29 July 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.

  • Stop Press: ABC 7.30 Defends ABC 7.30 on Cardinal George Pell; Fairfax Media’s Unprofessional Journalism & Wendy Harmer Enlists Leftist Comedian to Defend Leftist Comedians (Herself Included)
  • Can You Bear It? David Marr & Chris Bath
  • Nancy on the Twitter-Prowl Discovers Paul Bongiorno’s Bad Twitter Behaviour
  • Nancy’s Fact Check: Q&A Host Tony Jones’ Howlers About (Alleged) Croatian Catholic Terrorism in the 1970s Revealed
  • A Modest Proposal for an ABC/Spigelman Court for Instant “Justice”
  • Richard Downing/Jim Spigelman Scorecard Update
  • Correction re David Patch
  • History Corner: State Library of Victoria Fudges 1916 Easter Rising Captions
  • Correspondence: Julian Burnside AO QC Helps Out Once Again; Phillip Adams AO Etc Fails to Help Out (Once Again)



What a stunning performance by ABC reporter Louise Milligan on the 7.30 last night.

On Wednesday, the powers-that-be at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster decided to devote the entire 30 minutes of 7.30 to allegations about what George Pell did between four and three decades ago in Ballarat and Torquay respectively. Cardinal Pell declined to be interviewed for the hatchet job and 7.30 – according to what an ABC spokesperson has told MWD – decided not to let anyone speak in his defence.

Apart from alleged victims and alleged witnesses, only one “independent” view was sought. Step forward Terry Laidler who 7.30 described as a “former Victorian [Catholic] priest”. Well, Mr Laidler is a former Victorian Catholic priest. He is also a long-time critic of George Pell on account of the cardinal’s theological conservatism.

Terry Laidler is part of the ABC family – having been a presenter on ABC 774 in Melbourne. Needless to say, Ms Milligan did not tell 7.30 viewers that its only one so-called “independent” commentator is a critic of Pell and a former employee at the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC – which does not employ one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online products.

Yesterday, the ABC had a two-pronged approach to criticism of the previous night’s 7.30.

First, Louise Milligan was commissioned to cover the story on 7.30 last night. Following criticism of Ms Milligan’s coverage of Cardinal Pell, the ABC chose Ms Milligan to defend Ms Milligan. Needless to say, Ms Milligan once again dumped on Cardinal Pell. Clever idea, eh?

Second, the ABC put out the following statement. It was not signed by ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Michelle (“At the ABC, I just need to get out of the way”) Guthrie or by the Director of Television, Richard Finlayson or Director of News, Gaven Morris. In short, no one at the ABC was willing to put her or his name to the ABC’s statement, which read as follows:

ABC News statement on 27 July 2016 7.30 program

Victoria Police was not the source of the ABC 7.30 story. Nor did witnesses approach the ABC. The report was the result of our own on-the-ground journalism over the course of months, which included finding people who would be willing to talk to us on camera.

There is a clear public interest case for reporting on this matter. Cardinal George Pell is a significant public figure, a senior figure in the Catholic Church, and he also has had direct responsibility for the Church’s response on the issue of child sex abuse.

28 July 2016

So there you have it. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster seems to have set up its own police force to do the job which neither the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse nor Victoria Police’s SANO Taskforce has been able to do. That is, produce evidence that warrants Cardinal Pell being charged with – or even interviewed about – (alleged) pedophilia. Step forward the ABC.

According to this ABC anonymous statement, the ABC has not been receiving leaks from Victoria Police and it has not been approached by witnesses. It’s all of its own (taxpayer funded) amateur detective work. So uncertain is the ABC in its coverage of George Pell that ABC staff will not put their name to ABC statements and 7.30 commissioned the ABC reporter who covered the Pell case on Wednesday to respond to criticisms of the 7.30 report on 7.30 last night. How about that?

MWD has (yet another) Modest Proposal. MWD reckons that ABC chairman Jim Spigelman AC QC should set up the ABC/Spigelman Court system – whereby conservatives in church and state can be charged, tried, convicted and summarily executed – all in the name of self-righteous (and taxpayer funded) journalism. See “Nancy’s Modest Proposal” below.

