ISSUE – NO. 466

30 August 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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  • Stop Press– News Breakfast on Boris & Hugh Grant

  • Can Your Bear It? Comrade Burchill on Australia’s Stalinist future; When Katharine Murphy wanted to sock it to Trump; Hinch thinks everyone (but him) should shut up; All quiet on The Drum front

  • News on the Anti-Catholic Sectarian Front– Chris Smith airs fake Vatican conspiracy

  • The John Laws “Deliberate Mistake” Segment- A clarification re Hitler, Stalin & Poland

  • Media Fool of the Week- Shaun Micallef gets light-headed thinking about the Amazon

  • New Feature: Inside the Media’s Ignoramus Nook– Richard Cooke; Michael Bradley; Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

  • New Feature: Jackie’s #HETOO Moment- David Leser on the patriarchy and women’s lack of rational thinking

  • An ABC Update- Mark Humphries (& friend) return to 7:30

  • New Feature: Continuing Secrets in Australian Journalism- Richard Ackland and a mystery for the ages

  • Correspondence- Gerard Henderson & Sally Jackson re the disappearance of The Drum one night

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Just as the overwhelming number of journalists/commentators that did not predict Donald J. Trump’s victory in November – most of the chattering classes failed to foresee the success of Brexit earlier that year.

On ABC TV News Breakfast  Newspapers’ segment this morning, discussion turned on Brexit and all that – as 31 October 2019 approaches, by which time the matter is supposed to be resolved.  In one way or another.  Let’s go to the transcript commencing with Ms Roffey – a Melbourne based business operative.

Kate Roffey: Who thought that a referendum on Brexit would go bad? I mean who would have thought that when you put something like that to the people who don’t even understand it?

Lisa Millar: Don’t call it if you don’t know the answer.

Here co-presenter Michael Rowland read out a tweet from actor Hugh Grant who called Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson an “over promoted rubber bath toy”. Funny, eh? The discussion continued:

Kate Roffey: Well when you’ve got people in the UK – not just him, he’s a public figure but this would be a general conversation I would imagine.

Michael Rowland: Oh yeah, lots of anger.

Kate Roffey: But on both sides.

Lisa Millar: [laughing] Oh yeah remember, half of the voting, half of the people who voted.

Kate Roffey: Just. Just half of the people who voted to – but it’s just this crazy, crazy situation that they find themselves in and the EU must just get to a point where they say “you know what, you’re out”.

Lisa Millar: [laughing] I think they reached that point some time ago.

Kate Roffey: I know.

Michael Rowland: “We don’t want you”.

Turn it up.  And now for some facts – which were not heard on ABC TV News Breakfast’s Newspapers segment this morning.

  • A majority of British voters voted for Britain to leave the European Union by 51.9% to 48.1%. The turnout was 72.2% – the highest ever for a UK-wide referendum and the highest for a national vote since the 1992 general election.
  • It’s just intellectual snobbery for Ms Roffey to assert that 17,410,742 million British Brexiteers did not understand what they were doing in the referendum and acted in a crazy manner.
  • Half of the British people did not vote for Brexit – a majority did. The margin in favour of Brexit was around the same as the margin of Australian voters in favour of the Coalition at the last election.
  • Britain’s likely exit from the European Union will hurt both the UK and the EU. However, in time, the EU is likely to be the bigger loser – since Britain is the second biggest economy in Europe and, along with France, the only nation in the European Union which has an adequate defence force.

Can You Bear It


Wasn’t it great to see Scott Burchill back on ABC TV News Breakfast on Wednesday doing the “Newspapers” segment?  And dressed in his usual an-academic-on-the-way-to-the-tip gear.  It made Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s day.  As avid readers are aware, your man Burchill is a MWD fave – partly for his doctoral qualifications, partly for his dress sense and invariably for his leftist opinions.  All of which make good copy for MWD at Hangover Time on a Friday morning.  This is how the session was introduced:

Lisa Millar: For a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning we’re joined by Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Deakin University Dr Scott Burchill. Welcome to the couch.

