ISSUE – NO. 460

19 July 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: Good Fawning PM Ardern; Ian McPhedran Fangs President Trump; Shaun Micallef LLB in Benny Hill mode; Bob Brown & Latham’s Snipe

  • Can You Bear It? Comedy as politics; Sabra Lane and the Alstons

  • The Flann O’Brien gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge: Step Forward Danni Zuvela per courtesy of Jonathan Green

  • Hyperbole of the Week: Shane Wright on Phil Lowe as a kidnap victim

  • The US[eless] Studies Centre – Yet more Trump-phobia

  • Your Taxes At Work – 2019 Canberra Writers Festival: Another Leftist Stack

  • An ABC Update: 7:30 fails to properly acknowledge Honeysuckle Creek error & The Drum takes a month to correct howler

  • Documentation Continued: Young Derryn Hinch & Sir Robert Menzies 

* * * *


It was a “Good Fawning” occasion on the ABC TV’s “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast this morning. Co-presenter Virginia Trioli had done an interview with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the previous evening at Melbourne Town Hall. La Trioli described it as akin to interviewing the Collingwood Football Club’s captain in the presence of the Collingwood Fan Club. Or something like that.

The footage of the event indicates that the function was stacked with the most earnest members of Melbourne’s very own Sandalista Set. They welcomed every word and gesture of Prime Minister Ardern – she was very much The Loved One.

It so happened that Melbourne business figure Kate Roffey had the “Newspapers” gig this morning.  She quickly threw the switch to fawning – as the transcript attests:

Virginia Trioli: What have you selected for us today?

Kate Roffey: Well the fabulous Jacinda Ardern is here on shore – and I just saw the clip before I came on, about last night. She just is such a fabulous leader. And it was interesting The Australian picked up an article – this morning in The Aus – about her comments on the shock politics that are happening around the world. And she is actually saying she thinks it’s because there’s a disaffection and distrust in government and people are feeling their leaders are letting them down.

And I think to a large degree that’s true. And I think Jacinda Ardern, for all of the unexpectedness when she came into power, and the fact that she wasn’t that well known – she is a she, which is difficult in politics still unfortunately for women – she has done such a fabulous job of actually leading her country at a time of crisis through Christchurch. But as she travels the world I think she just gains more and more respect from populations and from leaders internationally. Just because the way she goes about her business. And I just think it’s so refreshing to see such an honest, forthright, very clear speaker like Jacinda Ardern out leading her country and hopefully leading a bit of a way forward in politics in general around the world.

Get it?  The “fabulous Jacinda Ardern” is a “fabulous leader” who is doing a “fabulous job”. Ms Roffey proffered another “fabulous” with respect to New Zealand’s prime minister – and Virginia Trioli and her fellow co-presenter Paul Kennedy seemed to concur.

Sure Ms Ardern did a very good job in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack which left 51 people dead and many others injured. However, few want to talk about what the New Zealand government did not do in the lead up to the Christchurch mass murder on 15 March 2019.

▪ At the time of the Christchurch terrorist attack, New Zealand had some of the weakest gun laws in the Western world – nowhere near as strong as those introduced by John Howard’s government in Australia some two decades ago.  The alleged murderer obtained a gun in New Zealand of a kind which he would not have obtained in Australia.

▪ The Australian Security & Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has monitored the words and deeds of extreme right-wing organisations in Australia for decades.  At the time of the Christchurch terrorist attack, New Zealand intelligence agencies were not monitoring extreme right-wing groups.  The issue of whether they should do so was merely under consideration.

▪ Jacinda Ardern formed a government after doing a deal with Winston Peters’ New Zealand First party.  It’s fair to say that Winston Peters is the New Zealand equivalent of Pauline Hanson.

▪ New Zealand accepts far fewer refugees and asylum seekers, on a per capita basis, than Australia.

MWD will examine the tape of the Melbourne Town Hall Jacinda Ardern Love-In. However, MWD does not expect that such matters will have been raised with New Zealand’s FABULOUS leader.