Meanwhile for a critique of the ABC’s Pell coverage see the article by Professor Frank Brennan SJ (who, by the way, has had disagreements with Cardinal Pell in the past) in the current issue of Eureka Street. It’s titled “Pell abuse saga reeks of incompetent policing” and can be read here.


This morning’s newspapers landed on Nancy’s kennel at 4.10 am. Opening The Australian, Gerard Henderson read an important piece by Greg Craven titled “Coincidental Pursuit Of Pell Poisons Atmosphere” concerning the apparent unity ticket between Victoria Police and the ABC 7.30 program with respect to Cardinal George Pell.

Professor Craven commenced his column as follows:

The most recent controversy about Cardinal George Pell is about one thing. It highlights a perturbing operating coincidence between some wielding police power and the national broadcaster, supposedly dedicated to exacting accountability for state power.

Having read The Australian and the Daily Telegraph, Nancy’s (male) co-owner then turned his attention to Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald. It contained a follow-up to Wednesday’s 7.30 program which had produced a new witness against George Pell – a certain Les Tyack of Torquay, Victoria.

Mr Tyack’s case against George Pell is that, sometime in the mid-1980s, he saw Pell standing in front of young boys at the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club’s changing rooms. Les Tyack noticed this before and after his time “in the showers for probably 5 to 10 minutes”. A long shower, to be sure. Mr Tyack’s recall is that he noticed Pell’s behavior before he (Tyack) went into the shower and noticed it continued until he (Tyack) exited the shower.

Beau Donelly interviewed Les Tyack for today’s Fairfax Media newspapers. Tyack said that he told no one about the (alleged) incident at the time but reported it to Victoria Police in 2012. This is, around three decades later. Here is the relevant section from Mr Donelly’s report:

Mr Tyack told Fairfax Media on Thursday he first reported the incident to police in 2012 and that he had “absolutely no doubt whatsoever” it was Cardinal Pell he saw standing naked in front of the children. “I stand by what I’ve said, absolutely no doubt. There’s no fabrication. It’s as I saw it,” he said. “I walked in on it, felt very uncomfortable … it just concerned me.”

Mr Tyack said he walked in to the change room as Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, then a local priest, was towelling himself dry a couple of metres from where the boys were getting dressed. He said he became concerned when he returned from a shower minutes later and found Cardinal Pell still naked, standing with the towel over his shoulder and facing the children, who were now dressed. “I immediately thought this is not right, there is something amiss here,” he told the ABC. “[It was a] very strange situation for an adult to be full-frontal to three young boys.”

Mr Tyack said he told the boys, aged eight to 10, to leave the change room before telling Cardinal Pell “I know what you’re up to. Piss off. Get out of here” and threatening to call the police.

In fact, George Pell was never the “local priest” at Torquay. Beau Donelly would know this if he had done some research – since (then) Fr Pell’s clerical postings are documented in The Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia. They never included a posting to the Torquay parish. This is a serious error – not a typo.

Also, the Fairfax Media journalist reported that the time which elapsed between Mr

Tyack entering and exiting the shower occupied a matter of “minutes”. However, Tyack told 7.30 that the time span was “probably 5 to 10 minutes”. There is a significant time difference here about which Mr Donelly did not bother to inquire.

This is unprofessional journalism – especially since the subject is so important and the allegation so serious.


Gerard Henderson observes that if you laugh at ABC presenters you seldom get invited on to their programs.

Take ABC Radio 702’s “Mornings” program, for example. Hendo was not invited on to Mornings with Deborah Cameron or its replacement Mornings with Linda Mottram. Nor has he been invited on to Mornings with Wendy Harmer. Perhaps his luck may change if there ever is a “Mornings with Jack the Ripper” program.

