ISSUE – NO. 471

4 October 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: Australian Financial Review Divided On Mike Cannon-Brookes; Josh Szep’s Obnoxious “insight” into Harry & Meghan

  • Can You Bear It? Malcolm Farr & Quentin Dempster all at sea; Older white man complains about older white men – Starring Richard Denniss

  • Media Fool Of The Week: Steve Biddulph and his pompous drivel Re Scott Morrison

  • The Flann O’Brien Gong For Literary And Verbal Sludge: Ian Warden wins for his incomprehensible blather

  • Nancy’s Modest Proposal: How Bonge might assuage his collective guilt

  • Rant Of The Week: Guy Rundle bangs on about Greta, Krishnamurti, cults and “Sub-Krishnamurtiesque Psycho-Religious fusion of positive thinking”

  • An ABC Update: News Breakfast’s Lisa Millar & Sara James fascinated by differing opinions on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News; More Anti-Trump talk at the Conservative Free Zone

  • Richard Ackland’s Out-Of-Date News in the [Boring] Saturday Paper

  • Correspondence: Malcolm Farr cites Malcolm Farr

* * * *


It was early morning when the print media landed loudly on Jackie’s kennel. The delivery was heavier than usual since it was that time of the month when The Australian Financial Review Magazine and The Australian’s WISH magazine descend from the sky.

It so happened that the powers-that-be at Nine Newspapers’ AFR decided that the October 2019 edition was to be “The Power Issue”.  It was great to learn that John Kunkel, the Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff (who learnt all he knows about everything when working at The Sydney Institute three decades ago) came in Number 2 in the Covert Power list – just behind Philip Gaetjens but ahead of Mathias Cormann and – wait for it – Rupert Murdoch.

What a change.  It’s not so long ago when Fairfax Media types told us that Rupert Murdoch was running the country. But now, according to the AFR, Mr Murdoch has less (covert) power than Josh Frydenberg’s chief-of-staff Yaron Finkelstein.

However, MWD was particularly interested in how the AFR rates Australia’s most prominent self-promoting businessman Mike Cannon-Brookes. He came in Number 6 in the Overt Power list – behind Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Gladys Berejiklian, Philip Lowe, Anthony Albanese, Peter Dutton and David Jones [remove this – this is an advertisement for an elite department store – MWD Editor.]  This is what the AFR had to say about the mansion-living Point Piper resident:

The only business leader to appear on the overt Power list since 2016, the Atlassian co-founder and self-made billionaire demands an audience whenever he speaks. Worth a cool $9.3 billion, Cannon-Brookes is an example to investors and business leaders alike and is not afraid to speak out on issues from climate change to poor standards of political leadership in Canberra. Active in Sydney’s business community and regularly in the media, Cannon-Brookes is in the vanguard of corporate leaders bringing authority and dollars to solve the problems of carbon emissions. Faced with inaction from policymakers, he has regularly used his social media profile as an effective bully pulpit for important causes and wields independent power in a range of advocacy projects. He embodies the generational change taking place in Australia’s most powerful boardrooms.

So those who select the AFR’s Overt Power List – including AFR’s editor Michael Stutchbury – think highly of this member of what Paul Keating calls the Hyphenated-Name-Set.  Not so much the AFR “Rear Window” team of Joe Aston and Myriam Robin.

On Tuesday “Rear Window” described Mr Cannon-Brookes as “the headline-hungry tech bro” and reported how M C-B told a New York cocktail party that he had felt shame when lectured about Australia’s alleged “ecological violence” by a minister in the Myanmar government.  Apparently the Hyphenated-Named-One did not realise that Myanmar has a few ecological problems of its own.  “Rear Window” concluded:

And there in the Big Apple, the billionaire committed to reducing Atlassian’s net emissions to zero by 2050. Much ado about nothing. We’re talking about eliminating the defilements of a software company, not a tannery or a dumpsite, and the 39-year-old will be 71 by then. Can you bear it?

[Interesting that the Can You Bear It? cry is now heard beyond MWD and across the land. – MWD  Editor.]

“Rear Window” returned to the topic on Wednesday – with this to say:

We are loath to dwell immoderately on the divergent words and actions of billionaire climate warrior Mike Cannon-Brookes, but permit us this one addendum to our observations of yesterday that the Atlassian is expending a very modest effort of his own combating the planet’s degradation while beseeching hefty action of our elected leaders.

