GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 472
11 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 – The Sydney Morning Herald likes John Hewson who doesn’t like Liberal leaders who win elections; Faine’s Farewell; Q&A on the public losing faith in (conservative) politicians
Editorial – ABC’s Gaven Morris concedes the ABC is not tuned-in with the suburbs
Can You Bear It? Fitz on the soapbox; Lenore Taylor & Paul Daley downsizing their carbon footprint; AFR misses Paul Howes’ Alan Joyce joke
A Fulsome Apology by Canberra Press Gallery and some other inner-city residing journalists re Bill Shorten – As told to Jackie
Hinch on Hinch – Derryn on his press conference “interview” with Robert Menzies
Fawn Again Journalism – Fawning Farewells For Faine
Correspondence – Gerard Henderson & ABC Radio National’s Noel Debien re Lucie Morris-Marr
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JOHN HEWSON ADORATION ALIVE AND WELL AT THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Nine Newspapers and the ABC just love running the Thought of John Hewson – whom they portray as a former leader of the Liberal Party. It suits both organisations to have a one-time Liberal Party leader criticising the Liberal Party and its contemporary leader. Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) gets this attribution – even though he currently campaigns against the Liberal Party in elections.
Yesterday’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald by John Hewson was headed “Morrison betrays his voters as he plays Trump puppet”. Yawn. Your man Hewson appears to have only two topics. One, Australia should spend lots more taxpayers’ money on alternative energy. Two, the likes of Scott Morrison and John Howard are mugs. Er, that’s about it. For example, yesterday the one-time Liberal leader described the Prime Minister as a “muppet”. How clever is this?
It speaks volumes for the Sydney Morning Herald’s readership that the paper’s Letters Page today led with the headline: “Insight into smug PM shows Hewson needed in Canberra”. Amidst ten letters was a photo of the learned doctor with the caption “Common sense: John Hewson”.
Nine out of the ten letters bagged Prime Minister Scott Morrison and one was neutral. The Prime Minister was called, variously “a sycophant”, “dangerous”, an “opportunist” and there was a criticism of his alleged “evangelism”.
A visitor arriving in Australia and glancing at the SMH Letters Page would have no idea that Scott Morrison’s government was returned at the May 2019 election with an increase in seats and votes and that John Hewson lost an “unloseable” election in 1993. Which demonstrates how unrepresentative the Sydney Morning Herald Letters Page is.
FAWNINGS WITH COMRADE JON FAINE
MWD just loves it when journalists interview – or report on – other journalists.
So it was an uplifting experience when the ABC Radio News this morning reported that Jon Faine, the presenter of ABC Melbourne Radio 774 Mornings with Jon Faine, would be presenting his last show today after 23 years. MWD is sure, absolutely sure, that this was a breakfast conversation stopper from Broome to Cooktown. [It must have been a quiet news day, surely. MWD Editor]. For more concerning Jon Faine see this week’s Fawn Again Journalism segment.
Q&A RECKONS THAT “THE PEOPLE” HAVE ONLY LOST FAITH IN POLITICIANS LIKE PETER DUTTON, BORIS JOHNSON & DONALD TRUMP
Meanwhile, over at the ABC TV’s News Breakfast program this morning, an advertisement was running concerning next Monday’s Q&A. Here it is:
From the streets of Hong Kong and London to climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion. The people have lost faith in our leaders. Joining the Q&A panel: ethicist Simon Longstaff, outspoken Chinese journalist Vicky Xu, national political analyst Jennifer Hewett and Liberal MP Tim Wilson, alongside [Labor’s] Tim Watts. Democracy is coming on Q&A Monday. On ABC and iview.
The ABC illustrated its claim that “the people have lost faith in our leaders” with reference to Australian minister Peter Dutton, Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson and United States president Donald J. Trump. This overlooks the fact that the Coalition, in which Mr Dutton holds high office, won the 2019 election with an increase in its seats and votes won. Mr Dutton attained a swing to himself of 3 per cent. Likewise President Trump won the 2016 election and Boris Johnson could well win a general election in Britain if he can hold one. There was no reference to such leaders as Angela Merkel or Francois Macron or Jacinda Ardern having lost the faith of the people. How very Q&A.
