ISSUE – NO. 500

12 June 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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  • MWD turns 500 – A note from the editor

  • Stop Press – Monica Attard on the Soviet Fascists

  • Can You Bear It? ABC AM sneers at Tony Abbott’s AC; Darren Goodsir begs Joe Hockey whom he once called “Sloppy Joe”; Gael Jennings joins the ABC chorus asking for more money for the ABC; Melissa Davey changes the title of her book to fit the facts

  • New Feature: What a Coincidence! – David Rowe’s accidental anti-semitic depiction of Josh Frydenberg

  • Quelle Surprise! – All in agreement on Insiders

  • Media Fool of the Week – Turnbull the Younger bags cuts to the ABC made by Turnbull the Elder

  • The US[eless] Studies Centre: An Update – David Smith & Richard Glover condemn President Trump based on an out of context quote

  • Sandalista Snobbery Space – Margaret Throsby encounters a member of the proletariat

  • New Feature: Jackie Interviews Hendo for MWD – On the sage of Avalon Beach

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Today marks the 500th edition of Media Watch DogMWD is put together with the help of a very small but highly talented staff – assisted by the morale boosting input of canines Nancy (2004-2017) and now Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute).

It’s great to receive input and intel.  Everything is read and I use as much as possible over time.  Unfortunately it is difficult to acknowledge all correspondence – but I do my best.

So, lotsa thanks to all avid readers and Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

Gin & Tonic Time

Friday 12 June 2020



Media Watch Dog just happened to hear the “Journo’s Forum” on ABC Radio 702’s Drive with Richard Glover last night. This is what Monica Attard had to say when discussion turned on whether Australia should follow activists in the United States and Britain and get rid of statues of what are called these days ‘dead white males’.

Comrade Attard had a nuanced position on this issue. Fair enough. It’s just that her view contained a historical howler.  Here we go:

Monica Attard:…. And there are some cases where you can totally justify it. But I look at what happened, for example, in Russia in 1991. When Soviet communism collapsed and people rampaged around the major cities, Moscow in particular. They tore down almost all the statues of Lenin and Marx and Engels and Stalin and Brezhnev. They tore down this monstrous statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who was the first head of the NKVD, which was the precursor to the KGB. People felt great about it. They felt great when they were ripping down those statues. And for a moment, it almost felt like it was the right thing to do, because it was a statement of opposition to the atrocities that they had perpetrated. On the other hand… there was no reminder of what happens when fascism [sic] takes hold.

What a load of absolute tosh – and this from a Professor and Head of Journalism at Sydney’s UTS.  The likes of Lenin, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky and Brezhnev were not fascists who established a fascist totalitarian regime in the Soviet Union. They were communists who established a communist totalitarian regime.

It seems that Comrade Attard is into denial about the brand of dictators who ran the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1991 and wants to link them with the Nazis in Berlin and Fascists in Rome.  No wonder so many young journalists lack historical knowledge.

Can You Bear It?


It is customary for former prime ministers to receive Australia’s highest award – the AC.  Media Watch Dog understands that not all ex-prime ministers have accepted an AC but believes that all were offered one.

Here’s how the ABC AM program covered the fact that former prime minister Tony Abbott had received an AC in last Monday’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.  After referring to some Australians with a less high profile than Mr Abbott, this is what the ABC’s  ace reporter had to say:

Emilia Terzon: There are plenty of well-known people on the list too. Someone who likes this sort of thing is former prime minister Tony Abbott who controversially reinstated knighthoods and made Prince Philip a “Sir”. He’s just one of three people getting the country’s very top honour, making him a Companion of the Order of Australia.

It’s quite an achievement to become prime minister of Australia – only 30 Australians have done so. Yet AM chose to focus on the fact that Tony Abbott had given Prince Phillip an Australian knighthood – an honour he held in such other Commonwealth nations as Canada and New Zealand.  By the way, New Zealand also reinstated knighthoods some years ago.  It was as if Tony Abbott has achieved nothing else in life but giving Prince Philip a knighthood. Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog really appreciated the scoop in the Australian Financial Review’s  “Rear Window” column yesterday – presumably written by Joe Aston (the multiple winner of MWD’s prestigious Five Paws Award) about former Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir. As avid readers will recall, the SMH was successfully sued for defamation by (then) Federal treasurer Joe Hockey concerning a front page cover story which implied that he had some kind of conflict of interest with respect to the North Sydney Forum.

