ISSUE – NO. 457

28 June 2019

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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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  • Editorial- ABC Staff Collective vs ABC Management 

  • Can You Bear It? Virginia Trioli & Jeremy Story-Carter; Paul Bongiorno; The Australia Institute’s Ben Oquist & Richard Denniss and The Red Bandannaed One on Warringah 

  • Five Paws Award- Step Forward Mike Carlton for a non-discriminatory view on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians 

  • MWD Exclusive: Erik Jensen’s Quarterly Essay- Long on hyperbole but short of self-reflection 

  • Niki Savva’s Highway To Hell– The Fully Illustrated (but now pulped) Cover 

  • An ABC Update- Another 4-to-1 panel as The Drum bangs on about tax cuts and Israel Folau 

  • Sandalista Snobbery Space- Jonathan Green presents himself as an expert for high IQ dinner parties 

  • Media Fool of the Week- Laura Withers and the Daily Mail beat up on George Pell 

  • Great Media U-Turns Of Our Time- Starring Peter FitzSimons’ view on Hell (then & now) 

  • New Feature: We Warn The Kaiser- How Q&A’s warning to Scott Morrison and Jon Faine’s warning to Josh Frydenberg had no impact on the 2019 election.



In recent weeks, MWD has covered in full the statement made by ABC chair Ita Buttrose that there is “bias” in the public broadcaster.  This has always been denied by ABC managers along with the public broadcaster’s presenters, producers and editors.  Ms Buttrose’s comments were made to Rafael Epstein (ABC Radio Melbourne 774) and Fran Kelly (ABC Radio National Breakfast).  MWD also covered the remarks by David Anderson (the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief) to Nine Newspapers’ Jennifer Duke that the ABC should exhibit greater diversity with respect to political views, ethnic background or gender. The comment was specifically directed at the ABC’s panel shows.  The managing director was quoted as saying that “the perspective of views we represent is something we could improve on”.

Mr Anderson’s comments were front page news in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Monday 17 June 2019.  But they were completely ignored by Paul Barry, the presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch program, that evening – and have not been discussed since. It was a case of “don’t talk about the ABC’s lack of political diversity”.

According to the report by Nick Tabakoff in The Australian’s “Media” section last Monday, on Wednesday 19 June David Anderson appeared before a meeting of ABC journalists at the Eugene Goossens Hall in the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters in Sydney. The meeting was chaired by ABC Sydney-based newsreader Joe O’Brien.

According to reports, Mr Anderson was berated by ABC staff for his comments to Jennifer Duke and went into defensive mode.  It is said that the ABC’s managing director told ABC staff that he had not specifically singled out The Drum and Q&A programs which lacked political diversity on their panels. And it appears that Mr Anderson may have backed down on his reported comment on the lack of political diversity with ABC programs – and focused on “socio-economic” and “geographical” diversity instead.

If Nick Tabakoff’s report is correct, or if Nick Tabakoff is essentially correct, it indicates that whatever the ABC chair or managing director may say, the public broadcaster remains a staff collective which believes that staff and not the managing director and editor-in-chief should run the organisation.

It is difficult to imagine a public company or government institution where staff are given the opportunity to criticise senior management for making comments with which they disagree – as appears to have been the case with David Anderson’s Eugene Goossens Hall experience.

Can You Bear It


Last night (AEST) Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with President Donald J. Trump over dinner in Osaka, Japan. Advisers were present at the function and American and Australian journalists were given the opportunity to ask questions at the beginning of the function.  There are a number of issues of interest to both Australia and the United States – for example the US/China relationship – North Korea, Iran, the international economy and more besides.  And it makes sense for the Australian prime minister to take part in such discussions with the US president.

Except that the team on ABC TV’s News Breakfast yesterday morning during the “Newspapers” segment do not agree – as the transcript demonstrates:

Jeremy Story-Carter: ..I would like to be in this room that The Australian and many others, yourselves included, are reporting on this morning. These side-line talks between our prime minister Scott Morrison and US and de-facto global leader Donald Trump. These are important talks for a number of reasons, not least because of these escalating trade tensions between the US and China. For his part, Scott Morrison has flagged that he’s keen to talk about – getting some global support on a clamp down of social media companies who broadcast violence. Of course, a big issue following the Christchurch terror attacks. But if you look at the line-up of people who are supposed to appear in that room including – John Bolton, the National Security Adviser of course – one would think that Iran might be coming up as well. I mean there’s a whole buffet of issues really you could discuss with Donald Trump. And it is a reminder as well though, how do you pin down this presidency?

