ISSUE – NO. 502

26 June 2020

* * * *

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.

* * * *

  • Stop Press – While Adam Bandt Sleeps, Jackie receives ABC leak via The SMH

  • Can You Bear It? Ellen Fanning’s confusion re Sydney geography; Professor Mark Kenny gets self-important; Lenore Taylor has nothing to say about The Guardian’s pro-slavery founder; Comrade Richard Flanagan tells The SMH & The Age that he wants students to get foucaulted

  • The US[eless] Studies Centre – The USSC’s David Smith comes out for Joe Biden

  • Media Fool of the Week – Step forward Lisa Wilkinson

  • You Must Remember This – Has anyone seen Paul Barry’s 600,000 AWOL viewers?

  • History Corner – Bruce Pascoe’s (uncorrected) howler

* * * *



Gerard Henderson – Jackie’s (male) co-owner – was moved by Greens’ leader Adam Bandt’s tweet this week about the ABC:

How about that?  Comrade Bandt arises as early as 7.45 am to spend his day working for the toiling masses among the professional classes in Fitzroy North. A committed socialist if ever there was one. As for the Member for Melbourne’s alarm clock, ABC managing director David Anderson said this week that ABC management had decided to ditch the 7.45 am radio news because it had lost 20 per cent of its listeners in recent years. Hardly, then, Australia’s most trusted voice in radio.

Jackie, on the other hand, rises before the first crow when the print copy newspapers land loudly on her kennel at around 5.15 am. But, then, she’s not a Greens’ senator.  On opening the Sydney Morning Herald  this morning – this was a page one story: “ABC chief Buttrose lets fly over government cuts”.

Turn to Page 6 – and there is a report about a (presumably confidential) letter which ABC chair Ita Buttrose sent to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher complaining about something or other.  It so happened that this letter from the ABC chair to the Minister was “seen” by Nine Newspapers’ intrepid reporters Rob Harris and Zoe Samios. Just “seen” – even though, happily, for long enough to get some long quotes from the correspondence.

It would appear that someone at the ABC gave this scoop, by way of a leak, to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.   And not to the ABC’s very own journalists.  How cunning can you get?  What a brilliant feint. And so on.

Can You Bear It?


As avid readers will recall, earlier this year ABC management decided it would be a you-beaut idea to bus some presenters, producers and journalists out of Ultimo headquarters in inner-city Sydney to the Western suburbs to see how the other half lives, so to speak.  Or, rather, the other 90 per cent. This followed the failure of any leading ABC figures to predict that the Coalition would prevail over Labor and the Greens to win the May 2019 election.  Apparently a way to put the out-of-touch in touch.

It seems that not all the Ultimo-based luvvies made the trip.  Or perhaps some fell asleep in the bus and did not attend the workshops.  How else to explain the fact that  The Drum’s co-presenter Ellen Fanning had this to say on Wednesday when commenting on the ABC’s Five-Year Plan 2020-2025, released that very day, to have 75 per cent of “content makers working outside Ultimo headquarters by 2025”.

Ellen Fanning: …it’s an interesting one isn’t it? The Minister [Paul Fletcher] there was talking about moving a big broadcast production, which is an expensive thing to do, a couple of kilometres down the road to Western Sydney. You know, where it must be said that the median house prices are over a million dollars so it’s –

Kerry Chikarovski: Depends on how far west you go.

Ellen Fanning: Yeah that’s true. But if you’re only going to Parramatta, that’s where you are….

Comrade Fanning’s specific reference was an earlier comment by the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher, that the ABC should sell the Ultimo Headquarters and re-locate to Western Sydney. But MWD digresses.

Ellen Fanning seems unaware that Parramatta and Penrith in Sydney’s west are, respectively, 23 and 55 kilometres from Ultimo. Which, when you think about it – or even if you don’t – amounts to much more than “a couple of kilometres”.

So, what’s “a couple of kilometres” west of Ultimo? – MWD hears you cry.  Well, both inner-city Newtown and inner-city Surry Hills in Sandalista Central are 2 kms from Ultimo.  Comrade Fanning – back on the bus for you. Can You Bear It?


What a stunning performance by the Australian National University’s Mark (“call me professor”) Kenny on ABC TV Insiders on Sunday. Towards the end of the program,  your man Kenny was asked about the Morrison government’s decision to re-structure university fees with a view to encouraging students to enrol in such courses as nursing, teaching, science, maths and agriculture.  Fees for such courses will become cheaper –while fees for such degrees as law and arts will become more expensive.  The aim is to encourage students to study areas in which they are more likely to find employment.

