15 AUGUST 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.


“The unhinged but well spoken Gerard Henderson….”

– Bob Ellis, Table Talk blog, 10 August 2014




This is Michael Leunig’s illustration in today’s edition of The Age. Leunig is the intellectual leader of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s leftist collective.


This cartoon is clearly directed at Israel’s attacks on missiles and tunnels in Gaza. But Leunig has never drawn such an image with reference to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel’s towns and cities. Nor has he ever quoted Martin Luther King’s attitude to terrorism with respect to attacks on Israel by Hamas or Hezbollah terrorists. To Leunig only Israel is a belligerent state. [You should return to Leunig’s anti-Israel cartoon of a decade ago in next week’s MWD – Ed.]


This is what MWD had to say about Virginia Trioli’s constant praise on ABC’s News Breakfast program concerning ABC Fact Check led by Russell Skelton [aka Mr Trioli] on 1 August 2014 :

Last Monday on the ABC 1 News Breakfast program, co-presenter Virginia Trioli praised the ABC Fact Check. Not for the first time. And – not for the first time – La Trioli neglected to point out that the head of the Fact Check is none other than Mr Trioli – aka Russell Skelton.

And so it came to pass that John Barron was given time – along with a soft-interview by La Trioli – to tell us all about the ABC Fact Check’s most recent initiative. Namely, the Promise Tracker – by which the likes of Messrs Skelton and Barron will tell us whether or not Prime Minister Tony Abbott is keeping his pre-election promises. According to their opinion, of course. After all, Mr Skelton is on the record as expressing his contempt for conservatives – only describing them in The Age (of course) as “pesky possums”.

First up, La Trioli congratulated John Barron on “a great achievement”. Then, in winding up the interview, La Trioli described the Promise Tracker as “a great thing to see” and, once again, extended her “congratulations to you and the team”. As in – “Well done, Darling”.

And this is what La Trioli tweeted last Sunday concerning the inaugural birthday celebration of the ABC Fact Check:

Happy first birthday to @ABCFactCheck, a year of rock solid journalism. As Gerard Henderson might say, “Well done, darling.”



As avid MWD readers will be aware, last week Gerard Henderson asked David Day to provide a specific reference where a historian of Britain in the 20th Century in general, or of Winston Churchill in particular, said or wrote that the situation circa 1941 was so dire that the Brits decided that they should dump Churchill and get a chap from the colonies to run the show. To wit, Robert Menzies (1894 – 1978).

Writing in the August 2014 edition of Australian Book Review, Dr Day bagged Anne Henderson’s claim in her new book Menzies at War that there is no evidence for this assertion. In passing, Day also criticised a similar conclusion previously reached by Gerard Henderson and Allan Martin. What is different about Menzies at War is that Anne Henderson has checked out all of David Day’s sources in his book Menzies & Churchill at War and has interviewed Lord Carrington – the sole surviving senior Conservative Party politician of the era. Carrington regards David Day’s theory as complete bunk.

MWD is waiting for David Day to supply a specific source for his claim that the British wanted Menzies in 1941 and that Menzies thought that this was a serious proposal. As documented in MWD Issue 237, Dr Day (for a doctor he is) said that he is “flat out as a lizard drinking” and does not have time to come up with the evidence. This despite the fact that your man Day has recently written articles on the topic in Australian Book Review and The Spectator Australia.

MWD will keep you posted when Lizard Day has consumed all the water he needs and can provide the evidence which he has promised.

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Can you bear it graphic


Here’s the big (media) question of the week. Does Mark Latham read his column in the Australian Financial Review before it is published?

Yesterday, the Lair of Liverpool’s column was titled “When government is a no-show”. Here the failed former Labor leader told the story of the construction of the war memorial in his home town of Mount Hunter in Western Sydney. Mr Latham described how, in 1920, the local school principal Horace Martin established an organising committee to raise funds for a Soldiers’ Memorial in front of the Mount Hunter School. Commented Latham:

Martin’s committee attracted generous donations from the local business community, raising £135. This is a reminder of how Australia used to be. Not everything had to be government funded. Civil society was all-important.