Virginia Trioli: Exactly.

Jeremy Story-Carter: Sure you can go in with the best of intentions –

Virginia Trioli:  I don’t even see the point of the talks frankly.

Jeremy Story-Carter: Yeah, that – I mean it’s almost tradition now, it’s just tradition, it’s just going through the motions because –

Virginia Trioli:  But with this president in particular – I mean it is an opportunity for him to brand himself again. This is potentially – he defines himself by opposition to others so it’s actually a perfect opportunity.

So, there you have it.  Another pile-on against President Trump on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  First up, Jeremy Story-Carter – he of what Paul Keating is wont to call the “Hyphenated Name Set” – described President Donald Trump as the “de facto global leader”. What does this mean? – since the US is frequently called the global leader and Trump is the US president.  Would your man Story-Carter have described President Barack Obama as a “de facto global leader”?  Not on your nelly.

Moreover, News Breakfast’s co-presenter Virginia Trioli is so hostile to Trump that she does not see the point of bilateral talks between Australia and the United States.  Ditto your man Story-Carter. Yet President Trump will be in office until at least January 2021 and possibly four years beyond that.  And Mr Story-Carter reckons that there’s no point in discussions between Australia’s prime minister and the US president during this time. Jeremy Story-Carter is the ABC’s Digital Journalist, Investigations. Can You Bear It?

[No, but it seems that La Trioli did a reversal this morning on the very same program. Let’s go to the transcript:

Virginia Trioli: But, um, I know many people roll their eyes at these global summits – but have a look at what’s happening in the world right now. Never was there a greater need for global co-operation than right now.

Mary Gearin: Yeah that’s right, whether or not the President [Donald Trump] carries those uh, feelings of uh, consensus with him into those meetings, that’s another question all together.

Virginia Trioli: That’s another question –

So there you have it.  On Thursday, La Trioli said there was no point in meetings between international leaders – by Friday they were a good idea. – MWD Editor.]


 MWD just loves the fact that so many members of the Canberra Press Gallery – who were so hopelessly wrong in predicting the outcome of the 18 May election – resumed as confident commentators about Australian national politics and all that the day after the election.

Take ABC TV 7.30’s political correspondent Laura Tingle for example.  On the eve of the election, La Tingle declared that the Labor Party “will win” (see Issues 454, 455).  But on Monday after the election she proceeded to comment on politics without attempting to explain or even acknowledge her error.

But MWD digresses.  Wasn’t it great to see Paul Bongiorno back on ABC Radio News Breakfast on Wednesday – talking to Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly? Let’s go to the transcript at the end of the interview when discussion turned on the Coalition’s tax agenda – which was Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s principal policy during the 2019 election campaign.

Fran Kelly: Paul, the tax cuts are proving to be a real thorn for Labor. Not just the tussle over the next instalment of the Stage 3 tax cuts – this is going to come into the parliament next week. But we now have Jim Chalmers, the shadow treasurer, not ruling out a future Labor government repealing the first part of stage three, which was legislated last year. Now, Richard Marles says: “well let’s deal with this lot first”, But given the election result, is that a politically tenable position for Labor? To go to another election with that hanging around its neck?

Paul Bongiorno: Well I think that the point Richard Marles made: “let’s have that argument in three years’ time, what we’ve got now is”. And unfortunately for Labor – some of its senior people including Joel Fitzgibbon on your show earlier in the week – has undermined Labor’s ability to point out that the government itself is trying to hold to ransom the economic stimulus that we need now – with tax cuts five years down the track that everybody sees are very problematic in terms of their cost and their deliverability.

 Fran Kelly: Sure. Paul, thank you very much.

 Paul Bongiorno: Thank you Fran, always good to talk.

 Fran Kelly: Paul Bongiorno, columnist for The Saturday Paper

Yes, we know.  So, there you have it.  Contrary to Bonge’s prediction, the Coalition won the election on 18 May.  It’s just that the columnist for the leftist Saturday Paper believes that the electorate should not have voted for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s tax package.  Moreover, Bonge maintains that by insisting that his full tax package be passed by the Senate, the Prime Minister is “trying to hold to ransom the economic stimulus that we now need”.  And, in hyperbolic mode, Bonge reckons that “everybody” sees the Coalition’s tax cuts as “problematic”.  His evidence? Zip.

