GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 436
14 December 2018
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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: 7:30’s trigger warning re satirist Mark Humphries
MWD to take a W.E.B
Editorial: The unnecessary death of Fairfax media
Can You Bear It? Doctor Ross Gittins arises; Wharf Revue’s Q&A Book of Boreman performance; Scott Burchill – News Breakfast’s man in a dark flannel suit
An ABC Update: RN Breakfast sucks up to The Greens & Fran Kelly’s forgetful moment
Hamish MacDonald’s Fake News featuring Virginia Trioli’s opinion laden rant against Dan Tehan
Phillip Adams ‘Life Viewpoint’ column from the Gates of Hell as told to Jackie
The Fitz Files: The Red Bandannaed’s One “over the top” confession
Documentation: How pedophile allegations against high profile individuals in Britain have collapsed & Dee Madigan’s Wentworth howler
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“ONE JOKE” HUMPHRIES DOES A RE-CYCLE ON 7.30
Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) is a trigger-warning kind of guy. That’s why Jackie’s (male) co-owner really appreciated ABC TV 7.30 presenter Laura Tingle’s introduction to Mark Humphries’ piece at the end of the program last night. Here it is:
Laura Tingle, Presenter: If the polls are to be believed, next year’s election is shaping up to be unlosable for Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. But one Labor strategist – who bears a striking resemblance to satirist Mark Humphries – believes the odds of an ALP victory may be slimmer than they seem.
Darren Dunce, ALP Cock-Up Strategist: I received an urgent call from the ALP national executive last week and they said to me: “Darren, we have got a crisis on our hands. We have a stable leadership team for five years, we are leading in the polls by 10 points – but, Daz, this is the Australian Labor Party. How do we piss this all away before the next election?”
And that is where I come in. My name is Darren Dunce and I am the ALP’s chief cock-up strategist. Cock-ups are the heart and soul of the Australian Labor Party and I am proud to have been the architect behind some of our most easily avoidable mistakes.
Lotsa thanks to La Tingle for the trigger warning that your man Humphries is a satirist. A satirist with just one re-cycled joke, it seems.
Two things can be said about Humphries The Satirist’s work on 7.30 in recent months. He is always the pretend adviser working behind the scenes – sometimes clever, sometimes stupid but always egotistical and confident. And he targets either the Coalition or Labor – but never the Greens. Despite the fact that, right now, the Greens present as a suitable target for satire.
You see, your man Humphries fits the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s zeitgeist. In that he sneers at both the Coalition and Labor – but always from the left. To Comrade Humphries and his mates at the ABC, it seems that the Greens are a protected (political) species.
Last night’s satire set out to mock Opposition leader Bill Shorten over Labor’s ambiguous position on the Coalition’s encryption bill. Needless to say, on this issue Humphries presents as a scribbler for the Green Left Weekly.
On 7.30 last night, “Darren Dunce” suggested that Mr Shorten – whom he compared to a “vegie supreme pizza” – should appeal to the “pedo vote”, for a time at least. That’s ABC satire, for you.
MWD ON A WELL EARNED BREAK (or W.E.B.)
WITH LOTSA THANKS TO STAFF, AVID READERS AND THE MYSTERIOUS MR M.
As avid readers are aware, ABC TV’s top news and current affairs program Four Corners went on what journalists like to term a Well Earned Break – or WEB – on Monday 12 November. Which, when you think about it, sounds more like a Holiday. MWD abides by the Protestant ethic – without the Protestantism – and works late into the year.
This is the final MWD for 2018. The first issue for the next year will go out on Friday 1 February 2019 (i.e. before Four Corners’ scheduled re-appearance). MWD’s first edition for 2019 will contain “Jackie’s Media Gongs for 2018” – a hugely popular and prestigious segment if ever there was one.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner, along with the team at The Sydney Institute, wishes readers all the best for the Festive Season.
Thanks to all those avid types who forwarded material over the year. Unlike Paul Barry’s Media Watch on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, MWD is put out by a very small staff. Consequently it is not possible to follow up all leads, especially if transcripts are not readily available. But – as the late Dean Martin was wont to say half a century ago – “Keep those cards and letters coming, folks”. They certainly help and most are used.
