14 October 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.

  • Stop Press: Another ABC Recruit from Fairfax Media; SMH Downplays Sydney Terrorist Incident; Lateline’s “War” Against Elections
  • Can You Bear It? Katharine Murphy; Lisa Wilkinson; Sky News’ US Presidential Debate Howler & Derryn Hinch (Remembering the Playboy Days)
  • New Feature: Nancy’s Take on the Canberra Press Gallery – Phil Coorey’s False Memory Re Chris Kenny
  • Obituary: Peter Henderson AC
  • Anti-Catholic Sectarianism: An Update – Charles Wooley Mocks Archbishop Porteous
  • Jim Spigelman/Richard Downing ABC Chairman Scoreboard Update
  • Correspondence: A Sensitive Simon Nasht Helps Out re Howard On Menzies, The Petrov Affair (1954) & The Labor Split (1955-57)



Quelle surprise. The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that its editor, Judith Whelan, has been appointed Head of Spoken Content at ABC Radio. This will make her in charge of ABC Metropolitan Radio, ABC Radio National and ABC Grandstand.

This repeats the familiar rite-of-passage from the leftist Fairfax Media to the ABC (which is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets). Some go to the ABC from the leftist Fairfax Media. Some go to the ABC from the leftist newsletter Crikey. Some go to the ABC from other zones of leftist influence. How (boringly) predictable.

It’s very much a case of like appointing like. This ensures that the new ABC Head of Spoken Content will possess all the intellectually fashionable positions on the ABC’s mantra – with respect to what is called dangerous climate change, asylum seekers and same sex marriage, and more besides. In her new role, Ms Whelan will be responsible for the on-air work of Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly, Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”) Adams and Wendy (“I’m an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer along with others.

Judith Whelan is a highly competent journalist. It’s just that she brings nothing fresh to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Just more of the (leftist) same.

On another matter, Fairfax Media invariably draws attention to its female editors. It’s just that, at the Sydney Morning Herald, they don’t last long. Amanda Wilson was moved in July 2012 after a mere 18 months at the job – in spite of the fact that Fairfax Media boasted on her appointment that she was the paper’s first female editor. And now Judith Whelan is heading out the door after a mere seven months in the editor’s chair.

[Who knows? Perhaps Nancy might be head-hunted for the position. I understand that Nancy’s (male) co-owner was considered for the position some years ago – but only following a change of management which never occurred – MWD Editor].


Meanwhile the arrest in Sydney of two 16-year-old males on terrorist related charges today has (finally) made Page One of the Sydney Morning Herald. Arrests were made in Bankstown on Wednesday. But the report of what police allege was an attempt to decapitate one or more individuals in the name of creating an Islamic caliphate only obtained a small report on Page 10 yesterday. It was a Page One story in the Daily Telegraph with a flow-over to Page 6 and 7. The Daily Telegraph has more on this important story on Page One and elsewhere today.

The problem with the Sydney Morning Herald is that it prints all the news which its editors believe is proper to print. Islamic terrorism in Australian cities is not really a Fairfax Media story – since it raises issues which its newspapers do not really want to address. Yesterday the SMH’s front page focused on Attorney-General George Brandis’ (alleged) unlawful act with respect to the Crown Solicitor, (ii) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s (alleged) insecure use of a messaging application and (iii) yes – you’ve guessed it – Australia’s emissions. Yawn.


MWD can barely wait for tonight’s Lateline on ABC 1 – or perhaps ABC News 24 (which is really ABC News 14 since it does not provide a 24 hour news service). This is how Lateline is promoting tonight’s program

1-late-debate-lateline-tweet-elections 2-late-debate-lateline-tweet-elections 3-late-debate-lateline-tweet-elections

Lateline has become increasingly trivial since it moved into its new time slot last year. But tonight’s discussion takes the cake. Viewers are being asked to vote about whether Australia should abandon voting in elections to determine who should govern us. The suggestion is that elections might be replaced by an “ancient lottery” that would see community members appointed for set terms. Why not resolve this issue by Lateline conducting a ballot by which community members decide this issue tonight – and junk its online poll?

Come to think of it, why bother with community members being chosen by lot to govern Australia? Why not just put the names of Lateline co-presenters Tony Jones and Emma Alberici in a barrel and draw both out? Why not let Mr Jones and Ms Alberici run the show? – and the government. Judging by her interview with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce last Tuesday, Ms Alberici already both asks the questions and then answers them. Why not let her do this with respect to Australia as a whole – with a little help from Tony (“I used to turn over cars in my Newington school uniform”) Jones.

Can you bear it graphic


Gerard Henderson will be on Insiders this Sunday. So it’s good to know that The Guardian’s very own Katharine Murphy – who was on the Insiders’ couch last week – has endorsed for a bit of biff in political discourse.

MWD has always been a fan of Murph, in spite of the fact that she is a leftist hand-holding-make-love-not-war kind of gal. So it was with a certain surprise that – sitting on his very own couch with Nancy on Sunday – Hendo observed Murph’s call for a bit of violence in politics. Here’s what The Guardian’s political editor had to say:

Katharine Murphy: Well Barrie, I cannot say this any better than Robert De Niro. So let’s hear from him.

Robert De Niro: I mean he [Donald Trump] is so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk, a dog, he’s a pig. Colin Powell said it best – he’s a national disaster. He’s an embarrassment to this country. It makes me so angry this country has gotten to this point that this fool, this bozo, has wound up where he has. He talks how he’d like to punch people in the face. Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.

So there you have it. The one-time Make-Love-Not-War Ms Murphy wants Robert De Niro to punch the Republican presidential candidate “in the face”. How about that? Katharine Murphy appears to have become a member of the Mark Latham Go-the-Biff Club – except that Mr Latham was referring to Rugby League, not politics.

MWD was disappointed – so disappointed – that Ms Murphy also appeared to endorse Mr De Niro’s belief that the words “dog” and “pig” are appropriate terms of abuse and suitable put-downs.

MWD does not have much to do with pigs – except, occasionally, at breakfast. However, MWD understands that they are intelligent and well-meaning animals. If, on occasions, in need of a shower.

But MWD was shocked that Murph would support the view that to call someone “a dog” is a suitable put-down in the public debate. Take Nancy, for example. She has led an exemplary life – and should not have to take offence just because one Hollywood actor dislikes one New York Reality TV star. Also, The Guardian’s political editor would never suggest that, say, Fox News’ Sean Hannity should punch Bill Clinton in the face. Can you bear it?

[Er, no. Not really. I note that Gerard Henderson wrote to Katharine Murphy about this matter on Monday but, alas, received neither a reply nor an acknowledgement. Perhaps Murph is embarrassed by her behaviour on the Insiders couch last Sunday. Here’s a solution – Murph should enrol in Nancy’s increasingly popular Courtesy Classes – which provide special advice about how to speak to, and about, canines. MWD Editor]


While on the topic of Donald Trump, did anyone see the tweet which Lisa Wilkinson [aka Mrs Peter FitzSimons] put out on Sunday. In case the answer is in the negative, here it is:


It is not all that clear that Donald Trump cares a hoot that The Red Bandannaed One once played professional rugby and that he never heard what is termed “locker room talk” in a locker room.

However – if Donald Trump is aware of your man Fitz – he would know that Peter FitzSimons went to Knox Grammar School and Sydney University and played the upper-class sport of Rugby – or Rugby Union. Not Rugby League or the American football the United States’ National Football League. It’s possible that posh Rugby types do not do locker-room talk – even though, on ABC 702’s Drive with Richard Glover last night, Mike (“I used to pour the gin”) Carlton said that he had heard locker room talk in his day. The Christian-hating Mr Carlton attended the Christian Barker College in Sydney.

In any event, Ms Wilkinson really thought that Mr Trump would be interested to know what her husband did not hear in a locker room all those years ago. How delusional can you get? Can you bear it?


While on the topic of the Clintons, here’s what Mike “Sneering” Seccombe had to say about Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, locker room talk and all that stuff on The Drum on Monday. Let’s go to the transcript:

John Barron: How fair is that because a lot of people, a lot of people say there is no equivalency here. Hillary Clinton, if Bill Clinton has, we know he is a philanderer that has been admitted. There, it has never been proven that he’s committed a crime of a sexual nature although there were these sexual harassment claims he paid $850,000 to settle even though the case was dismissed. But no acceptance of wrong doing, so he’s been convicted of nothing, accused of plenty and there may well be fire there. Hillary Clinton, when did she stop being the wronged party here? As his long suffering wife.

