ISSUE – NO. 282

14 AUGUST 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.



“[Gerard Henderson is a] professional filing cabinet”

– Leftist scribbler Jeff Sparrow, Crikey, 13 August 2015

  • Stop Press: All Aboard the Friday Panel in Bagging the PM; Fact Check’s Howler

  • Can You Bear It? Laura Tingle’s Whitlam Revisionism; Paul Bongiorno’s Conspiracy Theory on John Howard; Michael Brissenden’s Interviewing Double-Standards

  • Maurice Newman Segment: On Same Sex Marriage

  • History Corner: More David Day Historical Sludge on Robert Menzies’ Government in World War II

  • Correspondence: John Barron Writes Again but Without Answering the First Question; Tim Bowden Sends an Obsessive Note about Aunty from Pacific Palm & Hendo Writes to Amanda Meade Concerning Her False Allegations


What a stunning Friday Panel on RN Breakfast this morning.

Fran [“I’m an activist”] Kelly was in the presenter’s chair. First topic? Why, same sex marriage – of course. The panel consisted of the best and brightest of the Canberra Press Gallery – Bernard Keane (from the left-wing Crikey newsletter), Lenore Taylor (from the left-wing Guardian Online) and Malcolm (“Gerard Henderson is a complete f-ckwit”) Farr (national political editor,

Needless to say, all three Canberra residents, with the support of the Sydney-based inner-city Ms Kelly, were in furious agreement that the Prime Minister had totally mishandled the same sex marriage issue. But nobody suggested how Tony Abbott could have gone along with their position in support of same sex marriage ­– in view of the fact that this is opposed by a narrow majority in the Liberal Party Room and by a substantial majority in the Liberal Party National Party Joint Party Room.

Soon after the Friday Panel had concluded, Mr Keane headed off to ABC Radio 702 Mornings with Linda Mottram where he said much the same thing in response to much the same questions.

It was a bit like yesterday where Paul Bongiorno bagged the Prime Minister on Radio National Breakfast before proceeding on to ABC Radio 702 Mornings with Linda Mottram where – wait for it – he bagged the Prime Minister again. [See “Can You Bear It?”]



As today’s (enormously popular) Correspondence section reveals, the ABC’s Fact Check Unit employs 11 full-time staff along with 12 contributing researchers. This does not include the Fact Check Unit’s production team. And ABC managing director Mark Scott – who established this bloated entity – reckons that the taxpayer funded broadcaster needs more funding. Yawn.

The Conservative-Free-Zone’s Fact Check Unit is headed by former Age staffer Russell Skelton, who is on record as bagging conservatives. So it came as no surprise yesterday when Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash, put out a media release which stated that “ABC Fact Check has a dubious track record of so-called ‘verdicts’ against the Coalition.” They added that Fact Check attempted to discredit “the Treasurer about government borrowing levels despite them being verified by independent experts who the ABC themselves consulted”.

As The Australian’s “Cut & Paste” documents this morning, yesterday Fact Check presenter John Barron handed down a finding which happened to run the militant CFMEU line (which is supported by the ACTU) on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

The left-wing trade union reckons that the agreement will allow Chinese companies operating in Australia to engage Chinese workers on Australian work sites at the expense of Australian workers.

As Mr Robb and Senator Cash have pointed out, this is “dead wrong”. Under the agreement, Chinese workers can only be employed when it can be proven that no qualified Australian workers are available to do the same job.

The ABC is a heavily unionised work site. Apparently, ABC managing director Mark Scott does not see any perceived conflict of interest in ABC employees who belong to trade unions publicly supporting the position of the trade union movement on this issue – without declaring whether or not they are members of a trade union.

As Andrew Robb and Michaelia Cash have pointed out, the ABC Fact Check Unit has “allowed itself to be sucked in to” the “orbit” of an “aggressive, dishonest, anti-Chinese campaign” being waged by sections of the trade union movement – led by the CFMEU and the ACTU.

