ISSUE – NO. 393

9 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: Fran Kelly & ABC News Breakfast 

  • An ABC Update

  • Tony Jones finally confronts Q&A’s baying Green Left Mob

  • Can You Bear It? Paul McDermott, Wendy Squires, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker & Tom Ballard

  • Great Media U-Turns of Our Time: Catherine McGregor Presents

  • Maurice Newman Segment: In which all The Drum Panellists agree with each other in disagreeing with Peter Dutton

  • New Feature: Jackie’s Lunar Appreciation Moment – Starring Ross Cameron’s take on the Moon

  • Correspondence: Schwartz Media’s Morry Schwartz helps out (sort of) on verballing and all that




 What a stunning performance by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning.

In the lead-up to the 17 March election in South Australia, Ms Kelly conducted a long interview with South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

All kind of issues were covered.  Except for the fact that South Australia currently has the most expensive energy prices in the world.  Moreover, Mr Weatherill’s state has got through the long hot summer primarily by buying coal-powered energy from Queensland and to a lesser extent New South Wales along with some hydro power from Tasmania.

The South Australian government rejoiced in the closure of its last coal fired power station and committed the State to a wind and solar renewable energy future.  Alas, in the very hot South Australian days there is not much wind – hence the State’s power shortages and skyrocketing energy prices.

Yet Lucky Jay got away with speaking at length to the South Australian-born Fran Kelly without being asked one difficult question about energy prices. [Perhaps you should have placed this in your hugely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


Here’s how ABC TV News Breakfast led its story this morning about the establishment of a national compensation scheme for child sexual abuse victims following the report of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse:

Virginia Trioli: And staying with that [COAG – Council of Australian Governments] meeting in Canberra today, leaders are expected to hammer out a potential deal over a national compensation scheme for victims of child sexual abuse. The cash bit would be made available from July, but only with the sign-off from all States who are yet to commit to it. Federal Labor is also pressuring the States but at least one Labor premier is refusing to sign up. Jay Weatherill says the current scheme doubles up on one that already exists in South Australia.

There is no problem with the words in this report.  However, News Breakfast’s producer decided to illustrate the story with a man praying in an old church, a monstrance (used in the Catholic Church to expose the Eucharist) and shots of Christian images on a stained-glass window in a church.

All the images were Catholic.  Consequently this gave the impression that the Royal Commission essentially inquired into the Catholic Church.  Come to think of it, this has been common to much of the ABC’s reporting of the Royal Commission over the past five years.  In fact, the Royal Commission was established to examine institutional responses to child sex abuse in government, secular and religious organisations.  This morning’s report is another example of the ABC’s obsession with the Catholic Church.




The transcript for last Monday’s Q&A program does not include the alleged political breakdown of the audience.  But on the ABC TV iView it is depicted as Coalition 38 per cent, Labor 30 per cent and Greens 11 per cent. This is a totally misleading comment since the audience identifies political allegiances and no checks are made.

Irrespective of the (fudged) figures it was the usual Green/Left baying mob which turned up at ABC TV’s studio in Ultimo, Sydney. So much so that Tony Jones, for the first time, told the audience they “were going to hear a few things you don’t agree with from time to time” and to “just stay cool”. This followed the audible heckling of James Pearson, the chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It’s time for Q&A to junk its intellectually dishonest attempt to claim each week that it has a politically balanced audience.

 Can You Bear It



ABC Think Tank

MWD always loves a new ABC program.  So, Jackie’s (male) co-owner poured a Gin & Tonic and took a seat on the couch at 6 pm on Monday to take in the first night of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s new quiz show Think Tank.

Presenter Paul McDermott fronted up with a very large and very white beard – on top of which there was a very large pair of black rimmed glasses.  Your man McDermott was dressed in a black three-quarter length coat, which looked like a rejected Doctor Who design, plus black pants and black shoes.

Believe it or not, the ABC’s contribution to the TV quiz-show format is to run an extra-long 60 minutes program, without advertising breaks, in which contestants are not allowed to win a decent prize.  Mr McDermott told ABC Radio Sydney on Monday that he has already pre-recorded 50 episodes of Think Tank. In which case, it could be a long year for those who watch ABC TV around Gin & Tonic time each evening.  A very long year indeed.

MWD just loved the first question on Think Tank. It turned on same sex marriage – this is, after all, the ABC – and went like this:

Question 1: Which was the first Commonwealth country to legalise same-sex marriage?

The contestant thought deeply about the question and, after consultation with the Think Tank panel, declared that New Zealand was the lucky country. Wrong.  It was Canada – as Paul McDermott announced, before going into preaching mode.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Paul McDermott:  Canada – in 2005.  South Africa was the next in 2006.  New Zealand quite late in the piece in 2013.  And there were just 25 countries before us.  That’s all.  25 other civilised countries before we decided to legalise same-sex marriage.

It was a Shame Australia Shame moment.  That’s why after the first question of the first program of Think Tank, the ABC delivered yet another sermon on same sex marriage and mocked the fact that Australia was the 26th nation to introduce the entity.  No mention was made of the fact that Australia and Ireland are the only two countries where same sex marriage has been introduced after a popular vote by means of a referendum or a plebiscite – since this did not fit in with the Think Tank line that Australia is an uncivilised place.

Well, at least Paul McDermott was dressed for the occasion of a sermon – kitted out in his basic black attire.  Can You Bear It?


Like the ABC, Fairfax Media provides aid and comfort to many an anti-Catholic sectarian. Fairfax Media columnist Wendy Squires, for example.

In her piece in The Age last weekend, Ms Squires wrote sensibly about the issue of consent in male-female sexual relations.  She revealed that, after initial scepticism, she has come to agree with the decision of Sydney University to introduce a compulsory “module” for students titled “Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect and Positive Intervention”. The module involves illustration by the use of stick figures to get the message across.

But then Ms Squires threw the switch to anti-Catholic sectarianism for no apparent reason – except conceding to her innate prejudice.  Even to the extent of dragging Catholics Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi into her argument (for want of a better word).  Here’s what she had to say:

…After recalling the discussion with my girlfriends years ago, I have decided not to write off the initiative. In fact, I now believe its message of clear consent is an important one and I agree that it should be mandatory – not just in certain universities but all high schools.

Yes, that sound you hear is Tony Abbott clutching his rosary and Cory Bernardi doing a Henny Penny bemoaning the end of civilisation as he did with the Safe Schools initiative, no doubt asserting these stick figures may promote and encourage sex out of marriage. However, surely informing or reminding both sexes to check in, speak up and if requested, bow out won’t hurt?

Talk about an incoherent sectarian rant. There is no evidence that Tony Abbott uses – or even possesses – a pair of rosary beads. And Cory Bernardi has never “bemoaned the end of civilisation”. Wendy Squires just made this all up in an attempt to ridicule conservative Catholics. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Fairfax Media, this was the Page One lead in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday headed: “Cash for conversations/NSW Liberals ‘sought gift from Chinese company’/Donation intended to secure ministerial access/Liberal insiders said ‘we have offshore accounts.”  The allegation was that, in 2012, a Chinese foreigner who was intending to purchase a mine in NSW sought access to a minister in the NSW Coalition government by means of a promised political donation.

That story was presented by Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker on Page One of the SMH last weekend. Turn to Page 4, however, it became evident that the Page One heading was something of a beat-up. Here’s why:

The sources for the ace Fairfax Media reporters’ story consisted of an anonymous “business man”, “three Liberal insiders” (also anonymous), “a wealthy [anonymous] Chinese broker”, “a long-standing contact of the [anonymous] businessman”, “a Liberal figure” and “two other Liberal Party insiders”. Er, that’s it folks. About the only specific detail provided was that the (alleged) negotiations took place at the Little Teapot Café in Davistown, NSW.

The target of the Nick McKenzie/Richard Baker article was former NSW Liberal Party minister Chris Hartcher. However, even the Fairfax Media’s ace reporters had to concede that nothing happened.  No mine was purchased, no donation was paid and no meeting was held.  And, nearly six years after the event, no charges have been laid against Mr Hartcher or anyone else.  And yet Fairfax Media ran this dross on Page One.  Can You Bear It?


There has been enormous interest in MWD’s coverage of Tom Ballard’s Tonightly news program on the ABC Comedy Channel.  Due to the constant use of the “F” word by Mr Ballard and guests, MWD has suggested that the show should be renamed “Too F-cking Nightly”.

On Wednesday, Tonightly tried to run “jokes” on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.  Really.  Also the presenter pretended to throw up into a bucket. Twice.

Last night Tom Ballard mocked the left’s favourite targets – you know, President Trump, Major General Jim Molan, critics of what was described as “Muslim violence” and, of course, Peter Dutton.  Yawn. Also, last night boxer Anthony Mundine was added to your man Ballard’s targets due to his intolerant comments on Islam and homosexuality.

For the rest, it was much the same in that Tom Ballard did a lot of YELLING. But MWD notes that the use of the “F” word was reduced to a mere five occasions in 30 minutes.  Can You Bear It?


Great Media U-Turns of Our Time


Catherine McGregor On Why Malcolm Turnbull’s Days Are Numbered – August 2017

I suspect that his days are numbered. And if that proves to be the case it will reveal that Turnbull has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing since 2009.

Turnbull is in an invidious position. He is damned if he insists on holding the line on the plebiscite, whatever form that will now take. And he will repudiate a core tenet of Liberalism if he coerces his backbench dissidents into flouting their consciences. If the dissidents cross the floor and Marriage Equality is legislated I suspect the government could lose control of the House of Representatives and the Coalition will split.

– Catherine McGregor, Daily Telegraph, 4 August 2017

Catherine McGregor On Why Malcolm Turnbull’s Future Is Rosy – February 2018

It is not necessary to like Turnbull to concede that he possesses extravagant intellectual talent, though unleavened by political acumen. But I thought his solo performance on the ABC’s Q&A late last year demonstrated why he will probably defeat Bill Shorten.

Like punch-drunk fighters reacting to an elevator bell, the usual suspects sneered their virtuous opprobrium. The latest Newspoll indicates that Turnbull has staged a comeback. Now, I am as culpable as any in predicting a potentially permanent schism in the conservative base, with steady defections to Cory Bernardi’s Party of God and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, accompanied by a remorseless collapse in Turnbull’s poll numbers leading inevitably to his replacement.

What is especially significant about Turnbull’s recovery is that the improvement in the Coalition position is largely being driven by Conservatives returning to the fold, having flirted with fringe right-wing parties. As both the Western Australian and Queensland elections have revealed, voters opt for sanity and predictability in their governments.

– Catherine McGregor, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 2018

So there you have it.  Prime Minister Turnbull is hopeless and will lose the conservative base.  And Prime Minister Turnbull is highly talented and has retained the conservative base.

By the way, Cory Bernardi’s party is called Australian Conservatives.  The reference to Senator Bernardi’s “Party of God” suggests that in her new role as Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Ms McGregor has joined the sneering secularist set.



Due to unprecedented demand, the re-booted Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s one-time suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC. And to former ABC managing director Mark Scott’s belief that there is no causal relationship between the political beliefs of ABC presenters, producers and editors and what they say (or the talent they commission) on ABC television, radio and online outlets.

In other words, Mr Newman believes that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster should be pluralist – while Nice Mr Scott reckons that it is just fine that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

Formerly this segment involved a play-off between one-time ABC TV Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes and Maurice Newman. However, shortly after handing over the Media Watch presenter’s chair to Paul Barry, your man Holmes conceded – at least with respect to ABC Radio – that the likes of Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson were correct in maintaining that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s output was overwhelmingly leftist. See MWD Issue 329. So, Jonathan Holmes was retired from the Maurice Newman Segment and was replaced by Nice Mr Scott who never spoke a critical word about his ABC when he was ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief. Now read on.

In its (2018) wisdom, ABC management has extended The Drum on ABC TV from 30 minutes to 45 minutes from Monday to Friday. Alas, on those frequent occasions when the panel is somewhat dull – well, the extra time just extends the boredom.

And so it came to pass last Friday when presenter Julia Baird presided over a panel comprising lawyer Gray Connolly, ABC Radio National presenter Jonathan Green, academic Clive Hamilton and lawyer and Guardian contributor Lydia Shelly.  The good news was that pleasant Dr Hamilton turned up and not his other personality, the dreadful Jacob.  Re which see MWD Issue 332 and 333.

Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) asked the panel about Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s suggestion that the public should have a role in helping to select judges and magistrates in State and Territory courts.  Mr Dutton is of the view that some judges and magistrates are out of touch with community values when it comes to bailing and/or sentencing violent criminals.  There is considerable support in the community for such a proposal, but not among the likes of journalists, lawyers and academics who comprise most of The Drum’s panellists.

Not surprisingly, the panel did not concur with Peter Dutton.  Gray agreed with Jonathan who agreed with Clive who agreed with Lydia who agreed with Gray who agreed with himself and everyone else that Mr Dutton was wrong – dead wrong.

This is the kind of “debate” which is frequently heard on The Drum since most, if not all conservatives, do not get an invite to do The Drum gig lest they upset the predominantly leftist ABC audience.

As the mutual agreement became oh so boring, the presenter made the following point:

Julia Baird:  I think I would describe that a zero support for that suggestion on the panel this evening.

Correct.  There was “zero” support for Peter Dutton’s proposal as all panellists agreed with each other while parading their perceived higher morality.

And now the results of this week’s Maurice Newman Segment.

Maurice Newman:           3

Nice Mr Scott:                 Zip

Jackie's Lunar Appreciation


As avid readers are aware, Sky News Outsiders’ co-presenter Ross Cameron is one of MWD’s faves.  You see, Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves a man who loves the Moon. As MWD reported in Issue 369, your man Cameron had this to say on Twitter on 13 July 2017 at 5.01 am (really).

Ross Cameron:  In a world where trust seems hard to place, the Moon will never let you down.

Quite so. The Moon is a person’s best friend.  Always was.  Always will be.

Ross Cameron just loves to quote, at ad nauseam length, the thoughts of one-time Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.  MWD is not certain about your man Aurelius’ view concerning matters lunar.  However, it is known that the Romans believed that the Moon affected the mind. They also maintained that what once used to be called lunatics became more and more frenzied in the lead-up to a Full Moon.

In any event, despite the political news in such places as Australia, Britain and the United States, here’s how Outsiders kicked-off at 10 am last Sunday – not long after the Super Moon, Blue Moon and Full Lunar Eclipse trifecta (or something like that) of a couple of days earlier.

Ross Cameron: This is a show which loves the Moon. We have been just charmed and stunned by this extraordinary performance by the Moon in this month in particular. When it’s perigee, its distance from the Earth is at its closest when the Moon is full, we’ve seen a magnificent lunar eclipse.

But the thing I want to talk to you about this morning is Earth’s atmosphere. And why we love the atmosphere. Indeed, it is said that if Neil Perry established a restaurant on the moon, they would say it has great food but no atmosphere. And indeed, among the dozens and dozens of elements which create the Goldilocks environment in which life can be sustained on planet Earth – the atmosphere, the quality of our atmosphere, is one of the key ingredients.

Indeed, when we read about the arrival of the First Fleet in January 1788, they talk about the oppressive heat which these Englanders experienced when they arrived in Sydney Cove – but the calming impact across the nascent colony as the Southerly Buster arrived. And Earth’s atmosphere is unique among the planets in our solar system and it certainly seems to be unique among planets in our galaxy and possibly in the entire universe. We have an atmosphere – which unlike the other gas giants which are dominated by helium and by hydrogen which are the main elements in the universe – Earth’s atmosphere is full of nitrogen and oxygen with less than one per cent of carbon dioxide.

But that carbon dioxide being spewed out of volcanos, a million sub-sea volcanos, into our oceans, storing that c02, the early cyanobacteria about 500 million years after the formation of Earth combined with sunlight to spawn life. And at the absolute apex of potentially 10 million different species of life, flooding this planet in the oceans and on terra firma, we find that the apex, the human being, the reasoning, rational human being.

And so we find that Earth’s atmosphere in combination with its ocean, lived together in this beautiful sympathy, like a husband and wife, like the male and the female, distributing matter and energy, both in the oceans and in the atmosphere.

Indeed when the great eruption of Krakatoa occurred it was said that the sound-wave travelled around the Earth’s atmosphere three times, and indeed the wave, the tsunami likewise travelled around the earth noticeably at least three times. And we get this beautiful sharing of energy and matter, of dust, of sand particles, of salt. Which makes up this extraordinary blanket, this welcoming lovely environment which hosts life on Earth.

So, this morning, the advice of Outsiders is, when you get up and you move outside, wherever you are – in New Zealand, in Australia, elsewhere in the world, you feel that first breeze against your face. As the First Fleet did. We want you to embrace your lover, your mother, your daughter, your friend – wrap your arms around them and say: “Thank God for the atmosphere which sustains all life on Earth.” Rowan Dean – how are you mate?

Rowan Dean: I’m very well but let’s also say “Thank God for Jaynie” who’s about to read the news.

Ross Cameron:  Take it away.

Jaynie Seal [laughing]:  I’ll tell you what. I’m taking notes. I needed you back at school.  This is great information…

Rowan Dean: Lots in the news there Ross, let’s rip straight into it. The whole Donald Trump FBI thing – you were right all along. I would say I was right all along. Talk us through it.

Ross Cameron: Well we’re going to try and reduce a complex story to just a few key elements….

So, there you have it. Last Sunday morning, Outsiders co-presenter Rowan Dean seems to have been of the view that President Trump and American politics was just the thing to discuss at the top of a morning current affairs program.  But Ross Cameron understood that without the Moon and the atmosphere there would be no Outsiders – and no Donald J. Trump, no Trump Tower and so on. In short, no nothing.

This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.

As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).


As avid readers are aware, Gerard Henderson has been complaining for eons that he gets verballed in such Schwartz Media publications as The Saturday Paper, The Monthly and Quarterly Essay. Two recent instances involving The Saturday Paper (editor Erik Jensen) illustrate the point.

▪ On 16 December 2017, The Saturday Paper published a letter by Chris Roylance who claimed that Gerard Henderson regularly attacks “climate scientists, environmental charities and the likes of Get Up! for supposed conflicts of interest”.  Mr Roylance just made this up.  Hendo has never made any such comment.

▪ In The Saturday Paper on 23 December 2017, Alex McKinnon (Schwartz Media’s morning editor) quoted Gerard Henderson as saying that media reportage around the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse acted “as if it were an inquisition into one church”. Mr McKinnon went on to lecture Hendo about “crying ‘inquisition’ against the church that invented the concept”. Alex McKinnon just made this up.  Hendo has not used the word “inquisition” with reference to the Australian media or the Royal Commission.

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On both occasions, Erik (‘We don’t do fact-checking but we do do verballing’) Jensen did publish a letter from Gerard Henderson. However, The Saturday paper did not print an apology or even a correction.  Nor would it provide Alex McKinnon’s email address. It’s easier to contact the Prime Minister or the Opposition leader than it is to email Schwartz Media’s precious Mr McKinnon.

When your man Schwartz wrote to Hendo recently, Jackie’s (male) co-owner responded by suggesting – courteously, of course – that Schwartz Media should employ a fact-checker for its various publications.  Now read on:

Morry Schwartz to Gerard Henderson – 7 February 2018

Dear Gerard,

Your subscription to The Monthly expires in one month. Order a 12-month auto-renewing subscription at just $109.95 to save $20 off the regular subscription price.

Renew your subscription and tell us in 25 words or less what you would change about Australian culture. You’ll go into the draw to see Australian World Orchestra perform Brahms 2 and Tchaikovsky 4 at their opening night concert in Sydney, conducted by Riccardo Muti on May 2, 2018. Entries close on Thursday, February 22, 2018. Terms and conditions apply.

Thank you for choosing The Monthly. We look forward to offering you more of the nation’s best writing and analysis.

Best regards

Morry Schwartz

Gerard Henderson to Morry Schwartz – 7 February 2018

Dear Morry

How wonderful to receive a personal “Dear Gerard” letter from you.  It made my day – maybe my week, perhaps my year.

Of course, I will renew my subscription to The Monthly. I will forward payment today. And yes, I will tell you in 25 words just what I would change about Australian culture.  Here’s my entry – in the hope of winning a ticket to the Australia World Orchestra’s performance in Sydney on the day after May Day (terms and conditions apply). I can barely wait to be pulled out a winner from the Schwartz Media hat.

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Gerard Henderson’s entry for The Monthly’s prize on what is to be done to change Australian culture.

Let’s start with Schwartz Media employing a fact-checker for its various leftist house-journals.  This might prevent The Saturday Paper from constantly verballing Hendo. (25 words).

Here’s hoping

Keep morale high

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.

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