17 OCTOBER 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.



    It was typical ABC “debate” on Lateline last night. Discussion turned on the Abbott’s Government’s Foreign Fighters Bill. In the lead-in to the main interview, reporter Jason Om reported on the debate. He interviewed three experts – Nick O’Brien (Charles Sturt University), Keiran Hardy (University of New South Wales) and Lydia Shelley (Muslim Legal Network NSW).

    Guess what? All the three experts were critical of the Foreign Fighters Bill. Lateline could not find one qualified commentator who broadly supports the Foreign Fighters Bill. Not one. Nick essentially agreed with Keiran who essentially agreed with Lydia who essentially agreed with Jason who essentially agreed with all three. No other view was heard.

    nancy's pick graphic


    What a stunning performance by David Marr on the Richard Glover Drive program on ABC Radio 702 yesterday.

    It was a star-studded panel featuring Mr Marr plus Emma Alberici (ABC) and Malandirri McCarthy (SBS). It was not all that long before discussion turned on the BIG ISSUE OF THE DAY. Namely, whether Amal Alamuddin should have adopted her husband’s surname when she married George Clooney. Oh, yes.

    At the start of the program, Mr Marr had referred to Richard Glover’s comment that Marr’s work designation The Guardian Australia sounded like “Gardening Australia”. Mr Marr was not amused and accused Mr Glover of recycling old jokes.

    However, when it came to a discussion of the Alamuddin/Clooney nuptials, David Marr ran a joke that’s as old as Methuselah. Marr claimed that his very own invitation to the wedding must have been lost by Australia Post. Funny, eh? [Er, not really. But it would have been a hoot in Methuselah’s day – Ed].

    Then Mr Marr got serious. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Richard Glover: You weren’t invited?

    David Marr: Look, there was some kind of problem. I blame Australia Post, I blame Australia Post. Look, she can call herself whatever she likes. But it’s kind of just a little bit sad isn’t it?

    How about that? MWD is not aware that David Marr has ever proclaimed that he felt just a little bit sad that a woman felt the need to wear a burqa or a niqab. But he is just so sad that Ms Alamuddin has freely chosen to become Ms Clooney. Why does he care? [Does David Marr have an opinion he wants to express on absolutely everything? – Ed]

    Can you bear it graphic


    What a stunning piece by Jason Steger, The Age’s literary editor, in yesterday’s Guardian-on-the-Yarra. Here are highlights of your man Steger’s coverage of Richard Flanagan’s win in the Man Booker Prize.

    Mr Steger says:

    When you win something like the Man Booker Prize, everyone wants to know how you feel. But a couple of hours after Richard Flanagan had been presented with the prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North at London’s Guildhall, he still didn’t know. “My last coherent memory was controlling my shuddering before I got up on stage,” he said.

    MWD comments: Strange, after winning the Man Booker Prize Richard Flanagan appeared on the BBC Newsnight where he declared that he was ashamed to be an Australian. [Perhaps that’s a non-coherent memory – Ed.]

    Mr Steger says:

    …What he [Richard Flanagan] was sure about was that the whole fandango around the Booker was much bigger than he had anticipated when he was named on the shortlist. There were the 10 days of pre-announcement activity with the other five novelists in contention, and then there was the night itself. “They whisked me off stage and I just haven’t stopped. It’s been like battery assault and hasn’t ended. It’s wonderful but I haven’t had time to know what’s happened.”

    In fact he had an on-stage hug with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and was taken to task for it by a British newspaper in the after-prize press conference. “The thing is, I didn’t realise that I’d done it. They said why? I said, why not? I mean, it didn’t seem to be a large thing. She seemed sweet and delighted and her father had been a prisoner of war in Germany, so she was interested.”

    And Flanagan is, after all, an old friend of Camilla’s mother-in-law, the Queen, with whom he had tea after winning the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Gould’s Book of Fish in 2002: “We swapped a few horse-racing stories.”

    MWD comments: So the British-born Jason Steger reckons that Richard Flanagan is an “old friend” of the Queen – on account of the fact that he had one conversation with her over a decade ago. Can you bear it? [Interesting re the Man Booker prize this year. I note that The Narrow Road to the Deep North was comprehensively bagged by the well regarded reviewer Craig Raine in the Times Literary Supplement (19 September 2014) – Ed]



    Richard Flanagan lives in Hobart. He is one of those Green-Left Tasmanians who does not think well of forestry and mining and seems to believe that Tassie can get by living off literary grants, welfare payments and public sector employment. Plus wine growing. And, yes, gambling.

    You see, the only industry that appears to be booming in Tasmania right now is MONA on the Derwent River (i.e. the Museum of Old and New Art). And it’s losing heaps each year. MONA is kept afloat – so to speak – by subsidies from its benefactor David Walsh, who made his pile from gambling. Tasmania – from the Apple Isle to the Gambling Isle.