ABC’s GAVEN MORRIS CONCEDES THAT THE ABC IS NOT TUNED-IN WITH AUSTRALIA’S SUBURBS
Quelle surprise! Gaven Morris (Director News, Analysis and Investigations) now concedes that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster does not have a clue about what its viewers/listeners/readers think. What’s more, it does not cater for the majority of Australians. This is consistent with MWD’s long stated view that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its television, radio or online outlets. And a lot of Australians are political or social conservatives – or both.
As reported in the “Media” section of The Australian on Monday, Gaven Morris told The Diary’s Nick Tabakoff that the ABC had to commission its Australia Talks National Survey to find out what Australians think. This despite the fact that the public broadcaster is the biggest media outlet in the land and covers all of Australia and, consequently, should have an excellent idea about the nation and its people.
Even so, the ABC’s presenters, producers and editors have had to partner with Vox Pop Labs – a company operated by academics and based at McMaster University in Canada – to help with its Australia Talks National Survey. Previously, the ABC has worked with this Canadian outfit on its various Vote Compass projects around Federal and State elections. Needless to say, like most ABC commentators, Vote Compass was hopelessly wrong in predicting the outcome of the May 2019 Federal election.
Which leads to the question – how representative is the Australia Talks National Survey? Well, between 20 July and 29 July 2019, a total of 54,970 people, covering every Australian State and Territory and every Federal electorate, completed the survey’s 500 or so questions. Even so, the survey was essentially directed at the ABC’s viewers/listener base. As the ABC’s Australia Talks promotion material states:
Participants in the Australia Talks National Survey were selected from the Vox Pop Labs online respondent panel, comprised of a diverse cross-section of Australians. The panel was recruited from Australians who have completed ABC Vote Compass surveys in the past and who said they were willing to participate in further research projects.
That’s pretty clear then. The Australia Talks National Survey is primarily a survey of respondents who are accustomed to interacting with the ABC through its Vote Compass initiative. In short, it’s not representative of all Australians – since, for example, ABC TV always rates behind television networks Nine and Seven and sometimes Ten. In other words, the ABC appeals to a minority of Australians.
So, how really representative is the ABC? Not much – according to Gaven Morris himself. He made the following comment to Nick Tabakoff when suggesting that it’s time for the ABC to look at areas where there are people who “pay their taxes but aren’t big ABC users”:
We do a brilliant job of serving metropolitan, urban and regional Australia but we could definitely improve in the suburbs of Australia. Are we tuned in to what people are interested in Bankstown, or Ipswich in Brisbane, Frankston in Melbourne, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast?
Hang on a minute. The majority of Australians live in the suburbs. So Mr Morris is conceding that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster does not cater for a majority of Australians. This cannot be resolved by such gestures as the Mission to Bankstown of recent memory when ABC senior executives travelled to south west Sydney to find out what Australians really think – and then returned to the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Sydney’s inner city Ultimo.
In his interview with The Diary, Gaven Morris reported back on the Mission to Bankstown – declaring that Bankstown wants the ABC to “Stop talking about Canberra”:
They’re saying “Now that the election is over, I’m getting on with my life. Talk to me about things that are interesting to me not in Canberra”. There’s a genuine mood out there to stop talking about the minutiae of politics.
The ABC’s Mission to Bankstown was well-meaning. But gratuitous, nevertheless. No one needs to travel for a day or two to Bankstown, Ipswich, Frankston, the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast to find out Australians are not primarily interested in politics. Nor do Australians need to engage a Canadian research company to discover what Australians regard as important.
Gaven Morris has avoided confronting the fact that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone, without political balance, by declaring that Australians don’t care about politics. This is how Nick Tabakoff concluded his piece on Monday:
The ABC does not believe it’s a right or left-wing issue. Rather, it thinks viewers are simply “fed up with political agendas” as a whole. “There are big parts of the community not motivated by issues that politicians talk about all day long,” Morris says.
