GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE NO. 381
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: The Demise of Lateline: Starring Emma Alberici with a little help from Lord Peter Mandelson; Aunty’s Virginia Trioli et al Pile on Labor’s Michael Danby in Defence of the ABC’s Sophie McNeill
- MWD Exclusive: ABC Concedes Problems with Jane Hutcheon’s One Plus One Interview with Julian Punch
- Can You Bear It? Julian Burnside; Dan Ilic; Paul Barry/Tim Latham; Fairfax Media’s Peter Paul and Mary Oversight & Hendo’s Non-Invitation to the Launch of Lisa Milner’s Bio of Lee Rhiannon’s Mother (A Stalinist Named Freda Brown)
- Nancy’s Modest Proposal: How Melbourne’s Traffic Congestion Can Be Reduced by Relocating John Daley’s Grattan Institute to Regional Victoria
- Abbott-Phobia Clinic: Sky News’ Nicholas Reece presents with a Severe Case Which Is Addressed by Nurse Jackie
- Correspondence: More About One Plus One’s Error-Fuelled Interview with the Hobart Based Julian Punch – Starring Tanya Nolan, Annie White, Sally Jackson, David N Anderson and More Besides
- LATELINE GOES OUT – NOT WITH A BANG BUT WITH A HOWLER
Did anyone watch ABC TV’s Lateline last night? In view of the program’s poor ratings in recent times, probably not. In any event, Emma Alberici announced that ABC management has decided that the program be discontinued at the end of the year and not return in 2018.
This is a sad but understandable decision. Lateline, especially during John Bruce’s time as executive producer, was must-watch television current affairs. However, it lost its spark and dropped the occasionally lively debates between well-informed non-politicians. Sure, the program continued debates between politicians. But they were invariably boring – since skilled MPs from left-of-centre and right-of-centre invariably run boring political lines which make for boring viewing.
Lateline became increasingly dull in 2017 as presenter Emma Alberici demonstrated her revamped persona as a left-wing activist journalist with a commitment to beating-up on political and social conservatives.
Ms Alberici seems to be of the (mistaken) impression that the audience tuned in to Lateline to catch-up with The Thought of Alberici. It didn’t. There are better ways of doing boredom late at night – like reading back copies of the now defunct Holy Name Monthly, for example.
Last night provided evidence of why it is time for Lateline to be put down, so to speak. Ms Alberici praised Lateline’s contribution to the public debate over almost three decades by only mentioning comments made by (then) Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox who alleged on Lateline in November 2012 that there was a conspiracy between NSW Police and the Catholic Church to cover up child sexual abuse in the Newcastle area.
There was no such conspiracy. Moreover, Margaret Cunneen SC, in her report titled Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland – Newcastle found that Peter Fox had an obsession about matters relating to the Catholic Church and had lost the capacity to approach this issue in an objective and detached manner. This was discussed in MWD Issue 378, see here.
Soon after, Ms Alberici did a soft interview with former British Labour politician Peter Mandelson. By the way, since his elevation to the House of Lords, your man Mandelson’s proper title is “The Right Honourable Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham”. Now, Peter Mandelson is an interesting and articulate man. He did not need a soft, fawning, suck-up interview from an admiring left-activist journalist like Ms Alberici.
Yet the Lateline presenter invited the Labour peer to criticise Britain’s decision to quit the European Union (easy) along with Conservative prime minister Theresa May (also easy). But not Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (not so easy).
Soon after, Emma Alberici invited Lord Mandelson to ridicule the same sex marriage postal survey in general and former prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard in particular. Yawn. And she did not correct the great man when he declared that same sex marriage was “pretty standard everywhere else in the world” – overlooking such nations as China, India and Indonesia along with countries in Africa and the Middle East. Once upon a time, a Lateline presenter would have challenged such an exaggeration. But it seems that, with Lateline in extremis, Ms Alberici is asleep on the job. It’s appropriate that Lateline should channel its last presenter.
- THE ABC’S SOPHIE MCNEILL AND LABOR’S MICHAEL DANBY
It was a real pile-on at ABC TV News Breakfast this morning after ABC Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy gave Michael Danby (the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports) his Wooden Spoon Award. Mr Cassidy objected to the fact that Mr Danby had used his electoral allowance to fund an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News critical of ABC journalist Sophie McNeill’s reportage from the Middle East.