Michael Rowland: For a doctor he is.

Lisa Millar: With a leather jacket.

Michael Rowland :  Very well dressed this morning I see.

 Scott Burchill : Not bad, as good as I can do at 5am.

How wonderful that Mr Rowland – like MWD – honours Dr Burchill’s doctorate.  And also how appropriate that he noticed his dress sense – more of which later.

And now for an insight into The Thought of Burchill.  First up, he discussed the Australian writer Yang Hengjun currently held in China and then Iran and then Timor Leste (aka East Timor).

On the third issue, discussion turned on the trial in the Australian Capital Territory where lawyer Bernard Collaery is being prosecuted for breaching the Intelligence Services Act with respect to alleged spying by Australia of Timor Leste over a decade ago. The trial is being held in camera. Let’s go to the transcript:

Lisa Millar:  [This] might end up being one of the most secret trials in Australia.

Scott Burchill: Well secret trials are something you normally associate with the Stalinist regimes of the 1950s. Interesting that the circle has turned and we’re going to do that in Australia.

Michael Rowland: Yes, you do?…

So, there you have it. Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) reckons that Australia is about to establish secret trials along the lines of the Stalinist regimes of Josef Stalin and his heirs in the 1950s.  Is this what your man Burchill teaches his students at the taxpayer funded Deakin University?  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really. I note that in his concluding comments, Mr Rowland asked the doctor if he could take “some stuff” to the tip for him.  It sure looked possible since Comrade Burchill was dressed for a man about to unload a pile of rubbish at the local waste disposal depot. See the pic below – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of dress and all that, it’s worth stating that Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) is a courteous kind of guy. So, he did not think it appropriate when, in recent times, Macquarie Radio broadcaster Alan Jones called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison “to shove a sock down” the “throat” of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.  Alan Jones intended to advise Mr Morrison to tell Ms Ardern to “put a sock in it”. But, alas, he didn’t.

The left-wing media, like The Guardian, relished the opportunity to criticise Jones for sexism, a lack of awareness about violence and so on. Not unexpected. However, MWD has a long memory and can recall this comment made on ABC Insiders program on 9 October 2016:

Katharine Murphy: Well Barrie [Cassidy], I cannot say this any better than Robert De Niro. So let’s hear from him.

Robert De Niro: I mean he [Donald Trump] is so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk, a dog, he’s a pig. Colin Powell said it best – he’s a national disaster. He’s an embarrassment to this country. It makes me so angry this country has gotten to this point that this fool, this bozo, has wound up where he has. He talks how he’d like to punch people in the face. Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.

And who was it who cheered on Robert De Niro’s wish to punch Donald Trump in the face?  Why, none other than Katharine Murphy – currently The Guardian’s (give-peace-a-chance) political editor.  Can You Bear It?


There’s one thing to be said for Derryn Hinch in Twitter mode.  At least you can understand all of what The Human Mumble is on about when he is in print.

Following the majority decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal in George Pell v The Queen to dismiss the appellant’s case, Derryn Hinch, a long-time member of the media pile-on against Pell, had this to say on 21 August 2019:

Derryn Hinch @HumanHeadline

Andrew Bolt, on Pell, just said that today is a “sad day for justice”. He just admitted “I’m not a lawyer”. A veteran’s advice: Shut up!

11:21 AM – 21 Aug 2019

The message was clear, Andrew Bolt should shut-up and not comment on the Pell case since – among other things – he’s not a lawyer.

Then, last Sunday, Derryn Hinch had this to say:

Derryn Hinch @HumanHeadline

Hinch’s Hunch: The High Court will deny Pell’s application for special leave. There are no specific legal grounds for this to be approved.

5:40 pm – 25 Aug 2019

So, there you have it.  Derryn Hinch said that Andrew Bolt should not comment on the Pell case because he is not a lawyer.  But your man Hinch, who is not a lawyer, has commented on the case. Even to the extent of saying that he knows that any application by Pell for leave to appeal to the High Court will be dismissed.  Clearly this non-lawyer veteran does not heed his own advice about the need to shut-up. Can You Bear It?


