19 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.


– Tweet by Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton.

circa 10 pm on Monday 8 February 2016 – i.e. post-Dinner-Drinks time up Avalon Beach way.

      • Stop Press: On The Age, Paul Murray Live & Insiders
      • Can Your Bear It?: 2UE’s 2 Cents Worth; The Saturday Paper & Bronwyn Bishop; The Weekly & Charlie Pickering
      • MWD Exclusive: Aunty’s Media Watch admits to Paul Barry Fudge & More Besides
      • New Feature: Nancy’s Courtesy Lessons to Satyajit Das & Sabine Wolff”
      • Correspondence: A Bumper Segment on Cardinal George Pell Featuring –as Breaking News – the Royal Commission & Gerard Henderson; Dee (“I am a Catholic Clergyman’s Daughter”) Madigan & John Barron’s Non-Facts on The Drum plus The Project’s Ed Sharp-Paul, Gorgi Coghlan, Meshel Laurie & Waleed Aly





What a corker of an opinion piece in The Age today by Daphne Haneman, who is described as “a Brisbane writer.” MWD believes that Ms Haneman’s leftist rant was initially rejected by Green Left Weekly but readily accepted by the Guardian-on-the-Yarra. Here’s how the column commenced.

The world is leaderless. And that makes people scared. Forced to look elsewhere for that rare magic – moral agency.

Current prime ministers and presidents and kingdom bosses behave like little Stalins or headless, Gucci-wearing straw bosses adhered to the outdated Davos Culture Club. It’s the legendary leaders of yesteryear that remain the standouts – Mandela, JFK, Lincoln and Gandhi. In Australia, the older population might revere Whitlam, although according to one expert Australia has “never had a truly great prime minister”.

What a load of absolute tosh. For starters, the Brisbane writer did not say precisely who the “one expert” was who said Australia never had a truly great Prime Minister. In the modern era, Daphne Haneman seems unaware of the contribution to Australian society from the likes of Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard. She thinks that all current leaders are “little Stalins” – indicating no knowledge whatsoever about the real Joe Stalin.



What a stunning contribution by Hugh McDermott, the Labor MLA for Prospect in NSW, on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night. Dr McDermott (for a doctor he is) went into full ranting mode concerning Cardinal George Pell and, presumably, the Vatican. Except that, your man McDermott did not mention the Vatican and simply referred to “they” and “they’re”.  Let’s go to the transcript with Hugh McDermott is full conspiracy rage alleging that “they” (aka the Vatican) are “stopping him” (aka Cardinal Pell) from travelling to Australia.

Hugh McDermott: Why do you think they don’t want him to be here? Why do you think they’re stopping him from coming over here? It’s because they know the amount of pressure that will be over here. They’re protecting him and it’s appalling that they’re doing that, absolutely appalling. He needs to be put on a plane and sent here.

Needless to say Dr McDermott provided no evidence whatsoever for his assertion. And the presenter did not ask for any. Hugh McDermott, after all, was on Paul Murray Live with fellow Pell-Haters Paul Murray and Derryn Hinch.


Last week’s Insiders was an oh-so-nice affair with three Canberra-based journalists “on the couch”.  Someone referred to Katharine Murphy as Murph and someone referred to Andrew Probyn as Prob and everyone was nice to Mark Riley.

Here’s hoping the same courtesy prevails when David Marr joins Fleur Anderson and Gerard Henderson “on the couch” next Sunday (21 February 2016).

In any event, MWD will keep readers advised since, as documented, in this blog some of the best exchanges between Mr Marr and Mr Henderson take place on the taxi rank in Melbourne Airport or in the Insiders’ Green Room.  See MWD passim ad nauseam. 

Can you bear it graphic



 Travelling to work on Monday, Nancy’s male-co-owner could not take any more of Mornings with Wendy Harmer on ABC Radio’s 702.  No offence meant.  It’s just that Wendy (“I’m an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer is just so predictable in an old fashioned socialist way.

In any event, Hendo flicked the switch to 2UE breakfast program starring the not-boring John Stanley and Garry Linnell on Radio 2UE – 954.

John Stanley related the story of how financial adviser Paul Clitheroe always buys, say, $20.02 of petrol and pays by cash.  This means that the $20.02 is rounded down by 2 cents to $20 and your man Clitheroe not only saves 2 cents but “strikes a blow” at Big Oil.  Really. Mr Clitheroe, whose yacht won the Sydney to Hobart race on handicap this year ignored the impact of his decision on petrol retailers – so desperate was his assault on Big Oil.

Mr Stanley seemed to believe that this was odd behaviour.  Not so Mr Linnell who declared that he was now following the Clitheroe lead and saving 2 cents every time he buys petrol and – in the process “gets back” on the oil companies.  There are big-savings here. Why, the likes of well-heeled Clitheroe and Linnell – who live in Sydney – could save up to around 24 cents a year. Can Big Oil survive the Clitheroe/Linnell  onslaught? Can you bear it?



