ISSUE – NO. 404

4 May 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: Stephen Mayne – Still a Former Liberal Staffer after a Mere 25 Years; Hendo and Tonightly – Front & Back Story

  • John Laws Style Deliberate Mistake Returns

  • An ABC Update: Osman Faruqi & Andrew Probyn

  • Can You Bear It? Katharine Murphy, Katrina Sedgwick & Crikey (including La Trioli and Comrade Rundle)

  • New Feature: Jackie’s Take on The Saturday Paper – Martin McKenzie-Murray’s True Confession

  • History Corner: Jonathan King & World War I + Ray Martin & Stalin’s Gulag

  • Outside Outsiders: Jaynie Seal Stars in Outsiders Book Club Segment + MWD’s Modest (Reading) Proposal

  • Documentation: David Marr’s False Prediction on the Cardinal George Pell Case

  • Correspondence: Tonightly’s Holly Muir Helps Out

* * * *



Jackie’s male co-owner was walking Jackie this morning when he heard Jane Norman’s story about the Liberal Party on AM – which ABC News has summarised as follows:

The Prime Minister is being openly defied by the Victorian Liberals to quickly settle on candidates for the next election – a delay which some put down to a power struggle between the religious right and more moderate numbers.

Sure, in the mind of many an ABC journalist, it is a truly shocking thing that Christians might join and remain in the Liberal Party. In any event, MWD was interested in the fact that ace reporter Jane Norman could find only one commentator to give authority to her story.  A certain Stephen Mayne – whom she described as “a former Liberal Party staffer”.

Well, Stephen Mayne was a Liberal Party staffer around a quarter of a century ago when he worked for one-time Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.  Mr Kennett ceased being premier of Victoria in October 1999 – prior to which Mr Mayne had a falling out with his boss in 1994.

Moreover, Jane Norman did not point out that in his last entry into Federal or State politics, Stephen Mayne ran as an Independent against the endorsed Liberal Party candidate in the Federal seat of Menzies.

If Ms Norman wishes, MWD can provide a list of “former” Liberal Party operatives. For example, Pauline Hanson is a former Liberal Party candidate. [Perhaps this then should have been placed in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment – MWD Editor.]


Jackie’s (male) co-owner got home at midnight last night after The Sydney Institute’s 2018 Annual Dinner at The Star – and turned on the recorded version of Tonightly with Tom Ballard which aired on the ABC Comedy channel at 9 pm.

It being well past post-dinner drinks time, Hendo dozed through the early parts of the program – which he vaguely recalls, included a bloke lecturing at large about anxiety and depression. How comedic can you get?

However, Hendo was jarred into an alert condition when he heard his name being used in vain.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Tom Ballard: One element of the show that some folks have criticised us for is all the filthy f-cking swearing that we do. One critic in particular has been columnist for The Australian Gerard Henderson. Seen here [cartoon image] being shocked by my language.

Over the weeks Henderson has catalogued the number of times I’ve used the rudey rudey F word per minute – by that I mean f-ck – per minute of the show. Which is a very cool and normal thing to do.

In December for example, he clocked thirteen f-cks in the show while in February, tragically, I was down to just nine f-cks per episode. To return the favour, I tried counting all the f-cks who write for The Australian, but there’s only so many hours in a day.

Now, the truth is, I wasn’t always this proficient at utilising cuss words. The ABC put me through some serious training for this gig. Myself and the whole team actually got to learn from an absolute master. Oh and Gerard – get ready to count.

There followed a four and a half minute unfunny sketch – it seemed like four and a half hours – where a pretentious designer swearing coach leaves Tonightly having successfully trained your man Ballard in the use of bad language.  How funny is that?  And would Mr Ballard have had enough material last night without MWD’s past coverage of the program?

MWD’s  point has been that the Tonightly team have a limited vocabulary and are in need of a print or online dictionary to go beyond the “F”, “C” and “S” words. It’s called being articulate. That’s all.