Meanwhile, Fact Check presenter John Barron spent part of last week sending emails along with a book to Gerard Henderson – when he could have been urging his bloated team to accentuate facts and eliminate howlers in its analysis of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

See today’s Correspondence Section. [I understand that there is a move in the ABC to rename the Skelton/Barron soviet the Fact Unit: FU, for short – Ed]


Have you read, by chance, Laura Tingle’s “Canberra Observed” opinion piece in today’s Australian Financial Review? Not for the first time, La Tingle is scathing of Tony Abbott and the Coalition. So much so that the AFR’s political editor maintains that the Abbott government is going the way of the Whitlam Labor government (December 1972-November 1975). Here’s a glimpse of Laura Tingle this morning at her scathing best (or worst):

If you hang around in Canberra long enough, you start to recognise the point where a government has become terminal, where the death spiral is irretrievable. It’s got nothing to do with the polls, or leadership rumblings.

It’s the point where the sheer stupidity of its decisions is so obvious, so craven, so contradictory, that everyone involved – ministers, backbenchers, the opposition, the media, voters – just know it can’t go on like this. Some would argue that most of the Whitlam government’s time in office was like that.

Well, fancy that. Could this be the very same Laura Tingle who drooled all over Gough Whitlam and his government when the great man died late last year? Sure could. The AFR’s political editor waxed lyrical about the legacy of the Whitlam Government and quoted favourably the following comment made about him by Noel Pearson:

Apart from Medibank and the Trade Practices Act, cutting tariff protections and no-fault divorce in the Family Law Act, the Australia Council, the Federal Court, the Order of Australia, federal legal aid, the Racial Discrimination Act, needs-based schools funding, the recognition of China, the abolition of conscription, the law reform commission, student financial assistance, the Heritage Commission, ­non-discriminatory immigration rules, community health clinics, Aboriginal land rights, paid maternity leave for public servants, lowering the minimum voting age to 18 years, and fair electoral boundaries and Senate representation for the territories. Apart from all of this, what did this Roman ever do for us?

So last November Laura Tingle reminded her readers “what a world wind of change the former Prime Minister blew into every corner of quiet, dull little Australia in 1972”. But today Laura Tingle advises her readers that Tony Abbott (allegedly) is as bad as Gough Whitlam once was. Can you bear it?



The ABC still cannot find a conservative commentator for any of its prominent daily or weekly programs. When vacant spots have occurred in recent times, ABC recruiters have looked fondly on the likes of Channel 10’s Paul Bongiorno, Crikey’s Bernard Keane, Crikey’s Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green and more besides.

These days your man Bongiorno appears at least once a week on both Radio National Breakfast and 702 Mornings with Linda Mottram. He runs a predictable anti-Abbott line, with which Ms Mottram invariably concurs. Bonge also occasionally re-writes history to fit in with the left-wing interpretation of the world. Like yesterday when he made the following comment on the 1999 constitutional referendum on whether Australia should become a republic. Let’s go to the transcript:

Paul Bongiorno: The history of referendum in this country is that they all go down. The people that are proposing it [a referendum] are the Christian lobby, Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott – people who actually don’t want this to happen. And, of course, you’ve got a model in the Republican referendum.

There was substantial public support in the opinion polls for an Australian head of state. But a very wily and nifty Prime Minister John Howard, who was opposed to a republic, was able to split the republicans and was able to set it up in such a way that it went down. And that’s precisely what Tony Abbott is on about.

This is absolute tosh. Nancy’s co-owners voted “Yes” in the republican referendum in 1999. They both supported the model which Malcolm Turnbull essentially proposed. However, the republican cause was undermined when the republicans split over the model – and the likes of Phil Cleary in Melbourne, Ted Mack in Sydney and Clem Jones in Brisbane voted “No”. This trio called themselves “The Real Republicans”.

The “Yes” case may not have prevailed – in that it may not have acquired a majority of voters in a majority of States – even if the republicans were united. But the conflict within the Australian Republican Movement over the model was a key factor in the defeat of the referendum. And yet Bonge wants to put all the blame for the failure on John Howard. Can you bear it?



ABC defenders who maintain that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster does not have a Green/Left tinge should have a listen to the interviews which Michael Brissenden did with Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday (see here) and former Greens leader Christine Milne on Tuesday (see here).

Mr Brissenden was aggressive in his interview with Mr Hunt – consistently interrupting and, on occasions, appearing to engage in mock laughter. However, your man Brissenden was oh-so-courteous and polite with Ms Milne – who was interviewed at some length on the Abbott government’s climate targets despite the fact that she has now retired and holds no public office. Can you bear it?

