GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 300
18 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.
- Can You Bear It? Paul Sheehan & Meat; Simon Banks Laughs at own Joke; ABC misses Big Defamation Case Result
- Fairfax Media’s Obsession with Tony Abbott – Featuring Peter FitzSimons, Annabel Crabb, Charles Waterstreet, Adam Gartrell and Much, Much More
- ABC ENGAGES LEFTISTS WHO CLEAR ABC PROGRAM OF BEING ACCUSED OF LEFTISM
Hold the front page.
Following criticism by (then) prime minister Tony Abbott that the ABC TV’s Q&A was a “leftie lynch mob”, Jim Spigelman (the chairman of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster) appointed two left-of-centre guys to review the program. As befits the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC, Mr Spigelman gave the gig to Ray Martin (an admirer of the leftist hero John Pilger) and left-of-centre Shaun Brown (who used to run the left-of-centre SBS).
Guess what? Comrade Martin and Comrade Brown rejected Tony Abbott’s criticism of the program. How about that? Indeed Messrs Martin and Brown found that Q&A underrepresents the Greens. Quelle surprise.
- LA TINGLE RINGS THE BELL ON TONY ABBOTT: AGAIN
Consider the plight of the everyday member of the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery, after Parliament rises for the year and there is still a final column to write before pre-Christmas drinks.
What to do? Well, here’s a good idea. Why not bag Tony Abbott? Everyone else seems to do so when they have nothing else to write – and they get away with it.
And so it came to pass that today’s Australian Financial Review contains a column by its political editor Laura Tingle titled – wait for it – “Why Tony Abbott should really go away”. [I wonder whether this is a good idea – from La Tingle’s perspective. If Mr Abbott takes her advice and goes away – what, pray tell me, will La Tingle write about? Just a thought. – Ed]
In today’s piece:
▪ La Tingle accused Tony Abbott (along with Malcolm Turnbull), when in Opposition, of having “successfully bullied Labor into making repeated unrealistic promises about returns to surplus that it was never going to achieve”.
Sure, Labor failed to deliver on its many promises to return the budget to surplus. But it’s all Tony Abbott’s fault – with a little help from Malcolm Turnbull – due to the bullying and all that.
▪ La Tingle ran the argument that any comments made in Australia on the threat of radical Islamism – by politicians – have to be in accordance with a national security line (allegedly) laid down by the Director-General of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). How odd for a journalist of an influential Australian newspaper wanting to close down debate in this way.
This is how La Tingle concluded her AFR column today:
Abbott said in an interview last week that he still had “a contribution to make to public life”. The trouble is that, every time he sticks his head up, he only gives cause for voters to reflect on just what a miserable and destructive contribution that has been; to look on his prime ministership as an embarrassing aberration; and wish as 2015 draws to a close that the man would just go away.
In other words, unlike his predecessor Julia Gillard who went on a speaking tour with Dr Anne Summers and wrote her memoirs, Tony Abbott has got to just “go away”. Why? Because La Tingle says so.
Laura, it’s been a long year. Why not end it with a Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton-approved Gin & Tonic. Start with a bucket and lotsa ice. Then pour.
NANCY’S OFF ON A “W.E.B.”
This is the 300th issue of Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog – after which Nancy’s (male) co-owner is off to what journalists like to call a “Well Earned Break”.
Thanks to all of MWD’s avid readers over the past six years. Especially to those who provide material – all of which is read and nearly all of which is used somewhere or the other – and advised of typos and the like.
Thanks also to those who have written to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. Without them we could not have run the hugely popular “Correspondence” segment.
And lotsa love to the likes of Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton and Phillip (“Yes, I was a teenage commie”) Adams who have provided such wonderful endorsements on a regular basis. Hendo’s favourite endorsement remains Phillip Adams’ tweet which read: “The nation mourns Gerard Henderson. He’s in perfect health.”
Media Watch Dog will resume on Friday 29 January 2016 – after lunch, of course, and God willing. But Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian will continue through December and January. Unlike so many of the leftist sandal-wearers at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster whose WEBs extend over two months. [I thought you were going to run this in the “Can you bear it?” segment later. – Ed]
- PAUL SHEEHAN DENOUNCES MEAT – WITH OR WITHOUT MAGIC WATER
Did anyone see the truly stunning performance on ABC’s The Drum last Friday? Probably not. Because ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott has moved The Drum from its regular slot at 5.30 pm on ABC 1 and shoved it off to a 6.30 pm time-slot on ABC News 24.
