GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 312
22 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: Peter Manning Fantasises about the Crusades; Journalistic In-breeding at the ABC
- Can You Bear It? Karl Stefanovic on Barnaby Joyce; Bonge on Monica Lewinsky; Jonathan Green & Catherine Deveny Exhibit Inner-City Bad Language; ABC’s Virginia Trioli campaigns for ABC Funding (Surprise)
- Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Step Forward Jennifer Oriel on the Left’s One-time Infatuation with Pedophilia
- Hinch Live’s Penultimate Show in which The Human Mumble Laps up Praise while Bagging Sky News
- Great Media U-Turns of our Time: La Trioli Somersaults on Derryn Hinch
- The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary Sludge: Lisa Gorton Scores with Incomprehensible Analysis of Eco-Poet John Kinsella
- MWD Exclusive: Inside the Bronwyn Bishop Pre-selection Saga
- Nancy’s Old Bones: Erik Jensen’s “Thursday” Paper’s False Prediction on the Mackellar Pre-selection
- Correspondence: The SMH’s Darren Goodsir & Stuart Washington Help out on Peter FitzSimons’ Errors
PETER MANNING LINKS 60 MINUTES TO THE CRUSADES (OF OLD)
Did anyone see the former ABC and Channel 7 operative Peter Manning on 7.30 last night? Mr Manning, whose ideological journey took him from being an avid supporter of B.A. Santamaria in his student days at Sydney University all those years ago to a rampant Green/leftist and one of the leading opponents of Israel in Australia today. What a metamorphosis.
Asked about the botched attempt by the 60 Minutes team to return two children (who had been taken by their father to Lebanon) to Australia – your man Manning had this to say to an apparently naïve 7.30 crew:
Peter Manning, Former ABC & Channel 7 News Director: They went overseas, you know, like Crusaders to right the wrongs in the Middle East. Now, that’s – that’s a kind of mythic tale, you know, a bit like out of a fairytale or something or other. But unfortunately, they didn’t take into account all the realities of Lebanon – its law, its politics, its culture.
What a load of absolute tosh. The children were taken by their father to Lebanon – and, contrary to a directive of the Family Court of Australia, not returned. The action to have the children forcibly removed from Lebanon to Australia, which 60 Minutes financed, was unwise.
But only a fool – or an ABC-trained leftist ideologue, or both – would believe that 60 Minutes was attempting a Crusade-like invasion of Muslim lands. Yet Peter Manning’s madness got a prominent run on 7.30 last night. [Perhaps this gem should have got a guernsey on your hugely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment. Just a thought. – MWD Ed]
- READ ALL ABOUT IT – ABC JOURNALISTS INTERVIEW ABC JOURNALISTS (AGAIN)
Walking Nancy (and Canberra visitor Luke) just before 7 pm last night, Nancy’s (male) co-owner turned on Radio National Drive. It turned out that presenter Patricia Karvelas was plugging her The Party Room podcast which she is co-presenting with Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.
PK told listeners that Fran Kelly was on a “very well earned break”. Yes a Very W.E.B. The message was that, despite Fran Kelly’s very well earned break, she could be heard on The Party Room.
So, on returning home, Nancy’s co-owner switched on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s latest entry into the media market. And how appropriate was the topic.
You see, the very first issue of The Party Room has the taxpayer funded journalist Ms Kelly and the taxpayer funded journalist Ms Karvelas interviewing the taxpayer funded journalist Sarah Ferguson and the taxpayer funded journalist Chris Uhlmann.
Wonderful. Just wonderful. MWD just loves it when journalists interview journalists about journalism. It’s called keeping it in the (Aunty) family.
On the road with Nancy, couch-surfing Luke and Hendo – accompanied by Aunty’s podcasters Patricia Karvelas & Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly.
- HERE’S A JOKE – KARL STEFANOVIC RECKONS BARNABY JOYCE IS A JOKE
Did anyone see Channel 9 Today host Karl Stefanovic last week commenting on the fact that Barnaby Joyce had become acting prime minister following Malcolm Turnbull’s official visit to China? In case the answer is in the negative, let’s go to the transcript:
Karl Stefanovic: Hold the phone Australia. Stop what you’re doing. You never thought you’d hear these words. Barnaby Joyce is running the country.