 As avid readers are aware, one of the big (potential) media stories in the month of August is the so far unexplained reason why ABC management pulled the 6pm edition of The Drum on Wednesday 21 August. Readers of this week’s Correspondence segment will see how resolute is the ABC in keeping the public uninformed on this issue – despite the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster’s commitment to the Right to Know. Can You Bear It?



There was considerable interest in last week’s report on occasional Sky News presenter Chris Smith’s rant about George Pell – following the majority judgment of the Victorian Court of Appeal in George Pell v The Queen. According to media reports, Cardinal Pell is likely to seek leave to appeal from the High Court. But Mr Smith does not believe that he should do so.

MWD pointed to the howlers in Chris Smith’s rant to camera on Thursday 22 August 2019 – he was presenting Credlin during Peta Credlin’s absence.  However, MWD Issue 465 missed this one:

Chris Smith: Only the well-heeled or very well-connected could ever contemplate going on to roll the last dice, which is the High Court. The commoner would have to accept the overwhelming decisions that have been handed down to Pell but not him. He’ll be supported by the Vatican and the Church until the very end….

If Mr Smith had done any research he would know that neither the Vatican nor the Catholic Church in Australia has financed George Pell’s legal defence.  Rather it has been funded by individuals – Catholic and non-Catholic alike.  Moreover, many a “commoner” has his or her case heard by the High Court – including asylum seekers at times.


One of the most challenging tasks for avid readers each Friday – after lunch, of course – is to find a John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in MWD. If there is one.

As avid MWD readers will know, Hendo is not into pedantry and does not focus on the written typos and verbal misstatements of journalists – since everyone makes them.  Not so some other scribblers.  But “deliberate mistakes” are still mistakes – and need to be corrected.

A Clarification re the Nazi Soviet Pact (1939-1941)

On the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Soviet Pact last Friday, MWD referred to the deal between the totalitarian dictators Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin which lead to Eastern Europe being divided between Germany and the Soviet Union – leading to the commencement of the Second World War. MWD added that this made it possible for Germany to invade Poland and for the Soviet Union to conquer the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). The Nazi Soviet Pact ended in June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

Thanks to the avid reader who reminded MWD that, under the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Poland was also divided. The Soviet Union’s sphere of influence covered the east of Poland. Germany’s sphere of influence covered western Poland. Moscow’s occupation of eastern Poland made it possible for Soviet forces to massacre Poland’s political, military and other leaders in the Katyn Forest in April and May 1940.

Media Fool Of The Week 


Shaun Micallef, like all other stand up/sit down comedians who earn a coin for appearances on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, is heavily into politico-comedy. Invariably from a leftist perspective.  In other words, your man Micallef invariably mocks the Coalition and Labor, from the left. But rarely ever the Green Left. If he did, Mad As Hell would struggle to get an audience.

At the commencement of Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell on Wednesday, the presenter went into full eco-catastrophist mode concerning fires in the Amazon rain forest:

Shaun Micallef: The Brazilian president has sent in the troops to fight the fires and clear the land for cattle farming so I’m sure we’ll be fine. 20 per cent less oxygen in the atmosphere means we’ll all just feel a bit more light-headed from now on.

But, apparently, not light-headed enough for your man Micallef to ‘fess up about who did the Chunder-Down-Under in the women’s changing room after a Mad as Hell piss-up following a pre-recording of the program on Wednesday 14  August 2019 in the ABC Southbank studio in Melbourne.  See MWD Issues 464 and 465.

This remains one of the BIG SECRETS of Australian journalism.  Was it one of Mad as Hell’s staff?  Or an ABC employee?  And who paid for the clean-up?  We still don’t know.  Moreover, for reasons unexplained, we don’t know why this Technicolour Yawn event did not qualify for a skit on, er, Mad as Hell itself.