If, among the Australian media, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern is The Loved One – then President Donald J Trump is The Despised One.  For example, this is what journalist Ian McPhedran said on ABC Sydney Radio’s Drive with Richard Glover yesterday:

Ian McPhedran: President Trump came in with a promise that he was gonna Make America Great Again, give all these people their jobs back and everyone’s going to be fine in the garden. Well you go still through the backstreets of Ohio and Illinois and have a look at the houses that are empty and the people who are without jobs. This is just not happening and I think ultimately those issues will hopefully come to the fore.

Richard Glover: People will hopefully believe their own eyes and the evidence of their lives.

Ian McPhedran: Yeah their lives are not improving. And, you know it doesn’t matter if he talks about, you know, coloured women go back to where you’ve come from – how about getting us a job and you know making the country a little more secure?

That’s the rhetoric.  Here are the facts covering the period since Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as president in January 2017:

US Unemployment January 2017: 4.7%

US Unemployment June 2019: 3.7%

* * * *

US African American Unemployment January 2017: 7.7%

US African American Unemployment June 2019: 6.0%

* * * *

US Hispanic Unemployment January 2017: 5.9%

US Hispanic Unemployment June 2019: 4.3%

* * * *

US Asian Unemployment January 2017: 3.7%

US Asian Unemployment June 2019: 2.1%

* * * *

US Female Unemployment January 2017: 4.4%

US Female Unemployment June 2019: 3.3%

* * * *

An estimated 5.613 million jobs have been created under the Trump administration. And US GDP has grown every Quarter under President Trump – average 2.8%

* * * *

Mr McPhedran: Give the Facts a Chance


It was a two-for-the-price-of-one (or was it one-for-the-price-of-two?) occasion when ABC TV showed the third episode in the current Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell series last night. On Wednesday, the ABC had inadvertently replayed episode 2 instead of showing episode 3. Which, apparently, made Mr Micallef and friends mad as hell.

MWD was so pleased to be able to watch episode 3 last night.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner was slapping his thighs with both hands when a woman suffocated a man with a pillow on the show. And what about the skit where the young man was run down by a train. How funny was that? It was at the level of Benny Hill – albeit without sex addiction and the half marathons.

And wasn’t it great to see Shaun Micallef LLB making fun of Senator Pauline Hanson’s grammar and pronunciation?  Hendo has not witnessed such a display of “I’m better educated than you” humour since he was in primary school.  Your man Micallef must have been a feared head prefect/school captain at Adelaide’s Sacred Heart Senior College three decades ago.


In his column in the Weekend Australian tomorrow Gerard Henderson writes about Bob Brown’s well-meaning concern that the proposed windfarm in northwest Tasmania will kill scores of birds- including the variety titled Latham’s Snipe. This has inspired Jackie to prepare the following illustration.

Can You Bear It


While on the topic of what presents as ABC comedy, has anyone noticed that it increasingly resembles, say, a kind of Hillsong gathering with a latter-day Billy Graham preaching a secular God’s truth as handed down by self-declared progressive script writers.

Last night your man Micallef was banging on, again, about climate change.  If, as a certain Northern Hemisphere teenager along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States are correct in predicting that the End-of-the-World-is-Nigh circa 2030, wouldn’t it be better to have a laugh about something other than climate change in the final decade of Mother Earth before it’s all over?

It’s just that Shaun Micallef does not see it this way.  He’s a bit like a convicted man reading jokes off an autocue all the way to the gallows.  So is Charlie Pickering who, for example, did a long rant about climate change in his The Weekly with Charlie Pickering on 15 May 2019.  And then there’s Dan Ilic – this is what Peter Wells had to say about his podcast A Rational Fear in The Age’s “Green Guide” on 13 June 2019:

A Rational Fear

Dan Ilic’s podcast returned to headphones in 2018, after a four year hiatus.  The fortnightly comedy show has a simple premise; it ignores the irrational fears that tabloid journalism is obsessed with, instead focusing on imminent threats such as climate change, with a comedic bent. The show is recorded in front of a live audience, featuring some of Australia’s best comedians, journalists and political animals. The most recent episode was recorded live at the opening night of Queensland Climate Week with Tom Ballard, Bridie Connell and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd. The episode bounces from the climate crisis to the recent federal election result, to the raids on ABC and News Corp journalists by the Australian Federal Police – all topics suited for some light-hearted banter.