“But they do have real concerns, and we need to plug into those concerns.”
Aunty’s homework begins now. Post the Bankstown summit, news and current affairs bosses have until December to prepare a three-year plan involving new “pilots and projects” on how the ABC can more broadly reflect what their community wants. Watch this space.
Ah, A Three-Year Plan – just two years short of a Five-Year Plan. Stand by for ABC programs on life in the suburbs as seen by inner-city residing ABC journalists in the taxpayer funded Conservative Free Zone.
PETER FITZSIMONS – ON THE SOAPBOX AGAIN
Jackie’s co-owners are republicans. But they happen to believe that Australia will never have an Australian head of state while the Australian Republic Movement is led by a garrulous millionaire bloke who lives in Neutral Bay, sneers at political conservatives along with Christian believers and wears a red rag on his head. To wit, your man Peter FitzSimons.
In his “Fitz on Sunday” column in the Sun-Herald on 29 September 2019, the Red Bandannaed One concluded his weekly rant-on-Sunday as follows:
Reviving a Sydney tradition
As a young fellow, from the age of 15 or so, I used to love going to The Domain, opposite the NSW Art Gallery to listen to the speakers on their soapboxes. A great Sydney tradition dating back at least to the 1860s, when anyone who had anything to say – from religious nutters to flat earthers to fascists [He did not mention the communists – MWD Editor] to weirdos who warned of the dangers of global warming – could count on a crowd. It has fallen on hard times in recent decades as the crowds have gone elsewhere, but efforts are being made to resuscitate it. As part of that resuscitation, today at noon, a republic/monarchy debate will be held on the subject: Australia is better off with a foreign boss. Come along!
The online edition of the Sun-Herald revealed that the soapbox debates would include HIMSELF plus Ella Finlay (the 2018 Australasian Women’s Debating Champion) and Seamus Dove (the 2019 Commonwealth Debating Champion). Yawn.
Well, fancy that. Fitz invited his readers – if readers there were – to “Come Along!” to listen to one or more republicans and monarchists debating – on their soapboxes – at noon on Sunday 29 September. It’s difficult to imagine why anyone – in their sane or insane mind – would devote their Pre-lunch Drinks Time to listen to the likes of the Red Bandannaed One, and more besides, baying on about whether “Australia is better off with a foreign boss”. Especially since Elizabeth II is not the “boss” in Australia or even in Britain.
The ARM is always banging on about its (alleged) ongoing successes. But Jackie’s (male) co-owner cannot find anything on the ARM website to indicate that anyone turned up to Fitz’s “Soapbox in the Domain”. Despite the tactic of the Red Bandannaed One to encourage attendees with the use of an exclamation mark!!!!! Can You Bear It?[If any of your readers find evidence that the teeming masses flooded to this event, you should cover this next week. In the meantime, I suggest you use the sketch below of how Fitz might have looked on a soapbox ranting against Mrs King and all that as if his supporters had turned up in droves. – MWD Editor.]
LENORE TAYLOR + PAUL DALEY TO SELL THEIR HIGH CARBON- EMITTING RED HILL PILE
MWD wishes the acclaimed Ms Taylor and the acclaimed Mr Daley all the best with selling their (circa 1962) Red Hill pile – which was renovated and remodelled in 2006.
As revealed in Jim Malo’s report in Allhomes on 28 September 2019:
Acclaimed journalists Lenore Taylor and Paul Daley have made the difficult decision to part ways with their old family home in Canberra, listing the property for sale after moving to Sydney for work. The four-bedroom Red Hill house holds many pleasant memories for the pair, from parties with the powerful to the more usual family milestones, Mr Daley said: …“We did a lot of entertaining there so you know there were always journos and politicians coming through. We used to do a regular Wednesday night dinner party during sitting weeks”.
Sounds like what the Prime Minister would call a “Canberra Bubble” headquarters – don’t you think? MWD wishes the acclaimed Ms Taylor and the acclaimed Mr Daley all the best with selling their (circa 1962) Red Hill pile – which was renovated and remodelled in 2006. However, it comes as some surprise to note that the house has an Australian Capital Territory Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of a mere 1.5. Yes folks, just a 1.5 EER.