Translated Paul Bongiorno means – sure, the Coalition won the election, but it should implement Labor’s tax plan.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not really.  I note that Bonge was welcomed back to the political commentary spot on RN Breakfast on Wednesday – not long after he put out this tweet on Monday night:

Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno)

24/6/19, 10:07 pm

Thanks to the ABC for allowing the nation to see and hear dangerous, bigoted fu_k wits on #Q&A

Apparently the reference was to those individuals who either supported, or declined to oppose, Israel Folau’s decision to quote from St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians – warning a series of sinners (including adulterers, alcoholics and homosexuals) that they would go to hell unless they repent of their (alleged) sins.

It would seem that Paul (“I once shared digs with Gerald Ridsdale but I don’t talk about it much”) Bongiorno had in mind panellists Ash Belsar and Education Minister Dan Tehan along with an audience member who asked a question on the topic.

So, it’s come to this. On Monday Bonge indicated that he cannot distinguish abuse (including the use of four-letter words) from argument.  And on Wednesday he was invited back on to RN Breakfast. And new ABC Chair Ita Buttrose is an exponent of good manners – MWD Editor.]


There was enormous interest in last week’s story of how Richard Denniss – the leftist Australia Institute’s staffer and go-to contact when the ABC wants an economist – believes that Australians voted against their true interests in the 18 May election.  You know, the old Marxist doctrine that the masses have a false consciousness and do not understand what’s good for them. Until someone like Karl Marx turns up and tells them. Or perhaps Dr Denniss’s (for a doctor he is) writes a piece in Schwartz Media’s The Monthly (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen) in June 2019.

Some readers were intrigued by your man Denniss’ focus on the primary vote to present an outcome of the election for the Labor/Greens as not as bad as might otherwise be the case. Others drew attention to this particular howler – which Erik Jensen failed to pick up before the June 2019 issue of The Monthly arrived at the coffee-shops of the inner-city.  Here’s the comment by your man Denniss:

Ben Oquist is one of the smartest people I know.  He has my old job leading the  Australia Institute.  He was right to think that Labor was going to struggle to win the election…. Ben knows how to count….  It takes 76 seats in the House of Representatives to form a majority government in Australia. Over the past six months, Ben quietly asked me, and a lot of other people, which seats Labor would win to get them that magic number. I would rattle off a few seats and he would ask me if I had polling to support that. I’d say no.

Now MWD always maintained that the Coalition had a pathway to victory and that there were seats that the Morrison government could win.  However, it is nonsense to suggest that it was difficult to nominate seats which Labor could win – and did win. Here’s four:

Following the census, the Australian Electoral Commission created two new seats – Fraser in outer suburban Melbourne and Bean in the Australia Capital Territory.  Both were in areas that Labor had comfortably won in the 2016 election.  And Labor did win Fraser and Bean on 18 May. That’s two.

The Australian Electoral Commission’s re-distribution also led to a situation whereby two seats in Victoria, won by the Coalition in 2016, were notionally Labor on the eve of the 2019 election.  Namely Corangamite and Dunkley.  Labor won both on 18 May.  That’s four.

So, the idea that Labor would not win seats on 18 May was absolute tosh. It could – and it did. But not enough. Richard Denniss, the Australia Institute’s top economist, has not worked this out. Can You Bear It?


While on the issue of the 2019 election, did anyone read “Fitz  on Sunday” in the Sun-Herald last weekend?  It contained this piece of rumour dressed up as serious commentary concerning the Federal set of Warringah on Sydney’s North Shore.


The Manly Daily had an interesting yarn on Friday, listing eight potential candidates to get Liberal preselection for the next federal election to replace Tony Abbott: Mike Baird, Natalie Ward, Rory Amon, Alex Dore, Tim James, Paul Ritchie, James Griffin, Margaret Cunneen (no, really) and Tim James. Good list, yes? But try this for an idea (which I also heard a whisper of last week). Zali Steggall declares for the Libs!

If she could forgive them for their nastiness in the campaign, and they could forgive her for taking down Tony Abbott, it would be the perfect match. She always said she was a moderate Lib who wanted action on climate change, so it is not as if she would be hoodwinking the electorate. And such a move would head off a nasty Lib campaign next time round, and give her security of tenure. So, I texted her, asking if she was thinking of it. This time, for the first time in months, no reply!

[I just love the way the Red Bandannaed One uses exclamation marks!!!  To emphasise meaning!! What a good idea! – MWD Editor.]

First up, the idea that former NSW Liberal Party premier Mike Baird would seek pre-selection for Warringah in 2022 seems bonkers to MWD.  Also, it’s most unlikely that Margaret Cunneen SC would seek a career in Federal politics. In any event, what’s Peter FitzSimons got against this talented woman? – the reference is to Fitz’s “no, really” reference.

As to Zali Steggall. It’s not clear why the Liberal Party would offer Liberal Party pre-selection to a woman who is on record as declaring that she has never voted for the Liberal Party in a federal election.   Not even when Malcolm Turnbull was the incumbent prime minister during the 2016 election.

It is likely that Warringah will attract a number of Liberal Party members who believe they can defeat Ms Steggall.  The Red Bandannaed One’s theory that the Liberal Party would want to run Zali Steggall as its candidate is just wish-fulfillment.  Or perhaps the piece got misplaced in “Fitz on Sunday” and should have appeared under his “Joke of the Week” segment. Can You Bear It?

Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany).

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.

Step Forward Mike Carlton

Just after lunch, of course, MWD’s attention was drawn to the following tweet put out on Tuesday by Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton. It calls for complete non-discrimination in the row over Israel Folau’s quotation from St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Here’s what the Sage of Avalon Beach had to say:

Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01)

25 June 2019 – 1:57PM

I’m a bit tired of the LGBTQI lot getting all the attention. What about the hurt feelings of all us drunks, atheists, adulterers and fornicators ?

Mike Carlton – Five Paws.


On Wednesday, Jackie’s (male) co-owner received the following message from Quarterly Essay about Erik Jensen’s Quarterly Essay Issue 74  titled “The Prosperity Gospel: How Scott Morrison Won And Bill Shorten Lost”.

As avid readers are aware, your man Jensen is editor-in-chief of Schwartz Media.  Schwartz Media publishes the Quarterly Essay.  Oh yes, your man Jensen is also editor-in-chief of Morry Schwarz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper. This is what Schwartz Media’s blurb had to say about Schwartz Media’s editor-in-chief’s account of the May 2019 election:

A dazzling and insightful look at the federal election, built from pen portraits and reports from the campaign trail. In Quarterly Essay 74, Erik Jensen considers what went wrong for Labor and how Scott Morrison won his remarkable victory. Who are Morrison’s “quiet people”? What did Shorten’s Labor fail to see? And will fear always trump hope in politics?

Through interviews and close observation, Jensen homes in on the insecurities that drive Bill Shorten and the certainties that helped Scott Morrison win. He considers how each man reflects, challenges and comforts the national character. This is a fresh, urgent look at the meaning of the 2019 election.

As it turned out, Hendo did not have to buy Jensen’s tome – since a complimentary copy had arrived the previous morning. As MWD understands it, this is the first review published of The Prosperity Gospel – an EXCLUSIVE if ever there was one.

The Jensen essay does not live up to its promotional blurb.  Bill Shorten agreed to be interviewed for the essay – Scott Morrison declined.  So, Jensen obtained no personal insights into the (alleged) certainties that helped Scott Morrison win.

The Prosperity Gospel was written on the campaign trail.  Consequently, most of the instances reported in the book were covered by the mainstream media many weeks ago. Mr Jensen’s report contains no revelations.  There is no “dazzling and insightful” analysis of how Scott Morrison won the 2019 election.  However, the coverage of Labor’s failure is more considered.

The essay commences with what was planned as a victory celebration at the Hyatt Place Melbourne Hotel in Essendon Fields (part of Bill Shorten’s electorate) which turned out to be a wake.  Erik Jensen was there – not in Sydney where Scott Morrison was to claim victory at the Sofitel Wentworth.  It would seem that Erik Jensen – like his staff on The Saturday Paper – assumed that Labor would prevail over the Coalition on 18 May.

In short, Erik Jensen is the first out of the blocks in writing an account of how the Coalition defeated Labor – in spite of having predicted a different result.  Niki Savva and David Crowe are soon to follow suit.  At least The Australian’s Peter van Onselen and his co-author Wayne Errington had the grace and good sense to junk their proposed tome once they realised that their analysis of Australia’s national politics in recent times had been flawed.

The Prosperity Gospel commences as follows:

The first staffer says it just before eight o’clock: “We’re f-cked. Yep, completely f-cked.” The swings in Queensland are coming through. Herbert is gone. “It’s like Hillary at 3 pm [AEST] on that awful night [sic],” a staffer says, “when everything would just have to go right if there’s any hope.” Shorten’s election party is held in the function room of an airport hotel….