Due to speaking commitments, Grandparents’ Day and so on – a number of items have been held over this week. This includes a response to avid readers who commented on MWD’s criticism last Friday of the suggestion that Josef Stalin and the communist regime in Moscow brought about the defeat of Imperial Japan without firing a shot in anger.

Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run 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 public broadcaster. See MWD passim.


What a stunning “debate” on ABC1’s The Drum last Monday.

As is invariably the case on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, discussion soon turned on – yes, you’ve got it – Same Sex Marriage.

Steve Cannane was in the presenter’s chair. And so it came to pass that Richard Denniss (of the left wing Australia Institute) criticised Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s opposition to legislating for Same Sex Marriage in the term of the current Parliament.

Ian Hickie (of the University of Sydney) essentially agreed with Dr Denniss (for a doctor he is). Then the ABC’s very own Ticky Fullerton essentially agreed with Dr Hickie (for a medical doctor he is) who, in turn essentially agreed with Richard Denniss, who, in turn, essentially agreed with Ticky Fullerton who, in turn, essentially agreed with Ian Hickie who, with the encouragement of Steve Cannane, agreed with himself.

Under Nice Mr Scott’s role as ABC editor-in-chief, guests on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster seem to be encouraged to be as rude as possible. Especially to political and social conservatives. So it came as no surprise when Dr Denniss described the Abbott government as “barking mad”.

Meanwhile Ticky Fullerton put the blame for opposition to Same Sex Marriage on believers in “Christianity”. She seemed unaware that there are many opponents of Same Sex Marriage in the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities – along with some atheists.

In case the Same Sex Marriage cause needed an additional boost, Steve Cannane drew viewers’ attention to an article on The Drum website. It was a piece by Sydney University academic Dr Peter Chen (for a doctor he is) which was very critical of Tony Abbott and, wait for it, declared: “If Nixon could go to China, Abbott can come to Oxford Street.” Enough said.

And now the scoreboard:

Maurice Newman – 5

Jonathan Holmes – Zip

[I’m surprised that you did not mention the “debate” on ABC Radio 702’s “Drive with Richard Glover” last night. There John Mangos essentially agreed with Jenny Brockie who essentially agreed with Ian McPhedran who essentially agreed with John Mangos who essentially agreed with himself that Same Sex Marriage was all the go. No other view was heard. – Ed]


David Day has told MWD that he is flat-out as a lizard drinking. So busy, indeed, that after almost a year he has still not found time to produce evidence to justify the essential thesis of his book Menzies & Churchill at War. Namely, that in 1941 the powers-that-be in Britain seriously considered replacing incumbent prime minister Winston Churchill with Australian prime minister Robert Menzies. And that Mr Menzies went along with the proposal.

The idea that, in 1941, some influential Brits believed that there was no one in Britain capable of leading the nation at war – and that the British would have to go to the Dominions to get a chap named Menzies to take on Nazi Germany – sounds a bit bizarre.

No wonder, then, that Dr Day (for a doctor he is) has not been able to provide the name of one Churchill biographer – or one historian of Britain in the 20th Century – who supports this thesis. Not one. Nor has he been able to produce evidence that Robert Menzies was naïve enough to believe that he was in with a chance to call 10 Downing Street home.

We’ll let you know if David Day comes up with any evidence. [It’s a bit like David Day’s book on Paul Keating – now pulped. There Dr Day suggested that the former Labor prime minister was dyslexic – despite not having any evidence to support his theory and without fact-checking with Mr Keating – Ed].

In any event, David Day was not too busy to appear on ABC Radio 702 Drive with Richard Glover on Monday – in the “Political Forum”, no less.

Discussion turned on the 1940 plane crash in Canberra which had killed several senior members of Robert Menzies’ United Australia Party’s government. Dr Day made a comment on the crash. Then the left-wing academic ran the leftist line on the first Menzies government. Let’s go to the transcript:

David Day: Well it [the plane crash] had a huge impact on Menzies. I mean, any sort of sudden death like that of your colleagues makes you reassess your own life – I think. And Menzies said that it felt like the whole world had ended for him. And, of course, he was just about to go into an election. He goes into the election and one of those seats, the seat of one of the people that died, was taken by Arthur Coles – who became an Independent member [and] who later switched his support to John Curtin. So had that crash not happened, one imagines that Menzies may well have been able to hold out throughout the war….

