28 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.


Isn’t it nice to see Crikey’s Myriam Robin defending ex-Crikey’s Stephen Mayne. Even to the extent of suggesting that the pompous Mayne is not really pompous at all. This demonstrates what a uniting force Media Watch Dog can be, when everyone unites against Nancy’s (male) co-owner.

  • Can You Bear It? Adam Gartrell and Heath Aston take on Barry O’Farrell; Paul Barry’s Four Corners confusion; Peter FitzSimons embraces Mythology on Winston Churchill, and Lisa Wilkinson’s claim about her husband is contested
  • The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary Sludge – Waleed Aly scores for boring Andrew Olle Media Lecture
  • New Feature: Nancy’s Ignoramus Of The Month – step forward Derryn Hinch
  • Another New Feature: A Reading From the Green-Left Gospel According to Bonge
  • Lockwood “Deliberate Mistake” corrected
  • Correspondence – Simon Nasht helps out again re Howard On Menzies and Australian politics in the early 1950s


It seems that Fairfax Media is like a dog with a bone. On Wednesday, Adam Gartrell got a prominent run with a beat-up concerning the expenses claimed by Joe Hockey, Australia’s Ambassador to the United States. Yes, Joe Hockey

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age made much of the fact that Mr Hockey had put in a claim for around $2500 in child minding expenses. Yawn. In fact, such expense claims are consistent with Mr Hockey’s contract of employment. Your man Gartrell also raved on about the expense claims of Kim Beazley when he was ambassador in Washington.

It seems that Mr Gartrell and his Fairfax Media comrades believe that Australian diplomats abroad should not entertain or be entertained and should do their own cooking and cleaning, despite the fact that such an outcome would mean that locally employed Embassy staff would lose their jobs.

It seems that Fairfax Media journos have little real news to break. Otherwise, why did they engage in this written exchange with former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell this week?


At least, Mr O’Farrell was courteous enough not to mention the Sydney Morning Herald’’s evident conflict-of-interest in this matter. After all, last year Mr Hockey took a successful defamation action against the SMH. In the case, a Federal Court judge found that SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir had acted with “malice” towards Mr Hockey. Despite this finding, Mr Goodsir remained in his job. Now he oversees SMH journalists running attacks about the fact that Mr Hockey legitimately spent $2500 on child care. And Fairfax Media claims to be “Independent” with a capital “I”. Can you bear it?


How discourteous can you get? The ABC 1 Media Watch program (host Paul Barry, executive producer Timothy Latham, researcher James Carleton) is invariably dispatching letters-of-demand requiring answers to queries almost immediately – and certainly before the next issue of Media Watch goes to air on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster each Monday night (er, except when Mr Barry and company go on a very long WELL EARNED BREAK).

But what happened when Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) wrote to the Media Watch team querying whether the program had made an error in Paul Barry’s comments last Monday about the Four Corners program, The Forgotten Children (which aired on 17 October 2016)? The answer is, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Pretty rude, don’t you think?

For the record, this is what Hendo wrote to Comrade Barry and his little helpers on Wednesday – in the hope of receiving a response before midday today:

Hello (White) Boys – Paul Barry’s 16 May 2016 sermon on “Australian TV News Whitewash” refers.

Lotsa thanks for giving me a non-speaking role on last Monday’s program. It reminded me of the silent movies of old – and there was no risk that my views would be heard by your congregation.

One query. Media Watch declared last Monday that “live interviews have never been part of the [Four Corners] format”.

This is not completely true. On 4 March 2002, at the time of the “children overboard” controversy, Four Corners conducted a live-to-tape interview with Prime Minister John Howard at the end of the program.

As you are aware, there is scant difference between a live interview and a live-to tape interview. As I understand it, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s concern was that he did not want his views edited by Four Corners. As you know, Mr Dutton’s concern could have been resolved by a live or a live-to-tape interview. The former is not part of Four Corners’ format – but the latter is.

Over to you – and Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

It remains to be seen whether Paul Barry will clarify this matter on Media Watch next Monday. [Don’t bet on it. ABC types rarely correct their own errors – MWD Editor]

As to the reference of “White Boys” – well, on 16 May 2016 Media Watch devoted a segment to Waleed Aly’s criticism of the lack of diversity on Australian television. Mr Barry went on to bemoan the fact that there are few “brown” or “black” faces on Australian TV. What Mr Barry forgot to point out is that all the key folk at Media Watch are – shock horror – MIDDLE AGED WHITE MALES. And that he is an immigrant from The Old Dart? Can you bear it?


While on the topic of Middle Aged White Males (MAWM), lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this section of “The Fitz Files” in last Sunday’s Sun Herald.

Way back when Winston Churchill gave his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech, the British Parliament was not wired for recording, and so the BBC asked him to come in to record it so it could be broadcast around the world.

Churchill declined, as he was too busy trying to win the war, and simply said, “Get some actor chap to record it”. And they did. He was a radio actor by the name of Norman Shelley, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that it was confirmed, after years of rumours, that the famous recording was actually Shelley’s voice, just as he did many other Churchill speeches.

“I don’t like to boast,” Shelley said before he died, “but I actually think I did Churchill better than Churchill.”I agree. And don’t you think Alec Baldwin does Donald Trump better than Donald Trump? Yes, I mean this as a serious point…..

Yeah, well it must be a SERIOUS POINT if Peter FitzSimons says so. However, it’s still a false point. The claim that Winston Churchill’s famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech in the House of Commons on 4 June 1940 was recorded by actor Norman Shelley is a myth.

The mythology was initially put out by extreme-right wing historian and Holocaust denier David Irving in his infamous 1987 book Churchill’s War. It was “confirmed”, according to the Red Bandannaed One, by extreme left-wing journalist and avowed leftist Alexander Cockburn.

It never happened – as the historian Sir Robert Rhodes James documented in this article written for The Churchill Centre. Sir Robert pointed out that Irving’s sole source for his claim was Shelley himself. Irving claimed to have interviewed Shelley in December 1981 – a remarkable feat since the actor died in August 1980.

Winston Churchill’s speech of 4 June 1940 was read on the BBC News by a BBC Newsreader. Churchill later recorded his “We shall fight on the beaches” at Chartwell after the war. It was released by Decca Records. Shelley recorded some Churchill speeches but any recording he may have made of the “fight on the beaches” speech was not played on the BBC on 4 June 1940.

However, The Red Bandannaed One reckons that Shelley delivered Churchill’s speeches better than Churchill himself did. How would Fitz know this? And he reckons that Alec Baldwin does Donald Trump better than Trump himself – despite the fact that Baldwin’s interpretation is – and is meant to be – a caricature. It seems that The Red Bandannaed One does not know the difference between imitation and caricature. Can you bear it?


While on the topic of the FitzSimons family, Donald Trump and all that – remember the famous tweet to Donald Trump by Lisa Wilkinson – aka Mrs Red Bandannaed One – which one went out on 10 October.

As reported in MWD Issue 337. Ms Wilkinson fired off this tweet following Donald Trump’s claim that his recorded comments about women were just mere “locker room” talk:


Some mistake, surely. As an avid reader has pointed out, Rugby did not become a professional game until 1995 – by which time the Red Bandannaed One had retired from sport and commenced a new career as a Sydney Morning Herald journalist. Before 1995 Rugby players were supposed to be amateur. Should Ms Wilkinson now apologise to Mr Trump about her husband? Can you bear it?



After graduating from Gin & Tonic Time and consequent upon walking Nancy and (Canberra visitor) Luke, Gerard Henderson turned on 7.30 last Friday to catch up with the current affairs of the day. After all, these days there is so much news from North America, Europe, North Africa, Asia and more besides.

In spite of this, the powers-that-be at 7.30 decided to lead with a report of Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975. Yes, over four decades ago.

This is how presenter Hayden Cooper introduced Madeleine Morris’ report:

Hayden Cooper: The dismissal of prime minister Gough Whitlam by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, in 1975 remains one of the most controversial moments in modern Australian history. While it’s been analysed ever since, there’s still one element that remains unknown: the Queen’s role in the Dismissal.

The answer to this mystery is held in a secret tranche of correspondence between the Queen and Sir John Kerr, held at the National Archives – documents which can only be opened with the permission of the Monarch. A legal bid to force the file to be revealed is now being launched by Gough Whitlam’s biographer, who believes it will show the Queen had far greater knowledge of the events than previously thought. Madeleine Morris reports.

What an introduction. For the fact is that there is no evidence that the Queen had what 7.30 calls a “role” in the Dismissal. No evidence at all.

It is true that Sir John Kerr sent regular reports to the Queen about political developments in Australia. In late 1975, the Malcolm Fraser led Coalition Opposition was intent on blocking supply and the Gough Whitlam Labor government was intent on governing without supply. When neither obstinate man would give in, the Governor-General sacked Whitlam and commissioned Fraser as caretaker prime minister pending a double dissolution election.

Sir John Kerr left his papers with the National Archives in Canberra. Kerr instructed that what are called the Palace Letters should not be opened until at least 50 years after he stepped down as Governor-General, ie 2027, and then only with the approval of the Governor-General and the Monarch of the day.

MWD supports the view that all Sir John Kerr’s papers should now be open to access. It’s just that Gerard Henderson – who discussed the Dismissal with John Kerr during the latter’s retirement – does not believe that they hold any information about the Queen’s (alleged) “role in the Dismissal”.

