24 March 2017

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: Eric Campbell’s Donald Trump Rave
  • ABC Update: Jim Spigelman’s Confusing Last Hurrah
  • Nancy’s Modest Proposal: Why President Trump should join the Gin & Tonic Club
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment: Life’s Trauma as a Broken Down Clothes Dryer
  • Manners Maketh a Canine: Nancy’s Advice to Sky News’ Rowan Dean as to How Not to Treat an ACTU Lady
  • Can You Bear It?: Starring Tom Ballard with a Little Help from Charlie Pickering & Judith Lucy and an Intervention by your man Tom Gleeson; Peter FitzSimons’ Test Cricket Howler; Mike Carlton Tweets From Avalon Beach on Life & Death and Fran Kelly’s Productivity Concern
  • Correspondence: Professor Simon Haines Helps Out re the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (Chairman: John Howard); Tom Switzer Helps Out re the US[eless] Studies Centre; Jim Spigelman Helps out Not Very Much At All re The ABC and the Alleged Motives of Its Critics



What a stunning performance by ABC journalist and Foreign Correspondent reporter Eric Campbell on The Drum last night. It seems that your man Campbell is intent on out-sneering Mike (“The Sneerer”) Seccombe of The [Boring] Saturday Paper fame.

Once upon a time, ABC journalists were expected to separate reporting from opinion. This apparently changed when Nice Mr Scott was ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief.

In any event, Eric Campbell decided to tell viewers of The Drum last night that he really-and-truly doesn’t-like-Donald-Trump. Really and Truly. According to the ABC employee Eric Campbell, President Trump is:

▪ “totally unhelpful”

▪ “losing influence”

▪ “a dreadful man”

▪ “a dreadful man… [who] has a dreadful family”

▪ “a nightmare”

▪ “beyond childish”

▪ “an ignorant man who doesn’t understand the Constitution”

▪ “a narcissist [who is] trying to demolish 200 odd years of checks and balances.”

▪ “total chaos”

▪ “a man out of control” and

▪ “unfit to be president”

So there. Guess what? The leftist Eric Campbell even told viewers of The Drum last night that he is a “lapsed Anglican”. [How frightfully interesting – but does anyone really care? MWD Editor]. Clearly Eric Campbell does not like President Trump. Okay. The problem is that Mr Campbell is all abuse and no analysis. Brought to you by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.



Jim Spigelman was appointed chairman of the ABC on April Fools’ Day 2012 – so his five-year term ends next Friday. It will be marked by MWD with the final running of the Professor Richard Downing Scoreboard indicating that it will be 758 days since the current ABC chairman declined to distance the current ABC from the views of the ABC chairman in 1975 that we should “understand” the urges of pederasts and recognise that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

Professor Downing’s views – reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 1975 – were made in his official capacity as ABC chairman. Since they have never been renounced by his successors, MWD can only assume that the late Professor Downing’s attitude to pederasty remains official ABC policy. But this is for next week – and perhaps the next ABC chairman.

Fairfax Media newspapers last Saturday carried a story by Matthew Knott following his interview with Mr Spigelman. In the Sydney Morning Herald it was headed: “Parting shots – Chairman’s war stories: ABC Boss delivers home truths about the broadcaster”.

Jim Spigelman told Matthew Knott that he would have liked a second term as ABC chairman. [This could have been a good idea – since, given another five years, your man Spigelman might have summoned up the courage to renounce Professor Downing’s 1975 statement. Just a thought – MWD Editor.]

On 11 December 2013 Jim Spigelman told the National Press Club that he had little memory of his time as a senior staffer in Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam’s office between late 1972 and mid-1975. However, Jim Spigelman must have swallowed some memory pills – since Matthew Knott’s report contained the following information:

In between energy policy announcements in Canberra and the Snowy Mountains, [Malcolm] Turnbull travelled to Sydney on Wednesday to attend Spigelman’s farewell. In his speech, Spigelman revealed a secret plot hatched in the final year of the Whitlam government to buy The Australian newspaper.

