GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 253
28 NOVEMBER 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.
Since the taxpayer funded ABC 1 Media Watch program has decided to take what journalists like to call a Well Earned Break with effect from last Monday, Nancy has decided to go on a WEB as well. In solidarity with the leftist Paul Barry and his team, of course. Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog will resume on Friday 24 January 2015 – God and Nancy willing. However, Hendo’s column in The Weekend Australian will continue throughout the holiday period.
By the way, lotsa thanks to MWD’s many avid readers who provided information/leads etc in 2014. Most of this material was used this year – some of the residue will be covered in 2015.
In the meantime, Keep Morale High over the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year period.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner (aka Hendo).
BETWEEN THE LINES – THERE’S NOTHING, REALLY
In a move destined to give tokenism a bad name, ABC management has announced that former Spectator Australia editor Tom Switzer will present a half hour program on Radio National commencing in late January 2015.
Titled “Between the Lines”, the program is due to air at 7.30 pm on Thursdays – where it will clash with Leigh Sales 7.30. Between the Lines will be repeated on the weekends at a time to be announced.
ABC managing director’s Mark Scott’s decision is designed to lessen the criticism that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is a Conservative-Free-Zone – with not one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or on-line outlets.
Nice Mr Scott’s tokenism will not change the reality of the contemporary ABC. A 7.30 pm Thursday gig on Radio National does not a prominent program make. Moreover, on international affairs, Tom Switzer has not been a supporter of the foreign policy of John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott.
Tom Switzer’s position is close to that of the isolationist stream in American politics. For example, he is opposed to the projection of Western power into the Middle East and/or Africa.
So the ABC’s token move move on this occasion involves giving a perceived right-of-centre chap a gig on Radio National at a lousy time to present a program on international affairs despite the fact that he is a public critic of aspects of the Coalition’s foreign policy.
Mark Scott and other members of the ABC Board would be well advised to look at the response of the BBC Board to cost cutting challenges a few years back.
The Telegraph in London reported in 2010 that BBC pay has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, with the disclosure that 382 of the corporation’s senior staff earn more than £100,000 (around $ 170k at that time) a year.
The BBC Trust has set a target for the reduction of senior pay by 25 per cent during the next three years and proposed to freeze the pay of all employees earning more than £38,000 a year – with even lower-paid workers receiving a pay rise of as little as 1.2 per cent.
Subsequently The Telegraph reported Lord Patten, the Chairman of BBC Trust, saying he believed BBC managers’ “toxic” salaries were unpopular with viewers and licence fee payers. He said: “The biggest issue for the public is senior executive pay because what’s happened does seem to fly in the face of public service ethos”. Lord Patten continued:
There are four aspects which we will be making announcements about in the next few days. First of all there’s the pay level at the very top; secondly there’s the number of people who get more than £150,000; thirdly there’s the number of people who are deemed to be senior managers; and fourthly there’s the whole issue of fairness across the board, with senior managers getting some deals which don’t apply to others.
We can deal with all that and, if we do so, we will deal with one of the most toxic reasons for the public’s lack of sympathy with the BBC as an institution, even though they like enormously what it does.
These remedies are relevant for the ABC today. The 2014 ABC Annual Report (page 108) states that the top 140 officers and employees earning over $200k per annum are in aggregate paid $39.66 million. A 25 per cent cut to this group would save more than $9 million annually. A useful first contribution for sure. But an even more important symbolic statement of commitment from the top.
And what about halting the remorseless growth in ABC employee costs, which increased from $477million in 2013 to $516million in 2014? That 8 per cent increase of $39 million would have gone a long way towards the Coalition Government’s cost reduction target. Presumably there will be no total $39 million pay rises at the ABC next year.
Postscript: According to The Telegraph in March 2014, more than 80 staff employed by the BBC are still earning at least £150,000. This has prompted accusations the new director-general will not meet pledges to reduce excessive pay. So, no easy quick fix, even in London, but the BBC’s experience shows that the toxic issue of bloated executive pay just doesn’t go away. The sooner such market realities are addressed by the ABC, the better for everyone.
The American leftist actor (and Murdoch hater) James Cromwell is in Sydney this week. So it made sense that he was invited into the ABC Q&A studio to discuss politics, economics, terrorism and, of course, Murdoch. After all, Q&A likes to load up its panels with a majority of middle-class, left-wing radicals.
This is what James Cromwell had to say about Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.