This morning, Ms Harmer decided to analyse Gerard Henderson’s discussion with Andrew Bolt on Sky News’ The Bolt Report last Tuesday (Foxtel Channel 601). Hendo and The Bolter discussed the fact that so many leftist Australian comedians never target the left. By this, Hendo meant the Green/Left – hence his claim that Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell on 20 July 2016 sounded a bit like “Saint Bob Brown’s Epistle to the Green/Leftians”. He also mentioned the consistent green/left line of The Chaser Boys (average age 421/2), Charlie Pickering and John Clarke & Bryan Dawe.

Wendy Harmer decided that it would be a you-beaut idea to discuss the Bolt/Henderson exchange. But she invited neither on to her taxpayer-funded program. Instead, Mornings with Wendy Harmer asked leftist comedian Jonathan Biggins to assess the Bolt/Henderson discussion. Guess what? Your man Biggins dismissed and ridiculed the views of Hendo and The Bolter. Surprised?

Mr Biggins also missed the point that Henderson had said that Australian comedians rarely target the left. Jonathan Biggins seems to think that Labor is a party of the left. Not so. The ALP is a social democratic party – not a leftist party. There is a significant ideological divide between Labor’s Jenny Macklin and the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.

The only substantial leftist party in Australia is the Greens. They are rarely the subject of leftist ridicule by comedians. Nor is Islam, since it’s easier – and safer – to mock Christians in general and Catholics in particular.

And so it came to pass that Harmer agreed with her guest Biggins who agreed with his host Harmer who agreed with her guest Biggins – that conservatives are never funny while the leftists are a bag of laughs.

It seems that neither Wendy Harmer nor Jonathan Biggins watched “Clarke & Dawe” on ABC 1 News Breakfast this morning. John Clarke and Bryan Dawe started off by mocking Liberal Party politicians and then they mocked Labor Party politicians. But Clarke and Dawe did not make fun of the Greens. Which is what The Bolter and Hendo were analysing on The Bolt Report last Tuesday.

Can you bear it graphic


Wasn’t it great to see David Marr on the Insiders couch last Sunday? Great performance – pity about the script.

During the program, your man Marr had this to say about Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg :

David Marr: Can I say one thing about Frydenberg? It’s not clear what he thinks about the science of global, of, of, of climate change. We know he loves coal. But it’s yet to be completely clear where he stands on the science of climate change and I’m hoping in the next few days that will be clarified.

In fact, as a brief YouTube search would have indicated, Minister Frydenberg said that he accepted the science of climate change at a public forum during the 2016 election campaign. Can you bear it?


On Wednesday, ambulance-chasing solicitors Maurice Blackburn went down in flames following their appeal to the High Court of Australia. The case was Paciocco v ANZ. A majority of the High Court (4-1) agreed with the three judges in the Federal Court who found that the bank’s late payment fees did not amount to unconscionable conduct.

So who did the ABC Sydney Radio 702 Drive program go to for expert opinion on the High Court decision? Why, Maurice Blackburn principal Andrew Watson – that’s who. Needless to say, your man Watson told interviewer Chris Bath that the decisions of both the High Court and the Full Federal Court were mistaken. As the saying goes, he would wouldn’t he? Can you bear it?

nandy twitter


Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the following Twitter exchange between the courteous Chris Kenny (Sky News’ Viewpoint) and the evidently angry Paul Bongiorno (Channel 10 and ABC Radio National).

Chris Kenny Tweet

Bongiorno Tweet

How discourteous can angry Bonge get? Chris Kenny tweeted that his Viewpoint program last Monday would discuss terrorism, immigration, the Safe Schools program and World War I. Sounds pretty reasonable for a current affairs program, don’t you think? And Bonge exploded and tweeted that Kenny is into “abysmal dumb prejudice”.

Bonge – off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.



Right now, ABC 1 Q&A presenter Tony Jones is on what journalists like to call a Well Earned Break. Hence Virginia Trioli’s presence in the Q&A presenter’s chair last Monday.

In recent times, your man Jones – egged on by his executive producer Peter McEvoy – has urged Q&A audiences to get into the fact-checking mode and critique all comments made on the program. Gerard Henderson has heard the call. And so Nancy’s (male) co-owner has commenced this brand new segment. Here we go.