So there you have it. According to Latham, in 1920 not everything had to be government funded and civil society could raise money for good causes.

That was the first half of the Lair of Liverpool’s column. Thereupon he commenced a BIG WHINGE about how he had been unable to get either the Wollondilly Council or the Department of Defence to kick in and provide government funding to refurbish the Soldiers’ Memorial in 2014. The whinge continued:

Our P&C also missed out on a federal grant for restoring the memorial’s sandstone, under the Anzac Centenary Program. So now we are raising the money ($4000) ourselves – just as the school community did in 1920. Government doesn’t work, so the onus has fallen on private, voluntary effort.

So there you have it. Mark Latham reckons that it was a you-beaut situation in 1920 when the Soldiers’ Memorial was erected at Mount Hunter without government funding. However, it’s a dismal situation a century later when he cannot get any taxpayers’ funds to refurbish the very same Soldiers’ Memorial. Some contradiction, don’t you think?

At the end of his column, the Lair of Liverpool wrote that anyone wanting to donate to the restoration project can contact him. Why can’t Mark Latham stump up a lousy $4000 out of his most generous taxpayer funded superannuation handout of $78,000 per year (fully indexed) – which is topped up per courtesy of Fairfax Media and The Spectator Australia for piss-poor columns which contain many a contradiction but not much original thought. Can you bear it?

[An Editor’s Modest – But Helpful – Proposal : Here’s a thought – just to help the Lair of Liverpool raise $4000, without using his AFR column, for what is usually done by means of a raffle for a slab of meat. Gerard Henderson has promised to provide Professor Robert Manne with $7000 if he can produce evidence to support his claim that Hendo asked The Age to sack him as a columnist. The $7000 can be used for a charity or cause promoted by Australia’s Leading Public Intellectual.

According to the learned professor, Hendo’s dastardly deed was done in 1993 or perhaps 1995 or whatever. Your man Manne also reckons that there are three copies of Hendo’s memo to The Age – he has one, his bestie Morag Fraser has one and The Age’s Opinion Editor Paul Austin has the original. So far not one copy of the (alleged) memo has surfaced – despite extensive coverage in MWD.

If Robert Manne can produce the (alleged) evidence, he will win the prize. He can give $4000 to the Lair of Liverpool to restore the Mount Hunter war memorial and give the remaining $3000 to his other bestie Professor Rai Gaita for his “No Poultry Matter” campaign to prevent the creation of chicken factory jobs in the area where he grew up. Just a thought – Ed]


While on the topic of the First World War (1914-18), did any one read Martin Flanagan’s “Saturday Reflection” in The Age on 9 August 2014? Okay, perhaps not. Why would you, if you didn’t have to?

Martin Flanagan is one of The Age’s leftist columnists who are long on hatred of Tony Abbott but short on topics. Last weekend, your man Flanagan’s “Saturday Reflection” was headed “Is the PM our own George W. Bush?”

Flanagan commenced with an Abbott-bash. Such is de rigueur for staff at the “Guardian-on-the-Yarra” – which does not have a weekly conservative columnist. He then commented on the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Representatives during the parliamentary welcome to Japan’s prime minister on 8 July 2014. Wrote Flanagan:

There was also his [Abbott’s] recent association of the word ‘‘honour’’ with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2. More than 2500 Australians died on the Burma Railway basically because, having surrendered, they were seen by the Imperial Japanese Army as being without honour. The kindest interpretation you can give Abbott’s remark is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Then, this week, he said World War 1 was ‘‘in one sense a tragic waste but it was for a good cause’’.

Well, the kindest interpretation you can give Martin Flanagan’s column last Saturday is that he is ill-informed.