Spigelman, then head of the Department of Media, was dispatched to meet Rupert Murdoch to ask whether he would sell the broadsheet to the ABC. Only a handful of people knew of the plan. It would have been an explosive move – The Australian was campaigning ferociously against Whitlam and the ABC has no charter responsibilities for print media.

Spigelman remembers the idea was driven by a desire to reduce the concentration of newspaper ownership not to stifle criticism of the government. Although the paper was bleeding money, Murdoch said no.

Fascinating, eh? Since Jim Spigelman has a clear recollection of what took place with respect to the ABC and Rupert Murdoch in 1975, it can only be assumed that he also has a clear memory of the 1975 scandal caused by then ABC Chairman Richard Downing’s support of the ABC radio “Pederasty” program which was presented by self-confessed pedophile Richard Neville.

Concerning what MWD calls the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone, Jim Spigelman had this to say – as reported by Matthew Knott:

On accusations of political bias, he says: “It’s probably true there are a greater number of Labor voters among our journalists than conservative voters. I wouldn’t have thought that’s unrepresentative of journalism across the board.” He adds: “To say there’s a single perspective on life at the ABC is wrong.”

What a load of absolute tosh. The problem with the ABC is not that its staff contains more Labor voters than Coalition voters. Not at all. The problem is that ABC journalists overwhelmingly criticise both the Coalition and Labor – from the left. In other words, the problem is the ABC’s essentially Green/Left stance.

This was made clear earlier in Matthew Knott’s report, viz:

In 2013 Spigelman announced a series of external audits to assess the ABC coverage’s for bias. In his speech he said he was concerned ABC journalists – like those elsewhere – were more interested in same-sex marriage than electricity prices.

“I don’t think it’s changed much,” Spigelman says. “There isn’t as much attention on the issues of the ‘Howard battlers’, working families, people in the suburbs. We should be connecting with all segments of the Australian population.”

In other words, Jim Spigelman concedes that the ABC has an inner-city agenda. As he maintains, ABC programs focus on such issues as same-sex marriage but show little interest in electricity prices, working families and people in the suburbs.

Yet the ABC Chairman threw the switch to denial when responding to commentators like Gerard Henderson who make this very point. Re which see Jim Spigelman’s (oh-so-brief) letter in this week’s hugely popular “Correspondence” segment.


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

It seems that even the Wall Street Journal editorial team is worried about Donald J. Trump’s tendency to tweet very early in the morning – often before the cock crows, so to speak. However, such early morning behaviour can be explained, it has nothing whatsoever to do with alcohol. For President Trump is a teetotaller. So, what to do?

Here’s A Modest Proposal

President Trump should fall off the wagon. If he has three Gin & Tonics before dinner and a bottle of wine with his favourite McDonald’s serve for dinner, the president is likely to doze well beyond his three to four hour sleep a night. He might not wake up until, say, 6.30 am by which time every cock will have crowed. All he would need to do is reach for the Barocca and swallow the tablets with some coke. Then head for a bacon and eggs mosh-up at the White House kitchen. Then get to the Oval Office ready to tackle the world beyond 140 characters.

A Modest Proposal – here’s hoping it works.



Nancy’s (male) co-owner is an alt-empathy type. So Hendo really felt Wendy (“I’m an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer’s pain when she opened her Mornings program on ABC Sydney last Monday with the shock/horror declaration that her clothes dryer is in a Rest in Peace situation. Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Harmer discussed her (domestic) woes with newsreader Toni Matthews:

Wendy Harmer: I had a “wonderful” event happen in my house last night. The dryer, the tumble dryer that we’ve had, we worked out, for twenty-five years, just died.

Toni Matthews: I’d be happy with twenty-five years.

Wendy Harmer: I know, but why now?

Toni Matthews: Overwork? The last week has been overwork.

Wendy Harmer: I think it had a nervous breakdown.

Toni Matthews: It knew there was more rain?

Wendy Harmer: That’s right.

Toni Matthews: Can you get that fixed?

Wendy Harmer: I don’t think so. Just quietly I think it’s done its job.

