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.



    Next week is shaping up as one of the most newsworthy in contemporary Australian politics. The same can be said for the past fortnight. However, the ABC’s one-time late night current affairs program Lateline is off the air with no date announced for its return.

    So we have a situation where the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has no evening current affairs program. Lateline had its faults – in recent years its programming was too dependent on a couple of able politicians, who are good at running lines, debating each other. However, for over two decades Lateline has provided a valuable service – especially for Australians who prefer watching news and current affairs late at night.

    ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott announced late last year that Lateline would be scaled back and moved from ABC 1 to ABC News 24. Mr Scott implied that this change had something to do with the fact that, after some 20 years, the Commonwealth government has finally imposed an “efficiency audit” on the public broadcaster.

    There is ample fat within the ABC’s budget to handle the efficiency audit while retaining Lateline. Mr Scott resides over digital radio stations which hardly anybody listens to and ABC TV stations which few watch. He has also devoted considerable resources to ABC’s on-line presence as a tactic of using public money to compete with private industry. In short, Mark Scott has directed the ABC away from its traditional priorities.

    If Malcolm Turnbull happens to replace Tony Abbott as prime minister next week, this is unlikely to benefit the ABC. After all, it was Mr Turnbull who –as Communications Minister – drove the efficiency audit with respect to the ABC. He happens to believe that the ABC is inefficient compared with not only commercial media but also SBS.

    In The Australian yesterday, Sharri Markson reported former ABC leftist presenter Jonathan Holmes as justifying Lateline’s delayed return by stating:

    My immediate reaction is we had this when 7.30 was revamped a few years ago and it didn’t come back on air until mid-March. It does take a bit of time if you’re revamping a program. People come back from holiday and if you rush to air with a new format, it can be a bit disastrous.

    How so public servantish. In Jonathan Holmes’ view, the taxpayer funded Lateline staff just had to take their “Well-Earned-Break” over December and January before returning to work after Australia Day with a view to revamping the program – which may commence in March or perhaps on April Fool’s Day.

    In the meantime, Sky News – which runs on a fraction of ABC’s resources – will fill the gap with late evening discussion and analysis. Moreover, unlike the ABC, Sky News is not a Conservative-Free-Zone. But Sky News does employ left-of-centre presenters and regular paid columnists.

    There is greater pluralism within Sky News in Australia – and Fox News in the United States – than on the ABC. When Lateline does return – it is unlikely to contain one presenter or producer who is conservative. Even so, ABC works better with Lateline – and it will be missed next week.

    [Perhaps Nice Mr Scott might adopt the ABC’s familiar practice and fill the space with Stephen Fry from London. It might be called “Waking Up with Mr Fry at 10.30 pm” or “Stephen Fryline” or some such. This should rate well in Newtown in Sydney and Thornbury in Melbourne. Early topics could include an examination of how the Abbott Clerical Fascist dictatorship’s ban on same sex marriage contributes to global warming. – Ed.]


    Can you bear it graphic


    As avid MWD readers will be aware, the leftist academic Scott Burchill invariably appears on the ABC 1 News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment on his way to the tip. The evidence suggests that he picks up a load of junk from his Deakin University office in Burwood and, the following morning, drops in at the ABC Southbank studios for a brief chat with co-presenters Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland en route to the waste management centre in Dynon Road, West Melbourne. Then it’s back to work at the taxpayer subsidised Deakin University.

    All was different last Tuesday, however. Your man Burchill turned up on News Breakfast in a dark red shirt, jeans and – wait for it – Che Guevara style sandals. Dr Burchill flashed his sandals by sitting on the set with his left leg crossed over his right leg. What (a) feet.

    At the end of the discussion, Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) sent a “happy birthday” message to his “partner” – thus reviving the practice from the past of people appearing on television or radio and declaring: “I’d like to send a cheerio to….”

    It seems that Scott Burchill did not go to the tip this week – due to his partner’s birthday. Perhaps his business attire of shirt, jeans and Che Guevara sandals, the uniform of the inner-city leftist, is just the kit for Deakin University. Can you bear it?


    It is Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s contention that there is a direct co-relation between the style of dress sense exhibited by commentators on the ABC1 News Breakfast “Newspapers” gig and the quality of the comment enunciated. Nancy’s (female) co-owner appeared on the segment yesterday. She wore sensible shoes – and, consequently, made sensible comments.

