11 MARCH 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.






Today’s Daily Telegraph contains the following report from John Morcombe:

Bronwyn Bishop has confirmed she wanted to apologise over Choppergate but was blocked by then prime minister Tony Abbott. The former Speaker said the account in the journalist Niki Savva’s book Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott And Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government was “basically true”.

Yesterday in Clareville, the Mackellar MP said: “It’s best to leave those things for people to draw their own conclusions about, but the way it’s been reported is basically true….” Ms Bishop’s corroboration of Ms Savva’s version possibly throws light on her resignation as Speaker of the House and her backing of Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership spill.

Since Concetta Fierravanti Wells has made it acceptable to reveal private conversations with Tony Abbott and/or Peta Credlin to journalist Niki Savva – Gerard Henderson has decided to reveal his very own personal conversation, with Mrs Bishop, no less, about a matter which is of concern to the former Australian prime minister and his chief-of-staff.

In late July 2015, when the so-called “Choppergate” controversy was moving towards its crescendo, Bronwyn Bishop phoned Gerard Henderson for a friendly chat.  Mrs Bishop indicated that her helicopter trip from the Melbourne CBD to Geelong was justified (in view of the time involved in travelling by car in Melbourne’s congested traffic) and claimed that former Victorian premier John Brumby had once taken a helicopter trip between the two cities.

Mrs Bishop did not suggest at any time during the phone conversation that she wanted to immediately apologise over the helicopter trip but was prevented from doing so by Tony Abbott or Peta Credlin.

MWD is not suggesting that anyone lied in this instance.   It’s just that Niki Savva seems unaware of a central fact of the human condition – namely, that some people have bad memories while others have “clear” recollections of events which never happened. Consequently, it is foolish to accept anyone’s account of an event or conversation without checking. [Perhaps you should mention here Professor Robert Manne’s “clear” recollection of an event which never happened with reference to you.  See MWD passim, ad nauseam – but most recently in Issue 299, 11 December 2015 – MWD Ed].


Can you bear it graphic 




Did anyone see the flirtatious Julia Zemiro interviewing the truly pompous Justice Geoffrey Robertson QC, BA, L.L.B. (Syd), BCL (Oxon), Hon. L.L.D. (Syd) on Julia Zemiro Home Delivery on ABC 1 last Wednesday?  [Gee, I just love a man who flashes his honorary degree(s) in Who’s Who In AustraliaMWD Ed.]

MWD has always maintained that Robertson QC, now a dual British-Australian citizen who resides in London, has an Epping/Eastwood accent.  What’s an Epping/Eastwood accent? – I hear you ask.  Well, it’s the kind of accent which an Epping/Eastwood chap puts on to disguise the fact that he was born in the Epping/Eastwood area of Sydney suburbia.  That’s what.  These days, your man Robertson talks like an Eton graduate with a mouth full of cucumber sandwiches.  Or is it bespoke plums?  It’s not the sort of accent that a real Epping/Eastwood Man has.

The self-regarding Robertson, accompanied by the “ooh-aah” Zemiro, rocked up at the old Robertson family home in Eastwood.  The current owners had been courteous enough to allow a television camera – along with Geoffrey and Julia – into their home for filming.

Despite this, when Robertson Q C pulled outside his old abode, he wondered out loud why no one had built a “decent house” on the site. How rude can you get?

Then G.R.Q.C. banged on and on about his genius at Epping Boys’ High and Sydney University and so on.  He also claimed that he had not learnt to speak until he was 5 years old and asserted that this is why he had picked up what MWD calls his Epping/Eastwood accent.  The line was that he had learnt to speak by mimicking the voices of (then) ABC newsreaders who had British accents. Go on.

So Geoffrey Robertson dismissed the claim that his plumb-in-the-mouth accent has anything to do with conscious “affectation” – an allegation he claimed is made by his critics. Unfortunately for G.R.Q.C., the producer of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery decided to show black-and-white footage of G.R.Q.C addressing a graduation ceremony at Sydney University in the early 1970s at the end of the program.

Guess what? Four decades ago, your man Robertson spoke with a normal accent.  So his current accent appears to be of the pretentious genre – as MWD always suspected – acquired sometime after he commenced mixing with those members of the British upper-class who would deign to associate themselves with a colonial like him.  Can you bear it?


Look back in snobbery, Geoffrey Robertson and Julia Zemiro in Eastwood

Look back in snobbery, Geoffrey Robertson and Julia Zemiro in Eastwood


MWD does not enjoy learning about journalists or contributors losing their jobs.  So it’s disappointing that both Wendy Harmer and John Birmingham have had their columns dropped by the Sydney Morning Herald – presumably for cost cutting reasons.

