2 September 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: AFR on “Agents of Influence” with a Little Support from China News; What would the Media say if Tony Abbott acted like “Shanghai” Sam Dastyari?
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment in which “Invasion Day” knows no Genealogy
  • Maurice Newman Segment: John Hewson Agrees with Michael Gleeson who Agrees with John Hewson on The Drum
  • Five Paws Award: Step Forward Greg Sheridan vs John Barron
  • Can You Bear It? Sneering Mike Seccombe bores about the IPA in The [Boring] Saturday Paper; How to Sleep with the Human Headline? – Join the Senate
  • ABC Update: Margaret Simons on how Nice Mr Scott Wore Out His Welcome With the Turnbull Government
  • History Corner: John Carmody on the Vietnam War: Quotes Invented & Naivety Revealed
  • Correspondence: Swinburne University’s Trevor Barr Helps Out



What fun. Page One of today’s Australian Financial Review has an “exclusive” report by Primrose Riordan titled “China’s local emperor courts power”. This exclusive is part of an AFR series titled “Agents of Influence”. Ms Riordan’s report commences as follows:

Huang Xiangmo is one of Australian politics’ biggest mysteries. He’s been photographed with nearly all the nation’s political leaders, channelled more than $1 million into the back pockets of the major parties and backed Bob Carr’s China institute at UTS.

He’s paid Senator Sam Dastyari’s legal bills, hired former NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner and former treasurer Eric Roozendaal, he’s the head of the oddly-named “Australia Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China” and been dubbed the “king of the mountain” after several wealthy Chinese bought around him after he spent $12.5 million on a lavish mansion in Mosman.

Yesterday, Ms Riordan reported that Labor Senator Sam Dastyari – nicknamed “Shanghai Sam” by 2GB’s Ben Fordham – had supported China’s stance on the South China Sea. This is contrary to the policy of both the Coalition government and the Labor opposition.

Great story, to be sure. All about how supporters of the Chinese government in Australia are attempting to gain influence in Australia by paying the bills of the likes of Shanghai Sam and more besides.

MWD was suitably outraged by the AFR’s report and moved quickly through the rest of the newspaper’s 40 pages. Until Pages 34-35, that is. They contain articles from the Beijing government’s very own China Watch publication – which is presented as an “Advertisement”. It runs, over two pages, puff pieces about China and the G20 summit and the Chinese city of Hangzhou where the meeting will be held. China Watch’s coverage of China reminds MWD of how the Holy Name Monthly covered the Catholic Church in the days of old when the Pope was a capital “C” Catholic – that is, over a half a century ago.

This is yet another example of China’s soft power in Australia which has extended all the way to Fairfax Media’s best paper – the AFR. Despite the fact that AFR is critical of the use of China’s soft power with respect to Sam Dastyari and friends. According to The Thought of the AFR, Fairfax Media presents as one of China’s “agents of influence” in Australia. Fancy that.

On Sky News’ The Bolt Report last night, Labor backbencher Michael Danby asked Fairfax Media chief executive officer Greg Hywood to explain why his company is accepting money from the Chinese government in Beijing. It’s a good question.

Fin Review China


Just imagine the reaction of the Canberra Press Gallery if, say, the Israel Defence Force, part of the democratic State of Israel, had agreed to pay, say, Tony Abbott’s legal expenses or a debt he owed to the Australian Department of Finance. Just imagine. All hell would break loose as journalists in the ABC and Fairfax Media rushed to condemn improper influence by Israel in Australian internal affairs. Of course, no such event ever occurred – or is ever likely to occur.

But when a State-owned Top Education Institute of the communist government of China paid Sam Dastyari’s legal expenses and some transport expenses (which he had been required to repay to the Department of Finance) it’s a matter of no-real-problem-here. Within the Canberra Press Gallery, at least.

On Radio National Breakfast this morning, Fran Kelly interviewed Labor frontbencher Stephen Conroy and Attorney-General George Brandis. Ms Kelly could see no difference between Chinese businesses donating funds to the Coalition and/or Labor and a Chinese business paying the personal debts of a politician like Senator Dastyari.

