30 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. 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.

  • Peter Henderson AC: Rest in Peace
  • Nancy’s Fact Check: On Honorary Degrees at Sydney University – including John Howard, Phillip Adams plus News of Nancy’s Hon DLitt
  • Can You Bear It? Mike Seccombe; Michael Magazanik; Gael Jennings & Nice Mr Scott
  • ABC Update: Tony Whitlam QC’s Reported Defamation Writ Against 7.30; 7.30 Breaks ABC’s Own Guidelines in Citing George Pell in a Promo
  • MWD Exclusive: Historical Howlers in Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies written by Simon Nasht
  • Correspondence: How the Royal Commission’s CEO Initiates but does not Respond to Correspondence


Media Watch Dog is saddened by the death of Peter Henderson AC, a former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and an exemplary public servant. Peter was a good friend of The Sydney Institute. An obituary will be published in next week’s issue.



Today’s protest by taxpayer subsidised academics at the taxpayer subsidised University of Sydney over the decision by that esteemed institution to award an honorary degree to former Liberal Party prime minister John Howard has sparked interest among avid MWD readers – as would be expected.

According to one avid reader, 1952 was the really big year for Sydney University handing out honorary degrees. In that year it gonged Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Opposition leader Bert Evatt, former prime minister Billy Hughes, former prime minister Earle Page, Governor-General Bill McKell and NSW Labor operatives Joe Cahill and Bob Heffron. All without protest, it seems. For some reason, the late Ned Kelly missed out on a posthumous gong from the academe at this time.


Another avid reader was oh-so-impressed with the reference to Phillip Adams in last week’s MWD as AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. What fascinated this reader was that, according to his entry in Who’s Who in Australia, the ABC’s Man-in-Black has a “DLitt (Syd)”. Not a Hon.DLitt (Syd). Can this be so?

Negative, according to Nancy in fact-checker mode. On 6 May 2005, a certain Phillip Andrew Adams was granted “the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters” by the Chancellor of the University of Sydney who declared that “Phillip Adams is arguably Australia’s number one public intellectual”. Wow. How about that? In any event, it’s Phillip Adams Hon. DLitt (Syd). Phillip – over to you to correct your entry in Who’s Who in Australia.


While on the issue of honorary degrees, MWD is proud to announce that Nancy has been offered an honorary gong – per courtesy of Yagoona Institute of Pet Protection and Established Education. It’s a prestigious award of Doctor of Canine Literature (honoris causa). In other words, arise Nancy Hon. DCLitt (YIPPEE).

It is expected that Nancy’s Hon. DCLITT – when awarded – will be occasion for many a member of the taxpayer subsidised inner-city Sandalista Set to put on their sandals and do a conga-line-dance from Newtown to protest at YIPPEE in Sydney’s west – if they can find their way.

Can you bear it graphic


What a stunning performance by Mike Seccombe, the national correspondent of The [Boring] Saturday Paper on Insiders last Sunday. Morry Schwartz’s indulgence prints on Thursday and comes out on Saturday. Nancy’s (male) co-owner reads it on Monday since it is Australia’s only newspaper that proudly contains no news.

Mike (Sneerer) Seccombe presents himself as an expert on right-of-centre politics in Australia. Why – he has even “revealed” in The [Boring] Saturday Paper, in between advertisements for Rolex Mentor & Protégé and the Anna Schwartz Gallery, that the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is running Australia. Really. How delusional can you get – in a leftist obsessive kind of way?

By MWD digresses. Here’s what your man Seccombe had to say about the Liberal Party on Insiders last Sunday:

Mike Seccombe: We have George Christensen, we have the right of the Liberal Party, quite prepared to die in a ditch for something like super reform. Why are the moderates of the Liberal Party such a bunch of wimps? Why won’t they actually stand up and say “we demand a free vote?”. Or, alternatively, why won’t they just say “do what we want or we’ll do a Christensen and we’ll cross the floor?”.

There was just one problem with Secco’s analysis last Sunday. George Christensen is the Liberal National Party’s member for Dawson. He is not a member of the Liberal Party. When in Canberra, Mr Christensen sits in the Nationals’ party room – not in the Liberal Party room. In fact, he is the Nationals’ chief whip.

Sure, George Christensen has views on superannuation. But his views are never voiced in the Liberal Party room. And Mike Seccombe does not know such basic facts. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of misleading comments, how about the contribution of former Fairfax Media journalist cum lawyer Michael Magazanik on the ABC News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment last Monday? Let’s go to the transcript as your man Magazanik “reveals” that virtually all electorates in Australia support same sex marriage.

Del Irani: So let’s start with the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and, of course, those comments by George Brandis about same sex marriage.

Michael Magazanik: Well it’s a good story. There’s the usual ping pong between – the political ping pong between – the government and opposition over the plebiscite and same sex marriage. But what’s interesting is that buried in the story there’s a report on a study by Melbourne University about support for same sex marriage reform across the country. And what that Melbourne University study has found is that there’s only a single electorate in the entire country where there’s opposition to – where it’s likely that greater than 50 per cent of the voting population will oppose same sex marriage. That’s in Maranoa – which is an enormous electorate in South West Queensland.

Go on. Alas, he did. But Mr Magazanik failed to mention that the Melbourne University study – as the Sydney Morning Herald report made clear – was based on responses to the ABC’s Vote Compass survey in 2013 and weighed to reflect the demographics in each electorate.

In other words, this was not a survey of the views of all Australians. Rather, it was a survey of the views of ABC viewers/listeners who volunteered to take part in the ABC’s Vote Compass process.

The discussion concluded with co-presenter Michael Rowland agreeing with co-presenter Del Irani who agreed with Michael Magazanik who agreed with HIMSELF about same-sex marriage, as the transcript demonstrates:

Michael Rowland: And why don’t MPs represent those electorates that show there is support for same sex marriage?

Michael Magazanik: That’s right. Perhaps we could just have a very expensive opinion poll. Not a $150 million – but $ 3 million opinion poll – a very good opinion poll – and be done with it. But it does seem like a lot of money [for a plebiscite] on such a foregone conclusion.

Del Irani: $3 million is still a good chunk of change.

It sure is. But the ABC-style discussion where everyone-agrees-with-everyone-else on News Breakfast last Monday overlooked the fact that everyone was discussing the contributed comments of some ABC viewers/listeners. Not an opinion poll at all. Can you bear it?


It was more of the same when Gael Jennings – of the pompously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism at Melbourne University – did the “Newspapers” gig last Wednesday.

Initially, Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) said accurately that Newspoll in The Australian that morning reported a decline in support for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage – from 70 per cent earlier in the year to 39 per cent. That’s a real swing. But then Del Irani moved the discussion to last Monday’s topic. Let’s go to the transcript:

Del Irani: And it’s [Newspoll’s] interesting because it comes off the back of the University of Melbourne study that was also just done a couple of days ago where it showed that really there’s only one electorate where they are opposed to same sex marriage. That coupled with this shift, certainly is building up pressure.

Gael Jennings [interjecting]: Yeah, and it’s also coupled with a new poll that came out I think a day or so ago that showed that support for the government is also slumping, that it’s now down, the primary vote is below 40 per cent and the two party preferred vote is at, I think, 48 per cent compared with Labor 52 per cent. So you know, these things change all the time but this seems to be an issue that Australians feel quite strongly about.

Maybe. But not as strongly as ABC types. It’s possible that there is only one electorate in Australia where ABC viewers/listeners oppose same sex marriage. But no more than that. Despite the evident excitement of Dr Jennings. It’s not clear how journalism is advanced by media academics fudging survey results. Can you bear it?


On the principle attributed to Leon Trotsky that “worse is better” – MWD regrets the fact that Mark Scott is no longer the ABC’s managing director and (so called) editor-in-chief. As even the leftist sandal-wearer Margaret Simons acknowledged in her article in the September 2016 issue of The Monthly, towards the end of his decade at the ABC Mark Scott was a captive of the staff cliques which run the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Dr Simons wrote that Mr Scott became increasingly sensitive to criticism as his support for ABC journalists – even when the ABC acknowledged that there was no evidence for their claims – became untenable.

In short, Nice Mr Scott came to defend the indefensible and rarely if ever acknowledged that journalists, presenters or producers at the Conservative Free Zone had made errors. This was you-beaut material for MWD. But, alas, the ABC has a new managing director.

Soon after stepping down as ABC managing director, Nice Mr Scott was appointed Secretary of NSW Department of Education. Lots of thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the tweet which Mark Scott sent out at 7.19 am on Monday 5 September 2016 – just before heading off for another day as the top bureaucrat in the NSW Department of Education. It concerned the death of Richard Neville (1941-2016). Here it is:


Mark Scott re-tweeted the “Richard Neville Obituary” which had been published in The Guardian earlier on Monday morning. It contained articles by Marsha Rowe and Geoffrey Robertson on the late Richard Neville. Both Ms Rowe and Mr Robertson referred to Richard Neville’s 1970 book Play Power.

Mark Scott’s description of Richard Neville as “always a thoughtful, incisive, courageous voice” was a disturbing statement from the Director-General of Education in NSW – who is responsible for the behaviour of teachers.

As MWD readers are well aware – and as a simple Google search would reveal – Richard Neville was a self-confessed pedophile. In Play Power, Neville boasted of having had “a hurricane f-ck” with “a moderately attractive, intelligent, cherubic fourteen-year-old girl from a nearby London comprehensive school”. Neville was in his late twenties at the time of this “hurricane f_ck” – about twice the age of the schoolgirl.

Yet, in spite of Richard Neville’s admission of pedophilia, Mark Scott declared that he was “always” thoughtful, incisive and courageous. It does not take much “courage” for a high profile man in his late twenties to groom a 14-year-old schoolgirl for sex.

Moreover, Mark Scott’s description of Richard Neville as always “thoughtful” overlooks the fact that Richard Neville presented the infamous ABC Radio Lateline program titled “Pederasty” on 14 July 1975. He interviewed three pederasts, two of whom were personal friends, and at least two of their victims. The precise details of the victims is unclear since the “Pederasty” tape appears to have been destroyed soon after it went to air.

Mr Neville did not report the self-declared pederasts to NSW Police. Nor did he adopt a duty of care with respect to their victims. Neville told The National Times (21-26 July 1975) that the pederasts on his program were not “child molesters” since the boys were willing participants. How “thoughtful” is this?

It is extraordinary that Mark Scott – the Director-General of Education in New South Wales – should praise so lavishly a self-confessed pedophile who also believed that young boys could willingly consent to sex with older men and who declined to report pederasts to NSW Police.

If a teacher in the NSW Education Department behaved today as Neville did circa 1970, he would be dismissed from his job and charged with statutory rape. And yet Nice Mr Scott reckons that Richard Neville was “always a thoughtful, incisive and courageous voice.” Can you bear it?



abc update


Ben Butler reported in The Australian on 22 September 2016 that Tony Whitlam QC has launched a defamation action against the ABC over an item in the 7.30 program of 2 May 2016. The program was presented by Leigh Sales and the segment which led to the defamation action was reported by Andy Park.

Mr Park’s report followed the conviction of former Catholic priest Joseph John Farrell for child sexual assault. Farrell was charged with sexual assault over three decades ago but was cleared by a court. In time, he was expelled from the priesthood. Farrell is now in prison.

In 2012 the Catholic Church in Armidale and Parramatta appointed Tony Whitlam QC, a former Federal Court judge and someone who is not and never has been a Catholic, to investigate the way the Church handled Farrell’s case when he worked in both dioceses. The Whitlam report was considered and extensive. One issue dealt with whether, at a meeting in September 1992, Farrell had admitted to three priests that he was a sexual offender. Two priests at the meeting recalled that no such admissions had been made – the other priest (now deceased) recalled that Farrell did make admissions. Mr Whitlam interviewed all three priests. In the event, Tony Whitlam QC decided that he could not decide as to whose memory of an event, which occurred around a quarter of a century ago, was accurate and whose memory was inaccurate.

When 7.30 covered this matter following Farrell’s conviction, it interviewed only two people. Both were critics of the Church’s handling of the Farrell case. Namely, former NSW Director of Public Prosecution Nicholas Cowdery QC and Broken Rites activist Bernard Barrett. No other view was heard. Both Mr Cowdery and Mr Barrett made criticisms of the Catholic Church and/or Tony Whitlam’s report.

In his claim, Mr Whitlam reportedly referred to the ABC’s “arrogant and highhanded refusal to apologise” for its report on 2 May 2016. The 7.30 program in question aired when Mark Scott was managing director and editor-in-chief of the ABC. As MWD has documented in this and other issues, in his final years at the ABC Mark Scott was in a state of denial about the public broadcaster – and tended to defend the veracity and integrity of ABC programs in the face of evidence.

It’s easy for the ABC to act with arrogance and high-handedness in refusing to apologise for errors. After all, it uses taxpayers’ funds to defend itself against legal claims. Moreover, if the taxpayer funded public broadcaster loses a defamation case, any damages and costs are also paid from taxpayers’ funds.


Another example of the ABC’s arrogance and high-handedness is evident in the promotion for 7.30 which is currently running on ABC TV.

On 27 July 2016, 7.30 devoted its entire program to attacking Cardinal George Pell. Only critics of the Cardinal were heard. Two men alleged that they were victims of improper touching by (then) Fr Pell in Ballarat around four decades ago and one man alleged that he saw (then) Fr Pell parading naked in the Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club, after a swim, some three decades ago. This man told Fairfax Media that (then) Fr Pell was the local Warrnambool priest at the time. He wasn’t. Fairfax Media has deleted this claim but refuses to acknowledge its correction.

As MWD revealed, after the program went to air, ABC management sent out a hastily written and at times ungrammatical memo to staff advising them to be careful about how the 7.30 story was reported on the ABC. It advised staff to “avoid emotive grabs which suggest Pell is guilty/allegations are true”. ABC staff were also instructed that any future reference to the improper touching allegations should include the comment of “former pool manager who has told police saw nothing untoward re Pell”. See MWD Issue 326.

ABC management was also insistent that “all references to allegations should be qualified…to emphasise Pell entitled to presumption of innocence/these allegations untested by law etc”. ABC journalists were advised to acknowledge that the allegations against Cardinal Pell are “untested” and that the Cardinal has “vehemently denied” them.

In spite of this, ABC TV’s current promotion for 7.30 covers the program’s performance in three areas. Namely, (i) “Original Investigations”, (ii) “Breaking Stories” and (iii) “Uncomfortable Truths”. The segment includes a grab from one of Cardinal Pell’s improper touching accusers who says: “In the George Pell thing, we just kept that quiet”.

The implication of the 7.30 promo is that the story about Cardinal Pell, which aired on 27 July 2016, revealed an “uncomfortable truth”. This despite the fact that the ABC itself acknowledges that the unproven allegations against Cardinal Pell are precisely that. That is, they are unproven allegations – not “uncomfortable truths”.

Clearly ABC management does not know what ABC staff are up to.



Howard on Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia – which screened on ABC 1 on Sunday 18 September and Sunday 25 September – was a success. It was essentially John Howard’s take on his political hero Robert Menzies.

However, as the program’s credits make clear, Howard on Menzies was written and directed by Simon Nasht of Smith & Nasht. Like most of his colleagues in the film world, Mr Nasht is a leftie.

At the conclusion of the screening of Episode 1 of Howard on Menzies at the Cremorne Hayden Orpheum, Gerard Henderson congratulated Simon Nasht and his producer Ruth Cross on the fact that the first part of the documentary contained no errors. It covered Robert Menzies’ life from his birth to around the time of the Royal Visit to Australia of early 1954.

Episode 2, however, contains some howlers in the script written by Simon Nasht. This is unfortunate since Howard on Menzies will be provided by the Menzies Research Centre for use as a historical tool within schools.

Here are some of Simon Nasht’s howlers in Episode 2 of Howard on Menzies.

The Petrov Affair & The 1954 and 1955 Elections

Simon Nasht’s script – narrated by Linda Cropper – reads as follows:

Narrator: The upheaval begins when a Soviet Spy, Vladimir Petrov, defects. An election is only weeks away. …Soon after Petrov’s defection, the world watches transfixed as his wife is bundled aboard a plane bound for Moscow….On Menzies’ orders, when the plane lands to refuel in Darwin, Mrs Petrov is freed from her escorts and goes into exile with her husband. Petrov makes explosive claims, never proven, that senior figures in the Labor Party are involved in espionage. For Menzies, behind in the polls and facing a possible defeat, Petrov is a godsend.

Labor claims Menzies has orchestrated the defection to save himself…It’s not the last time that an unexpected crisis will influence the outcome of an Australian election. For Menzies it was Petrov, for Howard, it was Tampa. …Whatever the truth behind the Petrov shock, for Labor the damage is done. Menzies comes from behind to win a narrow victory… The defeat is traumatic for Labor. It exposes deep divisions within the party over communism.

Opposition leader Doc Evatt sees enemies everywhere, especially the anti-communists within his own party. When he challenges these mostly Catholic members to choose between their politics or the Pope, they choose the Church. Walking out to form a breakaway party: the DLP. The Great Split will reverberate through Australian politics for decades. …Menzies can barely believe his luck. He now needs to do little more than sit back and watch his opponents tear themselves apart. …Menzies is merciless in pressing home his advantage and calls an election 18 months early.

And now for some facts – that were documented decades ago in Robert Manne’s book The Petrov Affair and in Bob Murray’s The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties.

▪ There is no evidence that Prime Minister Menzies ordered that Evdokia Petrov should be freed from her Soviet escorts in Darwin. She made this decision herself after careful consideration in view of her concern for her family in the Soviet Union.

▪ Vladimir Petrov did disclose that some members of Opposition leader Bert Evatt’s office were providing material to the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. The defection of Vladimir and his wife Evdokia from the Soviet Embassy in 1954 provided significant intelligence on Soviet spies in the West, including Australia.

▪ The Coalition was not behind in the polls before Petrov defected.

▪ The Petrov defection had little effect on – and was rarely mentioned during – the May 1954 election campaign. The Coalition won narrowly on the back of the hugely successful Royal Tour and on account of the fact that Evatt made unfunded promises which divided the Labor Opposition. Put simply, Menzies was regarded as a better economic manager than Evatt.

▪ There is scant comparison between the Petrov defection on the eve of the 1954 election and the asylum seeker issue involving the Tampa on the eve of the 2001 election. Tampa was an issue in the 2001 election. Petrov became an issue after the 1954 election.

▪ In the aftermath of the 1954 election, Bert Evatt publicly attacked the Victorian branch of the ALP. Some Labor MPs, at Federal and State level, were expelled from the Labor Party and formed the Anti-Communist Labor Party. The Anti-Communist Labor Party contested the 1954 and 1955 elections – it changed its name to the Democratic Labor Party before the 1958 election. Most, but not all, DLP members were Catholic. Such leading figures as Bob Joshua and Senator Jack Little were not Catholics.

It is absolute tosh to claim that at the time of the Labor Split in the mid-1950s “these mostly Catholic members were challenged by Evatt to choose between their politics and the Pope”.

In the mid-1950s, the Catholic Church in Australia was divided on politics. The Sydney and Adelaide bishops backed the Labor Party. And the Victorian bishops backed the Anti-Communist Labor Party and, subsequently, the DLP. In the event Pope Pius XII sided with Cardinal Norman Gilroy in Sydney over Archbishop Daniel Mannix in Melbourne.

After the Labor Split, three of the four ALP parliamentary leaders were Catholic. Namely, deputy leader Arthur Calwell, Senate leader Pat Kennelly and deputy Senate leader Nick McKenna.

In short, Howard on Menzies is hopelessly wrong about Australian history between Vladimir Petrov’s defection in 1954 and the end of the Labor Split in 1957.

The Suez Crisis

This is what Simon Nasht has to say about Robert Menzies’ role in supporting Britain and France, rather than the United States, at the time of the Suez Crisis.

Narrator: In truth, Suez will blight the Anglo-American alliance for a generation…After his humiliation in the Middle East, Menzies can now offer the public a welcome distraction. But it was not Menzies’ distraction. What’s more, the Suez Crisis was not a big issue in Australia in 1956.

Sure, Suez did strain relations between Britain and the US for a period. However, Australia retained first-class relations with both traditional allies.

It’s a left-wing myth of long-standing that Robert Menzies faced “humiliation” over the Suez Crisis. As to the suggestion that, on his return to Australia after visiting Europe around the time of the Suez Crisis, Menzies offered “the public a welcome distraction”. Namely, the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games which commenced in November 1956. Well, that’s tosh too.

In fact, the bid by Melbourne to host the 1956 Olympics commenced in 1946 – i.e. during the time of Ben Chifley’s Labor government. The bid was sponsored by the City of Melbourne – not by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments. The 1956 Olympics may have been a welcome distraction

1961-1963 Elections & State Aid

This is what Simon Nasht wrote about the 1961 and 1963 elections:

Narrator: For a century government aid to religious schools was political poison for all parties. Schools were battlegrounds for the deepest division in Australian society, the rivalry between Catholics and Protestants. This bitter sectarian divide is hard to imagine today but the rift could be felt in every suburb…and nowhere is sectarianism more bitter than in the Labor Party.

Caught in this crossfire, Catholic schools are in desperate need of help….

It’s the Presbyterian Menzies that finally breaks the deadlock and masterfully turns support for Catholics to his advantage. And it begins with a humble toilet block.

Old Black & White footage : It was here at the Lady of Mercy College in Goulburn that the whole business of state aid really came to a head.

Narrator: When the [NSW] Education Department condemned this toilet block, the local Bishop asked the state for help.

Black & White footage: The answer, was no.

Narrator: To make a point the Catholic Schools go on strike. More than a thousand Catholic students roll up the next day to enrol in government schools. …Two years earlier he had nearly lost it all. Now, two years later in 1963, Menzies sweeps back with a thumping majority, much to the frustration of those intellectuals to whom he’d given a free education.

It is true that in the lead-up to the 1963 election the Menzies government decided to provide Commonwealth funding to establish science blocks in non-government schools. As B.A. Santamaria documents in his autobiography Against the Tide, this move was negotiated between Treasurer Harold Holt and Santamaria himself on behalf of some Catholic bishops. This was the first occasion in which the Commonwealth Government had provided financial support for non-government schools.

Robert Menzies’ 1963 decision had little to do with the Goulburn School Strike of mid-1962 – which involved a dispute between the Catholic Diocese of Goulburn and the State Labor Government of New South Wales. The “strike” created considerable attention but achieved little and soon ended.

The political motivation for the Menzies government’s state aid decision in 1963 was to ensure the continued receipt of Democratic Party first preferences – particularly in Victoria and Queensland where the DLP was strong.

In any event, the Coalition won well in 1963 primarily because Labor was divided over the Australian-American Alliance and on account of the fact that the Australian economy had recovered from the economic downturn of 1961. In 1967, also to ensure the continuity of DLP preferences, Victorian Liberal Party Premier Henry Bolte provided payments to all Victorian school children – whether in government or non-government schools. This was the first major breakthrough in what was called state aid for non-government schools at the level of State government. It did not take place in NSW.

* * * *

It’s unfortunate that the overall historical strength of Howard on Menzies should be marred by an incorrect and essentially left-wing interpretation of the final decade of the Menzies government.

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 avid readers are aware, Philip Reed – the chief executive officer of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – emailed Gerard Henderson during the morning of Friday 19 February 2016. Mr Reed alleged that Gerard Henderson had made an incorrect statement about the Royal Commission on 7.30 the previous Wednesday.

Being a courteous and well brought up kind of guy, Hendo replied to Mr Reed’s email within hours – and the full correspondence was carried in MWD the same day. See Issue 304. Alas, Philip Reed declined to respond to, or even acknowledge, Gerard Henderson’s email of 19 February 2016, or his follow-up emails of 25 February 2016 and 2 March 2016. Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Philip Reed – 20 September 2016

Dear Mr Reed

As you will recall, on the morning of 19 February 2016 you sent me an email alleging that I had made “an error” on the ABC’s 7.30 program the previous Wednesday (i.e. 17 February 2016). You forwarded a copy of your email to 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales and producer Joanne Puccini. I can only assume that you wanted 7.30 to make some kind of correction that evening with respect to my comments on the previous Wednesday.

I was busy on the morning of Friday 19 February 2016 with an important meeting scheduled for lunch-time. However, I sent you a reply at 11.50 am that day.

In my email of 19 February 2016, I :

▪ rejected your assertion that I had made “an error” in my 7.30 interview with respect to the proceedings of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

▪ commented that your letter seemed somewhat defensive since I had not made any inaccurate or unprofessional comments in relation to the Royal Commission in general or Justice Peter McClellan AM in particular.

▪ indicated my surprise that the chief executive officer of the Royal Commission should object to me making a statement of fact – especially since your complaint about my (alleged) error was of such trivial nature and

▪ asked whether you have publicly rebuked any other commentator who has referred to the Royal Commission in any way.

You did not acknowledge, or reply to, my email of 19 February 2016.

In my email of 25 February 2016, I asked you to advise me of the number of hours that Most Rev Philip Aspinall and Dr Peter Hollingworth had spent in the witness box at the Royal Commission. This followed your comment in your email of 19 February 2016 that both men “had given evidence across multiple hearings”.

Once again, you did not reply to – or even acknowledge – my email of 25 February 2016.

In my email of 2 March 2016, I asked you whether you had written to Gail Furness SC advising of an error (which I documented) she made when cross-examining Cardinal George Pell before the Royal Commission.

Once again, you did not reply to – or even acknowledge – my email of 2 March 2016.

I stand by the comment on 7.30 to which you took exception, viz:

Gerard Henderson: That will be three appearances [by Cardinal George Pell] at the Royal Commission and one before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry. No-one else has been asked to make those kind of appearances…

My statement was – and remains – accurate. As I understand it, Cardinal Pell made three appearances before the Royal Commission – totalling some 32 hours plus close to 5 hours before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry (to which the Royal Commission has access). That’s 37 hours all up. No one else has been asked to make such lengthy appearances – despite your assertion to the contrary.

As you are probably aware, 7.30 did not take any action following receipt of your email to me of 19 February. So, I can only assume that Ms Sales and Ms Puccini came to the view that your assertion that I had made an “error” in my 7.30 interview had no merit.

On the occasions when I worked in the Commonwealth Public Service, it was regarded as courteous – and professional – to reply to correspondence. Especially if the public servant had initiated the exchange.

I do not know Justice McClellan’s opinion on this. However, it seems unprofessional that a taxpayer funded public servant believes it appropriate to write to someone in the private sector and then to refuse to even acknowledge the response of the recipient.

I look forward to a reply to my emails of 19 February 2016, 25 February 2016 and 2 March 2016 – in response to the correspondence which you decided to initiate on 19 February 2016.

I do not know whether Justice McClellan is aware of the fact that, in your official position as the Royal Commission’s CEO, you decline to respond to correspondence from people to whom you have written. However, if I do not hear from you by close of business this coming Thursday – I will write to Justice McClellan next week formally advising him of the Royal Commission’s CEO’s practice with respect to correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

If Philip Reed ever replies to Gerard Henderson’s courteous correspondence, avid MWD readers will be the first to know.

* * * * *

Until next time.

One of my bête noires is Gerard Henderson. And I try not to let him provoke me. I turn the other cheek – both facial and posterial. But this week he said something which just made me furious.

Phillip Adams on Late Night Live, 20 September 2016

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

Until next time.