In response to a question from presenter David Speers, the learned professor Kenny turned to the topic he knows best.  That is, Himself.  It seems that the Coalition government is all about attempting to silence Him and his leftist comrades in the groves of academe. Fair dinkum. Let’s go to the transcript:

Mark Kenny: …I do think it’s important why the government has done this, it does seem to have a political edge to it. It’s no surprise really that the conservative government is not fond of the humanities and of the pesky individuals within it, such as myself and many others, who are looking at a range of things that are perhaps sometimes uncomfortable for the government….

Go on. Alas, he did.  It seems that the one-time Labor Party staffer – who took a familiar career path through the ABC to Fairfax Media and on to the academe – reckons that “the conservative government” believes that “pesky” types like him are so significant that they need to be silenced.  So that, presumably, The Thought of Professor Kenny will not influence the teeming masses in, say, Dandenong or Penrith as it well might do. Talk about a misplaced sense of self-importance.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Insiders’  non-ABC panellists, wasn’t it great to see The Guardian Australia’s  editor Lenore Taylor back on the Insiders’  (currently “virtual”) couch on Sunday? This was the first occasion that Comrade Taylor has been on the ABC TV program since Malcolm Turnbull revealed in A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020) that it was his cunning plan to bring the left-wing newspaper – over which Ms Taylor now presides –  to Australia.

The former prime minister reported at Page 198 of his tome that in June 2012 he suggested to then Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger that he should set up an online edition of The Guardian in Australia –  and proposed that Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy should write for it. Later he introduced Comrade Rusbridger to these “two seasoned Canberra political writers” – who just happened to believe it was proper for Australia to have a Coalition government, provided it was led by a “progressive” like Mr Turnbull.

Despite the fact that Insiders’ executive producer Sam Clark presents himself as a stickler for full disclosure – neither Ms Taylor nor Ms Murphy have revealed their Malcolm Turnbull connection on Insiders where both are panellists.  Murpharoo (as Malcolm Turnbull calls her) declined to do so when she appeared on the program on 7 June 2020. And, on Sunday 21 June 2020, Comrade Taylor, likewise, failed to declare her involvement with Malcolm Turnbull when he was shadow communications minister in 2012.

But that’s not all.  The Guardian Australia’s  editor failed to do what her fellow leftists demand of others – namely to apologise. In this case for The Guardian’s  dark past.  As revealed recently, John Edward Taylor, who founded the newspaper in Manchester in the early 19th century, made his fortune  out of profits made from a cotton plantation in America that used slaves.

Asked about this by the Daily Telegraph’s Clarissa Bye (DT, 18 June 2020), Lenore Taylor referred her to an article written by The Guardian’s global editor Katharine Viner on the paper’s website on 16 November 2017.  Taylor told Bye that this “addresses the matter”. It doesn’t.

Ms Viner merely refers to The Guardian’s profiteering from slavery as “this period of complacency”. Just complacency. That’s all.  Moreover, she did not mention the fact that The Guardian supported the South (or Confederacy) in the American Civil War and depicted United States president Abraham Lincoln as “abhorrent”.  By the way, Katharine Viner was the inaugural editor of The Guardian Australia who, in turn, appointed Comrades Taylor and Murphy to positions in the left-wing paper’s Australian operation. What goes around, goes around.

The likes of Taylor and Murpharoo constantly call for FULL TRANSPARENCY – except, it seems, when such a concept is of relevance to them.  Here’s what a fully transparent Guardian Australia’s editor would have said on Insiders last Sunday.

Fully Transparent Guardian Australia’s Editor: Speersy, my final observation is an apology.  I apologise for not telling viewers as early as 2012 that it was Malcolm Turnbull’s idea to bring The Guardian Down Under and that Murpharoo and myself should work for it.  I also apologise for not telling viewers, as early as 2017, that my paper was established on the back of profits made from slavery.  In future, I will be transparent. But, for now, please forgive me.

Alas, it did not come to pass. Lenore Taylor did not acknowledge her past involvement with Malcolm Turnbull –  or The Guardian’s past involvement with slavery.  In short, there was no transparency.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of Sandalistas and all that, did anyone read the report in the Nine Newspapers last Saturday by Broede Carmody and Fergus Hunter about the Morrison government’s proposals with respect to tertiary education fees? As previously mentioned, this is the reform which compelled the ANU’s Mark (“Call me professor”) Kenny to throw the switch to conspiracy theory on Insiders last Sunday.

It seems that Professor Kenny is not the only one to see a conspiracy here.  In the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last weekend, Messrs Carmody and Hunter found three members of the intelligentsia to bag Education Minister Dan Tehan about the university fees matter.  No other view was heard from inside the academe.  The lucky trio were Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan, MWD  fave and Melbourne historian Clare Wright and novelist Michelle de Kretser.  Here’s what Comrade Flanagan had to say:

This act is of a piece [sic] with a society that has for decades now placed ever less value on the creative, the critical and the questioning, and which regards conformity as the greatest good. Nothing is more helpful in preparing the road to authoritarianism. The government will save a few dollars today and Australia will pay a heavy price in the years to come.

What a load of absolute (self-serving) tosh.  All Minister Tehan is suggesting is that students who do arts might combine the course with studies in languages, or teaching, or IT and reduce the fee.  Rather than, MWD assumes, being loaded up with post-modernism and the turgid sludge of the virtually incomprehensible French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-84). In other words, in with job-skilling and out with post-modernism.  Unless students want to pay for all of this themselves.

Then Dr Clare Wright (for a doctor she is) weighed in, telling the comrades at Nine Newspapers:

[The] proposals threaten to turn the study of history, politics, anthropology and philosophy into a vanity practice. An indulgence of the elite rather than promoting the value of liberal arts training as the basis for any professional or creative practice. Aren’t we supposed to be the clever country? Talk about a dumbass country.

Turn it up. The fact is that conservative views are rarely heard at universities these days – which are no longer examples of the value of liberal arts but more like centres of secular religions where “error” is not allowed.

Then the intrepid SMH and Age journalists sought the view of novelist Michelle de Kretser who said that the Morrison government’s proposal had sent a message to the world that Australia does not value the study of the humanities.  Comrade Kretser could be right. MWD understands that in Lagos, Moscow, Dublin and Beijing, folk talk about nothing else than how Australia is on the road to becoming “a dumbass country”. Can You Bear It?

Due to enormous reader demand, MWD takes another look at the taxpayer funded United States Studies Centre which is attached to the taxpayer funded University of Sydney.

As avid readers are aware, Professor Simon Jackman – the chief executive officer of the US[eless] Studies Centre – told Sky News in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election that not one of his colleagues had tipped Donald J. Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.  Not one. Moreover, he ’fessed up that no one at the USSC supported Mr (now President) Trump. No one. Yet USSC staff still present themselves as “experts” on politics in the United States of America.  Really.


David Smith lectures at the USSC when he is not fulfilling the role of a media commentator. As Media Watch Dog readers are aware, the taxpayer funded Centre was formally opened at a function which celebrated the victory of the Democratic Party’s Barack Obama in the November 2008 presidential election.

Along with Professor Simon Jackman, Dr Smith (for a doctor he surely is) is the best known USSC staffer.  And, like his boss, your man Smith is a Trump-hater.  He supported the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton in November 2016. And, last Tuesday, Comrade Smith came out in support of the Democratic Party’s Joe Biden to win the 2020 presidential election.

This occurred in his regular “Trump Tuesday” slot on ABC Sydney Radio 702 Drive with Richard Glover. Let’s go to the transcript of “Trump Tuesday” last Tuesday just after discussion had turned on, wait for it, whether Donald Trump would leave the White House if he loses to Joe Biden in November this year:

Richard Glover: It would be good if Joe Biden wasn’t so colourless.

David Smith: It would.  I mean that colourlessness, I suppose, it seems to be working for him so far. Poll averages have him more than 9 points ahead of Trump nationally. But, of course, the election isn’t decided in the national popularity contest, it’s decided state by state. At the moment, Biden’s leading at the state level as well, but there were plenty of times in 2016 where Hillary Clinton had quite large leads over Trump. So hopefully the Biden campaign isn’t going to make the, you know, same mistakes, the same complacency that the Hillary Clinton campaign showed in 2016.

Richard Glover: In terms of what they want to achieve, yeah, that’s right.

So there you have it.  The USSC’s David Smith is hoping that the Biden campaign will succeed. Sure, Richard Glover attempted to re-define what the learned doctor said before terminating the segment.  But to no avail.  It’s out there.  As in 2008, 2012, 2016, the USSC is once again barracking for the Democratic Party – per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer, which is forced to fund it.

[I’m not surprised.  I note that Drive with Richard Glover has still not corrected – or apologised for – verballing President Trump.  As readers will be aware (see Issue 500), during “Trump Tuesday” on 9 June, Richard Glover and David Smith claimed that President Trump had used the memory of George Floyd  to support the recent better than expected unemployment figure in the US.

In fact, President Trump’s reference to the late Mr Floyd referred to the growing concern in the US about the plight of African Americans – not to the level of US unemployment.  In short, President Trump was verballed by the deletion of a crucial sentence in an address. But Comrades Glover and Smith have not corrected it. – MWD Editor.]

Media Fool Of The Week


Thanks to the avid MWD reader who drew attention to this tweet sent out by The Sunday Project co-presenter Lisa Wilkinson at 6.18 pm on Monday following the news that allegations of sexual harassment have been made against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.

The (snide) reference was to the fact that former prime minister John Howard had provided a character reference for Cardinal George Pell following his conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges in December 2018 – and that the Howard government had appointed Dyson Heydon to the High Court in 2003.