Soon after, the News Breakfast presenters joined in the chorus. ABC presenter Virginia Trioli declared: “For the record, we regard Sophie McNeill as a stellar journalist…she’s unflinching, she’s brave, she’s compassionate and she’s very smart”. Then ABC presenter Hamish Macdonald weighed-in that Sophie McNeill not only “knows the beat” but also that “she’s a very old friend of mine”. How nice.
It’s understandable that the ABC’s Virginia Trioli and the ABC’s Hamish Macdonald support their ABC bestie Sophie McNeill. But it’s not news.
Despite all the ABC outrage in defence of its controversial activist journalist Sophie McNeill, Michael Danby’s essential criticism remains true. In recent times, Ms McNeill gave more coverage to the fact that Palestinian Shamasneh family had been evicted from their home in East Jerusalem than it did to the fact that three members of the Jewish Solomon family were murdered by Islamists during a family meal in the Occupied Territories. Moreover, Sophie McNeil named the name of the Palestinian family but not that of the Jewish family.
This was a reasonable criticism for Michael Danby to make. And it was reasonable for ABC management to defend its reporter. It’s called debate.
Placing an advertisement in a paper like the Australian Jewish News is no different from writing a letter or distributing a flyer to constituents. That’s what politicians do. The criticism of Michael Danby by Fairfax Media journalists Adam Gartrell and Broede Carmody on this issue overlooks the fact that parliamentarians regularly advertise in newspapers. Even Jewish ones, no less.
It’s true that the likes of Michael Danby has criticised Sophie McNeill’s reportage from the Middle East. But it is also true that Mr Danby has not criticised the work of Matt Brown, the ABC’s other Middle East reporter.
ABC journalists invariably criticise others. But the likes of Virginia Trioli get oh-so-offended when someone criticises the ABC or its coverage. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the ABC’s criticism of Michael Danby by Ms Trioli and others is also conducted per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.
ABC TV CONCEDES PROBLEM WITH ONE PLUS ONE’S JULIAN PUNCH INTERVIEW
As today’s “Correspondence” section reveals, ABC management has asked the One Plus One program to re-edit the interview between Jane Hutcheon and Julian Punch which first aired on Friday 8 September.
It’s difficult to work out how it came to pass that Julian Punch – whom the ABC describes as a “former Catholic priest” but who left the priesthood in 1981, close to four decades ago – was interviewed for One Plus One except for the fact that your man Punch is a Pell-hater. This is made very clear in his recently self-published tome Gay with God: The life and times of a turbulent priest.
Needless to say, Ms Hutcheon’s first question to Julian Punch on One Plus One asked about what he thought of Cardinal George Pell. Not much – was the answer which was repeated with gusto.
As avid readers are aware, Mr Punch told One Plus One that two same-sex attracted young seminarians at the Corpus Christi College seminary in Werribee had jumped off a tall building in the Melbourne CBD in the late 1950s or early 1960s in a suicide pact. But at Page 60 of Gay with God, the author acknowledges that this is a mere rumour which he has not been able to verify.
Julian Punch also told the One Plus One team that Bob Santamaria’s National Civic Council “had taken over every trade union in Tasmania” by the 1970s. This is delusional. The NCC controlled about a third of Tasmanian unions at the time. That’s about it. It certainly did not control the pro-communist Building Workers’ Industrial Union (BWIU) and other left-wing unions. Likewise Mr Punch told Ms Hutcheon that the NCC had taken over “the universities [sic]” in Tasmania by the 1970s. This is absolute tosh. Your man Punch also seems to believe that the 1970s Santamaria’s operatives controlled Tasmania Police and brought about a situation whereby he was arrested and charged with running a disorderly house. The charges were subsequently dropped. More delusion. And so on.
MWD will monitor how the ABC edits One Plus One. But here’s some (gratuitous) advice with respect to future interviews on One Plus One. Try reading a person’s book before putting their allegations and false memories to air on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. It’s called research.[Gerard Henderson will review Gay with God in the next issue of The Sydney Institute Review Online.]
