GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 309
1 April 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.
- Stop Press: Gary Morgan on the KGB; Wendy Harmer on Apartheid & Mark Colvin’s Sajid Javid Sneer
- Can You Bear It? Starring Niki Savva, Mark Kenny, Scott Burchill, Melbourne University and the Easter Rising & Martin Flanagan and Conscription
- MWD Editorial: Mark Scott’s ABC Failure on His Own Terms – With a Reference to Kristina Keneally & Knox Grammar
- Five Paws Award: Step Forward Joe Aston on John Hewson
- The Brian O’Nolan Gong for Literary Sludge – Comrade Guy Rundle Scores Again
- Correspondence: The Kouk Helps Out
- GARY MORGAN ON JOE STALIN DOWN UNDER
Gary Morgan’s Morgan Poll Update has just arrived in MWD’s inbox. It contains an article by your man Morgan titled “The Turnbull Government needs to be careful a reinstated ABCC does not become Australia’s KGB!”
How about that? Gary Morgan looks at ABCC legislation and sees Joe Stalin’s KGB execution squads. Can no one rid us of such hyperbole?
- ABC SOCIALIST ACCUSES PM TURNBULL OF APARTHIED
From the moment Wendy Harmer appeared on ABC 1’s Q&A program on 2 November last year and declared herself “an old fashioned socialist”, it was obvious that the one-time stand-up comedian was destined for a big gig on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a sit-down comedian.
And so it came to pass that Ms Harmer got a morning gig on ABC Radio 702 in Sydney, commencing early this year. Yet another leftist appointed by yet more leftists in the ABC, which remains a Conservative Free Zone.
On “Mornings with Wendy Harmer” today, the self-proclaimed old-fashioned socialist let go at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. She described the Turnbull government’s proposal that, under taxation reform, the States may become responsible for funding government schools leaving the Commonwealth responding for funding non-government schools was – wait for it – “apartheid in our schools”. Yep – apartheid. Just like that which prevailed under the white South African regime of old. Really.
Even Crikey’s Bernard Keane, who was being interviewed at the time, said that this was a “rather loaded” comment. Sure was. But that’s the lingo of old-fashioned socialists like Wendy Harmer.
- MARK COLVIN’S LIGHT-WEIGHT SNEER (VIA TWITTER)
One of the innovations in Mark Scott’s time as ABC managing director (re which see Editorial) was the decision to allow ABC presenters to also become commentators in the public debate. This has led to ABC presenters opining at large in newspapers, on panels, on Twitter and the like. Such a practice is still banned by the BBC in Britain.
This is what ABC PM producer Mark Colvin (an avid, if critical, MWD reader) said on Twitter last night about the visit to Australia by the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in David Cameron’s government in Britain:
Mark Colvin is one of the ABC’s leading presenters. Yet, last night, he threw the switch to sneering after Sajid Javid ended his trip to Australia to handle the situation in the British steel industry which threatens thousands of jobs in the United Kingdom following Tata’s decision to consider closing its steel plants – including its largest steel plant, the Port Talbot works in Wales. Prime Minister David Cameron also returned early to London – from an important meeting on security in Washington DC.
So, in full sneering mode, Mark Colvin endorsed the view of a certain Stephen Murray that Mr Javid “flew to Australia” and all he got “was the Sydney Institute”. Mr Colvin was so unoriginal as to give “Mr Murray” a Five Paws Award, which are a feature of this blog.
Mr Colvin did not check with anyone at The Sydney Institute or the British High Commission in Canberra about Sajid Javid’s itinerary in Australia. The Secretary of State flew into Australia on Wednesday morning. During the day he had official meetings with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird, among other commitments.
On Wednesday evening, Sajid Javid addressed an 800 plus strong audience of influential Australians at The Sydney Institute’s 2016 Annual Dinner which was held at the Events Centre in The Star. If he did any research, Mark Colvin would know that among journalists very keen to interview the Secretary of State was ABC PM’s economics reporter Peter Ryan. Fancy that. [Perhaps you should give Peter Ryan one of Nancy’s (original) prestigious Five Paws Award for having better judgment than your man Mark Colvin – MWD Ed.]
