GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE NO. 385
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: ABC Trump-Hater at Work; Derryn Hinch’s Joke – As Old as Moses
ABC Update: Everyone Agrees with Everyone Else as 7.30 Calls for A National Anti-Corruption Body
Can You Bear It? Frank Moorhouse & Peter FitzSimons on Henry Lawson & William Wills (but not Robert O’Hara Burke); Peter Greste on 9/11; Melbourne University Academic on Mark Latham; Michael Leunig on Capitalism
New Feature: Pick the Real Leunig – the Duck Lover and Nancy Compared
Vale Malcolm Colless
The Fallibility of Memory – in which Kevin Rudd Mis-remembered Colin Cowdrey’s Historic Innings
MWD Exclusive: Michelle Guthrie Exhibits Ignorance About the ABC’s Very Own Historic Child Sex Abuse Case
Abbott-Phobia Clinic: Dr Elizabeth Farrelly Presents
Nancy’s Modest Proposal: How Peter Rose’s Australian Book Review can Lessen its Emissions
The ABC and Pedophilia: A Timeline (Updated)
ABC TRUMP-HATER WRITES FED HEADING
Here’s how ABC News Online announced the news that President Donald J. Trump has appointed Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as chairman of the United States Federal Reserve:
Fancy that. The ABC headline writer did not even concede that Jerome Powell, if confirmed to the position, might just get it right and avoid economic chaos. Also the headline writer gave the false impression that President Trump had referred to the prospect of economic chaos on a grand scale.
It seems that at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, the Trump Haters have captured the headline-writing high ground.
DERRYN HINCH TIRED BANKER/WANKER ANTIQUE JOKE
Here’s how Sky News’ Paul Murray Live carried the release of National Australia Bank’s results yesterday by NAB chief executive officer Andrew Thorburn. Paul Murray was in the presenter’s chair and his panel comprised Senator Derryn Hinch, Gary Hardgrave and Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson. Let’s go to the transcript which leads to your man Hinch’s JOKE:
News Reader: Andrew Thorburn was today a happy banker.
Andrew Thorburn: We’ve got a full year profit of 6.6 billion dollars.
News Reader: That’s cash profit. Up a tidy 2.5 per cent, good for investors but not for staff. 6000 NAB jobs will be axed over three years.
Andrew Thorburn: Today we’re outlining a three to five year plan to invest in our company, to simplify, to transform it.
News Reader: Two thousand new tech experts will be hired. A change driven by a move from face to face, to online banking. Unions say slashing staff while posting massive profits is obscene.
Paul Murray: Alright Senator we’ll start with you. I’m not going to ask about banking Royal Commissions, that’s a circular conversation where we know where everyone stands. But can you think of a more bastardly way to announce you’re going to sack people than on the day you’re racking up billions in profits?
Derryn Hinch: Did she say happy banker? [Long Pause]
Derryn Hinch: Anyway.
It was here that Paul Murray and Gary Hardgrave realised that they were supposed to laugh loudly at your man Hinch’s banker/wanker joke. So they laughed and they laughed. A real thigh-slapping experience.
Only Ms Markson was not amused. After all, the banker/wanker joke is at least 30 years old. According to an avid reader, it got a run on the ABC’s Rubbery Figures program back in the 1980s.
It seems that Senator Hinch wants everyone to laugh at his jokes – even though they are as old as Methuselah. [Perhaps this segment should have been placed in your hugely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment – MWD Editor.]
7.30 SUCKS UP TO THE LEFTIST AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE
If ABC management really wants to know why such flagship news and current affairs programs as 7.30 and (the soon to be extinct) Lateline are losing viewers, perhaps they should spend more time examining the product.
Take last night’s 7.30, for example. This is how the program commenced:
Leigh Sales, Presenter : Serious corruption at a federal level almost certainly exists, but it’s not being exposed according to a group of prominent former judges. They’re calling for the immediate establishment of a federal anti-corruption agency. It would have the same powers as state anti-corruption bodies as Matt Peacock reports.
Matt Peacock, Reporter: It’s corruption right at the top….
There was footage of four persons entering a room – only three of whom were “prominent former judges”. There was Stephen Charles QC (formerly of the Victorian Supreme Court), Anthony Whealy QC (formerly of the NSW Court of Appeal) and Margaret McMurdo (a former president of the Queensland Court of Appeal). And who, MWD hears you ask, was the fourth person?
Well it was Ben Oquist of the left-wing (Matt Peacock used the word “progressive”) Australia Institute. Your man Oquist, who once worked for the Greens, was not identified in the program. But Matt Peacock did mention the Australia Institute. Let’s go to the transcript:
Matt Peacock: The progressive think tank, the Australia Institute, organised this meeting after its polling suggested most Australians support a national body – a sentiment shared by Nick Xenophon Party’s Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore.
Senator Kakoschke-Moore appeared on the screen and declared:
Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Nick Xenophon Party: Well, sadly, faith in politicians is at an all-time low. There are reports that have come out from various global agencies that say that in Australia, the majority of people think that politicians are engaged in some form of corruption, and about 12 per cent of people think that, if not all politicians are, some would be.
Needless to say, Senator Kakoschke-Moore agreed with the “prominent former judges” who believe that Australia needs an anti-corruption body at the Commonwealth level of government. So does Mark Robinson QC – although he wants some civil liberty protection built in to the process. Labor Senator Jacinta Collins was also interviewed – but she spoke mainly about process since the Labor Party is yet to endorse the concept.
Otherwise Stephen Charles agreed with Anthony Whealy who agreed with Margaret McMurdo who agreed with Mark Robinson QC who agreed with Stephen Charles who agreed with Matt Peacock who agreed with himself.
Stephen Charles’ undocumented assertion that there is “abundant corruption” in Canberra was not challenged by anyone on the program. Nor was Anthony Whealy’s proposal that a national anti-corruption body should “protrude” over and above the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, the Parliamentary Expenses Authority, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Public Service.
In other words, 7.30 led its program last night with a promotion for the leftist Australia Institute in which any views contrary to Ben Oquist and his colleagues were censored.
[Here’s a thought. Why not appoint Charles QC and Whealy QC to the new position of Joint Lord Protectors of Australia and save on the bureaucracy involved in setting up a federal anti-corruption bureaucracy? – MWD Editor.]
FRANK MOORHOUSE & PETER FITZSIMONS’ “RAINBOW” HENRY LAWSON & WILLIAM WILLS (OF BURKE & WILLS)
If only the dead could vote (as some life-long and beyond Labor Party supporters did in the first half of the 20th Century), the same sex marriage postal survey “Yes” vote could have been at least two votes higher than will be the case.
You see, last Saturday Fairfax Media newspapers reported that Henry Lawson (1867-1922) may have been gay. The heading in The Age read “Lawson could be our first queer icon, says author”. The story, by Shona Martyn, commenced as follows:
Australian literary legend Henry Lawson belongs just as much with the LGBTIQ+ movement of today as with the sentimental nationalist and political movements that have made him their poster boy, according to Miles Franklin award winner Frank Moorhouse. In a collection of essays to be released on Monday, Moorhouse argues that Lawson may have been “destructively conflicted” by his effeminacy and if he were alive today could potentially be described as “bi-sexual or perhaps bi-gendered”.
“On the evidence, Lawson struggled with the conventional masculine role and, I believe, the unresolvable inner tensions of his sexuality,” writes Moorhouse in The Drover’s Wife: A celebration of a great Australian love affair. “I speculate that his effeminate personality contributed to both his abuse of alcohol, which can be both a relief from, and a form of, emotional absence within a relationship.”
Well, that’s pretty clear then. Henry Lawson MAY have been conflicted by his (alleged) effeminacy – and, if he were alive today, COULD be accurately described as a bi-sexual or perhaps bi-gendered. In any event, your man Frank Moorhouse believes that Henry Lawson’s heavy drinking can be explained by the (alleged) inner-tensions of his sexuality. Maybe. Or maybe he was just thirsty.
The Lawson-was-gay (probably) theory was soon embraced by Down Under’s populist historian Peter FitzSimons. The Red Bandannaed One produces history the way others make sausages. His most recent tome, titled Burke & Wills: The Triumph and the Tragedy of Australia’s Greatest Explorers was released last Monday. Stand by for another Fitz book next Monday.
On Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article by Peter FitzSimons titled “`A rare and beautiful character’: doomed explorer Wills may have been a gay hero”. That MAY word again. Your man Fitz took up the Moorhouse “may” in his opening paragraph:
Frank Moorhouse has speculated on the sexuality of Henry Lawson, arguing that despite his image as the archetypal “bushman, the celebrator of a rugged Australian bush mateship”, he actually evinced great “effeminacy, or femininity”, and may very well have been gay. Moorhouse does not say there is any evidence that Lawson physically expressed that sexuality, but exults that Lawson could be a “hero to all queer Australian kids”.
So, The Red Bandannaed One has no evidence that Henry Lawson was gay – but he COULD have been. Ditto William Wills, of Burke and Wills fame:
On the day that Burke and Wills departed from Melbourne, intending to ride and walk all the way to the Gulf of Carpentaria and back, that “man of the ladies”, Robert O’Hara Burke, 39, presented a photo of himself to the young actor Julia Matthews, declaring his undying love. The 26-year-old Wills – with no record of attachment to any female – presented a beautifully framed photo of himself to the 54-year-old lawyer who lived a room along from him in a Fitzroy boarding house, Richard Birnie.
Fitz conceded that “there is no evidence of a physical bond between William Wills and anyone, but the love between him and Burnie jumps from the contemporary accounts”. This is how The Red Bandannaed One concluded his self-promoting piece flogging his own book:
We’ll never know for sure, the way I now know [sic] that Wills was – rare for the time – an atheist, a position he didn’t even recant from when about to die of starvation. But that is another story!
So, Frank Moorhouse does not know for sure about Henry Lawson. And Peter FitzSimons does not know for sure about William Wills. But both men got lotsa coverage in Fairfax Media for their Rainbow-friendly analysis which was long on speculation but short on facts. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really. Does it really matter whether Lawson and Wills were LGBTIQ+ types? However I am impressed with Fitz’s use of the exclamation mark!!!!!! But that’s another story!!!!!!! MWD Editor!!!!!]
PETER GRESTE WANTS TO RE-DEFINE 9/11
It seems that the Western intelligentsia’s denial about Islamist terrorism continues apace. In April 2013, Monash University academic and media personality Waleed Aly described the Boston Marathon Bombing as but a “perpetual irritant” which we all will have to put up with. In other words, terrorism will always be with us.
Now, on the eve of the latest terrorist attack on New York City, Sydney-based journalist Peter Greste had this to say to The Age’s Kylie Northover last Saturday. Your man Greste, author of The First Casualty (Penguin, 2017), was taking part in the Spectrum “Lunch With” series:
Many of Greste’s concerns with the current state of the media can, he says, be traced back to the war on terror. “Think of how different the world would’ve looked if instead of declaring a war on terror, we’d thought of 9/11 as a crime of mass murder; it would’ve been dealt with psychologically completely differently.”
He argues that our relationship with the Islamic world and radical Islam would be very different had the investigations focused on the individual perpetrators – perhaps we would not have the binary “us and them” culture we do now.
How about that? On 11 September 2001, Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda Islamist organisation launched a series of terrorist attacks on the United States. Bin Laden said they were terrorist attacks and the United States government agreed.
However, Peter Greste reckons that the world would be a safer place today if only we had accepted Mohamed Atta (who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center) and his band of Islamist terrorists were just a bunch of murderers. Mr Greste seems to believe that, in 2001, the West should have gone into a state of denial about al Qaeda and classified Mohamed Atta and his band of men as individual perpetrators, not terrorists. And your man Greste has written a book about the need to proclaim truth and junk self-serving propaganda. Can You Bear It?
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY ACADEMIC BRANDS MARK LATHAM AS A “WHITE SUPREMACIST IN TRAINING”
While on the topic of truth and all that, did anyone see ABC TV’s News Breakfast program on Wednesday? During the “Newspapers” segment, discussion turned on the fact that Mark Latham is being sued for defamation by Crikey contributor Osman Faruqi. Mr Faruqi claims to have been defamed by a comment made on the Mark Latham’s Outsiders online program to the effect that Osman Faruqi and others are fomenting hatred of white people and effectively encouraging terrorists.
The matter was reported in The Australian on Wednesday by Chris Merritt – which led to the following exchange on News Breakfast between presenters Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli and Melbourne University academic Lauren Rosewarne of that campus’ School of Social and Political Sciences:
Michael Rowland: Now, Latham. That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while:
Lauren Rosewarne: [Interjecting] Everyone’s favourite white supremacist in training. Mark Latham is now apparently –
Virginia Trioli: [Interjecting] Excuse me.
Virginia Trioli: Go on.
Lauren Rosewarne: [Mark Latham] is apparently seeing this defamation case against him as an opportunity to raise the flag of whether you can be racist against white people….
So, there you have it. Dr Rosewarne (for a doctor she is) reckons that Mark Latham is “a white supremacist in training”. And what is her evidence for so serious a charge? Alas, she did not provide any – beyond saying that Mr Latham objects to the use of such terms as “angry white male”.
It seems down at Hendo’s alma mater Melbourne University it’s now okay to brand the likes of Mark Latham as “a white supremacist in training” without a skerrick of evidence. Can You Bear It?
“BUCKS FOR DUCKS” MICHAEL LEUNIG RAILS AGAINST CAPITALISM
Gerard Henderson was walking Jackie around the block last Saturday morning when he happened to chance upon an interview between Jonathan (“I’m a left-wing fox-hunting man”) Green and The Age’s house-leftist Michael Leunig on Radio National’s Blueprint for Living. [Great concept. Perhaps Hendo might some day get a gig on RN hosting, say, “Blueprint for Dying”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]
It was a long, boring interview as your man Leunig spoke about the two topics he knows best – himself and ducks. The occasion for the discussion was the publication of Sandalista Leunig’s latest tome titled – yes, you’ve guessed it – Ducks for Dark Times (Penguin). Yawn.
Towards the end of the interview, the well-heeled Leftist Luvvie turned his focus on capitalism. Yes, capitalism. Let’s go to the transcript:
Jonathan Green: You talk quite darkly about the world and your relationships to it. There’s a real sense of ennui in it. I wonder, you carry a sense of these things with you?
Michael Leunig: Absolutely. I do and I don’t know why that is but I find it interesting. I find, look you know, I’m very capable of the joyous in life and a lot of my cartoons are joyful. And yet, I find, probably like a psychoanalyst or something, one’s curious about why, why is this war? Why this inequality? Why are humans, why do they do what they do? I think I take the good and the joyous as a blessing and take it for granted and I’m thankful but then I look. And I think that’s part of my job description.
Jonathan Green: Do you feel a wisdom about any of those things? As an older man?
Michael Leunig: Do I feel?
Jonathan Green: A wisdom. Are you starting to get an understanding of how these things happen?
Michael Leunig: Somewhat Jonathan, somewhat. But I’m, it’s a lifetime’s work I think. Trying to get into all that and there’s a lot of disillusionment goes on and one eventually kind of transcends it a bit. And you turn to other things ultimately. It’s hard to explain that but maybe one takes on a more spiritual view in the old tradition. You see bigger, bigger picture. Because the picture that lies around you is, substantially unhappy. And we do have a culture of shutting it out and sweeping it under — I think in our inequality, the capitalist system that we live in, and I don’t say that as an old leftie it’s just like as an economist would say. It does produce a lot of people who can’t, who don’t have homes who don’t have prospects, they have no place and the world is getting bigger so my job as a cartoonist is to look at that I guess.
So here is one of The Age’s best paid journalists banging on about the evils of capitalism. Also, the Prophet Leunig believes that societies like Australia – with free school education, free health care and a social safety net – produce homelessness and poverty. Unlike, say, a communist regime such as North Korea or a socialist Nirvana like Venezuela. And your man Green believes that Comrade Leunig has something to teach us about the human condition of value to Hendo and others walking their mongrel dogs during Hangover Time on a Saturday morning. Can You Bear It?
MICHAEL LEUNIG POULTRY CARTOONING
While on the topic of Michael Leunig, here’s his view on the same sex marriage postal survey as covered by The Age :
Well, that’s pretty clear then. Or is it? It seems that the duck-obsessed Michael Leunig – who once famously appeared on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope wearing sandals – is becoming increasingly obscure.
It so happens that John Edward, MWD’s favourite psychic, is visiting Australia. In a confused state, Hendo contacted Mr Edward and asked him to get in touch with Nancy with a view to finding out what the hero of Melbourne’s Sandalista Set was on about. Nancy sent the following message – from the “Other Side”.
VALE MALCOLM COLLESS (1944-2017)
Malcolm Colless, a fine old-style journalist who became a hands-on media manager, died last Tuesday. Ian Moore wrote an obituary in The Australian on Thursday.
Malcolm Colless belonged to that generation of Australians who contracted polio in infancy. He overcome the affliction but, like a number of polio victims, the disease returned in his latter years and restricted mobility. My last meeting with Malcolm occurred on a Sydney CBD street – he was wearing a hat and using a walking stick. We spoke about politics, a subject in which he invariably exhibited sound judgment and acute insight.
As a News Limited journalist in Canberra and elsewhere early in his career, Malcolm Colless broke many a story. He moved early into management for News Limited (now News Corp) in 1982, remaining there until his retirement in 2007. His final position at the company was director of corporate development.
Malcolm Colless worked his way up from cadet journalist to senior management – a brilliant career. He was lively and perceptive with a deep tribal loyalty to his business and personal associates. Malcolm Colless was a friend of The Sydney Institute. He will be missed by his many admirers. Deepest sympathy to Christine Colless and the family.
THE FALLIBILITY OF MEMORY – OR INSIDE THE ROBERT MANNE MEMORY HOLE
As avid readers are aware, Emeritus Professor Robert Manne has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual. How does MWD know this? Well, he posted this on his website – that’s how. Yet, despite his intellectual eminence, Robert Manne occasionally has clear “recollections” of events that never happened.
As summarised in MWD Issue 356, Professor Manne recalls that sometime in the 1990s (he can’t remember when) Gerard Henderson sent a fax to The Age demanding that Manne be sacked as a columnist. Your man Manne claims that there are three copies of the (alleged) fax in existence but, despite an offer of $25,000, has not been able to produce any evidence to support his claim. Also, in the book From the Paddock to the Agora, Professor Manne recalled that at La Trobe University in 1975 Professor Hugo Wolfsohn compelled members of the Political Science Department to lunch together every day at the Staff Club. This never happened. It’s called the Fallibility of Memory – here’s another case study.
KEVIN RUDD’S FALSE MEMORY OF ENGLAND TEST BATSMAN COLIN COWDREY AT THE GABBA IN 1974
It so happened that Robert Manne reviewed Kevin Rudd’s Not for the Faint Hearted (Pan Macmillan, 2017) in Fairfax Media last weekend. This is the first of a promised two volume memoir. The reviewer seems to endorse Rudd’s reported view that “the Murdoch press [was] the insidious third member of the Howard Coalition government”. Messrs Rudd and Manne seem to forget that, at the 2007 election, The Australian advocated the election of the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd and the defeat of John Howard’s Coalition government.
There is no reference whatsoever to the English Test cricket batsman Colin Cowdrey (1932-2000) in the Rudd tome. What’s the point here? – MWD hears you cry. Well, it is this.
On Boxing Day 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (as he then was) joined the ABC Radio commentary box at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The occasion was the Second Test between Australia and South Africa.
Kevin Rudd looked back on Test matches past. He recalled attending his first Test match at The Gabba in Brisbane in late November 1974. He was just 17 years old and had come to see Australia’s famous opening bowlers – Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson – take on England. At this time, Australian supporters were known to chant “Ashes to ashes/Dust to dust/If Lillee don’t get you/Then Thommo must”. Australia’s opening bowlers at the time were fast and dangerous.
Kevin Rudd remembered watching the 42-year-old Colin Cowdrey in Brisbane, whom he recalled had been called out of semi-retirement to improve England’s batting line-up against Lillee and Thomson. The former Labor prime minister also recalled Cowdrey walking on to the field at The Gabba and going up to Thommo to shake his hand before facing up to the bowling.
Cowdrey did not play for England in the First Test at The Gabba in 1974. He was not even in Australia at the time. In fact, Colin Cowdrey was called up to represent England in the Second Test at the MCG which commenced on Boxing Day 1974.
So, there you have it. Clearly Kevin Rudd had a “recollection” concerning an event that never happened.
Ah – the Fallibility of Memory. Or yet another “recollection” down the Robert Manne Memory Hole.
ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR EXHIBITS IGNORANCE ABOUT THE ABC’S HISTORIC CHILD SEX ABUSE CASE AT SENATE ESTIMATES
This week the Hansard of the Senate Estimates Environment and Communications was released covering the hearings on the ABC held on Tuesday 24 October 2017.
As avid readers are aware, the ABC – from the managing director down to journalists and producers – is into denial concerning the public broadcaster’s very own historical child abuse case.
On 13 June 2017, former ABC TV producer Jon Stephens pleaded guilty at the District Court in Gosford to having sexually assaulted a 14 year old male ABC casual employee while on an ABC assignment near Gosford in 1981.
Jon Stephens appeared before the District Court on 15 June 2017 and again on 13 September 2017. The ABC did not report the first case. It reported the second case on one news bulletin only (at 1 pm) before dumping the story completely.
For a reminder of the details of the ABC’s denial in the Jon Stephens case see the update in today’s issue of “The ABC and Pedophilia: A Timeline”.
On 24 October 2014, Senator Eric Abetz directed questions to Michelle Guthrie (ABC managing director and editor-in-chief) and Alan Sunderland (ABC editorial director). Mr Sunderland provided no explanation as to why the ABC reported the Jon Stephens’ conviction only once on one news bulletin (the 1 pm bulletin on 13 September 2017). The ABC’s editorial director ignored Senator Abetz’s statement that the ABC had covered “other historical child sex offences” within other institutions.
Ms Guthrie told the Senate that she could not answer as to when the ABC first became aware of the allegation against Jon Stephens. Also, Ms Guthrie could not provide information about the employment status of Stephens at the time of the offence or that of the 14 year old boy.
In other words, four months after the ABC became aware of Jon Stephens’ conviction, the ABC’s managing director could not answer Senator Abetz’s straightforward questions about the case and had to take them on notice.
Michelle Guthrie did say that the ABC is “investigating the issue”. However, the ABC managing director declined to say whether the ABC has adopted a duty of care to Stephens’ victim (who is reported to be destitute and living in a van).
MWD will continue to keep readers informed about this case.
[I note that the ABC’s “star” reporter Louise Milligan has not covered the Jon Stephens case on the 7.30 program or publicly expressed an interest in the plight of his victim. Quelle surprise! – MWD Editor.]
IN WHICH NURSE JACKIE (Dip.Wellness, Gunnedah Lost Dogs Home) ANALYSES DR ELIZABETH FARRELLY
This (hugely popular) segment is devoted to helping out public figures – including journalists – who have contracted a serious dose of Abbott-phobia. Sufferers of this condition present as normal individuals who become temporarily unhinged when confronting the real or spoken or written Abbott. Some attempt to blame their own particular Valley of Tears on Australia’s 28th prime minister – while others lose their sense of judgment with respect to Tony Abbott. It’s a complicated condition. That’s why Nurse Jackie’s here to help, all the way from Gunnedah.
Once upon a time Elizabeth Farrelly wondered aloud why friends did not finish her columns in the Sydney Morning Herald. Which demonstrates a certain lack of self-awareness, don’t you think? In any event, Jackie’s (male) co-owner waded through the sludge of Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. And got to the end. Really.
The column, titled “Halloween treats us as part of the world”, commenced with Dr F’s reflections on Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night (of recent memory). It so happens that Dr F grew up despising Halloween but is now rethinking her position. How frightfully interesting. A third of the way into her column, Elizabeth Farrelly had this to say:
Halloween is a “cross-quarter” day. Roughly midway between winter solstice and autumn equinox, it’s a threshold or liminal moment, when the veil separating the spirit world from the physical world is at its thinnest, transparent to the point of porosity.
The idea isn’t just that the after-dark world fills with ghouls, ghosts and goblins – source of the anything-with-blood-on-it-including-roadkill look of contemporary Halloween. For, the next day, all souls return, partying with friends and family on their own graves until dawn sends them scurrying.
Naturally, this is silly. Or is it? Might there be sillier things, perhaps, at this point in our planetary history, than seeing the earth as animated by spirit. Perhaps, indeed, we could do a lot worse than reverencing such spirit.
Perhaps, indeed, we could. But then – perhaps not. It’s not clear what Elizabeth Farrelly is on about here. Or even what she’s on. What we do know is that the columnist moved from a discussion on Halloween to how we should reverence the earth as animated by spirit. Whatever that might mean.
Dr F then immediately moved on to blame – yes, of course – Tony Abbott focusing on his recent speech in London on climate change and all that. She claimed that Mr Abbott’s “mindset is still dominant, running our agenda and our country”. This overlooks the fact that Tony Abbott is a Liberal Party backbencher and does not run Australia – let alone the world.
Then it was back to literary sludge. Farrelly had this to say about something or other. You be the judge:
Of course, a transcendent god is one thing. Transcendent humans, made in the image of god and therefore god’s self-appointed proxies on earth, are quite another. That’s just arrogant; the same arrogance that makes us self-label as Homo sapiens sapiens. (Doubly wise. Yeah, right.) And it’s that second, crazy-arrogant step into demigod territory that’s the problem. Go forth and dominate.
Personally, I like the idea of transcendence. I like the vertical stretch, as well as the horizontal spread. But I also like the idea of embedded divinities. The basic idea is familiar enough – spirit within matter: body as temple of the soul, temple as container of god. Traditionally, ground became sacralised through the interment [sic] of the dead, or through sacrifice. Hence, Halloween.
Go on. Alas, she did. When Dr F (finally) got to the end, Hendo headed-off for a pick-me-up Gin & Tonic or two. Just to get the vibe of being a “homo sapiens sapiens”.
The only thing understandable in Dr Farrelly’s turgid piece is that she does not like Tony Abbott. She accused Mr Abbott’s party of destroying the Great Barrier Reef and removing cycle ways in the city and junking renewable energy and abandoning “our national parks, our water supply and our children’s future”. That’s all, folks. And it’s all Tony Abbott’s fault. Despite the fact that Labor governs in all States and Territories except New South Wales and Tasmania. Sounds somewhat delusional, eh?
NURSE JACKIE’S ANALYSIS
Elizabeth Farrelly presented last Saturday in a confused state. Perhaps this turns on the fact that she has recently travelled from being a Guy Fawkes Night kind of sheila to a Halloween believer. Of concern is the fact that Dr Farrelly presented as unhinged about the Liberal Party backbencher Tony Abbott whom she believes is not only running the country but also destroying the planet. This is delusional. I would recommend that, in future, Elizabeth Farrelly should only write Sydney Morning Herald columns after half-a-dozen Gin & Tonics. This should make her written communications somewhat more understandable. Also, I would recommend that the patient re-kindles support for Guy Fawkes Day since at least this will end her ramblings about Halloween. And Mr Fawkes was not a bad bloke even if he was inclined to burn the wick at both ends.
IN WHICH NANCY PROPOSES TO IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT BY CONVINCING PETER ROSE TO ABANDON THE PRINT EDITION OF THE AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
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.
The October 2017 issue of the taxpayer funded Australian Book Review is the annual Environment Issue. Contributors included Tim Flannery (of course), Philip Jones, Deb Anderson, John Kinsella and Sophie Cunningham. In his “Advances” column, ABR editor Peter Rose declares that after the same sex marriage debate is over “our government and citizens will be able to get on with the important issues confronting this society, especially climate change, the urgency of which is attested to by several contributors to our Environment Issue”.
In any event, the same sex marriage debate has not stopped the powers-that-be at the ABR putting together a 40 page “Environment Issue” in an issue of ABR that totals 72 pages. Which, when you think about it, is an awful lot of paper.
Now here’s a Modest Proposal – via Nancy on the “Other Side” – to take up your man Rose’s plea to get on with confronting the issue of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Get Peter Rose and his team to junk the print issue of Australian Book Review and move the whole edifice online. This would save on printing and postage costs while helping to save the planet along the way.
Sure the ABR contains the following disclaimer:
Environment. Australian Book Review is printed by Doran Printing, an FSC® certified printer (C005519) Doran Printing uses clean energy provided by Hydro Tasmania. All inks are soy-based and all paper waste is recycled to make new paper products.
That’s all very well. But the Australian Book Review does appear in paper form, irrespective of the energy used to produce the product. Moreover, there is no evidence that print copies of the ABR are recycled. Also, the current issue contains an advertisement for Luxury Barge Cruising in Europe on a boat that is not powered by Hydro Tasmania power.
So, if Peter Rose really wants to help save the planet – turn the ABR into a digital-only publication.
A Modest Proposal – Here’s hoping it works.
THE ABC AND PEDOPHILIA – A TIMELINE (UPDATED)
A POLICY OF DENYING FORMER CHAIRMAN RICHARD DOWNING’S STATEMENT ON PEDERASTY AND NOT COVERING JON STEPHENS’ CONVICTION FOR PEDERASTY
1970: Richard Neville’s memoir Play Power (Jonathan Cape, 1970) is released. In his chapter titled “Group Grope”, Neville boasts about having a “hurricane f_ck” with a “moderately attractive, intelligent, cherubic fourteen-year-old girl from a nearby London comprehensive school”. At the time, Neville (born in 1941) was in his late twenties – i.e. he was about twice the age of his schoolgirl victim.
Early 1975: Despite being a self-confessed pedophile, Richard Neville obtains a presenter’s job on the ABC radio program titled Lateline which ran on the public broadcaster’s second radio network (the equivalent of Radio National today). Lateline came within the domain of the ABC left-wing senior producer Allan Ashbolt.
14 July 1975: Richard Neville presents a program titled “Pederasty” on Lateline. Three pederasts are interviewed in the ABC studio in Sydney by Neville, who adopts a non-judgmental attitude to their child sexual abuse. A couple of young male victims are also interviewed for the program. The program is reported in detail in The National Times on 21 July 1975.
1975: When the “Pederasty” program becomes a matter of controversy, the tapes of the program are destroyed along with any transcripts. Neither Allan Ashbolt nor Richard Neville nor any member of ABC management report the pederasts to NSW Police or adopt a duty-of-care to the pederasts’ victims who, if alive today, would be in their fifties – i.e. around the same age as some complainants/victims who gave evidence to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in recent years.
19 July 1975: In the wake of the “Pederasty” controversy, the ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing writes a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald calling on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.
19 July 1975: The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Professor Downing as saying that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.
1981: ABC TV producer Jon Stephens sexually abuses a 14-year-old male ABC casual employee while on official ABC duties near Gosford.
1983: This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission: 1932-1983 is published by Melbourne University Press. Its author, Ken Inglis, was given access to ABC records. In a segment titled “Permissiveness and Politics”, Ken Inglis documents the controversy concerning Richard Neville’s “Pederasty” program of eight years earlier but does not mention Neville’s name.
3 September 2015: Following the ABC’s widescale coverage of historical child sexual abuse in religious, secular and government organisations, Gerard Henderson writes to ABC chairman Jim Spigelman AO QC on 3 September 2015 as follows:
Professor Downing – one of your predecessors as ABC chairman – once called for an understanding of pederasty in his official capacity as ABC chairman. Are you prepared – on behalf of the ABC – to renounce the view expressed by Professor Downing in 1975? If not, why not?
On 4 September 2015, the ABC chairman rejected any responsibility for the statements of one of his predecessors – replying as follows:
Dear Mr Henderson
I can think of nothing polite to say about your suggestion. I will content myself with the observation that mine is not an Apostolic Succession.
10 May 2017: Following the appointment of Justin Milne as ABC chairman, Gerard Henderson writes to him as follows:
In July 1975, Richard Downing – acting in his position as ABC chairman – took a public stand on the issue of pederasty. In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald – published on 19 July 1975 – he called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts. The letter was signed “Prof. R. Downing, Chairman, Australian Broadcasting Commission”. As you know, what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission was renamed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983. On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the (then) ABC chairman as saying: “In general, men will sleep with young boys…”.
As the ABC’s contemporary chairman, will you disassociate the public broadcaster from comments made by Professor Downing – one of your predecessors – in 1975? If not, why not?
Does the ABC have any intention of ascertaining whether the victims of the three pederasts who appeared on the 1975 “Pederasty” program are alive today? If so, does the public broadcaster regard itself as having a duty of care with respect to these victims? If not, why not?
17 May 2017: Michael Millett, the ABC Director Government Relations, writes to Gerard Henderson on behalf of the ABC as follows – rejecting, on Mr Milne’s behalf, any responsibility for the statements of a previous ABC chairman:
The ABC feels there is nothing to be gained in revisiting this matter. The program and subsequent debate took place a long time ago and did not indicate nor set any kind of policy.
15 June 2017: Jon Stephens pleads guilty in the District Court at Gosford to a case of historic child sexual abuse against a male ABC casual employee while on an ABC assignment near Gosford in 1981 – just six years after the ABC’s “Pederasty” program and Professor Downing’s public comments. Stephens is sentenced to a minimum of six months in jail.
The ABC does not report Stephens’ conviction. Nor does the Fairfax Media. The Stephens case is reported by News Corp papers which reveal that Stephens’ victim is currently destitute and living in a van.
4 July 2017: Gerard Henderson writes to Michelle Guthrie in her capacity as ABC managing director and editor-in-chief concerning the Jon Stephens case – see here. He receives the following reply from Alan Sunderland (Editorial Director, ABC) on 7 July 2017.
Dear Mr Henderson,
The Managing Director has asked me to respond to your letter of July 4.
In relation to the coverage of local court cases, all editorial decisions are made by local news teams based on the competing editorial demands at the time.
There is no connection between such routine daily processes and a statement made by a former ABC Chairman [Professor Richard Downing] more than forty years ago.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
13 September 2017: The District Court, sitting in Gosford, reduces Stephens’ term of imprisonment due to his medical condition. ABC News reports the court’s decision on its 1 pm ABC Radio News only – and then drops the story completely. According to Gaven Morris, Head ABC News, the Stephens case was not reported in later bulletins due to “significant bushfires in both the Hunter Valley and across NSW”.
14 September 2017: Gaven Morris declines to say whether the ABC has provided counselling to Stephens’ victim or offered him financial compensation.
24 October 2017: Senator Eric Abetz raises the Jon Stephens case at the Senate Estimates Environment and Communications Legislation Committee with ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie. Ms Guthrie says that “this is something that Mr Sunderland has been directly dealing with”.
Mr Sunderland, the ABC’s editorial director, says it is not normal practice for the ABC “to cover court cases that we weren’t present at” but that when the ABC became aware of Jon Stephens’ second case it covered the case “on its merits”. Under questioning, Mr Sunderland acknowledges that the case was reported only once on the 1 pm news on 13 September 2017 – and then dropped.
Ms Guthrie says that there is nothing she can “specifically report” as to whether the ABC has adopted a duty of care to Jon Stephens’ victim. She added that the ABC is “investigating this issue”. Ms Guthrie advises that she is not aware of the nature of Jon Stephens’ past employment with the ABC or that of his victim. The managing director takes both matters on notice.
THE ABC AND PEDOPHILIA TIMELINE LEADS TO THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS:
▪ Both Jim Spigelman (the ABC’s past chairman) and Justin Milne (the ABC’s present chairman) do not accept any responsibility for the statements made about, and inaction on, pedophilia by Professor Richard Downing (when he was the ABC chairman). This despite the fact that some ABC presenters and journalists have demanded that contemporary Anglican and Catholic church leaders take responsibility for any inaction on pederasty by their predecessors. There is no evidence that any Church leader made statements on pedophilia of the kind made by Professor Downing, both on behalf of the ABC, in 1975. If this had been the case, it surely would have been reported on the ABC.
▪ The ABC has all but ignored the Jon Stephens case. This despite the fact that ABC presenters and journalists have reported the conviction on pedophile offences by media employees in the commercial media and elsewhere.
▪ The ABC will not say whether it has adopted a duty of care to Jon Stephens’ victim or whether it has offered counselling and/or paid compensation. This despite the fact that many ABC presenters and journalists have advocated that victims of child sexual abuse in religious and secular institutions receive counselling and generous financial compensation.
▪ Despite the fact that ABC management acknowledges that it heard of Jon Stephens’ guilty plea and conviction in late June 2017, Michelle Guthrie was not able to answer questions on the Stephens case on 24 October 2017. That is, the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief is still not fully conversant with the Jon Stephens case some four months after she became aware of it.
Until next time.