5 August 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.



Endorsement Tweet

This is what anna-lise had to say on the evening of Saturday 30 July – at around pre-dinner drinks time. The bad news for Gin & Tonic shares was that Hendo did not appear on Insiders last Sunday. However, Hendo will be on Insiders this weekend. So anna-lise, have a full glass ready at 9.01 am on Sunday 7 August since you will almost certainly be driven to drink.

By the way, it was interesting to read today’s report by The Guardian Online’s Amanda Meade that “Sunday’s Insiders program will no longer be transcribed – except for the political interview which will be posted the following day, Monday”. MWD doubts that much money will be saved by this cut – since Insiders’ on-the-couch discussions have never been transcribed by the ABC. Ms Meade is The Guardian’s media editor.

  • Stop Press: The Confusion of Quentin Dempster & Wendy Harmer; ABC To Look Back in Leftist Happiness At The Vietnam Protest Movement
  • Nancy’s Fact Check: The Human Mumble Forgets his Fives Times Tables
  • Can You Bear It? Scott Burchill Verbals the Reserve Bank; Peter Singer Drowns in His Own Hyperbole; Erik Jensen Admits he is Bore; Irfan Yusuf’s Eric Abetz Obsession – Proudly Sponsored by Crikey; Julian Burnside’s Julia Gillard Denial; Fairfax Media (Reluctantly) Concedes George Pell Error (Sort of)
  • A Modest Proposal: On Professor Gillian Triggs and Violent Young Offenders
  • MWD Exclusive: The ABC’s Talking-Points to Handle Its 7.30 Hatchet Job on Cardinal Pell Revealed
  • Correspondence: Fairfax Media’s Darren Goodsir & Stuart Washington Help Out By Forwarding MWD a “Not for Publication” Letter which is Published



Wendy (“I’m just an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer this morning invited leftist journalist Quentin Dempster and so-called “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery into the ABC studios in Sydney to discuss Australian politics after the declaration of the polls for both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Here are the “highlights”.

First up, Quentin Dempster revealed that for the Turnbull government to obtain a majority of 76 senators it will need 39 votes. Wow. Let’s hear from the wise man himself:

Quentin Dempster: …The significant thing for everybody to watch in Australian politics now, particularly as Malcolm Turnbull has just a one seat majority in the Reps, is the new number: 39. To change – to pass legislation in the Senate. The number 39 will dominate Australian politics for the next three years.

Wendy Harmer: Ooh I should have, say, someone who – a numerologist to jump on the line and tell me the significance of the number 39…

What a load of tosh. For some three decades, all governments – Coalition and Labor alike – have needed 39 votes to obtain a Senate majority. In recent years, this was the case with the governments led by Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. And now this is true of the government led by Malcolm Turnbull. There is no need to consult a numerologist to find significance in the fact that a majority of 76 senators is 39 senators. Unless you’re Quentin Dempster or Wendy Harmer.

Then, soon after, the following exchange took place:

Wendy Harmer: Now it is said that the Prime Minister, to be able to get anything through is going to have a lot of trouble. And he – I read where the prediction is that he’s going to have to have a lot more, perhaps, joint sittings of both houses. What would be the purpose of that, Quentin, and how will that work for the PM?

Quentin Dempster: Well, there’s only one on schedule at the moment, later this year. Maybe later in August. And that’s the Australian Building and Construction Commission double dissolution trigger bill, and the Registered Organisations bill.

Yet more tosh. Ms Harmer seems unaware that joint sittings of the Senate and the House of Representatives can only take place following a double dissolution. Moreover, the only legislation that can go to a joint sitting is legislation that has already been defeated twice in the Senate and which led to the double dissolution.

It seems that neither the self-declared old fashioned socialist (Ms Harmer) nor the former ABC presenter who now writes for the trade union online journal The New Daily (Mr Dempster) understand the basics of the Australian Constitution.

Verily, A Wendy Harmer Moment.


How about this tweet, which the ABC sent out at sparrows this morning?

Vietnam Tweet

So, the ABC wants to hear “Vietnam War protest stories”. Not stories from those Australians who supported Australia’s commitment in Vietnam. Not stories from those who were part of Australia’s armed forces during the time of the Vietnam War.