It’s just that it’s not light-hearted banter at all. No, it’s very serious stuff – as Dan Ilic and his self-proclaimed progressive mates preach about the causes in which they really and truly believe to a congregation which really and truly believes in their secular teaching.

That’s why the likes of Shaun Micallef, Charlie Pickering and Dan Ilic rarely if ever laugh at the Greens – their jokes are invariably directed at conservatives and social democrats.  It would be like a mother superior in a Catholic convent making fun of the Pope. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of climate change, how about the soft interview between ABC AM presenter Sabra Lane and the Australian-born Philip Alston yesterday – who currently is responsible for lotsa emissions as he flies from here to there in his capacity as the United Nation’s special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights.  There is less extreme poverty and more human rights in Australia than most other countries.  So, it is not clear why your man Alston has returned home for a visit.  Except that he’s about to be awarded an honorary doctorate in something or other at the Australian National University today.  Arise Dr Alston (for a doctor, honoris causa, he now is.)

And so, it came to pass that, in response to Ms Lane’s oh-so-soft questions, Philip Alston predicted climate apartheid without any evidence.  The assertion is that a warming planet will hit the poor harder than it will the wealthy.  Well, this might be the case – but then again it may not.  Take Australia, for example. The wealthy with houses on Sydney Harbour at Point Piper or Vaucluse or on Port Phillip Bay at Portsea or Sorrento are more likely to be adversely affected by any rising sea levels than the less well off in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

Your man Alston went on to criticise the third stage of the Coalition’s tax cuts – even though it’s not quite clear what this has to do with the climate – or indeed the UN.

In her introduction to the interview, Ms Lane mentioned that Philip Alston “is the brother of Richard Alston” – the former Liberal communications minister”. Well, I never. Fancy that. And so on.

In conclusion, Sabra Lane asked Philip Alston how he gets on with his brother. The answer was – well, but they don’t try to convert each other.  How about that?  Essential listening on ABC Radio’s leading current affairs program, to be sure. Can You Bear It?

Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.

The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.


While on the topic of essential listening, what a wonderful interview between MWD fave Jonathan Green and a certain Danni Zuvela on ABC Radio National’s Blueprint for Living last Saturday. This is how the ABC described the occasion:

Jonathan Green takes a tour of an exhibition exploring the philosophical, ethical and political questions that emerge when we transcend human assumptions about plant consciousness. Danni Zuvela, curator of Why Listen to Plants?, co-presented by Liquid Architecture and RMIT Design Hub.

It seems that Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s sneerer-in-chief”) Green cycled from his abode in inner-city Carlton down to the ABC Melbourne Southbank studio to pick up some gear and then on to RMIT University at the top of Swanston Street (and not far from Carlton).

You see, your man Green decided to interview Ms Zuvela about listening to plants.  It seems that Prince Charles – being a bloke – talks to plants.  While Ms Zuvela – being a sheila – just listens.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Danni Zuvela: One of the recurring themes [in plant related art] is really the way when you have that close communion with the natural world, it involves a process that doesn’t just implicate your eyes –  you’re looking at what is going on in the garden and you can see something is wilting or you can see weeds. You can also sense with your whole body – but I would say the whole process is more a case of listening.

One of the things that’s been beautiful about doing this show and in my job as curator and co-artistic director of Liquid Architecture has been the chance to open up the idea of listening, look at it theoretically and look at it socially and politically even. So now I would try to think about listening in ways that expand from just your ears to your whole body – to a sense of even your consciousness as well as a part of you that is bigger than just your individual body. It’s where you sit in a community or where you sit in a bigger group of people. And I guess some people would call that listening as a social act, or listening even as a political act, so choosing to listen to voices that aren’t usually the loudest in our society is a nice place to start. Or choosing to listen to a subject that might not be seen as having a voice – in this case for us, plants, or nature. So, we’re both expanding listening and all the associated terms that are with it….

Now it’s true that Jackie’s (male) co-owner first heard the Green/Zuvela interview at Hangover Time last Saturday. But a reading of the transcript in the mid-afternoon before Gin & Tonic time does not make The Thought of Danni Zuvela any clearer.

