ISSUE – NO. 517

09 October 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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Maybe this item should have been included in Media Watch Dog’s hugely popular “Media Fool of the Week” segment.  But since it happened last night, it leads off today’s issue going out at around Gin & Tonic Time.

At 8.13 pm on Thursday, the Melbourne barrister and failed Greens candidate Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC sent out this tweet shortly after Opposition leader Anthony Albanese had completed his budget reply speech in the House of Representatives.

What a load of absolute tosh.  Your man JB AO QC is currently president of Liberty Victoria – an entity which is supposed to be an advocate for civil liberties.  And he believes it is appropriate to accuse the Prime Minister of corruption – without a shred of evidence. M’Learned  friend also seems to believe that you can tell if someone is corrupt simply by looking at them on television shortly after 8 pm.

In response, Jackie sent out this tweet from her kennel last night – around Post-Dinner Drinks Time.


What a stunning performance by Melbourne business manager Kate Roffey during the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast  this morning.

First up, Media Watch Dog is of the view that women and men are entitled to go to a hairdresser. This can be done currently in NSW and elsewhere – but not, alas, in Melbourne due to Victoria’s Stage 4 lockdown.  There is no evidence of a COVID-19 virus spread from hairdressers in NSW and there is no reason to believe that this would be any different in Melbourne provided COVID-19 safe practices are upheld.  But the women and men of Melbourne remain oppressed in this regard.

It’s just that it is not apparent that this is the greatest burden being felt by Melbourne women who are currently in lockdown – often with young children and sometimes with violent partners.  Also some Melburnians live in basic accommodation without gardens while others live in comfort.

Let’s go to the transcript of News Breakfast where Ms Roffey makes a plea to Victorian premier Daniel Andrews on behalf of the women of metropolitan Melbourne:

Kate Roffey: Look, I have had many requests from friends and colleagues for – particularly women of metropolitan Melbourne – the Premier and our Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton: Please do something for us and open the hairdressers up.

Michael Rowland: Yeah, gee that’ll be the subject of an entirely different conversation. How long has it been now? It’s been –

Kate Roffey: Oh, more than 10 weeks. Yeah, it’s getting to be a big hairy issue for a lot of us.

Michael Rowland: So to speak.

Kate Roffey: That’s a special request for our local politicians.

Michael Rowland: There you go. I know Dan Andrews watches – so there you go Kate.

Kate Roffey: Thanks Dan –  that’d be great.

At the end of the News Breakfast segment, co-presenter Michael Rowland indicated that he would take up the issue with Dan himself:

Michael Rowland: I’ll get onto Dan about the hairdressers for you.

Kate Roffey: Yeah thanks Michael, that’d be great.

Could it be that your man Rowland is a member of the “I Stand With Dan” fan club?  In any event, isn’t it nice to see that Kate and Michael feel comfortable in referring to Premier Daniel Andrews as “Dan”.  As in – Dan’s your man. Who knows?  Next week Mike might talk to Dan about the women of metropolitan Melbourne attaining the right to, say, walk on a deserted beach more than 5 kilometres from their home without a mask.

Can You Bear It?


It was Hangover-Time on Sunday when Schwartz Media’s The Monthly Sunday Reads arrived (loudly) in Media Watch Dog’s inbox.  It contained the following (pretentious) note from Nick Feik, editor of The Monthly. Here’s what Comrade Feik had to say from his ideological bunk-hole in inner-city Carlton just up Swanston Street from the Melbourne CBD:

Editor’s note

If you were to nominate a writer to capture the experiences of living in Melbourne over months of lockdown, it would be hard to go past Helen Garner.

With her observational skill, acute expression and brutal honesty, Garner is certainly well placed to illuminate an experience that people living outside Melbourne must find hard to comprehend. The daily disturbances and disorientations, the drudgery, the late-night existential fears are all woven into her diaries. The guilty pleasures. The stray thoughts.

One overriding impression that emerges from reading her diaries is just how long Melbourne has been under some form of lockdown. When she writes about the High Court freeing George Pell, we were already months into the pandemic. And that was April. Her account will stand the test of time, though.

Sounds promising, don’t you think?  Alas it did not quite live up to its promise.  For example, here is all that Comrade Garner had to say, from her inner-city lockdown, about “the High Court freeing George Pell”.

The High Court frees George Pell. He has taken refuge in a Carmelite monastery in Kew. Just inside the locked gate a tiny nun in veil and long habit crouches awkwardly on the drive, struggling to pick up in both arms an enormous cardboard carton of what looks like wine. Isn’t someone in there going to give her a hand?

Er, that’s all folks.  Just the view of a television watcher (from a place somewhere in inner-city Melbourne) with a tendency to hyperbole.  For example, Cardinal Pell did  not “take refuge” in the Carmelite Monastery in the Melbourne suburb of Kew.  He just spent a night there on the way from Barwon Prison near Geelong via Melbourne to Sydney.

Apart from the Kew reference and a mention of writing letters to nearby Camberwell – Comrade Garner is focused on the inner-city as the Daniel Andrews’ lockdown tightens in socialist Victoria.  There are references to inner-city Ascot Vale and inner-city Bell Street on the border of Moreland and Coburg.

Here are the news flashes from “The Lockdown Diaries”. Helen Garner (i) “is reading Metamorphoses”, (ii) happens to be “quite scared”, (iii) “could slap some insolent French girls” who are not physically distancing on Bondi Beach, (iv) declares that “everybody’s bewildered”, (v) is still reading Metamorphoses, (vi) wonders if she has “caught the bloody [COVID-19] thing”, (vii) dances in her woollen socks and (viii) confesses that she is “controlling an urge to punch” a woman’s lights out.  The woman whose “lights” Comrade Garner could have punched out objected to the fact that the diarist had jumped a queue to lodge an envelope at an inner-city post office. [Perhaps capital punishment would have been a more suitable punishment for anyone who criticised Comrade Garner’s queue-jumping.  – MWD Editor.]

Hang on.  There is more.  Early on in her undated diaries, Helen Garner quotes an inner-city GP neighbour as declaring “our ICU units will be overwhelmed in 10 days”. Never happened – but Comrade Garner does not mention this in her subsequent entries.

And then there is this:

Numbers of new cases rise and rise. Hotspots here and there. The big flats shut down. Quarantine hotels. A new lockdown, from midnight. People are refusing to be tested. How can people refuse? The world I’ve spent my life in is coming to an end. I keep myself half turned away, my eyes narrowed. On some deep level I’m terrified.

Get it?  The end of the inner-city world is nigh.

And this is how Helen Garner concluded “The Lockdown Diaries” – just after having advised readers of her (unfulfilled) wish to punch a woman’s “lights out”.

Back home, sprawled on my unmade bed, I wish I lived in the world of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where at a moment of unbearable tension a person can be transformed by a god into a seagull, a limpid pool, a windflower “flimsy and loose on its stem”. And I wish that I had been transformed, outside the post office, into something better and more benevolent – maybe “an ilex tree”, whatever the hell that is, or an island, or a warm spring breeze, faintly perfumed with pittosporum.

OMG.  Another reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. And that’s about it, folks. The Monthly’s Nick Feik reckons that these diaries tell us something.  But Jackie’s (male) co-owner Hendo believes it is all sludge and that Comrade Garner should put some pittosporum in her pipe and smoke it.

Nevertheless, Schwartz Media reckons that the queue-jumper Garner best captures the experiences of living in lockdown in Melbourne. Can You Bear It?


For his part, Jackie’s male co-owner Hendo blames his capacity to drink on The Thirst. So it’s interesting to note that ABC Radio Melbourne 774 presenter Virginia Trioli is of a similar blame mind-set,  albeit with respect to food.  This is what she tweeted on Tuesday:

It would seem that ABC presenters believe that we mere mortals are interested in what they had before, during and after lunch.  In any event, the Stage 4 lockdown in Victoria – one of the toughest in the world – is not primarily due to COVID-19 but rather to the Andrews’ Labor government’s response to it. What with the night-time curfew (only recently lifted), the 5 kilometres travel zone, the closure of hairdressers (re which see Stop Press) and all that.

La Trioli is not the worst affected by the Melbourne shutdown.  After all, as a journalist, she has some right to move around. In any event, Comrade Trioli has been among the loudest in barracking for her socialist left leader Daniel Andrews – who doubles up as premier of Victoria – to go even harder.  This is what she said to ABC Sydney 702 presenter Richard Glover on 22 July 2020:

Virginia Trioli:  Where I really disagree with Daniel Andrews is, now at this point, I’d have to say a lot of Melburnians just think – “shut it down”. We are pretty much in a Stage 4, just do it. Do it properly.

Richard Glover: Well I noticed the Victorian AMA have said, Stage 4 restrictions should come in straight away. I don’t quite know – have picture of – what they would involve.

Virginia Trioli: Look, it’s not a lot more than what we do now. Schools would certainly close….  All workplaces would be closed except for the absolute basics, which would be the supermarkets and hospitals and the like. Everything else would just get shut down. It’s called a, you know, New Zealand style shut down….  Life is very, very locked down here now. Masks are mandatory outside, except in certain circumstances for certain people after midnight tonight, just shut it down.

And so it came to pass that Premier Daniel Andrews took La Trioli’s advice and just shut Victoria down.  This happened on 2  August.  And now Comrade Trioli is in denial about the fact that her apparent eating urge has come as a result of the Victorian government doing exactly as she told it to do.  Can You Bear It?


There was a moving moment on the ABC TV’s Q&A program on Monday when presenter Hamish (“I don’t watch television except when I’m on it”) Macdonald spoke movingly (of course) about the need for women to be “recognised equally in the way that we come out of this [COVID-19] crisis”.

For the record, MWD thought that your man Macdonald was going to hang up his microphone and hand over the Q&A presenter gig to a sheila after we come out of this COVID-19 crisis.  After all, since its inception in 2008, Q&A has had only male presenters.  First Tony Jones and then Comrade Macdonald.  Women only find themselves in the presenter’s chair when the blokes go on a W.E.B. (as in Well Earned Break) or some such.

But MWD digresses. At the end of the program last Monday, the presenter had this to say:

Hamish Macdonald: Before we leave you tonight, a quick word. We did ask the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to join us next week in a one-on-one to answer the steady stream of questions that you’re sending us in these unprecedented economic times. He did decline that request. Throughout the year, we’ve also invited the Prime Minister to join us on several occasions. He’s yet to make himself available. But we will continue trying them, trying to get them here to answer your questions. We know how important your questions are.

Next Monday, the Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, will be here. He’s unveiling Labor’s policy agenda in his budget reply on Thursday night. So, get your questions in early. You can also register to join us in our studio audience.

Come to think of it, this was not a very courteous remark. Comrade Macdonald told the audience that Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will be the Q&A guest next Monday because the program couldn’t get someone else and had approached Albo on the rebound, so to speak. [Perhaps Q&A  executive producer Erin Vincent should enrol in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes. Just a thought – MWD Editor.]

Very few senior government ministers make themselves available to the media more than the Treasurer.  If Josh Frydenberg has declined an invitation to appear on Q&A it’s probably because he does not believe that it is necessary to do so.  Ditto Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The very format of the program and the past behaviour of Q&A presenters to Coalition frontbenchers mean there is not much point for the likes of Messrs Morrison and Frydenberg to rock up on Monday night and be ambushed by an audience of leftists.

The fact is that Coalition politicians don’t win many votes on Q&A. It would seem that the likes of Comrades Macdonald and Jones do not understand this.

As avid readers will recall, in the lead-up to the May 2019 election Comrade Tony Jones issued a “We Warn The Kaiser” rebuke to the Prime Minister. See Issue 457.  Comrade Jones gave this message to the Prime Minister (via The Australian’s  “Media” section) after it was revealed that Scott Morrison had said that he did not know why anyone would want to even watch Q&A. Which led Tony Jones to say this:

Tony Jones: I’d say one good reason to watch the program is you [Scott Morrison] might get a sense of what the public was thinking.

How about that? The then Q&A presenter said that he failed to understand why the PM would not go on Q&A in order to find out what “the public was thinking”.   The invitation was not taken up and the Coalition won the election despite the fact that the top ABC political minds like Barrie Cassidy and Laura Tingle predicted a Labor victory. In other words, the Prime Minister did not need Q&A to find out what the Australian public is thinking.

What’s missing at Q&A is a sense of self-awareness.  The Coalition does not need Q&A with its leftist presenters and overwhelmingly leftist audiences – real and virtual.  Q&A is essentially a Green Left hangout – best avoided by political conservatives.


Last Sunday, the ABC TV Insiders program put out the following tweet covering the views of its presenter David Speers:

It was much the same when Insiders went to air that same day.  Here’s how David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers introduced the segment on COVID-19 related deaths in aged care homes:

David Speers: Let’s go to aged care. Back in August, you might remember the Prime Minister – we had the Royal Commission hearings, the counsel assisting, you know, was tearing into the government over its handling of this –  and the PM was quite dismissive, saying, “well, that’s just the counsel assisting; that’s not the finding of the Royal Commission”. On Thursday, we did get the findings of the Royal Commission, at least in this special report on the COVID situation. The Royal Commissioners themselves said in this special report, there’s still a need for a national plan when it comes to aged care. They pointed to confusion about who was in charge, and specifically said that the AHPCC, quote, “provided no written guidance to the aged care sector in the period between June and the third of August”. The Minister then flat out rejected that…. So he [Minister Colbeck] reckons the advice was appropriate. The Royal Commissioners say it wasn’t. Andrew, to you first, on this, who are we to believe?

Hold it there for a minute.  So far there has been an introduction by David Speers focusing on COVID-19 related deaths in aged care – without a mention of the fact that 90 per cent of all COVID-19 related deaths in Australia have occurred in the state of Victoria governed by the Daniel Andrews-led Labor government.  Also some 96 per cent of all COVID-19 related deaths in aged care have occurred in Victoria.

In other words – with or without the report of The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety concerning Commonwealth government failures in aged care – any professional discussion would at least mention the fact that the prime cause of COVID-19 aged care deaths occurred due to the incompetent handling of hotel quarantine in Victoria.  This made it possible for the virus to escape with such tragic results for aged care residents in Victoria.  There was no similar death toll in New South Wales which had more individuals in hotel quarantine than Victoria at the time.

After David Speers’ (highly opinionated) introduction, it was time for the Insiders panel members to have their say.

First up, ABC TV’s Andrew Probyn agreed with the presenter – he made no reference to Victoria.  Then The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton did refer to criticisms in this area of “the State level and Territory level management” – but made no specific reference to Victoria.  She focused primarily on the Commonwealth’s responsibility in this area.

Then it was the turn of the Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey who said that “the coronavirus hasn’t broken the aged care sector – it exposed it once more as broken, the federally regulated aspect of it”. Once again, no mention of Victoria.

So it was one of those all so familiar ABC discussions where Andrew agreed with Speersy who essentially agreed with Karen who essentially agreed with Phil who essentially agreed with Speersy who agreed with himself.

It was as if Insiders’ executive producer Ian Clark and presenter David Speers had decided on a “Don’t-Mention-the-Victorian-Labor-government” approach to discussing COVID-19 related deaths in aged care – just blame the Coalition led Commonwealth government.



Many thanks to the locked-down Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to the article in The Age on Monday by Adam Cooper titled “Lawyer denies Pell’s accuser received money for evidence”.

The piece covers the story which appeared in a number of influential Italian newspapers last week that Cardinal Becciu, a bitter opponent of Cardinal Pell, had channelled around 700,000 Euros from the Vatican to Australia to ensure that unnamed witnesses gave evidence hostile to George Pell prior to when he was charged with historical child sexual abuse.

As readers are aware, only 5 out of 26 charges covering nine complainants made it to trial – and the five charges on which the defendant was found guilty in a re-trial were quashed by a seven to zero unanimous decision by the High Court of Australia.  Which does not say much for the competence of Victoria Police or the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions in this instance.  But that’s another matter.

The Beccui/Pell controversy has been covered in Australia by the leading news outlets – Newscorp, Nine Newspapers and more besides.  But not by the ABC TV News or Current Affairs which, so far at least, has censored the story.  There was coverage of the issue on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and  Ethics Report on Wednesday. On Monday ABC TV Media Watch presenter Paul Barry tweeted as follows:


It’s true that the allegation about Vatican finances being used by Pell’s Vatican opponents against him has yet to be established.  However, Paul Barry has conveniently overlooked the fact that, for over two decades, the ABC ran stories against Pell which were based on no evidence at all.  In fact, the ABC was a leading player in the Pell pile-on.  It has still not corrected or even qualified many of the claims which it made against George Pell which have subsequently been dismissed.

It’s much the same with ABC journalist Noel Debien who had this to say on Monday:

That’s all very well.  But MWD can find no record of Noel Debien calling for “some evidence” before the ABC carried material hostile to George Pell over the decades.  MWD will keep you posted if it emerges that Mr Debien ever asked for evidence to support allegations hostile to Pell before the ABC carried its anti-Pell stories.

The Age was also a lead player in the Pell pile-on – since around 1996.  It seems that nothing much has changed.  On Monday, it even reported the Beccui allegations in a way that was critical to Cardinal Pell’s case. Here’s an extract from Adam Cooper’s report last Monday:

In 2018 Cardinal Pell was found guilty by a jury of sexually assaulting two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne after a Sunday mass in the 1990s. One of the former choirboys died in 2014 without ever reporting the allegations to police.

Cardinal Pell, 79, was jailed in early 2019 but in April this year, after spending 13 months behind bars, he was released from prison and had his convictions quashed after a successful appeal to the High Court. Cardinal Pell has always denied the allegations.

The High Court decision did not repudiate the former choirboy, with both Cardinal Pell’s senior counsel, Bret Walker, SC, and Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, QC, agreeing in their submissions to the court that he was a credible, believable witness.

This is nonsense. It is true that the former choirboy who died in 2014 did not report to Victoria Police. But it is also true that he told both his parents that he had never been sexually abused.  In this sense, The Age’s report is clumsy at best and unprofessional at worst.  Adam Cooper would know this if he had read the available transcripts/submissions of the  Victorian Magistrate’s Court, the County Court of Victoria, the Victorian Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australia.

Moreover it is not accurate to say that the High Court of Australia did not refute the surviving choirboy’s allegations.  In fact, the High Court found that the offences could not have happened and consequently found that the jury’s verdict in the retrial was unsafe.

In addition Bret Walker SC, the defence counsel before the Victorian Court of Appeal and the High Court, did not state that the complainant was a credible, believable witness.  Note that The Age did not put these words in direct quotes and it is not clear where they came from.

It’s true that no one alleged that the complainant was a liar.  But this does not mean that he was a truthful witness.  Some people have “recollections” of events that never happened.  Others are delusional.  Others confuse dreams with reality.  Others commit acts of mistaken identity. And so on.

The defence in Pell v The Queen did not say that the complainant was to be believed. In his dissenting judgement in the Victorian Court of Appeal, Justice Mark Weinberg – perhaps the most experienced criminal jurist in Australia – said that he did not find the complainant’s evidence credible or believable. Justice Weinberg viewed the complainant’s evidence. In view of this, it is completely inconceivable that Pell’s defence counsel Bret Walker SC would have said the opposite before the High Court.

It would seem that Adam Cooper just made this up.  The Age should be able to do better than this.


Lotsa thanks to the northern NSW avid reader who drew MWD’s  attention to this tweet put out by Jane (“I tweet before I think”) Caro at 4.34 pm last Friday.  It was around Gin & Tonic Time and news had just been released that President Donald J. Trump had contracted COVID-19. Let’s go to the early part of the Twitter exchange:

Alas, by Saturday morning Comrade Caro realised that she had been arse-about and that neither President Trump nor his medical advisers had lied about his COVID-19 status.  Which means, presumably, that Ms Caro no longer equates the mild mannered Dr Sean Conley with Adolf Hitler’s quack. So it became all-quiet-on-the-Caro-front as far as conspiracies are involved. Until next time.

But this was the biggest Australian conspiracy theory of the week – so far, at least.  So it was very much A Jane Caro Moment.

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.


As avid readers are aware, in recent weeks MWD has focused on the fact that the “Talking Pictures” segment of ABC TV’s Insiders  has not mentioned the cartoons of The Australian’s  Johannes Leak all this year.  Until last Sunday, that is.

These days Insiders channels “The Guardian Weekly” of old.  Regular panellists include The Guardian’s  editor (Lenore Taylor) and deputy editor (Katharine Murphy) and more besides.  And the resident “Talking Pictures” host is The Guardian’s Michael Bowers.  Last Sunday your man Bowers invited The Guardian’s political reporter Amy Remeikis to do the gig. Enough said.

This is what The Guardian’s duo had to say about Johannes Leak’s cartoon which appeared in The Australian on Thursday 1 October concerning the first Donald Trump/Joe Biden debate:

Mike Bowers: I think Johannes Leak might be onto something here. Perhaps we need a referee, a UFC referee maybe? –  the Ultimate Fighting cage fight referee perhaps?

Amy Remeikis: Yeah perhaps.

Mike Bowers: Did you watch the ACT election debate?

Amy Remeikis: I forgot the ACT election was on.

Mike Bowers: Most people have Amy. I’ll let you do the honours.

Amy Remeikis: Back to you Speersy.

So finally the work of Johannes Leak – one of Australia’s finest cartoonists – got a mention on Insiders’  “Talking Pictures” for the first time in 2020 – albeit of a mere 30 words before talk turned to the ACT election.  But only after Insiders’ de-platforming of Johannes Leak had been highlighted in MWD.  What A Coincidence – as the saying goes.


Finally – this Leak cartoon was discussed by The Guardian’s  Mike Bowers on Insiders  – the first reference to Leak in the Program this Year.


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Until next time.


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