James Cromwell : The phenomenon of Rupert Murdoch is similar to many other magnates, the masters of the universe. The irreparable harm he has done to this dialogue in my country and I sort of believe in England as well and most likely here, is that his voice and his point of view dominates not only the conversation but the politics that create the conversation. And that is to the detriment, because he has a narrow self-interest…. I mean in my country, on practically every issue, Fox News is the determinant to a public that has no other option, that hears no other voice but his, that cannot distinguish between opinion and fact, that listens to the ranting of people who are innately racist, xenophobes, warmongers….
What a load of tosh. Fox News is a cable channel (not a free-to-air outlet) which has a degree of influence in the US. But it does not dominate news and current affairs in the United States. If it did, Barack Obama would not be in the White House. No one – including Tony Jones – bothered to temper your man Cromwell’s hyperbole.
Soon after Cromwell had another go at Murdoch – accusing Fox News for putting out “disguised propaganda”. James Cromwell added “I don’t watch” Fox News “back there” in the US. So Cromwell is an expert on Fox News – despite the fact that he doesn’t watch it. Can you bear it?
[Since you ask – the answer is in the negative. In fact, Fox News employs quite a few left-of-centre presenters/paid weekly commentators on its prominent programs. The ABC, however, does not employ one right-of-centre presenter or paid weekly columnist on any of its prominent programs. – Ed].
● AUNTY FAN CLUB BOOSTS AUNTY ON AUNTY – FEATURING JON FAINE, QUENTIN DEMPSTER, FIONA STANLEY & PETER WILMOTH
Has there ever been an Australian media outlet so self-obsessed as the ABC? Over the past couple of weeks as the 4.6 per cent cut to the ABC budget over five years – was anticipated and announced – ABC employees from Nice Mr Scott down have been talking to any available ABC microphone and – well – whinging.
Here are a few highlights:
▪ ABC 774’s Jon Faine appeared on ABC 1’s News Breakfast (17 November 2014). He identified a conspiracy between News Corp and the Abbott government to discipline the ABC. Mr Faine pointed a critical finger at Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt, Chris Kenny and Sharri Markson and defended Nice Mr Scott from (alleged) “personal criticism”.
Part of the conspiracy identified by Faine involved the appearance of Malcolm Turnbull on Q&A that very evening. This overlooked the fact that Mr Turnbull was invited on to Q&A by ABC staff – and not by the Abbott government or News Corp. Can you bear it?
▪ The day after calling Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull a “bullshitter” Quentin Dempster was interviewed on the ABC’s The World Today. The presenter of the ABC 7.30 program referred to the ABC managing director as “Mark Scott” but to the Communications Minister as “Malcolm” – on no fewer than three occasions. Can you bear it?
[No, now that you ask. Here’s my question. Who, other than the ABC, would pay your man Dempster in excess of $300,000 a year to present 25 minutes of television for around 10 months a year? The answer, I’m sure, is NOBODY. – Ed]
▪ ABC Board member Fiona Stanley is interviewed by Fran Kelly on 24 November 2014. Professor Stanley tells the RN Breakfast presenter that “the role of the board is actually to be educated about it [the ABC] and then to support Mark [Scott] as he implements these really harsh cuts”.
So here is an ABC Board member saying that her role is to be “educated” by the ABC managing director and to support what he says. Can you bear it? [How do you get a board member like this? – Ed].
● PETER WILMOTH REGARDS SMALL ABC CUT AS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY
Former Age journalist Peter Wilmoth appears on the “Newspapers” segment. He runs a we-all-love-the-ABC-and-should-insist-that-it-receives-lotsa-taxpayers-money line.
Peter Wilmoth then declares that a budget cut of 4.6 per cent to the ABC is “a critical issue not just for users of the ABC but for democracy”. According to the one-line Guardian-on-the-Yarra script “it’s as big as that”.
So here it is. Mr Wilmoth tells Virginia Trioli that the Abbott government’s decision to subject the ABC to an efficiency dividend – for the first time in almost two decades” – is a threat to democracy.
It came as no surprise when presenter Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli appeared to concur with Peter Wilmoth. They indicated that he would be invited back on the “Newspapers” segment. You bet he will. Can you bear it?
IT’S A (DEAD) LANGUAGE HEAT – AS PROFESSOR RAI GAITA TIES WITH ANNE MANNE
Due to overwhelmingly popular demand from Media Watch Dog’s hundreds of thousands of avid readers, the Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary Sludge returns this week. For the very last time in 2014.