Danni Zuvela went on to tell the ABC’s Fox Hunting Man that plants are “not passive, stupid, dumb little machines that just do what you say”. Rather, according to RMIT’s curator, dealing with plants involves a “daily negotiation”. She continued:

…You’re all living beings trying to get along in a world of increasing climate craziness as well as just the different types of habitats we are trying to get plants to live in – there is no such thing as a house plant after all. Plants might tolerate living inside for a while. So, it is really fun to have that opportunity to reconfigure our perception and how it might be that we are seeing and hearing the world, especially the plant world.

At which point your man Green apparently cycled home to Carlton – on the way listening – and negotiating with – the weeds on the roadside.

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £


Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism

By Jackie

of Danni Zuvela

My grasp of what Ms Danni meant

Was only four or five per cent

All that stuff about hearing plants

Just a meaningless RN rant

* * * *


MWD just loves it when Nine Newspaper’s Shane (“Coal is as useful as candlesticks”) Wright accepts an invitation to sit on the ABC TV Insiders couch on a Sunday.  For the reason that your man Wright is well and truly capable of providing copy for this increasingly popular segment of MWD.

Like last Sunday – when the economic writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age was asked a question by presenter Annabel Crabb. The subject was the decision of the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe to meet with the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Sydney on 11 July – following which there was a media conference. Let’s go to the transcript:

Annabel Crabb: What do you make of Philip Lowe’s remarks after that joint press appearance?

Shane Wright: I can understand what the treasurer’s up to. But all you needed was Phil Lowe with a newspaper and it would have looked like a proof-of-life video for a hostage situation. And the fact that the treasurer just says “look, we need to keep in communication” – like, that’s a phone. And the fact that they had a meeting two days after the election, they’ve been to the G20 together, and now this. While Phil Lowe is cutting interest rates down to absolute record lows and you’ve got talk about the stimulatory impact of $8 billion worth of tax cuts which are starting to flow out, the stimulatory impact of this pension stuff. You go “right-o the economy’s sound – just ignore what we’re doing and what we’re saying”.

What a load of absolute tosh. There is no serious suggestion that Philip Lowe, in his capacity as RBA governor, has been compelled to do or say anything by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.  Moreover, it makes sense for the Treasurer and the RBA governor to meet – and the Australian community has every right to know about such get-togetherness.

As to the suggestion that Mr Lowe looked like a kidnap victim – except for the fact that he was not depicted with a dated newspaper proving that he was alive – well that’s just hyperbole.



As avid readers are only too well aware, Professor Simon Jackman (the head of the United States Studies Centre) said in November 2016 that no one at the USSC expected that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He also ‘fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Donald Trump.

MWD reported last week on the USSC’s Dr David Smith’s most recent appearance on ABC Radio Sydney’s “Trump Tuesday” on Drive with Richard Glover program. It was yet another anti-Trump rant which ignored all other aspects of US national politics.

It so happened that your man Smith was away this week.   He was replaced on “Trump Tuesday” by USSC’s Gorana Grgic.  Dr Grgic (for a doctor she also is) spent all of the segment bagging President Trump even to the extent of drawing attention to staff turn-over rates in the White House.  Quelle surprise!!

Can it be that everyone who enters the USSC at the University of Sydney is afflicted by Trump-phobia?


It is the fate of Jackie’s (male) co-owner to be rarely if ever asked to talk at taxpayer funded writers’ festivals – which saves having to decline invitations.  But Hendo just loves examining who gets a gig at these events.

For the uninitiated, writers’ festivals are occasions when leftist organisers get a bucket load of taxpayers’ money and use it to invite their ideological mates to attend the gig.  This invariably leads to a situation where virtually everyone agrees with virtually everyone else on virtually everything.