On Q&A on 18 July 2016, the following exchange took place between panelist and One Nation Party senator elect Pauline Hanson and presenter Tony Jones:

Pauline Hanson: We have terrorism on the streets that we’ve never had before. We’ve had murders committed under the name of Islam, as we have the Lindt Cafe, Curtis Cheng and the two police officers in Melbourne, right? So this has happened. You have radicalisation –

Tony Jones : Can I just – I’m sure that – Pauline, I’m sure the fact-checkers will be on to this. But when you say we’ve never had terrorism in this country before, that’s simply not the case.

Pauline Hanson: Not to –

Tony Jones : In the 1970s there were multiple bombings by Croatian Catholic extremists. This has happened in Australia before. It’s not the first time. We should at least get that straight.

Here Tony Jones paraded his leftist views of some four decades ago. His statement does not stand up to fact-checking.

In the 1970s, the state of Yugoslavia, established in 1918, was presided over by the communist dictator Josip Broz Tito (Marshal Tito). It was an amalgam of nations – including Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The dispute between the oppressed Croatians and the dominant Serbs spilled over into the diaspora populations of both entities. The row between the anti-communist Croatians and the communist Yugoslavian regime was a secular conflict. Sure, most Croats were Catholic but their dispute with the Tito regime did not turn on religion. Rather, Croatia wanted its independence – which it attained, after the end of the Cold War, in 1991.

The issue of (alleged) Croatian terrorism in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s is covered by John Blaxland in The Protest Years – The Official History of ASIO: 1963-1975 (Allen & Unwin, 2015). In particular, in Chapter 3 titled “The Rise of Terrorism: Croatian Emigres and Counter-subversion, 1962-1972”.

Dr Blaxland’s research does not support the claim made by Tony Jones on Q&A – namely that “there were multiple bombings by Croatian Catholic extremists” in Australia “in the 1970s”.

Early in the chapter, Blaxland records that in the 1960s “ASIO received evidence from European court cases that the Yugoslav Government was prepared to murder its opponents abroad”. ASIO also came to the view that Yugoslav reports about alleged Croatian activists in Australia were untrustworthy.

At Page 123 Blaxland writes:

In the 1960s and 1970s there were sixteen bomb attacks and numerous other incidents against Yugoslav interests in Australia, many if not most of them attributed to Croatians, although some were believed to be the work of the Yugoslav Intelligence Service (YIS).

This is the point that Tony Jones completely overlooked. Namely, that the YIS attacked Yugoslav interests in Australia – in an attempt to discredit Croatians living in Australia, including Croatian Australians. As Dr Blaxland describes it on Page 128:

While Australian-based Croatians were evidently active and vocal in their hatred of the Yugoslavs, there were growing suspicions that at least some of the bombings in Australia were arranged by the YIS to pressure Australian authorities into acting against the Croats in Australia.

In 1967 six Serbs, not Croats, were arrested in the United States and charged with bombing Yugoslav embassies in the United States and Canada. No such arrests were made in Australia – but ASIO had its suspicions. For example, in January 1967 ASIO concluded that if a bomb at the Yugoslav consulate in Sydney had been meant to hurt people, the attack would have been carried out differently. It wasn’t – hence the lack of casualties.

John Blaxland writes (Page 144) about the bombing of the Yugoslav consulate in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn in October 1970:

In October 1970 there was another bombing of the Yugoslav Consulate in Melbourne. Extensive damage was caused to the front of the building, but the occupants were uninjured. The following morning a second device was discovered tied to the leg of the metal stand supporting a heating-oil storage tank, indicating a far greater explosion had been intended. But there was a lack of clear evidence of who planted them.

Likewise, ASIO believed that an explosion at the Yugoslav consulate in Sydney in June 1969 had been undertaken by Yugoslav authorities.

