22 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: Katelyn Barry on Tony Abbott’s Swollen Lip; John Hewson’s False Memory on the Republic Referendum 

  • The Cliché in the Room – Starring Alison Carabine 

  • Can You Bear It? Del Irani & Fran Kelly & Kate Roffey & Virginia Trioli; Peter FitzSimons Labels All Christians as Nutters 

  • An ABC Update: How One Plus One (aka “Tosh Plus Tosh”) Failed to Fact Check Julian Punch’s Mythology; Bushfires Still Preventing ABC Coverage of Its Own Historic Pedophile Case & Q&A’s Well Earned Break (Again) 

  • Theatre Review (Sponsored by Jackie): The Sydney Theatre Company’s Disappointing Insiders’ Sketch 

  • Five Paws Award: Dominic Lawson on “Nick”’s Failed Pedophile Allegation Against Edward Heath 

  • Deliberate Mistake Corner 

  • Documentation: When Anne Summers Worked for Bob Santamaria 

  • Correspondence: Starring the ABC’s Nick Leys, Sally Jackson and David Spicer 



Media Watch Dog was watching Sky News’ The Bolt Report last night when it was reported that Tony Abbott had been assaulted in Hobart.  By 9 pm, during Paul Murray Live, Sky News managed to cross to its reporter Katelyn Barry in Hobart Town.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Katelyn Barry: So at this stage we still don’t know where Tony Abbott and his swollen lip are at the moment. But he’s said to be very shaken after the incident, a man approached him as we’ve heard and put out his hand for a handshake and then head-butted him, allegedly.

Soon after, Paul Murray and his guest Senator Derryn Hinch made it clear that they did not regard this matter as a mere allegation.  However, Ms Barry’s use of the word “allegedly” and her ability to speculate about the location of both “Tony Abbott” and his “swollen lip” suggests that she is destined for a job among the journalistic sneerers and Abbott-haters at the ABC or Fairfax Media.


What a stunning piece by former Liberal Party leader (and constant Liberal Party critic) John Hewson in today’s Fairfax Media newspapers.  Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) commenced his piece bagging the Liberal Party – yet again, yawn – as follows:

The only reason that I decided to stay on as leader after the election loss in 1993 was because of a genuine concern that John Howard would replace me. On two key issues: native title and the republic, I knew he would be particularly divisive by moving the party to the hardline “right”. This concern was soon validated when I made a significant speech arguing that “hardline monarchists were an anachronism”. Howard rushed into my office, shouting and screaming: “Australia would only become a republic over my bloody dead body.”

Howard is a man of simple values, but an astute politician, skilfully able to turn events as they unfold to his political advantage. When the republican issue emerged under his watch, recognising the division in the republican ranks, he crafted a question for the referendum that he knew would fail. The process to the republican vote was always the wrong way around. It should have been a two-stage process – stage one, a plebiscite, do you, or do you not, want Australia to be a republic? Then stage two, a referendum on the various models.

What a load of absolute tosh.  John Hewson stayed on as Liberal Party leader after leading the Coalition to a disastrous defeat at the hands of Labor’s Paul Keating in 1993 because he wanted the job.  He still wanted the Opposition leader position when he was rolled by Alexander Downer – not John Howard –in a Liberal Party ballot in May 1994.  Downer defeated Hewson by 43 to 36 votes.

Moreover, John Howard did not rig the November 1999 referendum as to whether Australia should become a republic. Malcolm Turnbull, then head of the Australian Republican Movement, did not want a plebiscite followed by a referendum.  He wanted a referendum straight up.  And Mr Turnbull, on behalf of the ARM, approved of the question put by the Howard Government on 6 November 1999 – which was as follows:

A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Do you approve this proposed alteration?

This was a perfectly reasonable question to which 45 per cent of Australians (including Gerard Henderson) voted “Yes”.  One of the reasons the referendum failed turned on the fact that many republicans wanted a directly elected president voted by the people and, consequently, voted “No”. In short, the republican movement was divided.

It’s just a myth for John Hewson to claim that John Howard manipulated the republican referendum.  He didn’t.  In any event, an indicative plebiscite could not have brought in a republic.  A referendum question would always have had to be put to the people – which is what happened on 6 November 1999.  There is no comparison between the 1999 constitutional referendum on the republic and the 2017 postal survey on same sex marriage.



It was a coming-together of two Abbott critics when ABC journalist Fran Kelly interviewed ABC journalist Alison Carabine on ABC Radio National Breakfast yesterday.