Here is a list of some of the speakers at the 2019 Canberra Writers’ Festival. Correct MWD if an error has been made. But it seems that this lot are either leftist, left-of-centre, or social democrats and not one is a conservative:


Emma Alberici, Michelle Arrow, Caroline Baum, John Birmingham, Paul Bongiorno, Rod Bower, Mike Bowers, Bob Brown, Jane Caro, Ian Chubb, David Crowe, Paul Daley, Tim Dunlop, Malcom Farr, Peter FitzSimons, Marion Halligan, Virginia Haussegger, Rebecca Huntley, Greg Jericho, Fran Kelly, Mark Kenny, Karl Kruszelnicki, Sabra Lane, Andrew Leigh, David Leser, Helen Lewis, Sarah MacDonald, David Marr, George Megalogenis, Karen Middleton, Louise Milligan, Sam Mostyn, Katharine Murphy, Patrice Newell, Margaret Pomeranz, Sally Pryor, Mikey Robins, Kevin Rudd, Sally Rugg, Tim Soutphommasane, David Stratton, Anne Tiernan, Laura Tingle, Gillian Triggs, Don Watson, Robyn Williams, Alice Workman, Clare Wright, Sally Young.

As far as MWD can work it out, there seem to be only a couple of Australian conservatives on the program – The Australian’s associate editor and Sky News presenter Chris Kenny and The Australian’s Hedley Thomas (who is discussing crime).  That’s about it.

For the record, the Australian Capital Territory government – headed by Labor chief minister Andrew Barr – is the principal sponsor of the 2019 Canberra Writers’ Festival.  In short, the 2019 CWF could not take place without taxes of Commonwealth and ACT taxpayers.  According to Andrew Barr:

Under the theme Power, Politics, Passion I urge you to join the conversations with acclaimed national and international authors. The 2019 program covers a range of genres and panel discussions that delve into issues past, contemporary and future. A stunning line-up in stunning venues – Australia’s leading institutions.

Yes, the program does cover a range of genres and panel discussions.  But it does not contain a diversity of views.

And what about the sessions? – MWD hears you cry.  Well, here are MWD’s faves:


David Marr, Louise Milligan moderated by Chris Uhlmann

Saturday 24 August 2019

1.30PM – 2.30PM

Visions Theatre

National Museum of Australia

The Catholic Church in Australia is in crisis. The sentencing of Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Church leader, mesmerised and shocked the public and dealt another devastating blow to the trust and faithfulness of Catholic parishioners worldwide. David Marr, journalist and author of The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell, joins best-selling author of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell Louise Milligan to assess the impact of the recent appeal. Where to now for the Catholic Church?

So, Nine’s (somewhat naïve) Chris Uhlmann has agreed to moderate a discussion on Cardinal George Pell by two long-term Pell antagonists – the ABC’s Louise Milligan and The Guardian Australia’s David Marr.  Both are to assess “the impact” of the decision of the Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal in the case of George Pell v The Queen – irrespective of the outcome of the case, which is likely to be handed down before the 2019 CWF takes place. What a pile-on.


David Fagan, Laura Tingle, Katharine Murphy, George Megalogenis moderated by Sabra Lane

Friday 23 August 2019

6.30PM – 8.00PM

King’s Hall

Museum of Australian Democracy

Four of Australia’s leading and most thoughtful commentators lay out their vision for the nation’s future. If you could change just one thing, what would it be? With trust in our cherished institutions at a record low, how can we – the lucky country – overcome our sense of gloom and restore the pride in Australia Inc. Can we ever become a republic? Is nuclear energy the answer to our energy woes? Will the Constitution ever formally recognise the rights of our First Peoples? Join the ABC’s Laura Tingle, Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy, former News Corp editor and author Has the Luck Run Out David Fagan and author George Megalogenis as they clash in a battle of big ideas.

This is not likely to be much of “a clash” in a “battle of ideas” among this lot – as the ABC’s Laura Tingle and The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy tend to agree with each other when they sit on the ABC TV Insiders couch on Sundays – like last Sunday, for example. George Megalogenis is in this camp and David Fagan is unlikely to disagree. Not a conservative or right-of-centre commentator in sight.


David Crowe, Niki Savva moderated by David Speers

Saturday 24 August 2019

3.30PM – 4.30PM

House of Representatives Chamber

Museum of Australian Democracy

On the first anniversary of the execution of Australia’s 29th prime minister, hear the inside story on how the Liberal Party toppled one of its own, from two of Canberra’s best-connected reporters. Join Niki Savva as she discusses Plots & Prayers, her follow up to the best-selling Road to Ruin. Niki is joined by Nine political editor David Crowe, whose new book Venom takes us inside the betrayal and bastardry that saw Turnbull ousted as the nation’s leader. Moderated by David Speers, Sky News’ political editor, who is shortly to become the new host of the ABC’s Insiders program.