No – just stories from the Vietnam War protest movement. Well, what would you expect from a Conservative Free Zone which has not one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets?

[Perhaps Tony Jones might tell ABC News his (tall) story about how as a youth in Newington College he was busy turning over cars in the nearby streets of Stanmore. See MWD Issue 100, 101 & 324. MWD Editor]



As avid readers are aware, it is extraordinarily difficult to transcribe what – now Senator-elect – Derryn Hinch says on Sky News. The problem is that your man Hinch mumbles so much – as this extract from Paul Murray Live on Wednesday indicates – see here.

For what it’s worth, here’s what “The Human Mumble” seems to have said when discussing levels of Maths and English among school students as revealed in the Naplan tests last Wednesday:

Derryn Hinch: I never got over the fact that they, I never got over the fact that they scrapped times tables. I mean, the fact that we had times tables, it was, it was exercise for the brain. Everybody, from, from, from the time you were about five or six you’re going “Five sixes are 36, Six sixes are 36” or et cetera, et cetera. And it was, it was, it was, it was, a good way to learn numbers.

Yeah, sure. The Human Mumble learnt at school that 5×6=36. Your man Hinch was educated in New Zealand.

Can you bear it graphic


It’s great to have the ABC 1 News Breakfast program back again in Aunty’s Southbank studios in Melbourne. This after a brief period in Sydney while the ABC studios at Southbank were being re-furbished.

News Breakfast’s return home has led to a situation where Melbourne guys (with lotsa apologies to Australian of the Year, David Morrison) can once again rock-up to Southbank on Mondays to Fridays to participate in the “Newspapers” segment.

Needless to say, former Julia Gillard adviser and current media tart Nicholas Reece was knocking on the Southbank studio’s door at 5.45 am on Monday ready to go to air one hour later. MWD has lost count of the number of occasions in which the Melbourne University academic has appeared on the ABC or Sky News this week alone. There was News Breakfast plus an appearance on The Bolt Report plus one on Paul Murray Live. On PML on Wednesday, Mr Reece complained that Pauline Hanson was getting too much television time. Really.

But MWD digresses. On Tuesday, Scott Burchill found time to drop in on News Breakfast again, dressed in shabby-black, on his way to the tip. All was going well enough until Michael Rowland raised the matter of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision later in the day on interest rates. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Roland: Let’s finish with the Financial Review, the looming interest rates decision by the Reserve Bank, front and centre.

Scott Burchill: Yeah. Two things. One, here we’re going down to 1.5 percent from 1.75.

Michael Roland: Potentially

Scott Burchill: Potentially which is – so you’re running out of leverage really with interest rates and those settings after a while. But it’s interesting that Mr Morrison as treasurer who – the traditional role of the treasurer is to say: “These are totally independent decisions which government doesn’t comment on.” But he’s in fact – according to the Financial Review this morning – welcomed what is a decision that hasn’t yet been taken.

Del Irani: Absolutely but but that’s what’s incredible about the story this morning. The Treasurer’s really getting in on the RBA’s territory.

Scott Burchill: Well he’s going to look a bit silly if they don’t actually change now – isn’t he? He’s barracking for a change which doesn’t come. I don’t know, not sure where that leaves him if it doesn’t happen.

Michael Rowland: High and dry potentially.

Scott Burchill: Well the decision’s usually taken a day before aren’t they – and then announced the following –

Del Irani: And then announced today – as well, yeah.

Scott Burchill: So perhaps he’s [i.e. Morrison’s] had a little, someone’s whispered in his ear about the results –

Michael Roland: Who knows? We’ll find out at 2:30 this afternoon, Scott, either way.

What a load of absolute tosh. In fact, it is a decade since the RBA announced interest rate decisions the day after its meeting. It seems your man Burchill is totally ignorant of the fact that the RBA currently meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 9 am. The RBA’s decision – to raise, reduce or leave untouched the official interest rate – is usually decided close to lunch-time and always announced at 2.30 pm on the same day.

