5 May 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: Alice Workman & Fran Kelly Falsely Identify Andrew Hastie as Part of the “Catholic Right” in the Liberal Party; Paul Bongiorno’s Early Delivery of the Last Rites to a Buckingham Palace Inmate
  • Can You Bear It? Kim Williams on President Trump (Yawn), Phillip Adams on President Trump (Yawn Again); Sean Nicholls on (Alleged) Sex in the Park & Sam Crosby’s Howler on Robert Menzies
  • ABC Update: Q&A’s Tony Jones Runs Aunty’s Line that the ABC is Truly Balanced Thanks to Amanda Vanstone & Tom Switzer on Radio National (Radio What?)
  • History Corner: Film Director Simon Nasht’s Conspiracy Theory re The 1954 Election and the Petrov Defection – As Brought to You By Howard On Menzies – Debunked by the Recent Work of Professor John Murphy & Journalist Robert Murray
  • Correspondence: In which La Trobe Vice-Chancellor John Dewar Joins Black Inc Publisher Morry Schwartz in Going “Under the Bed” by Refusing to Defend Robert Manne’s Fake History of La Trobe University in the ’60s and ’70s. Also Peter FitzSimons Helps Out with Another Gospel on the Australian Republican Movement – Leading to Renewal of a $20K Award.



What a stunning SCOOP on ABC Radio National’s Breakfast this morning. Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed Alice Workman (BuzzFeed’s Parliament House Bureau Chief) in the program’s regular “Politics” slot.

It was not long before former prime minister Tony Abbott was identified as a Catholic. It so happens that Mr Abbott met with Liberal Party MP Andrew Hastie in Perth this week. Suspicious, eh?

Well, yes – apparently. Soon Ms Kelly and Ms Workman agreed with each other that Mr Abbott and Mr Hastie are part of the “Catholic Right” in the Liberal Party. How shocking is that?

The only problem is that Andrew Hastie is not – and never has been – a Catholic. Brilliant, eh? In fact, back in the day of the Reformation (not so long ago) Tony Abbott’s Catholic ancestors were busy constructing what the Protestants once called “graven images” while Andrew Hastie’s Calvinist Presbyterian ancestors were busy destroying the same “graven images”. Yet it appears that Radio National Breakfast’s “experts” believe that all Christians are Catholics and all Catholics are Christian. Brilliant eh?


Thanks for the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the following tweet put out by The [Boring] Saturday Paper’s Paul Bongiorno at lunch time yesterday.

There was no death at Buckingham Palace yesterday – unless one of Her Maj’s corgis departed this mortal coil for a kennel in the sky.

It seems that Bonge was bringing forward the death of Prince Philip – per courtesy of what he called a “news alert”. But Bonge failed to identify the source of the “news alert”.

It reminded MWD of the time not so long ago when Dr Anne Summers (for a non-medical doctor she is) announced the death of Mungo (“I only hit the bottle to forget about John Howard”) MacCallum. Your man Mungo is still very much with us. As is the Queen’s consort.



Having completed an arduous office move from 41 Phillip Street to Governor Phillip Tower (1 Farrer Place) over the weekend, Nancy’s (male) co-owner rose on May Day (Monday 1 May for those who do not know) and decided to catch up with the news on ABC TV’s News Breakfast. With Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland.

It was not long before News Breakfast got into REALLY BIG NEWS. You see, Kim Williams’ much touted program on the low rating ABC Radio National is about to commence – at 1.30 pm on Fridays, no less. Yawn. And it’s called What Keeps Me Awake. Yawn. It seems to involve chosen luvvies doing what they do best. That is, talking about themselves for eons. Yawn.

At the end of his spiel about his new program on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, Kim Williams decided that he had to do what you have to do on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster these days. Namely, bag Donald J. Trump. Let’s go to the transcript where Mr Williams asserts that what’s keeping him awake at night is a concern about a lack of leadership in general and President Trump in particular.

Kim Williams: I suppose the thing that drives most people is concern about leadership in the world today.