In any event, what about the claim that fires in the Amazon will result in a 20 per cent reduction in oxygen – and make Mr Micallef and his comrades permanently light-headed?  Well it’s all bull.  It seems that Young Micallef was too busy being a pompous college captain at Sacred Heart Senior College in Adelaide all those years ago that he didn’t listen to a birds-and-the-bees account of where oxygen comes from. [That’s a bit unfair. Aren’t all college captains and prefects somewhat pompous?  I understand that Hendo was never a prefect, still less a school captain. MWD Editor.]

This is what Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, wrote in The Conversation on 26 August 2019:

Fires in the Amazon rainforest have captured attention worldwide in recent days. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, pledged in his campaign to reduce environmental protection and increase agricultural development in the Amazon, and he appears to have followed through on that promise.

The resurgence of forest clearing in the Amazon, which had decreased more than 80 per cent following a peak in 2004, is alarming for many reasons. Tropical forests harbor many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. They are important refuges for indigenous people and contain enormous stores of carbon as wood and other organic matter that would otherwise contribute to the climate crisis.

Some media accounts have suggested that fires in the Amazon also threaten the atmospheric oxygen that we breathe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Aug. 22 that “the Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

The oft-repeated claim that the Amazon rainforest produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen is based on a misunderstanding. In fact, nearly all of Earth’s breathable oxygen originated in the oceans, and there is enough of it to last for millions of years. There are many reasons to be appalled by this year’s Amazon fires, but depleting Earth’s oxygen supply is not one of them.

Enough said.

Shaun Micallef – Media Fool  of the  Week.

President Donald J. Trump has popularised the term “fake news”. This covers the alleged action of a journalist in just making things up.  However, some media howlers are not caused by intellectual dishonesty – but rather by invincible ignorance.  An ignorant journalist or commentator can properly be described as an ignoramus.  This new segment – which is destined to become hugely popular – is devoted to this phenomenon.

Thanks to Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper and Eric Beecher’s Crikey for helping out today.


▪ The Ignorance of The Saturday Paper’s Richard Cooke

Last Saturday (24 August), The [Boring] Saturday Paper led with a story by Richard Cooke titled “The power and hypocrisy of George Pell’s supporters”. Richard Cooke was described as “a contributing editor to [Morry Schwartz’s] The Monthly, and the Mumbrella Publish Awards Columnist of the Year”.

So, where’s Richard Cooke’s ignorance which qualifies him for a place in this week’s Ignoramus Nook? – MWD hears you cry.  Well, try this for starters:

▪ Referring to the decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal in George Pell v The Queen, Cooke wrote that “both the jury and judges discovered that these garments were entirely ordinary, not de-facto chastity belts”.

The reference was to the robes which Cardinal Pell wore during a solemn High Mass which he celebrated at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral sometime in December 1996.  Cooke’s claim was that “the judges” came to the view that Pell could have re-arranged his vestments in such a way to make it possible to sexually assault the complainant “J”.

Not so. If Cooke had read both the majority and minority judgments he would have discovered that Justice Weinberg, who dissented, found it was not possible for Pell to adjust his garments as described by the complainant. See, for example, Page 240 where Justice Weinberg wrote that it was not possible for Pell’s alb to be “parted” or “pulled to one side” as the complainant said during the committal proceedings.

▪ Cooke referred to the Melbourne Response – set up by (then) Archbishop Pell in October 1996, as covering “an abused altar boy John Ellis”. In fact, Mr Ellis lived in Sydney and his claim for compensation had nothing whatsoever to do with the Melbourne Response.

▪ Cooke writes that both Rupert Murdoch and “his close friend Robert Thompson, the chief executive of News Corp, are Catholic converts but they like raising their children as Catholics”. In fact, Robert Thompson went to a Catholic school in Melbourne.

▪ Later, in an anti-Catholic sectarian rant, Richard Cooke had this to say:

Some lay Catholics will not believe the verdict, but some lay Catholics once decided a Coogee fence post contained a divine presence: the ordinary faithful should not be judged too harshly. Those “commentators” are less deserving of mercy. [None of the commentators was named.]