As avid MWD readers will be aware, this prestigious award has been won by Professor Rai Gaita (Issue 116), Professor Rai Gaita (Issue 217), Justice Mordy Bromberg (Issue 118), Dr Elizabeth Farrelly (Issue 231), Dr Simon Longstaff AO (Issue 232) and Phil Kafcaloudes (Issue 249). This week’s prestigious prize is shared between Professor Rai Gaita and Anne Manne. Well done both. But particularly Rai Gaita – for achieving a hat-trick in this instance.
But first, for new avid readers, 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 Eamon de Valera, the Fianna Fail founder and later prime minister and president of Ireland. 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, correspondence and the like and/or who spoke in an incomprehensible tongue. 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 Correspondence Division to honour the lengthy correspondence which passed between your man Gaita and your woman Manne and which is published in the edited collection by Craig Taylor and Melinda Green titled A Sense of Humanity: The Ethical Thought of Raimond Gaita. This tome will be analysed in depth in the December 2014 “Media Watch” section of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. [I just can’t wait. – Ed].
In the meantime Nancy has been able to intercept the first two rounds of correspondence which Rai Gaita sent to Anne Manne. This is a mere 56,000 words – not counting Ms Manne’s replies. Fair dinkum. A mere 14,000 words appear in the “Afterword” of A Sense for Humanity. These are the highlights of the full correspondence – as edited by Nancy:
Anne Manne to Rai Gaita (per Nancy)
I would like to begin with your own brilliant words. Do you remember when you wrote “The philosopher Plato said that those who live and seek wisdom are clinging in recollection to things that they once saw”. I have no idea what you meant. But what you wrote was brilliant. I assumed that you were writing about your father for the 145th time. Your tome Romulus, My Father is truly a book to wonder over.
Rai Gaita to Anne Manne (per Nancy)
It was lovely to hear from you. As I have said before, your book Motherhood is a marvellous example of how to write about mothers and hoods. I have referred many times to that passage from Plato’s Phaedrus, usually when I have written of the wondrous goodness of saintly love towards people who suffer radical and incurable affliction. I’m sure I made this point in my brilliant work Romulus, My Father. Can I just say this? – Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Robert Manne (your better half), Albert Camus, Romulus, my father. [Continues for 18,037 (brilliant) words.]
Anne Manne to Rai Gaita (per Nancy)
In your column in Quadrant in the 1990s you wrote a series of remarkably remarkable essays. Fortunately, at the time, Quadrant was edited by my better half (Robert Manne). Can I just say this? Simone Weil, Romulus, your father. I would love you to write back to me as soon as possible as I want to tell you again how brilliant you are.
Rai Gaita to Anne Manne (per Nancy)
I called my Quadrant column “Turnings of Attention” because the title matched the incomprehensibility of my words. Some of this older work has been recycled into my brilliant book A Common Humanity. When it comes to humanity, I have more of this stuff than anyone I know. I would like to add a few words – Romulus, Simone Weil, Tarzan, Kant, Wittgenstein. And, Anne, I would like to say this about humanity. Your humanity and my humanity. Here it is – Whatever its connections may be to the fact that human beings are members of the species Homo Sapiens, the failure to see someone as fully human, or as a fellow human being, is not a failure to see then as members of the Human Sapiens species. That is why I say that morality is sui generis. I trust this is clear. If not, read my brilliant prose a dozen times. And S-L-O-W-L-Y. [Continues for 27,000 words].
Anne Manne to Rai Gaita (per Nancy)
I’m so glad that you failed to heed Wittgenstein’s warning that in philosophy the hardest thing is to know when to stop. Otherwise I would have been deprived of receiving your recent 27,508 word letter about Simone Weil, Aristotle, Simone Weil, Romulus, your father, my husband (Bob), Dignity (with a capital “D”), quite a few paradigms, Kant (and also cant) and did I mention Simone Weil? I am busy right now interviewing Robert Manne about narcissism. I recognise that he’s a world expert on the subject. However by tomorrow I will be able to devote a fortnight to reading your much awaited next letter.