Believe it or not, the 5.30 pm slot on ABC 1 is now occupied by a BBC quiz program called Pointless. Pointless by name and pointless by nature. It seems that Nice Mr Scott believes that the Silly Season should start early on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s main channel by running low-rent mush. Aunty also seems to be running repeats of the Antique Road Show – how antique can you get?
In any event, Paul Sheehan told the incredibly shrinking pre-Christmas viewers of The Drum on ABC News 24 that he has given up meat. Really. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Really. First to go was veal, followed by beef, then pork, then lamb and now chicken – with dairy to follow. The details were set out in his Sydney Morning Herald column “Meat is the murder of our packed planet” last Monday.
You see, Mr Sheehan has decided “raising livestock is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global green-house emissions”, according to the United Nations and, what’s more, it leads to the early death of “sentient” beings. Your man Sheehan is still consuming fish, however. Perhaps he does not regard fish as sentient types.
MWD takes lotsa notice of Paul Sheehan’s proclamations on health and related matters. Always has. Here’s how Nancy’s (male) co-owner covered Mr Sheehan’s teachings on water – yes water – in 2002. The piece is taken from the “Media Watch” segment of the July 2002 issue of The Sydney Institute Quarterly:
Paul Sheehan’s Recovery-Wholly Water
Meanwhile, while on the issue of miracles, consider the case of Sydney Morning Herald columnist and author of Among the Barbarians Paul Sheehan. On 6 April 2002 (the first Saturday after April Fool’s Day), Good Weekend carried a cover story entitled “Miracle Water?”. Readers were told that Paul Sheehan would answer THE QUESTION OF OUR TIME. Namely: “Can something as simple as this mineral-rich water really combat arthritis, fatigue and osteoporosis – and help you live longer?” Turn to Page 18 – and the answer is a BIG YES.
Paul Sheehan told readers that he had been struck down with a constellation of incurable auto-immune diseases. Over a three year period he had some 52 sessions with various doctors and therapists and 54 sessions with an acupuncturist – he still has the 1591 needles to prove it (how about that?). And then he began to drink “the magic water” which has been developed by Dr Russell Beckett – whom Sheehan described as an intense biomechanical pathologist and who has queried what he (Beckett) terms the inevitability of “degenerative diseases and death”. Wow. Once it was said that “From dust though art; to dust though shalt return”. Or something like that. But now with the assistance of Paul Sheehan’s favourite Holy Water, eternal life may just be possible – on this earth.
Any rate, according to Sheehan, The Magic Water has worked on sheep. And a dog named Toby (who no longer endures arthritis but, alas, suffers from post-stroke brain damage). And a cat called Tabby (who, alas, is dead – but at a more advanced age than many expected). So if The Magic Water worked for Toby and for Tabby – why not for your man Sheehan?
And why not for Sydney based Good Weekend readers? Despite Paul Sheehan’s acknowledgment that “Beckett has not published his findings in peer review scholarly journals” and that his own (apparent) recovery may have been due to the “placebo effect”, many a Good Weekend reader turned up at the Berts Soft Drink depot at Taren Point in southern Sydney. So much so that some 60,000 cases of The Magic Water were sold in a week – at $30 a case of two dozen (600 ml.) bottles. Dennis Shelley, the co-owner of Berts Soft Drinks, told the Sydney Morning Herald (9 April 2002) that what he termed 600 crippled people had turned up at his factory door following the Good Weekend story.
Here’s waiting for the next Paul Sheehan Good Weekend article. Maybe on how the lifestyles of Dog Toby and Cat Tabby have been further reinvigorated following their cures from galloping dementia. Due to swallowing copies of Good Weekend – pulped of course – with every canine/feline meal.
That was 2002 – when Paul Sheehan was proclaiming the cure of Magic Water. It looks like the cure worked – since, despite his oh-so-many-illnesses, Mr Sheehan is still with us. And now giving lectures as to why we should not consume meat or chicken or dairy products. The question is whether the world your man Sheehan is intent on saving would be worth living in – you know, no turkey for Christmas and the like. Can you bear it?
- SIMON BANKS: GREAT JOKE – PITY ABOUT THE FACTS
Did anyone watch the stunning performance by PR hack and one-time Labor staffer Simon Banks on Sky News on Tuesday?
Discussion got around to a letter which The Australian published that very morning from Tony Abbott. The former prime minister contested the assertion of Wayne Errington and Peter Van Onselen that Mr Abbott had “engaged” with them in the writing of Battleground: Why the Liberal Party Shirtfronted Tony Abbott (MUP, 2015).
Let’s go to the transcript where Sky News presenter Laura Jayes engages with Simon Banks on this very issue:
Laura Jayes: Just finally – if I can ask you…about a letter to the editor today in The Australian. One Tony Abbott, Canberra ACT, really wanting to correct the record. What do you make of that?
