9 June 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: Peter Wilmoth Foretells The End Of Trump – Yawn 
  • Can You Bear It? Judith Brett; Michael Leunig; Paula Matthewson & Paul Barry 
  • Nancy (2004-2017) Requiescat In Pace 
  • A Morale Boosting Report From Gin & Tonic Land 
  • Nancy’s Modest Proposal From “The Other Side” Concerning The Qantas Chairman’s Lounge 
  • Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Step Forward Andrew Bolt (Pugilist) & Mohammed El-Leissy & Tanveer Ahmed 
  • Media Fool Of The Week; David Salter Supports GetUp! In The Australian Press Council Controversy 
  • A Wendy Harmer Moment; In Which Wendy “I’m An Old Fashioned Socialist” Harmer Expresses Surprise That Terrorists Can Locate Brighton or Rose Bay 
  • Correspondence; Gerard Henderson Writes To Louise Milligan In The Hope That She Will Desist From Her “No Comment” Mode 
  • Documentation; The 11 Questions Which Ms Milligan Still Will Not Answer About Her Book: Cardinal



 Wasn’t it wonderful to see freelance journalist and ghost autobiographer Peter Willmoth doing the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast this morning? He seems such a nice chap.

However, following an analysis of former FBI director James Comey’s appearance before the United States’ Senate Intelligence Committee, it was not long before your man Wilmoth went for the Anti-Trump Double.  Namely, Watergate and impeachment. Let’s go to the transcript.

Peter Wilmoth: In fact, in Watergate you’ll remember the 18 minutes of lost tapes. I don’t even know if they’ve ever been revealed. But then maybe an 18-minute tape with Comey and Trump could be what they call the smoking gun. And there has been talk of impeachment leading into this investigation – or this Senate hearing.

Virginia Trioli: Yeah indeed and there will be questions asked in camera so I don’t know if anything that will be revealed there that might lead to that moment….

Thank God for La Trioli.  As MWD views it, the current case against Donald J. Trump is hugely different from Watergate . Moreover, it is not all that clear as to what, if any, crime President Trump has committed.




What a stunning performance by La Trobe University Emeritus Professor Judith Brett on Q&A last Monday.  It was the invariable 3 left-of-centre and 2 right-of-centre panel plus left-of-centre presenter Tony Jones.

The first question turned on the call for tougher terror laws following recent terrorist attacks in Manchester, London and Melbourne. Initially the presenter called Coalition cabinet minister Christian Porter (who put in a fine performance against difficult odds), Labor front bencher Anthony Albanese and Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm.

Then your man Jones declared: “I…want to hear from the women on the panel”. First up was Kiruna Stamell. Followed by Professor Brett, who had this to say about terrorism:

Judith Brett: I don’t see these acts as being attacks on our freedoms, so much as being acts of revenge by young Muslim men who see the West – I mean, I think, until the political situation in the Middle East is sorted out, we’re going to have to live with this, because they, um – see Muslim children being killed. Now, they also – terrorists are killing Muslim children as well. But I think there’s an element of just revenge and mayhem in this, that it’s not as ideological as perhaps is sometimes –

Christian Porter: It has the inevitable effect of impinging our freedoms.

Judith Brett:  Yes.

So, there you have it.  In her somewhat inarticulate response, Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) asserted that “attacks by young Muslim men” against the West contain “an element of just revenge”. She did not explain what is “just” in British or Australian citizens or residents of Islamist disposition – who choose to live in the West and accept the quality of life which these domiciles provide – killing other British and Australian citizens, or residents or visitors.

As to the suggestion that contemporary Islamist terrorism is all due to an unresolved “situation in the Middle East” – well, what a load of absolute tosh.  Attacks by African Islamist terrorists or other Africans in Africa have nothing to do with the Middle East.  And the Sunni and Shia have been involved in a religious civil war for centuries – which has nothing to do with the Western nations or even Israel.  Judith Brett is an academic. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of so-called “just” Islamist terrorist revenge attacks on young women and men in such places as Orlando, Paris, Nice, Manchester and London – consider the cartoon by The Age’s in-house leftist Michael Leunig. For proof that your man Leunig is one of the leading members of the Melbourne-based Sandalista Set – headquarters Brunswick – you need look no further than the time he rocked up for an interview on Andrew Denton’s ABC TV program Enough Rope wearing – you’ve guessed it – Roman Sandals (see below). Enough said.

