GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 447
12 April 2019
* * * *
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: PETER FITZSIMONS’ DOUBLE STANDARD; MICHAEL ROWLAND WELCOMES KATE ROFFEY’s FLATTERY; RICHARD GLOVER MOCKS TONY ABBOTT; JUDITH BRETT: CONSISTENTLY WRONG ON LIBERAL PARTY
CAN YOU BEAR IT? THE WEEKLY WITH CHARLIE PICKERING’s PLAGIARISM BEAT UP WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MIKE BOWERS; VIRGINIA TRIOLI’s NEW ZEALAND OBSESSION
A BRAND NEW ENDORSEMENT- COURTESY OF STEPHEN KOUKOULAS
MEDIA FOOL OF THE WEEK: IN WHICH JON FAINE INVOKES THE HITLER ARGUMENT IN CONVERSATION WITH NICE MR SCOTT
GREAT MEDIA U-TURNS OF OUR TIME: THE DISCOURTEOUS MIKE CARLTON PRAISES THE COURTESY OF OTHERS
MONITORING THE 2019 ELECTION: STARRING MARK KENNY ON ZALI STEGGALL & TONY ABBOTT AS A TROGLODYTE
NEW FEATURE: JOURNALISM AND THE LAW: THE MONTHLY’s ANNE MANNE EXHIBITS IGNORANCE OF THE CRIMINAL LAW
AN ABC UPDATE: Q&A- WHERE TONY JONES ASKS MOST OF THE QUESTIONS
CORRESPONDENCE: PAUL BONGIORNO HELPS OUT (SORT OF) RE FRAN KELLY’s RN BREAKFAST PROGRAM
PETER FITZSIMONS’ DOUBLE STANDARD
It would seem that Nine newspapers’ columnist Peter FitzSimons is now the go-to-talent for the ABC when it comes to matters of morality.
Last night, The Red Bandannaed One was interviewed on ABC TV’s 7.30 without his LOOK-AT-ME headgear. It’s possible that Fitz had all his red rags in the wash. Or perhaps he’s decided to top himself – in so far as headwear-of-choice is concerned.
Last night your man FitzSimons was moralising about whether Australian Rugby Union star Israel Folau should be sacked for his social media post which stated that gays plus heterosexual fornicators plus boozers plus some other groups are destined for eternal damnation. If Mr Folau is correct, the residents of Hell are bound to experience the same congestion that afflicts those who live in this Vale of Tears.
According to presenter Leigh Sales, Fitz believes that “the views that Mr Folau is espousing are consistent with the beliefs of evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics”. Convenient, eh? Ms Sales did not mention many Muslims who hold similar views.
It’s understandable that Peter FitzSimons is protective of gays in our community. But he has scant regard for feelings of Christians – describing their God as a “Magic Sky Daddy”. The Sydney Morning Herald/Sun-Herald columnist told Ms Sales last night that Israel Folau deserved to be sacked because “he’s been trashing everything we stand for”. Fitz is apparently unaware that he trashes everything many Christians stand for. An unpleasant double standard to be sure.
MICHAEL ROWLAND EMBRACES KATE ROFFEY’S FLATTERY OF THE ABC
It is MWD’s experience that individuals who criticise the ABC’s programs are rarely, if ever, invited on to such programs. But if you heap praise on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, its doors are ever open. This is the modern version of Benjamin Disraeli’s reflection that everyone loves flattery but if you are flattering the Royal Family you need to lay it on with a trowel.
The Melbourne-based business operative Kate Roffey seems to have learnt from Disraeli. On ABC TV News Breakfast this morning – during the “Newspapers” segment – she heaped praise on the ABC with a somewhat large trowel. The reference was to the ABC Vote Compass system. Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli were the presenters. Let’s go to the transcript:
Kate Roffey: …and look I really like this um, the ABC’s concept of uh running your basic theoretical beliefs or your moral and ethical beliefs, through a system that allows you to line up policies because it is incredibly confusing out there if all you’ve got is the mainstream media to help you because – as you point out Virginia – depending on which paper you read, depends on who gets the biggest picture on the front page and which particular slant the um, particularly, um economic policies. Let’s face it, that’s really what’s going to drive this election, which way they are slanted, so The Aus was running the, “Treasury have showed a $387 billion hole in the, the Labor’s taxation, additional taxation policies”. Now in another paper it would run completely differently. So if you are out there looking at, um for good policy and good um independent reporting it’s quite difficult to find.