No sensible lay Catholic ever “decided a Coogee fence contained a divine presence”.   Moreover, the Catholic Church does not regard Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “divine”.  In other words, Mary is not part of the divinity – that’s the preserve of the Holy Trinity. Mr Cooke is ignorant of Catholic theology – and more besides.

At the time, the Catholic parish priest of Coogee – Fr Denis Holm – described the alleged apparition of Mary as an “optical illusion”.  And Christine Cherry, who first reported the vision, was neither a Catholic nor a Christian. (See Carole M. Cusack, “The Virgin Mary at Coogee: A Preliminary Investigation”, Australian Religious Studies Review, Vol 16, No 1, 2003).

Also, Mr Cooke appears ignorant of the fact that the harshest critique of the majority decision in George Pell v The Queen was made by Justice Mark Weinberg who dissented. Justice Weinberg is of Jewish background and has no connection with the Catholic Church.

▪ Towards the end of his article, Richard Cooke had this to say: “…Pell broke with church doctrine on global warming.”

In the Catholic Church, doctrine pertains to matters of faith and morals.  There is no “church doctrine on global warming” – although this (secular) issue has been addressed by Pope Francis.  Here, again, Richard Cooke is just out of his depth, due to ignorance.

The Ignorance of Crikey’s Michael Bradley

After the majority decision in George Pell v The Queen, Michael Bradley (managing partner at Marque Lawyers) wrote two pieces in Crikey.

On Thursday 22 August, Mr Bradley wrote:

One of the judges, Justice Weinberg, was with Pell on this [i.e. the defence’s claim that he should not have been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt]. He found aspects of the complainant’s evidence unconvincing and implausible, and was persuaded by the impossibility of the argument. The other two, Chief Justice Ferguson and Justice Maxwell, didn’t buy it.  The appeal judges joined the trial judge [emphasis added] and jury in being the only people who have seen the testimony of the surviving victim and, having watched his evidence, they said that “he came across as someone who was telling the truth”.

This is ignorant.  The jury at the first trial, which could not reach a decision, also saw the testimony of the complainant. At least three members of the first jury (or maybe more) were not convinced by the complainant’s account.  And Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who presided over both trials, made it clear that his legal duty was to accept the jury’s decision.  In short, he expressed no personal view on the finding and said it was not his role to second guess the jury.  So Chief Judge Kidd did not say that the complainant “came across as someone who was telling the truth”. To suggest otherwise is simply ignorant.

Later Mr Bradley wrote:

Put aside anyone’s personal reverence for Pell the cardinal, or the church for which he has been a steadfast warrior; ignore their consequently blinkered conviction that he must be innocent at all costs.  Look at the facts.

These include, apart from the evidence of Pell’s own case, the objective truth of child sexual abuse. It happens in the dark.  Its perpetrators are men of power, wielding the power, frequently within institutional settings.  The royal commission exposed that the men how do this evil are men like Pell. That doesn’t mean that Pell is guilty, of course.   It means that the loud protestation that he could not be guilty because of who he is, is as lacking in foundation as the Catholic Church’s continuing claim to moral authority.

More ignorance.   George Pell’s defence and/or supporters nowhere argued that “Pell could not be guilty because of who he is…”. Now did Justice Weinberg in his dissenting judgment. What’s more, the prosecution’s case against Pell did not turn on what he did “in the dark”. But, rather, what he did in a public place immediately after a ceremony attended by between 350 to 500 people.

Then, in Crikey on 27 August, Mr Bradley argued that the supporters of George Pell are trying “to convince us that the dissenting judgment of Justice Weinberg in Pell’s appeal is the only one that matters and, of itself, a sufficient basis for the High Court to step in and declare the cardinal a martyr”.

George Pell’s supporters have never suggested that the High Court should declare George Pell “a martyr”.  In any event, martyrs are invariably dead. Yet more ignorance.