So there you have it.  The Australian Financial Review Magazine team reckons that M C-B is, well, awesome.  And the AFR’s “Rear Window” team reckons he’s a bit of a bull s**t artist.


As avid readers will be aware, on 20 June 2018 occasional ABC presenter Hamish Macdonald said that ABC presenters are “not allowed to express their opinions”.  MWD has regarded this dictum as fake news.  Here’s another example why.

This is what Josh Szeps – who presents The People Vs on ABC Radio National – said about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on ABC Radio Sydney’s Drive With Richard Glover program last evening.  His comments were made during a discussion on “The Journos’ Forum” on Harry’s relationship with the media:

Josh Szeps: There’s a difference between saying that London tabloids are unjustified and saying that they deserve to be hounded by the Royal Family and complained about by the Royal Family because of their conduct. We know that these things are grubby. But the only thing more useless than a British tabloid is the Royal Family itself. Which profits off this sort of stuff and always has.  It doesn’t have to be sterling journalism to nonetheless be worthwhile. These stupid rags have been peddling this Royal stuff for so many decades and it is precisely what makes –

Richard Glover: And driving a woman to her death. That’s the other part of this story, driving this man’s mother to her death.

[A discussion on Diana’s death and the ethics of tabloids]

Josh Szeps: Can I make a moral distinction between what they write about hereditary Royals and what they write about people who have willingly joined the Royal Family? I mean – maybe I’m making this up or just pulling it out of my bum.  But I think if you were born into the Royal Family that would be a deeply misfortunate thing to have happen to you and you have no choice over it. I mean, Harry didn’t choose this.

Richard Glover: But you’re blaming Meghan for falling in love?

Josh Szeps: Come on, falling in love. No, I’ve lived in Los Angeles and I know people who went to high school with her. This was not just falling in love.

Richard Glover: Ohhh, Josh.

Josh Szeps: This is a woman who has spent her life trying to position herself –

Sarrah Le Marquand: You might get a job as a columnist on the Mail on Sunday.

Josh Szeps: She is not there by accident, she’s chosen –

Monica Attard: I’m going to be sending you every job advert they put up.

Josh Szeps: She has – look. Harry didn’t choose to be part of this pompous farce, Meghan did choose. She chose to be a perfectly useless public figure who would have the unearned adulation of a billion people for no reason whatsoever. She got to literally be a princess – and she has to take the good with the bad.

So there you have it.  Josh Szeps asserted on ABC Radio that (i) the Royal Family is “useless”, (ii) to be born into the Royal Family would be a “deeply unfortunate thing to have happen to you” and (iii) Meghan Markle did not fall in love with Harry but spent her life positioning herself to marry up by choosing to be “a perfectly useless public figure”.

This all sounds somewhat opinionated, don’t you think?

MWD is amused by Comrade Szeps’ claim that to be born into the Royal Family is a “deeply unfortunate thing”. Unlike, say, being born on a garbage dump or in a war zone.  It’s also fascinating to learn that Comrade Szeps claims to know why Meghan married Harry – having heard this on the grapevine from unnamed “people who went to school with her”. Really.

Can You Bear It


It was Hang-Over Time last Sunday morning and Jackie’s (male) co-owner was watching ABC TV’s Insiders with a wet-rag on his forehead when, early in the program, discussion turned on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent address to the United Nations on Australia’s response to climate change.  However, Hendo was soon shocked-to-sobriety by Malcolm Farr’s eco-catastrophist warning.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Dennis Atkins: …Scott Morrison said there, you know, he wants children to grow up in a pristine environment. If what the IPCC said in New York this week comes true, the Australian environment is going to be anything but pristine.

Malcolm Farr: And Cronulla will be underwater in 50 years, 100 years.

Bad news indeed.  And has anyone told Qantas CEO Alan Joyce?  For Sydney Airport is just a decent swim from Cronulla Beach, the Sydney suburb where Scott Morrison lived before he became Prime Minister. So if Cronulla is underwater by 2069 – then so will be Sydney Airport.  In which case Sydney Airport might become “Sydney Port” within the lifetime of some younger MWD (avid) readers.

