GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 355
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: Gillian Triggs’ Sadness; Nick Bisley’s China Climate Spin
- Editorial: On New ABC Chairman Justin Milne
- Can You Bear It?: Alex Malley on Snakes; Fran Kelly & Tilman Ruff on Anything But North Korea
- New Feature: The Fallibility of Memory featuring Peter FitzSimons & Louise Milligan
- Nancy’s Old Bones: Remembering Tim Flannery’s False Prophecy of Endless Droughts Down Under
- The Flann O’Brien Gong for Verbal Sludge: Scott Stephens’ Scores on The Drum
- A Wendy Harmer Moment: On Clothes Dryers, Sky News and all that
- ABC Update: The ABC and (Historical) Pederasty & Jim Spigelman’s Denial
- Correspondence: Tom Switzer helps out on the US Studies Centre & RN & Donald J Trump
GILLIAN TRIGGS REGRETS FREE SPEECH ON THE HOME FRONT
What a scoop by Chris Kenny and the team at Sky News’ Heads Up late last night. The program showed footage of Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs delivering the Hobart Oration in Hobart last evening – which is sponsored by the Bob Brown Foundation. After defending all aspects of the Racial Discrimination Act, Gillian Triggs declared: “Sadly, you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.” Former Greens’ leader Bob Brown welcomed the speech and it was well received by the Sandalista Set which filled the room at Hobart’s Town Hall.
It seems that the Human Rights Commission president would like to extend the provisions of Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act to discussions around domestic kitchen tables – lest someone or other take offence at something or other. Fancy that.
- GOING FOR A CHINA CLIMATE SPIN WITH NICK BISLEY
What a stunning performance by La Trobe University’s Professor Nick Bisley on the ABC 1 News Breakfast program this morning.
During the “Newspapers” segment with co-presenters Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland, Dr Bisley (for a doctor he is) focused on a story in the Australian Financial Review – via the New York Times – titled “China seizes chance to lead on climate”. It was a fairly typical New York Times report critical of Donald J. Trump and featured a certain Isabel Hilton asserting that “President Trump seems intent on reviving a 19th Century energy source [coal] rather than pursuing the promise of the 21st Century”. This overlooks the fact that such 21st Century nations as Japan and Germany – along with India and, yes, China – are constructing new coal power plants in the 21st Century.
Nick Bisley soon got into a familiar how-good-is-China? rant in a rambling kind of way. Let’s go to the transcript:
Nick Bisley: …China is without question the most focused – country most focused – of the big economies – the one most focused on this issue [for] internal reasons. I mean, this is a country, you go there and you see the problems of climate change both immediate in terms of smog and particulate matter, but also the consequences of their rapid industrialisation has really accelerated that sort of bigger trends that we see globally. So they’re dead serious about it.
What a load of tosh. Currently many of China’s big cities suffer from pollution – not unlike the kind that was prevalent in London in the 1950s. Smog in China is not a consequence of climate change – it is a consequence of pollution. Dr Bisley is an academic who teaches in La Trobe University’s faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
[Interesting. I wonder if La Trobe University is still listed as one of Australia’s Top 500 polluters – as it was in 2012? MWD Editor.]
MR MILNE GOES TO ULTIMO
Tomorrow Justin Milne becomes chairman of the ABC, succeeding James Spigelman AC, QC. As MWD has always acknowledged, the ABC chairman does not – and should not – run the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. That is the role of the managing director and editor-in-chef, currently Michelle Guthrie.
The role of the ABC chairman is that of an overseer. In his first interview as ABC chairman, Mr Milne was reported in The Australian last Monday as having told Mitchell Bingemann:
People tend to see chairs as the boss. But you’re not. You’re the chair of the board; Michelle is the boss here. My job is to hear what she’s got to say and then see if I can help her. I don’t think it’s the job of the board to second-guess every editorial decision nor every business decision that an executive team makes. I think the strategy is important; the detail is not my job. That will be Michelle’s job.