 Michael Rowland: Or lack of –

 Kim Williams: Yes, the absence of effective leadership. And the kind of enduring collapse in respect and civility in society and in the notion of being able to have recent [sic] exchanges. And that clearly is a pretty consistent theme with many people. It’s a view I happen to share. I think it’s a very serious issue and I think it’s seen at its worse in the kind of hectoring bellicose bullying of someone like Donald Trump – who I can only, I know we all have to pay attention to him. We all have to travel with the moment. But I find it preposterous that someone who is so rejectionist of history, of reason, of expertise, of knowledge – can be in a position of such authority. It terrifies me.

Quelle surprise? The inner-city luvvie Kim Williams reckons that it is preposterous that a majority of Americans in a majority of states voted for Republican Donald J Trump rather than Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton. In fact, your man Williams is so terrified of President Trump that the new president in the White House keeps him up at night. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Donald J Trump, did anyone read what Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”) Adams AO 1992, AM 1987, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon. DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), Doc. Arts (AFTRS) FRSA, Hon FAHA wrote about the US president in his “Viewpoint” column in last Saturday’s The Weekend Australian Magazine? In case you missed it, here is your man Adams’ analysis of contemporary America:

Once an allegation of pro-communist sympathies was enough to destroy a career. Cold War paranoia empowered the fraudulent Joseph McCarthy who’d give his name to an era. Now a far greater fraud, the incumbent president, runs a regime that’s been in bed with a murderous Putin – and simply laughs and tweets it off.

Trump in the White House is as much an embodiment of home-grown terrorism as a would-be bomber in a Brooklyn basement. And as a president afflicted with erectile dysfunction drops ever-bigger bombs on Syria, Afghanistan – and possibly North Korea – he’s applauded by a mediocre media.

How convenient that PA AO etc neglected to mention that there were some real spies in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s who handed over intelligence material to the Soviet Union and its communist dictator Josef Stalin. He also asserted that the Trump “regime” has been “in bed with a murderous Putin” – without citing any evidence to support this claim.

And the victim of Trumphobia went on to describe the US president as a “home-grown terrorist” who is “afflicted with erectile dysfunction”. How would your man Adams know? And if the claim is true, does it really matter? President Barack Obama authorised lotsa drone strikes without the ABC’s Man in Black describing him as a terrorist or theorising about his medical condition. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of sexual references, what a stunning piece that was by Sean Nicholls in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 April 2017. Right now, Sean Nicholls, the SMH’s state political editor, is leading the dissident Fairfax Media staff who are currently on a seven-day strike in protest at job reductions at Fairfax Media. Now MWD does not like to hear of any worker losing a job. Yet it is appropriate to say that this is the style of Sean Nicholls comment which Sydney Morning Herald readers will be deprived of for a whole week. This is how your man Nicholls’ column, titled “Rumour at core of factional war”, commenced on Good Friday:

The most intriguing story on Macquarie Street in recent weeks has been that of the senior government figure allegedly caught in a compromising position in one of Sydney’s best known parks. It’s all very NSW politics. Salacious details have travelled like wildfire around media and political circles. Media organisations have made enquiries that have come to nothing, strongly indicating it is wholly a fabrication.

Yet it persists – propelled by some political operatives talking to journalists – with the attendant damage to the reputation of the person targeted. This willingness to push such a damaging story is being seen as symptomatic of a particular brand of poisonous factionalism in the NSW Liberal Party characterised by an win-at-all costs-attitude and little regard for how much internal damage is done. It’s a style of internal politics the party thought was long behind it.

So, there you have it. There has been a “most intriguing story” in Sydney that a senior member of the NSW Coalition government has been “allegedly caught in a compromising position in one of Sydney’s best known parks”. Really. Is the rumour true? Well, Sean Nicholls hasn’t a clue. However, he criticised the “willingness” of unnamed others “to push such a damaging story”. Can You Bear It?


While on the issue of make-believe stories, what about the comments by the McKell Institute’s Sam Crosby on Sky News’ Paul Murray Overtime on Wednesday?