Well, yes he was. So what? Your man Stefanovic struggles to make a comment to camera without reading from an autocue. And yet, the Today presenter reckons that it is a joke that Barnaby Joyce – who has a Bachelor of Finance from New England University and who ran a successful accounting business before taking up a career in politics – is acting prime minister.
And journalist Karl Stefanovic – who has never run anything of importance – reckons that Mr Joyce is not up to the job. Can you bear it?
- WHY BONGE, THE FOX-HUNTING MAN AND MS DEVENY SHOULD ATTEND NANCY’S COURTESY CLASSES
MWD can always detect a cry from the heart from journalistic types who send out a message that they really need help when it comes to courtesy and all that stuff.
Take Paul Bongiorno, the Green/Left former Catholic priest and contemporary ABC broadcaster, who sermonises daily about the cultural backwardness of conservatives.
This is how Bonge responded to a Slate tweet which suggested that Bel Powley might play Monica Lewinsky in a TV movie:
Bonge, off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you – to be loosed of your sexism, uglyism and the like. Just imagine what Paul Bongiorno would have said if someone like Tony Abbott had described a woman as ugly. Bonge – say three Hail Marys (if you can remember the words).
And here’s how inner-city Melbourne was torn apart with rage following news that Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief) Green’s Trek Cross Rip [could this be an expensive bike built for sandal-wearers? – MWD Editor] had been stolen from the Meanjin office near the University of Melbourne. The tweets have been slightly censored since MWD is a family-friendly and courteous blog:
▪ Jonathan Green: Presenter RN’s Sunday Extra, editor Meanjin. Educated at Scotch College, Canberra Grammar & Camberwell High School. He is an occasional hunter of foxes.
▪ Jane Alcorn: Blogger, Kapunda Garden.
▪ Catherine Deveny: Former columnist for The Age (aka The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra). Educated at La Trobe University.
▪ Paul Bongiorno: Educated at St Patrick’s College, Ballarat, Werribee Seminary and the Pontifical Urban University, Rome. Contributing editor to Channel 10 and regular contributor on ABC Television and Radio.
All three journalists need to attend Nancy’s Courtesy Classes. But not the gardening blogger Ms Alcorn. Can you bear it?
- YAWN AGAIN: ABC JOURNALIST COMPLAINS ABOUT ABC FUNDING
On Tuesday, Virginia Trioli interviewed Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on ABC1’s News Breakfast program.
La Trioli raised the issue of the next election, the proposed Australian Building and Construction Commission, the May budget and 60 Minutes’ involvement in Lebanon – none of which are central to Minister Fifield’s portfolios. Then La Trioli got around to the BIG ISSUE OF THE DAY (AND NIGHT). Namely her employer – the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Let’s go to the transcript:
Virginia Trioli: Just finally Mitch Fifield, on funding matters in your ministry. The previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised no cuts to the ABC and did not keep that promise, will you make such a promise?
Mitch Fifield: It’s interesting Virginia. This is a question I get every time I come on to an ABC program.
Virginia Trioli: It’s kind of our responsibility, Minister.
Mitch Fifield: And that’s understandable. I don’t get asked that interestingly enough on commercial stations.
Virginia Trioli: Well they should care about it more too.
And so it went on. So, Virginia Trioli reckons that it is her “responsibility” as an ABC employee to put questions to the Communications Minister about ABC funding. And she believes that journalists employed by the commercial stations “should care about” the ABC more. How self-serving can you get? Can you bear it?