Fair enough. But then, even before formally taking over as ABC chairman, Mr Milne made a comment about the public broadcaster’s editorial stance with respect to news and current affairs:
By and large I think it [the ABC] does a magnificent job. Roughly speaking, 50 per cent of the audience will think it is biased to the left and 50 per cent will think it’s biased to the right and it has ever been thus. The skill and test of the journalists and editors and staff at the ABC is to try to continually find that line down the middle.
Elsewhere in an interview with Mitchell Bingemann, Justin Milne made the following points:
I don’t come to the job thinking I need to fix the perceived bias in the ABC because I don’t know that there really is a bias. But I imagine the scrutiny of the ABC will continue and so it should….
Generally speaking, as a punter and consumer of the ABC, it seems to me to be doing a very good job. I like ABC for news like all Australians do because the ABC attempts to be unbiased, it attempts to tell it right down the middle so it’s a good reference point for many Australians.
So, even before entering his office at the ABC’s headquarters in inner-city Ultimo, Mr Milne has made up his mind that there is no bias at the ABC. He has also stated that “all Australians” like the ABC’s news coverage. Yes, “all”. This despite the fact that, as Mr Milne acknowledges, viewers of ABC TV news and current affairs are falling, especially among young Australians. So, for starters, not “all” Australians even watch, or listen to, the public broadcaster.
In The Australian’s report of the interview co-written by Darren Davidson and Mitchell Bingemann, Justin Milne was reported as saying that the ABC was fulfilling its role as a public broadcaster by presenting a wide range of political views.
Yet even outgoing Jim Spigelman has conceded that the public broadcaster could do with more conservatives on its staff. Currently there is not one conservative presenter, producer or editor on any of the ABC’s prominent television, radio or online outlets. Not one. In short, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone.
During his time as ABC chairman, Mr Spigelman criticised the public broadcaster for its emphasis on inner-city issues. Mr Milne lives in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Balmain and loves what he hears on Radio National.
Here’s hoping that Justin Milne has success as ABC chairman. However, it is interesting to note that he enters the ABC with a more benign view of the public broadcaster than Malcolm Turnbull. The Prime Minister is known to hold the view that, like most media outlets, the ABC is essentially left-wing. And that nothing can be done about this situation. His immediate predecessors as Liberal Party prime ministers – John Howard and Tony Abbott – believed that the ABC was essentially left-wing and that something should be done about it.
Mr Milne, on the other hand, maintains that 50 per cent of viewers believe that the ABC is biased to the left while the other 50 per cent believe that it is biased to the right. It is true that ABC journalists criticise both the Coalition and the Labor Party. But both sets of criticism invariably come from the left.
In any event, it is proper to await Mr Milne’s view of the public broadcaster once he has been in the job for a period of time.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
- ALEX MALLEY’S SNAKE THEORY
Nancy’s (male) co-owner is preparing for quite a few Gin & Tonics and has already purchased an even darker pair of sunglasses – pending a visit to Kingsford Smith Airport. It’s not about a chance encounter with the sun. After all, it’s raining cats and dogs in Sydney.
No – Hendo’s concern is that he will encounter yet another billboard featuring a mug shot of CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley flogging his piss-poor book The Naked CEO. The hoarding tells exiting and returning travellers that your man Malley was once suspended from Trinity Grammar in Sydney in an earlier century – but doesn’t say which one. Yawn.
MWD doesn’t give a toss that Master Malley was suspended by Head Master Rod West around the time that Noah was in secondary school. MWD is much more interested in Joe Aston’s scoop in the Australian Financial Review on 27 March 2017 concerning the alleged circumstances in which Mr Malley departed Macquarie University, when an associate professor, in the current century. In 2006, no less. Alas, on this issue, there is no news on airport posters flogging The Naked CEO.
The last time Hendo saw The (Once) Suspended One was on ABC 1 News Breakfast – doing the “Newspapers” segment with Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland. The date was 23 March 2017. And The (Once) Suspended One chose to conclude his assessment of the morning news with reference to the BIG STORY that, in Australia, middle aged men are the most common victims of fatal snake bites – as reported that very morning in the Herald-Sun. Let’s go to the transcript:
Alex Malley: What they’ve found in research is that most, more middle aged men get bitten by snakes than anyone else. Cutting edge story – page three. You know my theory is. This is my theory. Is that at home, you’ve families trying to deal with things. You’re doing all your things and you’re forever picking things up for other members of the family. So it’s a natural trait for middle-aged men to put their hand out to fix something. So they see a brown snake, they put their hand out, they get bitten. That’s what explains the research.
Well thanks for that. What a hoot. It’s no wonder that CPA Australia pays its chief executive so much if he is capable of developing a theory as to why middle-aged men get bitten by snakes. Give the man a raise.
It so happened that there was another story that very day which your man Malley seems to have missed. In his “Rear Window” column in the AFR on 23 March, Young Mr Aston revealed the existence of a dissent group within CPA Australia which calls itself the Feather Dusters. According to “Rear Window”, the Feather Dusters sent a letter to CPA Australia’s president querying, inter alia, the organisation’s presentation of Alex Malley as a “cult figure”. The Feather Dusters continued: “His [Alex Malley’s] face is on trains and billboards and the link to CPA…is both unclear and very tenuous.”
Interesting story, eh? But, alas, one that The (Once) Suspended One overlooked on News Breakfast in preference to developing a theory about why middle age men get bitten by snakes. Can You Bear It?
- DON’T TALK ABOUT NORTH KOREA – ON RN BREAKFAST
On Wednesday Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed Professor Tilman Ruff from Hendo’s alma mater The University of Melbourne. The learned professor is co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Your man Ruff banged on about the fact that 115 nations are currently involved in talks at the United Nations aimed at negotiating a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. The United States along with Britain, France, Australia and around 40 other nations are not attending the talk fest in New York.
In the interview, Tilman Ruff went on and on about why the United States and its closest allies should be involved in negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. But he never once specifically mentioned the huge problem presented by the decision of communist dictators in North Korea to develop not only nuclear weapons but also a nuclear warhead which can be delivered on a missile.
The idea that Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang is likely to give up his nuclear armaments because some diplomats and bureaucrats suggest at a conference in New York that this would be a proper thing to do is absolute tosh. Yet Professor Ruff never mentioned the North Korea reality and Fran Kelly never specifically raised North Korea with him. Can You Bear It?
NEW FEATURE: THE FALLIBILITY OF MEMORY
- FEATURING FITZ’S RELIANCE ON HIS OWN (FLAWED) MEMORY
There was an enormous, truly enormous – response to MWD’s story last week about how Fairfax Media’s Peter FitzSimons had a clear memory of being at the England v Australia Test cricket match at Lord’s when the 7/7 terrorist attacks took place in London on 7 July 2005.
The only problem with the Red Bandannaed One’s recall is that the Lord’s Test commenced two weeks later – on 21 July 2005. Clearly, Fitz has a clear memory of an event that never happened.
Thanks to avid reader Patrick Avenell who sent the following email to MWD on Monday:
Hi Nancy et al,
Your man Fitz is on the penumbra of truth in his recollection of Australia facing England on the day of the 7/7 bombings. The two countries met in a One Day International that day, though the match was played in Leeds, not at Lord’s, so Fitz would have cut quite the lonely figure sitting there amongst the non-existent peers drinking his non-alcoholic Pimms and eating his sugarfree boiled lollies.
Keep morale middling,
So there you have it. Peter FitzSimons seems to accept the accuracy of the memory of anyone who makes an accusation against, say, Cardinal George Pell concerning their recall of what (allegedly) happened four decades or so ago. But the Red Bandannaed One himself cannot remember where he was ten years ago – Lord’s or Leeds or neither – during one of the most tragic events in Britain’s modern history.
- ALSO FEATURING LOUSIE MILLIGAN’S AWARD-WINNING RELIANCE ON THE MEMORY OF OTHERS
While on the topic of Cardinal Pell – a common obsession of the ABC and Fairfax Media – MWD notes that Louise Milligan recently won a Quill Award for “Coverage of an Issue or Event” for the report “George Pell and Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?” which occupied the entire 7.30 program on 27 July 2016 – over eight months ago.