As avid readers are aware, MWD picked up several Sam Crosby howlers in his book The Trust Deficit concerning Julia Gillard and the late B.A. Santamaria. See MWD Issue 324.

Here’s the latest Sam Crosby historical howler – proclaimed in the wake of the decision by the Turnbull government to change the formula for funding by the Commonwealth government of State, Catholic and Independent schools.

Sam Crosby: I’ve been on the phone to a couple of the independent school principals from the Catholic system, who are going to be affected by this [decision]. Their [school’s] name wasn’t on that list but they are going to be affected by this.

And I was reminded that the last prime minister that really took on the Catholic school system was Robert Menzies. And that campaign lasted all of about 24 or 48 hours – when the Catholics in Goulburn just said “Okay, we’re going to close the school down, you know, everyone walk up the road and enrol in the local state school.” And the prime minister lasted all of 48 hours before he capitulated.

What a load of absolute tosh. It is true that, in July 1962, the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn approved the decision to close the six Catholic schools in the town as a protest against the failure of the Catholic Church to achieve state aid for the Catholic schools system. However, this was not a protest against the Robert Menzies’ Coalition in Canberra but, rather, the New South Wales Labor government in Sydney. The very same NSW Labor Party which William McKell himself once led.

The Goulburn schools were closed and parents were advised to enrol their children in government schools. The state system could not accommodate two thirds of the new Catholic enrolments. The strike finished in a week – the Catholic community of Goulburn having made its point about the need for state aid.

Prime Minister Robert Menzies had no involvement whatsoever with the 1962 Goulburn School Strike. Rather, in the lead-up to the 1963 election, the Menzies government provided the first commitment to state aid by any government – when he committed the Coalition to fund science blocks for all schools – State, Catholic and Independent alike. This was the first important breakthrough in the Catholic Church’s long campaign for state aid.

Sam Crosby’s claim that Robert Menzies capitulated on government school funding as a result of the Goulburn School Strike is bunk. Absolute bunk. And your man Crosby, the head of the McKell Institute, is supposed to know history. Needless to say, Paul Murray did not correct your man Mr Crosby as he spread misinformation. Can You Bear It?



The ABC just loves talking about the ABC. So, it came as no surprise when Q&A presenter Tony Jones called the final question on last Monday’s program. It happened to be about the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and Mr Jones called on the Deputy Prime Minister to be the first respondent. Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Jones: Barnaby Joyce.

Barnaby Joyce: I was wondering if I was going to get that one.


Barnaby Joyce: Look –

Tony Jones: You did sort of forecast it by complaining about the ABC’s culture.

Barnaby Joyce: And, well, that’s fair enough because there are a lot of people, to be quite frank, out there who believe that the ABC goes too far to the left and you – And I know you’ll fervently disagree. And they ask us all the time, you know, “Why do – what does my taxpayer’s dollars have to go to an organisation who I don’t think properly has a balance in their political views?” They always say, “Where’s the right-wing commentators in the ABC? We know all the left-wing commentators. Where are all the right-wing commentators?” And, you know, this a discussion that we – And when we do go to Expenditure Review Committee, we do try to support you. These are, at times, hard questions to answer. I mean, you know, we can see something on Late Night Live, I like listening to Phillip Adams myself, but by gosh, he’s way to the left. And they’ll go through a whole range of commentators and say: “All of these prescribe to the left-leaning side of politics. So why are all the taxpayers having to fund something that only half of them believe in?”

Tony Jones: And you’re having this argument on the ABC, I’ll just make that point –


Barnaby Joyce: Tony, who is a commentator on the ABC that you would say is definitely of the right-wing?

Tony Jones: Amanda Vanstone.

Barnaby Joyce: She is not.

Tony Jones: Amanda Vanstone, Tom Switzer. They both have –

Barnaby Joyce: Tom Switzer, I’ll give you. Tom Switzer, I’ll give you. He’s on radio –

Tony Jones: What, are you saying Amanda Vanstone is some sort of closet lefty?

Barnaby Joyce: No.

