11 JULY 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.



    Great story on Page 3 of today’s Australian Financial Review. You see, according to AFR journalist Jacob Greber, University of Melbourne Professor Ross Garnaut and Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Peter Dawkins will convene an entity to be titled the Melbourne Economic Forum. It seems that your man Garnaut and your man Dawkins are interested in resolvingAustralia’s economic problems.They will be sponsored by the AFR editor Michael Stutchbury.

    The problem is that, according to today’s AFR, this is an all-blokes affair.The inaugural forum of the Melbourne Economic Forum will include Professor Garnaut, Professor Dawkins, Professor Max Corden, Dr John Hewson (for a doctor he is) and Dr Craig Emerson (for the doctor he also is).It’s a sheila-free zone.


    The AFR ran Laura Tingle’s “Comment” piece on Page 1 today titled “Abbott’s karma moment”.It commenced as follows:

    It is not so much Palmer as karma. Tony Abbott’s biggest test now is not whether he can get the repeal of the carbon tax through Parliament but which road he chooses in dealing with a wild Senate over the next two years.

    In opposition, the Prime Minister repeatedly said “there would not be deals done with independent and minor parties under any political movement I lead”. He helped generate a sense of chaos around the Gillard government because of its reliance on minor party and independent votes.

    On Thursday in the Senate, Clive Palmer showed he is going to play Abbott just as hard as the Prime Minister once played Labor.

    There’s no karma here. Just La Tingle verballing.Before the election, Tony Abbott said that he would not deal with minor parties or Independents to form a government.Nor did he.The Coalition governs in its own right.

    La Tingle should know that every prime minister, since the upper house voting system was changed in 1949, at some stage has had to deal with minor parties or Independents in the Senate.This was the case with Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton, William McMahon, Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and now -Tony Abbott.

    There is no evidence that the Coalition expected to have a majority in the Senate as of 1 July 2014.La Tingle’s piece today is, well, tosh.


    In tomorrow’s issue of The Spectator Australia, Peter Coleman commences his well regarded “Australian Notes” column as follows:

    “We have the full range of politics here tonight – from the hard Left to the soft Left.”The ABC’s Chaser, Julian Morrow, was launching the BBC’s Nick Bryant’s The Rise and Fall of Australia at Sydney’s Gleebooks.It was a tossed-off one-liner but he was right that hardly anyone in the crowded audience was ready to spring to the defence of the mainstream parties or their leaders.

    That’s the Sandalista set that turns up at Gleebooks in Sydney or Readings in Melbourne or various literary festivals and who appoint one another to the ABC and so on.It’s the inner-city left.Julian Morrow recognises a leftist when he sees a room full of them.

    Believe it or not, these days the leader of The Chaser Boys (average age 381/2) is a registered marriage celebrant.Apparently Julian Morrow regards the union of a Trotskyite to a Che Guevara type as a mixed marriage.


    There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage of the program for the 2014 Festival of Dangerous Ideas gig at the taxpayer subsidised Sydney Opera House.In the end, St James Ethics Centre head Simon Longstaff had to concede that it was not a you-beaut (ethical) idea to have a segment titled “Honour Killings are Morally Justified”. See MWD Issue 232.

    Now MWD’s attention has been drawn to an article by Andrew Gilligan in The Daily Telegraph in London on 5 July 2014 titled “Paedophilia is natural and normal for males”. Andrew Gilligan’s report drew attention to the “Classifying Sex Debating DSM-5” seminar held at Cambridge University in July 2013.

    One presentation read as follows: “Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males; at least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children…normal males are aroused by children”. Another presentation was titled “Liberating the paedophile: A discursive analysis”. And another: “Danger and Difference: The Stakes of Hebephilia” [i.e. sex with 11-14 year olds].

    All this reminded Nancy’s (male) co-owner that the ABC has yet to respond to the revelation that its former chairman Richard Downing (1915-1975) once declared that it was quite okay for adult men to have sex with young boys.