Georgina Downer: Well, yeah, I mean there are two sides of looking at it. She stood by him through that time, yes, as a wife whose husband has committed several infidelities. Sure, but the way Donald Trump is pitching it, she actually was supporting him and turned a, you know, was wilfully blind to his activities as long as Clinton was successful in his own presidency and then enabled her to take the secretary, the position of Secretary of State and now run for the presidency. So Trump is painting them in collusion with each other. And, look, there is a constituency in the United States that believes that that is very much the case and it’s been a very successful campaign tactic for Donald.

Mike Seccombe: But it’s a very long bow to draw isn’t it? I mean, because visiting the sins of the husband on the wife, you know, the case where she represented the rape victim – she was, as I understand, court appointed. So, you know, the fact that she was doing her job as a lawyer I don’t think should count against her.

In the other cases there doesn’t seem to be, well (a) there’s no proven criminal act by Clinton, Bill Clinton and (b) one step removed from that there’s no suggestion that Hillary Clinton really did anything, to be perfectly frank. So I think that it’s a bit of a tough call on her, quite frankly

What a load of tosh – to be perfectly frank, frankly. Numerous women made charges of sexual assault against Bill Clinton – and one made a specific charge of rape. Mr Clinton made at least one substantial compensation payment to Paula Jones. Moreover, the charge against Hillary Clinton is not that she defended a man accused of rape of a 12 year old girl. Rather, it is that Hillary Clinton subjected the girl to an aggressive cross-examination and later laughed at the fact that the defendant had been acquitted – since she was convinced of his guilt, despite the fact that he passed a lie detector test. Moreover, Ms Clinton is on record as criticising the women who made allegations of sexual impropriety against her husband when she knew that the claims were true. Some of these women will appear on the Fox News Hannity program on Friday evening (New York time).

And here you have The Saturday Paper’s Mike Seccombe – who would never declare a Catholic or Anglican priest innocent of sexual impropriety on the grounds that “there’s no proven criminal act” – letting Bill Clinton off the hook. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of the US Presidential Debates, here’s how Sky News introduced the second Trump v Clinton bout last weekend.

Round One went to Clinton. Now Trump comes back swinging. Launching a brutal battle where scandals, health conspiracies and even infidelities are fair game. How low will he go? And can Clinton rise above it to keep the focus on policy? Buckle up, as two deeply unpopular candidates slug it out. The second presidential debate, live, followed by the best analysis on what it means for the White House race and Australia. Only on Sky News Live.

What a load of tosh. It was Hillary Clinton who, in the first debate, introduced the issue of treatment of women when she castigated Donald Trump for what he said about Miss Venezuela, Alicia Machado, in the 1996 Miss Universe beauty pageant some two decades ago. Yet Sky News implied that Trump was the first to throw the switch to scandals. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of propriety, what a fascinating exchange between Senator Derryn Hinch and Senator Pauline Hanson on Sunrise last Monday. Senator Hanson rationalised Donald Trump’s latest sexist tape on the basis that all men go into such, er, locker room discussions. Senator Hinch was having none of this and clashed with the One Nation leader on, and later off, the set. Here, and subsequently in his Crikey column on Wednesday, your man Hinch stood up for respecting women.

Really. Is this the very same Derryn Hinch who appeared, photographed in bed, with a topless young sheila not so many years ago – while revealing none of his very own significant private bits? Sure is. And now The Human Mumble has decided to lecture-at-large about how to treat a lady and all that stuff. Can you bear it?


Rennie Ellis’ 1979 shot of Derryn Hinch with a topless Playboy playmate. This pic, taken from the internet, has been censored by the very proper Nancy since Media Watch Dog is family friendly.



What a great show when AFR chief political correspondent (and former Adelaide Advertiser journalist) Phil Coorey went on Sky News on Thursday 6 October. The other panelist was Sydney Morning Herald chief political correspondent Mark Kenny (who, according to MWD’s sources, once worked for the Labor government in South Australia).

Now former political staffers, like Nancy’s (male) co-owner, understand that it is unwise to blame political advisers for decisions reached by their employers. However, on 13 October, your man Coorey thought it was a you-beaut idea to have a go at Sky News presenter Chris Kenny, who once worked for the Liberal Party government in South Australia. Let’s go to the transcript:

Phil Coorey: …If you actually want to know the real villain behind what happened in South Australia, you go back to the state Liberal government in the late ‘90s, because they were gonna build a – they were gonna build a second interconnector to South Australia. It was only going to cost 90 million dollars –

Kieran Gilbert: Oh, wow.

Phil Coorey: – and it was going to be built across the border into New South Wales –

Kieran Gilbert: And now it’s going to cost 3.5 billion

Phil Coorey: Well – and it was all planned and approved and paid for in the [John] Olsen [Liberal Party] government – which one of your Sky News people now [Chris Kenny], used to work for as a chief of staff – decided they’d cancel it because it was gonna depreciate the, um, the cost of their power – their generation assets which the government wanted to privatise…

Phil Coorey’s decision to dob-in Chris Kenny was welcomed by Mike (“I used to pour the gin”) Carlton who tweeted:


A fabulous assertion it certainly was. But, alas, not a correct one. Chris Kenny was not employed by the Olsen government when the decision not to build a second interconnector (this one to NSW) was made. In fact, Chris Kenny joined Premier Olsen’s office some two years after the event.

Mr Coorey has issued an apology, sort of. Mike Carlton has not.


Peter Henderson AC died on Sunday 25 September 2016. He was the embodiment of the traditional public servant. Dedicated to serving the public and providing important and dispassionate advice to government ministers of whatever political colour. As Peter Henderson put it, he was “genuinely and deeply attached to the principles of a professional non-political public service”.

Yet, Peter Henderson was sacked as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs by Labor foreign minister Bill Hayden in 1984 and resigned from the Commonwealth Public Service in January 1985 at age 56. As Henderson wrote in his considered, insightful and occasionally witty memoir Privilege and Pleasure (Methven Haynes 1986) – on two or three separate occasions Hayden sought to assure him that his “connection with Sir Robert Menzies had nothing whatsoever to do” with the decision to replace him as secretary of the department. Enough said. Hayden had complained that five or six submissions which came to him from the department – not drafted by Henderson – were not up to standard. That’s all.

Peter Henderson came from a well-off, farming family in Goulburn, New South Wales. He was educated at Geelong Grammar and at Merton College Oxford University. As a student, Peter was impressed by his headmaster Sir James Darling’s evocation that those born to economic good fortune should give something back to the community by means of public service. And it came to pass that Peter became a cadet in the (then) Department of External Affairs in 1951.

It so happened that the prime minister Mr Menzies, as he then was, was wont to invite the young diplomat trainees to The Lodge for dinner and other social occasions. It was there that Peter Henderson met Heather Menzies – the only daughter of Robert and Pattie Menzies. They married in May 1955 – in the midst of Peter’s first diplomatic posting to Jakarta.

Privilege and Pleasure makes it clear that, six decades or so ago, life on a foreign posting could be harsh. In Jakarta, for example, electricity worked six hours on and six hours off every day. There was no air-conditioning in the residence – in spite of the stifling heat. However, management staff in the department’s Canberra headquarters were convinced that foreign postings entailed a form of indulgence and were dismissive of requests from diplomats for improved conditions.

During a distinguished career, Peter Henderson was posted to Washington, Jakarta, Geneva, London and finally as ambassador in Manila – before becoming head of Foreign Affairs between 1979 and 1984. For two years in the 1970s, Henderson worked on secondment to the mining company CRA (i.e. today’s Rio Tinto) in Melbourne.

Henderson argues that Sir Nicholas Parkinson was better qualified than he to become Secretary of Foreign Affairs in 1976, after Henderson returned to Canberra from Manila. This may, or may not, have been the case. However, once again Peter Henderson was assured, this time by the Coalition’s Andrew Peacock, that the fact that Sir Robert Menzies was his father-in-law had nothing to do with him being overlooked on this occasion – despite having been assured previously that his chances of success were around the 99 per cent mark. As Henderson wrote in Privilege and Pleasure:

The practical result for me has been for the Liberals to lean over backwards not to appear to be giving me preferred treatment, and for some elements in the Labor Party to remain always intensely suspicious of me, not only because of Sir Robert, but because of what they see as a privileged background and supposed “elitist” (used in a pejorative sense) attitudes.

In any event, Henderson was appointed to the position when Parkinson took early retirement on grounds of ill-health, his eyesight was deteriorating rapidly. Still, Parkinson’s retirement was used against Henderson by left-wing Labor Senator Cyril Primmer. It was part of a campaign by Primmer – conducted under parliamentary privilege – to drive Henderson out of the Commonwealth Public Service and into prison. Primmer, without a skerrick of evidence, alleged that Henderson had acted corruptly with respect to public money in that he had covered for the misdeeds of others. Primmer also alleged that Henderson had improperly facilitated Parkinson’s retirement on medical grounds in order to take over his position. Henderson received support at the time from Coalition ministers Tony Street, John Carrick and Coalition Senator Fred Cheney, along with – most honourably – Labor’s (then) Senator Gareth Evans, who was a minister in the Hawke Labor government during some of this time.

This incident demonstrates the best and worst of public service and politics. Henderson was an impeccable public servant in the traditional sense. And Primmer was a left-wing thug who abused parliamentary privilege to traduce the reputation of an honourable public servant without any evidence of any kind.

Bill Hayden replaced Henderson as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs with Australian National University academic Stuart Harris. This was not a successful appointment as Harris did not transition well from the academy to government. Henderson was made offers of a diplomatic appointment which required that he displace a competent friend or accept a posting that amounted to a demotion. So, having been fired by Hayden, he ended up outside the public service altogether. Henderson took his talents into the business world and attained significant board roles in some major companies.

Despite coming from the Protestant Ascendancy, Peter Henderson was by no means a “King/Queen and Country” man. He believed in Australian honours. Both Peter and Heather Henderson voted “Yes” in the 1999 republican referendum.

After his disappointment at not receiving an appropriate posting following his time as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Henderson was absolutely delighted to be awarded an AC – Australia’s highest honour – on Australia Day 1985.

But he was disappointed when journalist Niki Savva wrote that Henderson’s award was part of a “golden handshake” he received from Hayden when stepping down from the department. Henderson believed that Savva’s story came about due to a leak from Hayden’s office. The fact is that, then as now, awards in the Order of Australia are determined by a process quite independent of politicians – whether in government or opposition. On Australia Day 1985, awards in the Order of Australia were recommended to the Governor-General by an independent council presided over by the Chief Justice of Australia.

Peter Henderson was an unusual senior public servant for his generation – in that he had a sense of irreverence, which comes through in Privilege and Pleasure. At times this irreverence is matched by a sense of pathos.

In Privilege and Pleasure the story is told of how, after much unprofessional treatment, the Hendersons decided not to accept any invitation from Foreign Minister Bill Hayden proposing a meeting concerning yet more unacceptable offers. Peter and Heather were on the NSW South Coast when the call came through. This is the Henderson story:

That evening, Heather and I went down to the South Coast to a cottage we own at Tuross. Discussing with her the interview with [Peter] Wilenski earlier in the day, I said that what really annoyed me most was the bland assertion that one post which I had already declined, and two much lesser ones, amounted to a “reasonable offer”. If I wasn’t wanted at all, which seemed obviously to be the case, why couldn’t it have been said so in a straightforward and civilised fashion?

That evening, the more I thought about it the angrier I became, and next day I wrote Wilenski a sharp letter, having taken the precaution first to clear it with my solicitor, Peter Hohnen. When Hayden’s office rang saying the Minister wanted to see me, and that I should turn round immediately and go back to Canberra, I said I could see no point in doing so as there was now nothing to further discuss. Actually it wasn’t I, but Heather who conveyed the message to the astonished girl at the other end, who asked for it to be repeated. We had agreed that whoever happened to answer the telephone if a summons came, should convey that message. After Heather had put down the phone, she lay on the floor shaking and white-faced. I fanned her with a newspaper. Then we had a drink.

Peter Henderson enjoyed a drink. He relates how he had a “stiff whiskey” to overcome nerves when he had to speak at his wedding. He partook of similar re-assurance when having to deal with Lady Spender (wife of Ambassador Sir Percy Spender) in London.

Peter Henderson led a most successful life. And he had the good sense, and self-discipline, to tell his own story in his highly readable memoir which he wrote in the early years of his retirement from the Commonwealth Public Service.

Peter Henderson – Rest in Peace – and, well done. Let’s drink to a great public servant of the old school and a fine family man.




This is how journalist Charles Wooley commenced his weekly (secular) sermon in The Mercury (aka the Sunday Tasmanian) last Sunday:

Twice in this column I planned to write about the contentious reform of the Marriage Act and both times I chickened out. Last week, I actually wrote the introductory paragraph and then I veered off to write about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I meant to meander back to the subject but suddenly I had written 900 words on the fascinating banality of Brangelina and there was no room for the real story. Clearly, I was avoiding the subject.

I am still wondering how to write on this issue without generating even more hatred and intolerance. On most matters I don’t give a damn. But on same-sex marriage I worry that the people I might hurt are a historically persecuted minority whose rights I would uphold….

Go on. Alas, he did. On and on – in what became a rant against Julian Porteous, the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart. In his position, it’s hardly surprising that Julian Porteous upholds the teaching of the Catholic Church – namely, in this instance, the traditional view that marriage is a union of man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. That’s what Catholic archbishops do. Some Australians agree with this position. According to opinion polls, a majority do not. It’s called freedom of expression.

However, the Scottish-born Charles Wooley, who moved to Hobart at age three and entered journalism as a young man, cannot accept that the Porteous position has a right to be heard. Here is how Mr Wooley – at his sneering best – introduced Archbishop Porteous into his Mercury column last Sunday.

Given the recent royal commission disclosures of the appalling sexual abuse of some Catholic clergy, I almost admired the audacity of Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous venturing into the commentary pages of The Australian last week on the subject of same-sex marriage. Perhaps some discreet silence from the church on the propriety of any relationships for at least the rest of the century would have been wiser. But, so much for the present, we know that Genesis is the genesis of the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart’s views on human sexuality. We know his position and it’s very much the missionary one.

Interestingly, like Bill Shorten, Julian Porteous also fears an intemperate and bigoted reaction from the Australian public, and he may be right. I would always defer to an archbishop on matters of intolerance. After all, it’s not that long ago the church was burning witches and heretics. It is the undoubted expert here.

So your man Wooley is against Archbishop Porteous’ “missionary position”. How funny is that? Moreover, he believes that no Catholic bishop should talk about “the propriety of any relationships” for at least eight decades. And Wooley reckons that it was not that long ago that the Catholic Church was burning witches and heretics. Actually, it was about four centuries ago with respect to heretics – and the Catholic Church was not alone in killing heretics at the time.

Yet, according to Charles Wooley, Archbishop Porteous, as the representative of the Pope in Tasmania is an “undoubted expert” when it comes to “burning witches and heretics”. Really. And the editor of The Mercury saw fit to run this. Really.

Reading Wooley’s Mercury piece last Sunday, you would get the impression that child sexual abuse is a crime found only within the Catholic Church. However, as evidence presented to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has documented, pedophiles have been active in Christian (including Catholic) churches, secular institutions, government bodies and more besides. Including, in the British city of Rotherham, among Muslim men with respect to underage girls. Even, indeed, in sections of the BBC in Britain and ABC in Australia.

For example, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster in 1975 paid self-confessed pedophile Richard Neville (1941-2016) to present a program titled “Pederasty” which, yes, put forward the case for pederasty. Mr Neville and his managers did not report the self-declared pederasts, who appeared on the ABC Radio program, to the police, or assume a duty of care towards the pederasts’ victims (some of whom were interviewed by Neville). The victims in this instance would be men aged today in their mid-fifties. In other words, younger than some of the witnesses who have given evidence in the Royal Commission. This could make a suitable column in The Mercury. But don’t hold your breath.

In view of this, it was not all that wise for Charles Wooley to make the following point in The Mercury last Sunday:

The public are not all fools so perhaps Julian Porteous should be mindful that away from the pulpit it is always wise to remember the adage: “People who live in (stained) glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Charles Wooley worked for Channel 9 in the 1980s and 1990s – when Richard Neville was a Channel 9 contributor. And Charles Wooley was an ABC journalist in the mid-1970s when then ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing called on all Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts and publicly declared that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

What did Mr Wooley say about this at the time, or since? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. A clear case of stone throwers and glass houses – don’t you think?

Charles Wooley’s (selective) entry into this debate provides – yet another – excuse for MWD to update the Jim Spigelman/Richard Downing score-board. Here it is:


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).


Avid readers were hugely interested in the exchange between Simon Nasht and Gerard Henderson published in last Friday’s MWD. So much so that MWD was asked whether there was any more correspondence. In fact there was. It commenced on 6 October when your man Nasht demanded to know why he had not received a response to his email of 5 October 2016. Now read on.

Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 6 October 2016, 4.30 pm


not a peep from you, and that’s unusual.

i do hope you are preparing an apology and retraction based on your many factual errors. I do expect to see it in print, and soon.
I trust that you accept that when you get it wrong, you have to own up. Some people have contacted me predicting you will double down on your mistakes. I told them I doubt that, as you are a bigger man than that. Not the type to hide behind weasel words.

I do hope we can put this behind us quickly. It was a pretty deplorable slur (attacking not just me of course, but all those who contributed to editing and reviewing the script), but I will let it go if you admit to your moment of madness.


Gerard Henderson to Simon Nasht – 6 October 2016 – 5.50 pm


As you may or may not know, it takes time to reply to a 4000 plus letter.

My advice is – be patient.

BTW, who are ‘all those who contributed to editing and reviewing the script’?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 6 October 2016 – 6.10 pm


Let’s leave it between you and me is my advice.

It would do you absolutely no good whatsoever to drag others into this, I assure you.

Courtesy would have been seeking a response before you leapt into print. A courtesy I have offered you.


Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 7 October 2016 – 1.22 pm

Get moving Gerard. Your defamatory and factually flawed comments have been public for a week now and you have now denied me a right of reply for half that time. This is simply abusive. I have tried to keep this civil but you are testing reasonable restraint.

As you can tell I am furious with your sloppy and foolish attack. It was uncalled for and did nothing to promote intelligent debate about important issues in Australian history. You are now making it much worse.


Gerard Henderson to Simon Nasht – 7 October 2016

[This was published in MWD Issue 336 – see here, after Mr Nasht’s letter to Gerard Henderson]

Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 7 October 2016

That’s the best you can do Gerard? I look forward to tearing it apart for the mendacious and pathetic defense that it is. You’ve proved your critics right.

And do you intend to publish my initial response, or is this a one way dialogue with your readership?


Gerard Henderson to Simon Nasht – 14 October 2016


It’s now a week since you promised to tear apart my 2900 word email of 7 October to you documenting the various factual errors in Episode 2 of Howard on Menzies: The Building of Modern Australia. As you may recall, you called my detailed refutation both “mendacious” and “pathetic”.

That’s all very well. But you have not come up with any material to support your claim that Vladimir Petrov’s defection from the Soviet Embassy in 1954 was a key factor in Robert Menzies’ victory in the May 1954 election. Nor have you produced any evidence to support your claim that the mainly Catholic anti-communists in the Labor Party chose the Church over Labor Party leader Bert Evatt in 1955. As I documented in my column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday – see here – the Catholic Church in Australia was divided over politics even before the Labor Split. It was even more divided after The Split. Anyone who is informed about the Labor Party and the Catholic Church in the 1950s knows this.

If I make mistakes, I correct them. If you make mistakes, you go into denial and throw the switch to abuse.

As you will be aware, in last week’s Media Watch Dog, I published in full your 3200 word long email of 5 October 2016. If you ever get around to writing your promised refutation, I will publish it – provided it is no longer than 3000 words.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

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.