29 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: Derryn Hinch on Tony Abbott (Yawn)
  • Five Paws Award: Queensland WAG Debunks La Trioli
  • The Media’s Latest George Pell Obsession starring David Marr, Mark Colvin et al
  • Can You Bear It? James Massola; Sabra Lane; Paul Bongiorno; Julian Burnside AO QC; Mike Carlton & Tony Windsor
  • New Feature: Report from Red Bandanna-Land – Fitz’s Uncorrected Howlers in Fairfax Media
  • Fact-Check Update: John Barron and Murdochphobia
  • Deliberate Mistake: Jonathan Green Identifies Jonathan Green Mistake
  • Your Taxes At Work: An Insight Into the Gough Whitlam Chair at UWS
  • Correspondence: Professor Ivor Indyk helps out re the Poets Lisa Gorton & John Kinsella



How about Derryn (“The Human Mumble”) Hinch’s tweet sent out at 9.08 pm last night? Your man Hinch – who mumbles and swallows so many words as to make his speech all but impossible to transcribe accurately – decided to have a go at Tony Abbott. Yawn.

Mr Abbott had just given a fascinating interview on Sky News The Bolt Report. It’s a rare event that an incumbent or former prime minister admits to a series of mistakes in office. But Tony Abbott did just that when talking to Andrew Bolt last night – following his article titled “The Politics of the Abbott Government” in the May 2016 issue of Quadrant magazine.

Tony Abbott is far more articulate than the Human Mumble (aka the self-proclaimed Human Headline). But Derryn Hinch – who is a candidate for the forthcoming Senate election for the State of Victoria – could only see fault with Mr Abbott’s performance last night. Here’s the tweet:

derryn hinch tweet 28 apr

Derryn Hinch’s “joke” about repetition is about as old as The Human Mumble himself. And no longer funny. As to repetition, well Mr Hinch until last Sunday presented the most boring current affairs show on Australian television. He insisted on presiding over boredom, insisted on presiding over boredom, insisted on…Zzzzz.

Thank God that Malcolm Turnbull is set to call an election for 2 July. At least this led to a situation whereby The Human Mumble’s Hinch Live went into recess pending the election. It would not be much good for Australia if the Human Mumble becomes a senator. But it would substantially lower the boredom scale at Sky News.

[I note that, despite attacking Hendo on Hinch Live – Hinch never had the courage to invite Hendo on to his program – MWD Ed]

five paws graphic


What a wonderful discussion on the ABC1 News Breakfast this morning.

Co-presenters Virginia Trioli and Paul Kennedy castigated a National Rugby League player for (allegedly) nicking out of a birthing experience to play a game with his Bronco mates. Sports reporter Steve Pearce joined in the moralising and lectured the Broncos star.

La Trioli may be right. Maybe men should always be present at the birth of their child. It’s just that MWD has a different view. Nancy’s (male) co-owner does not regard it as a challenge for modern men to be present at the birth. Rather, the real challenge for modern men is to be present, sometime earlier, at the conception.

In the event Anna Jovanovic, the NRL star’s wife, went on Twitter defending her husband against La Trioli and her team. She said that she told her husband to play for the Broncos and that their son was born 48 hours after the game. See here:

Anna Jovanovic fb post


Anna Jovanovic: Five Paws



What an excited piece that David Marr filed in The Guardian Australia at 6.29 pm last Wednesday. He was covering the final day of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s Case Study 35.

In March, Justice Peter McClellan AM had announced the end of the Royal Commission’s hearings into child sexual abuse in the Catholic diocese of Ballarat and Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne. However, in its wisdom, the Royal Commission set down one more day of hearings – Wednesday 27 April 2016. This followed Cardinal George Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission in March.

At issue was the question as to whether Cardinal George Pell – when an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne in the late 1980s/early 1990s – had been deceived by the Catholic Education Office (CEO) in Melbourne with respect to the pedophile priest Peter Searson.

As the Royal Commission transcript documents, it was Justice McClellan who first used the words deceive/deceived/deceit concerning Cardinal Pell’s relationship with the CEO. Pell adopted McClellan’s word usage and agreed that this was appropriate language in the context.

The Royal Commission was re-scheduled for one last hearing on the matter on Wednesday 27 April 2016. Four one-time members of the Catholic Education Office were called to give evidence. Namely Monsignor Thomas Michael Doyle, Peter Charles Annett, Allan David Dooley and Catherine Agnes Briant.