It was much the same on ABC Sydney Radio 702 later in the morning. Wendy Harmer declared that you would “have to have come down in the last shower” to believe that Sam Dastyari is “the only offender” in the current controversy over foreign donations to Australian political parties and/or politicians.

The problem with this analysis is that neither Fran Kelly nor Wendy Harmer have provided the name of any politician – Coalition or Labor – other than Sam Dastyari who has had their personal debts paid by an entity controlled by the Chinese government.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the fact that The Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor may have initiated the line-of-defence which Fran Kelly and Wendy Harmer took up this morning. This is what Ms Taylor said on The Drum last Wednesday following a question from presenter John Barron:

John Barron: Do you think we have the right to know what exactly the money [paid by a Chinese company to Sam Dastyari] was for? It’s a very specific amount of money, was it $1670.82?

Lenore Taylor: My understanding was it was an overspend on travel. For travel. For a trip. So they overspent and he got the money back [sic] from that company. Now that is a bad look, I’m not defending it. I think it is a bad look. I just don’t entirely understand why we’re singling this particular donation out for such attention and not the whole system of donations which I think is questionable and needs far greater transparency.

Well, nice rationale. But would the likes of Kelly, Harmer and Taylor have said this had Tony Abbott got “money back” from the IDF for debts he was responsible for in Australia?

Wendy Harmer Moment


Wendy (‘I’m an old-fashioned socialist’) Harmer presents Mornings with Wendy Harmer on ABC Radio 702 from Mondays to Fridays.

Yesterday Ms Harmer declared “a pinch and a punch for the first day of the month” – it being 1 September. Yawn. She also got excited about the (apparent) fact that the first day in September is – wait for it – Wattle Day and has been so regarded since 1910 and all that. Yawn. And so it came to pass that Wendy Harmer interviewed Terry Fewtrell, president of the Wattle Day Association. How exciting.

Your man Fewtrell was boring on about how Qantas decided to celebrate Wattle Day by getting Qantas captains to put “little braids of wattle flowers – blossoms – on the caps of captains on Qantas flights” when the presenter decided it was time to hear from her socialist self. Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Harmer decides that a discussion about the Acacia Pycnantha version of wattle was, yes, a bit boring and decided to throw the switch to matters Indigenous:

Wendy Harmer: …very interesting. I was reading that the Amnesty International for instance are great supporters of the idea of Australia Day being moved to Wattle Day. They say, and I think this an interesting one, that it has a lot of symbolism I guess, because it’s Spring. It’s a new beginning, it’s about the Australian landscape, a love of our natural flora and fauna we can extend it too. So it is a neutral day without the baggage of what’s been known as Australia, as “Invasion Day” rather, on Australia, January 26. And, you know, for our first peoples this is a really, really difficult day to celebrate. But in Wattle Day we could find a date that was inclusive of everyone. Do you support that Terry?

Terry Fewtrell: Well personally I would….

Well, yes he would. But what about 26 January – the date of the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Harbour – as “Invasion Day”? It is true that some Indigenous Australians describe 26 January as Invasion Day. However, others do not.

And what about Ms Harmer’s assertion that, “for our first people”, 26 January is “a really, really difficult day to celebrate”? Well, the “Mornings with Wendy Harmer” presenter seems not to understand that any Aborigine who has any Anglo-Saxon ancestors – like Patrick Dodson and Mick Dodson, who have an Irish grandfather, for example – would not be with us today if the British had not settled this continent in 1788. It’s called genealogy. If without 26 January 1788 you would not have been born – how come Australia Day is so “really, really difficult” for Australians with predominantly Aborigine and partly British ancestors?

Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment.



Due to unprecedented demand, the re-booted Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC. And to former ABC managing director Mark Scott’s belief that there is no causal relationship between the political beliefs of ABC presenters, producers and editors and what they say or the talent they commission on ABC television, radio and online outlets.

What a compelling discussion on ABC 1’s The Drum on Tuesday. Julia Baird was in the presenter’s chair and the panel comprised The Guardian Australia’s Gabrielle Chan, former Labor Party staffer Michael Gleeson and former Liberal Party leader John Hewson.