Simon Banks: Oh well I guess he’s entitled to. I mean heaven help us if he ever discovers Twitter and what it’s for. [Commences laughing at his own “joke”].
Laura Jayes: But he’s on Twitter. He’s [Tony Abbott’s] got a couple of hundred thousand followers, by the way. [Simon Banks continues to laugh at his own joke for three seconds].
So there you have it. Mr Banks made a false statement about Tony Abbott – and, when corrected, declined to apologise and just laughed a mocking laugh. Can you bear it?
- SANDAL-CLAD ABC REPORTERS MISSED $300,000 DEFAMATION AWARD
On 4 December 2015, Justice McCallum handed down a significant defamation award in the New South Wales Supreme Court. In French v Fraser, Justice McCallum brought down a verdict in favour of the plaintiff for damages, including aggravated damages, for the sum of $300,000.
In a defamation case in Australia, $300,000 is a big number. In the end, the defendant’s case collapsed and he abandoned his defence shortly before the hearing.
Justice McCallum found that Michael Fraser had run a “senseless vendetta founded in madness” against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s employee Dr Brendon French. Fraser stalked French on the web and made numerous defamatory statements in support of allegedly aggrieved clients, whom he did not name. While little of Fraser’s abuse made it to the mainstream media, Justice McCallum found that the reputational damage to French on the web had been substantial.
The judgement in French v Fraser has been covered in relevant parts of the media. Except, of course, the ABC. How come the ABC missed one of the biggest defamation cases in recent Australian history? Well, many serious ABC TV and radio programs closed down on the day that the judgment in French v Fraser was handed down. Just as many ABC journalists put on their sandals and headed to the beach and missed one of the biggest defamation cases. Can you bear it?
THE ABBOTT CLERICAL FASCIST DICTATORSHIP – AN UPDATE
While on the topic of Tony Abbott, consider the continuing obsession with the former prime minister by the Abbott-Haters at Fairfax Media.
- FAIRFAX MEDIA’S SUN-HERALD
Abbott-Haters aplenty just loved Fairfax Media’s The Sun-Herald last Sunday. It was loaded with Abbott-Haters. Here’s how:
Page 1: The lead story by Fairfax Media’s national political correspondent Adam Gartrell was titled “PM Ends Abbott War on Wind” and commenced: “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has lifted Tony Abbott’s controversial ban on government investment in wind power, in his first major break from the former regime’s environmental policy”. You see, the Clerical Fascist Dictator Abbott presided over a “regime” – not a government. How clerically fascist can you get?
Gartrell’s story contained a dinkus of the Red-Bandannaed One:
In fact, the Red Bandannaed One’s much hyped thought-piece ran for a mere 89 words. See below.
Page 2 : This contains a puff concerning Annabel Crabb’s column on Page 39. You’ve guessed it – Ms Crabb is banging on about Abbott.
Page 8 : Similar piece to what is on Page 1 by Adam Gartrell on Tony Abbott – this one titled “Turnbull whistles up wind by lifting controversial ban”.
Page 31: Another puff about the Red Bandannaed One’s much advertised (89 word) piece:
Page 36: Letters Page. The Sun-Herald Letters’ editor in his/her wisdom runs a segment titled “Abbott On Islam: Cult group is Muslim in name only” in its “On Facebook” segment. All up, 75 per cent of letters published criticise the former prime minister. [Fancy that – Ed]. Needless to say, Sun-Herald readers run the leftist fashionable line that Muslims who happen to be Islamists are not really Muslims at all. How convenient. Especially since radical Islamists believe that they are Muslim believers.
Page 37 : There is a cartoon by Matt Golding titled “Tony’s Trunks and Trump’s Bouffant”. Needless to say, Tony Abbott is depicted in a pair of budgie-smugglers and Donald Trump in a yellow hair-piece. How original can you get? The Abbott figure says: “I’m off to attack Islam.” And the Trump figure replies: “I’ll cover you.” How funny can you get?
Page 38: The entire page is devoted to Abbott-Haters.
– Charles Waterstreet’s column is headed “Abbott and Trump just the ticket for 2016”. In full sneering mode, the left-wing Sydney barrister, who has represented a number of men charged with terrorism related offences, refers to Tony Abbott as the “Minister without Portfolio”. Funny, eh? Mr Waterstreet made three references to the Prophet Mohammed – each one was followed by the refrain “Peace and Blessing be upon him”. How fashionable. And, for a self-declared atheist, how fawning.