    Gael (“I was a scientist in a previous life”) Jennings appeared on the segment on Friday 16 January. Wearing sandals. Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) has a gig at Melbourne University’s taxpayer subsidised Centre for Advancing Journalism [Precisely where is the centre advancing to? – Ed]

    Gael Jennings commenced her account of the morning’s newspapers with a comment on the impact of the recent terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Beverly O’Connor: Let’s look at the day’s papers. And we’re joined by Gael Jennings from the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne. Gael, great to see you again – and it has been a fascinating debate hasn’t it? This freedom of speech issue.

    Gael Jennings: It really has.

    Beverly O’Connor: And journalists looks at ourselves, really.

    Gael Jennings: Well yes, an interesting difference between the papers too, I think. When I was looking at the headlines this morning – many of the Murdoch papers were actually running with a terrorism theme. Talking about Australians overseas, showing pictures of themselves on the internet saying, you know, “we will have heads rolling” and so on. Whereas Fairfax press hasn’t really chosen to go down that line, not deeming it newsworthy. I guess because it’s just some extremist or nutter on the internet without anything happening….

    Beverly O’Connor: And whether that inflames the ongoing issue that the Muslim community faces.

    Gael Jennings: Exactly. Yes. Journalism is where there’s a really strong story…

    As the sandalled Dr Jennings was busy supporting the apparent position of Fairfax Media that the topic of terrorists attacks in Europe was not currently “newsworthy””, the ABC ran a supa at the bottom of the screen about a police raid then taking place in Belgium. It read as follows:

    Breaking News – Belgium raids.

    It’s believed the group was about to mount a terrorist attacks on “a grand scale”.

    At the time there was a police action against Islamist Belgian citizens or residents who had trained with the so-called Islamic State in Syria and who were intent on murdering police in Belgium.

    While this was going on in Belgium, the Melbourne University media academic was busy telling ABC1 viewers that the fact that Australian jihadists were currently in Syria boasting about head rolling – she could not quite say beheadings – was not newsworthy and not a really strong story. They are just nutters, apparently. And Dr Jennings proclaims that she’s about advancing journalism. In sandals. Can you bear it?


    While on the topic of confusion, consider the editorial preached by Derryn Hinch on Hinch Live on Sky News last Sunday. Most commentators would probably hold the view that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has enough problems to deal with. But, last Sunday, the once-proclaimed Human Headline found one more. Here it is:

    Derryn Hinch: Should Tony Abbott even be prime minister? Not politically, legally, constitutionally. Now I know I run a real risk of being labelled a nutter here, so early in the show. And I’m well aware of the “birther” movement in the United States with people, even Donald Trump, claiming that Barrack Obama’s presidency is illegal. They claim he’s really born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and if you’re not born in the United States, you can’t be president. Some cranks still believe the Kenya conspiracy even though the White House produced Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate. Now it’s different here, you can be born overseas but you must be an Australian citizen to hold office, and you can’t hold two passports. No dual citizenship, you must renounce the country of your birth. Section 44 of the Constitution says you must not hold the citizenship of any foreign power.

    Two of our recent leaders were born overseas. Julia Gillard was born in Wales and Anthony John Abbott was born in England in 1957. The family emigrated to Australia in 1960, became an Australian citizen in 1981 after winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford as a Briton. So when did he renounce his British citizenship? We don’t know. The official line from the PM’s Office is, and I quote: “The Prime Minister is an Australian citizen and does not hold citizenship of any other country.” Normally you can check these things with the National Archives of Australia which keeps all citizenship applications on file. But a year ago for some reason, the Archives made Mr Abbott’s 1981 application confidential. Now, this may all sound farfetched, but remember Jackie Kelly had to stand again at a by-election after she was elected holding Australian and New Zealand passports…

    I know that the prime minister has got a lot on his mind but Mr Abbott could kill this one off by just releasing the document tomorrow. And if the prime minister has not renounced his allegiance to Britain, I think he has added meaning to what he wrote in his memoirs, Battlelines, about flying into Heathrow on his way to Oxford. “It felt more like a homecoming. IT belonged to me, as much to me as to any Briton.” Maybe that’s why he knighted Phil the Greek. I’m Derryn Hinch.

