8 MAY 2015

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.



    This was filed just before Nancy’s (male) co-owner headed off for a drink to celebrate George Galloway’s defeat in Bradford West by Labour’s Naz Shah. [Let’s see how Ms Shah performs – but anyone has to be better than George Galloway – Ed]


    So David Cameron’s Conservative Party has scored a great victory. And Ed Miliband has led Labour to perhaps its worst result in some three decades.

    How could this have happened? How could the good people of Britain have failed to fulfil the prophecy of Scott Burchill, that Ed Miliband’s hostility to Rupert Murdoch was helping Labour’s cause?

    Appearing on ABC 1’s News Breakfast on 28 April, Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) said that Ed Miliband’s criticism of Murdoch was not doing the Labour leader any harm. Burchill added: “It looks like his [Miliband’s] popularity is reaching a great height”.

    Scott Burchill is a Senior lecturer in International Relations in Deakin University in Melbourne. He invariably drops in to News Breakfast on his way to the tip – and dresses accordingly. On reflection, it seems that Dr Burchill’s unintended load on 28 April contained more substance than his assessment of contemporary British politics. Pity the students at Deakin University.


    Meanwhile at 9.55 pm last night, i.e. after how-about-a-port?-time, Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton sent out the following tweet:

    And the answer is a RESOUNDING NO to your man Carlton’s question. You would have to live at Avalon Beach, or perhaps teach at Deakin University, to delude yourself that the 2015 General Election in Britain was about Rupert Murdoch. [You must return to Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton next week. As I recall, he was also hopelessly wrong about the Israeli election of recent memory – Ed].


    Meanwhile, what a stunning performance by David Marr – in situ in London – on The Drum last night. Speaking with all the expertise on British politics which a trip to the Old Dart can deliver, your man Marr:

    • Declared that nothing “any politician has said over the last few weeks has budged the polls at all”.

    – David Marr had no evidence for this assertion.

    • Asserted that it looks like Labour and the Conservatives will be “neck and neck in the seats that are won in the House of Commons”.

    – David Marr’s prediction was hopelessly wrong.

    • Opined that “everybody is going to the polls today knowing that, whatever they do, they’re not going to vote for a prime minister. That’s going to come out of the tousle and the negotiations of the days ahead”.

    – David Marr’s prediction was hopelessly wrong.

    • Commented that “it’s the Scottish question that is making the log-jam and without the Scottish question it would be quite a conventional election” which Labour would win.

    – David Marr’s analysis was wrong. The number of seats won by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) combined were less than that achieved by the Conservative Party in its own right.

    • Predicted that the Scottish National Party would support Labour and said that, “on the figures at the moment, you would have to say it’s much more likely that Ed Miliband will be prime minister next week”.

    – David Marr’s prediction was hopelessly wrong.

    Which demonstrates the truth of the saying that predictions should be avoided – especially if they are about the future. David Marr please note.

    Can you bear it graphic


    Did anyone read the British-born BBC reporter Nick Bryant’s piece in The Age on Tuesday? If not, you may – or may not – like to know that Mr Bryant lectured at large about his claim that “Australian politics is so badly broken that it has reached crisis point”. So, what are the solutions? Here’s what your man Bryant came up with:

    Bryant “Solution” No 1

    Question Time is an obvious place to start [political reform]. Rather than expect the prime minister to participate daily in what has now deteriorated into a four-day shout-a-thon, one remedy might be to limit his or her involvement. Westminster did this in the 1950s, to spare Sir Winston Churchill the exertions of the dispatch box, by making prime minister’s questions a bi-weekly event. Tony Blair went further by appearing only once a week – though he devoted the same amount of time to answering questions – because so much of Downing Street’s efforts were trained on this largely theatrical enterprise.

    Bryant of the BBC seems completely unaware that Paul Keating, when prime minister in the early 1990s, introduced a reform whereby the prime minister attended Question Time once a week. It was soon dropped following sustained criticism – especially from Mr Bryant’s journalistic colleagues.