Thanks also, to our full-timers Lalita Mathias and Anne Henderson and to our casuals Paige, Rubee, Hannah and Amy – who among other duties – help to put out MWD on Fridays. After lunch, of course. They are a highly talented lot.
And now a special shout-out to our volunteer proof reader who resides somewhere in Australia – the Mysterious Mr M. He does a lot to eliminate what MWD terms “John Laws-Style-Deliberate Mistakes”. But some typos are allowed through to keep readers’ minds alert as they consume a late afternoon Gin & Tonic on Fridays.
For the record, MWD turns 10 next year. It has been run in The Australian Online on Fridays since December 2013. By the way, Gerard Henderson’s column will continue in The Weekend Australian over the holiday season (no WEB for Hendo the columnist).
THE (UNNECESSARY) DEATH OF FAIRFAX MEDIA
Fairfax Media died this week after a long illness. Its newspapers – Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review are now the property of Nine along with the company’s other assets. Consequently, Fairfax is no longer a name in the Australian media – for the first time in close to two centuries.
The sad plight of Fairfax Media in its final years was demonstrated by Mike Smith (a former Age editor) during the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV News Breakfast on Wednesday. He showed a table which provided information about the top six newspaper digital subscriptions – as set out below:
The Australian 136,000
Daily Telegraph 114,000
Financial Review 110,000 (estimate only)
Sydney Morning Herald 110,000 (estimate only)
The Age 110,000 (estimate only)
Mike Smith explained the table as follows:
Mike Smith: This is a trend that’s happening around the world. And it’s happening much more with the quality papers. The really interesting thing about that list is that the papers that are doing relatively better are the ones at the top end of the market. And the ones at the bottom end of the market, the tabloids, are not doing so well. That means that people are more interested in quality journalism and think it’s worth paying for. The stand-outs are The Australian and the Financial Review. They now have more digital subscribers than they did print subscribers in the pre-internet days.
First a clarification. It seems that Mike Smith regards the likes of the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun as tabloids and the Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald and Age as compacts. The Australian is the only remaining broadsheet in Australia. In fact, the figures show that the tabloids (Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun) are doing better than, or around the same as, the SMH and Age compacts.
So how did once so great mastheads as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age end up in their current condition? Obviously there are many reasons – including the impact of social media on advertising. However, Fairfax Media was not without fault. Over recent decades its management and editors allowed left-of-centre journalists to attack its readership and advertising base.
Journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age constantly attacked and/or sneered at social conservatives who sent their children to non-government schools and who supported the Coalition or right-wing Labor governments. Like the ABC, Fairfax Media journalists tended to attack both the Coalition and the Labor Party – from the left. Also they were unfriendly to business – big and small alike. In short, Fairfax Media attacked their readers and advertisers, many of whom live in the suburbs and regional and rural areas where the papers used to sell very well.
Fairfax Media’s management in recent decades did not run the company’s newspapers which were effectively controlled by left-of-centre journalists and sometimes left-of-centre editors. In short, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are close to being conservative free zones – not as much as the ABC, but not far off.
It’s sad to see the current plight of such news-masts as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Recovery under the Nine Entertainment Group is a possible but difficult task.
Mike Smith is no particular fan of News Corp. But he gave particular praise to The Australian and the Australian Financial Review as having more digital subscribers today than they had print subscribers in the time before the internet. The reason? According to the former Age editor, the success of The Australian and the Australian Financial Review turns on the fact that they are at the top of the market and committed to quality journalism.
In addition, News Corp was the first Australian newspaper to put up an all-embracing paywall for its online edition. Rupert Murdoch and his executives trusted readers to be prepared to pay for quality journalism. And they did. Fairfax Media did not have the faith in their product that News Corp did in its products – with the exception of the Australian Financial Review which has had a paywall for some time.
In his commentary, Mike Smith also made the point that the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are only selling 80,000 copies each on weekdays. In a sense, this is no surprise since the Monday to Friday editions of both newspapers – now in compact form – consist of a mere 40-48 pages and go to print very early, which means that they rarely cover news-making events of the previous night (including nightly sport).