According to the CWF blurb, when Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull last August it was an “execution”. But not, apparently, when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott in September 2015 – this was, it seems, democracy at work.  Likewise, the leadership change in 2018 was the result of “betrayal and bastardry” – unlike in 2015, apparently.

Join Abbott critics Ms Savva and Mr Crowe as they bemoan the fact that their preferred choice for Liberal Party leader – Malcolm Turnbull –  lost the support of a majority of his colleagues. Don’t talk about the fact that both journos had to change the titles of their books because the original titles declared that Turnbull’s replacement by Morrison had left the Liberal Party in ruins (pace Ms Savva) or broken (pace Mr Crowe).


Prof Mark Evans, Michelle Grattan, Katharine Murphy, Chris Kenny moderated by David Speers

Saturday 24 August 2019

11.30AM – 12.30PM

Senate Chamber

Museum of Australian Democracy

The 2019 federal election was, according to mainstream media, un-losable for Labor. How did the media get it so wrong? Can opinion polls be the sole source of blame? How can we rebuild trust in distrusting times? Is the problem cultural or structural? What must politicians do to regain our trust? Mark Evans, Michelle Grattan, Katharine Murphy, Chris Kenny and David Speers – influential media commentators – reflect on how and why the mood of the country was so misread.

What’s interesting in this panel is what it excludes.  Many of the journalists who were hopelessly wrong in assessing the outcome of the 2019 election are CWF guests. Namely, Paul Bongiorno, David Crowe, Malcolm Farr, Peter FitzSimons, Mark Kenny, David Marr, Karen Middleton, Niki Savva, Laura Tingle and Peter van Onselen. Why not put this lot in the dock and ask them to explain why they got the election result so wrong?

Note that the “Inside the Bubble” panel is to be asked by David Speers “what must politicians do to regain our trust”. Perhaps your man Speers should ask his colleagues what media types should do to regain our trust.

* * * * *

In conclusion, it’s notable that current and former politicians will be performing at the 2019 CWF.  Namely, Bob Brown (Greens) plus Andrew Leigh and Kevin Rudd (Labor).  Not a former or present Coalition politician in sight.  In spite of the fact that a majority of voters supported the Coalition at the 2019 election. Your Taxes at Work.

[Well done.  Perhaps next week you should look at the roll-out for the 2019 Melbourne Writers’ Festival.  Just a thought.  MWD Editor.]


There was enormous interest in last week’s segment titled “7.30’s Howler of Omission re Australia’s role in the 1969 Moon Landing – Honeysuckle Creek Ignored”. As avid readers will recall, on Thursday 11 July, ABC TV’s leading current affairs program 7.30 ran the line – popularised by the film The Dish – that the tracking station in Parkes (NSW) shared “the Apollo 11 moon landing with the world” – or so 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales told viewers.  The report was by Andy Parks who travelled to Parkes to tell this story.

In fact, Neil Armstrong’s first steps to the Moon were relayed to the world by the tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek in the Australian Capital Territory.  The full story is told in Andrew Tink’s The Story of Tom Reid, a Little Dish and Neil Armstrong’s First Step (New South, 2018).

Anyone can made mistakes.  The problem with the ABC is its reluctance to acknowledge errors or clarify ambiguities.

The first opportunity for 7.30 to correct the error occurred on Monday 15 July. But Leigh Sales said nothing. However, the following Editor’s Note was posted on the ABC’s website where a transcript of the story run on 11 July 2019 can be found.  This is what it said:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This 7.30 story looks at the role played by Parkes during the moon landing. 7.30 would also like to recognise that other stations in Australia also played a key role during the Apollo mission in 1969. These included Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla in the ACT, Carnarvon in WA and the Culgoora radioheliograph in NSW. To read more about the key roles played by Honeysuckle Creek and other Australians during the moon landing go here: the_plan.html and

Er, that’s it.  There was no reference to 7.30’s howler on the ABC’s (difficult to locate) “Corrections & Clarifications” website.  It is reasonable to assume that the overwhelming majority of viewers who watched Andy Park’s story on 11 July would not have subsequently read the “Editor’s Note” on the ABC’s website.  In short, 7.30’s Honeysuckle Creek howler was not properly acknowledged by the ABC.


