ISSUE – NO. 392

2 February 2018



  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.  

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  • Stop Press: ABC News Breakfast & Andrew Wilkie

  • Can You Bear It? Charlie Pickering, Tom Ballard, Rowan Dean & Graham Richardson

  • A Nostradamus Moment: Featuring Paul Bongiorno & Kerry-Anne Walsh

  • Jackie’s Media Gongs for 2017 – And The Winners are: Kate McClymont; Jacqueline Maley; a Woodford Volunteer; Chris Graham; Sami Shah; Stephen Biddulph; Emma Alberici; Leigh Sales; Richard Flanagan; Michael Fullilove; Josh Bornstein; Robert Manne & John Dewar

  • Five Paws Award: Step Forward Peter Hoysted & Denis Ryan

  • Correspondence: Peter Greste and also Erik (“We don’t do fact-checking but we do verballing”) Jensen of Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper



Media Watch Dog went on what journalists like to call a Well-Earned Break on 17 December 2017 and would have resumed last Friday were it not for Australia Day – or what some ABC outlets like to call “Invasion Day”.  This contrasts with the ABC TV Media Watch program (host Paul Barry) which went on its W.E.B. on 11 December 2017 and resumes next Monday.  Well, at least the taxpayer funded Media Watch’s W.E.B. is shorter this year than last year – reduced from 10 weeks last year to a mere 7 weeks this year.

MWD has been collecting material over the Silly Season – and will give this a run when time, and space, permits.  Suffice to say that many a journalist becomes sillier than usual during the Silly Season – and someone has to record this.




Did anyone see the stunning performance by ABC journalist Caitlyn Gribbin on the ABC TV News Breakfast this morning?  Ms Gribbin was discussing the leaking of sensitive Cabinet papers following the disposal of two locked filing cabinets to a second-hand furniture store in Canberra.  Let’s go to the transcript to discover how the intrepid reporter concluded her piece-to-camera:

Caitlyn Gribbin: Sources have confirmed to us that this has been the subject of chatter amongst our intelligence partners – they include the UK, the US, New Zealand and Canada. And we’ve heard from people who know a bit in this field. Andrew Wilkie is an Independent MP in the federal parliament – he’s also worked as an intelligence analyst before he came here to Parliament House. And he has made the point that it sends a signal to our intelligence partners and allies that Australia might not be trustworthy when it comes to sharing information and intelligence. So that’s where the discussion is going now.

Well, fancy that.  Here’s Caitlyn Gribbin quoting with apparent approval Andrew Wilkie, the Independent MP for Denison, about his concerns that the leak of this material could indicate to Australia’s allies that Australia may no longer be regarded as trustworthy when it comes to sharing information and intelligence.

Could this be the very same Andrew Wilkie who was investigated by the Australian Federal Police concerning the leak of an Office of National Assessments (ONA) document to Laurie Oakes, then of The Bulletin, in March 2003 concerning Iraq? Sure could.

Around the time of the leak, Mr Wilkie resigned from the ONA in protest at the Howard government’s support for the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition of the Willing.

Andrew Wilkie has always denied that he leaked the document – which would have been an offence, subject to imprisonment, under the Crimes Act.  However, the 2003 controversy surrounding the now Independent MP for Denison should have warranted a brief mention when Caitlyn Gibbins reported Andrew Wilkie’s views on intelligence leaks this morning. It’s called backgrounding.




Jackie’s (male) co-owner Gerard Henderson welcomed the New Year with a Gin & Tonic or two.  Not being the raging type, he decided to watch the fireworks on ABC TV.  This year, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster again attained the rights to film the New Year’s Eve celebrations on Sydney Harbour.

The 2017-18 event was hosted by ABC celebrities Charlie Pickering and Zan Rowe.  The former used the occasion to hail the importance of taxpayer funding for this and that – while the latter exhibited a fetching half-curtsy when acknowledging applause from the tired and emotional audience.

Just as it appeared that the 2017 ABC presentation might not be as piss-poor as its predecessors, Charlie Pickering made this unfortunate verbal typo.  Let’s go to the transcript:

We’re getting ready to count it down to the magical moment…[New Year’s Eve is] the only time to kill a police officer. Sorry, I mean kiss a police officer.

Well, now.  All presenters make verbal howlers from time to time.  But this was a real shocker. It’s the type of stumble that Mr Pickering would have made incessant fun of on his ABC comedy show The Weekly if it had been uttered by, say, a politician or business figure.

But Australia’s very own Conservative Free Zone covers for its own.  When the New Year’s Eve concert was re-run by ABC TV on Australia Day, the Charlie Pickering blooper was censored without explanation.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of ABC comedy, due to a busy week, MWD is yet to watch the first episode in the new series of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. Stay tuned.  However, Hendo has been watching – intermittently – Tonightly with Tom Ballard on what is now described as the ABC Comedy channel.

MWD may return to this matter in future issues.  However, here is an initial reflection on terms of just how inarticulate the program’s comedy writers are – or maybe this is a reflection on their limited vocabularies.

