ISSUE – NO. 400

6 April 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.

* * * * * *


  • STOP PRESS: Rory O’Connor on The Drum; Tom Ballard v Shaun Micallef in the Bad Language Game

  • New Feature: Wellness Appreciation by Jackie re Bowel Movements and The Drum

  • Media Fool of The Week: Mike Carlton’s The Saturday Paper Essay

  • Can You Bear It? Julian (“I love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC; Peter (The Red Bandannaed) FitzSimons; Gael Jennings; George Megalogenis; David Hetherington

  • Outside Outsiders: A Ross Cameron Rant Update on Vladimir Putin; A Report on Jaynie Seal’s “Outsiders Book Club”

  • The Cliché in The Room: An Elephant’s Perspective: Starring Andrew Charlton & Lachlan Harris

  • Documentation: Louise Milligan’s (still) Unanswered Questions on her Cardinal Pell book: An Update



Did anyone see the stunning performance by Rory O’Connor (he of the Yugambeh Museum in Beenleigh, Queensland) on ABC TV’s The Drum last night?  Your man O’Connor was one of the panellists – along with barrister Gray Connolly, The Guardian Australia’s Anne Davies and Dr Michael Jensen.

Invited to discuss the indigenous contribution to the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Rory O’Connor went on and on and on.  For no less than six whole minutes.  Yes, six minutes in a stream-of-consciousness rave which had an autobiographical theme – or so MWD believes.  This on what is supposed to be one of the ABC’s leading news and current affairs programs.

Here’s how presenter Julia Baird concluded the segment:

Julia Baird: You’re still on a high Rory.

Rory O’Connor:  I’ve slept one hour.

How about that?  Around the same time as viewers of The Drum slept during last night’s program, it seems.


It would seem that avid Media Watch Dog readers have had an impact on ABC Comedy’s Tonightly with Tom Ballard.  Following a crowd funding occasion, MWD sent your man Ballard a brand-new dictionary with a view to broadening his limited vocabulary, which led to an over-use of the “C” and “F” words.  Last night, Jackie’s (male) co-owner counted only five uses of the “F” word and none at all of the “C” word.  A real verbal deflation, to be sure.

Apparently, sensing an opportunity, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell – on the main ABC TV channel – has moved into the bad language space vacated by Young Ballard.  On Wednesday Mr Micallef used the “F” word on no fewer than four occasions.  How daring.  Yawn.  And, yes, on Wednesday the program ran another sketch mocking the Catholic Church’s sacrament of penance – commonly known as confession.  Yawn squared.  Anyone who has a fresh joke – irrespective of language usage – should send it to the former school captain of Adelaide’s Sacred Heart College who can be found at the ABC soviet in Melbourne.


An incorrect attribution was given in MWD Issue 399 for permission to reprint Richard Connolly’s “Composing Hymns with James McAuley”. Permission was given by Karl Schmude who is president of the Australian Chesterton Society and editor of its newsletter The Defendant.

The website of the Australian Chesterton Society is


Wellness Appreciation by Jackie

NEW FEATURE: WELLNESS APPRECIATION by JACKIE (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute)


Due to enormous popular demand by avid readers, MWD has introduced an occasional feature in which Jackie – who has a Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute – will focus on Wellness awareness in the media.

This week Jackie (Dip. Wellness) looks back at the discussion on this very topic which took place on The Drum on Friday 23 March 2018.  Once upon a time, The Drum was presented as one of ABC TV’s leading news and current affairs programs. But these days it seems intent on discussing the least important topics of the day – especially on Fridays, when the presenter asks the panellists to opine on their own interests.

Let’s go to the transcript of the 23 March program where Tracy McLeod Howe turned her attention to her own personal SEARCH FOR WELLNESS – in Thailand, no less – and then get Jackie’s opinion. By the way, Ms McLeod Howe is chief executive officer of the NSW Council of Social Service:

Julia Baird: Now Tracy, I’m going to go down a whole other path with you – which is that of Wellness and a recent experience of yours.