Rai Gaita to Anne Manne (per Nancy)
Thanks for your brilliantly worded missive. It reminded me of Aristotle. Fortunately I had 31,678 words in me. Here they are. First, I would like to say something about medication. You are right, of course. Medication makes it possible for philosophers like me to take medication. I studied philosophy for two years of a double major because I wanted to learn about medication. Remember Simone Weil and Socrates. If both had received better medicine, both could still be alive today. Plato, too. I’m sure that you would like to ask me whether I still maintain my belief in the unalienable preciousness of every human being. The answer is, especially concerning my good self – in a sui generis kind of way. I add the following truly brilliant comment which will be published in a forthcoming book on my ethical ethics in A Sense For Humanity :
When I contrasted ethical impossibility with psychological impossibility – with anything that we would be asked to try to overcome, even if that means gradually, with a strategy or therapy, for example – I did not mean to imply that psychology had nothing to say about it. It might, especially about its early development. But it will not show it to be really the same kind of impossibility as the kind I identified as “psychological”. Ethical necessities are… [continues for 41,903 words.]
* * * * *
For an abbreviated glimpse of the Anne Manne/Rai Gaita correspondence – which has not been intercepted by Nancy – see “Afterword : Anne Manne and Rai Gaita in Conversation” in A Sense For Humanity: The Ethical Thought of Raimond Gaita (Monash University Publishing, 2014).
* * * * *
By Nancy’s (Male) co-owner – who read the
Anne Manne/Rai Gaita correspondence in its entirety.
Can you bear it? Just so much sludge
Your man Rai to Anne, you be the judge
Over 50,000 words later,
No wonder I’m a Gaita-hater.
THE WINNERS ARE LOUISE EVANS (ON RADIO NATIONAL), ALAN HOWE (ON DAVID MARR) & JENNIFER ORIEL (ON ISLAMAPHOBIA)
Due to enormous popular demand, this hugely popular segment returns this week. There are three prestigious prizes worth winning these days. First up, a Nobel Prize for something or other. Then an Academy Award of one kind or another. Followed by Nancy’s Five Paws Award. The Sydney (leftist) Peace Prize – won recently by Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC comes somewhere down the list.
This week’s award is shared by:
● Former ABC Radio National manager Louise Evans – who had this to say (in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 November 2014) about the Radio National Collective at Aunty’s Sydney inner-city Ultimo headquarters :
…having previously worked as a journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and managing editor at lean, efficient and editorially robust media companies including Australian Associated Press, Fairfax and News Corp for over 20 years, I was shocked by the culture, waste, duplication and lax workplace practices exercised in some pockets of Radio National. I was even more shocked by the failure of the executive to want to do anything about it.
One problem, as one insider pointed out, was the so-called lifers, a pocket of predominantly middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon staff who had never worked anywhere other than the ABC, who were impervious to change, unaccountable, untouchable and who harboured a deep sense of entitlement.
They didn’t have a 9-5 mentality. They had a 10-3 mentality. They planned their work day around their afternoon yoga class. They wore thongs and shorts to work, occasionally had a snooze on the couch after lunch and popped out to Paddy’s Market to buy fresh produce for dinner before going home…
They knew they couldn’t be sacked or officially sanctioned because there was no appetite among the executive to make waves, take on the union or make a case for any more redundancies. So the lifers just thumbed their nose at any attempt at performance management. Managers came and went, but they were there for life.
Louise Evans: Five Paws
● Herald-Sun columnist Alan Howe who criticised Guardian leftist David Marr’s appearance on the 24 October 2014 edition of The Drum. Marr argued that the recent murder of a Canadian soldier had less to do with Islam and more to do with the rich tradition of the North American gunman. Writing in the Herald-Sun on 7 November 2014, Alan Howe commented:
Marr was wrong. Then and now. The resentful Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was precisely the sort of malevolent ne’er-do-well to which we in the West have had to become accustomed. Zehaf-Bibeau had nothing to do with any rich tradition of the North American gunman. Neither does Canada, where gun ownership is strictly policed and gun deaths are relatively low.
Marr seemed not to know that. But he was on a roll. Marr then made an astonishing assertion: “A couple of years ago, somebody stood up in a picture theatre in Colorado and killed 70 people.” Crikey. I thought I had my finger on the pulse of local and international news, but I’d never heard of a one-man massacre in the US claiming twice the number of victims as Martin Bryant at Port Arthur. And with good reason: it never happened.
Needless to say, the ABC has not chosen to correct David Marr’s error concerning the Colorado killing. How very Aunty.