    However, anyone who read Sally Glaetzer’s coverage of Mr Walsh and his recently released book A Bone of Fact in last Saturday’s Herald Sun would not put much money into Tasmania. You see, David Walsh is, fashionably, an eco-catastrophist. This is how he sees the immediate and long-term future of MONA – as told to Ms Glaetzer:

    My method of making money is somewhat arbitrary to say the least and, let’s face it, I might keel over,” Walsh says. “I’m trying to figure out ways to make this little place make enough money to allow it to continue to stage exhibitions until it disappears under the global warming-induced high waters.”

    Good one. When MWD visited MONA a couple of years ago, the entrance door was well above the Derwent. But professional gambler Mr Walsh reckons that its destined to be flooded by rising water levels. [Don’t bet on it – Ed]. Can you bear it?


    Did anyone hear the extraordinarily tedious interview, sometime before 8 am, on Radio National Breakfast last Thursday? Or did you fall asleep? James Carleton was in the presenter’s chair – standing in for Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. His studio guests were Christopher Zinn and Angus Woods – both of Adviserratings.

    It seems that Mr Zinn and Mr Woods have turned up to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to flog their new business – for free. In short, Adviserratings plans to set up a business assessing financial advisers. Well and good. But how come two blokes got nearly ten minutes on the so-called commercial-free ABC at RNB at prime time to flog a commercial product? Can you bear it?



    How naive can you get? In last weekend’s The Saturday Paper there is a Page One story by Mike (“Private Schools make us dumber”) Seccombe.

    You see, Mr Seccombe reckons that the leftist Australia Institute has been instrumental in ensuring that $12 billion of cuts proposed in the Commonwealth budget were blocked.

    It seems that your man Secco was snowed by Australia Institute heavies Richard Dennis and Ben Oquist. Secco seems convinced that the Australia Institute is running the country – per courtesy of the Senate – and is more important than Labor, the Greens, the Palmer United Party and the Independents combined.

    According to Secco, the likes of Dennis (once a Democrat) and Oquist (once a Green) “through carefully cultivated alliances with the pivotal players in this parliament” look “increasingly like the ones holding the strings”. Fancy that.

    This is how former Labor minister Martin Ferguson recalls the Australia Institute during his time in the Rudd/Gillard government. Talking to the Australian Financial Review Magazine’s October 2014 “Power” edition, Martin Ferguson said:

    They [the conservative think tanks] have far more influence than The Australia Institute, which in my opinion had no influence over the history of the Rudd and Gillard governments.

    So, according to Martin Ferguson the leftist Australia Institute had no influence over the Labor government. However, according to Mike Seccombe, the lads at the Australia Institute are really running the country now that Labor is in Opposition. How does Secco know? Well, the Australia Institute told him so. Can you bear it?



    Jonathan (“Proudly, the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green sent this tweet yesterday:

    About to talk journalism futures at LaTrobe … Rob Manne will be doing the grilling.

    The leftist taxpayer subsidised academic Professor Manne interviews the leftist funded ABC journalist Mr Green at the taxpayer subsidised La Trobe University. Not much of a grilling likely here. Can you bear it?

    [No not really. I note that Sharri Markson wrote a great piece in last Monday’s Australian about the left’s domination of media studies courses at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). It’s difficult to see how a conversation between Robert Manne and Jonathan Green could have passed without a condemnation of Tony Abbott and Rupert Murdoch. If any avid MWD readers attended this ideological love in – please advise before lunch next Friday. – Ed.]


    There was absolutely enormous interest last Friday among avid MWD readers [are there any others? – Ed] with last week’s SCOOP that Nancy’s (male) co-owner had scored an invitation to the Melbourne Press Club’s Victorian Media Hall of Fame dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 10 October.

    It was a black-tie occasion, of sorts. Being an old fashioned AC (always courteous) kind of guy, Hendo rocked up in Collins Street with a black velvet bow-tie. Specially purchased for the evening. Not so others. Take Michael Rowland, the Melbourne Press Club’s president, for example. The very tall Mr Rowland dressed in a black suit, white shirt and long thin black tie. At first view, it looked like he was decked-out for a funeral. [Perhaps he was. – Ed]. Verily, a fashion statement of the on-trend genre.

    The Melbourne Press Club’s Third Foundation Dinner was a well organised event. It saw the induction of some 30 journalists to the Victorian Media Hall of Fame – mostly living, others not so much. They joined the circa 50 inductees who received their gongs in 2012 or 2013. All are covered in Media Legends: Journalists Who Helped Shape Australia – which is edited by Michael Smith and Mark Baker and published by Wilkinson Publishing.

    Here is Hendo’s report of the night – taken from wine-stained, hand-written notes which seem to have become more illegible as the evening wore on.

    ● Arrive at Hyatt Hotel – fashionably five minutes late. Run into Barrie Cassidy and the Insiders team plus Heather Ewart – the documentary maker of the non-scheduled documentary on the Nationals which is destined to run on ABC 1 before Christmas. [Which year? Ed].