    Yes, he certainly is Derryn Hinch – or, perhaps, just Hinch.

    On the basis of no evidence whatsoever – and in the face of a blunt denial by the Prime Minister’s Office – Derryn Hinch ran the line that Tony Abbott might not be eligible to be prime minister because he might hold dual Australian and British nationality. Or might not, as the case may be.

    No serious Australian commentator has run the Abbott “birther” conspiracy theory. According to a report by Cam Smith in The Guardian, the conspiracy commenced with a Sunshine Coast blogger who writes the blog Independent Australia. It has been taken by the Lunar Right – namely the Australian Protectionist Party.

    And, in the inaugural Hinch Live program on Sky News last Sunday, the Human Headline ran with this ageing conspiracy theory. Can you bear it?




    What a stunning analysis on Late Night Live on 28 January 2015 – the Wednesday before the Queensland election.

    Phillip Adams – AO (1992), AM (1987), Hon. D. Univ (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon. D Univ (SA), DLitt (Syd), FRSA, Hon. FAHA – was in the presenter’s chair. The guest was Mark Bahnisch – sociologist, consultant, author and fellow of the leftist Centre for Policy Development. The subject – “Is Queensland Different?”.

    The occasion provided the opportunity for Dr Adams (for an honorary doctor he is) to interview Dr Bahnisch (for a doctor he is) about just how bad the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party in Queensland are. Or were. No other view was heard. After all, it was a discussion on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

    The highlight of this truly stunning interview occurred when Phillip agreed with Mark who agreed with Phillip who agreed with Mark, that the LNP’s decision to recycle assets by leasing the electricity poles and wires – and using the revenue gained – was a really and truly bad idea. Let’s go to the transcript.

    …The big bad decision of this election campaign is to go into it saying “let’s sell the assets”. I mean, it may be disguised as a lease. Campbell Newman and some of his ministers have been fond of saying “if you own a rental property and you lease it out to a tenant it’s still yours”. But that’s a bit different from a 99 year commercial lease. And the key difference is that you get no income from it. You know, if I have a rental property I get some income. If I lease the energy assets in the port, that’s it, nothing.

    Phillip Adams said nothing to contradict Dr Bahnisch’s bizarre claim that if a government leases poles and wires, it receives “nothing” in income. This is absolute tosh. Mark Bahnisch seemed completely unaware that leases are sold. For money. And the money raised from the lease assets would have provided revenue for much needed infrastructure.

    Mark Scott pretends to be the editor-in-chief of the ABC. If he was doing his job, Nice Mr Scott would insist that political discussions in the run-up to elections featured contrasting views. Yet, on Late Night Live, Mark Bahnisch spoke complete tosh about the leasing of public assets. And Phillip Adams was either too ignorant or too lazy to correct him.


    Nancy on the couch


    In response to the proposal of many an avid reader, MWD will run an occasional segment where Nancy’s (male) co-owner asks Nancy an on-the-couch question about psychiatry, human behaviour and all that junk. And Nancy responds. Let the segment begin.

    Hendo: On Tuesday, 23 December 2014, shortly after noon, I received the following unsolicited email from Professor Brian Costar of Swinburne University. Professor Costar wrote to me in the following terms:

    I seem to recall counselling you about trying not to be a complete dill – but apparently without success.

    I had all but forgotten about Costar’s missive. After all, it was the Silly Season and Swinburne’s Professor of Political Science sent his note at around pre-luncheon drinks time. However, I heard the learned professor on Radio National Breakfast last Tuesday in learned discussion with presenter Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s sneerer-in-chief”) Green. I had a recovered memory – all the way back to the eve of Christmas eve.

    My question is – what was Professor Costar on about? Alternatively – what was he on?

    Nancy: A difficult question, to be sure. It’s not easy to explain the thinking of a professor of political science. Especially since no such “science” exists. And especially during the Silly Season on the eve of lunch on the eve of Christmas Eve. However, I offer you a few tentative suggestions which I hope you will find helpful.