Alan Howe: Five Paws
● Commentator Jennifer Oriel who criticised apologists for Jihadi Islamists – who often say that terrorists act because they feel socially deprived and marginalised in Australia. This argument is dissected in Jennifer Oriel’s article on the universities role in nurturing Islamists in the Australian High Education Sector on Wednesday.
Oriel discloses that the term Islamophobia – used as a battering ram to silence criticism of Islamist terrorism – originated from within the Muslim Brotherhood:
Thomas Hegghammer, director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, has exposed the harm produced by the Islamophobia narrative in the West. He explains that following 9/11, Western intelligence on militant Islam was undermined because “Middle East scholars on both sides of the Atlantic had long shunned the study of Islamist militancy for fear of promoting Islamophobia”.
Islamophobia is the first line of defence for jihadist ideology in the West — not by chance, but by design. The term was invented in the 1990s by The International Institute for Islamic Thought, a front group for the terrorist organisation Muslim Brotherhood.
Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the Islamic Institute, witnessed the invention of the word Islamophobia and later described it as a “loathsome term … nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics”.
I cannot think of two word pairs less well suited to marriage than Western university and political Islam. But for decades, universities have played host to purveyors of Islamism on campus while academics have defended the illiberal ideology that commands the conscience of genocidal groups such as Islamic State. If universities want to be recognised as a public good, it is time they made good on the promise.
The fact is that Islamists usually do not come from the margins of our society. They tend to be more educated, more middle class, more affluent than your average Muslim. For example, Numor Hadier, the Dandenong would be assassin, came from a high ranking Afghani family and lived in an expensive two story home. Mohamed Elomar comes from a successful business family.
Like the urban terrorists of the Baader-Meinhof variety, today’s terrorists are more likely to be drop outs from arts degrees than come from the wretched of the earth.
By popular demand, due to the requests of hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers, the Maurice Newman Segment returns again this week.
As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. See MWD passim, ad nauseam.
LATE NIGHT LIVE’S NON-DEBATE ON RENEWABLE ENERGY
What a lively stunning “debate” (of the ABC kind) on Radio National Late Night Live on 18 November. The topic was an ABC favourite – renewable energy. Here’s how the segment was announced:
The booming business of renewable energy. Can Australia catch up with the investment boom in renewable energy or will it lose out to other countries? Global investors call them “renewable” and some of the biggest investment funds are pouring money into the renewable energy sector. But because of Federal government policy, there’s an investment freeze on renewables in Australia.
So it’s all the Abbott Government’s fault, you see. Presenter Phillip Adams introduced his two guests – Kobad Bhavnagri (head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia) and Milo Sjardin (head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Asia Pacific).
How about that? Your man Adams thought it was a good idea to get two boosters for renewable energy into the studio to discuss renewable energy – even though both of his guests belong to the same company.
So it came as no surprise that Phillip agreed with Kobad who agreed with Milo who agreed with Phillip who agreed with Kobad and so on. No other view was heard as everyone agreed with everyone else in such a “progressive” way.
Maurice Newman: 4
It’s great to know that at least one staff member of the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra (aka Old Parliament House) is an avid MWD reader. [There just might be two – Ed].
In MWD Issue 243 (19 September 2014) the following comment appeared concerning the Opposition Party Room in Old Parliament House:
…Inspecting the site of the Opposition Members Room, Hendo was confronted by the following words on a wall: “Factional disputes occur in every major political party, but one of the most bitter was the Labor Split which led to the formation of the breakaway Democratic Labor Party. At the heart of the Split was a [Labor] Caucus meeting held in this room on 20 October 1955. It was the height of the Cold War. In an atmosphere of espionage and counter espionage the anti-communist faction had called for a leadership spill.”
What a load of tosh — as the saying goes. Here are the (real) facts:
▪ Bert Evatt, then the leader of the Opposition, commenced what became known as the Labor Split when he attacked the ALP’s Victorian State Executive at a speech in Sydney on 5 October 1954.
▪ The relationship between Dr Evatt (for a doctor he was) and his supporters — and the ALP Victoria State Executive and its supporters — completely broke down at the ALP Federal Conference which was held in Hobart in March 1955 when the old Victorian State Executive was dismissed and a new Victorian State Executive credentialed.
▪ On 25 March 1955 the Victorian ALP suspended the membership of some 24 Labor MPs who supported the old ALP Victorian executive. This included seven Federal Labor MPs. The Victorian Seven comprised Tom Andrews, Bill Bourke, William Bryson, Jack Cremean, Robert Joshua, Stan Keon and John Mullens.