Michael Rowland: Yeah, oh just watch the ABC, listen to the ABC.
Kate Roffey: Exactly, watch the ABC.
Michael Rowland: You’ll get that in spades.
Well done Ms Roffey. Anyone who loves the ABC and bags The Australian will find a personalised Welcome! sign outside the ABC’s Southbank studio in Melbourne.
RICHARD GLOVER MOCKS TONY ABBOTT
On the night before the morning after, the Journos’ Forum took place on ABC Radio Sydney 702’s Drive with Richard Glover program yesterday.
Let’s go to the transcript for an example of the ABC’s unslanted, independent reporting. The discussion is on the seats which the Liberal Party might win or lose in the 2019 election and included a reference to Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah:
Niki Savva: [discussing the seats the government may pick up]…unfortunately they [the Liberal Party] might lose Warringah. Umm, which would be –
Richard Glover: Heartbreaking! Heartbreakingly! [laughs]
Niki Savva: Which would be an absolute tragedy, I think.
So there was ABC presenter Richard Glover mocking the former prime minister on a key ABC News and Current Affairs program. How’s that for ABC independent reporting of the kind espoused by Ms Roffey, Mr Rowland and Ms Trioli?
JUDITH BRETT – CONSISTENTLY WRONG ON THE LIBERAL PARTY
At least it can be said that La Trobe University emeritus professor Judith Brett is consistent about the Liberal Party. Consistently wrong, that is.
Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) wrote in The Age on 17 July 1993 that “the Liberal Party in the 1990s seems doomed”. By March 1996 the Liberals, under John Howard’s leadership, were back in office.
Then, in November 2017, the learned (emeritus) professor said that the Liberal Party’s condition was as bad as that of the Labor Party in the 1950s and 1960s – overlooking the fact that the Labor Party split in the 1950s.
Writing in Nine’s newspapers (the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) this morning, Judith Brett returned to a familiar theme – declaring:
Not since 1943 has the non-Labor side of our national politics entered an election campaign in such poor shape. Back then, non-Labor had splintered, and its main party, the United Australia Party, won only 12 seats. This was the low point from which Robert Menzies rallied non-Labor to form the new Liberal Party of Australia.
It could well be heading for another low point. The inability of the moderates and the conservatives to work together is manifest in the chaos of three prime ministers in six years and as many treasurers.
The Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties is under greater strain than at any time since 1943. The differences that have opened up between Queensland and Victoria over climate change and energy policy make it very difficult for the Coalition to develop coherent credible policy in these areas. If the Coalition supports the Adani coal mine or the construction of a coal-fired power station to try to hold LNP seats in Queensland, the Liberals risk seats in Melbourne and Sydney.
As well, because of the drubbing the National Party received in the NSW election at the hands of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, National candidates can’t be relied on to toe the line on Coalition policies unpopular in their electorates.
What a load of absolute tosh. Here are some facts:
▪ It’s important not to exaggerate the extent of Labor’s victory in 1943. Sure, the UAP won only 12 seats but other non-Labor parties won 12 seats as well- including the Country Party which won 7 seats.
▪ The Coalition entered the elections of 1972, 1974 and 1987 in poor shape.
▪ It’s true that the Liberal Party has had three prime ministers in five and a half years. It’s also true that the last Labor government had three prime ministerial changes in six years.
▪ It’s true that the Coalition is divided over the proposed Carmichael Mine (commonly called Adani). But so is the Labor Party.
▪ The coalition between the Liberals and the Nationals broke down in 1974 and again in 1987. It is unlikely that the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party will win seats in the May 2019 election.
It may be that the Liberal Party will lose the 2019 election. But it is bad judgment – or wishful thinking – to believe that the party is in such poor shape that it could not recover from such a loss. Surely, Nine newspapers could find someone to write about the Liberal Party rather than the one-time co-editor of the Marxist journal of opinion Arena Magazine.
THE WEEKLY WITH CHARLIE PICKERING (AND SOME OTHERS) LETS NEW ZEALAND’S JOHN KEY OFF THE PLAGIARISM HOOK – WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MIKE BOWERS
As avid readers are only too well aware, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.
Even what the ABC presents as comedy is invariably a political statement of Green/Left bent. It seems that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s comedy arm regards all politicians as a joke – except those who preach a Green Left ideology.
ABC TV’s The Weekly With Charlie Pickering is long on politics but short on jokes. And so it came to pass when the political/comedian presenter Charlie Pickering interviewed “Roy” (aka John Doyle) and “H.G.” (aka Greig Pickhaver) about something or other on Wednesday. Your man Pickering provided the (forced) laughter. Let’s go to the transcript as Roy and H.G. attempt to make fun about the Prime Minister’s “back in the black” theme for the 2019 budget.
[H.G. Nelson is a character played by Greig Pickhaver.
Rampaging Roy Slaven is a character played by John Doyle.
Charlie Pickering is, unfortunately, a real person.]
Charlie Pickering: We are heading into the election.
Charlie Pickering: So how do you think ScoMo has gone leading into this campaign? We’ve come off the budget, let’s talk about that, polls are doing okay
Roy: [yelling over] We’re in the black! We’re in the black!
H.G.: Well can I just say it’s a tremendous, people who have seen footage no doubt or images of uh ScoMo and the slogan “Back in Black”. Sadly the idea was knocked off from some time ago from John Key’s, a New Zealand prime minister who we see here. [John Key image on screen] And then we see ScoMo’s version of that, and for God’s sake this is unsettling. [Morrison image on screen, audience laughs] “Back in Black” now for mine, he’s squeezing one out for the nation there [audience laughs and applauds, Pickering laughs at toilet humour]. And the –
Roy: It’s more like, it’s more like “Back in the Brown” isn’t it. [Pickering laughs]
H.G.: I know you’ve got a version of that photo done up in sepia for those who didn’t make the connection [another toilet joke].
Roy: Well the other thing is he’s clasped his hands as if he’s praying [demonstrates].
Roy: Because it is, we’re not really in the black, so a lot of ducks have got the line up for it to go into the black, in the next financial year, ’cause we are still in the red. So we are not quite in the black! We’re in the brown, maybe [Pickering and audience laugh at the same joke again]
The problem with Charlie/Roy/H.G. humour is that the joke was not only old – it was also ignorant. The fact is that no Australian pinched this line from New Zealand.
Writing in The Guardian Australia on 4 April 2019, Luke Henriques-Gomes commented:
Hands clasped with a hint of a smile, Scott Morrison looks very pleased with himself in the black and white image, which is accompanied by the words “Back In Black”. Then again so does John Key, the former New Zealand prime minister who appeared in an almost identical image in 2014.
Tom McIlroy made a similar comment in the Australian Financial Review last Saturday. He also pointed out that the former Coalition treasurer Peter Costello had used the “back in the black and back on track” wording when delivering the 1998 budget. And Mr McIlroy referred to the AC/DC song “Back In Black”.
Then the matter was raised again on the ABC TV Insiders program on Sunday during the “Talking Pictures” segment. Let’s go to the transcript:
Mike Bowers: Hi I’m Mike Bowers and I’m photographer-at-large for The Guardian Australia. I’m talking pictures in a special budget edition with a photographer with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Canberra – Alex Ellinghausen….
“Back in Black”, the Prime Minister released this black and white photo: “The First Budget Surplus In Over A Decade”. But what it seemed to suffer from was a deficit of originality because John Key had done it many years ago “We’re Back in Black”.
Alex Ellinghausen: You can definitely see imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and who wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of John Key?
Yeah, sure. But John Key followed in the steps of Peter Costello – a fact which was not referred to on “Talking Pictures”. And then over a week after the budget the Morrison/Key/Costello saga was run again on The Weekly With Charlie Pickering. That’s politics/comedy on “Your ABC”. Can You Bear It?
LA TRIOLI DECLARES HER LOVE FOR NEW ZEALAND UNDER A LABOUR GOVERNMENT
While on the topic of New Zealand, Jackie’s (male) co-owner attended a budget seminar in Sydney on Wednesday 3 April. There were four Australians on the panel – Ellen Fanning (presenter), Waleed Aly, Annabel Crabb and John Hewson. The other panellist was former National Party New Zealand prime minister Sir John Key.
All the Aussies criticised Australia and praised New Zealand in general and its prime minister Jacinda Ardern in particular. The only panellist who defended Australia was John Key. How about that?
Of the famous five, none barracked louder for New Zealand and Prime Minister Ardern than ABC personalities Ellen Fanning and Annabel Crabb. Support for New Zealand by ABC presenters continued on Tuesday per courtesy of ABC TV News Breakfast presenters Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland. Following a segment where New Zealand had been praised, the presenters read out a series of tweets lauding the Land of the Long White Cloud. This is how it ended up:
Virginia Trioli: Enough with New Zealand being the most paradise place on earth.
Michael Rowland: It’s pretty good.
Virginia Trioli: I know, there’s more and more evidence every day. I’m going to end up moving there, I’m sure.
The so-called “progressive” left – including the likes of La Trioli and Michael Rowland – have fallen in love with New Zealand under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern.
This in spite of the fact that, in 18 months of government before the Christchurch mass murder, Ms Ardern (i) did nothing to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws which are among the weakest in the Western world and (ii) presided over the New Zealand Intelligence Service which did not monitor extreme right-wing groups. The fact is that the alleged Christchurch mass murderer could not have legally purchased his weapons of choice in Australia under the firearm legislation introduced by John Howard’s Coalition government in 1996 with the support of the States and Territories. And the alleged murderer would have been monitored by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
The likes of Ms Trioli, Mr Rowland, Ms Crabb and Ms Fanning also overlook the fact that the New Zealand Labour party campaigned in the 2017 election on a policy of substantially reducing immigration. Oh yes, and Jacinda Ardern formed a minority government after doing a deal with New Zealand First’s Winston Peters (who was once regarded as New Zealand’s answer to Pauline Hanson).
Moreover, Prime Minister Ardern has not decided to abandon New Zealand’s Imperial Honours system – as in Sir John Key.
Still, the likes of La Trioli are contemplating moving across The Ditch to embrace the Land of Ardern. Can You Bear It?[Er, no. Not really. However, if the likes of Trioli, Fanning, Crabb and company follow their feelings, it should open up quite a few presenter positions at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. Avid MWD readers should get their CVs ready. MWD Editor.]
BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE KOUK
Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet put out by Stephen (“Call me The Kouk”) Koukoulas at Hang-Over Time on Saturday 23 March 2019.
Well done The Kouk. A tweet without any facts but replete with hyperbole and abuse. By the way, it’s impossible for a clown – even a delirious one – to run down Sydney’s George Street at the moment since it is a no-go construction site in search of a light-rail tram.[Perhaps you could have placed The Thought of The Kouk in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment. – MWD Editor]
JON FAINE EVOKES THE HITLER/NAZI ARGUMENT IN CONVERSATION WITH NICE MR SCOTT
It hasn’t been the best of weeks for the hugely self-regarding Jon Faine – he of ABC Radio 774 Mornings with Jon Faine.
As MWD documented last week, on Wednesday 3 April your man Faine verballed the Prime Minister by alleging that Scott Morrison had called him a “serial liar”. Faine just made this up. Before showing the ABC TV News Breakfast audience (if audience there was) his socks, Mr Faine predicted that the Prime Minister would call an election last Friday in order to get coverage in the Saturday newspapers – and on account of the fact that an election called on Sunday would have seen parliamentarians from distant places having to be told to “turn around and go back home again” when they were on their way to Canberra. This overlooked the fact that the House of Representatives and the Senate were not scheduled to sit this week.
Then the following day, Jon Faine interviewed former ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott about his piss-poor book On Us (MUP, 2019). Nice Mr Scott has become an accomplished author having previously written such gems as A Media Odyssey (2016) and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Guide to Schools (Editor) 3rd Edition 1995, 4th Edition 1996 and 5th Edition 1997. [This surely is a “must read” tome – especially for those who want to go back in time and attend school in the mid-1990s. – MWD Editor.]
During ABC Radio Melbourne’s 774’s The Conversation Hour on 4 April (which Mr Faine co-presented with David Fagan), conversation turned – of course – on Rupert Murdoch, with whom Messrs Scott and Faine seem to have something of an obsession.
Let’s go to the transcript as Jon Faine and Mark Scott agree with each other that Fox News in the United States and Sky News in Australia are a problem:
Jon Faine: No, I think that’s right. I think it [Sky News] has become far more partisan. I think the interesting thing with Sky at night is that, it’s, you know what you’re tuning into, if you tune into it. But the audiences aren’t that big but the audiences are very big in Parliament House and in the other media organizations.
Mark Scott: But the bark is big. It’s interesting if you look at the Fox News numbers in the States – they’re not big either, it’s, it’s about 3 million a night. That’s about one per cent of the population but when you amplify it through Facebook –
Jon Faine: [talking over] We amplify it! The ABC amplifies it Mark,
Mark Scott: Well, you amplify –
Jon Faine: – and partly we amplify it because managing directors, even you, told us that we had to include some of those voices in our content.
Mark Scott: But – but I think that’s different. I think that’s a little bit different actually –
Jon Faine [talking over] You know, “we’ve heard from Anne Frank, now let’s hear what Hitler’s got to say”.
Mark Scott: Well it’s where, where I disagree a little bit from Jonathan Holmes’s view. I think it is appropriate for the ABC to host the conversation and for there to be a plurality of views and a range of voices from the rest of left and right and to be analytical about that. That’s very different from shouting at the audience about what is right and what is wrong and that’s more of the Sky at night model and increasingly the tabloid model.
As the saying goes, once a person introduces Hitler and the Nazis into a contemporary argument – the argument is lost.
Jon Faine is seriously deluded if he believes that either Fox News or Sky News do the equivalent of balancing an interview with an Anne Frank with an interview with Hitler. Also the comment is offensive to the memory of Ms Frank and other victims of the Holocaust. If all they had to put up with in Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s is what Scott terms “partisan” presenters “prosecuting a view” at night – their fate would have been dramatically different.
Needless to say, Jon Faine did not nominate a modern day Nazi in the tradition of Hitler who is interviewed on Fox News or Sky News today.
Jon Faine – Media Fool of the Week.[I note that Nice Mr Scott did not challenge the assertion that, when ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief, he instructed the likes of Jon Faine to follow an interview with Anne Frank with an interview with Adolf Hitler. It’s a reminder that Nice Mr Scott was just too nice to stand up to the likes of Jon Faine. – MWD Editor.]
MIKE CARLTON PRAISES PETER COLEMAN’S COURTESY BUT FORGETS HIS OWN DISCOURTESY
Last week’s MWD published a brief obituary on Peter Coleman (1928-2019) whose funeral was held on Monday. He died on Sunday 31 March.
This is what Mike Carlton had to say about the late Peter Coleman last Sunday:
Peter was a gentleman. We could never agree politically, but he was always courteous, agreeable, civilised and generous. Qualities notably lacking in today’s Tories and the Murdochracy.
So there you have it. Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton used the occasion of Peter Coleman’s death to attack “today’s Tories” and those who write for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Pretty poor form, don’t you think?
In doing so, your man Carlton praised those who are “always courteous, agreeable, civilised and generous”. Yes – this is the very same Mr Carlton who was suspended by the Sydney Morning Herald for being somewhat less than courteous, agreeable, civilised and generous to his critics. Rather than accept the suspension, he spat the dummy and resigned as an SMH columnist.
For the record, this is what Mike Carlton had to say about ABC TV’s coverage of the NSW State election:
The ABC’s election coverage is positively soporific. Yawn. Seven’s is batshit, except for the exciting sight of the Beetrooter turning ever more purple. On Nine, the graphics look like Yr5 maths homework.
2.58 am- 23 Mar 2019
How courteous is that? By the way, the Beetrooter reference to Barnaby Joyce is not all that civilised when you think about it.
So, the Sage of Avalon Beach depicts Seven’s election coverage as batshit one week and blames the lack of courtesy in the Australian media on Rupert Murdoch the next week.[I note that Mike Carlton called Gerard Henderson a “turd” on 22 March 2019. I guess that Jackie’s (male) co-owner has not been able to sleep following such (courteous, agreeable, civilised and generous) criticism. – MWD Editor.]
MONITORING THE 2019 ELECTION
MARK KENNY RECKONS ZALI STEGGALL IS AN INDEPENDENT LIBERAL- EVEN THOUGH SHE DOES NOT VOTE LIBERAL
Did anyone see Mark Kenny’s stunning performance on Sky News’ Speers on Sunday program last weekend? Your man Kenny once scribbled for Fairfax Media and is now ensconced somewhere in the Australian National University.
This is what Mr Kenny had to say about the contest in the Sydney seat of Warringah where the incumbent Liberal Party member Tony Abbott is being challenged by, among others, the Independent Zali Steggall who happens to be backed by the leftist GetUp!:
Mark Kenny: …Look the important thing, and it’s the same as was the case in Wentworth, the important thing here is that he [Abbott] is under threat from a Liberal Independent. Not, it’s not like the seat’s going to change hands and become – they are not considering voting Labor or considering some massive swing to the left. I think people are looking for a way to send a message, and to, and to communicate a new understanding of their liberalism – which is to say “I’m still Liberal, but I’m not gonna, I’m not a troglodyte”.
David Speers: Is she? Would you say she [Zali Steggall] is a Liberal Independent? She certainly opposes a lot of the tax changes Labor are talking about.
Janine Perrett: I mean, so Kerryn Phelps describes herself as a Liberal Independent, Rebekha Sharkie in some respects describes herself as a Liberal Independent. But no. I don’t know if you would call them a Liberal Independent. Maybe there’s a better, a better term for them.
Mark Kenny: Well I’m not, I don’t particularly have a problem with it. I think the problem is that the Liberal Party has become more and more conservative and has become more and more represented by kind of, men like Tony Abbott. And I think there is a hunger in the electorate for, uh centre, centre-based sort of politics and more central Liberal Party, which is a bit more socially progressive but on the economic side more conservative, more free enterprise.
So there you have it. Mark Kenny regards Zali Steggall as a “Liberal Independent” at the Federal level despite the fact that Ms Steggall has declared that she has never voted for the Liberal Party at the federal level – when it was led by John Hewson, John Howard, Tony Abbott or even Malcolm Turnbull. Sounds like a remarkably “independent” Liberal.
Also, Mark Kenny believes that there is no room in the Liberal Party for the likes of former prime minister Tony Abbott whom he dismisses as a “troglodyte” – whatever that might mean. Mr Abbott is one of only four Liberals to come to office having brought down a Labor government. The others are Robert Menzies, Malcolm Fraser and John Howard. Yet Mark Kenny believes that Australia’s 25th prime minister should not be in the Liberal Party.
THE MONTHLY’S ANNE MANNE EXHIBITS IGNORANCE OF THE CRIMINAL LAW
As MWD has documented, much of the reporting by journalists and columnists of the jury’s decision in R v George Pell (11 December 2018) has shown considerable ignorance of criminal law. For example, Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper) said that courts of appeal in the criminal jurisdiction could only overturn jury verdicts on matters of law – not matters of fact. This is hopelessly wrong. And Craig Reucassel (ABC TV The Drum) declared that the judge and jury convicted Pell of historic child sexual abuse. Again, hopelessly wrong.
The legal howlers continue – usually involving journalists and commentators who have scant knowledge of, or experience in, criminal law.
The lead article in the April 2019 issue of Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly is by Anne Manne and titled “The Trial Of Pell: The Cardinal and the damage done”. Early in her piece, Ms Manne referred to the Victorian County Court’s Chief Judge Peter Kidd’s sentencing decision in R v George Pell, which was handed down on 13 March 2019. She then made the following comment:
…Kidd outlined in unswerving detail the complainant’s evidence that convinced the jury of Pell’s guilt, beyond all reasonable doubt. As Kidd reconstructed these crimes, the nation heard the unvarnished story for the first time. Although Kidd is obliged to accept the jury’s verdict and sentence accordingly, his remarks did not sound like those of a judge who felt this was an unsafe verdict.
This is purely a subjective judgement by Anne Manne. She simply does not know whether or not Chief Judge Kidd regarded the jury’s verdict in R v George Pell (after five days of deliberation) as safe or unsafe. Nor does any other commentator.
Moreover, Anne Manne did not report what the Chief Judge said on this matter in his sentencing comments. Here they are:
I now turn to the facts of this case. You [George Pell] fall to be sentenced on a basis consistent with the jury verdict on your trial. It was common ground at the plea that this effectively means that you are to be sentenced on the basis of the account of the victim J who gave evidence at trial. Your counsel accepts this.
I must at law give full effect to the jury’s verdict. It is not for me to second guess the verdict. What this means is that I am required to accept, and act upon, J’s account. That is what the law requires of me and that is what I will do.
It is significant that Ms Manne did not quote the above comment – which consisted of the first five sentences of the “Summary of Offending” section of Chief Judge Kidd’s sentencing judgment.
Also Anne Manne did not refer to this part of Chief Judge Kidd’s sentencing comments:
If I am required to identify other explanations as to why you were prepared to take on the risk of somebody walking in on you into the priests’ sacristy, then I do so. By the jury’s verdict, this offending occurred, and no-one walked into the priests’ sacristy whilst you were offending. These are facts which I must act upon.
In short, Chief Judge Peter Kidd made it emphatically clear that it was not his role “to second guess the jury” and that he was “required to accept and act upon” the account of the witness for the prosecution which the jury accepted.
In view of this, Anne Manne’s comment that Chief Judge Peter Kidd’s “remarks did not sound like those of a judge who felt that this was an unsafe verdict” should have been removed from her article by The Monthly’s editor-in-chief Erik Jensen. It would seem however, that Mr Jensen is as unaware of the law as his contributor Ms Manne.
It seems that Anne Manne is also unaware that a person convicted in Victoria has a right of appeal to the Victorian Court of Appeal. There was no reference to the fact that the Court of Appeal will hear George Pell’s appeal in early June 2019. Another glaring omission.
It is genuinely surprising that the likes of Anne Manne and Erik Jensen can be so ignorant of the law.
* * * *
For the record, George Pell’s grounds of appeal are as follows:
- The verdicts are unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 Crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the Complainant alone.
- The Trial Judge erred by preventing the defence from using a moving visual representation of its impossibility argument during the closing address.
- There was a fundamental irregularity in the trial process because the accused was not arraigned in the presence of the jury panel, as required by sections 210 and 217 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009.
Q&A: WHERE TONY JONES ASKS MOST OF THE QUESTIONS
What a stunning performance by ABC TV Q&A presenter Tony Jones and executive producer Peter McEvoy on Monday. The program was filmed in the ABC’s Southbank studio in Melbourne – just a short bike ride from Green Left occupied Fitzroy North.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was the sole panellist. Despite Q&A’s claim that the audience breakdown was as follows – Coalition 32 per cent, Labor Party 26 per cent, Greens 7 per cent and Undecided 20 per cent – every question and every comment was either hostile to, or critical of, the Scott Morrison led Coalition government. [Interesting figures. According to my abacus, 32+26+7+20=85. I wonder who made up the remaining 15 per cent of the audience? Members of the Che Guevara Sandal Wearing Party, perhaps? – MWD Editor].
Once upon a time, Q&A was presented by ABC management as the program where “You (the audience) ask the questions”. Not anymore, it seems. On Monday, there were 25 questions or follow-up comments from the audience. And what about the presenter, Tony Jones? Well, believe it or not, there were a staggering 78 questions or follow-up comments from presenter Tony Jones. Yep, 78. It was a Q&A where the presenter asks three times as many questions as the audience.
A viewer who had just arrived in Australia and turned on Q&A could have got the impression that this was a debate over who should be the member for Kooyong – the Liberal Party’s Josh Frydenberg or the Greens’ Julian (“I just love flashing by post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC. With Mr Jones channelling JB AO QC.
Let’s go to the official transcript where Tony Jones was running the line that the Coalition is responsible for the high level of net government debt:
Tony Jones: Can we have a few basic figures on the table here?
Josh Frydenberg: Sure.
Tony Jones: This is from the RMIT ABC Fact Check. Net debt was $174.5 billion at September 2013, when the Coalition took office with Tony Abbott as the Prime Minister. After six years of Labor government, that is. In October of last year, after five years of Coalition government, it was $354.5 billion. So, is it true or not true that net debt doubled in the time that the Coalition was in office?
Josh Frydenberg: The truth is that the debt has increased, but now it has peaked and it is starting to be paid back with the first surplus in more than a decade. That’s the reality.
Tony Jones: But do you accept the logic that when you say, “We’ve now made the first payment on Labor’s debt” –
Josh Frydenberg: Correct.
Tony Jones: – what you really mean is the first payment on Labor’s debt and the Coalition’s debt, which were roughly the same in similar periods of government?
Josh Frydenberg: Tony, what you’re failing to understand is, when Peter Costello and John Howard left office there was zero government debt.
Tony Jones: Mm-hm.
Yes, “Mm-hm” indeed.
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 Jackie’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).
GERARD HENDERSON AND PAUL BONGIORNO re BONGE’S CONSPIRACY THEORY THAT HENDO HAD HIM DROPPED AS A WEEKLY COMMENTATOR ON FRAN (“I’M AN ACTIVIST”) KELLY’S BREAKFAST PROGRAM
As avid readers are aware, last Friday’s “Stop Press” segment contained a comment about the “Political Forum” that very morning on ABC Radio National Breakfast. MWD criticised the fact that the four person forum contained three vehement critics of the Coalition (namely, presenter Fran Kelly plus panellists Paul Bongiorno and Katharine Murphy) – along with Michelle Grattan (who is not a supporter of the Coalition). In other words, the segment was (yet another) example of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone. No particular objection was made to any one panellist being on the “Political Forum” – only to the fact that it contained three Coalition critics and no Coalition supporter.