- NEWS FLASH: NIKI SAVVA NEGLECTS TO WRITE ABOUT TONY ABBOTT – OR DOES SHE?
What a truly revealing column by Niki Savva in The Australian on 24 March – the day before MWD headed off for its very own Well Earned (Easter) Break.
Believe it or not, Ms Savva got through a whole column without once referring to “Tony Abbott”. Well done. However, the author of The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed their Own Government referred to “Abbott” on five occasions. And there was a reference to a “Tony Rudd” and another to a “Kevin Abbott”. Imagine what would be said if Mr Abbott referred to a “Niki Oakes” or a “Laurie Savva”. Can you bear it? [Er, no. But I was impressed that Niki Savva had a real scoop about what was served at The Lodge for dinner on the evening of Saturday 19 March. Namely, “a choice of beef, chicken or fish, with stewed fruits and cream for dessert”. Alas, Ms Savva never had inside information about what was served up to Tony Abbott’s dinner guests when he was prime minister. – MWD Ed.]
- MARK KENNY IN “I’M ALL RIGHT, JACK” MODE
The next election will probably be held sometime between Saturday 2 July and Saturday 29 October. Whatever the date, it is likely that industrial relations will be an important issue in the campaign – involving the proposed Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and more besides.
Among the journalists reporting the 2016 election will be Fairfax Media’s chief political editor Mark Kenny. Here is a pic of Comrade Kenny, having downed computers, walking out of the Fairfax Media office in Parliament House on St Patrick’s Day – looking like a modern day version of this character played by Peter Sellers in the 1959 film I’m All Right Jack.
This was an unlawful strike about staffing levels at Fairfax Media publications – but Comrade Mark Kenny headed for the barricades. So Comrade Kenny, who engaged in an unlawful strike in March 2016, will be reporting on industrial issues in the 2016 election – including a likely campaign by the Australian trade union movement against the Coalition. Can you bear it?
- SCOTT BURCHILL’S FIDEL CASTRO MOMENT
Wasn’t it great to see Deakin University’s Scott Burchill back on News Breakfast again on 22 March. Dressed in his current all black persona as a cleric on the way to address a funeral. Rather than, as in previous years, when Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) was wont to drop in at the ABC Southbank studio dressed for a soon-to-happen visit to the tip.
It seems that, due to the priority of preparing an appropriate funeral oration, your man Burchill did not have time to prepare for the topics he was required to address on the Newspapers segment. Consequently, he was ignorant of the fact that there was no plan for Barack Obama to meet Fidel Castro during the US president’s recent visit to Cuba. Let’s go to the transcript:
Paul Kennedy: Let’s look at The Australian page 10 and tell us what you think of the first two days of Obama’s visit to Cuba.
Scott Burchill: Yes, it’s been fun except for the rain I think, it seems to have spoilt the occasion a bit. But it’s a, it’s a, I think, an interesting rapprochement for after a very long estrangement between the two countries. It’s not only been 80 years or so since the President of the US has visited Havana, but there’s been really a undeclared war between the two countries since the early 1960s. And this I guess begins the end of that process.
The embargo is still in place up to a point, but it’s interesting now that US citizens can travel directly to Cuba for the first time. There are now fewer restrictions on doing business there and Obama is announcing as he is there, that there are some educational opportunities for Cubans to study in the United States. So we’re seeing the ice break and that’s a particularly important thing. Obviously they’re not going to agree on a lot of things like democracy, human rights and terrorism.
But it’ll be interesting. I’m waiting to see the footage of Obama meeting Fidel. I suspect he’ll be getting one of his old tracksuits out. Which sort of seems to be the de rigueur for him [Fidel Castro] when he meets heads of state. I presume that’s coming – we must – in the next day or so.
Paul Kennedy: I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Scott Burchill: You don’t think so?
Paul Kennedy: Nope.
Scott Burchill: Is that because Obama? You think Obama doesn’t want the –
Paul Kennedy: They’ve written it off, they’ve said neither side wants that meeting.
Scott Burchill: Really.
