17 June 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.



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. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.


TSI review ad








Believe it or not, the Sydney Morning Herald arrived with a bang this morning – containing a Page One advertisement for the Sustainable Australia Party stuck over an “Exclusive” story by Ava Benny-Morrison and Michaela Whitbourn titled “Targeted police chief still seeking justice”.

Among the Sustainable Australia Party’s proclaimed policies this morning is a promise to campaign against Australia’s alleged “degraded environment”. What’s a more appropriate medium for the SAP’s message than the degraded Sydney Morning Herald which has become a 40-page tabloid size leftist rant from Mondays to Fridays.


Sydne morning herald frontpage



 While on the topic of today’s Sydney Morning Herald – how about the cover story titled “Exclusive: Damned if they do, damned if they don’t”? This heads a report by Sean Nicholls that Sydney’s Warragamba Dam is currently 97.7 per cent full and could spill this weekend with sections of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley flooding.

Mike Baird’s government in NSW has already decided to raise the dam’s wall by 14 metres.  However, experts believe that there is a case for raising it by 23 metres.

All this in the SMH – which early this month published a column by its favourite eco-catastrophist, a certain Tim Flannery. On this occasion, Dr Flannery (for a doctorate in fossils he has) was warning about the end of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it. Again. Yawn.

What’s the relevance of the possibility of flooding in the Windsor, Richmond and Penrith areas?  MWD hears you ask.

Well, as avid readers are aware, as recently as 19 May 2004 the Sydney Morning Herald’s Anne Davies excitedly reported that Tim Flannery had warned that – due to dangerous climate change – Sydney would have to grapple with 60 per cent less water.  Your man Flannery also warned that Sydney, like Perth, was likely to become a “ghost metropolis” when it ran out of water. Really.

Shortly after, writing in the New Scientist on 16 June 2007, Tim Flannery had this to say:

Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.

Since then Brisbane has been subjected to devastating floods and Sydney is on flood alert this weekend.  Yet it is just over a decade since Dr Flannery declared that “damns no longer fill even when it does rain”. Absolute tosh, eh?

And yet Fairfax Media and the ABC still take the fossil expert Dr Flannery seriously about global warming and all that stuff.

[Perhaps you should have put this in your ground-breaking “Can You Bear It?” section. Just a thought – MWD Editor]


Literary Sludge



 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.

Since the tragic murders in Orlando, Florida there has been a conga line of members of the left intelligentsia attempting to fudge the fact that the murderer Omar Mateen said he was killing for the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh.

However, MWD reckons that the most incoherent fudge was that of 2016 Gold Logie winner and Monash University academic Waleed Aly – who had this to say on ABC Radio National The Mindfield program (which he co-presents with Scott Stephens) yesterday. Let’s go to the transcript:

Waleed Aly: I feel that what we’re witnessing is the tangible, pointy expression of all of the fault lines and contradictions that run through modernity. And we’ve been dealing with this in all sorts of different ways – on economic matters, on political, on party political matters on the rise of the Trump phenomenon on whatever it might be on the way we respond to terrorism, on the relationship between terrorism and identity politics, all that sort of stuff. We’ve spoken about those things in isolation. But, occasionally, an event occurs that brings it all together in one moment and I feel like this was it.

And if I had to try to explain that – that it would be a lengthy dissertation –  but if I tried to do it briefly it would go something like this:  That our world is now one that is an increasingly polarised and polarising contest between new frontiers of cosmopolitism on the one hand and quite responsive and symbiotically related frontiers of atavism on the other. And within that lie all of the political narratives that have sustained us through the 20th century that simply don’t work anymore. Narratives like freedom, right, which, you know, expresses its own contradictions in America every time there is a mass shooting. When you see what freedom and a certain conception of freedom ends up looking like –  and how an adherence to that kind of ideological idea of freedom prevents you from doing anything about the consequences of it. Where this freedom just kind of ends up consuming itself in a very strange, dark sort of a way.

And at the same time as you have those kind of old narratives going on, I think, you have a world where the ever proliferating notions of identity and self-determination and the celebration of alterities, right. And I suppose you would have to put LGBTQ rights and that kind of civil rights movement in that context with respect to the way society that had operated over the past however many centuries and the narratives that have governed society.