According to MWD’s Canberra source, the top EER for the ACT is 8.0 and 6 is regarded as responsible. But the Taylor/Davey abode (in which they resided from 1993 until recently) is rated as a dismal 1.5 – only ahead of the 1.0, 0.5 and zero ratings. In short, in spite of being renovated in 2006, this Red Hill house emits lotsa carbon dioxide – far more than the emissions put out by most of the good people of Canberra.
Now hear this. Lenore Taylor is the editor-in-chief of the eco-catastrophist Guardian Australia – which lectures others about global warming, the need to act on climate change, even the forthcoming Global Extinction. When in Canberra, did she lead by example on climate change? – MWD hears you cry. No. Not on your nelly. Can You Bear It?[Er, no. Not really. I note that Hendo will be appearing with Lenore Taylor on the ABC TV Insiders program on Sunday. I hope he will not talk about the Taylor/Daley energy-consuming Canberra home. It would be discourteous to do so and the late Nancy would be displeased. – MWD Editor.]
AFR MISSES PAUL HOWES’ ALAN JOYCE JOKE – OR DOES IT?
There was enormous interest in last week’s segment titled “Australian Financial Review’s Division about Michael Cannon-Brookes”. MWD revealed that Mr M C-B, he of the Hyphenated Name Set, had been judged Number 6 in the AFR’s Overt Power listing.
AFR editor Michael Stutchbury, among other members of the judging panel, said that M C-B “embodies the generational change taking place in Australia’s most powerful boardrooms”.
However, as MWD revealed, the AFR’s “Rear Window” column last week referred to Michael (“How good are renewable energy subsidies?”) Cannon-Brookes as a “headline-hungry tech bro” whose promise to reduce his company Atlassian’s net emissions to zero by 2050 was “must ado about nothing”. The point being that Atlassian, a tech company which is into renewable energy, is not in the business of mining or agriculture or manufacturing and, consequently, sends out few emissions. MWD suspects that this no-humbug point was made by MWD fave Joe Aston, the co-writer of “Rear Window”.
What fun. A Stutch v Joe disagreement which, it is hoped, will be settled in an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cage somewhere or other.
In the meantime, an avid reader has drawn attention to this comment by KPMG executive (and former Australian Workers Union national secretary) Paul Howes – who was on The Power Issue’s judging panel. By the way, it was your man Aston who broke the story some years ago that the (former) union boss was going out with – or, perhaps, staying in with – Qantas executive Olivia Wirth. They are now a powerful item – she at Qantas, he at KPMG Enterprises.
Perhaps the AFR’s sub-editors missed Mr Howes’ sense of humour. In any event, this is what he had to say about long-serving Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce – who, alas, did not made the AFR’s Overt Power list but came in at Number 9 on the AFR’s Covert Power list – behind the likes of Dr John Kunkel, Senator Mathias Cormann and Rupert Murdoch but ahead of Maserati Levante [Take this last one out, it’s an advt for a luxury car. – MWD Editor]:
Paul Howes: If you’re looking for the most powerful CEOs, I would say it has to be Alan. In terms of shifting the direction, it’s him. He’s one of the longest-serving CEOs now. And he hires well.
Yep. Your (Irish) man Joyce certainly does hire well. It’s just that he also fires well – having decided that Qantas would not be associated with the Bible-quoting Rugby Union star Israel Folau who – with or without a little help from Saint Paul – would be a useful addition to Australia’s Rugby team currently competing in the World Cup. By the way, Israel Folau came in fourth place on the AFR’s “The 10 most culturally powerful Australians in 2019” list. It seems that Mr Folau can influence lotsa people – but not Alan Joyce who heads Qantas which sponsors Rugby Australia. According to the AFR’s Power Issue, that is. Can You Bear It?