Well, fancy that. After a mere quarter of a century, the Harmer dryer broke down. Clearly a Hold Page One occasion. And Ms Harmer intends to purchase a new dryer. Despite the fact that she is always banging on about carbon dioxide emissions, climate change and all that jazz. Indeed out-and-proud feminist Wendy Harmer is constantly telling listeners that her eco-catastrophic husband will not let her purchase an air-conditioning unit. Even in the heat of a Sydney Summer. Even in spite of the fact that she has predicted that temperatures will rise so much in the future that Western Sydney will become unliveable in the summer months.

MWD hopes to hear an update on the Harmer family clothes drying experience.

Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment.


Gerard Henderson is something of a fan of Sky News presenter Paul Murray – despite the fact that your man Murray has never had the intellectual courage to ask Hendo on to Paul Murray Live to defend himself against Mr Murray’s criticism of your man Henderson. He expects that Mr Murray will follow the precedent set by Phillip Adams and ask him on his program every quarter of a century.

So it was with some exhilaration that Hendo heard Paul Murray come to the defence of his fellow Sky News presenter Ross Cameron and, in doing so, bag his fellow Sky News presenters David Speers, Peter Van Onselen and Kristina Keneally. Sure, it’s rude to cast aspersions about your colleagues but, every now and then, a certain rudeness is understandable – in defence of a mate.

However, when it comes to courtesy, some boundaries must apply. Nancy’s starting place is that it is rude for a male to comment on a female’s appearance. So she was shocked, literally shocked, with this exchange on the much-watched Offsiders program on Sky News last Sunday featuring Mark (“The Lair of Liverpool”) Latham, Ross (“I can never talk for too long about Marcus Aurelius”) Cameron and Rowan (“I’m an advertising drop-out”) Dean. Let’s go to the transcript:

Rowan Dean: My head is spinning; my head is spinning. This week [Insiders] was an absolute doozy thanks to Lenore Taylor, always an absolute favourite of mine to watch. I learnt all sorts of things [on Insiders]. I learnt that apparently all Australians, or the majority of Australians, are in favour of gay marriage. That’s good, I learnt that. I also learnt that the Coopers [beer promotion] fiasco was nothing to do with gay activism, it was to do with customers just suddenly deciding they weren’t going to drink the beer anymore. I also learnt that we were over-reacting about that silly union sheila, the one that doesn’t wear any lipstick. We were over-reacting.

Mark Latham: Sally!

Rowan Dean: Sally. When Sally told us you don’t have to worry about obeying the law…v

The reference was to newly elected ACTU secretary Sally McManus – the feminist who reckons that the burka is  fine fashion attire for Saudi Arabian women. All the more so, it seems, since women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. Consequently, they would never have a problem doing a U-turn dressed in a burka since they don’t do U-turns.

The problem with the green/left activist Sally McManus is that she is a green/left activist – not that Ms McManus refrains from wearing lipstick.

Rowan Dean – it’s off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.



The Age’s Green Guide arrived with a plonk besides Nancy’s water-logged kennel last night. The cover story, illustrated with a full-frontal and fully dressed pic of comedian and occasional Q&A presenter Tom Ballard, is written by Sarah Thomas.

Ms Thomas interviewed four comedians for her story – Wil Anderson, Tom Ballard, Tom Gleeson and Judith Lucy. For whatever reason, Charlie Pickering was not interviewed for the piece.

In recent times, your man Pickering has become less of a stand-up comedian and more of a stand-up (secular) cleric as he uses the pulpit of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to preach to inner-city, sandal-wearing leftist true believers about renewable energy (good), Islamophobia (bad), asylum seekers (good), Pauline Hanson (bad), Donald J. Trump (very bad), The Australian (ditto), Sky News (ditto), Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act (very good), the Melbourne Grand Prix (bad and oh, so, 20th Century). Yawn, yawn, yawn.

The only genuinely funny performer on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, who doesn’t need help from the show’s artificial confected laughter, is your man Tom Gleeson.

The first question asked of the four comedians was to respond to the proposition: “The best thing about Donald Trump is…”. Messers Anderson and Gleeson got the joke but not Ms Lucy. She replied: “Surely he [Trump] can’t live for that much longer.” How funny is that? Give the woman an SO – as in Standing Ovation.