It is not surprising that all four did not agree that they had deliberately withheld information about Searson’s sexual crimes from (then) Bishop Pell. This led to the following excited report by David Marr in The Guardian Australia :

Now four retired executives of the Catholic Education Office have come to the royal commission to describe their shock, surprise, disappointment and anger at Pell’s evidence.

“Our number one priority for the Catholic Education Office for some period of time was that something would happen which led to the removal of Searson from Doveton,” said Peter Annett, a former supervisor with the office. “I would have thought that our staff would be completely frank with Bishop Pell and be cheering from the rooftops if he was able to do anything.”

All four men and women said the same thing: there was no conspiracy to deceive Pell, no understanding to keep the lid on the Searson scandal, and no reason to soft-pedal the ongoing crisis in Doveton. They wanted Searson gone but Pell was no help.

Introducing the ABC PM program on Wednesday, presenter Mark Colvin made the following comment:

Mark Colvin: At the child sexual abuse royal commission, several witnesses have contradicted George Pell’s evidence that he wasn’t briefed on the behaviour of a paedophile priest in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.

Last month, Cardinal Pell testified that he’d been deceived by officials of Melbourne’s Catholic Education Office. He alleged they wanted to cover up concerns about Father Peter Searson. One witness today said the Cardinal was wrong. Another said he was angered by the evidence of Australia’s most senior Catholic. Samantha Donovan reports.

The transcript from the final day of the Royal Commission’s hearings on Case Study 35 did not become available until midday yesterday. In other words, both David Marr and Mark Colvin wrote/spoke about the hearings without access to the transcript.

The reporting by both Mr Marr and Mr Colvin was completely misleading. Moreover, neither reported that not one of the four witnesses said that they had informed George Pell at the time about Searson’s crimes with respect to children.

▪ Monsignor Doyle said that he “did not remember ever having a discussion or attending any briefings of Bishop Pell concerning Father Searson when he [Pell] was a Regional Bishop” in Melbourne.

▪ Mr Dooley said he never raised Searson’s sexual offending with (then) Bishop Pell.

▪ Mr Annett said that he never raised any matter concerning Searson or the Catholic Education Office with (then) Bishop Pell.

▪ Ms Briant said that she had never met George Pell or attended any meetings at which he was present. Moreover, Ms Briant said that, when employed by the CEO, she was not aware of any allegations of child sexual abuse with respect to Searson in the Doveton parish.

The most telling part of the proceedings – ignored by David Marr, Mark Colvin and other journalists who reported the proceedings – was the following exchange between Sam Duggan and Monsignor Doyle (who acknowledged that he and George Pell disagreed on some issues of theology).

MR DUGGAN: Monsignor, my name is Duggan and I represent Cardinal Pell. Monsignor, as I understand your evidence, your view, from about the mid-1980s, was that Searson should be removed from his parish; is that right?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: Yes, certainly.

MR DUGGAN: And in fact, both you and other personnel at the Catholic Education Office had recommended to the Archbishop [Frank Little] decisive action to remove him?


MR DUGGAN: And notwithstanding those recommendations, for more than a decade nothing was done by Archbishop Little to either remove him or suspend him; is that right?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct.

MR DUGGAN: Can I suggest to you that the main problem was that the power to remove resided with one man – do you accept that?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: I accept that, yes.

MR DUGGAN: And unfortunately, it wasn’t you because you would have removed him; is that right?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct.

MR DUGGAN: Now, you were still the director of the education office in 1996 when Archbishop Pell took over [from Frank Little]?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct.

MR DUGGAN: And you would have been aware that, in the first months of him taking that office, he appointed the Independent Commissioner?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct.

MR DUGGAN: And one of the roles of the Independent Commissioner was to investigate complaints of sexual abuse by priests?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct.

MR DUGGAN: And one of the first priests to be referred to the Independent Commissioner was Searson, wasn’t he?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: I would think so, but I couldn’t say that definitely, that I knew that.

MR DUGGAN: Well, do you recall this: Archbishop Pell took over in mid-1996 and by March 1997 Searson had been suspended?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s correct. That’s right.

MR DUGGAN: That was the sort of decisive action, wasn’t it, that you had been waiting a decade to occur?

MONSIGNOR DOYLE: That’s right.