Compare a copy of today’s weekday Sydney Morning Herald or Age with the same product in 1978 or 1988 or 1998 – and weep. Compare a copy of The Australian with the masthead several decades ago – and the same quality journalism is there. That’s why readers are prepared to pay for the same product online.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
ARISE DOCTOR GITTINS, ARISE
Yesterday Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald ran a story on Page 2 titled “Arise, Dr Gittins: economics editor honoured” – accompanied by a photo of your man Gittins in a funny black hat situated over a red gown with blue trimmings. Or something like that. The unsigned story commenced as follows: [Hang on a minute – could this have been written by the learned doctor himself? – MWD Editor]
The Herald’s long-serving economics editor, Ross Gittins, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Australian National University on Wednesday. Gittins, who has been economics editor at the newspaper since 1978, was awarded the degree at a graduation ceremony for undergraduates from the university’s College of Business and Economics.
Gittins told graduates that even if they forgot what they had learned, university had put them in good stead. “You are left with a knowledge of what you don’t know and that’s actually quite valuable,” he said. “It puts you well ahead of those who don’t know what they don’t know. Even if you eventually forget everything you’ve been taught, that won’t matter much provided you’ve acquired the one big thing university education is supposed to leave you with: the ability to think critically, clearly and logically about the propositions people serve up to you and the solutions to problems,” Gittins said.
Fancy that. Times have clearly changed since Jackie’s (male) co-owner was a youth at Melbourne University all those decades ago. The learned (honorary) doctor seems to believe that if you go to university you automatically emerge with the knowledge of “what you don’t know” – along with “the ability to think critically, clearly and logically”. Unlike those that have never graced the groves of academe, apparently, who don’t know what they don’t know and are unable to think critically. [How did such tosh make it to Page 2 on Nine’s premier newspaper? – MWD Editor]
Take the study of China in the mid-20th Century, for example. Despite Mao Ze Dong’s forced famine in China in the late 1950s and early 1960s – which led to around 80 million unnecessary deaths, the overwhelming majority of university academics in the West supported Mao and the Chinese Communist Party at the time. Likewise with the Cultural Revolution which ran from 1966 until around Mao’s death in 1976 and which caused some million deaths and led to the purging of around 100 million Chinese – including intellectuals, academics and students. There was not much critical, clear and logical thinking contributed by the Mao Fan Club in Australian universities at the time.
According to the anonymous Sydney Morning Herald report:
When university chancellor Gareth Evans conferred the honorary degree on Gittins, Mr Evans said: “Arise, Doctor Gittins!”
How frightfully interesting. Hendo is old enough to remember the times when Chancellor Gareth Evans went by the name “Mr Gary Evans”. It’s great that Ross Gittins received his gong. However, it’s also good that he does not have as many honorary degrees as MWD fave Phillip Adams AO AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. Let’s keep it that way. No one should be able to out-doctor the ABC’s Man-in-Black.
As to Chancellor Evans’ “Arise, Doctor Gittins” refrain – Can You Bear It?
A REVIEW OF Q&A’s WHARF REVUE “COMEDY” ACT
As Hendo recalls from his school days of long ago, there is a line in a Gilbert & Sullivan opera where someone says to a professional joker: “Don’t you know that you’re paid to be funny?”
MWD was reminded of this when, on Monday, Q&A presenter Tony Jones ended the final program of the year with the following comment:
We’ll leave you tonight with the Wharf Revue shining a light on master deal-maker Mathias Cormann. He’s the Senate number-cruncher who couldn’t quite count the numbers when it really mattered for his wannabe prime minister Peter Dutton. Until next year’s Q&A, good night.
Yeah, good night – until next year. In fact, Senator Mathias Cormann was crucial in bringing about a situation whereby – following the attainment of receiving 43 signatures for a leadership spill – Malcolm Turnbull was forced to spill the prime ministership. He lost the spill motion by 45 votes to 40 votes. It’s true that in the subsequent Liberal Party leadership ballot, Scott Morrison prevailed over Peter Dutton. But Senator Cormann achieved his essential goal – namely, replacing the incumbent prime minister. So his counting ability is not quite what Sneering Mr Jones suggested.
In any event, Tony Jones and his executive producer Peter McEvoy decided to exhibit four blokes from the Wharf Revue to mock the multi-linguist Mathias Cormann with a song titled “The Book of Cormann”. Which rhymes with “The Book of Mormon”. Get it?
The Wharf Revue’s “The Book of Cormann” started with a real hoot – don’t you think?:
# Hello, Mathias Cormann here
# And I am keen to see if I could ascertain your vote
# Hello, Mathias once again
# It’s for legislation central to our fiscal strategy
# There are two sections, A and B
# But we’re not prepared to quarantine them separately
# Hello, I think the line dropped out
After this thigh-slapping humour, the Wharf Revue quartet – all acting as Mathias Cormann with an attempt at his accent – had such other witty lines as:
# Mathias Cormann, ja
# We need to lock this third amendment in without delay
# Let me check, Pauline
# Will you wibble-wobble on the vote again today?
And then their finale – which had Q&A viewers in stitches, of the self-inflicted kind:
# Hello, I think I can confirm
# Unrepresentative’s really too polite a term
# I could leave behind
# The f-cking daily grind
# And you can bet when I resign
# I’m gonna write a book – Hello
# I’m gonna write a book
# I’m gonna write a book
# I’m gonna write a book
# I’m gonna write a book
# I’m gonna write a book
# The Book of
# Hello! #
Groan. Yawn. Hello! How funny is this? Can You Bear It?
SCOTT BURCHILL DRESSES UP ON NEWS BREAKFAST AFTER HIS TIP OF CHOICE CLOSES – APPARENTLY
Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the last appearance of the year on the ABC TV News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment of Scott Burchill – who, in a brilliant career, has risen all the way to a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne. Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) appeared on News Breakfast on Wednesday 5 December looking somewhat different than usual.
MWD’s view is that, consequent upon China’s unwillingness to take Australia’s waste, your man Burchill’s bespoke tip has closed and consequently he can no longer tip a load on the way to or from ABC TV Southbank studios where News Breakfast goes to air. In any event, on 5 December Senior Lecturer Burchill rocked up at News Breakfast sans his St Vincent de Paul hand-me-downs and presented as a business person going to a conference.
Whatever the accuracy of MWD’s theory, let’s go to the transcript to discover how Dr Burchill’s (apparently) new suit, white shirt and tie dress code was covered on Wednesday 5 December:
Virginia Trioli: Let’s take a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning. And we’re joined by Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Deakin University, Dr Scott Burchill. And take a look at this. Who are you, you spiffy bloke?
Scott Burchill: Well someone has to raise the sartorial standards around here you know….
Michael Rowland: So – do we take this that you’re going to a better class of tip?
Scott Burchill: A better class of tip, yes. I’ve had a look around and obviously I’ve got to improve my standards.
Michael Rowland: Yeah. You’re going to luxury tips these days.
Scott Burchill: Yes, yes….
Virginia Trioli: This is a sartorial trolling of someone who habitually trolls you. Good morning Gerard. What have you got on the list today?
Good afternoon Virginia. Sure, if calling for a better dress at the ABC amounts to trolling – then Hendo is happy to plead guilty. It turned out that the interview with Dr Burchill ended with a discussion about ties. Deakin University’s star senior lecturer Burchill boasted about possessing a tie – apparently, just one. And Mr Rowland boasted about never wearing a tie. As to the news of the day – well there must not have been much since the interview commenced and ended with a discussion of dress styles. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really. By the way, I don’t believe that the learned doctor has found a luxury tip en route to the ABC Southbank studio. More like that he was on the way to an interview about a possible promotion to associate professor. In which case, I hope that Comrade Burchill got lucky. – MWD Editor]
HOW RN BREAKFAST SUCKS UP TO THE GREENS
As revealed by Richard Ferguson in his exclusive report in The Australian on Wednesday, ABC Radio National Breakfast – hosted by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly – has been caught out favouring the Greens. Quelle surprise!
It turns out that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm asked acting ABC managing director David Anderson questions at the Senate Estimates on 23 October 2018 about the number of times Greens senators have been interviewed on RN Breakfast compared with other senators – in the year 1 November 2017 to 31 October 2018. The ABC has now forwarded the following response:
Answer: Between 1 November 2017 and 31 October, RN Breakfast conducted 99 interviews with Senators. The party breakdown is as follows:
How about that? The Greens scored 24 interviews compared with 16 interviews with crossbenchers (i.e. Senators Bernardi, Griff, Hanson, Hinch, Patrick, Anning, Storer, Leyonhjelm, Georgiou, Burston). As Senator Leyonhjelm commented on Wednesday:
Because of their fringe views, the Greens are rarely in a position to determine parliamentary outcomes in the Senate, so the ABC’s argument that editorial decisions are based on relevancy or newsworthiness just don’t wash. Whenever Labor opposes the Government, the Greens side with Labor. The rest of the crossbench are real decision makers, but the ABC appears to have made the editorial decision to de-platform them.
However, as Senator Leyonhjelm has acknowledged, the real problem in these figures is the lack of interviews with senators from the main Opposition party – the Labor Party. In the year under discussion, Ms Kelly and her team interviewed Greens senators on 24 occasions compared with a mere 11 occasions on which Labor senators were interviewed.
MWD has always argued that the ABC criticises both the Coalition and Labor – from the left. So it’s not surprising to have it documented that RN Breakfast gives preference to interviewing Greens senators over Labor senators – by a factor of more than two to one. And this despite the fact that there are currently 26 Labor senators compared to 9 Greens senators.
As to Coalition senators, well they are interviewed because they are members of the governing Liberal Party/Nationals Coalition. Moreover, as RN Breakfast listeners well know, Coalition senators invariably receive tough questions from Comrade Kelly and Co – unlike the Greens who invariably receive soft questions along with some members of Labor’s left faction.
Richard Ferguson reported a Labor senator as commenting that RN Breakfast was a “left-wing show” but he/she did not want to speak on the record lest they be regarded “like Trump and criticise journos”. Ms Kelly could not be reached for comment – presumably because she and the usual RN Breakfast soviet are on a Well Earned Break.
FRAN KELLY HERE – FRAN WHO?
The evidence suggests that, after all those early morning starts, Fran Kelly deserved her W.E.B. which commenced on Friday 7 December. Here’s an extract from her combative interview with Energy Minister Angus Taylor on Wednesday 5 December:
Fran Kelly: You’re listening to RN Breakfast. It’s 18 to 8. Our guest is Federal energy minister, um, I’ve forgotten your name for the moment.
Angus Taylor: Angus Taylor
Fran Kelly: No, I knew your name, it was your second name that escaped me. Um, to get these laws through….
Ms Kelly – enjoy your much needed W.E.B. MWD looks forward to you returning to RN’s “Breakfast with the Greens” next year.
HAMISH MACDONALD’S FAKE NEWS
IN WHICH LA TRIOLI RANTS AGAINST EDUCATION MINISTER DAN TEHAN
Due to enormous popular demand, MWD 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. See MWD 22 June 2018.
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On Monday 10 December 2018 The Age carried a story by Fergus Hunter titled “Curriculum has become too crowded, minister says”. Education Minister Dan Tehan was reported to have said that the national education curriculum is over-crowded. He expressed concern about a growing push for cross-disciplinary general capabilities – or “soft skills” – at the expense of discipline-specific knowledge.
Mr Tehan went on to comment: “That is not to say that there is not a role for developing skills like problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork, but those skills cannot be applied if someone doesn’t have the basic skills of literacy and numeracy.”
Pretty reasonable, don’t you think? After all, what’s wrong with an emphasis on children gaining literacy and numeracy skills? However, ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Virginia Trioli was not impressed. Indeed, during the News Breakfast segment on the program last Monday – when she and co-presenter Michael Rowland were discussing the news of the morning with ABC journalist Nikolai Beilharz – La Trioli did an anti-Tehan rant. Let’s go to the transcript:
Virginia Trioli: That [what Dan Tehan said] flies in the face of everything we’ve been told about what the next generations are going to need in terms of education. They are exactly those skills. They’re going to be spiralling through three or four different careers. It’s actually not about the subject. It’s about having problem solving, critical thinking, working in teams, having that creativity. It’s not about Maths 1 or Maths 2. According to all the experts in education.
Michael Rowland: What’s he arguing to the contrary?
Nikolai Beilharz: Yeah so his argument is, he’s saying that those things are important but that there needs to be a focus on the core – get the core right. If you can’t get the core right, if you can’t read and write, then there’s no point trying to deal –
Virginia Trioli: But it’s not an either-or. Teachers aren’t not teaching them to read and write.
Michael Rowland: So he wants both ends of the spectrum.
Nikolai Beilharz: Yeah, but he’s saying –
Virginia Trioli: – Sounds like the curriculum as it is.
Nikolai Beilharz: Yes, indeed. But he’s saying from what the article is saying, he’s saying that the kind of pendulum has swung too far towards the soft skills and away from the core.
Virginia Trioli: A mistake is calling them the soft skills in the first place. Go and talk to Google, Amazon any of those, they don’t call them soft skills, they call them the skills….
So there you have it. Mr Beilharz was prepared to report the Education Minister’s views on the curriculum. And Mr Rowland was prepared to raise points about the Minister’s speech. But La Trioli went into rant mode – and, somewhat agitated, dismissed Mr Tehan’s ideas as out of date. And just plain hopeless – in a highly opinionated way.
And yet Hamish Macdonald maintains that ABC presenters like Virginia Trioli “are not allowed to express opinions”. Fake News!
LIFE VIEWPOINT BY PHILLIP ADAMS (AS TOLD TO JACKIE)
On 1 December, Phillip Adams’ “Life Viewpoint” column in The Weekend Australian Magazine was headed “As it is in Heaven”. In it, Phillip (“I used to be a teenage commo”) Adams revealed that he had died and gone straight to Heaven – an entity he once believed did not exist. For ignorant readers the term “as it is in Heaven” appears in The Lord’s Prayer.
It seems that your man Adams did a Second Coming. He came back to Earth where he died again and – this time – was sent straight to Hell. The good news is that the ABC’s Man-in-Black is now filing columns from Hell. Jackie was lucky enough to get an early copy of his column next week – titled “As it is in Hell”. By the way, this term does not appear in The Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary.
AS IT IS IN HELL
I was wrong. There is a God – and she can be vengeful. And there is life after death. I’m embarrassed to admit that this column is being typed out in Hell. Where life – or, rather, death – is interrupted occasionally by the heat. Gee it’s as hot here as 2100 will be down under due to Global Warming.
Embarrassed, but not entirely displeased. I find myself in the company of a lot of people I always wanted to interview on my little wireless program on the ABC. Like Hitler. He is here. And Stalin too – I even told Uncle Joe how I was a teenage commo in Australia some decades ago. He seemed bored. Perhaps he tunes into Late Night Live where I have told this story a thousand times over several decades. I understand that the worst residents of Hell are played old interviews from LNL over and over again. It’s hard for me to believe that this is regarded as a punishment. But death, like life, is strange.
Upstairs, I’m told, members of the Heaven Club get a perpetual look at the Beatific Vision. You know, God the Father/Mother; God the Son/Daughter and God the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit. Whereas in the Hell Club we have to read my joke book over and over again. And also Proust. Sometimes I reflect that I should have sought forgiveness for my sins when I had a chance on earth.
Bumped into Mussolini this morning and we’re seeing Jack the Ripper this afternoon. Benito looked frustrated. His problem is that, down here, the trains never run on time due, apparently, to heat stress. Dinner tonight will be with Lizzie Borden. Apparently, she was in Purgatory with prospects of promotion when the bloody Pope abolished the joint and she got demoted. As I’ve said (many times) before – bloody Catholics. Mrs Ceausescu will also be there tonight and I’ll be able to tell her how I was a (teenage) Commo.
Satan? I haven’t seen him yet. But I’m told he’s not a bad bloke – as far as devils go. Anyway, he runs an efficient shop. I just wish he could turn down the hot air conditioner a bit. Still he’s a devil with style. Just love his all-black gear. I had my black jacket, black shirt, black pants, black socks and black shoes stolen last night. Could it have been Lucifer himself? Do sinners still sin in hell, I wonder?
I was hoping to catch up with Bob Santamaria but I’ve had trouble finding him. Likewise Bob Menzies, Margaret Thatcher and Pius XII. Pity. Here’s hoping they are not in Heaven. I’ll keep looking.
Great piece of news. Dogs go to Hell. But only mongrels capable of handling the heat. Like the Queensland Heeler who bit me when I was a kid in Kew just before I joined the Communist Party as a teenager. This means that Jackie qualifies and I expect that Gerard Henderson will join her down here. So I’ll be able to continue my practice by inviting Hendo on to the After Death version of Late Night Live every quarter of a century.
Back on Earth, I’d had good-natured brawls with believers on such issues as eternal damnation. For my part, I only believed in eternal cremation. But I now realise I was wrong. Down here, due to the heat, everyone looks the same – so the debate over “bodily resurrection” and how we will look in the after-life is irrelevant.
So I was wrong. Even worse, people like God-bothering Hendo (who is an agnostic, but never mind) and our happy-clappy Mark Scott (who was nice to me at the ABC) were right. There is a Hell. God decides who will come here – and leaves the rest to Satan. It’s a bit like an asylum run by lunatics – or come to think of it, the ABC.
Meanwhile, I must sign off. Lucifer has just asked me to tell my story about how I was a teenage commo to a quartet comprising Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Mata Hari (who also was demoted when Purgatory closed) for a hundred years of Hell time. At least I’ll get some enjoyment from this.
Hang on a minute. Is that Donald Trump who just walked past? Or am I delusional? After all, it’s so bloody hot.
THE FITZ FILES
IN WHICH THE RED BANDANNAED ONE FESSES-UP TO BEING “OVER THE TOP”
On Monday, Nine columnist Peter FitzSimons appeared on ABC TV’s The Drum sans red bandanna. [How strange. Do you think your man Fitz might have sent his red rag to the laundry overnight? – MWD Editor]
In a discussion on the proposed Indigenous voice to Parliament, your man Fitz had this to say:
Peter FitzSimons:…I actually feel my primary instinct right now [is that] I should be doing far more listening than telling. And so I’m very, very interested. I fully support it but I wanna know more. Like Kerry [Chikarovski], I wanna know more about it. But I think I should be listening not saying, you know. My instinct on everything else, I might say, is to be a bit blustery and a bit over the top. But no, but not on this one.
So the Red Bandannaed One has finally admitted to being a bit blustery and over the top. In this instance, self-awareness has arrived somewhat late. But it has been recorded in MWD – for the record, of course.
HOW PEDOPHILE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIGH PROFILE INDIVIDUALS IN BRITAIN HAVE COLLAPSED
There was considerable interest in last week’s Documentation segment which reported that Nick – who alleged that there had been a VIP child abuse ring at Westminster – has been charged with eleven counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud. Nick has now been identified after a judge lifted reporting constrictions but MWD will continue to refer to him as Nick.
Nick’s allegations included the claim that he had witnessed former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor murder a child. The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Midland and spent around $6 million investigating Nick’s claims – but could find no evidence of any wrong doing. In the meantime, the reputations of the late Ted Heath, the late Leon Britton, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor have been tarnished. The latter two received apologies from the police. Operation Midland was severely criticised by the former judge Sir Richard Henriques in a report to Metropolitan Police.
▪ Ted Heath Allegation Dismissed as Implausible
Meanwhile – as the London Sunday Times reported on 2 September 2018 – a woman, who also claimed to be a victim of a VIP pedophile ring involving former British prime minister Ted Heath, had her claims dismissed as implausible. Alexis Jay, chair of the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse in Britain (IICSA), made the following conclusion after examining the allegations:
I was not able to place any weight on [her] claims to have been the victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of people of prominence associated with Westminster.…None of the named individuals has any obvious or explained connection to [the claimant], and the strongest theme . . . is the fact that many have been publicly accused in recent years of involvement in historic cases of child sex abuse.
The woman claimed to have been abused by senior Conservatives at Chequers – the prime minister’s country residence – at a time when a Labour government was in office in Westminster. She gave no explanation as to how she came to be at Chequers or at such other locations as a US military base in Naphill and Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
▪ Civil Action Against Lord Janner Dropped
On 11 November 2018 Daniel Janner QC, son of the Labor peer Lord Janner, wrote an article in the London Sunday Times. He criticised the IICSA inquiry into the allegations against his late father which have been scheduled for hearings early 2020 – despite the fact that IICSA commenced operations six years ago. As Mr Janner wrote:
So eager is the inquiry to conduct its own quasi-judicial prosecution of my father it established a special investigatory strand [i.e. session] for him. All its other 12 strands [i.e. sessions] are devoted to the examination of failings by public institutions, such as the police and the local authorities. But Greville Janner, a dead man who cannot answer back, is singled out for individual treatment.
The inquiry’s manoeuvres against my father have been enveloped in a miasma of incompetence and procrastination. His strand was meant to be the first heard, with preliminary hearings in early 2016, but there was a delay partly because of potential overlap with civil cases, against my father. Predictably, those cases fell apart last year because the claimants were reluctant to be cross examined. That should have been the cue for the inquiry to drop its investigation.
Instead, it has ploughed on. Only a fortnight ago I learnt to my anger that my father’s strand is now listed for a three-week hearing in February 2020, almost six years after the inquiry was established. The nightmare will therefore continue for me and my family, as we are put through further prolonged agony, even though my father, the popular MP for Leicester North West and then Leicester West from 1970 to 1997, was never convicted of any offence or even subject to so much as a police caution. His reputation will be unfairly trashed again, and the inquiry’s loaded hearing will make a mockery of the essential principles of British justice. The presumption of innocence will disappear, as will the right to due process and the ability to challenge accusers. We have been denied the right to cross-examine vital witnesses who could have defended my father, such as his late personal secretary Pat Garner.
No credibility can be attached to the allegations against him. The 1991 smear arose from the attempt by [Frank] Beck, a head of Leicestershire children’s homes, to distract attention from his own guilt, using a boy in his care as an accomplice. As Beck’s prison cellmate revealed in 1991: “He said he had got one of the kids to say that Greville Janner had taken him to Scotland and buggered him. That would throw the light off him. He wanted as much publicity as possible to divert the interest away from him.” Beck’s devious strategy did not work. The jury believed my father.
There were just as many lies in the claims peddled against my father in the post Savile era, driven by the fashionable belief that accusers must automatically be believed. The lack of any real evidence was exposed by the subsequent abandonment of all civil actions against my father. Some of the supposed victims were deluded fantasists; others were on the quest for compensation. He was in Australia when the most serious allegations were said to have taken place….
The allegations against high profile individuals in Britain by the likes of Nick and the unidentified woman have been dismissed by authorities. The inquiry into the late Lord Janner drags on – despite the lack of evidence as to his guilt. However, claimants who sought civil damages from the Janner estate have dropped their actions.
There are victims of child sexual assault who make accurate allegations. And there are victims who speak what they believe to be the truth but who have bad memories – particularly when it comes to identity. And there are fantasists who, for whatever reasons, just make things up. The evidence from Britain is that VIPs are particularly vulnerable to accusations by fantasists and/or those seeking financial gain out of settlements with respect to both the living and the dead.
DEE MADIGAN’S WENTWORTH HOWLER
Wasn’t it great to see MWD fave Dee Madigan on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live last Sunday. Let’s go to the segment on Sky News After Dark when Ms Madigan spoke about the Wentworth by-election of recent memory:
Dee Madigan: Kerryn Phelps won because she is what Wentworth has always voted for. You know, a progressive view but economically conservative.
No so. Sure, recent members for Wentworth include John Hewson and Malcolm Turnbull. However, the following members for Wentworth since the end of the Second World War were not Kerryn Phelps-type “progressive small `l’ liberals”. Namely Leslie Bury, Robert Ellicott, Peter Coleman, Andrew Thomson and Peter King (who Malcolm Turnbull rolled following the biggest branch-stack in Liberal Party history).
Jackie’s (male) co-owner thought avid readers would like to contemplate this during the festive season.
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Until next time – after a Gin & Tonic or more.
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