GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 298
4 December 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.
- You Must Remember This: Phillip Adams Remembers Wilfred Burchett but Forgets that he was a Stalinist
- THE 2015 WALKLEY AWARDS – STEPHEN MAYNE WINS “WORST ATTEMPT AT HUMOUR” GONG
MWD had a busy time last night and only saw some of the media’s night of nights – where normally cynical journalists get all dressed up and take themselves oh-so-seriously by awarding themselves gongs for this or that and making everyone aware that their personal morality levels are very high.
The 2015 Walkley Awards presentation has been recorded for future analysis. At this stage, all that MWD can report on is that Stephen Mayne made a brief (thank God) appearance where his attempted joke about what happened at the Walkley Awards in 2006 (yes 2006). The joke (about alcohol and medication) bombed. You remember 2006 when a tired and emotional Glenn Milne attempted to push Mr Mayne off the stage? The Crikey founder did a runner and the media types present remained at their tables (or under their tables) – as Stephen Mayne was saved by a camera crew who prevented Mr Milne from advancing on his target. [Perhaps the journos present did not want to crush their gorgeous frocks and hired tuxedos – Ed]
The 2015 Walkley Awards organisers, in their wisdom, decided to show (unedited), footage of the Milne v Mayne stoush. Which left Nancy’s (male) co-owner to reflect that perhaps your man Milne was the only person ever to attend the Walkley Awards with an altruistic motive.
- THE VERY LAST LINDA MOTTRAM MOMENT – STARRING BONGE
This morning, in her last “Mornings with Linda Mottram” program, the ABC Radio 702 presenter asked Network 10 contributing editor and regular ABC commentator Paul Bongiorno to sum up the last four years of Australian politics. Here’s what the self-proclaimed leftist had to say:
Paul Bongiorno: Well I mean four years, in effect four prime ministers – although three because it was Kevin Rudd resurrected and recycled. Um, well, you just have to say that the carousel – or the revolving door rather – on the prime ministership has been, you know, an amazing development in the way we do our federal politics.
Always play it hard, Australian political debate, anyone who thinks that, you know, what we’re seeing now is completely new only has to read the Hansard. Especially when the “dirty digger” was prime minister, even if you can be bothered to go back to when Billy Hughes was around. They were pretty willing I can tell you.
But um, yeah look, I’ve got to say, and this is very dangerous to say because it’s sort of contemporary completely. I’ve got to say one of the highlights for me was the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister.
Now I know it’s early days. But I really can’t think of a time when the whole nation including, you know, the political opponents of the Liberals, namely the Labor Party, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and to welcome a recasting, as Bernard [Keane] was saying, about the political debate, a recasting of the political vocabulary and approach.
And I just hope for the sake of the nation that this works out. Because, let me tell you, there’s a fierce battle going on, virtually as we speak, over the direction, the philosophy you know of the federal Coalition government. And I suspect that if Malcolm Turnbull can’t succeed in dragging the Coalition and his own Liberal Party to the centre and keeping it there then the nation will be very badly served.
So, there you have it. According to Bonge, “the whole nation” welcomed Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership – including, presumably, Tony Abbott along with his family and supporters. Also, Bonge confused former prime minister Billy Hughes’ nickname (“the Little Digger”) with the term of abuse directed by the left at Rupert Murdoch (“the Dirty Digger”).
Verily, a Linda Mottram moment.
MARK SCOTT’S DENIAL OF ABC’S LACK OF DIVERSITY CONTINUES
Shortly after he was appointed managing director and editor-in-chief of the ABC in 2006, Mark Scott requested a platform at The Sydney Institute. The Institute was happy to oblige. In what was an important address, Mark Scott promised to bring about a situation whereby a greater diversity of views would be heard on the ABC during his time as managing director.
As avid MWD readers will be aware, it did not work out this way. After almost a decade as ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief, Mark Scott presides over a taxpayer funded public broadcaster which is a Conservative Free Zone. The ABC does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Senior ABC executives who deny this – like Michael Mason (see Issue 298) – should name the names that disprove the claim. So far, no one has attempted to do so.