Tony Abbott, in his address in the presence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, did not use the word “honour” with respect to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Flanagan just made this up. In fact, Prime Minister Abbott’s comments were made with reference to the actions of the Japanese sub-mariners who attacked Sydney Harbour in 1942. The Japanese Navy had nothing whatsoever to do with the construction of the Thai-Burma railway.

Martin Flanagan then proceeded to bag Tony Abbott’s comment that the Allied victory over Imperial Germany in 1918 was for a “good cause”. Flanagan had only one source for this comment – an article published in The Independent by Helen Thomas, whose poet husband Edward Thomas died on active service during the Great War. Flanagan concluded his column:

And that is my question for Tony Abbott: what was the ‘‘good cause’’ that 16 million people died for in World War 1? Please give a serious answer, or risk being seen as Australia’s George W. Bush.

How fatuous can you get? Imperial Germany was a world power in 1914-18 and had possessions in the Pacific. According to Martin Flanagan, Germany should have been allowed to overrun neutral Belgium and occupy France in 1914 – and Germany should have been allowed to dominate the sea-lanes around Australia. In other words, the Kaiser’s Imperial Germany should have been granted world domination sometime between 1914 and 1918 per courtesy of Britain and its Dominions, including Australia.

The Age’s Martin Flanagan seems totally unaware of the extensive historical research on World War 1 – and is prepared to mock Tony Abbott on the basis of a sad story told many years ago by the widow of one of the fallen and re-published recently in a British newspaper. Can you bear it?

[Editor’s Note: Perhaps the “Guardian-on-the-Yarra” could balance Martin Flanagan’s ill-informed rant by publishing an extract from Professor Vernon Bogdanor’s article in the August 2014 issue of History Today, which concludes as follows:

Britain went to war not because… it was prepared to accept German domination of Europe, but because it was so ill-prepared to resist that domination, it found that it could be resisted only by war. Indeed the threat of German domination could only be ended by two world wars. That resistance finally triumphed in April 1945 when two extra-European powers – the United States and the Soviet Union – joined hands at Torgau, cutting Hitler’s Reich in two. This ended the final German bid for power in Europe. It also ended the era of European supremacy in world affairs. We are still living with the consequences.

If Martin Flanagan read Professor Bogdanor’s article he would at least understand that there is – and was – a case for resisting Imperial Germany in 1914 and that more has been written about the Great War than what appears in The Independent – Ed].


What a stunning performance on ABC 1’s News Breakfast last Tuesday by Deakin University senior lecturer and avid MWD letter writer Scott Burchill.

These days Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) appears to be going to a higher class of tip following his appearances on the “Newspapers” segment with Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland. How else to explain the fact that, these days, your man Burchill’s hair is occasionally combed and his jacket looks like it has only been slept in a couple of times? [Here’s an idea. Perhaps your man Burchill is buying his university gear at a higher-end op shop – Ed].

On Tuesday Scott Burchill wasn’t having anything of the argument that national security legislation needs to be strengthened just because some scores of Islamists have headed off to Syria and Iraq and have become proficient in cutting the throats of their Muslim and Christian enemies. Let’s go to the transcript:

Scott Burchill: Yeah, look I’m a bit concerned about the use of this argument of an Australian Muslims going to fight in Syria, or in amongst with ISIL, as an excuse for increasing surveillance powers in Australia. And of course last week it was the metadata issue and the requirement or the expectation from AFP and ASIO for more powers in this area. But clearly the threat that these people pose is not so much to the peace and security of this particular country but the area that they’re going to. And I’m just wondering – I don’t think the government has clearly explained the connection between those going off to fight to create a caliphate in Iraq and Syria and what they would do coming back into Australia…. Creating a direct link between these people going to these countries to fight and coming back and somehow creating – what? Some insurgency here? Or targeting people here? It’s not clear. Or somehow they get brainwashed or indoctrinated there and turn up back in Sydney doing what? There’s – no one’s properly explained to me.