Yes. Really. There never was a proposal that Barack Obama would meet with Fidel Castro irrespective of whether the Cuban communist dictator was wearing his trackies. It’s just that Dr Burchill, a senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University, only learnt of this well known fact after News Breakfast co-presenter Paul Kennedy told him so. Can you bear it?
- THE IRISH ARE RISING (AFTER EASTER) AT MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY
Unfortunately Hendo will be unavailable to attend the two day international conference “The 1916 Irish Rising: Australasian Perspective” to be held at his alma mater Melbourne University next Thursday and Friday. After all, they are working days.
Reading the program, it looks like the theme of the conference will be sympathetic to the men and women who, in an undemocratic act, engaged in violence in Easter 1916 during the uprising in Dublin. After all, Australian participants include Dr Val Noone (for a doctor he is), Margaret Coffey (for a doctor she should be) and Maxine McKew (for a doctor she surely will become). It’s difficult to work out who will speak up for the Irish in 1916 who opposed the uprising who supported the Irish volunteers fighting with the Allies (including Australia) on the Western Front.
MWD’s favourite topic is the paper by Michael Francis titled “The Rising and Newman College”. When Gerard Henderson visited the Newman College on the Melbourne University campus in 1966, there was no evidence of an uprising having taken place there half a century earlier. But maybe evidence has been found to establish the case in recent years. Certainly Newman College types drank lotsa grog in those far away days and might have been involved in a recovered memory about a virtual uprising.
As for the Associated Events, well Hendo would just love to take part in Val Noone’s conducted tour of the Melbourne General Cemetery. Hendo has visited Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin where those executed by the British after the Easter Rising are buried in a common plot. But, who knows? Your man Val Noone may have located some of The (Irish) Dead at Melbourne General Cemetery. Can you bear it?
- MARTIN FLANAGAN’S CONSCRIPTION CONFUSION
While on the topic of the Easter Rising, did anyone read Martin Flanagan’s column titled “The Easter Uprising impact endures” in The Age last Saturday?
Your man Flanagan discussed both the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 and its impact on the conscription plebiscites in Australia in late 1916 and late 1917. Except that he called them referendums.
A referendum is required to change the provisions of the Australian Constitution. Plebiscites are occasionally used to gauge public opinion – they have no constitutional significance. William Hughes’ government did not need a constitutional referendum to introduce conscription during the First World War. Yet Martin Flanagan, one of The Age’s leading columnists, is ignorant of this fact. Can you bear it?
NICE MR SCOTT EXITS STAGE LEFT – A FAILURE IN HIS OWN TERMS
Mark Scott was appointed ABC managing director and editor-in-chief by the ABC board in 2006. He took up this position in July 2006 and his appointment was renewed in 2011 for a second five-year term.
At the time of his ABC appointment, Mark Scott’s editorial management role at Fairfax Media was coming to an end and he was reported as looking for what are euphemistically referred to in business circles as “new challenges”. Before his employment by Fairfax Media, Mark Scott had worked on the staff of Terry Metherell, the minister for education in Nick Greiner’s Coalition government in New South Wales in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
It is unfair to blame staff for the performance of ministers. However, since Mr Scott’s past employment as a Liberal Party staffer has been used by some ABC supporters to indicate the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s “balance”, it should be pointed out that Dr Metherell was the worst performing minister in the Greiner government and bears significant responsibility for its poor performance in the NSW 1991 election.
As it happened, Mark Scott’s time as working for a State education minister proved helpful to his appointment by the Sydney Morning Herald as education reporter. From then on, Mr Scott’s career was truly a glittering one.
Soon after Mark Scott took up the position as ABC manager, one of his staff phoned Gerard Henderson and requested that Mr Scott give his first major public talk to The Sydney Institute. The answer was in the affirmative – and Mark Scott addressed the Institute on 16 October 2006. The chosen topic was “The Editorial Values of the ABC”.
As might be expected, the newly appointed ABC managing director and editor-in-chief in 2006 supported the public broadcaster. Yet Mark Scott acknowledged that the ABC needed to “think afresh about how we deliver balance, diversity, impartiality”. During his speech Mark Scott:
▪ declared that the ABC had been “too defensive” in the face of criticism that “the organisation has issues with balance – and fairness – particularly though its news and current affairs content”.
