ISSUE – NO. 510

21 August 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.

* * * *



It would seem that Ten’s The Project is channelling the ABC with leftist panels where everyone agrees with everyone else on nearly everything.

So it happened last night when The Project panel – Waleed Aly, Peter Helliar, Gorgi Coghlan and Em Rusciano mocked President Trump.  Quelle Surprise!  Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Rusciano swoons over Kamala Harris and then joins The Project’s chorus in mocking Donald Trump and the Republicans:

Em Rusciano: Searing, I got chills. I just love this week, it’s like political Coachella. This was my favourite bit from Kamala’s speech, listen:

Kamala Harris: “I’ve fought for children and survivors of sexual assault. I’ve fought against transnational criminal organisations. I took on the biggest banks and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges. I know a predator when I see one”

Em Rusciano: Name rhymes with Shmonald Shrump.

[More laughter than this deserved]

Peter Helliar: You’ve decoded it.

Em Rusciano: Yeah man.

Waleed Aly: I had no idea.

Em Rusciano: Also, the comparisons between the two. So, this week is the DNC and they’ve had like, John Legend, Billie Eilish, the artist formerly known as the Dixie Chicks. And then next week the Republican National Convention is happening. And they have these guys.

Em Rusciano: That’s Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann who mocked a Native American elder taking part in a march, and the other two are gun-toting Missouri couple Patricia and Mark McCloskey. I know that Trump is waiting to hear back from Nickleback, Creed and Chumbawamba, I’ll let you know. [A bit much from someone who finished 9th place singing covers in a season of Australian Idol, don’t you think? – MWD Editor]


Peter Helliar: The Republican convention is starting to look like 20 to One: 2020’s biggest nutjobs. That’s incredible.

[More laughter]

Waleed Aly: To be fair I’d be more likely to do what the guys on the right with the guns told me to do.

Hilarious, eh?  Except that no one on The Project knew that Nicholas Sandmann did not mock the Native American in Washington  DC in January 2019.  It was, in fact, the other way around. The Native American moved up to the Covington Catholic High School student and aggressively banged a drum in his face.  All Nicholas Sandman did was to hold his ground.

Already CNN and the New York Times have made settlements with the student – and there are more such arrangements being negotiated.  It seems that it was wall-to-wall ignorance on The Project last night – since neither Waleed Aly nor Peter Helliar, nor Gorgi Coghlan corrected Em Rusciano’s howler.


Didn’t the ABC have fun this morning with the news that former Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon has been arrested in the United States on fraud charges.

On ABC Radio National Breakfast Matt Bevan (the ABC’s house Trump conspiracist) went on and on about how Steve Bannon was close to Trump. However he did point out that Bannon had been accused of leaking from the White House. Steve Bannon left the White House in August 2017 – just over six months into the Trump administration.

Neither Bevan nor Williams mentioned that Steve Bannon was widely quoted in Michael Wolff’s hostile book Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House which was published in January 2018. This led to President Trump calling the one-time White House staffer “Sloppy Steve”.

Moreover, the ABC TV’s 4 Corners  team thought so much of Steve Bannon that presenter Sarah Ferguson flew into Washington DC to meet and present a full program on Steve Bannon.


More Fake News from the ABC’s Lord Protector Quentin Dempster who tweeted at 8.15  this morning:

There was no evidence for this (undocumented) assertion. Former ABC managing director David Hill wrote to The Saturday Paper on 13 October 2018 denying he ever wanted to sack Geraldine Doogue.  He pointed out that the assertion had been refuted as early as 2003.  The fact is that Bob Hawke never asked for Doogue to be sacked.  As David Hill pointed out: “Doogue acknowledged the sole source of the fiction that I wanted her removed was her then boss Peter Manning.”

But when Comrade Dempster is in rant mode, facts take second – or is it third? – place.


What’s a fine constitutional lawyer like UNSW Professor Rosalind Dixon doing writing a column with an academic economist like UNSW Professor Richard Holden?

They wrote an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald titled “To open State borders is perilous”.   While conceding that some adjustments might be made to border closures, they are backing lockdowns:

There are no shortcuts to returning to a world of both free movement and economic growth: both require aggressive suppression of COVID-19, unless and until a vaccine is widely deployed.

The fantasy that businesses can just bounce back, when restrictions are lifted, ignores the overwhelming evidence from overseas – that it is the virus, not lockdowns or border closures, that kills business and consumer confidence, and with it economic growth.

If this is the case then we may as well close down all of the economy – since this will, in time, facilitate economic growth.

This reminds MWD of the late Irish writer Flann O’Brien’s view that the best way to solve Ireland’s power shortage was for everyone to go to bed for a month each year.  Except for the bakers and the brewers.  Trigger warning – your man Flann was a comedic writer.  However, if he had survived this mortal coil, Flann O’Brien might have got a chair in economics at the University of New South Wales.

[For more about Flann O’Brien see this week’s “The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary and Verbal Sludge” – MWD Editor.]

Can You Bear It?


In The Australian this morning, Simon Benson reported that the newspaper has obtained a legal letter sent in July 2020 to ABC managing director David Anderson by lawyers acting for one-time ABC star, and MWD  fave, Emma Alberici.  The letter claims that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull constantly called ABC news director Gaven Morris complaining about La Alberici’s work as ABC’s senior economics correspondent.

It is true that in 2018 Mr Turnbull – along with some others – complained about La Alberici’s coverage of economic issues – including, as MWD recalls, a confusion about what connotes taxable income when it comes to corporate tax.

If this is the case, it would make Mr Turnbull, who was much loved by ABC staff, the second prime minister to have intervened directly with ABC management over a reporter’s coverage of an issue. The other was Labor prime minister Bob Hawke over the First Gulf War in 1990 [Note – This was not Geraldine Doogue]. No such allegation was made against John Howard and Tony Abbott – which suggests that conservatives are more tolerant on such matters.

It should be recorded that The Australian also reported that Mr Turnbull denies that he ever spoke to Mr Morris about Emma Alberici.  And an ABC spokesman has said that such a conversation never took place.  Two strong denials versus hearsay.  You be the judge.

Simon Benson’s report also mentioned that Comrade Alberici is due to launch a book about her three decade career at the ABC. Alas, this is old news.  In Nine Newspapers’ “CBD” column last Monday, Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook referred to the said forthcoming Alberici tome as “the biggest event in the journalist’s diary this week”.  They added:

Alberici has also written a book. Her publisher Hardie Grant is doing the big reveal on the manuscript on Monday, including the title and content. It’s been variously described as a memoir and reflection on the life of a journalist working in a tough environment.

Alas Monday came – and went – without Hardie Grant’s “big reveal”. And Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and – well, we shall see. So far it seems that “CBD” has stopped reporting about the CBD in Sydney and Melbourne and has taken up the art of The Tease.  Can You Bear It?

[MWD wishes Emma Alberici well in her years after the ABC.  After all, she was a MWD fave – having won the inaugural prestigious MWD “Five Paws Award” way back in 2009 for a comment on the Nazi-Soviet Pact of recent memory.  It seems, however, that La Alberici suffers from the same condition as many of her journalistic comrades – namely an inability to take criticism.  But she’s sure to bob up somewhere else. And Jackie’s (male) co-owner is so excited about the forthcoming book that he just can’t fight it.  MWD Editor.]


On Sunday afternoon, Melbourne-based comedian/commentator Dave Hughes felt sorry for Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews.  In MWD’s  view, the socialist left leader of all Victorians is an unusual kind of political premier.  For example, he has set up an inquiry to find out how and why the government, which he heads, made decisions concerning quarantine.  As readers are aware, the Victorian government’s bungling of quarantine led to the escape of COVID-19 from hotels and the second wave of infection in Melbourne and beyond.  But it seems that Mr Andrews does not know how or why the decisions made by the cabinet which he leads were made. Somewhat unusual, don’t you think?

However, sections of the media and the commentariat are inclined to be a bit soft on socialist-left types who make errors which they are not inclined to concede.  Hence this tweet from Dave Hughes on Sunday afternoon:

Interesting that Dave (“Call me Hughesy”) Hughes used the term “break” – as in “well-earned break” (i.e. W.E.B) or, in this case, “well deserved break”.  Breaks, you see, are usually the preserve of journalists.  Mere mortals have holidays. Just holidays.

Not surprisingly, Hughesy’s call was taken up by ABC TV News Breakfast presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar.  Comrade Rowland commented that “our political leader…this week fronts up to his 50th straight media conference”.  Your man Rowland apparently forgot that Premier Andrews is the leader of Victoria only. And Comrade Millar criticised  a message to the program which suggested that Premier Andrews is no more deserving of a break than doctors and nurses working double shifts exposed to the virus every day. Lisa Millar appears to believe that Mr Andrews is as important to patients as doctors and nurses.

Michael Rowland then had this to say:

Michael Rowland: …Daniel Andrews – and I pointed this out on social media – he’s made a rod for his own back where he’s agreed to take every single question. Which we as journalists think is absolutely fantastic. But this has resulted in media conferences that sometimes run close to two hours each and every day.

Lisa Millar: I think we could start winding those back a little bit maybe.

Michael Rowland: As long as he answers the questions.

Turn it up.  This overlooks the fact that the Premier Andrews has failed to answer key questions about COVID-19 from journalists.  So much so that he has set up an independent inquiry to establish what the answers are.

Currently Comrade Andrews spends at least 30 minutes each way to get to his Melbourne office where he attends daily media conferences in a fetching North Face jacket for up to two hours. That’s three hours – not counting the preparation and wind-down time.

In short, the Victorian premier spends half a working day devoted to talking to journalists without saying anything of significance – he could spend this time in bed without making a difference.  Hughesy seems unaware that it wouldn’t matter if the Victorian premier took a break or not. And yet the News Breakfast team reckons that this is worth talking about. Can You Bear It?


It was Gin & Tonic Time last Friday – i.e. around the time that Media Watch Dog goes out to (avid) thirsty readers – when the Sydney Morning Herald’s  Kate McClymont posted this tweet:

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are now part of Nine Newspapers.  In Sydney, the SMH has been re-located from inner-city Pyrmont to Nine headquarters in North Sydney.  This has meant that inner-city leftist Kate McClymont now has to CROSS THE SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE (Shock! Horror!) to get to work.

So what does an inner-city Sydney activist journalist need to know when  she or he moves from inner-city Sydney all the way to North Sydney?  Why, of course, such necessities of a reporter’s life as intel about cafes, restaurants, etc. What else does an activist journalist need to know?

It so happens that your canine Jackie has kennel digs in North Sydney.  Here’s what Jackie’s advice to Comrade McClymont is, now that she has crossed the No Man’s Land that is Sydney Harbour and established a Sydney Morning Herald salient in North Sydney.

Jackie’s Advice to Comrade McClymont

  • Believe it or not, English is spoken in North Sydney – albeit it’s a different dialect from that which prevails in inner-city Sydney. So you should be able to communicate with locals, to a certain extent. But it’s probably wise to leave your Che Guevara beret at home.
  • For coffee, try the Mary MacKillop Museum next to Mary MacKillop’s Chapel which contains the remains of Saint Mary MacKillop – just up Mount Street from the Pacific Highway. The coffee is always served with a side-order of Holy Water. Worth a try.
  • Don’t bother with restaurants. For a great pizza, cooked in Maronite Lebanese Australian style, try Simon in Bay Road near the Pacific Highway.  He runs Bay Pizza.
  • Then for something to wash the pizza down, head down Bay Road to Waverton Fine Wines near the Waverton Railway Station. The last time my co-owners were there it offered a take-away free used copy of Mike “I’ll Pour the Gin” Carlton’s novel On Air – for anyone who spent more than 50 cents. See photo below.

Then, in case you want to meet some real people (who don’t read the Sydney Morning Herald, of course) take a trip to Luna Park on a Saturday afternoon. Just for fun.  The park is full of folk from Western Sydney – it would be useful to meet a couple or so. After all, they are rarely found in Pyrmont.

I hope this helps.

[I note that Kate McClymont has never corrected the claim she made on the ABC Lateline program (18 April 2016) that the former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell lied when he told the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption that he could not remember receiving a $3000 bottle of wine from a businessman.  This occurred at a busy time just after Mr O’Farrell led the Coalition to an election victory and was putting together a ministry.  Also, his father-in-law had just died.

Without any evidence, Kate McClymont told Lateline viewers in April 2016 that Mr O’Farrell had lied. Barry O’Farrell was cleared by the ICAC report titled Investigation into dealings between Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd and Sydney Water Corporation and related matters, dated August 2017. The ICAC found “that there was no intention on Mr O’Farrell’s part to mislead the Commission on either occasion that he gave evidence”.

So Comrade McClymont made a false claim on Lateline.  Needless to say, this was never corrected by Lateline or by Kate McClymont in the Sydney Morning Herald. MWD Editor.]



On Friday 14 August The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess released its long-awaited report into the handling of the disembarkation of passengers from the cruise ship on 19 March 2020. The report was meant to clarify the events surrounding the disembarkation but has seemingly led to some confusion within the media as to the number of cases and deaths arising from the decision to allow passengers off the ship.

Here is how Media Watch presenter Paul Barry introduced a segment critical of the ABC’s coverage of the Ruby Princess on 17 August:

Paul Barry: And after waiting months to find out who was to blame for letting sick passengers off the Ruby Princess, we finally have the answer, with the finger pointing squarely at New South Wales Health for a bungle that cost 28 lives and saw more than 600 infected with COVID-19.

Later in the same segment Media Watch quoted from an ABC spokesperson:

The ABC has applied the best journalistic principles and ethics in seeking answers and accountability for a debacle that caused at least 662 COVID-19 infections and 28 deaths

So according to an ABC spokesperson and Paul Barry, the disembarkation led to 662 cases and 28 deaths. But here is Josh Butler in The New Daily on 18 August:

The NSW government’s special commission into the Ruby Princess calamity – which led to more than 600 infections and 20 deaths…

Josh Butler agrees with the ABC on the approximate number of cases but he places the death toll at 20 instead of 28. Further adding to the confusion here is David Crowe writing in the Sydney Morning Herald the same day:

…a decision that contributed to 900 coronavirus infections and 22 deaths.

The BBC also reported on the Ruby Princess on 19 August:

More than 2,650 people were allowed off the Ruby Princess without being tested. It led to 28 deaths and about 1,000 infections in Australia and overseas.

So the disembarkation of the Ruby Princess led to 662 infections, or maybe 900 or maybe 1,000? And the death toll stands at 28, or maybe 20, or maybe 22? It was also a “bungle”, “debacle” or “calamity” depending on who you asked.

For clarity on this matter MWD can refer readers to the report by the Special Commission. In terms of COVID-19 cases, the report finds that:

  • 663 Australian passengers and 191 crew contracted COVID-19.
  • Some number of the approximately 800 international passengers would have contracted the virus although the Commission was unable to determine the exact number.
  • Only 62 members of the public contracted the virus as secondary or tertiary cases – that is they caught it from a passenger or a contact of a passenger.
  • 138 cases were reported at the North West Regional Hospital outbreak in Tasmania, which most likely began with one or two patients who contracted the virus on the Ruby Princess. The Commission notes that there is an ongoing review into this outbreak established by the Tasmanian Premier which has yet to hand down its report.

In terms of deaths, the report finds that:

  • 28 deaths (20 in Australia, 8 in the USA) have been “associated” with passengers of the ship. It does not specify precisely how many of these deaths were themselves passengers. An ABC News story from 13 May mentions that a total of 22 people from the ship had died at that time.
  • There were 10 deaths associated with the Tasmanian hospital outbreak.

The report does not ascribe all these cases and deaths to the disembarkation. Nor should it. It is obvious that most of the passengers and crew who contracted the virus did so onboard the Ruby Princess prior to its arrival in Sydney. And yet the news organisations quoted earlier have all somehow come to the conclusion that these passengers contracted the virus because they were allowed off the ship on 19 March.


At last count, the ABC had three journalists in Washington DC all reporting on the US presidential election to be held on Tuesday 3 November. So far, none of this trio – comprising Kathryn Diss, David Lipson and Philip Williams – has reported anything that could not be accessed on such Trump-hating outlets as CNN or MSNBC.

Last Sunday – for some reason or other – Insiders executive producer Sam Clark thought it would be a you-beaut idea to hear from Comrade Lipson. This despite the fact that , as far as MWD can recall, last week Insiders did not cover the economic impact on Australia of the COVID-19 lockdowns, especially in Victoria and on interstate borders.  But there was time to hear from one of Aunty’s team in America.  Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: Why has Joe Biden chosen Kamala Harris?

David Lipson: Well, David, Kamala Harris really rounds out the Democrat ticket. Joe Biden, of course, a 77-year-old white dude in aviators from Delaware, who first joined the Senate age twenty-nine. Whereas now he’s got this running mate, Kamala Harris, a woman, a person of colour. She’s fifty-five, a whole generation below Joe Biden. And she only came to Washington as a senator four years ago in 2016. Kamala Harris, though, is something of a political chameleon, and her critics say that that means she’s a phony, that she doesn’t stand for anything. It’s also though meant that it’s been hard for them to get a grip on her. You can see that in the area of law and order, which is one of Donald Trump’s key policy platforms now right up to November. You had some Republicans accusing Kamala Harris, a former district attorney and attorney general in California, of being too hard on crime and others saying she was too soft on crime.

That, though, does cut both ways. You look at the Democrats and those on the far left see her as a cop, and they don’t see that as a good thing. And then you’ve got some of the moderates, too, who may buy the Republican line that she is a member of the radical left.

How bland can a report be?  Insiders did a cross to Comrade Lipson in Washington DC who told viewers that (i) “Joe Biden is a 77 year-old white dude”, (ii) Kamala Harris is a 55 year-old woman of colour who is a senator, (iii) someone aged 55 is a generation younger than someone aged 77, (iv) some (unidentified) Republicans say that Senator Harris is too hard on crime while others say she is too soft on crime – and, wait for it, (v) this criticism cuts both ways. Really – whoever would have thought that?

The interview concluded:

David Speers: What about the line from Donald Trump? How is he handling this new opponent? Is it going to make his re-election chances more difficult?

David Lipson: Look, probably not a whole lot more difficult. He is up against Joe Biden after all, not Kamala Harris….

That’s enough.  Comrade Lipson told Comrade Speers that it’s Joe Biden who is running for presidency not Kamala Harris.  What else does anyone need to know?

David Lipson went on to flash the cliché that the United States is “this kind of post-fact country”.  What – are there no facts left in the US?  He added that “a whole lot could change” between now and November.  Breaking news, surely.

And Insiders reckons that The Thought of David Lipson is worth airing at Hang-Over Time on Sunday.  It’s enough to send a viewer back on the sauce.


And then there is Philip Williams.  On ABC TV News Breakfast on Wednesday, he weighed into the issue of mail-in voting.  In the process Comrade Williams implied that President Trump is into corruption and may have committed – yes – a crime.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Philip Williams: Donald Trumphates mail-in voting.  He hates mail-in voting, it’s said, because it favours – tends to favour – Democrats. So, this is seen as a conspiracy, a very large conspiracy, to suppress voting. That’s now going to be the subject of inquiries in the Senate and the House, so that’s going to be – there are going to be very serious questions for the hand-picked postmaster general. He’s only been in the job, DeJoy, for a couple of months and was seen very much as doing the President’s work. Initially dismissing a lot of people at the top, putting his own people in, and then going about this job of slowing it all up. Now he denies that emphatically. But the news is, he’s said: “Okay, we’ll stop all this; no more sorting machines are going to be taken out, no more post boxes are going to be removed”.

It does seem, in a sense, in a way – it will be seen as tacit recognition that that was having an effect in slowing the mail. And if you talk to the posties on the beat, they will tell you, yes that was the effect of all those accumulative new orders that were coming from DeJoy. And now of course, the big question, was there a conspiracy because if there was, that’s a criminal offence.

Groan.  Another US-based reporter at the taxpayer funded broadcaster who has contracted Trump-Phobia.

Your man Williams seems unaware that the world over – including Australia – postal services are being reduced because the traditional post is in decline.  Exacerbated by the pandemic.

President Trump has every reason to be concerned about the security of mail-in ballots, which can be lodged without voter identity.  As distinct from postal ballots which are more secure.

Yet Philip Williams, in anti-Trump mode, did not tell viewers (if viewers there were) that President Trump at least has a point.  Instead Comrade Williams threw the switch to corruption and, yes, crime. Groan.

[I note that, in a tweet on 14 August, David Lipson declared that “Donald Trump’s dirtiest 2020 election trick involves messing with the US Postal Service”.  In fact numerous postal boxes were removed during the time of the Obama/Biden administration. That’s the fate of many a post box – MWD Editor.]



There was a time when, by and large, journalists reported news and presenters saw their role as interviewing individuals with a view to discovering news and facilitating comment.  But this was a time before the emergence of journalists as activists – who are more interested in speaking than listening and seek to make others bend to their will.  In other words, the activist journalist as berater.

Due to enormous popular demand, MWD has established this segment to report on journalists as beraters. Thanks to the avid (albeit locked down) Melbourne reader who drew attention to the exchange between ABC Radio Melbourne 774 Mornings with Virginia Trioli presenter and Victorian Liberal Party leader Michael O’Brien which took place on Wednesday 12 August 2020.

It was like school days of old when an unpopular student was hauled up before the headmaster/headmistress and berated for an error or thought.  In this case, the Victorian Opposition leader’s suggestion that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews should step down for having misled the Victorian Parliament about whether Australian Defence Force personnel had been offered by the Commonwealth government to assist with quarantine.  Not a surprise move from an Opposition leader, you might have thought – since opposition leaders tend to oppose.  But Comrade Trioli thought otherwise and gave Michael O’Brien one huge (taxpayer funded) serve – with the help of some anonymous 702 listeners.  Here are some highlights:

Virginia Trioli: Let’s stick with the issue of accountability. Very clearly, your Federal side of politics [the Morrison Government] has made massive mistakes, deadly mistakes, in its lack of pandemic-preparedness in the aged care setting – for which its own responsibility is clear, that’s a federal matter. And an issue also, in the aged care setting, that everyone saw coming. And we knew from the beginning was going to be an issue. Massive mistakes there that have resulted in deaths. Are those mistakes forgivable or will you be calling for any resignations there too?

* * * *

Virginia Trioli: It is curious to me that you completely dodge the issue of accountability when it comes to the shocking and unavoidable deaths that we’ve seen in an area that actually is responsible – where the responsibility is held by your side of politics. This morning – and I’m being inundated already on text and the calls are coming through right now from people who will call out the hypocrisy of that position. It’s the dangerous position that you put yourself in, isn’t it Michael O’Brien, when you decide to run up the top of that hill and start calling for resignations? Goodness knows where that ends in the middle of a pandemic that no one’s had to run before.

* * * *

Virginia Trioli: Let me move on to something that my listeners are just screaming at me this morning. How important do you think a unified front is for Victorians right now? And if Victorians see a government under sustained criticism by an opposition like this right now, do you worry that it’ll weaken their resolve and it will compromise this final lockdown?

* * * *

Virginia Trioli: Let me reflect what Louise says on text this morning. Louise says “My blood is boiling, I normally vote on this side of politics but I won’t vote for the Liberals again.” Simply because, in her view, you’ve overstepped the mark this morning with a call like that. So I’m just going to finally repeat that question. Will you feel at least in part responsible if this lockdown fails, if people arc up and don’t do the right thing because they’ve heard the words and the rhetoric coming from your mouth and the lockdown fails? Because of that lack of unanimous purpose is communicated to the public in the middle of a pandemic and people decide “well bugger it, I don’t need to believe in Daniel Andrews, I won’t do the right thing”.

First up, La Trioli demanded that the Victorian Opposition leader call for resignations of ministers in the Commonwealth government for their (alleged) mistakes – but no reference was made to the fact that State health departments have obligations with respect to aged care. Then there were her leading questions – such as “it’s the dangerous position that you put yourself in, isn’t it Michael O’Brien?”.

And then there was the demand that the Victorian Opposition join in a “united front” with the Andrews government – despite the fact that the Andrews government has excluded the Opposition from any decision making with respect to COVID-19.  And then there was the leading question suggesting that Michael O’Brien will somehow be at fault if the Victorian lockdown fails.

You see, according to La Trioli, all Victorians “need to believe in Daniel Andrews” – in a “Comrades Come Rally” kind of way.

A Great Berate, to be sure.

[Interesting to note how ABC presenters like Virginia Trioli and Raf Epstein quote ABC listeners when criticising Coalition politicians.   The fact is that if all Australians voted the way ABC listeners/viewers do – then there surely would be a Green/Left government in office in Canberra. – MWD Editor.]

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. 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.


Did anyone read Jon Faine’s piece in The Age on Tuesday titled “Once upon a pandemic”? It looks like a conscious attempt to win MWD’s prestigious Flann O’Brien Gong.  Here’s why.  This is how your man Faine’s literary struggle commenced:

Now children, sit quietly and don’t fidget. Uncle Jon has a story for you, a story so fantastic that you will never see the world the same way ever again. It is a sad story, and like most important stories, it teaches us a lesson. Once upon a time, there was a magic land with the luckiest people in the kingdom, healthy, strong caring people who were called the Victorians.

It turns out that all was utopia until “a terrible invisible monster came”. COVID-19 get it?  Uncle Jon continued:

Duke Dan had been chosen by the Victorians to be their protector. He had promised that he would look after them and that they would be safe while he was in the palace. But the horrible invisible monster had other ideas. Very sadly, some of the people started to get sick from just being near the monster. Tragically, some got so sick that they died.

So Duke Dan [Andrews] linked up with Prince Scott [Morrison], Duchess Annastacia [Palaszczuk] and Duchess Gladys (Berejiklian] – and your man Dan cast a spell that made “everyone go to sleep for six weeks”. Funny, eh?

And so it went on and on and on until – you’ve guessed it – Baron Donald [Trump] arrived and made things worse.  Well of course he would, wouldn’t he?  But no worse than Jon Faine’s ending:

And did they all live happily ever after? Well, children, it is your bedtime now so you will all have to come back next time and we can all find out together.

Jon Faine signed out as “a former presenter on ABC 774”. Enough said.


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 Jon Faine

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only four or five per cent

All that talk of “Protector Dan”

Gee whiz, John you are such a fan


Following the enormous success of MWD’s “M’learned Friend Opines” segment, MWD has established another legal segment – this one devoted to the growing acceptance of hearsay in the media.