Dr Burchill seems unaware that Australian Islamists fought in Afghanistan and returned to Australia intent on terrorism. Yet he is a senior lecturer (no less) in International Relations at Deakin University. Can you bear it?



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.

Thanks to an avid MWD reader who drew attention to the “debate” which took place on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program last Monday. Here’s how Life Matters introduced its discussion on data retention and privacy – following Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s announcement that the government had been advised by its intelligence agencies on the need to collect metadata:

To protect against home-grown terrorism and other criminal threats, the government wants telecommunications companies to retain details of your phone and internet use for two years. So should we trade off privacy for security or is this surveillance by the state a threat to civil liberties?

Two commentators were invited to present their views – Suelette Dreyfus (Research Fellow Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne) and Stilgherrian (technology writer and broadcaster). According to the Stilgherrian’s website he believes that “all communication is propaganda” and “all art is pornography”. Wow – obviously a person of interest to Radio National.

It soon became evident that everyone on Life Matters thought that the collection of metadata by government was a BAD THING.

Stilgherrian argued that internet data was much more invasive than Tony Abbott was conceding and that the requirement of national security has gone well beyond what they were at the time of the Cold War. Suelette Dreyfus agreed and commented that meta data collection swings the balance in the civil liberties debate too far in favour of national security. Stilgherrian agreed, in turn.

And so the “debate” continued as Natasha Mitchell agreed with Suelette Dreyfus who agreed with Stilgherrian who agreed with Suelette Dreyfus who agreed with Stilgherrian who agreed with himself that Tony Abbott was totally wrong.


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 wise counsel. So here we go again.


What do Melbourne QCs do when they are not making pedantic points before m’learned friends? Write to MWD it seems, in a pedantic kind of way. This week Julian Burnside QC AO emailed to Nancy’s (male) co-owner complete with references to Sandalistas, the Online Urban Dictionary, South Yarra, Mike Carlton, the republic and the Melbourne Grammar School.

Julian Burnside to Gerard Henderson – 8 August 2014

Dear Gerard

Thank you for your response.

The signature line in my email is standard. My understanding is that for most communications it is polite to identify oneself and my email system is set up so as to include my name and post-nominals. If you thought it was there as a reminder to you, you are not correct.

I was puzzled by your reference to “sandalistas”. It is not a word recognised by the OED, but the Online Urban Dictionary defines it as “A pejorative nickname given to the political pilgrims from the West who travelled to Nicaragua during the 1980s in support of the Sandinistas, based on their tendency to wear sandals.”

I do not recall seeing anyone at the Byron Bay Writers Festival even remotely fitting that description. I did not even see anyone wearing sandals, so far as I recall. The average age of people attending was around 50 or so; most would not have looked out of place at a supermarket in Woollahra or South Yarra. In short, it was a pretty standard middle class, middle aged audience.

Incidentally, I do not believe live tweeting is regarded as a mark of approval. And I doubt that I have anything in common with David Irving, but I enjoy Mike Carlton’s sense of humour. I do not know if I agree with everything he says, because I do not read or hear everything he says.

Very best wishes



Julian Burnside AO QC

PS: Dear Gerard, my attention has been drawn to your “Media Watch Dog” post of a while back in which you referred to me as an “avowed republican”. I was curious to know on what basis you came to that view of my opinion about Australia being a republic. Or was it an example of your apparent fascination about my having QC after my name? (I say “your apparent fascination” because you have mentioned it too often for it to be just a passing annoyance to you).

Very best wishes



Julian Burnside AO QC

Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 12 August 2014

Dear Julian QC AO

Thanks for your email of last Friday. I note that you are a “post-nominals” kind of guy.

I suspect that your progression from Melbourne Grammar to the Monash University Law School and to the Victorian Bar has made you oh-so-literal. My reference to the Sandalistas at the Byron Bay Writers Festival was an ironic reference to the middle class left. I could not find one conservative among those performing at this taxpayer subsidised event. As I wrote, the BBWF resembled the ABC as a Conservative-Free-Zones. I’m sure you received a warm reception.

