GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE NO. 384
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.
- Can You Bear It? Fran Kelly; Elizabeth Farrelly; Paul Murray “Loud”; Lenore Taylor’s Swinging Guardian; Crikey’s Tim Flannery Denial; Emily Watkins Fudges for Eric Beecher & Katharine Murphy’s Sorry Moment
- Fitz’s Fake News: The Red Bandannaed One Invents Australian History
- Sandalista Snobbery Space: The Saturday Paper’s Richard Cooke & Australia Institute’s Jim Stanford Look Down on the Working Class
- Media Fool of the Week: Barney Zwartz’s Cardinal Stumble in Australian Book Review
- Five Paws Award: Step Forward Chris Mitchell for Lateline Analysis
- Report from the US[eless] Studies Centre: In which the USSC Team Embraces the Black Lives Matter Movement
- Five Paws Award: Step Forward Chris Mitchell for Lateline Analysis
- New Feature: MWD’s Fridge Dwellers at Gin & Tonic Time vs Menzies Research Centre’s Watercooler Experience
- Five Paws Award: Step Forward Chris Mitchell for Lateline Analysis
- New Feature: Pedantry Pit Stop – Rodney Cavalier Queries Hendo’s Grammar
- Vale Professor Colin A. Hughes
- Forthcoming Melbourne Concert in Memory of James McAuley: Booking Details Below
- Correspondence: Nick Feik Helps Out From Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly
- A (HOPELESS) NIGHT AT LATELINE
The terminal decline of the once important ABC TV Lateline program last night was evident for all to see – assuming that viewers stayed awake. In what has been a big week for national and international news, Lateline covered the fact that a one-time rock `n’ roll photographer was now photographing – wait for it – trout. Lateline also crossed to James Vincent who interviewed New York Times’ managing editor Joseph Kahn who said that sales of the newspaper were on the increase due to the Trump administration. Well, fancy that. It’s hardly a fresh story.
As to the main interview, Matt Wordsworth interviewed a Labor backbencher – Senator Murray Watt – at length about the Australian Federal Police raid on the Australian Workers Union offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Minister Michaelia Cash and all that. Murray who? The Labor backbencher went on and on bagging Senator Cash. No other view was heard. It was unprofessional television.
If Lateline is to continue at this level, it would be best to put the program out of its misery now rather than wait till the end of the year. Re which see the Five Paws Award in this issue.
- FRAN KELLY FAILS TO CONTEST HILLARY-WAS-ROBBED WHINGE
Did anyone hear the stunning interview last Wednesday between RN Breakfast Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and Irene Natividad (president of Corporate Women Directors International)? Discussion turned on gender quotas in business until Ms Kelly asked the former Hillary Clinton adviser about the 2016 US presidential election. Let’s go to the transcript:
Fran Kelly: To what extent – if any extent – do you think gender was the barrier for Hillary Clinton?
Irene Natividad: Oh my God. Where do I count the ways? I campaigned for her in 2008 and I remember what you call nutcrackers that were sold in airports in the south with her body. And the way you crack it is you put it between her legs. I mean really? That’s okay? Or the way she was talked about in the media?
In fact, the last election, Harvard conducted review or press coverage of Hillary Clinton versus Trump and they found 80 percent of her coverage was negative. Whereas, with Trump they just, you know, articulated what he said and it didn’t become critical until much later in the campaign. So, you know it’s embedded. I think it was a factor.
Of course, there were other factors, you know. FBI, Comey, you know, making his announcements two weeks before. I didn’t even know what fake news was until after the elections and the Russians role in it. Or that people were paid –
Fran Kelly: (interjecting) Sure –
Irene Natividad: – to put out news that was not real about her or the campaign. There were many, many, many factors. Clearly.
Fran Kelly: Alright, Irene thank you very much for joining us.
Fran Kelly said nothing as Irene Natividad blamed (i) sexism, (ii) the media, (iii) FBI director James Comey, (iv) fake news and (v) yes, of course, “the Russians”. But she did not mention the fact that Ms Clinton and her advisers ran a truly hopeless campaign – highlighted by the decision to not even campaign in Wisconsin. According to Irene Natividad, Trump’s victory was everyone’s fault except Hillary Clinton’s. Can You Bear It?[Er, not really. I note that in his Private Eye “Diary” column (22 September 2017), Craig Brown did a wonderful send-up of Hillary (“It’s not my fault”) Clinton. Ms Clinton is discussing a case of spilt milk – as (allegedly) told to Clive Brown:
Detailed research, assembled by respected institutes, demonstrates that former FBI director James Comey was at least partly responsible for all the milk that spilled that day. Bernie Sanders, too, has delivered a grievous blow to all those who treasure milk. And women everywhere have been long blamed unfairly for kitchen spills.
And let’s never forget the well-attested Kremlin influence. Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is widely credited with unbalancing milk cartons when he thinks no-one is looking.[Thank you Mr Brown. Quite insightful, to be sure. – MWD Editor.]