    Bryant “Solution” No 2

    Senate elections could be remodelled so as to make it harder for micro-parties and fringe politicians to win six-year terms on the basis of minuscule primary votes. Peripheral players like Stephen Fielding and Ricky Muir can easily end up being pivotal. Yet Fielding won election on less than 2 per cent of the primary vote in Victoria, and Ricky Muir scored a record low of 0.51 per cent. New South Wales, in a bid to stop its ballot papers resembling tablecloths, ruled that more than 2000 people were needed to register a new party. The federal limit remains at 500.

    Steve Fielding and Ricky Muir were not in the Senate at the same time. Consequently, each had one vote out of a total of 76 votes. Fielding was not – and Muir is not – the cause of Senate obstruction. One vote does not a Senate obstruction make. Neither man has ever had a pivotal role in the Senate.

    Yes, New South Wales did increase the number of people needed to register a new party. But the Upper House ticket in the NSW State election in March 2015 still had a ballot paper which resembled a table cloth with hundreds of candidates. Mr Bryant might have known this if he had been in Australia at the time.

    Bryant “Solution” No 3

    More dramatic improvements would surely come from lengthening government terms in office from the present three years to four or five.

    Three year terms for the House of Representatives are mandated in the Constitution. To change this, as your man Bryant knows, requires a constitutional referendum. The prospect of a “Yes” vote on a proposal to extend politicians’ terms from 3 years to 4 or 5 years would have virtually no hope of success. A 4 year term proposal was defeated in 1988. It went down in every State and Territory with the Australia-wide “Yes” vote a mere 33 per cent.

    Bryant “Solution” No 4

    A national debate over the mechanics of democracy might also be the time to consider the ideal balance of power between the olive green wing [i.e. House of Representatives] of Parliament House and the red [i.e. Senate]. After all, the checks and balances of the Australian system, like those of the American, have often in recent years become wrecking balls and roadblocks, thwarting the will even of new governments with strong electoral mandates.

    Any change in the powers of the House of Representatives vis a vis the Senate would also require constitutional referendums – with virtually no prospect of success.

    Bryant “Solution” Ignores the Greens

    Yet The Age thought it appropriate to put forward your man Bryant’s you-beaut thought bubbles as the way to resolve what it termed Australia’s dysfunctional politics. By the way, Nick Bryant did not once mention the fact that the Coalition’s legislation has been defeated in the Senate due primarily to opposition by Labor and the Greens. Yet the Greens are not even mentioned in Mr Bryant’s piece. Can you bear it?


    Meanwhile the Sunday Age last weekend ran with Adam Gartrell’s article, “PM’s garden costs $200k a year”. The reference was to an approval by the Prime Minister’s Department (not the Prime Minister’s Office) for a $600,000, 3 year contract to maintain the grounds at Kirribilli House.

    Mr Gartrell’s piss-poor report also referred to the fact that last year the Prime Minister’s Department spent more than $13,000 on “a new family room rug”.

    It seems that the editors at the Sunday Age are unaware that Kirribilli House is an official residence and is not the personal property of any Prime Minister who resides there. The Kirribilli garden is not the “PM’s garden”. And the rugs inside Kirribilli House are not the personal property of the Prime Minister.

    The implication of the Sunday Age article is that somehow Tony Abbott is responsible for the maintenance of Kirribilli House. This is a complete fiction since he has better things to worry about than overhanging branches which might damage the roof. Yet the Sunday Age chooses to engage in such trivia. Can you bear it?


    While on the topic of “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”, only Andrew Holden’s The Age gave a completely distorted headline to the media beat-up that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was deliberately rude to Stephen Brady – Australia’s Ambassador to France, who happens to be gay.

    The Age ran Peter Hartcher’s non-story on Page 2 under the heading “Diplomat’s gay partner snubbed by Abbott” (at a Paris airport in late April). There was no such snub and the Prime Minister did nothing wrong with respect to his friend of long-standing Stephen Brady and his partner Peter Stephens.

    These are the facts. Diplomatic protocol entails that an Australian prime minister who is travelling with a partner can be met at the foreign airport by an ambassador or high commissioner and his or her partner. But a prime minister travelling alone should only be met by the ambassador/high commissioner.

    Unbeknown to Tony Abbott, a member of his party forwarded instructions that the Prime Minister should be met in Paris by Ambassador Brady only. That is, the protocol should be adhered to. This upset Australia’s man in Paris who seems to have thrown a mild wobbly. But any tension was soon resolved and the PM had a meal with Ambassador Brady and Mr Stephens.

    Yet The Age ran its “Diplomat’s gay partner snubbed by Abbott” story – presumably as part of a campaign by the leftist soviet at “The Guardian-on-the-Yarra” to present the PM as a homophobe. When asked about the beat-up, Age editor Andrew Holden went into “no comment” mode. Can you bear it?

    Legacy Issues


    While on the topic of journalists who go under the bed and refuse to answer questions – consider the case of 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales. As avid MWD readers will be aware, Ms Sales is in denial and refuses to comment on her attempt at a “gotcha moment” when interviewing Defence Minster Kevin Andrews on 14 April 2015.

    During the interview on 7.30, Leigh Sales asked Mr Andrews on no fewer than four occasions “who is the top leader of IS” [or so-called Islamic State]. When the Minister declined to answer Ms Wiki-Sales’ gotcha question, the presenter confidently declared: “The specific person…is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”.

    But was al-Baghdadi the “top-leader” of the Islamic State on 14 April 2015? It appears not – since it seems that he was incapacitated in a US air strike on 18 March 2015. On Wednesday, Hendo sent the following note to Ms Sales:

    Good afternoon Leigh

    The evidence is building that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not in charge of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIL or ISIS) and has not held this position since 18 March 2015.

    As you are no doubt aware, David Blair wrote in the London Daily Telegraph on 3 May 2015 that “Iraq’s government and other sources are convinced that, far from leading his men in battle, Baghdadi now lies critically wounded and in need of constant care”. Blair reported that al-Baghdadi is not in command of ISIL and that de-facto leadership of the organisation has passed to a council of senior commanders, including Abu Alaa al-Afri.

    On all the available evidence, al-Baghdadi was not the so-called Islamic State’s top leader on 14 April 2015 and had not held this position for around three weeks before you interviewed Defence Minister Kevin Andrews on 14 April 2015.

    Mark Scott constantly re-affirms the public’s right to know. When will you let 7.30 viewers know that – at the very least – there is considerable doubt that al-Baghdadi was ISIL’s “top leader” on 14 April 2015?

    Over to you.

    Gerard Henderson

    Leigh Sales is still under-the-bed on this one and still in a state of denial. We’ll let you know if she produces any evidence to support her oh-so-confident assertion that, as of 14 April 2015, al-Baghdadi was the so-called Islamic State’s “top leader”.


    Of the hundreds of thousands of avid MWD readers, hundreds of thousands are bright. Really bright.

    Thanks to the avid – and really bright – MWD reader on Flinders Island who realised that Hendo was not yet fully kitted out to accept a possible invitation to appear at the 2015 Melbourne Writers’ Festival. Consequently, he was still not fully equipped to mix with the Sandalista Set at this literary soviet – which is a gathering point for leftist, Che Guevara-loving, bicycle-riding, sandal-wearers. You see – as the avid MWD reader on Flinders Island noted as of last Friday – Hendo still had no trousers/shorts for the occasion. He only had a Che Guevara beret, a Che Guevara tee-shirt and Che Guevara sandals. But was sans Che Guevara trousers. [My God, thanks to the avid Flinders Island reader. Fancy turning up at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival de-bagged, so to speak – Ed].

    But here’s some good news. Yesterday Hendo managed to purchase a fine pair of hand-me-down Che Guevara trousers at a Paddington (Sydney) opportunity shop. See below. Fashionable in a leftist, bicycle-riding, sandal-wearing Che Guevara kind of way – don’t you think? [I’m not so sure. Perhaps your pants need some acid-washed rips – Ed].

    che g pants

    five paws graphic


    In order of prestige there is the Nobel Prize followed by the Academy Awards followed by Nancy’s Five Paws Awards. On this occasion, the prestigious gong has been shared by an historian and a writer.

    On Monday 24 April 1915, Crikey ran an article by Guy Rundle titled “Rundle: the guns of August, the landing at Gallipoli, and the complicated reasoning of WW1.”

    Now, as avid MWD readers know, Guy Rundle is Hendo’s favourite Marxist comedian. Even so, Rundle (who was once co-editor of the Marxist Arena Journal) writes historical sludge where he trundles out the old left-wing theories about this and that. Rundle’s World War I piece in Crikey was so bad it suggested that he had not done any reading since he graduated from Brighton Grammar School some decades ago.

    On this occasion, Guy Rundle’s Crikey tosh was noticed by the historian Robin Prior who has written widely on the First World War with books published by the likes of Oxford University Press and Yale University Press. Dr Prior called out Mr Rundle for historical ignorance

    Robin Prior writes: Re. “Rundle: the guns of August, the landing at Gallipoli, and the complicated reasoning of WW1” (Friday). What a nostalgic journey Rundle on Gallipoli was. I hadn’t read a hard line Marxist approach to the First World War and to the Middle East in particular since my undergraduate days. Eric Hobsbawm would be over the moon to see this stuff recycled 50 years later. By the way, there have been a few new interpretations since 1968. I can provide a reading list.

    Crikey, Tuesday 28 April 2015

    The following day Robin Prior put out the following tweet:

    Robin Prior – Five Paws


    While on the topic of history, the Australian writer Clive James has done a fine review of John Howard’s The Menzies’ Era in the 17 April 2015 issue of the Times Literary Supplement.

    Clive James, who was born in 1939 – the same year as John Howard – looks back with favour on Australia in the 1950s and early 1960s. The period has long been dismissed by the fashionable left who willingly signed up to the Whitlam Fan Club despite the economic incompetence of Labor’s Gough Whitlam when prime minister between December 1972 and November 1975.

    Clive James also made this unfashionable – but true – point.

    Until recently, in Australia, every ethnic group that came in was assimilated if it wanted to be: the Muslim extremists are the first consignment of immigrants to hate Western civilization almost as much as the resident intellectuals do. The only group that was ever kept out consisted of North Vietnamese boat people, who were kept out by none other than Gough Whitlam: he thought, and even said, that having had experience of a left-wing government they might vote against him. For understandable reasons this wasn’t mentioned at the memorial service, where everyone was too busy being impressed by the information, advanced by an incandescently lovely Cate Blanchett, that because of Whitlam she had received her education for free.

    She would have been granted the same favour by Menzies, who sent my generation to university, even those of us who barely matriculated. After we all got out, swots like Howard became lawyers, while malingerers like myself became artists.

    Clive James: Five Paws

    272 days waiting for david



    While on the topic of Robert Menzies and all that, it’s surely time to give your hugely popular “Waiting for David” score-board another run. After all, it hasn’t had an airing for a full two weeks.

    Menzies v Menzies


    History Corner


    Due to enormous popular demand, History Corner returns this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, Nancy’s (male) co-owner is quite a fan of Adam Zwar’s Agony production – the most recent series of which is now showing on ABC 1.

    It’s just that Hendo cannot take the agony he experiences when one or other of Mr Zwar’s Agony Aunts and Uncles drops an historical howler. Like these:

    Agony Episode 1: The Agony Of The Body

    Dee Madigan: I tell you what, there was never any outcry when Catholic nuns used to wear a very, very similar outfit [to burqas/niqabs]. I don’t remember any outcry at all about that, going “Oh, need to free them from the veil”. So this reeks of racism to me.

    The gorgeous Ms Madigan was taking part in a discussion titled: “The Burqa and the Bikini”. The topic turned on Muslim women who wear burkas or niqabs. There was no debate about the Muslim hijab or headscarf.

    As Dee Madigan should know, up to half a century ago Catholic nuns wore head-to-ankle habits. But the habit never covered a nun’s face. So there is no comparison between contemporary Muslim women who wear the burka/niqab and Catholic nuns of old who wore habits which never covered their faces up to the mid-1960s when they moved to normal attire.

