GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 297
27 NOVEMBER 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.
- Media Fool of the Week: Melbourne University’s Nicholas Reece on the “Monkey Pod” (Public) Conspiracy
- Leigh Sales, Louise Milligan plus David Marr on Cardinal George Pell with a Different View from Frank Brennan
- Correspondence: Katharine Murphy Helps Out with Christmas Greetings with Some Fashion Advice for Hendo; The Ever Sensitive ABC Radio Head Michael Mason defends the ABC against MWD
- THE PRIMACY OF WELL EARNED BREAKS & PROCESS AT NICE MR SCOTT’S ABC
It’s Friday 27 November 2015. In Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament is still sitting. In Europe, France and Belgium remain traumatised by the threat of Islamist attacks. In the conflict against the so-called Islamist State – or Daesh – there is tension between Russia and Turkey. In Britain and the United States there is a debate about what should be the response to Daesh. And so on.
Meanwhile in Australia some of ABC1 key programs have already gone into what journalists call a Well Earned Break. Four Corners, Q&A and Media Watch shut down last Monday and will remain closed for over two months.
The December 2015 issue of The Australian Financial Review Magazine – published today – contains a story by Anne Hyland on ABC managing director titled “his ABC”. In a generally soft piece, Anne Hyland makes the following point concerning Mark Scott’s ten years at the ABC:
The pace has certainly been manic over the past decade as the ABC rolled out podcasts, multiple websites, a television catch-up service in iview, apps for its radio services and additional digital television channels – including ABC News 24 – along with embracing social media. Most of these initiatives came well in advance of its commercial peers….
The ABC now has multiple television and radio channels and more besides. But, despite an annual budget of over $1 billion, some of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s key news and current affairs programs on the ABC’s main channel go into a ridiculously long Silly Season vacation. Why, even ABC’s Offsiders program closes down during the 2015-16 summer of sport.
This does not look like an organisation which is well managed. Moreover, despite a friendly profile, Mr Scott concedes that over recent years he has handled badly some of the key controversies involving the ABC. Mr Scott blames the ABC’s “process” for the mistakes involved. This overlooks the fact that Mark Scott had a decade to reform the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s bureaucracy-ridden process.
- WHEN LEIGH SPOKE “TO MALCOLM”
God knows why the taxpayer funded public broadcaster bothers to run an expensive publicity department when ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott likes to do the job himself.
Last night, Nancy’s male co-owner was alerted to a tweet from Nice Mr Scott to the pending interview by 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Unlike her interview with the new PM on 21 September 2015, last night Leigh Sales did not do a fawning interview. But it was soft, nevertheless. Imagine what Ms Sales would have said if Tony Abbott had just returned from a prime ministerial visit overseas during which he had, (i) told President Barack Obama to find out what is happening with respect to naval visits to Darwin by reading News Corp’s NT News, (ii) failed to understand that United States and Australian ships use the Port of Darwin on occasions and (iii) spoken to China’s premier Li Keqiang about the lessons to be learnt from the Peloponnesian War including a warning that China should not “fall into a Thucydides Trap” and all that. Just imagine. Sure, Mr Turnbull’s trip was successful. It’s just that the 7.30 presenter would almost certainly not let Tony Abbott get away with any errors of commission or omission.
In fact, there were no hard questions last night as Ms Sales spoke to the prime minister, whom she occasionally calls “Malcolm”. Indeed, when the Prime Minister said that there were people advocating that Australia should “unilaterally” send combat forces to take on the so-called Islamic State – an enquiring presenter might have asked the names of such advocates. Ms Sales was not in enquiry mode last night. So, alas, we do not know who the PM had in mind.
- DR FARRELLY JUST LOVES THE MAN SHE CALLS “MALCOLM”
While on the topic of the Man called Malcolm [I hope you’re not about to use that truly dreadful “Malcolm-in-the-Middle” cliché – Ed], consider yesterday’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times by Elizabeth Farrelly. It was headed “Malcolm is here for the long haul”.