▪ proposed that the ABC “should learn some new steps and think about how we deliver balance, diversity, impartiality”.
▪ committed the ABC to the creation of editorial policies that “ensure that the ABC audiences can see and hear a broad range of viewpoints on matters of importance”.
▪ conceded that the impartiality test for the ABC’s newly established Opinion category “will be – over a period of time – has the ABC presented a plurality of views?”
▪ maintained that the ABC has to “serve all of the public, not just those who come to the ABC for comfort or confirmation” and
▪ expressed concern that the ABC is “not unnecessarily narrow in our news selection, reporting on interests of great interest to the newsrooms, but of less interest to our broader community”.
In relation to the ABC TV Media Watch program, then presented by Monica Attard, Mark Scott said:
…under our new editorial policies, we will be looking for further diversity of voices – ensuring the ABC is the town square where debate can flourish and different voices are heard. I have encouraged the Director of Television to work with the Media Watch team to review their format and content next year [i.e. 2007] to ensure there is more opportunity for debate and discussion around contentious and important issues.
A decade later, virtually all of Mark Scott’s promises remain undelivered. The ABC still does not have one conservative or right-of-centre presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Moreover, the ABC has continued to be a place to which leftists come for comfort and confirmation. What’s more, even ABC chairman Jim Spigelman has conceded that the ABC newsrooms are focused on their own interests to the exclusion of those prevalent in the broader community. Addressing the National Press Club on 11 December 2013, Mr Spigelman commented that ABC employees were “more interested in, say, gay marriage than, say, electricity prices”. In other words, Mark Scott simply put up the white flag when ABC employees focused on issues of interest to themselves rather than those of interest to Australia’s broader community.
It is a matter of record that Media Watch in 2016 is much the same as it was a decade earlier and still allows no opportunity for debate and discussion around contentious and important issues. Media Watch has only ever had presenters and producers who are leftist or left-of-centre. What’s more – unlike Media Buzz on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News – Media Watch does not provide an opportunity for debate and discussion. In other words, Mark Scott also simply put up the white flag when Media Watch rejected his proposals for reform.
And so it came to pass that Mark Scott chose ABC 1’s Media Watch last Monday for his last public appearance as ABC managing director. Paul Barry was the (essentially soft) interviewer. Let’s go to the transcript where discussion turns on plurality and the ABC:
Paul Barry: The other recurrent criticism, no news to you, and again often in the Newscorp papers but also from the coalition, is that the ABC is biased, that we are, or you are or we are left wing, elite, obsessed with issues that the rest of the public aren’t really terribly interested in, and that it’s a case of group think. What do you say to that?
Mark Scott: Yeah, I think there are a few different issues in it and I think it’s worth exploring. We do a different style of journalism to the journalism that I think increasingly you see in News Limited papers and increasingly you see with different columnists as well. You know, a lot of that criticism comes from right wing commentators and they wonder where are the strong right wing commentators on the ABC. We don’t do that kind of journalism. We don’t ask questions about our journalists’ voting pattern and where their ideology are [sic]. We look at the journalism that they put to air and we have strong editorial standards that demand fairness, balance and impartiality, and we hold them to that test.
Paul Barry: But is there a valid criticism that no presenter in this organisation is right of centre? I don’t know whether that’s true, but that is a criticism that’s often made.
Mark Scott: Yeah, and I think it’s ill-formed and people wouldn’t know. The test isn’t your background, the test isn’t your ideology, the test is the way you broadcast and the journalism you put to air. Now, there’s a second question though on I suppose the group think, and are we broad enough in the issues that we cover? I think we need to continue to challenge ourselves on that, that are we too narrow in the subjects we put to air? Jim Spigelman, our chairman, framed it in an interesting way a little while back. He said are we more concerned about gay marriage than we are about electricity prices? That was a really good question. And we continue …
Paul Barry: I think the answer is probably yes, isn’t it?