The Arthur Coles thing was one thing that could have let Menzies keep in power. And that could have had lots of dire effects on Australia – because he wasn’t a great one, in my view, for defending Australia.

What a load of tosh.

In September 1939, Robert Menzies declared war on Nazi Germany. At the time, the Communist Party of Australia, and members of the pro-communist left within the labour movement, supported the Nazi-Soviet (or Hitler-Stalin) Pact. Consequently they opposed, and attempted to sabotage, the war effort.

Moreover Labor, under the leadership of John Curtin, opposed the deployment of Australian forces to the war against Nazi Germany. At the time, Labor believed that the Australian Defence Force should remain within Australia. David Day did not tell 702 listeners this. Convenient, eh?

What’s more, the government headed by Joseph Lyons (who died in April 1939) and Robert Menzies, prepared Australia for war. Despite the impact of the Great Depression and all that.

As Anne Henderson documents in her book Menzies At War, the senior Defence Department public servant Frederick Shedden (who served both the Menzies and Curtin governments) acknowledged the role played by Robert Menzies as prime minister between April 1939 and August 1941 in preparing Australia for the Pacific War.

In an unpublished manuscript, which Ms Henderson located at the National Archives of Australia, Frederick Shedden had this to say about the defence legacy of the first Menzies government:

Some critics have charged the United Australia Party with lack of vigour in defence preparations since 1933, when the Nazi threat began to emerge, but many overlook the economic situation at the time… The effects of the world depression on the Australian economy, and the demands for restoration of cuts made to the budget, had a restrictive influence on what could be devoted to defence. Admittedly, Australia entered on vast expenditure on the entry of Japan into the war but…he would be a bold person who would assert that more might have been done.

The military results of Curtin’s miraculous conversion through responsibility when he came to power, and the measures he took at great personal political risk to have the Defence platform of the Labor Party amended, could not have been immediately effective, but for the foundations laid by the Defence Programming of the preceding United Australia Party Governments. Curtin generously acknowledged the inheritance he had received.

Clearly Frederick Shedden – who was in a position to know – did not hold the view that Menzies “wasn’t a great one…for defending Australia”. David Day just made this up.

[Perhaps it would be a good idea to publish an up-date of David Day/Anne Henderson score board – Ed]



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 tens of millions 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 MWD 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.


Believe it or not, this correspondence commenced when Hendo asked the presenter of the ABC’s taxpayer funded Fact Check Unit about his position on what is – or is not – a broken promise. As avid MWD readers will be aware, Mr Barron wrote this to the Adelaide-based Dr Barney McCusker (the story was broken by Chris Kenny in his “Media Watch Watch” column in The Australian on 27 July 2015):

John Barron: In our view, a promise is broken if the government fails to deliver it either through a change in policy or an inability to deliver it – such as enacting legislation. So it is true that a promise can be broken willingly or unwillingly in politics just as it can be in life.

Hendo was surprised by the position taken by the Fact Check Unit – which led to a situation that the Abbott government could be accused of breaking a promise even if it put a pre-election commitment into legislation which was subsequently defeated in the Senate.

Hendo then asked Mr Barron as to whether he would describe ABC managing director Mark Scott’s 2006 promise to bring greater diversity to the ABC as a broken promise. This was motivated, in part, by the fact that John Barron’s boss – a certain Russell Skelton – if a left-of-centre type who took the familiar path from the leftist Age to the ABC.

Mr Skelton is one of the many left-wing types who have got ABC gigs under Mr Scott’s management. No conservative has been appointed to a prominent program at the ABC during Nice Mr Scott’s tenure.

John Barron has declined to answer Hendo’s question while running with all sorts of gags including a suggestion that he should be paid $1 a word if what he writes as a taxpayer funded ABC operative is quoted in the media. Mr Barron even sent Hendo a copy of his (boring) book Is That a Fact? [Is that a fact? – Ed.]

In this most recent correspondence, Gerard Henderson learnt that John Barron regards him as “a duffer” [Gee, this must have hurt – Ed] and that he likes “The Rolling Stones and The Beatles”. But Hendo did not learn whether John Barron regards Nice Mr Scott’s 2006 pledge to provide greater diversity to the ABC as a broken promise. Now read on – if you feel so inclined.