JENNIFER ORIEL – ON WHEN PEDOPHILIA WAS FASHIONABLE AMONG SECTIONS OF THE LEFT
MWD has been banging on for some years about how in the 1960s and the 1970s pedophilia was fashionable among sections of the left intelligentsia – in Australia, Britain, North America and elsewhere. Even on the ABC (re which see below). So it was refreshing to see Jennifer Oriel commence her column in The Australian last Monday by demonstrating a sense of history in this matter:
There are few forms of predation that offend our common morality more than child sexual abuse. During the 1970s, pedophile groups capitalising on the sexual liberation movement sought to redefine their exploitation of youth as an expression of children’s sexual rights, self-determination and autonomy. Groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association claimed children were sexual beings and sought to repeal age of consent laws to liberate their sexuality. They were welcomed by fringe elements of the neo-Marxist minorities movement that advocated sexual libertarian ideology under Queer and “sex positive” politics.
Today, the discourse on children’s sexual rights and the belief they are sexual beings are invoked to justify school programs that sexualise youth at ever younger ages.
Jennifer Oriel: Five Paws. Especially for providing an excuse to re-run MWD’s Score Board on the ABC & Pedophilia.
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IN WHICH THE HUMAN MUMBLE INCITES PRAISE AND DAMNS SKY NEWS
As avid readers will be aware, Hinch Live – the most boring program on Sky News – is going into recess. Last week, MWD opined that the show had expired on 10 April – in fact, the final program will go to air next Sunday.
In his penultimate program last Sunday, Derryn (The Human Mumble) Hinch said “Gerard Henderson thinks it’s fantastic that I’m going into recess”.
As MWD readers are aware, your man Hinch is too gutless to interview Hendo on Hinch Live. But this has not led Hendo to call for the junking of Hinch Live. Not at all. For the record, MWD works on the principle attributed to Leon Trotsky. Namely, that “worse is better”. Put simply, Nancy’s (male) co-owner wants shows like Hinch Live to continue – because it gives him something to write about on this blog each Friday.
Last Sunday, your man Hinch invited his panelists – Mignon Stewart and Wendy Squires – to praise both himself and Hinch Live. Obligingly both laid on the flattery with a trowel:
Derryn Hinch: I’ve only got one more edition of this to do, of Hinch Live. I’ve jumped the shark of course and standing as Senate candidate for Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party – which was last week officially accepted by the Australian Electoral Commission as a genuine party. And we’re up and we’re there. It’s a bit scary. But, so this is your last night on the program with me Mignon, your last night, and your last night [looking to Wendy Squires].
Wendy Squires: I know, I’m so sad.
Mignon Stewart: Yes, very sad.
Wendy Squires: But lovely. All the best to you, because you are so passionate for what you’re standing for. And I just wish you all the best of luck.
Well, Hendo is sad, too. So very sad. Albeit for somewhat different reasons from those expressed by the adoring Ms Stewart and Ms Squires.
While encouraging his panelists to praise Hinch Live, The Human Mumble used the occasion to bag Sky News in general and its past and future presenters. Let’s go to the transcript and examine The Human Mumble’s somewhat disconnected thoughts.
In view of Mr Hinch’s capacity to mumble and swallow his words, it’s difficult to transcribe his stream of consciousness. But the following is pretty accurate.
Derryn Hinch: I decided early on in the Hinch program last year that all the middle-aged blokes and the blokes on Sky I would have, I’d be sexist and have only female panellists because –
Wendy Squires: And we’ve loved it –
Mignon Steward: But not necessarily middle-aged.
Derryn Hinch: No sorry, no, no [much mumbling here]. Not at all. The other thing was I just thought was it would diverse views, you know, some to the far of the left of some of the people elsewhere. You know.
Wendy Squires: You pointed at me.
Derryn Hinch: A little bit left of many of the panellists. Especially when – you and Andrew Bolt territory on Sky. You know, how far that’s going to the right – over in Genghis Khan somewhere. Look. But look, it’s been 18 months of it. I think it’s worked fantastically well and I’ve loved having you here.
Mignon Stewart: We’ve absolutely loved it. And you’ve been just fantastic. You’re so professional, it’s been a real career highlight for me working for you.
Wendy Squires: Yes, it’s been terrific Derryn. And also to give women an extended opportunity, it’s been fantastic.
How about that? Ms Stewart said that The Human Mumble had been “fantastic”. And Ms Squires declared that he had been “terrific”.