 What’s a good journalist like Karen Middleton doing at a media dump like Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper? – which goes to print on Thursdays and is read by Nancy’s (male) co-owner on Mondays.

When The Saturday Paper was launched in March 2014, editor Erik Jensen threw the switch to cliché-mode and declared that his newspaper would be about “permission”. Yes, permission – whatever that might mean.  [Perhaps he meant permission to bore.  Just a thought – MWD Ed]

In any event, last week’s hoarding of The Saturday Paper read as follows:

The Failed Campaign To Unseat Bronwyn Bishop


The Campaign To Unseat Bronwyn Bishop


That was Saturday’s “news” written on Thursdays. To be fair, Karen Middleton’s piece was somewhat more nuanced than young Mr Jensen’s screaming headline. But the essential message was that Bronwyn Bishop would be pre-selected by the Liberal Party for the safe-seat of Mackellar.

This week it was revealed that NSW Premier Mike Baird and former prime minister Tony Abbott have written references/introductory letters for Walter Villatora, who is apparently contesting pre-selection for Mackellar.  Since then, news has come out that Sydney radio personality Alan Jones has written a positive reference for former Rugby Union footballer Bill Calcraft, another likely candidate. Moreover, it is known that one-time prominent Liberal Party staffer Jason Falinski is likely to be a pre-selection candidate.  There are others.  None of the above are mentioned in Ms Middleton’s piece last Saturday. Can you bear it?



While on the topic of boredom did anyone watch Episode 3 of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering  on ABC1 last Wednesday?  The news/comedy series contains lots of news of the preaching kind but little comedy.  Despite a production crew of around 60 persons. Yes, three score.

That’s because two of the trio of comedians take themselves far too seriously – namely your man Pickering and Kitty Flanagan. The problem is that Pickering and Flanagan are essentially themselves on the program. Which leaves one real comedian in the group – Tom Gleeson – who adopts the persona of a right-wing “I’m a winner/you’re losers” type.  A caricature – to be sure.  But a funny one.

The way it is going, Charlie Pickering’s weekly offering will soon be nicknamed “The Weekly Sermon with Charlie Pickering and Kitty Flanagan.”  On Wednesday 10 February Pickering/Flanagan delivered sermons on Cardinal George Pell (naturally), asylum seekers, sexism (of course) and vaping (its evils).  This week there was more of the leftist fashionable same. Pickering/Flanagan preached on about Channel 7’s Sunrise disrespect to a feminist asylum-seeker advocate, political donations (bad) and the Beyonce “Black Lives Matter” at the Superbowl (good). How predictable.

At least, last Wednesday, Charlie Pickering scaled down his artificial laughter when one of his chosen guests tried on a funny line.  Otherwise, it was more of the (preaching) same. Can you bear it?

[Er, no.  But let’s again print a photo of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering’s taxpayer funded crew – which amounts to two staff for every one minute of program time – MWD Ed]


the weekly cast




Watching Auntys Media Watch



As avid readers will be aware, last week MWD criticised the fact that, in its second program of the year on 8 February 2016 – after returning from what journalists like to term a Well Earned Break, Media Watch completely missed the big story of the day. Namely that the ABC’s report of early February 2016 – that a five year old asylum seeker boy had been raped on Nauru – was a total beat up.

On the afternoon of Monday 8 February 2016, ABC management acknowledged that there was no five year old boy and there was no rape.  But there was a confused ABC journalist, you see.

Paul Barry, the latest of a conga line of leftist presenters on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s media program, acknowledged on Media Watch last Monday that he had not covered the story of the ABC putting up the white flag on the 5 year old boy rape story on his previous program.  His excuse?  Well, your man Barry claimed that “the story broke…just before we went to air” on 8 February 2016.

This is a taxpayer funded fudge.  The story broke early in the afternoon of 8 February 2016 and Media Watch went to air at 9.20 pm that evening. In other words, there was about a seven hour gap between the story breaking and Media Watch going to air.

In correspondence between Gerard Henderson and Media Watch executive producer Tim Latham, your man Latham fessed up that Media Watch is pre-recorded between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm on Mondays.  In other words, had Paul Barry spoken the truth last Monday he would have said that news about the ABC’s false 5 year old boy rape story broke “JUST BEFORE WE WENT INTO THE RECORDING STUDIO”. You learnt this here first. The correspondence between Tim Latham and Hendo is printed in the Documentation segment below.

As it turned out Media Watch used the ABC’s self-acknowledged howler to bag ABC critics. Believe it or not.  So your man Barry had a go at the Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine (of course) and Andrew Bolt (why not?) and the Immigration Department Secretary Michael Pezzullo who belled the cat in the first place. [I suppose you could have accused Mr Barry of “shooting the messenger” but I concede that this is a dreadful cliché – MWD Ed]

Then Paul Barry, Tim Latham and the team decided to round-up a group of like-minded media souls who were willing to criticise the Immigration Department and/or minister Peter Dutton or the Australian Federal Police.  Step forward The Age’s Michael Gordon, The Guardian Australia’s Ben Doherty, the ABC’s very own Ginny Stein, The Guardian’s Paul Farrell and – wait for it – Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas. That’s “balance” – ABC style. No journalist or commentator who supported Mr Pezzullo’s critique of the media’s advocacy on this issue was invited to express a view.

Media Watch also rolled out Sandi Logan whom it described as “former Head of Communications, Department of Immigration” and a “famous spin doctor”. Famous. Wow.  However, Paul Barry failed to mention – as revealed in The Australian on Wednesday – that Sandi Logan’s current (famous) spin doctoring includes work for the Labor Party and its publication The Labor Herald.  Fancy that.

Then Paul Barry devoted the third and final segment of his program to making much of the fact that in MWD Issue 303 Gerard Henderson wrongly stated that James Carleton had taken over from Tim Latham as Media Watch’s executive producer while the latter was on a W.E.B.  In fact, both leftists are currently working on Media Watch.  Important issue, don’t you think?

In any event, Nancy’s (male) co-owner appreciated the publicity.  So much so that the ABC should change Media Watch’s logo to read as follows:




Nancy Loves it


And here’s how MWD got free product promotion on the taxpayer funded Media Watch last Monday. 



Nancy on Media Watch


And here is a pic of Media Watch’s executive producer – shown on the program last week to prove that he’s not on a W.E.B.

Tim Latham in the control room






 Gerard Henderson to Paul Barry/Tim Latham/James Carleton – 18 February 2016


Lotsa thanks for the plug on Monday for my Media Watch Dog blog on the taxpayer funded Media Watch. Particularly for the graphic of Nancy and Nancy’s (male) co-owner as well as such MWD headings as “Watching Media Watch” and the perennial “Can You Bear It?”.  It will all get a run in tomorrow’s blog.

The resultant publicity demonstrated the wisdom of inserting a “John-Laws-style-deliberate-mistake” in last Friday’s MWD.  In fact, I have not had such extensive publicity since Stuart (“I never made a mistake on Media Watch”) Littlemore QC devoted a large part of one of his Media Watch sermons to me a couple of decades ago.

I admit that it was a mistake to suggest that James Carleton had replaced Tim Latham as executive producer of Media Watch while the latter went on a Well Earned Break.

I assumed that Tim Latham would not have been out-to-lunch for so long on Monday 8 February that Media Watch completely missed the ABC’s admission of error concerning the false claim that a five year old boy had been raped on Nauru. So I drew the conclusion that James Carleton, who recently joined Media Watch, had missed the story.  Now I realise that both Tim and James were out-to-lunch on 8 February.

By the way, on Media Watch last Monday you said:

How did the ABC wrongly claim a five year old had been raped on Nauru? And while we’re on the subject of refugees—or asylum seekers—let’s take a hard look at a story that broke last Monday, just before we went to air.

In fact, the story broke in the early afternoon of Monday 8 February and was covered by the ABC PM program which goes to air at 6 pm. So your statement that this story broke “just before” Media Watch “went to air” is untrue.  Presumably you meant to say that the 5 year old boy rape story broke just before Media Watch was recorded.  Perhaps next Monday you might advise viewers precisely when Media Watch is recorded. In the meantime, I would be grateful if you could provide this information to me so that I can include it in my blog tomorrow.

I note your comment on Media Watch last Monday in the segment titled “Gerard in the doghouse”:

We can’t wait for an apology or correction….

Well, I humbly apologise for so grievous an error.  Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.  As requested, a correction will appear on Media Watch Dog tomorrow.  By the way, I note that ABC Media Watch rarely, if ever, apologises or makes corrections.

While on the subject of apologies, I am still waiting for:

▪ Tim Latham’s apology for stating that I remind him of his mother. This apology should go to Mrs Latham.

▪ James Carleton’s apology for falsely stating that George Pell was once the Bishop of Ballarat. This apology should go to Cardinal Pell.

Looking forward to a prompt response as to when Media Watch is recorded.

Keep Morale High.



Tim Latham to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2016

Thanks Gerard,

Great to hear from you.  I was worried you were on your own WEB. We record the show about 2.30.  We need to be clear of the studio by 3.30.

Next time you want to figure out if I am here or on a WEB then give me a call.



Gerard Henderson to Tim Latham – 18 February 2016


Lovely to hear from you. Yes – before I state that you are on a Well Earned Break, I will contact you first.

I note that you have confirmed my hunch that what Paul Barry said on Media Watch last Monday was not true.

The false rape story did not break “just before” Media Watch “went to air”. Rather, the story broke just before Media Watch was recorded.  I look forward to a correction next Monday.

By the way, when are you going to apologise to your mother for saying that I reminded you of her?

Lotsa love – and please pass on my warmest regards to James.




So there you have it. For more letters, emails and all that stuff – see MWD’s hugely popular Correspondence segment at the end of this blog.



In the courtesy-lite world in which we live, Nancy has commenced running a virtual courtesy class about what to say – and what not to say – in or on the media.  The hope is that Nancy’s Courtesy Classes will lead to an overall lift in Australian manners.


      • Case Study 1 – Satyajit Das’ Bad Language

This is what economist Satyajit Das said on PM on 27 January 2016 – during an interview with Tim Palmer on the world economy and all that.  It was the second interview in a series of two. Earlier, Mr Das had predicted another General Depression of the 1930s style. Yet again.  But let’s not digress.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Satyajit Das: If China aggressively starts to devalue the yuan, it could set off a huge problem for the emerging market complex. And I think that is going to be one of the central features of 2016 – this very, very aggressive currency war. One economist once described currency wars as like basically peeing in bed – it feels warm and comfortable initially but turns out to be an awful mess.

Nancy’s Advice.  It is discourteous to refer to “peeing in bed” in public.  Moreover this “joke” is older than Methuselah.  Peeing in bed may initially feel “warm and comfortable” to economists. Humans, dogs and cats know better. Dr Das (for a doctor he surely is) needs new material.  Perhaps he should update by studying joke books from the 17th Century AD.

Case Study 2 – Sabine Wolff’s Toilet Talk

This is what Sabine Wolff had to say on The Drum on Wednesday – in responding to a question from presenter John Barron.  The context was the decision of all three ALP Federal members in Western Australia not to contest the forthcoming election.

John Barron: So Sabine, what’s your take on this? Are these departing Labor MPs from the West just simply voting with their feet?  Who wants to be in opposition for four [sic] years?

Sabine Wolf: Well, it does kind of look that way. In fact, it looks like the last guy to leave the house party has not bothered to flush the loo and said: “Here’s your mess to look after”. So –

John Barron:  Lovely metaphor, thank you for that.

Nancy’s advice. The Drum goes to air between 5.30 pm and 6 pm – Mondays to Friday. That is, dinner preparation time.  It is discourteous to discuss human – or canine or cat – faecal matter on the telly at such a time. Especially when the reference is inane – as in this case. Ms Wolff should know better.

correspondence header caps

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 Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).






Here’s a scoop.  Philip Reed, the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse wrote to Gerard Henderson this morning concerning his comments made on 7.30 last Wednesday. The Royal Commission’s CEO sent a copy to Jo Puccini (Executive producer, 7.30) and Leigh Sales (presenter, 7.30).  Not surprisingly, Mr Reed received a prompt response – with copies to all. Here it is:


Philip Reed to Gerard Henderson – 19 February 2016 (10.05 am)



Dear Mr Henderson

I wish to draw your attention to an error in your comments made on ABC TV’s 7.30 program on Wednesday night.

You stated on that program that nobody has been asked to make the number of appearances before the Royal Commission that Cardinal Pell has. The relevant excerpt is below.

GERARD HENDERSON: That will be three appearances at the royal commission and one before the Victorian parliamentary inquiry. No-one else has been asked to make those kind of appearances and in this whole – in this whole process, no-one has produced any evidence that Cardinal Pell acted in any way that was unlawful or improper.

In fact, Cardinal Pell is not the only witness to have given evidence on multiple occasions before the Royal Commission.

The Most Rev. Dr Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane and former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, has given evidence to the Royal Commission four times.

Other senior representatives of church and government bodies have given evidence across multiple public hearings, including Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane and former Governor-General Peter Hollingworth in two public hearings.

As Royal Commission Chair Justice McClellan has publicly noted on 5 February this year, the attendance of senior representatives at multiple public hearings of the Royal Commission is an inevitable product of the positions they’ve held in their various institutions.

If you’d like more information about how the Royal Commission selects case studies for public hearing, please contact us at

Yours sincerely

Philip Reed

CEO, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse




 Gerard Henderson to Philip Reed – 19 February 2016 (11.50 am)

 Dear Mr Reed

I refer to your email at 10.05 this morning, concerning the extracts of my comments to 7.30 which aired on the program last Wednesday.

Initially I should state that I reject your assertion that I made “an error” in my interview with 7.30. I should also comment that your letter seems somewhat defensive since I have never made any inaccurate or unprofessional comments in relation to Justice Peter McClellan in particular or the Royal Commission in general.

In your email, you refer to what you term the “relevant extract” from the interview which went to air, viz:

Gerard Henderson: That will be three appearances [for Cardinal George Pell] at the Royal Commission and one before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry. No-one else has been asked to make those kind of appearances and in this whole – in this whole process, no-one has produced any evidence that Cardinal Pell acted in any way that was unlawful or improper.

As you know, the Royal Commission has access to all the evidence given to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.  So, following the hearing in Rome, Cardinal Pell will have given detailed evidence into clerical child sexual abuse on four occasions. This is what I said on 7.30.

 I accept that Archbishop Phillip Aspinall has given evidence to the Royal Commission on four occasions.  However, the transcripts of the Royal Commission indicate that he has spent much less time in the witness box than Cardinal Pell.

According to my calculations, Cardinal Pell has given testimony to the Royal Commission for twelve and a half hours and to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry for four and a half hours.  This amounts to 17 hours in all so far – with three days set aside for testimony in Rome commencing on 29 February.

I note your reference to the fact that former Governor-General Peter Hollingworth gave evidence to the Royal Commission in “two public appearances”. I believe that the transcript will indicate that Dr Hollingworth has spent much less time before the Royal Commission than Cardinal Pell.

So I stand by my comments on 7.30 that “no one else has been required to make” the kind of appearances made by Cardinal Pell.

My comments on 7.30 last Wednesday did not amount to criticism of the Royal Commission.  Rather, they were a statement of fact with respect to Cardinal Pell’s appearances before the Royal Commission and the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.

I note that Fr Frank Brennan made a not dissimilar observation in his Eureka Street article on 23 November 2015.

In conclusion, I am genuinely surprised that the CEO of the Royal Commission should object to me making a statement of fact on the public record – especially when the criticism is so trivial. I would be interested in knowing if you have publicly rebuked any other commentator who has referred in any way to the Royal Commission.

Yours sincerely

(Dr) Gerard Henderson




On Tuesday, Dee Madigan joined the panel on Paul Murray Live. As is the show’s wont, discussion soon got around to Hendo – who has never been invited on the program. [That’s probably convenient – since a refusal sometimes offends – MWD Ed].

Ms Madigan declared on the program that she is the daughter of a Catholic priest. She claimed that, as a result of her old man, she knew that all Catholic priests gossiped.  Consequently, George Pell had gossiped. Consequently, he (allegedly) knew all about pedophile priests.  This is what passes for logic at the gorgeous Ms Madigan’s “Campaign Edge”.  Certainly Paul Murray seemed to be impressed by the intellectual vigour of The Thought of Ms Madigan. The next morning, the correspondence commenced. Here we go.

Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 18 February 2016


How gorgeous of you – and Paul Murray – to say “hello” to me on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last night. I was deeply moved – as you would expect.

I often get “cheerios” from Mr Murray before or after he criticises me on PML.  Alas, Mr Murray lacks the intellectual courage to invite me on the program to state my case and correct his errors.  This in spite of instructions from Australian News Network executives that he do so.  Such is life.

What was great about the PML panel discussion last night was that no one seemed to be listening to anyone else.  Paul Sheehan criticised Tim Minchin – except that he called him Tim “Winton” without being corrected by the presenter.  In fact, Mr Murray explicitly said “I don’t disagree” after Paul Sheehan’s comment re Tim “Winton”. It’s easy to make verbal “typos” of this kind but it would expected that at least one member of the panel would offer a correction.  This, however, would only occur if the panel members were listening to what was being said rather than thinking about what they would say next.

Soon after, Paul Murray did not ask for clarification when you described yourself as “the daughter of a Catholic priest”.  As I understand it, from talking with you in December, your father was a former Catholic priest when he married your mother.  But PML viewers would not know this.  They could have assumed that your father is currently a Catholic priest.  Perhaps you might clarify this next time you are on the PML panel.

Also, no one on the panel asked you to explain this comment which you made last night:

You know, as a daughter of a Catholic priest, I knew what they were like in Melbourne. I grew up in Melbourne.  I knew these guys gossiped about everything.  There was simply no way on earth that Pell did not hear those stories.  I’m a huge Tim Minchin fan anyway….

If, as you assert, George Pell should have known about pedophile priests because “these guys gossiped about everything” – then your father should have known about clerical child sexual abuse when he was a priest.

So my questions are. What did your father do about clerical child sexual abuse by priests?  Did he report it to the police?  Did he report it to a bishop or an archbishop?  Did he do nothing but enjoy the gossip?

I ask these questions because – according to you – “there was simply no way on earth” that your father did not hear stories about the sexual crimes of priests.

Looking for another stunning appearance by you on PML as soon as possible.  My only regret about the show these days is that Paul Murray no longer calls you “darl” on air and that you have found time to put on a skirt before your appearances.

Gerard Henderson

cc: Paul Murray


Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2016

Hi Gerard,

Actually my father was still very much a catholic priest when my older sister was born. Although you’d be surprised to know how quickly a papal dispensation appears once a baby does!

Unfortunately he died in 1989 so I’m unable to ask him what he knew.


Dee Madigan

cc: Paul Murray

Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 18 February 2016


Thanks for the clarification.  I am aware that dispensations were granted by the Vatican in cases such as that of your father where priests had fathered a child – in this instance, your sister.

From what you have written, the correct reference would be to state that your father was a “former Catholic priest” (Mike Carlton’s situation).  In fact, your father was not a Catholic priest when you were born.

What you asked your late father in this instance is of no moment.  You said on Paul Murray Live that there “is no way on earth that George Pell did not hear stories” about clerical child sexual abuse – since all priests gossip.  If this is true of Pell the priest – then it must be true of your father when he was a priest.

For my part, as I explained when we met in December, I do not believe that non-pedophiles gossiped about pedophiles.  There is no evidence that Catholic priests (including George Pell, Paul Bongiorno and your late father) or others ever gossiped about the criminal sexual assault of children.  You have not a skerrick of evidence to support the claim you made on Paul Murry Live last night.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc: Paul Murray

Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2016

Well since the Catholic Church believes a child exists from the moment it is conceived I think my assertion that my father was a catholic priest is still accurate:)
Dee Madigan

Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 18 February 2016


Gee your father must have been quite a “goer” around the presbytery. According to what you write, your “older sister” was born when your father was a Catholic priest and you were conceived when he was still a priest.

No wonder some PML viewers were confused last night.

At any rate, it’s great to know that you acknowledge human life as commencing at conception – just like Cardinal George Pell. And yet, last December you told me that you were pro-choice. Fancy that.

Best wishes


Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2016

Excellent. Glad that’s been clarified for you.

Best wishes

Dee Madigan

* * * * * *




John Barron presents a holier-than-thou persona as the presenter of the ABC Fact Check unit.  However, Mr Barron denies – and consequently refuses to correct – his own howlers.  As the following correspondence demonstrates. John Barron also chaired The Drum on Wednesday – once again he declined to correct his howlers of the previous week.

And, once again, Mark Scott (the ABC’s so-called editor-in-chief) and Russell Skelton (Editor ABC, Fact Check Unit) went under the bed and declined to get John Barron to acknowledge and correct his howlers. It seems that Mr Barron will only correct the errors of others.  Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 15 February 2016

Good afternoon John

It was great to catch up at The Drum’s knees-up in late December – just before the program’s talent went on their Well Earned Break.

I am writing to you – in your capacity as occasional presenter of The Drum – to raise with you an issue relating to your role as regular presenter of the ABC Fact Check unit. Here we go.

As documented in my Media Watch Dog blog last Friday, this is part of the exchange on The Drum on Monday 8 February 2016 where you were presenter with a panel comprising David Marr, Michael Jensen and Judith Whelan.  The discussion turned on the inability, on medical grounds, of Cardinal George Pell to attend in person at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 – he has already appeared in person as a witness on one occasion.

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].

The clear implication in your comments was that (i) Cardinal George Pell resides in “a palace in the Vatican”, and (ii) travels “first class”.  You also alleged that George Pell was “contemptuous” of the Royal Commission – a finding which Justice Peter McClellan has not made.

You provided no evidence for your assertions and I can only assume that you just made them all up.  The facts are as follows:


      1. I have checked with two people who have met Cardinal Pell at his residence in recent times.  They advise that George Pell lives in a modest apartment close to the Vatican.  He does not live in a palace.
      1. If you bothered to check the records of the Royal Commission, you would know when Cardinal Pell planned to return to Australia to personally attend the Royal Commission in December he booked a business class ticket.

I would be interested in learning how the presenter of the ABC Fact Check Unit proposes to correct his howlers made as the presenter of The Drum on 8 February 2016. Over to you.

Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Mark Scott AO

Editor-in-chief, ABC

Russell Skelton


ABC Fact Check

John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016

Hi Gerard, always good to hear from you.

And it was very pleasant indeed to see you in convivial circumstances at The Drum end of year drinks.

As for your email, perhaps we can discuss the matter when you agree to appear on The Drum panel?

Best wishes,


Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 16 February 2016


I refer to your email of yesterday afternoon.

What an extraordinary response – from the presenter of the ABC’s Fact Check unit, no less.

On Monday 8 February 2016, you presented The Drum where all the panel members (David Marr, Judith Wheelan, Michael Jensen) agreed with each other on all issues.  One of which was the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with reference to Cardinal George Pell.

During the program, you alleged that George Pell lived in “a palace in the Vatican”. False.  You also stated that Cardinal Pell travelled “first class”. Also false.  And you asserted that George Pell was “contemptuous” of the Royal Commission. Once again false – Justice Peter McClellan has made no such finding.  You and the rest of The Drum’s panel seemed unaware that some 50 witnesses have given evidence to the Royal Commission by video-link without being regarded as in contempt.

Following my query as to how the presenter of the ABC Fact Check Unit (i.e. your good self) proposed to correct the howlers made by the presenter of The Drum on 8 February 2016 (i.e. your good self), you replied: “Perhaps we can discuss the matter when you agree to appear on The Drum panel.”

This overlooks one central fact. You did not make factually erroneous comments about me on The Drum.  Your howlers concerned Cardinal Pell.  As one who proclaims the primacy of fact, you have an obligation to your viewers to correct your howlers.

With respect to The Drum – I have explained my position previously.  I was not invited to appear on The Drum during the first six years of the program.  When I did receive an invitation from Julia Baird in early 2014, following her return to Australia, I responded irreverently that – having been ignored by The Drum for six years – I would not consider an invitation for another six years.  It’s just that I do not regard myself as owing any favours to The Drum – as distinct from Insiders and Lateline.

I am a pragmatic person. Had I been asked to re-consider my position and appear with David Marr et al on Monday 8 February 2016 – I would have accepted such a one-off invitation.  But this was not likely to occur.  I note that whenever David Marr is invited on to the ABC programs to rail against the likes of George Pell or Tony Abbott – he is never confronted by a commentator who is both informed and holds a contrary view.

But that’s a matter for another day.  The question is – when, and how, do you propose to correct your howlers on Cardinal Pell?

Keep morale high.


Gerard Henderson

cc:      Mark Scott AO

Editor-in-chief, ABC

Russell Skelton


ABC Fact Check


John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016

Hi Gerard,

I’ll let our producer know you are happy to appear on The Drum.

Is that only when David Marr is on, or are you happy to be on with other panellists?


Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 16 February 2016


As indicated in my email, I am willing to appear on The Drum on a one-off basis if there is a situation – as occurred on Monday 8 February – where everyone is likely to agree with everyone else and no one has the intellectual capacity or the willingness to challenge a formidable figure like David Marr.

Otherwise, I have no wish to go on The Drum as regular panellist for reasons already explained.  As indicated, when David Marr invariably appears on the ABC to discussion contentious matters such as Tony Abbott or George Pell he invariably receives soft-questions and is never confronted by someone of not dissimilar polemical ability. So I don’t expect an invitation anytime soon.

By the way, it seems that you have no intention of correcting your own howlers of 8 February 2016. Fancy that.

Best wishes



John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016

 Hi again – obviously I don’t agree with your silly characterisations, but I know you don’t take these columns of yours seriously either.

All good fun eh?

Rest assured I won’t hold that against you when it comes to considering you for our panel.


Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 16 February 2016


Nice to hear from you again. I note you regard my characterisation of The Drum of 8 February as “silly.” I can only assume that you believe that someone on the panel disagreed with someone else on the panel with respect to George Pell. In which case it would be handy if you named some names.

In my recent note, I should have mentioned that I believe that there were many commentators who could have challenged The Drum‘s orthodoxy on Monday 8 February re Cardinal Pell and the other issues that were discussed.

It just seems that no one was asked. This, after all, is very much the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s practice where “debates” are held in which everyone agrees with everyone else in a leftist kind of way. In one sense, I hope this continues since it supplies much valuable copy for my Media Watch Dog blog.

Over and out



John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016

Oh, I think I understand your confusion.

We invite our panellists on weeks in advance and pick the topics on the day.

Which makes your pre-condition for appearing tricky – but if we have a last minute cancellation and think we have topics you might feel strongly about we will certainly keep you in mind.

Thanks again for getting in touch

Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 16 February 2016


If you had greater diversity on The Drum panel, you would not need my involvement.

Moreover, there are plenty of people with diverse views to pick from if you really want them on the program. If you wish, I am happy to provide names.

The ABC does not need to be a Conservative Free Zone – it just chooses to be so.

Lotsa love – and goodnight



John Barron to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016


Hi Gerard,

Thanks – I would be very glad to get some suggestions from you.

The program works best when there are a range of views and panellists which challenge each other in a thoughtful and entertaining way.




Gerard Henderson to John Barron – 17 February 2016


I am not confused.

I note, however, that you have drifted somewhat from the topic.  The questions remain – when will you correct your howlers delivered on The Drum on 8 February that Cardinal Pell (i) lives in the palace in the Vatican, (ii) travels first class and (iii) is contemptuous of the Royal Commission?

Just a date, a time and location where this correction will be made will do. Otherwise there is no point in continuing this correspondence since it has become evident that the ABC’s front-line fact-checker refuses to correct his own factual errors on important issues of the day.

Best wishes




 Last Friday afternoon, Gerard Henderson was invited to Channel 10’s studios in Pyrmont for a pre-record interview with The Project.  Associate producer Ed Paul-Sharp advised that the program was doing a story on the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with particular reference to Cardinal George Pell.  He invited Henderson to take part in a 3 minute 30 second interview which was to follow a 4 minute video.

Gerard Henderson responded that this was not much of an offer.  There are four members of The Project panel in Melbourne – all of whom would be hostile to Pell.  Sharp-Paul conceded that one panel member Gorgi Coghlan, who had connections in Ballarat, felt very emotional about this issue.  Henderson knew that the other panel members – Waleed Aly, Meshel Laurie and Peter Hellier – were also highly critical of Pell.

In the event, Henderson decided that there would be little point in travelling from Sydney CBD to Pyrmont at peak hour in order to get about 50 seconds on air with someone on The Project having the final say.  So he proposed, instead, a four minute live-to-air interview with Waleed Aly. This was declined.

As it turned out, The Project intended to present Henderson to a “gotcha” moment by confronting him with what it claimed was a “new” Vatican manual on clerical child sexual abuse.  In fact The Project did not have this (alleged) manual – which does not exist. How unprofessional can you get?  Here we go:

Ed Sharp-Paul to Gerard Henderson – 12 February 2016

Hi Gerard,

My name’s Ed, and I’m a producer with the Project, hope you’re well.

We’re doing a story tonight on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse, and specifically the furore around Cardinal Pell’s inability to fly home to front the commission in person. I believe that you’re well acquainted with the Cardinal, and as such, we thought that you’d be ideally placed to offer a defence of his course of action, both in this instance and over the course of the Royal Commission.

Needless to say, given the heightened emotions that surround the Royal Commission, there’s every chance that the interview will be a robust one, but I can’t imagine that this will come as a surprise to you, nor will it be anything outside of your experience.

Ideally, we’d conduct the interview sometime after 5:00pm at our Pyrmont Studio. I understand that you’re quite busy until around five, so if either that time or that location are unsuitable, we’re of course happy to look at other options.

I look forward to hearing from you,


Ed Sharp-Paul

Associate Producer

The Project

[Following this email, Gerard Henderson – who was very busy – had a number of phone conversations with Ed Sharp-Paul which are detailed in the introduction]

Gerard Henderson to Ed Sharp-Paul – 15 February 2016


As you will recall, you invited me on The Project on Friday to discuss aspects of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual abuse, and, in particular, Cardinal George Pell. In the event, I declined the invitation since I did not believe that I would get adequate time to discuss my position. However, as you will recall, I did offer to do a 4 minute debate with Waleed Aly – a proposal you rejected.

When I watched the program, I was surprised to note that Meshel Laurie quoted from a document (allegedly) “released by the Vatican in early February [2016] as a training manual” concerning the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse. You did not mention this in our communications on Friday. I am interested in what this document is, and I would be grateful if you could forward me a copy.

As previously advised. I am willing to appear on The Project if I believe I have something to say and a reasonable opportunity to say it.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Ed Sharp-Paul to Gerard Henderson – 16 February 2016

 Hi Gerard,

Why yes, I recall quite clearly!

Yes, the training manual was one of a few details that I didn’t get a chance to mention in our chats.

We first saw that report mentioned in the following article [the reference was to the article by John Allen in Crux, 6 February 2016]

Hope this helps!

Ed Sharp-Paul

Gerard Henderson to Ed Sharp-Paul – 16 February 2016


Thanks for your response.

How interesting that the (alleged) “training manual was one of the few details that” you “didn’t get a chance to mention in our chats”. And, how convenient. Clearly, this alleged “training manual” was a “scoop” which The Project  team intended to drop on me at the planned pre-recorded interview as a “gotcha” moment.

As you now acknowledge, The Project relied on an article by John Allen in Crux on 7 February 2016 concerning a presentation given by a by Monsignor Tony Anatrella.  However, John Allen did not refer to any “training manual”. Nor did John Allen say that any such document had been “released by the Vatican”. The Project just made this up.

On 12 February 2016, Fr Frederico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Holy See, issued a statement that the reported comment by the Paris based Monsignor Antrella was “not in any way – as someone had mistakenly interpreted – a new Vatican document or a new instruction or new ‘guidelines’ for bishops.”

As I understand it, the Vatican stands by the May 2011 decree, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, that bishops should co-operate with civil authorities in responding to child abuse crimes”.

The Project’s  behaviour in this instance reaffirms my decision not to appear on the program last Friday.  You told me that Gorgi Coghlan was highly emotional about the issue.  You did not tell me that Meshel Laurie had an (alleged) “training manual” which she was going to drop on me.  I would have had a maximum of 60 seconds (in a pre-recorded interview concerning which I would have had no control over the editing) to respond to Ms Coghlan’s emotion and Ms Laurie’s “gotcha” moment – not to mention any contribution which Waleed Aly might have made.

As you know, I offered to do a four minutes live-to-air interview with Waleed Aly.  You rejected my offer.  It still stands.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Until next time.



“[Gerard Henderson]…the silly prick”

– Mike Carlton via Twitter, 15 February 2016


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