In June 1971, the media – particularly the ABC – focused on the story that Croatians had been charged with possessing explosives which were buried at the Warburton Ranges in Victoria. At page 149 John Blaxland writes:

In early June, four young Croatians were charged in Melbourne with possession of explosives from a buried cache in the Warburton Ranges. Documents found in their possession indicated that they were members of SHUMS [Union of Croatian United Youth of the World] and confirmed the link with HIRO [a Croatian revolutionary organisation]. A different picture emerged later, however, when one of the “principals” associated with the cache incident was reported to be living free in Belgrade. This lent “credence to the suggestion that the event was a YIS controlled operation aimed at discrediting the Croatian nationalist community”.

Once again, that’s the point. Some of the bombings against Yugoslav property in Australia – in which nobody was killed – could have been undertaken by extreme right-wing Croatian nationalists. However, as John Blaxland points out, ASIO found it difficult to distinguish between the actions of Yugoslav agents in Australia and those of extremist Croatian nationalists in Australia. Consequently, Tony Jones’ certainty that “there were multiple bombings by Croatian Catholic extremists” in Australia “in the 1970s” is absolute tosh. It just does not pass a fact-check test. Especially as no one was charged – let alone convicted – with igniting bombs.

The official History of ASIO currently ends in 1975. Presumably, the third – and final volume – will cover the events in 1979 with respect to (alleged) Croatian terrorism in Australia, among other matters.

In 1979, six men of Croatian background were jailed in Australia for conspiracy to commit terror. However, there is considerable doubt about the validity of these convictions and much concern that the “Croatian Six” were framed by agents of the Yugoslav secret police operating in Australia.

This is documented in the book Framed (Fairfax Media, 2012) by journalist Hamish McDonald. As Hamish McDonald wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 February 2012:

When the Federal Government released its white paper on counter-terrorism in 2010, there was a curious omission from its list of terrorist attacks and major foiled attempts in Australia over the past 40 years. What on the face of it should rank as the biggest counter-terrorism success was not even mentioned.

This was the ”Croatian Six” case in February 1979, when NSW police were said to have stopped the imminent bombing of Sydney’s Elizabethan Theatre during an event attended by up to 1600 people, the bombing of several city businesses and the cutting of Sydney’s water supply. The six accused were successfully prosecuted and each sentenced to 15 years’ jail, convictions and sentences upheld on appeal.

The omission may reflect embarrassment over the case, around which doubts and suspicions began to swirl even as the six underwent a trial that lasted eight months.

A Herald investigation strengthens suspicions that the Croatian Six – Max Bebic, Vic Brajkovic, Tony Zvirotic, Joe Kokotovic and his brother Ilija Kokotovic, and Mile Nekic, all young tradesmen and Australian citizens of Croatian birth – were framed, each spending up to a decade in prison.

Not only that, the Croatian Six case resulted from an operation by the Yugoslav state security service, known as the UDBa, to blacken the Croatian-Australian community as extremists, using Australian intelligence and police services as its tools, according to a top American intelligence expert on the Balkans.

In August 1991 Four Corners reporter Chris Masters interviewed Vico Virkez – who turned crown witness and testified in court against the Croatian Six – in Yugoslavia. He admitted that he was a Serb – not a Croat – and his real name was Vitomir Misimovic, that he had infiltrated the Croatian community in Australia and informed on it to Yugoslav diplomats. Virkez said that none of the “Croatian Six” were guilty of a conspiracy to let-off explosive devices.

Tony Jones should have been aware of Chris Masters’ story – since Jones was working for the ABC at the time.

Also, in view of his interests in the activities of Croatian nationalists in Australia in the 1970s, Mr Jones should be aware that the charges against the “Croatian Six” were laid by the NSW Police – at a time when the corrupt Roger Rogerson was a key player in the force. Rogerson led the raid on the home of Joe Kokotovic. This year Rogerson was convicted of murder.

Last Monday, Crikey reported that Tony Jones had sent the following note to a Q&A viewer who complained about his comments re (alleged) “Croatian Catholic extremists”:

Those [Croatian] activities included very many bombings of Yugoslavian government properties or businesses linked to that government during the 1960s and 70s; acts of violence against individuals in Australia; money raising and planning of foreign military incursions by armed guerrillas into the former Yugoslavia; and the active participation of Australian citizens and residents in those military incursions.