MR DUGGAN: So you must have been both pleased and relieved not only for yourself but, more importantly, for the people of Holy Family Doveton, that that action had been taken by Archbishop Pell; is that right?


MR DUGGAN: Now, had Archbishop Pell been the Archbishop of Melbourne in the mid 1980s and you recommended to him, as you did Archbishop Little, that Searson be removed, based on those events, would you agree that Searson would likely have been removed a decade earlier?


MR DUGGAN: I have no further questions, thank you.

Neither Justice Peter McClellan nor Counsel Assisting Gail Furness SC queried Monsignor Doyle’s testimony.

Whether or not George Pell was consciously deceived by the Catholic Education Office is a matter of contention. But not one of the former CEO operatives ever said that George Pell was advised that Searson was a pedophile. And Monsignor Doyle said that he believed that Searson would have been dealt with a decade earlier if George Pell, not Frank Little, had been the Archbishop of Melbourne.

None of this evidence was covered by David Marr in The Guardian Australia or Mark Colvin on PM or by other journalists who reported the proceedings. This suggests that George Pell is a target of so many journalists not because of what he did or did not do – but because he is a conservative Catholic of traditional belief.

Can you bear it graphic


The Sydney Morning Herald’s James Massola usually talks and writes sense. But not yesterday, alas, when he appeared on ABC 702’s “Mornings with Wendy Harmer”.

Invited to discuss Labor’s policy on climate change, creating an emissions trading scheme, which was announced by Bill Shorten on Wednesday – your man Massola defended Labor’s policy against the criticism that it is a carbon tax.

Not so, declared Massola: “This is not a carbon price”. He then added: “And there’s that sense [of] – are we really going to have a third election about this issue? Shouldn’t it be beyond politics?”

Wendy (“I’m an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer quickly responded: “Yeah”. She quoted someone from the Climate Institute in support – without mentioning that the Climate Institute is an advocacy group for action on climate change. Discussion continued apace with Wendy agreeing with James – and James agreeing with Wendy. Another performance of that Fairfax Media/ABC duo.

The segment concluded with – yes, of course – a traditional ABC/Fairfax Media bagging of Tony Abbott and what some regard as the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship. Let’s go to the transcript:

Wendy Harmer: Well, he’s [Malcolm Turnbull’s] not going be able to do the Tony Abbott – you know. Getting the iron out, saying you housewives will be paying more to run the iron. Those stunts are not going to be there.

James Massola: No, I think that’s right. No, look, I don’t think he’s given to quite the same hyperbole [pronounced hyper-bowl]. There are people in the cabinet – we heard this last week from George Brandis, Fiona Nash – who say the science of climate change is not settled. I mean, this issue cost Malcolm Turnbull his leadership back in 2009. I don’t think it’s going to get to that this time. But he has to tread carefully too because he has to be seen – as a sort of centrist, moderate Liberal – to be taking this issue seriously. But he also has to take his party with him. So it’s not, you know – the bifurcation is not quite as stark as it was last time.

Wendy Harmer: Oh, I love the word – bifurcation. That’s an excellent word. [Here Wendy Harmer laughed so loudly for quite some time]. Well, thanks for that James.

Yes, Thanks indeed. So here were two journalists agreeing that the Coalition should not disagree with Labor’s policy on an emissions trading scheme in the forthcoming election. The message was: “Down with Tony Abbott’s hyperbole” (pronounced by your man Massola as hyper-bowl. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of the Climate Institute, did any one see Sabra Lane’s report on Australian national politics on 7.30 last Wednesday? The segment covered two issues – asylum seekers and Labor’s climate change policies.

On asylum seekers, the only non-politician interviewed was lawyer/activist David Manne. He was described as a “human rights lawyer and advocate”. No other view was canvassed – from, say, an advocate of border security.

Then discussions turned to climate change. Here grabs were shown by current politicians Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison (Coalition) and Bill Shorten (Labor).

On climate change, the only non-politician to be part of the story was John Connor. He was described as the Climate Institute’s chief executive officer. No mention was made of the fact that the Climate Institute is an advocacy group for action on climate change. And no other view was canvassed from, say, an opponent of the introduction of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme (who was not a politician). Can you bear it?


While on the topic of advocacy, what about Paul Bongiorno’s comments on Radio National Breakfast on Tuesday? Geraldine Doogue was in the presenter’s chair consequent upon Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly’s absence on what Patricia Karvelas has termed “a very well earned break”. We mere mortals take holidays. Journalists, on the other hand, have well-earned breaks. And a few, like Ms Kelly, have Very WEBs.