Tracy McLeod Howe: So, I just got back from two weeks in Thailand where I went to a retreat – the idea being that I was going to go there and do a bit of meditation. I have done Vipassana and I imagined chilling out, just getting my head together before I have a busy 2018. And what I realised is, there’s this multimillion dollar industry that revolves around – to be frank – bowel movements, detoxing. It’s about people starving. So basically, we were all there, starving, paying money to be together and just lose weight. When, at the end of the day, we should have been eating better – not out of plastic containers, we shouldn’t have been – we should have been walking, instead of having to pay to go to Thailand to have someone say to us at 6 o’clock “get up and walk”. And what was so bizarre, we were from all around the world and we just sat there starving to death. I swear our meals must have cost around $2 each a day. And everything wasn’t about Wellness, it really was about the toilet.

Julia Baird: You see this as symptomatic, right? So that we’re not –

Tracy McLeod Howe: It was funny. I had a good laugh.

Julia Baird: Right. After a while.

Tracy McLeod Howe: After the first event in the toilet. But I mean, it was pretty crazy. That we’re all there as – you know, these were professional people. It wasn’t overly expensive. We used our hard-earned to go there. But the fact we’re doing it just makes no sense, actually.

Julia Baird: But you see it as symptomatic, as more – we’re not talking about character when we go to detox and those kinds of things, we’re just talking about just letting our bowels out.

Tracy McLeod Howe: “How much have you lost off your waist and how much have you cleaned” – and it was actually comical. There was a sitcom happening right there. That to me was not really about our wellbeing. And you know when I looked at the list, not to put down the resort that I went to, because you know, that was one of the things it said that it was around weight loss – but it was around finding mindfulness, meditation. All of those things just so that you just can connect back when you come back to Australia and a busy job. But it really was about losing weight.

Julia Baird: It’s hard to be mindful when you’re starving, I have to say. It’s hard to think about much else.

Tracy McLeod Howe: And you get really sick of soup.


Jackie’s (Dip. Wellness) Comments For MWD – On Why This Discussion was a Load of Crap

When I get home on Friday afternoons – around Gin & Tonic time – there is nothing I appreciate more than a discussion on bowel movements, especially in the context of Wellness.  So I was frightfully interested to hear on The Drum how Ms McLeod Howe travelled all the way to Thailand and ended up doing what I do – every morning and every night and frequently during the day – when walking with my male or female owner.

Some MWD readers (those of the clerical fascist variety) may regard Tracy McLeod Howe’s detoxing moments in Thailand as, well, a load of crap.  But to me they were moving in a very special way.  I hope that Dr Baird (for a doctor she is) will continue to learn more from her Friday panellists on the Search for Wellness in general – and the search for a Thailand toilet in particular.




Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper goes to print on Thursday evening and can be found in inner-city coffee shops in Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday mornings.  This means it is the only self-proclaimed “newspaper” in Australia which contains the “news” of 48 hours before.  For this reason, Hendo reads The [Boring] Saturday Paper – editor Erik Jensen – on Monday mornings, around Hangover Time.

Last week’s The Saturday Paper contained a sanctimonious essay by Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton – otherwise known as the Sage of Avalon Beach.  Your man Carlton’s epistle was ironically titled “The land of the fair go”. A break-out contained the writer’s core message: “There is something rotten in the Commonwealth of Australia. A culture of greed, selfishness, envy, cruelty and often criminal corruption gnawing at the nation’s heart.”

The Sage of Avalon Beach took his lead, if a lead it was, from the Australian Cricket Team’s ball-tampering incident in South Africa – which he regards as “merely a symptom of a wider national sickness”.  He revealed that these “dark thoughts” – if thoughts they are – came to him as he “lay awake at some ungodly hour, contemplating the fate awaiting” former captain Steve Smith.  In Hendo’s view, however, Carlton had a nightmare.

The tone of the Carlton piece was set early on when he said that Stephen Smith “had paddled himself up shit creek where the canoe was now sinking”. How original is this? And he described British prime minister Theresa May as “dopey”.  Clever, eh?  And he declared that President Donald Trump is “the oaf in the White House”. Yawn.

In his rant against Australia’s (alleged) culture of cruelty, Mike Carlton (i) referred to the minor parties as a “gaggle of cranks and nutters”, (ii) accused Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and “her bloke” of parading “at the polo” or frolicking with “B-grade celebrities in Los Angeles”, (iii) depicted corporate Australia as a “thieves’ kitchen” and (iv) declared that “public morality is dead”. Oh yes, there were also oh-so-boring attacks on John Howard and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.  Quelle surprise!

What fun to hear Mike Carlton condemn Australia’s alleged “culture of cruelty”. For this is the very same Mike Carlton who was suspended as a Sydney Morning Herald columnist in 2014 (he subsequently resigned) for sending the following cruel texts to readers who had the audacity to criticise a Carlton column on the Middle East.  Here we go:

 “You are a vulgar and stupid bigot.” – 27 July 2014

“You’re the one full of hate and bile, sunshine. The classic example of the Jewish bigot. Now f*ck off.” – 28 July 2014

 “What a ridiculous little wanker you are. F*ck off” – 29 July 2014

“I suggest you go f*ck yourself.” –  29 July 2014

“Go f*ck yourself. I gather you are some sort of jumped up hotel waiter. What a pathetic wanker you are. And A-grade liar. Anything from you in future goes straight to trash, unread.” – 29 July 2014

And the Sage of Avalon Beach, who once railed at hotel waiters, is now lecturing the nation about the need to rid itself of its (alleged) culture of cruelty.

Mike Carlton – Media Fool of the Week.

Can You Bear It



While on the topic of self-awareness, consider the case of Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC:

The Melbourne barrister put out this tweet around Gin & Tonic time on April Fool’s Day:

Julian Burnside‏ @JulianBurnside Apr 1

Let’s do it: send me a list of the handles of trolls who specialise in tweeting insults, abuse and lies. I will put the list on my blog. Let’s make social media #SocialAgain


So m’learned friend has set himself up as a campaigner against “trolls who specialise in tweeting insults, abuse and lies”. Could this be the very same JB AO QC who specialises in his very own “insults, abuse and lies”?  Sure could.   Here’s a tweet which your man Burnside sent out after dinner on Good Friday:


Julian Burnside‏ @JulianBurnside Mar 30

 A tweet I retweeted last week showed Peter Dutton in a Nazi uniform. The Australian ran a story about it, and Andrew Bolt went into a spasm of confected anger about it. I am sorry it upset some people. I didn’t intend to. Here is my reasoning:


In fact, JB AO QC was not at all “sorry” about depicting Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as a Nazi.  As to his “reasoning” for having done so – it was an essay by JB AO QC titled “Peter Dutton”.

In this post, JB AO QC conceded that Twitter is “not an ideal place for complex ideas”. You can say that again.  But he still maintained that Peter Dutton is doing “what the Nazis did between 1933 and 1938”.  This is a statement of profound ignorance – as is evident from reading Richard J Evans’ The Third Reich in Power 1933-1939 which covers Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1939.  Put simply, in his rush to depict Peter Dutton as a pre-1939 Nazi, your man Burnside does not know what he is talking about. Adolf Hitler presided over a brutal totalitarian regime through the 1930s.

JB AO QC’s post also contains an essay titled “Some random ideas to improve Australia” in which m’learned friend opines:

It’s hard to go to any public function in an Australian city these days without the MC intoning recognition of “…the traditional owners of the land we meet on.  The people of the …Nation; their leaders past, present and emerging…”. It is one-sided and self-indulgent.  It does not recognise that our ancestors took the land from them, and caused them immense harm.  And we don’t intend to give it back.

Julian Burnside went on to propose a “once-off tax of 2.8 per cent of the capital value of the land we took”. This would be spent on Aborigines and the Arts. That’s it.

JB AO QC’s gesturing overlooks one central fact. If the Burnside multi-million pile is built on stolen land in the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn – why not give it back and go and live in a tent on Crown land in, say, Gisborne?  But the evidence suggests that JB AO QC’s sense of possessing higher morality than the rest of us mere mortals does not extend this far.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of self-promotion, MWD welcomes the decision by one-time Rugby Union footballer Peter FitzSimons – aka The Red Bandannaed One – to donate his brain to medical research.  Your man FitzSimons, who was once sent from the field by a referee for roughing up a New Zealand opponent, has become concerned about the long-term effects of concussion on the human brain.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 March, the Red Bandannaed One had this to say:

In 2013 I went to Boston, to interview Dr Chris Nowinski, about the Boston Brain Bank, where they collect the brains of deceased NFL players, to examine them for damage caused by concussion. It is through such work they have been able to prove the causal link. The work of the Boston Brain Bank was expanding the envelope of knowledge about the damage done on brains by sport. Now Dr Nowinski is in Sydney to launch the Australian Sports BrainBank under the auspices of Sydney University and Prince Alfred Hospital.

Ideally, sports people will now commit their own brains to the cause to be studied to expand knowledge still further. They are welcome to mine (hopefully 40 years from now).

A fine gesture to be sure. However, Hendo wonders what – in four decades time – medical professionals will think about the brain of a recently departed (garrulous) male which is covered by a Red Bandanna. Can You Bear It?


What a stunning performance by Gael Jennings – of Melbourne University’s pompously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism – on ABC TV News Breakfast on 29 March.  Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) was appearing on the program’s “Newspapers” segment. Here’s how the (advancing) former journalist rated the top news stories for Easter Thursday.

First up, Gael Jennings spent lotsa time talking about how there is too much time discussing sport on Australian television.  This involved a discussion on sport – to wit, the Australian Test Team’s ball-tampering “issue” – which went on for considerable time. Somehow or other, the Melbourne University academic managed to mention refugees and the “children overboard” controversy of nearly two decades ago in this context. Well done, eh?

Then co-presenter Michael Rowland opined: “We can move on.” Which no doubt delighted the audience. So Dr Jennings proceeded to have a go at The Australian for criticising the decision taken by the newly appointed Senator Tom Storer to oppose the Turnbull government’s proposed company tax cuts. Let’s go to the transcript:

Gael Jennings: It’s very interesting, two lead stories The Australian is running. Anyway, I should just say what the story is – is that the government has been attempting to get up the company tax cuts bill, cutting taxes to business by 5 per cent from 30 to 25 per cent for businesses earning over 500 million. And it was scuttled this week by two senators – Derryn Hinch and this man that no one’s ever heard of called Tim Storer, who got in on 189 votes. And he has just said, well he thinks he wants more centrist sort of approach, he wants to go back to the Henry Review of 2010 and have infrastructure and health and R&D and so on in that tax program that he wants the government to be putting through. The Australian is running it, though, as “ALP Man”. In fact, he lived in Asia a lot of his life, speaks fluent Mandarin. He was a member of the ALP briefly, twice.

Michael Rowland: Which is what The Australian’s picked up on.

Gael Jennings: Which is what The Australian’s picked up on. But actually he was with Nick Xenophon, number four on the ticket and eventually went Independent just so he could get in basically. And he got in through someone else being disqualified. So it’s a circuitous way to get there and he’s got a lot of power on this bill.

This is all very well. But the fact is that The Australian’s analysis was correct. In so far as Tom Storer has had political involvements – they have been with the Australian Labor Party.  He was a member of the Nick Xenophon Team only briefly before the 2016 election which saw him obtain a Senate seat in 2018.

Then Gael Jennings focused on the committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court concerning the charges laid by Victorian Police against Cardinal George Pell. Here’s what she had to say:

Ali Moore: You’ve also had a look at the ABC News Online, our online service. Cardinal Pell.

Gael Jennings: Yeah, it’s very interesting to hear. I want to be very specific with what I say so that we’re absolutely clear what’s happening. It’s interesting that the Magistrates Court at the committal, well at the hearing yesterday, heard from Robert Richter – who’s the defence barrister –  that the police planned to arrest George Pell after the Royal Commission in November, when he gave evidence to the Royal Commission.

He was due to give evidence to the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in November 2015. And the court heard yesterday that the police planned to arrest and question Cardinal Pell when he returned to Australia from the Vatican to give evidence. But he of course didn’t, through ill health, and instead gave evidence from Rome in 2016 via video link.

And also, I thought it was very interesting yesterday, that Mr Richter – it says here – made an extraordinary request to magistrate Belinda Wallington to disqualify herself from the case, accusing her of having a biased view of the evidence. The application was swiftly refused. So, we wait to hear. Today is the final day and then we have to wait sometime to hear whether the magistrate says if there is a case against him, and whether or not that will go forward.

Dr Jennings neglected to tell viewers that Robert Richter QC also told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that Victoria Police set up in 2013 what it called Operation Tethering aimed at George Pell – at a time when no complaint of any kind had been made with respect to the Cardinal.  Also she did not background the fact as to why Cardinal Pell’s defence counsel said that the magistrate was biased towards the evidence concerning one of the charges.

Then Gael Jennings moved on to yet another analysis about how the Great Barrier Reef is doomed – in the process accusing a professor of physics at James Cook University of being unscientific.

So these were Dr Jennings chosen stories of the day – cricket, company tax, Cardinal Pell and the Great Barrier Reef. Yet, early in her discourse, she said this:

Gael Jennings: Well it’s very interesting though when you look at, actually what people do value, like when you look at the surveys. Because I’ve done a lot of research on that because I’ve been a science and medical correspondent a lot, and communicator. And, in fact, sport is actually quite low on the list of things and politics is lower on the list of things people actually want to know about. They actually want to know most about medicine and health. And then they are sort of interested in new breakthroughs and discoveries. And sport is not nearly as high, it actually — it’s posited that it represents the bias of the editors.

So Dr Jennings reckons that people want their news to focus on medicine and health – not sport and politics.  However, in her most recent News Breakfast appearance she focused on sport and politics plus Cardinal Pell and the Great Barrier Reef – without a specific reference to health or medicine.  Can You Bear It?


What a wonderful set of contrasting tweets between radio star Alan Jones and mild-mannered author George Megalogenis on Wednesday evening about the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Here it is:

Alan Jones‏@AlanJones

The opening ceremony was a disgrace! This was an opportunity to celebrate Australia. Aboriginal Australians are not the whole story, they’re part of Australia’s history. A history which is meant to be shared with all of us.

George Megalogenis‏ @GMegalogenis Apr 4

OK, let’s do the numbers on this one. Aboriginal Australians = 65,000-year history Anglo, Celtic, European, Asian Australians = 230-year history Aboriginal Australians = 100% of Australia’s history The rest of us = 0.4% of Australia’s history


How about that?  According to Mr Megalogenis’ number-crunching, Australia’s population amounts to 100.4 per cent of something or other. Really.  Also he overlooks the fact that many Aboriginal Australians have Anglo-Celtic, European, and Asian ancestors. So Aboriginal Australians cannot amount to 100 per cent of Australia’s history.  Mr Megalogenis is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. Can You Bear It?


David Hetherington is a man of the left – who recently moved from the Per Capita think tank to become executive director of the Public Education Foundation.  He is a regular panellist on The Drum where – last Tuesday – he asserted that the “terms of debate [in Australia] have been dominated largely by the Murdoch press”. Not the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC.  Not the Fairfax Media or any of the other media companies. Just News Corp.

Then Hetherington made the following comment:

…that’s the problem with so many of these discussions – is that a small group of people like, you know, the Outsiders crew on Sunday morning with their 800 viewers, want to kind of rail from the rooftops that it’s all gone wrong for them.  Well actually, no guys, you’ve had a pretty good run.

What a load of absolute tosh.  According to your man Hetherington, Sky News’ Outsiders program has a mere 800 viewers.  Yet somehow or other, a program which is (falsely alleged) to have fewer than a thousand viewers dominates the terms of debate in Australia. Can You Bear It?


▪ Act One – Sunday 25 March 2018 – Outsiders

On Outsiders on 25 March 2018, the co-presenter Ross Cameron linked Russian president Vladimir Putin with not only the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and the Planets – but also with Saint Dominic (1120-1221), who founded the Dominican religious order.  Your (holy) man Dominic is a MWD fave due to his role in crushing the Albigensian Heresy all those centuries ago. In any event, here’s what the Outsiders co-presenter had to say about the original Black Friar:

Ross Cameron: The patron saint of the Dominicans, Saint Dominic, was a late twelfth – early thirteenth century Spanish figure. He came from quite a well-to-do family. But he earned this reputation for excellence for making the case for God. And he was sent by the Pope into Southern France to convert the heretics. And it was said of Saint Dominic that he only ever spoke to God or for God. And it is the basilica he built called the “Santa Sabina Basilica” after which the school [in Sydney] is named. But Saint Dominic is the patron saint of those wrongly convicted of a crime – Vladimir Putin. But, secondly, also the patron saint of Astronomy. And as you know we on this show we love the Stars, we love the Planets, we love the Sun and the Moon.

Yes, we know this. So there you have it.  Ross Cameron reckons that Vladimir Putin has been “wrongly convicted of a crime”.  He did not say how such a conviction came about – or where.  By the way, Dominic is not the Patron Saint of Dominicans – he was a Dominican.

Act Two – Monday 2 April 2018 – Paul Murray Live

This is what Outsiders’ co-presenter Ross Cameron had to say on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Easter Monday – to the supporting laughter of presenter Paul Murray and the visible and audible disdain of fellow panellists Janine Perrett and Laura Jayes. Let’s go to the transcript:

Ross Cameron: Can I just make clear – I have no commercial interest in Russia. I have never been to Russia. But I will tell you, I have seldom in my adult life been more embarrassed to be an Australian than I have been since the Skripal incident in the UK. And the reason I say that – I mean – and now you’ve got the ASIO boss coming out – you know – leaking exclusives to the Daily Telegraph saying, “Oh we should be prepared for this kind of assault on a foreign soil taking place here”. Now we’ve got: “Oh get ready – all these Russians are going to come out blah blah blah”. This is so bad. I mean this is appallingly bad. This is a government by denunciation.

You know when Saddam Hussein got elected president – and his first speech, he got up in front of all the boys and he denounced about 40 of his critics and competitors and they were all executed on the basis of the fact that he announced in his opening speech that they were traitors to Iraq.

About 20 million people died in the Cultural Revolution in China on the basis of denunciation. And the idea was that if you could just get four or five, half a dozen, to stand in the square and say: “Oh you’re the daughter of a property owner, you’re the enemy”. Denunciation was the judicial form du jour of the Cultural Revolution. And I’m saying, we have wound back the clock a thousand years. There is no evidence linking Russia to this event. Not one molecule. Not a molecule.

Janine Perrett: [Interjecting in disapproval]

Ross Cameron: And the idea that –.  We are behaving like the Bandidos or the Comancheros on a sort of methamphetamine run through the chemists down the East Coast, just bashing a few people along the way who happen to be Russian. It’s appalling. Just on behalf of every Australian citizen, to every Russian in Australia, I want to apologise for the behaviour of my government and the government of the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

And so, it went on – and on and on and on.  Your man Cameron ranted against the objections of Janine Perrett and Laura Jayes. He went on to say that there was “no body” in the case – apparently forgetting that Sergei Skripal remains in a critical condition in a British hospital.  By the way, Saddam Hussein was not an elected leader of Iraq.  And one million (not 20 million) Chinese were killed during the Cultural Revolution – an estimated 100 million were purged.  Around 40 million died during Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap” program which was, in fact, a forced famine.  But why let facts disturb Mr Cameron in Rantsville Mode?


As avid readers are aware, Sky News Outsiders co-presenters Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean preside over a program in which they – and many a guest – sometimes speak about a book (or books) they have not read.  Like the Latin edition of “The Complete Works of Marcus Aurelius”, for example – which is sure to be discussed soon, if any extant copy can be found.

Sky News’ newsreader and MWD fave Jaynie Seal fulfils three essential roles on the Outsiders. In fact, she carries the show.

First, Ms Seal reads the news – which is very important to the program since Outsiders invariably starts with a long rant by Mr Cameron which focuses on the “news” of a century or more ago. Like last Sunday when the Garrulous One commenced the program with a rant about Ferdinand de Lesseps and the building of the Suez Canal.

Second, Ms Seal is Rowan Dean’s choreographer and plans the various hand movements for his “Ice-Age Weather Watch” segment – which gives a new meaning to the concept of hell freezing over.

And third, Ms Seal presides over the “Outsiders Book Club”. Fortunately, the witty newsreader gets the joke – as is evident in her account of the club’s activities on Sunday 25 March 2018.  There was no “Book Club” reference on Outsiders last Sunday – presumably because Easter Sunday was so busy that no one had time to talk about books they had not read.  In any event, this is what MWD’s fave had to say on the Outsiders program which aired on 25 March:

Rowan Dean:  Jaynie… I’ve just been wondering, can you share with our Outsiders viewers what’s on your bedside table at the moment?

Jaynie Seal: Well I presume you’re talking about books. At the moment – for obvious reasons, Rowan – I actually have dipped back into A Brief History of Time. But I’m actually not entirely sure about Stephen’s theory on strange quarks.  Can you help me out there?

Rowan Dean: Well, I think you’re right there. I think there’s a lot of debate over strange quarks, we all have our strange quarks. None so more than Ross Cameron who we’ll be getting to after “Outsiders Weather”.

How clever is Ms Seal?  First up, she avoided talking about what was on her bedside table – apart from the late Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. [I understand that this is the most frequently quoted unread book since the invention of the printing press. – MWD Editor.]  and then she admitted to not being entirely sure about your man Hawking’s theory about the strange quark.  Ms Seal and the rest of humanity – since the death [you should say “passing” –  MWD Editor] of Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) – it would seem.

As to next Sunday, let’s hope the Outsiders analyses Mark Heidegger’s overwhelmingly unread Being and Time.  According to the Oxford Companion to Philosophy: “Being and Time, were it only a little easier to understand, would be more securely established in the canon of philosophical classics”.  Such an unreadable book should surely find a place on Jaynie Seal’s beside table – along with, MWD guesses, at least one Gin & Tonic.

 The Cliche In The Room - An Elephant's Perspective


The term “the centre cannot hold” is so old it has become a cliché.  It comes from William Butler Yeats’ poem The Second Coming which was written in 1919.  Ditto the (now) cliché that “the best lack all conviction, while the worst/ are full of passionate intensity”.

Last Tuesday, Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald ran a political science lecture all over Page One and spilling to Pages 4 and 5.  It was titled “Long Term Electoral Trends: The centre cannot hold – why politics is under siege” and written by Andrew Charlton and Lachlan Harris.

The thesis, for want of a better word, is that in Australia there is an ideological drift to the extremes of the political landscape which is putting pressure on the main parties – the Coalition and the Labor Party.  In fact, this theory is quite old.  All Messers Charlton and Harris managed to do was to dress it up with a cliché.

The piece concluded that “if Australia’s voters want to understand why their democracy seems so broken, they should start by looking in the mirror”.  What the SMH did not reveal is that your man Charlton and your man Harris were senior advisers to Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when, in cliché talk, the CENTRE CANNOT HOLD became a reality.  In other words, the undeclared political background of the two men was the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. [That’s enough. – MWD Editor]



Due to popular demand from avid readers, MWD reprints the eleven questions which Louise Milligan declined to answer concerning her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017).  Instead of answering Gerard Henderson’s questions, Ms Milligan sought the protection of her publisher – the formidable Louise Adler.  Ms Adler told Hendo that Ms Milligan’s book was a beauty – so there – and no correspondence would be entered into.

On 27 March 2018, Louise Milligan was called as a witness by Cardinal Pell’s defence team in the current committal hearing in the matter of Christopher Reed v George Pell.  She was cross-examined for an entire day by Robert Richter QC at the hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court which is presided over by Belinda Wallington, the Supervising Magistrate for Sexual Offences.

And so, it came to pass that Louise Milligan reported the first day of the Cardinal Pell hearing for the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 26 July 2017 – and later on spent an entire day as a witness on the third last day of the hearing on 27 March 2018.  How very ABC – since the taxpayer funded public broadcaster denied that Ms Milligan had a potential conflict in being a party to a case which she was reporting on.

In any event, here are eleven questions which were sent to Ms Milligan on 6 June 2017 – they remain unanswered:

  1. At Page 4, you refer to the allegations concerning (then) Archbishop Pell’s alleged sexual assault of a choir boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral sometime between 1996 and 2001 as “George Pell’s ugly secret”. How is this statement consistent with your comments, following the publication of your book, that Cardinal Pell is entitled to the presumption of innocence? Also, what is the justification for writing at Page 227 that some of Pell’s accusers “will” be cross-examined by the Cardinal’s Queen’s counsel? – since he has not been charged.
  2. In view of the serious allegations in Cardinal – and to the fact that you acknowledged on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 17 May 2017 that your book is written “from of the complainants’ point of view”– what is your policy about anonymous sources?

For example, Cardinal contains references to “one senior member of a religious order” (Pg. 20), “another Royal Commission source” (Pg. 41), “one of the most senior priests on the Curia of the Melbourne Archdiocese at the time” (Pg. 51), “one Church official” (Pg. 88), “officials in the church” (Pg. 281), “a friend…who is a mother in the neighbourhood” (Pg. 290), “someone who works around the Royal Commission” (Pg. 297), “the father-in-law of an ABC journalist” (Pg. 313), “people who knew [George Pell] in his Ballarat days” (Pg. 329) – and more besides – plus the occasional “many”.  The allegations at Pages 88 and 281 – which go to George Pell’s character – are most damaging. But they are unsourced.

In view of the serious allegations in your book, do you believe that it is professional to allow anonymous individuals – none of whom claim to be victims – a chance to condemn George Pell in such a way that a reader has no chance of judging their credibility or motives?

  1. What is your position on memory?  At Page 101 – when rationalising an inaccurate description of George Pell by one of his accusers – you write: “Memory does strange things when it comes to visual descriptions of people”. Yet, elsewhere in Cardinal, you accept as accurate the recollections of individuals who have seen George Pell on television in recent times and claim that this is the person they came across 30 to 40 years previously.
  2. What is your position on the use of direct quotation marks?  At Page 47, you place in direct quotes the recollection of a critic of Cardinal Pell who relates – word for word – a conversation which Pell had with her cousin. This despite the fact that (i) the alleged conversation took place over two decades ago, (ii) the woman concedes to being in the room next door to where the conversation took place and (iii) Pell was (allegedly) determined that the person could not hear what he said to her cousin.  This would be uncharacteristic behaviour – in view of the fact that you maintain Pell has a “steel-trap mind” and would be unlikely to speak so loudly that he could be heard between rooms while (allegedly) attempting to have a secret conversation.

Likewise, in Chapter 6 – on the basis of hearsay upon hearsay – how do you construct the precise words that (then) Fr Pell used some three decades ago? Is this professional journalism?

  1. What is your attitude to time?  At Pages 129-130 you write that Cardinal Pell was fit enough to turn up at an event in Ballarat “just before he gave video link evidence” from Rome to the Royal Commission on account of not being medically fit to travel to Australia.  Cardinal Pell was in Ballarat in March 2015 and he was due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in December 2015 – nine months later.

This is an important point – since you imply that George Pell suddenly developed a heart condition which prevented him from flying from Rome to Australia for hearings of the Royal Commission.  So, do you believe it accurate to state that March 2015 is “just before” December 2015 – and insufficient time for a 73 year old man, who already had experienced two heart attacks, to suffer a further deterioration in health?

  1. What is your evidence that the Catholic Church could afford to splash around $20,000 a day on Allan Myers QC as legal counsel before the Royal Commission for Cardinal Pell? (Pg. 131). Were you told this by the Catholic Church and/or Mr Myers? Or did you just make this up?
  2. In view of your sustained criticism of the (then) Bishop Pell’s handling of Fr Peter Searson in Melbourne when he (Pell) was an auxiliary bishop – why did you fail to mention that, when he became Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell sacked Searson and refused to abide by a Vatican decision that he be re-instated? (Pg. 260). Was this a deliberate omission or did you forget this fact – which was not challenged before the Royal Commission?
  3. In dealing with the decision of former Judge Alan Southwell QC’s finding that Phillip Scott’s complaint – with respect to an alleged assault in 1961 – against (then) Archbishop Pell was not upheld, you write: So, in the end, the character assassination of Scott was successful – it achieved its aim – to keep Pell as Archbishop of Sydney. (Page 103)

The clear imputation is that Judge Southwell’s decision was affected by the (alleged) character assassination of Mr Scott which occurred outside the hearing. What evidence do you have that there was any causal relationship between the alleged character assassination of Mr Scott in the media – and Judge Southwell’s decision?  Do you believe that Judge Southwell would have been so unprofessional as to allow media reports to influence his finding?  If so, what is your evidence for this assertion?

  1. On Page 19 you write that George Pell “infamously shared the [Ballarat East] presbytery with [Gerald] Ridsdale for a year.” At Page 142 you (incorrectly) state that Gerald Ridsdale shared a presbytery for a year with Paul Bongiorno in Ballarat East.  It was, in fact, Warrnambool where Ridsdale and Bongiorno shared accommodation – as the evidence before the Royal Commission makes clear. Why is (then) Fr Pell’s accommodation with Ridsdale “infamous” – but not (then) Fr. Bongiorno’s accommodation with Ridsdale?
  2. On Page 15 you write that “one seminarian in Pell’s year seems to remember Pell and [Anthony Salvatore] Bongiorno going on holiday together one summer”. (Emphasis added).  Do you maintain that what an anonymous source “seems to remember” warrants quoting in what is presented as a serious book of contemporary history?
  3. Do you believe that such words as “if” and “perhaps” are warranted in what is presented as a professional work by one of the ABC’s leading investigative reporters?

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While Louise Milligan declined to answer Gerard Henderson’s eleven questions – she was all too willing to enjoy soft interviews by her ABC colleagues on ABC programs.  Like Ms Milligan’s appearance on the ABC Radio 774’s The Conversation Hour program in Melbourne where she was interviewed by ABC star Jon Faine and former Democrats’ senator Lyn Allison on 15 May 2017.  Here is a photo of that occasion, which coincided with Law Week in Victoria.

That’s Louise Milligan in the middle, Magistrate Belinda Wallington on the left and Lyn Allison on the right.  The photo was taken outside the ABC’s Southbank studio in Melbourne.

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Until next time.