If you are interested I could send you the relevant Senate Hansard of April 1973 when the Attorney General tabled multiple ASIO and Commonwealth Police documents relating to all of the above.

Here Tony Jones is relying on the testimony of Senator Lionel Murphy, the then Attorney General in Gough Whitlam’s Labor government. Murphy was a left-wing Labor operator who had an obsession with associating the anti-communist Croatians in Australia with terrorism.

An ABC spokesperson provided the following comments to SBS News on 19 July 2016 – as reported by Santilla Chingaipe:

An ABC spokesperson told SBS News: “Mr Jones was very much aware of the grave injustice that was done to the Croatian Six – his colleagues at Four Corners were instrumental in exposing it. His comment referred to the well-documented activities in the 1960s and 1970s of other Croatian nationalists belonging to organisations designated as ‘extremist’ by the Australian government and police and security agencies. The references for this include Hansard at the time.”

Once again, Tony Jones is relying on the testimony – from nearly four decades ago – of Labor attorney-general Lionel Murphy. It’s not a reliable source since Senator Murphy at the time was heavily into self-justification.

On 15-16 March 1973, Murphy took the extraordinary act of raiding the ASIO headquarters in Melbourne and the ASIO Canberra office. At the time, Murphy believed that ASIO was covering up evidence of Croatian terrorism in Australia. This was not the case – as Murphy himself later conceded.

The documents which Lionel Murphy produced in 1973 – and on which Tony Jones relies today – were an attempt by Murphy to cover up his disastrous, and completely unwarranted, raid on ASIO.

In fact – so far, at least – Tony Jones has not provided any independent evidence to support his assertion that “Croatian Catholic extremists” were involved in terrorist attacks in Australia in “the 1970s”. Yet the ABC is standing by the testimony of Tony Jones – and the late Lionel Murphy – without doing any fact-checking of its own.

framed book cover

Nancys Modest Proposal


Please note that the term P-H is Nancy’s abbreviation for “Pell-Hater”.

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While on the topic of Jim Spigelman, here’s a visual reminder of how long it has taken, so far, for the current ABC chairman to renounce the views on pederasty expressed by one of his predecessors as ABC chairman – namely, Professor Richard Downing (1915-1975). In 1975, speaking in his capacity as ABC chairman, Professor Downing called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts and advised Australians that “in general, men will sleep with boys”. Mr Spigelman maintains that there is no need to distance the current ABC from the views expressed by a previous chairman since he is not in “apostolic succession” to his predecessors.

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There was an error in the introduction to the Correspondence Section in MWD Issue 324 which went out late on the afternoon of Friday 15 July.

It was stated that David Patch is married to Barbara Ramjan. In fact, Mr Patch and Ms Ramjan are married to their respective spouses and not to each other.

The error was corrected in MWD around 2 pm on Saturday 16 July 2016. MWD regrets – and apologises for – this mistake.

History Corner


When in Melbourne recently Gerard Henderson visited The Irish Rising “A Terrible Beauty Is Born” exhibition at the State Library of Victoria – which runs from 17 March to 31 July 2016. The photographic exhibition near the Redmond Barry Reading Room contains a number of howlers concerning Daniel Mannix and Michael Collins.

  • Daniel Mannix

Dr Mannix arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1913 in his capacity as Coadjutor (or deputy) Archbishop of Melbourne. He became Archbishop of Melbourne in May 1917, following the death of Archbishop Thomas Carr. The State Library of Victoria exhibit makes the following claims about Archbishop Mannix:

The [Easter] Rising also had an impact on Australian society and politics especially through the activities of the Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, who led the successful anti-conscription faction into the 1916 and 1917 plebiscites on this issue.

[Daniel Mannix] led a successful anti-conscription campaign in 1916, to the chagrin of the Australian Establishment.

These captions are simply inaccurate.