On Monday, Mark Scott appeared before the Senate Estimates committee. The Hansard transcript is yet to be released but Mr Scott’s appearance was reported in The Australian on 1 December.
Senator Eric Abetz asked Mark Scott what action the ABC has taken in response to the ABC 1 Media Watch program on 17 August 2015 which concluded that both sides of the marriage equality debate did not get equal billing in the media – including the ABC. Media Watch presenter Paul Barry and executive producer Tim Latham found that the ABC favoured gay marriage advocates over opponents of same sex marriage. In response to Senator Abetz’s query, Mark Scott said:
We appreciate that on this matter, as with other matters, we need to bring a plurality of views and perspectives. I can assure you that on this matter a plurality of views and perspectives have been aired across a range of ABC programs.
So what are the facts? Media Watch is certainly not an ABC program with a social conservative agenda. Paul Barry is on the record as declaring his support for “marriage equality” – or same sex marriage – and the program invariably runs a fashionable leftist line across a range of national and international matters. However on 17 August, Media Watch presenter Paul Barry asked this question – and provided his own answer. Let’s go to the transcript:
Paul Barry: …Are opponents of marriage equality getting an equal run in the media? Or at least a fair hearing. We don’t think they are.
When Canberra Airport lit up in rainbow lights last Sunday to support same sex marriage, it was front page in The Age and The Canberra Times next morning and also big news in the Sydney Morning Herald. And it scored almost fifty mentions on radio and TV. But on Monday, when opponents of gay marriage piled flowers on the lawn at Parliament House it got just 14 mentions on radio and TV, one story on News.com.au and this brief report on page 6 of the Adelaide Advertiser.
Sure, the airport was a better story. But the overall media coverage of the debate has also been skewed. For example, none of the commercial TV stations covered the launch of the Marriage Alliance campaign. And major one-to-one interviews on radio and TV have also been out of kilter. With two key spokespeople for marriage equality, Rodney Croome and Christine Forster, scoring 31 interviews between them in the first 12 days of August. And by our count, two key speakers against – Sophie York and David van Gend – scoring a grand total of only 12.
Amazingly, the ABC has not interviewed Sophie York from the Marriage Alliance even once – despite 16 interviews from Forster and Croome.
As the Australian Marriage Forum’s van Gend told Media Watch:
“No one ever rings us. We send endless media releases…I don’t want to pester anyone, but we’re here.” (David van Gend, Australian Marriage Forum, 12 August, 2015)
We think those figures speak for themselves and we can only agree with the Christian Federation’s Peter Kentley, who told us: “The media has a bias. There’s no question it is pro same-sex marriage. (Peter Kentley, Christian Federation, 12 August, 2015)
And just before you pile into me on Twitter, if you’re not already doing so. I am a supporter of marriage equality. But, as we’re constantly reminded, this is a conscience issue and an important change that’s being proposed – and surely both sides of the debate have an equal right to be heard.
Here are ABC Media Watch’s figures up to 17 August 2015.
▪ The ABC interviewed same-sex marriage advocates Rodney Croome and Christine Forster on 16 occasions.
▪ The ABC did not interview Marriage Alliances’ Sophie York, who is opposed to same sex marriage, on any occasion.
This is how The Australian reported Mark Scott’s response to the evidence at the Senate Estimates:
Mr Scott said that the ABC was not obliged under its charter to provide equal time to both sides of a “contentious” debate, only to present divergent views.
“There is nothing in the editorial policies that say a stopwatch needs to be out on this matter, or climate change, or a range of contentious issues in the community,” he said, adding that the ABC had “robust” processes to ensure its editorial coverage was balanced.
This response demonstrates the extent of denial that Mark Scott is prepared to exhibit – rather than concede that, on the same sex marriage debate at least, the ABC has not presented a diversity of views.
Mark Scott reckons that it’s quite okay for the ABC to interview Mr Croome and Ms Forster a total of 16 occasions while totally ignoring the views of Ms York and David van Gend. And Mark Scott claims that such evident imbalance is really balance.
