ISSUE – NO. 482

31 January 2020

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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 ABC goes conspiratorial on The Dismissal with Jenny Hocking

·        Jackie’s Back

·        MWD Exclusive – 7:30’s fave climate-aware couple run overseas conventions for doctors and dentists

·        Can You Bear It? New Q&A host Hamish Macdonald admits he does not watch TV; Jacqueline Maley fesses up about journalists’ small betrayals for the “public good”; Zali Steggall goes mask on (and off) for the Sydney Morning Herald; Matt Bevan’s Trump Derangement Syndrome presents again in 2020

·        Rant of the Week – Elizabeth Farrelly on why Scott Morrison wants the world to end

·        The US[eless] Studies Centre – The USSC’s David Smith downplays African American support for Trump

·        Anti-Catholic Sectarianism in the media – An Update – Step forward Dominic Knight

·        It’s Forward to the Past as MWD’s endorsement segment returns – Shout outs from Malcolm Farr & Paul Bongiorno

·        The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge – Step forward Rai Gaita & Scott Stephens for long-winded sludge on The Minefield

·        Great Media U-Turns of our time – Paula Matthewson on the role of prime ministers (past and present) during bushfires



Once upon a time the left in Australia alleged that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a role in the decision of Governor-General Sir John Kerr to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s Labor government on 11 November 1975.  Now the left is alleging that it was Buckingham Palace which was involved in some form of conspiracy to the same effect. Both views are baseless and not supported by evidence, nearly half a century after the event.

Emeritus Professor Hocking seems to be the official historian of the Australian left – with biographies on Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, Labor attorney-general and later High Court justice Lionel Murphy and one-time Communist Party operative Frank Hardy.

The evidence suggests that Dr Hocking has ready access to the ABC.  So it came as no surprise that she got another run on the taxpayer funded broadcaster last night in a story presented by 7.30’s Ashlynne McGhee.

Currently Professor Hocking is involved in a legal action to compel the Australian Archives to release correspondence between Sir John and Queen Elizabeth II which took place in late 1975.  It concerned the decision by the Coalition in opposition led by Malcolm Fraser to block supply – and the determination by the Labor government led by Gough Whitlam to govern without supply.

In the event, Kerr dismissed Whitlam and commissioned Fraser to form a caretaker government subsequent to the holding of a double dissolution election.  The Coalition won the December 1975 election in a landslide.  Gerard Henderson reviewed a number of recent books on this issue – by Paul Kelly & Troy Bramston and Jenny Hocking along with a collection of essays edited by Sybil Nolan in The Sydney Institute Review Online, (Issue 2), 2 February, 2016.

Jenny Hocking’s application for special leave to appeal against a Federal Court decision not to release Sir John’s correspondence with The Palace will be heard by the High Court of Australia next week.

In the late 1980s, John Kerr showed Gerard Henderson some of his late 1975 correspondence with the Palace – but did not allow him to copy it.  It appears that Kerr used this correspondence to write what he wrote about the Dismissal in his book Matters for Judgment (1978). Consequently it is most unlikely that there will be any discoveries about The Dismissal when – or rather if – the correspondence is released.  Henderson is of the view that it would be best if the entire correspondence were to be released – since this would put an end to Hocking’s conspiracy theory.  But it is a difficult issue in view of Kerr’s rights with respect to what he regarded as personal correspondence and the rights claimed by Buckingham Palace.

Last night 7.30 interviewed Jenny Hocking about her case.  Her views were contrasted with those of Philip Benwell, the British-born head of the quaint and old fashioned Australian Monarchist League.  7.30 chose not to speak to individuals with a similar knowledge of the subject as Hocking.  For example the likes of Paul Kelly, Troy Bramston and Gerard Henderson. It was a familiar ABC tactic of interviewing a soft target who disagrees with a position favoured by ABC journalists and producers. Benwell was interviewed sitting in a chair – behind him was old fashioned antique furniture. Whereas there was footage of Hocking walking actively around the State Library of Victoria – including footage of her seated in a high chair, alone in a large hall, viewing film about Whitlam and Kerr.

ABC 7.30 Whitlam program still

In a series of Twitter posts yesterday Troy Bramston documented a number of factual errors in Ashlynne McGhee’s report.  The RMIT-ABC Fact Check Unit checks the facts of others – but does not fact-check ABC programs before they go to air.