Mark Scott: Well, and I think we continue to work with our staff to ensure that we are informed about the issues the Australian public is informed about, we’re broad in the voices that we’re putting to air and the debates that we’re airing, and I think that’s an ongoing challenge.
Paul Barry: That’s your job, isn’t it? Your job is to make sure that the ABC does produce something that is a bit broader than what it’s often accused of doing.
Mark Scott: Yes.
Paul Barry: Do you think you’ve done that well enough? Do you think you actually give direction to the organisation and say, hey guys, we need to be a bit more balanced than we are?
Mark Scott: Yes, I think we’ve worked harder on that over the years …
Paul Barry: Do we need to do better?
Mark Scott: Well, I think we’re not the least bit complacent about it, and I think the answer in truth, Paul, is that we do very well most of the time, but we’re probably not as good as we’d always like to be. And at times we will fall short, at times we’ll be a bit narrow, at times humans exercising real judgement in front of a live microphone will make errors and we’ve got to accept that. I think the public is very understanding of that.
Fancy that. In 2016, Mark Scott is rationalising the continuation at the ABC of the very fashions which he criticised in 2006. The ABC managing director also told Paul Barry that the “ideology” of ABC presenters does not matter but that the ideology of (alleged) right-wing commenters in News Corp publications does matter. An unpleasant double standard, to be sure.
In 2006, Mr Scott chose The Sydney Institute to set out his reform agenda for the ABC – and criticised ABC Media Watch in the process. In 2016, Mr Scott chose ABC Media Watch to defend the fact that the ABC had no conservatives in prominent positions and to criticise (unnamed) right-wing commentators. Judged on his 2006 commitment to greater diversity in the ABC, Mark Scott has clearly failed to enact his promised reform agenda.
What a difference a decade makes
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AND SO IT CAME TO THIS – AS ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR NICE MR SCOTT BAGGED BOTH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND TONY ABBOTT
Towards the end of his period as ABC managing director and editor-in-chief, Nice Mr Scott spent considerable time sending out tweets about this and that and more besides.
This is what Nice Mr Scott, of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, had to say on Wednesday 9 December 2015 at 9.27 pm:
The “remarkably powerful piece” which Mark Scott endorsed was a rant by former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally criticising the Catholic Church in general and Cardinal George Pell in particular – which had been published earlier that day in the leftist Guardian Australia. Ms Keneally, a self-declared progressive Catholic, is a vehement critic of the social conservatism of Cardinal Pell, the third most senior figure in the Holy See. Kristina Keneally’s Guardian piece, titled “Tony Abbott, you do know you belong to a church that has not reformed, don’t you” also attacked the former prime minister.
It is not clear why the ABC managing director, a non-Catholic Christian, decided to take sides in the debate within the Catholic Church about theology and morality. Nor why he specifically endorsed Ms Keneally’s ignorant claim that the Catholic Church has “had no reformation”. This position dismisses the reforming impact on Catholicism of the Reformation itself, the Counter Reformation, the First Vatican Council, the Second Vatican Council and more besides. Ms Keneally’s suggestion that there has been no reform in the Catholic Church for half a millennium is ridiculous. Yet Mark Scott endorsed it.
Mark Scott also lent his endorsement, as one of Australia’s highest taxpayer funded public officials, to support Kristina Keneally’s criticism of the Catholic Church’s handling of clerical child sexual abuse. Yet as avid MWD readers will be aware, Mark Scott has declined to comment on what he did – or did not do – when he was a member of the board of Knox Grammar with respect to auditing present or past instances of child abuse.
There was a nest of pedophile teachers operating at Knox Grammar whose crimes were not made public until 2009. Mark Scott joined the Knox Grammar board in late-2007 and took up the position of deputy chairman in mid-2013. Here, for one last time, is MWD’s hugely popular scorecard on this matter.[table id=31 /]
STEP FORWARD JOE ASTON
In today’s AFR “Rear Window” column, Joe Aston advises of a forthcoming meeting of the Australian Greens’ Northern Beaches branch which Dr John Hewson will address next Wednesday. And yet the ABC just loves to present the former Liberal Party leader as the voice of the contemporary Liberal Party. It’s hard to imagine John Howard addressing a meeting of the Greens – even on the Northern Beaches.