The video which accompanied the award at the Melbourne Club went as follows:
Voiceover: While George Pell’s career was advancing through the Church, a very different story was emerging from Ballarat. Louise Milligan and producer Andy Burns spent months chronicling the extent of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and the conduct of Cardinal George Pell. Placing trust in journalists when often they’ve not revealed the crimes against them to family – these men and women told painful stories of blighted lives and tragic deaths. It was irresistible journalism of an order seldom seen – and may yet help find justice for the victims to whom, at last, it gave a voice.
Ms Milligan’s award winning report was based on her acceptance of the memory of two men who claimed to have been subjected to improper touching by (then) Fr George Pell some four decades ago. And also one man who claimed to have seen George Pell revealing himself in a public shower area of a surf life-saving club some three decades ago. This person subsequently claimed (incorrectly) that the (then) Fr Pell was the local priest of the area at the time. Fairfax Media has since removed this assertion from its online edition but has failed to acknowledge the howler with a correction. This despite the fact that this error goes to the question of identity – a crucial issue in the criminal law. Pretty dishonest, don’t you think?
For the record, the Quill endorsement was defamatory in that it implied that there are “victims” of George Pell when no such claim has been established.
MWD recommends that journalists, like Mr FitzSimons and Ms Milligan, read Daniel L. Schacter’s The Seven Sins Of Memory: How The Mind Forgets And Remembers (Mariner, 2001). At the time of publication, the author was chair of Harvard University’s Department of Psychology. This book focuses on such memory mis-cues as absent-mindedness, transience, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias and persistence. In other words, the kind of matters which led the likes of Fitz to have a clear recall of an event that never happened. Well worth a read.
NANCY’S OLD BONES
TIM FLANNERY’S FALSE PROPHECY THAT AUSTRALIA’S DAMS WOULD NEVER FILL AGAIN RECALLED AS IT RAINS CATS & DOGS IN LARGE PARTS OF EASTERN AUSTRALIA
The month of March 2017 has been one of the wettest in Sydney’s history. So much so that Nancy’s kennel has been literally floating as the rains keep falling – lifting kennels and filling dams. As this is being written, it’s raining cats and dogs – as the saying goes. [Careful here. Nancy and other canines may take offence with either (i) being associated with rain and/or (ii) being associated with cats, and complain to someone or other. – MWD Editor.]
The rain in Sydney and Brisbane and more besides had Nancy’s (male) co-owner thinking of the time, only a decade ago, when Australia’s most famous eco-catastrophist Tim Flannery was predicting that Australia’s great brown land would become even browner and the rains stop falling and the rivers cease flowing.
Your man Flannery began as a palaeontologist who specialised in the evolution of Aussie mammals like Bruce and Edna. He later became head of the taxpayer funded Climate Commission from where, like the prophets of old, he foretold doom and destruction (due to climate change).
Forget about what Dr Flannery (for a doctor he is) said in the verbal imprecision of an interview. This is what Tim Flannery wrote in the New Scientist journal on 16 June 2007 – in an editorial titled “Australia: not such a lucky country”:
Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.
While the populated east and south of Australia have parched, rainfall has increased in the north-west. This has prompted some politicians to call for development of the north, including massive schemes for dams and pipelines. Some have even called for a large-scale shift of population to follow the rain. Yet computer models indicate that the increased rainfall is most likely caused by the Asian haze, which has pushed the monsoon south. This means that as Asia cleans up its air, Australia is likely to lose its northern rainfall. Australians need to leave behind their dreams of opening a new frontier and focus on making the best of the water remaining to them where they live today.
Your man Flannery went on to urge that water tanks be attached to all Australian dwellings and maintained that roofs were now far more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in such cities as Sydney and Brisbane:
The cities need drought-proofing by, for example, installing water tanks in all dwellings that can accept them. Because in affected areas the decline in river flow is three times that in rainfall, water tanks that use roofs as catchment are now far more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. Recycling can help too. This needs new investment and in some instances will require state government water monopolies to be broken up. It will cost more, but the benefits in terms of water security and recapture of nutrients in solid wastes are immense.
Desalination plants can provide insurance against drought. In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane water supplies are so low that they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources.
Earlier, in May 2004, Dr Flannery told the NSW government’s Sydney Futures Forum that Sydney should see its future in Perth – which, he claimed, was likely to become a “ghost metropolis”. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 May 2004, Dr Flannery had this to say about the future of Sydney within the next 30 years – i.e. by 2034:
We are one of the most physically vulnerable people on the Earth. There may be a few worse places, like Bangladesh. But southern Australia is going to be impacted very severely and very detrimentally by global climate change.
I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st Century’s first ghost metropolis. It’s whole primary production is in dire straits and the eastern states are only 30 years behind.
I wake up in the morning thinking there are lots of times when people have woken up feeling like this, like the Old Testament prophets. I try to find a way out of it, but I can’t. It’s life-changing to realise what is going on.
So how did the predictions of the Prophet Flannery work out? Well, the Bureau of Meteorology reported on Wednesday that water storage levels in Australia are as follows:
Sydney – 95.5 per cent
Melbourne – 63.6 per cent
Brisbane – 70.9 per cent
Perth – 26.5 per cent
Adelaide – 67.9 per cent
Hobart – 87.9 per cent
Canberra – 89.1 per cent
Darwin – 100 per cent
It is certain that water storage will increase further in Sydney and Brisbane following the current rain events.
In other words, your man Flannery is a false prophet. And one who is in denial. As Marcus Priest reported in the Australian Financial Review on 27 May 2011, Tim Flannery acknowledged that some of the comments made in his The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change (2005) may have dated. However, he still claimed that his predictions about rainfall were correct:
I can’t remember everything I said back then but there may have been things that were prevalent in the science back then which today has changed. I readily admit that. But the stuff about rainfall is still valid.
How about that? In May 2011, Tim Flannery could not remember what he wrote in The New Scientist in June 2006 – just five years earlier. Moreover, in May 2012 he told the ABC’s Jonathan Green that his previous predictions had been “taken out of context”. But he did not state what the original context was.
Your man Flannery may not remember what he said and wrote about Australia’s cities running out of water. But Nancy remembers – as she prepares to take her kennel for a float on Warragamba Dam tomorrow.
THE FLANN O’BRIEN GONG FOR LITERARY/ VERBAL SLUDGE
AND THE WINNER IS SCOTT STEPHENS – BANGING ON THE DRUM
As avid MWD readers will be aware, this segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. Your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take Eamon De Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail prime minister of Ireland, seriously.
The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.
Did anyone see – or even hear – the stunning performance by ABC Radio National’s very own Scott Stephens on The Drum last Wednesday. He was on a panel with British Conservative MP Peter Lilley, Tasneem Chopra and Nick Cater. Ellen Fanning was in the chair. During the discussion on Brexit – Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – your man Scott threw the switch to verbal disruption. Let’s hear from the presenter of Radio National’s program The Mindfield :
Scott Stephens: But, again, I actually find – to some extent – this is incredibly problematic. There’s been some remarkable political theory work done out of France about the phenomena which is sometimes called “negative sovereignty” – the fact that people, very diverse grass roots and political coalitions can get together to overturn something. The French philosopher Pierre Rosanvallon uses the example of you know it’s very, very easy to get enough disaffected people together to turf out an odious tax, for instance. But it’s very difficult to create a sufficient coalition to vote for or pursue economic justice or greater social equity.
Ellen Fanning: And therefore, what?
Scott Stephens: Well, the point is that a very broad base diverse coalition came together to affect Brexit. There’s no consensus, however. There’s no agreement about what comes next. And the idea of the recovery of something that mightn’t have been there for a very long time. And the idea of even remaking a Britain that really would be unrecognisable to us now. Where I’m pessimistic, I suppose, is the extent to which civic solidarity and the basic muscles of civic discourse have atrophied and have decayed such that the very achievement of a unified identity is even possible.