John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 7 August 2015

Hi Gerard – haha, you are a duffer!

Of course I can locate the Sydney Institute address, I simply wished to confirm that is where you would like it to be sent.

As for my view, I have been blessed with a lack of opinion on most things.

I even like both The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.


2nd Email – John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 7 August 2015

Hi Gerard, sorry, I hope I didn’t miss your MWD deadline – busy day in the fact checking business.

I hope you managed to fill that funny old column of yours.

Always delighted to help.

$1 per word.


Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 14 August 2015


I have received a copy of your book Is That a Fact? which is published by ABC Books. No surprise there. However, I was surprised to learn in the Acknowledgements section that the Fact Check team consists of 11 full time staff plus 12 contributing researchers. This does not include the production crew and advisers.

In view of this somewhat large back office, I am surprised that you have not been able to answer my question about what constitutes a broken promise – and whether your employer Mark Scott was guilty of a broken promise when he failed to deliver greater diversity to the ABC, including the ABC’s very own Fact Check Unit.

I will not be continuing this correspondence unless your answer is straight-forward since I have better things to do on a Friday. Like walking Nancy and so on.

Give lotsa love to Comrade Skelton and the Fact Check team of one score plus.

Over and out.

Gerard Henderson

* * * * * *


On Monday Hendo received a missive from Tim Bowden about his column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday (see here) concerning the ABC. As those of a certain age will recall, Mr Bowden was one of the original sneering leftists at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster who used to present the supercilious BackChat program on ABC TV.

Hendo receives the occasional email from the Pacific Palm based Mr Bowden – who invariably defends the ABC against any criticism. Lest MWD be accused by Tim Bowden’s comrades of planting “deliberate mistakes” into Tim Bowden’s prose – his errors have been highlighted with a “sic”. [When I read his turgid letter I felt a little (sic). – Ed]

Tim Bowden to Gerard Henderson – 10 August 2015

Dear Gerard,

I can’t believe you are STILL banging that tired old drum about ABC left wing bias in your usual tiresome nitpicking way. It clearly matters little to you that over 80 per cent of ABC listeners (according to many opinion polls over the years) appreciate and like what the ABC is doing. But you and that vitriolic stable of ABC-bashers in The Australian go on and on. Your piece in the news section of the Oz on August 8 for God’s sake, not even in The Inquirer, was its usual mish mash of bile, paranoia, and deeply entrenched hatreds.

Some years ago, I opined in an address to the Brisbane Institute that your views on the ABC seemed to come ‘from your spinal chord, not your brain’. You took exception to this, and tried to get the Institute to take down my speech from their website (adding censorship to your list of inconsistencies). They didn’t. Well I’m saying it again.

You conveniently brushed aside the fact that when Stuart Littlemore was the original presenter of Media Watch in the early 1990s (before Google) and he trawled through old newspaper files to reveal your paragraphs of recycled invective about the ABC’s alleged vile left wing bias. Although you have doubtless had to be more careful not to plagiarise yourself any more in the digital age, you are still singing the same old refrains.

You applauded the ABC Board’s decision to buckle to Prime Minister Abbott’s outrageous interference in the ABC’s editorial policies, to put Q & A under the allegedly more editorially rigorous News Division. Well what a surprise. You should have been condemning this sledgehammer to crack a nut that was only ever a storm in a teacup until it was beaten up by the usual suspects. I also think it rich that you bring up Prime Minister Hawke’s equally improper railings against the ABC for attempting to take a balanced position on the Iraq war, which history has now revealed to have been a singularly ill-judged disaster. Hawke’s pro Zionist attitudes should not have been allowed free rein without being questioned. And when the academic who mildly put up some other views on the conflict was pilloried and the ABC forced to drop him as a commentator, it was a travesty of democracy and reasoned debate. Doubtless you applauded.