    ● Make way to table to Table 2. Sitting next to Michael Rowland and War hero Peter Isaacson (who flew 48 missions with Bomber Command during World War II). Virginia Trioli, in a gorgeous black frock, is on Hendo’s table. Wow. She tells Nancy’s (male) co-owner that she prefers Nancy’s (female) co-owner to him. A state of personal despondency descends on Hendo only to be lifted when Morry Schwartz – publisher of Quarterly Essay, The Monthly and The [Boring] Saturday Paper introduces himself and is just so nice. Clearly your man Schwartz knows how to do the hypocrisies. And he’s on Table 2, too.

    ● It’s very much what Nancy’s (female) co-owner calls a “Blokes’ Night On”. Mark Baker, Melbourne Press Club CEO, welcomes guests and introduces MC Michael Rowland. Then Michael Smith, chairman of the Victorian Media Hall of Fame, talks about halls and fame and all that jazz.

    ● It’s time for the first set of inductees to receive their gongs in 2014. Michael Rowland does the honours assisted by what can only be termed a Media-Barrel-Girl who hands out the paper work dressed in a red frock with a wow factor. [Wow – Ed]. The Lady-in-Red is not introduced to the 450 strong audience but Hendo discovers after the event that she does speak English and that her old man works for one of the premium sponsors.

    ● The Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s Ron Tandberg is inducted. Asked to comment on the Prime Minister, The Age’s cartoonist replies: “Tony Abbott is not great for the country but pretty good for me.” How frightfully Guardian-on-the-Yarraish. The audience just loves it.

    ● Ben Hills, formerly of The Age, gets his gong. He seems to believe that he – rather than Peter Game – should have won a Walkley in 1975 for his coverage of the Loans Affair during the time of the Gough Whitlam government. An appropriate time to raise such a grievance, don’t you think? After all, it’s only four decades since Mr Hills was robbed of a Walkley.

    ● B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) gets a posthumous gong. The announcement of this contains errors and a video is presented which is designed to induce mockery and ridicule. It does so. But Santa’s grandson accepts the award as if none of this had occurred. Smart move – especially since BAS appeared on Channel 9 once a week for 28 years and wrote a column in The Australian between 1976 and 1997 – a feat not matched by most in the audience. [I note that the chapter in Media Legends on Bob Santamaria was full of errors – this is documented in today’s “Documentation” segment – Ed.]

    ● What’s this? Gideon Haigh turns up to receive his gong. Well dressed in dark suit and tie. And shaven. When he appears on the ABC1 Outsiders program, Mr Haigh looks like he has just come down from a ladder having completed a 48 hour shift as a plasterer. He grabs the microphone during his one-on-one with Mr Rowland. It looks like a long night is in the offing. But Tall Mr Rowland re-captures the microphone. Thank God – and Michael. Gideon Haigh was born in 1965 which raises the question as to why such sheilas as La Trioli and Niki Savva have not been gonged in the Victorian Hall of Fame.

    ● A trade union official receives the award for some deceased person or other. She gives a “the-union-makes-us-strong” spiel and looks like she’s ready to sell union memberships for the Media Arts & Entertainment Alliance. Maybe next year’s dinner will be a no-ticket-no-start affair.

    ● It’s now time for Phillip Adams AO, no less. The ABC’s man-in-black moves to the stage all covered in black – except for naked feet inside unsocked shoes. Phillip Adams talks about himself. As usual. He says he feels like he has joined the list of deceased inductees in the Victorian Hall of Fame – like B.A. Santamaria and Laurie Oakes. Mr Oakes is in the audience, apparently alive. Mr Adams declines Michael Rowland’s suggestion that he pose for a selfie with Hendo. [What a shame. – Ed]

    ● Caroline Wilson gets a gong. La Trioli is heard to declared: “A woman. A woman. Oh my God! A woman.” Good point. Only three women received inductions on the night – Michelle Grattan (who did not turn up), Jana Wendt and Ms Wilson.

    ● The late John Sorrell is gonged – and his 31/2 hour lunches much praised. It is said that a long lunch was – for Mr Sorrell at least – a “creative licence” to write well. [That’s a creative excuse – Ed.] At this stage, Nancy’s (male) co-owner experiencing profound thirst, reached for the red (or was it white?) wine. Sometime around here, dinner is served.

    ●The late Wilfred Burchett is gonged. Nancy’s (male) co-owner notes that – like him – Les Carlyon (on Table 1) is not clapping. Mr Rowland advises that George Burchett (son of Wilfred) has flown all the way from Hanoi. Burchett Junior, Hendo later discovered, was accompanied by a Vietnamese camera crew. It seems that the communist dictators in Vietnam are thrilled by Burchett’s gong. It’s a restrained presentation – and it is pointed out that Wilfred Burchett is being inducted for his coverage of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.

    This makes it possible for a “don’t-talk-about-Joe-Stalin-moment”. Like the fact that WB was a bestie of every communist dictator going around. Such as Uncle Joe Stalin, Kim Il-Sung and Pol Pot. Also, no one mentions that Mr Burchett worked for a succession of totalitarian regimes in East Europe and Asia which murdered and incarcerated journalists. It’s not that kind of night – especially where former KGB agents are involved.

