ISSUE – NO. 401

13 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.

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  • STOP PRESS: Bad language on Mad As Hell & Tonightly: A Update; Alice Workman demonstrates the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone

  •  CAN YOU BEAR IT: Tim Soutphommasane on News Breakfast; David Marr on Insiders

  •  NEW FEATURE: Jackie’s campaign to democratise the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge

  •  MOST PROMINENT EYE-ROLL OF THE WEEK – starring Virginia Trioli

  •  ABBOTT PHOBIA CLINIC in which Crikey’s Comrade Guy Rundle presents

  •  FIVE PAWS AWARD: Step Forward Andrew Rule & The Australian’s “The Mocker”

  •  OUTSIDE OUTSIDERS: Ross Cameron on Theresa May, Cleopatra & Julian Assange

  •  CORRESPONDENCE in which the ABC’s Louise Milligan finally responds to one, just one, of Gerard Henderson’s questions – plus an update on that photograph





There was enormous interest in last week’s count of how Shaun Micalleff’s Mad as Hell was catching up with Tonightly with Tom Ballard in the ABC’s Bad Language stakes.

MWD reported exclusively last week that the “F” word was used on four occasions on Mad as Hell compared with five occasions on Tonightly.  Close.  But last evening Tonightly forged ahead with 10 uses of the “F” word compared with a mere one on Mad as Hell on Wednesday.

Meanwhile an avid reader has advised that ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs has cleared ABC’s Tonightly for its frequent use of the “C” word on its program on 15 March 2018. Re which see MWD Issue 398.

Before coming to its finding, ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs enticed ABC Entertainment & Specialist (yes, such an entity exists) into a boring analysis of the use of the “C” word before it concluded that the whole thing was a “joke”.  A finding which ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs endorsed.  In fact, the only funny thing about the whole episode is the way that bureaucrats at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster handled this situation – including the fact that while clearing the program ABC Entertainment & Specialist apologised to the Australian Conservatives (male) candidate who was called the “C” word. How about that?

MWD found this particular finding by ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs quite mirth-inducing:

This sketch itself was a provocative piece of comedy stimulated by coverage of the Batman by-election.  The sketch found its humour in the exaggerated contrast between Greg Larsen’s dour persona, his outrageously inappropriate proposal for renaming the electorate, and his disproportionate response after an interview request was declined.  The sketch played on recurring comedic tropes involving exaggeration and insensitivity that would be familiar to the program’s target audience.  The language was used to amplify these themes.

MWD agrees that the program’s target audience would be familiar with Tonightly’s “recurring comedic tropes” – whatever that might mean.  Except for the fact that many of the program’s target audience are pissed or stoned by 9 pm each night and not able to distinguish comedy from trope. And why not? – when the only alternative is your man Tom (“Get F-cked”) Ballard.


For evidence that the ABC remains a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor on any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets – consider Radio National Breakfast. This is presented by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly. Today, however, Hamish MacDonald was in the presenter’s chair when the following exchange took place:

Hamish MacDonald: Tony Abbott also chiming in on immigration this week – no great surprise there. But interesting timing.

Alice Workman:  Oh absolutely.  Some classic wrecking, sniping and undermining here from the former prime minister.

RN Breakfast has five political commentators – one for every working day.  Namely Michelle Grattan, Paul Bongiorno, Peter Van Onselen, Phil Coorey and Alice Workman.  Ms Grattan and Mr Coorey are your basic Press Gallery reporters while Mr Bongiorno and Ms Workman are leftists.  Mr Van Onselen is not on the left but he is a vehement opponent of social conservatives like Tony Abbott.

What Alice Workman (the Parliament House bureau chief for Buzzfeed News) had to say this morning – without challenge – is that former prime minister Tony Abbott should not express his views on immigration.  If he does, he is a wrecker, a sniper and an underminer.  No doubt Bonge and PVO would agree.

The only time a conservative would get into the ABC studio in Ultimo Sydney is if he or she got lost on their way to the headquarters of the newly formed Centre for Western Civilisation.