- DR FARRELLY AT THE DEEP END OF SEX THEORY
Here’s how Elizabeth Farrelly’s column commenced in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday:
So I’m padding my way to the ocean pool for my daily swim, bringing daggy back to the eastern beaches. My way is blocked by three girls. Fetching, near-naked, self-absorbed, oiled and daft (but weren’t we all?) they’re there, in slightly different human form, most days. I’d like to call them the three graces but really, that’s not it. Grace has no business here. They’re photographing self and each other, pouting and preening, bending and revealing. It’d be embarrassing except you know this is designed for publication. These are #instapics in progress. The effort, voluntary bimboism for the world’s eyes, is to look permanently sex-ready. F—able.
Watching them, I think, are we serious? Can anyone really pretend shock that every Hollywood starlet has been bade to bed by the maestro? Come on. The expectation of screwing your way to the top – let’s call it the exchange of sex for power – has permeated every culture, every profession and most marriages since the year dot. The only accuracy shortfall is the voice of the verb, since the girls are (broadly speaking) not the ones doing the screwing. They’re being screwed. Our culture, liberated as we think it, is as bad as most, and more hypocritical….
At this stage, Hendo stopped reading this sludge. It this unusual? Not at all. In fact, in 2011 Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) expressed surprise that some of her besties had told her they did not get to the end of her column last week. A certain lack of self-awareness to be sure. Can You Bear It?
- ALL’S (VERY) LOUD ON THE PAUL MURRAY LIVE FRONT
In last week’s MWD, there was a recording of a Sky News Paul Murray Live debate where the panellists spoke over each other so that nothing could be heard.
So it was great to hear presenter Paul Murray declare on PML last Tuesday that panellists should “keep interrupting to a minimum”. Alas, the guests on PML Overtime later that very night did not heed Mr Murray’s wise counsel – and engaged in a threesome rant. The presenter remained silent as Hugh McDermott, Rowan Dean and Steve Georganas yelled at each other – listen here.
The noise woke Jackie from her deep post-dinner slumber.
Your man Murray proudly declares that his is the “most fired up” show on television. The problem is that, at times, no one can hear what the panellists are firing up about. Can You Bear It?
- A SWING AGAINST TRUMP – AS REPORTED BY LENORE TAYLOR’S GUARDIAN
As avid readers are aware, Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor has declined to publish any articles which advocate a “No” vote in the same sex marriage postal survey. Some might call this censorship. But Ms Taylor reckons that not one “No” advocate can reach the intellectual standards of The Guardian.
So, MWD hears you cry, just how high are The Guardian Australia’s intellectual standards? Well, this high. On Friday the Thirteenth-of-October, Ms Taylor ran a piece by “Anonymous”. This happened to be a sheila married to a bloke for 38 years who has been engaged in, er, threesomes for the past 15 years. Ms Anonymous set out The Rules for the “parties/orgies” she and her husband attend. They are as follows:
We have rules: no married guys cheating on their wives, no one too young or too old, and no one who supports Trump.
How about that? Mr and Mrs Anonymous will swing with virtually anyone – except a supporter of Donald J. Trump. And Lenore Taylor reckons that such crap meets the self-proclaimed high standards of The Guardian Australia. Can You Bear It?
- CRIKEY IN DENIAL ABOUT TIM FLANNERY’S ALARMIST (FALSE) PROPHECIES
As MWD revealed last Friday – in a scoop – Cassidy Knowlton recently took a redundancy and stepped down as Crikey editor. However, you would not have known this if you read Crikey (Chairman, Eric Beecher) which as recently as 24 October still had Ms Knowlton listed as its editor.
Meanwhile the Eric Beecher sponsored series “Holy Wars: How The Australian targets and attacks its enemies” continues apace in Crikey. On Tuesday, Crikey’s media reporter Emily Watkins wrote a piece titled “The war against Tim Flannery”.
This is essentially an attack on The Australian and a defence of Dr Flannery (for a doctor he is). Your man Flannery, a palaeontologist, was reported as saying “they take any opportunity to belittle, besmirch, denigrate in any way they can”. The reference was to The Australian. Emily Watkins’ essential defence of Tim Flannery was as follows:
One of the paper’s main allegations against Flannery was based on his comments in 2005 and 2007 that if climate patterns continued there could be trouble with Sydney’s water supply. And in 2007, speaking to the ABC, he referenced a report about increased evaporation rates. He says the point he was making was that we couldn’t assume dams would fill as they previously had — not, as The Australian reported, that the dams would dry up. Flannery insists he was being taken out of context, such that the paper could portray him as an alarmist or fanatic (which became a common feature of its descriptions of him).
Ms Watkins maintains that all Tim Flannery ever said was that Australians “couldn’t assume dams would fill as they previously had” and not “that the dams would dry up.” What a load of absolute tosh.
Emily Watkins is just so naïve. If she had done any research – beyond listening to The Teaching of Dr Flannery – she would know that Tim Flannery wrote the following in New Scientist on 16 June 2007:
Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.