Soon after your man Farr’s prediction that parts of Sydney “will” be underwater by 2069 or, perhaps, 2119 – support for his warning was lent when former ABC operative and current scribbler for The New Daily – Quentin Dempster – weighed in.  Here’s what Comrade Dempster had to say:

Quentin Dempster (@QuentinDempster)

29/9/19, 9:47 am

“Cronulla will be under water” in 50/100 years if ‪@ScottMorrisonMP doesn’t act more decisively on climate change says Malcolm Farr @InsidersABC . Our PM has no credibility on climate change after all facts have been checked.

Needless to say, Comrade Dempster did not say how Australia, with 1.3 per cent of global emissions – can stop the seas rising.  But there you go.

MWD asked one of its young avid readers to examine the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report titled Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate with respect to the IPCC’s predictions for Cronulla.  Using the IPCC’s data, here is the map depicting Cronulla (i) now, (ii) in 2100 according to the IPCC’s lowest estimate and (iii) in 2100 according to the IPCC’s highest (i.e. worst) estimate. Note that the IPCC’s predicted increases in sea levels are marked in light blue.

In short, even on the IPCC’s most pessimistic prediction, there is no chance that Cronulla will be under water within the next 100 years.  So has Malcolm Farr or Quentin Dempster corrected their howlers? Not on your nelly. Can You Bear It?


What a stunning piece by Richard Denniss – the chief economist at The Australia Institute – in The Guardian on Wednesday. His article was headed: “Attack of the clones: Australia’s reign by older white men is an offence on us all.”

It seems that the white, middle-aged Dr Denniss (for a doctor he is) is offended by the fact that the fellow white blokes like Alan Jones, Scott Morrison and Andrew Bolt (whose photos were shown at the top of the leftist piece), along with retired Australian Rules Football player Sam Newman, run the country.  This despite the fact that your man Denniss – who does not reveal his year of birth – seems to be around the same age as the Prime Minister.

The Australia Institute’s chief economist asked with respect to Sam Newman: “Who gives former football players a loud voice in debates about climate change?”  His answer is “boards and chief executives – who are overwhelmingly male”.  This suggests that when leftists at The Australia Institute rule the land, the likes of Sam Newman will have to be given permission by Comrade Denniss and his ilk for “the right” to speak on politics. Fancy that.

But – MWD hears you cry – how diverse is The Australia Institute?  Not much, according to its website.  The (white) Mr Ben Oquist is executive director, the (white) Ms Ebony Bennett is deputy director and the (white) Richard Denniss is chief economist.  Put it this way, The Australia Institute’s senior staff could comprise a sightscreen in a game of red-ball cricket.

How does this compare with, say, The Sydney Institute? – MWD also hears you ask.  Well, of The Sydney Institute’s three full-time staff – two are female and two are white. And half of the Institute’s casual staff are women of colour. And Richard Denniss is busy lecturing others about the need for diversity.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  I note that your man Denniss concluded his article in The Guardian by complaining that Australia has “a media full of older men to tell us what’s important”. Perhaps Mr Denniss could step down and hand over his media gigs to a young sheila of colour.  There’s no leadership quite like leading.  Just a thought.  MWD Editor.]

Media Fool Of The Week 


While on the topic of pompous older white males, consider the article published in Nine Newspapers on Tuesday by Steve Biddulph. It was, predictably, a criticism of Scott Morrison’s views.  However, your man Biddulph only quoted three words of anything the Prime Minister has said or written.  Here’s how the article commenced in the Sydney Morning Herald. It was titled “PM a ‘bad dad’ for denigrating young protestors”:

Scott Morrison failed an entire generation last week. He dismissed the 300,000 young people and their parents who filled our city streets in the School Strike 4 Climate, as lacking “context and perspective”. It was an outrageously insensitive response, and if young Australians were anxious before, they will be doubly so now. They are the most science literate generation in history, and the science says this is the most dangerous time our world has ever faced. But the leaders of the nation think everything is fine. I was out among those young people. They are the generation raised while I was this country’s leading voice on child-rearing, and I was so proud of them it brought me to tears.

Turn it up. For starters, the overwhelming majority of parents with young children in Australia would never have heard of Biddulph. But he is claiming that he was Australia’s leading voice on child-rearing when the current crop of young Australians was born.  In which case, is he somehow responsible for the young Australians who did not join him on the environment protest last Friday as well as those who did?

Steve Biddulph claimed that those attending the protest “were the prefects, sports kids and thoughtful nerdy ones who get their facts right”.  Sounds like lotsa fun – let’s go protesting “with our prefects and nerdy ones”.  No wonder most children stayed at school – especially those from lower socio-economic areas.