Not so Jenny Hocking who occupies a taxpayer subsidised chair at the Australia Research Council. Jenny Hocking tends to write biographies of such fellow leftists as Frank Hardy, Lionel Murphy and Gough Whitlam (two volumes in fact).

Professor Hocking is a paid-up member of the “Gough Whitlam Fan Club”, the “Shame, Fraser, Shame” collective and the “Kerr’s a Bastard” soviet. With a bit of egging on from Madeleine Morris, this is what Jenny Hocking told 7.30 viewers:

Madeleine Morris: Whitlam biographer Jenny Hocking has just launched a legal bid in the Federal Court to try to force the National Archives to release the papers, arguing they’re Commonwealth records, not personal documents. And what she believes they could contain is explosive. … Based on snippets of the letters quoted by Sir John in his memoirs, Jenny Hocking believes the letters could upend his long insistence the Queen knew nothing of his plan to sack the prime minister.

Jenny Hocking: One of the really remarkable things is that in every one of these six or seven extracts, the word “dismissal” appears – the possibility of dismissal, either his or Whitlam’s – is raised with the Palace.

Madeleine Morris: In this note, written a full seven weeks before the dismissal, Kerr was already mentioning the idea to the Queen.

Extract From Letter By John Kerr (voiceover): Another point of importance put to me by the prime minister… was that if I were… to decide to terminate his commission… Mr Fraser would not be able to get supply either. We were, of course, talking on quite friendly terms in all of this.

Jenny Hocking: From the moment he set that out to the Queen, she was already involved: because the Queen, from that point, had options that she could take. One of the options was to alert the prime minister, Gough Whitlam, to the fact that the governor-general was speaking about these very extreme possibilities with her, as the Monarch. Now, from all accounts she chose not to do that.

Now here are some facts to combat the conspiracy theory

  • John Kerr did advise Buckingham Palace of political developments in Australia in late 1975. However, there is no evidence that he advised the Queen that he had reached a decision to dismiss the Whitlam Government.
  • John Kerr told Gerard Henderson – and others – that it was his determination to keep the Queen out of Australian domestic politics at the time.
  • Jenny Hocking, an avowed republican, believes that the Monarch should have involved herself in Australian national politics in support of Gough Whitlam.
  • All the evidence suggests that Buckingham Palace did not want the constitutional controversy which would follow the dismissal of the Commonwealth government. But it was not the Queen’s call.

Jenny Hocking’s conspiracy theory was rejected by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston in their recent book The Dismissal – In The Queen’s Name. But 7.30 reckons this was worth covering at the top of its Friday program. To ram home the point, Madeleine Morris interviewed Gough Whitlam’s mate – the writer Tom Keneally. As far as MWD is aware, Tom Keneally has no special knowledge about the Dismissal. By the way, Jenny Hocking’s books got a huge plug on 7.30.


Last Wednesday, 7.30’s first story turned on the action of Victoria Police in interviewing Cardinal George Pell in Rome concerning child sex abuse allegations. Here’s how presenter Leigh Sales introduced the program:

Leigh Sales: A big step forward in a police investigation involving Australia’s former archbishop George Pell. Victorian Police have confirmed they have flown to Rome to interview the cardinal over child sex abuse allegations. In July 7.30 reporter Louise Milligan revealed the allegations against Cardinal Pell and she joins me from Melbourne now. Louise, what can you tell us about this development today?

In her introduction, Ms Sales neglected to mention that Cardinal Pell had voluntarily agreed to the interview with Victoria Police. In her early comments, Ms Milligan did make this point. However Ms Milligan declared that the interview was a “very closely guarded secret at Victoria Police”. In fact, Victoria Police has been talking about the possibility of such an interview for months. Also, the 7.30 reporter neglected to mention that the story about the Victoria Police investigation was leaked to a Herald-Sun journalist in February 2016.Presumably by Victoria Police – or some person in receipt of Victoria Police files – leaked the material to the Herald-Sun.

In view of the fact that Victoria Police have been talking about this matter for months, it is scarcely surprising that the interview took place. It’s hardly a “big step forward” – especially since no charges have been laid consequent upon the interview and that Victoria Police is said to be conducting further investigations.

Louise Milligan reminded viewers of 7.30’s new evidence in July 2016, which focused on Cardinal Pell’s alleged improper touching in a public swimming pool four decades ago and alleged improper behaviour in a surf club change rooms three decades ago.

7.30 did not tell its viewers that the The Australian has reported that the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions returned a brief of evidence on the matter put up by Victoria Police without taking any action. Victoria Police has declined to answer questions about this matter.

Nor has 7.30 mentioned that allegations against such high profile Brits as the late Edward Heath and Cliff Richards went nowhere in spite of British police pursuing both cases with vigour aimed at maximising media coverage.