It was a serious error – and grossly irresponsible – for Scott Burchill to imply that someone at the RBA tipped off Scott Morrison on Monday that there would be an interest rate cut on Tuesday. He just made this up. Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) is a senior lecturer in International Relations at Deakin University who is subsidised by the taxpayer to teach students. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of ABC shows filmed in Melbourne this week, did anyone see the Q&A program last Monday? – which was presented by Virginia Trioli.

The “highlight” of a somewhat dull affair occurred when philosopher Peter Singer had this to say about DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE. Let’s go to the official ABC website for the transcript:

Peter Singer: Yeah, I mean, I think this is the biggest issue that we are going to face on this program tonight. It is the biggest issue really that the world is facing in the coming century….It’s clear that we cannot dig up and burn all of the coal that we now know exists. All of the scientific consensus is that if we do that, we’re heading way beyond the two degree Celsius limit, which the Paris Agreement was supposed to get to and that means that we have dangerous, uncontrolled climate change.

We don’t know exactly what that is going to mean. But it is going to mean unpredictable, greater droughts. We will have a greater oscillation that we have had of the El Niño/La Niña effect. We’ll have more doubts[sic].

We’ll have returns to greater bushfires…we are going to have sea level rises, again, quite unpredictable, but some of the predictions are going as high as a five-metre sea rise by the end of the century. That is going to basically inundate every coastal city around the world, including, of course, all Australian major cities are coastal. It is going – estimated to cause something like 750 million refugees just moving away from that flooding. Never mind those who also because refugees because (indistinct)…

Virginia Trioli: Some of those claims are contested, of course?

Peter Singer: Well, they are contested but do you want to take the chance, right?…

Yeah, right. Go on – and so on. Your man Singer went from conceding that his eco-catastrophic prediction of sea levels rising by up to five metres was “unpredictable” to predict that such an eventuality “is” going to flood every coastal city in the world and cause 750 million eco-refugees. No doubt, or drought, here.

Professor Singer is a philosopher with no formal qualifications in science or engineering. But he’s tops for climate change prophecy. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. How wonderful, however, that the ABC’s transcript refers to Peter Singer saying that “we’ll have more doubts”. He/she should have known that on this issue the learned professor has no doubt at all. MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of doubt, why oh why did anyone doubt MWD’s assessment that Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper is, well, boring? A reasonable deduction from this analysis would be to conclude that The Saturday Paper’s editor – young Erik Jensen – is also boring.

Could it be that no one at the ABC TV 1 Australian Story reads MWD? Or perhaps the program’s executive producer does not believe that MWD expresses only truth. In any event, as the Crikey newsletter reported last Friday (after lunch), Australian Story has ditched a proposed episode on Erik Jensen because he is – you’ve guessed it – too BORING.

Crikey’s Myriam Robin reported that your (young) man Jensen had this to say to freelance journalist Andrew McMillen for a story on the Penmanship podcast:

Erik Jensen: They ultimately decided I was too boring to be a subject of Australian Story. Which is really a confronting thing to be told by a producer. “Yeah, we’ve been filming you for about 20 hours now, and there’s actually nothing there. You are incredibly boring.”

But I’ve dealt with that news and I’ve made peace with it. In one of these long interviews … the reason people cry on Australian Story is not because it’s really tender documentary making. It’s not because these people are confronting great trauma or tragedy. The reason people cry in Australian Story is because those interviews go for like 8 hours. It’s like water boarding. By the end, you’ll be talking about what you had for breakfast and then burst into tears and want to give them the nuclear codes. It’s like Guantanamo Bay.

OMG, what’s the staff at Australian Story doing? You don’t have to interview Mr Jensen for 20 hours – or even eight hours – to know how boring he is. You only have to put on a pair of sandals and a Che Guevara tee-shirt and read a copy of The Saturday Paper on a Saturday morning in a coffee shop in Fitzroy North. Why, even the “news” is boring – since The Saturday Paper goes to the printer on Thursday evening.