The Ignorance of Crikey’s Managing Editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

On 26 August 2019, Crikey’s managing editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran ran this correspondence in the newsletter’s Comment Section.

On the Pell decision:

Mark Dunstone writes: I think you raise a valid point about there being innocent people imprisoned in Australia, and a need for this to be addressed. However, the bigger point about Pell’s trial is that he was able to use, to the fullest extent possible, every opportunity to have his case thrown out: at the royal commission; at the police investigation stage; at the indictment stage; at the jury trial; and at the appeal. And these were done with Pell exercising the raw, unbridled power and privilege he had. Power and privilege not available to many accused.

Yet more ignorance.  The matter before the court in The Queen v George Pell was not discussed at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Crikey’s Bhakthi Puvanenthiran was obviously ignorant of this readily available fact.

Verily, a fitting way to conclude the inaugural segment of Ignoramus Nook.

Jackie was born a sheila, is a sheila and intends to remain a sheila. So there. As a sheila with a Dip. Wellness from The Gunnedah Institute, Jackie is well qualified to examine how blokes without a Dip. Wellness are responding to the challenge of the #MeToo movement.


When it comes to hubris, David Leser – who presents as a journalist, author and public interviewer – did not miss out at birth.

In February 2018, the Good Weekend ran a cover story by your man Leser titled “Women, men and the whole damn thing”. It was a bloke’s response to the feminist #MeToo movement. Yawn.

However, according to the Allen & Unwin’s publicity department, this GW piece was “one of the most talked about and widely praised articles of our time”.  Really. The blurb was written to cover the publication of David Leser’s book of the same name – women, men & the whole damn thing (Allen & Unwin, 2019).  According to Allen & Unwin, Leser is said to have led an “essential and incisive investigation into the roots of misogyny [and] its inextricable roots to patriarchy”. Well, thanks for that.

MWD has yet to read Leser on misogyny and patriarchy in book form. Life’s too short, perhaps even too long, for this. However, thanks to a tip from an avid reader, MWD was able to catch up with The Thought of Leser – per courtesy of an interview which he did with Myf Warhurst on ABC Radio on 20 August 2019. Let’s have a listen:

David Leser: I think that I have a view about – it’s not a unique view and I’m not Robinson Crusoe here – but we’re all made up of feminine and masculine qualities, every one of us. Every child who comes into the world has both the capacity for more archetypal masculine things – rational thinking and left brain thinking. And feminine, more intuitive thinking. And so, we’re made up of both a mix of the masculine and the feminine. And so, what happens to boys from a very early age, is those natural emotions which are available to everyone – to every child, delicious sweet tender child.

What happens at a very early age with boys often and in many cultures is that vulnerability and insecurity and fear and all of those emotions are shamed. They are repressed and often they are removed. That’s because we live with these models of manhood that you have to be tough. That you have to conquer or be in control or not show your vulnerability.  I think one of the first violent acts of the patriarchy is what it does to the feminine inside the masculine, inside the male.

What a load of absolute tosh.  In his salute to the #MeToo movement, David Leser referred to “rational thinking” as masculine.  Whereas feminine thinking is “intuitive”.  Some mistake, surely – as Private Eye is wont to say (sort of). And he is sort of re-inventing an old saying that girls are made of sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice to apply to girls and boys alike.  Until the patriarchy, by violent act, ripped the sugar and spice from inside the male.

Go on. Unfortunately he did – and spoke about his own marriage.

David Leser: And what it compelled me to do was to re-examine, and it’s not like this was an examination for the first time, but to really re-examine what it was in the marriage that had caused the marriage to fail. And the truth of it was that I was – the more your privilege is, the less you can see it often. And at the end of the day we were both careerists, but my job was more important. My needs were more important. My projects were more important. And when I really drilled down into that I was drilling down into the assumptions and the prerogatives and the entitlements of men. And not all men. Does that need to be said? Maybe it does. But I came to understand how I fitted in to the larger picture.