As that happens, as more and more minorities come out and claim their rights –  and they’re justified in trying to claim their rights – what you will inevitably get is the response of those who feel like something huge and drastic and epic is being lost. And what is giving way in all of that, Scott, is the centre. And I feel like the centre must give way because we are in a radical time.

We are in a time where the modern world is so at odds with itself, it is so trying to hold together these completely opposing views, these completely opposing vectors, these opposing movements in politics and identity.  Societies don’t subsist that way because every now and again you get a reminder of the failure of modern society to subsist under all of these kind of contradictory pressures. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself as well as I feel. To me it feels clear. It’s just very hard to explain it.

You betcha.  How much clearer can a Lecturer in Politics at Monash University get?

And what skill to be able to speak into a microphone for three full minutes without saying anything at all about the worst mass murderer in the United States’ history.

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £

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


Literary Criticism

By Nancy

of Waleed Aly

My grasp of what he wrote or meant

Was only five or six per cent

Right now the centre must give way

At Monash it’s as clear as day

Nancy Ezra MWD 116


Can you bear it graphic



Can the Fairfax Media newspapers deteriorate further under the wise counsel of Fairfax Media chief executive officer Greg (“Proudly once a radical”) Hywood?  Probably so – if the organisation’s current practice of running privately commissioned opinion surveys as news continues.

MWD has referred to this practice previously. Here are few recent examples.

٠ On 5 June 2016 The Sunday Age carried a piece by Adam Gartrell titled “Wentworth voters cool on Turnbull”. This is how Mr Gartrell’s article commenced:

Malcolm Turnbull is facing a 10 per cent swing against him in his Sydney seat of Wentworth, according to polling that shows more than half his local electors think less of him since he became Prime Minister.

The ReachTel poll conducted across the blue-ribbon Liberal electorate last week suggests Mr Turnbull’s first preference vote will be slashed from 63 per cent to 53 per cent. His lead in the two-party preferred stakes will be similarly reduced from the 2013 result of 68-32 to 58-42.

While he will still be comfortably re-elected with such a result, it will be the first swing against him since he first won the seat in 2004.

It was only then that your man Gartrell revealed that, wait for it, this poll was “commissioned by the Labor candidate, wealthy art dealer, Evan Hughes”.  The Sunday Age did not reveal the questions asked in the Hughes commissioned ReachTel poll.  So the report was intellectually useless.  Apart from the information that Mr Hughes is “wealthy”. How about that?

This is how the Sunday Age report concluded:

Mr Hughes believes the Wentworth polling says a lot about Mr Turnbull’s leadership. “The people of Wentworth aren’t shifting their votes because they’ve changed,” Mr Hughes told Fairfax Media. “They’re shifting their votes because Malcolm Turnbull’s just not the man he used to be. Old Malcolm used to voice Wentworth’s beliefs but he doesn’t stand for those principles anymore.”

In fact, the poll says a lot about Fairfax Media’s declining standards.

٠ Then, last Tuesday, The Age ran an article by Mark Hawthorne titled “Mirabella-style loss looms in Higgins.  This is how it commenced:

Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer is under siege from Greens candidate Jason Ball in the once-safe Liberal seat of Higgins, with the latest poll revealing her primary vote has collapsed to just 44.1 per cent. As a direct result of the positive poll, the Greens will transfer volunteers and resources from other Melbourne seats in order to target Higgins.

One senior Victorian Liberal told Fairfax Media there were real fears Higgins could be “the Indi of 2016”, a reference to Sophie Mirabella’s shock loss of the safe Liberal seat of Indi to independent Cathy McGowan at the 2013 federal election.

It was not until the fourth paragraph that your man Hawthorn revealed – once again, wait for it – the poll was commissioned by the Greens.  And, once again, Fairfax Media did not reveal the questions asked in the Lonergan Research poll.

The Age’s report quoted “one senior Victorian Liberal” and “a senior Liberal”. It also cited a pre-recorded robocall attacking Kellie O’Dwyer without citing who had put it out.  And your man Hywood reckons that Fairfax Media’s journalistic standards remain high. Can you bear it?