You wrote, ‘The re-positioning of Q & A within the management structure is a useful reform in that the news and current affairs unit is expected to focus on accuracy, rather than entertainment’. Entertainment Gerard? God help us. How terrible! I happen to be of the view that the cardinal rule of broadcasting should be ‘Thou shalt not bore’. What is the point of Q & A unless it is canvassing a variety of opinions from a pot pourri of speakers that entertains, not bores us rigid with the kind of sententious political correctness you seem to be advocating. This reminds me that we once shared spots the last half hour of ABC’s Radio National’s Breakfast when Peter Thompson hosted it in the mid-1990s. You were brought on board as part of the ABC’s then effort to bring on more conservative commentators. I recall you didn’t last all that long, which I am sure you put down to the leftie in house culture. It wasn’t. I happen to know why you were dropped, not because of your political persations [sic], but because you were so dull.

I should not have to say this to you yet again, but the personal political views of presenters are irrelevant, as long as they ask pertinent and difficult questions of either side. As Kerry O’Brien did in his day on 7.30, and so does Leigh Sales. I recall when I was doing BackChat on ABC TV in the late 1980s and early 90s, Prue [sic] Goward took over from Richard Carleton when he left TDT. Now Prue [sic] as you know is no leftie, and is now a minister in the NSW Liberal Government. She and her husband wrote a biography of John Howard which was an unapologetic hagiography. Yet people used to write to me at BackChat to complain was [sic] a nasty little leftie she was. One correspondent dubbed her, ‘Our little acid drop’. At the risk of being a bore myself, Gerard, she was simply doing her job. For God’s sake get over it. Perhaps you need some psychological counselling about your deeply entrenched ABC obsessions.

Phillip Adams once revealed, himself, that he was fascinated by conservatives, and often had them on Late Night Live – like William Buckley Jr and a raft of others in that camp. You also said that no one at the ABC seemed to be able to name conservative presenters. What about Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer? Or are they not strident enough in your view? It is just possible they like their programs to be ‘entertaining’. And as for Murdoch’s Fox News giving more weight to lefties than the ABC does to conservatives – are you having a lend us [sic] us? Because you would have to be joking.

If the ABC is ever run in a way that pleases you, and the rest of your ABC-hating confreres on the Oz, it is unlikely to have a national audience of any useful or relevant size. You would be delighted, I am sure. But perhaps there is hope. The ABC survived in reasonable shape after having Janet Albrechsen [sic] on the Board (at least she had to stop writing her anti-ABC pieces in her column while she was there) and former Board Chairman Maurice Newman, climate change denyer [sic] extraordinaire, and who recently I heard, wrote a piece in The Australian saying the ABC should be abolished! With friends like that, who needs enemas?


Tim B

Gerard Henderson to Tim Bowden – 14 August 2015

Dear Tim

How nice to hear from you after all these years – your email of 10 August 2015 refers.

It’s great to know that you appear to be in good health at your Pacific Palm abode. For my part, I’m delighted – absolutely delighted – that my taxes over the years have helped, albeit in a small way, to sustain your taxpayer subsidised superannuation following your three decade long career at the ABC. I guess this is because I’m a nice kind of (courteous) guy.

In response to your (long) missive, I make the following comments:

▪ Your reference to my column in The Weekend Australian of 8-9 August 2015 consists of abuse. Stating that my piece was a “usual mish-mash of bile, paranoia and deeply entrenched hatreds” is not an argument. Just abuse.

You assert that I am part of “a vitriolic stable of ABC-bashers in The Australian”. In fact, you objected to my columns on the ABC when I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald between 1990 and 2013.

▪ I did not ask the Brisbane Institute (of recent memory) to take down from its website your speech titled “Managing the ABC – Mission Impossible?” of 16 July 2002. As the record demonstrates, I merely asked Peter Spearritt (the Brisbane Institute’s executive director) to correct certain specified errors in your abuse-ridden address. He declined.

As it turned out, Dr Spearritt put in a dismal performance at the Brisbane Institute and – as I understand it – the institute closed some years after he left the post. So, in the event, your talk was taken down and no longer appears on the Brisbane Institute website – since no such website is extant. All without any help from me. Fancy that.

It turned out that Dr Spearritt regarded your abusive reference to “baying hounds of the right” who were “foaming at the crutch” as compatible with the intellectual standards required by the Brisbane Institute. No wonder the organisation failed.

▪ As I advised you previously, the then ABC TV Media Watch presenter Stuart Littlemore did not reveal a quarter of a century ago that I plagiarised myself. He failed to understand that an article which I wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald had been repeated elsewhere. Like Peter Spearritt, Stuart Littlemore invariably denied that he had made mistakes and did not make corrections.