Can You Bear It


Did anyone see the appearance of the Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane on the ABC News Breakfast program on Wednesday?  Dr Soutphommasane (for a doctor he is) was speaking about the Australian Human Rights Commission’s latest report titled Leading for Change. It reveals that 97 per cent of chief executives in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background.

News Breakfast illustrated your man Soutphommasane’s interview with News Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli by showing photos of some of Australia’s leading chief executives who have an Anglo-Celtic or European background.  The little list included Wesfarmers’ Richard Goyder – who stepped down from this position in 2017.  Oh well, it was early in the morning.

La Trioli condemned the situation as a “drop-the-microphone moment” and added: “Oh boy, it’s white bread.”  However, the microphone was not dropped. Just as well.  For News Breakfast that very morning was White Bread Squared.  The program’s co-presenters (Michael Rowland & Virginia) are white as were the sports presenters (Paul Kennedy, Mary Gearin & Georgie Tunny) and the finance presenter (Rachel Pupazzoni) and the weatherman (Nate Byrne) and the music critic (Zan Rowe). Talk about White Bread for this lot – except Ms Trioli did not go there.

Also, as MWD’s latter-day fave Mark Latham is wont to point out, Tim Soutphommasane has never complained about the fact that at least 90 per cent of students at some selective public schools in New South Wales are of Asian or Sub-Continental background.  In Dr Soutphommasane’s eyes this does not represent a situation of inequality and a lack of diversity with respect to Australian or Anglo Celtic or European background.

A real microphone-dropping situation to be sure. But did La Trioli or Dr S. mention this inequality on News Breakfast?   Not on your nelly. Can You Bear It?


The ratings were high for the pre-Easter edition of the ABC TV Insiders program – with David Marr, Laura Tingle and Jackie’s (male) co-owner “on the couch”.  It seems that thousands upon thousands, upon thousands of viewers tuned in to see David Marr do (yet another) rant about the Catholic Church.

You see, during his two last appearances on Insiders in 2017, your man Marr used the “final comment” segment to condemn the Catholic sacrament of penance (17 November 2017) and berate the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Archbishop Philip Wilson (3 December 2017). Mr Marr’s comments on the Catholic sacrament of confession were hopelessly ill-informed, as Gerard Henderson pointed out in his Weekend Australian column on 31 March 2018.  But then your man Marr went to an Anglican institution of the Low Church – or Protestant – tradition.  If he had gone to an Anglican school of the High Church disposition – all would have been different. Alas.

This is what David Marr had to say about Archbishop Philip Wilson on 3 December 2017:

David Marr:  Sad news this week that the archbishop, Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Ian [sic] Wilson was too ill with Alzheimer’s Disease to front for his criminal trial in Newcastle.  But the upside to it is that he still feels capable of soldiering on as Archbishop of Adelaide.  So, it’s a testament, at least, to his strength.

Barrie Cassidy: And a touch of sarcasm.

The fact is that Archbishop Philip Wilson is reported to have early stages of Alzheimer’s. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to have charges against him dropped – of having failed to report an instance of clerical child sexual abuse some four decades ago when he was a young assistant priest in the Hunter region of NSW.  The Crown also asserts that Philip Wilson should have acted on this (alleged) knowledge of the 1976 crime in 2000 or thereabouts.  The case turns on memory of (alleged) conversations of decades ago – the recall of two complainants and that of Archbishop Wilson.

In the event, it was decided by Newcastle Local Court this week that the matter should go to trial.  Whereupon Archbishop Wilson elected to give evidence concerning the charges against him – a step that he did not have to take.  So, David Marr’s (sarcastic) implication that Philip Wilson is capable of soldiering on as an archbishop but not as a defendant was just tosh. Can You Bear It?




While on the topic of David Marr, it is MWD’s melancholy duty to report that, as he left the Qantas Club in Melbourne on his way to board the midday Qantas flight to Sydney after his 25 March appearance on Insiders, Mr Marr passed Alan Joyce’s Chairman’s Lounge.  He may not have known this since – in the best tradition of gentlemen’s clubs in London, Melbourne, Sydney and Dublin – such institutions do not carry signage.  Apparently, an absence of signage keeps the riff-raff away.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce is in the vanguard of advancing equality and ending discrimination throughout the land of his adopted country.  However, it appears that the invitation-only Qantas Chairman’s Lounge will be the final bastion of privilege destined to fall in the Joyce War Against Privilege. Well, someone has to be last.

This is your man Marr’s opportunity. According to the Australian Financial Review’s “Rear Window” column of 20 March 2018, Channel 10’s Lisa Wilkinson (aka Mrs Red Bandannaed One) is a member of Mr Joyce’s exclusive Chairman’s Lounge. So why not David Marr? – who is as fine a journalist as Ms Wilkinson and has written more books. Your man Marr would certainly liven up the Chairman’s Lounge which – on the one occasion Hendo gained entry to this holy-of-privileged-holies affair per courtesy of one of Mr Joyce’s faves – seemed somewhat, well, stultified. 

In MWD’s view, the fact that Ms Wilkinson is “in” the Chairman’s Lounge while Mr Marr is “out” – can no longer be tolerated in democratic Australia.

Please support Jackie’s campaign to get David Marr a guernsey in Alan Joyce’s Chairman’s Lounge.




It was the usual leftist audience stack when the Q&A team rocked up to the Drum Theatre in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong last Monday.

Q&A presenter Tony Jones was a late scratching due to illness – he was replaced by ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter (and MWD fave) Virginia Trioli.  The panel comprised Victoria Police Commander Stuart Bateson, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Justice Clare O’Neil, the Minister for Citizen and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge, lawyer and local community advocate Nyadol Nyuon and Herald-Sun crime reporter and author Andrew Rule.

It was soon obvious that Ms Nyuon and Ms O’Neil (who is the Federal Labor Party member for Hotham) were the audience favourites – especially when discussion turned on ethnic gangs in the Dandenong area.  A glimpse of the atmosphere was provided when La Trioli called for a question, which was scheduled, from audience member Kim-Anh Do.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Kim-Anh Do: My question is directed to Alan – in light of the comments you made about places such as Dandenong being cultural bubbles for migrants. So, Alan, do you think that the geographical concentration of newly arrived migrants is linked more to the affordability of housing, accessibility to familiar food, religious structures and known friends and family rather than any unwillingness to integrate or commit to Australian values?

Alan Tudge:  Thank you for the question. I didn’t refer to Dandenong in that way that you described.

Virginia Trioli: You did, I’ve got to jump-in. You did refer to Dandenong as a place that had such a high concentration of people born overseas.

Alan Tudge:  Exactly, but I didn’t use that particular term. And Dandenong does have a high proportion of people born overseas as well as almost one in five who don’t speak English very well. I made a speech a couple of weeks ago referring to the great Australian multicultural success story which has been built on integration – not on assimilation where you have to give up your heritage, nor separatism where communities sit side by side one another. But integration where we merge together, learn from one another, work together, share experiences.

Alan Tudge, besides being “jumped-in” by La Trioli, was correct. He had not said that some Dandenong residents exhibit an “unwillingness to integrate or commit to Australia”. The questioner just made this up – with a little help from the Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy who approved the question.

Jumping-in aside, La Trioli’s attitude to Alan Tudge’s comments on multiculturalism was expressed with a disapproving EYE ROLL – as the still shots indicate.

[It’s great that you picked up La Trioli’s super EYE-ROLL on Q&A last Monday. It reminded me of her expressive reaction to the National Party’s Barnaby Joyce of recent memory.  You should re-publish this. MWD Editor]


This (hugely popular) segment is devoted to helping out public figures – including journalists – who have contracted a serious dose of Abbott-phobia. Sufferers of this condition present as normal individuals who become temporarily unhinged when confronting the real or spoken or written word about Tony Abbott. Some attempt to blame their own particular Vale of Tears on Australia’s 28th prime minister – while others lose their sense of judgment with respect to Tony Abbott or his family. It’s a complicated condition.  That’s why Nurse Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) is here to help.

Last Friday, Crikey ran a piece by its correspondent-at-large Guy Rundle titled “Abbott is a joke, a backbench gargoyle seemingly addicted to failure”.

Now, Comrade Rundle is Hendo’s favourite Marxist comedian.  Even so, every now and then, he is neither Marxist nor funny. In his Crikey piece, your man Rundle referred to the late B. A. Santamaria, Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre, Tertullian, Pope Julius II, Savonarola, Guy Crouchback, Iago and Jack Lang – a mixture of real and fictional characters, many of whom Crikey readers would not be familiar with. [Are you sure of this?  Surely every sandal-wearing Crikey reader knows Julius II (1443-1515) and the way he sold Indulgences to build the Basilica of St Peter in Rome. – MWD Editor.]

Rundle’s rant, which could have been written around Hangover Time, focused on Tony Abbott’s Catholicism.  Yawn. His theory is that Mr Abbott is devoted to failure.  A surprising theory about a politician who fought so hard to win the 2013 election, don’t you think?

This is what Crikey’s correspondent-at-large had to say early in his rant:

Whatever else Tony Abbott has or has not, fidelity he’s got. But what is it fidelity to? The man appeared in our national politics as a graduate of the Santamaria school of insurgents, championing a form of social conservatism more inflected with continental Catholic European reaction than most. In 2009, this writer noted, that those who sought to assimilate Abbott’s politics to an Anglo-American Burkean conservative tradition had it hopelessly wrong: Abbott’s social imagination was in the spirit of The Executioner, De Maistre’s key text of European conservatism. Nothing since has served to prove that wrong. Abbott’s final, fatal screw-up — offering a knighthood to Sir Prince Philip — was in De Maistre’s spirit.

Society, in this conspectus, must have transcendent institutions, created in a spirit of fidelity to the ideal, defending it from all comers. Absurdity is no disqualification; quite the contrary. “I believe it because it is absurd,” the early church father Tertullian noted of faith in the Trinity. Devotion to the ideal of Sir Prince Philip is simply the milk-and-water earthly reflection of that for a Catholic knight stuck in an Anglican polity, and making the best of it.

What a load of absolute tosh. By the way, Tony Abbott is not a Catholic knight. Comrade Rundle just made this up. MWD did not support Tony Abbott’s decision to give Prince Philip a Knight Order of Australia. However, many nations have given Prince Philip a knighthood, including New Zealand, without acting in the spirit of De Maistre. Here’s how Crikey’s Marxist comedian finished his over-written rant:

Abbott has been a would-be Pope Julius II, Savonarola, De Maistre, a Guy Crouchback, latterly an Iago, of which Australian politics has no shortage. But now one has to raid popular culture for a register: he is Gareth/Dwight Schrute from The Office, the awkward, perpetual work-around man, fantasising secret missions in the reserve army that will not have him.

The truth is, that beneath the religious sanctity, the purity of spirit that Abbott seeks through serial failure, is a less creditable motive: pure, modern, secular narcissism. Abbott perhaps believed that he could go to the backbench and be some sort of austere presence of principle, a Jack Lang, throwing a long shadow.  But he is the exact opposite: a joke, a gargoyle hanging among the buttresses of the backbenches, a jester whose outsize features are redolent of Mr Punch. To call Abbott and his new companion Barnaby Joyce “Statler and Waldorf” is an insult to muppets. At least the muppets can keep a show on the road. Time to move on Tone, for our sake and yours. It isn’t funny any more.

Nurse Jackie’s Analysis

Crikey’s Guy Rundle presents as a wearisome insecure name-dropper who likes to flash his alleged knowledge about the likes of Savonarola and De Maistre.  This appears to be a condition he developed as a student at Brighton Grammar all those years ago.  There is also evidence of the psychological condition of projection.  Your man Rundle is projecting the fact that he is not funny anymore to matters Abbott.  I would recommend that, before writing his next long prolix column for Crikey, Comrade Rundle is provided with half a dozen Gin & Tonics.  This should diminish his need to name drop.  If not, add more Gin.




As mentioned earlier, the baying mob that is the Q&A audience was in no mood to listen to any panel member who suggested that there might be a problem with African crime gangs in Melbourne.  When Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said recently that some people in Melbourne were terrified at the prospect of going out at night – he was mocked by the self-proclaimed progressives of Melbourne.  Most notably by Victoria Supreme Court judge, Lex Lasry.

Let’s go to the transcript when Virginia Trioli asked Herald Sun journalist Andrew Rule about the issue on Q&A last Monday:

Andrew Rule: I think Peter Dutton was ill-advised in using that sort of hyperbole. However, I can see why people do use that sort of hyperbole. What I thought was also ill-advised was the judge, who shall remain nameless, who tweeted from a restaurant in Mansfield – you know, basically the snow capital of Victoria, where wealthy, middle-class judges with vintage Porsches that they race on weekends drive up there and drink $200 bottles of pinot noir and then, after having consumed a couple,….tweets out something silly like: “There are citizens out for dinner in Mansfield.”

Well, there are. But that really misses the point. It’s the citizens of some other places who, with due respect to everybody, were feeling the pinch a bit –  because there were car-jackings, there were home invasions, there were serious things that did for a while, 18 months ago, a year ago, become the subject of conversation everywhere I went. And for good reason – because it was happening. And everybody knew somebody that had had a brush with it, including me.

It’s about time that someone called out Justice Lex Lasry for declaring that the good (affluent) Melbourne folk visiting Mansfield (which is a country town to the north of Melbourne) feel safe in their expensive restaurants at night and implying that this is somehow relevant to those of lesser means who live in, say, Dandenong.

Andrew Rule: Five Paws


Jackie’s co-owners are out and proud republicans who believe that Australia should have an Australian head of state.

However, MWD has argued for eons that Australians will never vote to replace the Monarch while the Australian Republic Movement is led by a middle-aged man who wears a red rag on his head.  To wit, Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons – the Red Bandannaed One.

So it came as no surprise when the Newspoll in The Australian last Tuesday revealed that opposition to Australia becoming a republic has reached its highest level in nearly two decades. All on the watch of ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons.

The Australian Online yesterday carried Mocker’s “An Open Letter to Peter FitzSimons” which includes a new set of words to Billy Joel’s Piano Man – for example:

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And Bandana Man gives us a smile
‘Cause he thinks that it’s he we’ve been coming to see
Talk his usual predictable bile

And so on.  The Mocker goes on to document Fitz’s habit of mocking the religious views of such Christians as Israel Folau and Margaret Court while never sneering at such high profile Muslims as Anthony Mundine.

The Mocker: Five Paws




Jackie’s (male) co-owner watches the ABC TV Insiders program at 9 am on Sundays. In other words, Hangover Time. So, he pre-records the 9 am and 10 am Outsiders programs on Sky News and watches them in a block.

Unfortunately, last Sunday neither co-presenters Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean nor the (witty) Sky News newsreader Jaynie Seal discussed at length books they have not read.  A pity, really.  But there’s always next Sunday and, alas, the Sunday after that.  Here’s hoping that next Sunday Ms Seal will bring us up-to-date with her views on Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein’s 1953 masterpiece Philosophical Investigations – and offer a reason why the Vienna-born philosopher never cited Marcus Aurelius in his tome.

However, all was not lost last Sunday since Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius fan boy”) Cameron led off the program with yet another rant on Russia and the (allegedly) wronged Vladimir Putin. Yawn. Then – in what turned out to be very good news for MWD – your man Cameron’s rant tacked to a discussion about British prime minister Theresa May and her connection to Cleopatra of Antony and Cleopatra fame. Really. Let’s go to the transcript:

Ross Cameron: Now if we turn to the government of Theresa May, we find a person who came to office having voted to remain in the European bureaucracy when her nation had voted to get out. And so, she was stranded from the first day and she’s brought this completely lacklustre, divided approach – lack of impetus, direction and drive to her government which is completely stranded. And she knows she’s on a kind of political death watch. Her colleagues would prefer any alternative but no obvious alternative presents. And so, when this moment arrives of the Skripal event, the attraction to finding this path out of the bog in which she finds herself was irresistible to her and to Boris Johnson. And I believe they have embraced a big lie which is that Russian intelligence agents used a chemical nerve agent to attempt an assassination on British soil. I think it’s bullshit.

Cleopatra, 33 BC [sic] – one of the decisive battles of our culture and civilisation, the Battle of Actium, when the Second Triumvirate cobbled together in the power vacuum after the assassination of Julius Caesar. And the question was: “Who would run the world as we then knew it?” And that Triumvirate – with Octavian who would later become Caesar Augustus as one dominant figure, and Mark Antony as the other – met each other finally in a sea battle off Actium on the coast of Greece, with Cleopatra in alliance with Mark Antony. And for reasons that historians don’t understand, Cleopatra’s ships did not engage in the battle. But instead, bolted for the open sea and escaped. And that was – according to most historians – the decisive moment.

Cleopatra rushed back to safety, was hiding out in the Mausoleum, was fearful that Mark Antony – who had followed her in abandoning the battle – was fearful that he would murder her in the Mausoleum and so she’s desperate. In that axis she was at the moment of weakness, of greatest vulnerability and desperation. She announced to the world that she had committed suicide. And it was then that Mark Antony learnt that news that he was heartbroken, devastated. Fake news – he believed it, acted on it and commenced his own suicide before learning that Cleopatra was still alive. And he insisted on being taken to the Mausoleum where it is said that he died in her arms. William Shakespeare wrote the play Antony and Cleopatra in about 1607 to memorialise this tragic moment of weakness – of fake news.

And I’m saying to you that while Theresa May may not be Cleopatra in a range of other respects, she is Cleopatra in her levels of desperation, her willingness to embrace the big lie. And as one citizen in one allied country, I’m just saying I don’t buy it. There you go.

Yep – there you go.  Or, rather, there he went.  Last Sunday, there was considerable news. At home, the Newspoll was approaching what could (and did) lead to Malcolm Turnbull’s thirtieth Newspoll in a row in which the Coalition trailed Labor.  Meanwhile in the Middle East, there was tension on the Gaza-Israel border.  And yet Ross Cameron led off Outsiders last Sunday with a garrulous rant on Russia which led to a Year 12 Essay-style lecture about Antony and Cleopatra.  Or was it Cleopatra and Antony?

According to the Outsiders co-presenter, it was Cleopatra who invented FAKE NEWS when she announced her (alleged) suicide all those centuries ago.  This despite the fact that the woman in question did not run a media outlet.  And according to your man Cameron, the British prime minister Theresa May is into a Cleopatra-style BIG LIE.  His evidence? None at all.  After all, why let facts spoil a good rant?


It was much the same at the start of Outsiders’ second hour when Ross Cameron did another rant – this time in support of Julian Assange, who appears to have taken up a post as Australian plenipotentiary to the government of Ecuador, London Branch (right around the corner from Harrods). This is part of what he had to say:

Ross Cameron: From New York to Italy to journalist from La Repubblica newspaper, Stefania Maurizi, who has previously joined us on Outsiders when she led the campaign asking the UK government to hand over information relating to the detention of Australian citizen Julian Assange. She was unsuccessful in extracting information from – well she got some, but not much because we learnt the UK crown prosecutor’s office had deleted a whole tranche of emails from the key executive managing the effort – the collusive effort – between the UK, the US and the Swedish government to make sure Julian Assange was kept without sunlight.

What a load of absolute tosh. There is no evidence that the governments of Britain, the United States and Sweden have colluded “to make sure Julian Assange was kept without sunlight”. The fact is that your man Assange skipped bail in England and voluntarily entered the Embassy of Ecuador in London to escape justice. In short, Julian Assange has kept himself out of the sun.

Julian Assange seems to believe that if he rails at the British government he will get what he wants.  It’s called delusional behaviour.  The easiest way for your man Assange to get sunlight is to hand himself over to English authorities and accept what penalty a judge hands down for skipping bail.  Then he could appear as a mystery guest on Outsiders and talk to Ross Cameron about what a great chap Vladimir Putin is and how the creation of new Russian Empire would be good for all of us (while acknowledging the historical importance of Marcus Aurelius).



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).



There was enormous interest in the “Documentation” section of last week’s MWD which re-printed Gerard Henderson’s eleven questions of 6 June 2017 to ABC star reporter Louise Milligan concerning her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017). Ms Milligan refused to answer any of the straightforward questions and, instead, sought protection of her publisher – the formidable Louise Adler.  Ms Adler told Hendo that everything in Cardinal was correct and Ms Milligan did not have to answer any questions about her research or her writing in this instance. [Convenient, eh?  Where do authors get publishers like the formidable Ms Adler? – outside of MUP of course. – MWD Editor.]

However, Louise Milligan did subject herself to soft interviews with some of her besties at the ABC.  Including Jon Faine’s The Conversation Hour where the author was interviewed by Mr Faine on 17 May 2017. MWD published this photo last week of Louise Milligan with a guest who was interviewed after her along with a co-presenter.  Here’s the photo:

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.


It turned out that, last Saturday, the Herald Sun’s “Page 13” ran a version of the same photo with the heading “Magistrate’s Radio Chat Causes Conversation Over Pell Case”.  Alice Coster’s piece commenced as follows: “This is the photo that has legal eagles in a fine flap with one describing events surrounding it as ‘gobsmacking’.”

After reading the Herald Sun, Gerard Henderson wrote to Sally Jackson (the ABC’s media manager) concerning the comments she gave to the Herald Sun with respect to Louise Milligan. Now read on:


Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 11 April 2018

Good morning Sally

I am interested in your comment which was quoted by Alice Coster in the Herald Sun’s print edition of Saturday 7 April 2018 concerning ABC journalist Louise Milligan.

As you will be aware, last Saturday the Herald Sun printed a photo of Magistrate Belinda Wallington and Louise Milligan outside the ABC’s Southbank studio in May 2017.  In my Media Watch Dog blog last Friday (5 April 2018), I published an uncropped version of this photo which included Lyn Allison.

Alice Coster concluded her “Page 13” piece as follows:

Magistrates Court spokeswoman Sharon Rainsbury said the issue had been declared and neither the prosecution nor defence had sought to have Wallington recused.  ABC spokeswoman Sally Jackson said that Milligan and Wallington never discussed the case.

“(They) were interviewed on ABC radio as part of Law Week in May 2017, before any charges were laid against Cardinal George Pell,” Ms Jackson said.

“They did not discuss specific allegations against Cardinal Pell, on air or off.  They have not spoken before or since that interview.”

According to this report, you told the Herald Sun that Ms Wallington and Ms Milligan never discussed the Cardinal George Pell case when they met at the ABC.  As you know, when the photograph was taken on 15 May 2017 no charges had been laid against Cardinal George Pell by Victoria Police. So, in this sense, there was no “case” at the time.

You are subsequently quoted in direct speech as having said that Louise Milligan and Belinda Wallington “did not discuss specific allegations against Cardinal Pell [emphasis added].”

I accept that Ms Milligan and Ms Wallington did not discuss “specific allegations” with respect to Cardinal Pell. My question is a broader one.

Namely, did Ms Milligan and Ms Wallington exchange any comments of any kind on Louise Milligan’s book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017).  As you will be aware, Ms Milligan was invited on to Jon Faine’s The Conversation Hour to discuss her recently published book – and the photograph was taken either before or after her interview with Jon Faine.

To repeat, what is a straight forward question. Did Ms Milligan engage in any conversation with Ms Wallington about the book Cardinal when they met at the ABC on 15 May 2017?  A simple “yes” or “no” answer will suffice.

I look forward to a response by no later than the close of business this Thursday.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 12 April 2018

Hi Gerard. Louise has no recollection of discussing the book. I haven’t got a transcript of the interview so I’m not sure if it was discussed on air.



Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 12 April 2018



I note that Louise Milligan has “no recollection” of having discussed her book Cardinal with Magistrate Belinda Wallington when they were photographed outside ABC’s Southbank studio in May 2017.

Best wishes



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Louise Milligan says she has “no recollection” of such a discussion having taken place.  It’s a version of the “I cannot recall” response which many a journalist criticises. We’ll keep avid readers advised of any future developments.


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Until next time.

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