Some years ago Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) was engaged by the SMH to write a column on architecture (for an architect she is) – with particular reference to Sydney. Now maybe there are only limited topics to cover when it comes to knocking down old buildings and building new ones in the CBD and the inner-city. In any event, it was not long before Dr Farrelly was writing about politics and all that – much to the happiness of inner-city sandal wearing leftists of the “not-in-my-backyard” disposition.
But MWD digresses. In yesterday’s column, Elizabeth Farrelly came not to bury Malcolm Turnbull but to fawn all over him. This is how her column commenced:
As a child I had a corner bedroom with a big bay window opening onto dark trees. When, as kids do, I worried about a bogeyman coming in to get me, I’d send up a silent prayer: “Just let him be smart”. An intelligent bogeyman, I figured, was one you could reason with. It was the stupid, emotion-crazed bogeyman, inaccessible to logic, you had to fear. I feel the same now about Malcolm. Already, after only a few weeks, the country feels different. The air itself has a new edge. And that edge has a name. Intelligence.
Wow. Dr Farrelly went on to use the word “intelligence” or “intelligent” on no fewer than – wait for it – 13 occasions. She wrote that Bob Hawke was “clever” and that Paul Keating possessed “intelligence”. But, according to Farrelly, Hawke did not approach the country with his “intelligence unholstered” and Paul Keating did not use his intelligence as “a bridge”. It seems that the learned doctor regards Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam as lacking in intelligence. Quite a call really – even for an architect-turned-political commentator.
Early on, the SMH columnist decided that it was quite okay to call Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by his first name “Malcolm”.
So here’s my prediction. Malcolm – who like Beyonce is known universally by his first name – will be the longest-serving prime minister since Menzies. Possibly ever.
In Elizabeth Farrelly’s column, the word “Turnbull” is not mentioned – and there are 13 references to “Malcolm”. Like Beyonce, “Malcolm” does not need a surname. [It’s hard to believe that SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir publishes such sludge – Ed].
Since Robert Menzies served a total of 18 years as prime minister, Dr Farrelly is predicting that “Malcolm”, who is aged 61, could remain prime minister until just before his 80th birthday. She also seemed unaware that Robert Menzies’ political longevity was assisted by the Labor Party Split of the mid-1950s. She certainly prophesised that Malcolm Turnbull will remain prime minister longer than John Howard – which would leave him in The Lodge until around 2027, aged 72.
After going on and on and on about the rule of “Intelligence” under Malcolm Turnbull, Elizabeth Farrelly concluded her piece as follows:
When Malcolm says “good teachers change lives”; when he reminds the G20 of the “potential for renewable energy, especially solar”; when he warns China “not to fall into a Thucydides trap”, bringing war to the South China Sea; when he promises friendship and support to Indonesia or insists – in contrast with Abbott’s relentless “bomb them” belligerence – that Paris demands a political solution: throughout, you sense the cool and true moral intelligence at the helm. Relief is what I feel, like the southerly buster after a 40-degree day. It says my inner child was right. The weak and stupid are the ones to fear.
So Fairfax Media pays Elizabeth Farrelly to write about how her “inner child” was correct in wanting an “intelligent bogeyman” – rather than a dumb one – to “get” her. Can you bear it?
- NIKI SAVVA’S JUNIOR MOMENT – ABOUT THE MAN SHE CALLS “TONY RUDD”
These days the term “senior moment” has a certain, widely understood, meaning. But what about a “junior moment”? Is there such a phenomenon?
Well, apparently, yes. The Australian columnist Niki Savva seemed to have had a junior moment in her article on Wednesday titled “Calm in the Face of Feather Dusters”. It was, yet another attack by Niki Savva on Tony Abbott who resigned as prime minister over two months ago.
Ms Savva reverted to a kind of undergraduate writing style which she should have junked decades ago – or, better still, never have embraced in the first place. You be the judge.