And what did Derryn Hinch say about Sky News? Well, the 72 year old Hinch bagged what he termed “the middle aged blokes and the old blokes on Sky”. Moreover, Hinch implied that he had led Sky News in engaging female panelists. This is nonsense. The likes of Paul Murray, Peter Van Onselen (eventually) and Chris Kenny have had a high percentage of female panelists on their Sky News shows. Suggesting on Sky News that Sky News does not have many female panelists except on Hinch Live is not only self-indulgent but also false.
Then Derryn Hinch condemned Andrew Bolt – whose The Bolt Report commences on Sky News next week – as being to the right of Genghis Khan (circa 1160-1230). This is not only a dreadful cliché, there is no evidence to suggest that Genghis Khan was on the right or the left. He was just a warrior.
FEATURING “THE HUMAN HEADLINE” AND LA TRIOLI
While on the topic of Derryn Hinch and his ambition to become a senator for Victoria after the forthcoming election on 2 July, let’s move to the ABC1’s News Breakfast program yesterday – where the man who likes to be called “The Human Headline” received his first taxpayer funded endorsement. For a moment, at least.
Virginia Trioli Declares Support for Derryn Hinch in the Senate Election – Thursday 21 April at 6.52 am
Let’s go to the transcript of yesterday’s ABC1 News Breakfast program as co-presenter La Trioli gets right behind Derryn (“The Human Headline”) Hinch and his campaign to win a Senate seat:
Peter Wilmoth: The big thing with Hinch being in parliament is this of course, privilege. So there’s no defamation fear for him.
Virginia Trioli: Oh no! Oh can you imagine?
Peter Wilmoth: So strap on your seatbelts in the Press Gallery – there could be some good yarns rolling out from “The Human Headline”.
Virginia Trioli: I want him to win. No, I think he’s an interesting –
Peter Wilmoth: Do you?
Virginia Trioli: Yeah, I do!
Peter Wilmoth: You’re barracking.
Virginia Trioli: Yeah I’m barracking. I think he’s been an interesting man. I think he’s been an interesting journalist. He’s a provocateur of a thoughtful kind. And, yeah, more power to you [Derryn Hinch], Go for it.
Michael Rowland: He’s done some fantastic work on child sex abuse too – so that gives a big tick too –
Virginia Trioli: And lots of other subjects over his years. And he’s outrageous and he’s a ratbag – in the true old Australian sense of a ratbag. And I’d love them. And parliament needs them.
Peter Wilmoth: More power to him.
Virginia Trioli Declares that She Is not Supporting Derryn Hinch in the Senate Election – Thursday 21 April at 6.55 am
Virginia Trioli: Now, in case I was just perceived to seem to be endorsing a political candidate live on air, I’m not [laughing]. I do like Derryn Hinch, however.
Well there you have it. Or not.
AND THE WINNER IS LISA GORTON (POET)
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 Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing, incomprehensible prose and incoherent verbal expression.
What a truly wonderful review by Lisa Gorton, in Fairfax Media newspapers last Saturday, of John Kinsella’s book Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems 1980-2015 (Picador, 2016). For the record, your man Kinsella is Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University in Perth. Yep – literature and sustainability. According to Ms Gorton “Kinsella is rightly one of the world’s most influential eco-poets”. Yep, he’s an eco-poet.
It’s not clear to MWD precisely what an eco-poet does. The Australian poet James McAuley (1917-1976) once argued for the establishment of an entity called “Poets Anonymous”. Those poets who joined up to this society would receive grants from the Australia Council – provided they recognised that they were addicted to writing bad poems and resolved to write no more.
Ideally, an eco-poet would not write poems on paper and would not publish poetry in book form. But the Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University has done both – as the publication of Drowning in Wheat indicates and its review in Fairfax Media’s print newspapers demonstrates. Strange, eh?
