4 August 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: Kate McClymont’s Outburst on Barry O’Farrell Discredited by ICAC Report; Tim Flannery’s China Hyperbole & God Gives Al Gore Dispensation to Burn Lotsa Energy 

  • Brand New Endorsement: From Phillip (“It’s Said I was Once A John Pilger Fan”) Coorey 

  • Media Fools of the Week: Step Forward Bonge Throwing the Switch to Fascism & Julian Burnside Throwing the Switch to Nazism 

  • Great Media U-Turns of Our Time: Justice Peter McClellan Changes His Mind on Juries As Reported in the Media 

  • Can You Bear It? Sam Dastyari – The ABC’s Fave MP; Jenny Hocking Misinforms the BBC About Gough Whitlam’s Dismissal & Virginia Trioli’s Anti-Catholic Rant 

  • Five Paws Award: And the Prize Goes to Mark Riley for his Analysis on Insiders of Gillian Triggs’ Fatal Flaw 

  • MWD Exclusive: Featuring Labor MP Michael Danby’s Exchange with The Saturday Paper’s Morry Schwartz on Censorship and All That 

  • Correspondence: The ABC Continues Its Jon Stephens Denial & Still Refuses to Respond to Questions re Louise Milligan’s Activist Reportage – Starring Nick Leys (Not Really) & Sally Jackson (Sort Of) As Michelle Guthrie Remains Under the Bed




 Today’s media covers the report of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Investigation Into dealings between Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd and Sydney Water Corporation and related matters. It was (then) NSW Liberal Party premier Barry O’Farrell’s advice to ICAC that he had not received a bottle of Grange Hermitage from (then) Australia Water Holdings operative Di Girolamo to the value of $3000 that led to the premier’s resignation.  In fact, he had received the bottle.  Barry O’Farrell said that he had forgotten the gift which was received at a busy period just after becoming premier and at the time of his father-in-law’s death.

In view of the fact that premiers lead very busy lives and that Mr O’Farrell was not a wine connoisseur – this seemed a highly plausible explanation for an event of no moment.   For Australia Water Holdings had not received any favours from the O’Farrell government.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Kate McClymont was having none of this.  In a debate with Gerard Henderson on the ABC TV Lateline program on 16 April 2014, she accused Mr O’Farrell of lying.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Kate McClymont: ….the $3,000 bottle of wine was given a month before there was a meeting in Barry O’Farrell’s office where Nick Di Girolamo was given an audience. So the $3,000 bottle was given at the very time this person was lobbying for what stood to be a billion-dollar public/private partnership. So, it is an avenue that needs to be explored. So –

Gerard Henderson: You’re a journalist who reports stories and that’s your business and you do it well and that’s what you’re paid for and it’s fun and games, but I’m interested in consequences. Australian Water Holdings got nothing out of the O’Farrell Government.

Kate McClymont: Agreed.

Gerard Henderson: It got nothing. So we’re having these big inquiries into an organisation, however much they tried to lobby and however many bottles of wine they sent to people, they didn’t get anything. So where’s the corruption? They’re a failed company.

Steve Cannane: Kate, on that issue, given the scale of corruption that has been exposed by the ICAC in the last 12 months, isn’t this a relatively trivial issue?

Kate McClymont: Look, I think it is a relatively trivial issue, but I think when you get on the stand, there is a five-year maximum jail penalty for giving false and misleading evidence. It’s more –

Gerard Henderson: Yeah, but that’s a very unfair implication. You’re suggesting the former premier may have given misleading evidence. There’s no evidence to support that. That’s your theory based on sitting in the room. He may –

Kate McClymont: Gerard, he’s resigned. He’s resigned.

Gerard Henderson: Yes, because he said he forgot. So –

Kate McClymont: No, no, he didn’t resign because he said he forgot.

Gerard Henderson: No. No, no, he said he forgot. You’re suggesting that he didn’t tell the truth. That’s what you’re suggesting.

Kate McClymont: Yes, I am suggesting that.

Gerard Henderson: Well that’s a very serious allegation to make with no evidence. You have no evidence that he didn’t tell the truth. That’s an outrageous allegation to make….

In its report, ICAC made the following finding about Barry O’Farrell’s evidence to ICAC:

When he gave evidence on 16 April 2014, Mr O’Farrell had no recollection of receiving the wine.  There is no evidence to the contrary. The Commission is satisfied that there was no intention on Mr O’Farrell’s part to mislead the Commission on either occasion that he gave evidence. Mr O’Farrell gave further evidence, which other evidence bears out and the Commission accepts, that he never acceded to any request from Mr Di Girolamo or anyone else to give AWH special assistance.

Since Kate McClymont is something of a fan of ICAC, it would be professional for her to accept the ICAC finding with respect to Barry O’Farrell’s evidence before the Commission in April 2014 – and apologise to the former premier for falsely suggesting on Lateline that he did not tell the truth.  But don’t hold your breath.  Being a Fairfax Media (or ABC) journalist means never having to say you’re sorry.


 What a stunning performance by Tim Flannery on Phillip Adams’ ABC Radio National Late Night Live program last night.  On the occasion of the publication of his latest book titled Sunlight and Seaweed, Dr Flannery (for a doctor of Palaeontology he is) was back to his hyperbolic best.  Your man Flannery told the ABC’s Man-in-Black that China is an unliveable nation. Let’s go to the transcript.

Tim Flannery: Well China’s the place….where the air’s unbreathable, the water’s undrinkable and the food’s inedible – because of pollution.

Really. You wonder how over a billion Chinese get by every day without being able to eat, drink or even breathe.  But there you go.

Needless to say, Phillip (“I was a teenage communist”) Adams did not raise the, er, delicate matter of Dr Flannery’s past false prophecy – including his claim of a decade ago that Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would run out of water in the short term. See MWD Issue 320.


Sky News presenter Chris Kenny showed the following exchange between Fr John Rausch and former US vice-president and the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh eco-catastrophist Al Gore on his Heads Up program last night.  The discussion between the Catholic priest and Mr Gore took place on CNN:

 Father John Rausch: As a priest living in central Appalachia, I’ve come to – I’ve come to realise that the climate crisis, I believe, is a crisis in spirituality.

Al Gore: The way we live our lives is definitely connected to this. It is – it’s not a political issue. It is a moral and spiritual issue and thank you for bringing that up.

 So there you have it. According to Mr Gore, climate change is a “moral and spiritual” issue. This morning ABC TV News Breakfast program ran a soft interview done with Al Gore when he was in Australia recently.  Mr Gore, who was flogging his film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, had this to say about God and all that:

Al Gore: In those dark days and nights in the intensive care unit [with a child], I had the occasion to rethink my entire life. And when I finally went back to my job in the US Senate, the only issue that really stayed on my agenda was the climate crisis. And when I revisited it I found a new emotional reality. It touched a place in my heart made raw by the experience of almost losing my son.

And I realised for the first time that all of those precious things about this God-given earth are things that we could lose if we did not change what we were doing to destroy the ecological system of the planet. I had already long since become intellectually convinced but the passion and the intensity of feeling really changed then.

However, Mr Gore’s spiritual conversion has not convinced him to sell three of his four houses and downgrade his massive energy-consuming abode to something more in tune with the Almighty’s (apparent) wishes.  Which suggests that God’s climate change message to Al Gore is: “Do as you do; not as you say”. Needless to say, the ABC did not ask the former US vice-president to explain his evident double standard with respect to saving the planet.


 “Gerard, you are a mean spirited old coot, lighten up.”

  • Phillip Coorey, Friday 28 July, 4.09 pm

Hendo was truly delighted to receive yet another endorsement from Phillip Coorey – the Australian Financial Review’s chief political correspondent and avid (but not uncritical) MWD reader.  Lotsa thanks, Phil.  Especially since the Coorey missive was despatched just minutes after MWD went out last Friday around Gin & Tonic Time.

Now here’s a shout-out to the other avid readers.  MWD has heard that, when a student at Adelaide University, your man Coorey was a huge fan of the leftist conspiracist John Pilger.  If anyone knows anything about Mr Coorey’s (apparent) Pilgerite past, please let MWD know.  Could it be that, today, Phil Coorey is merely channelling John Pilger’s decades old hostility towards Hendo?  We’ll keep you informed.



On Monday, the Iranian-born dual citizen Rita Panahi wrote a sensible column in the Herald-Sun. In the wake of the arrest of a number of men in Sydney for alleged conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, Ms Panahi commenced by stating that her readers should accept increased surveillance at airports, sports stadiums and the like. She added:

The only reason Australia has escaped a high casualty terror event is due to a combination of luck, distance and the work of our counter-terrorism forces….

Americans had to sacrifice their sacred personal liberties under the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks that killed close to 3000 people and injured many more. Australia can’t wait for a large-scale attack before undertaking every sensible measure possible to keep us safe from the terrorism scourge.

Civil libertarian lawyer Greg Barns commenced the Twitter criticism – and then the self-declared left-liberal Paul Bongiorno joined in:

So, Rita Panahi is not only an incipient fascist – but the “real thing” Fascist.  It seems that – to Bonge – the word fascist describes someone you do not like or whose views you do not agree with.  In which case, Benito Mussolini – an early exponent of fascism– would have been able to term British politician Anthony Eden a fascist simply because he did not like him or he did not agree with British policy to Italy in the early 1930s.
Paul Bongiorno – Media Fool of the Week



Bonge was not the only Twitter tragic who threw the switch to fascism and Nazism this week.  This is what Melbourne barrister Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC had to say:


So, there you have it.  JB AO QC reckons that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has adopted the tactics of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler – as explained by Nazi Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.

Your man Burnside adopted a debating trick which wouldn’t pass muster at a Year 10 debate at his alma mater Melbourne Grammar School. Even MGS boys are told that an argument is lost when a debater evokes the Hitler persona, or the Nazi Party, in an attempt to score a point.

Julian Burnside AO QC – Media Fool of the Week.



The news at the top of the ABC TV News Breakfast on Wednesday included the following report of what Justice Peter McClellan, the chairman of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, was to say at a conference later in the day:

Virginia Trioli:  The judge overseeing the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has revealed that, despite many more victims seeking justice through the courts, conviction rates have actually fallen. In a speech today, the Royal Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan will explain that while the number of child sexual abuse cases has almost doubled in recent years, the chances of an offender being acquitted have risen.  Justice McClellan says survivors are often traumatised by the trials.  He’s calling for changes to the legal processes to help expose the truth while providing justice.

Clearly, ABC News believed that this heads-up from the Royal Commission was a BIG STORY.  Hence, the coverage given to Justice McClellan’s (forthcoming) speech to the ODPP Victims’ Voices Conference in Sydney titled “Criminal Justice Issues for the Royal Commission” scheduled for later that day.

However, in fact, this was non-news “news”.  For Peter McClellan had said exactly the same on 13 April 2017 in a speech to the Modern Prosecutor Conference in Melbourne. This address was also released early to the media – and reported by Pia Akerman in The Australian on 13 April 2017.

So, there was ­absolutely nothing new in Peter McClellan’s address which so excited ABC News last Wednesday. Except, of course, the timing. Say no more.

Clearly the Royal Commission chairman currently believes that the judicial system is flawed in that it is failing to bring about a sufficient number of convictions in sex abuse cases.

MWD sees a metamorphosis in play here. This is how, on 14 December 2011, ABC News’ Adam Harvey reported a speech by Justice Peter McClellan to the University of NSW’s law facility:

One of Australia’s most senior judges says juries should no longer be used in complex criminal trials. NSW Supreme Court judge Peter McClellan says it would be much easier and cheaper to use a panel of assessors to decide on someone’s guilt or innocence. He says the panel of assessors could sit alongside a judge or even a panel of judges.

Justice McClellan says some trials are too complex for juries. “The challenge, which I sense we will confront, is whether we should continue to use lay juries in criminal trials,” he said in a speech to the University of NSW law faculty. Many criminal trials involve medical issues or the sophisticated expertise of forensic scientists.”

Trials like that of Jeffrey Gilham often hang on the evidence of forensic experts. Mr Gilham’s conviction for killing his parents was quashed early this month after complex evidence about the levels of carbon monoxide in blood. Justice McClellan was one of the Court of Appeal judges who quashed that conviction. He says that as trials become more complicated they are getting much longer and people are going to much greater lengths to avoid jury service.

So, there you have it.  In 2011, when he sat on the NSW Court of Appeal, Justice McClellan believed that the judicial system was too inclined to convict the innocent.

Now, as Royal Commission chairman, the very same Justice Peter McClellan believes the judicial system is too inclined to acquit the guilty.



 In these trouble political times, it’s rare indeed that an issue can unite Coalition, Labor, Greens and Independent politicians alike. However, this week the likes of James Paterson (Liberal), Michael Danby (Labor), Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens) and Cory Bernardi (Independent) all objected to the remarkably soft profile of ALP Senator Sam Dastyari on the boring Australian Story program last Monday.  This was preceded and followed by a number of soft interviews of the senator on various ABC Radio outlets. Yawn.

It appears that all this was done to help out your man Dastyari following the publication his (youthful) memoir One Halal of a Story (MUP).  As Michael Danby commented: “Sam’s self-promotion is so brazen it’s almost endearing.”

Even supposedly serious ABC TV programs like Media Watch have bowed before the Dastyari cult-of-personality.  On 10 July, Paul Barry’s account of the fate of the contemporary Australian media contained five comments by Senator Dastyari. This, in spite of the fact, that he is one of the Opposition senators who are opposed to the Turnbull government’s media reforms – which have the support of virtually all the commercial media outlets in Australia and are designed in part to preserve jobs in journalism.

If the under-performing Sam Dastyari can get all this free publicity on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster at aged 34 years, what will happen when the ABC’s fave politician reaches 35?  Can You Bear It?



Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s attention to the interview given by Jenny Hocking on the BBC’s The World Tonight program on 2 August 2017 (London time).

MWD much admires Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is). In fact, she’s MWD’s favourite leftist historian.  You see, the Monash University academic has been able to land Australian Research Council grants to write biographies of such Australian left-wing heroes as the one-time Communist Party hack Frank Hardy, the one-time Labor Party operative and later High Court judge Lionel Murphy and former prime minister and “Labor Saint” Gough Whitlam. The latter in two volumes.

Currently Jenny Hocking is taking a case in the Federal Court against the National Archives of Australia.  She is seeking an order that the Archives release the letters which, as governor-general, Sir John Kerr wrote to the Queen in the lead-up to the dismissal of the Whitlam government on 11 November 1975.  Sir John’s correspondence was deposited with the Archives.  He had classified it personal and it was not to be released until 2027 – with the Monarch having the final say in whether the material should be released at this time.

Gerard Henderson understands why the National Archives of Australia believes it has the responsibility to uphold the conditions set by an individual – or his or her estate – when lodging material. However, he would be happy to see the correspondence released.  Hendo believes that what Sir John wrote to the Queen about the Dismissal would essentially reflect what he wrote about the Dismissal in his autobiography Matters for Judgment (MacMillan, 1978).

In any event, the taxpayer funded Dr Hocking is using the publicity engendered by the court case to re-state her conspiracy that The Palace was somehow involved in Kerr’s decision to dismiss Whitlam.

In fact, the controversy commenced in late 1975 when Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition in opposition blocked supply and Whitlam tried to govern without supply.  Kerr resolved the issue by sacking Whitlam and appointing Fraser as interim prime minister on the understanding that he would call a double dissolution election. The election was held on 13 December 1975 and Fraser comprehensively defeated Whitlam.

The routine facts do not suit the conspiracist Hocking.  This is what she told the BBC’s The World Tonight:

….there’s no question that the Dismissal was, in my view, improper and unconstitutional. It was certainly against all of our understandings of our parliamentary democracy. He [Whitlam] retained at all times a majority in the House of Representatives. And he was in fact at Yarralumla, Government House on that day when he was dismissed in order to call a half Senate election. So the Governor-General’s actions are on no levels now considered to be acceptable and appropriate for the politics of the time.

What a load of absolute tosh. Sure, the Dismissal remains controversial issue in Australian history.  But it was in no sense unconstitutional. In fact, Sir John Kerr acted within a strict interpretation of the Constitution – which is why his decision was not ever challenged in the High Court of Australia. Such leading figures in Australian law as Sir Garfield Barwick QC, Sir Anthony Mason QC and Murray Gleeson QC have all said that Sir John Kerr’s decision was constitutional.

Also, it is nonsense for Dr Hocking to argue that the 1975 dismissal was “against all our understandings of parliamentary democracy”.  In 1932 Sir Philip Game, the Governor of NSW, dismissed NSW premier Jack Lang for a breach of a Commonwealth law.  This decision was also followed by an election which the Labor Party lost. In this sense, the precedent for Kerr’s action in 1975 was set over four decades earlier.

Yet Professor Hocking, the Australian left’s house historian, told the BBC that Sir John Kerr’s actions in November 1975 are no longer considered “acceptable and appropriate”. This is Dr Hocking’s view. It is certainly not a universal view.  The taxpayer funded professor just talked bollocks to the taxpayer funded BBC.  And the BBC’s Ritula Shah did not challenge this thesis. Can You Bear It? 


Wasn’t it great to see Samantha Hutchinson – The Australian’s Victorian political reporter – on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on Monday? During the “Newspapers” gig, Ms Hutchinson referred to an important piece by John Ferguson in The Australian that very morning.

Titled “Catholic parents could toss PM from power”, the story reported that: “The Turnbull government is exposed to a voter backlash in 13 marginal seats along the eastern seaboard that could cost it power after igniting a row with the Catholic education system….”

At issue is the allegation that the Coalition has cut $1.1 billion in Commonwealth funding from Catholic education following its deal with the Senate cross-benchers to implement the Gonski 2.0 school funding package.

Now, it’s hardly surprising that many parents who send their children to Catholic schools will object to funding being cut since this will invariably have some deleterious consequences.  And it is also not surprising that some parents with children at Catholic schools could move their vote from Coalition to Labor at the next election as a protest. Especially since Labor leader Bill Shorten has expressed sympathy for the predicament facing many Catholic schools.

Samantha Hutchinson understands the point. It’s just that after stating the case, she received a verbal rebuke from News Breakfast as co-presenter Virginia Trioli.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Samantha Hutchinson: So, there was analysis done by John Ferguson – it’s very interesting. Thirteen marginal seats along the eastern sea board which are believed to be at risk because of the government’s Gonski 2.0 package ripping 1.1 billion dollars out of the Catholic education sector. Obviously, it’s not a new issue but I think if we sort of wrap our heads around the potential political fallout of it and we also understand what sort of pressure is building on the government internally to sort of mend bridges with the Catholic sector.  I think it shows that we haven’t heard the last of it.

 Virginia Trioli: Yeah and it’s also interesting just to step back for a minute and look at the Catholic Church and where they are in the broader landscape of the arguments in this country. They’re going to be fighting a lot of fights on a lot of fronts now. I mean, there’s an assisted death bill that’s going to be discussed in Victoria – they will definitely fight that. They’ve got to fight this [education funding] one as well. There’s all the ongoing issues arising from the Royal Commission into child abuse.  They’ve got a lot of fronts. Now it’s a well organised machine when it comes to battling. But I wonder if this might be even overstretching them.

 Samantha Hutchinson: Well, I think when you have a look at the fact that parents sending their kids to school this isn’t those highfalutin issues – you know they’re not highfalutin ideological issues like the Royal Commission or voluntary assisted dying, for example. This is literally where parents are dropping their kids every single day. That’s their most primary concern, you know, in the centre of their lives and if you change the funding structure that’s something they’re immediately going to feel, which is why it’s so contentious. And there’s some analysis, admittedly it came from Labor within the piece, that said that any seat within 100 thousand people you’ve got around five thousand kids which attend the local Catholic school. That’s nine thousand voters – their parents represent nine thousand voters. So, you multiply that by thirteen marginal seats, a couple of other seats which are less marginal but still in the fray, you can see how much of a politically divisive issue this is. 

Virginia Trioli: Samantha, I don’t disagree but I would just make the point that when it comes to the issue of the child sexual abuse, I wouldn’t call that highfalutin –

 Samantha Hutchinson: – Sorry, yes – 

Virginia Trioli: – absolutely where people live and it’s their families that have been ruined and they are pushing back hard against the Catholic Church particularly in terms of reformations.

 Samantha Hutchinson: They have every right to. 

Virginia Trioli: They’ve got a lot to battle and to deal with the Church.

Another lecture by Virginia Trioli who recently proudly announced her atheist status on News Breakfast [Who cares? – MWD Editor]. This is what La Trioli neglected to tell her viewers last Monday:

  1. The Catholic Church first acted decisively against clerical child sexual abuse two decades ago.
  1. There has been little offending within the Catholic institutions in the last two decades – what has come to the attention of the Royal Commission are essentially historic crimes.
  1. Many parents, who do not hold hostile views to Catholicism, want to send their children to Catholic schools – often for educational and behavioural reasons.
  1. Between 40 to 50 per cent of children in Catholic schools are not Catholic.

Yet Virginia Trioli seems to believe that voters who are dropping off their children at Catholic schools every day are primarily interested in historic crimes and the need to reform Catholicism. In fact, they’re primarily worried about school fees and how to pay them. Can You Bear It?


 In her last interview as Human Rights Commissioner, Gillian Triggs received (yet another) soft interview from Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly.  Feeling at home in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster studio in inner-city Ultimo, Dr Triggs (for a doctor she is) decided to have a go at the Turnbull government.

The final Triggs interview was discussed on ABC TV’s Insiders last Sunday.  Let’s go to the transcript with Barrie Cassidy in the chair and panellists Fran Kelly, Mark Riley (Channel 7) and Mark Kenny (Fairfax Media).

Barrie Cassidy: Now Gillian Triggs was the, well now former Human Rights Commissioner. Last day on the job— she made a bit of a splash        on your program Fran. Here she is:

Gillian Triggs: For the Australian public, we are regressing on almost every front – whether it’s women, Indigenous, homeless, and most of course asylum seekers and refugees.

 Fran Kelly: And why is that?

 Gillian Triggs: I think it’s partly because we have a government that’s ideologically opposed to human rights.

 Barrie Cassidy: Big call.

 Mark Riley: Outrageous call, I mean seriously. There are elements of the government who are ideologically opposed to her and the Human Rights Commission, absolutely—

 Fran Kelly: — Oh there is also elements of the government who are ideologically opposed to –

 Mark Riley: — but this isn’t Syria or Somalia. This is Australia. I mean, seriously, some perspective—

 Fran Kelly:  — look it was obviously an extreme statement and it doesn’t stand up.  But, of course, it does stand up that there are people who are opposed to compassionate asylum seeker policy or things like that. I think it just goes, at the end of her, I imagine, it goes to the point that at the end of this five year term where she’s been pushed to one stream of extremity— one extreme by others on the other extreme— and we have this kind of cultural warfare going on between the President of the Human Rights Commission and some on the right in this country and it’s got out of hand. And that was a claim that was too extreme as was some of the claims made on the other side.

 Mark Riley: I don’t think it was all outside her control though. I mean Gillian Triggs—

 Fran Kelly: — oh no, I’m not saying—

 Mark Riley: — has chosen to do this. She should have stood down, Fran—

 Fran Kelly: —No.

 Mark Riley: —she should have stood down when she misled the Senate.

 Fran Kelly: — No she shouldn’t have stood down.

 Mark Riley: —She should have stood down then for the betterment of the Human Rights Commission. It became an issue about her and her personal integrity—her, her, her ego and her standing. And she, she allowed that to subordinate the better purposes of the Human Rights Commission.

 Fran Kelly: No, I disagree with that. I think that would have hampered the independence of the Human Rights Commission—

Until now, Professor Triggs and her “besties” in the media – especially at the ABC and Fairfax Media – have blamed The Australian and Sky News for the criticism she received.  The likes of Fran Kelly have even rationalised the fact that Gillian Triggs told a Senate committee that she had not discussed holding an enquiry into children in detention with Labor ministers when the Gillard government was in office (false) and that she had been misquoted by Ramona Koval in The Saturday Paper (also false).

Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly was still defending her activist comrade on Sunday – saying that Triggs had been pushed into taking extreme positions against the Coalition and her critics and declaring that she should not have resigned.

But Mark Riley broke through with a straight-forward message.  Highly paid public officials who mislead the Senate should resign lest they damage the organisation which they head.

Mark Riley – Five Paws.



Here’s a heads-up to Bradley Stevenson of Kaleen in the Australian Capital Territory who appears to have accepted Hendo’s view that Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper should be re-titled The [Boring] Saturday Paper. By the way, this Saturday paper goes to the printer on a Thursday evening. Really.  So, it could be titled “The Friday Paper”. Last Saturday, the following letter was published:

Over the Abbott habit

Three of the previous four issues of The Saturday Paper have featured our former prime minister in the main photograph (Mike Seccombe, “Notes from the Abbott insurgency”, July 1-7; Karen Middleton, “Planning for Abbott’s exit”, July 8-14; Mike Seccombe, “How the church is splitting Liberals”, July 22-28). Is this attention necessary or deserved for what some may see as a political has-been? Please give your readers more interesting and relevant front-page images.

Well spotted.  The Abbott-hater Erik Jensen, The [Boring] Saturday Paper’s editor who is about to become the editor-in-chief, has a habit of running boring articles on Tony Abbott. Mike Seccombe’s boring and error-ridden piece last week titled “How the church is splitting Liberals” was analysed by Gerard Henderson in his Weekend Australian column last Saturday – see here.

By the way, the most recent issue of The Saturday Paper had as its main story Cardinal George Pell’s (brief) appearance in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court three days earlier.  The article was by Martin McKenzie-Murray and contained no new information about anything at all. How boring can a newspaper be?

Now, here’s something about The Saturday Paper which is not at all boring.  This week the paper’s chief correspondent Martin McKenzie-Murray wrote to Michael Danby (the Labor Party member for Melbourne Ports) seeking comment on Labor Party Senator (and media tart) Sam Dastyari.  The correspondence did not go quite as expected. You be the judge:


Martin McKenzie-Murray to Michael Danby – 1 August 2017 

G’day –

I’m the chief correspondent here at The Saturday Paper, and was hoping to put a few questions to Michael [Danby] about Sam Dastyari –

Kind regards,


Martin McKenzie-Murray
Chief Correspondent
The Saturday Paper

Michael Danby to Morry Schwartz – 2 August 2017

Your newspaper won’t even take paid advertisements from me!

You refused to publish my insiders account of why Labor passed the metadata legislation when I was a member of the Intelligence Committee.

But when it interests you I’m meant to spill my guts about parliamentary colleagues?

Be fair, reverse your policy of censorship, build a relationship & maybe in 4 or 5 years I’ll trust you enough to reply.

Morry Schwartz to Michael Danby – 2 August 2017

Dear Michael,

Sorry you are upset, but if you look at the type and tenor of the ads in the paper, which are harder and harder to get, I think you’ll understand why I didn’t accept your ads.

As to not accepting your articles, you are not alone. We have limited space and we carefully balance the contents of each issue.

From my side it’s all warmth towards you,


Morry Schwartz to Michael Danby – 2 August 2017

After I responded I noticed that you had copied Gerard Henderson into the email.

Surely you did this by mistake.



Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves such (deliberate) mistakes.  So, The [Boring] Saturday Paper will not accept an advertisement from an elected Labor MP since – allegedly – Mr Danby’s advertisements do not fit “the type and tenor” of The Saturday Paper.

Now, what “type and tenor” would that be? – MWD hears you ask.  Well, last Saturday’s edition contains advertisements for Breguet watches, a leftist Australia Institute conference featuring, et al, Jackie Lambie (yawn), the Queensland Ballet, the Melbourne Festival, the State Library of NSW, Aesop, the Seymour Centre, the Queensland Art Gallery, ABC Books, the Whitlam Institute & Western Sydney University, The Saturday Paper (publisher Morry Schwartz), the Anna Schwartz Gallery and The Monthly (publisher Morry Schwartz).  Apart from Breguet, Aesop and the Australia Institute – the remaining advertisements are either from taxpayer funded institutions or Swartz family interests.

As to content, well The [Boring] Saturday Paper publishes long, boring pieces by the likes of Martin of the Hyphenated-Name-Set, sneering Mike Seccombe and Paul “all who disagree with me are fascists” Bongiorno.  But The Saturday Paper has no room for Michael Danby MP despite the fact that the Member for Melbourne Ports has a lot to say.  It appears that Mr Danby is too lively and not left-wing enough to get a run in The [Boring] Saturday Paper.

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 from last week’s issue, Nick Leys, the ABC’s Head of Communications, declined to communicate with Hendo.  But he did send out a belated “No comment” comment – which was much appreciated.

Mr Ley’s “No Comment” approach involved the ABC’s continuing silence on why the taxpayer funded broadcaster did not report the fact that former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in late June at Gosford Local Court to an historic case of child sexual abuse.  In 1981, Jon Stephens sexually abused a 14-year-old ABC casual employee while on an ABC assignment near Gosford.

ABC management has gone into denial on the Stephens conviction. It will neither report the case nor say whether the ABC has adopted a duty of care or offered compensation to Stephens’ victim.  It is as if the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has despatched the Stephens’ case down its very own memory hole.

While the ABC did not answer Gerard Henderson’s questions, Polite Mr Leys did offer to be of help in the future.  Hendo took up the offer on Wednesday – with a question of how it came to pass that ABC News despatched inveterate George Pell critic Louise Milligan to report Cardinal Pell’s court appearance in Melbourne on 26 July 2017.

Alas, once again, the ABC’s Head of Communications went into “no comment” mode and declined to communicate with Hendo.  Instead, Nick Leys flicked the question about ABC News to ABC News’ Sally Jackson who went into “no problem here” mode and declined to answer any questions.

However, in view of the fact that Ms Jackson and Hendo are now on letter writing terms, he decided to ask the Media Manager, ABC News and Current Affairs, why ABC News and Current Affairs has not reported the Jon Stephens case. For background see MWD Issues 367, 368, 369, 370 and 371. MWD will keep you advised if Ms Jackson has the courtesy to reply to, or even acknowledge, this correspondence. In the meantime, read on:

Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 2 August 2017


I did appreciate your recent advice that I am “always welcome” to ask questions of you in your capacity as the ABC’s Head of Communications. (Your email of 26 July 2017 refers).  Hence this letter.

On 26 July 2017, Louise Milligan appeared on the ABC TV News Breakfast program and foreshadowed the appearance of Cardinal George Pell at the Melbourne Magistrates Court later that morning. Not long after, she reported the event for ABC News.

However, on 17 May 2017 Ms Milligan was interviewed on News Breakfast in her capacity as the author of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017).  This book has been described by Gerard Windsor – a George Pell critic – as an “attack” based on “animus”.

During this interview, Louise Milligan described Cardinal has having been written “from the complainants’ point of view”. In other words, Ms Milligan volunteered that her book is not objective and that she has been a player (or activist) with respect to allegations about Cardinal Pell.

My questions are these:

▪ How can Louise Milligan be a player with respect to Cardinal Pell in May 2017 – and a mere reporter with respect to Cardinal Pell in July 2017?

▪ Does the ABC acknowledge that there is a conflict of interest and a perception of bias in a journalist who wrote a book from the complainants’ point of view subsequently reporting on a case in which the views of complainants will be heard?

I know you are busy.  But the questions are straightforward and I would appreciate a reply by close of business on Thursday 4 August 2017.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

PS: Please note that this is not a formal complaint and I do not want the matter referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs.

cc:  Michelle Guthrie

Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief, ABC

Michael Millett

Director, Government Relations, ABC

Louise Milligan gets miced up outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court


Dear Gerard,

Your email has been forwarded to me as it involves an ABC News program. I understand Erin Vincent has already responded to you on this issue.

We note your comments, and we continue to stand by the response already given: Ms Milligan was interviewed on the program in her role as an ABC reporter. The segment was straightforward reporting, in which she provided some factual background to the case and was asked what happened outside the court in the morning, what was expected to happen in the hearing and how long the process is expected to take. In addition, she made a short comment noting that the event is a significant one for the Church. Everything she said was either factual or demonstrably reasonable analysis and was delivered in a measured and impartial manner. Given the context, it was entirely appropriate for News Breakfast to interview a reporter who was at the scene and who possessed a knowledge of the background to the case.



Sally Jackson

Media Manager

ABC News and Current Affairs


Dear Sally

I refer to your email of yesterday afternoon.

The background is as follows. As a columnist of some 30 years standing, I wrote to Nick Leys in his capacity as the ABC Head of Communications – and asked two specific questions concerning the policy of the public broadcaster with respect to Louise Milligan’s reporting of the Cardinal George Pell case.  My questions were as follows:

▪ How can Louise Milligan be a player with respect to Cardinal Pell in May 2017 – and a mere reporter with respect to Cardinal Pell in July 2017?

▪ Does the ABC acknowledge that there is a conflict of interest and a perception of bias in a journalist who wrote a book from the complainants’ point of view subsequently reporting on a case in which the views of complainants will be heard?

The ABC’s Head of Communications declined to communicate with me about this matter.  Mr Leys flicked the issue to you in your capacity as Media Manager, ABC News & Current Affairs.  And you declared that everything the ABC News had done concerning Louise Milligan’s reporting of the Cardinal Pell case on News Breakfast on 26 July 2017 was “entirely appropriate”. Quelle surprise!

However, you did not refer to the reportage which Louise Milligan did later that day – or advise how ABC News & Current Affairs proposes to treat the matter into the future.

In other words, you have adopted the familiar ABC defence of declining to answer questions and throwing the switch to denial.

In view of the fact that you are willing to buy into my correspondence with others, I wish to raise another matter with you.  My questions are as follows:

▪  Why has ABC News & Current Affairs not reported the fact that, at  Gosford Local Court in late June, former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty to a case of historic child sexual abuse? The crime took place in 1981 on an ABC assignment and the 14-year-old male victim was an ABC casual employee.

▪ Does ABC News & Current Affairs intend to report on the Jon Stephens case in the future?

▪ Has the ABC adopted a duty of care with respect to Jon Stephens’ victim – including offering the payment of compensation?

Over to you. I would be grateful for a response within 24 hours.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:     Nick Leys

Head of Communications, ABC.

Michelle Guthrie

Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief, ABC

Michael Millett

Director, Government Relations, ABC


Until next time.