There is no evidence that the Queen or the Palace intervened with respect to the Dismissal.  Why would she or it?  Ms McGhee made much of the fact that the Palace does not want the letters sent by Kerr to the Queen released and that it allegedly advised Kerr to omit key material about the Palace from his memoirs.   But that’s a typical response by the Queen’s advisers.  The historian Julia Baird had difficulty getting Buckingham Palace to release material relating to Queen Victoria who died in 1901.

What Jenny Hocking cannot accept is that Kerr resolved the stand-off between two determined and arrogant men at a time when supply was running out and the Commonwealth was finding it increasingly difficult to pay its bills, including public services salaries. In the end, the conflict was resolved by a vote of the Australian electorate without any obvious input from either Buckingham Palace or the CIA. This fact was omitted from the 7.30 story last night.


Media Watch Dog returns after what journalists like to call a Well Earned Break – or WEB.  Mere mortals admit to having holidays but journalists have only breaks that are well-earned.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner spent some of his time during his WEB collecting material for MWD.

There was considerable material since the tragedy of the bushfires in parts of Australia led to a more intense Silly Season than is usually the case as journalists and commentators – and, occasionally politicians – engaged in a greater level of hyperbole than usual. This has led to lotsa material for use in the first part of 2020.  The early issues of MWD this year will also look back occasionally on the top media performances of the previous year.

Unlike the ABC TV Media Watch program which has close to ten staff, MWD is produced by a very small staff.  Jackie rises early from her kennel on Friday mornings to help out.  Then there is Hendo who gets a bit of assistance here and there until MWD gets out around Gin & Tonic time on Friday afternoons.  Thanks to the avid readers who provide material from time to time. And now it’s time to bounce the ball (in Australian Football League terminology) for the 2020 Season.



Gerard Henderson will cover ABC TV 7.30’s report on Wednesday about the Quiet Australians’ Vigil for Climate Change in his column in The Weekend Australian on Saturday.  It starred the medical doctor Margot Cunich and her husband, semi-retired lawyer Rod Cunich. Dr Cunich and Mr Cunich are urging all Australians to protest about what they claim is the Coalition’s lack of action on climate change.  Their first protest occurred in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs last Saturday.  It would have been a non-event without the national coverage provided by the taxpayer funded broadcaster.

Early this morning a little bird dropped a piece of paper on Jackie’s kennel.  On investigation, the drop revealed that – wait for it – the Cunich family runs Unconventional Conventions.  Believe it or not, this business arranges “medical conferences and dental conferences in exotic locations around the world” for its clients.

Yep, the eco-catastrophists Margot and Rod (as 7.30 reporter Tracy Bowden referred to them) arrange to fly or ship medicos and dentists around the world on carbon dioxide emitting airplanes or ships where they stay at carbon dioxide emitting hotels and the like.

What about the emissions?  MWD hears you cry! Well, from 2021 Unconventional Conventions will introduce a Carbon Offset Program. But not for 2020 – so avid readers who want to have an unconventional convention in, say Antarctica or Patagonia should get in early.

So there you have it.  The Cunichs reckon that the Coalition is not doing enough on climate change – while they run a business with a large climate footprint.  Needless to say, 7.30 did not report this on Wednesday.  [Perhaps you should have covered this in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]

Can You Bear It


The growing link between Nine Newspapers and the ABC was never more evident than in last Saturday’s Good Weekend magazine – published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.  The front cover contained an almost life-size photo of Hamish Macdonald, the new presenter of the ABC TV Q&A program illustrating a story by Jacqueline Maley and Michael Lallo titled “There’s something about Hamish: Television’s new It-boy”.  It was a pic of your man Macdonald, arms crossed, sitting on a wooden chair, dressed in black except for a nice white shirt and black tie.

Turn to Page 10 and there’s another picture of television’s new “It boy” – sitting on a red chair looking at the camera with his hands hidden from view.  Turn to Page 15 and there’s a smaller pic of the “It boy” sitting on the same red chair with his left hand in the air and his right hand – well, you check it out.  The portrait pics are by Nic Walker.

Needless to say, it turned out to be a soft story and only positive views about the new Q&A presenter were expressed by those interviewed – such as Erin Vincent (the new Q&A executive producer), Gaven Morris (ABC’s Director News, Analysis and Investigations), Catharine Lumby, Marc C-Scott, Lisa Millar, Hamish’s mum Carol, and David Knox.  It would seem that Mr Macdonald has no known critique – or certainly no critics known to Ms Maley or Mr Lallo.

The Good Weekend story referred on a number of occasions to your man Macdonald having been bullied when a student at a boarding school in Sydney. But readers were not told which school it was.

MWD was much taken by this paragraph in the Maley/Lallo piece:

In his leisure time, Macdonald reads the London Review of Books, the Financial Times and watches some ABC dramas, as well as trashier fare like The Masked SingerSurvivor and Gogglebox – always on catch-up on his laptop, never on TV, because, unusually for a TV journalist, Macdonald doesn’t own one. “Yeah, no, not really a big TV watcher,” he says.

Yeah – no, how about that?  Currently ABC TV is running promotional material where HM, sans black suit and tie, tells viewers that we need to have “a conversation” [Not that dreadful cliché again – MWD Editor] on the bushfires and that this will take place on Q&A next Monday.  He seems unaware that there has been a huge amount of discussion about bushfires throughout December and January – but there you go.

And then there is the news that “Television’s new It boy” does not own a telly and is not really a big TV watcher. Surely, he would have been aware of the bushfires conversation if he watched television.

So ABC TV’s new star does not watch television.  But he wants the hoi polloi to watch him every Monday night on the ABC’s main channel. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really.  However, perhaps this explains why Mr Macdonald’s claim on ABC Radio National Breakfast on 20 June 2018 that “at the ABC, we’re not allowed to express opinions as hosts of programs – as journalists”. He made this point during a hostile interview with Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz.

In fact, ABC presenters and reporters constantly express their own opinions.  However, since Hamish Macdonald does not watch television – it’s possible that he does not know what ABC TV reporters and journalists are saying.  It would be interesting to note whether the brand new Q&A presenter listens to radio. – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of intrepid Nine Newspapers’ reporter Jacqueline Maley, this is what the Sydney Morning Herald had to say about her yesterday:

Award-winning Herald journalist signs two-book deal with publisher.

HarperCollins has acquired the rights to senior Herald writer Jacqueline Maley’s debut novel, The Truth About Her. Maley, an award-winning columnist and senior writer has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate. The Truth About Her tells the story of a journalist and single mother who finds out the subject of one of her investigations has died by suicide….

Well, fancy that.  Another journalist moving into fiction. The last high profile Australian journo to do this was the ABC’s Tony Jones – although some would say that his undocumented assertions about anonymous “Catholic Croatian terrorists” allegedly committing terrorist acts in Australia in the 1970s were fiction before he became a novelist.

Ms Maley told the SMH that the idea for The Truth About Her came to her because journalists often commit “small betrayals” for the public good.

How about that?  Just imagine what the likes of Ms Maley would say if a politician or business figure boasted about the need to commit “small betrayals” for the public good. Can You Bear It?

  • SMH Photographs Zali Steggall with and without face mask.

While on the topic of photographs illustrating stories, did anyone see the Page One pic of Zali Steggall – the new Independent MP for Warringah on Sydney’s fashionable lower north shore, in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 January 2020?

There on Page 1, dressed in her finest, was the Nine Newspapers and ABC fave standing in front of the Sydney CBD with accessories that included a face mask.  The accompanying story, by Rachel Clun was headed “Asthma woes in smoke-hit city”. The photo was by Rhett Wyman.

The story continued to Pages 9 and 10 where – lo and behold – there was another pic of Ms Steggall.  This time carrying her face mask.  An old-fashioned Before-and-After shot, to be sure.

Which raises the question. If the Independent member for Warringah (whose office is in fashionable Mosman) needed a face mask to protect her from the Sydney smoke haze – why did she take it off for the subsequent pic?  And was the mask removal in accordance with Nine’s occupational health and safety guidelines?  Or was it just a look-at-me fashion shoot?  Can You Bear It?


In recent years few ABC commentators have been as excited as Matt Bevan about the possibility that United States President Donald J. Trump would be impeached.  Initially your man Bevan was convinced that President Trump had colluded with the Russians to somehow distort the vote and win the 2016 US presidential election. However, all this fell apart following the Mueller Report which found that there was no collusion.

However, like other sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome, Mr Bevan soon embraced the view that President Trump had sought to involve Ukraine in the forthcoming 2020 presidential elections with a view to discrediting Joe Biden.  It was for this that President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on 16 January 2020 with the vote along party lines – 228 Democrats to 193 Republicans.

Needless to say, Matt Bevan again used his commentary slot on ABC Radio National Breakfast to exhibit more excitement about President Trump being found by the House of Representatives to have colluded with Ukraine.  This occurred, in recent times, when a certain Lev Parnas emerged on the scene implicating Donald Trump.

On Friday 17 January, Bevan reported that Parnas had told MSNBC’S Rachel Maddow that he was essentially the bagman for the operation to get the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.  And Bevan reported that Parnas had told CNN’s Anderson Cooper all that had happened in the (alleged) Ukraine operation and even claimed that Vice-President Mike Pence and Attorney General Bill Barr were involved.

This is how Matt Bevan’s excited commentary concluded with an exchange with ABC Radio National presenter Tom Tilley:

Matt Bevan: All of this new information comes out as the hundred senators are sworn in as jurors to decide whether the President will be removed from office. Actual evidence is expected to be heard next week. Let’s see what comes out between now and then.

Tom Tilley: That evidence from Lev Parnas sounds like some of the most damning we’ve heard so far.

Matt Bevan: It’s extraordinary stuff. It’s because it’s someone who is actually on Trump’s team and the White House has been attempting to block anyone who was actually involved in the operation from testifying but because Lev Parnas says, under indictment, he doesn’t feel particularly attached to the White House anymore.

Tom Tilley: Matt Bevan thank you very much.

In fact, not only is Parnas under indictment for campaign finance violations, he is also being investigated for taking money from some Russians. Yet the excitable Bevan maintained that President Trump’s tenure as US president is threatened by Parnas whose current fashion accessories include an ankle monitor. Can You Bear It?

[I note that even CNN presenter Jake Tapper has declared that “Parnas has a serious credibility problem” and mocked those on social media, including Democrats, who were portraying Parnas as akin to “the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt”. Perhaps Mr Tapper also became aware of Matt Bevan’s Trump Derangement Syndrome induced naïvety.  Just a thought.  – MWD Editor.]

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 the Sydney Morning Herald.

Since, inside the Vale of Tears, we live in the Age of Rant, MWD has decided to place greater focus on its Rant of the Week segment in 2020.  Here we go in the Year of the Rat:


Thanks to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Elizabeth Farrelly for kicking off this segment for 2020 with her column last Saturday titled “Survival-by-respect or death-by-stupid: your choice Straya”.

And what a Rant it was.  Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) started by claiming that, due to the bushfires, “the world [is] asking how long Australia will be habitable”. Yes, folks – The Whole Wide World is wondering whether anyone can live in Australia. Throwing the switch to Full Alienation, Elizabeth Farrelly had this to say:

Australian culture has always relied on easy exploitation. From the moment white people arrived, we’ve been kidding ourselves that arrogance and theft add up to a lifestyle with a future. We dig stuff up and flog it, no value added, no questions asked. We grow food in the most destructive possible manner – clearfelling, monoculturing, irrigating and overgrazing; destroying soil, desertifying land and belching carbon. We crowd to the edge of the continent, gazing out to sea, chucking our trash over our shoulders, pretending it won’t come back to bite.

And sure, to some extent, that’s just colonialism. Colonialism is inherently macho, and inherently denialist. But it should be transitional. Now, as the NY Times argues, our political denialism is “scarier than the fires”. Smarten up? It’s time we grew up. This is Australia’s moment of reckoning. It’s time we lost the attitude. Time we made a clear, rational and collective choice between survival-by-respect and death-by-stupid.