▪ On 7 April 1955, six Federal Labor MPs were formally expelled from the ALP — one other (Mullens) had already been expelled.
▪ On 18 April 1955 there was a ballot for the Labor leadership — following Evatt’s decision to resign and stand for re-election. Bert Evatt (52 votes) defeated Arthur Calwell (22 votes) and Tom Burke (5 votes).
▪ When the Commonwealth Parliament resumed on 20 April 1955 — the Victorian Seven sat on the crossbenches.
Er, that’s about it. The factional disputes which led to the expulsion of the seven Labor MPs from the ALP and the eventual formation of the Democratic Labor Party occurred some six months before 20 October 1955.
There had been a heated Caucus meeting a year earlier on 20 October 1954 — where a motion to spill Evatt’s leadership was defeated by 52 votes to 28 votes. But this occurred some six months before the Labor Split….
And now for some good news. The director of the Museum of Australian Democracy has written to Nancy’s (male) co-owner advising that the museum acknowledges that a mistake has been made – and that it will be corrected.
Here is Daryl Karp’s letter to Gerard Henderson, which was received this week:
Dear Mr Henderson
I am writing on behalf of The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House to thank you for pointing out the incorrect data that appears in the Opposition Party Room display.
The panel you refer to is one of a series that highlights several different types of activities that happened in this particular room. The Evatt panel refers to the infamous Labor caucus meeting of 20 October 1954 which was a significant moment in the drift towards a split within the ALP. The date for this is given, incorrectly as you point out, as 1955. This appears to have been an inadvertent slip because the accompanying quote from Gil Duthie is dated to 1954.
Elsewhere in the Opposition Party Room display there is a further outline of the caucus event, in the context of discussing the difficulties and opportunities a period in opposition is for political parties, and here it is correctly dated to 1954.
We will of course correct this date at the nearest available opportunity.
My very best wishes,
Museum of Australian Democracy
17 November 2014
To which MWD says – well done. The Museum of Australian Democracy has been advised of an historical mistake – and will correct it. Quite different to the ABC which, when advised of a factual errors, invariably goes into denial.
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. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.
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.
KENEALLY’S CANINES DEFEND THEIR OWNER
As avid MWD readers will be aware, Gerard Henderson wrote to former NSW Labor and New Sky News presenter Kristina Keneally on 13 November 2014. This one way correspondence was published in Issue 252. Believe it or not, Ms Keneally’s dogs replied to Hendo on 21 November. And so it came to pass that the correspondence continued. Thanks to Barker and Molly.
Kristina Keneally to Gerard Henderson – 21 November 2014
Dear Mr Henderson
Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Molly and Barker, the dogs who look after the former Premier of NSW, and now “left-wing presenter” (to quote Janet Albrechtsen) on Sky News Australia, The Hon Kristina Keneally.
We notice that you wrote an open letter to our mistress. (We are great fans of your dog Nancy and marvel at her typing ability. We never miss an issue of Media Watch Dog.) Inspired by Nancy, we decided to respond to you on Ms Keneally’s behalf. Also, we did want not bring your letter to her attention – we decided the Keneally household did not need to hear our mistress ranting yet again about the right-wing bias present in publications like The Australian or organisations like The Sydney Institute. [Madam Keneally’s dogs seem confused. The Australian employs Phillip Adams. Recent speakers at The Sydney Institute include KK’s Labor comrades Linda Burney, Carmel Tebbutt and Bill Shorten – Ed].
First of all, thank you for drawing the world’s attention to Keneally & Cameron (Fridays, 4 pm AEDT on Sky News Australia) because any publicity is good publicity.
Secondly, thank you for drawing our attention to the distinction between policy criticisms and personal criticisms. The next time our mistress reprimands us for pulling the rubbish bin apart to get to the empty tin of baked beans and the leftover chicken bones at the bottom, we will consider it a criticism of our policy to reduce household waste rather than a critique of ourselves.
Your name came up on Keneally & Cameron (for Twitter users, that’s #kencam, 4pm AEDT Fridays @SkyNewsAust) when that that Scottish guy Cameron started to criticise the people who booed Tony Abbott at the Whitlam Memorial service. Ms Keneally wanted to make the point that those on the right who were outraged that some people had booed the current and living PM ought to consider that others had no hesitation to take to the airwaves within hours of the former PM’s death to argue that he was a flawed man and who led a flawed government. At least the living PM Abbott can respond and defend himself! (Though, if Newspoll is to be believed, not very well.)
We acknowledge that our mistress used your name in vain. Perhaps she could have cited Miranda Devine or Greg Sheridan instead. (But then we wouldn’t have the joy of writing to you.)
From what we can gather by eavesdropping on our mistress and her husband as they talk after dinner (you cannot imagine how many times we have sat under the dining room table listening to a discussion about asylum seekers and refugees whilst we are simply waiting for the plates to be scraped into the rubbish bin!) she is not a fan of criticising the recently departed, full-stop. She has distaste for the “rush to comment” mentality that pervades most of Australian media when a notable figure or celebrity dies. She dislikes the Australian habit that she has seen time and again of pointing out the misdeeds, misjudgements and character flaws of people who have recently passed away. She does not defend those on the left who are similarly guilty. For example, she thought it very ordinary when, upon the death of Wayne Goss, there were those who felt it necessary to rush out within hours of his dying to say he had not passed enough socially progressive reforms and he had kept Peter Beattie out of Cabinet for too long. The man’s body was barely cold and the haste to point out his policy and personal flaws – perceived or real – had already begun.
On the very same episode of Keneally & Cameron (Fridays, 4pm AEDT on Sky News Australia) in which you were mentioned, Ross and our mistress showed about a dozen vox pops of personal and fond remembrances of Mr Whitlam from Coalition, Green and Labor MPs. It was a touching and kind way to note that a person had died and many people – no matter what their political leaning – felt a personal loss.
Make no mistake – our mistress does appreciate the need for history to be written honestly. But she does not think it ought to be written quite so quickly. How often have we, sitting under the table, heard her rant that too many political books are published in haste, not allowing for the dust to settle and the lessons of history to become clearer. (She has made similar comments on Keneally & Cameron, which, by the way, airs on Sky News Australia at 4pm on Fridays). In this critique she includes Margot Saville’s The Battle for Bennelong and Paul Howes’ Confessions of a Faceless Man. And don’t even get her started on Madonna King’s hagiography….er, biography, of Joe Hockey…..Truly, the week our mistress spent reading that book was highly unpleasant in this household.
Nonetheless, we suspect she would support your attempts to draw attention to various media outlets’ mistakes and errors in the wake of Mr Whitlam’s death. It won’t surprise you or Nancy to hear that we have, for several years now, had to listen to many a rant about the carelessness of certain media organisations when it comes to getting facts right. In many ways we think it a delicious irony that our mistress has joined the ranks of the Australian media, hosting Keneally & Cameron on Sky News Australia every Friday at 4pm AEDT.
As our mistress would say, keep fighting the good fight, comrade. And keep watching Keneally & Cameron….well, you know when it airs.
Barker and Molly
Gerard Henderson to Kristina Keneally – 28 November 2014
Dear Barker and Molly
Gee – your owner takes a lot of words to remind avid MWD readers that she presents Keneally & Cameron (which airs on Sky News at 4 pm on Fridays). I happen to watch it regularly. Your boss is a sassy sheila and that Mr Cameron is a terrific throw-back to John Calvin, the Protestant Reformation and all that. It’s the nearest thing that Australia has to a Celtic vs Rangers contest. Unmissable television – especially after a Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton-style lunch on a Friday.
The fact is that I merely attempted to put Gough Whitlam’s government into context – free of the hagiographic ravings of many. For this I was dressed down on Keneally & Cameron (which airs on Sky News at 4 pm on Fridays – or so I understand) by Ms Keneally.
It seems to me that your owner has a double standard. I do not recall her making any criticism when her NSW Labor comrade colleague Paul Keating made the following comment about the (then) recently departed Padraic P. McGuinness. This bile was published in The Australian on 31 January 2008:
He was a fraud. He was not just a fraud, he was a liar and a fraud…. McGuinness was a shocker. In journalistic terms, he had the morals of an alley cat. The quality of the Australian press will rise simply because his vituperation and contumely will have been excised from it.
What did your boss Kristina (“It’s okay to boo Tories at State memorial services”) Keneally say about this? The answer is – nothing.
I could go on and on and on and on. But I must get ready to watch Keneally & Cameron (it goes to air at 4 pm Fridays on Sky News Australia). I can barely wait to see whether your boss will wear the same little black dress as she has for the last two Fridays – and whether Mr Cameron will don a matching (Protestant) kilt for the occasion.
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