Even the leftists who run the ABC Media Watch program understand that there is a lack of diversity – they called it “bias” – here. But Mr Scott reckons everything is okay since balance is not gauged by running a stopwatch. This overlooks the fact that there would be no point in putting a stopwatch on Sophie York since she has never got off the ABC’s starting blocks – due to the fact that she has not been invited to participate in the event.
When discussion in Senate Estimates got around to the ABC’s coverage of Israel, Senator Abetz raised the issue of Sophie O’Neill – 7.30s Jerusalem based reporter. Ms McNeill is on record as declaring her admiration for leftist campaigner John Pilger. In response to a question, Mark Scott said that he had not been involved in hiring Ms McNeill. Which says it all really. The ABC’s editor-in-chief had no involvement in the appointment of Sophie McNeill to one of the ABC’s most important overseas postings.
- 60 MINUTES CLEANS UP AFTER LIZ HAYES’ VERBAL STUMBLE
The current controversy in Canberra over what Turnbull government minister Mal Brough said to James Ashby with respect to Peter Slipper’s diary some time ago has an interest well beyond Australian national politics.
The dispute over whether Mr Brough asked Mr Ashby to obtain the diary of Peter Slipper (then the Speaker of the House of Representatives) some years ago distracts attention from how the media covers up the foibles of its own.
This is what went to air on 60 Minutes on 7 September 2014:
Liz Hayes: Did you ask James Ashby to procure, um, copies of Peter Slipper’s diary?
Mal Brough: Yes I did.
And this is the unedited account of the Liz Hayes/Mal Brough interview:
Liz Hayes: Um, why then also did you um, access, seek – well, did you ask James Ashby to procure, um, copies of Peter Slipper’s diary, um, for him? For you?
Mal Brough: Yes I did.
Politician Mal Brough’s reply was unaltered. However 60 Minutes polished up journalist Ms Hayes’ comments with the deletion of (i) three references to “um”, (ii) the repetitive words “access” and “seek” and (iii) the stumble in the question to Mal Brough which had the diary being obtained “for him” (i.e. Slipper) rather than the correct “for you” (i.e. Brough).
The unedited version of Liz Hayes’ question went for 28 words while the polished up and corrected version went for 13 words. Handy editing if you can get it.
The media invariably makes fun of Tony Abbott’s stumble when he said – with reference to planning to “shirtfront” Russian Leader Vladimir Putin: “You bet you are; you bet I am.” However 60 Minutes simply deleted Liz Hayes’ “for him”/”for you” stumble and sent it down the Channel 9 memory hole, for a while at least. Can you bear it?
- WHAT A TWEET – EPISODE NO 2918 FEATURING NICE MR SCOTT
As avid MWD readers are all too well aware, ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott seems to spend much of his day tweeting about this and that. This despite the fact that Nice Mr Scott presides over a large media department at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and is paid about twice the salary as the Treasurer to do his job as managing director.
On Wednesday morning it was announced that Chris Mitchell would be stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Australian and be replaced by current Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker. News Corp also advised that Chris Mitchell would remain associated with The Australian by writing a column in the newspaper’s “Media” section on Mondays.
Nice Mr Scott obviously had not much to do in the lead-up to lunch on Wednesday. Despite the fact that journalists are told not to make assumptions, the ABC managing director immediately assumed that Chris Kenny’s column in “Media” titled Media Watch Watch would be dropped to accommodate Chris Mitchell. Hence this tweet:
Chris Kenny loses a media column. Chris Mitchell gains a media column. I don’t think my Monday mornings are going to change that much.
— Mark Scott (@mscott) December 2, 2015
At 2.07 pm, just after lunch, Darren Davidson (editor of “Media”) sent out this tweet:
— Darren Davidson (@darrendavidson) December 2, 2015
So there you have it. Contrary to Nice Mr Scott’s prophecy, Chris Kenny’s column will not be dropped and replaced by a Chris Mitchell column. Rather, both columns will be published on the same day. In other words, the ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief rushed to judgment without checking out sources of any kind. Can you bear it?