    • Professor Costar does not like you – even though he has never met you. It’s called projectile anger.
    • Professor Costar read the entire manuscript of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs which was co-authored by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons. I understand that in The Sydney Institute Quarterly Issue 37, July 2010, you identified numerous howlers which your man Costar missed when reading the Fraser/Simons manuscript. Including the hopelessly wrong claims that Fraser won four elections (as many as Bob Hawke and John Howard) and that Fraser retained Medibank (it was deceased by the time of the of the 1982 budget). It could be that Professor Costar does not like being corrected.
    • Finally it could be that Professor Costar is correct and that you are a complete dill. I understand that Professor Costar is an expert on dills – of the complete dills genre. Maybe he has nailed you. Think about it (to use a cliché).




    There has been enormous response to last week’s “MWD Exclusive” – documenting how historian David Day squibbed a challenge to provide documentary evidence for his assertion that there was a move in Britain in 1941 to replace Winston Churchill with Robert Menzies – and that Menzies encouraged the idea.

    So far, David Day has said that he is too busy to provide the name of even one biographer of Churchill or one historian of Britain in the 20th Century who supports his view. Dr Day has also been too busy to provide any evidence that Menzies thought that he had a chance to become prime minister of Britain in 1941. This theory was refuted by Dr Allan Martin, Menzies’ biographer – in his two volume work Robert Menzies: A Life.

    On 27 January 2015, Day broke his self-imposed silence and advised MWD reader Keith Horner that “the sources” for his assertions are “set out in the footnotes and bibliography” of his 1986 book Menzies & Churchill At War. But Day did not say what the (alleged) sources are or precisely where they could be located in either the footnotes or the bibliography. Convenient, eh?

    Anne Henderson, the author of Menzies at War (2014), has checked all of David Day’s sources and could not find any evidence to support his claims. MWD was going to publish her account this week – but it has been held over to the next week since she has been giving talks on her book in Melbourne.

    John Moore’s ABC Documentary – Based on Day’s Theory – Refuted by ABC

    Today, MWD looks at the so-called “evidence” which David Day gave film director John Moore who directed and wrote the Screen Australia documentary titled Menzies & Churchill at War which aired on ABC1 in October 2008. Day was the historical consultant for – and appeared on – the documentary. In other words, the documentary was Day’s view on history.

    Following the airing of Menzies And Churchill At War, Stuart Menzies (then ABC’s Head of Documentaries) acknowledged that the documentary lacked balance and that the Moore/Day theory that Menzies was a serious contender for Churchill’s job in 1941, should have been contested. Subsequently, Screen Australia agreed to Gerard Henderson’s request that his name be removed from the credits. Henderson had been interviewed at length by Moore but all of his comments were censored and ended on the cutting room floor. He objected to the fact that John Moore was attempting to associate him with a flawed documentary by placing his name in the credits. Screen Australia supported Henderson’s view.

    The full story is told in “Menzies And Churchill At War – As Told By Aunty” in The Sydney Institute Quarterly, Issue 35, June 2009, see here.

    David Day & John Moore – A Hopeless Defence

    Following Gerard Henderson’s criticism of the documentary in his newspaper column, both David Day and John Moore wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 November 2008 to defend Day’s thesis about Menzies and Churchill.

    David Day ran his familiar line that he “had evidence about Menzies’ attempts to replace Churchill as prime minister of Britain”. But he did not cite even one source. It was the familiar Day tactic of saying that he has evidence but refusing to state what it is.

    John Moore, following advice from his historical consultant David Day, provided one specific source, Moore wrote:

    Mackenzie King, the prime minister of Canada, dined with Campbell Stuart, a director of The Times, on May 15, 1941, and wrote in his diary that Stuart told him: “Menzies’ ambition was to be prime minister of England and that there were some in England prepared to accept him.” Stuart had met Menzies several days before.

    The quote provided by Moore was false. Moore omitted some words and changed the order of the quote. In fact, Mackenzie King recorded Campbell Stuart as saying that “there were perhaps in England some who would be prepared to accept him [Menzies] as prime minister”. [Emphasis added]. John Moore deleted the qualifying word “perhaps”. Convenient, eh?

    In other words, according to Mackenzie King’s account, in May 1941 Stuart was not sure whether there was anyone in Britain who would accept Menzies as a replacement for Churchill. Perhaps there might have been, perhaps not. In any event, Stuart told Mackenzie King that if anything happened to Churchill he would be replaced by Ernest Bevin. In other words, Stuart told Mackenzie King that if Churchill were to be replaced it would not be by Menzies. For the record, Stuart was a man into gossip and has not been regarded as a reliable source by historians of the period.

