31 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.



    Today’s Australian Financial Review contains an article by journalist Max Suich titled “Sacking Doubt Remains”. The reference is to Sir John Kerr’s dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975. The puff on Page One reads as follows – and clearly implies that the CIA played a role in the Dismissal.

    Dismissal CIA31102014

    Now here are the known facts. There is no evidence of any kind that the CIA had anything to do with Whitlam’s dismissal. The political crisis of November 1975 was brought about because Malcolm Fraser and the Coalition blocked supply in the Senate and Gough Whitlam and Labor decided to attempt to govern without supply.

    Kerr denied that the CIA had interfered in any way. And Whitlam himself dismissed the conspiracy theory. Max Suich’s article is replete with such words and phrases as “perhaps”, “believes”, “for what exactly?”, “presumes”, “seemed”, “rumours”, “suggests”, “insight”, “assumptions”, “suspicions” and “could perhaps”.

    In short, Max Suich has no evidence of any CIA involvement in the Dismissal as he himself acknowledges in Paragraph 66 of his 74 paragraph article:

    ….there is no evidence that the US, its intelligence agencies or its allies micro-managed the undoubted ambush sprung on Whitlam by Kerr, with the powerful encouragement of Sir Garfield Barwick, chief justice of the High Court, and judge Anthony Mason, Kerr’s close friend and also on the High Court at the time. The driving force of the dismissal was the arrogance, hatred, thirst for power and aggression that were factors in the actions of the three key figures – Whitlam, Fraser and Kerr.

    So what’s the article about, then? Er, not much at all. Even Christopher Boyce, the world’s leading CIA conspiracy theorist, has admitted that he had no evidence of any CIA involvement in the events of 11 November (see MWD Issue 248). Interviewed by Mark Davis on the SBS Dateline program on 18 February 2014, Christopher Boyce said this – somewhat incoherently.

    Chris Boyce: Yes, I thought your Governor-General, when he finally pulled the plug on Whitlam, I thought he was a CIA flunky. I thought – he was greatly admired in the project. I mean, the CIA resident there, Joe Harrison, was walking around calling him “our man Kerr”. And I’m like, great, you know. To me, that was a coup. You Australians can call it whatever you want, but that’s – I cannot sit here and prove it, but I believe it.

    So to Christopher Boyce, the (alleged) CIA involvement in the Dismissal is an article of belief for which he has no evidence.

    Max Suich has neither evidence nor belief in this matter. But the AFR has given a lead to his story on today’s Page One.


    On News Breakfast this morning, intrepid Canberra based reporter Andrew Greene foreshadowed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to Melbourne today – where he will campaign with Coalition premier Denis Napthine. Andrew Greene opined that there is some tension between the two Coalition leaders on such matters as the fuel excise and commented:

    Now the two leaders, we’re told, will nevertheless be fronting an event this morning. You’d imagine that perhaps Tony Abbott would be as welcome as a mother-in-law’s visit. But, in any case, they’ve put aside their differences and they will be joining each other for a campaign event this morning.

    What’s this? What’s wrong with visits by mothers-in-law? And what about visits by fathers-in-law? Mr Greene – off to the ABC Mother-in-Law Awareness Centre for you. Just contact the HR Department, in the first instance, and speak to its lotsa staff.


    Congratulations to the hundreds of avid MWD readers who picked the John-Laws-style-deliberate-mistake in the first edition of last week’s issue. The reference to Brian Cox should have been to his fellow Q&A panellist Richard Gill. This was corrected last Friday.



    You’ve heard and read – and seen – reports about the Top 10 “Hits” of the late Labor leader Gough Whitlam (1916-2014). Especially on the ABC – where Mr Whitlam’s career has been subjected to the kind of discussion much beloved by the taxpayer funded broadcaster. Namely, a so-called “debate” where everyone agrees with everyone else and a fine ideological time is had by all. In a left-wing kind of way.

    Question: What is needed for the ABC to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of a prominent prime minister – of the recently departed genre?

    Answer: The death of a former prime minister who was a conservative – like Margaret Thatcher.