As avid MWD readers will be aware, this segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan — nom de plume Flann O’Brien, (1911-1966) — and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing, incomprehensible prose and incoherent verbal expression.


Now consider the case of Waleed Aly – co-presenter of Channel 10’s The Project, ABC Radio National co-presenter, columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and over-all star of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and the luvvies at Fairfax Media. Oh yes, your man Aly is also a lecturer in politics at Monash University.

On Friday 14 October 2016 Mr Aly delivered the 2016 Andrew Olle Lecture.

In a 45-minute speech, he used the word “I” on no fewer than 77 occasions. That’s using the first person singular once every 35 seconds. [I am most impressed. I am. I use the word “I” whenever I can– MWD Editor].

Nancy’s (male) co-owner watched the entire address late in the evening of Friday 14 October while seated on the couch with his dog Nancy. Thankfully, Hendo had purchased in advance some bottles of unused gin on eBay from Mike (‘I used to pour the gin’) Carlton. The liquid sustenance gave some relief from – and an increased understanding of – The Thought of Waleed.

The Monash University academic had barely a name or place in his 5616 word oration. Except for lotsa references to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). [Mon dieu. Why would you quote a French sociologist at an after-dinner speech attended by Aussie journalists and their supporters, many of whom graduated from the Mike Carlton School of Journalism? – MWD Editor.]

For those uninitiated in this area of philosophy, here’s the introduction to Pierre Bourdieu’s entry in Lawrence D Kritzman’s The Columbia History of Twentieth Century French Thought:

One of the most prominent public intellectuals of the late twentieth century, Pierre Bourdieu was a philosopher turned social scientist who held the prestigious chair of sociology at the Collège de France from 1982 to 2002. The publication of La misère du monde (The Weight of the World) propelled him into public view in France in 1992, but in academic circles elsewhere he is best known for his theory of practice, a self-reflective method conceived as an intellectual weapon against all forms of symbolic domination. Developed over four decades, this generative approach to the analysis of sociocultural fields blends theory and empirical research, transcends antagonistic paradigms (subjectivism/objectivism, structure/agency, determinism/finalism, diachrony/synchrony), and privileges a self-reflective relational mode of thinking …

Right on. Just the man to lecture about to a room replete with alcohol challenged journos in after-dinner mode. Waleed Aly made eleven specific references to Pierre Bourdieu – starting with this one:

This is something the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu was particularly concerned about. In the ‘90s he gave a couple of lectures on television that were, ironically enough, broadcast as TV shows. As someone who works in television, I’ll admit I found his analysis particularly challenging. Not least because while I really like his work generally, I’m pretty sure he would detest mine. It’s fair to say he had a fairly jaundiced view of television. “I think television poses a serious danger for all the various areas of cultural production – for art, for literature, for science, for philosophy, and for law. What’s more…I think that television poses no less of a threat to political life and to democracy itself”. That’s how he begins, which more or less gives you the flavour of it.

The result was a months-long furore as scores of journalists took to their keyboards and airwaves to defend their honour. But beneath the more incendiary language we might expect from French sociologists, Bourdieu wasn’t really attacking their honour. He was really talking about television’s power over every other sphere of life: how it decides which historians or scientists are listened to, for example, rather than the relevant peer groups of experts. And while I clearly don’t accept all his conclusions about television, Bourdieu’s analysis is really useful for the way he breaks down the inherent values of a medium.

For Bourdieu, television’s great limitation is time. “You can’t say much on television,” he says, before turning to consider what it is you actually can say. Pretty soon, he runs into Plato – as you do – who argues that the one essential difference between the philosopher and the lay person is that the philosopher has time.

Yawn. Anyone still awake? Yawn. And so your man Aly went on. And on. And on. And on. Predicting that Bourdieu (who died in 2002) would not like Aly’s work on Channel 10 in 2016. Declaring that Bourdieu (who died in 2002) ran into Plato (who died in circa 348 BC). Yawn squared.

And so, in full academic mode, Waleed Aly bored on. Until the end when the academic/presenter came up with a useful thought. So useful that it was worth waking up for – even for the deaf Nancy. It was this:

Maybe the greatest threat [to journalists] is the prospect that we might forget why we do what we do.

Quite so. Like forgetting the literary sludge that was the most boring Andrew Olle Media Lecture of all time – certainly since Plato’s time.

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £


Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Nancy’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism

By Nancy

of Waleed Aly

My grasp of what he said and meant

Was only five or six per cent

As he bored us on the telly

The reference is to your man Aly

new feature


On Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Wednesday, the presenter asked Derryn (‘The Human Mumble’) Hinch to make a comment which would find its way into Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s Media Watch Dog blog today.