Needless to say, Erik Jensen has not said why his vanity is such that he believed that he would be a suitable subject for a television profile. Instead, he threw the switch to hyperbole and compared being interviewed for Australian Story as “like water boarding” and “like Guantanamo Bay”. Er, expect that those who were water-boarded at Guantanamo Bay did not volunteer for the experience. Unlike Erik Jensen – who really and truly believed that his (boring) story should be told on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of Crikey, what a stunning piece it carried on 26 July 2016 by “lawyer, author and commentator” Irfan Yusuf titled “Abetz should look in his own Nazi background before comparing refugees to terrorists”. Mr Yusuf alleged – and Crikey chairman Eric (“Journalistic standards are dropping at an alarming rate”) Beecher published – that Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz “has a direct link to the Nazi regime”.

How come? – MWD hears you ask. Well, Irfan Yusuf’s logic – for want of a better word – goes like this. Eric Abetz (born January 1958) is a grand nephew of Otto Abetz (born May 1903). As Robert S. Wistrich documents in Who’s Who in Nazi Germany, Otto Abetz was German Ambassador to Vichy France from November 1940 until May 1945. He was sentenced to 20 years hard labour by a French military tribunal in 1949. Released in April 1954, Otto Abetz died in a car accident in May 1958.

In other words, Eric Abetz – whose family moved from Germany to Tasmania in 1961 – never met his grand uncle Otto Abetz. Yet Crikey saw fit to publish Irfan Yusuf’s claim that Eric Abetz has “a direct link to the Nazi regime”. Can you bear it?

[No. I have no idea whether or not I have a grand uncle. MWD Editor].


While on the topic of fudging history, the news is that Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals) Burnside AO QC had this to say early Wednesday morning:
burnside bastardry tweet

Fancy that. JB AO QC blames Labor’s Kevin Rudd and the Coalition’s Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull for the current off-shore detention of asylum seekers and refugees (who arrived in Australia after July 2013).

However, JB AO QC ignores the fact that Labor’s Julia Gillard, Chris Bowen, Brendan O’Connor and Tony Burke either supported (Gillard, Bowen, O’Connor) or presided over (Burke) off-shore detention.

It seems that your man Julian Burnside just does not want to criticise Julia Gillard – possibly because he wishes to avoid rebukes from the feminist-laden Gillard Fan Club. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of denial, consider the case of Fairfax Media in general and the Sydney Morning Herald in particular.

Last Friday, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times gave prominence to a story – initially run on 7.30 – that George Pell, when a priest in the mid-1980s, once paraded naked in front of young boys at the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club. The witness of this event is a certain Les Tyack – a Torquay local who was the father of young boys at the time.

Beau Donelly’s story in Fairfax Media last Friday reported that Mr Tyack was absolutely certain that the man he saw in the change room three decades ago was George Pell. At the time, (then) Fr. Pell was not well known. Mr Tyack told Mr Donelly – and Fairfax Media reported – that George Pell was “a local priest” at Torquay at the time.

Not correct – as MWD pointed out last Friday. Someone just made this up – as anyone who has researched The Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia would be aware. George Pell was never “a local priest” in Torquay. Moreover, there was no Catholic parish at Torquay in the mid-1980s.

As today’s Correspondence segment reveals, SMH editor Darren Goodsir and SMH managing editor Stuart Washington had to be dragged kicking and screaming to concede that Fairfax Media got it wrong. They now acknowledge that George Pell was never “a local priest” at Torquay. But they refuse to concede in public that Fairfax Media made a mistake.

Fairfax Media has deleted the word “local” from the online version of Beau Donelly’s story. However, it has done so surreptitiously by not acknowledging that a correction has been made. Also, Stuart Washington has advised Gerard Henderson that no correction will be published online or in the print editions of Fairfax Media’s newspapers. What a fudge.

Your man Washington’s (somewhat pompous) letter to Hendo conceding the error re George Pell was headed: “Not for Publication”. So the managing editor of a major newspaper – which is part of “The Right to Know Coalition” and which publishes lotsa private correspondence – is writing “Not for Publication” correspondence. Can you bear it?

[MWD proudly announces that Stuart Washington’s “Not for Publication” email has been published in today’s “Correspondence” section. Go to it. – MWD Editor.]

Nancys Modest Proposal


This increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s attempt to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. As a consequence of which, your clergyman Swift never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story.