And here’s what Tom Ballard had to say:

The best thing about Donald Trump is … his odious, corrupt, racist, sexist, queerphobic, xenophobic and cruel brand of politics might finally be the catalyst to compel the Left to effectively organise and rise up in solidarity to defend our values of decency, humanity, science and compassion. Plus he has funny hair!

Your man Ballard’s final “joke” was so forced that he had to give it a kick-along with an exclamation mark. Well done!!!! Oh well, at least Mr Ballard identified himself as a man of “the Left” who is into, wait for it, solidarity. Solidarity forever, apparently.

Which helps explain Tom Ballard’s tweet of 14 March concerning the late Bill Leak:

To which MWD responds:

GOOD: Tom Ballard’s morality which is higher than that of any other Aussie including Julian Burnside AO QC

BAD:   Not everyone appreciates this!!!!!!

Can You Bear It?


In what has been a difficult time for MWD since Bob Ellis, The False Prophet of Palm Beach, joined the RIP Club – there is, at last, some continuing good news. As revealed exclusively in MWD recently, Mike Carlton is back on the turps. Good – for MWD at least.

Here are some recent tweets from the sage of Avalon Beach.


So Mike (“I’m back pouring the Gin”) Carlton reckons that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should implement all his policies. And he believes his Andrew Bolt “joke” is funny. Both tweets were sent around Coffee & Port time.

Can You Bear It?


On ABC Sydney’s Richard Glover’s Drive program last night, Fairfax Media’s Peter FitzSimon’s had this to say about the stoicism of British people in the wake of terrorist attacks like the one that occurred in London this week.

Peter FitzSimons: I admire the, I love the approach that they [the British] take. And I think the best barrier, the best defence, against terrorism is to not manifest terror. And the fact that the Brits shake it off. You mentioned the 7/7 attacks. I stand to be corrected, but there was the British Ashes – the English Ashes – was on at the time. And I remember writing a piece in the Herald about how stunning it was that the news spread around Lords and nobody moved. Nobody rushed for the exit. The cricket went on. And me thinking: ‘‘Gee that’s impressive the way they did that.”

The Red Bandannaed one does stand corrected. What are called the “7/7 attacks” in London occurred on 7 July 2005. The Lords Test between Australia and England commenced on 21 July 2005. There was a minor terrorist incident during the Lords Test but there were no fatalities. Clearly your man Fitz has a “memory” of an event that never happened. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like Fitz’s false claim that Cardinal George Pell lives in a “$30 million mansion in Rome”. No wonder the Red Bandannaed One has not stepped forward to claim the $20,000 prize for providing an address for this “alleged” mansion. Can You Bear It?


In yet another outbreak of Trumpphobia, on Radio National Breakfast on Wednesday journalist Matt Bevan and presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly discussed the decision of the United States and Britain to ban taking laptops and tablets as cabin luggage on flights from certain designated countries. Let’s go to transcript:

Matt Bevan: So it appears on the surface at least not to be a politically motivated decision by the Trump administration. But it’s going to irritate a lot of business people flying from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the US who now won’t be able to work on the plane. Not to mention all the people from those other countries. And people possibly won’t be too happy either about putting their expensive electronics in the baggage hold as well, having them sort of thrown around. 

Fran Kelly: I think it’s a huge productivity issue largely, but anyway.

So there you have it. It is a well known truth that many a business person – computer and tablet in hand – falls asleep during long haul flights. But Ms Kelly reckons that the inability of certain business types to activate their computers and laptops on flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the United States is a “huge productivity issue”. Yes, Huge. Can You Bear It?


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 Gerard Henderson 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 avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.

As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).


Last week’s MWD editorial was headed “John Howard’s Centre For Western Civilisation Should Avoid The Folly Of His US Studies Centre Initiative”. This reflected the fact that, when the Howard government gave $25 million of taxpayer funds to the US Studies Centre, Gerard Henderson predicted that the USSC would soon adapt to the leftist ethos that pervades the social science facilities at the University of Sydney, where the USSC is based.