While on the topic of the election, how about the ABC’s reaction to Malcolm Turnbull’s video about life as the single child of a single parent?  There were lots of commentators whom ABC News Online could have gone to for a comment.  But on 6 June 2016 it chose one source.  Namely, Dee Madigan of the campaign consulting firm Campaign Edge who, as the ABC acknowledged, “has worked on a number of Labor campaigns”.

You can say that again. In fact, as anyone who has observed Dee (“My father was a Catholic priest”) Madigan on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live will know – the lady is a Labor Party barracker.

Guess what?  Ms Madigan did not think much about the Prime Minister’s little movie about this youth:

Ms Madigan said the video from the Liberal Party, which has been viewed more than 350,000 times, showed there was genuine concern Mr Turnbull was being depicted as an out-of-touch toff.

“I am surprised it’s gone this way, because it shows panic … I’m not sure that they’re in a position to need to panic yet anyway,” Ms Madigan said. “I think that when you describe your hotel-brokering father as a battler, that will not resonate with people in the marginal seats who might genuinely be battlers who are on really low income jobs, who are struggling to pay their mortgage.

It might actually have the exact opposite effect.

“It feels very self-indulgent, because voters are really interested in what’s in it for them, and what the policies mean to them. This is all about Malcolm Turnbull, which actually feeds in to a lot of the criticisms about him.”

So ABC News believes that it is news fit to print when a Labor operative criticises a Liberal Party prime minister in an election campaign. Can you bear it?



While on the topic of Paul Murray Live, did anyone see Mr Murray’s People’s Forum held in the Melbourne suburb of Preston last night? It would have been a great People’s Forum if only a few more people had turned up along with the Labor, Liberal and Greens candidates for the marginal seat of Batman.

For its part, MWD prefers the normal PML programs when your man Murray fawns all over Derryn Hinch (whom he calls “dad”) and interviews Peta Credlin (whom he has called “darl”). And then the PML regular – the Labor member for Prospect in the NSW Parliament.  A certain Hugh McDermott, no less.

The Sydney Morning Herald revealed this week that Dr McDermott (for a doctor he is) has failed to produce evidence that – when in the Army Reserve – he was promoted to the exalted rank of lance corporal. Also your man McDermott has declined to respond to questions about where he obtained the medals he wants to wear on his right (yes, right) breast.

MWD has heard of certain gentlemen forgetting that they were never officers in the Australian Defence Force.  But never one who could not produce evidence that he was a lance corporal – which, after all, is just one notch up from a private.  Can you bear it?






 Let’s hear from Emeritus Professor Colin Steele MA KtCross Spain, GradDipLib FALIA, FLA.

Yes, that’s the formal title of Colin Steele – one of the Australian National University’s emeritus professors.  By the way, Mr Steele’s second post-nominal stands for “Knight Cross of Queen Isabela Catholica Spain”, a gong which was granted to your man Steele in 1984 by King Juan Carlos. Well done Colin – or, as the Spanish would say, “Nicolao”.

Last week Susan Wyndham (the Sydney Morning Herald’s literary editor) and Jason Steger (The Age’s Literary editor) decided that it would be a you-beaut idea to get Emeritus Professor Colin Steele to write an article on the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for the “Spectrum” section of the SMH and The Age.

 As his incredibly boring Curriculum Vitae makes clear, Steele was a judge for the PMLA in Australian History and Non-fiction in 2012 and 2013.  His position was not continued in 2014, following the appointment of Senator George Brandis as Arts Minister.

It appears that your man Steele is mightily upset about this and has been banging on about the matter for a couple of years.  It is not clear why.  After all, PMLA judges get a very small honorarium for a large amount of work and are likely to disappoint more authors than they can please.  Perhaps Colin Steele is bored. Who knows?

The judges for the PMLA for Australian History and Non-Fiction in 2014 were Gerard Henderson (chair), Peter Coleman, Ross Fitzgerald, Dr Ida Lichter and Ann Moyal.  Dr Moyal chose not to continue in 2015 and Gerard Henderson temporarily stepped down for 2015 (he has resumed the position in 2016).