Nancy’s (male) co-owner was most moved this week by Professor Gillian Triggs’ comments about the handling of youth in Australian juvenile prisons. Her criticisms of the brutality in the prison system were well made. It’s just that the Human Rights Commission president seems to believe that it’s no difficult task to handle violent young offenders who have been either incarcerated or refused bail by the justice system.

Here’s a Modest Proposal. Perhaps Professor Triggs along with her support team from the taxpayer funded Human Rights Commission could run a juvenile detention centre for, say, 7 days and 7 nights. The detainees should be free from spit-bag restraints since the word is that genuine civil libertarians do not mind the odd bit of saliva in the eyes or in the mouth. Moreover, the occasional broken eye-socket can be rationalised away as taking one for a good cause. And if inmates are undertaking or contemplating self-harm, it’s always possible to divert their attention from their current intention by encouraging the reading of the latest Human Rights Commission Report – or some other work of suitable fiction.

A Modest Proposal – here’s hoping it works.




Many thanks to the avid reader who forwarded to MWD the ABC’s talking-points about how to handle 7.30’s half an hour program on Cardinal George Pell which aired on Wednesday 27 July.

The ABC has acknowledged to MWD that this is an authentic document which was drawn up by ABC Legal and ABC News. For a document at least partly drafted by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s in-house lawyers, it is remarkably poorly written and not even properly proof-read. Moreover, the talking-points look like they were prepared in considerable haste.

You be the judge. Here’s the document which was circulated by email last week to ABC presenters, producers and reporters – a copy of which fell off a truck near Nancy’s kennel:

Lead with George Pell denial of allegations of sex abuse aired on 7.30 which are subject of police investigation.

All references to the allegations/complaints must be specific – eg not ‘claim Pell abused them’ but touched them around genital area etc (as per words used in 7.30 story).

All references to allegations should be qualified as in 7.30 story to emphasise Pell entitled to presumption of innocence/ these allegations untested by law etc.

As much as possible of Pell’s denials/ rebuttal to be included, including says it is ABC smear campaign.

In referencing Pell’s statement, need to say Pell declined to be interview by 7.30 but provided statement…”

Critical to distinguish between Monument/Dignan allegations of physical touching and separate claim of being naked in changerooms in front of boys (where there is no allegation of touching]. Eg; DO NOT say ‘it’s also alleged GP abused boys in changerooms’ but stick to specific detail of what is alleged.

Re Eureka pool incident, include former pool manager who has told police saw nothing untoward re Pell.

Avoid more emotive grabs which suggest Pell is guilty/allegations are true.

If there’s not space to include the necessary qualifiers etc don’t include the allegation.

Generally, avoid any live to air talkback as we can’t control what people might say.

Where possible, pre-record any interviews with commentators etc and include words to the effect of ‘these are untested allegations the cardinal has vehemently denied’ and if possible reiterate etc but the fact they’ve been made raises questions about whether Pell should stand aside at least until resolved etc’

DO Not have people saying words to the effect of ‘this shows Pell has been lying/covering up etc all along’

All this suggests that ABC Legal and ABC News are uncertain about the 7.30 story on Cardinal George Pell. For example, ABC staff have now been instructed that, in following up the 7.30 report, they should “lead with George Pell denial of allegations.” But Louise Milligan’s 7.30 report on 27 July 2016 did not lead with Cardinal Pell’s denial.

Also, ABC staff are now instructed, when reporting the allegations, to “include former pool manager who has told police[sic] saw nothing untoward re Pell”. However, 7.30 did not run on air this woman’s testimony – it only mentioned her account. In fact, only Pell’s critics were interviewed on Ms Milligan’s 7.30 story.

On 28 July, Gerard Henderson emailed the following query to the ABC:

In her 30 minute piece on 7.30 last night, Louise Milligan interviewed only one “independent” source concerning Cardinal George Pell. Namely, Terry Laidler. Ms Milligan said that Mr Laidler was “a Victorian priest in the 1970s”.

Is there any reason why Louise Milligan failed to tell ABC viewers that Terry Laidler is (i) a long-time critic of George Pell and (ii) a former employee of the ABC?

