I will run my uncensored letter in Media Watch Dog for the interest of my avid readers. I would prefer you not to run a truncated letter but, if you do, I will not take any further action because I am a courteous kind of guy.

    Lotsa love. I’m off the computer for now because I’m about to walk Nancy

    Gerard Henderson

    Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 23 June 2014

    Thanks Gerard,

    Your courteousness is much appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    Erik Jensen



    As avid MWD readers will be aware, Nancy’s (male) co-owner rises very early on Friday and writes most of the content. The material is typed and proof-read in haste – that’s why corrections are always welcomed and made. To encourage corrections, MWD occasionally runs its John-Laws-style-deliberate-mistake competition.

    Last Friday, a certain Tom Westland advised of an error concerning the month of the 1983 double dissolution election. He was thanked and the correction was made immediately. But, not content with a pat on the head from Nancy’s (male) co-owner, Mr Westland wanted to commence an argument. He was duly accommodated. Here we go:

    Tom Westland to Gerard Henderson – 20 June 2014

    I find it slightly odd, though, that this has been changed on the Institute’s website without an acknowledgment of the original error, especially given that in the same edition of MWD, David Marr is criticised for having corrected a date in Political Animal without acknowledging that he did so.

    Gerard Henderson to Tom Westland – 27 June 2014


    I refer to your email of 20 June 2014 comparing the unacknowledged correction of a date in MWD on Friday – made some hours previously – with David Marr’s changing the date of the (alleged) “Punch” in his book Political Animal : The Making of Tony Abbott.

    There is a substantial difference. Media Watch Dog each week consists of around 6000 words – much is written between 2 am and 3 pm. MWD has a policy of welcoming corrections – which are then made as soon as possible. MWD, after all, is a blog. It is not a book published by a high profile publishing house which wins an author the $20,000 John Button Prize.

    These are the facts:

    David Marr’s Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott was published as a “Quarterly Essay” in September 2012. Marr’s allegation that in September 1977, when a student at Sydney University, Tony Abbott punched a wall on both sides of a young female student’s head. This allegation obtained widescale publicity in the Fairfax Media newspapers and on ABC TV and ABC Radio. David Marr was emphatic that the event had taken place.

    In other words, the “Punch” allegation was big news at the time. In Political Animal, David Marr made it clear that the alleged incident occurred around September 1977 and took place after another alleged incident in which Abbott was involved at Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education in August 1977.

    Political Animal
    was published in book form by Black Inc in April 2013. David Marr changed the dates of both events without drawing this to the attention of his readers. I discovered the change when reading the Black Inc edition. None of David Marr’s mates at Fairfax Media or the ABC reported the fact that he has surreptitiously changed the dates of his BIG STORY.

    In the Black Inc edition of Political Animal, David Marr altered the date of the Sydney University incident to 28 July 1977 (from September 1977) and he changed the date of the Ku-ring-gai College incident to October 1977 (from August 1977). In the first edition, the Sydney incident came after the Ku-ring-gai incident. In the second edition it came before.

    This was a significant alteration since in the first edition of Political Animal Marr argued that Tony Abbott’s alleged behaviour at Sydney University had been influenced by “charges” which “were still hanging over him” from the Ku-ring-gai incident. Needless to say, this comment was removed from the second edition – without explanation.

    David Marr has never explained how he got the dates wrong in the first instance. Yet the error clearly deauthorised his initial claim. Especially since there were no independent witnesses to the alleged incident and no contemperaneous evidence.

    The (hidden) correction in the second edition of Political Animal undermines the essential claim in the first edition of Political Animal. Yet neither David Marr or his supporters will address this issues.

    There is no equivalence between correcting the undisputed date of an election on a blog some minutes after the error was identified and correcting a serious error concerning a date about an allegation which has been actively contested. Especially since David Marr did his correction on-the-quiet seven months after the first allegation was made and after having declared publicly that there was no doubt about the alleged incident.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    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.