The cities need drought-proofing by, for example, installing water tanks in all dwellings that can accept them. Because in affected areas the decline in river flow is three times that in rainfall, water tanks that use roofs as catchments are now far more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. Recycling can help too. This needs new investment and in some instances will require state government water monopolies to be broken up. It will cost more, but the benefits in terms of water security and recapture of nutrients in solid wastes are immense. Desalination plants can provide insurance against drought. In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources.
Moreover, when interviewed by Sally Sara on ABC TV Landline program on 11 February 2007, Tim Flannery declared:
Professor Tim Flannery : We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
In other words, contrary to Crikey’s protestations, in 2007 Tim Flannery did say that dams would dry up. Hence his claim that water tanks are more effective than dams and his advocacy for desalinisation plants.
Soon after he made this Bob Ellis like (false) prophesy, the drought broke. In early 2011, Brisbane experienced severe flooding and dams overflowed. Clearly your man Flannery was into alarmism. A fact he now wants to deny – with a little help from Eric Beecher’s Crikey. Can You Bear It?[Er, no. Not really. I note that in May 2004 Tim Flannery predicted that Perth would become the world’s first “ghost metropolis” after running out of water. Perhaps you might follow up on how this prophecy is going. – MWD Editor.]
- CRIKEY’S EMILY WATKINS – JUST MAKING THINGS UP
While on the topic of Crikey’s “Holy Wars” segment, MWD notes that last Monday Emily Watkins had a go at Gerard Henderson in a piece titled “Rules of Engagement”. She declared, without a shred of evidence and without any fact-checking, that Hendo had been “unleashed” by The Australian to “attack” the paper’s (alleged) targets. A similar allegation was made with respect to some other columnists.
The fact is that Jackie’s (male) co-owner has never been directed by anyone at The Australian to attack anyone. Crikey’s media reporter just made this up. As to Ms Watkins’ (juvenile) claim that Jackie’s (male) co-owner is “barking”. Well, he pleads guilty – your Honour.
For the record, Emily Watkins’ use of such words as “barking (against Chris Kenny, Gerard Henderson), “tutorialist” (against Janet Albrechtsen) and “resident old hounds” (against Henry Ergas and Terry McCrann) are so asinine that they would not get a run in most school magazines. And yet Ms Watkins is Eric Beecher’s media reporter. Can You Bear It?
- KATHARINE MURPHY’S FAKE SORROW
There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage last week of AM presenter Sabra (I’m sorry, oh so sorry”) Lane. As avid readers will recall, Ms Lane said she was “sorry” on five occasions during a ten-minute interview with Malcolm Turnbull. In fact, the AM presenter used the word “sorry” in an attempt to seem apologetic about interrupting the Prime Minister.
It appears that Katharine Murphy, the Guardian Australia’s political editor, is also into “sorry” – but in a different manner. She uses the apology as a way of reinforcing a point. As in: “I’m right; you’re wrong; sorry.”
Murph – one of MWD’s favourite journos – appeared on Insiders last Sunday with Malcolm Farr and Laura Tingle. Barrie Cassidy was in the presenter’s chair. Murph got annoyed with Mr Farr’s claim that “Malcolm Turnbull is about eliminating the ideology and the emotion of the climate debate”.
Katharine Murphy’s initial response was to say rudely: “Excuse me, excuse me, while I laugh.” It appears that young Murph missed out on courtesy classes during her life’s journey and seems unaware that it is rude to laugh at – as distinct from to laugh with – persons.
Then The Guardian Australia’s political editor turned the switch to condescension towards Malcolm Farr. Let’s go to the transcript:
Katharine Murphy: Well [the Energy Security Board] this is, this is part of the sort of Finkel process. It’s the new arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States for how you run the electricity market. That’s part of that whole process. But in terms of the politics, my friend [looking at Malcolm Farr].
Malcolm Farr: Please, go ahead.
Katharine Murphy: Well, sorry. I know what you’re saying. I think, I think the Prime Minister and the Energy Minister genuinely want a solution here. I think they actually want to drive this through to a conclusion. I think they’re very hopeful of getting bipartisan support after a period of politicking. But, you cannot, I’m sorry, credibly stand up and say we’re moving into a post political phase of this argument – if you are out, through the other side of your mouth, excoriating the people who you need to do the deal with….Sorry.
As the transcript indicates, Katharine Murphy was not at all sorry about disagreeing with your man Malcolm Farr. Rather, Murph apologises as part of a verbal attack. Can You Bear It?
IN WHICH THE RED BANDANNAED ONE MAKES UP A CONVERSATION
In “The Fitz Files” in last Sunday’s Sun Herald, Peter FitzSimons made the following claim:
In a week where NZ has elected a republican Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and here at home it has been revealed by Professor Jenny Hocking that a British official flew to Australia a month before the 1975 Dismissal to discuss the workings of that event with the British high commissioner and Sir John Kerr, you can believe that we have received another surge of support.
What a load of absolute tosh. The latest edition of the conspiracy-laden The Dismissal Dossier revealed that, according to a draft itinerary, a British official (Sir Michael Palliser) and the United Kingdom High Commissioner to Australia (Sir Morrice James) met with Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 15 October 1975.
Jenny Hocking has no idea why Sir Michael visited Australia in 1975 or what was discussed at the meeting. The Red Bandannaed One just made this up.
As avid readers will recall, in MWD Issue 57 Matt Canavan drew attention to that part of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop in which the snobbery of the leftie journalist Pappenhacker was revealed. Here is the relevant section:
“See that man there, that’s Pappenhacker.”
William looked, and saw.
“The cleverest man in Fleet Street.”
William looked again. Pappenhacker was young and swarthy, with great horn goggles and a receding, stubbly chin. He was having an altercation with some waiters.
“He’s going to Ishmaelia for the Daily Twopence”
“He seems to be in a very bad temper.”
“Not really. He’s always like that to waiters. You see he’s a communist. Most of the staff at the Twopence are – they’re University men, you see. Pappenhacker says that every time you are polite to a proletarian you are helping bolster up the capitalist system. He’s very clever of course, but he gets rather unpopular.”
“He looks as if he were going to hit them.”
“Yes, he does sometimes. Quite a lot of restaurants won’t have him in.”
Sandalista Snobbery Space is devoted to recording the snobbish views of the Pappenhackers of our day. Here are the two inaugural sightings:
- THE SATURDAY PAPER’S RICHARD COOKE MOCKS LAUNDRY VAN DRIVERS
In the current issue of The [Boring] Saturday Paper, which Hendo reads on Monday, there is a comment piece by Richard Cooke. His rant against conservatives, titled “The scum also rises”, contains the following comment concerning the British-born Australian columnist Nick Cater:
The national strain of credulousness has since been politicised and weaponised. The ABC has been cowed into compliance. Fairfax Media has been gutted, and that means Murdoch press calls the shots. In their world, Nick Cater counts as a formidable intellectual import, and he’s a former laundry van driver who cut his teeth at the University of Exeter sociology department. In comparison, every climate change hoaxer and vape merchant and tax-cutting lightweight from abroad really is a god in the firmament, and is given Olympian treatment accordingly.
So, there you have it. Your man Cooke, who has written for The Chaser Boys (average age 431/2), looks down on laundry van drivers. Especially Nick Cater, who after graduating from the University of Exeter, drove trucks – with a double de-clutch – for the Initial company and replaced roller towels in bathrooms and the like. Most MWD readers would regard such activity as a valuable contribution to the health of society. But snob Cooke looks down on such employment since he appears to hold truck drivers in contempt.
- AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE’S JIM STANFORD LOOKS DOWN ON FITNESS INSTRUCTORS, BEAUTY THERAPISTS AND MORE BESIDES
Last Monday, as is her wont, ABC Sydney Mornings presenter Wendy Harmer went to someone from the leftist Australia Institute for comment on something in the news.
This time it was the Australia Institute’s Jim Stanford who ridiculed a report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 24 October 2017 that there has been an increase in the number of fitness instructors and beauty therapists employed. In full Pappenhacker mode, your man Stanford – who occupies the exalted position of director of the Centre for Future Worth at the Australia Institute – looks at workers in the fitness and beauty industries with contempt. Absolute contempt – as the transcript indicates:
Wendy Harmer: It’s interesting, too, in this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, you know, I guess they’re taking the glass half full approach. They say we’re in an age we’re everyone has no time anymore to go from one place for another. People want the convenience of coming somewhere where they can have all the services done, they’re becoming more health aware. And we’ve got an ageing population so, of course, we want to invest in beauty, in fitness. I guess that’s from the point of view of the customer but not so good from the point of view of the worker.
Jim Stanford: And frankly, Wendy, that is not a typical customer. And another, another, I’d say, negative direction of our economic social development that is reflected in this story, is how it is – in a way – it is a window into the growing inequality of our society. You know, what they’ve just described of a beauty obsessed person who’s got no time and wants their personal fitness coach to come to them. Honestly, that is not a typical Sydneysider. That is one of the well-off people who have done well through the property development boom or the financial expansion and have the where-with-all to hire someone to do stuff that, you know, really is in the nature of personal services. It’s kind of a modern equivalent of having a maid or a butler of a chauffeur. And the fact that this type of demand is there shows, there is some people in this society with an awful lot of money who can hire their own personal fitness coach to come to them. And a lot of people in society who are desperate for work and willing to undertake that type of employment.
So, there you have it. Jim “Pappenhacker” Stanford looks down not only on fitness instructors and beauty therapists – but also on the maids and butlers and chauffeurs of earlier generations. Snob Stanford reckons that a leftist employee at the leftist Australia Institute – like him – who talks to the leftist Wendy Harmer on the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC – happens to be engaged in useful work. However, according to your man Stanford, the likes of therapists, fitness instructors, maids, butlers and chauffeurs are just a waste of space.
- BARNEY ZWARTZ’S PISS-POOR ABR REVIEW OF LOUISE MILLIGAN’S CARDINAL
Louise (“No Comment”) Milligan’s book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell was published by Melbourne University Press in May 2017. So it comes as no surprise that it is reviewed in the October 2017 issue of Australian Book Review – in the magazine’s special “Environment Issue”. Which suggests that ABR editor Peter Rose is happy to have books reviewed some five months after publication. Stand by for ABR’s review of War and Peace.
Barney Zwartz, who worked for The Age for three decades until the end of 2013, is the reviewer. Needless to say, your man Zwartz is a long-term critic of Cardinal George Pell. Even so, Barney Zwartz describes Ms Milligan’s book as “a strong case for the prosecution”. So Peter Rose commissioned a Pell critic to review a book by a vehement Pell critic on Pell.
You get an idea of where Barney Zwartz is coming from when, early in the review, he writes that Cardinal Pell’s “wine cellar is rumoured to be remarkable”. Really? By whom? And just how remarkable? And is the taxpayer funded Australian Book Review now into publishing rumours about alleged wine cellars in what is meant to be a serious book review? [Do any avid readers have any rumours on Barney Zwartz? – MWD Editor.]
There is no evidence from Barney Zwartz’s review that he has read Cardinal from cover to cover. Certainly his ABR article, titled “Pell’s trajectory”, contains no quotes from Louise Milligan’s book. This is piss-poor reviewing – especially since, as MWD readers are aware, Ms Milligan refused to answer any questions about her book and sought protection from MUP. For the record, Milligan is on the record as saying that Cardinal is written “from the perspective of the complainants” – so even she does not claim that Cardinal is an objective work.
In spite of the fact that Cardinal Pell has been bagged constantly by the Pell-haters at the ABC and Fairfax Media, Barney Zwartz complains that George Pell has been supported by (unnamed) columnists at The Australian. This is what your man Zwartz has to say about one particular matter:
…Pell has always had a stalwart media supporter at The Australian. Its columnists have nearly always bought the Pell line uncritically, even when it defied the facts, such as Pell’s oft-expressed claim that Justice Alec Southwell’s 2002 investigation into alleged abuse in 1961 “completely exonerated” him, when in fact the verdict was closer to the Scottish proverb “not proven”. Southwell found both the alleged victim and alleged abuser truthful, and that the complaint could not be established.
So, according to Barney Zwartz in 2017, it is incorrect to say that George Pell was cleared by Alec Southwell’s investigation in 2002 even though he concedes that the complaint could not be established. But who else ever said that George Pell was cleared by Southwell? Step forward, wait for it, Barney Zwartz himself.
In an article published in The Age on 14 June 2010, Barney Zwartz had this to say:
Cardinal Pell stood down as Archbishop of Sydney in 2002 after he was accused of abusing a teenager in a church camp in the 1960s, but an independent investigation by a retired non-Catholic judge cleared him.
So in June 2010 Mr Zwartz wrote that Cardinal Pell had been “cleared” by the Southwell inquiry. However, in October 2017 Mr Zwartz wrote that it defies the facts to say that Cardinal Pell was cleared by the Southwell inquiry. So there you have it – or not. Barney Zwartz, who cannot remember what he wrote about Cardinal Pell as recently as 2010, is the ABR’s preferred reviewer for this (delayed) review.
Barney Zwartz: Media Fool of the Week
STEP FORWARD CHRIS MITCHELL FOR AN ANALYSIS OF ABC TV LATELINE’S DEMISE
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). And the (latest) winner is Chris Mitchell.
Writing in The Australian on 16 October 2017, former Australian editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell nailed the reasons for the (sad) demise of ABC TV Lateline program. This is how his column in the “Media” section commenced:
Lateline was once the jewel in the crown of ABC television current affairs. When former treasurer Peter Costello spoke of a Mark Latham policy idea not holding “from Lateline to lunch time” he was reflecting the influence of a program once used by politicians as a launch pad for policy debates. On this newspaper there was always a late night text hotline between senior editors who had finished work and were watching the program at home and the night editor putting together the late editions, often following up Lateline stories.
That all stopped when two things happened. First Tony Jones stopped being the full-time presenter and then under former managing director Mark Scott, always a man for process rather than a driver of news, the program started airing first on News 24 at 9.30pm. A good technical interviewer, Jones’s successor, former London correspondent Emma Alberici, nevertheless lacked a feel for politics and initially turned the program into one more focused on foreign crosses to London and later on magazine-style stories that padded out the last 20 minutes after the political wrap from Canberra.
On the night of the Las Vegas shooting two weeks ago, pay-TV talk host Paul Murray dropped his regular format to dedicate his two hours to updates from the US as the death toll rose from two to 59. Lateline came on half an hour later at 9.30 and stuck with its original schedule, an unthinkable journalistic failing for a showpiece current affairs program.
Quite so. As MWD has argued, Lateline once used to run lively discussions between individuals at home and abroad. These were dropped in preference for international crosses to hear from journalists and academics and politicians for debates between local politicians who were skilled enough to run the party line. This was boring television and rarely newsworthy. It was not surprising that viewers dropped off until it dawned on ABC management that no one much was watching the program.
From 2018, the ABC will not have a late night considered news and current affairs program. It has also dropped the monthly Book Club which is chaired by Jennifer Byrne. What was significant about this program is that guests had read the books they were asked to discuss.
On the issue of balance, the former editor-in-chief of The Australian had this to say:
Defenders of the corporation argue, correctly, that bias is in the eye of the beholder. But so what? At least half the nation’s “beholders” are conservative and they pay for the ABC too. They should not feel ABC journalists are part of a Green-left campaign against their values. The bias question has been reduced inside the ABC to a puerile suggestion that critics are implying it should give equal time to crackpots like anti-vaxxers. This is not nearly good enough.
Chris Mitchell: Five Paws
REPORT FROM THE US[ELESS] STUDIES CENTRE
IN WHICH PROFESSOR SIMON CHAPMAN AND HIS COLLEAGUES LEND SUPPORT TO THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
Due to enormous reader demand, MWD takes another look at the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at the taxpayer funded University of Sydney.
In 2006, John Howard’s Coalition gave the USSC a $30 million hand-out when it was set up at the University of Sydney. As Gerard Henderson – and some others predicted – the USSC soon was taken over by fashionable left-wing academics. For example, in 2008 the USSC held a party to welcome Barack Obama’s victory over Republican John McCain in the US presidential election. Last year, USSC’s chief executive officer Simon Jackman told Sky News that no USSC staff member supported Donald J. Trump and that no one at the USSC had predicted that now President Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016. In short, every self-proclaimed “expert” at the USSC got the election result wrong. [Perhaps the USSC needs another $30 million – MWD Editor.]
Thanks to MWD’s spy within the US[eless] Studies Centre for advising that Dr Jackman (for a doctor he is) and his colleagues are supporting the winner of the leftist 2017 Sydney Peace Prize – which is sponsored by the Sydney University.
Previous winners include Noam Chomsky and John Pilger. So, it comes as no surprise that the 2017 winner is the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Recent Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have featured demonstrators chanting “What do we want? Dead cops/ When do you want them? Now” and “Pigs in a blanket/Fry like bacon.” Enough said.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a great fan of Nick Cater and his team at the (partly) taxpayer funded Menzies Research Centre. So Hendo was delighted when your man Cater sent him the 20 October 2017 issue of the MRC Newsletter at 6 pm last Friday – i.e. Gin & Tonic time. It contained, wait for it, the Menzies Research Centre’s “Watercooler” update. Here’s how it commenced:
Menzies Research Centre Watercooler
A week is a long time at the MRC. Here are the topics we debated around the office refreshment dispenser this week. Want to join the conversation? Feel free to send me a reply. Have a good weekend. – Nick Cater, Executive Director.
Here’s the list of topics that found expression around the MRC Watercooler in the period 16 October to 20 October – (i) Victorian Premier Dan (nee Daniel) Andrews, (ii) law enforcement versus information security, (iii) “the politics of high profile contract profile renewal” (whatever that might mean), (iv) energy policy and (v) the National Energy Guarantee. Yawn. Good, worthy, topics to be sure. But there must have been a lot of water consumed, and little work done, to talk about all these topics around a watercooler. No wonder – a week is a long time in politics (to borrow a cliché) at the Menzies Research Centre. So is 5 minutes.
Well now, MWD hears you ask, what was discussed around the MWD fridge last week around Gin & Tonic time? Good question. In response to popular demand, this will become regular segment. Here is the first edition.
Media Watch Dog – Gin & Tonic Dispenser
A week is a very, very, long time at MWD. Here are the topics we debated around the office’s Gin & Tonic Dispenser this week. Want to join the conversation – or are you just thirsty? Feel free to send a reply to Jackie (Dip. Wellness, Gunnedah Lost Dogs Institute). By the way, have a good weekend along with any other cliché that increases morale.
▪ Peter FitzSimons. How often does the Red Bandannaed One wash the red rag on his head – especially during time of low rainfall? Should this issue be referred to Occupational Health and Safety.
▪ Sabra Lane. When Sabra (“I’m so sorry”) Lane tells the prime minister that she’s sorry – what does that mean? Apologies if this is too difficult a question.
▪ Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC. How many soft interviews can JB AO QC do on the ABC – now that he’s done “Tosh Plus Tosh” (aka, One Plus One) with Jane Hutcheon?
▪ Now it’s Dr Dominic Kelly (for a doctor he is) and Dr Waleed Aly (for a doctor he is) – is there any leftist inner-city house in Melbourne that does not have a doctor in it? Would it be worth making “Sandalista Doctor in the (inner-city) House?
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And now it’s back to work. Stand by for next Friday when MWD advises what was debated around MWD’s Gin & Tonic Dispenser over the previous five (working) days. [I can barely wait – MWD Editor]
NEW FEATURE: PEDANTRY PIT-STOP
RODNEY CAVALIER TAKES ISSUE WITH HENDO’S “APOLOGIA INTERRUPTUS”
Jackie’s (male) co-owner was born in Melbourne in a previous century – he’s not saying which one. On arrival in Sydney three decades ago, Hendo was surprised to find there were lotsa pedants in his midst. Mr and Ms Pedantry were worried about such big-issues-of-the-day as split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions and the like. This deeply annoyed Hendo – to such an extent that he found it difficult to put up with. There you go.
In honour of proper grammar, MWD has set up a Pedantry Pit-Stop segment to allow readers to talk about their frustrations with the deviations from the Queen’s English which appear regularly on this blog. [I always thought the Queen was German. – MWD Editor.] Here’s a start.
Former NSW Labor Party MP Rodney Cavalier sent this email from the Southern Highlands concerning the heading in last week’s issue “Apologia Interruptus”. The reference was to AM presenter Sabra Lane’s interview with Malcolm Turnbull when she constantly said “sorry” for interrupting the Prime Minister.
This is what your man Cavalier had to say about this particular violation of the English language in an email headed: “Certainly inelegant if not wrong outright” :
Gerard mixes his Greek with his Latin in Apologia Interruptus. I cannot assert he is wrong with the gender selected for the adjective. I am suspecting that it should be interrupta but am not confident that Latin rules apply in the context of non-Latin words.
Thank you Rodney. Can anyone help out here? Do Latin rules apply in the context of non-Latin words? Is “apologia” a non-Latin word?
VALE PROFESSOR COLIN A. HUGHES
AN ACADEMIC AND PUBLIC SERVANT WHO MADE AN IMMENSE CONTRIBUTION TO AUSTRALIAN HISTORY
On 7 October 2017, the Canberra Times reported the death of Emeritus Professor Colin A. Hughes (1930-2017) in an obituary by Professor Brian Costar.
Born in the Bahamas (his father was a senior British civil servant), Hughes arrived in Brisbane in 1956 to work in the University of Queensland’s political science department. He held degrees from Columbia University along with a doctor of philosophy from the London School of Economics and had passed his examination for the London bar in 1953. After a brief return to the Bahamas, Hughes took up a position at the Australian National University in 1961. He was appointed the inaugural professor of political science at the University of Queensland in 1965. Hughes subsequently held senior positions at the ANU and the U of Q – and in the Commonwealth and Queensland public service (mainly working in the area of electoral and administrative matters).
Colin A. Hughes made an important contribution to Australian politics and history through his books, commentary and teaching along with his seven part documentary on ABC TV about Australia’s prime ministers. This led to the publication of his brief but incisive monograph Mr Prime Minister. Unlike many academics of his generation, Professor Hughes was not a barracker for the Labor Party and was not subsumed by the Gough Whitlam Fan Club. He approached both Labor and the Coalition with objectivity and fairness.
To students of Australian history and politics in the pre-internet age, Colin A. Hughes made an enormous contribution to debate and discussion with the publication of a number of handbooks. The first, titled The Handbook of Australian Government and Politics: 1890-1964 (ANU Press, 1968), was co-authored with B.D. Graham. There were subsequent publications concerning the periods 1965-1974, 1975-1984 and 1985-1999 of which Professor Hughes was the sole anchor.
Colin A. Hughes was a friend of The Sydney Institute. Moreover, his various handbooks have been of immense (albeit frequently unacknowledged) value to Australian historians who believe in the importance of facts. Gerard Henderson, for one, owes Professor Hughes immense gratitude for making Australian history writing much easier than otherwise would have been the case.
Vale Colin A. Hughes
A NOTE TO AVID READERS IN VICTORIA re FORTHCOMING CONCERT IN MEMORY OF JAMES McAULEY (1917-1976)
Jackie’s co-owners will be attending the Concert for James McAuley in their home town of Melbourne on Sunday 12 November 2017.
This will be held at St Peter’s Catholic Church, 585 Toorak Road, Toorak, commencing at 2 pm. Tickets are $25 each – to book check here.
James McAuley, who converted to Catholicism in the early 1950s, was one of Australia’s finest poets. He also wrote Hymns for the Year of Grace.
Here’s how Daniel Brace explains the concert for James McAuley in the 6 October 2017 issue of Limelight:
It was the words of the hymns which caught my attention. After careful consideration, I realised that two of the hymns sung regularly at my local parish of St. Peter’s Toorak [in Melbourne] had a common author, poet James McAuley (1917-1976). Add the popular Easter hymn By your kingly power, O risen Lord, and it seemed that here was a significant contributor to Australian hymnody.
This year, 2017, is the centenary year of the birth of James ‘Jim’ McAuley, celebrated poet, jazz musician, Professor of English (Uni
versity of Tasmania) and political figure of his time. Originally published in 1963, McAuley’s contribution to hymnody is contained in the Hymns for the Year of Grace, a collection of sacred poems set to music by McAuley’s friend and contemporary Richard Connolly (b. 1927). In the foreword to the 2012 reprint of the collection, Connolly states that an essential quality of a good hymn is that it should be “‘poetic”.
McAuley’s poems are full of references to music, song, musical forms – such as chorale, prelude, etc – and draw inspiration from the sounds of bird song and the natural world.
From all accounts, music was an integral part of the McAuley household. James McAuley was an accomplished and versatile keyboard player, skilled at the piano, organ and played a modern reproduction of the virginal. Norma, his beloved wife, was a singer and led the local church choir in song. Some of the hymns from Hymns for the Year of Grace have been in continuous circulation and if you look at the index of authors you’ll find McAuley hymns in the hymnals of the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Churches.
On Sunday November 12, we are holding a concert at St Peter’s Catholic Church in Toorak to celebrate the centenary of McAuley’s birth. This special concert will bring together singers from three churches of the Toorak Ecumenical Covenant – St Peter’s Catholic Church, the Uniting Church and St John’s Anglican – along with other community members, to recreate the sound and atmosphere of community singing of the 1960s.The choir will present a collection of hymns from the Year of Grace, with music by McAuley’s friend and colleague, Richard Connolly, interspersed by readings of his poetry by friends and descendants.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner, understands that the concert will finish before Gin & Tonic time down Toorak way.
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).
NICK FEIK AND GERARD HENDERSON re THE MONTHLY’S “SCHWARTZ GROTESQUE” – BRAND NEW TYPE-FACE BUT SAME OLD(BORING) LEFT IDEOLOGY
Jackie’s (male) co-owner is a humble subscriber to The Monthly – publisher Morry Schwartz, editor Nick Feik. In this capacity, he receives occasional letters from your man Feik. Since Hendo was brought up to understand that all letters required responses – except for the Pope’s encyclical letters – he tends to reply to correspondence. As in this case. Here we go:
Nick Feik to Gerard Henderson – 24 October 2017
The coming issue of the Monthly will look a little different. In fact, the magazine has been given a full redesign – the first one in its 12-year history – from the masthead right through to the final page number.
Of course, there may be aspects that take time to get used to. That’s only natural; like a pair of slippers, the old format had grown comfortable. But what is regular and cosy can become, well, routine, and in our judgement that time was approaching.
Our aim was to improve the reading experience, while maintaining the classic lines to which readers have become accustomed. We assure you we have taken great care. The text still runs in two columns, for instance, and the general format (including sections The Nation Reviewed, Essays and Arts & Letters) remains the same.
Our design partners, Public Office, have created a layout that is spacious and vibrant. Most importantly, it reads beautifully. Their typesetting is astute, and they have also called on the service of the Dinamo type foundry in Basel, Switzerland, to create our very own unique font. Dubbed Schwartz Grotesque (and belonging to the Grotesque family of fonts), it will appear in the new masthead and in varied forms throughout the magazine.
We hope you’ll enjoy the Monthly’s fresh look. Consider the redesign an investment in another long and fruitful period of publishing, and an invitation to devour some great new writing and journalism.
Thanks for your support.
Gerard Henderson to Nick Feik – 24 October 2017
Many thanks for your email about the full redesign of Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly. As the cliché goes – as a subscriber, I’m EXCITED.
While you are on to new design, why not abandon tired clichés? Such as your reference to the magazine’s current layout as “like a pair of slippers” in which “the format has grown comfortable”. Yawn.
In fact, The Monthly is like a pair of roman sandals – and this is unlikely to change under the new “Schwartz Grotesque” typeface. It seems that Australia’s very own socialist multi-millionaire property developer has embraced his very own Cult of Personality. Such as naming The Monthly’s version of Dinamo Grotesque as “Schwartz Grotesque”. How grotesque can you get?
I understand your aim to give The Monthly a “fresh look”. But why not give Morry’s monthly a fresh reality? Why not end The Monthly’s decade or so as a leftist house journal? – and occasionally, just occasionally, publish a couple of conservatives. Even you acknowledge in your letter that “regular and cosy” can become “routine”. Meaning, BORING. That’s what The Monthly is – irrespective of its typeface.
I know conservatives are hard to find in the Collingwood/Fitzroy/Brunswick Sandalista Triangle which is The Monthly’s land. But publishing the occasional political conservative would give the magazine a touch of pluralism.
The Monthly boasts on its website that it provides “vigorous, at times, controversial debate on the issues that affect the nation”. But it is the kind of “debate” found frequently on the ABC – where everyone agrees with everyone else.
You claim that The Monthly is home to Australia’s “finest thinkers” but only mention such leftists as David Marr and Helen Garner and Don Watson and Anna Goldsworthy. Fine gender balance to be sure – but no political balance of any kind.
The above is just a thought from a humble subscriber. Here’s hoping it’s helpful.
Lotsa love to Morry and the team.
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Until next time.
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