    ● Jana Wendt is inducted – looking slim and glamorous in a long black gown. There are references to the “perfumed steamroller” and to Ms Wendt’s lovely “eyes”. La Trioli nearly throws up.

    ● The late Sir John Williams (1901-1982) is inducted. He is referred to as hard drinking. A grandson, who receives his gong, ups the ante by describing Sir John as “very hard drinking” but declares that he “also had a warm side”. We all drink warm Irish coffee to Sir John and his memory – assuming that he still had one, circa 1982, in view of all that alcohol.

    ● Ranald McDonald is inducted. He uses the occasion to complain about a housing development on the outskirts of Melbourne which might deleteriously affect his golf course of choice in retirement. Mr Mcdonald was once the proprietor of The Age – aka The Guardian-on-the-Yarra. Enough said. [That’s enough – Ed]

    ● Hendo leaves the Grand Hyatt. He buys a copy of Media Legends – in order to read this the morning after the (media) night before. See “Documentation”.


    By popular demand, due to the requests of hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers, the Maurice Newman Segment returns this week – with something old, something new, plenty that is stolen and absolutely nothing blue.

    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 taxpayer funded public broadcaster. See MWD passim.


    Lotsa thanks to the avid MWD reader who drew attention to the “Addicted to Growth” segment on Radio National Late Night Live on 1 October.

    Phillip Adams, as usual, was in the LNL presenter’s chair. The chosen topic was economic growth. The ABC’s Man-in-Black is one of Australia’s richest socialists – having made his pile in, wait for it, advertising. These days, your man Adams is not a believer in economic growth. Meanwhile he props up his superannuation with a handout from the taxpayer funded public broadcaster for presenting LNL.

    So, on 1 October 2014, Phillip Adams invited Brian Czech (founder and president of the Centre for Advancement of the Steady State Economy) and Carmen Lawrence (the former Labor premier of Western Australia and currently a professional fellow at the University of Western Australia) to LNL.

    First up, PA stated that he was not really into economic growth. Quelle surprise! Then Brian Czech said that he was not really into economic growth. Quelle surprise! And then Carmen Lawrence said that she was not into economic growth either. Quelle surprise! Phillip Adams agreed with his guests. Quelle surprise! And so it went on. And on. And on.

    The debate took a format which is so beloved by Nice Mr Scott and his employees at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – i.e. a conversation where everyone agrees with everyone else in a leftie kind of way. Highlights were as follows:

    ▪ BC declares that “on a finite land mass like earth, you can’t have a perpetually growing GDP”.

    ▪ PA says yes – but asks “we can rush off to other planets and wreck them too?”

    ▪ PA tells CL that she is “a very compassionate human being”. CL does not dissent. But she does confirm that – once upon a time when premier of Western Australia – she did support “increasing economic growth and therefore increasing employment”. But not anymore. Phew.

    ▪ PA declares “we are an irrational species”. He criticises Treasurer Joe Hockey’s call to boost growth and create jobs. BC agrees.

    ▪ PA asks BC why he calls gross domestic product a “gross domestic problem”. BC tells him. PA agrees.

    And so it went on and on as Brian agreed with Phillip who agreed with Carmen who agreed with Brian who agreed with Phillip who agreed with himself.

    Just as well neither of Nancy’s owners were invited on to LNL [in your dreams – Ed] on 1 October. They might have pointed out that it is all very well for those who have earned income in the public sector and/or benefit from taxpayer subsidised superannuation schemes to rail about growth and jobs. The anti-growth and anti-employment mantra – invariably proclaimed by well-off or securely superannuated socialists – does not have many followers in the outer suburbs and regional centres.


    Maurice Newman: 3

    Jonathan Holmes: Zip



    Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s night at the 2014 Melbourne Press Club Annual dinner has been documented earlier in this issue.

    At the conclusion of the evening, Hendo purchased two copies of the book that was launched on the night. Namely, Media Legends: Journalists Who Helped Shape Australia which is co-edited by former Age editors Michael Smith and Mark Baker.

    On the morning after the night before, Hendo read David Broadbent’s chapter on B.A. Santamaria – who was inducted posthumously into the Victorian Media Hall of Fame on Friday 10 October. After discovering lotsa howlers, Hendo wrote to David Broadbent and sent a copy of his missive to Michael Smith and Mark Baker (Media Legends’ co-editors) plus Michael Rowland (president, Melbourne Press Club).

    The only person who took offence was your man Smith – who sent the following email to David Broadbent with a copy to Hendo. Here it is – plus a reply:

    Michael Smith to Gerard Henderson (via David Broadbent) – 14 October 2014


    Welcome to the membership of the club for those whipped by a Henderson lettuce leaf. If you think there are any factual errors, let us know as we are preparing for a reprint this week.