Listeners soon heard the usual Tony-Abbott-is-wrong-on-everything line that is so common on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Then Ms Carabine threw the switch to cliché. This time, not the elephant-in-the-room cliché – but the jihad cliché.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Alison Carbine: As a contributing factor [to the rising cost of energy] renewables only come in at number 4. So launching a jihad –

Fran Kelly: [interjecting] 16 per cent?

Alison Carbine: 16 per cent. So launching a jihad against renewables is not the answer to fixing the mess and that does uncut Tony Abbott’s campaign.

It’s not just that Tony Abbott is (allegedly) wrong. It’s just the way in which he is (allegedly) wrong. By LAUNCHING A JIHAD.  Yawn.



This is how Del Irani – ABC News Breakfast’s  co-presenter last Wednesday – referred to the comments by businessman Roger Corbett in opposition to same-sex marriage.

Del Irani:  A number of Australian business leaders have been outspoken on the issue. Woolworths’ managing director Roger Corbett has recently said that he is in the “No” camp.

Er, no, that’s not right.  Roger Corbett was managing director of Woolworths between January 1999 and September 2006.  That is, Mr Corbett was Woolworths’ managing director over a decade ago.  De Irani is News Breakfast’s finance presenter.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of RN Breakfast, did anyone hear Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly’s interview with Jonathan Palmer – a senior executive at the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

Ms Kelly opposed the proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage. However, when the Turnbull government went ahead with the postal survey, she complained about the survey’s methodology. Surveys, as we know, are not as reliable as plebiscites.

In her interview with Jonathan Palmer, Fran Kelly went on and on and on about the fact that (i) some survey-forms are not being delivered or have been tampered with or sold, (ii) some survey-forms were found dumped in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick and (iii) that some survey-forms were found dumped in Canberra.  It was the kind of interview that gives repetition a bad name.

There had been a similar discussion the previous morning when Kate Roffey did the Newspapers segment on the ABC TV News Breakfast.  All on the panel agreed that same sex marriage should have been introduced without a plebiscite or a postal survey.  But at least viewers were assured that any lost survey forms were in safe hands in Brunswick – as the transcript indicates:

Kate Roffey: Here in Melbourne, in Brunswick – which is actually one of our, small open and tolerant suburbs you would say – a stack of postal votes –

Virginia Trioli: Very, very left leaning suburb, yes.

Isn’t it so nice to know that a batch of missing survey forms found safe haven in one of Melbourne’s open and tolerant suburbs (pace Roffey) which is very, very left leaning (pace Trioli).  They could all get together on Sydney Road, Brunswick and sin



This is how Peter FitzSimons commenced his “The Fitz Files” column in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald.  Fitz’s Sydney Morning Herald column is usually devoted to sport – unlike his column of the same name on Sundays in the Sun-Herald. Last Saturday, however, The Red Bandannaed One devoted the early part of “The Fitz Files” to preaching a gospel against Rugby Union footballer Israel Folau.  This is what your man FitzSimons had to say:

Which brings us to Israel Folau and his gentle tweet on Wednesday to the effect that – because of his religious beliefs – he will be voting “no” on the same-sex marriage plebiscite. “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions,” he wrote, “but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”

Good on him for expressing his views, even though they clash with those of Australian Rugby, his employer. And let Folau be the exemplar of those without an ounce of homophobia in them – he’s been strong in his support of removing homophobia from sport – who nevertheless intend to vote no. But, I can’t resist. May I be equally gentle in return, in expressing my disagreement? Israel, like many of my Christian friends – and my wife notes how odd it is, that, as an atheist, I seem to gravitate to Christian nutters regardless – I’m told your view is that your God created man and women to procreate within the bounds of matrimony only….

And so the “Gospel According to Fitz” went on. And on. But the point here is that Peter FitzSimons – one of Fairfax’s leading columnists – believes that Christians are “nutters”.  All of them, apparently. And so does his wife Lisa Wilkinson – one of Channel 9’s leading presenters.

So here you have it. The wealthy, middle-aged FitzSimons wears a red rag on his head.  The wealthy middle-aged Lisa Wilkinson is married to the Red Bandannaed One.  And Mr and Mrs Fitz reckon that it’s Christians who are the real nutters. This despite the fact that the FitzSimons boys were educated at the Uniting Church’s Knox Grammar School –  apparently, according to The Thought of Fitz, by “nutters”. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no, now that you mention it. I note, however, that The Red Bandannaed One has not directed the “nutter” tag at any of the Muslim leaders who have said that they oppose same sex marriage. Like the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia’s Keysar Trad. Or like Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, the Grand Mufti of Australia, – as reported by Kylar Loussikian in last Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph. Which suggests that your man Fitz is prepared to tackle the soft target proffered by believing Christians but not the somewhat more robust target presented by believing Muslims. Perhaps Fitz is worried that a radical Islamist might cut off his red bandanna. Just a thought. MWD editor.]


As avid readers are aware, last week’s issue reported on the ABC TV One Plus One episode which first aired on 8 September 2017 featuring Julian Punch.  Jane Hutcheon was in the presenter’s chair.  For many days, ABC management refused to tell MWD who was the executive producer of the program.  However, this week (after much toing and froing) MWD was informed that the executive producer role for the program is shared between Tanya Nolan and Annie White. But, ABC management still will not say who was specifically responsible for the One Plus One edition which featured Julian Punch. Fancy that.

Jane Hutcheon introduced the program on 8 September 2017 as follows:

Jane Hutcheon:  Hello, I’m Jane Hutcheon. Welcome to One Plus One where my guest is former Catholic Priest Julian Punch….

In fact, Julian Punch resigned from the priesthood in 1981 – over 35 years ago. It would be a bit like Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly introducing Paul (“I used to share accommodation with Gerald Ridsdale but I don’t talk much about it”) Bongiorno as, say, “the former Catholic priest Bonge”.

Let’s go to the transcript where Julian Punch referred to his time as a seminarian – or training priest – at the Corpus Christi seminary in Werribee, Victoria, in the late 1950s and early 1960s:

Jane Hutcheon: You mentioned a moment ago that some of the seminarians went mad.

Julian Punch: Yes.

Jane Hutcheon: Was that as a result of persecution or was it an inner conflict?

Julian Punch: It was a whole system. And if you couldn’t cope with it, it had terrible effects. And I saw friends just quietly go mad. And never recovered. And we had two young people who were attracted – two guys who were attracted to one another – and they were in their first year. And it affected them so badly that they went to the edge of the property and they literally took their soutanes off and their collars.

Jane Hutcheon: That’s their black –

Julian Punch: Their black dress. And their collar. And they laid them ceremoniously on the ground. And they then left together, got on the train from Werribee and went to Melbourne. And they jumped off a building in Melbourne which had just been built.

So that’s pretty clear then. Two young, same-sex attracted male seminarians were so adversely affected by the climate at Werribee in the late 1950s or early 1960s that they caught the train to Melbourne and jumped off a tall building in the Melbourne CBD.

Or did they?  Gerard Henderson had never heard of such an event having taken place in Melbourne – and cannot find any reference to such a tragedy in contemporary newspapers.  So Hendo decided to check Julian Punch’s recently published biography titled Gay with God: The life and times of a turbulent priest – which led to the invitation extended to Mr Punch to appear on One Plus One. [Don’t you mean Tosh Plus Tosh?MWD Editor]

Here is how Julian Punch described the (alleged) incident in Gay with God:

We experienced some awful situations where students had mental breakdowns or disintegrated under the oppression of seminary life. I will never forget two young men who were attracted to one another; they were badly bullied by a prefect and reported to the authorities.  It was rumoured that they had ritualistically taken off and folded their soutanes near the main gate and gone by train to Melbourne, where they suicided together by jumping off one of the city’s highest buildings.  Attempts to verify this story have been unsuccessful but I know for certain that some students ended up in mental health institutions and never fully recovered.

So, in his memoir, Julian Punch wrote that the story of the dual suicide by Werribee seminarians was a rumour and that he has not been able to “verify this story”.  In short, Mr Punch has no evidence that the event ever took place.

Even so, your man Mr Punch presented this unverified rumour as fact on One Plus One – without being challenged.   Which suggests that Ms Hutcheon had not read Gay with God before interviewing Julian Punch – and nor had her executive producer of this One Plus One episode (whoever that might have been – either Tanya Nolan or Annie White – re which see the Correspondence section.)

If Julian Punch presented rumour as fact on One Plus One concerning his seminary days – why should a viewer accept as accurate his character assassination of Cardinal George Pell and the late Archbishop Guilford Young, along with his conspiracy theories about the National Civic Council? – all of which went unchallenged by Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One.

[You should return to this matter in future issues.  It seems that the ABC does not engage a fact-checker to be on “Tosh Plus Tosh” to weed out howlers before the program’s pre-recorded interview goes to air. – MWD Editor]


There was enormous interest in MWD’s account last week about how bad luck – damn bad – had once again prevented ABC News from properly reporting the taxpayer funded broadcaster’s very own case of historic child sexual abuse. Readers were moved, literally moved, by the statement by ABC management that the ABC would have given the story more than a perfunctory 30 seconds on its 1 pm news bulletin but for bushfires in the Hunter Valley.  ABC News briefly – rather, very briefly – reported on Wednesday that Jon Stephens’ sentence had been reduced on account of his medical condition. However, the report was not repeated in later bulletins.

Last Monday, Gerard Henderson wrote again to ABC News director suggesting that – since the Hunter Valley bushfires had abated – perhaps the public broadcaster might now be able to report whether the ABC had adopted a duty of care towards, or provided compensation to, Stephens’ victim – who is apparently living in a van.  Here is MWD’s letter.  If Gaven Morris replies, MWD readers will be the first to know.  But don’t hold your collective breaths.


As you know, ABC News did not report that former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty to historic child sexual abuse in late June 2017 – due to (apparent) ignorance of the case.

Moreover, ABC News has only reported once that Jon Stephens’ sentence had been reduced – on its 1 pm news service last Wednesday. Due to (apparent) fire and pestilence taking priority.

In view of this, does ABC News regard it as a story worth reporting as to whether ABC management has approached Stephens’ victim (who has given an interview to the Central Coast Express Advocate) with a view to offering counselling and financial compensation. As you will be aware, ABC journalists have devoted significant time to issues relating to the counselling of, and financial compensation for, victims of clerical child sexual abuse

Just a thought. There could be a real story here. Over to you.


Last Monday, Paul Barry and his team at ABC TV’s Media Watch program once again refused to criticise the ABC self-censorship in this instance – probably due to the nearby bushfires or something like that.




Jackie’s female and male co-owners have not been on Q&A for eight and six years respectively – before the advent of the leftist baying hounds emerged as the program’s audience, some pretending to be political conservatives and social democrats.


However, Hendo still watches the program with interest – mainly to see if presenter Tony Jones will ever produce any evidence in support of his assertion that there were Catholic Croatian terrorists extant in Australia in the 1970s.  So far, your man Jones has not named a single name.

[Perhaps Mr Jones’ (fictional) comment on Q&A about Catholic Croatian terrorists was a dress rehearsal for his recently published book of fiction titled Twentieth Man on the same topic.  Just a thought – MWD Editor.]

In monitoring Q&A, it is evident that the program intends to go longer into the calendar year by cutting out programs during the year.  Cunning plan, eh?  Next Monday Q&A, will be on what it calls “a break”.  It had another Well-Earned-Break on 10 July 2017. MWD will keep you posted.



Jackie’s (male) co-owner is not part of the Sandalista Set – not owning sandals nor a Che Guevara tee-shirt. Consequently, he is not one of these ABC listening/watching and Fairfax Media reading types who see the Sydney Theatre Company’s The Wharf Revue each year in a similar way to which many a Christian in the West rocks up to Church at Christmas.

The Wharf Revue is hugely popular among Green Left types from Sydney’s Lower North Shore, inner-city and Eastern Suburbs who regard their morality as higher than that of other lesser (and less well off) mortals.  So, annually, they attend Sydney’s Wharf Theatre to see The Wharf Revue which this year is written and directed by these blokes – Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott.

Mr Biggins and company like sneering at political conservatives and occasionally social democrats – but rarely at the Greens, like Saint Bob Brown. [Interesting, I would have thought that Mr Brown would be a good subject for comedy. After all, I recall that on 23 March 2012, in an address to “Fellow Earthians” in the Hobart Town Hall, Saint Bob called on “some people-like animals” in the Cosmos to contact the Hobart branch of the Greens Party – MWD Editor.]

Hendo saw The Wharf Revue once in Sydney.  It had its moments.  But some of the sketches did not work – and the performance went for longer than the script justified.  He won’t be going back.  This will not matter with respect to The Wharf Revue’s current production which is titled “The Patriotic Rag”. You see, Hendo appears on stage.

The Wharf Revue has commenced its Canberra season before moving to Sydney and other places. According to reports, the Gerard Henderson character and the David Marr character appear on the Insiders couch – but, alas, not presenter Barrie (Baz) Cassidy or a sheila like La Tingle or Murph. These days, nicknames on Insiders appear to be all the rage – especially when Andrew Probyn is in the presenter’s chair.

A bloke called Moses, one of Hendo’s Canberra contacts, saw the first night of “The Patriotic Rag” at The Playhouse in Canberra. He reported that the Insiders session was quite “unfunny”.  So, did Peter Wilkins, the Canberra Times’  theatre reviewer, who had this to say last Friday:

Not every moment hits the mark. The Insiders sketch with Gerard Henderson (Scott) and David Marr (Biggins), though cleverly depicted, seems somewhat vapid in its script, adding little to the evening other than a familiar glimpse of the two diametrically opposed guests of the ABC’s program.

In other words, why pay good money on a Saturday evening to see Mr Scott as Gerard Henderson and Mr Biggins as David Marr – when you can see the real thing for free, every now and then, on Sunday mornings on ABC TV? – and get Barrie Cassidy and perhaps Lenore Taylor as well.

Writing in Canberra’s City News on 13 September, Joe Woodward offered the following criticism of The Patriotic Rag and its focus on such soft politically conservative targets as President Donald J. Trump.

The Wharf Revue is very cleverly able to tread a line of cheap shots without any real risk of drawing fire from anyone. This does make for fun theatre; though seeing the show in 2017, perhaps it needs to find its dangerous challenge to the establishment that supports it. Even a conservative prime minister can take shots at Donald Trump. Yet there is barely a moment in the show that takes these lightweight shots to any level of originality or danger.

Enough said.


Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany).

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards.  Joe Aston, of the Australian Financial Review’s “Rear Window” column, has declared that he would much prefer to win a Five Paws Award than a Walkley.  Mr Ashton is a past Five Paws Award recipient. He is joined today by the London Sunday Times’ columnist Dominic Lawson.

In a piece titled “Easy money for sexual abuse claim profiteers”, published in The Sunday Times on 3 September 2017 see here, Dominic Lawson wrote about “Nick” who alleged that he had been sexually abused by the late Sir Edward Heath (1916-2005). The Wiltshire police chief was reported to be “120 per cent” certain that Heath had sexually assaulted “Nick”.  However, after a two year investigation, no evidence has been forthcoming and “Nick” is regarded as a dangerous fantasist – possessing a clear “recollection” of events that never happened, for which he has received financial compensation.

Dominic Lawson: Five Paws


Lotsa thanks to ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland for picking up the John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in last week’s MWD.

 The co-presenter of News Breakfast on Monday 11 September was Madeline Morris (not Caro Meldrum-Hanna). The error has been corrected.



There has been enormous interest in the revelation in MWD Issue 377 that Anne Summers was “once briefly employed by B.A. Santamaria’s National Civic Council”.  The reference was to the attack by Dr Summers (for a doctor she is) on Tony Abbott in her Fairfax Media column on 2 September 2017.

Fairfax Media’s leading Abbott-hater had declared that Australia’s 28th prime minister had made Australia a “political joke”.   In passing, Anne Summers alleged that the late B.A. Santamaria (1915-1998) was once part of “Abbott’s intellectual support team”.  In response, MWD reported that – unlike Abbott – Summers had worked for Santamaria.  This caused enormous interest – with calls of show-us-the-evidence and the like.  Well, here it is, as documented in Gerard Henderson’s Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015):

A Summers interlude

In her autobiography Ducks on the Pond (published in 1999) Anne Summers recounts how—for a brief period in 1963—she worked for Bob Santamaria’s NCC. Some priests had arranged the employment, and Anne Cooper (as she then was) headed from Adelaide to Melbourne to take up a position with an employer of which she knew little. When Anne Cooper commenced as an NCC employee on 10 January 1963, the office was at 342 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Initially she was surprised at how little she was to earn. A mere ten pounds per week, it ended up at nine pounds and eighteen shillings. The loss of the anticipated two shillings really mattered, since Anne Cooper found Melbourne very expensive. It was not long before she asked for a pay rise, without success:

At the NCC it was made very clear that all of us were working for “the cause”; I was not terribly sure what cause this was, but since it was clearly in aid of the Church and everyone else seemed to know I rode along and assumed I would eventually find out. When I complained about my pay, Mrs Knowles said sharply, “Everyone here is making a sacrifice.”  Mrs Knowles was Mr Slattery’s secretary and she kept an eye on me. “Those men there,” she pointed to the glassed-off cubicles where the more senior men went about their mysterious duties, “they could all get a lot more money elsewhere. And they all have families.” Her tone of voice told me she considered a young single girl with no responsibilities should not be objecting to a wage that was nearly a pound over the award.

Initially Anne Cooper found her work interesting. It involved processing the donations that were forwarded to the NCC. Soon, however, boredom began to set in. She noticed that “the men in the glass cubicles always seemed rushed and serious”. What’s more, “they did not hang around and gossip or flirt with the girls”. For their part, even the “girls” of Anne’s age were “goody-goody”, so much so that “the atmosphere in the office was oppressive”. The problem turned on the fact that Anne Cooper was “the only one … who was not a fully signed-up member of ‘the cause”’. One day, the recent recruit from Adelaide turned up for work wearing a “sleeveless summer dress”. It was not a good career move. As Ducks on the Pond reveals: “Mrs Knowles called me into her office. ‘Some of the men are upset by the way you dress,’ she said. I stared at her dumbfounded. ‘These are decent family men,’ she continued. ‘You should be more modest.”’

Anne Cooper resigned the next day – resenting not only the socially conservative males but also the “sniggering little bitches in the office”. Later she was to rail against sexual harassment in the workplace and condemn the use of misogynist language.

During her employment of “three or so months”, Cooper had “never once laid eyes on Bob Santamaria”. Several times she “passed his office hoping to get a look at this almost mythical figure but he was never there”. One of the reasons for BAS’s no-show is that he took the whole of January each year as his holidays. BAS spent the summer break with his family at their Mornington house on Port Phillip Bay.

Anne Summers maintains that she altered the names of the people with whom she worked at the NCC. But there was a “Mr Slattery”—who might or might not have been Hugh Slattery. And there was a Dorothy Knowles – who might or might not have been “Mrs Knowles”.

How about that? The feminist Anne Summers complained in 1999 that, when employed by the NCC some three decades earlier, the NCC men “did not flirt with the girls” while the NCC women were “sniggering little bitches”.  These days Dr Summers is a stickler for propriety in the work force and condemns the use of the word “bitch” when directed at women.  How times change.

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, the issue of One Plus One which aired on ABC TV on 8 September 2017 – starring Julian Punch – was replete with character assassination (with respect to Cardinal George Pell and the late Archbishop Guilford Young) and howlers (with respect to almost everything else).  One Plus One is repeated on the ABC TV News channel on the following Saturday and Sunday.

The ABC – despite being a member of the Right-to-Know Coalition – tried its hardest to prevent Gerard Henderson from knowing the program’s executive producer.  Now read on:

 Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 13 September 2017


Can you help out?

I am trying to make contact with the Executive Producer of ABC TV’s One Plus One but cannot find who this person is on the ABC website.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Nick Leys to Gerard Henderson – 13 September 2017

Sure. What do you need them for?

Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 13 September 2017


It’s not a big deal.  I just want to contact the executive producer (whom I assume is responsible for the program) to ask some questions about last Saturday’s One Plus One.


Nick Leys to Gerard Henderson – 13 September 2017

Hi Gerard, if you let us know what your questions are we can help you out.

Morale is high.


Cc:  Sally Jackson

Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys – 13 September 2017


Ah, so there is what used to be called “D Notice” on who is the executive producer of One Plus One. 

Gosh, some ABC types are so sensitive to criticism. Some time ago I asked ABC star reporter Louise Milligan questions about her book Cardinal. She refused to answer the questions and sought protection from her publisher, the feisty Ms Adler at MUP.  Needless to say, Louise Adler also declined to answer any questions about the book and just said it was you-beaut-super. In fact, Cardinal is replete with errors and poor scholarship.  Unfortunately, I was not able to get Ms Milligan’s response to my critique before reviewing her book.

Now it appears that I cannot direct a question to One Plus One‘s producer – whoever that might be.

I wanted to get his/her response to the fact that last Saturday’s program featuring Julian Punch was littered with character assassination and many factual errors. I don’t think it is your role to respond to such matters since it is an inefficient waste of time.  That’s why I want to put my questions directly to the program’s executive director – who you appear to be trying to protect.

If I cannot get to contact One Plus One‘s executive producer, I will report this in next Friday’s Media Watch and draw my own conclusions about why the character assassinations and the howlers were allowed to go to air unchallenged.

Best wishes


PS: It’s nice to know that morale is high at Southbank.

Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 13 September 2017

Hi Gerard. You can send any questions through to me.



Cc: Nick Leys

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 13 September 2017


Thanks for your email. Here are some questions concerning last Saturday’s One Plus One program featuring Julian Punch.

▪ Who is the executive director of One Plus One?  Why does Nick Leys refuse to identify the person? Is it an ABC secret?

▪ Does the executive director do any fact-checking before or after One Plus One is recorded?

▪  If so, how does One Plus One justify Julian Punch’s assertions on the program last Saturday (i) that “the National Civic Council had taken over every trade union in Tasmania” by the 1970s, (ii) that the National Civic Council had “taken the universities over” in Tasmania by the 1970s and (iii) that the National Civic Council was responsible for the fact that Julian Punch was once arrested by Tasmania police?

▪  How does One Plus One justify allowing Julian Punch (a self-confessed critic of Cardinal Pell) to character assassinate George Pell as “a very confused person”, “frightened of himself” and intent on “controlling people, detecting them, getting rid of them if they weren’t rich” and persecuting them.

▪ How does One Plus One justify allowing Julian Punch to character assassinate the late Archbishop Guilford Young?

Note that all of the statements by Julian Punch quoted above were made without any evidence of any kind – and not one of his statements was challenged by the presenter.  Does One Plus One regard this as professional journalism?

Best wishes


Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 15 September 2017

Hi Gerard. Response from an ABC News spokesperson: 

One Plus One is an interview show in which people talk about their life experiences. Julian Punch was clearly expressing his personal views about events in which he was directly involved, as he is entitled to do. The exchange on the National Civic Council was a relatively minor part of the interview and related to events from more than 40 years ago. There is a limit to how well-briefed it is reasonable to expect an interviewer to be, and difficult for an interviewer to challenge details around arcane events dating back to the 1970s or earlier in what is effectively an as-live interview.



Cc: Nick Leys

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 15 September 2017


Thanks for forwarding the response from the (anonymous) ABC News spokesperson concerning the interview with Julian Punch on last Saturday’s One Plus One.

In response, I note that:

▪ the ABC still refuses to provide the name of One Plus One’s executive producer who was primarily responsible for setting up the interview last Saturday.

▪ the ABC believes that a guest on One Plus One is “entitled” to make totally false statements on the program without being subjected to any form of fact-checking – because, after all, Julia Punch’s comments “related to events more than 40 years ago”.

▪ the ABC has refused to answer my points about Julian Punch’s character assassination of Cardinal George Pell and the late Archbishop Guilford Young.

▪ perhaps it would be a good idea to second someone from the revamped ABC Fact Check Unit to fact-check One Plus One before it goes to air – a legal assessment of character assassination on the program before it goes to air also might be helpful.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc: Nick Leys

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson and Nick Leys – 19 September 2017


Any chance of finding out who is the executive producer of One Plus One – or is this position still on the ABC’s official secrets list?

Let me know.

Best wishes


Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 19 September 2017

Hi Gerard. The Executive Producer, Programs role for ABC News channel programs, including One Plus One, is shared by Tanya Nolan and Annie White.


cc: Nick Leys

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 19 September 2017


Many thanks. Can you tell me who was the Executive Producer for the One Plus One program which first aired on Friday 8 September 2017 – concerning Julian Punch?  Was it Tanya Nolan or was it Annie White?

Best wishes


cc: Nick Leys



As avid readers will be aware, just before MWD was uploaded last Friday a missive from ABC TV’s David Spicer was received.  Your man Spicer told Hendo that his beat-up about the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s (alleged) “eviction” of the Genesian Theatre Company – after a six decade old peppercorn rent agreement – was not a beat-up at all.  Mr Spicer reckons that this is an example of Catholicism’s hostility to the arts.  Hendo, on the other hand, reckons that it is yet another example of the prevalence of anti-Catholic sectarianism within sections of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Here we go (again):

 David Spicer to Gerard Henderson – 15 September 2017

Dear Gerard,

You may be interested to learn that:

“The Genesian Theatre Company came into being from a meeting of members of the Catholic Youth Organisation intent upon forming a full scale dramatic group. This meeting was held on 15th August, 1944. Named for St Genesius, Patron Saint of Actors, The Genesian Theatre Company has developed into a strong theatre company over the years.”

Once a year a mass is held in the theatre. It was on a few weeks back.

Here is the reaction of someone who attended the mass.

Manny Said
 Clare Mason the theatre we know has been lost. I am both sad & angry. It was very hard to celebrate St Genesius Day at the theatre yesterday knowing it will be gone in a little over a year. The developers have bought sold this city. Now a piece of its history will fall under a wrecking ball ! Greed has won!

September 10 at 9:24pm

Ally Mac Prowse I didn’t think they could knock it down Manny?!?! Isn’t it heritage listed and therefore protected?

September 10 at 9:25pm

Manny Said Ally Mac Prowse I believe the facade & the stain glass windows. But if the history of this city is anything to go by – I would be surprised if they find a ‘reason’ to have it removed!

September 10 at 9:28pm

Ally Mac Prowse I know you are probably right and it makes me even more cross!

September 10 at 9:29pm ·


So it is not just part of the fabric of Sydney but also has a local Catholic theological tradition associated with it. Practising Catholics attend religious ceremonies in the Genesian Theatre. (Although yes it is a deconsecrated church.)

Here is some more reaction on social media of the website Stage Whispers Magazine. I think this illustrates that the story is by no stretch a beat up. The community is intensely interested in it.

Very happy to do a follow up story when/if the Catholic Church or City Council or benefactor finds the Genesians a new home.

I don’t think the ABC has the space available and it would probably be in breach of the ABC Act don’t you think?



Craig Walker Yeah – they obviously need the money – we all know how poor the Catholic Church is…

September 10 at 11:04pm

Mark Power Perhaps they are tired of being vilified by the majority of people in the Sydney entertainment industry…. perhaps.

September 10 at 11:41pm

Craig Walker Mark, not an excuse…again – obviously needing to fill a dollar-hole somewhere. Anything else is simply churlish or dare I say…un-Christian.

September 10 at 11:48pm

Mark Power Do they not have a right to freely use or dispose of their property? Are they stealing? Are they making anyone personally homeless? No. The un-Christian claim is a bit of a stretch, I’d like you to spell that one out for me though.

September 10 at 11:55pm

Craig Walker Mark, it was in reply to your comment of them perhaps being tired of ‘vilification’ of the arts sectir… that would indeed be an un-Christian response :)

September 10 at 11:56pm

Mark Power How so? Examples please.

September 10 at 11:58pm

Mark Power Do you consider yourself Christian Craig?

September 11 at 12:00am

Craig Walker I have been, and I easily walked away when I realised that many who described themselves as such didn’t reflect that ‘new covenant’ which was given. However, whether I am or not is immaterial to the issue of The Genesian Theatre being ousted from their…See More

September 11 at 12:10am

Mark Power I only asked because I get tired of being told by non-Christians what it means to be Christian, and what constitutes Christian behaviour. The Catholic Church has a long history of patronising the arts, but it does not have a Divine mandate to do so. If…See More

September 11 at 12:37am

Craig Walker I agree… and again – if the sale of the space is used for the betterment of *the locals* who sorely need succour, I applaud it. If not then I question the motives, if not the dispersion of what may well amount to a windfall amount – which if not for…See More

Mark Power Again… are they not free to dispose of their property as they see fit? Does the Church not provide enough schools, hospitals, shelters, and other services for you to question their motives for selling the property they have until now chosen to allow …See More

September 11 at 3:05am

Gerard Henderson to David Spicer – 22 September 2017


Thanks for your note last Friday.  My responses are as follows:

  1. Turn it up. Are you seriously suggesting that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney should be bound by a peppercorn rent agreement which was made with the Genesian Theatre Company over seven decades ago? Isn’t 63 years free accommodation enough – or would 75 years be better?
  1. As a heritage building, the structure of the former church will not be wrecked. And I reckon that the Catholic theological tradition will survive the fact that the Genesian Theatre Company players will have to move down the street, so to speak.
  1. Your evidence that “the community is intensely interested” in the plight of the Genesian Theatre Company is based on 11 tweets – most of which supported the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in this matter. The fate of the theatre may be an extremely interesting phenomenon for the anti-Catholic sectarians at the ABC – along with those who have a self-interest in the status quo. But I doubt that many Australians are extremely interested in this particular beat-up.
  1. I do not believe that the ABC would be in breach of the ABC Act if it gave a spare room to the Genesian Theatre Company. Legally, I reckon it could provide a 63-year peppercorn rent deal.
  1. By the way, I note (again) that (once again) ABC TV News has not reported the fact that former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in June 2017 to a case of historic child sexual abuse in 1981 against a 14-year-old male ABC employee while on an ABC assignment near Gosford.

It seems that you and your colleagues at ABC News are more interested in the plight of the Genesian Theatre Company’s players than in reporting ABC’s very own case of historic child sexual abuse.  How convenient.

On this occasion, according to ABC management, ABC News was only able to give the Jon Stephens case a brief mention on the 1 pm radio news bulletin on Wednesday 7 September due to, wait for it, bush fires. Fancy that – the ABC’s excuse for failing to properly report its own case of historic child sexual abuse is fire, pestilence and all that stuff.  Can you bear it? – as the saying goes (or went).

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.


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