So there you have it.  David Leser had marriage problems.  And it’s the fault of the patriarchy. Which is pretty convenient when, you think about it.  If you bother to think about it, that is.

And then there was this BREAKING NEWS:

David Leser: I will add this – that we need each other. Men and women need each other more than ever. And this can be a hugely exciting moment for men. Women have been thinking about this stuff forever. You know. But men don’t. So, this is an incredible opportunity for men to wake up. And I don’t want to sound self-righteous like I’ve got the answers. I’m just one man having a stab at this enormously complex subject at a moment in time.

Brilliant, eh?  At age circa 60, your man Leser has worked out that men and women “need each other…more than ever”. God only knows how he thought that off-spring were produced in the past.  But it’s nice to know that – as the self-appointed spokesman for his gender – Mr Leser does not want to sound self-righteous. That’s a relief, to be sure.


7:30’s resident satirist Mark Humphries returned to the program on Thursday night after a month long absence. Here’s how 7:30 presenter Leigh Sales introduced the segment – with a Satire Warning:

Leigh Sales: The former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has been in the spotlight again, speaking at an anti-abortion rally in Sydney and then threatening to quit the National Party. And colourful politician Barabbas Loins was also out and about thanks to satirist Mark Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams.

So after their well-earned break from the crushing pressure of writing one sketch per fortnight, your men Humphries & Williams have returned with a rehash. Loyal readers will remember the Barabbas Loins character from his previous appearance in MWD. Mr Humphries may be among those readers as his Barnaby Joyce stand-in no longer speaks with a bizarre faux-Texan accent [see Issue 448]. Unfortunately, while the accent may have improved, the jokes have not:

Barabbas Loins: …while others just talk the talk on being pro-life, I’m someone who actually puts my mouth where my loins is. So when it comes to using protection, I’ll stick to Banana Boat. Ah, thank you. I know what women want, I saw the movie of the same name and let me tell you, that rotten tomato was right. That’s why I recorded a robo-call about the abortion bill. Look out Alexa, make way for Optimus Loins…

There was also reference to Barabbas Loins’ six children – named Baradam, Barevan, Barabbey, Baremily, Bareleanor and Baressica. Mr Humphries apparently finds it hysterical that Barnaby Joyce has lotsa kids, Can You Barrab it? And so it came to pass that Humphries & Co. continued their well-earned break from being funny.



There was enormous interest in last week’s item titled “Age-Shy Ackland Throws The Switch to Age-Shaming”. Last Saturday, The [Boring] Saturday Paper’s “Gadfly” columnist referred to a person of a certain age, whom he does not like, as – variously – an “old codger” and an “old nit-picker”. The reference was to Jackie’s (male) co-owner.

As MWD has revealed, Richard Ackland AM has one of the few entries in Who’s Who in Australia 2019 which does not contain a date of birth.  However, your man Ackland does provide a date of birth for his AM gong – i.e. 2016.

Last week MWD calculated that Richard Ackland would be around 70 today (or older) – i.e. 5 years north of being eligible to receive the old age pension. In other words, not really in a position to classify someone else as “old”. MWD offered to correct its estimate of Ackland’s age if new evidence falls due.

It has been a case of All-Quiet-on-the-“Gadfly”-Front, insofar as Richard Ackland is concerned.  But avid readers have been on the case.  PH in Melbourne produced evidence that Richard Ackland graduated with a BEc from the University of Sydney in 1970.  Which means he finished his course in 1969.  If it was a three year course, he would have commenced at the University of Sydney in 1966 – that is, 53 years ago.

This suggests that Richard Ackland is – as MWD suggested – around 70.  Give or take a couple of gadflies.

Also, thanks to another avid reader – or perhaps it was the same one –  who provided information that Mr Ackland took his LLB degree at Macquarie University – as an external student – during the 1970s.

Sure, MWD is yet to nail down the birth of young Richard.  But we’re getting close.  Meanwhile the issue remains a Continuing Secret of Australian Journalism.