    Gerard Henderson to Michael Smith – 14 October 2014


    I am surprised that you believe it is worth checking with David Broadbent as to whether the Labor Split occurred in 1953, rather than the correct date of 1955 – among other Broadbent howlers in Media Legends.

    But what would I know? I am just a wielder of lettuce leaves (to re-use your tired cliché).

    Best wishes


    Hendo has not been able to sleep at night following Michael Smith’s suggestion that his thoughts, as expressed to Mr Broadbent, resembled being “whipped by a lettuce leaf”. Shucks. Rather than respond at length to Michael Smith – of the Melbourne based Inside Public Relations – Hendo decided to publish his self-explanatory email to David Broadbent in MWD. In the interest of those who have already bought the first edition, the errors are set out below. For posterity, of course, and in the interest of public relations. [You’re so kind – Ed].

    But first a couple of qualifications. It’s possible that the incorrect date for the 1955 Labor Split may have been a typo which was not picked up. [Do you mean a John-Laws-style-deliberate-mistake? – Ed]. Also one oversight in Hendo’s email to David Broadbent has been deleted – for the sake of accuracy. David Broadbent and Michael Smith have subsequently advised that corrections and amendments will be made to the second edition. We’ll keep you posted.

    * * * *


    Gerard Henderson to David Broadbent – 14 October 2014


    As you will recall, at your request I provided material concerning your chapter on B.A. Santamaria in Media Legends: Journalists Who Helped Shape Australia.

    Due to the kind invitation of Mark Baker and the Melbourne Press Club, I was present at the third foundation dinner of the Victorian Hall of Fame at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel last Friday night – at which Media Legends was launched.

    For the record, I was pleased with the excerpt of the interview I did with Mark Baker that was run when the late B.A. Santamaria was inducted into the Victorian Media Hall of Fame. However, I noticed a number of factual errors in the video clip which accompanied the presentation.

    During our email exchange of earlier this year, you said that my contribution to your essay on Bob Santamaria would be acknowledged in Media Legends. This did not occur.


    I purchased a copy of Media Legends after the dinner and read your chapter on B.A. Santamaria on Saturday morning. I was instantly pleased that my assistance to you had not been acknowledged – for the simple reason that your brief piece is littered with howlers. Here they are:

    Broadbent’s Claim: “In 1936 he [BAS] drove the creation of the Catholic Worker newspaper (later News Weekly)” and “In 1936, when he was 20 years old, he [Santamaria] brought out the first edition of the Catholic Worker newspaper (later News Weekly).

    Fact: BAS set up the Catholic Worker in 1936 but he was forced out of it and had ceased all connection with the newspaper by 1941. I advised you of this in my email of 10 February 2014. The Catholic Worker, which lasted until July 1976, became a leading critic of B.A. Santamaria and the Catholic Social Studies Movement (The Movement) which later became the National Civic Council.

    There was no causal connection between the Catholic Worker and News Weekly (which, under another title, commenced in 1943 and is still in existence). In fact, the Catholic Worker and News Weekly were – in a sense – rival publications. The Catholic Worker was a rallying point for Santamaria’s critics within the Catholic Church for some decades.

    ▪ Broadbent’s Claim:“In 1957 [BAS] established the Catholic Social Movement which later became the National Civic Council.”

    Fact:What was termed The Movement was established sometime between 1938 and 1942. It became the Catholic Social Studies Movement (CSSM) in 1945. BAS left the CSSM in August 1956 and created the Catholic Social Movement. In late December 1957, the CSM was closed down and replaced by the National Civic Council. So, Santamaria did not establish the Catholic Social Movement in 1957 – rather, he closed it down in that year.

    Also, it is simply wrong to state that the NCC was established after 1957. It was established in December 1957.

    ▪ Broadbent’s Claim: “[BAS] entered public affairs as an undergraduate at Melbourne University, with a commitment – some say fanaticism – unseen in Australian student politics.”

    Fact: The reports in Melbourne University’s Farrago student newspaper at the time do not provide any evidence that BAS exhibited unheralded “fanaticism” while a student at Melbourne University. In fact, BAS’s only high profile involvement at Melbourne University in the 1930s took place at the Spanish Civil War debate in May 1937, after he ceased full-time studies. In addition, BAS participated in a couple of campus debates while a full-time student. He was no more, or less, fanatical than other students who engaged in the campus debate in the 1930s.

    ▪ Broadbent’s Claim: “[BAS] became President of the Catholic Social Movement in 1943”.

    Fact :As mentioned above, BAS’s Catholic Social Movement only existed for a brief period between August 1956 and December 1957.

    ▪ Broadbent’s Claim: “The Movement (renamed National Civic Council in 1957) worked overtly and covertly to rid the Labor movement of communist influences, ultimately driving the great Labor split of 1953 and the formation of the Democratic Labor Party.”

    Fact: The Labor Split took place two years later – in 1955. Apart from that, it is ridiculous to imply that The Movement alone drove the Labor Split. A strong case can be made that Labor leader Bert Evatt was primarily responsible for the Labor Split which took place not long after a speech by Evatt in October 1954 which attacked the Victorian branch of the ALP.

    ▪ Broadbent’s Claim: “Initially he [BAS] rejected television as an ineffective medium believing the commercial networks had little interest in his cause and the ABC was dominated by leftists, but accepted what he thought was a once-only offer from [Sir Frank] Packer. But Packer then offered Santamaria on [sic] ongoing slot and the Point of View program was born.”

    Fact:This is complete tosh. BAS accepted a role on television at the first available opportunity. This occurred when he was invited to do a weekly comment piece on the Sunday Magazine program in October 1960 – which was sponsored by the Catholic Church and aired on Channel 7. Also, Santamaria did a number of high profile interviews in the second half of the 1950s on Channel 9 for such programs as Meet the Press and Face the Nation.

    When Archbishop Daniel Mannix died on 6 November 1963, he was succeeded by Archbishop Justin Simonds. [Note in Media Legends his name is misspelt as “Simmonds”]. Archbishop Simonds believed that BAS, although a layman running a not-for-profit organisation, was involving the Catholic Church in politics and demanded that he be dropped by Sunday Magazine.

    It is true that Sir Frank Packer offered BAS a slot on Channel 9 on two evenings in late November 1963 – in the run-up to the November 1963 election. But it is also true that BAS negotiated with Packer. Santamaria agreed to do the two programs in late November 1963 provided that Packer would give him a three month trial run for a regular commentary program on Channel 9. Sir Frank agreed – and what started off as a three month gig ended up running for some 28 years on Channel 9 as Point of View.

    There is no evidence to support the claim that BAS ever “rejected television”. In fact, BAS embraced television as soon as possible. Santamaria’s attitude to the ABC had nothing to do with his approach to Point of View. In any event, BAS did a number of important interviews on the ABC with, among others, Geraldine Doogue and Maxine McKew.


    Like all of us, B.A. Santamaria made mistakes and exhibited personal weaknesses. After all, that is the reality of life after The Fall.

    However, the tone used with respect to BAS in Media Legends is unprofessional for what is supposed to be an account of someone deemed worthy of being inducted into the Victorian Media Hall of Fame. Here are some examples:

    ▪ According to Broadbent, BAS’s Point of View consisted of “articulate and angry sermons”. Why use the term “sermons”? BAS’s broadcasts were skilled exercises in polemics. That’s all.

    ▪ According to Broadbent, BAS was “driven by religious zeal”. Why use the word “zeal”? And why the religious reference? BAS was no less forceful in presenting arguments than the left’s hero at the time – the secular Dr Jim Cairns.

    ▪ According to Broadbent, BAS had a “total obsession with communism”. Was everyone who opposed Joe Stalin and communist totalitarianism totally obsessed? This suggests that David Broadbent equates anti-communism with obsession – this is not a view shared by the victims of communist regimes.

    ▪ According to Broadbent, “by 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Point of View had become largely irrelevant, more often the subject of outrage and Santamaria turned his ire towards monopoly capitalism and the secularisation of public life”.

    Again, why use the term “ire”? Moreover, it was in the 1990s that Santamaria’s views – as published in The Australian – were much admired by many of his one-time critics. Including Phillip Adams (a fellow inductee in the Victorian Media Hall of Fame), former Labor MP Clyde Cameron and Robert Manne. I did not agree with BAS’s economic views in the 1980s and 1990s – but others did.


    In your rush to dismiss Santamaria, at the conclusion of your piece you even invoked Sir John Kerr’s dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government in November 1975 when you wrote:

    Dennis Shanahan reported that in September 1975 Santamaria advised Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser to block supply and wrote a speech for Fraser justifying the breach of convention which brought down the Whitlam Labor Government.

    This is correct – but hardly worth covering in a brief essay about BAS’s contribution to the media. The fact is that Malcolm Fraser did not need Santamaria’s advice to do what he did when the Coalition blocked supply in October 1975. Also, there was no such “convention”. In the early 1970s, Gough Whitlam himself advocated the right of an Opposition in the Senate to block supply. In other words, what BAS said in 1975 was no different to what Gough Whitlam had said some years before.

    Your error-filled, mocking essay on B.A. Santamaria stands in contrast to Rowan Callick’s piece on Wilfred Burchett in Media Legends. On all the available evidence, Burchett was a member of the Communist Party and received funds from the KGB – as most recently documented by Robert Manne in The Monthly (August 2013). Moreover, Burchett’s own books reveal that he supported every communist totalitarian dictatorship from Moscow to East Berlin and from Pyongyang to Phnom Penh.

    I believe that Rowan Callick’s depiction of Wilfred Burchett in Media Legends is fair and professional. It’s a pity that your depiction of the man you describe as “Australia’s most effective and influential conservative commentator” could not reach a similar standard.