It is true that Archbishop Mannix played an active role in the second conscription plebiscite – which was held on 20 December 1917. But it is not true that he played an active role in the first conscription plebiscite – which was held on 28 October 1916. Certainly, in late 1916 it was known that Dr Mannix was opposed to conscription for overseas service during the First World War. However, he spoke rarely on the topic. Moreover, Daniel Mannix was not the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne in 1916.

The October 1916 plebiscite obtained an overall minority of 72,476 votes (48.39 per cent) for “Yes” – along with a majority in only three States (Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania). For the plebiscite to be successful in 1916, an overall majority along with a majority of votes in a majority (i.e. four) of States would have been required.

It is true that in December 1917 Victoria moved from a majority for “Yes’ (51.88 per cent) to a majority for “No” (50.21 per cent) – a swing of 2.09 per cent. In New South Wales the swing to “No” in 1917 was even greater – i.e. 2.76 per cent. And in 1917 the national swing to “No” was 2.18 per cent. Daniel Mannix had little influence on the debate outside of Victoria and, on the available statistics, did not have a major influence on the plebiscite outcome.

Certainly, Dr Mannix’s high profile intervention in the December 1917 plebiscite created considerable interest and resultant controversy. However, there is no evidence that led the successful “No” campaign. There were many “No” campaigners beyond Archbishop Daniel Mannix.

  • Michael Collins

As avid readers are aware, Michael Collins was one of the Irish leaders who agreed to a Treaty with Britain which led the end of the Irish War of Independence and the creation of the Irish Free State. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921. Those opposed to the Treaty – who were called Irregulars or the Irish Republican Army – under the leadership of Liam Lynch, fought the Irish Free State government in what became known as the Irish Civil War. Eamon de Valera supported the Irregulars against the Irish Free State. The Irish Civil War ended in May 1922 with the surrender of the Irish Republican Army (Irregular) forces.

The Irish Rising “A Terrible Beauty Is Born” exhibition has a caption which states that the Irish leader Michael Collins was assassinated in August 1922 “either by an anti-Treaty fighter or by a British agent”.

It is not completely certain how Michael Collins died on 22 August 1922 – after his convoy was ambushed by Anti-Treaty forces. He was almost certainly shot by Anti-Treaty forces – as James Mackay describes in Michael Collins: A Life. But, it’s also possible – just possible – that he was shot unintentionally by a member of his bodyguard. However, no one seriously maintains that Michael Collins might have been killed “by a British agent”. Except the State Library of Victoria.

In his book Mick: The Real Michael Collins (Macmillan 2005), Peter Hart dismisses the “conspiracy” theory that Michael Collins was killed by the “British secret service” as “ridiculously unsubstantiated by any credible evidence”. But, this conspiracy gets a run in the State Library of Victoria – until close of business on Sunday.

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).


As readers of last week’s MWD will know, seemingly mild-mannered Melbourne barrister Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC turns into Super-Rant when he goes out of court and on to Twitter. MWD Issue 325 documented your man Burnside’s recent tweet that he would not be surprised if Cardinal George Pell ordered the murder of lotsa people. Really. Needless to say, JB AO QC provided no evidence to support his rant. Meanwhile, followers of Twitter proclaim: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – it’s Super-Rant.”

Last Wednesday’s 7.30 report on George Pell had barely concluded when Burnside AO QC emailed Gerard Henderson saying, in effect, that he (i.e. JB AO QC) would not be surprised if Cardinal Pell was a pedophile. Hendo has been busy of late, but he has sent JB AO QC a response. To use a Super-Rant phrase, Hendo would not be surprised if he receives no response. We will let you know. Now, here we go:

Julian Burnside to Gerard Henderson – 27 July 2016

Dear Gerard

I don’t know if you have seen 7.30 today on George Pell. As I said before, from my dealings with him and from what I have learned about him, nothing would surprise me.
It is not surprising that he decided not to come to Australia to give evidence to the Royal Commission. I look forward to read your public defence of him.