– Another column on Tony Abbott and some others. This one by Adam Gartrell (again) and titled “Politicians’ stunning overreach of self-delusion”. Mr Gartrell started off by bagging former speaker Bronwyn Bishop. He described her “conservative” Liberal Party pre-selectors as “Tony Abbott loving”. It seems that Fairfax Media’s national political correspondent is unaware that Bronwyn Bishop voted for Malcolm Turnbull in the recent leadership spill and that this angered many of her conservative pre-selectors. In a column replete with sneering, Adam Gartrell described Bronwyn Bishop as a “back-bench battle axe”. Pretty sexist, don’t you think?
Adam Gartrell went on to bag Tony Abbott as living in “fantasy land” and drawing “attention to himself”. Yawn.
Page 38. A Michael Mucci cartoon depicts Tony Abbott in red budgie-smugglers (the official gear of the Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club) casting a shadow which has evident horns. Yawn again.
Page 39: This time it’s Annabel Crabb having a go at the former prime minister. There is a reference to the “Monkey Puzzle Room”. Yawn. And, of course, Bronwyn Bishop. When 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones once declared that Labor prime minister Julia Gillard should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea – Fairfax Media and ABC journalists, to a woman and a man, condemned the (alleged) sexist violence involved in Mr Jones’ modest proposal. However, last Sunday, Fairfax Media happily published this comment from Ms Crabb:
One wonders, idly, whether the best way of combating terrorism in the short term mightn’t just be to air-drop Mrs Bishop personally into Raqqa. Think about it: She’s virtually indestructible, already cross, and comfortable in helicopters. It wouldn’t be the silliest thing to happen all week.
Which suggests that – in Fairfax Media – joking about dropping Labor women into the sea is not on. But joking about dropping Liberal Party women on land is just good humoured fun. Just fun. By the way, the end of Ms Crabb’s column contained the following warning: “Annabel Crabb is an ABC writer and broadcaster.” Enough said.
Page 40: Finally, it’s time to hear from the Red Bandannaed One. Here’s what Peter FitzSimons had to say in his “The Fitz Files” column this week titled “Put a sock in it Tony, please”.
Every time. Every time I look up, there is Tony Abbott giving another interview, defending his record, putting his critics back in their box, affirming that he is fine, that he is staying on, etc.
And if no-one else will tell him, let me, gently: Abbo, my former rugby coach. Enough. You fought the good fight. It didn’t work out. Of course you are hurt, wounded, angered and all the rest. But you seriously do yourself no good service by giving constant updates on your feelings. Go for dignity, right now. The dignity of silence.
Cheers, and Merry Chrissie,
Fitz[I can’t believe it. Your man Fitz holds the world record for speaking non-stop for 24 hours with Richard Glover. And the Red Bandannaed One is now preaching about the “dignity of silence”. – Ed]
The much heralded Peter FitzSimons piece went for a mere 89 words, not all that much longer than the words in the puff-piece and half the dinkus size of the dinkus of the Red Bandannaed One which accompanies his weekly Sun-Herald column.
- FAIRFAX MEDIA ONLINE
Here’s a screen-shot from Fairfax Media Online last Sunday listing its “Most Popular” pieces.
Four out of five articles turned on, yawn, Tony Abbott. The Top Five list was led by the Red Bandannaed One headed “Enough Already of Tony Abbott”. It’s just that Fitz and his colleagues could not write enough about Tony Abbot last Sunday. Why even Anne Summers’ anti-Abbott rant – which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Saturday – was still scoring clicks on Fairfax Media’s website on Sunday. See below:
STEP FORWARD DERRYN (“I HATE THONGS ON PLANES”) HINCH
As avid MWD readers, Nancy’s highly prestigious 5 Paws Award is one of the most sought after gongs – rating just behind the Nobel Prize and the Oscars but well ahead of the Vatican’s Order of Malta.
This week’s highly prestigious gong is shared by the team on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Wednesday who supported Qantas’ decision to ban thongs in its lounges. Let’s go to the transcript:
Paul Murray: Kevin Pietersen, the former England captain, took to Twitter and got very whingy because Qantas told him that he wasn’t allowed to wear thongs in the First Class Lounge. Well surprise, surprise, pal. This is a place that is used by business people and CEOs and all the rest of it. I have no problem when Virgin or Qantas tell somebody wearing a pair of thongs: “You know what, you can go to the other lounge….”
Derryn Hinch: I’d ban thongs and singlets from planes. I think if you want to wear –
Janine Perrett: (interjecting) Oh, I agree.
Derryn Hinch: If you want to wear bloody floppy thongs – and men in singlets on planes – I think it’s unhygienic. And I think if Qantas who wants to ban thongs from their lounge, any lounge, not just the Chairman’s lounge – any lounge, I’m thrilled.