In his article titled “Sex and Lies and captain’s picks” in last weekend’s Fairfax Media newspapers:

      • Colin Steele wrote that, in 2007, John Howard made Les Carlyon’s The Great War a co-winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian History along with Peter Cochrane’s Colonial Ambition: Foundations of Australian Democracy.  This is old news since it has long been known that the judges in 2007 recommended Cochrane’s book for the first prize and that Mr Howard decided that the award should be shared.
      •  Colin Steele complained that in 2013 the PMLA judges’ recommendation to award the Australian History prize to Frank Bongiorno’s The Sex Lives of Australians was rejected by  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in favour of Ross McMullin’s Farewell Dear People.

 Steele claimed that this decision was due to “Rudd’s intervention”. He provided no evidence to support this thesis.  The decision appears to have been made when Julia Gillard was prime minister – but there is no evidence that she was involved in this decision.

Steele simply does not know.  Since the decision was taken around the time of the 2013 election, it’s possible that it was made by a public servant in the Prime Minister’s Department or by a staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Ministers have more important matters to attend to than literary prizes at election time. The lifelong librarian Steele does not seem to understand this.

The PMLA judging process is supposed to be confidential.  Steele’s decision to tell all in Fairfax Media newspapers (including the Canberra Times) is quite unprofessional.  Moreover, Steele does not seem to appreciate that PMLA judges make recommendations to the Prime Minister – the choice of winner is the Prime Minister’s decision alone. The only limit on the Prime Minister’s choice is that he/she is expected to pick a winner from the short list provided by the judges’ panel.  In 2013 both Bongiorno and McMullin were on the short list.

In any event, this was a good decision.  In MWD’s view, The Sex Lives of Australians is a weak book which should not have made the short list.  The fact is that neither Bongiorno nor anyone else knows much, if anything, about the sex lives of others – including that of millions of Australians. Bongiorno’s tome was a conceit.

Colin Steele obviously supported Frank Bongiorno as the winner as did the majority of the judges’ panel. However, it is not clear if this was a unanimous decision. Steele was willing to reveal the alleged intervention of Kevin Rudd – but not willing to reveal any details about what took place within the judges’ panel.  The other judges in 2013 were Susan Haynes, Susan Magarey and Michael Sexton. Steele chose to reveal what he believes was Kevin Rudd’s role in awarding the prize but is silent on what occurred in the judges’ panel – an unpleasant double standard.

In his Fairfax Media article, Steele quoted Bongiorno as saying that the suggestion that The Sex Lives of Australians: A History “had been selected as the winner by the judges for the 2013 Prime Minister’s Prize, and then knocked over on political grounds, has come as a complete surprise to me. What didn’t shock me is that Rudd would pull a stunt of this kind.”

In fact, Bongiorno has no idea whether Rudd was involved in this decision.  Mr Rudd’s office has denied the claim in Steele’s article. Steele did not check with the former prime minister’s office before writing his article. More unprofessionalism.

      •  Colin Steele wrote that in 2014 Tony Abbott overruled the PMLA judges’ recommendation for the Fiction prize by deciding that Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North should share the prize with Steven Carroll’s A World of Other People. Apparently, the judges’ panel had recommended Carroll as the sole winner.

Colin Steele speculated why Tony Abbott would have made such “a captain’s pick”.

In fact, once again, this was a good decision.  Richard Flanagan’s novel deserved at least an equal first place. Moreover, MWD believes that Mr Abbott made his decision following advocacy by one or more members of the PMLA judges’ panel for Fiction. In other words, it was not a captain’s pick. Steele did not check with Tony Abbott’s office before writing his Fairfax Media article.  Yet more unprofessionalism.


      •  Colin Steele, still grieving about his non-reappointment as a judge in 2014, had this to say about the current PMLA panel for History and Non-fiction:


This [2014] was the year in which Senator George Brandis, Minister for the Arts, had argued for “balanced panels”, but appointed a largely right-wing and elderly panel (the average age being about 75) for the Australian History and Non-Fiction Awards. Dr Ann Moyal resigned from this panel after 2014 panel controversies and has never been replaced, leaving Gerard Henderson, Peter Coleman, Emeritus Professor Ross Fitzgerald and Dr Ida Lichter.