    Moreover, Mackenzie King’s account is hearsay upon hearsay. He reported what Stuart had allegedly told him about what “some” people in England “perhaps” thought. Also Moore neglected to tell SMH readers that left-of-centre Mackenzie King was an antagonist of Menzies.

    John Moore concluded his letter to the SMH by claiming that in his documentary there were “numerous pieces of evidence that Menzies was concerned enough about Churchill’s leadership to consider taking over himself”. But Moore provided no sources to support his claim. In short, Moore adopted the tactic of his historical consultant Day by asserting that he had evidence but refraining from identifying what it was.

    Judith Brett Supports Day – While Declaring that She had no Evidence for the Theory

    The very “best” that John Moore could do in his ABC documentary Menzies & Churchill At War was this claim form Dr Judith Brett – who, like Day, is a left-wing historian.

    Judith Brett: Whether he [Menzies] ever realistically imagined he could become prime minister of England, I don’t know. But I think, given the sort of man he was, there would have been a sense of opening up of exciting possibilities if he were to stay.

    So, Dr Brett declared that she did not know whether Robert Menzies believed that he could replace Churchill as prime minister of Britain in 1941. She just thought that Menzies might have – “given the sort of man he was”. This is absolute tosh. But it was good enough for John Moore and his historical consultant David Day.

    Lord Blake Defence Falls Flat

    In an email to Gerard Henderson dated 19 November 2008, John Moore cited another (alleged) source provided by his historical consultant David Day. He forwarded a review of David Day’s book by the British historian Lord Blake which was published in the Financial Times on 28 March 1987. The relevant section is as follows:

    The bulk of the book concerns Menzies’ four months absence from Australia from January 1941, first in the Middle East, then in London where he spent 10 weeks, and finally in America. In Britain he received enthusiastic support at public and private meetings second only to Churchill. He concealed his personal doubts and proclaimed himself in terms of rousing and uncompromising patriotism. Precariously based in Australia, where he had the majority of only one, he dreamed of becoming a member of the British War Cabinet and perhaps ousting Churchill in favour of himself. [Emphasis added].

    Churchill was aware of the threat and saw to it that Menzies did not return to London after the Australian Cabinet had insisted on his recall. It is difficult to assess how serious the threat really was, but this is perhaps immaterial if both men believed in it. [Emphasis added].

    As the text makes clear, Lord Blake’s statement is based on David Day’s book – which does not provide specific evidence for his claims. However, Lord Blake used the words “perhaps” and “if” with respect to Day’s theory – clearly Blake was not aware of any primary source which validated Day’s assertion.

    Lord Blake wrote the book Winston Churchill in 1998. He made no reference to David Day’s theory about Menzies and Churchill. Lord Blake also edited and contributed to Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War in 1993. No contributor made any reference to David Day’s theory. Yet, surely, if there had been a move to replace Churchill with a Dominion politician in 1941 this would be matter of enormous significance which would be discussed by scholars of Churchill.

    The Challenge Continues

    In short, the material which John Moore was given by his historical consultant David Day was a dud. As even the ABC later acknowledged, the Menzies & Churchill At War documentary lacked balance and contained untested assertions. It is a rare event when ABC senior management criticises documentaries shown on the public broadcaster.

    Meanwhile, we’ll keep you posted if David Day can name one Churchill biographer or one historian of 20th Century Britain who can provide evidence that the powers-that-be in London in 1941 thought seriously about replacing Churchill with a chap from the colonies named Menzies – and that Menzies’ supported the (alleged) proposal.

    In the meantime here is the scorecard.

    David Day v Anne Henderson

    And here’s a reminder of David (“I’m just too busy to provide evidence”) Day in Flat-Out-Like-A-Lizard-Drinking mode.


    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. 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.

    Last week, Nancy’s (male) co-owner received correspondence from Crikey editor Marni Cordell and brand new ABC Radio National presenter Tom Switzer. Here we go.


    What do you reckon Crikey’s house leftist feminists would say if Andrew Bolt referred to Lisa Pryor as “Julian Morrow’s wife” or Susan Carland as “Waleed Aly’s wife”? Shouts of shock/horror – to be sure. But last week Crikey ran Glenn Dyer’s reference to Anne Henderson as “Gerard Henderson’s wife”. And then, initially, Crikey editor Marni Cordell, Crikey publisher Sophie Black and Crikey chairman Eric Beecher all went UNDER THE BED and refused to enter into correspondence about Mr Dyer’s evident – and ignorant – misogyny. But, eventually, Crikey’s editor responded and, reluctantly, published Hendo’s missive two days after it was received.