As to your PS, I am always willing to make corrections/clarifications on my Media Watch Dog blog – and elsewhere. You object to a past reference to you as an “avowed republican”. The easiest way to clarify this is for you to respond to this question:

Did you vote “yes” in the 1999 referendum to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic?

If you reply in the negative – I will make the correction.

If you reply in the affirmative – it would seem that your objection is to the word “avowed”, in which case a clarification rather than a correction would be warranted.

Over to you.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC [AKA Always Courteous]

Julian Burnside to Gerard Henderson – 13 August 2014

Dear Gerard

Thank you for your response.

Let me put your mind at rest about educational standards in the 1950s and 1960s, I did learn about metaphor (in year 6 at school, as I recall).

You once corrected me for making assumptions. Your email discloses the same vice. First, that my education makes me unable to identify a metaphor. The problem is that no definition of “sandalistas” comes anywhere near an available metaphor for the middle class left. I expected (wrongly, as it turns out) something like accuracy in your use of language.

Even worse, it seems that you were willing to describe me as an “avowed republican” without being able to identify anything I have said or done to justify it. Instead, you ask me to prove the point one way or other by disclosing my position in a secret ballot 15 years ago. You must be kidding. It suggests plainly enough that you had no basis but guesswork or some sort of pre-judgment. Note: I say it suggests that. I do not assume that is the fact. There may be other facts which you do not disclose which you took as providing a basis for a guess.

How journalism has sunk.

Very best wishes



Julian Burnside AO QC

Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 15 August 2014

Dear Julian QC AO

Thanks for your oh-so-courteous note. And well done about learning the metaphor in Year 6. When I was in Year 6, I thought that Metaphor was the last stop before South Yarra on the Sandringham railway line. But, then, I was a tram kind of guy in my (Melbourne) youth.

I suspect that if you have not been able to identify any of the Sandalista set in Melbourne or elsewhere, it’s because you are too focused on witnessing your standing ovations at literary festivals.

I voted “Yes” at the referendum on the republic in 1999. You refuse to state how you voted – seemingly regarding this as some secret worthy of non-disclosure under the 30 year rule.

If you advise me that you voted for the retention of the constitutional monarchy in 1999, I will correct my claim that you are an “avowed republican”. Otherwise, we are simply arguing about the meaning of “avowed” – a waste of time, even in Year 6, I suspect.

As to your time at the Melbourne Grammar School, please believe me when I state that I share your pain. I am still deeply moved by your traumatic years at MGS when you received “second colours” for representing the School at swimming and rugger whereas those chaps who played in the First XVIII and the First XI or who rowed in the First Crew got primary colours. That is, a full-blue rather than a half-blue.

I keep a copy of your essay in Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice near my bed – and read about your Melbourne Grammar School days whenever I feel the need to cry myself to sleep. What injustice – even if you did get a full-blue for Pomposity.

Do let me know if you decide that you are not a republican and I will make a correction to MWD Issue 81. [Hang on. Is your man Burnside really complaining about a reference to him MWD as long ago as 4 February 2011? Really? Don’t Melbourne QCs have anything better to do? Ed].

Keep Morale High

Gerard Henderson AC [aka Always Courteous]


After MWD came out last Friday, Dr Scott Burchill wrote again to MWD about (i) universities, (ii) Israel/Gaza and (iii) ad-hominem attacks about his appearance [Could he be referring to your references to his tendency to dress for the tip when appearing on the ABC1 News Breakfast program? – Ed] He signed his email “Dr Scott Burchill” – for a doctor he is.

Scott Burchill to Gerard Henderson – 8 August 2014


Sloppy? In what way? You don’t say. On second thoughts don’t bother.