    Over the last 10 days Gough Whitlam has been praised fulsomely for what he did. But he has also been praised fulsomely for what he didn’t do. Like ending the White Australia Policy and withdrawing the combat troops from Vietnam and giving women the vote (see MWD Special – 22 October 2014). And so on.

    In order to balance up the discussion, Nancy’s (male) co-owner has come up with a Top 10 of Gough Whitlam’s Shockers. This seems appropriate – in view of the fact that in 1975 and 1977 Saint Gough led Labor to two of its biggest defeats in the modern era and the Australian electors at the time must have known something of which contemporary commentators are unaware.

    Opposition to Vietnamese Refugees

    Saigon, the then capital of South Vietnam, fell to the Communist North Vietnamese Army (which was supplied by the Soviet Union) on 30 April 1975. This led to the immediate flight of anti-communists who had opposed Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese communist totalitarian dictatorship.

    Gough Whitlam’s response to the communist military victory in Vietnam has been analysed by Gerard Henderson in his articles titled “The Whitlam Government & Indo-Chinese Refugees” (The Sydney Institute Quarterly, March 2003), “Thirty years on, an occasion for some to say sorry” (Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 2005) and “How Whitlam closed the door on refugees” (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2006).

    It has also been documented by Hal G.P. Colebatch in his Ph.D. thesis titled The Australian Attitude to Refugees: With Particular Reference to the Vietnamese Boat People.

    Clyde Cameron, a one-time member of the Whitlam government, supported Gough Whitlam’s opposition to Vietnamese refugees arriving in Australia. In his book China, Communism and Coca-Cola, Cameron reported that Whitlam told the Cabinet in 1975 that he was “not having hundreds of f-cking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country”. By “Balts”, Whitlam meant anti-communists – like the residents of the Baltic States. [Imagine, just imagine, how the Sandalista set would have raged had John Howard ever said that he was not having hundreds of f-cking Muslims coming into this country. – Ed].

    Denial of Pol Pot’s Murders

    In September 1978, Gough Whitlam addressed a conference at the Australian National University on the topic “Vietnam – Refugees, Border War, Rehabilitation”. At the time there was wide-scale repression in Vietnam and the Cambodian killing fields were literally choked with corpses as Pol Pot and his communist Khmer Rouge went to war against their fellow Cambodians.

    Mr Whitlam used the occasion to deny that there were any human rights abuses under the communist regimes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Here are highlights from the Whitlam speech – which was published in Malcolm Salmon (ed): The Vietnam-Kampuchea-China Conflicts: Motivations, Background, Significance (Research School of Pacific Studies, ANU, March 1979):

    Nowadays those whom we call refugees may not be so classified in the technical sense under the relevant international conventions. The Jews were free to leave Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War. The people who are leaving Vietnam now in general are free to leave Vietnam. It is arguable whether they are refugees….

    I make bold to doubt all the stories that appear in the newspapers about the treatment of people in Cambodia. I am sufficiently hardened to believe that the last refuge of the patriot in Australia is to blast the regimes in post-war Indochina.

    So there you have it. In 1978 Gough Whitlam claimed that the Vietnamese refugees were not refugees at all and that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were not murderers.

    Approving the Nazi-Soviet Pact

    On 3 July 1974, Gough Whitlam decided to recognise the incorporation of the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – into the Soviet Union. Leonid Brezhnev was the communist totalitarian dictator of the Soviet Union at the time – which was less than a decade after the Soviet Union’s brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia.

    Gough Whitlam did not have the courage to announce the decision – which effectively legitimised one aspect of the notorious 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. The decision was announced by the communist regime in Moscow on 4 August 1974. See Leszek Buszynski “Australia and the Soviet Union” in F.P. Mediansky (ed) Australia In A Changing World, Macmillan, 1982.

    What Bob Hawke & Paul Keating Really Think About The Whitlam Economic Legacy

    Following Whitlam’s death, former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating were heard praising the Whitlam legacy. However, they offered no such praise in years gone by.

    This is what Bob Hawke said about Whitlam and the economy in his book The Hawke Memoirs. Hawke referred to the “fiscal irresponsibility” of the Whitlam government and said that Whitlam “was frightened by economics and finance”.