The man who claims to have (indirectly) reared the current generation of school kids described Tim (“The end of the world is nigh”) Flannery as “our most eminent climate scientist”. In fact, Dr Flannery’s qualifications are Bachelor degrees in English and Earth Science and a doctorate in Palaeontology – not climate science.  Biddulph just made this up.

Oh yes. Steve Biddulph went on to claim that six billion out of the world’s seven billion population are destined to die because of climate change – unless we implement The Thought of Tim Flannery. And he suggested that “if Scott Morrison were to follow his own advice, he’d pull his children out of school right now”.  More hyperbole.  And Biddulph claimed that Australians “are now world pariahs”. Yet more hyperbole.

This is how the pompous Steve Biddulph concluded his pompous, fact-free, article:

So it’s time to enlist. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient and tiresome, but that’s fatherhood. I’m talking to you, Scott Morrison, with your lump of coal. It’s time to stop clowning around.

Gosh.  Your man Biddulph is accusing the Prime Minister of being a clown.  Fancy that.  By the way, the Sydney Morning Herald only published letters in support of Biddulph – any critics of him were censored.

Steve Biddulph: Media Fool of the Week.


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.


Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loved Ian Warden’s column in The Canberra Times last Saturday.  It’s a pity, however, he did not understand what Comrade Warden was on about – or on – after the first couple of paragraphs. Here’s how it all began – with a (confusing) reference to the opera singer Mark Padmore’s essay “On Desire” which was published in The Threepenny Review:

Greta Thunberg has been thundering at the UN Climate Summit in New York, her despairing rage deservedly capturing the rapt attention of the thinking world. Meanwhile one of her distinguished kindred spirits (someone similarly horrified by climate change and the human ghastliness behind it) has been piping up more softly and in a shy, obscure place where the media never goes. I speak (reverently, for I am such a fan) of the operatic tenor Mark Padmore. Back to him in just a moment, via a fanciful aside.

In the unlikely event of my ever dying, it will give me a posthumous buzz if at my otherwise no-frills state funeral (with ushers under strict instructions to taser and turn away any Liberal prime minister who tries to attend, for having hated the Liberals all my life I won’t have warmed to them in death) the music played includes Franz Schubert’s song, Die Taubenpost (The Carrier Pigeon).

Die Taubenpost is particularly on my mind at the moment because one of the finest warblers of this exquisite song, [Mark] Padmore, has just leapt into print with a heartfelt opinion piece about Schubert’s songs, about our gratification-mad times and about climate change. His novel, [sic] tenor’s take on climate matters in his essay “Desire” in the online magazine Threepenny Review is so very timely given how Greta Thunberg’s Monday thunderings at the UN Climate Summit are still echoing in all thinking folks’ minds.

Well, here’s a bit of luck.  Your man Warden does not want any Liberal Party prime minister to attend his funeral – if funeral there is to be.  What great news for the party founded by Robert Menzies in 1944.

There followed six paragraphs of quotes from Mark Padmore – taking up around half of Warden’s incomprehensible article – including such gems as these ones:

“The pleasure and sorrow contained in these songs are inextricably bound up with the absence of the object of desire.

“Our age, by contrast, seems intent on reducing the distance between desire and satisfaction to a minimum. Longing has got shorter. No sooner do we identify a desire than we set about finding the quickest way to get rid of it. This can usually be achieved without moving anything more than a couple of fingers. Music, books, food, sex can all be delivered to the home almost instantaneously. We are all being trained to … regard delayed gratification as something for losers. Desire is no longer supposed to last.

“Unfortunately, unless we can break this addiction to instant satisfaction, to the quick fix, we and the planet on which we live are well and truly f***ed. We urgently need to change our relationship to gratification. As time runs out for us to do anything to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, we will need more than ever to slow down … to live with desire, to hold it and give it duration.”

What on God’s earth does this mean?  Your man Warden concluded his leftist download by telling readers – if readers there were – how those “on the idealistic, liberal left of Australian politics are always having our hearts broken by the Australian people, our love of them seldom requited”.  As in the 2019 election. How gratuitous can you get?  And then there is Ian Warden’s very own conclusion:

And, yes, although our planet is probably f***ed, to use the discerning tenor’s word, our probably misplaced hopes endure. And on some of its missions the tireless carrier pigeon of our yearnings sees and brings us back hope-stoking messages of Greta Thunbergs shining their lights in a darkening world.