- JULIAN BURNSIDE AO QC DECLARES HIS LOW ESTEEM TO JANE HUTCHEON (REALLY)
While on topic of One Plus One, how about the appearance of Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC on the program last Friday – with repeats on the ABC TV second channel? In case you missed fawn-again Jane Hutcheon’s conclusion, here it is:
Jane Hutcheon: To finish off, you’ve been designated a “Living National Treasure”, you have an Order of Australia, a Sydney Peace Prize and many other accolades. And curiously, the words that I find most incongruous with the person sitting opposite me are that receiving prizes won’t make you complacent. And “they won’t make me like myself”, you said. “I can’t bear myself to be honest. I have very low self-regard.”
Julian Burnside: Well I agree with that. I don’t remember saying it but I agree with myself.
Jane Hutcheon: I think you said it in response to receiving the Sydney Peace Prize.
Julian Burnside: The Sydney Peace Prize is the prize that I value more than any other, I have to say. The Sydney Peace Foundation does a remarkable job. And the thing that happened, when I won the Sydney Peace Prize I got a congratulatory email from Noam Chomsky. And I thought that was pretty good because it’s not like I know him or anything. But that was pretty cool, I thought.
Yeah. How COOL is that. JB AO QC won the Sydney Peace Prize from the taxpayer funded stack that is the leftist Sydney Peace Foundation and got a hero-email from the leftist Noam Chomsky. This has had no noticeable impact on world peace, alas.
The only news from the interview was that JB AO QC can’t remember what he once said about himself. But he agrees with his own (forgotten) assessment of himself. Now here’s a question, if your man Burnside has such a low self-regard why does he continue to flash what he calls his “post-nominals”? – since, on his own analysis, he claims not to have earned them. Can You Bear It?
- DAN ILIC TELLS THE DRUM THAT HIS LAS VEGAS “JOKE” IS A PRODUCT OF HIS HUMOUR – SO NOW WE KNOW
What a stunning performance by the Los Angeles based Australian comedian Dan Ilic who had this to say on The Drum last Tuesday following the Las Vegas massacre which left 58 people dead and hundreds seriously wounded.
Presenter Hamish MacDonald and your man Ilic decided to throw the switch to comedy until the latter went too far and the former switched off. Let’s go to the transcript:
Dan Ilic: Ok, well what you have to understand is during the Obama era it was a great time to be a gun seller. Gun sales were through the roof and then Trump came in and then gun sales dropped right off. No-one was buying guns.
Hamish Macdonald: Why? Why is that?
Dan Ilic: Because people were no longer scared that their guns are going to be taken away from them. They were, they were rest assured that Trump was going to allow the degradation of gun restrictions to continue like he did in February when he rolled back legislation saying that people with mental illness needed to go through checks before acquiring a gun for instance. So, they were quite relieved about this. Now, this is a bad thing for the NRA because if they don’t sell guns, they don’t get new members, they don’t get the revenue from new membership. So, the only way to sell more guns was to play to that Alt Right base. To get them scared. To find a new foe to sell more guns. And so, this is this rationale where they are using very dangerous wording, very dangerous language to stir up fear against left-wing peace loving hippies. Which is crazy
Hamish Macdonald: Everybody needs a gun when Bernie Sanders is wandering around spewing all that socialist nonsense.
Dan Ilic: Well, we all know socialists have very offensive BO. And, you know, the only thing that’s going to stop that is a, is a bullet.
Hamish Macdonald: I take it that was a joke – just in, you know, in case anyone’s scared by—
Dan Ilic: That’s what I like to call humour. If anyone wants to sign me at the ABC, write in – that would be great.
Hamish Macdonald: I’ll just give them your Twitter handle Dan…. That was Dan Illic, satirist coming to us live from America.
And so it was – Dan Ilic evoking what he calls “humour” in an attempt to score a laugh in the wake of the worst mass murder in American history. Presenter Hamish Macdonald even had to tell The Drum’s audience that your man Ilic’s humour was really and truly “a joke” since he is a “satirist”. Otherwise, who would have known? Can You Bear It?
- PAUL BARRY CRITICISES CONSERVATIVE LIBERAL PARTY MPs ON CHANNEL 7 WHILE LETTING THE ABC OFF THE HOOK
Unlike Fox News’ Mediabuzz, the ABC’s Media Watch (presenter Paul Barry) has a format which comprises a left-wing or left-of-centre presenter in preacher-mode declaring what is wrong (and occasionally right) about the Australian media. On the other hand, Mediabuzz’s presenter Howard Kurtz invites male and female journalists and columnists to state their views about the media in general and journalists in particular. Some are Republicans. Some are Democrats. Some are Independents. In short, Fox News’ Mediabuzz offers a diversity of views. Whereas, the ABC’s Media Watch offers – well, it’s always the Gospel According to Paul Barry.
And so, it came to pass (again) last Monday when Paul Barry preached about same sex marriage (he’s for it), Channel 7 (he’s critical of it) and Channel 9’s Today show (he reckons that the program should not accept financial support to do programs in regional cities). Yawn. Amen – and so on.
Indeed, last week your man Barry briefly departed from his habit of criticising journalists to bagging Liberal Party personalities. Tony Abbott (of course), Scott Morrison and John Howard (well naturally). It was more “Conservative Watch” than “Media Watch”. You see, all three are voting “No” on the same sex marriage issue. Shame.
Paul Barry ran the predictable line that Messrs Abbott, Morrison and Howard believed that American rapper Macklemore should not have been allowed to sing his song “Same Love” at the National Rugby League grand final in Sydney on Sunday night.
The Media Watch presenter joined in the leftist media chorus and asserted that the Liberal Party trio were into censorship. In fact, they were objecting to the use of a grand final for proselytising. Imagine what supporters of same sex marriage would have said if a supporter of the “No” case had been engaged by the NRL to sing a song upholding the traditional Christian view of marriage. Just imagine. Especially if, like your man Macklemore, the artist in question was a conspiracist who denied that the attacks on the US on 9/11 (11 September 2001) were carried out by Islamists. He also has engaged in a bit of anti-semitism on the side.
In any case, having scored a point against the “No” case, Paul Barry went on to complain that Channel 7 had not covered a story that (former) Seven News cadet journalist Amy Taeuber had been improperly treated by Channel 7 management in Adelaide.
Well, fancy that. Paul Barry reckons that Channel 7 should report a story unfavourable to Channel 7 on Channel 7. But the Media Watch presenter and his executive producer Tim Latham refuse to criticise the ABC for not having reported the ABC’s own historic child sexual abuse case on the ABC when a former ABC TV producer pleaded guilty to historic child sexual abuse in late June 2017. An unpleasant, double standard to be sure. Can You Bear It?[Er, no. But perhaps Paul Barry and Tim Latham are so naïve that they really believe that the ABC would have covered Jon Stephens’ guilty plea and subsequent sentencing if it had not been for fire, pestilence and all that stuff. See MWD passim ad nauseam – MWD Editor.]
- PETER, PAUL AND MARY’S FORGETFUL MOMENT
Last Wednesday The Sydney Morning Herald ran a touching letter from Jimmy Bilimoria in St Ives about the Las Vegas mass murder. It read as follows:
This tragic shooting brings back memory of a line in Peter, Paul & Mary’s beautiful Vietnam era song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: “When will they ever learn?” Should the radio stations there play this number repeatedly, it might sink in.
Jimmy Bilimoria, St Ives
To which Hendo responds that the Herald’s Letters Editor seems unaware that Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary fame was a self-confessed paedophile, having pleaded guilty to a sexual encounter with a 14 year old girl in 1969 in New York City. At the time Peter Yarrow was aged 31 – that is, about twice the age of his victim. When will the Sydney Morning Herald ever learn? Can You Bear It?
- FREDA BROWN’S BIOGRAPHY – A HEADS-UP
For some reason or other Gerard Henderson did not receive an invitation to the Coffs Harbour launch of Lisa Milner’s book Swimming Against the Tide: a Biography of Freda Brown. Likewise, Hendo has not received an invite to the Sydney launch which will be conducted by leading Luvvie Carolyn Jones at Bondi Beach tomorrow.
As avid MWD readers are aware, the Stalinist Freda Brown is Senator Lee Rhiannon’s mum. It was MWD which first revealed that Comrade Rhiannon (nee Brown) studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow in the mid-1970s during the height of the Cold War. See MWD Special Issue No 5
One of MWD’s Melbourne readers has suggested that the title of the Freda Brown biography should be “Swimming for Joe Stalin: A Biography of a Communist Party Hack”. Another has pointed out that, in Australian biography, the term “against the tide” was most notably used by the late anti-communist B.A. Santamaria for his 1982 memoir Against the Tide. Can You Bear It?
IN WHICH NANCY PROPOSES TO REDUCE TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN INNER-CITY MELBOURNE BY RELOCATING THE GRATTAN INSTITUTE
Due to overwhelming demand, and with a little help from American psychic John Edward, this hugely popular segment continues – even though Nancy (2004-2017) has “passed”. You see, according to the teachings of your man Edward, Nancy is not really dead – but has merely “crossed over” to the “Other Side”, from where she is able to send messages back to those still on “This Side”. Including her very own modest proposals for the Media Watch Dog blog, which Nancy co-founded with her male and female co-owners in 2009.
As avid readers are aware, this increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Anglo Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s proposal to relieve the plight of the Irish under British rule by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. As a consequence of such irreverence, your clergyman Swift (1667-1745) never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story.
Last Monday, a public holiday in some Australian States, the Grattan Institute released a report titled Stuck in traffic: Road congestion in Sydney and Melbourne. The tome was written by Marion Terrill with a little help from Hugh Batrouney, Sally Etherington and Hugh Parsonage along with some “valuable contributions” from Paul Austin and Jonathan Ben. Sounds pretty congested – don’t you think?
The Melbourne-based Grattan Institute was established in 2008 with bucket loads of taxpayer funds handed over by the Rudd Labor government in Canberra and the Bracks Labor government in Melbourne – at a mere $15 million a pop. The Grattan Institute is headed by the oh-so-loquatious John Daley.
The gender-aware Grattan Institute has six program heads, only one of whom is female. It’s Marion Terrill. So, counting your man Daley, only 85 per cent of the Institute’s key figures are blokes. Just 85 per cent.
In Stuck in traffic?, Ms Terrill and her colleagues make six recommendations as to what the Victorian and/or the New South Wales government SHOULD do about traffic congestion. This ranges from increasing Melbourne CBD parking fees to introducing time-of-day congestion pricing in the most congested areas of each capital city. And so on.
Needless to say, neither the Victorian Labor government nor the NSW Coalition embraced being told what they SHOULD do about traffic congestion by the Terrill/Batrouney/Etherington/Parsonage/Austin/Ben (congested) team at the Grattan Institute. Maybe later – who knows?
Now, here’s a Modest Proposal – via Nancy on the “Other Side” – to relieve traffic around the Melbourne University precinct. It is this.
Move Dr Daley (for a doctor he is) and his numerous staff and program heads and bureaucrats from the Grattan Institute’s inner-city office at 8 Malvern Place, Carlton – well inside Sandalista Territory. This would substantially reduce traffic around inner-city Melbourne in general and the Melbourne University precinct and Sandalista Land in particular.
The Grattan Institute SHOULD re-locate to, say, Morwell or Wangaratta – both towns are on a main railway line to the Melbourne CBD. Perhaps the Grattan Institute could take over the now deserted site of the Hazelwood Power Station near Morwell – this would suit the Renewable Energy Fan Club at 8 Malvern Place. Alternatively, a site in Wangaratta would provide readily easy access to Canberra or Melbourne when Dr Daley and his colleagues are in need of another $15 million top-up from both the Federal and Victorian governments in Canberra and Melbourne respectively. Either location would help reduce traffic congestion in Melbourne.
A Modest Proposal – here’s hoping it works.
IN WHICH NURSE JACKIE (Dip. Wellness, Gunnedah Lost Dogs Institute) ANALYSES MR NICHOLAS REECE
There was an enormous (positive) reaction to the inaugural Abbott-Phobia Clinic in last week’s MWD concerning Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green along with the cry of “More, more, more”. So lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to a serious manifestation of Abbott-phobia which occurred on Sky News’ Politics IQ program on Friday 22 September featuring the presenter – former Labor Party operative and current Melbourne City Council councillor Nicholas Reece.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner holds the view that by-their-footwear-you-shall-know-them. Your man Reece wore a shirt, shorts and – yes – roman sandals to Andrew Bolt’s Christmas Drinks last year. Enough said. And enough to drive Hendo to (more) drink.
So it came as no surprise that, on 22 September, Comrade Reece presented on Sky News with a serious dose of Abbott-phobia. Mr Reece (for a doctor he is yet to become) criticised Mr Abbott on (i) renewable energy targets, (ii) same sex marriage, (iii) his book Battlelines, (iv) his response to being head-butted in a public place by a left activist and (v) his (alleged) focus on Newspoll.
At one stage, your man Reece went into full rant mode about, wait for it, the roll-up at the meeting of the Newtown Young Liberals. Let’s go to the transcript:
Nicholas Reece : Now, on Wednesday night, Tony Abbott was having what he described as an “invigorating Q&A session” with the Newtown Young Liberals on the merits of Western Civilisation. He even tweeted this picture of the forum. Now I want you to look really closely at this picture and see if there is anything missing. Yep. That’s right. Where are the women? Surely a political party wanting to represent all Australians can find more than one woman to attend their meeting. The Young Liberals look like a white sausage club to me. Not an organisation looking to advance Western Civilisation. That looks like episode nine of The Handmaiden’s [sic]Tale. Not a modern political party.
In fact, there were quite a few young women in the audience – they just happened to be missing from a particular photograph. But your man Reece went into full rant mode. First up he depicted the Newtown Young Liberals as a “white sausage club”. Funny, eh? And then he said that a meeting which he alleged contained few women resembled Episode 9 of The Handmaid’s Tale. This TV series was based on a Margaret Atwood anti-American novel in which the few females who survive their totalitarian male dictators are forced into sexual servitude in a dystopian future. Whereas some Young Liberal women had absented themselves from a photo taken by Tony Abbott when they headed off for a Gin & Tonic. Or something like that – which is a long way short of any kind of servitude. Needless to say, Mr Reece provided no evidence that the Newtown Young Liberals sheilas are sexual slaves of male members of the Abbott Fan Club.
Nurse Jackie’s Analysis: Sky News’ Nicholas Reece presented on Politics IQ in a somewhat delusional state – believing that a Liberal Party backbencher is responsible for the woes of (i) the Turnbull government, (ii) Australian women and (iii) Planet Earth. That’s all folks. I would recommend that the patient take off his roman sandals and drink a bottle of gin a day for a week – followed by lotsa white sausage sandwiches. The resulting loss of brain cells may make it possible for the Sky News presenter to momentarily forget that Tony Abbott is completely responsible for the Vale of Tears in which we happen to (temporarily) reside.
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).
- GERARD HENDERSON AND ONE PLUS ONE re JULIAN PUNCH’S INACCURATE STATEMENT CONCERNING AN ALLEGED DUAL SUICIDE
As readers to today’s “MWD Exclusive” will be aware, after considerable delay the ABC finally agreed to edit the IView tape of Jane Hutcheon’s interview with Julian Punch on the One Plus One program which first aired on ABC TV on Friday 8 September 2017.
ABC TV has said it intends to correct or delete Julian Punch’s assertion that, in the late 1950s/early 1960s, two same sex attracted male seminarians jumped off a tall building in Melbourne in a dual suicide pact. One Plus One ran this fantasy despite the fact that Mr Punch admits in his own memoir that the story is a rumour which he had not been able to verify.
The first batch of correspondence which led to this outcome was published in Issue 379. The correspondence below brings readers up to date. MWD appreciates the fact that, while Gerard Henderson’s initial correspondence was ignored, Sally Jackson (Media Manager, ABC News) and David N. Anderson (Director Television, ABC) did have the intellectual courage to address the issue by responding to correspondence. Here it is:
Gerard Henderson to Tanya Nolan and Annie White – 26 September 2017
I am writing to both of you since ABC management has declined to advise me as to which one of you was executive producer for the edition of One Plus One which went to air for the first time on Friday 8 September 2017.
During his discussion with Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One on 8 September 2017, Julian Punch made numerous inaccurate statements. But one was particularly egregious. It is this.
Julian Punch told One Plus One viewers that, at the Catholic Church’s Corpus Christi seminary in the late 1950s/early 1960s, “two young people…who were attracted to one another” were so badly affected by the atmosphere of the seminary that they took the train from Werribee to the Melbourne CBD “and jumped off a building which had just been built”.
There is no evidence that so shocking an event ever happened. Julian Punch conceded this in his book Gay with Godwhere he wrote (at Page 60) that the story is based on a rumour. Mr Punch added that his “attempts to verify this story have been unsuccessful”.
My question is this. Will One Plus One place a note on the ABC’s program notes and edit the Jane Hutcheon/Julian Punch IView production to record the fact that Julian Punch has not been able to verify the claim he made on ABC TV on 8 September 2017 concerning the (alleged) dual suicide.
Over to you.
PS: Note that this is an inquiry. I do not want the matter referred to ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs department in Canberra.
cc: Jane Hutcheon
Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 29 September 2017
Hi Gerard, your email was passed on to me. For clarification, an editor’s note has been posted on this page…
Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 29 September 2017
Thanks for your reply.
I note that the ABC has posted an Editor’s Note concerning the One Plus One program involving Julian Punch. I also note, however, that no such clarification has been posted at the front or the end of the One Plus One program which is currently available on IView.
As you will be aware, many viewers will watch One Plus One on IView but few will go to the One Plus One website where the clarification is posted.
In short, the ABC’s clarification of Julian Punch’s serious error – which never should have gone to air – is buried at a place where few viewers will see it.
cc: Tanya Nolan
David Anderson to Gerard Henderson – 29 September 2017
Thanks for your email and apologies for the late reply.
I’m currently on leave but have forwarded your latest email onto the iview team.
They will remove the episode until we can get an updated version of the program, with the editors note included, from the news team.
David N Anderson
Gerard Henderson to David Anderson – 29 September 2017
Thanks for your note which I have just noticed. I appreciate that you proposed to get an updated version of the interview for Iview. There were many other errors in the interview and I will send you a list of them on Tuesday
Gerard Henderson to David Anderson – 3 October 2017
This follows up my hurried response last Friday. Thanks for taking the matter seriously.
I do find it strange that no one at the ABC will tell me who was the executive producer of the One Plus One program with Julian Punch – which first aired on 8 September 2017. I am advised that it was either Tanya Nolan or Annie White.
Presenter Jane Hutcheon made it clear why Julian Punch had scored an interview on One Plus One, following the publication of his self-published Gay with God: The life and times of a turbulent priest. Ms Hutcheon’s first (leading) question asked Julian Punch what he knew about Cardinal George Pell. As Gay with God makes clear, Mr Punch detests Cardinal Pell.
This was a highly prejudicial interview. For the record, Julian Punch and George Pell never worked in the same jurisdiction and the former’s personal assessment of the latter is based on their meetings half a century ago.
Julian Punch’s allegation that, at Corpus Christi College in Werribee in the late 1950s/early 1960s, two young same-sex attracted male seminarians engaged in a suicide pact by jumping off a tall building in the Melbourne CBD is not supported by evidence. I have checked with men who were students at Corpus Christi College at the time who advise that the event never happened. Even Julian Punch concedes, at Page 60 of Gay with God, that his claim is based on rumour which he has not been able to verify. If anyone at One Plus One had read Julian Punch’s book before the interview went to air the error could have been edited out of the interview.
At the time of apparent high levels of suicide among Australian youth, it is grossly unprofessional for One Plus One to put to air a false claim that a “Thelma and Louise” like suicide pact took place at Corpus Christi College many decades ago.
There are numerous other errors in the Jane Hutcheon /Julian Punch interview. Mr Punch is delusional if he believes that, by the 1970s, Bob Santamaria’s National Civic Council “had taken over every trade union in Tasmania”. What about the Building Workers Industrial Union, for example? Similarly delusional is Mr Punch’s claim that, in the 1970s, the NCC had taken over “the universities” in Tasmania. Ditto the suggestion that the NCC told Tasmanian Police what to do concerning a complaint about a premise in which Julian Punch resided. Not one of these allegations was supported by evidence – and not one of Mr Punch’s (undocumented) assertions was challenged by Ms Hutcheon.
I understand that One Plus One is edited prior to airing on ABC TV. If anyone at the ABC had done any fact-checking the character assassinations and howlers in the Julian Punch interview could have been removed.
I look forward to viewing the Julian Punch interview when it is re-edited for showing on IView.
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David N Anderson phoned Gerard Henderson in the evening of 2 October 2017. After pointing out that One Plus One was the responsibility of ABC News – not ABC Television – he confirmed that he had drawn the matter to the attention of the One Plus One team. Gerard Henderson thanked Mr Anderson for his interest and action and advised that he would await the updated version of the Jane Hutcheon/Julian Punch One Plus One interview. Stay tuned.
Until next time.