Tony Jones: She’s the former immigration minister –

Barnaby Joyce: I think she’s – Tom Switzer I agree with. Amanda, not so much. But that’s pretty good. They thought of two and they’re both on radio.

Tony Jones: Well, you only thought of one.


Barnaby Joyce: But all the rest – And you’re actually in the ABC.

Armando Iannucci: But Phillip Adams, who you mentioned, he is also on radio, isn’t he?

Tony Jones: He’s on radio, yes.

Barnaby Joyce: Tony Jones is on TV….

What a fascinating exchange. ABC presenter Tony Jones elected to speak for his employer – the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Egged on by mocking laughter from the leftist audience in the ABC’s inner-city studio in Ultimo, Sydney.

It’s interesting to note that Tony Jones ran the ABC line that “balance” at the public broadcaster is provided by Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer alone. The former has a long-standing program on the low-rating ABC Radio National network which airs at 4 pm on Mondays. It’s called Counterpoint – the implication being that it’s different from all the other points heard on Radio National programs the rest of the time.

Then there is the recent ABC arrival Tom Switzer. He presents two low-rating programs on the low-rating ABC Radio National network. Namely, Between the Lines which airs on Thursday at 7.30 pm and Sunday Extra which airs at 9 am on Sundays.

Er, that’s it. That’s the ABC’s “balance”.

This week MWD contacted Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer to check if they agreed with Tony Jones’ assertion that they are “right-wing”.

Amanda Vanstone said – No. Ms Vanstone regards herself as right-of-centre but closer to the centre than the right. She says that when asked whether she is a liberal or a conservative – she would classify herself as a liberal. In other words, Amanda Vanstone rejects Tony Jones’ label of her as “right-wing”.

And Tom Switzer said – No. Mr Switzer describes himself as a classic liberal on economic issues, broadly conservative on cultural issues and a realist on foreign policy. Like Amanda Vanstone, Tom Switzer rejects the “right-wing” label which Tony Jones attempted to bestow on him last Monday.

The more accurate description of the taxpayer funded broadcaster is this. The ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Not one.

Tony Jones’ mocking of Barnaby Joyce does not alter the reality that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone. If Mr Jones would like to submit a little list of the conservatives on prominent ABC programs – MWD will publish the names. [Don’t hold your breath – MWD Editor.] In fact, there are many, many more left-of-centre commentators on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News – than there are weekly right-of-centre commentators on the ABC.



As avid readers will recall, Gerard Henderson criticised some of the narrator’s comments in Episode 2 of Howard On Menzies: The Building of Modern Australia – which aired on ABC TV last year. See MWD Issues 336, 339 AND 340.

Howard On Menzies was written and directed by Simon Nasht. As documented in MWD, the narrator of Howard On Menzies made a number of factual errors concerning (i) the defection of Vladimir Petrov and Evdokia Petrov from the Soviet Union’s embassy in Canberra in 1954, (ii) the May 1954 Federal election and (iii) the Labor Split of 1955. The narration was written by Mr Nasht.

Needless to say, as is a habit of the left intelligentsia, Simon Nasht has refused to acknowledge any errors in Howard On Menzies – in the face of all the evidence.

It so happens that the latest biography of Dr Bert Evatt, Labor’s leader at the 1954 election, refutes that part of the narration in Menzies On Howard in which Mr Nasht wrote:

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 involved in espionage. For Menzies, behind in the polls and facing a possible defeat, Petrov is a godsend.

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

Writing in his biography Evatt: A Life (NewSouth, 2016), Melbourne University based historian John Murphy had this to say about the relationship between the Petrov Affair and the 1954 election result.

The outcome of the election was close, with Labor gaining just over 50 per cent of the vote, and five seats, but that was not enough: they needed to gain ten. How much the Petrov Affair had contributed to this outcome has been the subject of much argument. Evatt was convinced the [Petrov] defection cost Labor the election, and that it was all a conspiracy designed to deny Labor the government and him the prime ministership, but there is little clear evidence to confirm this view. Labor’s position had been slipping since early 1954, and its internal divisions were not helping. Opinion polls had for a year been showing support was turning towards the government, while the dominant issue in the campaign was Evatt’s means-test promise.