Well, yes. Or, no. Or whatever. What was your man Scott on about? Or what was he on? Here’s MWD’s response at a time when civic discourse has atrophied or something like that:
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:
of Scott Stephens
My grasp of what he said and meant
Was only five or six per cent
The rest was just crap with the lot
My reference is to your man Scott
A WENDY HARMER MOMENT
FEATURING THE HARMER DRYER AND SKY NEWS
There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage about the household of ABC Radio star Wendy (“I’m just an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer’s clothes dryer malfunction. So much so that avid readers wanted to know how the climate-change-conscious Harmer household survived without a clothes dryer powered by fossil fuel.
Well, it didn’t. Last Monday the old fashioned socialist led her Sydney Radio Mornings program with the following declaration:
Wendy Harmer: It was a beautiful day yesterday, wasn’t it? And I would like to take credit for that because we went out and bought a new dryer.
Toni Matthews: It’s often the way, isn’t it?
Wendy Harmer: And of course the sun came out. And we worked out that that dryer of ours – mine, my older dryer – was thirty years old we worked out. That’s not a bad innings for the old Whirlpool.
Toni Matthews: Oh I bet a few people wouldn’t mind that for parts
Wendy Harmer: Yeah
Toni Matthew: Keep their old ones going too.
Wendy Harmer: That’s it, that’s it.
Yeah, that’s it. Sure is. Meanwhile Ms Harmer was not at all happy with a few things said about her at Sky News. She tweeted:
So there you have it. The ABC’s old-fashioned socialist can threaten to discontinue her (privately paid) Foxtel subscription. But nobody can discontinue their (taxpayer funded) contribution to the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC.
Verily, A Wendy Harmer Moment.
THE ABC & (HISTORICAL) PEDERASTY AS CURRENT ABC CHAIRMAN WALKS OUT THE ULTIMO DOOR
James Spigelman AC QC was appointed chairman of the ABC on April Fool’s Day 2012 by the Gillard Labor Government. Consequently, his five year term concludes today. Neither the ABC chairman nor the ABC board run the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – that is the responsibility of the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief. However, as a public face of the ABC, the chairman has influence on the organisation and handles some of the public broadcaster’s relationships with government along with media appearances.
Generally Mr Spigelman appears to have taken a complacent approach to the ABC. However, as avid readers are aware, on several occasions he did recognise that all too many ABC staff were focused on the interests of inner-city types and had scant knowledge of, or interest in, Australians who live in the suburbs and regional areas. His position was that the ABC focused too much on same-sex marriage and not enough on electricity prices. This was a telling critique of the public broadcaster from an ABC chairman.
However, on one matter, Jim Spigelman went into ABC denial-mode very early. And stayed there. This despite the fact that he had first-hand knowledge of the issue at hand.
During 1975, Jim Spigelman moved from the position of private secretary and principal adviser on communications to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to Secretary of the Department of the Media in Canberra. In either role, he would have had direct knowledge of the ABC’s pederasty scandal which took place that year.
As MWD readers are aware, in 1975 Richard Neville, who was employed by the ABC in spite of the fact that he was a self-confessed pedophile, presented a program titled “Pederasty” on the ABC radio Lateline program. Neville invited three pederasts into the ABC studios in Sydney where the men described their sexual relations with under-age boys. Some boys were also interviewed about their relations with the adult men.
This became a matter of controversy at the time – particularly within the Sydney media. The controversy is documented in K.S Inglis This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932-1983. This was a semi-official history of the public broadcaster and Dr Inglis was given access to the ABC’s files.
As evidence tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse makes clear, the height of offending by Catholic priests and brothers against (mainly boys) took place in the 1970s – that is, in the same decade that the ABC’s “Pederasty” program went to air.
Richard Downing (1915-1975) was appointed chairman of the ABC in 1973 by the Whitlam Labor government at a time when Jim Spigelman was Mr Whitlam’s principal adviser on communications.
On 19 July 1975, responding to the “Pederasty” program in his official capacity as ABC chairman, Professor Downing wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald calling on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts. On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the ABC chairman as saying that Australians should understand that “in general, men will sleep will young boys”.
It’s possible that some recent ABC chairmen did not read Ken Inglis’ history of the public broadcaster and, consequently, were unaware of the ABC’s pederasty scandal of 1975. However, this matter was specifically drawn to Mr Spigelman’s attention in 2015 and he refused to address the issue – claiming not to be responsible for the actions or statements of any of his predecessors on any matter. This is not a standard which ABC journalists and presenters apply to other institutions.
It is not clear why, say, the current Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane should be held to account for events relating to pedophilia in the Anglican Church in 1975 – while the current ABC chairman is not held to account for events relating to pedophilia in the ABC in 1975.
Since the ABC has never renounced or distanced itself from Professor Downing’s 1975 statements, it can only be assumed that Richard Downing’s statement – made on behalf of the ABC – remains ABC policy today. Also, it remains a fact that ABC management has never reported the statements of the child abusers who appeared on the 1975 “Pederasty” program to NSW Police and has never adopted a duty of care to the pederasts’ victims. This despite the fact that some of the victims might be alive today – at around 50 years of age.
And now, as a final send-off to the newly departed James Spigelman, MWD runs the going-going-gone version of the Downing/Spigelman scoreboard.
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).
TOM SWITZER AND GERARD HENDERSON re the US[ELESS] STUDIES CENTRE, RADIO NATIONAL & DONALD TRUMP’S VICTORY
As avid readers are aware, last week’s “Correspondence” segment contained an email exchange between Radio National presenter and (then) United States Studies Centre academic Tom Switzer and Gerard Henderson. At issue was an explanation for the inability of any self-proclaimed United States “experts” at either the ABC or the USSC to predict Donald J. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last November.
Last Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed – on page one, no less – that Mr Switzer had resigned from the USSC. In some controversy, it seems. In one of his final acts as a taxpayer subsidised academic at the taxpayer subsidised US Studies Centre, Mr Switzer wrote to Gerard Henderson last Saturday. And Nancy’s (male) co-owner replied. Now read on:
Tom Switzer to Gerard Henderson – 25 March 2017
You earlier said that “neither the ABC nor the USCC was interested in hearing the view that Trump could win.” When I provided evidence that both the ABC and USSC broadcast and promoted Trump supporters who thought he could win, you say “so what?” You can’t have it both ways.
Gerard Henderson to Tom Switzer – 28 March 2017
Don’t tell me you’ve caught the “fake news” disease.
When I wrote to you that “neither the ABC nor the USSC was interested in hearing the view that Trump could win” – I was referring specifically to the views of Australians who held this position. I was not referring to foreigners.
I pointed out that – on Insiders on 11 September 2016 – I had demonstrated how Donald Trump could defeat Hillary Clinton – but was not subsequently asked on to any ABC programs to discuss my position. Nor was I invited to participate in any seminar of the United States Studies Centre of the kind you conducted with Stephen Loosley. I made the same point with respect to Anne Henderson and others.
Meanwhile the likes of the USSC’s Simon Jackman, David Smith and Brendon O’Connor were heard constantly on the ABC – declaring that Hillary Clinton would win in November 2016 and/or dismissing Donald J. Trump.
The fact that two bodies set themselves up as experts on the United States. Namely, the US Studies Centre and the ABC’s Planet America presented by John Barron (who is also on the staff of the USSC) and Chas Licciardello. Not one academic/journalist from either organisation demonstrated any understanding of contemporary America in this instance – since not one predicted a Trump victory. This despite the fact that both the USSC and Planet America are subsidised by the taxpayer on account of their (alleged) expertise.
Since you want to throw the switch to Americans, it’s worth examining your claim that “both the ABC and the USSC broadcast had promoted Trump supporters who thought he could win”. You cite only three examples:
▪ an interview you did with Pat Buchanan on Between the Lines in August 1915.
▪ an interview you did with Daniel Bonevac on Counterpoint in October 2016 and
▪ an appearance by Jing Ma (a guest of the USSC) on Lateline in May 2016.
Er, that’s it – in a period of around two years. Pretty pathetic, don’t you think?
Keep morale high.
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