While on the topic of the ABC’s non-correction corrections, here’s what the taxpayer funded broadcaster’s “Corrections & Clarifications” website had to say on the morning of Thursday 11 July 2019:

Corrections & Clarifications Pauline Hanson Conviction Posted Thursday at 09:49

The Drum: On 11 June the presenter of The Drum stated that Pauline Hanson had been convicted and jailed for electoral fraud. The program should have made clear that after an appeal to the Court of Appeal the conviction was quashed.

In its “Pauline Hanson Conviction” note – the presenter is not named. If you dig deep enough on the ABC’s website, the following information can be found:

The Drum Tuesday June 11, Posted Tue 11 Jun 2019, 7.06 pm

Host: Kathryn Robinson

Panel: Jan Fran, Tory Shepherd, Nichole Lee and Kate Carnell

For starters, the ABC’s “Corrections & Clarifications” heading is wrong.  There was no Pauline Hanson “conviction” since the conviction was overturned in the Queensland Court of Appeal.

Moreover, the correction/clarification does not state who was hosting The Drum when the error was made.  In fact, the howler was made in the first instance in Kathryn Robinson’s comment to Tory Shepherd – and was not corrected by Ms Shepherd.

As MWD understands, there has been no on-air correction re the (incorrect) claim that Pauline Hanson was convicted of electoral fraud – in spite of the fact that such a correction would take only a few seconds.

Finally, the ABC took around a month to publish a correction on its website – yet a simple web search would have identified the error in a few minutes.


There has been enormous interest in MWD Issues 458 & 459 which criticised  Derryn Hinch’s claim – on Sky News’ Hinch program (4 July 2019) – that he has “interviewed every Australian prime minister since Robert Menzies, either in print or radio or television, all except one – the current PM Scott Morrison…”.

As MWD pointed out last week, in his first speech in the Senate, your man Hinch used the word “since” in contradiction to “after”. However, he changed his definition when describing his relationship with Robert Menzies.  It is MWD’s position that the self-identified Human Headline should have said: “I’ve interviewed every prime minister after Robert Menzies.”  To say otherwise implied that he interviewed Menzies – which is not the case.

Thanks to the avid readers who have drawn MWD’s attention to other comments made by Mr Hinch with respect to the late Sir Robert Menzies.

On Friday 5 July 2019, the following item appeared in Alice Workman’s “Strewth” column in The Australian :

Friday fun fact: journalist and former senator Derryn Hinch has interviewed all 14 Australian prime ministers since Robert Menzies, with the footnote that the Menzies “interview” took place at a press conference in 1964 when he was just 20. Hinch says Menzies was “so imperious and superior” and thought journalists were “an unnecessary evil”.

So, according to Ms Workman, Derryn Hinch referred to a question asked at a Menzies press conference as an “interview”.  Really.

But there’s more.  This is what the presenter of Hinch wrote in the Herald-Sun (5 July 2019) concerning the assassination of President John F Kennedy on Friday 22 November 1963 (United States time):

I remember when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963.  It was early Saturday morning, November 23, Australian time. When somebody shouted “Kennedy’s been shot”, I thought they meant TV star Graham Kennedy.

I was a callow police reporter for the Sydney Sun, only nine months in the job after crossing the ditch from New Zealand.  The news editor told me: “Get a quote from the PM.” It was 6am.

Robert Menzies was not at The Lodge in Canberra, but I tracked him down to Kirribilli House in Sydney. And, in those less security conscious days, I actually got through to him on the phone.

Timidly (I was 19) I said: “Prime Minister, I don’t know if you have heard but President Kennedy’s been shot.” There was a long Menzian pause until the imperious PM said: “Thank you.” And hung up. (I could at least tell the news editor that I had talked to the Prime Minister).

How about that?  Derryn Hinch recalls that, as a 19-year-old, he called the Prime Minister early in the morning, got through to him on the phone and advised Sir Robert that President Kennedy had been shot.

Well, it’s possible. However, Prime Minister Menzies was not known to take phone calls from journalists – particularly early on a Saturday morning. But then you never know.  In any event, it wasn’t an interview.

* * * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *