GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 399

23 March 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: Ross Cameron on Russia & China; Tom Ballard’s Tonightly; Hendo off to Insiders but not via the Chairman’s Lounge

  • A Red Bandannaed One Update Starring Guru Shankar plus the Real Thing

  • Can You Bear It? Fran Kelly and Sophie McNeill; Ellen Fanning and Greg Sheridan re Emma Alberici

  • New Feature: A Press Gallery Journalist Confesses

  • An ABC Update: Wendy Harmer tells on Peter Dutton to the PM

  • Your Taxes at Work: How the 2018 Sydney Writers Festival Stacks Up

  • Mike Carlton’s Rudeness re Minister Fifield – A Case for Nancy’s Courtesy Classes

  • Outside Outsiders: In which Ross Cameron Barks and There is News from Jaynie Seal’s Book Club

  • Jackie’s False Prophecy Gong: Danni Addison wins with Batman by Election Prediction

  • Great Media U-Turns of Our Time Starring Professor Dean Jaensch

  • History Corner: Jenny Hocking, Anne Twomey and the Dismissal

  • Documentation: Richard Connolly on Putting the Late James McAuley’s Poetry to Music

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  • THE VERY LATEST FROM ROSS CAMERON ON RUSSIA & CHINA

What a stunning performance by Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius fan boy”) Cameron on the Sky News Outsiders program last night.  Outsiders had only gone on air for three minutes when your man Cameron dropped the name of the one-time Roman emperor for some reason or other.  Later on, an angry Mr Cameron bagged The Australian’s Greg Sheridan for his criticisms of Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin concerning the recent nerve agent attack in Salisbury.  Towards the end of his Russia rant, the Outsiders co-presenter said that we had not been told where Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal are – and speculated that Mr Skripal “may well be lying on a beach in Brighton for all we know”.  The word from Britain is that the Skripals remain in a critical condition and could have suffered permanent debilitating injuries.

And, in between, the Outsiders co-presenter made the extraordinary claim that there is more merit based competition in China – yes China – than there is in Australia.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Ross Cameron: The point is, the Chinese still believe in merit. The great Gaokao, the exam in which 10 million Chinese high school students participate each year. And lots of them get stressed – and people were complaining about the stress and the China Daily News comes out and says, “the Chinese government does not depart from merit as the basis of selection and promotion”. So we’ve got – the spirit of the Enlightenment has left Canberra and is now resident in Beijing.

How about that?  The one-time Liberal Party MP reckons that China is more merit based than Australia.  He seems unaware that China is a communist dictatorship where success is determined initially on whether Chinese are members of the Chinese Communist Party. [Interesting. But perhaps you should have run this in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? Segment. – MWD Editor]

  • TONIGHTLY – THE WORD COUNT CONTINUES

There was considerable interest in last week’s issue which continued MWD’s practice of counting the number of times the “F” and “C” words are dropped on ABC TV’s Tonightly with Tom Ballard which goes to air at 9 pm each evening on ABC Comedy.

Avid MWD readers are currently crowd-funding to buy your man Ballard a dictionary – since he exhibits the symptoms of someone who is challenged in the word usage area, hence the constant resort to expletives.

For those who forget numbers, MWD reported that – on Tonightly on Thursday 15 March – the “F” word was used on 11 occasions and the “C” word a mere 6 times.  On The Bolt Report last Monday, Hendo discussed the use of the “C” word in Greg Larsen’s boring “joke” last week about the Batman by-election.  This is now a matter of some controversy and is being considered within the bowels of ABC management following criticism by Mitch Fifield, the Minister for Communications. But that’s another matter.

As to last night’s program – well, it seems that Tonightly is in expletive deflation mode – with only 9 uses of the “F” word and none whatsoever of the “C” word.  Moreover, most of the “F” word occasions occurred due to the comments of interviewees – and not by Mr Ballard or Mr Larsen.  MWD’s Tonightly Monitoring Segment will continue after Easter.  God willing. [I can barely wait – MWD Editor]

  • OFF TO INSIDERS BUT (ALAS) NOT VIA THE QANTAS CHAIRMAN’S LOUNGE

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is off to Melbourne on Saturday for an appearance on the ABC TV Insiders couch – along with fellow panellists Laura Tingle and David Marr (hooray).  It seems destined to be a case of two members of the Sam Neill Fan Club versus Hendo. It’s quite a responsibility – since as Glen Dyer pointed out in Crikey on Monday with respect to last week’s program:

Insiders had more viewers than any program on the Ten Network in the whole of Sunday, as did Landline.  Both had more viewers than the better resourced programs on Nine and Seven in the morning and The Project and Ten News.  And yet this success is ignored by the people who run ABC News and CEO Michelle Guthrie.