Due to the fact that he was well brought up and graduated in later life from Nancy’s Courtesy Classes, Gerard Henderson usually treats personal correspondence as personal.  So Hendo has not revealed previously that Tonightly with Tom Ballard was so desperate for attention that it asked Hendo to appear on the show.  The thanks-but-no-thanks response was met by another request.

On the second occasion, Jackie’s (male) co-owner was caught short without a dictionary. So, inspired by the fact that a comedy show can last for one hundred episodes on ABC TV where its main gag is to throw the switch to the “F” words – your man Henderson told Mr Ballard’s minders to “F-ck off” in a courteous manner.  As today’s Correspondence segment documents, sort of.



One of the most challenging tasks for avid readers each Friday – after lunch, of course – is to find a John-Laws-Style Deliberate Mistake in MWD.

Well done to Tony who identified the deliberate mistake in MWD’s hugely popular Correspondence segment in MWD 403.

The original presenter of Counterpoint on ABC Radio National was Michael Duffy, not Paul Duffy.

Congratulations to Tony – and lotsa thanks.



ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is determined that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster be more diverse – with respect to race, gender, social class and the like.  However, she cares nought about the fact that the ABC lacks political diversity – being a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

So it came as no surprise when The Australian reported on Wednesday that leftist and former Greens candidate Osman Faruqi has departed the pop culture website Junkee and joined the ABC in the position of deputy editor of its new lifestyle section website.  Yet another articulate leftist to join the leftist-stack that is the ABC.

The evidence suggests that your man Faruqi likes Michelle Guthrie but probably not ABC chairman Justin Milne.  You see, your man Milne looks like an Anglo-Celtic type – or, in terms of colour, white.  And Osman Faruqi doesn’t much like whites – as his Twitter feed indicates:

So, the evidence suggests that your man Faruqi does not like white people like ABC chairman Justin Milne.  If someone had made a similar comment about, say, a woman of colour – he or she would have been up before the beak, as the saying goes.  Meaning the Race Discrimination Commission.  But it seems that Dr Tim Soutphommasane (for a doctor he is) at the Human Rights Commission believes that racism never occurs when whites are attacked for the colour of their skin.


Here’s a transcript of an item on ABC TV News on 10 October 2017.

Jacinta Phillips: Tony Abbott has told a group of global warming sceptics that climate change is doing more good than harm.  The former prime Minister’s extraordinary speech has privately horrified some of his colleagues and it’s been called loony talk by his opponents.  Here’s political editor Andrew Probyn:

Andrew Probyn:  The Abbott crosshairs were trained on climate policy eight years ago.  Now in London, but well away from colleagues, he’s gone ballistic on the science of global warming…Tony Abbott, already the most destructive politician of his generation, now intends waging war on what he calls “environmental theology”. If this tells us anything, it’s that Malcolm Turnbull can’t do anything to appease Tony Abbott on climate action, which may even embolden Cabinet to pursue and deliver the energy policy it wants.

Andrew Probyn is the ABC’s political editor. If he had declared that Tony Abbott is “the most destructive politician of his generation”, in an opinion article in Fairfax Media or The Guardian or on an appearance on ABC TV’s Insiders program – this would have been acceptable.  But he chose to lecture viewers about Mr Abbott’s (alleged) faults on what is supposed to be a news program.

As usual, Michelle Guthrie, the ABC’s managing director and (so called) editor-in-chief, did nothing about a senior ABC journalist ignoring the division between reportage and opinion on ABC News.

On 11 October 2017, an ABC viewer complained about Andrew Probyn’s comment concerning the former prime minister.  As usual, the matter ended up at the ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs office in Canberra – which rejects close to 100 per cent of all complaints.  On 8 November 2017, as expected, Audience and Consumer Affairs rejected the complaint against a fellow ABC employee with respect to Tony Abbott.

So the complainant took the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  The ABC continued to defend vigorously Andrew Probyn’s comments.  However, on 1 May 2018 ACMA found in favour of the complainant and against the ABC.  ACMA announced that the ABC had breached Standard 41 of the ABC code in that the ABC had not acted with “due impartiality” in presenting news in this instance.

The ABC has not reported ACMA’s finding that Andrew Probyn did not act with “due impartiality” in reporting on Tony Abbott. Just as the ABC still refuses to report its very own case of historical child sexual abuse – re which see MWD passim ad nauseam.

Can You Bear It



While on the topic of Andrew Probyn, consider the support the ABC political editor has received from his Canberra Press Gallery bestie – The Guardian Australia’s  political editor Katharine Murphy.

Now Ms Murphy is one of MWD’s faves.  Sure she lines up in support of life’s fashionable causes. But she does so in a very nice way. Yet, behind her niceness, Ms Murphy is so convinced about the correctness of her own causes that she maintains that she can determine the difference between that which is opinion and that which is fact – or truth.

For example, it is a fact to declare that Friday 4 May 2018 fell on a Friday.  This can be proven.  But, according to The Thought of Murph, her opinions can also be fact – even though they cannot be proven.

Writing in The Guardian Australia on Wednesday, Ms Murphy criticised ACMA’s decision in the Andrew Probyn case. This is what she had to say:

Being impartial shouldn’t require a journalist to suspend judgment, and to pretend that all perspectives are inherently equal, it should require a reporter to apply professional judgment informed by a rigorous assessment of the facts, with the objective of informing readers and viewers.

The ABC’s impartiality code requires “a balance that follows the weight of evidence”. It also requires fair treatment, open-mindedness, opportunities over time for principal relevant perspectives on matters of contention to be expressed.

Balance that follows the weight of the evidence leads me, like Probyn, to an inexorable conclusion: when it comes to climate change and energy (again, the focus of his report), I’ve not, in my reporting lifetime at least, seen a more destructive politician than Abbott.

This is not an opinion, or a tantrum, or an abstraction, it’s a cool, rational, clinical assessment of the evidence, which is what I suspect audiences require of their national broadcaster.

Australia doesn’t need a publicly funded false balance factory. If that’s what the ABC has to be to be judged “impartial”, then we would all be better off if taxpayer support was directed towards different ventures rather than a purportedly venerable institution occupying media space for the sake of it. Trust is the key to the survival of journalism in an era when just about everything is ranged against it. Without trust we have nothing. And trust requires truth-telling without fear or favour.

So, according to Murph, her opinion – which she shares with Andrew Probyn – that Tony Abbott “was already the most destructive politician of his generation” even before he delivered the London speech that so upset the Canberra Press Gallery – “is a cool, rational, clinical assessment of the evidence”.  That’s cool.  And anyone who holds a different view – including the position that, on climate change and all that, former Greens’ leader Bob Brown was the most destructive politician of his generation when he defeated Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is just – well – WRONG. Since anyone who disagrees with Probs and Murph on Tony Abbott is just WRONG.

So there we have it.  Murph as the arbiter of truth.  Can You Bear It?


MWD just loves the appearance by Katrina Sedgwick (Director and Chief Executive of the Office of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne) on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program.

As MWD recalls, Ms Sedgwick made her first appearance on News Breakfast on Boxing Day 2017. She praised Pope Francis’ Christmas Message since she interpreted it as a critique of President Trump’s decision to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Pope was also complimented for his “progressive” stance on Israel and his progressive position on climate change. Quelle surprise! In the spirit of Boxing Day, Katrina Sedgwick also found time to bag the Catholic Church in Australia.

Katrina Sedgwick: I thought it was interesting too, contrasting that message with the message coming out of Catholic leadership here in Australia. Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop in Sydney, was much more locally focused rather than globally focused in his message describing 2017 as ” annus horribilis”. Which you have to say it has been – why not:

Virginia Trioli: For the Church?

Katrina Sedgwick: For the Catholic Church.

Virginia Trioli: I guess that sort of makes the point the critics have made about the Church being out of touch, focusing on their own misery versus what we’ve learnt from the Royal Commission about the experiences of powerless children.