Evatt: A Life was reviewed by Gerard Henderson in The Sydney Institute Reviewsee here. John Murphy’s biography is certainty not hagiography. However it is broadly sympathetic to Bert Evatt while acknowledging that he lacked the skills for politics and leadership. In other words, Evatt: A Life is a fair biography.

Professor Murphy’s analysis of the 1954 election refutes Simon Nasht’s assertion that Labor’s defeat can be explained by a conspiracy involving the Petrov Affair and that the Petrov defection was a “godsend” for Prime Minister Robert Menzies. As MWD readers will be aware, the narrator’s account of the 1954 election in Howard On Menzies was also rejected by Liberal Party historian Ian Hancock and by author Patrick Morgan.

The veteran journalist Robert Murray has reached a similar conclusion. In his Labor and Santamaria (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2017) – which is an abbreviated and updated version of his 1970 book The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties (Cheshire) – Robert Murray has this to say about the 1954 election:

On 13 April 1954, the day before Parliament was due to rise for the elections, Prime Minister R.G. Menzies announced that Vladimir Mikhailovich Petrov, third secretary to the Soviet embassy in Canberra since 1951, had sought political asylum in Australia. Evatt happened to be at a function in Sydney and was furious at not being told in advance of the defection. However, Labor supported legislation for a royal commission to investigate the documents Petrov handed over to ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation). There were suggestions that Australians have provided sensitive information to the Soviets. Petrov’s main motive had been fear for his life. He had been a secret police agent, allegedly in the faction loyal to Lavrenti Beria, the police chief deposed after Stalin’s death. The Australian government paid Petrov an initial sum to help him establish a life in Australia. ASIO had told Petrov there would be more money later in exchange for “good” documents.

Suspicions began to grow in Labor ranks that Menzies had arranged for Petrov to defect just before the election in the hope of embarrassing and dividing his opponents, as had happened with the Communist Party ban and the double dissolution crisis of 1951. Some weeks earlier, a Sydney newspaper reported that Menzies would “pull a white rabbit out of his hat” for the election, and Labor members speculated that this might be it. This is not the place to analyse the “Petrov affair” but, while the timing was interesting, the evidence does not support the conspiracy theory many Laborites clung to for decades. Nevertheless, pre-election incidents continued, with Mrs Petrov deciding to seek Australian protection at Darwin airport on 20 April and the royal commission opening on 5 May. Dramatic pictures of a terrified Mrs Petrov and her Soviet guards at Sydney and Darwin airports crystallised the Cold War for many Australians and it seems to have been the first political event the young baby-boomers noticed. Despite this the Petrov defection did not play a major part in the election campaign, though the deputy prime minister (and Country Party leader) Arthur Fadden, claimed that the coalition would “carry out with the rigour of the law” the findings of the inquiry.

The election campaign was much more about Evatt’s promise to abolish the means test on age pensions and to increase pensions by 25 per cent, which he announced in opening his campaign on 7 May. According to estimates, Evatt’s promises overall would have increased commonwealth expenditure by a third to half in one year. He suggested no practical way of funding them. Evatt did not consult properly with his party about these promises and they were a surprise to his financial spokesmen, Tom Burke and Frank Crean. They also brought public criticism from Victorian Bill Bourke, who told an election meeting he was “not happy about everyone getting pensions”. Menzies called the Evatt policy speech a “jumble of nonsense” and Fadden spoke of a “crackpot, jackpot financial revolution”. In an agitated radio broadcast, his voice trembling with anger, Evatt retaliated: “These are the people who dare to criticise me, the smearers, the slanderers….” Evatt had further added to his promises by secretly seeking out Santamaria and promising aid for Catholic schools and for land settlement.