In any event, MWD estimates that Tonightly runs the f—k word around a dozen times nightly. Last night, the word was used on 15 occasions – or around every 120 seconds. This is the kind of verbal shock that was all the rage in stand-up comedy half a century ago.  But it is somewhat tired today. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Perhaps it would be best to re-title the program “Too F-cking Nightly with the F-cker Ballard” and then get on to use some other words in the remainder of the program designed to shock us all in a different kind of way. Like, say, “poo”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


Jackie’s (male) co-owner is quite a fan of Sky News’ Outsiders program starring Marcus Aurelius fan boy Ross Cameron and former advertising man Rowan Dean.  In 2017, Outsiders ran for an hour on Sundays at 10 am.  But in 2018 it will extend to 11 am on Sundays and run for an hour on Thursday evenings from 8 pm.  It remains to be seen whether even the garrulous Mr Cameron is garrulous enough to carry Outsiders for three hours a week.

We shall see. In any event, the extra couple of hours will give your man Cameron an opportunity to repeat at (even greater) length his views of his hero one-time Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180). [I can barely wait – MWD Editor.]

The star of last Sunday was not your man Cameron but your man Dean.  At the top of the program, the former advertising director declared that “The French invented sex”.  This seems to suggest that sex commenced with the French actress Brigitte Bardot (born 1934). According to this narcissistic view, sex began around six decades ago when Ms Bardot first jumped into the cot with the French film director Roger Vadim.

There is a problem here which MWD is hoping Messrs Cameron and Dean will resolve next Sunday at hangover time. Since your man Aurelius was born in days of old when (unlike today) blokes had to be present at the conception – how is it that he came into the world before sex was invented?  Or put it this way, if sex was invented circa 1956 when And God Created Woman came out, how is it that the Roman Empire preceded the French Republic?

MWD will keep you posted if Mr Cameron adds to our knowledge about Marcus Aurelius or if Mr Dean clarifies what he means by sex.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of odd comments on Sky News, consider the contribution of former Labor Party operative Graham Richardson on Paul Murray Live last Monday.

Richo has been banging on of late about the fact that Tasmania (Australia’s smallest state) has as many senators – 12 in all – as Australia’s most heavily populated state New South Wales.

It so happens that the Constitution provides that all states have the same number of senators and that the size of the House of Representatives can be no more than around twice the size of the Senate.  The Senate commenced with six senators from each state.  At the 1949 election this was increased to ten and in 1984 to 12.

During the course of the program, your man Richardson acknowledged that in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s all states had 10 senators each and the increase in 1984 was due to a decision made by Senator Robert Ray and himself during Bob Hawke’s Labor government in 1984.

PML presenter Paul Murray did not seem to understand the meaning of Richo’s brief acknowledgement.  However, panellist Janine Perrett did – which led to the following exchange:

Graham Richardson: But giving Tasmania the same – it’s a 15 to 1 [population] ratio you know. And as I said in the column [in The Australian], on his worst day Bjelke-Petersen wouldn’t have contemplated that.

Janine Perrett: But when you increased them to twelve, did you not think about this?

Graham Richardson: Well, I’m not going to go into that right now.  It certainly got some consideration. But there were, as they say in the classics, other considerations.

How about that?  Richo continually bangs on about how bad it is that Tasmania (with its small population) has 12 senators. Yet he was the key player in the decision to increase the number of senators in Tasmania by around 17 per cent – from 10 to 12 – in 1984.  Asked why he did so, Richo simply stated that there were “other considerations” – but does not say what they were.

Also Richo failed to acknowledge that the increase in the number of senators in 1984 made it harder for the major parties – Labor and Coalition alike – to obtain a majority, or near majority, in the Senate.  It’s easier for a major party to win three out of five Senate seats in a State than it is to win four out of six seats. So Richo is currently raving about the consequences of his own (past) decision. Can You Bear It?


As the saying goes, it’s unwise to make predictions – especially about the future. But the human psyche is such that many an individual feels the urge to foretell. Media Watch Dog will attempt to keep a record of contemporary prophecies this year – with a view to handing out a Nostradamus Award for the most egregious effort at failed soothsaying in the final issue of 2018.


  • Paul Bongiorno’s Early Election Theory

Welcome to the Canberra Press Gallery’s house-leftist Paul (“I once lived in a presbytery with Gerald Ridsdale, but I don’t talk about it much”) Bongiorno. Your man Bonge – who once proclaimed the teachings of the Catholic Church and now preaches a secular Green Left faith – seems to no longer appear on Channel 10. This despite the fact that, according to MWD’s Canberra spies, he has a small office in Channel 10’s studio in Parliament House.

Bonge now writes a column for Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper – which goes to print on Thursday and which Hendo reads on Monday.  Mr Schwartz’s leftist-house journal is edited by Erik (“We don’t do fact-checking but we do verballing”) Jensen. Re which see this week’s (hugely popular) “Correspondence” section.

Your man Bonge also appears on the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast once a week – and occasionally The Drum – where he invariably uses his taxpayer funded platform to rail against conservatives and deliver the Green Left’s latest gospel.