    It so happened that Ms Cordell wrote to Hendo asking him to contribute to Crikey two days after she published Mr Dyer’s misogyny. Nancy’s (male) co-owner took advantage of this letter to take up the case of Glenn Dyer’s misogyny. As the email exchange demonstrates. Crikey published all of Hendo’s email except the final paragraphs where he rejected Ms Cordell’s proposal and referred to his “favourite” issue of Crikey.

    Marni Cordell to Gerard Henderson – 29 January 2015

    Dear Gerard,

    Crikey is turning 15 this February. Yes that’s ancient in internet years, so we figure we should mark the occasion. Over the year we’ll be rolling out a series of special features on the past, present and future of media plus a Crikey Highlights Reel and a few social media campaigns.

    We’re also asking a number of prominent Australians from all sorts of sectors to contribute a guest editorial to Crikey, and that’s where you come in.

    We’d like you to commit to sounding off on something — anything — for us for one edition sometime this year. Crikey is known for housing a great array of eclectic, unpredictable, informed, funny opinions and we’d love to add yours to the mix.

    250 words (or less if you’re a big believer in brevity) on any subject that enrages/engages/amuses or inspires you. We’ve published editorials on driest of subjects (the need to reexamine federalism) to the um, wettest (the fact that Aquaman is a rubbish superhero). Nothing is sacred or off limits and there’s no need to get political if that’s not your bent. We also take opinion in pictorial or AV form.

    Please let us know if you’re interested and we’ll add you to our list of names. We’ll then come back to you with how the arrangement will work. In the meantime, here’s the archive of 15 years of Crikey Says to get you suitably inspired…

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    Marni Cordell


    Gerard Henderson to Marni Cordell – 2 February 2015

    Subject: Crikey – A Misogyny Tale

    Dear Marni

    Well, fancy that.

    On Thursday 29 January 2015, you emailed me – in my capacity as an (alleged) “prominent” Australian – requesting that I “contribute a guest editorial to Crikey”. For no fee, it seems.

    Yet on 27 January 2015, you – in your capacity as Crikey editor – published an article by Glenn Dyer (Crikey business and media commentator). It was titled “Lots of Libs joining the Prince in Australia Day honours”. Mr Dyer, in his inaugural paragraph, referred to “some particularly offensive gongs handed out in the regular Australia Day honours list”.

    In his seventh paragraph, Glenn Dyer criticised the fact that Anne Henderson received an AM in the Australia Day Honours list. The reference was as follows:

    Former NSW Labor minister Craig Knowles also received an AM, as did Gerard Henderson’s wife, Anne Henderson, “For significant service to literature in the field of political history and to the community by fostering public debate and discussion” – and making their Sydney Institute run on time…

    So, in January 2015 – as Crikey editor – you regard it as proper for a woman to be described as the wife of a man. Glenn Dyer’s reference is extraordinarily bitter and unprofessional, even by Crikey’s standards. Moreover, Mr Dyer’s reference to Anne making The Sydney Institute’s functions “run on time” is just a low-grade sneering attempt at ridicule.

    In relation to Glenn Dyer’s article in Crikey, I make the following points:

    • Anne Henderson is the author of nine books, viz: From All Corners: Six Migrant Stories(1993), Educating Johannah: A Year in Year 12 (1995), Mary Mackillop’s Sisters: A Life Unveiled(1997), Getting Even: Women MPs on Life, Power and Politics (1999), The Killing of Sister McCormack (2002), An Angel in the Court: A Life of Major Joyce Harmer (2005), Enid Lyons: Leading Lady to a Nation (2008), Joseph Lyons: The People’s Prime Minister(2009) and Menzies at War (2014). She has also co-edited, with Ross Fitzgerald, the book Partners and contributed to Michelle Grattan’s edited collection Australian Prime Minister’s as well as to the United Kingdom’s New Dictionary of Biography.

    Anne Henderson’s work as an historian has been praised by Geoffrey Blainey, Barry O. Jones, Ross Fitzgerald, John Howard, Paul Keating and Susan Ryan – among others.