However, not so strange as Lisa Gorton’s review of the eco-poet’s latest output, per courtesy of what the eco-types in our midst term “dead trees”. Ms Gorton’s output contained the following:
It is not only his gift for creating a scenario alive with danger that makes Kinsella’s reader almost vertiginously conscious of time passing. The moment-to-moment pressure of time is felt whether his poems track events in the present or tell the story of something that happened years ago. It is the speaking voice that intensifies a reader’s sense of the present: how the syntax tracks the moment-to-moment work of a mind in time: noticing, questioning itself, zigzagging sideways and out even in the midst of action….
At the heart of Kinsella’s poetry is a quicksilver shifting of roles and perspectives. Poltergeist House Eclogue makes a virtuosic play of pronouns: “… you go out alone./ As scripts and formula are written/ and spoken, I turn the wine to water… We are gone.” Reading, we are alternately the voice of poltergeist and housewife, “you” and “I”, speaker and reader: ourselves.
And so on. Brilliant writing. But what’s Gorton on about? Or, rather, what’s she on?
MWD is looking forward to seeing Dr Gorton (for a doctor she is) perform at the 2016 leftist stack which is the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival. See MWD 310 and 311. Lisa Gorton will be discussing “The New Australian Poetry” which will include, some lightning bolts from eco-poet Kinsella.
MWD closes this Flann O’Brien segment with a very new Australian poem.
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 Poet Lisa Gorton
My grasp of what she wrote or meant
Was only five or six per cent
As to the muse of that eco-poet
It’s all just crap, don’t you know it?
INSIDE THE MACKELLAR LIBERAL PARTY PRE-SELECTION
One of MWD’s avid readers has written this insider account of the Liberal Party pre-selection for the northern Sydney seat of Mackellar last Saturday – which saw Jason Falinski prevail over the sitting member Bronwyn Bishop. Here we go:
Bronwyn’s Last Chance Saloon: A “true” account of that fateful afternoon, written by an admirer of Nancy.
Bronwyn Bishop’s long and sometimes controversial political career ended last Saturday at the Dee Why RSL.
That is a fact. But the politicians and political pundits have wasted no time in writing various self-serving narratives around her Custer-like Last Stand. Among others, Bill Shorten is reported as saying that the preselection process for the Liberal candidate for Mackellar is evidence of a “party at war with itself”.
To set the record straight, here is what really happened.
The preselection room was sealed at 3.40 pm, with 91 selectors and a few dozen observers under the control of a presiding officer who was proud of her nickname “The Headmistress”. The initial mood of the group was upbeat, positive. That mood continued over the next five hours, during which time there was not one sour public word, certainly no war.
Sure, with seven hats in the ring there were bound to be some candidates away from the Liberal mainstream, and some ideas pushing the envelope, – but so what? There was one suggestion about the merits of a “safe” thorium-fuelled (apparently low risk of meltdown, or of being turned into weapons) nuclear power plant on the banks of the Pittwater, which was politely declined. One candidate recited “I love a Sun Burnt country” to remind us of the values of Dorothea Mackellar, while another candidate unfortunately muddled up his introductory speech notes and seemingly forgot his name – of which he was helpfully reminded by the audience. But these were well-intentioned side shows from sincere and engaged individuals speaking up for their community.
After the first round of voting the initial seven were reduced to three serious candidates.
Walter Villatora had been the first of those candidates to present to the selectors. In a blue suit and blue tie, he was every inch the solid Liberal, thoughtful and eloquent with good ideas for stimulating a technology hub in Mackellar. But he wasn’t from the electorate and he stumbled over some local questions. He received 12 votes in that first voting round.
Jason Falinski presented after Villatora, also in a blue suit and blue tie. From his opening lines of “My fellow Liberals”, to his dig at Bill Shorten’s “debt and delusion” vision, and his discussion of both local and national issues …. his was a complete speech that could have been written by Aaron Sorkin, scriptwriter of The West Wing. Not surprisingly he received 40 votes in that first voting round.
At last came the climax of the day, Bronwyn Bishop, to face her audience. Starring in that final scene, perhaps singing her last song, was a theatrical irony surely not lost on this ex opera singer’s daughter.
And of course, Bronwyn Bishop gave the expected professional performance with references to Aristotle and to the spirit of liberalism. But her central, constantly repeated message, that Parliament needs females over 65 years old as the sole representatives who can be trusted to look after the interests of the many Seniors in the Mackellar community, sounded hollow. And her repeated references to her “Parliamentary entitlements” when explaining that she has been exonerated of any wrongdoing over Choppergate had a similar unconvincing ring.
Her supporters cheered, but the opera was almost over. Bronwyn Bishop received 37 votes in that first round, 3 less than Jason Falinski.
In the final voting round, with only two candidates remaining, most of Villatora’s supporters shifted their support to Falinski, who won by 51 to 39 over Bishop.
Jason Falinski was gracious in his acceptance speech and it was left to Bronwyn Bishop to have the last words to thank her long time supporters: “I have always said that politics is no place for wilting violets. And I am no wilting violet”. A tear would have been forgiven, but Bronwyn Bishop left to great applause with her trade mark smile. At 20.35 the selectors and observers rushed for their mobile phones
Any evidence of a war in the Liberal Party? Certainly not in Mackellar.
So there you have it. Unlike other media outlets, Media Watch Dog was able to get a reporter inside the room to cover direct the most high-profile pre-selection in many years. Go Nancy.
NANCY’S OLD BONES
ERIK JENSEN – A NEW FALSE PROPHET EMERGES
When The [Boring] Saturday Paper – which goes to print on Thursdays – was launched two years ago, editor Erik Jensen pompously declared that it would be all about, wait for it, permission.
Yes, permission. Including Young Mr Jensen’s permission to run Bob Ellis style false prophecies. As this Page One lead on 13 February 2016 demonstrates – predicting that Bronwyn Bishop would retain Liberal Party endorsement for the seat of Mackellar. Oh dear. Ms Bishop did not. For a full “exclusive” account see Last Chance Saloon (above).
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).
DARREN GOODSIR, GERARD HENDERSON AND STUART WASHINGTON
Last Tuesday morning, Nancy’s (male) co-owner was working away at his desk when – lo and behold – he received a “Hi Gerard” email from the Sydney Morning Herald’s editor-in-chief. A certain Darren Goodsir. Hi Darren!
Mr Goodsir, in his unsolicited missive, gave the impression that Peter FitzSimons was the best thing that the Sydney Morning Herald/Sun Herald had going for it. Since it is courteous to reply to correspondence, even of the unsolicited genre, Hendo decided to write to your man Goodsir about the Red Bandannaed One. After a while, Goodsir delegated the correspondence to the Sydney Morning Herald’s managing editor Stuart Washington and he, too, received a response. Now read on.
Gerard Henderson to Darren Goodsir – 19 April 2016
How wonderful to receive your note today, written in your capacity as Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief, replete with that inspiring photo of your good self. It brightened up my day – after lunch
It could be the case that this was not a personal epistle – since it was headed “Celebrating 185 years of the Herald”. However, pardon me if I regard your note as a letter. And – as such – worthy of a response.
I was interested in the first sentence of your note which read as follows:
I’m hard pressed to nominate a colleague with a greater passion, and regard, for the Herald than Peter FitzSimons.
I have always had a good working relationship with Peter FitzSimons and I am a rank and file member of the Australian Republican Movement of which he is president. However, if you regard Peter FitzSimons as the embodiment of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald – then you need to read his columns more closely.
Over the years – in his “The Fitz Files” column – Peter FitzSimons has led the Fairfax Media sneerers in mocking men and women who are believers. This despite the fact that Mr FitzSimons and his wife decided to send their two sons to Knox Grammar which, as you know, is run by the Uniting Church of Australia.
Unfortunately, over the years Fairfax Media executives and editors have allowed their journalists and columnists to ridicule so many people who bought – and advertised in – such papers as the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Age and the Sunday Age. The usual targets included the Liberal Party, big and medium size business, Australians who send their children to non-government schools, believing Christians (especially traditional Catholics) and so on. When the Labor Party was criticised, it was invariably from the left.
I have bought Fairfax Media newspapers for over half a century. Despite this, Peter FitzSimons refuses to even acknowledge my correspondence pointing to his numerous errors. More seriously, neither Peter FitzSimons nor his editors correct serious errors in “The Fitz Files”.
Two recent examples illustrate the point:
▪ On 24 May 2015, Peter FitzSimons wrote in the Sun-Herald that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion”.
This is completely untrue – Peter FitzSimons just made this up. But he and his editors refuse to support “The Fitz Files” allegation with evidence or to correct the error.
▪ On 6 March 2016, Peter FitzSimons wrote in the Sun-Herald that the Melbourne Response – which was established by (then) Archbishop Pell in 1996 to handle clerical sexual abuse of children – “did not result in a single call being made to police”.
This is completely untrue – Peter FitzSimons just made this up. In fact, the Melbourne Response was created in co-operation with Victoria Police. But Peter FitzSimons and his editors refuse to support “The Fitz Files” allegation with evidence or to correct the error.
Even so, in your capacity as Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief, you present Peter FitzSimons as the best of the best in Fairfax Media – while declining to counsel him to replace his abuse with analysis and correct his prejudice-inspired factual errors.
What’s needed at the Herald is a little bit less self-congratulation and a little more attention to professionalism.
Darren Goodsir to Gerard Henderson – 20 April 2016
Thank you for your note.
I won’t comment specifically on your general observations, but I am concerned about any factual errors. I am unaware of the correspondence you have entered into with Peter – but I investigate all claims of inaccuracy or suggestions of errors that are raised with me.
Should you have any future concerns of a similar nature, please bring them to my attention. You can also copy in the managing editor, Stuart Washington who deals with these issues on my behalf.
Gerard Henderson to Darren Goodsir – 20 April 2016
Thanks for your response.
I note your comment that you “investigate all claims of inaccuracy or suggestions of errors that are raised” with you. So, I assume that you are interested in correcting two of Peter FitzSimons’ howlers which I mentioned in my email yesterday. To wit:
▪ I emailed Peter FitzSimons on 27 May 2015 (see attached) asking for evidence that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion” in Rome. PF did not reply – his false assertion has since been taken up by others. It remains uncorrected on the Fairfax Media website. For the record, Cardinal Pell lives in a modest apartment near the Vatican.
▪ I emailed Peter FitzSimons on 8 March 2016 (see attached) correcting his error about the Melbourne Response and Victoria Police. PF did not reply. For the record, PF falsely asserted that not one call was made to Victoria Police under the Melbourne Response which (then) Archbishop Pell set up in 1996.
I also wrote to the Sun-Herald Letters Editor Peter Rood on 9 March 2016 about this (see attached) – since PF’s column referred to me (by reference to my first name only). Mr Rood did not respond to my request that the Sun-Herald publish a correction or a letter from me re PF’s false claims. Peter FitzSimons’ error remains uncorrected on the Fairfax Media website.
Over to you.
* * * * *
In conclusion, if you are interested in inaccuracies/errors in the Herald – you might wish to consider this comment which appeared in the caption to Peter FitzSimons’ article “My beloved Herald” (which you are currently circulating). The caption reads as follows:
From his humble beginnings as a builder’s labourer, Peter FitzSimons reflects on his role in the Herald’s 185 year history, and what it means to him to be part of it.
PF’s article made no mention of his (alleged) “humble beginnings as a builder’s labourer”. Nor is this mentioned in PF’s profile on the Fordham Company’s speakers list. No surprise – since the claim is absolute tosh.
Peter FitzSimons’ parents ran a citrus fruit farm at Peats Ridge. PF completed his schooling at Knox Grammar, won an American Field Service Scholarship to Ohio and obtained an Arts degree at the University of Sydney. After university, PF played for the Wallabies. Subsequently he played Rugby in France and Italy for the next five years.
Such “beginnings” do not seem all that “humble” to me. But this claim remains uncorrected on the Fairfax Media website.
Best wishes – and happy 185th birthday.
cc: Stuart Washington, Managing Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Stuart Washington to Gerard Henderson – 21 April 2016
Dear Mr Henderson
Thankyou for your correspondence.
While not trying to enter into a war of correctness, I would like to politely point out the second issue you have raised has been addressed by the Herald.
When the Herald was made aware of the issue it took the following actions:
1) A print correction appeared in the Sun-Herald on March 27, 2016 in the following terms:
The column headlined “Cardinal’s sins mean he’s finished” on Page 40 of the March 6 edition relied on a Victoria Police assertion to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that the Melbourne Response had not made a single referral to Victoria Police. The Sun-Herald accepts the article should have made clear this assertion has been challenged by a Melbourne Response independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan, QC, who provided the same inquiry with details of several referrals he had made to police.
2) The online copy was amended in the following terms:
- a) The insertion in the column of the paragraph:
(I accept this version of events put by Victoria Police to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry has been challenged by a Melbourne Response independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan QC, who provided the same inquiry with details of several referrals he had made to police).
- b) The following clarification placed at the base of the column:
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story has been amended to make clear a Victoria Police assertion regarding Melbourne Response has been challenged by a Melbourne Response independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan QC.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Gerard Henderson to Stuart Washington – 22 April 2016
Dear Mr Washington
Thanks for your email advising – “politely”, of course – that the “second issue” of the matters which I raised with Darren Goodsir “has been addressed by the Herald”. Well done. Before returning to this matter, I note that the Herald has not yet addressed the first and third issues, namely:
▪ Peter FitzSimons’ assertion that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion” in Rome – which is manifestly false.
▪ The Herald’s suggestion that Peter FitzSimons emerged as a Herald columnist “from his humble beginnings as a builder’s labourer” – which is manifestly misleading.
Concerning your comment (i.e. the second issue) that the Herald has “addressed” Peter FitzSimons’ (false) allegation that, under Archbishop George Pell’s Melbourne Response, not a single case was referred to Victoria Police – and the implication in The Fitz Files that I supported such an outcome – I make the following comments:
▪ I accept that a “Correction” was published in the print edition of the Sun-Herald on 27 March 2016. It must have been in a less than obvious spot because I missed it. Certainly, no correction appeared in any part of The Fitz Files on 27 March 2016. A rather gutless way to make a correction – or so it appears to me.
▪ The “Correction” was printed some 18 days after I drew the attention of Peter FitzSimons and Sun-Herald Letters Editor Peter Rood to the error. That’s some delay.
▪ The “Correction” published in the Sun-Herald print edition differs from the amendment in the online copy of The Fitz Files headed “Cardinal George Pell is finished whatever way you look at it.”
In the Sun-Herald, Fairfax Media “accepts the article should have made clear this assertion [i.e. The Fitz Files’ assertion] has been challenged by a Melbourne Response independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan QC, who provided the same inquiry [i.e. the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry] with details of several referrals he had made to police”.
However, the insertion in Peter FitzSimons’ online column does not concede that he “should have made clear” Mr O’Callaghan’s testimony to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry. Likewise, the “Clarification” at the end of PF’s online column does not concede what The Fitz Files “should have made clear”. What is Fairfax Media’s explanation for this difference?
Also, the insertion in the online issue of The Fitz Files implies that the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry was mentioned in the original column. It wasn’t.
▪ The clear imputation in The Fitz Files was that George Pell set up the Melbourne Response – a system which led to a situation where no instances whatsoever of clerical child abuse were referred to Victoria Police. Moreover, PF falsely implied that I supported this outcome. These comments were recklessly false.
In conclusion I note that, the Sun-Herald declined my request to have a letter published correcting Peter FitzSimons’ false statement. And it took the Sun-Herald almost three weeks to publish a correction – in a little read part of the newspaper, which made no specific reference to Peter FitzSimons, Cardinal Pell or me.
That’s pretty unprofessional – even for the Herald.
Gerard Henderson (a scribbler who wrote a weekly column for the Sydney Morning Herald for 24 years – despite not having humble beginnings as a builders’ labourer).
cc: Darren Goodsir
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