Yes, we know.  We’ve known for well over a month. Then the author goes back to when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election in April.  The essay ends six weeks later with the assertion that “the great truth of Bill Shorten is that he doesn’t know himself” and that “Australia has found comfort once again in a hardman [Scott Morrison] who says everything is simple and some of you will be okay”. Very clever, to be sure – but what does it mean?

In short, Erik Jensen believes that the electorate made the wrong decision on 18 May in returning the Coalition to office. Hence the focus in his essay is not why the author and some of his journalistic colleagues got it wrong in not anticipating a Coalition win – but on why a majority of Australians got it wrong in not doing what Mr Jensen and his comrades at Schwartz Media’s Collingwood office in inner-city Melbourne advised them to do.

What’s lacking in analysis and self-reflection in The Prosperity Gospel is made in over-writing and, at times, hyperbole.  Here are some examples:

Page 3:  Morrison has the face of a man delivering bad news, not yet certain how bad it really is.  His eyes are curtained with seriousness. His voice dips at the end of each phrase, like a mourner bowing his head before going into church.

Page 5: It is a cold, early day and the sky has the character of painted china…

Page 19: Shorten squints, as if checking the size of what he’s about to say.  His eyelashes are uncommonly long. He has the large, pleading eyes of a child left alone in the cot.  It is one of the qualities that make people uncertain about him: need.

Page 33: Shorten wears a Brooks Brothers jacket. His chinos are worn at the hem. He enters Salamanca Market like a predator scanning for small fish.

Page 34:  Peter Barron is watching. He stands back on the grass like the driver at a mafia funeral…. He walks from his shoulders down, the way a pendulum swings a clock.

Page 48: The children follow him out. Their parents are waiting.  Morrison rolls his shoulders when he stands. The tail of his tie not quite to his sternum.  He has taken off his jacket: his paunch is oversatisfied and his nipples are erect…. There are no questions, Jenny [Morrison] goes to the bathroom.

Page 67:  Morrison smiles and his teeth look surprised.

And so on. What’s missing from The Prosperity Gospel turns not on whether Scott Morrison’s teeth “look surprised”.  But, rather, on a detailed account of why Erik Jensen was surprised by Scott Morrison’s victory.

Not once in his 71-page essay does the editor-in-chief of The Saturday Paper reflect on why all of Schwartz Media’s publications – Quarterly Essay, The Monthly and The Saturday Paper – failed to acknowledge before the election that the Coalition had a pathway to victory.


Today’s Australian ran an exclusive extract from Niki Savva’s new book Plots and Prayers.  It has a rather benign cover featuring former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his replacement Scott Morrison – see below.

As avid readers will be aware, Ms Savva was of the view that the Liberal Party’s decision to junk Mr Turnbull in August 2018 was a massive mistake which would lead to its annihilation at the 2019 election.  The working title for this tome was Highway to Hell: The Coup that Destroyed Malcolm Turnbull and Left the Liberals in Ruins.

When the Coalition prevailed, a quick rewrite was necessary. Just get a new cover and replace the conclusion titled “Why Morrison Lost” with “Why Morrison Won” – and Bob’s your uncle.

MWD has been able to locate a copy of the original cover of Highway to Hell depicting Malcolm Turnbull as a somewhat vindictive St Peter looking down on those experiencing the flames of (eternal) damnation.  Ms Savva kindly lit the match used to fire up this cover.  Keep it as a souvenir.


It seems that it will take a while for the apparent message of ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson to sink through – namely, that the public broadcaster’s panels should reflect a greater political diversity.  Judging by ABC TV’s The Drum on Tuesday, that is.

On Tuesday, Ellen Fanning was in the The Drum’s presenter’s chair when discussion turned to the Morrison government’s tax legislation. Everyone was against the Coalition – except The Australian’s Adam Creighton.  The pile-on comprised Ellen Fanning (presenter), Avril Henry, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal and Cassandra Goldie.  Ms Fanning was so shocked by Mr Creighton’s position that on two occasions she accused him of having been “indoctrinated” by the Chicago School of Economics – following a recent trip to that institution.

Ms Fanning overlooked the fact that a majority of Australians supported the Coalition’s tax plan at the 2019 election.  But there you go.  Perhaps 51.5 per cent of the Australian electorate are all Chicago School of Economics types now.

When it came to a discussion about Israel Folau’s decision to seek money from the GoFundMe website to finance his legal action against Rugby Australia for wrongful dismissal – there was another pile-on.  As avid readers are aware, Mr Folau’s contract was terminated after he posted a message on Instagram stating that adulterers, drunkards and homosexuals would go to Hell unless they repented. [Sounds like a lively place. – MWD Editor.]

Once again, it was a 4 to 1 pile-on against Israel Folau – with Adam Creighton in the unfashionable corner.  During the discussion, Ellen Fanning drew attention to the fact that – at the time The Drum  was going to air – Folau had raised around $750,000 for his legal costs on GoFundMe (this was subsequently discontinued).  Whereas Help Connor Support Emergency Services campaign to purchase a portable video laryngoscope (C-Mac) had raised only $8100 out of the sought-after $15,000.

The presenter and some panellists moralised about this point. No one mentioned that if The Drum Five last Tuesday had kicked in a total of $6890 – i.e. $1378 each – they could have purchased the Connor’s Laryngoscope C-Mac that very evening.  None of the panel looked short of a quid.

It was much the same with The Drum’s audience.  It is estimated that around 200,000 watch the program each night.  If 50,000 viewers chucked in $2 each – some six C-Macs could be purchased – and what’s still due on Connor’s proposed machine could be covered as well.

Instead of setting up a campaign to fund Connor’s C-Mac, Ms Fanning turned the event into a banging of the anti-Folau drum.

As avid readers will recall, in MWD Issue 57 Matt Canavan drew attention to that part of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop in which the snobbery of the leftie journalist Pappenhacker was revealed. Here is the relevant section:

“See that man there, that’s Pappenhacker.”

William looked, and saw.


“The cleverest man in Fleet Street.”

William looked again. Pappenhacker was young and swarthy, with great horn goggles and a receding, stubbly chin. He was having an altercation with some waiters.


“He’s going to Ishmaelia for the Daily Twopence”

“He seems to be in a very bad temper.”

“Not really. He’s always like that to waiters. You see he’s a communist. Most of the staff at the Twopence are – they’re University men, you see. Pappenhacker says that every time you are polite to a proletarian you are helping bolster up the capitalist system. He’s very clever of course, but he gets rather unpopular.”

“He looks as if he were going to hit them.”

“Yes, he does sometimes. Quite a lot of restaurants won’t have him in.”


“Sandalista Snobbery Space” is devoted to recording the snobbish views of the Pappenhackers of our day – in this instance the non-polite view that only intelligent people (as defined by the Sandalista Set) can have successful dinner parties.

On Saturday 15 June – around Hangover Time – Jackie’s (male) co-owner turned on Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC Sneerer-in-chief) Green’s Blueprint For Living program on ABC Radio National. Hendo was not surprised to hear that your man Green was about to discuss the big issue of the day – for the Sandalista Set, that is. Namely, dinner parties. Yes, dinner parties.

These are the program notes for the segment:

According to the writer Alexandre Dumas, dinner is “a major daily activity, which can be accomplished in worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be diversified, calm conversation. It should sparkle with the rubies of the wine between the courses, be deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert, and acquire true profundity with the coffee.” It’s a lot to ask. So, what makes for engaging dinner party conversation? What happens when it goes wrong? And have we lost the ability to hold one another’s attention?

Now your man Green lives in inner-city Melbourne (i.e. Carlton) and cycles to the ABC studio in inner-city Melbourne (i.e. Southbank) to record Blueprint for Living.  And then he cycles back home. A real sandal-wearing, vegan Sandalista to be sure. This is how he commenced the segment:

Jonathan Green: Now the dinner party. I think we can all agree that it’s one of our stranger cultural rituals. Often something in those settings is a little awkward perhaps? A little volatile? A unique tension that rises when you put guests together with food and wine around a table….  What do we do? How do we create good dinner conversation? What’s the difference between success and failure? When thinking about these questions, as we must here on Blueprint for Living, one man came to mind to help us in this quest. Paul Holdengräber, he’s the founding executive director of the Onassis Foundation LA, formerly founder and director of New York Public Library’s public programming and the host of LIVE from NYPL. I’m sure he’s a sparkling dinner guest. Paul is that true?

So, there you have it.  According to Comrade Green, programs like Blueprint for Living “must” consider such matters as how we create a good dinner party.  And it seems that the expert in his (culinary) field is none other than the Onassis Foundation’s founding executive director – a certain Paul Holdengräber.

Your man Holdengräber went on to talk about “food for talk and food for our stomach”.  He continued:

Paul Holdengräber: One of the great pleasures is to bring people around a meal. The meal becomes an excuse for the conversation and the conversation becomes an excuse for the meal. We know that when we bring people together and a dinner party works it is because there is a magnificent combination between the food, between the lines, between the wines and between everything we imbibe. An excess of alcohol may not contribute to extraordinary conversation except in the eyes or the stomach or the mind of the person who had imbibed a little bit too much.

Go on. Alas he did.  And on. And on.  Then Mr Green asked about the “casting” for a successful dinner party and then raised the question as to whether “we should avoid small talk or go straight to the big issue”.  However, he did not say what the “big issue” was.  The Onassis Foundation guy then quoted Oscar Wilde (why not?) and declared that the company is more important than the food.  And then the crucial question was asked – about the salmon mousse, of course.

Jonathan Green: … Let us imagine, Paul, that you are a host and you have gathered your people and suddenly after the salmon mousse, the conversation has stalled utterly and there is a hideous and uncomfortable quiet around your table. What do you do?

The answer is – wait for it – “use one’s wits and one’s improvisational qualities”. That’s helpful, eh?  Your man Holdengräber then came up with this (stunning) finding: “If you ask people something about them, they are usually more than happy to tell you about themselves.”  Did Mr Green need to contact Mr Holdengräber to find this out?

The message from the Green/Holdengräber interview is that dinner parties with “intelligent” guests must be awfully boring.  Better a meat-pie washed down by a beer or two at the local pub with blokes and sheilas who don’t regard themselves as intelligent, don’t read The Guardian Online and don’t listen to intellectual crap on Radio National.

Media Fool Of The Week


This is how Laura Withers’ report last Saturday in the Daily Mail commenced:

A stream of death threats will force disgraced Cardinal George Pell ‘to seek refuge in a secure compound in New South Wales’ if his child sex abuse conviction is overturned it’s emerged….The 78-year-old is now waiting to find out whether or not the child sex abuse conviction will be overturned. Even though the outcome of his appeal is shrouded in uncertainty, preliminary plans for where Pell will safely reside outside the confines of prison are reportedly ongoing.

Supporters of Pell are understood to believe the seminary in western Sydney, where Pell lived prior to court proceedings, is a strong contender for a potential place for him to stay. Backers of Pell, who is currently being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day in Melbourne Assessment Prison, believe a second option would be for him to return to Rome where he previously held the position of Vatican treasurer. “We’re not making any assumptions at all about whether the appeal will be successful. It’s one day at a time,” a friend told The Age.

The report went on to state the name of the place where Pell might live if his conviction is overturned by the Vatican Court of Appeal – and provide a photograph of the entrance.

Here’s what’s wrong with the Daily Mail report:

▪ There is no evidence that George Pell has been subjected to “a stream of death threats”. Laura Withers and/or her editor just made this up.

▪ If death threats had been made, it would be grossly irresponsible for the Daily Mail to have named the place (with photograph) where Pell might reside if he is released.

▪ As is its wont, the Daily Mail appears to have embellished a report which it lifted – without acknowledgement – from The Weekend Australian last Saturday.  In doing so it falsely attributed a quote – from “a friend” of Pell – to The Age.  In fact, the quote first appeared in The Australian.

The Daily Mail’s Laura Withers – Media Fool of the Week.


In the wake of his latest homophobic outburst – gays, among other sinners, are heading to hell once more – Israel Folau has to go, and will go. Quick. Clean. Gone. At least until such times as he repents.

– Peter FitzSimons Sydney Morning Herald, 11 April 2019.


I maintain there is a freedom to blow loud raspberries when religion says atheists like me will burn in hell for all eternity.

– Peter FitzSimons, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 2016.

According to lore, or perhaps mythology, a newspaper editor in the Antipodes warned the Kaiser in circa 1914 not to do something or other – which, needless to say, he did.  Or perhaps it was the Tsar at the time of the Crimean War. In any event, the phrase “We Warn the Kaiser” has come to illustrate gratuitous warnings by self-important types which have no effect whatsoever.


In the lead-up to the 18 May election – which ABC TV’s 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle declared that the Labor Party “will win” – most ABC types were confident that Scott Morrison’s Coalition would be defeated.

It so happened that, in the lead-up to the election, the Prime Minister had declined an invitation to appear on ABC TV’s Q&A program (presenter Tony Jones, producer Peter McEvoy).  Moreover, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remained unmoved as ABC personality Jon Faine pointed out that the re-election of the Morrison government would result (allegedly) in a reduction of ABC funding of around $80 million over three years and claimed that this would be an issue in the campaign.

And so, it came to pass that Tony Jones – and Mornings with Jon Faine (presenter Jon Faine, producer Erin Vincent) on ABC Radio Melbourne 774 – went into WE WARN THE KAISER mode. Here’s how:

▪ Tony Jones Calls The PM To “Come On Down” To Q&A

The Australian’s “Media Diary” carried the following report on 6 May 2019:

“We’ll come to you, anywhere in Australia, any night before May 18.” In essence, this is Q&A host Tony Jones’s extraordinary direct pitch to Scott Morrison, in a last-ditch bid to get him to end a seven-year grudge against the program. Jones tells “Diary” it would be a “terrible shame” if ScoMo failed to appear on Q&A before the election and is pulling out all stops to make it happen in the campaign’s last 12 days.

In a bid to break the PM’s self-imposed exile from the program, Jones is offering to take Q&A to ScoMo virtually anywhere, even in rural Australia. Jones and Co are also prepared to ditch the show’s traditional Monday night format for any night of the week to give ScoMo every opportunity to appear on the show.

“We have told them we’re flexible on location and timing,” Jones says of his repeated requests. “We can do it pretty much anywhere. If he wanted to do it in Queensland or Victoria or regional Australia, we can do it. We have hundreds of thousands of audience members registered around Australia and that gives us the ability to gather a politically diverse audience. We just need time to organise it.”

Jones says the logistics would take “a few days”. But ScoMo has a clear wariness of Q&A dating back to perceived criticism when he was immigration minister in Tony Abbott’s government from 2013. As we previously noted, the PM twice asked 2GB host Ben Fordham a few weeks back why anyone would want to even watch Q&A.

Jones gives his own answer to the PM: “I’d say one good reason to watch the program is you might get a sense of what the public was thinking.”

Jones says ScoMo “would be virtually the first leader of either side of politics who had not appeared on Q&A during a campaign”. “I’m at a loss to understand why a PM in a tight election wouldn’t want to face that challenge, which is also a great opportunity,” Jones says.

Well, how about that? Tony Jones believes – or, rather, believed – that if Scott Morrison watched Q&A he might get a sense of what the public is thinking.  Really. And that appearing on Q&A is a “great opportunity” for an incumbent prime minister. Fancy that.

Alas for Q&A, Tony Jones’ “We Warn The Kaiser” message had no effect.  The election result demonstrated that Scott Morrison has a better understanding of what Australians are thinking than the ABC presenter who presides over the Q&A leftist audiences on Mondays.  Moreover, the Morrison government won votes and seats without the prime minister appearing on Q&A.

  • Jon Faine’s “Beware Of The Friends Of The ABC” Warning

And then, on the Thursday before the election, the following exchange took place between ABC’s Melbourne-based Breakfast presenter Jon Faine and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg:

Jon Faine: Are you aware that both Bill Shorten and the Greens leader Richard Di Natale will be speaking at an ABC Friends rally [in Melbourne] this weekend in Melbourne?

Josh Frydenberg: Good luck to them.

Jon Faine: Are you aware that they may well be making announcements to make the ABC and further media issues a live a, a live point of difference in this campaign?

Josh Frydenberg: Well from our perspective we believe the ABC plays a vital role in the public debate and I certainly – 

Jon Faine: [talking over] But you’ve starved it of funds.

Josh Frydenberg: Well that’s not actually correct, you know, it’s receiving more than a billion dollars of taxpayer’s funds…

Alas for Jon Faine, his warning to the Treasurer that the Friends of the ABC would make the funding for the public broadcaster “a live point of difference” in the election campaign proved to be of no consequence. Not even in Victoria where support for the ABC is greater than all other states except South Australia.

In the lead-up to the election campaign, some commentators thought that the Labor Party could win up to eight seats in Victoria. It didn’t happen.  Labor won only two seats – Corangamite and Dunkley – both of which had become notionally Labor per courtesy of the Australian Electoral Commission’s re-distribution of electoral boundaries. Also, the Liberal Party won Chisholm – formerly held by the Liberal-turned-Independent Julia Banks. And the Coalition won three out of six Senate seats – with two going to Labor and one to the Greens.

Despite Jon Faine’s warning, the decision of Friends of the ABC to campaign against the Coalition in Victoria and elsewhere had no impact whatsoever on the election result. This demonstrated just how out of touch Jon Faine is with the electorate.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “miracle” victory serves as a reminder that the ABC is not as influential as some of its staff collectives (or soviets) like to think.  Sure, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has an influence on the cultural debate. But it is not at all clear that the viewers/listeners vote in accordance with the wishes of many within the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone. In view of this, “We Warn The Kaiser” outbursts at election time are just a waste of time.

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Until next time.


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