 This is how Harriet Alexander’s self-proclaimed “explosive” report commenced on page one of the Sydney Morning Herald and Age yesterday titled “Pope quizzed whistle-blower priest, book claims”:

A low-ranking parish priest who agreed to give evidence against an archbishop accused of concealing child sexual abuse was mysteriously summoned to the Vatican before he was due to testify and allegedly quizzed by Pope Francis about what he was planning to say in court, a new book claims. As Fr Glen Walsh emerged from the 2016 meeting, Cardinal George Pell was allegedly waiting outside. “Look what I have done for you,” Cardinal Pell said, and lifted his hand for the priest to kiss his ring. [Emphasis added]

According to an account of the event in the new book,  there is no allegation that Cardinal Pell intended to put pressure on Father Walsh not to give evidence. The explosive claim about the papal meeting, contained in The Altar Boys by investigative reporter Suzanne Smith…. [What an impressive double negative in a 30-word sentence. – MWD Editor.]

The “new book” is Suzanne Smith’s The Altar Boys (ABC Books) – of which an extract was published in The Weekend Australian Magazine last Saturday.  This did not cover the alleged meeting between Pope Francis and the late Glen Walsh. The Altar Boys  is due to be released tomorrow – so it is impossible for anyone, without an early copy of the book, to examine the allegation.

As it stands, Harriet Alexander’s report is hearsay upon hearsay – involving (i) what the Pope allegedly told Glen Walsh and (ii) what Cardinal Pell allegedly said to Glen Walsh – as reportedly told by Glen Walsh to unidentified others. Suzanne Smith, who used to work on the ABC Lateline program, is smart enough to know that, if an author mentions George Pell’s name, Page One coverage will follow in Nine Newspapers along with one or more invitations for an ABC interview.  And so it came to pass that Suzanne Smith received a soft interview from Hamish Macdonald on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning.

What was missing from the coverage of The Altar Servers with reference to Pope Francis and the archbishop – who is Archbishop Philip Wilson – is any background facts.  Here they are:

The case involved a complaint that a boy (now a man), who had been assaulted by a pedophile priest in Maitland in 1971, told Fr Philip Wilson about this in 1976 – when Fr Wilson was aged about 25.  Archbishop Wilson (as he became) was found guilty in the NSW Magistrates’ Court in 2018 of failing to report this matter to NSW Police between April 2004 and January 2006.

In other words, the complainant alleged that he told the junior priest Philip Wilson in 1976 about an assault of which he was a victim in 1971.  Due to the vagaries of NSW law, Archbishop Wilson was charged in 2016 with not having reported the matter between April 2004 and January 2006 (when the pedophile priest died).

Contrary to the implication in Nine Newspapers and on Radio National Breakfast, Philip  Wilson was not (allegedly) told of the offending when he was Archbishop of Adelaide.  He was allegedly told of this years earlier.

Archbishop Wilson’s conviction was quashed on appeal on 6 December 2019. Any objective person who has read Judge Ellis’ judgment in the NSW District Court in Wilson v R, which quashed Archbishop Wilson’s conviction, would know that there was no reliable evidence to sustain the conviction.

There was nothing in Ms Alexander’s Age/Sydney Morning Herald report to indicate that she has read Judge Ellis’ judgment – which is available on the internet. Nor did Ms Smith mention it on RN Breakfast this morning. Writing in Eureka Street in July 2018, Suzanne Smith had supported the magistrate’s decision – and, as such, is a player in this case.

It would seem that when it came to a choice between citing hearsay and reading a case – Ms Alexander took the first option. And she managed to get Cardinal Pell on the first page of Nine Newspapers – complete, of course, with an acknowledgement that there is no evidence that he put pressure on Glen Walsh to do anything. How clever is this?

In any event, what does the (alleged) hearsay statement “Look what I have done for you” mean – when cited without context? Especially since neither Harriet Alexander nor Suzanne Smith have claimed that the late Fr Walsh ever worked in a diocese over which George Pell had control.


* * * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *