ISSUE – NO. 473

18 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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  • Editorial – Chief Judge Peter Kidd on The Project with Waleed Aly

  • Can You Bear It? La Trioli’s historic first (correction); Jon Faine, Himself & I

  • New Feature: How Dare You! – Calling out Lenore Taylor

  • MWD Exclusive – ABC Chair Ita Buttrose response re former ABC Chair Professor Richard Downing

  • Your Taxes At Work – Planet America gets conspiratorial

  • Hinch on Hinch – Hinch name-drops the famous (Jennifer Lawrence) and infamous (Harvey Weinstein) alike

  • Great Media U-Turns Of Our Time – Peter Hartcher splits the difference on splitting atoms

  • Correspondence – Phillip Adams helps out on Vietnam & The Kurds

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It was an odd decision for Peter Kidd, the Chief Judge of the County Court in Victoria, to choose Channel 10’s The Project to explain why he opened the court to the media to report his sentencing judgement in The Queen v George Pell. Unusual in the sense that The Project was one of the media networks that led the pile-on against George Pell in the lead up to his trial and conviction.

In any event, Chief Judge Kidd’s interview with The Project’s Waleed Aly was unexceptionable – as is evident in this exchange on Tuesday.

Waleed Aly: I want to be clear, I’m not asking you about the Pell case here. But there must have been times in your career where the jury has reached a decision that if you were on the jury you probably wouldn’t have – and yet you’ve got to go out and sentence them. Um, how do you do that?

Peter Kidd: Well I’m not going to even engage in that question at all, save to say this, that we as judges, we apply the law. And when a jury convicts somebody we’re bound to sentence them. If trial judges were to more or less ignore verdicts of the jury then that would undermine the centrality of the role of the jury in our criminal justice system.

Waleed Aly: I well understand you can’t do that. [laughs] You’re not in that position.

Peter Kidd: If the accused wants to appeal it’s for the Court of Appeal to decide whether that verdict is unreasonable having regard to the evidence.

In other words, Chief Judge Peter Kidd made it clear that his role was to accept the jury’s verdict and sentence accordingly. It is up to an appeal court to decide whether the verdict was unreasonable having regard to the evidence. This demolishes the assertion made by The Canberra Times’ Jack Waterford recently that the trial judge agreed with the jury’s verdict in the Pell case. We simply do not know this. Meanwhile it remains to be seen whether the High Court will give George Pell leave to appeal the decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal.

For whatever reason, Waleed Aly missed the opportunity to ask the Victorian County Court’s chief judge about trial by jury in criminal cases. A couple of questions come to mind.

First, is it possible in the age of social media and mobile phones for a high profile defendant to receive a fair trial? Especially if he or she has been the subject of a lengthy media pile-on over many years. Especially in view of what we know these days about the phenomenon of unconscious bias.

And second, is it appropriate in the social media era for Victoria to be the only mainland state in Australia to deny an accused the right to a trial by judge alone – thus significantly reducing unconscious bias concerns.

These are important issues of relevance to the Pell case – of which Dr Aly seems unaware.

By the way, in reporting the Aly-Kidd interview on, Network 10 reporter Josh Butler wrote: “Pell’s conviction has since been upheld by a panel of judges on appeal.” This is hopelessly wrong. The Victorian Court of Appeal divided two to one in George Pell V the Queen. Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell comprised the majority. However, Justice Mark Weinberg delivered a detailed and lengthily argued dissent.

Can You Bear It


Wasn’t it wonderful to hear the inner-city residing Virginia Trioli in the ABC’s inner-city Southbank studio in Melbourne doing the Mornings program on Monday? Mornings with Virginia Trioli, no less.  As avid readers are aware, MWD  fave La Trioli has replaced Jon Faine in this important slot.  He presented the ABC Radio Melbourne (formerly called 3LO) Mornings show for 23 years, during a three decade career at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

As is the tradition of many a journalist, the new presenter of Breakfast led off by talking about herself.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Virginia Trioli: I’m the first woman ever to be appointed to this program and I am so proud of that. Particularly for what it means to every little girl riding in the back of the car to school this morning, who might hear this. I can tell you: “Your voice belongs everywhere, so raise it up”.

The ABC publicly and enthusiastically endorsed this.  Until, that is, it put out the following correction:

ABC Melbourne @abcmelbourne

CORRECTION: Elizabeth Bond presented 3LO mornings after Terry Lane was sacked in 1977.

9:21 AM – Oct 14, 2019

Soon after, La Trioli acknowledged her error:

Virginia Trioli: And yes indeed Elizabeth Bond, ABC Radio interviewer and presenter, umm born 1942, died 2002. It was the mid-60’s when she was around. My only excuse for getting that wrong, my apologies for that error, is that um I wasn’t round then.

The only problem was that this was another error.  In fact, Elizabeth Bond presented the ABC Melbourne Mornings program between 1977 and 1979 – not in the “kind of mid-60s”.  Now, MWD understands that Virginia Trioli was born in 1965. Which means that when Miss Virginia was riding in the back of the car to school at age, say, 12 – Elizabeth Bond was presenting Breakfast.  Which suggests that Young Virginia Trioli was around then – but wasn’t listening to the ABC. However, at least she apologised for overlooking Elizabeth Bond.

The day before her Mornings  debut, The Sunday Age published a report on an interview La Trioli had given to Nine Newspapers journalist Michael Lalio. She was reported as making the following points:

The usual approach to political interviewing doesn’t work anymore. Politicians will say the same bullshit over and over while the viewers are at home screaming: “It’s not true”.  And there’s no value in that. It’s just a waste of six minutes.

Believe it or not, on Monday La Trioli’s first interview was with a politician – Victoria’s Labor premier Daniel Andrews.  A waste of six minutes, MWD hears you cry. Er, apparently not.  The Trioli-Andrews exchange took close to 12 minutes. Which is a “waste of six minutes” multiplied by two. Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of La Trioli and Jon Faine – did anyone see last Friday’s One Plus One on the ABC TV News channel?  Or “Tosh Plus Tosh” as Jackie’s (male) co-owner has called it in the past.

As avid readers are aware, MWD just loves it when journalists talk to journalists about journalism. However, the current episode of One Plus One runs the risk of giving self-indulgent journalism a bad name – as the saying goes.

It turns out that the powers that be at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster thought it would be a you-beaut idea to get the incoming presenter of the Melbourne Mornings program to interview her predecessor. And so the deed was done – over 27 minutes – at the ABC’s Southbank studio.

Right at the top of the interview, Jon Faine declared that “talking about myself is my least favourite topic”. [Fancy that.  I seem to recall that you quoted your man Faine saying precisely this in last week’s issue – MWD Editor.]

So, the message is clear – Jon Faine maintains that talking about Jon Faine is his “least favourite topic”. So, how did he go on One Plus One?  You be the judge.  In a 27-minute interview – Comrade Jon used the words “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine” on a total of 214 occasions. Yes, a double century – which only ended when the assigned studio time ran out.  According to MWD’s calculations, Jon Faine hit the switch to I/me/my/mine once every 7 seconds of interview time – not counting the time taken by La Trioli’s soft, if not fawning, questions. In other words, of the 4563 words which J.F. spoke – a whopping 5 per cent were “I” or “me” or “my” or “mine”.

It was a story about how a well-off leftist Monash University student studied law and became a left-wing lawyer  first in a top end of town company and then in Legal Aid before becoming a left-wing presenter on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster for over two decades. Here are a couple of takes from One Plus One:

Jon Faine: I’m leaving a job that I’ve loved and I’ve been at the ABC for thirty years, and 23 of them just doing Melbourne’s morning radio show which is ridiculous. I mean, I think the previous longest incumbent was like 5 years or something. But on the other hand, I’ve had a blast. And I hope I’ve by and large done a good job by the audience, and by the ABC. And I’ve had more fun that anyone’s entitled to. I’ve been indulged more than people are entitled to and I have no regrets. I’ve chosen to leave, this is by me, not to me.

And then there was this exchange:

Virginia Trioli: That was a very rich time at Monash, a very important time.

 Jon Faine: A very political environment. And I was a very active student, sort of political figure. I got involved in a lot of things, starting with the [Sir John] Kerr demonstrations after the Dismissal [of the Whitlam Labor government in November 1975] and all the way through. And I kind of learned a whole lot of tricks there about student activism. And I was the student rep on faculty council and sort of led student rebellions in the Law School – all that sort of stuff. I think they were rather glad when I left the joint. And then I ended up doing this incredibly straight-laced law firm articles of clerkship with my principal – was the president of the Law Institute and you had to wear a suit and tie.

Virginia Trioli: And I know that it didn’t fit, it didn’t quite suit you. It probably didn’t help that you got your ear pierced and then you started to wear this totally ridiculous elephant earring. Which we allowed you on the ABC to wear, which is just absolutely staggering to me.

Jon Faine: Why did I do that? I suppose it was a way of trying to get your message noticed. It wasn’t just that I was an inveterate show-off which is probably part of the truth. But it was also a way of saying: “Hey, you’re getting some good content here, delivered by someone who doesn’t conform with your stereotypical view of what a lawyer should look like. And I’m wearing casual clothes, I’ve got an earring, I’ve got bushy hair and a beard, but I’m still doing the work”. And doing the work I might say, even if I say so myself, to a pretty high standard. So the fact that you could do that but bust people’s conceptions of what you’re supposed to look like because you weren’t wearing a pinstripe suit was pretty important.

And it went on and on and on as Jon Faine spoke at length about the subject which he claims to least like talking about.  However, this week’s One Plus One was very much a case of “The Ayes have it”. Can You Bear It?


Due to popular demand, MWD has established a How Dare You! segment – inspired by Greta Thunberg’s message that the end of the world is nigh due to climate change and that all of us – or many of us – are responsible for the forthcoming extinction. MWD has the view that preachers should lead by example.  This appears to be the case with Ms Thunberg – who practises what she preaches with respect to flight-shaming, even if it is not clear how she intends to travel from her temporary abode in North America to her residence in Sweden.

MWD’s  “How Dare You!” segment will focus on eco-catastrophists who warn others about extinction due to climate change but emit lotsa carbon in their private lives.


There was enormous interest in last week’s MWD which broke the story that the home in Canberra which belongs to Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor and her author and journalist husband Paul Daley is currently for sale – with an Australian Capital Territory Energy Efficiency Rating of a mere 1.5. The worst rating is zero and 6 is regarded as responsible. In short, a 1.5 EER means that the household is into emissions in a big way.

In short, the Taylor/Daley Red Hill pile is making a significant contribution to global warming – if you take the teachings of The Guardian seriously, that is.  The couple moved to Sydney not so long ago.  Hence the sale which, in accordance with Australian Capital Territory requirements, has to provide an Energy Efficiency Rating.

As revealed on Sky News’ The Bolt Report on Tuesday, Gerard Henderson managed to get a message through to Greta Thunberg somewhere in the United States.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner was seeking a response from Ms Thunberg with respect to the behaviour of fellow eco-catastrophist Lenore (“It’s my pile and I’ll emit if I want to”) Taylor.

No reply was expected.  However, on Tuesday morning a pigeon landed on Jackie’s kennel. Attached to its collar was a small note from Greta which contained just five words –


Set out below is a photo of the Taylor/Daley home along with a pic of Greta’s message.  MWD is grateful to the avid Canberra reader who drew attention to this matter.  Further tips of this kind will be warmly received.

[How frightfully interesting. I note that in The Guardian Australia on 13 March 2019 Lenore Taylor had this to say:

Over the past 30 years I have reported so many broken climate policy promises and quoted so much rhetoric that proved to be hollow, it is difficult to trace it back to the start. I think it’s a faded press release from 11 October, 1990 headed “government sets targets for reductions in greenhouse gases”.

“The government recognises the greenhouse effect as one of the major environmental concerns facing the world,” said Ros Kelly, Bob Hawke’s environment minister. “This decision puts Australia at the forefront of international action to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.”

We knew we had to do something almost three decades ago. Children have grown to adulthood and had their own children during the time we have known, and done not very much.

Yet, as pointed out last week, Comrade Taylor did not do very much at all about her domestic emissions – despite doing renovations in 2006 which is on the south side of three decades ago. – MWD Editor.]


As MWD readers are aware, for some years Gerard Henderson has been asking the ABC to disassociate itself from certain statements made in July 1975 by Professor Richard Downing (1915-1975) concerning pederasty and pederasts.  Professor Downing was appointed ABC chair by Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in 1973. He died on 10 November 1975, the final full day of the Whitlam government.

The correspondence between Gerard Henderson and newly appointed chair of the ABC, Ita Buttrose, is published here in full – with Ms Buttrose’s approval. Gerard Henderson will discuss this matter in his column in The Weekend Australian tomorrow.

Gerard Henderson to Ita Buttrose – 19 June 2019

Dear Ms Buttrose

Congratulations on your appointment as ABC chair and on your AC.

I understand, from a report in The Australian last Monday, that the ABC will soon be running a three-part documentary, to be presented by Sarah Ferguson, tilled Revelation – dealing with the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Australia. I also understand that the ABC expects Ms Ferguson’s documentary to attract international attention when it is screened in 2020.

For the record, statistics presented to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse indicate that, during its years under study, a child was safer in a Catholic religious institution in Australia than in any other religious institution in Australia at the time.  Comparable figures are not available for state and secular institutions.  It remains to be seen whether this fact will be referred to in Revelation.

In view of the likely impact of Revelation, it occurred to me that the ABC might wish to clean-up its own appalling record with respect to child sexual abuse – before Sarah Ferguson’s program goes to air.

I write with reference to one of your predecessors, the late Professor Richard Downing (1915-1975), who was ABC chairman from July 1973 up to his untimely death in November 1975.

In July 1975, Professor Downing – acting in his position as ABC chairman – took a public stand on the issue of pederasty.  In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald – published on 19 July 1975 – he called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts.  The letter was signed “Prof. R. Downing, Chairman, Australian Broadcasting Commission”. As you know, what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission was renamed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983.

On the same day, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the (then) ABC chairman Richard Downing as saying: “In general, men will sleep with young boys…”.

Neither statement made by Professor Downing in 1975 has been overruled or rejected by any of his successors.

As you may be aware, evidence provided to the Royal Commission indicates that the crime of pedophilia was at its height in Australia in the late 1960s, the 1970s and early 1980s.

It was at this time that the ABC Radio program Lateline employed Richard Neville as a presenter. This in spite of the fact that Mr Neville was a self-confessed pedophile, having boasted about having sex with an underage 14-year-old London schoolgirl in his best-selling autobiography Play Power which was published in 1970.

On 13 July 1975, Richard Neville invited three pederasts into the ABC studio in Sydney to appear on the Lateline program. The episode was titled “Pederasty”. The occasion was reported by David Dale in an article titled “Richard Neville shocks them again – on ABC’s ‘rough radio’.” (National Times, 21-26 July 1975).  “Pederasty” was also referred to in K.S. Inglis’ This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission – 1932-1983 (Melbourne University Press, 1983). Professor Ken Inglis had unrestricted access to ABC records for his two-volume history of the public broadcaster.

During the 13 July 1975 Lateline program, in response to presenter Richard Neville’s questions and comments, the three pederasts spoke of their sexual preferences.  Richard Neville told David Dale about what he termed the atmosphere of relaxation and lack of guilt on Lateline’s “Pederasty” program:

The pederasts on the program….were unrepentant. They were people just talking about what they enjoy doing.  There are people who want Australia to be a completely uniform society.  The Australian media usually present conventional people with conventional attitudes.  I want to explore the diversity of people in this country.

Two of the three pederasts who appeared on Lateline were personal friends of Richard Neville – one of them proposed the “Pederasty” episode. A part of the discussion was edited out before Lateline went to air – it covered the anal rape of a boy.  David Dale also reported: “As the teenage boy on the program described in detail his first experience with a male, one of the pederasts began to moan.” The ABC decided to run this uncut.

Not surprisingly, Lateline’s 1975 “Pederasty” episode created controversy. According to K.S. Inglis, (then) ABC managing director Talbot Duckmanton was concerned about the program. However, he was overruled by his chairman Richard Downing.  This is what Professor Downing wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 19 July 1975 – in his capacity as ABC chairman:

…the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussion in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand [emphasis added] the diverse natures of the people who compose that society.

Professor Downing, writing on behalf of the ABC, overlooked the fact that pedophilia – and pederasty – was a crime in 1975.  As it is today.  However, no one at the ABC reported the pederasts to NSW Police – then or since.  It remains an unreported crime – despite the fact that cases of historic child sexual abuse are currently being investigated by police.

Despite the fact that the Lateline “Pederasty” program was referred to in Ken Inglis’ This is the ABC in 1983, the ABC has never contradicted Professor Downing’s statements made on its behalf in 1975.

What’s more, there is no evidence that the ABC ever adopted a duty of care with respect to the victims of the three pederasts. This despite the fact that, if alive, they would be about 55 years old today – around the same age as some of the victims who appeared before the Royal Commission.

I am not aware of any leader of a public, private, religious or secular organisation who made a statement like ABC chair Richard Dowling did in 1975.  This was an extraordinary intervention into the public debate by the chair of the public broadcaster.

Over the last decade or so, ABC journalists have focused attention on clerical child abuse. It is impossible to imagine that any ABC presenter or reporter would accept that a bishop in the Anglican or Catholic churches today would leave uncorrected action or words of one of his or her predecessors of the kind engaged in by Professor Downing in 1975 with respect to pederasty.

I appreciate that neither you nor your predecessors – or the board over which the ABC chair presides – run the ABC on a day-to-day basis.  However, since Professor Downing’s 1975 statement was made in his capacity as ABC chair – it seems fitting that one of his successors dissociate the ABC from it.

Unfortunately, both Jim Spigelman AO QC and Justin Milne AM declined to do so.  I hope that you will take a different position – preferably immediately but certainly before Revelation is shown in Australia and elsewhere.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Ita Buttrose to Gerard Henderson – 15 October 2019

Dear Mr Henderson Gerard

RE: your email regarding former ABC Chair, Professor Downing

Thank you for the opportunity to consider the matters raised in your email of 19 June. I have discussed the matter with the ABC Board. I have also reviewed the results of a search of the Sydney Morning Herald archives.

I did not know Professor Downing who, as you know, died over 40 years ago. I would not presume to speculate on his views or his intentions but do not condone the statement you refer to that has been attributed to him in a Sydney Morning Herald editorial on 19 July 1975. I have not been able to find any other references to that statement and given the passage of time, we may never know the truth, context or meaning of those words.

Other comments I have read from Professor Downing may shed further light on his views, including his public statement that the Lateline episode was useful in regard to the discussion of “community problems”. Further, in a Letter to the Editor published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 1975 following the Lateline program, Professor Downing stated:

 “The ABC does not seek to offend but only to enlighten. To quote from a report to the British Independent Broadcasting Authority “society may remain civilised only if the individual learns to abhor the results of uncivilised behaviour – even though the learning process can be upsetting to him.”