Senator Hinch commented after Paul Murray had falsely stated that Gerard Henderson is a practising Catholic who observes all the teachings of the Church – including cremation. In fact, Hendo is an agnostic cultural Catholic – who just happens to oppose anti-Catholic sectarianism along with the wilful ignorance of many Christianity-haters. Hendo does not give a damn about the Vatican’s views on cremation, for example.

Derryn Hinch’s comment occurred after Paul Murray’s rant against Vatican teachings on cremation. Let’s go to the transcript:

Paul Murray: Senator, please get your quote into the [Gerard Henderson] media diary [in The Australian on Friday].

Derryn Hinch: Two things. I thought that if your soul disappeared when you die, your soul goes to Heaven. So what gets left behind would be buried – or get the organs out and transplant them and throw the ashes away. What the hell does it matter? And I thought if the Pope’s infallible, what happened to the one who resigned? Is he also infallible? Or is he fallible again now?

And so the Hinch comment was done so that the (Murray) prophecy might be fulfilled – in other words, Hinch’s mumble made it all the way into this week’s MWD. But this raises the question. How ignorant can a senator be? Here are Hinch’s Howlers in his comment on PML which ran for a mere 60 words.

▪ In fact, Catholics do not believe that the soul of every departed goes to Heaven. Also, Catholics do not believe that the “Pope’s infallible” with respect to any but a minute number of matters. Catholics are expected to believe that the Pope is infallible when – and only when – he speaks “ex-cathedra” and declares that a teaching on faith and morals has been informed by Divine intervention. This has only occurred rarely – the last time was as long ago as 1950 when Senator Hinch was still in short pants. In other words, Pope John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul 1, John Paul II and Benedict XVI never made an infallible statement. Nor, so far at least, has Pope Francis.

▪ If Benedict XVI did not make an infallible statement when he was Pope – why would he make such a statement in retirement?

▪ Derryn Hinch believes that all Catholics follow the Catholic Church’s changing views on such matters as cremation. In fact, he is totally ignorant of what everyday Catholics do and believe

That’s all.

new feature

When John Howard was prime minister, the Prime Minister’s Office regarded Channel 10’s Paul Bongiorno as the most left-wing journalist in the commercial arm of the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery. So it came as no surprise that, when Bonge became a mere contributing editor for Channel 10, the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC snapped him up for bi-weekly political commentary on ABC Radio National Breakfast. He shares the spot with Michelle Grattan.

These days Paul Bongiorno has become a green/left ranter – as this tweet which he sent out (after dinner) on Monday night attests:

So there you have it. According to The Teachings of Bonge, all – yes all – Nauruans are undemocratic, unaccountable and offensive. [I’m surprised that the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Tim Soutphommasane has not encouraged Nauruan Australians to complain about this racist rant to his very own AHRC – MWD Editor.]

Unlike colleagues of a certain age in the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery, Paul Bongiorno has made little mark as a journalist in a long career. He has broken few stories, and – unlike Michelle Grattan, Paul Kelly, Laurie Oakes and Niki Savva – Bonge has not written any significant books or essays.

These days Mr Bongiorno uses the facilities provided to him by the taxpayer funded broadcaster bi-weekly to rant and rave. He is uncritically interviewed by Fran (I’m an activist) Kelly – a case of the Green Left talking to the Green Left. Here are some recent examples.

28 September 2016: Bonge runs the Green/Left line on dangerous climate change, renewable energy and so forth. He identifies Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce as a sinner with respect to such matters. Bonge calls for more money for education – but proposes no advice as to where the revenue to fund such expenditure is to come from.

4 October: Bonge calls for more government intervention with respect to Australian banks. It’s a familiar plea for more regulation.

6 October: Bonge warns Australia about coal. He claims it’s expensive and produces high emissions. He possesses no knowledge about how important coal is to Australia’s trade and in producing relatively clean and reliably cheap energy for Australia’s consumers and businesses

11 October: Bonge’s sermon supports same sex marriage but criticises the Turnbull government’s plan for a plebiscite on the issue. He criticises Liberal Party backbencher Ian MacDonald and Attorney-General George Brandis. On the same sex marriage debate, Bonge alleges that the plebiscite was a Tony Abbott cunning plan “to stop marriage equality”. Despite the fact that opinion polls indicate that a majority of Australians would vote for same sex marriage in a plebiscite. Let’s go to the transcript of this particular sermon:

Fran Kelly: Paul you’ve written this morning that the lessons of the plebiscite is the damage it’s done to Malcolm Turnbull’s standing with voters. Should Bill Shorten be beyond rebuke? I mean he has dragged this out – so many people believe, for political purposes, to make it, to put the pressure on Turnbull.

