12 February 2016

The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.


“Gerard: You are hopeless…”

– David Marr, 12 February 2016 (re which see MWD’s highly popular Correspondence section).






        By yesterday afternoon it was evident that Barnaby Joyce, the Member for New England, had the numbers to replace the retiring Warren Truss as leader of the Nationals and deputy prime minister.  So who did ABC 1’s 7.30 program go to for a one-to-one interview about Mr Joyce?  Why, Joyce’s greatest political enemy – the former Independent MP for New England, Tony Windsor.  How very ABCish.  Here’s how the interview commenced:

        Leigh Sales : Mr Windsor, thanks very much for your time. It’s no secret, of course, that there’s no love lost between you and Barnaby Joyce. What do you think of the National Party’s decision to have him as leader?

        Tony Windsor, Former Member For New England: Well time will tell. Obviously Barnaby Joyce – and I wish him well in the job, but obviously he’s what’s called a retail politician, not a detail politician, so in that position he’ll really have to start and address some of the key issues in substance rather than just a few lines or a bit of a slogan or a throwaway line here and there. So, it’ll be a bit of a challenge for him. I think people will notice the difference between the nature of Warren Truss being on detail and this sort of – Barnaby’s way of retailing the message.

        Ms Sales said nothing as Mr Windsor proceeded to run “a few lines” of his own.  Windsor (i) referred to the “Abbott crazies” on two occasions, (ii) described the Nationals as “looking backwards rather than forwards”, (iii) described Tony Abbott as a “slogan bogan”, (iv) depicted the Nationals as “wanting to trade themselves back into the last century”.  Not much substance in any of this – but Ms Sales did not proffer a single criticism.

        The interview ended with the following free (media) kick:

        Leigh Sales: You’ve been contemplating running once again for your old seat of New England where you would be taking on Barnaby Joyce. Why are you thinking about that and where is your thinking at right now?

        Tony Windsor: Well there’s issues that concern me and I’ve just been through some of them….

        Tony Windsor went on and on and on and on without answering the question.  On this occasion there was no “sorry to interrupt” injection from Ms Sales. She wound up the interview without asking the one-time Independent Member for New England when he was likely to make up his mind about whether he will run against Barnaby Joyce in the 2016 election – a threat he has been making for some time. Also the 7.30 presenter never mentioned that Tony Windsor does not like the Nationals and is on record as describing the Nationals as “cancer”.

        Which raises the question – what did Leigh Sales expect when she asked Tony Windsor what he thought about the Nationals?




        The forthcoming commissioning of Barnaby Joyce as deputy prime minister reminds MWD of Mamamia editor Jamila Rizvi’s put down of the Member for New England on ABC 1 News Breakfast on 11 January 2016.  Let’s go to the transcript:

         Jamila Rizvi:  I think Penny Wong said that everyone is thinking that it would be highly entertaining if Barnaby Joyce became leader of the Nationals and very occasionally our deputy – our acting – prime minister.  But perhaps not necessarily the best thing for the nation.

        It’s not clear what qualifies Ms Rizvi to know what “everyone is thinking”. Senator Penny Wong is a Labor frontbencher whose job it is to criticise the likes of Joyce.  But what was Jamila Rizvi doing – in a segment of News Breakfast devoted to analysing the daily newspapers – supporting Senator Wong’s political attack?  Moreover, she was not even sure that Penny Wong had made the statement.




        Watching Auntys Media Watch




        The left’s house program Media Watch, on ABC 1, continues this year with a new executive director. Media Watch has only ever had left-of-centre presenters and producers and the evidence suggests that this tradition is continuing.

        The left-of-centre Tim Latham – who once told Hendo that he (Hendo) resembled his (Tim’s) mother – is on what journalists like to call a “Well Earned Break”.  Before going to Media Watch, your man Latham produced the RN Breakfast program presented by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.

        So who was suitable to take on such a job during the Latham WEB?  Why James Carleton, previously the assistant producer of RN Breakfast, of course.  It’s called keeping things in the (left-wing) family.  This is the very same Mr Carleton who once told Nancy’s (male) co-owner that he disagreed with all his views.  Yep – each and every one of them.  Fancy that.

        Under the guidance of James Carleton, the ABC’s Media Watch returned from its oh-so-long WEB on 1 February.  Last Monday’s show demonstrates that it is getting off to a slow start.

        The big media story in the afternoon and early evening of 8 February 2016 was the ABC’s apology following 7.30’s  false claim (by reporter Sophie Scott) that a 5 year old asylum seeker had been raped on Nauru.  7.30’s  coverage of this issue on February 2016 was international news – before the ABC made a rare acknowledgement of error.  It so happened that Ms Scott had misreported an interview and no such rape occurred.

        And what did presenter Paul Barry and the team at Media Watch led by executive producer Mr Carleton say about the breaking story at 9.20 pm last Monday?  The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. But Mr Barry did bang on and on about precisely how former prime minister Tony Abbott came to meet US president Barack Obama in Washington recently – as if this was important.  Oh yes, and Mr Barry told viewers that an ABC caption did not really cite the word “penis” but, rather, the reference was to “pen is”. Well, now we know.

        But, as to the big media story of the day about the ABC’s apology?  Well – either Media Watch did not have time to cover it or it decided not to cover it.  But ABC Radio PM did report the ABC’s apology – about four hours before Media Watch went to air.  This suggests that when Tim Latham is on a well-earned break, Paul Barry, James Carleton and the team go to bed early.

        Can you bear it graphic 



        Apart from the performance by comedian Tom (“I could have been a pharmacist”) Gleeson, is there anything funny about ABC 1’s The Weekly starring Charlie Pickering, Kitty Flanagan and your man Gleeson?  Nup – judging by the first two editions for 2016 of the ABC’s front line comedy program – which has a staff of over 60, believe it or not? [I believe it. It airs on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, after all – Ed]

        Take last Wednesday’s program, for example.  It resembled the chosen topics for a media course at, say, the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) or the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.

        Comedy is supposed to be irreverent. But on Wednesday Mr Pickering and company gave all the fashionable left-wing causes a run – with all the fervour of a preacher in a bully pulpit.  You know, George Pell. Yawn.  Plus support for asylum seekers.  How predictable.   Plus the atrocity of male and female centred toys in what should be a gender-free world.  More yawns.  Plus yet another let’s-be-good-citizens by Ms Flanagan; this time on the dangers of vaping.  These days Kitty Flanagan sounds like everyone’s mother lecturing her off-spring on the dangers of modern living.

        You know that The Weekly’s not funny by watching Charlie Pickering’s artificial attempts to exhibit genuine laughter or the hearing the bons mots of his stars.  Or by listening to the canned laughter which is injected into the program to say something like: “Hey, bros – this is really funny”. And the taxpayer is funding this oh-so-fashionable attempt at humour.  Can you bear it?

        Ackland AM

        There was enormous interest in last week’s report that Richard Ackland AM has railed against any “childlike form of expression”. Except his own.

        Take last week’s “Gadfly” column in Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper, for example.  Ackland AM could not resist the following child-like forms of expression in which your man Ackland:

        ▪ referred to Attorney-General George Brandis QC as “Bookshelves Brandis”.

        ▪ referred to Rupert Murdoch as “Lord Muloch”

        ▪ referred to Barrister Charles Waterstreet as “Charles (Sugar Daddy) Waterstreet.

        ▪ referred to journalist Sharri Markson as “Sharri (Lois Lane) Markson”.

        ▪ referred to Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos as “Arfur (Daley) Sinodinos” and

        ▪ queried whether Piers Akerman was “still alive”. (According to MWD’s sources, Ackland is older than Akerman).

        Meanwhile Ackland AM lectures others about child-like forms of expression. Can you bear it?



         While on the topic of child-like expression, consider the oh-so-long piece by Matt Barrie in The Guardian Australia on 5 February concerning the NSW government’s legislation to regulate the serving of alcohol late at night and in the early morning.  Here we go:

        The NSW Liberal party has strayed so far from its roots that it’s closer to the Taliban than centre-right liberalism. No wonder voters are completely exasperated when going to the polls. This is the party that touts itself on its supposed pro-business, pro-economy and pro-liberal views.

        The puritanical policy settings from the NSW Liberals are more like pre-first world war temperance league values, but in 2016 they are put in place by stealth policy measures firmly pushed by quiet evangelicals such as Baird. Not confident enough to have them exposed as democratic ideas, for which they may or may not get elected today, evangelical temperance advocates achieve their goals by deceiving the voters with fear and misinformation.

        So there you have it.  According to Matt Barrie, the NSW Liberal Party is a bit like the Taliban or perhaps the Temperance League.  In fact, NSW is awash with grog.  But Mr Barrie looks at the premier Mike Baird and sees the late Mullah Omar.  Can you bear it?



        five paws graphic



        Issue 303 marks the return in 2016 of MWD’s prestigious Five Paws Award. And the winner is Heather Henderson (no relation) – the daughter of Robert and Pattie Menzies.

        Writing in Fairfax Media on 31 January 2016 about The Lodge in Canberra, Tony Wright commented:

        Many of the prime ministers’ families have consoled themselves with pets. Both Paul Keating and Julia Gillard named their dogs Reuben. Dame Pattie Menzies furiously blamed the Commonwealth police commissioner, Ray Whitrod, for the death of her fluffy white cat after he persuaded her to allow a fierce German shepherd dog to roam the grounds as security.

        Last Sunday, the Canberra Times published the following letter from Mrs Henderson:

        In an article about The Lodge…Tony Wright wrote a fictitious story about Dame Pattie Menzies. Yes, the Menzies family had a white (not fluffy) cat. Yes, the guards had a German shepherd, and from time to time they walked around the garden at night. The dog did not roam on its own. Dame Pattie claimed that her Pekinese was a better watchdog, so the German shepherd could hardly have been described as fierce. The cat died because it was hit by a car in Adelaide Avenue or National Circuit.

        It had nothing to do with Ray Whitrod. I can’t imagine Dame Pattie ever “furiously blaming” that admirable man for anything. There are plenty of good stories about her, and indeed, the cat. Why invent one?

        – Heather Henderson



        Good point.  Tony Wright just made this story up – without bothering to check with descendants of the owners of the Menzies’ white cat.  Mrs Henderson nailed this travesty.

        Heather Henderson – Five Paws.





        Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” is prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

        Did any of MWD’s avid readers watch The Drum last Monday?  Probably not – since it has been removed from ABC 1 in recent times and replaced by a pointless British quiz-show appropriately named “Pointless”. This means that The Drum (which is recorded at 5.30 pm) goes to air on ABC News 24 at 6.30 pm – giving a new meaning to live television.

        This is how ABC News 24 advertised The Drum on 8 February 2016:

        Host Julia Baird with David Marr, Michael Jensen and Judith Whelan.

        The panel discusses: The fate of 267 asylum seekers; the legacy of Phillip Ruddock, George Pell dodges giving evidence in Australia and the GST retreat.


        Pretty loaded, don’t you think?  Even before the discussion commenced, the ABC 24 editorialised that Cardinal George Pell had dodged giving evidence in Australia before the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In fact, the Royal Commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan, accepted medical advice that Cardinal Pell’s heart condition entailed that it was not safe for him to undertake a long flight from Rome to Melbourne.

        George Pell has already given evidence on two occasions to the Royal Commission – once in person (in Sydney) and once by video-link (from Rome) – and appeared in person before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.  Cardinal Pell was prepared to give evidence in December by video-link.  This request was not taken up in December 2015 but was agreed to in February 2016.  Yet, according to ABC News 24, this was a “dodged” moment – despite the fact that a number of witnesses before the Royal Commission, who are based in Australia, have given evidence by video-link without being accused of dodging an appearance in person.

        In fact it was John Barron, not Julia Baird, who presented The Drum on Monday. He also editorialised against the cardinal when he opened up the program by declaring:

        Cardinal George Pell’s doctor’s certificate has done the trick; he won’t have to appear in person at the child abuse Royal Commission.

        There is no evidence that the cardinal’s medical advisers has done any “trick” – since Justice McClellan accepted the expert medical advice.  In any event, it makes no difference whether evidence is given in person or by video-link – except for protestors and journalists who want to participate in/report demonstrations.

        And so it came to pass that The Drum last Monday was one of those oh-so-familiar moments when everyone on the ABC panel agreed with everyone else and a fine ideological time was had by all.

        On asylum seekers and the legacy of Philip Ruddock and George Pell and the Goods & Services Tax – David Marr (The Guardian Australia) agreed with Rev Michael Jensen (rector, St Mark’s Anglican Church, Sydney) who agreed with Judith Whelan (the Sydney Morning Herald’s news director) who agreed with David who agreed with Michael who agreed with Judith who agreed with David who agreed with himself. That’s what passes for debate and discussion on what Nice Mr Scott calls “Your ABC”.

        The everyone-agrees-with-everyone-else “debate” on asylum seekers saw all three panellists parade their morality without anyone making an empirical suggestion about border security.  It was much the same with the GST – with no one demonstrating any specialised knowledge in taxing goods or services.

        As to Cardinal George Pell – well, let’s go to the transcript. Here’s how the discussion commenced:

        John Barron:  So Judith, in your view, George Pell – is he the next Christopher Skase ah, sort of avoiding flying back to face the music or, in fact, is he being unfairly demonised here because he has appeared not once but twice before this self-same Royal Commission

         Judith Whelan: Ah look I would suspect that this is a Christopher Skase style situation. Um I don’t know, you know, but he’s also giving up a huge opportunity here to actually come back and answer questions that everybody has about how he behaved at the time in Ballarat and also about how the Church has behaved since. And I mean it was interesting that the um, ah you know that the Royal Commissioner actually said “Well, some people can fly with this medical condition”. The documents, um, we have shown that the risk is high for Cardinal Pell, you know, it’s not for me to – I haven’t seen these documents. But it would seem as though he could have actually got on that plane and it would have been a fantastic thing if he did.

        Ms Whelan’s inarticulate, ill-informed and contradictory ramble ignored the fact that Christopher Skase did-a-runner from the law and headed to Spain. Skase evaded the law in Australia and refused to cooperate in any way with Australian authorities who were investigating his financial fraud.  George Pell, on the other hand, has cooperated fully with the Royal Commission and the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.  Unlike Skase he has never been arrested for, or investigated with respect to, any crime.

        John Barron, in full sneering mode, continued:

        John Barron: Michael it would have to be, if nothing else, a bad look. It looks contemptuous of the Commission to be sitting back there in, I don’t know, a palace in the Vatican or wherever he resides – and kind of phoning it in.

         Rev. Michael Jensen: Yeah I don’t think it’s a great look  and I agree with Judith it’s a wasted opportunity. And I think – look if I was him – I’d say “Look if it takes sticking me in the front of the plane, I get on.” Because it’s about the victims here – [Much laughter – following an inaudible interjection by Ms Whelan]

         John Barron: “If pressed, I’ll travel first class”. [More laughter].

         Rev. Michael Jensen: But, the victims are paramount, their interests are paramount here. They need to be heard and people need to be made to give account – and he needs to be made to give account. He needs to give account. I think he has a duty to give account as best he can for the sake of those who have been hurt. And to do the utmost to show that the truth has come out and that reconciliation and atonement are on the table and the Church is willing to do that. That’s what this Commission’s about. That’s what needs to be shown by even a gesture which might risk your health. I can’t help thinking what would Christ do in this situation would be a good question to put to the Archbishop [sic].

        These are the facts. Cardinal Pell, who is third in line in the Vatican, does not live in “a palace” in Vatican City.  His offer to give evidence by video-link has been accepted by the Royal Commission and, consequently, cannot be accurately described as being contemptuous of the Commission. In his ignorance, Michael Jensen seemed unaware that Pell has already “given account” to the Royal Commission on two occasions – once in person and once by video-link.  What’s more, victims can follow the cardinal’s evidence just as readily by video-link as if here were in a hearing room.

        Then John Barron brought Pell-hater David Marr into the discussion. As usual, Mr Marr soon commenced emoting and exaggerating:

        John Barron: David, having already appeared twice what is different about this third hearing – it is necessary, is it important that he be there?

        David Marr: Now he has given evidence, as you say twice, on two quite limited but very important issues. One is the setting of his own, what was called Melbourne Response, to deal with the complaints of the victims. The other was his conduct of litigation when he became archbishop of Sydney – and the brutal hard-nosed litigation that he conducted at that time. One of those givings of evidence was by video-link from Rome and it was completely chaotic. I don’t want to reflect unkindly on the Italian state but these was a kind of spectacular Italian confusion….

        David Marr’s reference to the so-called “spectacular Italian confusion” has been refuted by Katrina Lee, Director Catholic Communications of the Archdiocese of Sydney. She has said (The Australian, 5 February 2016) that the fault with the video-link when George Pell gave evidence from Rome was due to a technical failure with a Skype connection at the Australian end.  In other words, it was not “a kind of spectacular Italian confusion” which caused the problem.  Nor did the failure of the Skype connection have anything to do with the Italian state.  It seems that David Marr just made this up.

        After a brief interlude, where David Marr lectured at large about the matters on which George Pell will be questioned at the Royal Commission, John Barron asked the final question in this segment:

        John Barron: Does the technology – the separation of not being physically in the court or in the commission hearing room – does that make it easier to sort of brush things aside?

         David Marr: Look, a lot of the evidence involves quite complex documents and part of the problem is how you deal across the world showing witnesses documents. Now what they’re going to do is, a complete set of hard copy documents is going to be flown to Rome with an officer of the Royal Commission and there will be some communications “wizkid” there as well. Everything is going to be done to try to make the examination of Pell as effective as possible. But it is so much clumsier, it’s so much harder when you’re dealing with an image on a screen and not a man standing in the room with the victims and the lawyers before him.

        At this stage, the ABC camera showed Michael Jensen and Judith Whelan nodding furiously in agreement with David Marr.  But his comment was tosh. There is no difference if a witness is interviewed by video-link from Rome or from a city or town in Australia.  The process is the same – and the Royal Commission has already interviewed around 50 witnesses by video-link without feeling the need of “a man standing in the room with the victims and the lawyers before him”.

        The imputation in David Marr’s answer is that “the victims”, who might be present if Cardinal Pell gave evidence in Australia, are victims of Pell is disingenuous. But, needless to say, David Marr was not corrected by John Barron or by Michael Jensen or by Judith Whelan since this was an oh-so-familiar ABC “debate” where everyone agreed with everyone else.



        The re-birth of the Maurice Newman Segment provides a convenient occasion to record an edition of the ABC’s “Drive with Richard Glover” which took place on 18 September last year.  It was the “Journos’ Forum” on ABC Radio 702.  Margaret Throsby, Sarah Le Marquand and Quentin Dempster had rocked up at the ABC studio in Sydney’s Ultimo to advise listeners about the big issues of the day – and night.

        Discussion turned on whether the Liberal Party might split following Malcolm Turnbull’s take over from Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader and prime minister.

        First up. Margaret Throsby declared that Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi is “already saying he might…quit the Liberal Party”. Sarah Le Marquand responded “exactly” – declaring that Mr Turnbull would be “in serious damage if there is a split”.  Then Quentin Dempster opined “You’ll get a DLP [Democratic Labor Party] of the right” – whatever that might mean.

        The discussion continued with Margaret agreeing with Sarah who agreed with Quentin who agreed with himself that a split in the Liberal Party was likely following Abbott’s replacement by Turnbull.  Five months later, there has been no split – in spite of the mutual agreement of last September. Moreover, Senator Bernardi remains in the Liberal Party camp. Mr Glover would have got a better assessment of the politics of the time had he dropped into a local pub.

        And now for a glance at the Score-board:

        Maurice Newman     5

        Jonathan Holmes    Zip


        pell phobia update

        As avid readers are aware, The Drum on Monday and The Weekly on Wednesday showed manifestations of the condition of Pell-Phobia which is currently afflicting the ABC. But the beat-up on Cardinal George Pell in recent times goes beyond The Thought of Charlie Pickering and The Thought of David Marr – as the following examples attest.


        • 5 February 2016. Jane Margets and Michelle Brown reported on ABC News that:

        The Commission has heard from child abuse victim David Ridsdale that Cardinal Pell tried to bribe him to keep quiet.

        False. In fact David Ridsdale (who was abused by his uncle – the then Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale) told the Royal Commission on 7 December 2015:

        I have never said that he [George Pell] bribed me; I believe I’ve been clear on that.

        The ABC just made up this allegation against George Pell.

        8 February 2016:   The Sydney Morning Herald published a mocking open letter form Dr Richard Sallie in Nedlands (WA) to Cardinal Pell arguing that the cardinal could “travel safely” to Australia.  He claimed that Pell only travels “first class”.

        False.  As anyone who has read the material presented to the Royal Commission would know, Cardinal Pell travels business class.  Fairfax Media later conceded, after consulting a cardiologist, that individuals who have cardiac dysfunction (like Pell) are usually advised not to fly. So Dr Sallie scored two false statements in one brief letter per courtesy of the SMH.

        • 10 February 2016: The Age ran six letters on Cardinal George Pell. All of them critical and most of them of the sneering genre. One correspondent alleged that Pell lives in “a luxurious Roman villa”. False.

        Two correspondents alleged that Pell had “a duty” to appear in person before the Royal Commission.  Also false.  Around 50 witnesses have given evidence to the Royal Commission by video-link.

        Meanwhile The Age – plus the rest of Fairfax Media plus the ABC – has chosen to censor the news that Pell’s chief accuser, David Ridsdale, is himself a convicted paedophile.  David Ridsdale pleaded guilty in 1984 to having sexually assaulted a 12 year old boy when aged 18.

        This was revealed by John Ferguson in The Australian on 21 December 2015.  But the Pell-haters in Fairfax Media and at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster seem to have determined that this news is not fit to print or broadcast.

        On Wednesday, ABC TV ran the following clip from David Ridsdale expressing his objection to the fact that George Pell will not appear before the Royal Commission later this month in person.

        David Ridsdale:  It’s frustrating because of the desire of all the survivors to have him here in person. You know I think it, it was telling that they spend a lot of the time at the hearing asking for personal privacy protection considering the level of privacy that we’ve all had to reveal.  We’re getting power plays, we’re getting politics. We’re not getting care and empathy.

        In fact, David Ridsdale did not reveal his conviction in his submission to, or in his evidence given at, the Royal Commission.

        • 11 February 2016: Writing in the Herald Sun, Shannon Deely made the following comment:

        Cardinal Pell has been recalled, for the third time, to testify about his knowledge of sexual abuse within the Ballarat and Melbourne dioceses. He was a priest in Ballarat, lived with notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale, and was a consulter to then archbishop Ronald Mulkearns.

        It is true that, when a junior priest in Ballarat, Pell lived for a time in a presbytery with Gerald Ridsdale.  It is also true that, around this time, journalist Paul Bongiorno, when a junior priest in the Ballarat diocese, lived for a time in a presbytery with Gerald Ridsdale.

        Neither man was aware of Ridsdale’s criminality. As Paul Bongiorno told ABC on 21 May 2015:

        Let me tell you that Ridsdale never came to the presbytery in Warrnambool and said: “Guess how many boys I’ve raped today?”. They hide it. It was certainly hidden from me.

        Also, there is no evidence presented to the Royal Commission that George Pell advised Bishop Mulkearns about transferring Ridsdale from parish to parish.

        MWD will keep you updated with as many examples as possible of Pell-Phobia in the coming weeks.

        Pell Truck

        How the ABC used protest signage to cover its story on Cardinal George Pell on 5 February 2016


        correspondence header caps




        On Wednesday 10 February (Ash Wednesday), The Guardian Australia’s David Marr and the Sydney Institute’s Gerard Henderson took part in a discussion at the  Gallipoli Club in Sydney. ABC Radio National’s Geraldine Doogue was the moderator.  The topic was “The Art of Argument”.


        On the morning after the function of the night before, Hendo wrote a courteous note to your man Marr clarifying one point about the discussion – and correcting one matter.  Alas, Nancy’s (male) co-owner did not receive a courteous reply. [Perhaps Mr Marr should attend Nancy’s courtesy classes. Just a thought. – Ed].  Here we go:


        Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 11 February 2016



        Thanks for rocking up last night at The Sydney Institute – along with Geraldine Doogue – for the discussion on “the art of argument”.  The feedback from the audience indicates that it was an enjoyable experience.

        This is to clarify two points during the discussion:

          You expressed surprise at my statement that we only appeared together on Insiders last year on two occasions.

        You can check the facts on the Insiders website.  We were both on the panel on 22 February 2015 and 31 May 2015. That was it. By the way, I was told that the 22 February 2015 program was the biggest Insiders ratings achieved.  I don’t know whether this “record” has been beaten since then.

          It is true that I told you that Cardinal Pell was wise not to talk to you for your Quarterly Essay on him.  I also expressed the view that Tony Abbott should not have spoken to you (albeit off the record) for your Quarterly Essay on him.  In view of the fact that your essays on both men were hatchet jobs, I believe that my judgment was correct.

        For the record, George Pell declined to talk to me about my biography of Bob Santamaria.  I accepted his decision. Unlike you, I do not have a sense of entitlement that people should talk to me and I do not get offended when my requests for interviews are declined.

          As to Jane Cadzow, your story last night was confused. I did not tell Bill Shorten not to talk to Ms Cadzow for her Good Weekend profile on him – he had already done so when he appeared at The Sydney Institute on 13 November 2014. I simply said that he should not talk to her when he addressed the Institute.

        The facts are as follows. Mr Shorten was about to address the Institute and I wanted him to do what he was scheduled to do at 6 pm sharp at the Gallipoli Club.  Namely, to talk to our members inside the club – rather than to Jane Cadzow outside on Young Street. Jane attended the public function when it commenced at 6 pm.

        After the function, The Sydney Institute hosted a private dinner for the Opposition leader. At late notice, Jane Cadzow invited herself to the dinner. I replied that the dinner had not been put on for journalists and in any event the numbers had already been finalised and we were booked out.

        In short, I did not advise Bill Shorten to refrain from talking to Jane Cadzow.  I merely said that I would not be providing such a facility for her at late notice at what was an off-the-record private dinner.

        I believe that my response to Ms Cadzow’s decision to invite herself to the Institute’s private dinner was both professional and courteous.

        Keep Morale High – I look forward to catching up on the Insiders’ couch on Sunday 21 February.



        David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 11 February 2016


        You are hopeless. Such a good debate last night & now you want a cat fight over the details. I’m not going to play.


        * * * *

        Until next time.


        *  * ** * *



        The ABC is a weakened and flawed institution for sure but it is a vital balance to ranting prejudices of Gerard Henderson’s boss @rupertmurdoch

        – Quentin Dempster via Twitter, 10 January 2016

        “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