Gerard Henderson’s concern is that, if it is based in one or more universities, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation will suffer the same fate as the USSC and the late Paul Ramsay’s legacy will not only be wasted but will have a counter-productive effect.

Professor Simon Haines (currently Professor of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong), who will head the Ramsay Centre from May Day 2017 did not agree. Now read on:

Simon Haines to Gerard Henderson – 18 March 2017

Dear Gerard,

My attention was drawn yesterday to your 17 March editorial piece about the Centre in Media Watch Dog. It’s a bit hard to keep up from here in Hong Kong, and I don’t take up the CEO role at the Centre until May. Anyway, I was glad to see it.

You may not remember, but we met, some years ago, in your office in Sydney. We talked about the politics of universities in Australia–I was at the ANU at the time. 

Purely as a matter of fact, the Centre is not a development of the IPA’s Foundations of Western Civilisation Programme. It was conceived and created quite independently. 

I should also point out that the Centre has no more to do with the University of New South Wales than with any other university, and is very much not being “handed over” to it, or to any university. You could take a look at my interview with Julie Hare in the Australian Higher Education Supplement on 8 March for a bit more information. 

As for the other points you (and Mervyn Bendle) make about universities “taking over” such institutions as the USSC and thus, potentially, the Ramsay Centre–well, that’s something I look forward to talking to you about once I arrive in Sydney. I appreciate the comparison with Edmund Burke and Catherine of Siena, an unlikely pair if ever there was one. I fear that among our young people they are almost as little known as you rightly say I am. Indeed to anyone born since the early 90s, there isn’t much difference between 1955, 1729 and 1347. I hope we can do something about this woeful level of historical ignorance in the Centre. 

I appreciate your good wishes and support for the Centre and look forward to talking to you again soon, though not necessarily polemically.


Simon Haines
–Professor of English and Head of Department
–Director, Research Centre for Human Values

–Director, Research Institute of the Humanities
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Secretary and Founding Fellow,
The Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities
Gerard Henderson to Simon Haines – 22 March 2017

Dear Simon

Thanks for your email concerning the editorial about the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (which is chaired by John Howard) in my Media Watch Dog blog on Friday. In response, I make the following comments:

  1. I wrote the piece titled “John Howard’s Centre for Western Civilisation Should Avoid The Folly Of His US Studies Centre Initiative” in haste on Friday as I had to be at Bill Leak’s memorial service by 2.15 pm.

Consequently, I did not have time to read Julie Hare’s article in The Australian Higher Education Supplement on 8 March 2017. Had I done so, I would have been even more critical of the proposed Ramsay Centre.

Prior to writing the editorial, I did not recall that we had spoken some years ago at my Sydney office. I did not remember your name. However, I do have a good recollection of our conversation – and have referred to it on a number of occasions with you as my (anonymous) source.

As I recall, you made contact after I wrote a column to the effect that the social science departments of Australian universities are dominated by a green/left ethos. During our conversation, you made the point that there were many conservatives and right-of-centre academics in social science departments in Australian universities who shared a similar position to yourself. Your view was that they did not speak up in the intellectual debate.

I was surprised by this assessment. I said that your position was interesting and invited you to address the topic at The Sydney Institute – a 30-minute talk followed by a 30 minute question/discussion period followed by publication in The Sydney Papers Online.

You thanked me for the invitation but said you could not accept it. When I queried why – you responded that you were a non-professional academic at the Australian National University and had an ambition to be promoted to a professional position. You added that if you spoke to The Sydney Institute on this issue the powers-that-be at the ANU would ensure that you would not be promoted again during the remainder of your academic career at that campus.

And that’s my point. In the MWD editorial I wrote: “There is no record of Simon Haines taking a prominent role over the last four decades in any debate involving a contest of ideas between the left intelligentsia and conservative defenders of Western civilisation”.

On your own admission, you did not get into this debate because to do so would have hindered your academic career. This is understandable from your position. However, it confirms my case that the left dominates the social science departments in Australian universities and effectively silences conservative voices.

  1. I accept your statement that the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (born 2017) is not a “development” of the Foundations of Western Civilisation program (born 2010) which was established by the Institute of Public Affairs and the Mannkal Economic Foundation. However, the concept is similar – I think you would agree.
  1. I also accept your assurance that the Ramsay Centre will not be “handed over” to the University of New South Wales – unlike John Howard’s initiative in establishing the US Studies Centre which was handed over to the University of Sydney – or any other university. However, even you concede that the Ramsay Centre will work with the University of New Wales and other universities. This is the problem.

Following her interview with you, Julie Hare had this to say about the Ramsay Centre:

 The foundation is involved in programs that address health, education and disadvantage. Its inaugural director, Simon Haines, who will take up his role on May 1, says the centre will be an independent centre with its own board that will manage Ramsay’s vision across three key areas: curriculum, scholarships and the creation of an intellectual hub. “It was Mr Ramsay’s wish that two or three universities in NSW and the ACT should be the primary recipients,” Professor Haines, who is at present with the Chinese University of Hong Kong as professor of English and director of the Research Centre for Human Values [said].

The first of three elements of the centre will be the creation of new degrees in collaboration with these universities, which will be designated along the lines of BA (Western Civilisation). “We will help fund the degrees but naturally we will not interfere with universities’ management of their own teaching programs,” Professor Haines said. “Of course, we will be keen to have input into how they structure the degrees so they match up to the Ramsay vision of a degree in Western civilisation,” he added.

So the Sydney-based Ramsay Centre proposes to help fund a degree along the lines of a BA (Western Civilisation) at universities like UNSW which will both manage the degrees and appoint the academics who will teach them. Yet, on your own analysis, conservatives in social science departments feel intimidated in stating their positions. So much so, that this fashionable left-liberal orthodoxy within social science departments stopped you from speaking out for decades. Consequently, on your own analysis, the Ramsay Centre will help fund courses in universities where conservative academics are intimidated from stating their views.

  1. I look forward to talking to you some time after you take up your position in May. I should point out that Julian Leeser MP – who, as I understand played a significant role in establishing the Ramsay Centre – has not spoken to me about this project. Nor has John Howard or any member of the board he heads. The first I learnt about the Ramsay Centre was when I read Paul Kelly’s report in The Weekend Australianon 4-5 March 2017.

In my critique of the proposed Ramsay Centre, I was not particularly concerned about the views of anyone born since the 1990s. I am much more concerned about the views of those born after the Second World War who teach in the social science departments of Australian universities.

The US Studies Centre did not become a captive of the liberal-left due to the influence of 25 year olds and teenagers. It became a captive of the liberal left because, as with the ABC (as John Howard well knows), left-liberal professors and executives appointed left-liberal lecturers and tutors. Hence the situation where every academic at the USSC falsely predicted a Hillary Clinton victory last November and not one supports the Republican president today.

Around a decade ago, Michael Baume – one of the members of the inaugural US Studies Centre board – told me that my prediction that the USSC would be taken over by left-liberals was wrong. He even demanded that I apologise to the USSC – a proposal which I rejected. Recently, however, Michael commenced an email to me as follows:

You were right. The luvvies would take over the USSC no matter what imagined “safeguards” we had in place.

My concern is that the Ramsay Centre will, in time, suffer the same fate as the US Studies Centre. In the interests of Western Civilisation, I hope that my apprehension about the Ramsay Centre does not come to fruition. It’s just that the precedents are not good.

Keep morale high.

Best wishes



The New York businessman Len Harlan addressed The Sydney Institute last Monday on the topic “Donald Trump and the Trump Phenomenon: An Update”. Tom Switzer, who presents Between the Lines and Sunday Extra on ABC Radio National and is an academic at the US Studies Centre, was in the audience and asked the second question. Soon after, correspondence commenced:

Tom Switzer to Gerard Henderson – 20 March 2017

Dear Gerard

Thanks so much for including me and my colleague April Palmerlee tonight. Len is a class act and it was great to see him again. Well done.

Btw, [Charles] Krauthammer and [George] Will, like most American conservatives – did not think Trump could beat Hillary. Neither did the WSJ editorial page or National Review or AEI [American Enterprise Institute] and Cato types. The ABC and USSC deserve criticism, but not for getting Trump wrong. Hardly anyone got the election right. 


Gerard Henderson to Tom Switzer – 21 March 2017

Dear Tom

Thank you for your note of last night.

I agree that those whom you mention did not believe that Donald Trump could defeat Hillary Clinton last November. However, I do not agree with your comment that neither the United States Studies Centre nor the ABC should be criticised for getting the election result wrong since “hardly anyone got the election right”.

The fact is that neither the USSC nor the ABC was interested in hearing the view that Trump could win. For example, I made the following comment at the end of the Insiders program on 11 September 2016:

Gerard Henderson: I am no fan of Donald Trump. But the dismissive attitude of many Australian journalists to Trump overlooks one central fact. If the Republicans hold all the States they won four years ago under Mitt Romney and Trump wins, say, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania he will be President next year.

Anne Henderson made a similar comment on Sunday Extra around the same time – before being cut off by presenter Jonathan Green who seemed irritated by the thought that Hillary Clinton might not win.

Anne and I came to our position following discussions in the United States in May 2016. It is a matter of record that neither Anne nor myself were invited to the United States Studies Centre or on to the ABC to discuss the presidential election. This is in spite of the fact that the USSC and such ABC programs as Planet America (presented by John Barron and Chas Licciardello) had a number of sessions where everyone agreed with everyone else that the Republican candidate Donald Trump had no chance whatsoever of becoming US president.

Best wishes


Tom Switzer to Gerard Henderson – 21 March 2017

Dear Gerard

I can’t talk for the rest of my colleagues, but my column in the Fairfax press nearly two months before the election takes seriously a Trump presidential victory: [The reference is to the Sydney Morning Herald, 16 September 2016.] I gave several lectures, radio and TV interviews off the back of this column during the next fortnight. 

As for the ABC, here are my interviews with Pat Buchanan and Daniel Bonevac — both Trump supporters, who took his prospects very seriously. [The reference is to Between the Lines, 20 August 2015 and 24 October 2016.]

Ying Ma, a guest of the USSC last winter, was interviewed on both Lateline and Between the Lines. She was an unashamed Trump supporter, who believed Trump could win. 

I could provide more evidence. That’s not to say I consistently thought Trump would win. I did not. But I took him more seriously than you suggest anyone at the ABC and USSC did. 

Best regards, 


Gerard Henderson to Tom Switzer – 24 March 2017

Dear Tom

Thanks for your note. I concede that, some time before the US presidential election, you did canvass the possibility that Donald Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton. However, as you previously told me, after the release of the Access Hollywood video you formed the view that Trump was unelectable. So you joined all your colleagues at the United States Studies Centre in getting the election outcome wrong.

I would not have made anything of this except for the fact that at the Len Harlan function at The Sydney Institute last Monday you introduced yourself during the question/discussion time as coming from the US Studies Centre and the ABC in the lead-in to your question:

Tom Switzer: Len, Tom Switzer from the ABC and the United States Studies Centre. Very good talk that is a welcome corrective to that prevailing wisdom at the New York Times and Washington Post. I don’t think we’d even get George Will or Charles Krauthammer talking your language this evening. So, more power to you…

Your introductory comment was open to the interpretation that the ABC and the US Studies Centre had got the Trump phenomenon correct while the “prevailing wisdom” at the New York Times and Washington Post was wrong. A bit self-serving don’t you think? Especially in view of the fact that the ABC and the US Studies Centre were just as wrong as the New York Times and Washington Post. And especially since following a function at the US Studies Centre in mid-2016 – in which you and Stephen Loosely agreed with each other that Hillary Clinton would prevail – it was Len Harlan (present in the audience) who told you after the event that Donald J. Trump had a very good chance of winning.

As to the other points in your email. Well, you interviewed Pat Buchanan and Daniel Bonevac on Between The Lines – both of whom thought that Trump could win. So what? It’s your job to interview people with different points of view. You also state that Ying Ma, who visited the US Studies Centre in mid-2016, was a Trump supporter. Again, so what?

The fact is you cannot name one academic at the US Studies Centre or one journalist at the ABC (including the so-called American expert John Barron) – who presents as an expert on the US – who correctly read the mood of America in late 2016.

Certainly you took Donald Trump more seriously than any of your colleagues at the US Studies Centre or the ABC. But this does not diminish my critique of both organisations.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson


As pointed out in the “ABC Update”, last Saturday Fairfax Media newspapers published an article on outgoing ABC chairman Jim Spigelman by Matthew Knott. A longer version of this article, including additional quotes from Jim Spigelman, was published in Fairfax Media Online. Gerard Henderson wrote to Mr Spigelman concerning an allegation which he made about Hendo to Matthew Knott. As was to be expected, your man Spigelman threw the switch to intellectual cowardice and ran a “your comment is noted” defence. Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to Jim Spigelman – 21 March 2017

Dear James

Subject: Your unprofessional comment re me in Fairfax Media last Saturday

I refer to the Matthew Knott piece on you in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. The online Fairfax Media version of the article reports that you made the following comment to Matthew Knott:

On political bias: “There are people who underestimate the range of political opinion among journalists at the ABC. It’s worth remembering Tony Abbott hired our chief political correspondent [Mark Simkin] to be his press secretary. Yes, we could have more conservatives than Tom Switzer but the Gerard Hendersons of this world will never be happy unless they have their own show.”

That’s a cheap unprofessional shot. When Donald McDonald was ABC chairman, he was wont to say that I only criticised the public broadcaster because I wanted my own program. Some ABC types joined in the chorus. But you are smarter than Mr McDonald and his chorus members.

It is true that, a quarter of a century ago, Phillip Adams wrote that I should be given an ABC program. However, I have never indicated to anyone that I want an ABC program. I lead a busy life at The Sydney Institute along with writing a column every week for the past 30 years and doing the occasional book.

My position on the ABC is simple. Namely, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of the public broadcaster’s prominent television, radio and online outlets.

The statement is accurate. If you maintain that there is one conservative presenter, producer or editor on any of the ABC’s prominent programs feel free to name him or her.

Tom Switzer – whom you cite as an ABC “prominent” conservative – is a relatively recent employee whose low-rating Radio National programs are not in any sense “prominent”. As to Tony Abbott’s decision to employ Mark Simkin – this does not mean that Mr Simkin is a conservative. In any event, when at the ABC, Mark Simkin never presented a prominent program.

While conceding to Matthew Knott that the ABC should have “more prominent conservatives” your only defence of the public broadcaster is to query my motives in drawing attention to established facts.

As a former Chief Justice of New South Wales you, above all, should know that you have absolutely no idea of what my motives may or may not be. You have never discussed my alleged motives with me. Even so, you chose to traduce my professional reputation in a most unprofessional manner.

I would suggest that any future comment you make about me should be based on evidence not ill-informed rumour and supposition.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

cc: Michelle Guthrie

 Michael Millett

Jim Spigelman to Gerard Henderson – 21 March 2017

Dear Gerard,

I note your comments.

Jim Spigelman

cc: Michelle Guthrie

 Michael Millett

Gerard Henderson to Jim Spigelman – 22 March 2017

Dear James

I note that you have noted the comments in my email of 21 March 2017. And I note that you have declined to justify or defend the unprofessional comments you made about me as quoted by Matthew Knott in Fairfax Media last Saturday. How very ABC-ish.

I have been advised by legal colleagues that the comment you made about my (alleged) motivation for my criticisms of the ABC would not be admissible if made by a crown prosecutor or a judge in addressing a jury in the District Court of New South Wales. And you – a former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court who aspired to be the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. Fancy that.

Best wishes in your years beyond those you spent as ABC chairman. All I can say is that Nancy and the team at my Media Watch Dog blog will miss you each and every Friday (after lunch).

Bon Voyage – and Keep Morale High.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc: Michelle Guthrie

 Michael Millett

Until next time.


Endorsements of MWD

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