▪ NS accused Tony Abbott, when prime minister, of “frightening the pants off” the electorate. Yet, as Nancy’s (male) co-owner recalls, Aussie blokes and sheilas seemed to be dressed below the waist during the time of what Abbott-haters seem to regard as the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship.
▪ NS referred to Mr Abbott as “the former prime rooster”. In fact, NS so regarded this piece of (undergraduate) humour that she repeated it. Traditionally, commentators respect the office of Prime Minister even if they do not respect the person who holds it.
▪ NS asserted that anyone who did not agree with every aspect of Malcolm Turnbull’s handling of national security issues is “seriously unhinged”.
▪ NS maintained that Tony Abbott looked “goofy on the world stage”. The fact is that Mr Abbott’s approach to so-called Islamic State was well regarded in Washington, London, Paris and more besides.
▪ NS referred to Tony Abbott as “Tony Rudd”. How funny can you get?
▪ NS also referred to Tony Abbott and his unnamed supporters as “feather dusters” twice. The rooster/feather duster line is one of the oldest jokes in Australian politics.
▪ Then, buried in all this undergraduate abuse, was the following statement:
They [i.e. Abbott’s “roosters”] believe, mistakenly, that they have found Turnbull’s soft spot: national security. Based on what is not immediately obvious. True, Turnbull is not bellicose. He refrains from scaring people by saying the death cult is coming after us. People are fully aware just how vile and how terrifying it is. They have seen it and its evil spawn in action in different places — Ireland, New York, Bali, Turkey, France — for decades.
Ireland? Tony Abbott used the term “death cult” to refer to the so-called Islamic State (variously IS, ISIS, ISIL) as Daesh. Daesh never undertook terrorist acts in Ireland. The Provisional Irish Republican Army – a secular nationalist movement – did target England and Northern Ireland. But both entities are part of Britain – not part of the Republic of Ireland. Over the past four decades the IRA rarely engaged in terrorist activities in Ireland.
And Ms Savva reckons that Tony Abbott was “goofy” on international affairs. Can you bear it?
[Er, no – now that you have asked. I note that in Britain The Telegraph (conservative) and The Guardian (left-wing) do not share Miss Savva’s apparent view that Tony Abbott was a standalone fear-monger. Ed]
- MAXINE MCKEW CONDEMNS “BOOFHEADS” – OR HOW MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY FELLOWS ENGAGE IN PUBLIC DEBATE
While on the topic on comment-as-abuse, consider what former ABC journalist and former Labor MP Maxine McKew had to say on ABC 1’s The Drum last Wednesday. Let’s go to the transcript:
Maxine McKew: I mean, [Tony] Abbott and [Kevin] Andrews and his other mate in South Australia, [Cory] Bernardi, are boofheads. When they talk about ‘boots on the ground’, well thanks very much. We’ve had that for years and years and years in Afghanistan, in Iraq, we know where that’s led. We’re still there. Thanks very much. Does he also mean ‘boots on the ground’ where? In the suburbs of Paris? Berlin, you know, Brussels – what’s he talking about? Because this is an enemy that’s, you know, is in a lot of places. He [Abbott] should pull his head in.
So there you have it. The Drum’s presenter John Barron made no objection when Maxine McKew called Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and Cory Bernardi “boofheads” and told the former prime minister to “pull his head in”. It seems that Mr Barron regards such language as appropriate for a program like The Drum.
In fact, the ABC was so proud of Ms McKew’s outburst that it boasted about it in a tweet and misspelt Cory Bernardi’s name in the process:
Maxine McKew is currently Vice-Chancellor Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Which doesn’t say much for what passes as “debate” at Hendo’s alma mater. Can it be that Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis encourages his fellows to call each other “boofheads” and also tell one another to pull his/her head in? Can you bear it?