Under my Chairmanship, the ABC will not shirk from reporting to the public on matters that are difficult, confronting and, at times, abhorrent. However, you should not infer that the ABC condones matters because we report on them. ABC reporting often draws public attention to matters that results in further investigation. The 2018 Aged Care and Banking Royal Commissions were both prompted by ABC reporting that revealed the magnitude of public concern over the issues and prompted the Federal Government to call Royal Commissions.

Newspaper reports at the time of the Lateline program state that the then-director of the Festival of Light, the Reverend Fred Nile, provided a copy of the recording to New South Wales police. At the time it was reported that a spokesman for the NSW Minister for Police stated that the NSW Police Commissioner, Mr Hanson, would “study the situation, to see if the Vice Squad should be involved”.

Like you, I will not see the Revelation documentary until it goes to air in 2020.

However, the ABC has strong editorial guidelines designed to ensure journalistic standards are met and complaints are appropriately dealt with.

I ask that if you wish to publish this correspondence, that you do so in full.

Yours sincerely,

Ita Buttrose AC OBE Chair

Gerard Henderson to Ita Buttrose – 18 October 2019

Dear Ms Buttrose Ita

Thank you for your letter of 9 October 2019, in response to my letter of 19 June 2019 concerning former ABC chair Professor Richard Downing, which you have discussed with the ABC Board.

I am pleased that you and the ABC Board have taken this matter seriously. Your immediate predecessors – James Spigelman and Justin Milne – dismissed the matter out of hand when I raised it with them in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

It’s good to know that, in your capacity as ABC chair, you “do not condone” the statement attributed to one of your predecessors that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. It’s important to remember that Richard Downing never complained that he had been misquoted by the Sydney Morning Herald nor did he seek a correction.

You wrote that you “would not presume to speculate” on “Professor Downing’s views or intentions”. However, they seem to have been quite clear. As you know, he was defending an ABC radio program – Lateline – which was presented by a self-declared pedophile (Richard Neville) who (uncritically) interviewed three self-declared pederasts – along with some underage victims of child sexual assault. The program was pre-recorded. As The National Times reported on 21 July 1975, one of Mr Neville’s (pederast) guests moaned with pleasure as an underage boy described his first sexual experience with an adult male.  The ABC decided at the time that this was appropriate to go to air.

As K.S. Inglis documented in his semi-official history of the ABC This is the ABC (MUP, 1983), the “Pederasty” program divided the ABC Board at the time.  The then managing director Talbot Duckmanton and his deputy Clement Semmler were concerned about the program but they were overruled by their chair Richard Downing.  This was an unusual intervention by an ABC chair with respect to the managing director’s role as editor-in-chief. Professor Downing obviously felt strongly about this issue.

You quote the paragraph from Richard Downing’s letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 1975. I am well aware of this letter since I referred to it in my letter to Messrs Spigelman and Milne as well as in my correspondence with you.  It’s important to note that, in this same letter, Professor Downing also had this to say:

…the phenomenon of pederasty seems appropriate for public discussions in a society which, if it is to be open, democratic and responsible, needs also to understand the diverse natures of the people who compose that society. [emphasis added]

I am surprised that you and the ABC Board appear to have no qualms about the fact that the ABC chair in 1975 called on Australians to “understand” pederasts.  The fact is that – as you know – pederasty was a crime in 1975 – and remains so today.  Those young boys who appeared on the ABC Lateline program in 1975 would be in their fifties today. Imagine the reaction today if you, as ABC Chair, called on Australians “to understand” murderers and rapists. Just imagine.

I note your comment that:

Newspaper reports at the time of the Lateline program state that the then director of the Festival of Light, the Reverend Fred Nile, provided a copy of the recording to New South Wales police. At the time it was reported that a spokesman for the NSW Minister for Police sated that the NSW Police Commissioner, Mr Hanson, would “study the situation, to see if the Vice Squad should be involved”.

This was all very well as far as it went – but it did not go very far.  It was not Fred Nile’s responsibility to refer the confessions of these active pederasts who were invited on to the ABC’s Sydney studio by Richard Neville, to NSW Police.  This was the responsibility of ABC management. But ABC management did not report the matter to NSW Police.  In any event, as the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found, around the mid-1970s the various State police forces were deficient in their handling of child sexual abuse.

I well understand that the ABC Chair and the ABC Board (apart from David Anderson the managing director and editor-in-chief) will have no role in the production of the Revelation documentary on historical child sexual abuse in the Australian Catholic Church planned by the ABC for release in 2020.  I simply note that when Professor Downing made his comment that “in general, men will sleep with young boys” was also the time when child sexual abuse in Australia was at its height. Yet no one at the ABC has ever publicly criticised the “Pederastyprogram or the ABC’s decision to invite three self-declared pederasts on to Lateline where they received a soft interview by self-declared pedophile Richard Neville. It would be self-serving if the ABC did a three-part series on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church without a reference to the ABC’s role in the 1970s with respect to the Pederasty program.

