ISSUE – NO. 415

20 July 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: Hamish Macdonald & Tom Ballard

  • The Canberra Press Gallery’s Apology re Its Past Putin Shirt-Front Position

  • MWD Exclusive: The ABC’s Suzanne Smith’s Contradictory Position on Commenting re the DPP v Wilson Decision

  • Can You Bear It? Natalie Reilly; Michael Koziol; Paul Kennedy; Paul Bongiorno & PVO

  • Abbott Phobia Clinic: Queensland University’s Dr Dan Cameron Presents (via The Conversation)

  • New Segment: Hamish Macdonald’s Fake News Starring Jon Faine

  • Outside Outsiders: No MI6 Conspiracy this Week but a 19 Minute Rant Instead

  • Pedantry Pit-Stop: Keith McLennan Helps Out

  • Correspondence: Dr David Storrs Comes Up for More on the Israeli Defence Force & Ben Chifley

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This morning was Hamish Macdonald’s last gig as presenter of ABC Radio National Breakfast – for a while at least.  From Monday, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly is back in the presenter’s chair.

Your man Macdonald is somewhat short on self-awareness – as illustrated by his comment this morning on his inability to get numerous interviewees on air to discuss the Commonwealth government funding for Catholic schools. Let’s go to the transcript:

Hamish Macdonald: Now I should point out, RN Breakfast extended invitations to the Catholic archbishops, the Catholic Education Commission, Steven Elder from the Catholic Education Melbourne and the National and State Catholic education parent bodies – as well as the Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham. All declined to be interviewed about yesterday’s meeting [with the Prime Minister]. I’m not sure what that tells us, but it probably tells us something.

Well yes. But possibly not what Mr Macdonald seems to imagine.  Perhaps it could tell us all that some talent declines to appear on RN Breakfast because Mr Macdonald asks questions of various quality. He then insists that all are answered – even the ones that make little sense or are repetitive. In short, Hamish Macdonald engages in cross-examination rather than discussion.  Why should anyone bother to go on RN Breakfast to be subjected to never ending (and boring) assertions like – “But you haven’t answered my question.”  The time would be better spent walking a canine or planning for Gin & Tonic time.

As it turned out, RN Breakfast this morning had to be content with interviewing Peter Goss, the director of the (partly) taxpayer funded Grattan Institute’s school education program.  Here’s a highlight from the interview:

Hamish Macdonald: So are Catholic schools, or is the Catholic system essentially saying: “We want our fees to be lower than other independent schools regardless of the wealth of the parents who send their kids to these schools – and because we want to do that the taxpayer should subsidise it”?

Peter Goss: I think that is a fair characterisation. Their philosophy is that everyone should be able to afford to go to Catholic schools if they want to. That means low fees for some but they’re interpreting that to mean low fees for all. And they are arguing for a system where all Catholic parents are treated as being alike regardless of where they live or how well off they are. That’s a little difficult to square with how we do means testing approaches in other areas of public policy today.

What a load of absolute tosh. Your man Macdonald’s suggestion that Catholics want taxpayers to subsidise their schools “regardless of the wealth of the parents” overlooks one central fact. Currently taxpayers subsidise all (not some) of the costs of governments schools – where the wealthiest Australians can have their children educated for free. There is no means test applicable to free education in government schools.  In view of such ignorance, is there any wonder that RN Breakfast could not get anyone from the Catholic Church or its various organisations to submit themselves to a Macdonald interrogation this morning?


Despite last week’s call out for Ultimo-ready Che-Guevara/Jeremy Corbyn admirers to attend the (almost) live performance of Tonightly with Tom Ballard last night, it appeared to be the usual (old fashioned) telephone box roll-up. There seemed to be more stand-up comedians on the stage than sit-down audience members in the studio.