    And yet, according to Glenn Dyer and Crikey, Anne Henderson is just “Gerard Henderson’s wife”.

    • Anne Henderson has been involved in assisting asylum seekers and refugees for over a decade. She visited Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney on a weekly basis for many years and advocated on behalf of asylum seekers – Christians and Muslim alike. One refugee lived at our house for some three years while she completed secondary school and commenced her university studies. Some of Anne’s activities with respect to refugees is covered in Margot O’Neill’s book Blind Conscience.

    Currently Anne Henderson is involved with the Sanctuary Movement Lower North Shore (SMLNS) which raises money to bring refugees to Australia under the humanitarian part of the refugee and humanitarian intake which provides visas but not travel expenses for individuals accepted by the UNHCR for settlement by Australia. The SMLNS raises money for airfares and emergency expenses for some of these refugees.

    And yet, according to Glenn Dyer and Crikey, Anne Henderson is just “Gerard Henderson’s wife”.

    • Anne Henderson was for some years deputy chair of the Australian Republican Movement and remains a member who works on fundraising for the ARM.

    And yet, according to Glenn Dyer and Crikey, Anne Henderson is just “Gerard Henderson’s wife”.

    • Anne Henderson, as deputy director of The Sydney Institute, plays a key role in organising the Institute’s program (of about 60 functions a year) along with an extremely well attended Annual Dinner Lecture. Past speakers at the Annual Dinner Lecture include Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. In his ignorance, Glenn Dyer seems unaware that The Sydney Institute is a genuinely pluralistic organisation – which covers a range of issues and provides great opportunities for prominent and not-so prominent speakers alike.

    And yet, according to Glenn Dyer and Crikey, Anne Henderson is just “Gerard Henderson’s wife”.


    In conclusion, I should correct the implication in Crikey’s heading. Contrary to Glenn Dyer’s assertion, Anne Henderson is not – and has never been – a member of the Liberal Party of Australia. Mr Dyer just made this up – without checking with Anne Henderson.

    Moreover, as Mr Dyer would be aware if he did any research, the Order of Australia’s Honours Secretariat operates independently of government. Apart, that is, from the Knight/Dame category which is decided by the Prime Minister.

    I would be grateful if you would publish this letter in full. I will not accept an it’s-too-long excuse. After all, you published some 4500 turgid words from the oh-so-turgid Guy Rundle (my favourite Marxist comedian) on 16 January 2015.

    By the way, since you asked – my favourite edition of Crikey was published on 9 December 2011. As is its wont, Crikey published an anonymous report about me – without checking with me. Crikey alleged that I behaved badly at a “taxpayer subsidised” taping of the Wharf Review at the ABC studios in Sydney. Crikey’s report had me amused by a send up of The Greens but not by a depiction of Fred Nile.

    At the time when I was allegedly sighted in Sydney’s Ultimo, I was, in fact, having dinner with Ambassador Kim Beazley in Washington DC. As I recall, around the time that Crikey ran this particular howler,Crikey chairman Eric Beecher was busy criticising journalistic standards in Australia – other than those over which he presides, of course.

    Well, fancy that.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Gerard Henderson to Marni Cordell – 4 February 2015

    Dear Marni

    I am wondering whether you received my email on Monday 2 February. So far I have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgement – still less a reply. I do not believe that this matter can be resolved by Crikeyignoring this correspondence.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson AC [i.e. Always Courteous]

    Marni Cordell to Gerard Henderson – 4 February 2015

    I did get it, Gerard. Thanks for your feedback. Would you like me to run it as a comment in our feedback section?

    Gerard Henderson to Marni Cornell – 4 February 2015


    On Monday I asked you to run my email in full (i.e. uncensored). I am not sure what you mean by Crikey’s “feedback section”. I expect my letter to be run in the main Crikey publication.

    Best wishes


    Marni Cordell to Gerard Henderson – 4 February 2015

    No problem, will do.


    Gerard Henderson to Marni Cordell – 4 February 2015


    Thanks. Better late than never. I look forward to seeing my letter published in Crikey in full.