I have noticed your fixation with “taxpayer-subsidised” employment, as if it is sinful in some way. You may not have been around universities much lately but might be interested to know that less that 50% of my university’s income now comes directly from Commonwealth funding, the rest from student fees and research grants of various kinds. My current employment at Deakin University, which began in 1994, was entirely funded by, and dependent on, full fee-paying post graduate students, not taxpayer subsidies. Your “taxpayer subsidised” sneer is an anachronistic account of the way Australian universities are now funded – and have been for a number of years.

I noticed you omitted the content of the links I provided in your MWD correspondence. I guess it makes your error seem less obvious to readers. For someone who writes publicly about the Middle East and claims to be “as well informed on the topic as possible”, it seems extraordinary that you didn’t know that Gaza was still considered to be occupied territory by the international community, including the United States, and according to international law. At least you do now.

The purpose of the “quick cut and paste job”, as you call it, was to provide you with two concise and independent opinions other than my own. I’m not sure what you actually expected in response to your question. Your sneering at Al Jazeera and the Quakers (in MWD) are unworthy of a serious response.

And there was no ad-hominem attack, unlike your comments on my appearance. Given it is pretty much only the Government of Israel which actually argues that Gaza is not occupied these days, I assumed that is where the source of your claim originated. If not, I apologise and would be very interested to know where you got that fiction from.



Dr Scott Burchill

Gerard Henderson to Scott Burchill – 15 August 2014


I refer to your email of last Friday. Apologies for the delay in replying. In response, I make a few comments.

• I am aware as to how universities are funded. That is why I refer to such entities as “taxpayer subsidised” – a correct depiction. If universities were not subsidised by the taxpayer, there would not be the current row about Commonwealth funding. In other words, I do not understand your point.

• I only omitted your links in Media Watch Dog for the sake of clarity. I provided ample identification for anyone who wanted to check out your sources. Moreover, I did not change in any way your own words.

• I do not accept that Gaza, which has an elected government, is occupied. But, then, I am not a Senior Lecturer in Government Relations at Deakin University. Why did Israel invade parts of Gaza recently if it was already occupied by Israel?

• Your suggestions that I know all I know about Israel/Gaza from Israel Defence Force “talking points” was an ad-hominem attack – and also completely false.

• As to my reference to how you dress on ABC 1 News Breakfast – you seem somewhat sensitive, especially for someone who so readily criticises others. It is not a serious critique and has been remarked on by Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli on occasions – in a light-hearted manner.

• In any event, it is not “sinful” (to use your term) to go to the tip after appearing on ABC1 – and to dress accordingly. I’m not surprised that you go to the tip early some mornings. What I am surprised about is that you front up at the ABC’s Southbank studio in Melbourne at around 6am some mornings in order to do comment on the newspapers on News Breakfast – especially since it is a pro-bono appearance.

Keep morale high

Gerard Henderson


Finally, The Media Report’s Richard Aedy wrote to Nancy’s (male) co-owner after reading MWD Issue no. 237 concerning Mike Carlton and the soft interview he received on your man Aedy’s program. Like many a journalist, Mr Aedy is somewhat sensitive to criticism. But MWD is happy to accept that he isn’t really a leftie and that he’s not Mike Carlton’s “bestie”.

Richard Aedy to Gerard Henderson – 8 August 2014


I’m not sure if you’re being obtuse, or if somehow you genuinely missed something important.

Fairfax made it clear why it was suspending Mike Carlton – because of the way he answered some respondents to his article. Not because of the article itself.

You say I gave this impression but Sean Aylmer actually said it.

Carlton resigned in the very act of being suspended by Sean Aylmer for this reason. Not for the article, or anything he’d written in the paper in the past.

I don’t see how Fairfax could have been clearer about this.

That is why the interview was structured the way it was. Mike Carlton stuffed up after publication – that’s why he’s out of a job. I thought it worth exploring what he did and why he did it.

This is a live issue for journalists and broadcasters – all of them, not just the big-name columnists like you, now interact with audiences in a way that never used to happen.