Yet SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir – in his wisdom, or lack of same – has seen fit to retain the services of leftist architect Elizabeth Farrelly.  Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) once wondered out loud why a reader had not been able to “read right through” one of her columns.  Perhaps she does not re-read her own material – just a thought.

Maybe the reason even her besties do not complete reading her work turns on the fact that EF commences her column with verbal sludge – like this opening yesterday, which was apparently about Malcolm Turnbull. But perhaps not.  Who would know?

I once had afternoon tea with Paul Keating, á deux on the verandah of Kirribilli House. Over crustless cucumber sandwiches, the PM outlined the art of political landscaping, as mentored by Jack Lang. Warming to his subject, Keating detailed the technics: how to keep this cauldron bubbling and that lightly searing while bringing yet another to simmer in a distant corner. He seemed to target a Mrs Beeton’s cookbook kind of flavour but to me it was more Hieronymus Bosch, an intense moral chiaroscuro where some folks frolic naked picking fruit and others are devoured feet-first by bird-faced monsters. The current political landscape is a post-modern Bosch update, a Grayson Perry meta-folly centred on a large illusory landscape feature known as Disappointment Malcolm.

And so it went on. And on. And on.  There were references to “Australian psychogeography”, “the sea of Malcolm”, “Disappointment Mal”, “the seemingly Desert of Howard”, “the slippery shale of Shenhua Malcolm’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt” – before this conclusion:

Sure, the Sea of Mal must sustain its Spiked and Reedy Thickets, and Shorten the Lesser seems meagre threat. But if he cannot dredge that old slimed and crusted moral backbone from lake bottom, Malcolm’s Double Dissolution will pit Hummock Shorten against a handful of sand.

And Darren Goodsir pays good money for Dr Farrelly’s sludge. Can you bear it?



Is there anyone more incoherent in the electronic media that Derryn (“I’m the Human Headline”) Hinch?  And is there any current show on the Australian electronic media more boring than Sky News’ Hinch Live which goes to air on Channel 601 at 9 pm on Sundays. MWD’s answers to both self-initiated questions is a very loud NO.

At 9 pm last Sunday, your man Hinch once again rolled out two panelists who were likely to agree with him.  In this case, Age columnist Wendy Squires and Herald-Sun columnist Wendy Tuohy.

It’s difficult to produce transcripts from Hinch Live – since the presenter goes into “eh, ah” mode so frequently and mumbles so often. But here is a part transcript from last Sunday – when Derryn (“I’m prejudiced against George Pell”) Hinch commenced yet another (yawn) session on, you’ve guessed it, Cardinal George Pell:

Derryn Hinch:  Speaking of legal matters, let’s move on and talk about George Pell, “The Gerard Henderson Segment” – we’ll do that now.

Needless to say, Hinch criticised Pell – and was joined by  Wendy (Herald-Sun) and Wendy (The Age) as everyone agreed with everyone else in the usual Hinch Live way. During the early part of the segment, your man Hinch and Ms Squires made comments which were unintelligible [Were they also unintelligent? MWD editor].  Soon after, the following exchange occurred:

Derryn Hinch: Now, one other point here I want to make quickly, and I argued with Andrew Bolt on the Paul Murray show about this the other night. What angers me, and to me it’s the [Peter] Hollingworth defence, and he [Pell] did it too: “Oh times were different back then”

Wendy Tuohy [interjecting]: Oh God, that’s the one that gets me. Times were different?

Derryn Hinch: They weren’t different, they weren’t different back then.

Wendy Tuohy: Morality wasn’t different.

Wendy Squires: Raping children was okay back then?

Wendy Tuohy: Exactly, that drives me nuts, that one.

The mutual agreement society that is Hinch/Tuohy/Squires was completely wrong. The (sad) fact is that attitudes to child sexual abuse – including rape and statutory rape – were different in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.  Why, as documented in MWD, in July 1975 Professor Richard Downing declared that “in general, men will sleep with young boys” and called on all Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.

At the time, Richard Downing was professor of economics at the University of Melbourne and chairman of the ABC (having been appointed to this position by Gough Whitlam’s Labor government.)  Professor Downing made the above quoted comment in his official capacity as ABC chairman on behalf of the ABC.  It has never been refuted by the ABC and the ABC’s contemporary chairman Jim Spigelman has refused to distance himself from the outrageous views of one of his predecessors. This is something you will not hear discussed today on the ABC or Hinch Live.