It’s a while ago now. But, as “Rear Window” has reminded us all, the most damaging aspect of the case was the revelation that, in private messages to his journalists, your man Goodsir declared that he wanted to have the issue “nailed to the cross in more ways than one”. This related to an earlier misleading article in the SMH where inaccurate comments were made re Joe Hockey and Australian Water Holdings. Comrade Goodsir told the judge that this did not mean that he wanted Mr Hockey crucified in a “virtual” kind of way.

Justice Richard White did not accept the explanation and said that he found Mr Goodsir had exhibited an “animus” towards Mr Hockey. This did not sit well with the SMH’s declaration that it was “independent, always”.  And it did not help the SMH’s defence regarding the North Sydney Forum allegation. Hence the animus finding which meant that one of Australia’s leading newspapers had it in for Joe Hockey – while all the while claiming that its reporting was independent of political involvement.  Somewhat embarrassing, don’t you think?

Soon after, your man Goodsir left the SMH and took up a gig in public relations at the University of New South Wales.  In this capacity, in October 2019, he sent Mr Joe Hockey one of those letters which commences “I hope all is well with you” and expressed best wishes to the Hockey family in Washington DC.  Groan. When the letter was despatched, Joe Hockey was Australia’s ambassador to the United States.  Needless to say, your man Goodsir was doing a slurp-up since he wanted the Ambassador’s support for some UNSW research initiative.

So there was Darren Goodsir – who once privately declared that he long dreamed of doing a headline in the SMH  “that screams Sloppy Joe!” [Gee whiz. Was that his best shot?  MWD Editor] asking Mr Hockey for a favour after expressing interest in the family and all that. Is the UNSW so desperate?  Has Darren Goodsir no shame? Can You Bear It?


As Media Watch Dog readers are well aware, the ABC TV News Breakfast program is a strong advocate for more funding for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  Co-presenter Lisa Millar has interviewed Paul Fletcher on two occasions since he became the Minister for Communications – and on each occasion has put in a plug for more money for the ABC.

During the “Newspapers” segment of the program on Thursday, Comrade Millar handed the ABC begging bowl to former long-time ABC staffer Dr Gael Jennings.  Let’s go to the transcript where Dr Jennings devoted considerable time to the public broadcaster despite it not  being big news that morning:

Lisa Millar: …. we’re joined this morning by Dr Gael Jennings from the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.  Good morning Gael, we’re going to start with ABC funding.

Gael Jennings:  Yes, very interesting article in The Guardian  this morning that’s basically saying that the ABC because it’s going to get another – it’s got a $41 million budget shortfall and it’s lost $783 million since the Coalition got into power in 2014 [sic], it’s looking to having to lose 250 jobs –  radio bulletins will be cut back, current affairs might go, lifestyle content will be cut. And this is on top of a study that’s just found that the overwhelming majority of Australians don’t want these budget cuts. 76 per cent are against these budget cuts and 49 per cent of people think actually that we should get more funding. When I say “we” I mean the ABC….

Dr Jennings went on to allege that every decision by ABC management to cut a function here or re-direct resources there in recent years is the fault of the Coalition government.  Needless to say, co-presenter Michael Rowland concurred. In the process he claimed that there had been a $41 million “budget cut” to the ABC. In fact, this is not a budget cut – but rather a pause in indexation funding. In absolute terms, ABC funding is increasing not decreasing. In real terms, according to MWD’s calculations, the ABC only needs to find a cut of $3 million in the current financial year – not $41 million. Followed by a cut in real terms of around $19 million in 2020-21 and $34 million in 2021-22.

In a brief comment, the Melbourne University academic referred to the ABC as “we” (or a derivative of “we”) on no fewer than ten occasions.  Dr Jennings did not mention that Minister Fletcher has encouraged the ABC to sell its inner-city digs in Sydney and Melbourne and move its main buildings to the suburbs as a way of saving money.  The problem is that the inner-city types at the ABC don’t want to move to Parramatta or Dandenong.

Also, Dr Jennings failed to tell viewers that the ABC is the best funded media organisation in the country.  Instead she threw the switch to begging and claimed that the ABC is “being stripped bare”. And Comrade Jennings did not tell viewers that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster gets $1 billion a year.  So the ABC gets over $1 billion a year but has been stripped bare. Can You Bear It?


Thanks to the Melbourne reader who has drawn Media Watch Dog’s attention to the very latest book title change by a journalist and his/her publisher.  To wit, The Guardian Australia’s Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey and Henry Rosenbloom’s Scribe.