- WHAT A KNIGHT – MARK KENNY FORGETS ABOUT NEW ZEALAND IMPERIAL HONOURS
There was an enormous, absolutely enormous, response to last week’s “Fawn Again” segment – which documented how members of the media in general, and the Parliamentary Press Gallery in particular, are sucking up to new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Comment was made that if former prime minister Tony Abbott had told President Barack Obama to learn about the Australian-United States defence relationship by reading Darwin’s NTNews he would have been widely ridiculed. But when Mr Turnbull made this very statement to the US president he was praised by the Australian media’s best and brightest for his wit and confident demeanour.Thanks to the avid reader who has drawn MWD’s attention to the fact that such fawning extends across the Tasman Ocean to New Zealand prime minister John Key. You see, both Malcolm Turnbull and John Key are the kind of politically conservative leaders that “progressive” journalists like to like. You know, they are deeply concerned about global warming and they support same sex marriage and they don’t much like George W. Bush. And so on.In any event, this is how Fairfax Media’s chief political correspondent Mark Kenny commenced his opinion piece in The Age on 20 November 2015:Successive weak governments, fearful of change, have failed Australia. Turnbull aims to set a new course by embracing change at home and overseas.When Charles and Camilla landed in the New Zealand capital of Wellington recently, a TV reporter doing a live cross struggled to conceal the insignificance of the moment, eventually declaring breathlessly, that “tens” of people had gathered to greet their future head of state. In truth, it was an exaggeration as some had merely been rubber-neckers who had happened upon the motley assemblage. So flaccid was the mood that by the time the ageing heir apparent did but pass them by, even they had drifted away.Thirty-five years earlier, a different dispatch from the land of the long white cloud, provides an interesting juxtaposition. On their first trip to New Zealand in 1980, my parents reported with some surprise, that Wellington was like Britain in aspic. Its lightly trafficked roads, my father observed, were predominantly graced with the marques of ol’Blighty – Hillmans, Austins, Vauxhalls and, the most gormless of all, British Leylands. Even the Fords were more likely to be the Cortinas and Escorts of England than the Falcons of Australia. Contrast New Zealand’s cultural trajectory since with that of Australia. Over the intervening years, New Zealand has grown in its self-belief, maturing from colonial branch office to become the little nation characterised by its consistently world-beating rugby team and its bemused royal yawn. Now who’s set in aspic?Your man Kenny went on to criticise “forelock tugging” Down Under and praise John Key as “being a decidedly modern conservative closer in style to David Cameron and Angela Merkel than, say, Tony Abbott”. Mr Kenny also bagged “Australia’s infantile political inwardness of late”.There was just one thing missing in Mr Kenny’s John Key/New Zealand grovel. Fairfax Media’s chief political correspondent forgot to tell his readers that – far from presiding over a “royal yawn” – Mr Key had re-introduced imperial honours in New Zealand. Yes, Kiwi knights and dames and all that stuff.What’s more, in re-introducing imperial honours, John Key went far beyond Tony Abbott in the forelock tugging stakes. When prime minister, Mr Abbott re-introduced imperial honours for a select few. Mr Key, on the other hand, made it possible for those with non-imperial gongs at a certain level to upgrade their salutation and call themselves “Sir” and “Dame”. Moreover, the wife of a “Sir” can call herself “Lady”.Yet Mark Kenny, in his ignorance, told Age readers that under the “decisively modern” John Key, New Zealand had engaged in a “bemused Royal yawn”. Can you bear it? WILL THIS DO? NANCY ENTERS ABC RN LIMERICK COMPETITIONJonathan Green (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) is running a limerick competition on his ABC Radio National Sunday Extra program. Your man Green also makes regular appearances on ABC 1’s The Drum.Here’s hoping that the following effort by Nancy, written after pre-dinner drinks, will be judged on its merits. [Do you really mean this? – Ed].There was a sneerer named GreenWho was both heard and seenOn RN each SundayPlus The Drum on MondayPreaching a line left/green– Written by Nancy, 101/2 years old.
- THE AFR’S JOHN MCDONALD LINKS TONY ABBOTT TO KIM JONG-UN
While on the topic of the evils of the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship, consider this assessment of the ACFD by the Australian Financial Review’s film reviewer John McDonald (published on 12 November 2015 ). By the way, the leftist Mr McDonald was reviewing the latest James Bond movie Spectre. Here’s how the review finished:The clever part of the story is that it picks up on two potent forms of public paranoia: the idea of a secret organisation dedicated to bringing about a New World Order, and the dread of a world in which everyone’s smallest movements will be subject to government surveillance. In Spectre we see the awful similarities between C’s fantasy of global security and Blofeld’s sinister will to power. The movie will play on the nerves of every conspiracy theorist who views the modern state as no more than a façade for a new totalitarianism in the making.This should get a specially keen response in Australia, as we now have the most draconian data collection and surveillance this side of North Korea. Perhaps Tony Abbott or George Brandis might apply for the role of supervillain in the next Bond flick.In this paranoid vision of the future, James Bond is revealed as the hero who will save us from a world run by machines, and machine-like bureaucrats. It is a supreme piece of wish-fulfilment for any of us who have sat for hours on a telephone talking to a government functionary, or their electronic avatars. If you’d always felt there was something unspeakably evil about these people, this tale will satisfy your worst suspicions.So there you have it. According to John McDonald, the Abbott government introduced the most draconian data collection and surveillance laws after the communist totalitarian dictatorship that is North Korea. Moreover, your man McDonald reckons that there is “something unspeakably evil” about public servants who man call-centres.
- IAN WARDEN PRAISES ANTI-ABBOTT ARTISTIC FEET [SIC]
This is how Ian Warden commenced his “Gang-gang” column in Fairfax Media’s the Canberra Times last Friday – accompanied by an image of the former leader of the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship by Australian National University School of Art graduate Gareth Dunstone – see below – titled Minister of Bitches: Forgive us, Australia, for running today’s picture of a man, Tony Abbott, the nation is so keen to forget. But there is something really remarkable about this portrait as a work of art. The work, Gareth Dunstone’s Minister for Bitches (2015) is a fiendishly clever and complex digital composition, a kind of mosaic, made from 11,000 teeny weeny pictures of women and of women’s bare feet. You have to get right up to it to appreciate its intricacy. We saw it in the near distance (recoiling at first because of its subject matter) while on Wednesday traipsing through and among the ANU School of Art’s enormous Graduating Exhibition arranged in rooms and along corridors and in nooks.We were lucky that the artist himself was known to be somewhere on the labyrinthine premises. The School leopard was told to find him and was unleashed, and eventually brought him to us (upstairs, where photography and media arts works are displayed) in its jaws.Our first duty was to have the understandably dishevelled and breathless artist explain the work’s name. It is that he, Dunstone, was inspired by PM Abbott’s appointment of himself as his own “Minister for Women.” This appalled lots of Australians (since so many of Abbott’s beliefs hint at rank misogyny) and stirred Dunstone to the satire that is Minister for Bitches.How about that? Your man Warden maintains that Australia is “keen to forget” Tony Abbott. But he devoted his column to the former prime minister last Friday. Ian Warden went on to declare that he initially recoiled when he saw the Abbott image – that of a man who exhibited “rank misogyny”. But your man Warden went on to interview the (taxpayer subsidised) artist Gareth Dunstone who had this to say:“I dislike him [Abbott] a lot. I like to think I’m poking fun; calling him out a little bit. I’ve also done an image of George W. Bush made up of reptiles, lizards and snakes. I’ve done one of the Queen of England made up of British punks, graffiti and the rude finger (it’s very Sex Pistols, that one). And I’m intending to do one of Malcolm Turnbull [millionaire businessman/banker] made of images of bling and money.What a load of absolute tosh. According to Fairfax Media’s Peter Hartcher, Tony Abbott’s prime fault was that he allowed his female chief-of-staff to become too powerful. But according to Fairfax Media’s Ian Warren, the former prime minister was a rank misogynist.So there you have it – or not. A reminder of the dark days of the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship.
CRIKEY WRITER-AT-LARGE GUY RUNDLE ON MASS MURDERS & HAM SANDWICHESThe evidence coming out of the United States indicates the distinct possibility that the mass murder at San Bernardino, California earlier this week was an attack by Islamist terrorists. The suspects have been identified as 28 year old Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani citizen.The evidence coming out of Melbourne indicates that Crikey chairman Eric Beecher still sees fit to lecture the rest of the media about journalistic standards. Crikey happens to be a leftist newsletter which publishes anonymous rumours and gossip. And, yes, its Writer-at-large is Comrade Guy Rundle – former editor of Arena Magazine and MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian.Farook and Malik were not long dead, having been shot by police, when Guy Rundle rushed to print in Crikey yesterday. His article was titled “San Bernardino shootings the result of nihilistic America”.Early on in his piece, Rundle referred to the “gunmen”. As we know, one of the killers was a woman. In the rant that followed, Rundle suggested that the mass murder could have been “undertaken by members of the crazed right thinking that the place is somehow associated with Planned Parenthood” or perhaps “a drug deal gone wrong”.In a following stream of (Marxist comedian) consciousness, Rundle made reference to the English writer G.K. Chesterton, Donald Trump (“a populist anti-politician with cartoonish fascist stylings”), Ben Carson (“an amicable lunatic”) and – of course – Rupert Murdoch (“a silly old coot – the bloke on the tram with firm opinions”).And what were Comrade Rundle’s firm opinions aired before the initial police investigation had been undertaken? Well, here is his thesis:The San Bernardino attack gives the lies to the charge of “nihilism” so often attached to Islamic State. Yes, in their methods, they are so evil as to go beyond merely ruthless — but that is a nihilism of means, not ends. IS know what they want — a caliphate on the old borders, abolishing Western-imposed state boundaries, and then the global victory of Islam — and those dozen preceding words express 90% of their program. That is the very opposite of nihilism. It is a belief that the world should be a certain way so concrete, specific and passionate that it licenses all depravity.Indeed, such nihilism of means, passion of ends, counterposes itself to the United States, whose main cultural problem is a nihilism of ends. When you put the market at the centre of your life and culture, you will eventually annihilate both, because that is what the market does. That’s how it works in the places it’s supposed to. By making objects exchangeable by price — ten bushels of wheat equals eight pigs, etc — the wheatness of the wheat and the pigness of the pig is momentarily abolished, to reappear when you make a ham sandwich.
What a load of tosh. It seems that Comrade Rundle – having decided that the killings had something to do with nihilism – had to write something about nihilism – and ham sandwiches.It didn’t get any better. Here is your man Rundle’s conclusion:As the right seeks to maintain an American sense of self by projecting a new imperial possession outwards, it is the empire inland that has become ungovernable — indeed it is the deepest inland, the social self of desocialised Americans, that now suffers the same chaos as regional Iraq, the inland empire of IS. In such predicaments people yearn for simple and savage gods, to return to them something out of nothing, at any cost to the others. And, as well as Trump, IS is pretty scary too.
What a joke. The MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian reckons that the United States is in the “same chaos” as regional Iraq. And Eric Beecher pays to publish this hopelessly wrong and woefully written sludge when lecturing at large about good journalism.
HOW RAI GAITA’S LITERARY CADENCES ARE STILL THREATENED BY A CHICKEN FACTORY
The Age literary editor Jason Steger’s “Bookmarks” column has shrunk significantly over recent years. It is now quite small – but still carries stories about the BIG LITERARY STORIES OF OUR TIME. Like, as avid readers are aware, the chicken factory proposed for construction on the Moorlort Plains, not all that far from the Victorian town of Castlemaine in Central Victoria. (see MWD Issue 223 & 224)This is how your man Steger covered the issue in The Age last Saturday:
The Tracks of their tearsNext Saturday, Raimond Gaita continues fundraising for his campaign against the chicken factory planned for Moolort Plains, where much of his Romulus My Father is set. There will be a discussion with Robyn Davidson, author of Tracks, focusing on themes of beauty, adventure, fear, joy, courage and death. The event starts at 5pm on December 5, at Theatre Royal, Castlemaine. theatreroyalcastlemaine.com.au
The event runs from 5 pm to 6.30 pm on Saturday 5 December 2015. As the flyer indicates, Robyn Davidson & Raimond Gaita will discuss “beauty, adventure, fear, joy, courage and death”. All proceeds from Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal “conversation will go to fighting the development of a chicken processing factory on the Moorlort Plains”.So, once again, the inner-city leftists who live within sandal-wearing walking distance from the inner-city Fitzroy abode of Dr Gaita (for a doctor he is) will head to Castlemaine this weekend. There the well-heeled [Don’t you mean well-sandaled? – Ed] inner-city leftists will hear writer Robyn Davidson converse with writer Rai Gaita about beauty and all that junk. At $18 a head.Why? Well, the Melbourne inner-city leftists – many of whom live on taxpayer subsidised salaries or grants – will use the funds raised to campaign to stop the construction of Grandview Poultry’s chicken broiler farm which will provide employment – in an area of Victoria which has high levels of unemployment.The cause is a serious one. You see, your man Gaita wrote some of his early (incomprehensible) books, while living near the Moorlort Plains. Moreover, Gaita’s childhood experiences on these very plains influence the “rhythm” of the sentences which can be found in such (incomprehensible) works of art as Romulus My Father and After Romulus. [I wonder what will come after After Romulus. Ed.] Robyn Davidson is just the very latest member of the intelligentsia to help Dr Gaita protect the cadences of his (incomprehensible) sentences. Others include Professor Robert Manne (of course), Helen Garner and Arnold Zable. All with the support of Jason Steger’s free plugs in The Age.MWD will let you know next week as to what happened when Ms Davidson conversed and conversed and conversed with Dr Gaita in Castlemaine. [I can barely wait – Ed] “You Must Remember This” is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they – and/or those they support – once wrote or said. PHILLIP ADAMS AND THE LATE WILFRED BURCHETT (STALINIST) – NOW AND THEN Did anyone hear the interview by ABC Radio National Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams of George Burchett on 5 November 2015? These days the Hanoi-based George Burchett is famous because he has a famous – or infamous – old man. A certain Wilfred Burchett (1911-1983). During a recent visit to Vietnam, the ABC’s Man-in-Black had a chat with artist George Burchett – primarily about Wilfred Burchett.
Now, as avid MWD readers are aware – and as Phillip Adams AO (1992), AM (1987), Hon. D. Univ (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon D Univ (SA), DLitt (Syd), FRSA, Hon. FAHA should know – Wilfred Burchett was a Stalinist. And more besides.Indeed, during his career as a communist functionary, Wilfred Burchett – on one occasion or other – supported every communist totalitarian dictatorship around. From Moscow to East Berlin, from Pyongyang to Hanoi and more besides – including the Castro regime in Cuba along with Pol Pot in Cambodia.Yet a listener would never know any of this from hearing Phillip Adams talking to Wilfred Burchett’s son on the Man-in-Black’s little wireless station.This is how Adams commenced his soft interview with George Burchett:
Phillip Adams: You must meet George Burchett, son of one of the most important journalists of the 20th century, Wilfred Burchett. Friend and confidant of Ho Chi Minh, Wilfred was the first Western reporter to report on the war in the South [Vietnam] from the side of the Vietcong. His name came up constantly while we were in Vietnam. In 1955, Burchett was refused a passport by Sir Robert Menzies on the grounds that he was a communist sympathiser. His son George lives in Hanoi with his wife, Eielson and their son – and I caught up with them in his home and art studio.In the oh-so-friendly discussion that followed, George Burchett declared that Wilfred Burchett:
▪ reported “two wars from the other side – that is Korea and Vietnam”
▪ referred to the communist dictator Ho Chi Minh as “Uncle Ho” – a term of affection which Adams endorsed.
▪ declared that left-wing academic Gavan McCormack had studied Wilfred Burchett’s role in the Korean War and “given him a clean slate” concerning the allegations which had been made against him and
▪ maintained that his father did not have “an ideological position”.
For his part, Phillip Adams had this to say about Wilfred Burchett:
Phillip Adams: One of the wonderful things about your father – and I think the thing that most profoundly concerned Western powers – was that he gave the enemy a human face. Instead of just being ciphers and statistics, suddenly we got to see what North Koreans and indeed North Vietnamese were like.Adams’ comment overlooked the fact that in the 1950s and 1960s North Korea and North Vietnam were communist totalitarian dictatorships. Men and women living in totalitarian societies did not have the individuality that Adams implied. Adams also went soft on Wilfred Burchett’s association with communist dictators:
Phillip Adams: If you look at the still photographs of Wilfred, there’s hardly a significant revolutionary leader anywhere on earth that he’s not having a friendly chat with.
Well yes. But these significant “revolutionary leaders” were mass murderers. Like Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh and the like.
In his interview with George Burchett, Phillip Adams failed to mention that:
▪ Wilfred Burchett was a paid agent, at various times, for the regimes in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and North Vietnam
▪ Wilfred Burchett claimed to be an independent journalist but was a member of the Communist Party – initially in Australia and then elsewhere
▪ Wilfred Burchett, self-proclaimed investigative journalist, never covered oppression and the denial of human rights when he lived in the Soviet Union and other East European nations – as well as North Korea, China, North Vietnam and Cuba.
▪ Wilfred Burchett made the wilfully false allegation that Allied forces used germ warfare in the Korean War
▪ Wilfred Burchett supported North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces when they were engaging Australian defence forces during the Vietnam War.
It seems that Phillip Adams has a poor memory. When interviewing George Burchett, your man Adams seems to have forgotten that he interviewed two left of centre historians – Robert Manne and Mark Aarons – on 11 June 2008 (also on Late Night Live) and that both men have a totally different view of Wilfred Burchett from that of his son George.
In the 2008 interview, Robert Manne and Mark Aarons:
▪ dismissed Gavan McCormack’s defence of Burchett and described Burchett as having “betrayed” Australia during the Korean War (Manne)
▪ depicted Burchett as a life-long supporter of communist causes (Aarons)
▪ stated that Burchett exhibited “blind loyalty to Stalinism” (Aarons)
▪ pointed out that Burchett was a member of the Communist Party of Australia in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s (Manne)
▪ acknowledged that Tibor Meray’s book On Burchett proved that “far from being an independent investigative reporter, Burchett was a craven propagandist who took orders from the Chinese on a daily basis” (Aarons)
▪ declared that “Burchett was under a kind of supervision of the KGB for a while in Moscow when he was working as a journalist there”. (Manne)
▪ reminded listeners that Burchett “basically said that the place where the North Korean and Chinese [prisoners-of-war] were held, Kobe Island, was like Auschwitz – and where the Australians, Americans and Brits were held was like a Swiss holiday camp”. (Aarons)
▪ declared that “Burchett was a traitor” (Manne) who was “integrally involved” in getting Allied POWs to make false confessions to their North Korea captives (Manne). Aarons stated that Manne had made a “very compelling case” that Burchett was a traitor.
So there you have it. On 5 November 2015, Phillip Adams joined with George Burchett in agreeing with each other that Wilfred Burchett was really a decent kind of chap. Yet in June 2008 Phillip Adams joined with Robert Manne and Mark Aarons in agreeing with each other that Wilfred Burchett was not only an operative for many communist totalitarian regimes but was a traitor to his country of birth, Australia.
Yes, MWD remembers this. And now for a reminder of Wilfred Burchett’s so-called journalism – which was, in fact, communist propaganda.
“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 2014On 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 pmCan’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 pmComplete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014