What a wonderful witty exchange between The Guardian Australia’s political editor Lenore Taylor (in Canberra) and The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy (who was travelling with the Prime Minister during his recent overseas trip) following the revelation that Malcolm Turnbull in an APEC media conference had called Ms Murphy, – whose twitter address is @murpharoo – wait for it “Murpharoo”. Here we go:
Gosh. Gush. And so on. Shortly after Katharine Murphy replied:
Now isn’t that just wonderful? It is just beaut, you-beaut in fact, that the Prime Minister calls Katharine Murphy “Murpharoo” at media conferences at APEC and elsewhere. The good news is that Ms Murphy has written to MWD helping to fill up the pages of this hugely popular segment this week. See below.
STARRING BONGE ON CHOGM
MWD regrets to advise that, due to what Nice Mr Scott calls “process”, the Occupy Ultimo campaign – aimed at having Mornings with Linda Mottram feature on ABC Radio 702 again next year – is faltering. Let’s hope there will be a plan in place by next Friday. Process willing.
In the meantime, how about this exchange between the leftist Linda Mottram and the leftist Paul Bongiorno on 702 yesterday:
Linda Mottram: Now, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is heading off on another international trip. This time to CHOGM, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in Malta. And to meet the Queen. And then the climate conference in Paris, of course.
Paul Bongiorno: Yes, it’s interesting with CHOGM. I see there are reports that the ageing Queen, this may be her last CHOGM. She has in the past sent Prince Charles off to represent her. The Royal Family takes the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting pretty seriously because it’s the vestiges of the Empire, as you might remember. So it’s interesting that Malcolm Turnbull feels that he should go to this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and pay due respects to the Queen, who he would like to replace as our Head of State.
Pretty hopeless analysis. All Australian prime ministers – republicans like Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd along with constitutional monarchists like Tony Abbott and John Howard – attend CHOGM meetings. Not to pay respects “due to the Queen” – but to catch up with the leaders of the 50 or so countries which make up the Commonwealth.
It seems that neither Bonge nor his interlocutor knows this. Also, neither seem to know that many nations of the Commonwealth are republics already – for example, India.
Verily – a Linda Mottram Moment.
STEP FORWARD NICHOLAS REECE
It seems that lotsa former Labor staffers and politicians hang out at Melbourne University. Like, for example, former Labor MP Maxine McKew and former Labor staffer Nicholas Reece (who is currently a public policy fellow at Melbourne University’s Centre for Public Policy).
In his post-politics life, your man Reece is something of a media tart. For example, he was on ABC News Breakfast at 6.45 am yesterday morning and on Paul Murray Live at 9 pm last evening. [Could he sleep in the park near Southbank ready to rock up at the ABC or Sky News studios nearly at a moment’s notice? – Ed]
What did the Melbourne University for-he’s-a-jolly-good-public-policy-fellow have to say? Not much. Your man Reece beat-up a media beat-up which James Massola had run in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday. Namely, that Tony Abbot and his fellow conservatives meet every Tuesday when parliament sits in what is called Parliament House’s “Monkey Pod” room. How about that?
This is what Mr Reece had to say about this (open) conspiracy on ABC News Breakfast:
Nicholas Reece: I was in Parliament House yesterday and there’s quite a few grumblings around about the meeting of the “Monkey Pod” –
Michael Rowland: [interjecting] Yes the “Monkey Pod”, the people who –
Nicholas Reece: [interjecting] So look, they’re a group of conservative MPs who meet in what’s known as the “Monkey Pod” room in the ministerial wing. I think that the meeting’s convened by Minister Dutton. But, you know, other conservative MPs attend. Obviously the rumblings stem from the fact that, you know, some people speculate – could this be an organised dissent group that’s now forming around Tony Abbott? That’s Canberra for you, I guess.