The election on 29 May brought victory for the Menzies-Fadden coalition by a slim margin. Labor won 50.03 per cent of the vote but small differences in a number of seats and concentration of the Labor vote in industrial areas made the difference. For Evatt, now sixty, his dream to be prime minister was now unlikely. He had shown little leadership or flair for winning public support in his three years as leader: the means-test promise and his general campaigning style discredited him and divisions over communism and Catholicism were still building within the party.

So, neither John Murphy nor Robert Murray support Simon Nasht’s assertion in Howard On Menzies that the Petrov defection was a “godsend” to Robert Menzies and the Coalition in the May 1954 election. Yet Mr Nasht’s views are being taught as history per courtesy of the Menzies Research Centre, which is promoting Howard on Menzies in Australian schools. The fact that John Howard is prominently associated with the program has the unintended consequence of associating the former successful prime minister with Simon Nasht’s left-wing analysis of Australian politics in the 1950s.


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).


As avid readers are aware, Professor Robert Manne has a very poor memory along with an inability to accept that his recall is fallible. So much so that your man Manne has declined to accept MWD’s $25,000 reward if he can produce any evidence to support his allegation that Gerard Henderson wrote a fax sometime in the 1990s calling on Manne to be sacked as a columnist from The Age. This despite Robert Manne’s claim that there are at least three copies of the fax in existence – one (allegedly) in the possession of The Age’s Paul Austin, one (allegedly) in the possession of Morag Fraser (a Manne bestie) and one (allegedly) in the possession of Professor Manne himself. Clearly, in this instance Robert Manne has a clear “recollection” of an event which never happened.

In spite of all this, La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor John Dewar invited Robert Manne to write about the campus in the history of La Trobe’s first half century – despite the fact that much of Professor Manne’s account is based on his (unreliable) memory of events close to half a decade ago.

From The Paddock To The Agora is published by La Trobe University in conjunction with Black Inc. Professor Dewar maintains that Black Inc was responsible for fact-checking Robert Manne’s essay but refuses to answer the question as to whether he has asked Black Inc whether it did fact-check Mr Manne’s memory.

And now Morry Schwartz, Black Inc’s publisher, refuses to answer the question as to whether Robert Manne’s essay was fact-checked by anyone at Black Inc.

What a lot of gutless wonders. Neither Professor Dewar nor Mr Schwartz will defend the accuracy of the comments in Robert Manne’s essay in the taxpayer subsidised From The Paddock To The Agora – or accept responsibility for his howlers. Instead both men have gone “under the bed”. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to John Dewar – 3 May 2017


Dear Professor Dewar

As you are aware, you have declined to respond personally to my emails of 18 April 2017 and 21 April 2017 concerning the book you commissioned – From the Paddock To The Agora: Fifty Years of La Trobe University (La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc).

Instead, you have passed off my comments concerning Robert Manne’s character assassination of two one-time La Trobe University professors – the late Hugo Wolfsohn and the late Joan Rydon – to one of your employees.

In your introduction to From The Paddock To The Agora, you acknowledged that, in commissioning the chapters in the book, you “took what some might regard as a reckless step” in ensuring that the authors of the various chapters were given the opportunity “to offer their own reflections without any fear that their views would be mediated or censored by the university”.

Despite that fact that your “reckless step” made it possible for Robert Manne to make erroneous comments in his chapter titled “An Academic’s Dozen: 1975-1988”, you have refused to accept any responsibility for the contents of From The Paddock To The Agora.

Instead you have flicked the issue to Tim Mitchell, who holds the position of “Director Media and Communications Marketing & Engagement Division” in La Trobe University’s bureaucracy.

As you are aware, Mr Mitchell has made only one statement on your behalf, viz: “The essays in From The Paddock To The Agora received a thorough edit by publishing partner Black Inc, including fact-checking where appropriate”.

You have refused to answer the question whether you have asked Black Inc if it fact-checked Robert Manne’s essay. And Morry Schwartz, Black Inc’s publisher, has refused to answer correspondence as to whether anyone at Black Inc fact-checked Robert Manne’s chapter. It’s a matter of “All Quiet on the La Trobe/Black Inc Front”.