Apparently The Canberra Times pays money for this incomprehensible sludge.


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 Ian Warden

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six per cent

All that sludge about young Greta

Pity Warden can’t do better


This increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s proposal to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. As a consequence of such irreverence, your clergyman Swift never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story. This is the current one.


Did anyone see the tweet put out by Paul (“I used to share digs with Gerald Ridsdale but I don’t talk about it very much”) Bongiorno shortly after Gin & Tonic time last Friday?  In case the answer is in the negative, here it is:

Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno)

26/9/19, 6:37 pm

I am more convinced than ever it is time for churches, pseudo churches and those claiming to be churches paid taxes. Why should secular Australia bankroll, homophobes, frauds, misogynists, child abusers, main chancers and hypocrites? Let them pass the plate and pay up.

As the years have gone by, Bonge has become more bitter and twisted about the Christian churches in general and the Catholic Church – of which he was once an ordained priest – in particular.  This despite the fact that, according to evidence presented to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, in the period of the 1930s to the 1980s – on a per capita basis – a child was safer in a Catholic religious institution than in a non-Catholic religious institution.  There are no equivalent statistics for non-religious institutions.

In any event, your man Bongiorno wants to punish churches today for what are essentially historical crimes of close to half a century ago.  Or perhaps Bonge really believes that contemporary churches are replete with “homophobes, frauds, misogynists, child abusers, main chancers and hypocrites”. [I note that Mr Bongiorno does not call for any action against non-Christian religions – Islam and the like. – MWD Editor.]

Paul Bongiorno was educated in the Catholic education system in Ballarat before it received Commonwealth or State government funding. However, he did benefit from attending schools where private school fees were cheap due to the fact that religious brothers and sisters – and occasionally priests – taught for no remuneration. He also studied free at Corpus Christi College (near Melbourne) and then at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.  When in Rome, Paul Bongiorno graduated with a master’s degree in theology. All of his secondary and tertiary education was paid for by the men and women who put money on the collection plate when attending Mass in Catholic Church’s or participating in fund-raising fetes in the 1960s.

Now, here’s a modest proposal. If Paul Bongiorno feels guilty about being educated as a result of contributions made as parishioners “passed the plate” every Sunday – then he could always return the money (in today’s dollar value) to the currently cash-strapped Catholic Diocese of Ballarat.  It could be used to pay additional compensation to the victims of historical child sexual abuse. That’s the most efficient way for Bonge to ease his collective guilt.


As avid readers are aware, Jackie’s (male) co-owner likes nothing better than witnessing a long rant. In these times of social media and all that – there is a tendency for ranters to play a short game.  However, from time to time, a ranter can play a long game – in publications like Crikey.


What a stunning piece by Guy Rundle – MWD’s fave Marxist comedian – in Crikey last Friday. Titled “Greta Thunberg and the cult of rational thinking”, your man Rundle’s piece commenced with a reminder of the Indian-born Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) whom he described as a “semi-messiah figure embodying the divine human spirit”.  [Brilliant, to be sure. But what does it mean? – MWD Editor.]

It turned out that your boy genius Krishnamurti retired early as “World Teacher” and became a humanist teacher whose influence lasted “through the hippie ‘60s and into the ‘80s” – influencing in the process, it seems, Marxist comedians and the like.

It seems that Comrade Rundle regards Greta Thunberg (16 years) as someone in the Krishnamurti mould – who happens to be the victim of a right-wing pile-on.  All because she believes that we are all on the eve of extinction and that the world will end in, say, 2030.  Or thereabouts. Towards the end of his Crikey article, the Marxist comedian threw the switch to rant:

That Thunberg’s global role has developed cult-like aspects is both inevitable and not hugely important. Cults are worrying when they spring from simple myth — that humans are trillion-year-old spirits released from an exploding volcano, or that priests should get legal immunity because a God became his own son in human form 2000 years ago — but in this case the movement Thunberg represents is the rational side, based on science.

Paradoxically, what draws people to Thunberg, and various comparable figures, from Martin Luther King Jr to Jesus, is that what she says is simple, rational and forensic in precisely the way that politicians should be.”