Your man Ballard and his comic comrades only dropped the “F” word on four occasions [Can the phenomenon be explained by the absence last night of Greg (“Conservatives are C- – -s”) Larsen? – MWD Editor.] Meanwhile there were the usual (political) sermons. The first was on the (alleged) evils of coal – including the prophecy that due to emissions from coal we will “sink under the sea”. Brought to you from the ABC headquarters in Sydney’s Ultimo which largely runs off coal-fired electricity. Yawn. And another lecture on the danger of the Coalition government’s “My Health” scheme.

[I thought Tonightly was supposed to be a comedy show. If I need political lectures, I can always subscribe to the Green Left WeeklyMWD Editor.]

As to “jokes”. Well, there were three on “super gonorrhoea”. How funny is that? And one on suicide bombers. Ditto.  All brought to you by your very own taxes.


It was just four years ago that – to a man, a woman and a transgender type – we all deplored the Cold War bellicosity of Australia’s clerical fascist prime minister Tony Abbott. We regarded Il Duce Abbott as overreacting to the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014.  And we opposed any unilateral action against Vladimir Putin. Including Abbott’s proposal to shirt-front Mr Putin. It was oh, so embarrassing – and made us ashamed to be Australian journalists.

Mea culpa – in unison.  We now all agree – to a man, a woman, and a transgender type – that Putin is a thug who was responsible for the downing of MH17.  After all, any friend of Trump is an enemy of ours.  We propose unilateral action against Putin and, possibly, the Traitor Trump with a view to overthrowing Russia’s communist government.  And we hope that Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will give Putin a front-on shirt-front that he will never forget. And Craig Kelly too.

[With apologies to Private Eye]



Eureka Street has published two important pieces on the Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction and its consequences.  One by Fr Frank Brennan on 3 July – see here. And one by Alan Atkinson on 12 July – see here.   The former is a Catholic priest who believes that, because of his conviction, Philip Wilson should resign even though he has appealed the Magistrate’s decision.  The latter is a non-Catholic who appears to hold the view that no resignation is necessary at this time.  For the record, the Archdiocese of Adelaide currently has an Acting Archbishop – Greg O’Kelly – who is running the archdiocese.

On 18 July, Eureka Street ran a piece by ABC journalist Suzanne Smith titled “No media witch-hunt on Wilson”. Ms Smith was critical of the Atkinson article, writing:

The Editor of Eureka Street confirmed on 16 July that neither he nor Alan Atkinson had read the judgement against Wilson before the article was published. Atkinson’s article is not labelled as “opinion”.

What Suzanne Smith did not say – and what the ABC has failed to report – is that Magistrate Robert Stone’s decision in DPP v Wilson is almost impossible to obtain.  In order to read the judgment – and after numerous requests – Frank Brennan was required to travel by car to Newcastle.  At the court, he was only able to take notes of the decision, under supervision.  No redacted version of the decision – one of the most publicised cases in Australia this year – is available.

It is extraordinary that the DPP v Wilson decision is not available for study, in view of the fact that it is widely discussed.

ABC journalist Suzanne Smith is annoyed that Alan Atkinson wrote about the case without reading it. But she said nothing when DPP v Wilson was discussed at length on ABC TV The Drum on 3 July.  Presenter Julia Baird commented on the consensus of the panel – comprising Dee Madigan, Karen Middleton, Megan Motto and Stephen O’Doherty – in its support of the decision and criticism of Philip Wilson. But none had read DPP v Wilson – due to the difficulty in obtaining the judgement.


Can You Bear It


What a stunning piece by Natalie Reilly in the Sydney Morning Herald Online “Lifestyle Fashion Daily Life” section last Wednesday.  Titled “Was the Queen subtly trolling Trump with her jewellery?”, Ms Reilly covered what the United States media has described as “brooch warfare”.

Here’s the theory.  Queen Elizabeth II does not like President Donald J. Trump. How do we know this? Well, according to the story as reported by intrepid reporter Natalie Reilly, Her Majesty trolled President Trump with the weapon of jewellery during his recent visit to Britain.  Here’s how.

On her first meeting, Her Maj wore a brooch which was “a personal gift originally from the Obamas”. This was “no accident”. Get it?  The Queen likes President Obama more than President Trump.