Mr Bongiorno made his first appearance for this year on RN Breakfast on 28 January. Let’s go to the transcript where Bonge told Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly that there will be a federal election this year.

Fran Kelly: You heard the treasurer [Scott Morrison] there using this IMF [International Monetary Fund] report which tips a pick-up in world growth fuelled by the Trump tax cuts to support his company tax cut policy. Labor is amping up the inequality argument around this. How significant a battleground do you think this is in the lead-up to the budget, Paul?

Paul Bongiorno: Well, I think it’ll be a significant battleground, not only in the lead-up to the budget but in the lead-up to the next federal election – which all the pundits and the political class are convinced will be before the end of the year.

So there you have it. Bonge has identified himself with “the pundits” and “the political class” whom he reckons believe that there will be an early election in 2018 – despite the fact that Australia does not need to go to the polls until around the middle of 2019. Stay tuned.

  • Kerry-Anne Walsh’s Cabinet Documents Scenario

Meanwhile it is MWD’s melancholy duty to inform readers that a prediction of Canberra-based journalist and author Kerry-Anne Walsh lasted less than a week.

On Monday, Ms Walsh predicted on Sky News that the leak of a 2014 Cabinet document – which was revealed on the ABC last Monday – was a tactic by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s supporters to discredit former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Kerry-Anne Walsh declared that it was “fascinating” that the Coalition was “going to kick off the New Year with a piece of skulduggery”. She continued:

Kerry-Anne Walsh:  Clearly Tony Abbott and his merry band of loyalists are still intent on causing some sort of strife this year. So perhaps this is a pre-emptive strike [by Turnbull supporters] to keep them down: “Down boys, down”.

That was Monday.  By Wednesday it was clear that the Cabinet document in question had been in one of two filing cabinets which were sold in error to a second-hand furniture dealer. The files were locked at the time of disposal.

So Mr Walsh’s prediction that this was a plot by Turnbull to strike back at Tony Abbott was a mere hunch – which was discredited within a couple of days.



Journalists invariably present themselves as a cynical/sceptical lot. Except when it comes to their own profession.  Which explains why every couple of months or so the leading media types in the land like to get dressed up in their finest and present each other with awards. You know, the Quill awards and the Walkleys and the Australian Media Hall of Fame and so on. Why, last year, even hard-nosed Laurie Oakes rocked up to receive his gong at the Media Hall of Fame.

Inspired by this momentum, Jackie (Dip. Wellness, Gunnedah Institute), has decided to initiate her very own awards.  Join with MWD as we Look Back in Amusement at the Media Stars of 2017 in the following nominated areas.

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Winner: Fairfax Media’s Kate McClymont

On 16 April 2014, Kate McClymont appeared with Gerard Henderson on Lateline to discuss the resignation of (then) New South Wales Liberal Party premier Barry O’Farrell – who failed to tell the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that he had received an expensive bottle of Grange wine from a businessman. When evidence was produced that the wine had passed hands, Mr O’Farrell stepped down immediately from the parliament.

Without a shred of evidence, Ms McClymont declared on Lateline that Barry O’Farrell had lied to ICAC by saying that he simply forgot to declare receipt of the wine.  She accused the former NSW premier of “giving false and misleading evidence to ICAC” – a very serious charge indeed. Needless to say, Gerard Henderson contested this allegation on Lateline but Ms McClymont insisted that Mr O’Farrell was a liar – without any evidence of any kind, apart from her own opinion.

In August 2017, ICAC released its report on this issue titled Investigation into dealings between Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd and Sydney Water Corporation and related matters. It contained the following finding:

When he gave evidence on 16 April 2014, Mr O’Farrell had no recollection of receiving the wine. There is no evidence to the contrary. The Commission is satisfied that there was no intention on Mr O’Farrell’s part to mislead the Commission on either occasion that he gave evidence

In other words, ICAC found that Kate McClymont’s statement on Lateline on 16 April 2014 alleging that Barry O’Farrell lied to ICAC was both false and unwarranted. Needless to say, Fairfax Media’s star journo did not apologise for defaming Barry O’Farrell.



Winner: Fairfax Media’s Jacqueline Maley

On 15 July 2017, Fairfax Media’s Jacqueline Maley did the full-catastrophist rant, even to the extent of saying that climate change scientists like Michael Mann were going soft on climate change.  Really.  She even foretold “the extinction of the species if we leave things the way they are”.  Spoke Fairfax Media’s Soothsayer-in-Chief:

Climate scientists, not by nature a rowdy crew, have, for decades now, been politely ahemming at the back of the room to get our attention, so they can warn us about all the various ways our children are going to get cooked if we don’t act collectively soon. A New York Magazine cover story published this week entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth”, laid out some of the terrifying scenarios that could eventuate “absent aggressive action”, broken down into cheerful subheadings like “Poisoned Oceans”, “Climate Plagues” and “Permanent Economic Collapse”….

It was criticised as being overblown by some climate scientists and focusing on the worst, worst-case scenarios, but not before it lodged firmly in the amygdalas of hundreds of thousands of readers.

The fact that even leading global warmist Michael Mann thought that the New York Magazine piece was over the top did not temper Ms Maley’s alarmism. It seems that the New York Magazine article lodged firmly in her very own “amygdalas”. [What is an amygdala – and where can you find one? – MWD Editor.]

The Fairfax Media columnist went on to describe as a “fact” a scenario in which, as a consequence of climate change, “children will have their skin peeling off”, Palm Beach mansions north of Sydney will be “submerged” and a Torres Strait Islander “forced to flee from his house because of rising seas”. [Did she mean that Torres Strait Islander women would remain in situ and drown? MWD Editor.]

This is the very same Ms Maley, who a couple of weeks before writing her eco-catastrophist piece, commented that a number of men who read her columns do so while seated on a toilet.  Wrote Ms Maley:

Gone are the days of the gentleman-reader who donned his spectacles and settled into a chesterfield while fanning out his broadsheet. Now 20 per cent of men, according to the report, read their news with their pants around their ankles while hiding out from the housework.

Which gives a whole new meaning to journalistic crap.

Runner Up: ABC TV’s Woodford Volunteer

This is how, on 27 December 2017, ABC TV News covered the construction work leading up to the leftist Woodford Folk Festival in south east Queensland:

Woodford Volunteer: It’s not a holiday, that’s the best thing about it.  It’s a gulag-esque holiday. Where you work hard, they feed you three meals a day and you have a lovely community of people to get to know.

So, there you have it.  A volunteer constructing a wooden hut for the leftist sandal wearers who flock to Woodford each year declares he is having a “gulag-esque holiday”.  One step up, apparently, from the men and women who endured hard labour at best – and death at worst –  in the (real thing) gulag in Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Special Mention: Chris Graham

In his editorial in New Matilda on 20 December 2017, Chris Graham wrote: “Men are inherently violent, this is not going to change any time soon.”

However, after a “friendly chat” with a colleague named Nina Funnell, your man Graham conceded that he was an “idiot”, withdrew his comment and apologised to New Matilda readers – if readers there be. He also conceded that, on this issue, he is “stumbling around in the dark”.

MWD’s (gratuitous) advice is: “Don’t worry Mr Graham. Being an idiot and/or stumbling around in the dark is no problem if you plan a career at the ABC or Fairfax Media.” – or if you wish to continue at New Matilda.


Winner: Sami Shah

On 4 November 2016, the eve of the United States presidential election, comedian Sami Shah did the “Newspapers” segment on the ABC TV News Breakfast program.

Mr Shah – in his (comedic) political wisdom – declared that Donald J. Trump did not want to defeat Hillary Clinton and was “frightened” of winning. Now, the idea that an alpha bloke like Trump was hoping to be defeated by a feminist advocate like Clinton seemed bizarre enough.  But your man Shah went on to state that, in the unlikelihood of a Trump victory, vice-president Mike Pence “will be president”. Turn it up. News Breakfast’s “fave” comedian was seriously suggesting that Trump would hand over the duties of the presidency to Pence and go off and play golf full-time, or something like that.

With such profound political wisdom as this, was there any doubt that Sami Shah would be promoted to co-present (with Linda Reynolds) the Breakfast program on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne this year?  Not on your nelly.  Yet another leftist finding a gig on the taxpayer funded Conservative Free Zone as comedians double up as journalists on the ABC.

Moreover, as Stephen Brook pointed out in The Australian “Media” section on 11 December 2017, Sami Shah has sent out tweets like this one: “Does Peter Dutton speak with Scott Morrison’s hand directly up his arse.” And “It’s not Peter Dutton’s fault. His grandfather was an asshole”.

With a “comedy” resume like this, it stands to reason that your man Shah would soon be behind an ABC microphone as a presenter of a prominent program.  So, the answer to Brook’s question “surely the ABC has enough Coalition-hating staff without hiring another” is apparently a loud NO.


Winner: Stephen Biddulph

On 5 October 2017, Fairfax Media ran a column by psychologist Steve Biddulph. It was all about “toxic masculinity” and all that stuff.  When your man Biddulph got down to naming the names of “messed up” men who allegedly define our times – he mentioned Donald J. Trump (of course) – plus John Howard, Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Eric Abetz. Here is what he had to say about the Aussie (toxic) Quartet:

Dysfunctional men loom over business. Domestic politics is full of them. As a retired psychologist, I feel a duty to be blunt. John Howard was a dismal human being, heartless and self-seeking, he lowered the bar on our nation’s humanity and gleefully joined in a tragic war. Tony Abbott still slinking Gollum-like through the halls of power, unable to let go of his Precious. Peter Dutton somehow emotionally empty, justifying his cruelties to vulnerable men, women and kids. Eric Abetz, jaw so clenched he can barely speak, erupting splenetically about homosexuality’s threat to civilisation. These were little boys once, what happened to them?

Good question. But here’s an even better question.  Whatever happened to Steve Biddulph’s rant against Messers Howard, Abbott, Dutton and Abetz? It’s no longer in Steve Biddulph’s article dated 5 October 2017 which is on the Fairfax Media website and no explanation as to its fate.  Presumably Mr Biddulph’s column has been censored – in order to protect the author and Fairfax Media from embarrassment.  Fancy that.