Very best wishes

Gerard Henderson to Julian Burnside – 29 July 2016


How wonderful to hear from you again – in your Super-Rant persona. I remain intrigued that a mild-mannered guy like you can turn into a ranter when bagging conservatives – whether of the political or theological genre. But, there you go. By the way, Cardinal Pell has given evidence to the Royal Commission – once in person and twice via video-link.

Last week – in Super-Rant mode – you told me that you would “not be surprised” if Cardinal George Pell proves to be a mass murderer. This week you tell me that you would “not be surprised” if George Pell were a life-time pedophile. For my part, I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED if I was turned into a pillar-of-salt after a G&T this evening. Surprise, you see, is very much in the eye of the beholder.

You seem to move from a mild-mannered lawyer devoted to human rights by day into a ranting tweeter/emailer who thrashes reputations and pre-judges others sans evidence. A remarkable metamorphosis to be sure.

Since as a tweeter you resemble your Melbourne colleague Phillip Adams AO AM etc (who also loves to flash his post-nominals) I have forwarded to you my email to Mr Adams dated 28 July 2016. Your rant and Phillip Adams AO AM etc’s rant were similar – so I hope that you will be happy sharing my response with him.

Lotsa love

Gerard Henderson

* * * *


Phillip (“Yes, I was a teenage communist”) Adams frequently tweets about Gerard Henderson. God – or god as the ABC’s Man-in-Black would say – only knows why. Hendo is not that important.

Like Super-Rant (see above), the Man-in-Black responded to the 7.30 George Pell program on Wednesday by tweeting about Nancy’s (male) co-owner. Being a well-brought up and courteous kind of guy, Hendo thought he should explain his position to the presenter of Late Night Live on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Mr Adams, who has not attended Nancy’s Courtesy Classes, sometimes does not respond to (critical) correspondence. We’ll let you know if he changes his behavior in this instance.

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 28 July 2016


Someone has drawn my attention to the following tweet which you sent out last night — sometime after 7.30 went to air with its 30-minute story on Cardinal George Pell.

phillip adams pell tweet

It’s interesting to note that you regard a person who is accused — on the basis of flimsy evidence — of improper handling and flashing some four decades after the event as “sanctimonious”. In my view, Cardinal George Pell has a right to defend himself against allegations concerning which he has not even been interviewed by Victorian Police let alone charged. So has anyone else.

My position is this. Some people tell the truth accurately. Some people have a fallible sense of recall. Some people have clear “memories” of events which never happened. And some people tell conscious lies.

I believe that allegations against individuals should be tested in court before commentators go about ruining the reputations of others.

I adopted a similar approach with respect to your ABC colleague Paul Bongiorno. As I documented in my Media Watch Dog blog Issue 317 (27 May 2016), a witness gave a statement to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse concerning (then) Fr Bongiorno. The witness claimed that he told Paul Bongiorno, in 1970 or 1971, of Gerald Ridsdale’s offending. Mr Bongiorno said that he had no recollection of such an event. In the absence of further evidence to the contrary, I accepted Paul Bongiorno’s statement.

* * * *

By the way, I note that you have refused to criticise the view of former ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing — expressed in 1975 — that we should “understand” the urges of pederasts and accept that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. There is still time. However, it does demonstrate a considerable double standard on your part. We know what the ABC Chairman said about pederasty in 1975 — we do not know what George Pell did in the 1970s or 1980s.

In conclusion, I must say I was truly delighted to be interviewed by you on your “little wireless program” last year on my B.A. Santamaria biography. As you know, this was my first invitation to appear on ABC Late Night Live in a quarter of a century. I look forward to a sequel in 2040, or thereabouts. God willing.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Until next time.

“[Gerard Henderson is a] whining rodent”

– Bruce Haigh, former diplomat and regular ABC panelist

“[Gerard Henderson is a] cretinous turd”

– Rohan Connolly via Twitter – 12 July 2016

“It’s always nice to be mentioned in your pedantic, predictable and self-absorbed Friday web rant”

– Stephen Mayne, via email, Bastille Day, 2016

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