As readers will recall, Insiders panellists Niki Savva and David Crowe had to alter the title of their books in the aftermath of the 2019 election. Both envisaged accounts about how the Liberal Party’s decision to replace its leader Malcolm Turnbull with Scott Morrison in August 2018 would have led to the Coalition’s defeat at the polls the following year.  Alas, it didn’t happen.  So Ms Savva’s  “Highway to Hell: The Coup that Destroyed Malcolm Turnbull and Left the Liberals in Ruins” became Plots and Prayers: Malcolm Turnbull’s demise and Scott Morrison’s ascension. And Mr Crowe’s “Venom: The Vendettas and Betrayals that Broke a Party” became Venom: Vendettas, Betrayals and the Price of Power.

Comrade Davey is well known to MWD readers. She was a key player in the media pile-on against Cardinal George Pell in the lead-up to his trial and conviction in the County Court of Victoria on historical child sexual offences.  Ms Davey has consistently described herself as “one of a handful of journalists who sat through the entire mistrial and trial” of DPP v George Pell.  In fact, no journalist saw the evidence given by the complainant – Ms Davey just made this up.

Here’s how Melissa Davey last year announced the news that she had found a publisher for her forthcoming book (then) titled A Fair Trial: Cardinal George Pell and society’s struggle to grasp child sexual abuse by clergy.

The message of the book was clear.  Cardinal Pell received A Fair Trial and was guilty on all five charges.  Ms Davey maintained that the jury got it right in the trial and did not believe that an appeal would be successful.  As readers well know, Cardinal Pell’s appeal went down by two to one in the Victorian Court of Appeal but was upheld by a unanimous decision in the High Court.  The High Court found that a jury acting rationally could not have found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt – hardly “A Fair Trial”.

What to do with a book on the Pell case titled A Fair Trial?  Easy – do a Savva/Crowe and change the title to The Case of George Pell.  Scribe has recently announced that the Davey tome will be published on 4 August 2020.  Here’s what it had to say:

Guardian Australia’s Melbourne bureau chief, Melissa Davey covered Cardinal George Pell’s evidence at the royal commission into child sexual abuses, and attended each of his trials for his alleged historic sexual offences against children — his committal hearing, mistrial, retrial, and appeals.

What she saw, heard, and read made her determined to produce a dispassionate and thorough rendition of what occurred. The Case of George Pell is the result … The Case of George Pell is not just about one alleged [sic] offender, and one complainant. It is also about how the sexual abuse of children occurs — and has been allowed to continue.

So there you have it.  Scribe has changed the title of Ms Davey’s book – without ‘fessing up to this. And Scribe still describes Pell as “an alleged offender” in spite of the fact that his conviction was quashed by the High Court and he is innocent under the presumption of innocence – as even Pell antagonist David Marr concedes.

To summarise, as late as this year Melissa Davey was predicting that Pell’s appeal would fail in the High Court.  When it didn’t, she decided to go ahead with the tome anyway – while furtively changing the title of her book.  Can You Bear It?

The term “What a Coincidence!”, was popularised in the film Muriel’s Wedding when the character Bill Heslop exclaimed on the occasion of seeing his mistress at a pre-arranged public meeting: “It’s Deidre Chambers, what a coincidence!”. Yes, really.


MWD was reminded of this term on reading the rationalisation for David Rowe’s “From the Gallery” cartoon last Saturday in Nine Newspapers’ the Australian Financial Review – which was inspired by Emanuel Phillips Fox’s painting Captain Cook’s landing at Botany Bay in 1770. Your man Rowe’s cartoon (see below) depicted an invasion at Botany Bay 250 years ago with the captain (who looks a bit like Scott Morrison) telling another naval figure (who looks a bit like Mathias Cormann): “We really should find a better way”.  Two of those who got out of the landing draft have dollar signs on their back.  The third carries a large dollar sign which doubles as a weapon.  It’s all about money, you see.

Hold it there.  This third figure looks like treasurer Josh Frydenberg – and has a document on the Morrison government’s  JobKeeper scheme poking out of his back pocket.  It so happens that the Frydenberg character has a Fagin-like hook nose and appears to be wearing a Jewish yarmulke/kippah. And it so happens that Josh Frydenberg is Jewish and occasionally wears a yarmulke/kippah. Fancy that.

No doubt if the late Bill Leak had drawn a Jewish Australian Labor politician with the stock anti-semitic depiction of a Jew with a hook nose – all hell would have broken loose.  Not so with Comrade Rowe and a Jewish Australian Liberal Party politician.

As described in Andrew Tillett’s piece in last Wednesday’s AFR, it was all a dreadful misunderstanding – and Mr Rowe has apologised for any hurt unintentionally caused and junked the hook nose in  a republished cartoon.  You know, the pro-forma apology which is not really an apology at all.  As Andrew Tillett reported:

Rowe explained he used the hook nose for many faces of politicians, the dollar sign was a symbol used often to depict treasurers and business people, and Mr Frydenberg was wearing a cloth sailor’s cap, not a yarmulke.

So it’s all okay, then. David Rowe often uses a stereotypical anti-semitic hook nose to depict treasurers and business people.  And while the Frydenberg character looked like he was wearing a Jewish yarmulke/kippah –  it was really a cloth sailor’s cap.  In short, any suggestion that Josh Frydenberg was depicted as an avaricious Fagin-like Jew was – Just A Coincidence.


Media Watch Dog was both disappointed and elated about the team who rocked up on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday.  Disappointed that panelist Katharine Murphy did not use the opportunity to disclose to viewers that in 2012 Malcolm Turnbull had suggested to The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger that he should set up a brand of his paper Down Under and have it led by comrades Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy. And so it came to pass some years later.

MWD is not suggesting a cash-for-comment scandal here.  After all, this comradely duo would always have supported Malcolm Turnbull and opposed Tony Abbott when it came to who should lead the Liberal Party.  It’s just that Insiders executive producer Sam Clark is always banging on about the need for full disclosure – except, as in this instance, when he isn’t.  Who knows?  Perhaps The Guardian’s editor Lenore Taylor will ‘fess up when she is next on the Insiders couch on behalf of herself and her staffer.  We’ll keep you posted.

MWD was elated because of the composition of last Sunday’s panel.  On the couch were journalists from the ABC (Patricia Karvelas & David Speers as presenter), The Guardian (Katharine Murphy) and the Nine Newspapers (David Crowe). Not a conservative among them. What better balance could there be than engage a team from the ABC, The Guardian and Nine?  It clearly reflects the view of ABC management – as reported in Senate Estimates and Questions on Notice – that, with Mr Speers in the presenter’s chair, Insiders “is looking for more variety and a greater array of views”.  It seems ABC management meant a greater array of left-wing voices – but there you go.

Early on, discussion turned on the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last Saturday – against the background of the suggestion that, once again, the left in Australia seemed to be imitating the thoughts and deeds of the left in the United States – as had been the case with the leftist demonstrations in Australia in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

Here’s how the panel responded. Patricia Karvelas declared: “The idea that this is imported from the US is baloney.” Then David Crowe said: “It’s wrong to look at this as an imported protest.” And finally, Katharine Murphy told viewers: “Look, I largely agree with both Patricia and David.”  David Speers did not challenge this (collective) view.

So Katharine essentially agreed with David (the 1st) who essentially agreed with Patricia who essentially agreed with David (the 2nd), who essentially agreed with Patricia who essentially agreed with herself. Quelle Surprise!

Media Fool Of The Week


Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to the tweet sent out by the Singapore-based Alex Turnbull on Tuesday.  It followed a tweet by ABC staffer Emma Alberici claiming that “the ABC has lost $783 million in funding since the Coalition came to power”.  Here’s what your man Alex had to say:

So who was the minister-in-charge when the Coalition came to office in 2013 who allegedly said “screw em” with reference to the ABC? – MWD hears you cry. Why – the Minister for Communications at the time was none other than Malcolm Turnbull, the sire of Young Alex. As is widely known, Alex Turnbull is a huge fan of his father and vehemently opposed his replacement as prime minister by Scott Morrison in August 2018.

If Alex Turnbull has read his old man’s memoir A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020), he would know that, even before the 2013 election, Malcolm Turnbull was intent on “undertaking a rigorous efficiency review of the ABC” with a view to “making savings” (See Page 215). Mr Turnbull also wrote that by December 2014 he had “finished cuts to the ABC” to be funded through “efficiency measures”. (See Page 228). In short, he was the guy who proposed to “screw” the ABC – in Young Alex’s terminology.

So there you go.  The loyal son Alex is bagging the “minister in charge” for cuts to the ABC since 2013 – without realising that Malcolm Turnbull was either the minister for communications or prime minister between September 2013 and August 2018.

Alex Turnbull: Media Fool of the Week.


It would seem that Sydney University’s taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre is channelling the taxpayer funded ABC. How else to explain its forthcoming seminar on anti-racism in the US and Australia.  The speakers are “U.S. politics expert” David Smith, human rights lawyer Roxanne Moore and former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.  Not much likely disagreement among this lot.  MWD could be wrong – but it seems likely that David will agree with Roxanne who will agree with Tim who will agree with David who will agree with himself.  You know the picture. A kind of re-run of Insiders in its modern format.

As to US politics expert David Smith – what’s he been up to lately?  Well, on Tuesday he appeared on the regular ABC Radio 702 “Trump Tuesday” segment on Drive with Richard Glover. Let’s go to the transcript where Comrade Glover is talking to Comrade Smith about just how bad President Donald J. Trump is. The claim is that Trump  (allegedly) used the name of the late George Floyd as an endorsement of the relatively good US unemployment statistics at the time of pandemic. Let’s go to the transcript:

Richard Glover: Okay but here’s the strange bit. He [President Trump] invoked the name of George Floyd, the man who was killed by police. Here’s the President using George Floyd’s name as he touts these new job figures.

Donald Trump: Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.

Richard Glover: Okay, so a white president putting words into the mouth of a dead, black person killed by police.

David Smith: Yeah,

Richard Glover: That’s what we just heard, isn’t it?

David Smith: Yeah it was, I mean, that was grotesque, even by his standards. It showed that he either doesn’t know or really doesn’t care about what was actually motivating the protestors over the last couple of weeks

Richard Glover went on to quote, with approval, Joe Biden’s criticism of the President’s alleged comments about the late George Floyd. But it was all FAKE NEWS.  President Trump was not talking in this instance about US job figures.  He was claiming that the late George Floyd  would appreciate the fact that, consequent upon his killing, the US was moving to implement fairer treatment for African Americans by law enforcement.  Here’s the full undoctored quote:

Donald Trump: They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.  They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.

Dr Smith (for a doctor he is) is not such an “expert” on the US that he can pick a distorted quote. Moreover, if he followed news reports, he would have known that the Trump misquote had been corrected days earlier.

As avid readers will recall, in MWD Issue 57 (11 June 2010) Matt Canavan drew attention to that part of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop in which the snobbery of the leftie journalist Pappenhacker was revealed.

Waugh’s line was that a wealthy communist university-educated chap named Pappenhacker believed that the best way to undermine the capitalist system was to be rude to the members of the proletariat.  This would help to make them angry and help to bring about a revolution. Your man Pappenhacker specialised in being rude to waiters. Others target taxi drivers it seems.


“Sandalista Snobbery Space” is devoted to recording the snobbish views of the well-educated leftist Pappenhackers of our day. Here is a recent sighting:

So there you have it.  The leftist well-educated ABC presenter Margaret Throsby told a taxi driver to, er, shut up and stop talking about Alan Jones, Donald Trump and the like.  This made the said taxi driver “Very unhappy”. This is sure, in the Pappenhacker way, to make the toiling masses angrier and advance the cause of revolution – after which, the well-educated sandal-wearing leftist class will come to power.


Due to enormous popular demand, Media Watch Dog has established this occasional segment where Jackie will comment occasionally about the state of mind of her (male) co-owner Gerard Henderson – usually by means of an interview. Here we go:


Jackie:  I note that MWD fave Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton received a Queen’s Birthday gong in last Monday’s Honours List.  How do you feel about this?  – and do you believe that the Monarch was happy?

Hendo:  I welcomed the fact – with an early morning G&T which was topped up throughout the day.  As you know, I have an A.C. (aka Always Courteous) which I invariably flash when writing to Greens’ house lawyer Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC. So I’m really pleased that the Sage of Avalon Beach has been gonged with, as I understand it, an AM. And I believe that the Queen is on board.

Jackie: Just remind me.  What’s an “AM” stand for?

Hendo: Well, in Comrade Carlton’s case I suspect it means “Always Malicious” – but, to confess, I was too pissed on the Queen’s Birthday holiday to read the citation. However, I do recall that your man Carlton has told a few of his critics to “f-ck off” – especially Jewish Australian critics I’ve been told.  So Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton AM seems appropriate to me – and well deserved.

Jackie:  Do you think that Mike Carlton AM will feel a bit isolated in such company? After all, I always thought that radical leftists, who use Twitter as a platform for abuse, rejected honours and all that.

Hendo:  Not at all.  Think of Phillip Adams AO AM, Peter FitzSimons AM, Jane Caro AM and, wait for it, Richard (“Gadfly”) Ackland AM.  Gongs are what middle-aged leftist radicals like to collect. Though I guess that the reason this lot never got an AC is that, unlike Self, they’re not always courteous.  That will learn them.  Now I must refresh my glass – it being Gin & Tonic Time.

[Fair enough. But getting back to your man Carlton – whom I note he tweeted on 10 June that he had just found a copy of the Daily Telegraph which contained critical reports of his gong “in a servo garbage bin”. I also note that at 9.55 am on 11 June he said he had “finally read” Sharri Markson’s critical comments about his gong in the Daily Telegraph.  Some confusion surely.  But then on Monday your man Carlton reported that he was “going to crack a bottle of Moet” – MWD Editor.]

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Until next time.

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