    Best wishes




    In a comment on Bernard Keane’s appearances on the ABC in last Friday’s MWD, reference was made to Tom Switzer’s new Between The Lines program on Radio National – at 7.30 pm on Thursdays. The point was that Between The Lines is not a prominent program and that, in any event, Tom Switzer is not a conservative when it comes to foreign policy – the designated area of Between The Lines.

    Mr Switzer fired off an email to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. And received a (courteous, of course) reply.

    Tom Switzer to Gerard Henderson – 30 January 2015

    Dear Gerard:

    In Nancy’s blog today, you say I’m a “well known critic of the foreign politics of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard.” Certainly it is true I opposed the Iraq war in 2003, something most people today recognise was a blunder. But I did so not on the reflexive the-US-is-always-wrong grounds that motivated many on the Left, but on appeal to the classic conservative virtues of prudence, skepticism concerning sweeping ambition and the dangers of hubris. I also defended the US-Australian refusal to ratify the Kyoto climate protocol. Moreover, I was a strong supporter of the Howard government’s pro-Asian engagement policies, even taking to the Wall Street Journal Asia in August 2002 to defend Howard’s record as a statesman in the region.

    Re my conservative credentials, in the SMH on Tuesday, I called on Tony Abbott and the Government to embrace a more pro-free market industrial relations agenda, something I doubt other ABC journalists would advocate, at least on the record.

    And in my first editorial on my RN program, I point out that the Indians have refused, for good reason, to embrace President Obama’s call for carbon emissions cuts this week.This is a crucial point, which undermines the U.N.’s efforts to reach a binding global deal in Paris later this year. Climate enthusiasts don’t want to recognise this reality, but it’s true. Perhaps not surprisingly, I have already copped criticism from Friends of the ABC.

    Finally, I have long believed that foreign policy, especially in the post-Cold War era, goes beyond ideological labels, which — with rare exceptions (such as the term neo-conservative) — foster simplistic divisions and create artificial alliances.

    Best regards


    Gerard Henderson to Tom Switzer – 4 February 2015

    Dear Tom

    Thanks for your note of last Friday. I’m glad that you are still reading my Media Watch Dog blog. Nancy will be pleased.

    There is nothing in your email with which I disagree. I note that there was nothing in last week’s MWD with respect to you with which you disagree specifically – i.e. there was nothing which I wrote about you that was incorrect.

    The problem is this. Under Mark Scott’s role as ABC managing director and editor-in-chief, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster remains a Conservative Free Zone – with not one conservative presenter or producer or editor presiding over any prominent television or radio or online outlet.

    Your appointment as the presenter of Between The Lines does not change this situation. First, Between The Lines, airing as it does at 7.30 pm on Thursdays, is not a prominent program. Second, Between The Lines is a program devoted to an assessment of Australia’s place in the world. The ABC is presenting you as the “conservative presenter” Between The Lines. However, on matters of foreign policy and international relations, you are not a conservative – but an isolationist with respect to both the United States and Australia.

    As you know, you opposed Australia’s role in the Coalition of the Willing – as such, you opposed the foreign policy of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard. As I understand it, you oppose Australia’s current involvement – in support of President Obama’s administration – in the conflict against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq. Tony Abbott’s Coalition government’s stance on this issue is broadly supported by Bill Shorten and the Labor opposition.

    In other words, when it comes to Australia’s policy in North Africa, your position is closer to that of the Greens than that of the Coalition or the Labor Party.

    It’s much the same with Russia. Writing recently in Fairfax Media, you argued that President Putin should be appeased. Once again, this puts you in the isolationist camp – far away from the position adopted by President Obama in the United States, David Cameron in Britain and Tony Abbott (with the support of Bill Shorten) in Australia.

    There is nothing wrong with you holding the positions which you do. It’s just that, on international issues and events, you are not a conservative in the usual meaning of the term – contrary to the ABC’s spin.

    I understand – and essentially agree with – your positions on industrial relations, emissions trading scheme and the like. It’s just that your ABC program is essentially about Australian foreign policy – and, on international issues, your views are consistent with the fashionable position on foreign policy that prevails within large sections of the ABC.

    Best wishes – and congratulations on your Between The Lines gig.


    PS: By the way, I do not agree that the term “neo-conservative” is/was a useful ideological label. Many of the people who were labelled “neo-conservative” were not new to the conservative cause – e.g. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Neo-conservative had some resonance during the Reagan administration but little during the George W. Bush presidency.

    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