A FULSOME APOLOGY BY CANBERRA PRESS GALLERY AND SOME OTHER INNER-CITY RESIDING JOURNALISTS re BILL SHORTEN – AS TOLD TO JACKIE
Following James Campbell’s “exclusive” report in last Sunday’s News Corp papers that former Labor leader Bill Shorten has taken full responsibility for his party’s loss at the May election, Jackie came across this typed apology by members of the Canberra Press Gallery and some other inner-city residing journalists. Here it is – as MWD’s very own “exclusive”.
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It is true that before the 18 May election we (especially our colleagues at the ABC and Nine Newspapers) believed that Bill Shorten would surely lead Labor to victory at the polls and comfortably defeat the man we called “ScoMo”, the leader of The Muppet Show that posed as the Coalition government. We were convinced that, while not as popular as the late Bob Hawke, Mr Shorten could defeat any Coalition leader except Malcolm Turnbull – whose replacement as prime minister we deeply mourned and still mourn. As to Scott Morrison, we did not believe that a happy-clappy Christian who goes to the Rugby League and eats non-vegan pies and wears caps could defeat anyone other than – say – Jack the Ripper. And, in May, Mr Shorten was more popular than the late and unlamented Jack – since he could jog and sing the Internationale and tell zingers. Alas, we were wrong.
Also, we believed that Comrade Shorten had nailed the policy debate. He was going to tax the rich, the almost rich, the middle class and the working class. But that was okay – since the money would be spent on good causes like saving the planet and employing public servants and extra funding for the ABC. It was the same with franking credits. We cheered Labor’s Chris Bowen when he told self-funded retirees that they could vote for the Coalition if they wished. And we admired the fact that Mr Shorten was against coal mines, except when he was in Queensland and Western Australia. But what’s two states in a Federation of half a dozen? In short, we admired the fact that like our mate John Hewson, who led the Coalition to an honourable defeat in 1993, Comrade Bill was a brave leader who was taking a brave policy to the electorate. Alas, again, we were wrong.
We now realise that Bill Shorten is a TOTAL LOSER who could not even win at Patience or Solitaire. He looked hopeless at jogging and would have been well advised to skip the exercise in his “I’m Chloe’s hubby” tee-shirt and instead eat more meat pies and wear more caps. As to Labor’s policy – we now realise that this was a load of junk. When did an opposition win an election by promising more taxes we (now) ask? And we now realise that coal’s a goer – especially since without coal there would not be enough energy for our phones and computers and fridges and air-conditioners and flights overseas with our great leader – the wise and clever ScoMo.
It is a matter of deep regret that this awareness has come so late. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Next time, all will be different – until we get it wrong again.
– With Apologies to Private Eye
HINCH ON HINCH: DERRYN HINCH LETS SLIP THAT HE DID NOT INTERVIEW ROBERT MENZIES – HE ONLY QUESTIONED THE LIBERAL PARTY FOUNDER AT A PRESS CONFERENCE
There has been overwhelming demand for more news on the “Spin a Yarn” segment – presented by Derryn (“I got a whopping 2.8% of the primary vote in the 2019 Victorian Senate election”) Hinch on Sky News every Thursday. After Dark, of course. Towards the end of the program, a turn-table determines what (boring) story The Human Mumble will tell about famous people who have had the privilege of meeting the even more famous Hinch. Last night it was Robert Menzies – but more of this later.
According to your man Hinch, the idea of the turn-table came from Canberra Press Gallery journalists Annika Smethurst (News Corp) and Rob Harris (Nine newspapers). MWD does not doubt this. However, MWD believes that the journos were pulling Hinch’s leg in getting him to tell yet more of his oh-so-boring and inconsequential stories about himself. It’s just that The Human Mumble does not understand when people are laughing at him. It’s a narcissistic trait.
Last night, the Hinch media panel comprised (the smart) Rob Harris and (the perceptive) Greg Brown of The Australian. Let’s go to the transcript as the turn-table is spun:
Derryn Hinch: Alright it is time again for the “Spin a Yarn” segment where each week we spin the wheel. I don’t know where it will land, and I have to come up with a story very quickly about the celebrity whose name the arrow lands on. So here goes.
[Wheel lands on Robert Menzies]
Derryn Hinch: Should have guessed that.
Rob Harris: Troy Bramston will love this.
Derryn Hinch: Yeah. I should have guessed that actually. Robert Menzies and the 75th anniversary [of the Liberal Party’s foundation]. There are sort of sceptics out there who don’t believe this, but I am the only journalist in Australia who has interviewed every prime minister since Robert Menzies. Now, I haven’t interviewed ScoMo yet, as prime minister, but I hope to do it this year.
Anyway, I know Mr Henderson thought this was bulldust – how the hell could he do it? – ’cause in 1964 I was 20. But, it was a press conference, I was there and Menzies was there. I thought that Laurie Oakes would hold the title and I asked Laurie and he said: “No, I interviewed him in 1967 after he left office”. So I thought, well Michelle Grattan must have interviewed him. And Laurie said “no, no, no, she came to Canberra after me”. So, you’re looking at a man, the only journalist in Australia who has interviewed every prime minister from Bob Menzies. And he was such an arrogant – oh he was arrogant. He was mean and he was –journalists were beneath him. We really were.
Greg Brown: Just quickly Derryn – that interview you said you did with Menzies, was that at a press conference?
Derryn Hinch: Sorry Greg?
Greg Brown: Was the interview with Menzies at a press conference, was it?
Derryn Hinch: Yeah, it was a press conference. It was an all in press conference which he held very rarely.
Greg Brown: I thought you meant one-on-one interview, Derryn.
Rob Harris: Didn’t you once get through to him once at Kirribilli House on the phone Derryn?…
Phew. How helpful can a young journo like Mr Harris get to the man Sky News’ Paul Murray calls “Dad”?
As avid readers will remember, MWD Issue 466 challenged your man Hinch’s earlier claim that he “interviewed” Robert Menzies. And clearly, there was no such interview in the common usage of the term. For, as Derryn Hinch let it slip last night, his exchange with Robert Menzies took place at “a press conference” – not an interview.
When Greg Brown picked this up and questioned The Human Mumble, he said he could not hear. When the question was repeated – there was a pause. Then Hinch on Hinch was saved by Rob Harris who conveniently changed the topic.
So “Mr Henderson” – as Mr Hinch calls him – was correct. Derryn Hinch’s claim that he interviewed Robert Menzies when he was prime minister was, indeed, bull-dust. Stay tuned for more Hinch on Hinch as the wheel of Hinch’s life spins and spins.
FAWN AGAIN JOURNALISM: JON FAINE’S FAWNING SEND-OFF GIVES AN INSIGHT INTO THE CONTEMPORARY ABC
It was Jon Faine’s last program on ABC Radio Melbourne’s Morning with Jon Faine today. Your man Faine thought that the occasion was too big for the ABC’s Southbank studio. So Melbourne Town Hall was booked for the occasion and JF arrived for the gig to be greeted by loyal fans with High Fives and so on.
Dina Rosendorff, the ABC’s Melbourne manager, posted footage of Jon Faine’s entry into the Kingdom of Melbourne Town Hall this morning. It did not say much for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s diversity. Nearly all the roll-up were white and middle-age plus. A soviet of middle class leftie radicals, if ever there was one.
Earlier, on Tuesday 9 October, your man Faine did the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast. Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar were presenters. First up, Faine commenced talking about the topic he knows best, himself. Let’s go to the transcript:
Lisa Millar: Well let’s have a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning and we have a very special guest. Our outgoing ABC Mornings presenter in Victoria, Jon Faine. Good morning Jon. I can’t believe we managed to get you on the couch just days away from your final farewell.
Jon Faine: Well thank you for calling me special, I think special are the firefighters that are doing it so tough in the communities up there. And I’ve done my share of firefighting broadcasting, and emergency broadcasting, and it’s – I mean I’ve been with the ABC for 30 years. Friday’s my last day and the emergency broadcasting we now do, especially on local radio around the country, it’s just transformed our – I guess the way we see ourselves and the way the communities see us. And the role you play in the community. It’s been one of the toughest things that I’ve had to do.
Michael Rowland: Indeed, and we’ll speak a bit more about your stellar radio career at the end of the chat.
Jon Faine: Oh please.
Michael Rowland: Oh yes, there’s no avoiding it.
Jon Faine: My least favourite topic. I want to interview you….
As readers are aware, Hamish Macdonald has declared that “at the ABC, we’re not allowed to express opinions as hosts of programs, [or] as journalists”.
Well Comrade Faine blew that away on Tuesday. He demanded that the Coalition establish a national anti-corruption body. He criticised Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne for breaching the code of conduct that applied to recently retired ministers. He described the books by George Pell antagonists Louise Milligan and Lucie Morris-Marr as “excellent”. (Not so, the former still contains errors and poor scholarship, the recently released latter also contains undocumented assertions – re which see today’s Correspondence segment). And so on.
And then it was back to Fawn Again.
Michael Rowland: We’re not going to let you go – a lot of our viewers are in Melbourne, of course many around the country who know about you as well, thank you for what has been a fantastic career at the ABC. 23 years behind the mic of the ABC mornings program. And I’ve said this in another forum as well recently, you have been an absolute beacon of professionalism, but also very importantly, a beacon of true ABC values. And that now more than ever is very important.
Jon Faine: This is a pretty precious thing. And you know, the three of us and the people in this building and whether they’re working in maintenance or payroll or whatever it might be – every aspect of this extraordinary organisation, we’re privileged to be a little link in that honourable change. And it’s been a blast.
Lisa Millar: Are you going to keep us on our toes from the outside? Going to throw a few grenades every now and then?
Michael Rowland: Jon from Fitzroy has tweeted his response to that story.
Jon Faine: I wasn’t shy in calling Michelle Guthrie to account. I mean she was still my boss when I said I didn’t think she was doing a very good job and I wanted her to do better. And I didn’t say anything more than I wanted her to do better but that was regarded as heresy at the time. But I think we should be seen to be robust, we should be seen to be capable of critiquing ourselves the way we critique other people. Surely we should.
Michael Rowland: Yeah and thank you, you’ve been a fantastic mentor to certainly me and lots of other colleagues around the ABC over the years.
Lisa Millar: Yeah and I just wanted to say that uh while Jon is very familiar to radio listeners down here, a lot of people listen to your podcast interviews as well and you and I came across each other in Singapore in 2005 when the convicted drug trafficker Van Nguyen was hanged and it was such a controversial story at the time and I remember your reporting on it from there.
Jon Faine: Do you know who my producer was for that, at that time?
Lisa Millar: Who?
Jon Faine: Look he’s gone to do kind of alright, uh a young fella called Chris Uhlmann.
Michael Rowland: Ohh yes he’s had sort of a middling career. [Faine laughs]
Jon Faine: But Chris and I, in fact we were on the phone to each other just yesterday afternoon and I think we both had a bit of PTSD after that because the reality that they were actually killing this man. Despite everyone asking them not to and all the rest of it, it suddenly sank in and yeah it was horrific.
Lisa Millar: You’ve done some amazing work, Jon Faine, I know you’ll keep doing it in some form or another. Thank you very much. Let me shake your hand….[That’s enough. I can’t take it anymore. I’m off for a Gin & Tonic afternoon. Faine on the ABC is bad enough. Faine on Faine on the ABC is insufferable. – 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).
GERARD HENDERSON AND NOEL DEBIEN re LUCIE MORRIS-MARR’S LATEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE GEORGE PELL PILE-ON: IN WHICH MR DEBIEN GOES UNDER-THE-BED
Lucie Morris-Marr – who currently writes for the left-wing online newspaper The New Daily – is one of the leading media antagonists of Cardinal George Pell. Along with the likes of the ABC’s Louise Milligan and Paul Kennedy, The Guardian Australia’s David Marr, Sky News’ Derryn Hinch and more besides. In view of the decade-long media pile-on against Pell, it is difficult to see how he could have received a fair trial despite the instructions to jurors by the trial judge – especially in view of what is now known about unconscious bias. The Court of Appeal, in a two-to-one decision, upheld the jury’s verdict.
Currently, George Pell is seeking leave to appeal to the High Court concerning his conviction by a second jury (following the inability of the first jury to reach an unanimous or majority decision) for historical child sexual abuse.
Following the publication of her book Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell (Allen & Unwin, 2019), Lucie Morris-Marr was interviewed by Noel Debien on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report on 2 October 2019.
Ms Morris-Marr made a number of inaccurate claims – including concerning Gerard Henderson. But – like the taxpayer funded Louise Milligan and Paul Kennedy – Noel Debien has gone under the bed and has declined to enter into correspondence. Gerard Henderson’s email is set out below. MWD will let you know if Mr Debien summons up the intellectual courage to respond.
Gerard Henderson to Noel Debien – 8 October 2019
You are not the worst offender. However, your interview with Lucie Morris-Marr on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report last Wednesday reveals that you are not without stain in believing what people tell you.
The reference is to your interview with the author of Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell (Allen & Unwin, 2019). By the way, it would have been helpful to your listeners if, when introducing the segment, you had stated that Cardinal Pell’s trial was “secret” at the direction of the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions.
Neither Pell, nor his defence team, ever requested a secret trial. This was done at the behest of the DPP who wanted to run another trial with respect to Pell on another matter – but who dropped this, having formed the view that the evidence would not warrant a conviction. This was the Ballarat Swimming Pool case – so hyped up by your ABC colleague and renowned Pell antagonist Louise Milligan.
In fact, the inability of the media to report both the first trial (where the jury could not reach a verdict) along with the second trial was prejudicial to Pell – since it was not until the case went to the Victorian Court of Appeal that the proceedings were thrown open and Australians were able to hear the details of the prosecution’s case – and that of the defence. For example, it was not known before then that close to two dozen witnesses did not support the complainant’s account. And it was not known until then that the only evidence against Pell was the complainant’s account.
During the interview, you commenced this exchange:
Noel Debien: You write that your other colleague Gerald [sic] Henderson – who’s the executive director of The Sydney Institute and also News Corp colleague, wrote damningly about your story.
Lucie Morris-Marr: It was everywhere, it was like being a huge storm – like being in a bizarre Da Vinci Code in the middle of Melbourne. Where I’ve got the Cardinal in Rome making threats and trying to deflect attention from the allegations against him into my story and how I got it. And then of course having these powerful right-wing figures in my own company then attacking me
I note that that at Page 107 of Fallen the claim is made that I was employed by the same company that employed Morris-Marr when she wrote for the Herald-Sun – that is News Corp. The fact is that I am employed by The Sydney Institute and I have never been a colleague of hers. I am a columnist for News Corp’s The Australian, that’s all – just as I was, for over two decades, at (the then) Fairfax Media.
I also note that, at page 107 of Fallen, Morris-Marr suggests – without any evidence – that I had been instructed by News Corp proprietor Rupert Murdoch to write columns about George Pell. Such arrant nonsense should have warned you not to accept Morris-Marr’s other claims without fact-checking.
Later on, the following exchange took place:
Noel Debien: I hear you got through it, but on Page 108 you wrote “I no longer knew who to trust at News Corp. I was mentally and physically exhausted. A sleeping tablet hadn’t helped. An ambulance called”.
Lucie Morris-Marr: Absolutely, I mean this is the effect it had….
As you know, since you have obviously read Fallen, I am the one whose criticisms allegedly led to an ambulance being called. This claim is made clear at Page 108 of Fallen – where it is stated that “Henderson’s attack was the last straw”.
My so-called “attack” was a critical comment in The Australian (26 February 2016) on the lack of evidence in Morris-Marr’s reportage with respect to Pell. That’s all. I am constantly surprised by the fact that many journalists, who are so critical of others, cannot accept any criticism of themselves.
Here’s a suggestion. Next time you ask a journalist about me – why not check out first whether her or his claim with respect to me is accurate?
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Until next time.