The Australian Historical Association, wrote earlier this year to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, expressing “concern about the current composition of the committee judging the Australian History and Non-Fiction awards, noting the lack of university-based historians, and offering our services to suggest well-qualified academic historians”.

The reappointment of the existing panel for 2016, without any membership change, could be seen as another lack of appreciation from the Prime Minister for the main body of professional historians in Australia, following a governmental rebuttal of their concerns on cuts to national cultural institutions.

Colin Steele reckons he should still be a judge in Australian History and Non-fiction and disparages the qualifications of those who succeeded him. As his Curriculum Vitae reveals, Colin Steele has an MA in history along with quite a few librarian qualifications.  He has not written or published in the area of history or non-fiction.

And now for some facts about the PMLA panel for Australian History and Non-fiction.  As Who’s Who in Australia and other sources reveal:

▪ Peter Coleman has edited The Observer, The Bulletin and Quadrant.  He is one of Australia’s best known writers and reviewers and is the author of well-reviewed non-fiction books.

▪ Professor Ross Fitzgerald has the degrees of BA (Hons), MA and Ph.D.  He has written well-reviewed history books.

▪ Gerard Henderson has the degrees of BA (Hons), Ll.B. and Ph.D.  He has also written well-reviewed history books.

▪ Ida Lichter MBBS, MRCPSYCH, FRANZCP is a psychiatrist who brings medical and scientific knowledge to the panel. She is also a writer and the author of books on Muslim women reformers and the social function of music – both of which were published in the United States.


For the record, according to his own CV, Steele has not published outside of library studies and related areas.  Yet he was given space by Susan Wyndham and Jason Steger to diminish the qualifications of others to judge works of Australian history and non-fiction.

What’s more, Colin Steele referred to the “elderly” PMLA panel for Australian History and Non-fiction.  He forgot to tell his Fairfax Media readers that he is older than all but one of the current PMLA panel for Australian History and Non-fiction. Convenient, eh?

Fortunately, Nancy was able to catch up with your man Steele for a quick interview via Skype just before MWD went online. Re which see below. Also, see the Correspondence section for the email sent to Colin Steele by Gerard Henderson.  At the time of MWD going out today, your man Steele did not have the courage to reply.

the red bandannaed one heading



Many thanks to the avid MWD reader who sent the following information last Friday all the way from Malta:

Dear Gerard,

Greetings from an Aussie living in Malta. While watching the Channel 4 (UK) News here I did a double take when I saw one Jeremy Corbyn in full Red Bandanna mode while out and about spruiking the IN case. (see attached pics)

It appears that “The Red Bandannaed One’s” fame has spread far and wide, or maybe it’s just a left-wing labour thing. Over to you and keep up the good work.

All the best

Geoffrey Brown AAC (aka Also Always Courteous)

What a scoop.  It seems that the British Labour Party’s leader – a certain Jeremy (“Call me Comrade”) Corbyn – has taken fashion lessons from our very own Peter FitzSimons. Or perhaps from Nancy.

In any event, Comrade Corbyn decided to wear a Red Bandanna at a recent function in West Bromwich.  Here’s the fashion trail – from Sydney to London via Nancy’s birthplace at the RSPCA kennels in Yagoona.



Peter (“Look at me”) FitzSimons – as depicted by Fairfax Media.


Nancy – as depicted in Media Watch Dog

corbyn headress best

Jeremy Corbyn – as seen in West Bromwich recently on Channel 4


Note to avid readers:  For an update on Hendo’s offer of $20,000 to your man Fitz see this week’s hugely popular “Correspondence” section.



Emeritus Colin Steele is too busy to respond to Gerard Henderson’s emails (see Correspondence section). However, he did have time to give a brief interview to Nancy via Skype – at around Gin & Tonic time yesterday evening:

Nancy: Thanks for coming out from the library stacks to talk to me about your brilliant academic career.  You must be the most interesting Canberra librarian I have ever interviewed.