Derryn Hinch, Janine Perrett and Paul Murray – Five Paws.
A GEORGE PELL UPDATE: HOSTILE MEDIA FEEDS OFF KANGAROO COURT
While on the topic of Paul Murray Live, did anyone see the program last Friday when the presenter and his guests – 2UE’s Stuart Bocking and the McKell Institute’s Darrin Barnett – discussed, of course, Cardinal George Pell.
Surprisingly, both Paul Murray and Stuart Bocking agreed that Cardinal Pell’s medical certificate – advising that he could not travel a long flight from Rome to Melbourne to appear at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse this month – should be taken at face value.
What’s more, Mr Murray said that organisations other than the Catholic Church were involved in the scandal – he mentioned the Hillsong Church in Sydney. And Mr Bocking mentioned Knox Grammar School in Sydney. [I note that the ABC, when covering this matter, has not mentioned that ABC managing director is on the Knox Grammar School Council. – Ed]
However, not all’s well that starts well. This is Mr Barnett’s final comment:
Darrin Barnett: Just quickly, I think from my time as a journo – and I was a Melbourne journo in Canberra – but Peter Hollingworth was Governor-General. He had a similar role to Mr Pell, or Cardinal [Pell], and he was hounded from office. So the institutional cover up was deemed to go to the highest level. Let’s investigate it properly, with Pell in the stand.
Once again, another howler about Cardinal Pell on PML. When sexual abuse occurred in the Ballarat diocese, Pell was not a bishop. Within three months of becoming Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell addressed child sexual abuse by setting up the Melbourne Response. Archbishop Hollingworth, on the other hand, was Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane when child sexual abuse occurred within the archdiocese. There is no comparison between the two cases.
Throughout 2015 on Sky News – both Paul Murray and Derryn Hinch have made false and misleading comments about George Pell. Despite instructions from Sky News’ management, both Murray and Hinch have refused to correct their howlers. Moreover, both presenters have censored any alternative views from being heard.
In this regard, Sky News is no better – and no worse – than the ABC and Fairfax Media.
▪ Last Friday, PM ran audible laughter from Cardinal Pell’s critics in the Royal Commission’s public galleries when Allan Myers QC advised Justice Peter McClelland that his client was too ill – due to a long standing heart condition – to travel to Melbourne at this time.
▪ On Monday, Radio National Breakfast ran an interview with a survivor of child sexual abuse in Ballarat. The survivor stated how stressful it was that Cardinal Pell’s evidence had been delayed. Presenter Hamish Macdonald seemed unaware that the Royal Commission had declined to take the Cardinal’s evidence by video-link. This despite the fact that it has taken video-link evidence from several other witnesses.
The RN Breakfast presenter also seemed unaware that Pell has voluntarily given evidence to the Royal Commission on two occasions – once in person and once by video-link. Also Cardinal Pell has given evidence in person to the Parliament of Victoria’s inquiry.
▪ On Monday, The Age ran a letter from Catherine Renzaho – accompanied by a mocking cartoon – which read as follows:
So Cardinal Pell chose to exercise his legal right to recall and cross-examine victims of child abuse at the royal commission and have them relive the trauma they suffered, yet he has asked to be excused from having to undergo the same ordeal on health grounds for now (” ‘Not safe’ for Pell to travel for commission hearing”, December 12-13). This sends a message about whose rights and whose health is more important to Pell, and goes a long way to explain how this shameful abuse was allowed to continue for so long in the Catholic Church.
Catherine Renzaho, Kellyville Ridge
Ms Renzaho’s letter was ridden with errors – which The Age’s Letters editor let pass. George Pell’s legal representative did not cross examine victims of child abuse about their “trauma” – only about what they alleged that they told George Pell years after the abuse took place. A quite different matter.
Moreover, Cardinal Pell did not ask to be excused from giving evidence. On the contrary, he asked to give his evidence by video-link. It was the Royal Commission which declined to hear the Cardinal’s evidence at this time.
Finally it is defamatory to imply – without evidence – that Cardinal Pell “allowed” child abuse “to continue for so long in the Catholic Church”. In fact, George Pell was the first archbishop or bishop in the Christian churches to act against child sexual abuse.
Regrettably, when it comes to Cardinal Pell, the Royal Commission is beginning to resemble a kangaroo court in search of a high profile target. Witnesses who are friends of George Pell are told by counsel-assisting that they are lying on account of their friendship. But opponents of the Cardinal are not declared to be liars on account of their hostility. Moreover, the Royal Commission seems to allow barracking from the public galleries which would not be tolerated in a court of law.
In view of this, the responsibility lies with Sky News, the ABC, Fairfax Media and others to provide fair and balanced reporting. So far, with some notable exceptions, this has not been the case with respect to Cardinal Pell and his witnesses.
INTELLECTUAL PRETENSION IN THE SILLY SEASON – THE CASE OF DR JOHN DALEY OF THE GRATTAN INSTITUTE
Christmas is coming. The geese are getting fat. And John Daley, chief executive officer of the taxpayer subsidised Grattan Institute, has just put on his intellectual hat. Again.
You see, each year – as the Silly Season approaches – Dr Daley (for a doctor he is) tells the prime minister of the day what he or she should be reading. So, early in December, the Grattan Institute issued a 2015 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister. Really.
As usual, John Daley LLB (Hons), BSc, DPhil (Oxon) [That’s interesting. I note that your man Daley does not have a core qualification in economics – despite the fact that he seems to bang on about economics, the budget and all that stuff in the media every morning, every night and frequently during the day – Ed] headed his reading list with the pompous statement about, yes, reading:
Summer is a great time to relax with friends and family, to take a vacation, to reflect on the year past – and to read. During the year it can be hard to find spare time for reading. Our ministers and MPs have less free time to read than the rest of us. So every year the Grattan Institute releases a summer reading list for the Prime Minister.
The list contains books and articles that we believe the Prime Minister – or indeed any Australian – will find stimulating over the break. They’re all good reads that we think say something interesting about Australia and its future.
While we don’t stand by every word in these books, we believe they provide excellent food for thought. We enjoyed reading them, and we hope our leaders do too. Most importantly, we hope they have a refreshing break and return inspired to lead the country in 2016.
How frightfully twee, don’t you think? Surely John Daley and his team at the Grattan Institute don’t really believe that each year the Prime Minister awaits advice about what to read from the Grattan Institute.
Jason Steger, The Age’s literary editor, takes the views of his Melbourne (intellectual) neighbour very seriously indeed. In his incredibly shrinking “Bookmarks” column in The Age on 5 December, your man Steger gave Dr Daley’s little list a plug in the literary pages of The Age. This is the very same Mr Steger who did not review the important book by Sam Lipski and Suzanne Rutland Let My People Go: The untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89 (Hybrid Publications 2015), despite the fact that it is very much about such once Mebourne identities as Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, Robert Menzies and Isi Leibler.
In any event, here is the 2015 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister prepared by Dr Daley and his little helpers:
Warrior: A legendary leader’s dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier – Libby Connors
Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia – Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren (editors)
Creating Cities – Marcus Westbury
Other People’s Money: Masters of the universe or servants of the people? – John Kay
Rising Inequality: A benign outgrowth of markets or a symptom of cancerous political favours? – Paul Frijters and Gigi Foster
Love Poems and Death Threats – Samuel Wagan Watson
On 13 December, John Daley gave a truly boring and highly pretentious 15 minute interview to Jonathan Green on RN Sunday Extra about the Grattan Institute’s little list. In a striking example of Dr Daley’s evident lack of self-awareness, it so happened that that very morning the Sunday Age published an article about what Australia’s political leaders proposed to read over the Silly Season.
Needless to say, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does not plan to read any of the books recommended by the Grattan Institute. Not one. So what’s the point of the Grattan Institute’s 2015 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister? And indeed, what’s the point of Dr Daley in literary critic mode?
Inspired by the Grattan Institute, Nancy – chief executive officer of the Nancy Institute – has issued a document titled 2015 Summer Reading List for Nancy’s (Male) Co-owner. Here it is – with a brief editorial comment:
٠ How To Be Liked By Others by Fr Harry H.W. Wade C.SS.R. (Liguori Publications, Missouri, Circa 1960) [This provides important skills for dog owners who need to have a few inter-personal skills in order to undertake canine driven walks – and return home without being attacked on, say, Bay Road by the savage Dipsey.]
٠ Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure by Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen (Hybrid Publications, Melbourne, 2015). [The central character of this book – a certain Dr Everest (for a doctor he claims to be) – is an impotent, food addictive, sexist, narcissist who happens to have witty and irreverent ideas on modern day universities and the media. Thoroughly recommended to leave around the home or the office in order to repel any sandal-wearing leftist visitors.]
DELIBERATE MISTAKE UPDATE – ON THE UNITED KINGDOM
One of the most hugely popular segments of MWD turns on the open invitation to avid readers to pick the John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake. Each week. Each month. Or each year.
So it’s time to acknowledge the success of Jeremy Danton and Keith McLennan who picked the “deliberate mistake” in MWD Issue 297. Contrary to what MWD wrote, Northern Ireland is not part of Britain. But it is part of the United Kingdom – as in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Thanks to Mr Danon and Mr McLennan for their correction.
DAVID (“I’M FLAT OUT LIKE A LIZARD DRINKING”) DAY STILL FAILS TO STUMP UP EVIDENCE ABOUT HIS MENZIES & CHURCHILL ALLEGATION
There has been enormous reader interest as to whether David Day, one of Australia’s leading historians, has been able to find any evidence to support the thesis on which his academic reputation is built. Namely, that in 1941 Australia’s very own Robert Menzies wanted to replace Winston Churchill as prime minister of Britain – and that such a scenario had considerable support in Britain.
Asked to provide almost two years ago the name of one historian of 20th Century Britain, or one Churchill biographer, who has even made such a claim – Dr Day (for a doctor he is) said that he was “flat out like a lizard drinking”. Too busy, it seems, to provide one name.
In the absence of David Day supporting his assertion about Menzies and Churchill, here’s an update of MWD’s Scoreboard. Will keep readers advised if Dr Day produces any evidence of any kind at any time.[table id=38 /]
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 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 – not even the delightful Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).
PART II – AN AGE OBITUARY – OR AN AGE ATTACK FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE? THE CASE OF B.A. SANTAMARIA & HIS RECENTLY DECEASED OPPONENT CONTINUES APACE
When MWD came out last week, The Age had still not got back to Gerard Henderson concerning his critique of an obituary written about Fr Frank Martin (1928-2015) in which the authors Michael Bowden and Frank Bowden exhibited a clear recollection of an event which never happened. [Perhaps this should be called the “Emeritus Professor Robert Manne Syndrome”. See MWD passim ad nauseam – Ed]
By 3.30 pm on Friday, despite a “girding of loins”, the Bowdens had failed to produce evidence that the late B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) ever said that Fr Martin was a “Communist priest” or a “red under the bed”. By Wednesday morning, Lawrence Money, The Age’s Obituary Page editor had thrown in the towel. Now read on.
Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 14 December 2015
Hi there Hendo
A pointed silence from the authors. I shall approach them again and then air your grievance.
Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 15 December 2015
The boys have responded with due diligence and courtesy. LM
Thanks for the opportunity to respond to Mr Henderson.
We were a little taken aback at the tone and intensity of his communication but we are pleased to provide a response in defence of our piece which was written to honour the memory of a great, gentle and important man.
Firstly, we did not state that BA Santamaria called Frank Martin “a Communist priest”. The exact wording is as Mr Henderson excerpted: we referred to “the church’s conservative elements”. Mr Henderson is at liberty to place Santamaria in that category but we do not make the claim that he said the words. That Frank Martin was called “a Communist priest” is a fact though – one instance occurred at an evening event in Sydney when Frank was on the School’s commission. He was approached by a woman who engaged him in conversation and was surprised when she learnt his name. She said, “Oh, you’re the communist priest from Victoria”.
On the second point, we defer to Mr Henderson’s considerable knowledge of BA Santamaria’s archives. (We tried to find relevant videos or transcripts on the internet but were only able to locate two – one of which refers, inter alia, to the influence of homosexuals in the ABC in the 1980s). Mr Santamaria’s anti-communist stance is well known to historians and lay people of a certain age but not to most younger readers of the obituary. “Reds under the beds” was a commonly used term in the 60s and 70s and we believe that it was reasonable to use it to capture the tone of the anti-Communist discourse of the times. We are aware that Mr Santamaria was careful to avoid using the term himself, or to make specific allegations against individual religious “in public” as Mr Henderson states. However, having been with Frank at the time, we know how much he was affected by Santamaria’s public criticisms of the post-conciliar teaching and curricula in Catholic schools, and by implication, the people overseeing their implementation.
Frank Bowden and Michael Bowden
Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 15 December 2015
I refer to your note advising that “the boys” Frank Bowden and Michael Bowden “have responded with due diligence and courtesy” to my request that they stump up evidence for the claims made about the late B.A. Santamaria in their obituary of the late Frank Martin.
You might have added that they also responded with incompetence and denial. This is what “the boys” wrote in The Age on 2 December 2015:
His [Frank Martin’s] alliance with Left-leaning Sydney bishop James Carroll – and collaboration on the [Schools’] commission with people like Joan Kirner, later to be premier of Victoria, and Jean Blackburn, a feminist and openly socialist educator – was an incitement to the church’s conservative elements, many of whom tagged Frank as the “Communist priest”. (On Sunday mornings our household watched Point of View on Channel 9, a propaganda platform for B.A. Santamaria, where Frank became another “red under the bed”). We cheered for Frank in the same way that we barracked for Richmond on Saturdays.
My responses to the reply by Frank Bowden and Michael Bowden to you are as follows:
- The Allegation that Fr Martin was called a “Communist priest”
The only “conservative Catholic” referred to in the obituary is Bob Santamaria. But the Bowdens now claim that they “did not state that B.A. Santamaria called Frank Martin ‘a Communist priest’”. Somewhat disingenuous, to be sure. The clear implication in the obituary was that the “conservative Catholic” Bob Santamaria made the statement with reference to Frank Martin.
As to the alleged “fact” that Fr Martin was called a “Communist priest” – the Bowdens attribute this (alleged) insult to one unidentified “woman” at an unidentified time at an unidentified place in Sydney. Such a claim does not even have the status of hearsay. It is mere gossip, upon gossip, upon gossip.
I’m surprised that The Age regards such “scholarship” as suitable for publication on its Obituary Page.
- The Allegation that Fr Martin was referred to as a “Red Under the Bed” by Mr Santamaria on his Point of View program
In their note, Frank Bowden and Michael Bowden concede that they have no evidence whatsoever that B.A. Santamaria called Frank Martin a “red under the bed”. Rather, they just made this up “to capture the tone of the anti-Communist discourse of the times”. So now the claim is about “tone” – not about what Santamaria said or wrote.
Also the Bowdens now acknowledge that B.A. Santamaria “was careful to avoid using the term [‘reds under the bed’] himself”. In other words, “the boys” verballed Santamaria in The Age by attributing a term to him which they now concede he was “careful to avoid”.
In their ignorance, the Bowdens seem totally unaware that the irony-filled term “reds under the bed” was used by the left to mock anti-communists like Santamaria. It was never used by anti-communists. Once again, “the boys” just made this up.
Moreover, according to their own account, the Bowdens were too lazy to check the published and type-written drafts of Santamaria’s Point of View program – which are readily accessible in the State Library of Victoria. When asked by The Age to back up their claim, they responded that “they tried to find relevant videos or transcripts on the internet” – in vain, of course. In other words, the Bowdens only looked for evidence after their account was challenged. There is no evidence, since “the boys” have a memory of an event which never happened.
Once again, I’m surprised that The Age regards such “scholarship” as suitable for publication on its Obituary Page.
At the end of their email, the Bowdens write that Frank Martin “was affected by Santamaria’s public criticisms of the post-conciliar teaching and curricula in Catholic schools, and by implication, the people overseeing their implementation”.
No surprise there. B.A. Santamaria criticised a lot of people, myself included. And Santamaria was criticised by a lot of people, myself included. However, the late Fr Martin’s hurt feelings cannot be assuaged by the Bowdens verballing Mr Santamaria concerning an allegation against Fr Martin which he never made.
Now that Frank Bowden and Michael Bowden have acknowledged that B.A. Santamaria never said on Point of View that Fr Frank Martin was a “red under the bed” – will The Age correct this in its print and online editions? And when? Over to you.
Please give my regards to your fellow comrades at “The Guardian-on-the-Yarra”.
All the best for Christmas and the New Year.
Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson – 15 December 2015
Thanks Gerard. I think the best solution is to print a version of your letter that you are happy with — it is too long to publish in its entirety. I shall edit it then send for your perusal.
A ho in triplicate to your good self as well
Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 16 December 2015
I do not want to write a letter to The Age. The error which was made on the Obituary Page did not refer to me. Consequently, it is not up to me to make the correction.
In my view, The Age should publish a correction in both its print and online editions. That’s the professional way to handle this.
Lawrence Money to Gerard Henderson -16 December 2015
Good morning Gerard
Yes, I received your email yesterday and it is your call on the letter.
So, while the authors of the piece did not specifically say that Mr Santamaria used those two expressions about Father Martin, the text certainly implies he did — and as the authors have not provided anything to substantiate those implications, the article needs clarifying.
That involves our in-house library files, the on-line version and our print incarnation. I will attend to it as promptly as possible (this is the first clarification/correction I have needed since taking over editorship of the page so this is new territory).
I appreciate your assistance.
Gerard Henderson to Lawrence Money – 18 December 2015
Good morning Lawrence,
Thanks for your note of Wednesday morning. And apologies for the confusion about Tuesday evening’s email from me – it disappeared from my iPhone.
To repeat, thanks for the offer – but I do not want to write to The Age about this.
As someone who is interested in history, I’m impressed that you understand the need to correct the record. Also, it’s good to hear that this is the first time you have had to correct an obit since taking over the Obituary Page.
I will look out for the correction in due course.
Keep morale high.
* * * * *
Postscript: On The Age’s Obituary Page today the following correction appears.
This is a most suitable way to end MWD for 2015 – with morale high.
Until next time
“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