It appears that the SMH columnist has joined “the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh” club.  [It must be getting a bit crowded. I note that The Guardian’s David Marr has recently signed up. – MWD Editor.] The Rant continued:

We relentlessly export such coal, helping drive temperatures in central Australia beyond the habitable (Alice had 55 days above 40 degrees last year, and recorded street-surface temperatures between 61 and 68 degrees celsius), exiling people for a second time from their ancestral homelands. Then, should anyone dare critique this mindlessness, as Bruce Pascoe obliquely has, we label them non-Indigenous….

Now Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions amount to around 1.3 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This suggestion that Australia’s coal exports are a significant factor in increasing temperatures in Central Australia is just, well, bonkers.  In any event, there is no evidence that temperatures in Alice Springs are “beyond the habitable” – as the 25,000 residents would attest if Dr Farrelly moved out of her inner-city abode in Sydney and asked them.

Moreover, a people cannot be exiled for a second time.  As for Bruce Pascoe – all that some have done, including Indigenous Australians, is to ask him to name the one grandparent who was Indigenous. It’s not a big ask.  And the SMH’s star columnist overlooked the fact that Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world. The Rant continued:

In agriculture it [who is this “it” – or is it? – MWD Editor] says, we don’t care what naturally grows here. We’re going to poison the insects, suck the water from ancient caverns and nuke the living daylights out of the soil with petroleum-based fertilisers. We’re going to burn oil and coal, and if we get fires that destroy our townships, we’ll clear the forests too. That’ll show them.

In view of all this, it’s reasonable to wonder why so many individuals – from all over the world – want to come and live is a nation that has a death wish.  The Rant continued:

In sport, it says it’s fine if our cricketers cheat – so long as they don’t get caught. And in social relations, if people insist on different hierarchies – if they demand gender fluidity, or optional pronouns, or same-sex marriage or voluntary race-identity or anything else that questions our superiority we’ll come down on them like a ton of bricks. God gave us white guys dominion and we’ve weaponised it. By golly we’ll show this country who’s boss. Then if things get really rough, we’ll pop to heaven.

It seems that, in her anger, Dr Farrelly has forgotten that in the recent postal ballot some 62 per cent of Australians voted for same sex marriage.  [Could anger induce memory loss?  Just a thought – MWD Editor.]  As to the heaven matter, here’s what the Rant had to say:

A recent street poster picturing Morrison declaring Pentecostals for a Warmer Planet! may seem extreme, but Emeritus Professor of Religious Thought, Philip C. Almond, explains why Morrison’s faith means “reducing carbon emissions … may have little intellectual purchase with the PM” – because world’s end means the second coming and, for the chosen, salvation. It’s also why Morrison’s beloved Hillsong church can happily advertise its coming conference, called Breathe Again, with Bishop T D Jakes saying “it’s amazing how God can strike a match in Australia and the whole world catches on fire”. As if the fires were God given.

So there you have it.  The Sydney Morning Herald columnist concluded her Rant with the suggestion that Scott Morrison wants the world to end with a little help from global warming because he awaits the Second Coming which will coincide with the end of the world.  And then – Rapture – the Prime Minister, being one of The Chosen, will experience Salvation. According to Farrelly, that is.

Before the column concluded with the mocking “Happy Straya Day” refrain, Elizabeth Farrelly told readers – if readers there were – that her ideal Australia would involve “zero carbon cities”.

A qualified architect, Elizabeth Farrelly is an associate professor at the University of NSW Graduate School of Urbanism.

The University of New South Wales in a modern university built mostly of concrete with lotsa air-conditioning.  It has car parks and teaches numerous foreign students who reach Australia by planes.  UNSW academics fly to and from conferences. In short, UNSW is as far from carbon-free as Australia is from death-by-stupid.  But – what a Rant.


As avid readers are only too well aware, Professor Simon Jackman (the head of the United States Studies Centre) said in November 2016 that no one at the USSC expected that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He also ‘fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Donald Trump. David Smith, who suffers from Trump-phobia, is a USSC staff member who appears regularly on ABC Radio in Sydney as the USSC’s “expert” on the US.  In short, the taxpayer funded USSC is close to being a Republican Free Zone replete with Trump-haters and Clinton/Obama admirers and left-of-centre types. But no one who broadly supports the Trump administration. Now read on.


When it comes to the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre at the taxpayer funded University of Sydney, the New Year invariably reflects the year just gone. That’s what happened when an institution which was set up to inform Australians about the United States is replete with Trump-haters and is bereft of those who support the Republican candidate for the November 2020 US presidential election.

As avid readers are aware, the US[eless] Studies Centre’s David Smith appears regularly on ABC Sydney Radio on the Drive with Richard Glover program each Tuesday.  The segment is called “Trump Tuesday” – as if Donald J Trump is the only player in US politics and as if the Democratic Party and the Congress and the judicial system does not matter. It is introduced with quotes form the president aimed at mocking him.

On “Trump Tuesday” 28 January, the discussion with Richard Glover turned to President Trump’s appearance at a March for Life rally in Washington on 24 January 2020. This is what your man Dr Smith (for a doctor he is) had to say:

David Smith: But this [abortion debate] has become an incredibly important issue for him [Donald Trump] because conservative Christians are his most reliable, most supportive constituency. They are the ones who have benefitted the most, really benefitted tangibly from the Trump presidency, especially because of the appointment of judges. That is just so important to them in a country where social progress either happens or goes backwards largely as a result of things that happened in the courts. So remaking the judiciary in this way is very important. Trump doesn’t really pretend to be much of a devout Christian and devout Christians recognise this. What conservative Christians love about him is that he fights for them. They basically recognise “we and Trump have the same enemies” and so they really believe that Trump fights for them. Trump is visibly kind of grateful and appreciative of their support, he loves talking to them. And he also knows that to get re-elected he will need that same strength of support from them that he had last time around.

What a load of absolute tosh.  It is true that many (but not all) conservative Christians support President Trump.  But it is nonsense to suggest that conservative Christians “are the ones who have benefited the most, really benefited tangibly from the Trump presidency”.


In fact, it is African-Americans who have benefited most from the Trump administration.  Over the past three years, the unemployment rate has decreased significantly in the African-American community and employment has increased substantially. This has been demonstrated in the opinion polls where support for Donald Trump has increased from around 8 per cent in the November 2016 election to somewhere between 16 and 34 per cent today.  This suggests a trend – since Donald Trump significantly increased support for the Republican cause in 2016 from that attained by Mitt Romney in 2012.

The figure in the 30s looks to be too high. But, if President Trump can increase African American support for Republicans from 8 per cent in 2016 to around 12 per cent or more in 2020 it will greatly increase his chances of re-election in November.

Here’s a thought.  “Trump Tuesday” has run on ABC Radio in Sydney for three years – invariably with a Trump critic from the USSC piling on the president.  Perhaps Richard Glover and his producer could find someone to talk about American politics on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster who is not a Trump critic.  In the interest of balance at least which is what the ABC maintains it is all about.



Dominic Knight is one of the original “Chaser Boys” – average age 471/2. These days your man Knight appears on the ABC as both presenter and interviewee, writes occasionally for Nine Newspapers and is the author of several books – including the recently published The Strayan Dictionary (Allen & Unwin, 2019).

Knight’s tome is listed by Allen & Unwin as “Humour”. Jackie’s (male) co-owner has yet to read the complete book – having fallen asleep while on the job.  But Hendo has got up to “C”. This is what The Strayan Dictionary has to say about former ABC TV Insiders’ host Barrie Cassidy:

Cassidy, Barrie  A political journalist who somehow managed not only to get people to wake up early on Sunday mornings, but to spend that time watching Insiders, a show about politics.  He also managed to stave off a challenge from a competing programme hosted by Andrew Bolt, an altogether surprising achievement.

Certainly Insiders outrated The Bolt Report (then) on Network 10.  But The Bolt Report which commenced at 10 am never competed with Insiders which went to air at 9 am.  Dominic Knight just made this up. In 2016 Bolt transferred his program to Sky News where it aired at night time on weekdays. When at Network Ten, The Bolt Report did well for a program of its kind on what was then Australia’s lowest rating TV channel apart from SBS. Indeed The Bolt Report on Network Ten generally rated three or four times higher than Meet the Press which was presented by Paul Bongiorno.

In any event, MWD asks avid readers – how funny is this entry on Barrie Cassidy?  Anyone who purchased the Knight tome believing it was cover-to-cover Humour would be well advised to get a refund from Allen & Unwin.

In late December 2019, leftist scribbler Peter FitzSimons took a business class flight to Singapore (and perhaps beyond) on Qantas – decked out with a red rag on his head.  Nine Newspapers, in its wisdom, decided that The Red Bandannaed One’s temporary replacement for “The Fitz Files” should be a leftist comedian.  First it was Mark Humphries and then Dom Knight.  Both were illustrated in the Sun Herald with red rags on their respective heads.  It is not clear if they were borrowed from your man FitzSimons’ supply.

Here’s an extract from Dom Knight’s contribution in the Sun Herald last Sunday – which contained a sneer at former Australian Conservative Party senator Cory Bernardi, a conservative of Italian heritage:

I look forward to ex-Senator Bernardi being named Australia’s ambassador to the Vatican following his long period as the Vatican’s de facto ambassador to Australia.

This is just anti-Catholic sectarianism.  There is no evidence that Cory Bernardi ever presented as “the Vatican’s de facto ambassador to Australia”. This is the old hoary sectarian myth that Catholics in Australia owe their allegiance not to Australia but to the Pope in the Holy See.

If Comrade Knight knew what he writes about, he would understand that Cory Bernardi would disagree with many of the views of Pope Francis.  Including on climate change – where Mr Bernardi is in disagreement with St Peter’s successor in Rome, who seems to be closer to non-believer Bob Brown than to the Catholic Tony Abbott on this issue.

Come to think of it – Comrade Knight is not only an anti-Catholic sectarian – he is an ignorant anti-Catholic sectarian.  Little wonder then, that he has friends at Nine Newspapers and the ABC.


Due to enormous popular demand from avid readers, in 2020 Media Watch Dog will reinstate the (once) hugely popular “Endorsements” segment – on some occasions at least.  A survey of readers conducted by Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) revealed that, over the years, the most beloved endorsement by MWD readers was that provided by Malcolm Farr. On 29 June 2012, around Gin & Tonic Time, your man Farr tweeted “Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit.”  Later, at around Hangover Time on 14 February 2015, the Canberra-based journalist updated his endorsement:

Malcolm Farr


I once called Gerard Henderson ” a complete f%^wit”. I deeply regret that. I was being much too harsh on f%^wits

10:14 AM · Feb 14, 2015

Outdoing Comrade Farr will be a difficult task for entrants in 2020.  However, The Saturday Paper’s Paul Bongiorno had a go with this tweet – sent at around Post Dinner Drinks Time on 4 January 2020:

Paul Bongiorno


I know from experience Gerard Henderson is a malicious self serving ideologue.

Just before MWD went out today, Hendo provided an exclusive statement on this matter to Jackie.  Here it is:

Hi Jackie!  As far as I recall, I have never had a personal conversation with Paul Bongiorno (STB [Bachelor of Sacred Theology], STL [Licentiate of Sacred Theology] Pontifical Urban University Rome – both degrees per courtesy of the Catholic community of the Ballarat Diocese). However, we would have passed (polite) words when I appeared one or more times on your man Bonge’s Meet the Press program on Channel 10 (now deceased) many moons ago.  That’s all.  In any event, I do appreciate the endorsement.  It’s nice to be remembered. Gerard Henderson.

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 (1885-1972). 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.

This week’s award honours the most egregious example of literary/verbal sludge in 2019.


As avid readers will recall, Issue 445 awarded the Flann O’Brien Gong for the discussion which took place on ABC Radio National’s The Minefield on 29 May 2019 between co-presenters Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens and their guest – Professor Rai Gaita.  As avid readers who managed to read through this segment will be aware, the philosopher Gaita spoke at length about his epiphany at age 11 [Gee, that must have been frightfully interesting. MWD Editor] and revealed a false memory about the 2009 bush fires which afflicted Victoria but not NSW (despite Gaita’s false memory about NSW).

The designated topic “Needs of the Soul: Home” was supposed to be about the importance of having a place to be and a place to be among and so on.  In other words, a somewhat typical The Minefield discussion about an esoteric topic which you would rarely – if ever – hear in a pub or at a bus-stop.

However, as is his wont, Dr Gaita (for a doctor he is) spoke at length about the subject which he knows best – HIMSELF. At the end of the interview, Mr Stephens advised listeners (if listeners there were) that the discussion would continue as a podcast.  This was too much for Jackie’s (male) co-owner who headed off for a Gin & Tonic. In Issue 455 the editor suggested that the podcast part of The Minefield might be worth following up.  After a six month recovery period, MWD decided to take up this suggestion and retrieved the discussion from the web.  Here we go:

Scott Stephens commenced the podcast period with an incoherent question which ran for, wait for it, over three minutes. It concluded as follows:

So, I guess here’s where, and this is my question…how does this sense of being at home gel with, coincide with, a commitment to the way that we should inhabit this place? A kind of commitment to a more defensible way of being at home in these lands that aren’t fundamentally ours?

Whereupon Rai Gaita responded with a long rambling statement which included this verbal sludge:

…I know you had a conversation about conversation in which I remember you were worried – there was a worry – about whether talking about calls to seriousness made the whole thing too earnest and too serious. My view about that is what we call conversation has many, many tones. But if it’s to carry the kind of weight of this word, the loaded sense of conversation is when we say thank God I could talk to that person or find someone to talk to. Then there’s the ever-present possibility which can arise quite unexpectedly where you say “hey, you can’t be serious, how can you say that” or whatever.

Yes, or whatever.  Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address consisted of some 270 words and ran for an estimated two minutes.  Raimond Gaita’s answer to Scott Stephens’ question consisted of some 910 words and ran for around six and half minutes.

Towards the end of the podcast, listeners (who had not yet nodded off) heard these words from Dr Gaita:

I have no idea actually and I think very few people have, I’ve been following the news a lot, I have no idea what was going on in the minds of the people who voted in a government [the Coalition government] that I deplore. But I’m certainly not prepared to think that they are not fully my fellow citizens and certainly my fellow human beings. But sometimes the way people have talked about them and this has been constantly remarked upon in the case of Britain and America, people seem to despise the Trump supporters and the Brexit voters in a way that you felt there was no longer a sense of common humanity let alone a sense of common citizenship. I think – look even the German resistance – fighting against a government that no one who knew what was happening could decently support – I think this a very important thing in country – in the case of Vietnam, which I was involved in because I was conscripted. But I was a conscientious objector. I never thought at that time that someone couldn’t [sic] support the war in Vietnam and be a decent person. In the case of Germany, you couldn’t be a decent person and know what was happening. And therefore, it was the German resistance who rightly thought of themselves as the true patriots. Fighting of course for a Germany of the future. But fighting for a Germany that existed as it were in the past. But really the past, some people think the past is dead and gone, but it’s not, it lives, it’s real….

At this stage, even Hendo’s tape recorder expired due to the boredom-induced verbal 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 Rai Gaita and his interviewer Scott Stephens

My grasp of what Rai said and meant

Was only five or six per cent

But, then, the questions were just rot

The reference is to your man Scott


The prime minister’s presence at the bushfires is causing a security headache, taking him away from his work and looking increasingly self-indulgent. It’s time he dropped the hose. It was always going to be interesting to see what the nascent prime minister would do once we entered bushfire season. As a long-term volunteer member of the NSW Rural Fire Service, would he continue to undertake this community service or play the statesman instead? It turns out we found out quicker than anticipated with the early onset of bushfire season.

Meantime, they [Australians] see glimpses of their prime minister doing heroic things on the television which seem to have little connection with strong, stable government. At what point do Abbott’s Putinesque cameo appearance at the beach, on a bike or near a fire, stop reinforcing voters’ perception of the prime minister as fit, strong and decisive, and start to look like mere self-indulgences?

– Paula Matthewson: “Tony Abbott, stop fighting bushfires and start the job you were elected to do” – The Guardian, 22 October 2013



…Australians really only want one thing from the PM, and that is for him to do his job. That means doing something – practical and substantial – about the factors that are contributing to our Christmas conflagration. Instead of highlighting one cause to deflect another, voters want to see acknowledgment of them all, and a comprehensive, coordinated and well-resourced plan to deal with them…. The Prime Minister’s lack of action, or even a plan for action, is the reason people are angry about his unfortunately timed overseas holiday.

– Paula Matthewson: “The real reason Australians are furious about Scott Morrison’s holiday” The New Daily, 20 December 2019.


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Until next time.

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