Paul Bongiorno: Look Fran, yeah there’s no doubt there’s a lot of politics in this and you know Bill Shorten has played the politics very well. But I think there’s also more than politics in this, I think the more in which, the more people looked at this plebiscite especially earlier in the year when you had the more conservative Liberals say that they would vote according to their conscience no matter what the plebiscite decided, that immediately showed that this really was a fraught device. And it exposed that, from its very inception, it was a political device used by Tony Abbott to stop marriage equality. So that’s where the politics really started and I think that once people realised that the $200 million vote was just an opinion poll that didn’t have the weight of law, people began to think and say. “Let’s do it better. We don’t need this constitutionally, let’s have a free vote of the parliament.”

13 October: Bonge criticises the Turnbull government and rejoices in Labor’s Wayne Swan’s criticism of BHP Billiton. He also supports Fairfax Media’s (unwarranted) claim that the Prime Minister’s use of WhatsApp is a security risk.

18 October: Bonge launches into an attack on the Turnbull government’s asylum seeker policy. He describes the Turnbull government as advancing “a pathetic argument”.

20 October: More of the (anti-Coalition) same. Bonge criticises Treasurer Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for not banning the importation of the 7 shot Adler shotgun.

26 October: Another Bonge rant from the Green Left pulpit – this time on the Attorney-General’s disagreement with the Solicitor-General. And – yes, you’ve guessed it – coal. Let’s go to the transcript at the end of today’s sermon as Bonge rants against coal. Again.

Fran Kelly: And Paul just finally, Malcolm Turnbull made a big pitch for coal, in sort of, coal’s future in our energy mix yesterday. Which sounded very familiar to me.

Paul Bongiorno: Well the idea of curtailing the ability of anybody to challenge decisions, environmental decisions in the court was raised last year in 2015 by Prime Minister Abbott. And it’s the same arguments that are now being put forward by Prime Minister Turnbull. And your very good interview yesterday with Geoff Cousins [president, Australian Conservation Foundation] pointed out that there aren’t, the lawfare isn’t as intense as the government is making out. And as you’ve just heard from Tony Burke, a view shared by many in the community, not just in the Labor Party or The Greens, but environmentalists and other that are concerned about our environment that surely there needs to be – and John Howard saw that there was – a right for everybody in Australia, and basically on the planet but certainly in Australia, to be concerned about the future for example, of the Barrier Reef. So I think this is misjudged and a poor look.

That’s enough. In her commentary spots on Radio National Breakfast, Michelle Grattan is professional and considered. Not so Paul Bongiorno who is ideological and preachy. And is there a conservative voice to balance Bonge’s bi-weekly Green Left rants? Not on your nelly. After all, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

john-laws-style-deliberate-mistake-identifiedDOUGLAS LOCKWOOD AND RUPERT LOCKWOOD

Thanks to the (anonymous) avid reader who phoned the office to draw attention to a John-Laws-Style-“Deliberate”-Mistake in last week’s MWD.

There was huge interest in the Documentation segment, which featured Tim Egan’s recollection of what former Northern Territory policeman Greg Ryall told him about Evdokia Petrov’s decision to seek political asylum in Darwin in 1954. Greg Ryall was the NT policeman who disarmed Soviet Union courier Valery Karpinsky at Darwin Airport. According to Tim Egan, Greg Ryall said that he acted on his own initiative without direction from police, public servants or politicians. This contradicts Simon Nasht’s assertion in Howard On Menzies that Prime Minister Robert Menzies issued “orders” that Mrs Petrov should be freed from her Soviet Union couriers and go into exile.

In his letter, Tim Egan made reference to the contemporaneous report by The [Melbourne] Herald’s Darwin correspondent Douglas Lockwood. Unfortunately, in Gerard Henderson’s email to Simon Nasht of 21 October 2016 (which was published in last week’s issue), there were two references to “Rupert Lockwood”. The reference should have been to Douglas Lockwood. The error has been corrected.

In fact, Douglas Lockwood (1918-1980) was the half-brother of Rupert Lockwood (1908-1997). Douglas Lockwood was a journalist, author and editor. Rupert Lockwood was a member of the Communist Party of Australia between 1939 and 1969. Rupert Lockwood was named in the Royal Commission Into Espionage in Australia (the Petrov Royal Commission).

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 will be aware, MWD does not take too seriously “not for publication” correspondence from journalists, writers, film directors and the like. The point being that those who spend parts of their careers revealing the private correspondence of others can hardly claim an off-the-record category for themselves.

This week the correspondence between Simon Nasht, the oh-so-sensitive writer and director of Howard On Menzies, and Hendo continues apace. Note: MWD decided not to correct the spelling and punctuation errors in Mr Nasht’s epistle. Now read on:

Simon Nasht to Gerard Henderson – 21 October 2016


Not for Publication as I have promised myself not to waste anymore time on public discussion

You wilfully ignore what the documentary says. Menzies clearly ordered that Mrs Petrov be offered asylum, and organised for her to be separated from her guards (who were forcefully disarmed) so she could consider the offer after consulting with her husband. She then went into exile. This is so obviously true from the sources i supplied it is just nutty of you to argue otherwise. I don;t say she did make up her own mind- nearly she was conflicted. I only argue, which is beyond doubt, that Menzies ordered here to be separated from her guards. How else would the offer of asylum be made? And what were a dozen armed coppers doing at the bottom of the gangway? You are tying yourself up in nots trying to argue the one. By the way you said there was ’no evidence’ that Menzies ordered her to be separated from her guards, and that’s clearly ridiculous. Where is your factual evidence to the contrary? You got mine.

Likewise, you completely distort the meaning of what the script says regarding the Split. It nowhere implies all Catholics left the ALP. Those who left were fiercely anti-communist. And of those that left , most were Catholics as the script says. They left for a reason Gerard. Why do you think that might be? Who could blame these people who took their faith very serious, especially as the Pope himself had warned that Catholicism and active Communism were incompatible. Clearly they could not reconcile their faith with the ALP under Evatt’s leadership. Not after he jumped on the caucus table screaming “you are with me or against me!” Other Catholics (in fact the majority) found they could live with Evatt and Communist unions and joint membership within the party. But that’s not the point. You are arguing something the film never said. Look closely at the wording.

Yawn. And Menzies was ‘not behind in the polls” too I suppose. I note you have given up on the one. Without acknowledging it.

As for typos: we would have to believe you made three inadvertent typing errors in four words: “1954 and 1955 elections” That’s not a slip of the keyboard (a typo)- that’s a factual error. And you know it.

Your excuse about the IRA mistake is telling: you did not admit a mistake or make a clear correction. You passed it off in poor taste as a joke for the amusement of your readers, as a ‘John Laws like intentional error’ if I recall correctly. You are certainly digging yourself an even bigger ditch on that one.

You are wrong about the script on Mrs Petrov, you are fighting ghosts on the Split and you fail to acknowledge your clear errors. And nowhere is there substantiation of your claim that this was ‘Leftie’. What’s the point of further discussion?

bye now.


Gerard Henderson to Simon Nasht – 28 October 2016

Dear Simon

I refer to your email of 21 October 2016.

I note that you continue to maintain that there are not “any” errors in Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies. This despite the fact that the published historians Ian Hancock (an expert on the Liberal Party) and Patrick Morgan (an expert on the Catholic Church in Australia in the 20th Century) hold a different view. And despite the fact that the coverage of the Petrov Affair and the 1954 Federal election is at odds with the findings on these issues of Robert Murray (in The Split: Australia Labor in the Fifties) and Robert Manne (The Petrov Affair: Politics and Espionage). And despite the fact that your coverage of the Labor Split is at odds with Robert Murray’s definitive account of this event.

In response to your latest communication, I make the following responses:

The Defections of Mr and Mrs Petrov

Clearly parts of the narration of Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies were not well written. Consequently, you are now saying that the text of the documentary said something which it did not say.

In your email of 21 October 2016, you write:

You wilfully ignore what the documentary says. Menzies clearly ordered that Mrs Petrov be offered asylum, and organised for her to be separated from her guards (who were forcefully disarmed) so she could consider the offer after consulting with her husband. She then went into exile. This is so obviously true from the sources i supplied…

But this is not what you wrote – and what the narrator said – in Menzies On Howard. Rather, this is what was said:

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. [Emphasis added]

The fact is that Howard On Menzies did say that Robert Menzies ordered that Mrs Petrov go into exile with her husband. This is the left-wing line that Mr Menzies (as he then was) interfered in the defections of Mr and Mrs Petrov. He didn’t. Also, it is the left-wing line to assert that it was never proven that senior figures in the Labor Party were involved in espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s. Some were.

The Catholic Church and the Labor Split

In your email of 21 October 2016, you wrote:

…You completely distort the meaning of what the script says regarding the Split. It nowhere implies all Catholics left the ALP. Those who left were fiercely anti-communist. And of those that left , most were Catholics as the script says. They left for a reason Gerard. Why do you think that might be? Who could blame these people who took their faith very serious, especially as the Pope himself had warned that Catholicism and active Communism were incompatible. Clearly they could not reconcile their faith with the ALP under Evatt’s leadership. Not after he jumped on the caucus table screaming “you are with me or against me!” Other Catholics (in fact the majority) found they could live with Evatt and Communist unions and joint membership within the party. But that’s not the point. You are arguing something the film never said. Look closely at the wording.

But this is not what the script of Howard On Menzies said. Rather, this is what the script said:

Narrator: 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…. [Emphasis added]

In fact, Bert Evatt never challenged Catholic anti-communist MPs “to choose between their politics or the Pope”. You just made this up. By the way, Evatt’s rant against his opponents in the Caucus took place on 20 October 1954 – i.e. six months before the Split took place. Moreover, it was not directed at “mostly Catholic members”. What’s more, supporters of the old ALP Victorian state executive were expelled from the Labor Party – they did not choose to leave.

Catholic Labor MPs – except in Victoria – stayed in the ALP at the time of the Split in 1955. The six Catholic Federal Labor MPs who left the Labor Party at the time of the Split were all from Victoria (they were joined by the Anglican Robert Joshua). So to suggest that the mostly Catholic anti-communist MPs chose the church and the Pope over “their politics” is absolute tosh – since it ignores all the States except Victoria.

There was no available choice between the Church and politics because the Church was divided. In Sydney, Cardinal Norman Gilroy (who was loyal to Pope Pius XII) instructed Catholic MPs to stay in the Labor Party at the time of the Split. In Melbourne, Archbishop Daniel Mannix (who was also loyal to Pope Pius XII) supported the Catholic MPs who left the Labor Party at the time of the Split and later formed the Democratic Labor Party. There was only one Church and only one Pope. Moreover, in Victoria two anti-communist Catholic MPs (Arthur Calwell and Ted Peters) stayed in the ALP after the Split. On this issue Elizabeth Calwell – Arthur Calwell’s daughter – disagrees with you since her father was a devout anti-Communist Catholic who remained in the ALP after the Split.

Howard On Menzies makes the mistake of assuming that Catholics do what the Pope and their bishops (allegedly) tell them. In Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man I report the tale told by the family of Tom Hayes – a Catholic anti-communist Labor Victorian Member of the Legislative Assembly who ended up in the DLP. It covers a conversation between Tom Hayes and his son Kevin Hayes (who opposed the forces headed by the Catholic anti-communists Frank McManus and Bill Barry – both of whom were to join the DLP). The conversation, which took place before the Labor Split, was as follows:

Kevin Hayes: Surely, you are not going to support McManus and Barry?

Tom Hayes: Well, I am not siding with [Vic] Stout and [Bert] Evatt.

No mention of a bishop or a pope here. It’s just old-fashioned anti-Catholic sectarianism to believe that Catholics slavishly follow the Catholic Hierarchy and the Pope on politics and even on faith and morals.

The May 1954 Federal Election

In your email of 21 October 2016, you dispute my claim that Robert Menzies’ Coalition was not behind in the polls in the lead-up to the May 1954 election. This is consistent with the documentary’s script which runs the standard left-wing line that Menzies won the 1954 election due to the Petrov Affair viz:

Narrator: 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.

But the fact is that – as I have documented – the Coalition was narrowly ahead in the early May 1954 poll and narrowly behind in the late May 1954 poll. If you understand how to read opinion polls, you will know that it was close to a dead-heat (opinion poll wise) in the lead-up to the May 1954 election with neither Labor nor the Coalition having a clear lead. This posed special problems for Bert Evatt and Labor since it was known that Labor would have to poll above 51 per cent to win in May 1954.

Miscellaneous Matters

Your points about what I wrote about the Anti-Communist Labor Party in MWD are just trivial. The MWD segment on Howard On Menzies was written in a hurry on the morning of 30 September 2016, then typed and then published later that afternoon along with other material. In short, it was done against a tight deadline. As it turned out, it contained one typo re the Anti-Communist Labor Party being formed after the Split. Elsewhere, in the very same segment, there was reference to the Anti-Communist Labor Party being formed after the Split. Also, I make it very clear in Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015) that the A-CLP was formed after 1954.

You, on the other hand, obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money – and about two dozen individuals worked on the documentary’s script and footage. Yet Howard On Menzies showed footage of a DLP how-to-vote card being handed out in 1955, despite the fact that the DLP was not formed in 1955. I was aware of this error when I first criticised Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies on 30 September 2016. But I did not mention it – since it seemed a small point. I was interested in substance – not trivia. Since you focus on trivia – will you correct this error on the Howard On Menzies DVD?


In conclusion, I re-state my point about the left-wing interpretation of history. It was the standard left-wing line of the early 1950s that Robert Menzies (i) played a role in the Petrov defections and (ii) was saved from electoral defeat in 1954 by the Petrov Affair. It is also the standard left-wing line that Catholics in the Labor Party who left the party in 1955 followed the Church and the Pope and that this led to the Labor Split.

And so it has come to pass that the Menzies Research Centre is promoting your documentary Howard On Menzies in spite of the fact that it runs the (discredited) left-wing line on the Petrov Affair, the 1954 election and the (alleged) role of the Catholic Church in the Labor Split.

That’s all.

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, 5:22 PM

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