Leaving aside Robert Manne’s character assassination of two deceased La Trobe academics, there is the issue of what really happened in La Trobe University’s first 50 years. For example, Professor Manne claims in the book you edited, that a teach-in on the Vietnam War was held at La Trobe University “in 1968 or 1969”.

What is the evidence for this statement? As La Trobe University’s vice-chancellor, you are in a position to find out whether a Vietnam teach-in was held at La Trobe in 1968 or 1969. I believe that there was no such event at La Trobe at that time.

There is a serious point here. If Professor Manne has a false memory about what occurred at La Trobe in 1968 or 1969 – why would anyone trust his memory about what (allegedly) happened in the La Trobe Politics Department a few years later in 1975?

I trust that you will have the intellectual courage and professionalism to address this issue. Especially since you made it possible for Robert Manne to write what he wrote – character assassination and outright howlers included.

I would be grateful if you could answer this query by close of business on Thursday – since I will probably refer to this matter in my Media Watch Dog blog on Friday – which is published on the website of The Sydney Institute and The Australian.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson


Hendo keeps receiving emails from hyperactive Australian Republican Movement chairman – and Fairfax Media columnist – Peter FitzSimons. This gives Nancy’s (male) co-owner the opportunity to dig up old bones – so to speak. Here we go – again.

Peter FitzSimons to Gerard Henderson – 2 May 2017


Good news.

You know we’ve been on the hunt for our new National Director and CEO for the last three months – searching for the right person to help lead us to the next level. Well, we’ve got us a live one.

Our new National Director, Michael Cooney, will join us in just a few days. He’s finishing up his current job with the Chifley Research Centre and he’ll be in contact with you all soon. To find him we went through 40 candidates – a great sign of our growing profile in itself – and Michael was the outstanding one

Michael’s been a think tank director, a policy adviser, and was speechwriter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. His knowledge of politics, and his contacts around the country are exceptional. He’s an experienced campaigner who’s hungry for more, a passionate Republican who’s committed to our mission and excited to work with our members to achieve it.

Today he asked me to pass on this message: “G’day all. I just want you to know I’m signing up for one reason: because I reckon we can get this done. I can’t wait to get stuck in for Australia. See you soon.”

Republicans all, this is a great time to spread the word and to sign up more members – from your mates to your Mum, not to forget the bloke down the way who clearly takes an interest in the national destiny and has to be every chance of joining, if only asked.

As ever, we need to build our critical mass, our membership base, our people on the ground, spreading the word. Just yesterday I was heartened, after speaking to schoolgirls in Pennant Hills and ARM Members in Maitland – with many new supporters signing up – just how much growing enthusiasm there is out there for this great national cause….

Remember to invite a friend – Onwards and upwards!

Peter FitzSimons AM

National Chair

Australian Republic Movement

Gerard Henderson to Peter FitzSimons – 5 May 2017

Red Bandannaed One! – And (Fellow) Patriot

Thanks for your most recent Gospel about the Australian Republican Movement.

How stupid of me. There I was – a patriotic supporter of an Australian head of state – believing that the new national director of the ARM should be a relatively young conservative woman. For, if the Republican Movement is to prevail, it will need to win a substantial slab of the Liberal and National Party supporters to the republican cause.

And then you came up with a real Fitz-style, You-Beaut idea. Hence the decision to make Michael Cooney the ARM’s national director. Your man Cooney has worked for the taxpayer funded Chifley Research Centre as well as for Labor leaders Kim Beazley, Mark Latham and Julia Gillard. Is this a cunning plan to win over the conservative vote for the republican cause? Who would have thought that such a tactic will succeed? Only the Red Bandannaed One, of course.

No doubt the ARM will need additional funds to finance the appointment of Mr Cooney. Here’s how I can help.

As you are aware, I am willing to contribute $20,000 to the Australian Republican Movement – with only one condition.

It’s $20,000 to the ARM if you can provide the address of the “$30 million mansion in Rome” where you claim Cardinal George Pell resides. Just the address will do – and the money will be sent to the ARM. Onwards and Upwards!

Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous)

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, 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