Now Ms Guthrie may, or may not, ignore Insiders.  But your man Neill is an avid watcher who sends texts to La Tingle and Mr Marr immediately after their various performances.  That’s sufficient recognition for Insiders, don’t you think?

By the way, Hendo is a great fan of the New Zealand actor. He has been since seeing your man Neill in Perfect Strangers where he looked realistic playing a demented homicidal maniac.  In spite of this, Mr Neill never texts Jackie’s (male) co-owner after an appearance on the Insiders couch with David and/or Laura. Sad, eh?

These days Insiders panellists are back flying Qantas after a few years with Virgin (which provided a very good service). This gives Hendo an opportunity to suss-out one of the few surviving examples of what’s left of the class system in Australia.

The hoi polloi make do in the loading pens before boarding Qantas flights.  Then there is the Qantas Club for the likes of Hendo.  And then there is the Business Lounge.  And then there is the Chairman’s Lounge – which is Australia’s most exclusive club in that you can’t even buy your way into it but are chosen by the powers-that-be at Qantas.

Thanks to the Australian Financial Review’s “Rear Window” column this week for the intel that members of the Chairman’s Lounge are not chosen by Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford.  Rather, it appears that Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce is the man who determines who’s in and who’s out of the Chairman’s Lounge.

So, it’s the Irish-born Joyce who carries the burden of preserving what’s left of the class system Down Under. Fancy that.

What’s more, the word is that Mr Joyce has put a fire-wall around the Chairman’s Lounge to preserve it from his very own decision that Qantas will follow the teachings of the Diversity Council of Australia on language and all that.

The Diversity Council’s Words with Work paper – which has been embraced by Qantas – condemns the use of such words as “chairman” – since the word is said to exclude sheilas.  The Diversity Council believes that “chairman” should be banned in Australian workplaces since it is disrespectful.

However, it’s good to know that your man Joyce is flying the flag for old fashioned language – since, according to The Australian’s Ian Higgins and Rachel Baxendale, the term Chairman’s Lounge will live on at Qantas. Quite so.

Hendo would report from outside the Chairman’s Lounge for the next issue of MWD – except that it is so exclusive as to carry no signage and he does not know where it is.  Just like the best gentlemen’s clubs in Melbourne, Sydney, London – and Dublin.

A RED BANDANNAED ONE UPDATE

Here’s a tweet from Peter FitzSimons at the Antarctic earlier this month – only the penguins were interested in his republican sermon.

While Fitz was away, another red bandannaed identity emerged in Sydney.  Thanks to the avid reader who advised MWD of Guru Shankar.  And here’s the hoarding that Jackie put up to remind Australians of the Real Red Bandannaed One.

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Can You Bear It

  • ANDREW BARR & THE CANBERRA TIMES

There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage last week of Australian Capital Territory chief minister [yes – the reference to “chief secretary” was a John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake] Andrew Barr’s comment that he “hates journalists”. The leader of the Labor Party in Canberra believes that both Fairfax Media’s The Canberra Times and the ABC 7 pm News are in the hands of conservatives. Really.

In any event, Mr Barr apologised (sort of) in the ACT Legislative Assembly last Tuesday. In his speech, the ACT chief minister declared that newspapers like The Canberra Times should cease the practice of publishing pre-election editorials.  It’s true that The Canberra Times advocated a vote for the Liberal Party in 2016. But it’s also true that the newspaper supported Labor in 2012.

Andrew Barr was reported (in The Canberra Times) as saying that, regardless of whether newspapers were endorsing either side of politics in an election, such editorials “should be a practice of the past”.

Why? Alas, your man Barr did not say.  He seems to believe that, before each election, the good folk of the ACT study diligently the Thought of The Canberra Times and vote according to its recommendations.  Mr Barr overlooked the fact that, if his theory is correct, then he would have lost the 2016 election and would hate journalists even more than is currently the case.  Can You Bear It?

  • IT’S AN ABC MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY AS FRAN KELLY INTERVIEWS SOPHIE McNEILL ON HER “TERRIFIC” REPORTING FOR THE ABC FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves it when journalists interview other journalists about journalism.  Like last Wednesday when Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed Sophie (“I’m a John Pilger fan girl”) McNeill about her three years reporting for the ABC from the Middle East.

Here’s how the (soft) interview concluded – with Ms Kelly offering Ms McNeill the opportunity to have a go at Michael Danby – the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Fran Kelly: Last year Federal Labor MP Michael Danby paid for ads in the Australian Jewish News accusing you of being biased in your reporting of Jews and Palestinians. He says for instance, you gave extensive coverage of the eviction of a Palestinian family but not of a Jewish family which had been stabbed to death. How difficult was it to make those reporting decisions knowing that whatever you believed was the right story, knowing that would end up being criticised?

Sophie McNeill: Look, it’s a huge stress that is placed on the Middle East correspondent here by these groups in Australia, Fran. You know you’re trying to report on all these horrendous events and you just, you do get attacked like that. And it wasn’t just Michael Danby, the Labor member of parliament. I was also attacked in Senate Estimates by Coalition senator Eric Abetz. It’s been a running theme for three years. And I guess the thing that I always kept in my mind is – I’m the one living here, you know. I choose to live here with my young family. And a lot of the people who are behind some of these criticisms are sitting in Sydney or Melbourne and – it’s a hard line to walk across this region but at the end of the day the reports I rely on are, you know, Amnesty International, the UN agencies, UNICEF. Whether it’s Yemen or Syria or Gaza or the West Bank or Jerusalem.

People pick and choose what they like from my reporting. But I’m relying on the same independent sources all over this region and my own first-hand experience. So they often draw their own conclusions Fran, from their own biases I find.

Fran Kelly: Well Sophie McNeill you’ve done a terrific job there for the three years. Thank you very much for your coverage and we look forward to seeing you back here.

So there you have it – according to the ABC’s Ms Kelly the ABC’s Ms McNeill has done a terrific job in the Middle East.  Quelle surprise.

Fran Kelly failed to ask Sophie McNeill why Mr Danby and Senator Abetz criticised her reporting from the Middle East – but not that of her ABC colleague Matt Brown, who is also based in the Middle East.  And Sophie McNeill seemed unaware of the fact that she regards it as proper for her to criticise others – but gets oh-so-sensitive when someone criticises her. Can You Bear It?

  • IT’S EMMA ALBERICI VERSUS GREG SHERIDAN ON THE DRUM

While on the propensity of ABC types to defend other ABC types – consider the exchange between The Drum’s presenter Ellen Fanning and The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan last Tuesday.  When it came to the issue of dividend imputation, Mr Fanning did not go into passive aggression mode. She was just aggressive as she piled into Mr Sheridan – even to the extent of alleging that he is retired.  Needless to say, Mr Sheridan – who has been a street fighter in his time – replied in kind after Ms Fanning had a swipe at The Australian. Let’s go to the transcript:

Ellen Fanning: Greg Sheridan, was it laying it on a bit thick for well-heeled retirees on the front page of The Australian newspaper – and saying that they were low-income earners when they in fact had a low taxable income because they’d organised their affairs so that they pay very little tax in retirement – who wouldn’t?

Greg Sheridan: Well Ellen you’ll be astonished, just astonished, to hear that I will defend The Australian absolutely.

Ellen Fanning: Yes comrade. Yes Mister G Sheridan.

Greg Sheridan: I won’t join in this ABC jihad against News Corp papers.

Ellen Fanning: I thought it was a Russian jihad? Sorry, go on.

Greg Sheridan: Let me refer to you, in particular, the articles of my colleague Adam Creighton, who has dissected this matter I think, quite brilliantly. There is undoubtedly a real policy problem with the complexity of tax concessions which are offered to people. And Adam made a brilliant point today when he said that the tax system itself is losing credibility with the people. We’re becoming like Italy. There are so many exemptions and so many complicated rules. Now frankly until Bill Shorten proposed this, I never knew that you could get a cash refund for franked dividends when you weren’t paying income tax yourself. Certainly –

Ellen Fanning: [Interjecting] Well, certainly that’s probably because you’re retired. But is your advice –

Greg Sheridan: No, I’m not retired.

Ellen Fanning: [Interjecting] Is your advice to the people watching tonight, ignore the headlines in The Australian newspaper about low incomes, because –

Greg Sheridan: [Interjecting] No, no, no. Don’t verbal me, don’t verbal me about this.

Ellen Fanning: [Interjecting] Read the economics correspondent and sometimes Drum panellist Adam Creighton and he’ll give you the real news.

Greg Sheridan: [Interjecting] No, no, you’re quite – that’s most improper. No, Ellen that is most improper. No paper has dissected this issue better, more honestly or more thoroughly than The Australian. And really, it’s quite improper for you to attack The Australian in that way. The balance of our coverage – I’ll tell you what, our economics is a lot better than Emma Alberici’s economics.

Ellen Fanning: Oh that’s – I’ll have to pull you up there Greg.

[Talking over each other]

Greg Sheridan: If you’re going to go down that road –

Ellen Fanning: We are on it, you are on the end of a satellite my friend and I have a smile on my face and I do not wish to start throwing mud at my colleagues.

Greg Sheridan: Okay.

Ellen Fanning: I was asking you a question. And I’m happy to hear –

 [Talking over each other]

Greg Sheridan: [Interjecting] And I’m telling you that our economics is a lot sounder than Emma Alberici’s economics. All the way through the paper.

Ellen Fanning: Alright, I’m going to move on from there – because I’m not –

Greg Sheridan: Well you decided to go down that road Ellen, not me.

Ellen Fanning: Alright, I’ll turn to Alan Kirkland.

So there you have it.  It’s quite okay for the ABC’s Ellen Fanning to launch an attack on The Australian.  But it’s not okay for Greg Sheridan to criticise ABC journalist Emma Alberici – Ms Fanning’s “bestie” – when defending News Corp journalists.  An unpleasant double standard, to be sure.  Can You Bear It?

NEW FEATURE: AN ANONYMOUS PRESS GALLERY JOURNALIST APOLOGISES FOR FLAWED POLITICAL JUDGMENT

Prior to the Tasmanian and South Australian elections – and the Batman by-election – my colleagues and I were all convinced that the major parties in Australia are fossilised relics of a bygone age.  And that the new force in Australian politics are the minor parties and Independents – and especially SA Best (nee the Nick Xenophon Team) and the oh-so-progressive Greens.  The only exception was Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, since we don’t like him.

Now – after the election results – my colleagues all agree that this was a dreadful mistake.  Today we believe – in unison – that the major parties (the Liberal Party and especially Bill Shorten’s Labor Party) are here to stay and that the minor parties (like the Greens and whatever Mr Xenophon claims to lead) are destined for what Comrade Leon Trotsky once called the graveyard of human history.  Sorry for this error.

[With apologies to Private Eye]

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WENDY HARMER THROWS THE SWITCH TO HYPERBOLE

The word is that the well secured ABC Studio in Sydney’s Ultimo is no longer a “safe space”. And it’s all Peter Dutton’s fault.

How do we know?  Well, Wendy Harmer has told us so. That’s how.

Here are the tweets that Wendy (“I’m an old fashioned socialist”) Harmer sent out yesterday:

Wendy Harmer‏ @wendy_harmer:

Dear PM @TurnbullMalcolm A real life consequence of your Minister Peter Dutton, calling @ABCaustralia employees “crazy lefties” and “you are dead to me” is that I feel unsafe at my workplace. Please address this. It’s no small thing every time a security alarm rings at my work.

Wendy Harmer‏ @wendy_harmer:

I do like to be accurate, so offending quote from @PeterDutton_MP is : “They don’t realise how completely dead they are to me.” To repeat, I am asking PM @TurnbullMalcolm to respond to this.

Turn it up. How pompous can you get?  And so on. Wendy Harmer works in the secure ABC Studios in Sydney which has as much – if not more – security as the Reserve Bank of Australia. And she feels “unsafe” because Peter Dutton referred to ABC employees as “crazy lefties” who are “dead to me”.  “Dead to me” literally means that Mr Dutton does not listen to them anymore.  That’s all, he did not call for “ABC lefties” to be killed.

And Wendy Harmer is pleading to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for protection. This is surely worth a skit in Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell or Tonightly with Tom Ballard.  But don’t hold your breath. ABC comedians don’t laugh at leftists – crazed or otherwise.

YOUR TAXES AT WORK

ANOTHER POLITICAL STACK AT THE SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAL

As avid readers are aware, literary festivals are occasions when a group of leftie luvvies get a bucket load of taxpayers’ money – and invite their ideological besties to meet together to talk and talk and talk.

Last Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald released the program for the 2018 Sydney Writers Festival – which is funded by the Commonwealth and State governments and City of Sydney Council.  Major partners include Fairfax Media and the ABC.

Here’s a list of some of the Australian writers who can be heard at the 2018 SWF – virtually all of whom are leftist,left-of-centre or left-liberal: Louise Adler, Emma Alberici, Monica Attard, John Barron, Scott Bevan, Sophie Black,

Gregg Borschmann, Michael Brissenden, Anna Broinowski, Jennifer Byrne, Jane Caro, Anna Clark, Matthew Condon, Annabel Crabb, Richard Denniss, Malcolm Farr, Nick Feik, Sarah Ferguson, Richard Fidler, Helen Garner, Dennis Glover, Peter Greste, Jenny Hocking, Bridie Jabour, Linda Jaivan, Erik Jensen, Tony Jones, Antony Loewenstein, Hamish Macdonald, Hugh Mackay, Kate McClymont, David McKnight, Kerry O’Brien, Geoffrey Robertson, Leigh Sales, Julianne Schultz, Stephen Sewell, Jason Steger, Lenore Taylor, Christos Tsiolkas, Don Watson, Alexis Wright

And here’s a list of Australian conservatives who can be heard at the 2018 SWF – Miranda Devine. That’s all folks.

Now here’s a list of former and current Australian politicians who will be addressingthe 2018 SWF: Sam Dastyari, Gareth Evans, Julia Gillard, Jacqui Lambie, Christine Milne, Tanya Plibersek.

And here’s the number of Liberal Party or National Party MPs who will be attending the 2018 SWF – Zip.  Yep, Zip.

Your Taxes At Work.

MANNERS MAKETH THE CANINE – NANCY’S COURTESY CLASSES

 OPEN NOW FOR MIKE CARLTON

 

As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side.  Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch with her – with the help of the American psychic John Edward. And so Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side”.

Thanks to the avid reader who sent these Mike Carlton tweets concerning Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s criticisms of the language used on ABC TV’s Tonightly with Tom Ballard on Thursday 20 March 2018.  They were sent (i) after lunch (at 3.59 pm) and (ii) after Gin & Tonic Time (at 6.41 pm).  Here we go:

 

Yes, this is the very same Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton who sent out this Tweet on 11 March 2018 calling on cricketers to be courteous.

As your man Carlton keeps on telling us, he did go to Barker College – where he wrote bad poetry and became Regimental Sergeant Major (“All present and correct: Sir”) in the Barker College School Cadets. Yawn.  But he did not learn the difference between argument and abuse – except with regards to cricket.

Mike Carlton: Off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.

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OUTSIDE OUTSIDERS

  • IN WHICH ROSS CAMERON GOES INTO BAT FOR VLADIMIR PUTIN

Avid readers will be saddened to learn that Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius Fan Boy”) Cameron did not take up the suggestion that he focus his rant at the start of the 9 am showing of Outsiders last Sunday on the “Birds and the Bees”.  This followed earlier opening diatribes by your man Cameron on (i) the Moon, (ii) the Sun, (iii) Snakes and (iv) Bees.  Rather than accept the wise counsel of Jackie’s (male) co-owner, Mr Cameron’s introduction last Sunday was surprisingly empirical – with reference to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one-time American politician and secessionist Robert Toombs (1810-1885) and Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that, after a discussion on the outcome of the South Australian election, Ross Cameron finally did his long-awaited rant.  This time on Russia and that nice chap Vladimir Putin. Here we go:

Ross Cameron: Well look, this is in truth, of everything we’re going to touch on today, this is my most immediate and serious concern. Annika Smethurst from the Daily Telegraph, for whom we have the highest regard on this show, has broken the story that – in today’s Telegraph – “Julie Bishop supports British move to check on Russia chemical weapons.” And I just want to say that I believe that we are at serious risk of one of history’s most unnecessary wars. Because, and the thing that I personally feel about it is that we, on our side, what have historically been the good guys, are entirely responsible for that risk of an unnecessary war.

And what we see is this cabal of the United States, Germany, most especially the United Kingdom, but also Australia – who are rushing around barking like so many Pavlovian dogs, which is what I regard this statement from Julie Bishop. Which does not contain a single fact. But it is just this Anglosphere desperately wanting to smear Russia with the allegation that it has used chemical weapons. And they’re just: “[barking sound] Russia, [barking sound] Russia, [barking sound] Russia did it”.

What we have witnessed in response to this Skripal poisoning in the United Kingdom, is the most backwater, third-world, kangaroo-style, indeed I would say Soviet show-trial. We had from The Guardian, who breathlessly announced to us: “Sergei Skripal, former Russian spy, poisoned with nerve agent on the 8th of March”. And they say he was deliberately attacked with his daughter while sitting with his daughter on a park bench in Salisbury in the UK. And it [The Guardian] says that investigations have turned to the presence of a man, an unidentified man and woman walking closely through the park. “An unidentified man and woman spotted strolling in the alleyway close to the bench where Skripal was poisoned” are likely to be of interest to police.

Now, on that basis, Theresa May came out and said Russia did it. The park bench close to where Skripal was poisoned. Then we have the very next day of this “fact” and “evidence based” investigation: “Russian spy may have been poisoned at home police say”. Not on the park bench. No no no no no. What we find is that the disclosure, the doctor who treated them on the park bench wasn’t affected by the poison at all, but the police officer who went to the home was poisoned and had to go to hospital. And it [The Guardian] says that that means that the Skripals were in all likelihood not attacked in the street, as previously thought, but poisoned in their own home.

Indeed, one of the most strongest theories is that they consumed a substance which was provided to the father by the daughter which she also consumed, and ingested. So there’s no way even to rule out the possibility of suicide on the basis of the evidence we currently have. But, [barking sound] Russia did it. Woof woof woof woof. Russia did it, Russia, Russia.

Rowan Dean: Okay, but if not Russia then who? That would be the question.

Ross Cameron: Okay –

Rowan Dean:  Ross, we’re going to move on, we’re going to move on.

And not before time, to be sure – since it’s likely that Marcus Aurelius would have got a reference somewhere. Zzzzzzzzzzz.   Mr Dean called a halt to his co-presenter’s rant after RC had said that :

(i) the United States, Britain, Germany and Australia are a “cabal” forcing their citizens into an “unnecessary war” with Russia.

(ii) Britain is conducting a Joe Stalin like “Soviet show trial” in its investigation into the nerve agent attack on the Skripals and

(iii) the Skripals may have committed suicide. And

(iv) Prime Minister Theresa May based her account of the incident on what she read in The Guardian.

In the course of the pro-Putin rant, the Outsiders co-presenter did a number of imitation dog-barks and – for those who did not get the point – ranted: “Woof, woof, woof, woof.” At this stage the ever patient Rowan Dean threw in the towel.  No wonder.

Next week MWD suggests that Ross Cameron might choose to rant about how “Joe Stalin was really a good guy who murdered no more Soviet Union citizens than was really necessary”. We’ll keep you posted.

  • JACKIE VISITS JAYNIE SEAL’S OUTSIDERS BOOK CLUB

As previously reported in MWD (Issue 398), Outsiders co-presenters Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean have appointed Sky News reader – the highly talented Jaynie Seal – to head up the “Outsiders Book Club”.  As far as MWD can work out, the “Outsiders Book Club” caters for readers who are outside books – meaning they have the ability to talk about books they have not read.

This does not apply to the witty Ms Seal of course. She gets the joke and claims to have completed Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery along with Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago in recent weeks. Well done Professor Seal.

And now for some reading recommendations from Jackie (Dip. Wellness, Gunnedah Institute of Wellbeing).

Jackie’s Recommended Reading List for the Outsiders Book Club

  • I would recommend that the “Outsiders Book Club” next read H.W. Garrod’s The Oxford Book of Latin Verse (OUP, 1912). It contains all the Latin poets to the end of the 5th Century AD. Sure most of the book is in Latin, but the Outsiders Book Club could focus initially on the final sentence of your man Garrod’s preface (in English) viz:

I have thought it, for example, not humane to variegate the text of an Anthology with despairing obeli : and occasionally I have covered up an indubitable lacuna by artifices which I trust may pass undetected by the general reader and unreproved by the charitable critic.

H.W.G.

Oxford, Sept. 2, 1912

[Come to think of it, it’s a pity that H.W.G. “passed” – otherwise he would have made a great Outsiders guest and perhaps could have explained to Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius fan boy”) Cameron why Aurelius never wrote poetry. –   MWD Editor]

  • I would also recommend a book which I value above all the other volumes in my (crowded) kennel library – namely Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (Bloomsbury, 2007). It’s an indispensable tome for commentators, book reviewers and the like.

It’s my guess that Mr Cameron already has a (secretly held) copy of this book.  But it deserves a wider readership – especially for those appearing on Outsiders.

 

JACKIE’S FALSE PROPHECY GONG IN MEMORY OF BOB ELLIS – THE FALSE PROPHET OF PALM BEACH

STEP FORWARD DANNI ADDISON OF ABC NEWS BREAKFAST FAME

The late Bob Ellis (1942-2016) was one of MWD’s faves. Hendo just loved Bob’s crystal ball work – especially since he was rarely, if ever, correct. That’s the critical assessment. A more optimistic view is that the Prophet Ellis was so far ahead of his time that –two years after his death – some of his prophecies have yet to be fulfilled.

Jackie’s inaugural False Prophecy Gong went to News Corp’s political editor Malcolm (“Hendo is a complete f**kwit”) Farr – for his prediction that Barnaby Joyce would be forced to preferences in the New England by-election on 2 December 2017.  In fact, Mr Joyce gained 65 per cent of the primary vote (See Issue 390).

The second person to be named in this segment was Mike Carlton (See Issue 395).  He scored for his prophecy-tweet around Gin & Tonic time on 16 February 2018 – that when Malcolm Turnbull was in the United States, Barnaby Joyce would declare that the Nationals would no longer serve under his prime ministership.  Then Tony Abbott would initiate a right-wing coup and Malcolm Turnbull would be defeated in a Liberal Party leadership ballot.  Then Peter Dutton would become prime minister.  How about that?

And now – thanks to the avid reader who drew Hendo’s attention to this (false) prophecy which occurred when Danni Addison did the “Newspapers” gig on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on Thursday 15 March 2018 – on the eve of the Batman by-election on the following Saturday. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: This is a rhetorical question, who will win Batman? It’s a Riddle-er.  [Note that the Batman “Riddler” reference is another Michael Rowland pun – MWD Editor]

Danni Addison: Well look, if I was a betting woman – and I can’t say that I am – I would think that The Greens are going to get this one. And I think that’s going to speak volumes, as I said, about the future political landscape in Victoria and in Australia.

Virginia Trioli: Oh well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Danni Addison:  Heard it here first.

Yeah. Sure did. The only problem is that Labor retained Batman on St Patrick’s Day – with its candidate Ged Kearney achieving a swing to the ALP on the two-party preferred vote.  The Greens defeat was substantial. Sure, we “heard” about the Greens’ inevitable success “first” from Ms Addison.  The only problem is that her crystal ball was not working on the morning in question.

By the way, Danni Addison is Victorian chief executive officer of the Urban Development Institute of Australia.  Here’s hoping that her forecasts on urban development are better than her forecasts on elections.

  • Professor Dean Jaensch On Why Nick Xenophon Was In With A Chance In The South Australian Election

A more recent poll suggested that support for the Xenophon-led SA-Best had slumped to 21 per cent, behind both Liberal and Labor. The big parties seemed to relax a bit, until they realised this is still a level that, if it rules out Xenophon as king, still leaves him as a potential kingmaker. There is no doubt that Saturday’s election will be a preference election. Even on 21 per cent of the primary vote, where SA-Best voters put their preferences will decide many, if not most, seats….

If SA-Best wins just a handful of seats, and that on the latest poll data is a possibility, then what will be the reaction in a likely hung parliament? …

From the beginning the Opposition Leader, Marshall, stated that he would not form any alliance, let alone a coalition, with any other party. He would govern alone or not at all. The question is whether he has left enough wriggle room to vary that assertion in the case of a hung parliament. Weatherill, on the other hand, has made it clear he is open to an alliance with any other parties, and he has made it an art form to use such alliances, even offers of a place in a Labor cabinet, to produce a majority in the House of Assembly or to bolster a very thin majority.

The nature of this election is entirely new for South Australia. Will it have implications elsewhere? In the short term, at least, the Xenophon phenomenon is unique to South Australia. But if he does well, who knows?

The Australian, Saturday 17 March 2018

  • Professor Dean Jaensch On Why Nick Xenophon Was Never Really In With A Chance In The SA Election

The Nick Xenophon SA-Best party, which only a month ago was standing at 36 per cent in the polls, collapsed to a mere 14 per cent in the election. The party did not win a seat in the House of Assembly, and Xenophon lost his contest for a seat. He made a mistake by taking on a marginal lower house seat. If he had contested the Legislative Council, where SA-Best has won two seats, the party would have had its leader in the parliament.

One reason for the slump in support for SA-Best is that the Xenophon campaign was dominated by fluff, “Bollywood” advertising and, in the Xenophon style, based on lots of stunts….South Australia has escaped another hung parliament. Marshall has a majority in the House of Assem­bly, and his campaign outlined a full program of legislation, some of which can be defined as radical after 16 years of Labor. But he will face a Legislative Council that is well and truly hung.

The Australian, Monday 19 March 2018

HISTORY CORNER

SIR JOHN KERR, JENNY HOCKING, ANNE TWOMEY AND THE DISMISSAL

Last Friday, in the Federal Court, Justice John Griffiths found for the National Archives of Australia and against the case brought by Professor Jenny Hocking.  The judge found that the correspondence which passed between Governor-General Sir John Kerr and the Queen was personal and not the property of the Commonwealth Government.  Consequently, following the late Sir John’s instructions, the letters will remain secret until at least 2027.

MWD will discuss this matter in the next issue.  Professor Jenny Hocking’s response to the decision in The Guardian will be examined – as will Professor Anne Twomey’s new book. As reported in today’s Australian Financial Review, The Veiled Sceptre dismisses the conspiracy theory – promoted by Professor Hocking and some others – that the British Government and the Queen were involved in the decision made by the Governor-General to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975. Stay tuned.

RICHARD CONNOLLY ON PUTTING JAMES McAULEY’S POETRY TO MUSIC

As avid readers are aware, a concert for James McAuley (1917-1976) was held on 12 November 2017 at St Peter’s Church in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak.  The event was produced by Daniel Brace, the organist at St Peter’s Toorak. The concept featured hymns written by James McAuley which were put to music by composer Richard Connolly.  The work was subsequently published in The Living Parish Hymn Book.  The collection includes the Easter hymn “Sing Christ Risen” – hence the publication today in the lead-up to Easter.

In view of MWD readership’s interest in the McAuley/Connolly collaboration, today’s issue features an article by Richard Connolly, titled “Composing Hymns with James McAuley”, which was published in the Spring 2017 of The Defendant. The Defendant is the newsletter of the Australian Chesterton Society.  Many thanks to Colin Jory for permission to re-produce this article.

Composing Hymns with James McAuley
by Richard Connolly

In a speech I made at my 80th birthday party, looking back over things I had made and done, including ABC features of which I was very proud, I concluded with these words:

Best of all, the day in 1955 that (Father) Ted Kennedy introduced me to James McAuley and the years of friendship that followed. The twenty or so hymns that Jim and I made are the best, the finest thing I have made or done in any field, except for my family. That is plain to me, and there is little to add to it.

Ted had shown me some words of the recent convert to Catholicism, James McAuley, and asked that I put them to music. The result was “Help of Christians, Guard This Land”. It was included, together with an Offertory Hymn also by McAuley, in a collection called We Offer the Mass (still the Latin, Tridentine Mass). The publisher – under the aegis of a group of liturgically aware priests led by Roger Pryke – was called The Living Parish Series.

The “Living Parish” priests were men of imagination and, on the evidence of these two hymns, they commissioned McAuley and me to compose hymns for the feasts and seasons of the Liturgical Year; and that was when our collaboration really got under way. Twelve hymns were made in the years 1960-1962, and published in 1963 as Hymns for the Years of Grace.

By now, Jim and I had become close friends, and each of us possessed a sympathetic understanding of the other’s craft. Jim was a classy jazz pianist and an organist as well, and I was a senior producer of poetry for a then very different ABC.

So although Jim moved to the University of Tasmania in 1960, just as we were getting started, we found the separation no great handicap. He would post me the words of a new hymn; I would make a tune with accompaniment (normally within a few days) and await his comments and the next set of words, which might come soon, or after an interval of weeks or even months. No fuss, and never any disagreement. Once or twice I asked his approval for some minor change like the splitting of a long line into two short ones, and he readily agreed.

In his poem Invocation, James McAuley asks his Muse to

          Teach me at last to speak aloud
In words that are no longer mine;
For at your touch, discreet, profound,
Ten thousand years softly resound.

It seemed to me that most of the tunes I made in that collection were strangely not mine – so nearly did the words seem to clothe themselves in music. One felt oneself to be only half agent, and the other half sounding board – perhaps a sort of channel.

Not that there was any question of a “heightened” state of mind; the operation

was practical and pragmatic. It was just that the tunes seemed to come straight out of the words with no real effort on my part more than a kind of submitting my musical mind, or, better, making my musical self available, to the words.

I have tried to set hymn texts by others, but never so successfully. The same magic doesn’t happen.

I had by this time begun to have some reputation as a composer of film and TV soundtrack music for both ABC and BBC, as well as commercial outfits. But none of that music ever came so effortlessly. The reason, I think, was the perfection of McAuley’s words. The language is theologically perfect and to the point. It uses beautifully the simplest of words, which nonetheless manage to embody infinite meaning and mystery.

No one could encapsulate the essential, eternal meanings and resonances as Jim did, steeped as he was in the Word, especially the Gospels and St Paul. I wrote somewhere that the merit of the hymns is “90% McAuley”, and I think that is right. It was not false modesty.

When I speak of the hymns I was “privileged” to make with James McAuley, I am not demeaning my contribution. I think it a worthy one, and I am proud of it.

 

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Until next time.

 

 

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