    Dee Madigan’s attempt at moral equivalence in this instance is tosh. Never in the history of Australia did Catholic or, indeed, Anglican nuns cover their faces.

    Agony Episode 2: The Agony of God

    Gael Jennings: How many lives have been lost to religious wars? I mean, I think that, you know, probably more lives have been lost to religious wars than science has managed to save though solving plagues. And you think of genocide and paedophilia, and, you know, it [religion] should have an image problem.

    What a load of tosh. Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) should know that the major wars of the 20th Century had nothing to do with religion. Neither the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War nor the Vietnam War were about religion. Moreover, the Nazi leaders in Germany and the communist leaders in Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba headed secular movements. Both Nazism and communism formally rejected religion and frequently persecuted religious believers. Both Nazism and communism were condemned by Pope Pius XI in encyclicals published in the late 1930s.

    If Dr Jennings really believes that so many lives have been lost to “religious wars”, perhaps she should name the conflicts she has in mind. Don’t hold your breath – the lady does not seem to know much history.


    Nancy’s (male) co-owner always had a soft spot for the followers of the Bolshevik Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). After all, the leader of the Fourth International was not a Stalinist and he and his followers opposed Soviet communism, albeit from the left.

    It’s just that Australia’s most prominent Trot is Alex Mitchell. He is the author of the oh-so-tedious memoir titled Come the Revolution: A Memoir – which was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Sydney Institute Quarterly – see here.

    It told the naïve tale of the naïve Comrade Mitchell who – when in London in the 1970s and 1980s – engaged in “The Strug” (read struggle) with the naïve view that the Trots could come to power in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. For a time Comrade Mitchell was a fervent follower of the Irish-born Trot Gerry Healy who turned out to be both a dictator and a sexual predator of women and who was in the habit of accepting money from the likes of Gaddafi and Arafat.

    These days Mitchell writes for the Crikey newsletter – chairman of the board, Eric Beecher. Mr Beecher is forever lecturing about journalistic standards. However, Crikey runs a rumour segment and cannot afford a fact-checker.

    On Wednesday, Crikey ran this piece by Comrade Mitchell:

    vale the democratic

    Alex Mitchell’s piece was replete with howlers. The Democratic Labor Party, which was formed out of the Labor Split in 1955, started off as the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) in 1955 – not 1956 as Mitchell claimed. It was formally wound up in 1978 – a fact of which Comrade Mitchell seems completely unaware.

    The DLP which emerged in recent decades had no link to the party with which B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) had a relationship. None whatsoever.

    Comrade Mitchell cannot even get his facts right about the new DLP. He claimed in Crikey that Peter Kavanagh was elected as a DLP parliamentarian in 2006 to the Western Australian Upper House. In fact, Mr Kavanagh won a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council.

    It seems that when the original DLP was wound up in 1978, Comrade Mitchell was on the barricades in London with Comrade Healy and missed the news from the home front. In any event, his report on the demise of the real-thing DLP, with which Santamaria was associated, was only out by around four decades. What’s 37 years in a lifetime of “The Strug”?

    This is the May 1978 edition of The Democrat which announced the formal end of the Democratic Labor Party in Victoria.


    nancy facebook

    nancy annual dinner fb post
    nancy tooth fb post
    Dipsy fb post

    [Editor’s Note: MWD will run Nancy’s Friday Facebook when Nancy has an update. It will demonstrate that dogs are just as able as humans in itemising the tedious details of their personal lives and providing useless information which no one needs to read].


    Until next time – keep morale high.

    Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth

    – Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).

    “Gerard’s condescension levels high on #insiders this morning”

    – Lenore Taylor, via Twitter, 22 February 2015

    “Gerard Henderson and David Marr are on #Insiders this week. Like a political Felix and Oscar.”

    – Mark Scott via Twitter 19 February 2015 at 1.10 pm

    “I once called Gerard Henderson `a complete f%^wit’. I deeply regret that. I was being much too harsh on f%^wits.”

    – Malcolm Farr via Twitter 14 February 2015 at 10:14 am

    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