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe Nicholas Reece did not have anything else to say except to talk about the “Monkey Pod”. It was much the same on Paul Murray Live on Sky News last night. Let’s go to the transcript:
Nicholas Reece: …Some of these conservative forces, you know – this is the “Monkey Pod” cabinet we’re talking about here. They meet in the “Monkey Pod” room in the ministerial wing. It’s, it’s, it’s, you know – it’s no surprise that they all get together on a Monday, you know to, who knows what they talk about? But sure enough two days later on a dime they all come out saying there should be “boots on the ground” in, er, in, in, in, Syria. Which is not the policy of the Australian government. So what is going on here? It looks to me like coordinated action. And of course there we saw Tony Abbott last night turning up to Ukranium [sic], sorry the Ukraine Association of Australia to receive the inaugural Freedom Award. But you know, there he was weighing in on terrorist, caliphates and –
Miranda Devine: [interjecting] Oh how outrageous.
Yes. How outrageous. Tony Abbott has been having lunch with some of his friends on Mondays – or is it Tuesdays? – and discussing national security. In the middle of Parliament House. And your man Reece believes that this is a conspiracy worth reporting on ABC TV in the morning and Sky News in the evening.
What a load of tosh. By Media Tart out of Conspiracy Theorist.
THE MEDIA & GEORGE PELL – A CONTINUING OBSESSION
LEIGH SALES & LOUISE MILLIGAN ON 7.30
The pursuit of Cardinal George Pell by some journalists – primarily at the ABC, Fairfax Media, 60 Minutes and The Guardian Australia – continues apace.
On Wednesday, 7.30 did a report on the hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – which is currently sitting in Melbourne to hear evidence about the Melbourne archdiocese and Ballarat diocese of the Catholic Church.
Louise Milligan reported on the sad case of Julie Stewart who was sexually abused by the paedophile priest Peter Searson when she was a young girl. At the time Victoria Police declined to charge Searson for this assault. In 1998 Archbishop (as he then was) George Pell apologised to Ms Stewart “for the wrongs and hurt” she had “suffered at the hands of Father Searson”. She was also paid $25,000 in compensation.
Cardinal George Pell was asked about Searson at the Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry Into The Handling of Child Abuse by Religious And Other Organisations in 2013. 7.30 sought to make much of what it claimed was a discrepancy between what George Pell wrote to Julie Stewart in 1998 and what he told the Victorian Parliamentary inquiry some years later. Let’s go to the 7.30 transcript:
Louise Milligan: It was the evidence of Cardinal George Pell to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2013 that jolted Julie into anger.
Questioner (May 27, 2013): Can you understand how victims regard what happened during this period as there was really hear no evil, see no evil, say nothing about evil from the Church?
George Pell : I think that’s an objectionable suggestion with no foundation in the truth and I’ve – as I – no conviction was recorded for Searson on sexual misbehaviour. There might be victims.
Julie Stewart: That pissed me off.
Louise Milligan: “There might be victims.”?
Julie Stewart: Yeah, I was absolutely so angry – and I thought, “Let’s get ’em.”
Louise Milligan: Julie Stewart was given a payout by the Catholic Church’s Melbourne Response, set up by George Pell. She’s asking why, if George Pell believed only that there might be victims, he sent her this letter in 1998 which accepts that he had been abused:
George Pell (letter, male voiceover): “On behalf of the Catholic Church and personally, I apologise to you and to those around you for the wrongs and hurt you have suffered at the hands of Father Searson.”
Louise Milligan: What do you think about George Pell?
Julie Stewart : Not very much.
This exchange shows the difficulty George Pell has in getting a fair hearing in the Australian media.
Cardinal Pell was asked in 2013 about events which had occurred in the mid-1980s – before he became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He did not deny that there were victims of Searson’s assaults – he conceded that there “might have been”. It seems that George Pell in 2013 forgot about a letter he had written to Julie Stewart in 1998 in which he acknowledged that he had been one of Searson’s victims in the mid-1980s. That’s all.
Yet 7.30 introduced the story as breaking news on George Pell – as the transcript indicates:
Leigh Sales : Next month, Catholic Cardinal George Pell will make his much-anticipated appearance before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. New evidence about the case of Victorian predatory priest Peter Searson raises new questions for Cardinal Pell about how he managed allegations of sexual abuse. The Cardinal has consistently defended his handling of abuse by the clergy, but one victim claims she has evidence he knew far more than he’s let on. Louise Milligan has the story.
And now for some facts:
▪ Contrary to the implication in Leigh Sales’ introduction, Cardinal Pell has already appeared before the Royal Commission on two occasions. Once in person in Sydney and once via video-link from the Vatican. He will appear in person in Melbourne next month.
▪ No new evidence was presented at the Royal Commission last Wednesday with respect to George Pell.
DAVID MARR IN THE GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA
Meanwhile in The Guardian last Monday, David Marr turned his attention once again to George Pell. Marr, who invariably argues for the rights of the individual, seems upset that the Cardinal has assembled his own legal team for his third appearance at the Royal Commission. Wrote Marr:
….Though other bishops living and dead will have their reputations raked over by the commission, the hearings over the next month will essentially assess the record of the man who now sits in Rome as the treasurer of the Catholic church.
The cardinal has broken with the church’s legal team and its gentle determination not to cross-examine victims. After turning all his career for help to the top end of town, Pell has engaged the Melbourne mega-advocate Allan Myers to test his accusers.
To the disappointment of the crowd, Myers was a no-show on day one. But among the dozens of lawyers filling the first several rows of the court sat his junior, Sam Duggan. He will be Myers’ eyes and ears until the time comes. The commissioners are circling Pell….
Despite David Marr’s belief that “the commissioners are circling Pell”, he seems to be opposed to the Cardinal having his own legal representation. Moreover, there is no evidence that Cardinal Pell’s legal representatives will cross examine victims about the crimes committed against them – as distinct from the allegations which they have made against the Cardinal.
FRANK BRENNAN’S DISSENTING VIEW
Meanwhile Fr Frank Brennan, a S.J. Catholic priest who has had many disagreements with George Pell, has written an article in Eureka Street titled “Cardinal Pell, his lawyers and the Royal Commission” – see here. Unlike Marr, Brennan is not a Pell hater – just an occasional Pell critic. Frank Brennan concluded his essay as follows:
For the sake of Pell’s reputation, his lawyers will need to cross examine [Timothy] Green and [David] Ridsdale testing their recollection and the consistency of their accounts, not about the sexual abuse they suffered, but about their recollections of any church cover-up. The fact that these men were sexually abused as children is uncontested. The issue is whether their claims that Pell knew or tried to effect some form of cover-up are true and accurate recollections.
Given the high degree of scrutiny applied to Pell by the commission and the media, it’s only fair that he have his lawyers cross examine these two victims who claim that he did not want to know that abuse occurred or even worse, that he tried to cover it up. And it is appropriate given that both Green and Ridsdale have indicated they have no objection being recalled to be so examined. It is imperative now that all parties be seen and heard in public so that we can all make our assessments of recollection and credibility up to 22 and 41 years on.
Once the commission has addressed the reputation and recollection of Messrs Pell, Green and Ridsdale, we should all then get back to seeing what changes can be made to institutions, especially the Catholic Church, so that the risks of child sexual abuse and of cover-up and inadequate response are minimised as much as possible.
Despite the fact that George Pell appears to have been the first Christian leader to openly address the crime of clerical child sexual abuse, he has been targeted by his many opponents in the Catholic Church and elsewhere.
7.30’s beat-up this week – and the unwarranted imputations in David Marr’s essay demonstrates why Cardinal Pell needs – and is entitled to – his own legal advice.
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 – including Ms Murphy herself.
- GERARD HENDERSON AND KATHARINE MURPHY –CONCERNING NOT MUCH AT ALL
Lotsa thanks to The Guardian Australia’s very own Katharine Murphy who wrote to Nancy’s (male) co-owner this week. Ms Murphy’s reply followed Hendo’s email concerning her comment on his dress sense on the ABC1 Insiders program last Sunday.
The following correspondence then ensued.
Gerard Henderson to Katharine Murphy – 22 November 2015
Katharine – or do you mind if I take the indulgence of calling you “Murpharoo”?
My attention has been drawn to the fact that you “think” that I “wore black on Insiders this week”.
How frightfully observant you are. In view of your evident interest, may I offer the following excuses/explanations for my Sunday morning dress-sense.
- There is a bin at the rear of the Jesuit Theological College in Parkville – where the Jesuits of old threw out their black gear before they donned kaftans, sandals etc and sprinkled themselves with rose-water (the new holy-water). I usually travel to the Insiders’designated hotel on St Kilda Road via Parkville and pick up a new set of Old Jesuit gear from the slowly depleting pile.
- Black gear hides the stains of both red and white wine – and is a handy outfit at hangover time before Insidersgoes to air at 9 am on Sundays.
- I am forever hopeful of another Insidersappearance with David Marr and fantasise that he will think that I am a priest and give me his confession, starting with his days as a good Low-Church Anglican at Sydney Church of England Grammar School.
- As far as I can work it out: Black is the new black – as the cliché goes.
Keep morale high – and thanks for the interest.
Katharine Murphy to Gerard Henderson – 23 November 2015
To draw on a passing observation, one you once characterised very kindly as wise counsel: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”
At the risk of failing to take my own advice just for one brief personal salutation – all the very best to you and Anne for the festive season, and I’ll look forward to a periodic catch up on the couch in the new year.
Deputy political editor
Gerard Henderson to Katharine Murphy – 26 November 2015
How wonderful to receive your email – especially since it was your very own wise counsel that cautioned readers that it was unwise to write to me – since any such correspondence would be featured in MWD’s (hugely popular) “Correspondence” section.
All the very best for the Festive Season. Here’s hoping you and yours have a happy and (not too) holy Christmas.
I, also, hope that we share the Insiders couch again in the not too distant future. In fact, I can barely wait. As the saying goes: “I’m so excited, I just can’t fight it.”
I certainly had lotsa fun last Sunday. Following my comments on sections of the Canberra Press Gallery “fawning” with respect to Malcolm Turnbull – Dennis Atkins said “No” on two occasions and you said “No” on a whopping 15 occasions. Wow. Great fun, Yes?
A Simple Lad from the
Awards Division (Commonwealth
Industrial Relations Department, circa 1983)
- GERARD HENDERSON AND MICHAEL MASON – CONCERNING THE ABC AS A CONSERVATIVE-FREE-ZONE
Thanks also to the ABC’s very own Michael Mason who did not have the courtesy to write to Hendo but issued a taxpayer funded “Statement” to the world at large. Come to think of it, the Director Radio, ABC issued something akin to a (secular) encyclical letter. The beauty of encyclical letters is that no one is expected to reply to them. However, Hendo – as is his wont – will reply to anything (in a courteous kind of way). Here we go:
Michael Mason’s open letter to everyone (including Gerard Henderson) – 25 November 2015
ABC statement in response to The Australian, 25/11/2015
25th November 2015
Your columnist Gerard Henderson (November 20) consistently misreports basic facts about bias at the ABC predicated on, he claims, a lack of conservative voices heard on RN programs. RN currently broadcasts programs presented by Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer, both of whom identify as conservative. RN programs across the day hear from a wide range of guests including experts and political commentators from across the political spectrum. All RN presenters and programs are subject to the ABC’s rigorous editorial standards in relation to impartiality as outlined in our Editorial Policies. Programs are regularly assessed using these and other criteria as part of the ABC’s routine editorial reviews. Allegations of editorial bias are taken seriously by the network and many are investigated by the ABC’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs unit. It is these stringent procedures which ensure that the ABC consistently rates as the most trusted news source in the country, and that the Corporation itself is the most trusted public institution after the High Court. Perhaps Gerard’s reporting (and that of his dog Nancy) ought reflect these facts in future.
Michael Mason, Director ABC Radio
[Is this for real? Did Mr Mason, in spite of the ABC’s large media/PR section, really issue such a poorly written statement? Has no one told senior ABC management that it is wise to use paragraphs and that it is just a cheap put-down to refer to someone you are criticising by their first name?
Mr Mason would be well advised to enrol in your hugely popular “courtesy” classes. Also, it’s simply not true to say that Amanda Vanstone identifies “as a conservative”. Your man Mason obviously just made this up. Also, he neglected to point out that Tom Switzer was a constant critic of the foreign policy stance of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard. Perhaps Mr Mason does not listen to Mr Switzer’s ABC program. – Ed]
Gerard Henderson to Michael Mason – 26 November 2015
Dear Mr Mason
My attention has been drawn (following a report by Myriam Robin in today’s Crikey) to the fact that you issued a statement yesterday in response to my Media Watch Dog blog of 20 November 2015. I note that you did not have the courtesy to forward a copy of the statement to me.
In MWD (which is published on The Sydney Institute’s website and in The Australian Online) last Friday, the following specific references were made concerning the lack of balance in the ABC in general and ABC Radio in particular. Contrary to the assertion in your statement, the word “bias” was not used.
▪ MWD Issue No 296 contained a segment titled “Radio National Love-In Demonstrates Aunty’s Conservative Free Zone”. This referred to the issue of Life Matters on RN last Friday morning where leftist compere Richard Fidler interviewed the leftist Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly plus the leftist Phillip Adams plus the leftist Robyn Williams about their life and times at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. How very Aunty.
My report was accurate. I note that you have not sought to correct anything which I wrote in your statement released on Wednesday concerning this segment in the issue of MWD dated 20 November 2015.
▪ MWD Issue No 296 also contained an update of its hugely popular “Aunty Balance Clock” with the latest reading measured as follows:
Number of weeks since Nice Mr Scott promised greater diversity on the ABC – Total: 474 weeks
Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid regular commentators/editors on prominent ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets – Total: Absolutely Zip.
This is the point. Your statement is intellectually dishonest. Contrary to your claim, I have not said “that there is a lack of conservative voices heard on RN programs” – although in many cases this happens to be true. What I have said is this. Namely, that the ABC does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. This is true.
In your statement you ran the familiar ABC line that there is no lack of conservative voices heard on the ABC and that “RN currently broadcasts programs presented by Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer”.
True – but misleading. Neither Amanda Vanstone’s Counterpoint (which is broadcast at 4 pm on Mondays) nor Tom Switzer’s Between the Lines (which is broadcast at 7.30 pm on Thursdays and repeated at 10 am on Sundays) is a prominent program. Moreover, some years ago, Counterpoint was given its name to demonstrate that the points heard on the program would be a counter to the points heard on other Radio National programs.
If you know of any conservative presenter or producer or editor of any prominent ABC television or radio or online outlets – send me the names. Just the names will do.
In conclusion, I note your reference to the “stringent procedures” at the ABC’s “independent” in-house Audience and Consumers Affairs unit. I also note that the ABC’s Annual Report 2015 records that the ABC team at the Audience and Consumer Affairs upheld a mere 6 per cent of complaints received against their ABC colleagues last year. This does not seem all that “independent” to me.
By the way, since you accuse me of consistently misreporting “basic facts” about the ABC – why not send me a list of the alleged errors? Just a list will do.
Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)
cc: Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC
Jim Spigelman AC QC, Chairman, ABC
Michael Millett – Director of Communications, ABC
Nick Leys – Media Manager, Corporate Affairs, ABC
Myriam Robin, Crikey – with thanks
[Perhaps the distribution list for your missive to Michael Mason is a bit limited. Why not send a copy to the Queen in London and the Pope in Rome? Just trying to be helpful – Ed]
Until next time – keep morale high.
“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