As you may or may not recall, you conceded at the time that you did not regard your Brisbane Institute address as a “research project” – meaning that it was written without research or even fact-checking. You did not check your Littlemore assertion with me before delivering your speech.

▪ I note that you regard the United Nations endorsed military action to drive Saddam Hussein’s invading army out of Kuwait in 1991 as “a singularly ill-judged disaster”. Really. You apparently believe that Iraq should have been allowed to occupy Kuwait in 1990.

You refer to Labor prime minister Bob Hawke as having “pro-Zionist attitudes” at the time. As you may or may not know, Israel had nothing whatsoever to do with the First Gulf War – except that it was the recipient of missiles fired by Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime in Iraq. This is just an example of your obsession with the Jewish state.

▪ As you may or may not be aware, even the leftist David Salter (formerly Stuart Littlemore’s executive producer) has said that Q&A is “entertainment” – see David Salter’s article in Crikey, 6 August 2015.

▪ According to your “recall”, I “didn’t last all that long” when I had a Friday commentary slot on Radio National Breakfast. In fact, my segment ran from 1994 (during Paul Keating’s prime ministership) until just after the defeat of John Howard’s government in late 2007. – i.e. 13 years. You should do some research.

By the way, Tim Latham (the then executive producer of RN Breakfast) made it very clear that he received numerous requests that I be dropped from my weekly slot on account of my political views.

▪ You state that the “personal political views of presenters are irrelevant, as long as they ask pertinent and difficult questions of either side”. This overlooks the reality that the criticism of the ABC turns on the fact that it tends to criticise both the Coalition and Labor from the left.

▪ As I understand it, when Pru Goward joined the ABC she was on the left. The same is true of Sarah Henderson. The ABC has a record of not employing conservatives to prominent positions.

▪ As you should be aware, my criticism of the ABC is that it does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. Neither Amanda Vanstone nor Tom Switzer present prominent programs.

That fact is that Fox News does have paid left-of-centre contributors on its prominent daily or weekly programs. The list includes:

1. Bob Beckel: Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in Jimmy Carter’s administration and former national campaign manager for Walter Mondale.

2. Kirsten Powers: Formerly a Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Public Affairs in Bill Clinton’s administration.

3. Geraldo Rivera: A self-proclaimed Democrat voter and vocal supporter of President Barack Obama.

4. Alan Colmes: A self-proclaimed left-liberal commentator who is consistently critical of conservatives.

5. Joe Trippi: Formerly a campaign manager for Howard Dean, Tony Blair and Edward Kennedy.

The ABC has not one paid right-of-centre contributor on its prominent daily or weekly programs. If you believe I am wrong, please name names.

▪ You obviously have a bad memory. You sent me an email on 22 March 2010 in which you referred to Maurice Newman as a “good chairman” of the ABC. Now you claim that the ABC “survived” Mr Newman’s chairmanship. Please explain – as the saying goes.

In conclusion I should state that the attempted humour in the reference to “enemas” in the final sentence of your email indicates that – in retirement – you have not discontinued your tradition of “fart” jokes. One of which you related on ABC National Breakfast some time ago. Our previous correspondence refers.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson

PS: In your spare time at Pacific Palm you might compose a list of any prominent ABC presenter, producer or editor who opposes same sex marriage or an emissions trading scheme or who supports Operation Sovereign Borders. You won’t need much paper.


Like Tim Bowden, from time to time, Amanda Meade – currently The Guardian Online’s media correspondent – gets upset when Hendo criticises the lack of diversity within the ABC. Ms Meade ran this line again in her “The Weekly Beast” column on 5 August 2015.

Hendo wrote to Amanda Meade about the howler in her piece. But, alas, at the time MWD went and today there has been no response. [Perhaps Ms Meade should enrol in your courtesy courses – Ed].

Gerard Henderson to Amanda Meade – 13 August 2015


My attention has been drawn to your edition of “The Weekly Beast” in The Guardian of 5 August 2015 in which you made the following comment.

Promoting a book is as easy as A, B, C …

Gerard Henderson has made a career out of criticising the ABC. His tedious Media Watch Dog blog, now republished by The Australian every Friday, is packed with gripes about Aunty, which he says is bloated, left wing and hopelessly out of touch with real Australians.