    If you had shown me a draft of your essay on B.A. Santamaria, I would have made corrections and offered suggestions. Since you did not do so, I have decided to forward this note. I had told some people that I advised on your essay. Now that I have read it, I do not want to be associated with either your factual howlers or your unprofessional mocking tone.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    cc: Michael Smith – co-editor Media Legends

    Mark Baker – co-editor Media Legends

    Michael Rowland (President, Melbourne Press Club)

    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.

    In recent weeks, thousands of avid MWD readers have expressed concern about the absence of a Correspondence segment in MWD Issue 245 and MWD Issue 246. Had Ms Murphy succeeded in warning off correspondence with Hendo? Had Hendo become too busy to send out emails in the hope of receiving a response? And so on. The answer is that neither question deserved an unqualified answer in the affirmative. Hence, read on.


    Patrick Emerton is a senior lecturer in Monash University’s Faculty of Law. Dr Emerton (for a doctor he is) is also the proud wearer of a well-maintained, possum-style, bushy pony-tail. [Does he also wear sandals? – Ed].

    On 23 September 2014, Patrick Emerton appeared with Keiran Hardy in a discussion on Radio National’s Late Night Live program about the anti-terror legislation which is broadly supported by the Labor Opposition. It was one of those debates, so beloved of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, where everyone agrees with everyone else – in a leftist kind of way – and a fine ideological time is had by all.

    Gerard Henderson mentioned Dr Emerton’s contribution to this so-called debate in his column in The Weekend Australian (25-26 September 2014) and in MWD Issue 245. Last Monday, The Australian published a letter from Patrick Emerton – which led to the following exchange of correspondence. It has been slightly edited to remove one irrelevant point and to correct one typographical error.

    Gerard Henderson to Patrick Emerton – 13 October 2014

    Dear Dr Emerton

    I refer to your letter, published in The Australian today, in which you wrote:

    Gerard Henderson says that when speaking on ABC radio I “alleged that in 2007 ASIO officers had committed ‘serious crimes’ of ‘kidnapping and false imprisonment’ ” although “no ASIO officer was ever charged with, let alone found guilty of, kidnapping and false imprisonment” (“No place for ABC’s bias in these times”, 27/9). Henderson seems to be implying that I was wrong.

    In 2007 Justice Michael Adams of the NSW Supreme Court found that ASIO officers committed the offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping and that their conduct was grossly improper. I share his sentiments.

    Patrick Emerton, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Vic

    I do not know how law is taught at Monash University these days. However, when I studied law at Melbourne University some decades ago, a person could only be convicted of a “crime” following a jury verdict. Since then, in certain jurisdictions, there is a facility for trial by judge alone.

    It is true that in 2007 Justice Michael Adams, in the NSW Supreme Court, made findings of false imprisonment and kidnapping concerning two ASIO officers. This happened to be Justice Adams’ personal view – no more, no less.

    The fact is that no ASIO officer has been convicted of – or even charged with – the crimes of kidnapping and/or false imprisonment. There has been no such jury verdict. And Justice Adams did not preside over a trial by judge alone either with respect to the ASIO officers in question.

    Consequently, I stand by my comment in The Weekend Australian that your statement on ABC Radio National Late Night Live program on 23 September 2014 that ASIO officers had committed the “serious crimes” of kidnapping and false imprisonment is wrong.

    For you to establish your case, you need to provide the following material:

    ▪ evidence that ASIO officers were ever charged with kidnapping and/or false imprisonment – the date, name and location of the case would suffice.

    ▪ evidence that ASIO officers were ever convicted of the crime of kidnapping and/or false imprisonment and the sentence that was handed down – again, the date, name and location of the case would suffice along with sentencing details.

    Over to you – and the facilities of the Monash University Faculty of Law. By the way, your website suggests that you do not have qualifications in law – is this correct?

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Patrick Emerton to Gerard Henderson – 13 October 2014

    Dear Mr Henderson

    The editor of The Australian did not publish my letter in full. Here is the version that I sent to the paper:

    In his opinion piece of September 27, Gerard Henderson says that when speaking on ABC radio I “alleged that in 2007 ASIO officers had committed ‘serious crimes’ of ‘kidnapping and false imprisonment'” although “no ASIO officer was ever charged with, let alone found guilty of, kidnapping and false imprisonment”. Henderson seems to be implying that I was wrong.

    In fact, in 2007 Justice Adams of the Supreme Court of New South Wales found that “I am satisfied that [ASIO officers] B15 and B16 committed the criminal offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping at common law and also an offence under s86 of the Crimes Act 1900. It follows, a fortiori, that they committed the tort of false imprisonment. Their conduct [which took place in 2003] was grossly improper and constituted an unjustified and unlawful interference with the personal liberty of the accused.” These remarks are to be found at paragraph 62 of the judgment in R v Ul-Haque [2007] NSWSC 1251. As a consequence of this finding of criminal conduct, Justice Adams deemed Ul-Haque’s confession inadmissible because tainted by this coercion. This resulted in the charges against Ul-Haque being dropped a week later.