    And this is what Paul Keating said about the Whitlam Labor government when he was treasurer in the Hawke government. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 March 1987, Paul Keating said that the essential weakness of the Whitlam government was that it had no policy “for dealing with inflation and unemployment”.

    Bagman for Saddam Hussein

    Following the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975, Labor had scant resources to fight the subsequent double dissolution election.

    The Victorian Labor left-wing operative Bill Hartley thought it would be a you-beaut idea to get finance from – wait for it – the Ba’ath Socialist dictatorship in Iraq. Primarily, a certain Saddam Hussein – then Iraq’s vice-president. Hartley worked with Henry John Fisher, who had links with extreme right-wing and anti-semitic groups in Australia. The then ALP National secretary David Combe was in on the negotiations.

    Hartley got a promise from Saddam Hussein that Iraq would give a grant of a staggering $500,000 to the Labor campaign. This would amount to around $3.3 million in today’s money.

    In the event, Gough Whitlam, David Combe and Henry Fisher did breakfast with two Iraqi emissaries in Fisher’s Sydney apartment. Even Whitlam’s sympathetic biographer Jenny Hocking has conceded that what was called the “Iraqi Breakfast Affair” was a huge misjudgement. See Jenny Hocking His Time (MUP, 2012). Whitlam and Hartley were later reprimanded by the ALP national executive. Oh, by the way, Saddam Hussein never handed over the money – demonstrating Gough Whitlam’s extraordinary naivety.

    My Kingdom for a Horse

    Gough Whitlam was dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr at around midday on 11 November 1975 and Malcolm Fraser was sworn in as caretaker prime minister pending the calling of a double dissolution election.

    Mr Whitlam responded to his sacking by departing Government House and heading for The Lodge – where he sat down and ate a steak. Gough Whitlam did not inform his colleagues in the Senate of the government’s dismissal. So Labor supported the passing of the supply bills in the Senate without knowing that they were in the Opposition. Clever, eh?

    World Traveller Extraordinaire

    1974 was a difficult year for the Australian economy – in the wake of the international oil price shock and the emerging recession. There was also a double dissolution election in May. In spite of this, in the calendar year 1974 Gough Whitlam spent 56 days overseas. Really.

    It was a case of Mr Whitlam acting out the song of the era “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man” – as the prime minister and his party visited New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Singapore, Sabah, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United States, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Britain, Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Germany, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    Gough Whitlam was overseas during the January 1974 Brisbane Floods and the January 1975 Tasman Bridge (Hobart) collapse. In December 1974 Whitlam reluctantly returned from a trip to examine the disaster that was Cyclone Tracy in Darwin – but, after a few days, resumed his trip by heading to Greece.

    In reporting the release by Australian Archives of the 1974 Cabinet Papers, Alison Rehn reported in the Daily Telegraph (1 January 2005) the comments of John Menadue, the one-time head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Menadue, a Whitlam appointee, acknowledged that his boss’s 1974 international travel “did seem excessive”. John Menadue added:

    I tried to persuade him…after the Darwin cyclone not to resume his interrupted overseas visit. He looked me in the eye and said, “Comrade, if I’m going to put up with the f-ckwits in the Labor Party, I’ve got to have my trips”. I thought it was a bit self-indulgent at the time.

    You can say that again. Yet Mr Whitlam’s self-indulgence did not stop at travel. His comments, as reported by John Menadue, demonstrate the contempt in which Whitlam held his Labor Party colleagues.

    It is worth noting that much of the Whitlam humour – which has been widely praised in recent days – involved Gough Whitlam contrasting his very own (perceived) brilliance with his real dismissal of (perceived) lesser mortals.

    Blaming Rex Connor

    In 1975, Gough Whitlam sacked his Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor, accusing him of continuing Labor’s disastrous Loans Affair when approval for such loans had been withdrawn by the Cabinet. However, as Sir David Smith documents in his book Head of State, Whitlam government minister Frank Stewart always believed that Connor’s loan raising had been approved by Whitlam himself. It seems that, in Stewart’s view, Connor had been instructed “to keep contact” with likely sources for such a loan.

    Frank Stewart (1923-1979) spoke to journalist Alan Reid and John Kerr at the time. The Governor-General advised Stewart – correctly – that there was nothing he could do about the matter and he should take the issue up with Whitlam. Connor never spoke about the details of the dismissal but there is evidence that he took a fall for Whitlam.

    Bashing The Bible

    When prime minister in 1974, Gough Whitlam referred to Queensland National Party premier Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen as a “Bible-bashing bastard”.

    The Whitlam Fan Club just loved this put down of a confessing Christian by a confessing atheist. Yet, if John Howard had called someone a “Koran bashing bastard” – all hell would have broken loose. Needless to say, Whitlam’s association of The Bible with bastardry did not endear Bible-reading Christians to Whitlam Labor.

    Gough on Gough

    Gough Whitlam’s The Whitlam Government: 1972-1975 – which he wrote with the assistance of Mark Latham – is the most turgid, long-winded, self-justifying tome ever released by a former prime minister. It took Whitlam a staggering 770 closely typed pages to cover his mere three years as prime minister.

    Whitlam’s apologia was written with the assistance of taxpayers and published when he was Australian Ambassador to UNESCO, based in Paris. It is not clear whether more than a dozen Australians have read it from cover to cover.

    [Nancy’s (male) co-owner knows of one avid MWD reader who decided to read one page a day each working day in order to take in the extraordinary detail prepared by Messers Whitlam, Latham and others. She commenced the project on April Fool’s Day 1986 and concluded on Remembrance Day 1988 – and invariably goes into a state of shock when anyone mentions the Whitlam government – and, in particular, The Whitlam Government: 1972-1975.


    By popular demand, due to the requests of hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers, the Maurice Newman Segment returns again 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.


    What a stunning “debate” on ABC 1 The Drum last evening. Steve Cannane was in the presenter’s chair. The panel consisted of Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and the Australia Institute director and one-time Greens staffer Richard Denniss. The special guest was Josh Taylor of ZDNet – one of Aunty’s fave commentators on technical things.

    The initial topic for discussion was the Abbott government’s most recent counter-terrorism legislation – which passed through Parliament with the broad support of Labor. Guess what? Nobody, but nobody, on The Drum last night liked it.

    And so it came to pass that Fran Kelly led off with her criticism. In time, she agreed with Tim Wilson who agreed with Richard Denniss who agreed with Steven Cannane who agreed with Fran who agreed with Tim who agreed with Richard who agreed with Josh Taylor who agreed with himself along with everyone else. No other view was heard. Fancy that.


    Maurice Newman – 5

    Jonathan Holmes – Zip


    While on the topic of debates where everyone agrees with everyone else, it seems that the Melbourne-based Institute for Public Affairs is now channelling the ABC. Believe it or not, the ABC producers quite like the IPA in its current libertarian mode. You see, the IPA is identified with the Liberal Party but criticises the Abbott government from the libertarian right. That’s why the likes of Chris Berg, Simon Breheny and Julie Novak appear so regularly on the ABC. They are perceived as right-of-centre types who just love to criticise the right-of-centre government led by the likes Tony Abbott. So ABC producers can call on IPA types sure in the knowledge that, like the left, they will bag the Abbott government – albeit from a different perspective.

    The week Nancy’s male co-owner received an invitation from the IPA to attend a seminar titled “Liberty in the Digital Age” sometime in December. The “debate” will hear Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm agree with the Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson agree with the IPA’s Chris Berg agree with the IPA’s Simon Breheny agree with Senator Leyonhjelm who will agree with himself. [Perhaps the occasion will be televised by the ABC’s Big Ideas program which should be re-named Big Idea [sic] – Ed].

    So it’s an all-blokes affair where everyone will agree with everyone else that we should not get too tough on terrorists in case someone happens to come across the metadata of your man Berg or your man Breheny. It seems that the most balanced view on the night will be heard from Tim Wilson – who at least believes that terrorism is a serious threat.

    Can you bear it graphic


    What a stunning piece by Elizabeth Farrelly in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald – for anyone who could understand it. This is how the column commenced:

    So I’m at Town Hall, virtually under the skirts of Queen Victoria. Behind me a man – white, middle aged, small eyes, big ears (and no, not the one you’re thinking) – explains to his matching companion how “kind” European Australians were to “our indigenous people.” Note the possessive. “After all,” he continues, “we could have wiped them out.”

    I suppose failure-to-genocide is one definition of kindness. But the comment makes me sad, for the first time, about Whitlam’s death. It also makes me wonder whether Matt Colwell was right, just 12 hours earlier, to call the Aussie flag a racist symbol.

    So there you have it. The eavesdropping Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) has concluded that the European settlers in Australia in 1788 attempted genocide. The evidence? Well, the statement of a man (who is not Tony Abbott) outside the Sydney Town Hall in the not so distant past. Er, that’s it.

    This led Elizabeth Farrelly to support the comment made on Lateline (20 October 2014) by Matt Colwell that the Australian flag is a racist symbol. Really.

    But Dr Farrelly was not finished. Not by 900 words or so. Hence, after paragraph after paragraph of literary sludge, this conclusion:

    As to flags, there’s no question. The Union Jack represents barbarism.

    So there you have it. The Union Flag (aka the Union Jack) flew over parts of Western Germany after the crushing of Adolf Hilter’s Nazi regime in May 1945. However, according to Elizabeth Farrelly, the British flag represents barbarism. Can you bear it?


    In last week’s MWD, the following sentence appeared:

    It seems that the Saint Gough experience will continue on the ABC for some time to come. The sassy Jenny Hocking – author of the two volume biography of Gough Whitlam – has been added to the panel for next Monday’s Q&A. Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) seems to have become the left’s bespoke biographer when it comes to writing soft accounts on such left-wing heroes as Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy and Frank Hardy. She has been fortunate to have her opus magnums – or is it opus magna or perhaps magna opus? – subsidised by Australian taxpayers per courtesy of Australian Research Council funding. Nice hand-out if you can get one.

    This led to two emails from Latin-schooled literary pedants.

    ▪ This from a Jack Waterford, the Canberra Times’ editor-at-large – who went to St Joseph’s Hunters Hill (not a Jesuit institution).

    Subject: Bloody Jesuit products

    “Magni opera”, I guess


    ▪ And this from Geoffrey McCowage MBBS FRACP – who studied Latin somewhere or other:

    Gerard, Gerard, Gerard,

    You’re a very naughty boy.

    One more time: opus, operis, neuter, ‘a work’. 3rd declension. So the plural is opera, hence Ms Hocking’s opera magna please.

    Now write it out ten times.


    So according to Mr Waterford the reference should have been to “magni opera”. And according to Dr McCowage the reference should have been to “opera magna”.

    Can you bear it?

    nancy's pick graphic


    It’s back!!!!! – under a slightly new name – due to the enormous demand of hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers. The inaugural winner of this prize in October 2011 – then termed the “Brian O’Nolan Gong for Literary Sludge” – was Professor Raimond Gaita (See MWD Issue 116). Of course. And the second winner was, wait for it, Professor Raimond Gaita. Of course. Followed by Justice Mordy Bromberg, Dr Elizabeth Farrelly and Dr Simon Longstaff AO [Someone should nominate Dr Farrelly for an AO, surely – Ed]

    But, first, some background. Nancy’s (male) co-owner is a great fan of the Irish writer Brian O’Nolan (aka Flann O’Brien) – born 5 October 1911, died April Fool’s Day 1966. He had a lot going for him. Flann O’Brien liked a drink and he disliked the Fianna Fail founder and later prime minister and president of Ireland Eamon de Valera. O’Brien wrote most of his books, essays and articles while working in the Irish Public Service. Nancy’s (male) co-owner, having spent four years in the Commonwealth Public Service in Australia, can feel his pain.

    Your man O’Brien was a strident critic of literary types who wrote incomprehensible prose, poetry and the like. A warrior against written and spoken sludge. In one of his columns in The Irish Times, Flann O’Brien wrote this about the confused poet and political advocate Ezra Pound under the title “Literary Criticism”:


    By Flann O’Brien

    My grasp of what he wrote and meant

    Was only five or six %

    The rest was only words and sound –

    My reference is to Ezra £

    Today’s award is granted in the Verbal Division to honour ABC journalist Phil Kafcaloudes’ contribution during the “Newspapers” segment on News Breakfast this morning. Let’s go to the transcript – where Mr Kafcaloudes is discussing the controversy over the release of Senator Nova Peris’ emails in the NT News, which were written around five years ago.

    Phil Kafcaloudes: I think this brings up the question as well – that if I opened up someone else’s letter in the mail, that’s illegal. But yet accessing email is not, is that right? You can do that, you can access someone’s email?

    Michael Rowland: Surely not

    Phil Kafcaloudes: You would hope not. But, you know, clearly you can get someone to publish somebody else’s emails if they’re genuine–

    Michael Rowland: [interjecting] So what does the NT News have to say for itself today?

    Phil Kafcaloudes: NT News had a big, a big response to this. And they had a full page response. And their defence was, and there’s one line there very early on, where it says “the source of the emails refuted claims that money was asked for”.

    Well, no, “refuted” has always meant proved, not [sic]. And we just looked on up an online dictionary before we came on air and online dictionaries have just added the extra definition – “refuted” means to deny.

    It doesn’t. But that is when people misuse a word like that it just gets into public use. But, yeah, that’s what they say. That the person has denied having made any kind of blackmail claim against Nova Peris. But then there’s another full page. And on the left of the full page it says “we never said that Ms Peris was responsible for misusing public funds”. On the right of the page it then says that “her attempts to source public funds for personal reasons”. So it’s actually saying we never said that she did it, but on the right side it says that she did attempt to do it. So, get the story straight guys.

    What was Phil K on about this morning? Apparently he fails to understand that there is no difference between a leaked email and a leaked letter. He does not know the meaning of the word “refute”. And his verbal expression was so confused that few would know what he was on about. [Don’t you mean “on”? – Ed]. Here is MWD contribution to the continuing confusion:


    By Nancy

    My early grasp of what Phil said

    Just so unclear – I was in bed

    But your man K was such a hoot

    I woke when he defined “refute”

    Nancy Ezra MWD 116

    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.


    Tom Westland to Nancy – 28 October 2014

    Dear Nancy,

    As I was savouring your coverage of the coverage of the death of Gough Whitlam, I was interested to read that “during Robert Menzies’ prime ministership. Australia experienced low inflation”.

    Inflation reached the highest level recorded in official ABS statistics (23.9%) under Prime Minister Menzies in the last quarter of 1951. It is true that some other periods of his tenure experienced markedly lower inflation than that, even deflation. But the upper limit of the RBA’s inflation target nowadays is 3%, and in 31 out of the 64 quarters of Menzies’s prime ministership, inflation was above this rate.

    I attach a chart which demonstrates this:

    Menzies Inflation Graph

    Gerard Henderson to Tom Westland – 31 October 2014

    Dear Tom

    I refer to your email in response to the comment in last week’s MWD that “during Robert Menzies’ prime ministership, Australia experienced low inflation”. And I just loved your graph. I resembled a drunk falling over – and not being quite able to exercise the vertical option. But not without trying.

    Of course, it is true that Australia experienced high inflation in the early 1950s – due to the price hikes for primary production during the Korean War. However, unlike Gough Whitlam in 1974, the Menzies government decided to do something about inflation. Hence the contractionary budget of 1951. It was much the same when inflation increased around 1960s. The Menzies government introduced a contractionary budget in 1961.

    The fact is that – as your own graph demonstrates – inflation was low throughout the overwhelming majority of the Menzies era. Moreover, there was full employment along with low interest rates for most of the period.

    One final point. Unlike you, I do not believe that the Menzies government of around half a century ago, should be judged with reference to the Reserve Bank’s inflation target in the early 21st Century. The world has changed – or so it seems to me.

    Keep morale high.

    Gerard Henderson [Nancy’s (male) co-owner]

    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 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.