    This statement was not made by Richard Downing when he was an academic at Melbourne University and living in (then) an garde Eltham.Not at all. Rather, Professor Downing advocated an “understanding” of pederasty on 19 July 1975 – in his capacity as ABC chairman. This is what Richard Downing wrote in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald :

    … the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussion in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand the diverse natures of the people who compose that society …

    So, in July 1975 it was official ABC policy, expressed by its chairman Richard Downing, that we should “understand” pederasts and their role in making up “the diverse natures of the people who compose that society”.Yet Professor Downing remains a respected former chairman of the ABC as Rolf Harris’ art work is being stripped from walls in Britain and Australia alike.

    five paws graphic


    This is what the ABC At the Movies presenter David Stratton tweeted at 10.21 pm on 7 July 2014:

    David Stratton: Please be advised I will block you if:

    1. You call me Dave instead of David.
    2. You’re Mike Carlton.

    Thanks for your understanding.

    Yes, Dave, we understand.

    David Stratton: Five Paws

    Can you bear it graphic


    Gael Jennings holds the position of fellow at Melbourne University’s pretentiously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism. She appears regularly on the ABC 1 News Breakfast’s “Newspapers” segment.

    Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) had this gig last Tuesday and put in a stunner.A real stunner.You see, the (female) fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism has no advanced knowledge of the law in general or the High Court of Australia in particular.Let’s go to the transcript – as Dr Jennings discusses the application to the High Court of Australia for an injunction to prevent asylum seekers from being handed over by Australian authorities to Sri Lanka.

    Virginia Trioli: Let’s start with the injunction

    Gael Jennings: Yeah

    Virginia Trioli: We’ll have a look at the front page of The Australian – it’s madea number of front pages of course….

    Gael Jennings: It’s quite interesting, isn’t it? That a government’s actions are actually being questioned by the High Court of the land.

    Virginia Trioli: [interjecting] Well they might not yet. I mean they’re to be heard.

    Gael Jennings: Well, the injunction was granted and it’ll be heard today, that’s true…. But this High Court injunction… was granted by Judge Susan Crennan and it was on the basis of 153 people from Sri Lanka, 48 of whom are known to be Tamils who are the persecuted group there. And their boat set out on the 13th June from India and – from India where they were refugees there, or asylum seekers there. Anyway, and it’s disappeared basically….

    Michael Rowland: So that’s central to the constitutional argument that’s going to take place – whether or not the High Court has jurisdiction to decide what’s happening with them on an Australian Navy vessel.

    Gael Jennings: That’s right.

    Virginia Trioli: Location will go to jurisdiction.

    Gael Jennings: Yes, it will. But it’s also about the constitutionality of our migration laws. Whether or not you can in fact send people back without having a proper screening process. So that was what was argued anyway by the asylum seekers’ representatives – their QC Ron Merkel and their solicitor yesterday…Obviously, is a very big story legally as well as a very interesting, I think, I think it’s very interesting when you’ve got two parts of what makes a democracy questioning each other.It’s very robust, anyway.

    How about that?Clearly Dr Jennings knows little about the interaction between the executive and the judiciary.

    Contrary to Gael Jennings’s belief, it is quite common for the High Court to question the actions of government.That’s one of its roles.The High Court has frequently overturned legislation or made decisions which changed the parameters of government.Most notably in the Engineers’ Case (1920), the Bank Nationalisation Case (1948), the Communist Party Case (1951) and more besides.

    In other words, it is not at all unusual “when you’ve got two parts of the democracy questioning each other”. That’s what democracy is all about. Yet Gael Jennings teaches journalism students without having a clue about judicial review.Can you bear it?


    Did anyone see ABC 1’s The Drum on 1 July?Steve Cannane was in the presenter’s chair as author Mary Delahunty and Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy decided to have a go at Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Social Services, by throwing the switch to ridicule.

    First up, the former ABC journalist and former Labor MP Mary Delahunty mocked the Coalition’s decision to provide a $200 counselling voucher for couples experiencing relationship difficulties.