    Henderson may believe it would be a good thing for Australian spies to be able to kidnap and unlawfully detain people with impunity. I share the sentiment of the judge that such conduct is grossly improper. The principle that government officials are not entitled to detain and question people except with appropriate legal authority is fundamental under the Australian constitution. Gerard Henderson describes the ABC as a “Conservative Free Zone”. To my mind, it is hard to get more conservative than affirming a constitutional principle as basic as this one.

    Your suggestion that Justice Adams was expressing a “personal view” is wrong. He made findings of both fact and law on the basis of which he excluded evidence from being admitted in a criminal trial. A judge is not free to exclude evidence on the basis of a “personal view”. You may wish to read the paragraphs of the judgement leading up to paragraph 62 to see the judge’s reasoning on the issue of criminality, including his consideration of the important matter of the standard of proof. In the later paragraphs of the judgement he then determines the legal consequences of this finding within the framework of the laws of evidence.

    I don’t know why you insist on equating “were found to have committed the crimes of . . .” with “were convicted of the crimes of . . .”. The two phrases are not synonyms, and I have never asserted that any ASIO officers were convicted. But that was not the inquiry that Justice Adams was undertaking. (There are other contexts in which a court might reach a finding that a crime has been committed, although in the absence of a conviction – for instance, in certain proceeds of crime proceedings. An example is provided by s47 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth).)

    I would have thought that in any country that professes to be a liberal democracy, a judicial finding that officers of the security services had committed criminal acts in the course of carrying out their functions, thereby (among other things) rendering evidence inadmissible, would be treated as a serious matter. One of the hallmarks of a rule of law society, that differentiates it from various sorts of police state, is that its security services (both police and covert agencies) are bound by law on paper and in practice. It remains curious to me that you seem completely unconcerned by this issue.

    I expect to be speaking on the broader legal and policy issues concerning the functioning of Australia’s security services at a forthcoming panel discussion to be hosted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs. The date is yet to be confirmed, but I am sure that once it is announced you would be welcome to attend. And if you wish to debate this matter in some public forum – whether the narrow legal issue you have raised, or the broader issues – just let me know.

    Yours sincerely

    Dr Patrick Emerton
    Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law and Associate, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
    Monash University

    Gerard Henderson to Patrick Emerton – 17 October 2014

    Dear Dr Emerton

    I refer to your email. Gosh – you use a lot of words to say not very much at all.

    When interviewed by Phillip Adams on ABC Radio National Late Night Live (23 September 2014), you did say that the “serious crimes” of kidnapping and false imprisonment had been “committed by ASIO officers”. The reference was to the Ul Haque Case.

    Contrary to the implication in your letter, I have read Justice Michael Adams judgement in R v Ul Haque. In fact, I wrote about this case in my Sydney Morning Herald column of 20 November 2007.

    You maintain that the two ASIO officers mentioned in the Ul Haque Case committed serious crimes. The fact is that only a person convicted of a crime can be said to have committed a crime. Neither of the ASIO officers cited by Justice Adams were ever convicted of – or even charged with – the crimes of kidnapping and false imprisonment. I note that you now concede that this is the case.

    Contrary to the implication in your email, the Proceeds of the Crime Act is not aimed at preventing the serious crimes of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

    As you will be aware, neither of the ASIO officers had legal representation during the Ul Haque Case. Moreover, since the ASIO officers were never convicted of any offences, they had no opportunity to appeal against Justice Adams’ findings with respect to them.

    To paraphrase your own comments, I would have thought that in any country that professes to be a liberal democracy, no person should be found to have committed serious crimes without being convicted of same at a trial and possessing a right to appeal. But, then, I do not work in the Monash Faculty of Law.

    As to your proposal that I should “attend” a panel discussion at which you will soon appear under the sponsorship of the Australian Institute of International Affairs – well, thanks but no thanks (as the saying goes).

    You seem to like panel discussions where everyone agrees with everyone else. Like your LNL gig where presenter Phillip Adams agreed with you and you agreed with fellow panellist Keiran Hardy who in turn agreed with Phillip Adams who in turn agreed with you.

    So I will not be travelling to Melbourne to listen to you say much the same as what you said on Late Night Live. Life is too short for someone who has a day job in the private sector. I will leave such so-called debates to those who toil at taxpayer subsidised universities.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Until next time – keep morale high.

    Oh Gerard. You total clown.”

    – Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green on Twitter, Friday 3 October 2014, 4.31 pm [Mr Green must be an obsessive avid reader to respond so soon. – Ed]

    “Good morning. All the gooder for being attacked (for thousandth time) by silly Gerard in the Oz”

    – Phillip Adams via Twitter,  27 September 2014

    “What troubles me most is that he [Gerard Henderson] shows such low journalistic standards, yet he is politically quite influential. He is often on Insiders. It’s hard to see why: he comes across as a crank.”

    – Kate Durham as told to Crikey, 16 September 2014

    “The unhinged but well spoken Gerard Henderson….”

    – Bob Ellis, Table Talk blog, 10 August 2014

    “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 TwitterSaturday 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.