On their second meeting, Her Maj “chose to wear a sapphire Jubilee brooch, a gift from Canada”. Get it? – this is allegedly the Queen’s way of saying she likes Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more than Donald Trump.

Then on their third meeting, Her Maj’s choice of jewellery was “the most damning of all”. She wore the very same brooch that her mother – the Queen Mother – had worn to her husband King George’s state funeral.  Well now. Case closed, surely.

This is what passes for breakthrough journalism at Fairfax Media these days – brought to you by that August Media company’s lifestyle editor.  Can You Bear It?

[Er no, not really.  However it would be great to hear Ms Reilly’s coverage as to whether the Queen changed her shoes when she met President Trump on the second and/or third occasion. And if so – what this tells us – MWD Editor.]


In Melbourne for Insiders last Sunday, Hendo bought copies of the Sunday Age and the Sunday Herald Sun. Page 7 of the former contained a report by Michael Koziol.

Titled “Shorten blasts ‘disturbing’ inquiry”, it covered the Labor Party’s response to the decision by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission to investigate Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM). At issue is whether CEM acted within its not-for-profit status when it sent out pro-Labor Party robo-calls during the recent by-election in Batman.  The Liberal Party did not field a candidate in this contest.

After reporting the Opposition Leader’s criticism of this decision, your man Koziol commented:

The minister responsible for the charities regulator, Michael Sukkar – who is himself a passionate Catholic in the government’s senior ranks – accused Mr Shorten of perpetrating an outright lie. “The ACNC is an independent agency and the matters and organisations it chooses to investigate are not directed or controlled by government,” he told Fairfax Media. “The opposition leader knows this but again has chosen to tell a barefaced lie.”

That’s all very well.  But what is this about Michael Sukkar being a “passionate Catholic”?  And what is a “passionate Catholic”?  And would Koziol refer to someone as a “passionate Muslim” or a “passionate Hindu” or a “passionate Sikh” – or even a “passionate atheist”? It seems that the Fairfax Media journalist is addicted to adjectives where the Catholic Church is concerned. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of adjectives, consider the case of Melbourne-based ABC journalist Paul Kennedy who appears on the ABC TV News Breakfast program.

Gerard Henderson has mentioned the ABC’s very latest editorial review in his column in The Weekend Australian on 21 July 2018.  Written by ABC editorial director Alan Sunderland and titled Analysis & Opinion, the editorial review reflects “on the difference between analysis and opinion”. Yawn.

By and large your man Sunderland reckons that ABC journalists get the line right between analysis and opinion. Quelle surprise!

However, Mr Sunderland found some fault in an article by Paul Kennedy posted on 6 August 2017 titled “The Catholic Church’s words ring hollow in light of merciless legal tactics”. It was a fairly typical rant against the Catholic Church by an ABC journalist.

Yet the ABC’s editorial director picked up Mr Kennedy’s “emotive and judgemental language”. Your man Kennedy’s emotion-charged language contained such word usages as “merciless legal tactics”, “ruthless reputation”, “outrageous threat”, “the intimidation worked” and “cities of riches”.

Alan Sunderland suggested that Paul Kennedy has used “emotive and loaded language” in what was supposed to be an analysis (not opinion). But then Sunderland declared that Paul Kennedy had “met the ABC standards” but could have been improved “with more attention to the tone and choice of language in some sections”. Er, that’s it. So despite the fact that the Kennedy language was emotive, it still met ABC standards. Can You Bear It?


Jackie’s (male) co-owner first raised Paul Bongiorno’s tweet of Sunday 8 July 2018 – where he called some unnamed “after dark panelists” on Sky News as “Uncle Tom lefties craving relevance” – on The Bolt Report on 9 July 2018.  The issue was also covered extensively last week in Issue 414 – where the following comment was made:

…what was particularly offensive about Paul Bongiorno’s comment was the use of the racist slur “Uncle Tom” – which was clearly directed at former ALP national president and occasional Sky News panellist Warren Mundine.  This is a term of derision directed at a man of colour who, aware of his own inadequacies and lack of class, sucks up to his betters.  The truth is that the Australian indigenous leader Warren Mundine has taken on leaders in politics (Coalition and Labor alike) as well as in business in calling for improvements in living standards for Indigenous Australians. For Bongiorno to call Mundine an “Uncle Tom” is an appalling slur – and totally unwarranted.

Warren Mundine – and many others – objected to the Bongiorno tweet. But the one-time Catholic priest did not apologise.  In any event, on Tuesday (10 July) the leftist Bonge took up his weekly ABC Radio National Breakfast slot where he was interviewed by presenter Hamish Macdonald. The previous week your man Macdonald had dressed down Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm for a demeaning comment he made on Sky News about Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.  And yesterday Macdonald complained about the vicious abuse of individuals on Twitter. He later sent out a tweet condemning “personal attacks” on Twitter. So, given the opportunity of dressing down Paul Bongiorno for the vicious, personal and demeaning comment he made on Twitter about Warren Mundine – what did Hamish Macdonald say?  Nothing – absolutely nothing.

On Sunday 15 July 2018, Warren Mundine tweeted that he had written to the ABC managing director and (so called) editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie – the text of his letter can be found here.

It was only after Ms Guthrie was involved that Bonge decided an apology (of sorts) was in order – as the following tweets demonstrate:


Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno)
16/7/18, 6:29 pm

⁦‪@nyunggai⁩ ⁦‪@RNBreakfast⁩ My tweet was in response to an attack on the ABC for only having “lefty” panels. I made the point that there is plenty of evidence to show Sky has “rightie” panels or acceptable “lefties” which was my intention using the term “Uncle Tom”



Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno)
16/7/18, 6:36 pm

I am an independent commentator and journalist, currently on holidays, it is passing strange that the only reaction to some who take offence is to demand one of my employers sack me.


Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO (@nyunggai)
16/7/18, 6:39 pm

⁦‪@PaulBongiorno⁩ ⁦‪@RNBreakfast⁩ It’s a racial slur.


Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO (@nyunggai)
16/7/18, 6:44 pm

⁦‪@PaulBongiorno⁩ ⁦‪@RNBreakfast⁩ I expect you to withdraw it and apologise. It’s a disgraceful term to use.



Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno)
16/7/18, 6:50 pm

@nyunggai⁩ @RNBreakfast⁩ I never intended it as a racist slur, as I explained, I withdraw any racist implication – something I abhor – and apologise for causing offence. I have long admired your commitment to indigenous social justice


Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO (@nyunggai)
16/7/18, 6:53 pm

⁦‪@PaulBongiorno⁩ ⁦‪@RNBreakfast⁩ I appreciate that remark but the term is a racial slur however you intended to use it. The term itself has deep racial origins and implications.

So there you have it. Bonge apologised by pleading ignorance.  Paul Bongiorno is asking us all to believe that he did not know that the term “Uncle Tom” – when used with reference to a person of colour – is a racial slur.  How about that? – especially for a long-term journalist.

Moreover, it took Bonge a whole eight days to make his apology. Now Paul (“I used to share digs with Gerald Ridsdale, but I don’t talk about it much”) Bongiorno has declared that he uses the term “Uncle Tom” to cast a slur on anyone who changes a previously held left-of-centre position and takes up a right-of-centre position. But, try as he might, Bonge cannot change the common meaning of words. And “Uncle Tom” still means today what it meant a fortnight ago.

An avid Melbourne MWD  reader has now suggested the use of a new term in the political debate. Namely, “Uncle Bonge”.  The suggestion is that an “Uncle Bonge” is a subservient leftie, devoid of commercial appeal, who ends up on the ABC seeking to remain relevant. [Could this be a reference to the fact that your man Bongiorno is no longer on the books at Channel 10 and has sought refuge in the taxpayer funded arms of Aunty? – MWD Editor.]

It seems that Mr Bongiorno is becoming increasingly bitter in his senior years. On 6 July 2018 he tweeted that “Australia has turned Nauru into Devil’s Island”. Earlier, on 12 June 2018, Bonge told RN Breakfast presenter Hamish Macdonald that Barnaby Joyce has a “beetroot head”. And now Bonge is saying that anyone who moves from left-of-centre to right-of-centre is an “Uncle Tom”. And this abuse from a holier-than-thou type (in a secular kind of way).  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of abuse as a form of argument, consider the case of MWD fave Peter Van Onselen – who, after departing Sky News, now has a number of gigs on the ABC.  Including a weekly slot on RN Breakfast – a position he shares with Paul Bongiorno and three others.

Here’s what PVO had to say about his one-time employer Malcolm Turnbull on RN Breakfast last Wednesday:

Hamish Macdonald: What do you make of Malcolm Turnbull weighing in on this issue of Sudanese gangs in Melbourne? That seemed to have gone away to some extent outside of Melbourne as an issue – but it’s suddenly re-emerged?

Peter Van Onselen: Yeah look. Whenever a prime minister weighs in on an issue it gives it national prominence. I like to think, maybe I’m too naive here, that this was an accidental dog whistle. I suspect what’s more likely is that the prime minister has heard anecdotally from a lot of Victorian Liberals about this. Now whether they’re right or wrong – anecdotally that’s what they’re saying. I’ve heard them say it to me as well. I like to think that he by weighing in, [he] forgot the significance of a prime minister weighing in. But his critics – and I can understand this because this is a dog whistle issue at the state level in Victoria – his critics are saying that he’s bought into it for this reason.

Now, there is either a problem with Sudanese-Australian gangs in Victoria.  Or there is no problem.  The evidence suggests that ethnic gang crime in Victoria is a  problem.  So the prime minister is just stating a fact that everyone can hear – and PVO’s claim about dog-whistling is meaningless.  Question (according to Hendo): When is a statement of fact, a dog-whistle? Answer (according to PVO): When you don’t want to hear what was said.

Can You Bear It?



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 Valley 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’s here to help, all the way from Gunnedah.

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Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the article on ABC News on 9 July 2018 titled “Thai cave rescue: Why do we care so much about those trapped boys?” by a certain Dan Cameron.   Dr Cameron (for a doctor he is) is a postdoctoral researcher in morality and social pathology at the University of Queensland. It’s not quite clear how anyone researches morality – but there you go.

Your man Cameron’s article originally appeared in the taxpayer funded The Conversation – which was founded by Andrew Jaspan [Thanks for reminding me. I wonder whatever happened to him? – MWD Editor.]

It was not long before the University of Queensland academic turned the issue of the cave rescue in Thailand to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Let’s go to the ABC News website to find out what he had to say:

Given Australia’s geography and climate, it’s not too difficult for us to imagine our children caught up in a natural disaster. It’s much more difficult for us to imagine our children fleeing their homeland and seeking asylum in a foreign country.

Ongoing humanitarian issues such as asylum seekers or food shortages on the African continent feel like immense challenges often placed in the too hard basket. Therefore, these issues fade away in the face of what we consider more pressing matters with more straightforward resolutions.

The labels we attach are also crucial in determining our response. For example, in 2016, former prime minister, Tony Abbott referred to asylum seekers as an invading force. This sort of language is incredibly damaging, because when trying to make sense of a moral injustice we immediately look to identify both a victim and a villain.

Everything is true in this statement.  Except for the facts.

Tony Abbott never described asylum seekers as an “invading force”. However, in September 2016 he did refer to asylum seekers entering Europe “like a peaceful invasion” – which is different.  Dr Cameron just made up the invading force claim. And Mr Abbott was not prime minister “in 2016”.  Moreover, he was talking about Europe, not Australia.

Two howlers.  Despite The Conversation’s boast that it is a “fact-based forum”, and despite the fact that the ABC boasts about its expertise at fact-checking. What can we learn from this? – MWD hears you cry.

Nurse Jackie’s Analysis

The Queensland University researcher Dan Cameron presented as a man who is obsessed with Australia’s 28th prime minister. Despite the fact that Tony Abbott has ceased being prime minister of Australia.  Dr Cameron suffers the delusion that the Abbott prime ministership extended into 2016. Also, the patient has a clear recollection of something Mr Abbott did not say. I would recommend that the patient tries to relax with the help of the medicine I am prescribing (2 x Gin & Tonic for breakfast) and advise that he avoids the stress of being published in The Conversation and on ABC News until both organisations engage a fact-checker for their publications.



Due to enormous popular demand, MWD has created a segment to monitor the accuracy – or otherwise – of Hamish Macdonald’s claim that ABC presenters are “not allowed to express opinions”. The assertion was made during your man Macdonald’s hostile interview on RN Breakfast with Senator Eric Abetz – the date was 20 June 2018.

On Friday 6 July 2018, the highly opinionated presenter of Mornings with Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne Radio 774 sounded off against opposition from the Herald Sun to the Victorian Labor government’s decision to establish a safe injecting room in North Richmond.  The Herald Sun described the project as a “rejecting room” and thoroughly bagged the idea.  In return, Jon Faine described the Herald Sun’s coverage of the issue as “crap” and lent strong support to the project.

Sounds somewhat opinionated – don’t you think?




Although the quote from Gerard Henderson that leads into Sky News’ Outsiders is somewhat embellished (see MWD Issue 392), it is one of the few true endorsements going around. For to say that Outsiders co-presenter Ross Cameron is “garrulous” is like saying the sun rises in the east.

Hendo was travelling over the weekend and did not focus on Outsiders’ co-presenters Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean all that much.  However, it is a matter of record that Ross (“I’m a fan boy of Marcus Aurelius and Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin”) Cameron did a 19 minute rant to camera during the 10 am episode of Outsiders last Sunday.  What was it about? Who knows and/or cares?  At least it wasn’t one of Mr Cameron’s Blame MI6 conspiracy theories.

Then last night Rowan Dean devoted a mere three minutes to the proposal of the Swedish parliamentarian Oldoz Javidi, from the Feminist Initiative Party, that all Jews leave Israel and be accommodated in the homes of Jewish Americans. She has since withdrawn this brain fade.

At the end of Mr Dean’s three minute speech, Mr Cameron gave the following assessment: “Good, but long.”  So to Ross Cameron, a three minute rant is too long – except if it’s his own.

Meanwhile the Outsiders Book Club – where people talk about books they have never read – is fading under new management following the departure of the witty Jaynie Seal. Caroline (“I’m the other Marcus”) Marcus was absent last Sunday.  She was replaced by Sky News newsreader Greg Thompson.  Alas, he was suspended by Sky News management soon after. Let’s hope it wasn’t because your man Thompson had really read the book he promoted during the Outsiders Book Club segment on Sunday.



Jackie’s (male) co-owner was born in Melbourne in a previous century – he’s not saying which one. On arrival in Sydney three decades ago, Hendo was surprised to find there were lotsa pedants in his midst. Mr and Ms Pedantry were worried about such big-issues-of-the-day as split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions and the like – plus obvious typos. This deeply annoyed Hendo – to such an extent that he found it difficult to put up with. There you go. [Well done.  Your last two sentences should drive Mr and Ms Pedantry to drink. – MWD Editor.]

In order to calm avid readers who are concerned about grammar and typos, MWD set up the hugely popular Pedantry Free Pit-Stop. This allows readers to talk about their frustrations with the deviations from the Queen’s English which appear regularly in MWD along with the occasional (not deliberate) typo. Here we go – again.

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The avid (but not uncritical) reader Keith McLennan took exception to the fact that, in Issue 414, MI6 on occasions was referred to as M16.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner assumes that McLennan Esq of Roseville was so upset by this historical outrage that he could not sleep on Friday night and penned the following missive at 5.52  pm  (around Gin & Tonic time) last Saturday.

Dear Gerard,

I was taken aback to read in Friday’s Media Watchdog, Issue No. 414, that Ross Cameron blamed MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, for nearly everything. All up, there were three references to MI6 in that edition of MWD.  I was even more taken aback to see “M16” mentioned no less than five times in the same piece. The M16, commonly confused in the media with MI6, is the U.S. Army’s adaptation of the Armalite AR-15 rifle. In this case, I am sure it was a John Law-style deliberate mistake.

Yours sincerely,

Keith McLennan


Gee wiz.  There’s obviously a lot of knowledge up Roseville way – since your man McLennan knows that an M16 is the US Army’s adaptation of the Armalite AR-15 rifle. Apparently, on Sydney’s leafy North Shore they speak of little else.  Meanwhile MWD occasionally presses the wrong key.  In any event, it’s great to have at least one pedantic MWD reader who resides in Roseville who can detect an I from a 1 late in the afternoon.

While on the topic of pedantry, how about the start of this letter received on Monday from another avid (but not uncritical) reader – this time a certain Dr David Storrs M.B.B.S.  F.R.A.C.G.P. D.R.A.N.Z.C.O.G..:

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your long and fulsome email. I stand corrected about mixing up [Ben] Chifley and [John] Curtin.

I feel obligated to correct your grammar at the end of bullet point seven where you use the singular of things and do not include a noun in the first part of the sentence. Perhaps you meant to attach it to the previous sentence by placing it in apostrophes….

Your man Dr Storrs (for a medical doctor he is) took exception to the following comment in Gerard Henderson’s letter to him which was published in June 413, viz:

You would only compare Israel today with Nazi Germany eight decades ago if you were ignorant of both entities.  Or deliberately making thing up.

Well done Dr Storrs.  He picked up that, due to a typo, “thing” should have read “things”. And he remembers his Grade 6 English lesson that taught him that you should not write sentences like “Or deliberately making things up” because there is no noun.  To which MWD says:

You would only take notice with what pedantic doctors declare about English usage if you are a pedant.  Or deliberately boring.

To read Dr (Pedant) Storrs’ letter in full, see this week’s hugely popular Correspondence segment.


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

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

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


As avid readers will recall, Issue 413 carried correspondence dated 24 June 2018 from a certain Dr David Storrs concerning, inter alia, a comment made by Gerard Henderson on the ABC TV Insiders program on 20 May 2018.  Being a courteous and well brought up kind of guy, Hendo responded to the learned doctor’s missives.  The correspondence finished on 6 July 20-18. Then, after a lull, the email trail resumed this week. Now read on.

David Storrs to Gerard Henderson – 16 July 2018

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your long and fulsome email. I stand corrected about mixing up Chifley and Curtin.

I feel obligated to correct your grammar at the end of bullet point seven where you use the singular of things and do not include a noun in the first part of the sentence. Perhaps you meant to attach it to the previous sentence by placing it in apostrophes.

However that does not deligitamise [sic] your view which makes sense as long as you realise that it is a rationalisation and you could not have any other public view. Only if you were as good looking and brave and intelligent as Natalie Portman (or as powerful and intelligent as Bernie Sanders) could you or would you criticise any Israeli action.

I personally do not care whether Israel is a democracy, a theocracy or an autocracy (or even a dictatorship) as long as it behaves in an appropriate way. One way would be to stay within its own borders in any part of Palestine. I can only presume you are saying that settlements were included in the reckonings of 1948 and that people can have their army on someone elses [sic] land. We should thank our lucky stars that we do not share a border with an acquistive [sic] neighbour intent on lebensraum (like Russia, China and Israel). I believe that Gaza had a tainted election that elected Hamas.

My expectation has always been not to get a reply to my complaint to the Israeli embassy that Mr.Regev had once said that the I.D.F. is the most moral army in the world. It is fun to just resend a ditto or “still waiting” multiple times in an email trail (which I was trying to attach to my email to you when I accidentally pressed send). I shall dig up the reply I once got from the Israeli embassy in Canberra from a fellow who must have been on the lowest rung of the food chain and had English and arguments and logic that did not display confidence in the Israeli educational system. So even if I ever get a reply it will not be worth anything (and my email would of course have been swamped by all the other criticism that they had received).

I think I said that my wife sent her missive to our Immigration Minister and P.M. and so I included Australia in my criticism of following political tactics that the Nazis used.

I sincerely believe that we should always be fully informed about what governments and government instrumentalities are doing. A free Press is important but it needs access to do its job as our refugee policy proves.

Why does anyone hide something from public view if they were sure it was a responsible or laudatory thing to do? Perhaps they fear that the general populace would express some elements of humanity and a moral code that would cause criticism and pressure to bear that they would not welcome.

The I.D.F. not only shoots people who have Press written on their vest but are not trying to get through a fence (perhaps you can also educate me medically and practically how a paraplegic in a wheelchair can get over a fence). I presume that Prisoner X is a fine example of a laudatory democracy and independent judiciary and free press in action.

Imagine as I do a world where Israel had not squandered the overwhelming goodwill that they had at the formation of the state. Instead they now have to scrounge for the support of small minorities in all countries of the globe.

Best wishes and good luck,


p.s.  I loved your comment that Australia had done nothing illegal in bugging a poor foreign country involved in negotiations over resources on Insiders today . I do admire anyone who can sideline any moral, humanitarian or principled approach.

Gerard Henderson to David Storrs – 20 July 2018

Dear David

I refer to your (somewhat pedantic) email of 16 July. Initially I should state that you did not merely confuse former Labor Party prime ministers Ben Chifley with John Curtin.  More seriously, you verballed me by saying that I once said that the Labor government of the late 1940s was “not… successful they were voted out of office”. You just made this up. It would be like someone saying that the Howard government was not successful because it was defeated (after 11 years in office). This is a nonsense argument and one that I have never used with respect to the Curtin, Chifley or Howard governments.

My position has always been that Ben Chifley’s attempt to nationalise the private trading banks in 1947 was a factor in Labor’s loss to Robert Menzies’ Coalition in December 1949. That’s all. And that’s true, as even Mr Chifley conceded shortly before he died in 1951.

In response to your most recent email, I make the following responses:

▪ Your comments about Natalie Portman and Bernie Sanders are incomprehensible.

▪ You are ignorant with respect to Israel’s current borders.  The area close to the Gaza/Israel border has been part of Israel since the creation of the State of Israel by the United Nations in 1948.  This area of land is not – and never has been – part of the occupied territories (which came into existence after the Six Day War in 1967).  There was no such nation as Palestine in 1948.  The area that became Israel was part of the British Mandate following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  The area of Israel which is within the 1948 Green Line was never part of a nation called Palestine – as you (falsely) implied in your email.

▪ It is true that Hamas won an election in Gaza in 2006.  But it is also true that Hamas subsequently drove the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza and now presides over a dictatorship.

▪ Your reference to the (alleged) Israeli diplomat in Canberra who “must have been on the lowest rung on the food chain and had English and arguments that did not display confidence in the Israeli education system” is just snobbish. By the way, how good is your Hebrew?

▪ You claim that the Australian government follows “the political tactics the Nazis used” is not only massive hyperbole but diminishes the memory of the real victims of real Nazism.

▪ There is no evidence that the Israeli Defence Force deliberately targets journalists.  Moreover, the IDF is not defending Israel from paraplegics in wheelchairs. Rather, the IDF is concerned that thousands of Hamas militants will bring down the Israel/Gaza border fence and attack Israeli citizens who live nearby.

▪ My comment on Insiders last Sunday that there is no evidence that ASIS broke Australian law with respect to its alleged activities in East Timor is true.

As far as I am concerned, this correspondence is concluded.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

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Until next time.

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