The Prime Minister’s office in John Howard’s time always regarded Paul Bongiorno as the most left-wing member of the Canberra Press Gallery, outside of the ABC. Since stepping down as a full-time reporter for Channel 10, Bonge has taken up commentary opportunities on ABC Radio National and ABC Metropolitan Radio. In other words, your man Bongiorno’s entry into taxpayer funded public broadcasting land did nothing to upset the ABC’s status as a Conservative Free Zone.

It’s a long time since Bonge stepped down as a Catholic priest. However, he still loves to deliver a sermon – from a leftist pulpit. And so it came to pass on Tuesday that Bonge preached a verbal epistle to Malcolm Turnbull. His lesson was that the Prime Minister should be more left-wing. Just like Bonge himself. Let’s go to the transcript:

Geraldine Doogue: You’ve written this morning, that the PM has “palpably shrunk by resiling from policies and views he long espoused”. You write that “Malcolm Turnbull has a choice to make. He can no longer be all things to all people. He has to be true to his progressive, centrist self”. Now what’s your assessment? Can he do that with the right-wing of his party exerting the influence that it does, and clearly seeing this as a sort of a “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” for the control of the Liberal Party?

Paul Bongiorno: Yes, it’s an excruciating and exquisite dilemma for Malcolm Turnbull. Unlike Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada is a centre-left party. The Liberal Party of Australia is a centre-right party. The challenge for Malcolm Turnbull is to remain the leader of the centre-right party while at the same time dragging the more reactionary conservatives, dragging the party more to the centre than leaving it out there on the far right. And I think that the loss of support that we’ve seen in all the published opinion polls for Malcolm Turnbull – even though he’s still preferred prime minister, he’s lost popularity even though he’s not as unpopular as Bill Shorten. The way to restore that is to be true to himself. If he’s true to himself, he’ll be far more attractive to the broader electorate. That’s my argument. And I do concede that if it’s a very tight election and he does have a very small minority, indeed some are suggesting – a majority rather, a majority of one seat – you can be pretty well rest assured that you will have a greater number in his party room that are more conservative than him, and that would make it more difficult for him.

So there you have it. The unelected leftist scribbler Bonge reckons that the Prime Minister should be more left-wing. Just like Justin Trudeau. The only problem is that Mr Trudeau heads a left-of-centre government and Mr Turnbull leads a right-of-centre government. That’s all. Can you bear it?


While on the matters of preaching, consider the tweet sent out on Monday 18 April by Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO, QC.

First up, JB AO QC noticed this tweet:

fyder enlil tweet

So JB AO QC responded as follows:

burnside tweet reply

You see, according to JB AO QC, the Turnbull government controls what tweets the Q&A producer screens on Monday nights. Some conspiracy, eh. Also, the leftist JB AO QC considers himself a man of “centre values”. Somewhat delusional, really.

Nevertheless, MWD feels JB AO QC’s long-lasting pain. You see, as your man Burnside pointed out in the article he wrote (in the edited collection by John Kinsella titled School Days) on his school days, at Melbourne Grammar School in the late 1960s, he got a half-blue for both swimming and Rugby Union. That is, second colours. Whereas other Melbourne Grammar chaps received full-blues for such sports as cricket, Australian Rules Football and athletics. That is first colours. How discriminating can you get?

A “stinging injustice” as JB AO QC described it – to be sure. It remains so half a century after the event. No wonder your man Burnside believes that he is being discriminated against by the likes of the Prime Minister with respect to having his views presented across the bottom of the TV screen while Q&A is on air. Can you bear it?

[Is it too late for Julian Burnside AO QC to take this matter to the Human Rights Commission? After all, this is a dreadful injustice which Professor Gillian Triggs should address immediately. Just a thought – MWD Ed]


Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet which was sent out by former Independent MP, and leftist hero, Tony Windsor. It was re-tweeted by Mike (“I used to pour the gin”) Carlton.

tony windsor voters of mckellar tweet

The point here is that Tony Windsor, supported by Mike Carlton, maintained that Liberal Party “relics” who backed 73 year old Bronwyn Bishop’s pre-selection for McKellar should be resisted. Mr Windsor is 65 years old. Mr Carlton is 70. Quite a pair of relics, on their own assessment. Can you bear it?



As readers of last week’s issue will know, it took Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir and SMH editor Stuart Washington a mere 18 days to correct one particularly egregious error by Peter FitzSimons. This was a couple of weeks after Nancy’s (male) co-owner drew Fairfax Media’s attention to a howler in The Fitz Files column published in the Sun-Herald on 8 March 2016.

The Red Bandanned One (falsely) alleged that under the Melbourne Response – set up by (then) Archbishop George Pell in 1996 to handle child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church’s Melbourne Archdiocese – there was not one referral of a pedophile priest or brother to Victoria Police. Your man Fitz accused Gerard Henderson of supporting such an outcome.

This totally false claim was grudgingly corrected in the Sun-Herald on 27 March 2016 in an unobtrusive manner which bore no relationship to Peter FitzSimons’ original rant. Needless to say, your man Fitz has not apologised for his howler.

Darren (“Okay, the Federal Court did find that I acted with malice towards Joe Hockey”) Goodsir wrote to Hendo on 20 April 2016 advising that he is “concerned about any factual errors” in the SMH and Sun-Herald. However, the following howlers remain uncorrected by Fairfax Media. Namely:

٠ The claim in the online edition of the Sydney Morning Herald last week that Peter FitzSimons had “humble beginnings as a builder’s labourer”. Fitz was educated at Knox Grammar and the University of Sydney and played Rugby for Australia. Even Fitz does not claim to have a background of toil on building sites.

٠ Peter FitzSimons’ (false) assertion that Cardinal George Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion in Rome”. Hendo has written to Mr Goodsir, Mr Washington and Mr FitzSimons asking for the address of the (alleged) Roman mansion. The idea is that MWD readers will then be able to Google search and draw their own conclusions. Needless to say, no such address has been forwarded. We’ll keep you posted.

[table id=2 /]




While on the topic of fact-checkers, how frightfully interesting that John Barron, of the ABC’s Fact Check Unit, has taken down this tweet which he put out on 19 March 2016:

john barron deleted tweet

So there you have it. The ABC’s “Fact-Check John” is so subjective that he has claimed that The Australian is the antithesis of quality journalism and that he does not read one of Australia’s leading newspapers. That’s a (John Barron) fact.

Deliberate Mistake Identified


In last week’s MWD, it was reported that ABC RN Sunday Extra host Jonathan Green attended certain schools in Canberra and Melbourne. It turned out that this information was incorrect. Consequently, the sentence has been withdrawn from the MWD website.

It so happened that Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green was the first to pick up MWD’s John-Laws-style deliberate mistake. Well done to the Fox-Hunting Man of Melbourne Town. Nancy’s (male) co-owner apologises for this mistake. Both to Mr Green and the schools that were cited. It appears that Hendo misunderstood a phone conversation about this matter – which must have taken place sometime after lunch. Enough said. [That is very noble of you. Here’s hoping that Jonathan Green will correct the error in his book The Year My Politics Broke, concerning Julia Gillard’s attitude in 2010 towards a carbon tax. As I recall, you documented this (so far uncorrected) howler in MWD as long ago as 2014 – MWD Ed]

your taxes at work a continuing saga


As avid MWD readers who go first to the hugely popular “Correspondence” section will already know, Nancy’s (male) co-owner copped a bollocking from Professor Ivor Indyk this week. Dr Indyk (for a doctor he is) sits on a Gough Whitlam chair at the University of Western Sydney – from whence he sends occasional angry missives to Gerard Henderson via Argentina.

After receiving an email at one minute past midnight on Saturday morning, Hendo checked out Ivor Indyk’s staff profile on the UWS’s website. Here it is – well, some of it:

Professor Ivor Indyk

Whitlam Chair

Writing and Society Research Centre


Ivor Indyk is founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, and Whitlam Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. His current research projects include the history of Australian literary publishing, the expression of emotion in Australian literature, with a particular interest in Patrick White, and the literary exploration of provincialism, including such concepts as awkwardness, shyness, embarrassment and wonder….

How about that? The UWS’s Whitlam Professor is into exploring the literary exploitation of provincialism – including awkwardness, shyness, embarrassment and wonder. Apparently all such concepts evolve out of, wait for it, provincialism. How wondrous can one get? And how would we live without such taxpayer funded research?

correspondence header caps

This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its readers.

There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.

As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).


There was an absolutely huge response to “The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary Sludge” in last week’s MWD. The Melbourne-based writer/poet Lisa Gorton won the award for her review in The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times of John Kinsella’s collected poems.

Dr Gorton (for a doctor she is) did not complain to MWD for having been associated with the mad and wordy poet Ezra Pound – or the sane and direct non-poet Nancy. However, Ivor Indyk, who has published some of Lisa Gorton’s works, got all steamed up on the Melbourne poet’s behalf. So much so that he wrote to Nancy’s (male) co-owner from Buenos Aires, no less. Now read on:

Ivor Indyk to Gerard Henderson – 23 April 2016

Dear Gerard,

That was a silly piece you wrote on Lisa Gorton’s review of John Kinsella’s poetry book in MWD. The passage made perfect sense to me, as it would to anyone who knows how to read a review which is intelligent and analytical. She was talking about Kinsella’s susceptibility to the pressure of time, a restlessness which is also evident in his use of pronouns. In acting as if you didn’t understand this, you also reduced a sophisticated argument to nonsense, which is quite a dangerous thing to do on a public platform – it’s what demagogues do.

Just for the record, Lisa is a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University on the poetry of John Donne. She is one of the most incisive and intelligent critics writing in Australia today. I have published two collections of her poetry, one of which won the Victorian Premiers Award for Poetry, and her novel The Life of Houses, which is shortlisted for the NSW Premiers Award for Fiction.

I’m not so concerned that you see her writing as sludge – AD Hope said the same of Patrick White – so it’s easy to wear that accusation as a badge of honour. I am more concerned with your unselfconscious display of philistinism, as if you thought it was okay nowadays to parade ignorance as a public virtue.

And by the way, eco-poet is a respectable and legitimate term in literary discussions of poetry, and describes Kinsella’s work perfectly – he is a poet who comes from the salt-infected wheat belt of Western Australia, and has long been concerned with the fate of the land there.



Gerard Henderson to Ivor Indyk – 26 April 2016

Dear Ivor

I refer to your (somewhat pompous) email which I received at 12.01 am on Saturday morning.

Apologies for the delay in responding. But I spent the rest of the Anzac Day long-weekend lying on a couch with a wet rag on my forehead. Such was my shock on receipt of your one-minute past midnight missive.

After all, it is truly a dreadful thing to be labelled a philistine by the taxpayer subsidised Whitlam Chair at the taxpayer subsidised University of Western Sydney in the taxpayer subsidised Writing and Society Research Centre of the taxpayer subsidised Giramondo Publishing (which receives financial support from the taxpayer funded Literature Fund of the Australia Council).

I feel like I am funding a critic – when I would prefer my taxes to be spent instead on, say, the construction of public latrines on the Stuart Highway. The building of lavatories in remote Australia would do more to sustain the environment than any book of poetry, even by an eco-poet.

In response to your email, I make the following comments:

1.I have always advocated plain writing. Simple words, short sentences, brief paragraphs (except when referring to taxpayer subsidised academics). You regard my critique in last Friday’s Media Watch Dog, of Lisa Gorton’s over-written review of John Kinsella’s Drowning in Wheat, as “silly”. You should be able to do better than this.

I regard Dr Gorton’s references to “vertiginously of time passing”, a “jerky vitality of thought” and John Kinsella’s intention “to break the habit of narrowing place into a fixed symbolic language of human profit and domination, or setting it at an aesthetic distance” as literary sludge. It might work in an academic poetry journal. It is out of place in mainstream newspapers like The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald where her review of John Kinsella’s Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems 1980-2015 (Picador) was published.

What is “intelligent and analytical” to you – is wordy pretention to me.

2.I am aware about Lisa Gorton’s academic qualifications and publication record. Well done, good show and all that. This has nothing to do with her capacity to write straight-forward English which readers will understand.

3.I do not need your (gratuitous) advice about what you regard as my “unselfconscious display of philistinism” and my tendency “to parade ignorance as a public virtue”. Quite frankly, I just don’t give a damn – as the saying goes. I am not fussed by criticism. At least people understand what I write about – even if they disagree with me.

4.As to John Kinsella as an “eco-poet”, who is the Professor of Literature and Sustainability at the University of Western Australia, well – turn it up. Precisely what does John Kinsella “sustain” at UWA – except his eco-poetic output? I am not aware that any poem – extant or buried – has done anything to remove salt from the Western Australian wheat-belt. Correct me if I’m wrong.

5.Moved by what Dr Gorton might term a Kinsella-inspired “lightening strike”, I offer the following musing:

A real eco-poet, I maintain

Should be expected to attain

The build of one public dunny

With a grant of lotsa money.

Best wishes and Keep Morale High.


Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

Nancy Chair

Flann O’Brien Admiration Centre

MWD Publishing

Philistine University

Ivor Indyk to Gerard Henderson – 27 April 2016

Dear Gerard,

I wrote my email from Buenos Aires, which explains the time signature. I wrote it at midday my time, in full possession of my senses, though I am sorry it deprived you of yours. It does show, though, your readiness to see offence where there is none.

I don’t understand your references to tax payer funded positions. I do the job I am payed to do and much more.

I find your response, as your original blog, intemperate, and would think some of the comments insulting if they weren’t so cliched. My initial reaction was that you should see a doctor, as your tone of voice seemed to me to be bordering on manic glee, in taking down people who don’t deserve the opprobrium you heap on them. I guess you would see yourself as adopting a jaunty vernacular kind of tone that you think appropriate to social media (all that talk about dunnies and tax payers and the jokey versifying). It sounds false to me – or if not false, then crazy.

You’re wrong about poetry not having an effect on public policy, particularly in relation to conservation.

And you’re wrong about language too – there are occasions when you need to stretch it a bit, especially when describing emotional effects. A good poet knows how to do that, even if a bad poet such as yourself affects not to understand.



Gerard Henderson to Ivor Indyk – 29 April 2016

Dear Ivor

Lotsa thanks for your two latest emails from Buenos Aires – when only one would have done. It’s great to know that Media Watch Dog is read in faraway Argentina.

In response to your emails which I received on 26 April and 27 April, I make the following comments:

▪ Contrary to your suggestion, I do not readily take offence. So I was quite relaxed when, in your first email, you described me as a “demagogue” and a “philistine”. Likewise, I have not taken offence at your recent claims (i) that I “should see a doctor”, (ii) that my “tone of voice” is “bordering on hysteria or even a manic kind of glee” and (iii) that I am a “bad poet” (gosh).

And yet you claim that my writing is “intemperate and insulting” – when compared to yours. How about that? Are there no mirrors at the University of Western Sydney’s Whitlam Centre?

▪ In last week’s MWD, I was critical of Lisa Gorton’s over-written review of John Kinsella’s Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems. I also had some fun with the fact that your man Kinsella is a Professor of Literature and Sustainability who is properly categorised as an “eco-poet”.

You were not mentioned in last week MWD. Since, however, you bought into the debate – I responded to you in a somewhat irreverent form. What’s wrong with that?

▪ Your claim that “poetry has an effect on public policy, particularly in relation to conservation” is a somewhat delusional assertion. Trees are cut down to publish the eco-poet John Kinsella in book form and Dr Gorton’s (fawning) review of his book appeared in the print editions of Fairfax Media newspapers. Please provide the location of one tree that John Kinsella and/or Lisa Gorton have conserved due to their poetry.

▪ My comment about taxpayer subsidised academics and taxpayer subsidised grant recipients was a serious one – albeit made in an irreverent tone.

I note that you and Lisa Gorton are part of the left-wing stack that is the taxpayer subsidised 2016 Sydney Writers Festival. See MWD Issue 310. My point is that when a group of academics/artists/poets/writers get together in the name of art they tend to agree with each other – in a way that is not found in Australia’s diverse community.

Take yourself, for example. You defend Lisa Gorton’s use of the following sentence: “It is not only his gift for creating a scenario alive with danger that makes Kinsella’s reader almost vertiginously conscious of time passing.”

In your regular commute from Sydney’s North Shore to the University of Western Sydney, ask yourself who in the suburbs you pass through would have the slightest idea of what Dr Gorton is on about.

▪ Your suggestion that I am “taking down people who don’t deserve the opprobrium” I (allegedly) “heap on them” shows an overt sensitivity of behalf of your literary mates. Both John Kinsella and Lisa Gorton are highly successful Australians who have enjoyed the support of Australian taxpayers. They should be able to accept a critique of their wordiness and/or literary pretention without needing support from the UWS’s Whitlam Professor.

Over and out.

Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson P.Bp (aka Philistine & Bad Poet)



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