Joint Winners: Emma Alberici & Leigh Sales

What a wonderful night it was when the final episode of Lateline (8 December 2017) did what journalists like doing most, that is talking about THEMSELVES.

And so, it came to pass that some former Lateline presenters – Kerry O’Brien, Maxine McKew, Leigh Sales and Emma Alberici – joined together on Lateline set to praise Lateline.

It was great to see such familiar faces.  There was Red Kerry – with his hair as ranga as when he came of age. And there was Maxine McKew wearing glasses – as befits her role as a roving Melbourne University intellectual or some such.  And there were La Alberici and Ms Sales.

The Lateline Quartet went on and on praising the program they once presented.  However, no one – but no one – raised the relevant question. If Lateline was so good – why did the ABC drop it in late 2017 as its ratings continued to collapse? And why did the once “must-watch” news and current affairs program become a “not-much-need-to-watch” event before its demise?

Emma Alberici – on whose watch Lateline slipped into irrelevance before its demise – had nothing to say about this (sensitive) matter.  Nor did her immediate predecessor Leigh Sales (who now presents the ABC TV 7.30 program).  This is the very same Ms Sales who – as the current presenter of 7.30 – has seen this once key program lose importance and audience share in recent times.


Winner: Richard Flanagan

On 11 December 2017, The Australian’s Stephen Romei reported that Tasmania-based novelist – and leftist advocate – Richard Flanagan has advised his publisher never to enter any of his novels in the Miles Franklin Award. You see, your man Flanagan seems somewhat bitter that his previous tomes have been short-listed, but failed to win, in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2009 and 2014.

Certainly, Mr Flanagan had reason to complain when his The Death of a River Guide lost out to the ahistorical rant The Hand That Signed The Paper by Helen Demidenko (nee Dale) in 1995.  But that’s nearly a quarter of a century ago.  In 1998, 2002 and 2009 the winner was either Peter Carey or Tim Winton.

Who knows whether the Tasmanian writer’s latest effort First Person would have won in 2018.  More importantly – who cares? Meanwhile, Jackie wishes it to be known that her sense of self-importance is such that she does not wish to be nominated in 2018 for the Miss Gunnedah (Canine Section) Award or for the Tops for Wellness Award in the 2019 Australia Day Awards.


Winner: Michael Fullilove

Appearing on Q&A on 4 September 2017, Dr Michael Fullilove (for a doctor he is) declared himself to be an “Obama fan boy”. It turned out that he is also an “FDR fan boy”.

Let’s go to the transcript where – in the invariably Q&A way – everyone agreed with everyone else that President Donald J. Trump had responded irresponsibly to the extreme right-wing demonstration at Charlottesville last year. Spoke the learned doctor:

Michael Fullilove: Just one point – it’s a real tragic irony that Charlottesville has come to be known as a code for moral blindness, because for so long Charlottesville was a code word for moral clarity.

Shashi Tharoor: FDR’s speech.

Michael Fullilove: In 1940, FDR gave a great speech at Charlottesville, where he called out the fascists, the Nazis who were invading Western Europe, and he introduced a policy of rearmament and of aid to the opponents of force. And it is a real tragedy for an Americaphile like me that we now have a President of the United States who is doggedly neutral as between Nazis and people who oppose Nazis. There’s one thing we need the President of the United States to be against, and that’s Nazis.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Here’s why:

▪ The idea that President Trump is some kind of Nazi lover is just a leftist rant.

▪ In his speech in Charlottesville on 10 June 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not even mention the Nazis in general or Adolf Hitler in particular. Your man Fullilove just made this up.

▪ In June 1940, the United States government was officially neutral.  At the time Britain, with the support of its dominions (including Australia) stood alone against Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union was an ally of Germany, France had surrendered, and the United States – under FDR’s leadership – was neutral.  At this time, FDR refused to involve the US in the defence of Western Europe.

▪ In October 1940, speaking in Boston, President Roosevelt declared that  American “boys are not going to be sent to any foreign wars”.  So, as late as October 1940, FDR indicated that the US would not go to war against the Nazis to defend Western Europe.

▪ The US entered the European theatre of war only after Hitler declared war on the US in December 1941. By then, Germany was at war with the Soviet Union and less strong than it had been in mid-1940 when Winston Churchill attempted to secure the USA’s help for Britain and its allies.

▪ Without Winston Churchill’s leadership Nazi Germany would have won the Second World War in 1940 or 1941 – while FDR remained committed to neutrality as between Britain and Germany.

Contrary to what Fullilove told Lateline last year, President Roosevelt did not oppose the Nazis in the field of battle when he spoke at Charlottesville in June 1940. Only an FDR Fan Boy would argue the contrary.  And only a Q&A audience would cheer on such tosh.


Winner: Josh Bornstein

On 16 August 2017, Melbourne barrister Josh Bornstein took part in a debate on the ABC TV The Drum program.  He immediately got to the point by alleging – during the debate – that, wait for it, there is no debate in Australia:

Josh Bornstein:  Well, debate is the key word.  The Prime Minister spoke today about Australian values of unity and no division.  In fact, at the moment you could be forgiven for thinking our values are about crushing debate. There is no debate.