The Stop Press segment concluded as follows:
Needless to say, Bonge came up with the quote of the morning – which comprised a rant against the Morrison government. Here it is:
Paul Bongiorno: The government has gone into this campaign with both hands tied behind its back. The government has gone into this campaign with, uh, its credibility in tatters due to the fact that the person leading it is not Malcolm Turnbull but it is Scott Morrison.
Well done Bonge. No other view was heard.
Earlier, MWD had described your man Bongiorno as “perhaps the most left-wing journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery who works for the leftist Saturday Paper”. This comment is accurate.
It seems that Bonge, an avid (but not uncritical) MWD reader, became offended at MWD’s remarks – and expressed his anger in a series of tweets between Friday night and Saturday morning. Here they are:
So as soon as I reappear on an RN Breakfast Gerard Henderson solos [sic] his media watch dog on them and me. I am assured ABC management thinks he is a loony obsessive – he certainly is.still smarting from being dropped because he is a boring anachronism.
8:15 PM · Apr 5, 2019
If it’s not all about me, why the carve out of my final observation that is in fact shred by many Liberals but portrayed by Gollum as the most leftist of views?
8:06 AM · Apr 6, 2019 ·
He has them spooked. Some In ABC management believe he is the spokesman for the coalition government, saying things they truly believe in but mostly try to hide.
8:10 AM · Apr 6, 2019 ·
As will be noted, Hendo did not describe Paul Bongiorno’s observation about Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison as “the most leftist of views”. Bonge just made this up. He merely said that Bonge was perhaps the most left-wing journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery. Which he is.
Like many journalists, Paul Bongiorno makes a living out of criticising others. But he is oh-so-sensitive when anyone criticises him. Hendo responded to Bonge’s tweets – reiterating his position that he would like The [Boring] Saturday Paper scribbler to get back his weekly gig on RN Breakfast since he provided such great copy for MWD. Now read on:
Gerard Henderson to Paul Bongiorno – 9 April 2019
My attention has been drawn to a series of tweets you put out after MWD went out last Friday.
After dinner on Friday, you wrote that ABC management regards me as a “loony obsessive”. However, after breakfast on Saturday you wrote that I have ABC management “spooked” since they regard me as “the spokesman” for the Coalition. Some contradiction, don’t you think?
In your email of 5 February 2019, you blamed me for the fact that RN Breakfast dropped you from its daily political commentary slot. How could this be the case since you claim (on and off) that ABC management regard me as a loony? Why would the ABC drop you on the (alleged) demand of a loony? Over to you.
It’s true that in late 2007 I ceased my regular spot on RN Breakfast on Fridays. The previous year the program’s executive producer had expressed concern about my political views and indicated that there was a hostile reaction to my appearances from the Green/Left types. As I understand it, the same occurs whenever I appear on Insiders. My young casuals at the office told me that after my one appearance this year, the words “Gerard” and “Insiders” trended on Twitter. Virtually all comments were hostile to my appearance. Obviously, I am far less sensitive to criticism than your good self.
In the event, it all worked out for the best. Since, after a decade, my Friday mornings were freed up, it was possible for me to commence my MWD blog in early 2009.
I must say that writing MWD on Friday is a lot more fun than talking to Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly every Friday morning.
In the early days of MWD, Fran said I was targeting her. Not so – it was just that she provided terrific Green/Left copy for MWD. As do you.
If, as you (occasionally) say, ABC management is “spooked” by me – then it would have granted me my wish that you be returned to your Tuesday slot on RN Breakfast. However, my “Occupy Ultimo!: Give Bonge his job back” campaign failed. Alas.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you still provide lotsa copy for MWD due to your occasional ABC appearances, your column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper and – yes – your tweets (particularly those sent after dinner).
Keep Morale High.
Gerard Henderson to Paul Bongiorno by text – 10 April 2019
I sent you an email yesterday to _ _ _ _.
I did not receive an “undeliverable” message so I can only assume you received it.
If you wish me to text you a copy let me know.
* * * * *
Until next time – after Easter.
* * * * *