Hendo listens to and watches everything he can, searching for ways in which to lambast the ABC’s presenters as biased. So where does the grumpy ABC critic go when he has a book to sell? Why the ABC, of course.

The Weekly Beast heard Hendo talking about Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man on Sydney’s 702 Drive with Richard Glover, Late Night Live with Phillip Adams and Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue all in one week.

So we investigated a little further and discovered Hendo had been everywhere. He had also been flogging his book on Adelaide’s 891 Mornings, Brisbane’s 612 Mornings and Melbourne’s 774 Drive. Oh, and Lateline did a story last week, too. Let us know if you have spotted him anywhere else on that dreadful public broadcaster.

It is true that I accepted invitations from some ABC programs to discuss my recently published book on B.A. Santamaria. Why not? Australians interested in the subject of my biography are entitled to hear my views on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Are you suggesting that the ABC (a Conservative-Free-Zone which does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets) should censor the views of anyone who criticises its lack of diversity? Surely not.

By the way, you did not hear me talking about my book on Geraldine Doogue’s Saturday Extra. You just made this up. In fact, I have never been interviewed on Saturday Extra – or, for that matter, Sunday Extra.

For the record, I rarely appear on the ABC. For example, Phillip Adams invited me on to LNL on 30 July 2015 to discuss Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man. This was the first invitation I received from Phillip to appear on his program in a quarter of a century.

The only ABC program on which I appear regularly is Insiders – I was first invited on to the program in 2002.

In view of the fact that you have accused me of hypocrisy for criticising the ABC, while appearing on the ABC, I have set out below the interviews I have given on the taxpayer public broadcaster over the past four years. The list includes the interviews about Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man which so upset you.

7.30: Zero

ABC 1 The Drum: Zero

Q&A: Zero

Big Ideas – TV and Radio: Zero

ABC News 24: Zero

RN Drive: Zero

RN Saturday Extra: Zero

RN Sunday Extra: Zero

774 Mornings (Melbourne): Zero

702 Mornings (Sydney): Zero

702 Drive: 1

774 Drive: 1

891 Mornings (Adelaide): 1

ABC 1 News Breakfast: 1

ABC News Radio: 1

Radio National Breakfast: 1

Late Night Live: 1

612 Mornings (Brisbane): 3

AM, The World Today, PM: 4 (estimated)

Lateline: 6 (four interviews, two “grabs”)

Insiders: 30 (estimated)

My appearances on the ABC are miniscule compared with such left-wing commentators as David Marr – who is on record as having said that all journalists should be leftists. Mr Marr is a “rent-an-opinion” when the ABC is discussing George Pell or Tony Abbott and invariably receives soft interviews.

So your assertion that I have been “everywhere” on the ABC – is simply a figment of your (somewhat vivid) imagination.

By the way, I am not “grumpy” about the ABC. I have no wish to become a media tart – like some commentators. My criticism of the ABC turns on its lack of diversity – which no one at the ABC has ever challenged or denied.

Moreover, the ABC’s lack of balance over some four decades – which has been publicly criticised by such incumbent prime ministers as Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard and Tony Abbott – has provided me with considerable writing and speaking opportunities concerning the ABC’s Green/Left agenda.

As I have said to some ABC managers and journalists – I have a vested interest in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster not being reformed. It gives me topics to write and talk about – and it has annoyed you and others for many years.

Keep morale high – and lotsa love to you and your comrades at the leftist Guardian Online.

Gerard Henderson

Until next time – keep morale high.

Leaving the house to avoid listening to GHenderson on @774melbourne

– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“gerard henderson trending on twitter, omg [looks out window, where the sun is eclipsed and the sky blood-red] oh yeah that makes sense”

– Adam Brereton via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Gerard Henderson on @891adelaide right now & I find myself shouting at my radio. What a morning”

– Louise Pascale via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“oh hell why is Gerard Henderson trending? Has boredom become the new black.”

– MNihilon via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Told I made the late Gerard Henderson’s little blog today. Read it. What a rancorous, nauseating, humourless little turd he is.

– Mike Carlton via Twitter during Gin & Tonic Time on 12 June 2015.

“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”

– David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015

To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.

– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015

Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here

– Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015

[Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.

– Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015

I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you

– Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

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