On Wednesday, The Age published this cartoon by Leunig – in a prominent place. It was one of those Sandalista specials.  As a “We-in-the-West” are “responsible-for-all-attacks-in-the-West-by-those-who-live-among-us”. Leunig’s cartoon titled “Blowback” reads as follows:

In other words, when a person who voluntarily chooses to live in, say, Britain and then attacks Britain – it’s the Brits’ fault. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. That’s why I commissioned Nancy – from the Other Side (see below) – to do this cartoon titled “Surrender” which depicts Leunig in Sandalista Land.  I hope you like it. I have set out the words below. – MWD Editor].



Did anyone read Paula Matthewson’s piece in Crikey last Monday titled

– here it comes: “Batten down the hatches: Malcolm Turnbull’s centrist push is creating a group of angry conservatives”.  [Could this title be longer than the Matthewson article? MWD Editor.] Ms Matthewson is so wordy – in a flowery kind of way – that she might well be signed up by Louise Adler at MUP to write biographies.  Following the tradition of Louise (“My ears are ringing”) Milligan. See MWD Issue 363.

Here’s how Ms Matthewson, who is on the Prime Minister’s side of any Malcolm Turnbull/Tony Abbott argument, commenced her wordy piece:

There’s a storm brewing for Malcolm Turnbull that may erupt on a number of fronts in the next week or two. When the tempest hits, it will be due to the prime minister’s increasingly bold moves to shift the government closer to the political centre. Given these moves involve shifting the Coalition’s administration to the left, it’s causing considerable angst for conservative warriors – both outside and inside government.

First there was this year’s federal budget, which seems to have a whiff of socialism for anyone who dresses to the right of the political spectrum. These conservative stalwarts were reportedly prepared to hold their noses on the condition that the treasonous budget delivered dividends in the opinion polls.

Go on. Alas, she did – analysing the brewing storm as the tempest hits with respect to conservative warriors, conservative stalwarts and the like. Really.

Conservatives, you see, are “cranky”. So, cranky, indeed, that they engage in “Abbott-like rants” when not exhibiting signs of “apoplexy” – which they usually are. What’s more, the “conservative right” is “bristling with righteous vindication” after the terrorist attacks in London. There followed this (confused) conclusion:

By holding fast to this increasingly progressive approach, Turnbull is starting to deliver the centrist government many voters expected of him.  But in doing so the PM will also incite a perfect storm of resistance from the conservative insurgent within his own party.

So, there you have it.  There’s a “storm brewing” for Malcolm Turnbull with a “tempest” about to hit – so much so that the Prime Minister will incite “a perfect storm of resistance” of his very own.  How can this be so? If there is a storm already under way, how can Mr Turnbull incite a perfect storm to stop it?

Paula Matthewson writes as if she types under water – so sodden is her prose.  But the leftists at Eric Beecher’s Crikey reckon that Ms Matthewson’s verbal sludge is great journalism.  It’s enough to make a reader sea-sick.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of sludge, consider the logic of Paul Barry’s criticism of Kim Vuga on the ABC TV Media Watch last Monday.

Mr Barry’s point was that Ms Vuga, founder of the Love Australia or Leave Party, is a hyperbolic lightweight who gets far too much coverage in the media.  He made the point that she attained only 172 votes in the 2016 Senate election in Queensland.

The Media Watch presenter bagged the media for giving Vuga “a platform”.  Yet your man Barry spent around five minutes on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster giving the Love Australia or Leave Party operative a national platform.  Can You Bear It?

Nancy died peacefully on Saturday 3 June 2017 after a short illness, in the presence of her co-owners Anne Henderson and Gerard Henderson. Nancy was a wonderful canine and a credit to her Queensland Heeler breed. She also helped out with Media Watch Dog, despite being deaf.

That’s the (very) bad news.  The good news is that Hendo has made contact with the American psychic medium John Edward (nee John Edward McGee Jr). You see, Nancy’s (male) co-owner was something of a fan of your man Edward’s Crossing Over television program.  Also, Hendo much admires the use of the exclamation mark in John Edward’s promotion material!

The good news is that Mr Edward has advised that Nancy has just “passed” not died. In short, she has “crossed over” to the “Other Side” – from where she will be able to send messages, via a medium, to MWD readers who have yet to pass!!  Provided the medium in question can receive messages from the deaf.

Step forward Hendo – who is known for his psychic abilities, especially after a Gin & Tonic or more. He will act as the medium to pass on Nancy’s messages from the Other Side!!!

Consequently, such hugely popular features as “Nancy’s Modest Proposal”, “Nancy’s Ignoramas [sic] of the Week”, “Nancy’s Courtesy Classes”, “Nancy’s Old Bones” and “Nancy’s Nostradamus Moment” will live on in Media Watch Dog.

Indeed, Nancy has helped out from the Other Side this week with a Modest Proposal for Qantas CEO Alan Joyce about the incompatibility between the exclusivity of the Qantas’ Chairman’s Lounge and your man Joyce’s commitment to the equality of man and woman, and more besides!!!!  See “Nancy’s Modest Proposal” below.


While on the topic of Gin & Tonic, lotsa thanks to a certain Rupert Gregg Esquire of “Rockville” York Plains in Tasmania.  Mr Gregg, an avid MWD reader, is currently in an unfinancial state with respect to The Sydney Institute. Rather than send cash, your man Gregg paid his subscription as barter – as the following note attests:

To:              Gerard Henderson

Subject:       Gin & tonic time

Hi Hendo

Been a while since I paid a sub. I thought this might be more useful.

Rupert Gregg

York Plains

Tas 7120


Enclosed with your man’s apologia was a bottle of Poltergeist’s Gin which, according to its label, is “A True Spirit – distilled and bottled by hand in Tasmania”.  It was produced by Shene Estate Distillery and is 46 per cent pure alcohol.  A real morale booster to be sure – especially at Gin & Tonic Time, which occurs every Friday just after Media Watch Dog goes out, among other occasions.


Lotsa thanks to the team at Shene Estate Distillery. For the record, the Sydney Institute is always willing to accept contributions in kind.  Are there any unfinancial avid readers out there who have, say, a spare side of beef or an unwanted pig’s head?  If so – feel free to forward same, preferably in a refrigerated state.




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. This is the current one.

Gerard Henderson will be appearing on Insiders this Sunday.  Since the ABC seems to have transferred its custom from Virgin to Qantas in recent months, Hendo will have to front a philosophical dilemma – namely the (hidden) presence in Qantas terminals of the Chairman’s Lounge.  This very Saturday night and Sunday morning.

It’s great that the Qantas’ chief executive officer, the Irish-born Alan Joyce, is committed to establishing equality throughout the land of his current residence.  This is a you-beaut cause. Although not without problems.  As William Gilbert wrote in the Gilbert and Sullivan musical The Gondoliers (1889): “When everyone is somebody/Then no one’s anybody.”

Here’s the dilemma.  The Thought of Alan Joyce demands equality and equal rights for all. A wonderful commitment, to be sure.  However, is your man Joyce’s belief consistent with his practice?  You be the judge.

At Kingsford Smith Airport this Saturday evening, there will be four classes of passengers – even before a Boeing 737 or Airbus A330 gets to taxi to the runway.  Bear with MWD as Hendo prepares to board a Qantas flight tomorrow night.

As Hendo makes his way to the Qantas Club (of which he is a financial member) he will pass the Qantas Business Club (to which he cannot afford to belong). En route, Hendo will also pass by the teeming masses of Qantas customers who do not belong to the Business Club or even the Qantas Club. What Mr Marx (i.e. Karl) would have termed the lumpenproletariat.

To re-work a Two Ronnies skit of recent memory – at Qantas, the Unbelonged look up to the Qantas Club Belonged who look up to the Business Club Belonged.  That’s the kind way of looking at it.  In reverse, the Business Club Belonged look down on the Qantas Club Belonged who look down on – you get the picture.

But there’s more.  Tucked away hidden in the bowels of the Qantas terminal is the Chairman’s Lounge.  This is so exclusive that a man or woman or a transgendered person cannot even buy their way in.  Look at it this way.  If a welfare recipient in government housing won a Lottery, they could not buy admission to the Chairman’s Lounge at Qantas – since membership is the Chairman’s pick.  It’s that exclusive.

Is this reality consistent with the Thought of Alan Joyce – which entails that equality should prevail throughout the land? – MWD hears you cry.  And the answer is a loud NO, equivalent in noise to a heavy landing of a Qantas jet at Melbourne Airport.

What to do?  Well – here is Nancy’s Modest Proposal – as sent to her (male) co-owner from the Other Side.

For the reality of the Chairman’s Lounge to be consistent with the theory of the Thought of Alan Joyce, the following equalising measures should be introduced.  First, purge the current Chairman’s Lounge of all its privileged members – Mr Joyce’s Chosen Ones.  In future, when making his Chairman’s pick, your man Joyce should first enact the following quotas:
▪ 51 per cent female

▪ 49 per cent male

▪ 10 per cent LGBTI

▪ 2 per cent of those who earn more than $500,000 a year.

▪ 80 per cent of those who earn less than $100,000 a year.

▪ 18 per cent of those who earn between $ 100,001 and $499,999 a year.

Okay. You picked it.  The format runs to 210 per cent of a designated number.  Yet who better to deal with this problem than your man Joyce? – who is used to handling over-booked situations.  In any event, a shake-up of the Chairman’s Lounge would strike a blow for equality in the Antipodes – so let’s not worry about the raw figures.

A Modest Proposal – here’s hoping it works.



 MWD was hugely impressed with how Andrew Bolt handled the latest attack on his freedom of expression by a group of Melbourne Feral Leninists in Carlton this week.  Your man Bolt has a great right hook (as probably should have been expected).  He joins former British Labour Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in showing the teeming masses how to defend yourself against attacks in public.

MWD reckons that you could fill the Princes Stadium in Carlton in a BIG MATCH punch-off between Andrew Bolt in the right corner and John Prescott in the left corner. Hendo has volunteered to be the referee – provided the proposed bout takes place around Gin & Tonic time on a Friday afternoon. Here’s a quick mock-up of some potential fight promotion material.

Andrew Bolt: Five Paws

John Prescott: Come and get Five Paws




Doing the News Breakfast “Newspapers” gig yesterday, Mohammed El-leissy referred to an article in The Australian titled “Muslims need another narrative” by Anthony Klan.  The story reported on the views of counter terrorism specialist and former soldier Reid Sawyer.

Mohammed El-leissy: This is a US based counter terrorism expert that’s based in Sydney saying that Facebook and Twitter have done as much as they can to remove extremist content, and that it’s actually the Muslim community that needs to be out there pushing a counter narrative.

And I think the problem is though that quite often in Muslim circles it is “doom and gloom”….Even though things aren’t always the best, and there is discrimination against people if your name’s Mohammed –  you know, if you’re going for a job. But generally, it is actually pretty good here. I mean this is a great country to be Muslim – and to not be Muslim as well.

And I think that is something that we need to start pushing back rather than, sort of, coming with cotton wool. And I think is where maybe where The Greens have a little bit of blame here. To constantly say: “You know, it’s all Islamophobia, it’s bad”. We do need to push a positive narrative that this is a great country. And, unfortunately, we’re not seeing that.

Mohammed El-leissy: Five Paws


On 5 June 2017 Bangladeshi-born psychiatrist TanvIr Ahmed told the Daily Mail Australia’s Stephen Johnson that the ABC plays a role in radicalising young Muslim teenagers by over-emphasising how they are victims of discrimination.  He added that the ABC’s obsession with perceived Islamophobia was often counterproductive.  Dr Ahmed added:

Often the voices they reach for reinforce that because their first instinct is to quell so-called Islamophobia. There has been too much promotion [by the ABC]  of so called moderate voices of Islam who usually turn out be apologists for terrorism, desperate to dilute any link between terrorism and Islam and promoting a message of Muslim victimhood.

They use voice after voice from various religious Muslims, almost all of whom have identical views, that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, Muslims are victims of racism and the real problem is racism and white nationalists.

Tanveer Ahmed said that the mainstream media and politicians need to acknowledge that Islamist terrorists are following the Koran:

It’s grounded in scripture. People who commit terrorism, they are actually more devout than many other Muslims. Their actions don’t come out of thin air, they’re following strict instructions.

It’s important we don’t tarnish all Muslims but people are just so sick of the platitudes and calls for tolerance, for unity and that Muslims are victims. When, in fact, there’s a great deal of sympathy in a significant proportion of the Muslim community for the justification of terrorism –  be it blaming Western colonialism, blaming racism, discrimination.

While terrorism’s origins have many factors, Islamic terrorists, as heinous as their acts are, they are often merely doing what the scriptures are telling them.

Tanveer Ahmed: Five Paws.



Hunters Hill’s very own leftist David Salter does not like News Corp much. However, The Australian is courteous enough to publish your man Salter’s missives from his Hunters Hill bunker in its Letters to the Editor segment.  This is what Mr Salter had to say yesterday about the Australian Press Council’s decision to appoint leftist GetUp! deputy chair Carla McGrath to its board:

Inconsistent on GetUp!

Nick Xenophon says he opposes the appointment of GetUp! deputy chair Carla McGrath to the Australian Press Council because of her political activism. He says he “would say the same thing if the Press Council decided to employ someone from the (Institute of Public Affairs)”.

To be consistent we might ask him why he was silent when Ron Brunton, a senior fellow of the IPA, was appointed to a five-year term as a director of the ABC? And why he raised no objection to the appointments to the ABC board of Keith Windschuttle, Judith Sloan, Michael Kroger, Maurice Newman and Janet Albrechtsen? The politics of all six were well known.

McGrath is likely to sit on the Press Council adjudication panel no more than once a year, and not at all if the complaint being considered might raise any conflicts of interest. As directors of the ABC, Brunton, Windschuttle, Sloan, Kroger, Newman and Albrechtsen were required to attend monthly meetings and to regularly deliberate on behalf of the nation on issues with profound political implications.

It seems that for Xenophon, political activism should only disqualify someone from the left.

David Salter, Hunters Hill, NSW

What a load of absolute tosh.  Members of the Australian Press Council sit in judgment of journalists.  In other words, they make decisions on journalism.  Moreover GetUp! is a Green/Left activist outfit which campaigns against the Coalition and could campaign against a Labor candidate who was at odds with the Green/Left agenda.

On the other hand, members of the ABC board have no powers to make decisions concerning journalism at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. David Salter should know this. After all, for many years he was executive producer of the ABC TV’s Media Watch program during the time when Stuart Littlemore was Media Watch’s presenter.  For the record, in close to three decades Media Watch has never had a conservative presenter. Which is to be expected from the Conservative-Free-Zone that is the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

The fact is that nobody runs the ABC – not even managing director Michelle Guthrie.  Certainly not Aunty’s part-time chairman.   And certainly not the ABC board members.  In fact the ABC is run by various soviets who control such programs as 7.30, Q&A, Lateline, Four Corners and so on.   Mark Scott never ran the ABC – nor, on the available evidence, does his successor.

Former ABC chairman, Maurice Newman and former ABC board members Janet Albrechtsen, Ron Brunton, Michael Kroger, Judith Sloan and Keith Windschuttle had no influence on ABC journalists.  If they had – then the ABC would have been subjected to some reform.  They didn’t – and it wasn’t.

David Salter – Media Fool of the Week.


By late Monday night it was evident that a man had been murdered in the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Brighton by a person who claimed to be a follower of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).  The murderer was shot dead by Victoria Police.

The following morning on the ABC Sydney Mornings program, presenter Wendy Harmer had this to say about the incident to an ABC newsreader:

Wendy Harmer: The other thing that I’m finding bizarre – in that news there – is that there’s some terrorist attack in Brighton. I mean, I used to live in Brighton. It’s sort of like Rose Bay.  I mean, why would you mount a terrorist attack if you were ISIS in that suburb?  That seems very, very strange to me. Anyway, uh, the Prime Minister’s speaking about that at the moment and apparently says that the gunman shouldn’t have been on parole.  So, we’ll be hearing more about that one, Toni.

How about that? Wendy (“I’m just an old-fashioned socialist”) Harmer reckons that Islamist terrorists just don’t do terrorism in posh suburbs like Brighton and Sydney’s Rose Bay.  And that sordid acts of terrorism only take place where the working class lives. This is the very same Ms Harmer, a Northern Beaches resident, who does not know where Badgery’s Creek is. (See MWD Issue 360).

Verily, a Wendy Harmer Moment.

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).


There was enormous interest last week in the revelation that leading ABC investigative reporter Louise Milligan has declined to answer any of Gerard Henderson’s questions about her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) – and sought, instead, to hide behind the skirts/pants of her publisher, the formidable Louise Adler.

Such is the interest that avid readers have requested that MWD repeat Gerard Henderson’s questions which Louise Milligan cannot answer – at this stage, in any event.  See the Documentation segment below.

Despite Ms Adler’s assurance that Cardinal is based on “meticulous research”, neither author nor publisher hasd sought to explain how Ms Milligan’s book has George Pell walking Gerald Ridsdale to court in Warrnambool in 1993. The location was Melbourne – as a simple Google search would have revealed.  This error is repeated on three occasions.  Also, Louise Milligan has Paul Bongiorno sharing a presbytery accommodation with Gerald Ridsdale in Ballarat East for a year. In fact, the location was Warrnambool.

Being a persistent type, Gerard Henderson sent a second email to Ms Milligan on Tuesday – it is set out below.  MWD will let you know if the author has the intellectual courage or ability to reply. Don’t hold your breath.

Gerard Henderson to Louise Milligan – 6 June 2017

Ms Milligan

As you will recall, I sent you a list of questions concerning your book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) on 30 May 2017.

You have not responded to – or even acknowledged – my email.  Instead you appear to have taken refuge behind MUP chief executive Louise Adler – who wrote to me but declined to respond to any of my questions.  I am not aware of any previous author who has embraced a “no comment” approach to legitimate questions about his/her book and sought protection from a publisher.

I understand why you prefer to answer soft questions from your comrades at the ABC – many of whom have not read Cardinal before interviewing you about its contents.  However, I believe that Gold Quill winners should be able to defend their work.

I have sent a copy of this note to both MUP (your publisher) and the ABC (your employee).  I included the latter since much of Cardinal was researched during ABC time and you used your ABC email account to ask written questions about Cardinal.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson



Set out below are the 11 questions which Gerard Henderson sent to Louise Milligan on 30 May 2017 and which she has declined to answer.  All questions refer to matters which a competent journalist/author ought to be able to handle. Let’s go:

  1. At Page 4, you refer to the allegations concerning (then) Archbishop Pell’s alleged sexual assault of a choir boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral sometime between 1996 and 2001 as “George Pell’s ugly secret”. How is this statement consistent with your comments, following the publication of your book, that Cardinal Pell is entitled to the presumption of innocence? Also, what is the justification for writing at Page 227 that some of Pell’s accusers “will” be cross-examined by the Cardinal’s Queen’s counsel? – since he has not been charged.
  1. In view of the serious allegations in Cardinal– and to the fact that you acknowledged on the ABC TV News Breakfastprogram on 17 May 2017 that your book is written “from of the complainants’ point of view”– what is your policy about anonymous sources?

For example, Cardinal contains references to “one senior member of a religious order” (Pg. 20), “another Royal Commission source” (Pg. 41), “one of the most senior priests on the Curia of the Melbourne Archdiocese at the time” (Pg. 51), “one Church official” (Pg. 88), “officials in the church” (Pg. 281), “a friend…who is a mother in the neighbourhood” (Pg. 290), “someone who works around the Royal Commission” (Pg. 297), “the father-in-law of an ABC journalist” (Pg. 313), “people who knew [George Pell] in his Ballarat days” (Pg. 329) – and more besides – plus the occasional “many”.  The allegations at Pages 88 and 281 – which go to George Pell’s character – are most damaging. But they are unsourced.

In view of the serious allegations in your book, do you believe that it is professional to allow anonymous individuals – none of whom claim to be victims – a chance to condemn George Pell in such a way that a reader has no chance of judging their credibility or motives?

  1. What is your position on memory?  At Page 101 – when rationalising an inaccurate description of George Pell by one of his accusers – you write:  “Memory does strange things when it comes to visual descriptions of people”. Yet, elsewhere in Cardinal, you accept as accurate the recollections of individuals who have seen George Pell on television in recent times and claim that this is the person they came across 30 to 40 years previously.
  1. What is your position on the use of direct quotation marks?  At Page 47, you place in direct quotes the recollection of a critic of Cardinal Pell who relates – word for word – a conversation which Pell had with her cousin. This despite the fact that (i) the alleged conversation took place over two decades ago, (ii) the woman concedes to being in the room next door to where the conversation took place and (iii) Pell was (allegedly) determined that the person could not hear what he said to her cousin.  This would be uncharacteristic behaviour – in view of the fact that you maintain Pell has a “steel-trap mind” and would be unlikely to speak so loudly that he could be heard between rooms while (allegedly) attempting to have a secret conversation.

Likewise, in Chapter 6 – on the basis of hearsay upon hearsay – how do you construct the precise words that (then) Fr Pell used some three decades ago? Is this professional journalism?

  1. What is your attitude to time?  At Pages 129-130 you write that Cardinal Pell was fit enough to turn up at an event in Ballarat “just before he gave video link evidence” from Rome to the Royal Commission on account of not being medically fit to travel to Australia.  Cardinal Pell was in Ballarat in March 2015 and he was due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in December 2015 – nine months later.

This is an important point – since you imply that George Pell suddenly developed a heart condition which prevented him from flying from Rome to Australia for hearings of the Royal Commission.  So, do you believe it accurate to state that March 2015 is “just before” December 2015 – and insufficient time for a 73 year old man, who already had experienced two heart attacks, to suffer a further deterioration in health?

  1. What is your evidence that the Catholic Church could afford to splash around $20,000 a day on Allan Myers QC as legal counsel before the Royal Commission for Cardinal Pell? (Pg. 131). Were you told this by the Catholic Church and/or Mr Myers? Or did you just make this up?
  1. In view of your sustained criticism of the (then) Bishop Pell’s handling of Fr Peter Searson in Melbourne when he (Pell) was an auxiliary bishop – why did you fail to mention that, when he became Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell sacked Searson and refused to abide by a Vatican decision that he be re-instated? (Pg. 260). Was this a deliberate omission or did you forget this fact – which was not challenged before the Royal Commission?
  1. In dealing with the decision of former Judge Alan Southwell QC’s finding that Phillip Scott’s complaint – with respect to an alleged assault in 1961 – against (then) Archbishop Pell was not upheld, you write:

So, in the end, the character assassination of Scott was successful – it achieved its aim – to keep Pell as Archbishop of Sydney. (Page 103)

The clear imputation is that Judge Southwell’s decision was affected by the (alleged) character assassination of Mr Scott which occurred outside the hearing. What evidence do you have that there was any causal relationship between the alleged character assassination of Mr Scott in the media – and Judge Southwell’s decision?  Do you believe that Judge Southwell would have been so unprofessional to allow media reports to influence his finding?  If so, what is your evidence for this assertion?

  1. On Page 19 you write that George Pell “infamously shared the [Ballarat East] presbytery with [Gerald] Ridsdale for a year.” At Page 142 you (incorrectly) state that Gerald Ridsdale shared a presbytery for a year with Paul Bongiorno in Ballarat East.  It was, in fact, Warrnambool where Ridsdale and Bongiorno shared accommodation – as the evidence before the Royal Commission makes clear. Why is (then) Fr Pell’s accommodation with Ridsdale “infamous” – but not (then) Fr. Bongiorno’s accommodation with Ridsdale?
  1. On Page 15 you write that “one seminarian in Pell’s year seems to rememberPell and [Anthony Salvatore] Bongiorno going on holiday together one summer”. (Emphasis added).  Do you maintain that what an anonymous source “seems to remember” warrants quoting in what is presented as a serious book of contemporary history?
  1. Do you believe that such words as “if” and “perhaps” are warranted in what is presented as a professional work by one of the ABC’s leading investigative reporters?

If Louise Milligan replies to Gerard Henderson MWD’s avid readers will learn soonest.

Until next time.