    Mary Delahunty: Oh, isn’t this a doozy. Really and truly. $200 for marriage counselling and we’re taking money off families for the school bonus. So when Mum comes home and says: “We don’t have enough money for the books or the shoes” and Dad says: “What are we going to do about it?”, the answer from Kevin Andrews is “Well, let’s go to marriage counselling”…. $200 is going to prevent divorces? Oh, look, I think this is fantasy land. I’m a great supporter of marriage. I’d love to put my hand up for one of those vouchers. I’m short of a husband at the present, but I really think that this is weird, weird politics.

    And now for some facts. Kevin Andrews has never said that the $200 relationship counselling voucher is to overcome the costs of buying books or shoes for school aged children.Then Ms Delahunty said that she would like to apply for a marriage counselling voucher even though she is not married. Funny eh?

    Then Katharine Murphy added to the ridicule by referring to the Minister for Social Services as “poor old Kevin”. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Katharine Murphy : I mean, poor old Kevin Andrews –he obviously means well. And, you know, it would be nice if less people had to go through horrible divorces. It is a horrible thing to go through and has lasting impacts obviously on children and on society as a whole. So, poor old Kevin – he’s trying to do the right thing but I think we’ll leave them to defend their own priorities in terms of other things that are in the budget.

    So a senior journalist refers to a Cabinet minister as “poor old Kevin”. Can you bear it? [Not really – By the way, I am not aware that Mr Andrews is either old or poor – Ed].


    In 2011 Australian Financial Review columnist Mark Latham identified a condition which he described as corresponditis.According to Mr Latham, corresponditis is a malady where a person cannot refrain from continuing correspondence.Moreover, the sufferer always insists on having the last word.

    The evidence suggests that this ailment may have spread to the Latham abode at Mount Hunter.The Australian yesterday published a stream of email correspondence between Mark Latham and journalist Hedley Thomas concerning the AWU slush fund of recent memory.

    According to the email trail, your man Latham sent the email and also despatched the last one in the series.This, surely, presents a severe case of corresponditis.Can you bear it? [No. But I hope he can. – Ed]



    This brand new segment of MWD has been introduced following popular demand from avid readers – to acknowledge media blokes and sheilas who make this publication possible.

    But first (as they say in journalism), a CALL OUT.Mike Seccombe famously declared on Insiders that “private schools make us dumber”.Do any of MWD’s avid readers know where your man Seccombe went to school or what schools any of his issue might attend?If so, send Nancy’s (male) co-owner an email. It will remain confidential – until next Friday (after lunch).

    In recent years Mike Seccombe has replaced David Marr as Australian journalism’s sneerer-in-chief. [That’s some effort – Ed].He was working on the piss-poor The Global Mail website when its multi-millionaire benefactor Graeme Wood pulled the funding plug earlier this year.

    Mike Seccombe’s response was to go on to the ABC 1 News Breakfast program. On Friday 31, January 2014, in the wake of Mr Wood’s decision to junk his commitment to contribute between $15 million and $20 million to The Global Mail over five years irrespective of its popularity, Mike Seccombe declined to criticise Graeme Wood’s broken promise on the ABC.

    Declaring himself to be “a journo” and “not a money person”, MS said that others “would be talking to money people about keeping The Global Mail going”.He added – naively – that “there must be some way to get it monetised”. There wasn’t.

    So your man Seccombe took his computer and ended up at The Saturday Paper – where another multi-millionaire, Morry Schwartz, has decided to invent a publication of the inner-city left, by the inner-city left, for the inner-city left.

    At The [Boring] Saturday Paper, Mike Seccombe has attempted to convince its inner-city sandalista constituency that John Roskam and the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs run Australia. Really.

    He also wrote a feature about the Prime Minister’s LiteraryAwards for History and Non-Fiction. For this remarkable piece of journalism, published on 21 June 2014, MS scores MWD’s latest prestigious award. In his piece:

    ▪ MS falsely implied that he had discovered the 2011 report of a committee chaired by Gerard Henderson and commissioned by Barry O’Farrell concerning the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. In fact, Gerard Henderson released this report in MWD some time earlier.See MWD Issue 229.

    ▪ MS managed to comment on this report without interviewing its authors i.e. Gerard Henderson, Shelley Gare, Ida Lichter or Michael Sexton.The author and one-time Whitlam government staffer Michael Sexton has said that this is the first occasion in decades when a journalist has written about him without attempting to interview him or check (alleged) facts. [Surely worthy of a Walkley Award for Mike “Private Schools make us dumber” Seccombe – Ed].

    ▪ MS also wrote about the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for History and Non-fiction – also without interviewing any member of its judging panel – Peter Coleman, Ross Fitzgerald, Gerard Henderson, Ida Lichter and Ann Moyal.

    ▪ Then, in his invincible ignorance, MS declared that there was a 3-2 left-wing/right-wing division on the judging panel.He just made this up about this division of judges he has not spoken to and most of whom he has never met. For the record,Gerard Henderson has never had more than a couple of perfunctory conversations with Mr Seccombe.

    Mike Seccombe – Media Fool of the (previous) Month.

    nancy's pick graphic


    Nicholas Reece is currently Public Policy Fellow at the Centre for Public Policy in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Wow.Needless to say, he has a larger than usual business card.It’s some time now since Mr Reece worked for Prime Minister Julia Gillard – but he still cannot avoid running political lines.

    On the Paul Murray Live show last night (which was presented by MWD’s favourite Janine Perrett), Nicholas Reece had this to say about Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments on the Pacific War, in the presence of Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, last Tuesday:

    Nicholas Reece: I mean, talking about the skill and the honour of Japanese soldiers during World War II. I mean – come on – what have we come to? I mean, let’s not forget Japanese soldiers murdered twenty million Chinese in camps in China during the war. Let’s not forget the rape of Nanjing.Let’s not forget the fact that Australian POWs were killed by the Japanese during the war. I mean, there were massive atrocities that the Japanese unleashed upon Korea, upon China, upon Australia during World War II. And for our Prime Minister to now stand up and say that they acted with honour and skill just, just, it’s just, I mean words fail me quite frankly. Words fail me.

    Words did not fail Nicholas Reece last night. But context did.Clearly the Public Policy Fellow had not read Tony Abbott’s speech before criticising it on Sky News.This is what the Prime Minister really said last Tuesday:

    At some times, it’s true, Australians have not felt as kindly towards Japan as we now do but we have never ever underestimated the quality and capacity of the Japanese people.

    Even at the height of World War II, Australia gave the Japanese submariners killed in the attack on Sydney full military honours. Admiral Muirhead-Gould said of them: “theirs was a courage which is not the property or the tradition or the heritage of any one nation…but was patriotism of a very high order”.

    We admired the skill and the sense of honour that they brought to their task although we disagreed with what they did. Perhaps we grasped, even then, that with a change of heart the fiercest of opponents could be the best of friends.

    In other words, Tony Abbott did not talk about the skill, honour and courage of Japanese soldiers before or during the Pacific War. In fact, he did not even use the word “soldiers”. The Prime Minister’s comments were specifically directed at the Japanese sub-mariners who took part in the attack onSydney Harbour in 1942.

    Former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr did understand the context of Tony Abbott’s comments – as he made clear on Lateline last night. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Tony Jones: Now we’ve seen the furious reaction of China’s official news agency to remarks by Prime Minister Abbott about what he described as the skill and the sense of honour the Japanese submariners killed in Sydney Harbour in the Second World War. Has Mr Abbott been inadvertently caught up in China’s history wars with Japan?

    Bob Carr: Yeah, it is a difficult one. The point of reference for us should be the National War Museum in Canberra and there’s a gallery there devoted to those submariners who, yes, courageously, recklessly entered Sydney Harbour. And war-time Australia did applaud them. We sent their, war-time Australia sent their bodies back to Japan out of respect for their courage.

    Contrary to Nicholas Reece’s assertion, Tony Abbott did not mention “Japanese soldiers”. His only reference was to Japanese sub-mariners.

    In his current exalted and taxpayer subsidised role at Melbourne University, your man Reece should be able to do better than verbal the Prime Minister on national television.



    Many thanks to an avid MWD reader who drew attention to the “Freedom of the Press or Freedom to Oppress” journalistic love-in which took place recently at the NordStrom Festival in Darwin.The panel comprised Kerry-Anne Walsh, Glen Morrison, Claire Scobie, Antony Loewenstein (of course) and John van Tiggelen.Needless to say, the ABC’s Big Ideas program recorded the event – it went to air on 25 June 2014.

    This is what John van Tiggelen had to say about the publisher of The Saturday Paper, The Monthly and Quarterly Essay – all brought to you by multi-millionaire property developer Morry Schwartz and Black Inc :

    John van Tiggelen: I have to be careful here because I still get most of my wage from The Monthly.But, um, it’s very different from Fairfax. I have to be honest here and say that at Fairfax, at the Good Weekend writing the long features, I never experienced political interference. Only once from the publisher who was the chairman, that was Ron Walker. That was just once and it was a minor thing which scared me but, in the end, it wasn’t a big thing.

    Whereas when you work at a small publication and it doesn’t matter whether its Graeme Wood at The Global Mail or Morry Schwartz at Black Inc. At The Monthly, you work very closely with a publisher and things do get spiked and you have raving rows about what goes through and what doesn’t. And there are certain glass walls set up by the publisher that you can’t go outside of.

    And we were talking about it beforehand with Antony [Loewenstein] – one of those is Palestine. It’s [The Monthly’s] seen as a left-wing publication but the publisher is very right-wing on Israel. He’s Jewish, um, and he’s very much to the Benjamin Netanyahu end of politics. So you can’t touch it. We just don’t touch it. There’s just a glass wall that goes around it.

    How frightfully interesting.According to John van Tiggelen, Morry Schwartz will not publish criticism of Israel in The Monthly because he is not only Jewish but a supporter of the Netanyahu government. [That’s odd.Antony Loewenstein is also Jewish and he is one of Australia’s leading critics of Israel – Ed].

    For the record, Nancy’s male and female co-owners are supporters of Israel.It’s just that at The Sydney Institute we are willing to hear differing views.But according to John van Tiggelen, there is no diversity on some issues at The Monthly – despite the fact that Black Inc types, Robert Manne and the like, are invariably complaining about an alleged lack of diversity at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp publications. [Perhaps this item should have gone in your highly popular Can You Bear It? segment. Just a thought. – Ed].



    Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

    Last week, word leaked out that Janet Albrechtsen and Neil Brown QC had been appointed to the Nomination Panel which draws up a short-list of recommended appointments to the boards of the ABC and the SBS. That’s all it does.

    This caused the usual outrage by the self-proclaimed Friends of the ABC and their allies. The controversy was days old when Paul Barry gave it a run on the ABC 1 Media Watch program last Monday.

    ABC types just love talking about the ABC.So Mr Barry railed against the Albrechtsen and Brown appointments.He even mentioned that Brown was “clearly not a Media Watch fan”.[How shocking is this? – Ed].Paul Barry went on to criticise The Australian, of course.And he appeared to endorse the position taken by Opposition shadow communications minister Jason Clare.

    So, guess what?The presenter of the ABC Media Watch, which has only ever had left-wing presenters, defended the ABC against the criticisms of the likes ofJanet Albrechtsen, Neil Brown and The Australian. Hold the front page – and so on. Paul Barry also criticised Ian Watt who was responsible for the appointments. He also whinged that Dr Watt’s office had not answered his questions.

    Then on Wednesday, Jonathan Holmes weighed in on the very same topic in his column in The Age. By the way, “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra” still does not have a weekly conservative columnist.

    By the time Holmes’ column appeared in The Age, the story was almost a week old.But your man Holmes ploughed on criticising Albrechtsen and Brown along with Dr Ian Watt.

    Holmes also suggested that Albrechtsen was not qualified when she was appointed to the ABC board by the Howard government. However, he implied that those appointed to the ABC board by the Rudd and Gillard governments were qualified.The latter included Julianne Schultz.Now compare and contrast.

    Janet Albrechtsen has a LLB (Hons) from Adelaide University and a SJD from Sydney University. She was a solicitor at a CBD law firm who became a columnist.

    Julianne Schultz has a B.A. from Queensland University and a Ph.D. from Sydney University.She has worked in consulting and as a columnist.

    The question is this. Why is Dr Schultz qualified for the ABC board – but not Dr Albrechtsen?

    The truth is that Dr Albrechtsen is the kind of qualified person you might expect a Coalition government to appoint to the ABC board. And Dr Schultz is the kind of qualified person you might expect a Labor government to appoint to the ABC board.

    Jonathan Holmes, who has never had a serious job outside journalism, then proceeded to give Dr Watt a lecture about what he SHOULD HAVE DONE with respect to these appointments. Here is his advice:

    We are entitled to draw the conclusion that Dr Watt is either profoundly stupid, or pusillanimous. If he really thinks that these two [Albrechtsen and Brown] are the most suitable people in Australia to ensure that appointments to the ABC and SBS boards are, and are seen to be, merit-based and non-partisan, he is profoundly stupid.

    If, on the other hand, he has made the appointments at the unacknowledged insistence of Tony Abbott, he is pusillanimous. What he should have done is to say this: “No, Prime Minister. Under the legislation, it is I who must make these appointments, not you; in my view, the people you suggest are too partisan themselves to be likely to recommend candidates for the ABC and SBS boards on the basis of merit alone, and the public will think their appointment absurd. If you do not like the process laid down by the legislation, then repeal or amend it. If you don’t think you can get such amendments past the Senate, then the law must stand, and I will make appointments that accord with that law, and my own judgment. Of course, you are always at liberty to require my resignation, and if you do so, I will feel at liberty to explain why I have been sacked.”

    But you didn’t say that, Dr Watt. Well, it’s your reputation. But it’s our ABC.

    So there you have it. Jonathan Holmes commenced his column with leftist indignation and ended with a barracking cliché.

    Since the word SHOULD is all the rage, here is some gratuitous advice from Nancy’s (male) co-owner to the tax payer funded Paul Barry and the superannuated Jonathan Holmes:

    ▪ Paul Barry SHOULD understand that the head of PMC has other uses of his time than to respond to requests for information from Media Watch’s somewhat bloated staff.

    ▪ Paul Barry SHOULD stop using the taxpayer funded ABC to attack critics of the ABC and defend his ABC comrades. It’s called self-indulgence.

    ▪ Jonathan Holmes SHOULD not oppose appointments to the ABC board of conservatives simply because they are conservatives while remaining mute when left-of-centre types are appointed to the ABC board.

    ▪ Jonathan Holmes SHOULD stop lecturing senior public servants as to what they SHOULD do – especially since he has never held a managerial position in the public or private sector.

    ▪ Finally Jonathan Holmes SHOULD realise that it is predictable that the former left-wing host of Media Watch will agree with the current left-wing host of Media Watch.ABC types invariably agree with other ABC types in the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC.It’s not worth a column.Not even in the very left “Guardian-on-the-Yarra”.

    Maurice Newman Segment Scoreboard:

    Maurice Newman:3

    Jonathan Holmes:Zip

    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.


    Last Saturday in his Weekend Australian column, Gerard Henderson wrote about the appointment of Dr Janet Albrechtsen and Neil Brown QC to the Nomination Panel which is responsible for drawing up a short-list for appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.The main point of the column was that the ABC board did not – and cannot – run the ABC.That is the role of the managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott. The column concluded with a comment on the ABC’s political culture – with particular reference to ABC Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor.

    The column led David Ransom, a former journalist, to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. Your man Ransom’s career has included substantial periods on the payroll of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – Compass, Lateline, 7.30. That sort of thing.Mr Ransom received a reply. Now read on:

    David Ransom to Gerard Henderson – 5 July 2014


    I don’t get it. What exactly is it with you and the ABC. In The Australian today you complain about the lack of “right wing” broadcasters on the ABC and then to support the thesis you take to task comments made by an interviewee. That’s like saying the ABC is too “right wing” when you appear. It doesn’t make sense.

    You and I both know that the ABC doesn’t need “right wing” or “left wing” broadcasters. It needs people who make stimulating programmes and challenge ideas objectively as humanly possible.

    Generally speaking, I would say Australia is fortunate to have such an organisation.

    David Ransom

    Former journalist

    Gerard Henderson to David Ransom – 9 July 2014


    I refer to your email of 5 July 2014 concerning my column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday.

    You have misunderstood my argument. My first point was that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – in that it does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. This statement has never been challenged. If you are aware of one conservative who works on any ABC prominent outlet, let me know.

    My second point was that ABC programming reflected the fact that there is scant diversity within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

    My illustration followed from my critique. I was not objecting to “an interviewee” being heard on ABC Radio National. My point was that the choice of interviewee demonstrated the political culture of an organisation when it is a Conservative Free Zone.

    Here are the facts. Ockham’s Razor, presented by ABC science journalist Robyn Williams, declares that “it is a soap box for all things scientific”. Yet on Sunday 29 June 2014, Robyn Williams handed the program to Roger Pulvers who delivered a talk titled “Celebrations and commemorations of war”.

    Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright and journalist. He does not claim to have any scientific qualifications. Yet Mr Pulvers was given the ABC’s prestigious science slot to speak about Australia’s involvement in wars. The speaker did not make any reference of any kind to science. Rather, he delivered a left-wing rant which ran the familiar John Pilger line that Australia has always fought “other people’s wars” I am not aware of any qualified historian who holds this position today. But Mr Williams did not see fit to present an alternative view to that of Roger Pulvers.

    My point was this. Robyn Williams’ decision to ask a non-scientific person to do a left-wing rant on the ABC’s science program is only explainable with reference to the political culture within the ABC. It is impossible to imagine a conservative without scientific qualifications being invited on to Ockham’s Razor to defend – say – Australia’s Vietnam commitment in the 1960s.

    You made an assertion about my appearances on ABC. For the record, apart from appearing around half a dozen times on the ABC 1 Insiders program each year, I am rarely interviewed on the ABC. For example, in the past six years I have not appeared on The Drum or the ABC 702 Mornings program or on Late Night Live or on ABC News 24. In this same year period, I have appeared once on Radio National Breakfast and once on ABC 1’s News Breakfast.

    I am quite happy with the number of my appearances on the ABC. In my view, some commentators do too many media gigs. I just make the point that there is a view that I appear much more on the public broadcaster than is the case.

    The prospect of my being asked on Ockham’s Razor to discuss Australia’s involvement in World War I and World War II is zero. It would never dawn on Robyn Williams to ask a non-scientific conservative on to the ABC science program to talk on matters of no relevance to science. But Mr Williams did invite Robert Pulvers to do his left-wing rant. Hence my comment about the prevailing fashionable green/left culture at the ABC.

    One final point. I would also criticise a public broadcaster which did not have one left-wing presenter, producer or editor on any of prominent programs. To work properly, current affairs needs to have a diversity of contesting views. No such phenomenon applies to the Conservative Free Zone which is the ABC.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Until next time – keep morale high.

    “[Gerard Henderson is a] silly prick”

    – Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton – tweeted Saturday 27 June 2014 at 4.15 pm, i.e. after lunch

    “If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita [Khrushchev] 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

    “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.