15 September 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: Crikey! – Taxpayer funds for The Saturday Paper and Crikey?; Ms Sanger’s Survey Stumble; Aunty’s Uneven Coverage of the Murphy Files; What a Coincidence: ABC Again Fails to Properly Report the Jon Stephens’ Historic Pedophile Conviction (and Blames the Bushfires)



  • Brand New Endorsement: From Mike (I’ll Pour the Gin”) Carlton on Hendo


  • Can You Bear It? Tim Burrowes; John Kinsella; Richard Ackland, Julie Szego; Benjamin Law & Patricia Karvelas




  • Media Fool of the Week: Step Forward Lateline’s Emma Alberici



  • An ABC Update: When One Plus One became “Tosh Plus Tosh” Interviewing Julian Punch last Saturday
  • Report from the US Studies Centre – David Smith’s Useless Analysis of Miss America’s Views on President Trump
    • Documentation: Peter Fox’s Double Standards on Royal Commissions – Justice Peter McClellan (Good) vs Margaret Cunneen SC (Bad)



    • Correspondence: Michael Koziol Helps Out on Young Michael Koziol & George Williams; David Spicer Helps Out on How the Catholic Church “Evicted” a Theatre Company After Giving it Free Rent for Six Decades (Really); John Keough Helps Out from Malaysia in Correcting “FDR Fan-Boy” Michael Fullilove’s Misinterpretation of President Roosevelt in 1940




Media Watch Dog supports the Coalition’s reform of Australia’s media laws which passed the Senate yesterday.  As part of the deal with the Nick Xenophon Team, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield agreed to establish a $60 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. According to The Australian’s Rosie Lewis and David Crowe – writing on 12 September 2017:

It is expected the local arms of foreign-owned companies, such as The Guardian Australia, were not likely to benefit from the fund but regional media organisations and smaller independent outfits, including The Saturday Paper and Crikey, could be eligible under the arrangement.

How about that?  John Howard handed out $25 million to the United States Studies Centre in 2016. As Gerard Henderson predicted at the time, the USSC ended up in the hands of the left. See MWD passim ad nauseam.

And now the Turnbull government proposes to subsidise Crikey (chairman Eric Beecher) and The Saturday Paper (proprietor Morry Schwartz), both left-wing publications.  Sure, Messrs Beecher and Schwartz are some of the nicest millionaires that Hendo has ever met.  But they preside over leftist publications which do not need government handouts.  Meanwhile, conservative publications get neither money nor even jam.

[Perhaps this comment should be in today’s “Can You Bear It?” segment – MWD Editor.]



What a stunning performance by MWD’s favourite Labor lawyer Liberty Sanger on ABC TV News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment this morning.

When discussion got around to the same sex marriage postal survey, Ms Sanger had this to say:

Liberty Sanger:  I remain very worried about how this ballot is going to be undertaken – this survey is going to be undertaken. It’s unsatisfactory that the ABS have been asked to conduct it. The AEC are the ones who have all the rigour around electoral laws and electoral rules.

What Ms Sanger did not say is that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is conducting the survey because the Turnbull government’s intention to have a proper plebiscite conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) was blocked in the Senate by the Greens, many crossbenchers and, er, Ms Sanger’s comrades in the Labor Party.  How about that?



Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a fan of the ABC TV’s political editor Andrew Probyn.  After all, Gerard Henderson and Mr Probyn are on the ABC TV Insiders panel who sit on The Couch at the Southbank studio every Sunday or so.

Hendo just loves the informality which your man Probyn brought to the program when occupying the presenter’s chair last week (Barrie Cassidy was on sick leave).  It was all nick-names as Probs (aka Andrew Probyn) spoke to Rils (aka Mark Riley) and to Murph (aka Katharine Murphy) who spoke to Stutch (aka Michael Stutchbury) who reported back to Probs.  Wonderful stuff.

How unfortunate, then, that Andrew Probyn’s coverage of the release of the documents concerning the late Justice Lionel Murphy on 7.30 last night was obviously pre-recorded before Probs got access to the some 4000 pages in The Murphy Files.

This led to a situation where Probs’ report did not cover the 41 serious allegations which were being considered when Justice Murphy became terminally ill in mid-1986.  They are listed in today’s Australian.  However, Probs did put to air important interviews with former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery and former Whitlam government minister the late Jim McClelland.

It was a different matter with The World Today and PM on The Murphy Files. Believe it or not, The World Today only went to Jenny Hocking, a left-wing academic who has written biographies of such secular Labor Party saints as Gough Whitlam and Lionel Murphy.

Jenny Hocking’s Lionel Murphy: A Political Biography is a work of hagiography.  So it came as no surprise that Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) cleared Saint Lionel of any improper practices when he was a High Court judge before she had time to more than glance at The Murphy Files.



As avid MWD readers are aware, in late June 2017 former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in Gosford District Local Court to the sexual assault of a 14 year old male ABC casual employee while on an ABC assignment in 1981. The ABC did not report this case at the time of the conviction – or later.

In Gosford District Local Court on Wednesday 12 September 2017 Jon Stephens’ legal team successfully applied for a reduction in his six months minimum term of imprisonment due to Stephens’ medical condition.

This was reported on the ABC Radio News at 1pm – and not covered on any other radio bulletins or on any ABC TV bulletins or on ABC online that day or since.

In response to a query from MWD, Gaven Morris – the ABC Director News – provided the following explanation:

Hi Gerard, good to hear from you.

The ABC reported on the Jon Stephens case and the sentence appeal outcome in the 1pm radio news bulletin.

On a day when there were significant bushfires in both the Hunter region and across NSW, I’m ok with the news judgements the team made.

Kind regards,



Gerard Henderson – also this morning sent the following reply:


Thanks for your prompt response.

As the saying goes – What A Coincidence.

ABC News did not report the conviction of Jon Stephens in late June 2017 for reasons unexplained.

And ABC News only reported the District Court’s decision to reduce Stephens’ sentence (on medical grounds) at its 1 pm Radio News Bulletin on Wednesday – on account of “significant bushfires in both the Hunter region and across NSW.”

How convenient that the ABC has managed not to give any significant coverage to its own case of historic child sexual abuse due to oversight on one day and bushfires on another.

I’m surprised that you believe that the Jon Stephens case is only of interest to the residents of NSW in general and the Hunter Valley in particular.  In fact, it’s a national story – much the same as the ABC regarded clerical child abuse in the Catholic and Anglican churches in the Hunter Valley as of national interest.

Best wishes





It was 5.33 pm – Gin & Tonic time – at Avalon Beach last Saturday when Mike Carlton posted this tweet about Gerard Henderson:


Thank you Regimental Sergeant Major Carlton (Retd).  For more on Peter Fox see today’s “Documentation” section below.




At least the week commenced with a BIG STORY.  Following the photo of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kissing his granddaughter while sipping a beer at the Swans v Essendon Australia Football League match last Saturday, the BIG issue was discussed in the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV News Breakfast last Monday. Let’s go to the transcript as Tim Burrowes, Mumbrella’s founder and content director, comes up with his own conspiracy theory:

Michael Rowland: As someone who writes in the media, this is a question without notice. Did you see that photo of the Prime Minister with his granddaughter watching the Sydney Swans? And we’re getting lots of our viewer comments on this which we’ll get to shortly. When you see that, what’s your first impression?

Tim Burrowes: Do you know – two impressions actually. Number One – bit of a beat up of social media reaction to holding the beer. But Number Two – is Malcolm generally sitting there with baby and beer? Or was it a posed picture anyway? So cynicism on both sides.

Michael Rowland: Why – do you think his PR person said, “Oi PM”?

Tim Burrowes: [interjecting] Make us nice and relatable to the punters.

Madeleine Morris: You’re such a cynic, Tim

Michael Rowland: It’s only half drunk – the beer.

Tim Burrowes: It is.

Michael Rowland: I’m sure it’s a light beer as well.

Tim Burrowes: Well, question is – did he at least drink it?

Madeleine Morris: So cynical – oh Tim it’s devastating. Thank you very much for coming in.

Turn it up.  A bloke is photographed holding a baby while drinking a beer at a football match late on a Saturday afternoon.  And Burrowes of Mumbrella reckons that the photo was posed and the beer not drunk.  Question: How would Tim Burrowes know?  Answer: He doesn’t, he just made this up.  Can You Bear It?



That was Monday.  Then on Tuesday Crikey published, wait for it, a poem.  Yes, a poem.  By one of Australia’s leading poets – a certain John Kinsella from Western Australia.

Believe it or not.  Your man Kinsella’s most recent verse is directed at – yes, of course – Andrew Bolt and titled “Statue Haters Past & Present: a poem for Andrew Bolt”.

So how about that?  The Leftist Bard of Perth versifying about The Conservative Bolter of Melbourne. Give your man Kinsella another Arts Council grant, MWD reckons. Can You Bear It?



Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves Richard Ackland’s “Gadfly” column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper. It’s about the only opinion piece in Morry Schwartz’s self-indulgent leftist house journal that can be read sitting down – unlike the lengthy epistles of Paul (“I once shared accommodation with Gerald Ridsdale but I don’t say much about it”) Bongiorno or Mike (“The Sneerer”) Seccombe which require a standing-read to stay awake.

As MWD’s avid readers are aware, in his “Gadfly” column on 30 January 2016, your man Ackland criticised Alexander Downer for his (alleged) “peculiar childlike form of expression”.

However, it’s good to see that Ackland is continuing his tradition of using nicknames in his very own peculiar childlike form of expression.  So in last Saturday’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper’s “Gadfly” column, there is reference to “Otto Abetz” (aka Eric Abetz) and “Prime Minister Bollards Trumble” (aka Malcolm Turnbull). Funny, eh?  And President Donald J. Trump is referred to as Mr Turnbull’s “nuclear war ally”. [That’s even funnier, surely. – MWD  Editor].

The “Otto” reference is a reminder that the Nazi operative Heinrich Otto Abetz (1903-1958) is Eric’s great uncle.  And the “Trumble” reference is a reminder of President Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer’s verbal stumble of recent memory.

In any event, Richard Ackland put his two most recent obsessions together last Saturday in a final reflection titled “Trumpette #38”. Here it is:

Trumble [sic] is not the only one having trouble with his terminological exactitudes. His nuclear war ally Donald Trump is also scoring poorly on the truthiness index.

Of Trump’s statements analysed by PolitiFact, only 5 per cent were found to be true, 26 per cent were mostly true or half true, and 69 per cent were whoppers – “mostly false, false, or pants on fire”. Most recently, the Department of Justice found his claim that president Obama had wire-tapped Trump Tower just before the election to be a “total fabrication”.

Maria Konnikova in Politico reminded us that all presidents lie. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton lied to protect their reputations. Trump, however, lies “for the pure joy of it”. To borrow a phrase of Goebbels, Trump is master of his own “lie factory”.

Now here’s the crucial question.  Could your man Ackland have written this tosh shortly after Gin & Tonic time?  After all, it sounds a bit like a missive from Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton.

You see, the Nazi Germany propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels used the term “lie factory” against British prime minister Winston Churchill. It was the heading given to an article which he wrote on 12 January 1941 titled “Churchill’s Lie Factory”. Contrary to Ackland’s confusion, Goebbels did not boast about his capacity to tell lies. Rather, he alleged that Mr Churchill was a liar.  Here Ackland quoted Goebbels favourably – and inaccurately.

And so it came to pass that Richard Ackland has a go at Eric Abetz concerning the Nazi past of his grand uncle (who died before Eric was born) – while borrowing a term invented by Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels to use against President Trump.  Can You Bear It?



While on the issue of political hyperbole, what a stunning piece by Julie Szego in Fairfax Media last Monday. Ms Szego spent an entire column complaining about the hyperbole involved in some leading Coalition politicians describing Labor leader Bill Shorten as a follower of the Soviet dictator Joe Stalin.  But, then, the middle of Ms Szego’s column contained this paragraph:

Of course, the Stalinist mindset has contempt for facts, marshalling them in the service of ideology.  Turnbull’s response to Shorten’s remarks evokes the kind of hyperbolic overreaction and wilful distortion of Uncle Joe.

So, there you have it. Ms Szego condemned Malcolm Turnbull for referring to Bill Shorten as a Stalinist since this was hyperbolic.  And then Ms Szego declared that the Prime Minister’s “hyperbolic reaction” was itself a “wilful distortion worthy of Uncle Joe [Stalin]”. Can You Bear It?



Media Watch Dog looks kindly on the Brisbane-based writer and leftist activist Benjamin Law. After all, he has given Jackie’s (male) co-owner a much prized “Endorsement” – see at the end of the issue.

Sure, your man Law got into a spot of bother this week when it was revealed that on 30 August 2017 he had tweeted that he would “hate f-ck” opponents of same-sex marriage like the good-looking Liberal Party MP Andrew Hastie.  After all, even Crikey writer-at-large Guy Rundle (who happens to be MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian) conceded last week that the Law tweet was “a little bit rapey”, even “a little ugly”.  But Comrade Rundle added that the Law tweet “was otherwise OK” and that the Brisbane writer has his “full support” since his tweet “was funny”.  So, no problem here – after all.

What Hendo found REALLY FUNNY was the first sentence in last Saturday’s Good Weekend magazine in the edited extract taken from Benjamin Law’s Quarterly Essay titled “Moral Panic 101: Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal” which has just been released by Morry Schwartz’s house leftist quarterly.  Here it is:

Recently I was at a dinner party in Sydney where the guests were people like me – inner-city professionals; queer or queer-friendly; working in the media or arts – and ranging in age from mid-30s to late 50s.

No wonder Benjamin Law has a Fairfax Media column and appears regularly on the ABC – and now writes commissioned works for Morry Schwartz’s Black Inc.  He is a man of the inner-city left who mixes with people with whom he agrees – inner-city professionals who work in the media or arts and who like going to dinner parties with each other and engaging in conversation where everyone agrees with everyone else. Come to think of it, this sounds like an occasional program on The Drum or Radio National Breakfast.  Can You Bear It?



While on the issue of Radio National Breakfast, last Tuesday Patricia Karvelas was in the presenter’s chair filling in for Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. After 8 am, Ms Karvelas presided over a debate between Christine Foster (described as “Liberal Party councillor for the City of Sydney, sister to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott”) and Karina Okotel (described as vice-president of the Liberal Party”). The former will vote “Yes” in the same-sex marriage survey – while the latter will vote “No”.

One of Ms Okotel’s concerns is that changing the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act to cover same-sex marriage would impact on how the concept of marriage is taught in schools under the Safe Schools program.

Patricia Karvelas was not sympathetic to this position.  Taking a line from Ms Foster, Ms Karvelas put it to Ms Okotel that the change to the divorce law in the 1961 Marriage Act had not prevented Catholic Church’s teachings on divorce and marriage being taught to Catholic students. Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: Karina, it’s true [that] divorce is taught in Catholic schools under the religious understanding of the Catholic religion in schools even though the law is different. Can’t you have both? Because we currently do have lots of inconsistencies.

Karina Okotel: I suppose I want to come back to –

Patricia Karvelas: No, but I asked you a question about the divorce. It’s true, isn’t it? Divorce can be taught in Catholic schools [sic] even though the law says you can get divorced.

Karina Okotel: I’m not familiar with the Catholics, I didn’t go to a Catholic school so I don’t know what’s being taught in Catholic schools.

Patricia Karvelas: No, but we know that Catholics, I mean most people know that Catholics say that divorce is not the right thing to do and that’s what’s taught in Catholic schools, yet the law is different. How is that functioning and happening right now in Australia? Wouldn’t the same thing happen with same sex marriage?

Karina Okotel: I’m not across what’s taught in Catholic schools, I suppose I can’t make comment on that as such…

So, Karina Okotel said that she does not know much about Catholicism.  In fact, neither does Patricia Karvelas, it seems. It’s just on Tuesday she pretended otherwise.

Contrary to The Thought of Karvelas, the Catholic Church does not teach that “divorce is not the right thing to do”. She just made this up. The Catholic Church has no problems with Catholics getting divorced under civil law if this is necessary.  All that the Catholic Church teaches is that a divorced Catholic cannot re-marry in a Catholic church while his/her former spouse is alive.  Even here, there is an exception.  In certain circumstances, the Catholic Church allows for marriages to be annulled – which, for all practical purposes, is a religious form of divorce.

So here you have Patricia Karvelas hectoring Karina Okotel about the Catholic Church on its teachings on divorce.  Despite the fact that Ms Okotel is not a Catholic. And despite the fact that Ms Karvelas was hopelessly wrong about Catholicism.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  By the way, why do the likes of Ms Karvelas keep banging on about the fact that Christine Foster and Tony Abbott are siblings?  RN Breakfast presenters do not pepper questions to Tim Costello about what his brother Peter Costello is up to.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


The Turnbull government’s concession to get its important media reforms passed in the Senate, required that it provide some subsidies and tax concessions to struggling regional newspapers.  This was not a big deal in view of the need to reform Australia’s 30 years old and antiquated media laws.

However, the decision upset the ABC TV Lateline presenter Emma Alberici. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s star journalist threw the switch to Twitter – as the following tweet illustrates:


How about that?  The ABC receives a taxpayer funded handout of over $1 billion a year.  Moreover, it is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor of any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

And La Alberici reckons that government hand-outs to media outlets do not work and amount to a waste of taxpayer money.  Except when the recipient of such taxpayer largesse is the ABC, of course.

Emma Alberici: Media Fool of the Week.



Guess what?  ABC management will not tell MWD who is the executive producer of the ABC TV One Plus One program which is presented by Jane Hutcheon.

Last Saturday Ms Hutcheon interviewed former Catholic priest Julian Punch on One Plus One (the executive producer of which is a national secret).

Julian Punch engaged in the character assassination of Cardinal George Pell and the late Archbishop Guilford Young.

Later Julian Punch made numerous false and undocumented statements about what the anti-communist National Civic Council did in Tasmania in the 1970s – Punch even made the ridiculous claim that in the 1970s the NCC had taken over “every trade union” in Tasmania along with “the universities”.

This matter will be covered in greater detail in MWD next week.  In the meantime, avid readers may be interested to know that Sally Jackson (the ABC’s Media Manager, News and Current Affairs) has advised Hendo that errors don’t really matter with respect to “events of more than 40 years ago”. Really.

Stay tuned. [I can barely wait – MWD Editor.]



As avid readers are aware, not one self-proclaimed “expert” on America at the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at Sydney University predicted that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Not one.  And, according to the USSC’s chief executive officer Professor Simon Jackman (as told to Sky News last November), not one member of the USSC supports President Trump. Not one.

So, on the USSC’s own admission, none of its 30 strong staff – including the likes of Professor Simon Jackman, Associate Professor James Brown, Dr David Smith, Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor and ABC presenter John Barron – knew enough about contemporary American society to understand that Donald J. Trump could win in November 2016.  And none of the USSC academics agree with the decision of those Americans who support President Trump.

The USSC was set up following a grant of $25 million from the Howard government in 2006.  What a waste of taxpayers’ money.  And now for the very latest from the US[eless] Studies Centre.



The United States Studies Centre’s Dr David Smith (for a doctor he is) appears each Tuesday on the ABC Radio 702 “Drive” program presented by Richard Glover.  The segment is called, yes indeed: “Trump Tuesday”.

This provides an opportunity for the Trump-hater Smith to go on-and-on about just how bad the Trump administration and the President himself is.  Let’s go to the transcript of last Tuesday’s “Trump Tuesday” where the learned doctor said that the President must be wrong – because Miss America contestants say so:

Richard Glover: Of course Donald Trump has a connection with beauty pageants going back years. And he might normally be thought to be a fan of them, I don’t know if that’s true of the latest Miss America pageant.

David Smith: No, I mean yeah, Trump’s certainly Objectifier in Chief. Hillary Clinton tried to make this a major issue during one of the debates, that one of the contestants in Trump’s off brand beauty pageant, I can’t remember what it was, was just foully treated by him. So yes, there’s a lovely irony now that beauty pageants are becoming a political vehicle from which contestants can denounce the President.

As David Smith is wont to say: “No, I mean yeah”. Dr Smith cannot remember what Donald J. Trump (allegedly) did after judging a Miss Universe beauty pageant around two decades ago.  But the contestant was certainly “foully treated” – according to your man Smith.  “No”, I mean “Yeah” – or whatever.

Richard Glover then got into the REALLY BIG QUESTION OF THE DAY – namely what Miss America contestants in 2017 really think of the president:

Richard Glover: I think there’s a round in which, you know after all the rounds, there’s a round in which they’re asked a serious question. It might be about global warming, it might be about world peace, it might be about anything. But in this case, each contestant is asked a different question. Here’s Miss Texas being asked about Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests.


Jess Cagle, Pageant Judge: Last month a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK in Charlottesville turned violent and a counter protestor was killed. The President said there was shared blame with “very fine people on both sides”. Were there? Tell me yes or no and explain.

Miss Texas, Margana Wood: I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack. And I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and that making sure that all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.

Well, just fancy that.  A pageant judge put forward a leading question encouraging the contestant to bag the President. And Miss Texas does so.  Quelle surprise.

And now it’s back to Mr Glover and Miss North Dakota.

Richard Glover: There you go, Miss Texas Margana Wood calling it as a terrorist attack. And here’s Miss North Dakota Cara Mund, who ended up taking the crown, with her opinion on American foreign policy when it comes to climate change.

Maria Menounos, Pageant Judge: One hundred and ninety five countries signed the Paris agreement in which each country sets non-binding goals to reduce man made climate change. The US is withdrawing from the agreement citing negligible environmental effects and negative economic impact. Good decision? Bad decision? Which is it and why?

Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund: I do believe that it’s a bad decision. Once we reject that – thank you – once we reject that we take ourselves out of the negotiation table and that’s something that we really need to keep in mind. There is evidence that climate change is existing, whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table. And I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States.

Richard Glover: There you go. Elect Miss North Dakota to the UN straight away as ambassador.

David Smith: Yes, well this is beauty pageants talking back to Trump. It’s also worth pointing out that Texas was historically one of the most repressive states of the former confederacy, and we now have Miss Texas denouncing white supremacy. And North Dakota is one of the most fossil fuel dependant states in the Unites States and we have Miss Dakota telling Trump to get back to the table.

What a load of absolute tosh. Of course Miss North Dakota would answer a leading question on climate change by telling the questioner what she wanted to hear.  So would have Miss South Dakota.

And as to David Smith reading something of enormous significance into what contestants in a Miss America beauty contest really, really think.  Well, it just shows how USELESS the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre really, really, is.


In his Weekend Australian column last Saturday, Gerard Henderson wrote that the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s recommendation that governments should outlaw the secrecy of the confessional amounted to an attack on freedom of religion.  The Australian posted the following tweet concerning the article on the seal of the confession which exists in the Catholic Church, along with some Anglican and Orthodox churches:

In response, Peter Fox put out the following tweet:


Well, that’s pretty clear then. Peter Fox believes that everyone should follow – and agree with – all recommendations of royal commissions.  Except, it seems, when the findings concern him.

Detective Chief Inspector Fox (as he then was – although on sick leave at the time) became famous following a series of interviews he did on the ABC in late 2012.  Namely with Tony Jones on ABC TV on Lateline (8 November 2012), Emma Alberici on Lateline (12 November 2012) and Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast (13 November 2012).

In interviews, Peter Fox essentially alleged that there had been some form of conspiracy between NSW Police and the Catholic Church not to properly investigate cases of clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.  Mr Fox also called for the NSW government to establish a royal commission to inquire into the matter.

Shortly after Jones/Fox interview, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell established the Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland – Newcastle. Margaret Cunneen SC was appointed the special commissioner.

Margaret Cunneen SC found that Peter Fox had used the term “Catholic police mafia” on multiple occasions but also found that there was no evidence to support his claims that alleged abuse offences involving Catholic officials were not properly investigated by NSW Police.

These are the final two conclusions (9.73 and 9.74) that is part of the Special Commission of Inquiry titled “Detective Chief Inspector Fox: lack of objectivity”.

9.73 On the basis of its own observations and having regard to the documentary and oral evidence as a whole, the Commission formed the view that Fox did have what effectively amounts to an “obsession” about matters relating to the Catholic Church. That “obsession” or “passion” on the part of Fox was no doubt originally well intentioned. It might well have been a factor in the success of the Fletcher prosecution. Further, as other chapters in this report show, Fox’s concerns have been vindicated in relation to at least some aspects of the conduct of Maitland– Newcastle Diocese, even if he did not know many of the details of various matters the Commission subsequently uncovered.

9.74 The Commission considers, however, that Fox has lost much of his capacity for objectivity about matters pertaining to the Diocese. In his report dated 25 November 2010, which he prepared for senior police, he described himself as “objective but passionate”.112 Although he undoubtedly remains passionate about child sexual abuse and the Catholic Church, he has lost much of his capacity to approach such matters with the detachment required of an investigating officer.

The Commission’s report describes numerous instances reflecting this lack of objectivity – for example, his assertion of collusion in the police statements of certain church officials taken in 2003 (dealt with in Chapter 18). As noted in Chapter 20, this lack of objectivity in connection with matters involving the Diocese and related police investigations is such that, on matters of controversy, Fox’s evidence must be approached with caution.

In short, the Special Commission found that Peter Fox had an obsession about matters relating to the Catholic Church and had lost much of his capacity to approach the allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church with the detachment required of an investigating officer in NSW Police.

Peter Fox refused to accept Margaret Cunneen SC’s finding. Appearing on the ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program on 22 June 2015 – with fellow panellist Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy – Peter Fox compared the Special Commission to Guantanamo Bay.  Big Ideas presenter Andrew Dodd did not challenge Fox’s assessment. And Joanne McCarthy asserted that members of NSW Police in the Special Commissioner’s gallery “wanted to disembowel” Fox.  Peter Fox went on to make a general criticism of the Special Commission and Margaret Cunneen S.C.

So there you have it.  Peter Fox says that it is improper for anyone to criticise a recommendation of Justice Peter McClellan’s Royal Commission.  However, Peter Fox believes that it was totally proper for him to criticise Margaret Cunneen’s Special Commission


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). 


Time flies.  In this coverage of Michael Koziol’s report on Professor George Williams’ speech to the National Press Club in last week’s MWD, Hendo failed to remember that he used to refer to this particular gentleman as Young Michael Koziol. YMK wrote to MWD about this.  Now read on:


Michael Koziol to Gerard Henderson – 8 September 2017

Dear Gerard,

As an avid reader of your Media Watch Dog blog I was most enthused to find myself again mentioned in its august pages – after what feels like an eternity. Imagine my disappointment, however, to discover I am no longer “Young Michael Koziol”, or YMK, as in previous dispatches. Have I aged terribly? One supposes the ravages of time cannot be avoided.

No doubt you will note the late hour of this note, circa Friday night drinks, as is your prerogative.

And of course, keep morale high.



Gerard Henderson to Michael Koziol – 11 September 2017

Dear YMK

Thanks for picking up the John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in last Friday’s Media Watch Dog.  The reference is to your email sent after post-dinner drinks on Friday.

Yes, it’s true.  I neglected to follow the well-established MWD precedent to refer to you as Young Michael Koziol (YMK).

How could this be the case?  Perhaps, in my sub-conscious, I have regarded you as an adult since you wrote about the real-life trauma of turning 25 years of age.  Your Sydney Morning Herald column of 22 August 2015 refers.

My mistake.  I should not have taken seriously your claim that, beyond one score and five, there is nothing but death or – perhaps – the purchase of a cat.  In future issues of MWD you will be referred to as Young Michael Koziol – until you reach 30 or buy a kitten, whichever comes first.

Now, here’s some (gratuitous) advice from an old man for an avid young reader.  Whenever covering the likely decisions of the High Court of Australia – avoid the views of academic constitutional lawyers like Professor George Williams. Or at least provide an alternative opinion from another academic lawyer.

At his National Press Club speech in Canberra – which you reported for Fairfax Media – your man Williams sounded like a judge handing down a judgement.  That’s not the role of an academic lawyer.  I note that Louise Clegg in her considered article in the Australian Financial Review of 4 September 2017 acknowledged that the High Court could find the same sex marriage postal survey constitutional.

As it turned out, seven judges did what Ms Clegg thought they might do.  And seven judges found against The Thought of George Williams. I concur with the latter.

I trust that morale remains high.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson (just before Gin & Tonic time).


Michael Koziol to Gerard Henderson – 15 September 2017

Hi Gerard,

Apologies for the delay. I’m glad to see your exacting memory has not allowed you to forget that indulgent column of August 2015.

Re: Williams et al – it is indeed a pity Louise Clegg was not also invited to the National Press Club to give her view.

Perhaps, as is my tendency, prediction should be dispensed with altogether.





On 10 September 2017, David Spicer reported on ABC TV News that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney had evicted the Genesian Theatre Company from a heritage listed former Catholic Church in the Sydney CBD.  Gerard Henderson suggested to David Spicer that it was a massive beat-up to suggest that the Catholic Church had somehow mistreated the company – when in fact it had provided its property at a peppercorn rent for over six decades.  Mr Spicer did not agree. Here we go:

Gerard Henderson to David Spicer – 11 September 2017


Alas.  It seems that even you have jumped on board the ABC’s Anti-Catholic Sectarian Cart.

The reference is to your report on ABC News yesterday with the emotive heading: “Sydney’s historic Genesian Theatre Company forced out by Catholic Church, ending 60-year old tradition”. This line was repeated by you in your first paragraph which read:

The Catholic Church has ordered the Genesian Theatre Company to leave their Kent Street venue, ending a tradition of amateur theatre in the centre of Sydney that goes back to the 1950’s.

In your Twitter feed late yesterday foreshadowing your report on ABC TV, you even claimed that the Catholic Church is “evicting the community theatre after 63 years”.

What a beat up.  As your own report reveals, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney provided the one-time church to the Genesian Theatre Company for 63 years at a peppercorn rent.  The Catholic Church has now been offered $6 million from a property developer for this heritage building.  Church authorities have given the Genesian Theatre Company over a year (until November 2018) to vacate the premises.

And yet the ABC claims that the Genesian Theatre Company has been “forced out” of its premises.  And you claim that it has been evicted and “ordered to leave”.  Clearly, journalists at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster have scant knowledge of how the private property market works – including an understanding of the concept of a lease.

The Catholic Church runs schools, hospitals, welfare agencies and the like.  It seems that, after six decades, it has decided to accept a good offer for a property which – as a theatre – accommodated a maximum audience of around 120 customers. It seems like a good commercial deal, don’t you think?

I know of numerous organisations which would have loved to receive such a property rent-free for over half a century.  As a part-time theatrical agent, you will understand this. Yet you allege that the tenant has been evicted. What a load of absolute tosh.

If you are looking for a real story on a quiet weekend for news – why not do what the ABC has so far refused to do?  Why not report the Jon Stephens case?

In late June 2017, Jon Stephens pleaded guilty at Gosford Local Court to the sexual assault of a 14 year old boy.  At the time of the offence, Stephens was an ABC TV producer and his victim was a casual ABC employee. The offence took place at or near Gosford while on an ABC assignment in 1981.

The ABC has gone into denial on this matter. It has not reported Jon Stephens’ conviction despite its tendency to cover cases concerning clerical child sexual abuse.  Nor has the ABC advised whether it has adopted a duty of care towards, or provided compensation to, Stephens’ victim – who, apparently, is living in a van.

The Stephens case is a real story – unlike your Genesian Theatre Company beat-up.  Why not cover it on a quiet weekend? Just a thought.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

PS: Please note.  This is a not a formal complaint – and I do not want the matter referred to the bureaucrats in the ABC’s Audience & Consumer Affairs department in Canberra.


David Spicer to Gerard Henderson – 11 September 2017

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your close attention to my story.

The Wikipedia definition of evict is “removal of a tenant from a rental property by a landlord”.

If you are occupying a building for 63 years then asked to remove everything and leave how would you describe it?

The president of the Genesians said a young property manager employed by the Catholic Church used harsher language to him at a meeting..something like the Genesians were going to be “liquidated”  from the property. I think I could have used the headline Catholic Church “liquidates” amateur theatre after 63 years. ( But I was kinder than that.)

I went to strenuous efforts to have the Catholic Church participate in the story but they declined to provide an on camera response.

Your point about the magnificent deal offered by the church over half a century was highlighted in bold in the on-line story quote from Roger Gimblett.

My wife made exactly the same point you did  after watching my report. She said if you rented out a garage for 60 years to an amateur theatre company what would you do if someone offered you $6 million dollars plus for it?   There has been a lively debate on this issue on social media.

Yes it is no secret that I also run a small business so am I aware of economic realities. (You will be amused that I get annoyed sometimes at a competitor who is wholly Government funded).

Yes the Genesians have been very fortunate to be on such a good wicket. They have in turn looked after the building, provided wholesome entertainment (that does not affront the church) to people who cannot afford expensive theatre tickets, donated large sums to charity and are part of the fabric of Sydney.

It was a very good exclusive story for a slow weekend attracting almost as many hits on our website as the latest shark attack.

Re the sex offender who you say worked for the ABC this is the first I have heard of the case. Very happy to put it in the diary if he has not been sentenced yet or if there is a development in the story coming up.


David Spicer


Gerard Henderson to David Spicer – 12 September 2017


Thanks for your prompt reply to my email of yesterday.  In response, I make the following points:

▪ The ABC must be hard up if you have to go to Wikipedia for legal definitions.  The Concise Australian Legal Dictionary defines eviction as “the process of removing a person from occupation of a premises, including legal proceedings and physical removal”.

In other words, eviction is a legal process which usually follows failure to pay rent, illegal occupation etc.  The term does not apply with respect to the Genesian Theatre Company’s relationship with the Archdiocese of Sydney.

▪ Your question: “If you are occupying a building for 63 years and then asked to remove everything and leave how would you describe it?” – is just facile.  The ending of a lease does not equate with eviction.  Leases in the Sydney CBD end every week.  Tenants do not have a right to continued occupation beyond the terms of a Lease or other arrangements (i.e. a peppercorn rent).

▪ The suggestion that the team in the Genesian Theatre Company has been “liquidated” by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is even more ridiculous than your eviction thesis.

▪  If I were a member of the Catholic Church in Australia, I would not agree to a pre-recorded interview with the ABC – since the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is replete with anti-Catholic sectarians (some of whom are former Catholics).

▪ It is true that the Genesian Theatre Company’s Roger Gimblett acknowledged that the company is paying a peppercorn rent. You did not quote him in your report for ABC News as saying that this was a “magnificent deal”.  You just made this up.

▪ Since the Genesian Theatre Company is “part of the fabric of Sydney”, it’s likely that someone will offer a grace-and-favour deal for it. Who knows?  There is quite a deal of unutilised space at the ABC Ultimo headquarters and there may be a possibility there. Or perhaps such luminaries as Cate Blanchett and Baz Lurhmann might pay for a 63-year lease on another location in the Sydney CBD.

▪ I did not just “say” that Jon Stephens worked for the ABC.  This was in the police statement provided to Gosford Local Court when Stephens pleaded guilty in late June 2017 to sexual assault of a 14-year old male.  When the crime occurred in 1981, Stephens was an ABC TV producer, his victim was an ABC casual employee and the assault took place on an ABC assignment.

ABC News has not reported – and will not report – its very own case of historic child abuse.  However, it can find time for beat-ups about the relationship between the Catholic Church and a theatre company. An unpleasant double standard, to be sure.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

[MWD Editor’s Note: Just before MWD was uploaded today, another missive was received from David Spicer. This will be published next week.]



As avid readers will be aware, last week MWD carried correspondence between Gerard Henderson and Michael Fullilove concerning the attitude of the neutral United States between the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 and Nazi Germany’s decision to declare war on the US in December 1941.  Hendo reminded your main Fullilove that President F.D. Roosevelt went to the November 1940 presidential election promising that no US forces would be despatched to support British and Commonwealth forces in the war against Hitler’s Germany.  And Dr Fullilove (for a doctor he is) argued that FDR was a big supporter of British prime minister Winston Churchill.  Now let’s hear from Mr Keough in Malaysia.


John Keough to Gerard Henderson – 8 September 2017

Dear Gerard

I hope this finds you in good form. I read with interest your run in with “Full of Himself” Fullilove. Your assessment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt is spot on.

On 15 May 1940 Winston Churchill cabled Roosevelt seeking help. He wanted 30 or 40 old destroyers and other equipment.

On 16 May 1940 Roosevelt called on Congress to appropriate $896 million to upgrade American air, ground and naval defences. In his address, he made no mention of supplying any military assistance to the British or the French. (NYT 17 May 1940)

After delivering his message to Congress, the president returned to the White House and wrote to Churchill informing him that the United States could not loan the British any destroyers, no matter how old, without Congressional approval, which he declined to seek. On the matter of airplanes, he promised nothing, insisting only that the United States would do “everything within our power to make it possible for the Allied Governments to obtain the latest types of aircraft in the United States.”

As to the American Fleet, which Churchill hoped would be repositioned in the Atlantic, it was “now concentrated in Hawaii where it will remain at least for the time being.” Roosevelt was, however, prepared to permit the British to purchase steel in the United States and he pledged to give “the most favourable consideration ……to the request” for anti-aircraft equipment and ammunition, though he added that the request would have to be considered “in the light of our own defense needs and requirements.”  (SS Hull to JPK 16 May 16 1940) – Secretary of State to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Ambassador to Great Britain.

Certainly, Roosevelt at no time ever suggested that Britain should ever get anything for free. In September 1939 two days after war broke out the Americans wanted to seize the Normandie and the The Queen Mary as part payment for war debt.

A few days before France capitulated, Roosevelt sent a message to Premier Reynaud which said: “As I have already stated to you and to Mr. Churchill, this Government is doing everything in its power to make available to the Allied Governments the material they so urgently require, and our efforts to do still more are being redoubled.” (Bullit to SS 10 June 1940.  SS to First Secretary of Embassy in France, 13 June 1940)

Churchill sought permission from Roosevelt to publish the message because he was buying time to get the British army off Dunkirk and he did not want the French to surrender before he did so. Roosevelt rang Joseph Kennedy at 4.30 am London time to stop any publication of his letter to Churchill and Reynaud: “My message to Renaud not to be published in any circumstances. It was in no sense intended to commit and does not commit this Government to the slightest military activities in support of the Allies……If there is any possibility of misunderstanding please insist that Churchill at once convey this statement to the appropriate French officials.”

Mr.Fullilove certainly paints a picture that is quite different from the facts.


John Keough


Gerard Henderson to John Keough – 13 September 2017


That’s an interesting letter which I am pleased to run in Friday’s MWD blog.

Michael Fullilove is a good historian – but, at times, he adopts the stance of a barracker.  This is most evident in his support for President Roosevelt and President Obama. Fullilove admits to being an “Obama fanboy”.

As you understand, FDR was in a difficult position in 1940 due to the strong isolationist attitude in the United States at the time.  However, only an “FDR fanboy” (like Dr Fullilove) would tell a Q&A audience that President Roosevelt condemned Nazi Germany in his Charlottesville address in 1940 and was an active supporter of Britain in its darkest hour.  He didn’t – and he wasn’t.

Best wishes – and thanks for drawing the material in your letter to my attention.

Best wishes



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Until next time.

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