Joe Aston, who reads MWD, wonders whether Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton might rock up to Dr Hewson’s address to the Greens well-heeled luvvies on ethical investment. It remains to be seen. Also, Mr Aston wonders whether Dr Hewson might just address the ethical implications of Elderslie Financial Corporation of recent memory. Good question.
Joe Aston: Five Paws.
AND THE WINNER IS – GUY RUNDLE
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.
This week’s judges were immensely impressed by Guy Rundle’s all but incomprehensible article in last weekend’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper. In a (boring) piece titled “The end of the long neocon”, MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian commenced with a comment about Cardinal George Pell giving evidence in Rome to the Royal Commission in Sydney. Somehow or other, after spending his first paragraph on Cardinal Pell in Rome, your man Rundle moved to Prime Minister Turnbull in Sydney. Here we go:
…before Malcolm Turnbull concluded that the only hope of establishing authority lay in confrontation and election, the conservative movement had spent a fortnight losing it big time. Pell’s leadlight defenestration came towards the end of a period that began with an outbreak of hysteria by ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann, who blamed a few mean tweets directed at him on the “infection” of Western culture by Jewish neo-Marxists from the 1940s. That was rolled over into a co-ordinated attack on the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, which was used to stand for all sorts of moral breakdown, before we hit the Pelliad and then that diurnas mirabilis, the meltdown of Andrew Bolt, who defended Pell, then damned him, then returned to him and begged forgiveness with the publication of a poem by his 13-year-old self, in what he must have realised was a restaging of the Gethsemane passage of the gospels. Bolter, Bolter, why hast thou deserted me?
Along the way the career of Fairfax’s house barbarian, Paul Sheehan, ended, or should do, in disgrace, after his wilful enabling of racist fantasies about Muslim gangs was exposed for the con it had always been. This giddy fortnight ended with the boulevard farce of Niki Savva’s book The Road to Ruin, which showed the Abbott government much like the Romanovs in 1916, without the balalaika chorus.
Which raises the question – what was Comrade Rundle on about? Or rather, what was Comrade Rundle on?
This reminded Nancy’s (male) co-owner of Comrade Rundle’s piece in Crikey on 26 February titled “Ben Carson’s Nevada Party a Christian Affair” which consisted of a 1000 word long stream-of-consciousness rant without one paragraph and not many more sentences. A Marxist comedian’s stream of consciousness in search of a good editor.
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:
of Comrade Guy Rundle
My grasp of what Guy wrote or meant
Was only four or five per cent
The rest was just a weekend rant
Fired by anger, expressed with cant.
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).
THE KOUK DEFENDS LABOR: SHOCK/HORROR
Stephen Koukoulas, the managing director of Market Economics and one time senior economic adviser to former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, likes to refer to himself as “The Kouk”. On Maundy Thursday, your man The Kouk wrote to Gerard Henderson, who likes to refer to himself as “Hendo”, about the Labor Party and economics and all that.
As avid MWD readers know, your man Hendo is a courteous kind of guy. So, on receipt of a letter, he invariably attempts to reply as soon as possible. Here is the email from The Kouk and Hendo’s response which was emailed today – just a week after Good Friday.
Stephen Koukoulas to Gerard Henderson – 24 March 2016
Following on from your confusion about budgets, the size of government and economics a few years back, I thought I would do you the courtesy of sending you what I think is some very interesting research on which side of politics is best at managing the economy. I trust it helps set you straight on a number of basic economic issues.
The article, published in the Autumn edition of Meanjin. Enjoy the read and I hope you have a better good Friday than Jesus did.
All the very best to you
GERARD HENDERSON TO STEPHEN KOUKOULAS – 1 APRIL 2016
I refer to your email of Thursday 24 March 2016. In response, I make the following comments:
- I am impressed by your affirmations about your very own “courtesy”. In view of this, when next writing to me it would be courteous to spell my first name correctly – or was the reference to “Gerald” some kind of joke that is part of The Kouk’s skill set?