The fact is that your man Bornstein is invariably heard on the ABC stating his views.  He also doubles up as a barrister who, on occasions, appears for the plaintiff in defamation cases.


Joint Winners: Professor Robert Manne & Professor John Dewar

In early 2017, La Trobe University Vice Chancellor John Dewar proudly edited a book to celebrate his campus’ half century.  Titled From the Paddock to the Agora: Fifty years of La Trobe University, the tome was published by La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc.

In his wisdom, or lack of same, Professor Dewar handed over responsibility for fact-checking to Black Inc – which is run by Morry Schwartz’s Schwartz Media that also publishes such leftist-house journals as The Saturday Paper, The Monthly and Quarterly Essay.

It is MWD’s experience that Schwartz Media is long on verballing but short on fact-checking.  So, it comes as no surprise that Professor Manne’s essay in this collection, titled “An Academic’s Dozen: 1975-1998” contains many a howler along with Robert Manne’s (clear) recollection of events which never took place. For example:

▪ Manne clearly remembers attending, in 1968 or 1969, “a Vietnam War teach-in” at La Trobe University – even though he has “no memory of what speakers on either side argued”.

There was no such event at La Trobe in 1968 or 1969.  In this instance, Manne confused La Trobe University with Monash University.  That’s all.  Why bother if a history on La Trobe refers to an event which took place at Monash?

▪ Manne uses the occasion of a book on La Trobe University to ridicule two of its one-time professors.  Namely, the late Professor Hugo Wolfsohn and the late Professor Joan Rydon.  The learned professor never made such criticism when Wolfsohn and Rydon were alive. Manne goes so far to allege – without a skerrick of evidence – that Professor Wolfsohn “conducted a merciless campaign of persecution” against the “openly gay” academic John Chiddick. Neither Professor Dewar nor Schwartz Media bothered to check this unsourced allegation.

▪ Manne alleges that “one of the peculiarities of Hugo’s [politics] department was the expectation that all members would take their lunch together”. He also asserts that staff members walked to lunch as if they were part of a “human caravan”.  This is a figment of your man Manne’s vivid imagination.  This never happened – as Dr Colin Rubenstein and Gerard Henderson (who were members of the La Trobe University Politics Department) have attested. Professor Manne just made this up.

Well worth a MWD Gong – per courtesy of Jackie (Dip. Wellness).

 Five Paws Award


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).  Currently the Five Paws Award ranks just below the Nobel Prize in the award status ladder. And the (latest) winners are Peter Hoysted and Denis Ryan.

Last Saturday The Weekend Australian Magazine ran an article by Peter Hoysted titled “The Good Cop” on former Victoria Police Force member Denis Ryan AM.  This brought up to date the book Unholy Trinity:  The hunt for paedophile priest Monsignor John Day written by Denis Ryan with Peter Hoysted (Allen & Unwin, 2013).

As a young policeman in Mildura, located within the Catholic diocese of Ballarat, Constable Ryan (as he then was) tried extremely hard to arrest and charge the paedophile Catholic priest John Day. He was thwarted by more senior Victoria Police members and left the force.

Had Denis Ryan been allowed to charge Day for child sexual assault anytime in the 1960s or early 1970s – it would have served as a warning for other paedophile priests in the Ballarat diocese like Gerald Ridsdale.

The Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse focused overwhelmingly on the Catholic Church – as has such media outlets as the ABC and Fairfax Media.  But as Denis Ryan attests, the corrupt handling of the John Day case by Victoria Police led to disastrous consequences. The matter is brought up to date in “The Good Cop” piece.

Peter Hoysted and Denis Ryan – Five Paws


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).


On 30 December 2017, The Weekend Australian printed Gerard Henderson’s round-up of the passing year – with focus on the prevailing hyperbole, historical distortion, wish fulfilment and false prophecy.  He has been writing this end-of-year column, between Christmas and New Year, for eons.  But, alas, there is always plenty of material.  This year journalist Peter Greste, who has recently become a professor at the University of Queensland, took exception to having been cited in Hendo’s post-annus-mortem.  Now read on:

Peter Greste to Gerard Henderson – 1 January 2018

Dear Gerard,

In your column in The Australian dated December 30, (“Left’s year of Trump-phobia and other insults”), you mentioned something I said in a talk broadcast on the ABC last October. In your piece, you said: “Peter Greste reckons it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder, not terrorism.”

I am gratified you were listening and felt my thoughts were significant enough to include in a piece on the highlights of the year, but I am disappointed that you both quoted me out of context, and twisted my arguments, apparently to suit your own case.

In my comments, I was NOT arguing that it was a mistake to call the 9/11 attacks “terrorism”. In fact, I have never tried to suggest such a thing, and I am a surprised that you tried to imply that I did. (Apart from extensive experience reporting on it, I have personally experienced the impact of terrorism, having lost both friends and colleagues to Islamic extremists, and narrowly escaped injury myself in several suicide bomb attacks.)

Rather, I was saying that by reacting to the attacks by declaring a “War on Terror”, the United States effectively determined that we respond with the tools of war – armies, gunships, drones, special forces and so on. In my book The First Casualty and elsewhere, I have made the point that those tools were designed for conventional military conflict, and are not well suited to the kind of asymmetrical terrorism that 9/11 forced us to confront (as our continued failure in Afghanistan demonstrates). The “War on Terror” dignified the extremists, elevating them to the status of warrior with all the heroic connotations it brings. That in turn helped recruit thousands of other extremists to their cause, and helped create the clash of civilizations that we now find ourselves in.

Had we responded to 9/11 by thinking of it as a crime of mass murder, it would not have precluded the use of military tools and tactics. But it would have both widened our options and relegated the attackers to the status of common criminals and murderers. It would have focussed our attention on the individuals responsible for planning and carrying out the atrocity, avoiding the much wider and hopelessly indefinable war on “terror” (itself an abstract noun) with no clear objective and no clear measure by which you can declare “victory”.

I do hope you took better care with the others you quoted in your column. We all need to raise the level of public debate in this country, and that means respecting those with whom we disagree. I do not necessarily expect you to agree with my own arguments, but I do expect to be quoted accurately and fairly in any public forum.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Greste

Gerard Henderson to Peter Greste – 2 January 2018

Dear Peter

I refer to your note of yesterday. It went to my office – not personal – email. And I only saw it this morning. Hence the delay in responding.

You object to that part of my column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday where I wrote:

Peter Greste reckons it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder not terrorism.

Contrary to the claim in your email, my source for this quotation was not “something” you said “in a talk broadcast on the ABC last October”. Rather, it was taken from the interview which you did with Kylie Northover that was published in The Age on 28 October 2017. The relevant extract is as follows:

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.”

In short, my citation of your views on how 9/11 should have been classified did not quote you out of context or twist your arguments to suit my (alleged) case. Consequently, I do not need a lecture from you about taking “better care” with quoting “accurately and fairly in any public forum”. Ditto your lecture on respect.

If you had problems with the way Ms Northover reported her “Lunch With Peter Greste”, you should have sent a correction to The Age last October. According to my records, you did not do so.

I accept responsibility for what I say and write and only object when I am verballed (which, by the way, happens frequently in The Saturday Paper). In my piece inThe Weekend Australian, I quoted you accurately.

It seems that we disagree about how 9/11 should be classified. This is a matter for legitimate debate. If you wish, you are welcome to address The Sydney Institute on this issue.

However, it is a distortion for you to complain that I quoted you out of context when you did not object to Kylie Northover’s quote from her interview with you in The Age.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

PS: I look forward to your forthcoming documentary on John Monash.

Peter Greste to Gerard Henderson – 2 January 2018

Dear Gerard,

Thanks for responding to my note from yesterday. I didn’t have your personal email address and so I wasn’t expecting an immediate reply. Thanks also for clarifying the source of your quote.

You will note that in The Age, I did not suggest that it would have been better to “classify” 9/11 as mass murder rather than terrorism. Your form of words (“it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder not terrorism”) and the context in which you quoted me, implied that I was rejecting the terrorism label. As I pointed out in the original email, that is certainly not what I was arguing for, and I don’t think that is what The Age implied.

In that lunch, I was arguing it was a mistake to declare a war on terror, and indeed The Age went on to talk briefly about the way things might have been different if we had focussed on the individuals responsible for the attacks in a criminal investigation rather than declaring a much wider war against an indefinable enemy. That is something I would be happy discuss at the Sydney Institute in more detail. I grant you that The Age story failed to flesh the idea out in the way I would have liked, but given the rather fluffy nature of the story it was hardly surprising. I also didn’t feel I was misquoted and so I didn’t ask for a correction.

I stand by my original email, but as I said, I would be happy to discuss both this concern but also the wider issues around the War on Terror either in private or publicly.

Best regards


PS I’m glad the Monash documentary raises your interest. It was a fascinating project about a truly remarkable Australian.


Gerard Henderson to Peter Greste – 3 January 2018

Dear Peter

I refer to your latest email – and note that you are heavily into sophistry.

Kylie Northover quoted you as saying, in direct speech, that it would have looked better “if instead of declaring a war on terror, we’d thought of 9/11 as a crime of mass murder”.

I cited you as saying, not in direct speech, that it would have been better if the September 11, 2001 attacks had been classified as mass murder not terrorism. Contrary to your most recent assertion, I did not imply anything. I just stated your view.

And you claim to have been “quoted out of context” and that your arguments were “twisted”. Turn it up.

We can argue about the validity of what you told The Age on 28 October 2017. However, there is no point in you now denying what you once said.

You seem to be like so many journalists who spend their professional careers criticising others but get oh-so-sensitive when someone criticises them, even in a considered and reasonable manner.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


In its final issue for 2017 before going on what journalists like to call a Well-Earned Break, The Saturday Paper (23 December 2017 – 26 January 2018) ran an article by Alex McKinnon – Schwartz Media’s morning editor.  The piece was titled “Front page pews”.

Alex McKinnon (allegedly) quoted from articles on the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse written by Gerard Henderson, Greg Sheridan, Paul Kelly and Greg Craven in The Australian.  Among other things, McKinnon alleged that Henderson had used the word “inquisition” with respect to the Royal Commission.  Schwartz Media’s morning editor did not talk to Henderson before writing his article – nor did he provide a source for the “inquisition” assertion.  This is what passes for journalism at Schwartz Media.

Last Saturday Erik Jensen published Gerard Henderson’s letter correcting McKinnon’s assertion. But The Saturday Paper has yet to correct Alex McKinnon’s undocumented allegation. In its online edition. Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 26 December 2017


Last Saturday, Alex McKinnon alleged that I claimed that the Royal Commission acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church”. This comment was placed in direct quotes.

I would be grateful if you or Alex could provide the source of this quote by close of business today.

By the way, Mr McKinnon did not talk to me before writing his article.

Gerard Henderson


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 9 January 2018


I wrote to you on Boxing Day concerning Alex McKinnon’s assertion in The Saturday Paper that I had claimed that the Royal Commission had acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church”.  Mr McKinnon’s comment was placed in direct quotes but he provided no source as a reference.

I would be grateful if you or Alex could provide the source of this alleged quote that is attributed to me.  Otherwise I can only conclude that Alex McKinnon just made this up.

I have been trying to get in contact with Alex McKinnon but cannot find his email address.

By the way, Mr McKinnon made no attempt to check with me before writing his personally damaging article in The Saturday Paper.

All the best for 2018.

Gerard Henderson


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 17 January 2018

[The email of 9 January 2018 was re-sent with the message “Did you get this?”]


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 22 January 2018


I sent you a number of emails over recent weeks – but without response.  I assume you were on what journalists like to call a well-earned break.

I tried to make contact with Alex McKinnon last week – but I was told by Schwartz Media staff that they are not allowed to provide phone numbers or email addresses for Schwartz Media journalists.  For the record, it’s easier to make direct contact with the Prime Minister or Opposition leader than with those who write for The Saturday Paper.

Since I cannot make direct contact with Mr McKinnon, I would be grateful if you would ask him for the source of the quote attributed by him to me in the last issue of The Saturday Paper (23 December 2017).

Alex McKinnon’s article, titled “Front page pews”, contained the following assertion with respect to an (alleged) comment by me on the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

Columnist Gerard Henderson claimed media reportage around the commission acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church”. Besides the irony of crying “inquisition” against a church that invented the concept, Henderson wrote that the number of victims in Catholic institutions was so high because the church “ran many more schools, orphanages and hospitals than any other church”. He argued that “sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is essentially a historical crime”.

Note that the statement attributed to me – namely that the media reportage around the Royal Commission acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church” is in direct quotes.

I do not recall that I ever said or wrote any such thing. Also there is no record in my extensive electronic or hard copy files that supports Mr McKinnon’s unsourced quote.  I am careful with language and do not readily use words like “inquisition” out of their historical context.

If Alex McKinnon has a source for the quote that he attributed to me – he should provide it by close of business today.  Otherwise I can only assume that he just made up the quote and verballed me.

In which case, I expect that The Saturday Paper will carry a correction in its issue of 27 January 2018 and provide space for a brief letter from me.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

cc: Morry Schwartz


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 23 January 2018

[The email of 22 January was re-sent with the message “Did you get this?”]

Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 24 January 2018


I would be grateful if you would publish this letter next Saturday.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc: Morry Schwartz


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Alex McKinnon in his article (“Front page pews”, December 23, 2017-January 26, 2018) quoted me in direct speech on a number of occasions with respect to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  He alleged that I have claimed that media reportage around the commission acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church” but provided no source. I am not aware that I have ever said or written anything linking the commission to an “inquisition”.  Despite a number of requests, neither The Saturday Paper nor Schwartz Media has been able to support Mr McKinnon’s assertion with evidence.  On the other hand, Alex McKinnon was correct in quoting me as saying that “sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is essentially a historical crime”. If he has read Justice Peter McClellan’s report, he will know that this is an accurate statement.


Gerard Henderson

Erik Jensen to Gerard Henderson – 24 January 2018

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for this. I’m sorry I missed your earlier email and many of your arguments in the past decade or so.

Alex is on leave, but I will run the letter this weekend.



cc: Morry Schwartz


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 24 January 2018

Dear Erik

Lotsa thanks.  Also thanks for clarifying that it is obviously not you who has been verballing me and my arguments in The Saturday Paper over the past decade or so.

Keep morale high. And give my love to Alex (he of the secret email address) McKinnon.



cc: Morry Schwartz


Gerard Henderson to Erik Jensen – 29 January 2018

Dear Erik

It being Monday, I have just read The Saturday Paper.

Thanks for running my letter correcting the most recent verballing of me in Morry Schwartz’s weekly. However, as previously advised, I would be grateful if you would correct Alex McKinnon’s error in the on-line edition of The Saturday Paper.

This is the only professional way to correct such howlers. Over to you.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson

cc: Morry Schwartz



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Until next time.


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