In conclusion, I note that your declaration that, under your Chairmanship, “the ABC will not shirk from reporting to the public on matters that are difficult, confronting and abhorrent”.  I do not need to be told this – since I have never said that the ABC should not report on such matters – or that it condones such matters if it does report them. My point turns on double standards in this instance.

I should point out, however, that your declaration in this instance is not entirely accurate.  As you may, or may not, know – the ABC failed to report its own case of historical child abuse. I am referring to R v Jon Stephens in 2017 – where Mr Stephens pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse while working as ABC producer in 1981.  This case has been covered in News Corp publications but not by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

It is a matter of record that ABC journalists did not report the Jon Stephens’ conviction. It is also a matter of record that, in recent times, ABC journalists have refused to report Professor Downing’s statements of July 1975 – despite their attention being drawn to this issue.  It is impossible to imagine that the ABC would repeatedly fail to report this if a prominent Anglican or Catholic bishop said in, say, 1975 that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

PS: If I publish your letter, as requested I will publish it in full.


The Trump-phobia at the ABC extends across many programs and platforms. Including Planet America (presenter John Barron and Chas Licciardello on ABC TV’s second channel) and Matt Bevan’s podcast: “Russia, If You’re Listening” – the latest version of which covers, wait for it, Brexit and Ukraine. How about that?  [Remember to check out Comrade Bevan’s (obsessive) podcast soon. – MWD Editor.]

Every now and then Planet America wanders off the Trump-phobia reservation and does a segment on American history – if history it is. Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the 4 October 2019 edition of Planet America which looked at United States president Richard Nixon. Here’s how it commenced:

John Barron: With the launching of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump last week, there has been a lot of talk once again about the only president ever to be forced from office in such circumstances, Richard Nixon. And there have also been a lot of conspiracy theories floating around this week as well. It is a matter of history, of course, that Nixon resigned over the Watergate cover-up but some believe his dirty tricks campaign went much further than burglary or bugging. Maybe, attempted murder.

How about that?  John Barron went on to suggest that Richard Nixon might have organised the murder of Governor George Wallace – who was threatening to run as an Independent, taking Southern white votes from Nixon in the 1972 presidential election.

Well, how sure was Comrade Barron about the case? Early on, John Barron’s language included such words/terms as “some believe” and “maybe”. Fancy that.  Later on, there was lotsa hearsay followed by “may have been”, “make of that what you will” and “you never know”. This is “history” – Planet America style.

And what about Comrade Barron’s sources?  Well, they included Martha Mitchell (a serious alcoholic when she made these claims), George McGovern (the Democratic Party presidential candidate who was defeated by Nixon in 1972) and, yes indeed, Gore Vidal. Your man Vidal was perhaps the greatest American conspiracy theorist of the 20th Century.   As Comrade Barron put it:

…Novelist and Democrat Gore Vidal alleged in fact that E Howard Hunt [one of the Watergate burglars] had written Bremer’s diary, as well as the diaries of Lee Harvey Oswald who killed John F Kennedy and Sirhan Sirhan who killed Bobby Kennedy. So make of that what you will….

Sure will.  By the way, Arthur Bremer was the man who shot George Wallace.  It so happens that Gore Vidal did not believe that Oswald or Sirhan or Bremer were into assassination and that someone else fired the bullets. Really.

At the end of the report, John Barron conceded that it was “very far-fetched to think supporters of Richard Nixon had shot a rival” (i.e. George Wallace). But Comrade Barron added “but then again, you never know”.

What a load of absolute tosh. Stand by for Planet America’s next likely attempt at “history”. As might be expected, it’s about how the Moon landing was filmed by Hollywood. On how “some believe” that “maybe” this “may have been” the case – “make of that what you will” since “you never know”. Is this clear?

Your Taxes At Work.


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 actor Jennifer Lawrence – 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 Rob Harris and The Guardian’s Amy Remeikis.  Let’s go to the transcript as the turn-table is spun:

[Spin a Yarn intro, lands on Jennifer Lawrence]

Derryn Hinch: Ahhh Jennifer Lawrence alright. Jennifer Lawrence um, I was at a party in Hollywood, in the Hollywood Hills once. I was over there for one of my stories for Sunday night television show interviewing Jacki Weaver, that Australian actress. And she invited me to a party up in the hills and it was put on for the Screen Directors’ Guild big night and the party was put on by Harvey Weinstein, uhh before the disgrace.

And I walk in there – and I was not drinking in those days at all – and I walk up to the bar and there’s a woman there and she’s ordering a drink. And you’d know – if you don’t drink alcohol in America they don’t know what bitters is and if you ask for lemon you get squash or whatever, or 7up or something. And I watched as she’s ordering. I said: “What are you ordering?”  And she said: “I’m having some um club soda with cranberry juice and a piece of lime”. And I said “Well I’ll try that too and if it is any good I’ll take it home”.  And Amy [Amy Remeikis] I said: “I’ll name it after you”.  It was very nice and I brought it back to Australia and I drink it here and it’s called a Jennifer Lawrence. So give it a try. [laughs]

Amy Remeikis: [laughs] I love that, I love her. I think, I mean, she’s won an Oscar or two – but surely is [this] the crowning achievement in her career.

Rob Harris: And you’ve name checked Jacki Weaver and how many other people in that story? Harvey Weinstein?

According to reports emailed to Jackie’s kennel early this morning, following the conclusion of Hinch last night a 75 year-old man went into a bar in Melbourne and asked for a “Jennifer Lawrence”. He was evicted, protesting “I’m Hinch, I’m Hinch.” An answer was heard: “Yes, we know.”



 Discussing economist John Quiggin’s proposal to pair the introduction of a nuclear energy industry in Australia along with a carbon tax, Nine Newspapers’ Peter Hartcher had this to say:

Peter Hartcher: Well first of all I’d like to say I admire the ambition of John’s big thinking. I think it’s uh really ambitious of you John because we know that this is a country that hasn’t even been able to settle on an energy policy at all…. So a country without a policy ’cause it’s been paralysed by political infighting is going to neither embrace – the left will never embrace nuclear energy and the safety issue is a big one.

Ellen Fanning (presenter): And when you say the left you mean the Greens and the Labor Party?

Peter Hartcher: The Greens and the Labor Party will not endorse that idea, and on the other hand, the Coalition will never endorse a carbon tax or carbon price, certainly not in an overt way. So essentially it’s an unworkable idea but it was a good provocation John. And the other thing is it’s essentially unnecessary in my view. And the reason is, even in the absence of an energy policy, we have a country where renewable energies are being built apace, the Federal [government] is investing, even Scott Morrison has invested billions in hydro as a storage. Battery of the Nation, as it’s so called in Tasmania and the hydro Snowy 2.0 – plus there are other battery and reliability –

Ellen Fanning: So no need [for nuclear energy]?

Peter Hartcher: Exactly, I don’t think it’s necessary and it’s certainly unworkable.

– ABC’s The Drum, 13 October 2019.


There is a solution to Labor’s political problem of being seen to be anti-coal, without it having to abandon its emissions target. Bill Gates, an activist on climate change, made the point last month that the anti-coal movement was not going to cut coal consumption or carbon emissions: “Divestment, to date, probably has reduced about zero tonnes of emissions.”

He urged investors to follow his example; he’s put $1billion of “patient, risk-tolerant capital” into a fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures to finance technologies that will radically cut emissions. This is a much more practical stance for Labor, too, to emphasise growth in new energy technologies rather than being seen to threaten the old. And who knows? One day the Australian electorate might be sufficiently moved by the planetary crisis unfolding around us that we’re ready to pull our heads out of the sand in sufficient numbers to bring Australian politics into line with reality. Ostriches can run very fast when they need to.

– Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October 2019

For the record, here’s what Peter Hartcher’s fave Bill Gates believes about nuclear power:

Bill Gates thinks he has a key part of the answer for combating climate change: a return to nuclear power. The Microsoft co-founder is making the rounds on Capitol Hill to persuade Congress to spend billions of dollars over the next decade for pilot projects to test new designs for nuclear power reactors. Gates, who founded TerraPower in 2006, is telling lawmakers that he personally would invest $1 billion and raise $1 billion more in private capital to go along with federal funds for a pilot of his company’s never-before-used technology, according to congressional staffers.

“Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day,” Gates said in his year-end public letter. “The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.”

– Steven Mufson, “Bill Gates Comes to Washington – selling the promise of Nuclear Energy”, Washington Post, 26 January 2019

So there you have it. Peter Hartcher is opposed to nuclear energy in Australia – when he isn’t.

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).


On ABC TV Insiders on Sunday, discussion turned on President Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northern Syria – a consequence of which was to discontinue the United States’ military relationship with the Kurds.  Gerard Henderson pointed out that this was not the first time that the US had abandoned its allies – mentioning the abandonment of anti-communist South Vietnam in 1975.  This upset Phillip Adams. Now read on:

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 15 October 2019


It’s great to learn that you watch Insiders – on occasions at least.  I refer to your message to me via a tweet sent out on Sunday morning which read as follows:

Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams_1)

13/10/19, 10:50 am

They didn’t walk out Gérard. They were kicked out

This was in response to my comment on Insiders  that very morning, viz:

When we talk about the Americans giving away on their allies, I heard no criticism when the Americans walked out on South Vietnam.  The left in this country cheered.  And the South Vietnamese went into gulags and died and got into boats.  So the Americans have often done this.  This is not new. Bob Santamaria, the anti-communist commentator, was arguing that the Americans would let people down 50 years ago. This is not a new criticism.

If you have any historical understanding of the Vietnam War, you will know that your analysis is superficial in the extreme. When Saigon fell on 30 April 1975, there were no US combat troops in South Vietnam – only a military guard at the US Embassy in Saigon.  The US administration withdrew its combat force years earlier.  Moreover, in the wake of the Watergate incident, the US Congress cut off military aid to the anti-communist government in South Vietnam.

On 30 April 1975, the army of the North Vietnamese totalitarian communist regime defeated what was left of the army of the anti-communist South Vietnam regime.  The Americans and others (including some South Vietnamese) fled in helicopters.  Among those fleeing the so-called communist “liberation” of South Vietnam on a US helicopter was your leftist bestie John Pilger.  Fancy that.

In the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, North Vietnam received military supplies and military aid from the communist regime in the Soviet Union. This led to a situation where North Vietnam had some of the most sophisticated surface to air artillery and armoured vehicles in the world.  All per courtesy of Stalin’s heirs in Moscow – including Leonid Brezhnev.

You told Richard Fidler (Late Night Live, 11 July 2019) that the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was “the final straw” and that you quit the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) at this time – i.e. circa August 1968.  Before August 1968, the CPA supported the Soviet Union – the nation that was supplying weapons to Ho Chi Minh’s totalitarian regime in Hanoi.

It was Soviet Union weapons which saw North Vietnam defeat South Vietnam.   The Southern army fought valiantly – but were under-resourced.

Your text was completely indifferent to the Vietnamese opponents of the communist regime – some of whom were killed while others spent decades in labour camps.  And then there were the refugees who fled by sea – many of whom drowned.

The fact is that, in the early 1970s the US abandoned South Vietnam.   The US forces were not “kicked out” – they quit and all US combat forces left South Vietnam by the end of 1972.  And they quit to the cheering of you and your leftist comrades as the US deserted its ally South Vietnam.

Your mate the late Jim Cairns, the leader of the Australian left at the time, welcomed the victory of the communist forces in South Vietnam, Cambodia (i.e. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge) and Laos. You may recall that you supported Jim Cairns’ move to replace Gough Whitlam as leader of the Labor Party in April 1968.  Remember that?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Phillip Adams to Gerard Henderson – 15 October 2019

But Gérard! I was there!! Reporting from the north with Wilfred Burchett

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 15 October 2019

To Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA

 Not surprised by the “news” Phillip. After all, you and Wilfred Burchett had a lot in common.

▪ You and Burchett were once members of the Communist Party of Australia when it was committed to the overthrow of Australian democracy.

▪ You and Burchett once supported all the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and Asia – including (i) the Soviet Union of Stalin and his heirs, (ii) the Stasi dominated regime in East Germany, (iii) Mao’s China, (iv) Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam, (v) Kim Il-sung’s North Korea and so on.

Then, you and Comrade Burchett parted ways.  He remained a loyal communist. And you set out on a brilliant career in advertising collecting gongs and honorary degrees along the way – all but oblivious of the state of those who died in gulags or who were victims of the forced famines inflicted by the communist regimes you once supported.

Lotsa (camaraderie) love to you and the late Wilfred.

Gerard Henderson

Phillip Adams to Gerard Henderson – 15 October 2019

Sloppy research Gerard among other gongs too numerous to mention you missed the sixth hon doctorate, my status as a Living National Treasure and my elevation to the Media Hall of Fame. That’s surprising given that  you were there on the night chatting happily to George Burchett – Wilfred’s son- who’d come all the way from Ho Ch Minh City. And remind me -but wasn’t your hero Bob Santamaria an early fan of Mussolini’s?

Gerard Henderson to Phillip Adams – 15 October 2019


Lotsa apologies re the honorifics – I will add to the list.

In response to your queries:

▪ I was courteous when George Burchett introduced himself to me at the Media Hall of Fame event in Melbourne some years ago.  That’s all. In any event, I do not believe that a son is guilty for the sins of his father.

▪ I covered the B.A. Santamaria/Benito Mussolini issue in my book Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man – which was well reviewed by BAS’s enemies and friends alike.  There is no evidence that Santamaria ever praised Mussolini verbally or in writing.  You just made this up.

If you have read my Santamaria biography – as you claimed to have – you will know that BAS was not my “hero”.  Surely there is a better way to avoid the issue of your past support for communist totalitarian regimes.

Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

PS: On the only time I met Wilfred Burchett he refused to respond to my question as to why he was always on the side of the communist oppressors and never on the side of the anti-communist oppressed. I’m off for a Gin & Tonic.

* * * * *

Until next time.