- Your wish that I “have a better good[sic] Friday than Jesus did” is just a sneer about Christ and Christianity. A sneer of a kind which you would never make about the Prophet Muhammad or Islam. It’s just a cheap (unfunny) shot. The Kouk should be able to do better than this.
- Thanks for forwarding a copy of your article “The Economy of Best Perceptions” which is published in Meanjin Quarterly — currently under the new management of Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green. However, I subscribe to Meanjin and had read your article before your self-promoting email arrived. I understand that you want publicity for your article in the hugely popular MWD blog. I also note that, unlike some articles in Meanjin’s current edition, your boring piece has generated scant interest.
- Yes, I do remember your email of 8 August 2012, following my criticism of Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam’s economic performance (which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7 August 2012). I published correspondence on my Media Watch Dog blog on 12 October 2012 (Issue 158). The matter is also covered in MWD Issues 159, 161 and 162.
- As you would know if you have done any research, unlike you I am not a barracker for one side of Australian politics. I am on record as broadly supporting the economic performance of the Labor governments led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in the 1980s and early 1990s. Where we disagree turns on the proper assessment of the Gough Whitlam Labor government’s economic performance between December 1972 and November 1975. Here I am in good company – since my criticism of the Whitlam Government’s economic performance is similar to that proffered by such leading Labor identities as Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and the late Peter Walsh.
- In our earlier correspondence, you seemed unaware that the economic statistics prevalent at the time of the Whitlam Labor government were subsequently revised by Treasury. My comments about Whitlam Labor’s economic performance were based on what Mr Whitlam and others accepted were the accurate figures at the time. I quoted W.E. Norton The Deterioration in Economic Performance: A study of the 1970s with particular reference to Australia, which was published by the Reserve Bank in 1982. You seemed unaware not only of this work but of leading economist W.E. Norton himself.
- As you will be aware, my interpretation of Whitlam Labor’s economic performance was supported by News Corp columnist Terry McCrann (see MWD Issues 159, 161 and 162). When leading economist Selwyn Cornish addressed The Sydney Institute last year, he advised me that he and his colleagues supported my interpretation of Gough Whitlam’s economic performance along with that of Terry McCrann – and dismissed your interpretation (which is based on revised figures). As you may, or may not, know, Labor’s Chris Bowen regards Selwyn Cornish as one of Australia’s leading economists.
- If you want to barrack for Gough Whitlam, that’s okay. But you should explain that your material is based on revised figures which were not known to Mr Whitlam and his Labor colleagues (Jim Cairns, Tom Uren, Frank Crean) at the time.
Best wishes – and all the very best for April Fool’s Day.
Gerard Henderson AC (aka, Always Courteous).
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.
Mike Carlton via Twitter, 15 Feb 2016, 9:44 PM
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, Twitter, 25 July 2014
“This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”
– Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter, 20 July 2014
“…that fu-kwitted Gerard “Gollum” Henderson….”
– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, via Twitter, 12 July 2014
“[Gerard Henderson is a] silly prick”
– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton – tweeted Saturday 27 June 2014 at 4.15 pm, i.e. after lunch
“If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita [Khrushchev] and co would have been shot”
– Laurie Ferguson via Twitter – 22 June 2014 [By-line: Mr Ferguson is a member of the House of Representatives who speaks in riddles.]
“[Gerard Henderson] is the Eeyore of Australian public life”
– Mike Seccombe in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – 21 June 2014
“Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”
– Katharine Murphy, Twitter, Friday 6 June 2014
“[Gerard Henderson is] an unhinged prick”
– Mike Carlton, Twitter, Thursday 12 June 2014
“There’s no sense that Gerard Henderson has any literary credentials at all.”
– Anonymous comment quoted, highlighted and presumably endorsed by Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger, The Age, 31 May 2014
On boyfriend’s insistence, watching the notorious Gerard Henderson/@Kate_McClymont Lateline segment. GH: What an odd, angry gnome of a man.
– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:21 pm
Can’t believe I just spent my Thursday evening with a video recap of Gerard Henderson. I’m a f-cking moron.
– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:23 pm
“[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”
– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm
Complete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.
– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014