Thus the full paradox. Thunberg gains a slight mystical aura because of her rationality, while a figure like Scott Morrison, paid to be rational, addresses the UN with a speech oozing the sub-Krishnamurtiesque psycho-religious fusion of positive thinking. Hillsong have done their work well on Morrison; his version of Christianity perfectly expresses the degree to which it has become an adjunct to the narcissistic cult of the self, a device to support flagging spirits and instil self-belief by turning away from objective truth.

Morrison’s concern at teenagers feeling horror and despair at the future to come is quite likely genuine. But the solution — to address the thinking about reality with other thinking about non-reality — marks him, and others, as the true cultists, devotees of the childish belief that life is specially arranged in one’s own favour. Attached to the other cult of our era, Prometheanism (the entangled, unproven beliefs that humans can wholly dominate nature and would achieve “full human being” if they did), such magical thinking is truly apocalyptic. If for the moment Greta Thunberg embodies a “world-spirit”, it is because that world-spirit is one of materialist rationality, against the clashing cults of the burning end times.

So there you have it.  Or perhaps not.  According to Le Rumble, young Greta is “comparable” to Martin Luther King and Jesus.  It’s just that Jesus was executed, dying on a cross.  And MLK was assassinated, murdered by a bullet.  Both men died for their beliefs.  Miss Thunberg, on the other hand, has done a fist-bump with Barack Obama and a selfie with Angela Merkel.  No signs of persecution there.

And then there is Scott Morrison.  According to Rundle, he addressed the United Nations “with a speech oozing the sub-Krishnamurtiesque psycho-religious fusion of positive thinking”.  Really. And the Marxist comedian reckons that the Prime Minister has turned away from “objective truth”. While claiming that he believes that a cult exists which maintains that “priests should get legal immunity” – a statement which is objectively false.

As to Comrade Rundle’s view on Prometheanism – well, rather than ponder this particular thesis, Hendo headed off for a Gin & Tonic. Even though it was only 9.30 am.



As avid readers are oh-so-well aware, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  The likes of Julia Baird and Leigh Sales say that there are conservatives in the ABC buildings, but have not been able to identify one. Not one.

This leads to a situation where ABC journalists share common views on a whole range of issues.  In short, they are not used to hearing dissenting views from their own within the ABC staff collective.  [Don’t you mean the ABC Soviet? – MWD Editor.]

And so it came to pass on Monday that some of the ABC’s best and brightest were shocked – literally shocked – to learn that some presenters on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel in the United States disagree with each other.  Really. Let’s go to the transcript of ABC TV News Breakfast on 30 September when co-presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar interviewed ABC fave Sara James about the US – in particular, the dispute between President Trump and critics of his relationship with the current Ukrainian leadership.  Let’s go to the transcript:


Sara James: … um I did want to mention one other thing that I just think is fascinating. There seems to be something of a war happening over at Fox News, with –

Lisa Millar:  – Oh yeah! This is really interesting. Chris Wallace isn’t it?

Sara James: Yes, so Chris Wallace, we’ll have a listen to what he had to say that is being widely considered to be sniping at some on his own network. Have a listen.

Chris Wallace [clip]: The spinning that’s been done by the President’s defenders over the last 24 hours, since this very damaging whistle-blower complaint came out. The spinning is not surprising but it’s, uh, astonishing and I think deeply misleading.

Lisa Millar: What I’ve found fascinating is that each of these very well-known presenters is using their own time slot to sledge their colleagues. Whether it was Shepard Smith, uh who else?

Michael Rowland: Tucker Carlson.

Lisa Millar: Tucker Carlson. So Fox News, the internal ructions must be extraordinary.

So how about that?  The likes of Mr Rowland, Ms Millar and Ms James believe that it is “fascinating” (James and Millar) and “extraordinary” (Millar) that some Fox presenters (e.g. Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith) disagree with other Fox presenters (Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity) about President Trump.  Which proves a long-held MWD view that there is more political diversity at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News than at the taxpayer funded ABC.  Moreover this exchange demonstrates that ABC types cannot imagine a media outlet where everyone does not agree with everyone else on almost everything.


While on the topic of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone, consider the discussion on the ABC PM program on Tuesday with Stephen Loosley (currently a visiting fellow at the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University) and Professor Gordon Flake (CEO of the Perth US Asia Centre at the University of Western Australia).  At issue was the request by US President Trump to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help provide evidence concerning the Mueller Investigation into (alleged) Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Stephen Loosley’s essential point was that this was another example of where President Trump is pressuring foreign countries for his own political advantage.  Gordon Flake’s essential point was that President Trump has abandoned the boundaries between the government and private and that this was abnormal.