[Fascinating stuff.  I note that John Pilger is another leftist Australian journalist who in the past did not reveal his birthday in Who’s Who. A coincidence?  Probably not.  – MWD Editor.]

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 was 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.

On 20 June 2019, ABC TV’s 7.30’s executive producer Justin Stevens wrote to Hendo and stated – with evident irony – “you have a habit of publishing private email correspondence like this”. Quite so – and so it came to pass that his emails were published in Issues 455 and 456.  For his part, Jackie’s (male) co-owner reckons it’s a bit much for journalists who spend a large part of their professional life receiving leaked information – including private correspondence – to lecture others about good manners with respect to the handling of private correspondence.

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, on occasions, Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).


It was Gin & Tonic time on the evening of Wednesday 21 August when, shortly before The Drum was about to go to air on ABC 1 at 6 pm, that the taxpayer funded broadcaster put out a tweet advising that the program would not be shown at the scheduled time. Rather it would air at 7 pm on the ABC TV News Channel. Nothing else was said about this issue until the reason for the decision was revealed by “The Diary” column in The Australian last Monday.  According to The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff, some explosive comments were made (The Drum is pre-recorded at 5 pm) and the program was cut.  Gerard Henderson wanted to know what was cut and who made the statements that led to the cuts.  But, alas, the ABC went into No Comment mode.  Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 26 August 2019


I refer to “The Diary” segment in today’s Australian titled “Drums beating on missing show”.  As you will be aware, Nick Tabakoff reported on why the 6 pm edition of The Drum was pulled from ABC 1 on Wednesday 21 August at late notice.

According to “The Diary”, the show was pulled due to incendiary comments made by individual panellists about George Pell and Donald J. Trump.  According to the report, an “offending comment” was made about Pell during which the discussion went overboard. Later there was a “massive personal attack on Trump”.  As you know, both comments were cut from the show which was aired at 7 pm on ABC TV’s second channel.

It is not clear whether the comments re Pell and Trump were made by one panellist or by two panellists – before they were ruled unacceptable to go to air by presenter Ellen Fanning.

Since there were five Drum panellists on Wednesday 23 August – Richard Beasley, Kathryn Greiner, Craig Emerson, David Marr and Bhakthi Puvanenthiran – it seems unfair that all five could be suspected to have made the offending comments.   In fact, at least three, possibly four, panellists did not make an offending comment which caused the 6 pm edition to be scrubbed.

My question is this: Who made the comments about George Pell and Donald Trump?

I ask the question in the knowledge that the ABC has a policy of supporting the public’s right to know. I look forward to your response.

Best wishes


cc: Gaven Morris, Director, ABC News

Sally Jackson to Gerard Henderson – 26 August 2019

Hi Gerard.

This is the public comment we have made on this, attributable to an ABC spokesperson. Cheers.

The Drum edited some comments made during the program relating to the Pell appeal decision, and related issues. There wasn’t time to do that before broadcast so we took the decision to cancel the ABC TV broadcast. The edited version aired on the News Channel. 

Gerard Henderson to Sally Jackson – 26 August 2019


Thanks for getting back to me.

But that’s a non-response, of the kind detested by ABC journalists when they are investigating some other organisation.  As such it’s unfair to all the panellists – Kathryn Greiner, Craig Emerson, Richard Beasley, David Marr, Bhakthi Puvanenthiran and Brian Kennelly (who appeared briefly on the program and whom I did not mention in my earlier email) – since it does not say just who made the comments which caused the program to be pulled.

As things currently stand, any one or two of the above could have made the comments. And that’s unfair to the other four or five.

Also, is the ABC saying that the edits – in fact they were cuts – only related to “the Pell appeal decision, and related issues”? And that none of the edits/cuts were made with respect to a comment made by any panellist concerning President Trump?

Over to you – in the interest of the public’s right-to-know, of course.

Gerard Henderson

cc: Gaven Morris, Director, ABC News

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Until next time

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