As to The Human Mumble’s claim that he has a “Gerard Henderson Segment” on Hinch Live, well, turn it up.  The fact is that Mr Hinch constantly criticises Hendo on Hinch Live – but refuses to give Hendo a right of reply.  Hinch Live’s “Gerard Henderson’s Segment” has never heard Hendo’s point of view.  That’s debate Hinch-style. Can you bear it?



While on the topic of censoring Cardinal Pell’s supporters, consider the case of Fairfax Media’s columnist Peter FitzSimons – which is covered in detail in today’s “Correspondence” segment. [I can barely wait to read it – MWD Ed].

Last Sunday, “The Fitz Files” declared (yet again) that, under the Melbourne Response, which George Pell set up in 1996 to handle clerical child sexual abuse, no crimes were reported to Victoria Police.

This is hopelessly wrong.  In his wilful ignorance, your man FitzSimons seems unaware that the Melbourne Response was set up by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in co-operation with Victoria Police and that many complaints against priests and brothers were referred to Victoria Police.

It seems that Fitz is too lazy to do research and just makes stuff up.  So here is the media statement put out by Victoria Police on 30 October 1996, welcoming the establishment of the Melbourne Response.

Victoria Police Press Release

Now, not only does Peter FitzSimons use Fairfax Media to disseminate misinformation. But Sun-Herald editor Peter Rood will not publish a reply by Gerard Henderson correcting Fitz’s howlers – including last Sunday’s tosh.  Can you bear it?



 Last Monday, when publicising her new book Road to Ruin : How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government (Scribe, 2015), journalist Niki Savva told Sky News’ David Speers that she did not approach Tony Abbott or Peta Credlin about the allegations in the book concerning them since she “didn’t trust their responses”.  This includes Ms Savva’s salacious report of the existence of a rumour that the former prime minister and his chief-of-staff were having an affair. Ms Savva added:

I learnt from bitter experience, as did colleagues of Mr Abbott, that their version of events could not always be trusted.

Earlier that very morning, Ms Savva said much the same thing to ABC 1’s News Breakfast presenters Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli.  Niki Savva was asked about a dinner where Peta Credlin is alleged to have fed Tony Abbott from her fork and later put her head on his shoulder.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Nikki Savva: Look, I had a first-hand account from a person who was at that dinner and I trust the version provided to me by that Liberal MP. I have found over the years from bitter experience – and I know that Mr Abbott’s colleagues have found similarly – that his version of events and quite often her version of events cannot always be trusted. And I think Australian people saw that as well.

After the first budget, which contained a litany of broken promises, yet for months and months and months Tony Abbott insisted no promises were broken. You know, that became the “lying about lying” project. If he’d, you know, gone out upfront and said: “Yes, well you know we had to change things and you know circumstances had changed blah blah”- but there was this complete refusal to accept that things had changed and he had to break his promises. But he completely, absolutely, steadfastly refused to acknowledge that he had.

So I think, you know, Tony Abbott’s version of events, not just on that but on various other matters, including Peter Reith. When Peter Reith was running for federal president, Tony Abbott encouraged him to run, pledged to him his support and then on the day changed his vote to Alan Stockdale and later went out and argued that he had not in fact given his support or endorsement to Peter Reith. Now I quote Peter Reith in the book as saying: “Well, you know, what do you make of that?” And Reith said, he lied.

This suggests that Ms Savva is inclined to accept as accurate information from a single source and publish the allegation while providing anonymity to her source.  In other words, she appears to believe what at least some people tell her – in the naïve view that individuals always tell the truth and/or always have reliable memories. Ms Savva also seems to regard breaking promises as identical to conscious lying.

And so it came to pass that Niki Savva chose to believe her sources (without checking) while choosing to disbelieve Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin (without checking).  Niki Savva regards the latter as liars – and associates lying with bad behaviour.

But what about lies and Niki Savva?  Well, this is what she wrote in So Greek: Confessions of a Conservative Leftie (Scribe, 2010) at pages 94-95:

As a journalist I lied often, usually about my sources, but about other things….Journalists can and do, get away with lying; politicians and staff can’t. Nor should they.

So, according to Ms Savva, journalists can lie but politicians should not.  How’s that for a double standard?


In her 2010 book Nikki Savva ‘fessed up that, as a journalist, she lied often

In her 2010 book Niki Savva ‘fessed up that, as a journalist, she lied often

In her 2015 book Niki Savva condemns the (alleged) lies of Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin

In her 2015 book Niki Savva condemns the (alleged) lies of Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin



















As avid MWD readers will be aware, this segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (nom de plume Flann O’Brien, (1911-1966) — and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. The Brian O’Nolan Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing, incomprehensible prose and incoherent verbal expression.

The latest winner is Melbourne barrister Kristine Hanscombe QC who currently represents several victims of clerical child sexual abuse at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It was around 12.45 pm in Sydney on Wednesday 2 March – and around 2.45 am in Rome – when Dr Hanscombe (for a doctor she is) asked Cardinal George Pell by video-link the following questions – which are taken from the official transcript :

Kristine Hanscombe : I want to ask you a few questions based on the obvious premise from my perspective that Mr Green’s evidence is both accurate and truthful. For the purposes of answering my questions, can you act on that basis?

 George Pell: No, I can’t, because I don’t accept it, but I’m certainly keen to try to answer any question you propose.

Kristine Hanscombe : Okay. You told Counsel Assisting on Monday that a person who was ignorant of something, where that ignorance was not wilful ignorance and where that wilfulness [sic] was not the result of not doing a job within your authority, would have no moral or other responsibility for failing to act in relation to Ridsdale? Do you recall that? You were asked questions about the responsibility a consultor might have. I can take you to the transcript if you need it?

George Pell : Yes, I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying, but I’m happy to – I’m happy to accept it as a working hypothesis.

How about that?  Kristine Hanscombe asked Cardinal Pell to act on the basis that evidence put to him was “both accurate and truthful” – when the witness had already said on many occasions that he regarded the evidence in question as inaccurate.  Nice try – but readily picked up by Cardinal Pell, even in the early hours of a Rome morning.

Then Dr Hanscombe followed up with a truly incomprehensible question which contained four negatives in a mere 52 words – i.e. 8 per cent of the question contained a negative. Little wonder that George Pell said that he was “not exactly sure” what Hanscombe QC was saying. MWD will provide three free lessons at Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for anyone who can work out what m’learned friend was on about. Entries close at 12.45 am next Thursday (Rome time).

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £


Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Nancy’s literary effort for today:


Speech Criticism

By Nancy

of Dr Kristine Hanscombe QC

My grasp of what she said or meant

Was only five or six per cent

The rest was just replete with “noes”

Among (legal) doctors, that’s what goes.

Nancy Ezra MWD 116

 five paws graphic
Sky News, the ABC and Fairfax Media seem to have had conga lines of commentators lined up to bucket Cardinal George Pell.  They include progressive Catholics who disapprove of Pell’s social conservatism (Kristina Keneally), militant atheists who dislike traditional Catholicism even more than other churches of Christianity (Peter FitzSimons) and more besides.

So it came as a surprise to see Melbourne-based cultural critic Peter Craven’s piece in The Age last Tuesday titled “Blunt, tough George Pell is a victim of a show trial”.  Highlights of the piece included the following comments:

A lot of people seem to want Pell to bear personal responsibility for the sins of the Church, sins against the innocent which have ruined lives, for no better reason than that they don’t like him. It’s ironic but it’s precisely because Pell was a tough customer that he was liable to be left in the dark. As he indicated to Andrew Bolt (never mind that you hate Bolt too), a lot of people in the Church couldn’t stand him, both before and after his appointment as Archbishop of Melbourne.

I can remember the disdain of the liberal-minded Jesuits. Pell was theologically conservative and tough-minded in his expression of it. He refused communion to rainbow-sashed gay activists. He took legal action to stop an artwork from being exhibited. There was a whistle of awe when he walked into a press conference and said, “I’m here to object to ‘Piss Christ’.” He was the opposite of a conciliatory, namby-pamby ecclesiastic. He was a muscular, confrontational sort of Christian. He came close to playing top-level Australian Rules Football as a ruckman for Richmond and it amused friends and foes alike that an old injury made it next to impossible for this man of God to kneel.

And, yes, he was politically conservative – close to Tony Abbott, a climate change sceptic and an admirer of B.A. Santamaria. He did not get on with the mild-mannered Frank Little and he said in the Royal Commission of Bishop Ronald Mulkearns of Ballarat, “his repeated refusal to act is, I think, extraordinary.” Of Little he spoke of an “extraordinary world, a world of crimes and cover-ups and people [who] did not want the status quo to be disturbed.”  Should we be surprised that these “merciful” bishops might have wanted to keep Big George, the bull in the china shop, out of the picture? And yet how much the dogs of outrage want to bay at the man who took steps to stop the abuse six years before the events in Boston highlighted in the film Spotlight….

Although he shrugged off the suggestion, there was a witch-hunt against him. There was a show trial. Yes, it’s insignificant compared   with the sufferings of innocent children but it doesn’t represent this nation at its best. There are reasons why Pell has made a greater impression on this country than any churchman since Daniel Mannix and one of them is that he did his best, his imperfect best, to clear up the sexual abuse.


Peter Craven – Five Paws.


In light of the enormous popularity of this new segment, Nancy has now decided to dispense information in response to her many emails/letters seeking advice.  A modern day Agony (Canine) Aunt, to be sure. Let’s start the series with this query concerning bad language on the Insiders’ couch:

Dear Nancy

I am concerned about the increasingly bad language on Insiders on ABC1 on Sundays. On 21 February, an agitated David Marr twice told your (male) co-owner that he was talking “bull-shit”. And last Sunday, Laura Tingle called former prime minister Tony Abbott an “oaf”.

Is it possible that there are too many carbs served with lotsa sugar in the Insiders’ Green Room and this raises aggression and anxiety levels? Or does someone spike the holy water on the table? What do you think?

Con. Serned

Shit Creek, NT



I’ve noticed this phenomenon.  The allegation that a person is talking “bull-shit” is usually an excuse for not having an argument with which to respond.  It’s much the same with abusive language – as in the word “oaf”. This usually means that the person making the insult doesn’t like someone.  Or something like that.

I would recommend therapy of the kind I offer in my Courtesy Classes. Mr Marr and La Tingle are welcome to attend – and I am sure that Mark Scott could get the ABC to pay the modest class-fees involved.  If Nice Mr Scott does not agree – all I can say is that he is an “oaf” who preaches “bull-shit”.

I hope this helps.

Nancy (Honorary Doctor of Canine Letters)

Yagoona Advanced College of Advanced Courtesy, NSW


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).


As avid readers are aware, the loquacious Sun-Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons tends to go silent and jump under-the-bed whenever his prejudices are challenged. See MWD passim.  So MWD is grateful for the heads-up on this matter by avid reader Paul Boothby, who wrote to Fitz – only to receive superficial replies. Including about Fitz’s alma mater, Sydney’s Knox Grammar, where evidence of a nest of male pedophiles on the teaching staff became public knowledge as late as in 2009.  Here we go:

Paul Boothby to Gerard Henderson – 8 March 2016
Dear Nancy,

Following your reporting of your note to Peter FitzSimons last Friday, I thought that I should write to you, simply as a matter for your interest, regarding correspondence relating to Cardinal Pell that I had with Peter FitzSimons which pre-dated your note.

1. I initially wrote following his column wherein he said that Cardinal Pell should return to Australia because he was apparently fit enough to work in Rome then he should be fit enough to travel. I wrote to Peter F saying that he wasn’t a doctor so should let the Royal Commissioner decide what suited the Royal Commissioner who had the benefit of medical reports. I also said that as Peter F’s comments were immediately followed by a “Catholic joke” it might seem that he was a little bigoted and that simple due process should apply

2. Peter F then wrote to me simply asking – “are you a Catholic?” – to which I responded “no”

3. Peter F then again wrote to me stating that as an allegation that Cardinal Pell was under Victorian Police investigation was reported that I must be feeling “a tad awkward” and that he was “interested in my reply”. I replied that I didn’t feel awkward at all as my initial comments that due process should take place still applied

4. Peter F then again wrote to me asking, “School A requires that its members contract that they won’t have sex and School B has no such requirement. Which school is most likely to have abuse of children.”  I simply replied, “Knox Grammar”.

5. I have subsequently written to Peter F summarising our correspondence and adding additional argument. Namely, as well as apparently possessing medical qualifications he must also have Honours in Criminology in making the School A and B analogy. Regrettably I pointed out that no study has suggested a link between paedophilia and the “no sex” requirement of the priesthood – and indeed all studies say that paedophilia and abuse of children has no relevance to lack of adult/adult sex.

I also referred to Peter F’s support for Tim Minchin’s song and his endorsement of Kristina Keneally who apparently “laughed then cried” upon hearing that song and how that might seem inconsistent with her silence over the Milton Orkopoulos matter and how it might also seem inconsistent that, as a Labor parliamentary colleague, she must have heard “rumours” – if this logic was being applied by her in respect of Cardinal Pell.

Then I referred to his mild reporting on the Knox College evidence previously given at the Royal Commission compared to his commentary on Cardinal Pell – as well as his apparent “reference” for former Knox headmaster Dr Ian Paterson. I asked how he could seemingly justify the Knox/Pell inconsistency. He wrote: “Knox, Knox – whose there?”

He is a scallywag, isn’t he!!

Best regards
Paul Boothby
Gerard Henderson to Paul Boothby – 10 March 2016

Dear Paul

Thanks for your email – which Nancy kindly passed on to me.

I will publish your witty note in MWD of tomorrow.  It provides an insight into Peter FitzSimons’ anti-Catholic sectarianism, medical ignorance, support for Kristina Keneally’s double standard over convicted pedophile and former NSW Labor Party parliamentarian Milton Orkopoulos and his own double standards with respect to Knox Grammar – along with his juvenile attempts at humour.

Let me know if you receive any more responses from the Red Bandannaed One.

Keep morale high.



Last week’s MWD reported that the Eureka Street online journal- published by the Jesuits – had run a piece by Melbourne-based leftist/lawyer Moira Rayner criticising Cardinal George Pell – and calling for the kind of tolerance in the Church as was once (allegedly) exhibited by  Saint Anthony.  Except that – as avid reader Hugh Henry discovered – the monastic Anthony was not as libertarian as Ms Rayner alleged. Here we go:
Hugh Henry to Gerard Henderson – 4  March 2016

Excellent post re Moira Rayner.

Incidentally, I was deeply suspicious of her story of St Anthony re the homosexuals, given everything else I knew of his attitude to sins of the flesh. I tracked down Rayner’s source.

Here is Moira Rayner’s version:

[A] brother approached Anthony and told him two monks were living together in a homosexual relationship. Anthony summoned the two monks. That night he prepared a pallet where they could sleep together, and gave them one blanket. Anthony commented, “They are sons of God, holy persons.” Then he instructed a disciple to send the complainant to a cell by himself, saying “He is a victim of the very thing he projects on them.”

The version as it appears in the book Moira Rayner is quoting from – By Way of the Desert – is as follows.  Rayner’s omissions are in bold:

A brother approached a hermit and told him that two monks were living together in a homosexual relationship. The hermit was certain a demon was misleading the brother and summoned the two monks. That night he prepared a pallet where they could sleep together and gave them one blanket. The hermit commented, “They are sons of God, holy persons.” Then the hermit instructed a disciple to send the slanderer to a cell by himself. “He is a victim of the very thing he projects on them”.

Suspicion vindicated.  Somewhere, in sands of the desert, a monk is spinning in his grave. Cheers and keep up the great work.

Hugh Henry  BA(Theol), BA(Phil), LL.B, Dip. Ed.

Essendon, Victoria
Gerard Henderson to Hugh Henry – 10 March 2016
Dear Hugh

Thanks for your email – and great detective work re Moira Rayner’s recent piece in Eureka Street.

How odd that Jesuits Down Under are willing to publish the thought of the non-believer Moira Rayner verballing Saint Anthony (circa 1st Century AD). In life, the sainted monk spent so much time in his struggle with the Devil.  And now, in death, he is misquoted by the Rayner – per courtesy of the Jesuits.

Best wishes


Thanks to the avid reader who raised the mind-set involved in the situation whereby Peter FitzSimons – Australia’s leading sneering atheist – sees fit to send his two boys to Knox Grammar, which is run by the Uniting Church.

Geoff Goodworth to Gerard Henderson – 10 March 2016
G’day Gerard

While I enjoyed your comments regarding Bandanna Boy’s comments in the Fauxfacts press, may I suggest that there in PhD in understanding the thought processes of somebody who denigrates people with faith—believing in “imaginary sky fairies”  – while sending his own loins’ fruit to be educated by the very people who promote belief in those same “imaginary sky fairies”.


Gerard Henderson to Geoff Goodworth – 10 March 2016
Dear Geoff

Thanks for your incisive note.

Yes, it is a wonder that the out-and-proud atheist chose to send his two sons to be educated at Knox Grammar which is run by the Uniting Church – an institution that, according to the Red Bandannaed One, believes in “imaginary sky fairies”.

Some confusion, surely.

Best wishes




was oh-so-predictable again on Monday. The panel contained the usual 3 to 2 leftist//conservative balance (not to mention left-leaning presenter Tony Jones). Despite the news of the day, Q&A soon commenced a discussion on Cardinal George Pell’s appearance at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – which was last week’s news.  Here Alan Jones proffered a defence of Pell – while Josh Zepps, Mia Freedman, Michaelia Cash and Penny Wong attacked the Cardinal.  Somewhat predictable, eh?  What united the panel completely is that no one really knew anything much about the matter and no one said anything new.  But the American-based comedian Josh Zepps did engage in some live-to-air defamation, which Tony Jones did not challenge.

The following morning, ABC 1 News Breakfast consciously decided to feature “highlights” of the exchange of the night before – including Mr Zepps’ ignorance-based defamation that, at age 28, Pell “covered up rapists”. Despite the fact that, at aged 28, Pell was not resident in Australia and there is no evidence that he ever covered up “rapists”.

This led Gerard Henderson to write to News Breakfast presenters Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli – who also joined the chorus in attacking George Pell on the morning after the Q&A night before. Alas, it seems that Mr Rowland and La Trioli have been instructed by ABC management to go under-the-bed on this one since neither responded to Hendo’s epistle.  Here is the one-sided (unanswered) correspondence:

Gerard Henderson to Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland – 8 March 2016


Interesting to see you two piling-in this morning on top of the anti-Pell pile-in which occurred on Q&A last night and re-run in part on News Breakfast this morning. And interesting that News Breakfast’s producers specifically chose to re-run Josh Zepps’ live-to-air defamation of Cardinal George Pell.

As you are no doubt aware –  Josh Zepps, Michaelia Cash, Mia Freedman and Penny Wong all piled-on on Cardinal Pell last night. Only Alan Jones defended the Cardinal. His account contained a few (unimportant) errors but at least Mr Jones presented an alternative view.

News Breakfast consciously chose to re-run Josh Zepps’ claim that as a “28 year old” priest, George Pell was “covering up rapists” (such as the pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale).  Mr Zepps offered no evidence in support of his assertion. By implication, Josh Zepps was also asserting that Paul Bongiorno (among others) must also have covered up for “rapists” – since Bongiorno was a young priest in the Ballarat diocese during a time of Ridsdale’s offending.

As you may or may not know, both Pell and Bongiorno shared presbytery accommodation with Ridsdale in the early 1970s.  In fact, Bongiorno was closer to Ridsdale than Pell – since he (Bongiorno) shared parish duties with Ridsdale in Warrnambool whereas Pell did not share parish duties with Ridsdale at Ballarat East.

In 1975, when Pell was a relatively junior priest and Bongiorno had recently left the priesthood, Professor Richard Downing declared that “in general, men will sleep with young boys” and asked all Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.  At the time, Professor Downing was chairman of the ABC – and made these comments on behalf of the public broadcaster. This is documented in Ken Inglis’ semi-official history of the ABC titled This is the ABC (MUP, 1983) and has been reported in detail on my Media Watch Dog blog. As you will be aware, Dr Inglis is a long-time friend of the ABC.

Needless to say, the one-time ABC chairman’s 1975 call for Australians to understand the urgings of the likes of Ridsdale is not mentioned on the ABC today. However, the ABC has never distanced itself from Professor Downing’s comments.

No one – at the ABC or in Fairfax Media – has been able to name one person who acted sooner than George Pell to counter clerical child sexual abuse in Australia. This occurred in 1996 when the Melbourne Response was established – some six years before the revelations in the Boston Globe about the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and a decade before such crimes were addressed by Knox Grammar in Sydney (where Mark Scott is on the board).

If you or any of your colleagues know of anyone in Australia who acted before George Pell with respect to child sexual abuse in clerical, secular or government institutions – then just send me the name or names.

This morning’s News Breakfast had a 5 to 1 pile-in against Pell – with grabs critical of Pell from Josh Zepps, Michaelia Cash and Mia Freedman on Q&A plus you two presenters on News Breakfast who offered your opinions criticising Cardinal Pell at the end of the segment.

If you, or your producers, are interested in presenting an alternative voice – let me know.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Erin Vincent, Executive Producer, ABC News Breakfast

Mark Scott, Editor-in-Chief, ABC




 Gerard Henderson was criticised by Sun-Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons in his “The Fitz Files” last Sunday.  At usual, your man Fitz’s piece was replete with ignorance and prejudice.  Peter FitzSimons went under-the-bed and refused to respond to Hendo’s email. Meanwhile Sun-Herald editor David Rood and Letters Editor Marc McEvoy declined to give Hendo a right of reply.  How sensitive and unprofessional can you get?  You be the judge.

 Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 8 March 2016


I know that you do not take well to criticism and refuse to even acknowledge emails documenting errors in your Sun-Herald column and elsewhere.  I also know that you employ researchers and that this should make it easy for you to engage in fact-checking.

I draw your attention to yet another The Fitz Files howler.  On Sunday you concluded the section of your column titled “Cardinal’s sins means he’s finished” as follows:

Now, in the wake of Cardinal Pell’s testimony, who thinks he is the man who should be in the vanguard of leading the church to the light? Please. “Still,” the supporters cry, “what about the Melbourne Response, that Pell pioneered?” Exactly. You only need to know one thing about the Melbourne Response. Beyond putting a cap on damages paid to victims, it did not result in a single call being made to police. Not one! As victims came forward, deals were done, and money paid, but not a call. Now, who still defends it? Yes, yes, yes, but apart from you, I mean, Gerard.

By the way, I have no idea how your readers are expected to know precisely who “Gerard” is. After all, I do have a surname.

However, the important point here is that, once again, your writing contains a massive howler.  You would be aware of this if you did any research.

Peter O’Callaghan QC reported to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry (whose report titled Betrayal of Trust was finalised in November 2013) that in his capacity as the Independent Commissioner – under the Melbourne Response – he handled 304 complaints of clerical child sexual abuse.  The details are as follows:

▪ 97 complaints were reported to Victoria Police.

▪ 115 complaints were made in respect of offenders who were dead.

▪ 9 complaints were made in respect of offenders who were resident overseas.

▪ 4 complaints were made in respect of offenders who could not be identified.

▪ 76 complainants were encouraged to go to Victoria Police.

▪ Of the remaining 3 complainants, no one was advised to refrain from going to Victoria Police.

In your ignorance, you seem completely unaware that Victoria Police welcomed Archbishop (as he then was) Pell’s decision to establish the Melbourne Response.  On 30 October 1996, Victoria Police issued the media release which is quoted in full below:

Police Support Catholic Church

Initiatives To Combat Sexual Abuse

Victoria Police have welcomed today’s announcement of a series of initiatives in response to sexual abuse by priests, religious and lay people under the control of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. The announcement is seen as a positive step in tackling this very sensitive community issue.

Police have also welcomed the appointment of Peter O’Callaghan QC to the position of Independent Commissioner. They say they are pleased to see the appointment of the Commissioner will not in any way conflict with police investigations or actions in respect to sexual abuse.

Police are hopeful that the appointment of the Commissioner will assist [to] identify those engaging in sexual abuse, and result in them being dealt with by the law.

By the way, in its report on The Melbourne Response (Case Study No 16) the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also found that, under the Melbourne Response, the crimes of offenders were reported to Victoria Police.

My question is this. Will you correct your gross factual error in the Sun-Herald next Sunday?

The record demonstrates that the Melbourne Response was set up six years before the revelations in the Boston Globe concerning the cover-up of clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and over a decade before the Uniting Church acted with respect to the nest of pedophiles which operated at your alma mater Knox Grammar, where you have chosen to educate two of your children.

Perhaps you need to employ a few more researchers.  You might ask them to name one person in religious, secular or government organisation in Australia which acted against child secular abuse before George Pell set up the Melbourne Response in 1996 – a mere three months after becoming  Archbishop of Melbourne.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:      David Rood – Editor

Marc McEvoy – Letters Editor

Until next time.


Until next time – keep morale high.

My oh my. Poor, blithering Gerard “Gollum” Henderson will be incandescent with rage after that Media Watch. The silly prick.

Gerard: You are hopeless…

– David Marr, 12 February 2016

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 Jan 2016, 

Poor mad Gerard is obsessed. I expect he had an unhappy childhood, always the last to be chosen…

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 25 Oct 2015, 3:27 AM

Sometimes I think of Gerard Henderson like a Japanese holdout, lost in the jungles of Borneo, still fighting the war 20 years after it ended

– Erik Jensen,via Twitter, 16 Oct 2015, 4:50 PM

Gérard Henderson brain missing. Small reward

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 10 Oct 2015, 11:16 AM

I’ve been shot at by the Viet Cong. I once met Gerard Henderson. I can take any shit thrown at me…

Mike Carlton via Twitter, 9:22 PM – 9 Sep 2015

Gerard. You are an idiot #insiders

Bevan Shields via Twitter, 9:46 AM, 23 August 2015

“[Gerard Henderson is a] professional filing cabinet”

– Leftist scribbler Jeff Sparrow, Crikey, 13 August 2015

Leaving the house to avoid listening to GHenderson on @774melbourne

– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“gerard henderson trending on twitter, omg [looks out window, where the sun is eclipsed and the sky blood-red] oh yeah that makes sense”

– Adam Brereton via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Gerard Henderson on @891adelaide right now & I find myself shouting at my radio. What a morning”

– Louise Pascale via Twitter, 31 July 2015

“oh hell why is Gerard Henderson trending? Has boredom become the new black.”

– MNihilon via Twitter, 31 July 2015

Told I made the late Gerard Henderson’s little blog today. Read it. What a rancorous, nauseating, humourless little turd he is.

– Mike Carlton via Twitter during Gin & Tonic Time on 12 June 2015.

“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”

– David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015

To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.

– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015

Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here

– Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015

[Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.

– Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015:

I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella

– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you

– Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth

– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).

“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, Twitter25 July 2014

“This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”

– Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter20 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, TwitterFriday 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 TwitterSaturday 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