Linda Mottram, was in the presenter’s chair, as Mr Loosley criticised President Trump and then Professor Flake criticised President Trump.  No other view was heard.  That’s what happens when a media outlet is a Conservative Free Zone.


Whatever Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper is – it is not a newspaper, in that it contains scant news. More like a weekly leftist house-journal. The problem is that The Saturday Paper goes to press on Thursday evenings. So, when it comes out on Saturday morning (and is delivered to sandal-wearers in inner-city coffee shops) its “news” is already 36 hours old. That’s why Hendo reads it on Monday – what’s the hurry? Even Martin McKenzie-Murray (The Saturday Paper’s chief correspondent) acknowledges that he writes incoherently and is inherently uninteresting. (See Issue 404). But he’s still on the Schwartz payroll – a self-declared boring correspondent for a boring newspaper.


Did anyone read Richard Ackland’s “Diary” in Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper last weekend?  Probably not.

Well Richard (“call me Gadfly”) Ackland’s “Gadfly” column last Saturday contained its usual school boy/school magazine style. As in “ScoMo Morrison”, the “Radge Orange Bampot” (Donald J. Trump), the “Pussy Grabber” (ditto), “Lord Moloch” (Rupert Murdoch), “The Daily Smellograph” (The Daily Telegraph) and “The Catholic Boy’s Daily” (The Australian). How funny is all this? – especially since it is repeated week after week after week.

Gadfly’s final piece last Saturday was titled “Pell Melee”. Cardinal George Pell (who has applied to the High Court for leave to appeal following his conviction for historical child sexual abuse) was referred to as “the old wretch”.  Meanwhile The Australian’s Chris Merritt was referred to as “The Tamil” and described as having “foam flecked lips”. Pretty clever, eh?

Abuse and sneering aside – what was Gadfly’s BIG STORY? Er, there wasn’t one.  Your man Ackland revealed details of the Application for Special Leave To Appeal in the case of George Pell v The Queen.  This “Gadfly” piece was published on Saturday 28 September 2019.  The application had been filed in the High Court of Australia’s Melbourne Office on Tuesday 17 September 2019.  News of the application having been lodged was reported by Chris Merritt (The Australian) and Chip Le Grand (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald), in their respective newspapers, on the morning of Wednesday 18 September 2019.

In other words, Richard Ackland’s BIG story appeared in The [Boring] Saturday Paper 10 days after the Pell application was lodged.  It’s called lazy – and boring – journalism posing as news.

[I note that in his “Diary” entry on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit to Washington DC, Comrade Ackland had this to say: “At the welcome ceremony on the White House lawn, Morrison looked like a vacuum-cleaner salesman about to get an employee-of-the-month certificate”. Which raises the question – what’s wrong with vacuum cleaner salesmen? Gadfly sounds like a dreadful snob who poses as the enemy of the establishment.

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).


As readers of this week’s Can You Bear It? segment are aware, Gerard Henderson has challenged Malcolm Farr’s assertion that  Cronulla will be underwater in 50 to 100 years. Before commenting on this matter, Hendo wrote to Mr Farr asking for his evidence for so alarmist a claim.  Alas, there wasn’t any.  Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Malcolm Farr – 30 September 2019


Great performance on Insiders on Sunday.

However, I am wondering about your evidence for your claim that Cronulla will be under water in 50 to 100 years – i.e. by 2069 or soon after.

What sea level rise would lead to such a situation? And would Sydney Airport be similarly affected since it is also on Botany Bay?

Over to you.


Malcolm Farr to Gerard Henderson – 30 September 2019

Great to hear from you. story/c73850a4bd2c283d9a5ed65669dcb004

[This was a reference to Malcolm Farr’s article in The Gold Coast Bulletin on 25 September 2019.  An online check reveals that the article does not mention Cronulla being underwater anytime in the next 100 years – MWD Editor].

Malcolm Farr

Gerard Henderson to Malcolm Farr – 30 September 2019


Lotsa thanks for the intel.  Alas, however, I could not find any evidence in the material to support the claim that Cronulla “will be under water” in 50 or 100 years.  Have you got anything else?

Over to you.


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Until next time.