Colin Steele:  I expect so. When I graduated from Liverpool University in 1965, I decided to dedicate my life to the page.  Many pages in fact.

Nancy:  I have read your 26 pages long Curriculum Vitae on the Australian National University’s website.  It must be the “War and Peace” of resumes.  Why so long?

Colin Steele: Well, I believe that people would be interested in my whole life.  Just as much as I am interested in my whole life. Especially about my Knight Cross Spain and the fact that I was secretary of the Magellan Society between 1980 and 1997. Both achievements are listed on my CV.

Nancy: Fascinating. What would you say is your most important book?

Colin Steele:  Probably English Interpreters of the Iberian New World from Purchas to Stevens: A Bibliographical Survey 1603-1726 which was published by Dolphin.  It was a best-seller for a couple of days.

Nancy:  Congratulations.  How many copies did you sell?

Colin Steele:  Two dozen, I believe.

Nancy:  As many as that?

Colin Steele:  Well, I come from a large family of book buyers, you see.

Nancy: And your greatest achievement?

Colin Steele:  In 2015, I was shortlisted for the “Vice Chancellors[sic] Award for Advancing the reputation of the University through Media”.  It was an important achievement – that’s why I have gone to the trouble to quote direct from my CV on this occasion.  Now I have had another look at this, I might put an apostrophe in there somewhere.

Nancy: Remarkable.  Truly remarkable.  And your most significant appointment to the editorial board?

Colin Steele: In 2006, I was “International Adviser to the American Council of learned Societies.  Commission of Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Our Cultural Commonwealth”. Again, to quote from my CV.

Nancy: No wonder you are valued by the ANU – especially since you retired from this particular grove of the academy in 2002.

Colin Steele:  Well, thank you.  Yes, no.  I think the ANU is particularly proud to be associated with my path-breaking 2006 journal article titled “No Easy Rider? The Scholar and the Future of the Research Library, by Fremont Rider: A Review Article”. It was published in the acclaimed The Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.  I believe one academic read this in 2007.  Or perhaps it was 2008.  I have rarely had such attention for my academic work.

Nancy:  Fascinating. Truly fascinating.  I note that, according to your CV, you had an article published in The Canberra Times on 11 June 1994 under the heading “Brave new interactions”.

Colin Steele: Yes, during my decades at taxpayer subsidised universities, I decided that I had a duty to communicate as widely as possible with my fellow citizens.  My chosen tool was The Canberra Times, my local paper.

Nancy: Go on.

Colin Steele:  Thank you.  I will.  I also did a widely acclaimed journal article in December 1974 issue of the Bodleian Library Record titled “The Peregrinations of Pizarro’s Standard”.  When that was published, books fell off the shelves. Literally.  One hit me on the head.  I’m not sure that I ever recovered from the experience.

Nancy:  Brilliant.

Colin Steele:  Yes.  By the way, did I tell you about the conference paper which I delivered in Canberra in October 1985 titled “Managing cataloguers without catalogues, or catalogues without cataloguers: a view from the twenty-first century”? You could hear a pin drop during my speech.

Nancy: I bet you could. Did you receive a S.O. when you finished?

Colin Steele:  A what?

Nancy: You know, a Standing Ovation.

Colin Steele:  I believe I would have – except for the fact that the entire audience of three was asleep at the end of my presentation.

Nancy:  That’s a pity.  And what’s your most memorable occasion from your time at the august Australian National University?

Colin Steele: How kind of you to ask.  I wrote about this in the Australian National University newsletter, Volume 45, Number 3 at some year or other.  I can quote from this, if you like.

Nancy: Please do.

Colin Steele:  This is what I wrote about one particularly memorable occasion in my “Meet the Author” functions at the ANU:

One notable event was a book signing by Barrie[sic] Humphries at the Drill Hall Gallery. Because of extremely short notice for the event, only around 30 people turned up.

The Co-op Bookshop, who have been with us since the inception, had to recycle their staff around the back of the Drill Hall, pretending to be members of the public. I remember Humphries saying at one point, “Haven’t I seen you before?” as one bookshop staff member passed through for a second or third time.

Nancy:   Fantastic.  I do not believe that there would be an academic librarian in Christendom who would be able to get a whole three score to turn up to hear Barry Humphries, even at short notice. Even if the number was somewhat less than 30 due to attendees doubling up at book signing time.

Colin Steele: Once again, thank you for your perception. You are so kind.

Nancy:  Right.  I run “Courtesy Classes” – and I like to practise what I preach. Also I find that flattery invariably works – especially when directed at academic librarians.

Colin Steele: You do it so well.

Nancy: Thank you. Finally, why are we doing this?  How is it that you became one of the most famous academic librarians in the whole of Canberra at the age of – well, let’s not talk about age.

Colin Steele:  Thank you. The truth is that no one ever really heard of me. Until last Saturday when, per courtesy of the Fairfax Media, I hit the bull’s eye by attacking John Howard, Kevin Rudd (or was it Julia Gillard?) and Tony Abbott – along with your (male) co-owner. That made me famous.

Nancy:  Thank you so much.

Colin Steele:  Happy to be with you.  By the way, did I mention in my 2006 paper wittingly (I believe) titled “The Future isn’t what it used to be”? or my 1985 speech titled “New Romances or neuromancers? – changes in scholarly communication”.

Nancy: No, thank God.

[MWD Editor’s Note: All of the references to Colin Steele’s books, papers, speeches etc are taken from his own Curriculum Vitae. They have not been made up by Nancy and are all Mr Steele’s very own work.]

nancy and colin steele


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).


In his Weekend Australian column to be published on 18-19 June 2016, Gerard Henderson refers to the edict of the ABC’s Religion & Ethics Report program not to use the term “radical Islam”. ABC management distanced the public broadcaster from the post but has refused to name the person or persons responsible.  This despite the ABC’s constant advocacy of full disclosure – for others, of course.

The following correspondence demonstrates how difficult it is to get information from the ABC.

 Gerard Henderson to Michael Millett and Nick Leys – 16 June 16



I note that, according to today’s Australian, the ABC has censured a member of its staff for the tweet about radical Islam which appeared on the Religion & Ethics website.

My questions are: Has the ABC named the staffer in question?  If so, who is it? If not, does the ABC intend to name this person?

I’d be grateful if you could let me know as soon as possible as I am referring to this matter in my Weekend Australian column.

Best wishes



Nick Leys to Gerard Henderson – 16 June 2016

Hello Gerard,

Thanks for your interest. We don’t have anything further to say beyond our statement :

Statement to The Australian, 16 June 2016

16TH JUNE 2016

The ABC has not issued any advice to staff and does not have a policy about the use of the term “radical Islam”. It has been used regularly across ABC content. The ABC holds the view that language should in all cases be as accurate and informative as possible.

The use of an official ABC social media account to say the statement should be displayed in every newsroom was inappropriate. This statement is not endorsed by the ABC and ABC Radio has spoken with the staff member responsible.

As per usual ABC practice the post will not be removed as it is not defamatory, abusive or offensive. The tweet has provoked a robust debate and it is preferable, for reasons of transparency, that it remains in place.

Hope you are well,



Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 16 June 2016


Thanks for the prompt reply.

I note that the ABC is not willing to answer my questions.  I wonder if the ABC is still a member of the “Right to Know” coalition. If so, a resignation from this organisation might be in order.

I can only assume that Andrew West, as the presenter of The Religion & Ethics Report, accepts responsibility for the tweet and will refer to this in my Weekend Australian column.

Best wishes



Nick Leys to Gerard Henderson – 16 June 2016

Gerard, when I was a cadet it was drilled into me to never make assumptions in my reporting. I urge you to consider that in your own journalism.




Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 16 June 2016


Thanks for the lecture.

However, if the taxpayer funded public broadcaster refuses to answer simple questions as to who wrote a tweet (concerning which he/she has been censured) I have little alternative but to make assumptions.

As executive director of The Sydney Institute, I have to accept responsibility for material that goes out in the Institute’s name. It is only reasonable to expect that Andrew West, as presenter of The Religion & Ethics Report, has to accept responsibility for material which goes out in the name of ABC Religion & Ethics.

My word, you have changed since your days at The Australian trying to get information out of the ABC.

Keep morale high.



There has been huge reader interest in Gerard Henderson’s offer to the Australian Republican Movement – which doubled last week.  The $20,000 is for the ARM – provided its chairman Peter Fitzsimons can come up with a certain address in the Eternal City.

Tim Mayfield to Gerard Henderson – 14 June 2016


Dear Gerard

Thanks to you, the ARM has been making huge strides towards an Australian Head of State. Now we’re ready to take it to the next level.

We are looking to employ a full-time campaign director to grow our movement and take our message of constitutional renewal to all corners of the country.

As Malcolm Turnbull has said“the republic issue cannot belong to a politician, it’s got to be a genuine popular movement.” Well Malcolm, challenge accepted.

If you or someone you know has prior campaign experience, with proven knowledge of community organising techniques and managing volunteers, we’d love to hear from you. You can access the job advertisement on the ARM website hereApplications close 15 July 2016.

In optimism,

Tim Mayfield

National Director
Australian Republican Movement


Gerard Henderson to Tim Mayfield – 16 June 2016

Dear Tim

Thanks for your note.

It’s great to hear that the Australian Republican Movement is about to employ a full-time campaign director.

Here I might, just might, be able to help finance the ARM’s new position.

Last week in my Media Watch Dog blog I announced that I would increase my offer to the ARM from $10,000 to $20,000. All your chairman Peter FitzSimons has to do to receive $20,000 for the ARM is to provide an address for the “$30 million mansion in Rome” in which he claims Cardinal George Pell lives.

That’s all.  $20,000 for the ARM’s cause to help fund a full-time campaign director in return for one address in Rome.

I have set out below the email sent to Peter FitzSimons today advising him of the increase in my offer to $20,000.

Up the Republic.

Gerard Henderson


Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 16 June 2016

Good morning Fitz

I hear from a fellow Australian Republican Movement member that you are about to conduct a funding drive for the ARM.  Go to it, good luck and so on.

As you may or may not be aware, I have increased my financial offer to the ARM – which is dependent on your co-operation.

I will donate $20,000 to the ARM – if you provide the location of the “$30 million mansion in Rome” where you allege Cardinal George Pell resides.

A pretty good offer, don’t you think? $20,000 in cash for one address.

You must believe that you know the location of the Cardinal’s (alleged) mansion since you have not corrected your claim about George Pell’s residence which you made in “The Fitz Files” in the Sun-Herald on 24 May 2015.

Best wishes




Emeritus Professor and retired librarian Colin Steele wrote an article in Fairfax Media newspapers last weekend.  After reading the article, Hendo sent an email to Colin Steele.  But, so far, he has neither acknowledged nor responded. Somewhat discourteous, don’t you think? Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to Colin Steele – 15 June 2016


What a fascinating piece in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Saturday concerning the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards – past and present. Sadly, no one has mentioned it to me – so I am not sure whether anyone read it.

In view of the fact that you referred to me in your article, I would be grateful if you could answer a couple of questions:

▪ Why did you wait so long to mention Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apparent action to overrule the judges’ action with respect to the Australian History prize in 2013?  Especially since the apparent decision of the Prime Minister Tony Abbott to slightly alter the judges’ decision with respect to the Fiction prize in 2014 was big news at the time.

▪ As someone who was a judge for the PMLA for Australian History and Non-fiction in 2012 and 2013 – you have referred to the “largely…elderly” panel appointed to replace the panel on which you were a member. Since you have raised the question of age, it is not discourteous to ask – when you were born?  This seems to be the only piece of information missing from your 26 page Curriculum Vitae in your current position as Emeritus Fellow, Australian National University.

▪ I note that you have associated yourself with the Australian Historical Association’s concern about the (alleged) lack of “well-qualified academic historians” on the current PMLA panel for Australian History and Non-fiction.

Would you name the names of the panel members of the current PMLA panel members for Australian History and Non-fiction whom you regard as not well-qualified – and give reasons for your opinion? Also, could you state your qualifications in Australian history and non-fiction? – including publications in this field.

Over to you –  and Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson


Until next time.




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