Michael Rowland: Also copped a lot of criticism for conflating a couple of different issues as well, in that one message.

Katrina Sedgwick: Yeah, so really interesting contrast. And that positive press that the Pope has received globally….

So it was obvious from day one that the head of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image would fit in well as an occasional ABC commentator. She initiated the pile-on about Archbishop Anthony Fisher, gave the (false) impression that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was all about the Catholic Church and ran the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s line on climate change.

It was much the same on Wednesday when Ms Sedgwick had this to say about President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Katrina Sedgwick: Well, I’m fascinated about the North Korea – South Korea talks. Fascinating in The Guardian today, a couple of articles. Obviously, Trump overnight has been tweeting again, suggesting that the proposed summit take place at Peace House at the border of North Korea and South Korea between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in from North and South Korea. What I found fascinating was that immediately after that statement, Moon Jae-in is calling for Trump to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fascinating that tweeting can, you know, bring you so rapidly to the forefront of enabling peace globally. And I was just reading about an article that Stan Grant wrote some years ago, April 2012, when he saw Kim Jong-un talking when he first came into power in Korea, saying that his plan was to actually bring the two nations together. So, it will be interesting to see how it plays out if Trump is considered, whether Kim Jong-un might be as well.

So, Ms Sedgwick believes that President Trump’s so far successful initiative to resolve tension on the Korean Peninsula has been solely brought about by “Tweeting” and that a democratically elected US president should have equal qualifications to a brutal communist totalitarian dictator when it comes to awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.  Can You Bear It?

[Er no. Not really. Whatever happens on the Korean Peninsula, here’s hoping that President Trump does not accept a Nobel Peace Prize – such gongs are best left to the likes of ex-terrorists like Yasser Arafat. MWD Editor]



While on the topic of Virginia Trioli, thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the following piece which appeared in Crikey on 18 April 2018.  The reference was to the fact that, on Monday 16 April 2018, La Trioli presented 7.30 and then, due to Tony Jones’ indisposition, also presented Q&A later that very evening.  Here’s what Crikey had to say:

recent tweet from director of ABC News Gaven Morris promoted what he called “the greatest back-to-back primetime live performance in Australian journalism”: Virginia Trioli back-to-back hosting 7.30 and Q&ACrikey can now reveal that the ABC was so impressed with Virginia “eyeroll” Trioli’s feat of speed and endurance, she’s been seconded to the entertainment division.

That’s all very well. However, it was MWD which first identified Virginia Trioli as Eyeroller-in-Chief when it showed this image (taken from Q&A) in Issue 401. Here it is as a reminder.

And what about the piece in Eric Beecher’s Crikey by Guy Rundle, Hendo’s favourite Marxist comedian?  As viewers of the Sky News’ Outsiders program will be aware, co-presenter Rowan Dean has maintained for eons that he watches certain ABC TV programs so that Outsiders viewers don’t have to.

Guess what?  Comrade Rundle pinched your man Dean’s line in a piece in Crikey on 23 April which was attributed to Crikey’s correspondent-at-large titled “Guy Rundle reads the Oz so that you don’t have to”.  The piece, by Comrade Rundle, concluded: “I read the Oz so you don’t have to.”

Crikey is published by Eric Beecher who is forever banging on about the decline in journalistic standards. And yet his employees at Crikey are ripping-off the sayings of others. Can You Bear It?




Whatever Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper is – it is not a newspaper, in that it contains scant news. More like a weekly leftist house-journal. The problem is that The Saturday Paper goes to press on Thursday evenings. So when it comes out on Saturday morning its “news” is already 36 hours old. That’s why Hendo reads it on Monday – what’s the hurry?

So last Monday, as usual. MWD caught up with The Saturday Paper. The lead was a piece by Mike (“The Sneerer”) Seccombe about the relationship between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her friend David Panton and their individual and collective travel entitlements when Ms Bishop is on official business. Yawn. This story is old, very old.

The second piece, by Martin McKenzie-Murray, is titled “What’s going on with Credlin and Sky”. Really. The Saturday Paper’s Erik Jensen thought that an article by your man McKenzie-Murray (of what Paul Keating once referred to as the Hyphenated-Name Set) writing on Sky News after dark was worth a Page One run. This analysis was based on M-M’s viewing of Sky News “one evening during a spell of channel surfing”. Just one – he must be an expert.

It so happens that M-M described Sky News presenters Peta Credlin, Campbell Newman and Graham Richardson as resembling “Dickensian ghouls assembled to warn viewers of excessive pride”. Whatever that may mean. He also bagged Rowan Dean and Paul Murray, briefly wondering whether his own writing about Sky News was “redundant”. Good question. And then – as if readers were not bored enough – your man McKenzie-Murray thought it was about time to write about the subject he knows best – i.e. HIMSELF. Here we go:

… nocturnal Sky offers a fair reflection of the temper of current conservative thought. It’s a temper found, I think, in the conservative American columnist George F Will who wrote this lament last year: “Today conservatism is soiled by scowling primitives whose irritable gestures lack mental ingredients. America needs a reminder of conservatism before vulgarians hijacked it, and a hint of how it became susceptible to hijacking.”

Will con­tin­ued his de­scrip­tion of the tem­per as “sour, whiney, com­plain­ing, cry-baby pop­ulism … the screechy and dom­i­nant tone of the loutish faux con­ser­vatism”. Oddly, Will as­cribes this tone to the com­mu­nist apos­tate Whittaker Cham­bers. I think the de­scrip­tion largely holds for Aus­tralia. To this, I might add: mean, glib and sus­pi­cious.

I say this re­sent­fully. I say this as some­one who has, over many years, moved right. I say this as some­one who re­turns to Edmund Burke, and finds res­o­nance in the story of the fall from Eden. I say this as some­one whose grand­fa­ther was in Changi, whose fa­ther was in the air force, as some­one who proudly worked for Vic­to­ria Po­lice. I say this as some­one who sin­cerely – if mawk­ishly – de­sires the demo­cratic ideal of a bustling mar­ket­place of ideas. I say this as some­one who doesn’t recog­nise the Aus­tralia sug­gested by the most bleakly re­flex­ive rhetoric of left and right – one that re­sem­bles Trump’s “Amer­i­can carnage”. And I say all this as some­one who is slightly em­bar­rassed to write, how­ever in­co­her­ently, of his own pol­i­tics, know­ing them to be con­tra­dic­tory and con­tin­gent, and know­ing that they’re in­her­ently un­in­ter­est­ing.

Go on. Alas, he did. Hendo’s father used to joke that he had a brother in the Navy and a sister in the Wax Works. McKenzie-Murray informs us, in all seriousness, that his father was in the Air Force and that he himself once “proudly worked for the Victoria Police”. Does anyone really care?

At least Martin McKenzie-Murray concedes that he writes “incoherently” about his own beliefs and that they are not only “contradictory” but also “inherently uninteresting”. You can say that again.

But, despite this, Eric Jensen gave this self-centred, incoherent, contradictory and inherently uninteresting journalist a Page One story in The Saturday Paper last weekend.



As avid readers know. MWD is highly critical of Jonathan King’s efforts as an historian. Has been for decades – even in the days of old when he called himself “Jon”. So much so that Jackie’s (male) co-owner wonders why anyone publishes your man King’s work.

On Saturday 21 April 2018, Fairfax Media newspapers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra printed an article by King entitled “The battle that turned the tide”. MWD gave no more than a glance at this piece last week and merely drew attention – once again – to the fact that King has gone from running the line that the First AIF in 1914-18 fought and died in vain to extolling the virtues of the men who fought on the Western Front and arguing that they made a mighty contribution to Australia. Quite a metamorphosis, don’t you think?

It seems, however, that someone did read Jonathan King’s latest article on Australians and the First World War and advised Fairfax Media of the many howlers in his article. Seldom has so long and so grovelling an apology/correction been published in an Australian newspaper on a matter which does not involve real or potential defamation. Here it is – as published in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday (it was also published in The Age and The Canberra Times):

A story by Jonathan King last weekend entitled, “The little-known battle led by Australians which turned the tide of World War I” contained a number of factual errors. The article, about the decisive events at the town of Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day in 1918, told of an Australian counter-attack to re-take a town which had been seized the previous day by German troops. The story reported that then Major-General John Monash “delivered an impassioned pep talk” before the counter-attack in a “powerful use of Anzac Day” to motivate his men, and that his coaching had been successful.  In reality, General Monash played no part in the battle for Villers-Bretonneux, neither in the planning nor the execution. He gave no speech to troops before the attack.

The article also reported that two other Australian generals, Harold “Pompey” Elliott and William Glasgow, led their troops past the town to the north and south respectively. In fact, neither of those generals were with their troops; they remained at headquarters coordinating the assault.  The article said General Elliott’s men ran into enemy machine-gun nests hiding in dark woods. But Elliott’s men did not encounter German fighting in dark woods.

There were also errors relating to the actions of Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier, who won a Victoria Cross for his actions on that day. The story said Sadlier was with Elliott’s 15th Brigade, attacking from the north of the town. In fact, Sadlier was in the 13th Brigade, led by Glasgow, which attacked from the south. The story said the events that led to his award occurred in the “dim light of early dawn” on Anzac Day. They occurred before midnight on April 24.

General Monash led Australian troops to victory in the village of Le Hamel, six kilometres away from Villers Bretonneux, on July 4, more than two months after the events described in the story.

We apologise to our readers for these errors.

In short, everything was true in Jonathan King’s article – except the facts. Unfortunately, during two speeches at Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull repeated the error that General John Monash commanded Australian forces during the battle of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918.

On his website, Jonathan King describes himself as “The Historian who brings History to life”. Except when he just makes things up, it seems. For the record, Fairfax Media has said it has no plans to run anything further from Jonathan King. Which is good for Australian history but not at all helpful for MWD.


While on the topic of dodgy history, did anyone hear journalist Ray Martin being interviewed talking to Chris Bath on ABC Radio Sydney 702 on 23 April 2018? Well, an avid reader did – and sent the following transcript to Hendo:

Ray Martin: I did a story with Cathy Freeman up on Palm Island which is that sort of Gulag that the Aboriginals had to put up with some years back. And Cathy’s mum had been sent there with her family out to Palm Island, which as I say was a black Gulag. And I went out there with Cathy, she was back doing some stuff, and we did a story on Cathy and Palm Island. Which remained a sort of Gulag, even in the days of Gough Whitlam. So into the ‘70s it was still a place where black fellas were sent which is hard to believe, that we had this effectively apartheid policy.

The term “Gulag” was popularised by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his book The Gulag Archipelago. It is used to describe the forced labour camps created by the communist totalitarian dictators Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin after the 1917 Russian Revolution. The name of the institution which presided over the Soviet Union’s forced labour camps was GULAG.

Millions slaved and hundreds of thousands died from exposure to the cold, starvation and illness during and after their forced labour imprisonment. The gulag experience was at its worst in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

The Aboriginal settlement on Palm Island, which was administered by the Queensland government as a place to confine Aborigines who were said to have infringed against the law and declined to accept discipline, operated from the 1920s to the 1970s.  In 1986, ownership of Palm Island was transferred from the Queensland government to the new Palm Island Community Council.

It’s legitimate to criticise the former Aboriginal settlement on Palm Island. But for Ray Martin to compare it with, say, the gulag at Kolyma is John Pilger-like leftist hyperbole.


Alas, last Sunday’s Outsiders program commenced not with a rant – but with a whimper about something or other. Which is a pity – since Hendo likes nothing more than a ROSS CAMERON RANT at Hangover Time on Sunday morning which he can write about subsequently after a couple of rounds of Holy Water.

However, the good news is that the witty Sky News newsreader Jaynie Seal is literally loading up her bedside table with books recommended by Jackie’s (male) co-owner. Last week, MWD recommended that the Outsiders’ Book Club focus on Anne Finch Conway’s posthumously published 1690 tome The Principles of The Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy. And that’s precisely what she did. Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Seal moves from the news to Outsiders’ co-presenter Rowan Dean’s “Weather Report and Ice Age Watch”:

Jaynie Seal: And Rowan, it’s certainly been a very big week of news. It’s over to you now.

Rowan Dean: Thanks Jaynie. Now listen. I know you’re a fan of Seventeenth Century English women philosophers. But, uh, can you help me? Who said: “I have scarce ever met with any person, man or woman, of better natural parts than Lady Conway”?

Jaynie Seal: That was Henry Moore describing Anne Finch Conway, who wrote The Principles of The Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy. It’s a terrific read, Rowan. You know, most people, I think, often confuse her with Anne Vavasour, whose married name was Finch. But she was, of course, the Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I – probably a philosopher too, in her own way.

Rowan Dean: Thanks Jaynie. I do tend to get those two confused.

Jaynie Seal: No problem.

MWD just loves the Outsiders’ Book Club. Outsiders is the best place on commercial television to hear learned discussions about books that no one has read. Commencing with The Thought of Ross Cameron on the collective works (if a collective works there be) of Marcus Aurelius – and continuing with the Outsiders’ Book Club.

As for next week, MWD recommends that Mr Dean offer Ms Seal a special Mother’s Day present to place on her bedside table. Namely Søren Aabye Kierkegaard’s On the Concept of Irony with Constant Reference to Socrates (1841) and Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing (1847).

It’s true that some non-believing philosophers have found your man Kierkegaard’s Christianity a turn-off. But Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein once referred to the Danish philosopher as “the most profound thinker” of the Nineteenth Century – That’s good enough for MWD. Here’s hoping it’s also good enough for Jaynie Seal and the Outsiders’ Book Club.


According to media reports, following the decision of Magistrate Belinda Wallington in the George Pell committal hearing in which she threw out half of the charges, including what are said to be the most serious ones, there will be two separate trials in this case. One will turn on allegations concerning St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s and one concerning the Ballarat Swimming Pool in the early 1970s.  The media has reported that each trial is expected to run for around five weeks.  Robert Richter QC, Cardinal Pell’s defence counsel, has called for the cases to be heard as soon as possible.

Thanks to an avid reader who reminded MWD of the appearance of David Marr – author of The Prince: Faith, Abuse & George Pell (2014) and a vehement Pell critic – on the ABC TV Insiders program on 2 July 2017.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Barrie Cassidy: David, how do you understand that this will proceed from here?

David Marr: Well, um, there’s a lot of rhetoric around about how difficult it will be for this man to have a fair trial. And, without paying sufficient attention to what’s been done to protect his position—I mean, last week he was charged and in an almost unique move, Victorian Police did not say what the charges were. There are other, other things in place which I am not allowed by law to even tell you about. They’re widely known but I can’t tell you about them. I’ve got in my hands, by the way, the lawyer’s instructions about what we can do. But the care, the care with which the discussion of this man’s situation is being looked at by lawyers is phenomenal and perhaps rightly so. But, he is charged, we can say this—the lawyers allow us to say this, multiple historical sexual assault offences involving multiple complainants. Now the usual way in which trials of this kind then proceed is for there to be separate trials for each complaint. And in Victoria, the usual way for those series of trials to proceed is that none can be reported until the final one is resolved.

Barrie Cassidy: Because one might impact on the other?

David Marr: Because one would impact on the other. So, you could have a big trial which would be reported, or you would have a series of trials of trials that could be reported.

Gerard Henderson: Well they’re now—

David Marr: No, just a second Gerard. So, it is highly likely that though these trials won’t be called secret trials, they won’t be held in camera. But it is highly likely that the public will know nothing of what he’s accused of, or the results of any of these trials, for perhaps four or five years.

Gerard Henderson: Well David, you don’t know that. You have no idea.

David: Marr: Well I’m, I’m only going— Gerard

Gerard Henderson: You don’t know.

David Marr: I’m being very careful in what I say.

Gerard Henderson: Yes

David Marr: I’m not privy to the strategic thinking of the legal team.

Gerard Henderson: Right.

David Marr: But this is the way, in dozens of these trials which I have followed, is the normal course.

So there you have it.  In July last year, David Marr predicted that the outcome of “these trials” involving Cardinal Pell would not be known “for perhaps four or five years”.  And in it is now estimated that the two trials which will be held will take about five weeks each. Moreover, it has been reported that Robert Richter QC expects that the matter will be concluded by the end of 2018.  Indicating, once again, why it is unwise to make dramatic predictions especially about the future – as the saying goes. David Marr please note.

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


As readers of Stop Press will be aware, ABC Comedy devoted a significant part of last night’s program to Gerard Henderson and his Media Watch Dog blog.  Tonight’s gig will be a best-of-the-week format. So Issue 99 was the final episode in the first series.  Tonightly with Tom Ballard is scheduled to return to the taxpayer funded broadcaster in June. [I can barely wait. –MWD Editor]

Since Tonightly had fun with Hendo last night, he returned the favour by revealing that Young Mr Ballard has recently invited Hendo to appear on the “F” word-fuelled program. Yes, Really. Now read on.

Holly Muir to Gerard Henderson – 20 March 2018

Re: Invitation to be our guest on Tonightly with Tom Ballard

Dear Gerard,

My name is Holly; I’m the guest producer on Tonightly with Tom Ballard.

Tom and the Tonightly team would love to invite you to be our studio guest – to have a yarn with Tom at the desk about politics and the media. Tom is also interested in your insights into Tonightly itself and would welcome a really interesting discussion around right and left wing bias in the media. This will be an unedited interview recorded “as live”.

We’d like to extend an open invite to you, but we’re particularly interested in having you on the show at a time next week when convenient for you.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.



Gerard Henderson to Holly Muir – 20 March 2018

Dear Holly

Thanks for your email.

I do appreciate the invitation from you and Tom Ballard to be the Tonightly’s studio guest sometime next week.  As you may or may not know, I do watch the show on occasions.

It’s a tempting offer. However, I wish to decline the invitation.

By the way, I thought that Tom did well when he presented the Q&A program on LBGTI matters some years ago.  It was a stacked panel – except for one.  But Tom did a professional job in being fair to all the panellists and in exercising a degree of authority over the audience.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Holly Muir to Gerard Henderson – 20 March 2018

Hi Gerard,

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, I’m aware you’ve been watching the show and have been reading your write-ups.

I’m not sure if you have seen the latest Jordan B Peterson interview. I believe Tom did a very good job of being measured and being open to a discussion that others have been closed to, and Jordan left very happy – even asked to share the interview on his Youtube channel.

I think there is a discussion to be had about certain biases in the media, spin and oversimplifications for the sake of sound bites and I think you would be the perfect person to frame this discussion.

I think this will be a great opportunity to have a well intentioned discussion around the nature of how we digest news.

What are your thoughts?

Many thanks,


Gerard Henderson to Holly Muir – 20 March 2018


Thanks for your note. I did see Tom Ballard’s discussion with Jordan Peterson and I accept that Tom does professional interviews.

However, I accept very few media interviews and I have knocked back requests from comedians in the past. I happen to believe that commentators can spend too much time in the pursuit of publicity.

In view of this, there is no reason why I should go on Tonightly. In my view, on occasions the program is witty. But, on other occasions it is dreadful − witness Tom Ballard’s recent rant on the Catholic sacrament of confession and last Thursday’s segment on the Batman by-election. In view of this, it would be self-indulgent for me to accept your well-meaning invitation.

Best wishes


Holly Muir to Gerard Henderson – 20 March 2018


If you happen to change your mind, this is an open invitation.

Many thanks,


Gerard Henderson to Holly Muir – 20 March 2018

Thanks. Will do.





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Until next time.


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