[I note that Comrade Gleeson supported Labor throughout the 2016 election campaign. I also note that Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) was too busy attending a Green/Left protest against Malcolm Turnbull MP in his Wentworth electorate to rock-up at Prime Minister Turnbull’s launch of the Liberal Party election campaign in Sydney on the same day. Yet the taxpayer funded public broadcaster likes to portray John Hewson as an out-and-proud Liberal. Some mistake surely? – MWD Editor].

Discussion was directed to the attempt by Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi to amend Section 18(c) – but not Section 18(d) – of the Racial Discrimination Act. It was soon evident that (yet) another Maurice Newman Moment was in situ as Michael agreed with John who agreed with Michael who agreed with John who agreed with himself. No other view was heard – as the transcript attests.

Julia Baird: Gabrielle…do you think he [Senator Cory Bernardi] has any chance of success?

Gabrielle Chan: Look I think it’s too early to tell. The government is saying that they’re not interested in going near this bill again. Scott Morrison interestingly was saying this morning on radio that 18(c) and changes to it is not going to get another person a job, it’s not going to pay back deficit. So they’re really, really backing away from this. Cory Bernardi was wandering around the parliament halls looking pretty happy today. Mind you, I think the party room has moved on a little bit. You do get support for it privately among Liberal members who are, some of whom are progressive, some of whom are libertarian and, of course, the conservatives as well. But whether it gets to a vote, again – the executive controls the floor of the house in the Lower House. So I can’t see anyone else siding with the conservatives on that.

Michael Gleeson: The drum on this has been banged by the usual suspects. It’s been Alan Jones, it’s been Andrew Bolt it’s been Miranda Devine and the thing that strikes me –

John Hewson [interjecting]: The “Holy Trinity”.

Michael Gleeson: The “Holy Trinity”. And the thing that strikes me about 18(c) is that those people who are against it are people who are have probably never been discriminated against in their lives. It’s largely Anglo-Saxon, middle aged white people and –

Julia Baird: But they would say they aren’t experiencing freedom of speech, that they’re curtailed in free expression of their views.

Michael Gleeson: Well I’ll tell you something Julia, I’ve lived in a country which has absolute freedom of speech. I’ve lived in America for five years. And it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. People do not have a right to be bigoted and do not have a right to vilify other people as far as I’m concerned. And 18(c) is an important piece of legislation and it should remain. Now the fact that the usual suspects are the people who are trying to get this change doesn’t surprise me at all, but this is one area where the Prime Minister needs to hold his ground. He will have the support of the ALP on this, he’ll have the support of The Greens on this, and he needs to hold his ground.

John Hewson: Look it’s precisely the wrong time to think about even just changing the words. I mean we’ve got very delicate relationship issues right now. We’re relying very heavily on the Islamic community to help us, to root out some of the potential radicalisation and worse. And you know, if you want to send the wrong signal at the wrong time, you change 18(c) right now. Just move on, it’s not an important issue. Let’s just get on with what really does matter.

Michael Gleeson: Talking about things not being a first order issue, this is absolutely one. And it needs to be just swept off the agenda.

As the transcript shows, Gabrielle Chan limited her comments to suggesting that the Turnbull government is not going to change the 18(c) legislation but did not challenge the Gleeson/Hewson unity ticket. No one objected when your man Hewson mockingly referred to Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine as the “Holy Trinity”.

In short, viewers of The Drum were not presented with the alternative to the retain-section 18(c) case. It’s the kind of “debate” which you have on the ABC where no dissenting views are heard.

Maurice Newman: 1

Nice Mr Scott: Zip

abc update


While on the topic of Nice Mr Scott, there has been huge interest in last week’s analysis of Margaret Simons’ profile in the September 2016 issue of The Monthly of new ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie. Seldom before, in the history of profile writing, have so many interviewees been so reluctant to put their names to so many stories about the subject of a profile. Moreover, Ms Guthrie made the sensible decision not to talk to Dr Simons (for a doctor she is). Even so, The Monthly’s editor Nick Feik made the profile his cover story.

Due to time constraints last week, MWD did not cover what the Aunty lover Margaret Simons had to say about Mark Scott. Here it is:

Scott…had “lost” the ear and the patience of government by the end of his term. This was largely because of his support for the ABC news-gathering team during controversies such as the story that alleged navy personnel had deliberately burned asylum seekers’ hands. The ABC eventually acknowledged that it did not have the evidence to support the claim, but too late and in too mealy mouthed a fashion to appease the critics. It was time for Scott to move on, and time for a fresh start.

How about that? Even the leftist Margaret Simons concedes that Mark Scott lost the support of the Coalition “by the end of his term” in mid-2016. In other words, it was not only Tony Abbott who had problems with the weakness of Nice Mr Scott when he was faced with unprofessional journalism at the ABC. So did Malcolm Turnbull.

According to Simons, even the Turnbull government could not bear the fact that, as managing director and editor-in-chief, Mark Scott became a captive of the ABC culture and invariably defended the indefensible. Even the false allegation by ABC journalists that Australian Navy personnel had tortured asylum seekers at sea.

How strange that Margaret Simons is now channeling Media Watch Dog when assessing the inability of Nice Mr Scott to act as a decisive editor-in-chief and take control of the workers’ collective that is the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

five paws graphic


Step forward Greg Sheridan for his exchange with John (‘I refuse to acknowledge my own factual howlers’) Barron on The Drum last Wednesday.

Your man Barron was suggesting that the violent riots against Western Australian Police in Kalgoorlie has some relevance to Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act. Let’s go to the transcript:

John Barron: Greg Sheridan, this is I guess the kind of tinder box, racial tinderbox, that is often pointed to us saying, “This is exactly why we can’t loosen up the laws like 18(c); we have to be incredibly careful about what is said because one protestor or one cop says the wrong thing and suddenly you’ve got people being hurt and property being destroyed.”

Greg Sheridan: Well, John I have the greatest respect and admiration for you but that is really the most ridiculous connection that I have ever heard anyone make in a long lifetime in journalism. 18c, I would suggest, had absolutely nothing to do, beneficially or harmfully, with the situation in Kalgoorlie.

I just make a couple of observations. One is, it’s a terrible tragedy what has happened in Kalgoorlie and it’s wonderful to see community leaders trying to come together. I don’t think there is any room for complacency in Australia but I think the best integrator in fact is an economic integrator although issues of formal non-discrimination are very important.

But also I do think we’re not at a crisis point in race relations in this country. I would say, having spent my life travelling across the face of the globe, that we are the most successful multi-racial country in the world. We completely transformed our identity from White Australia in the 1960s to now one of the most diverse nations in the world. And we did it substantially without any political or social upheaval. There are a lot of things we need to work on very, very hard. But I think it would be wrong to present Australia as a nation on the brink of terrible racial crisis.

Greg Sheridan: Five Paws

Can you bear it graphic


As avid readers are aware, The [Boring] Saturday Paper – edited by Erik ‘Yep, I was too boring for Australian Story’ Jensen – prints on Thursday evening. Since it contains no news, Gerard Henderson reads The Saturday Paper on Monday (after lunch, of course).

Hendo opened The [Boring] Saturday Paper on Monday and could barely believe his eyes. There on Page One was a boring story by Sneering Mike Seccombe on – wait for it – the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Could anyone other than Mr Jensen and Mr Seccombe really believe that the IPA warrants Page One coverage?

Over the years, since its formation in the mid-1940s, the IPA has done useful work. Like most such organisations it has had its highs and lows – but it has survived and is currently led by the lively and thoughtful John Roskam.

This is how Mike Seccombe’s article headed: “Former IPA head: radicals ‘hijacked’ think tank” commenced:

It was 1974 when Roger Neave had his idea for a somewhat unusual TV series. This was still four years before he took over at the Institute of Public Affairs, the body better known as the IPA.

Yep. It was 1974. And Roger Neave (Roger who?) had an idea for a TV series. And this is Seccombe’s lead in 2016 – over four decades later. It turned out that the TV series never eventuated. Surprised? So in 1978 Mr Neave commenced as the IPA’s executive director but was pushed out of the organisation in just over a year. Surprised?

Gerard Henderson has studied Australian politics for over half a century. Prior to reading The Saturday Paper last Monday, Hendo had never heard of Roger Neave. Clearly he was a man who made little impact. It seems that, when at the IPA, Roger Neave believed that it would be a you-beaut idea for the IPA to work with the trade union movement. Not many agreed both within and outside the trade union movement. And that was about it.

Except that, some 38 years after the event, Roger Neave’s took his (boring) story to Mr Seccombe who got the boring Erik Jensen to run it on Page one of The [Boring] Saturday Paper. It seems that, four decades after the event, Mr Neave still carries a grudge that the powers-that-were at the IPA did not take him seriously. Shucks. This is how the Sneering Mike Seccombe’s piece concluded:

The reason he [Roger Neave] first contacted The Saturday Paper, he says, is that he is embarrassed about his previous associations. He wants it known that the organisation he once ran, and the [Liberal] party he once belonged to, were very different in his time. Politics was different, on both sides.

Specifically, he was motivated to go public because of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. It was because the “surge of the right has led to the demonising of refugees. Children overboard, then we imprison them”. “I want my pride back in being an Australian,” Neave says.

What a load of absolute tosh. Roger Neave is whinging about his treatment by the IPA in 1978 because he is embarrassed by Australia’s border security policy in 2016. Go on.

Gerard Henderson does not always agree with Dominic Kelly – an intelligent and well-read left-of-centre young man who is doing a Ph.D. at La Trobe University (so a doctor he will soon become). However, MWD recommends Mr (for a while at least) Kelly’s article “Mike Seccombe and the IPA” which went up on Kelly’s blog at the weekend. It can be read here.

As Kelly comments, Neave is embarrassed by his previous associations with the IPA but the fact that “almost no one was aware of these associations seems to have escaped both” Roger Neave himself and Mike Seccombe. Quite so. But Erik Jensen reckons the truly boring story about Neave and the IPA deserved a Page One placement. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of boring, how about the fact that the self-proclaimed Human Headline fell asleep in the Senate on the occasion of the Governor-General’s address formally opening the Parliament after the election? Gary Ramage’s pic of this momentous occasion was featured in such News Corp publications as the Herald-Sun and the Daily Telegraph.

hinch sleeping

Well, at least when Derryn Hinch sleeps he is not mumbling away as he was wont to do until recently during his various Sky News performances on Hinch Live and Paul Murray Live.

For a media tart like Senator Hinch, publicity usually works. Moreover, he is not the first, and will not be the last, parliamentarian to nod off in the middle of the day. It’s just that, according to Barrie Cassidy, your man Hinch acknowledges that he has a sleep problem. Yet, in the glare of publicity, he chose the life of a politician which requires a period of sitting down and listening to someone other than yourself. It’s not the job for the awake-challenged. Can you bear it?


Dr John Carmody is a retired academic and amateur historian. So it was no surprise that he distorted history in his letter in The Weekend Australian last Saturday which criticised Gerard Henderson’s column of 20-21 August 2016 titled “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam Or Die There In Vain”. Hendo’s article is also discussed in this week’s MWD’s highly popular Correspondence section.

This is what your man Carmody had to say in last Saturday’s Weekend Australian.

In seeking to refute the notion that Australia (under Robert Menzies) “invaded” the former French colony, Gerard Henderson referred to the “communist” North Vietnam and the “anti-communist” South Vietnam as separate countries. They were not separate countries.

After the end of French hegemony at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the armistice agreed by the Geneva peace conference provided for the temporary division of the country followed by free elections within two years.

The problem in this for the US (which recognised that Vietnam was a country divided against its will) and its puppet government, under Ngo Dinh Diem, was that it was widely believed (as Dwight Eisenhower conceded in his memoirs in 1963) that at such an election as many as 80 per cent of the population would support North Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh.

Though Ho (a hero because of his resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II) was indubitably a communist, the Americans acknowledged that most of his supporters were nationalists — not communists. So even if Diem, supported by arms, money and military “advisers” from the US, did ask Menzies to intervene, there was no legal basis for this request.

John Carmody, Roseville NSW

In his unintended rush to provide evidence that history is bunk, Dr Carmody (for a medical doctor he is) overlooked certain facts and fudged others.

٠ United States president Dwight Eisenhower did not concede in his memoirs that 80 per cent of all Vietnamese would have supported the North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh over the South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. In fact, Eisenhower did not even mention Diem in this context. This is what Dwight Eisenhower had to say in his 1963 book Mandate for Change, 1953-1956 :

I am convinced that the French could not win the war because the internal political situation in Vietnam, weak and confused, badly weakened their military position. I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for. As one Frenchman said to me, “What Vietnam needs is another Syngman Rhee, regardless of all the difficulties the presence of such a personality would entail”.

Clearly, Dwight Eisenhower was comparing the popularity of Ho Chi Minh and the French puppet Bao Dai in the early 1950s – not the relative popularity of Ho and Diem in the second half of the 1950s. Also, Eisenhower was talking about the time of the fighting between the French and Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces during the war between France and the Viet Minh before the French defeat in May 1954 at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Diem came to power in Saigon after France had withdrawn from Vietnam.

It seems that John Carmody just made up his Eisenhower “quote”.

٠ It is true that the Geneva Conference provided for the temporary division of north and south Vietnam pending the holding of free elections. However, Dr Carmody is somewhat naïve if he still believes that the communist dictator Ho Chi Minh would have allowed for a free election in the north of Vietnam in 1956. In 2016, some four decades after communist North Vietnam conquered non-communist South Vietnam, there still has not been a free election in Vietnam.

You would have to be an intellectual to believe that the dictator Ho was into free elections. Communists do not do free elections. But the left intelligentsia does fudge quotes and deny historical truths about communism.

[Interesting. Obviously this is the very same John Carmody who just made up an allegation about the political involvements of Gerard Henderson’s mother who died in 1986. See MWD Issue 236. Your man Carmody never met Mrs Henderson, never spoke to anyone who knew Mrs Henderson and had no evidence whatsoever for his claim – since there is no evidence.

So “certain” was Dr Carmody of the truth of his claim that he refused to affirm or deny that he had ever made such a statement in a meeting of the Catholic Historical Society in Sydney – despite the fact that attendees heard his comments which were made from a podium. Gerard Henderson has already published some of his correspondence with John Carmody on this issue – he will probably publish the rest of it at a later date. I understand that the prime problem with publishing this is that Dr Carmody writes difficult-to-understand dross. – MWD Editor.]

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).


Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian on 20-21 August 2016 was titled “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam Or Die There In Vain”. It can be read here. Gerard Henderson criticised views expressed on the ABC and Sky News that Australia “invaded” Vietnam in 1965. Swinburne University academic Professor Trevor Barr forwarded a (courteous) email to Hendo. And received a (courteous) reply. Now read on:

Trevor Barr to Gerard Henderson – 29 August 2016

Dear Gerard,

I wanted to do you the courtesy of advising you of a response I sent to The Australian regarding your recent article on Vietnam.

I had hoped the case that The Australian had made so cogently against our involvement deserved a mention but they chose not to publish it. Their principal editorial of April 30. 1965 is attached as a pdf.

All the best Gerard



From: Trevor Barr
Sent: Monday, 22 August 2016 2:19 PM
Subject: Response to Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson draws upon selective sources in his piece “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam Or Die There In Vain” (August 20-21). In his now predictable tirade against “ABC leftish mindset” he ignored any mention of the reasoned case The Australian editorials long offered in its trenchant criticism of the war.

It wrote in its editorial of April 30, 1965 that “the Menzies government has made a reckless decision on Vietnam which this nation may live to regret”. He also omits any reference the relentless bombing by Richard Nixon, especially in December 1972 – of this independent nation state. Note too his omission of the 19 million gallons of Agent Orange poured over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972. However, apparently there was never any invasion.

Nor is there any reference to the fact that the justification for the war was to avoid the domino effect on other nations if Vietnam went communist. The war was lost but no other country became communist because of the Vietnam war. The Australian’s editorial concluded that “it could be that our historians will recall this day with tears”. Posterity has been kinder to this newspaper than to Gerard Henderson.

My thanks


Professor Trevor Barr,

Emeritus Professor,

Swinburne University of Technology

Gerard Henderson to Trevor Barr – 2 September 2016

Dear Trevor

Thank you for your self-declared “courtesy” in forwarding a copy of the letter you sent to The Australian concerning my column titled “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam Or Die There In Vain” of 20-21 August 2016.

If you read my Media Watch Dog blog, you would be aware of Nancy’s Courtesy Classes and the focus of the publication on the primacy of courtesy, good manners and all that stuff. So your courtesy on this occasion is recognised and appreciated.

As I recall from my days in Melbourne some three decades ago, you were the (leftist) academic media commentator on the (leftist) Terry Lane’s ABC 774 Breakfast program. The ABC was then – and remains – a Conservative Free Zone.

How nice to hear from you again. And congratulations on your esteemed position of Emeritus Professor at the Swinburne University of Technology’s Department of Communication and Humanities. A brilliant career, to be sure. Terry Lane must be proud of you.

As you will be aware, I am not responsible for which letters to the editor The Australian chooses to publish. However, I note that The Weekend Australian on Saturday printed a letter critical of my column on Australia’s Vietnam commitment from John Carmody of Roseville, NSW.

My responses to your (unpublished) letter to The Australian are as follows:

▪ The ABC does have a “leftist mindset”. That’s why, for example, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan only covered civilians who were opposed to Australia’s Vietnam commitment. And that’s why the ABC of late has been so focused on the Vietnam Protest Movement. I cited examples in the Weekend Australian column to which you refer and in Media Watch Dog Issue 329.

▪ I know that The Australian editorialised against Australia’s Vietnam commitment in 1965 when Robert Menzies’ Coalition committed Australian combat troops to Vietnam. I can see why this may interest an academic who works in media studies but I do not believe that such a fact warranted coverage in a 1000 word column in The Weekend Australian a couple of weeks ago.

I am not aware that The Australian ever editorialised that Australia “invaded” Vietnam – which was the point I addressed in my column.

▪ Certainly the United States heavily bombed North Vietnam in late 1972 when it was trying to force the communist dictatorship in Hanoi to the negotiation table. But this has nothing to do with whether Australia “invaded” Vietnam some seven years earlier.

Your letter overlooks the fact that North Vietnam was supplied with sophisticated ground-to-air missiles capable of shooting down US fighter jets and bombers. As you may be aware, John McCain was shot down over Hanoi in late 1967. North Vietnam was by no means defenceless at any stage of the Vietnam War.

▪ Certainly the US used Agent Orange as a defoliant in South Vietnam. However, once again, this has nothing to do with whether or not Australia “invaded” Vietnam in 1965.

▪ Contrary to your assertion, if you read my column carefully you would know that I did address the domino theory in the final paragraph of my column where I wrote:

Certainly the Vietnam war was lost by the Saigon government. However, the 521 Australians who fell in the conflict did not die in vain. As [Peter] Edwards acknowledges, the US-led Vietnam commitment delayed a communist victory by 10 years — much to the benefit of nations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. This was also to Australia’s advantage.

Long-time Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015) once pointed out that Southeast Asia was better able to withstand a communist victory in Vietnam in 1975 than it would have been a decade earlier when the non-communist nations of Southeast Asia were not so well established. That’s not a myth.

All I can say is that I hope your students at Swinburne did not learn bad habits from you. If you are going to criticise a column, you should first read it properly.

▪ It’s interesting to hear your praise for The Australian’s position circa 1965. I should remind you that in the years since 1965 The Australian published many journalists who broadly supported Australia’s Vietnam commitment. Including Greg Sheridan.

In conclusion I should state that your letter to The Australian was somewhat tired. You really only re-stated the left’s mantra of half a century ago. If you have read the official historians of Australia’s South East Asian conflicts in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s you would be aware that the likes of Ian McNeill and Ashley Ekins along with Peter Edwards take a nuanced view of the Vietnam War. You, however, just blow a leftist trumpet. But, then, the likes of McNeill, Ekins and Edwards are trained historians.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

* * * * *

Until next time.

If Gerard Henderson is on #insiders tomorrow I’m going to start drinking at 9.01 am

– @annalise108 via Twitter, 30 Jul 2016, 6:30 PM

“[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