I know you can’t stand him and he can’t stand you but I find a bit on the nose that you label me a leftist. You don’t know me – we’ve never met. Incidentally, I’ve never met Mike Carlton either. You literally don’t know what you’re talking about.

I think my crime, in your eyes, is not to go into full attack mode.

But listen to the interview, Gerard, and you’ll hear that I put it to him that he knew that people would be upset; that he may get responses he wouldn’t like; that he didn’t have to respond the way he did; that he didn’t even have to read the communications that upset him.

I put it to him that he resigned in a fit of pique. And I asked if he’d done it after a few wines.

Over the course of the interview he essentially acknowledges that he is the author of his own downfall and that he regrets it.

It is the longest and most revealing interview he’s done since it happened.

I suspect if I’d been snarly, if I’d been aggressive, if I’d used a belligerent tone, you’d be happier and it would have been a much shorter, less interesting & less illuminating interview.

Richard Aedy

Gerard Henderson to Richard Aedy – 8 August 2014


Gosh you’re sensitive to criticism.

I said in MWD today that Mike Carlton was going to be suspended because of how he answered his critics. My point was that Mike Carlton has been answering his critics like this for many years across a range of issues – many of which have nothing to do with Israel or the Middle East. All of this is documented in today’s MWD and in my article in The Australian yesterday.

By the way, I did listen carefully to the program. You allowed Mike Carlton to get away with the false allegation that all his troubles commenced due to how he responded to the alleged abuse he received concerning his column on Israel/Gaza. As I pointed out above, Mike Carlton simply behaved on this issue the way he behaves on all issues when confronted by criticism.

It’s not true that I can’t stand Mike Carlton. In fact, I’m quite indifferent to him and I valued his ranting in the Sydney Morning Herald most Saturdays because it gave me material for Media Watch Dog. I will miss him. But, who knows? He may emerge in The Guardian Online.

I understand why you want to defend the interview you did with Mike Carlton yesterday. However, it revealed little beyond your naivety and his ability to run a line.

By the way, it is true that we have not met. But it is also true that I am familiar with your position on a range of matters due to your profession as a journalist.

Lotsa love.

Gerard Henderson

Richard Aedy to Gerard Henderson – 8 August 2014


How omniscient you are! It must be brilliant to have such a fully formed picture of me from listening to the radio (and so flattering for me that you’re paying that much attention).

I know you have a lot of time on your hands, so a list of my opinions on a range of issues would be good. If you could come up with anything I’ve said apart from on journalism (I’m for it); newspapers (them too); the teaching of geography and languages (yes please); Catholicism (I’m a poor one but I try) and paid parental leave (for it, have been for years) and forward it to me, that would be great. Instead of having to come up with opinions at parties, I could merely hand over the list. To use one of your own expressions, gosh!

To use another, you haven’t addressed the issues that I put to you in my first message. Fairfax made it clear Carlton was in trouble because of the responses – I pushed him on the responses. Carlton was being correct when he identified this as the problem – he got himself into the situation he’s in, despite having several opportunities not to do so. I was as courteous to him as I was to Chris Mitchell, or would be to you.

I think you would prefer a bit more terrier in me Gerard, but I tend to save that for the politicians.

As an avid reader of MWD, I know accuracy is important to you, hence my original email. I’m not a lefty and I’m not Mike Carlton’s ‘bestie’ (I would labour the point but I know you hate labouring the point) – I have never met him.

I’m afraid I’m rather old fashioned about salutations and sign off’s, Gerard, so I won’t respond to your “Lotsa love” in kind. It seemed genuine enough but we haven’t met and I don’t think you know me as well you think you do.

Best wishes


Until next time – keep morale high.

“Gerard Henderson and Nancy are awful human beings.”

– Alexander White, Twitter, 25 July 2014

“This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”

– Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter, 20 July 2014

“…that fu-kwitted Gerard “Gollum” Henderson….”

– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, via Twitter, 12 July 2014

“[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.