How ignorant can a Network 10 presenter be?  Ms Wilkinson is unaware that a character reference delivered to a court – after an accused has been convicted of a crime – is part of the judicial process.  They are taken into account when sentencing takes place. That’s all.  If courts do not want to receive character references they can be abolished by legislation.

Also Ms Wilkinson apparently is not aware of the fact that Cardinal Pell’s conviction was quashed by the High Court of Australia in a unanimous seven to nil decision.  In other words, leaving aside the legal states of character references, Cardinal Pell has been found not guilty of historical child sexual abuse. In which case, John Howard’s reference for Cardinal Pell is not inconsistent with the view taken by the Hight Court in Pell v The Queen.

So, two possibilities apply. Lisa Wilkinson is totally ignorant of the law – with respect to the role of character references and high profile High Court decisions.  Or she reckons that she knows more about Pell v The Queen than seven High Court judges who read all the relevant material and presided over a two day hearing which heard from parties for both the prosecution and the defence.

Lisa Wilkinson: Media Fool of the Week.

“You Must Remember This” is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By  – which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they and/or those they supported once wrote or said or did.


There was enormous interest at MWD’s reminder last week that every presenter on ABC TV’s Media Watch program has been white.  This despite the fact that Media Watch’s  current presenter Paul Barry on 15 June criticised “the lack of racial diversity in Australian politics and the media.”

As MWD documented last week, Media Watch has run for 31 years.  In this time, it has been a white-only affair.  Also Media Watch has had two female presenters – but they presented the program for a mere three years in total.  Are you counting?  This means that females have sat in the presenter’s chair on only 10 per cent of the time – with blokes filling out the remaining 90 per cent.

As you would expect, MWD likes to help.  Here’s a proposal. If Comrade Barry feels so strongly about the need for racial diversity – why doesn’t he step down and give ABC TV’s Karina Carvalho a chance?

And now – what must MWD remember?,  Jackie’s (male) co-owner hears you cry.  Well it’s this.  On 2 March 2020 Paul Barry boasted that ABC TV Media Watch had “record ratings” the previous week with “1.1 million viewers”.  Last Monday, according to Crikey, this had shrunk to 492,000 viewers. A decline of some 600,000 viewers in three months.  Remember this.



These days Bruce Pascoe is presented by the taxpayer funded Literary Festival Set as one of the leading Australian historians – if not the leader itself. It was in this capacity that he appeared on ABC Radio National’s Big Weekend of Books  gig – the kind of literary festival you have at a time of Pandemic – which ran from morning to night last weekend.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner caught the start of all this while walking Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) last Saturday. The (online) festival commenced with a discussion between Julia Baird and Trent Dalton about something so esoteric that even a canine with a Diploma in Wellness could not understand.

Later, the ABC’s fox-hunting man – Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-chief”) Green – interviewed freelance historian Bruce Pascoe.  Your man Pascoe identifies as Indigenous but has yet to cite one grandparent who was Aboriginal.  But there you go. MWD was particularly interested in this exchange which, at least, was understandable.

Jonathan Green: …It’s a story that was itching to be told. It’s amazing Bruce, that sort of the arc of your life, from a primary school boy writing about the oak door –  that sort of, steeped in Englishness. To then become, what you are in your 70s, as someone looking at how to rehabilitate this country, how to give those ideas about what we might do to use Indigenous knowledge to help us in our future. It’s an amazing life story.

Bruce Pascoe: Yeah it is. But I think of Rupert Gerritsen’s life too, you know. A man who tried to blow up the American embassy in Perth during the Vietnam War was the person I relied on most in telling Dark Emu. It should have been Rupert who was getting this acclaim. But he died.

The fact that Comrade Rupert Gerritsen (1953-2013) has departed this mortal coil is the only accurate comment in Comrade Pascoe’s statement. Here’s why:

۰ The United States Embassy is based in Canberra – not Perth.

۰ No one has tried to blow up the US Embassy in Canberra as a quick search of the internet will document.

۰ The US has a consulate in Perth.  It was not attacked by Rupert Gerritsen in his wild anarcho-syndicalist days in Western Australia.

۰ Rather, Comrade Gerritsen pleaded guilty to placing a bomb in the Perth office of the Department of Labour and National Service in August 1972.  It did not go off. If the bomb had exploded, it probably would have wounded and perhaps killed Australian public servants and others near the Commonwealth government office. It would  not have killed or injured Americans or damaged US property.

It is merely a fantasy for Bruce Pascoe to suggest that Gerritsen was striking a blow against what the left likes to call American imperialism.  It would seem that your man Pascoe just makes things up.  Needless to say, he was not contradicted by Jonathan Green. As to listeners – well, were there any? – apart from a man and his dog.


* * * *


Until next time.


* * * * *