Also, is there any reason why Louise Milligan failed to interview any “independent” source who happened to be a supporter of George Pell?

Soon after, an ABC spokesperson emailed the following response:

7.30 put all the allegations to Cardinal Pell himself and included his response in the program and in the accompanying online report, which also carried his subsequent statement. No one other than Cardinal Pell is in a position to defend him on these specific allegations. Mr Laidler was highly qualified to comment for this story due to his extensive experience as a forensic psychologist, including a term as chair of the Victorian Mental Health Reform Council, combined with his past as a Catholic Parish Priest. Mr Laidler has not worked for the ABC for a considerable period of time.

The ABC’s spokesperson’s rationale overlooked the fact that any appearance by Cardinal Pell on the program would have resulted in the likes of Louise Milligan editing his comments. It’s scarcely surprising that George Pell does not trust ABC presenters and producers to filter his words for public consumption.

Moreover, Mr Laidler’s qualification as a forensic psychologist who was a one-time chairman of Victorian Mental Health Reform does not give him any special authority to comment on what George Pell may, or may not, have done three to four decades ago. After all, no one has suggested that Cardinal Pell has a mental health condition. Not even Louise Milligan and the 7.30 team at the ABC.

The effect of the talking-points prepared by ABC Legal and ABC News late last week is evident in the ABC Online report, dated 1 August 2016, titled “Pope Francis ‘doubts’ sexual abuse case against Cardinal George Pell”. This story repeated the ABC’s claim that Victoria Police was not the source of the 7.30 story.

This report also re-states Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton’s statement that it was clear from the 7.30 program that “the source of that information was from the [alleged] victims”.

Note the use of the square brackets around the word “alleged”. In fact, Commissioner Ashton did not say that the two men were “alleged victims”. Not at all. Graham Ashton said they were “victims” – without qualification.

No such fact has been established. Indeed, Victoria Police has not even interviewed George Pell about any matters – including the allegations reported on 7.30 by Louise Milligan. In its belated haste to soften its criticism of George Pell, the ABC has also protected the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner – by implying that he referred to “alleged victims”.

In fact, Graham Ashton acted unprofessionally in declaring that the two men who made allegations were victims. This may, or may not, be established. But Graham Ashton should not have said what he said. Moreover, the ABC should not distort a quotation in a way which has the consequence of covering a serious error by the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner. Irrespective of advice tendered to ABC staff by ABC Legal and ABC News.

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).


Last Friday, the Sydney Morning Herald gave prominence to Cardinal George Pell on Pages 4 and 5. One story – by Tom Cowie and Latika Bourke – was titled: “Child sex abuse – Cardinal demands investigation: Charges against Pell a possibility, police say.” The other – by Beau Donelly – was titled, “`I stand by what I’ve said, absolutely no doubt’: accuser resolute about change room incident.”

Beau Donelly’s report followed up the 7.30 program of Wednesday 27 July which devoted its entire 30 minutes to allegations, dating back to the mid-1970s (in Ballarat) and the mid-1980s (in Torquay), concerning George Pell. Two men claimed to have been groped by George Pell in Ballarat when they were young boys. The other person interview – Les Tyack – told 7.30 that he observed George Pell parading naked in front of young boys at the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club on one occasion in “1986-87”.

Beau Donelly’s story – which was also carried in The Age and the Canberra Times – reported that the man he saw behaving inappropriately in 1986 or 1987 was George Pell. Les Tyack, a Torquay resident, described George Pell as “a local priest” at Torquay at the time. This statement went to the credibility of Mr Tyack’s evidence as to George Pell’s identity.

In fact, George Pell was never “a local priest” in Torquay. It took Fairfax Media quite some time to acknowledge Beau Donelly’s error. Having done so reluctantly, it has now decided to cover-up the howler by declining to publish a correction in Fairfax Media’s print editions or online. Consequently, the online version of Beau Donelly’s story – titled “Pell accuser first aired concerns four years ago” – is dated 28 July 2016. No reference is made to the fact that Beau Donelly’s story has been altered in recent days. A deception in other words. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Darren Goodsir & Stuart Washington – 1 August 2016

Re: Herald error re George Pell

Good morning Darren

As you will recall from previous correspondence, you have advised that The Herald is anxious to correct any errors as soon as possible.

In Beau Donelly’s very critical piece on Cardinal George Pell in The Herald on Friday, the following comment is made:

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.

This is a serious error. Any check of The Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia would reveal that George Pell was never “a local priest” in Torquay. Indeed, there was no Catholic parish in Torquay in the mid 1980s – the time to which Mr Tyack made reference.

I understand that you have not corrected this error already. I anticipate you will do so soon.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Darren Goodsir to Gerard Henderson – 1 August 2016

Thanks for this Gerard: I am getting Stuart to look into this . thank you/Darren

Gerard Henderson to Darren Goodsir – 1 August 2016


I look forward to hearing from you or Stuart in due course.

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson to Darren Goodsir – 2 August 2016


I note there was no correction in the Sydney Morning Herald today. I do not understand the delay since the fact is that George Pell was never “a local priest” in Torquay. In view of the fact that this issue has become a matter of national importance, I do not understand the Herald’s delay.

Beau Donelly should either produce evidence to support his assertion in the Herald last Friday or issue a correction.

If I don’t hear from you by 3 pm today, I will mention the Herald’s refusal to correct this major error during my appearance on The Bolt Report tonight.

Best wishes


Stuart Washington to Gerard Henderson – 2 August 2016

Re: Not for publication: Response to your letter

Dear Mr Henderson

I am responding to your letter of yesterday’s date and your follow-up letter today.

As a result of your correspondence, I have consulted with Beau Donelly and the reference to “local” has been removed from the relevant story.

I disagree with your assessment of the size of the error, and I intend to take no further action on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Washington
Managing editor

The Sydney Morning Herald

Gerard Henderson to Stuart Washington – 2 August 2016

Re: Fairfax Media Cover-Up


I refer to your letter of 2 August 2016 in response to my letter to Darren Goodsir yesterday and my follow-up email to him today.

Your response, on behalf of the Sydney Morning Herald’s editor-in-chief, is an unprofessional cop-out.

Beau Donelly’s article on Cardinal George Pell – which got a prominent run in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Canberra Times last Friday – followed 7.30’s interview with Les Tyack. This interview has attracted international attention.

Fairfax Media described Mr Tyack as a resident of Torquay who witnessed (alleged) behaviour of George Pell “at the Torquay Surf Live Saving Club change rooms in 1986-87”. In fact, the (alleged) activity took place on one occasion in 1986 or 1987.

Beau Donelly’s report made it clear that Les Tyack’s authority on this matter turned on his position as a long-time Torquay local who knows Torquay and its community well. This was highlighted by Beau Donelly’s report which read, in part, as follows:

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. [Emphasis added]

Beau Donelly obviously believed Les Tyack’s claim George Pell was “a local priest” in Torquay in 1986-1987 was an important point. Why else would he have included this reference in his report?

Now that Fairfax Media has finally acknowledged that George Pell was never “a local priest” in Torquay – all you propose to do is to delete the world “local” from Beau Donelly’s report.

What’s more, you intend to cover-up Mr Donelly’s error by not publishing a correction. As a result of this duplicitous tactic, readers of Fairfax Media Online from today forward will never learn of the fact that both Mr Tyack and Mr Donelly made a serious error with respect to the residency and occupation of George Pell in the mid-1980s when the (alleged) incident occurred.

In a further attempt to completely cover-up Beau Donelly’s serious failure to check his facts before writing such a reputational-damaging story, you have even headed your letter to me as “not for publication”.

I found this demand quite amusing – coming, as it does, from Fairfax Media which is a member of the Right-to-Know Coalition. Yet, Fairfax Media readers do not have the right-to-know about Beau Donelly’s serious error.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

PS: By the way, I note that Darren Goodsir and your good self have still not corrected Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons’ false claim that Cardinal Pell “lives in a $30 million mansion in Rome”. Another cover up, this time for the Red Bandanned One.

cc: Darren Goodsir

* * * * *

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