ISSUE – NO. 525

4 December 2020

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Network 10’s The Project is a leftist rant most nights.  A slightly upmarket version of the Green Left Weekly on the electronic media.  The program claims it is “News Delivered Differently”. In fact, The Project is often presenting news delivered inaccurately.

Take last night’s program for example.  Waleed Aly was the main presenter and he was joined by Liz Ellis, Peter Helliar and Lisa Wilkinson.  Leftist luvvies all – and sneerers to boot.

Last night, Comrade Peter (“I laugh loudest when I laugh at my own jokes”) Helliar led off with – you’ve guessed it – a sneer at President Donald J. Trump.  Needless to say, the panel members laughed loudly with Helliar while sneering at Trump.  Except on one occasion when Dr Aly (for a doctor he is) pretended to look unaware when Comrade Helliar asked whether anyone remembered President Trump. Funny, eh?

Here’s how the segment commenced:

Peter Helliar: Donald Trump, remember him? Recent one-term president of the United States of America? Well he spoke at the White House today, and kicked it off by lowering everyone’s expectations.

Donald Trump: Thank you. This may be the most important speech I’ve ever made.

Peter Helliar: I’ve got $50 riding on the fact that it’s not. Some say he lost his humility during the defeat – personally, I haven’t seen any evidence of that:

Donald Trump: So far, in the Senate, unexpected success. All over the country and right here in Washington. It is statistically impossible, that the person – me – who lead the charge, lost.

Peter Helliar: He’s overlooking one important statistic – more people voted for somebody else. That’s how it works.

Waleed Aly: Is that just buried in the detail?

Peter Helliar: Buried in the detail. But when you’re talking numbers Waleed, sometimes it’s easier to get your point across by using a good old-fashioned graph. Let’s see if it helps Donald:

Donald Trump: By the way, there’s your line. This is one of many. Here’s what is normal, and all of a sudden, look at that, this is normal, normal, even here normal. And then boom, all of a sudden I go from winning by a lot to losing a tight race.

Peter Helliar: Six million votes difference, a very tight race. Clear as crystal….

How ignorant can a comedian cum political commentator get?  It seems that Helliar is not aware that US presidents are elected by the Electoral College – not by means of a direct election.  Sure, President Trump obtained fewer primary votes than Joe Biden in 2020. But he also attained fewer primary votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016 – but still won.  In fact the candidate with a minority of primary votes has become president in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, 2016 and probably 1960.  It is interesting that Dr Aly, who teaches politics at Monash University, did not correct Helliar’s howler.

Viewers of The Project last night (if viewers there were) would not have understood that President Trump was correct in describing the 2020 presidential election as “a tight race”.   It was.  In fact, Biden won narrowly.  As Trump had won narrowly in 2016. Also, beyond the expectations of many pundits, there was no Democrat blue wave – the Republicans fared better than expected in the Senate and House of Representative elections.

To become president, a candidate has to win 270 votes in the Electoral College.  In 2016, Trump prevailed over Clinton by 306 to 232 Electoral College votes.  In 2020, Biden prevailed over Trump by the same margin.  In other words, despite the sneering and mock laughter from The Project panel, Trump is correct. It was a tight contest.

Trump would have won on 3 November if he had won the states of Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.  He lost by 0.3 per cent, 0.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.  That is, a total of 43,809 votes across three states.

Clinton would have defeated Trump in November 2016 if she had won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – she failed to do so by 0.3 per cent, 0.7 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively. A total of 77,742 votes across three states.

It seems that no one on The Project last night had the faintest idea of how the US presidential election system works.

The Project – News Delivered Inaccurately.

Left: Sneers All – The Project laughs with Peter Helliar and at President Trump, Right: Waleed Aly pretending to have forgotten that Trump ever existed

Can You Bear It?


Did anyone read what Richard Ackland had to say in last week’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper about the recently departed journalist Alan Ramsey (1938-2020)?  Comrade Ramsey ended his career as a Saturday columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald but before that he reported Australian national politics from Canberra. Here is the thought of Richard (“Please call me Gadfly”) Ackland on matters Ramsey:

Former PM Little Winston Howard made a tribute through gritted teeth to the departed political journalist Alan Ramsey. His “columns and reporting were always direct, often controversial, and highly critical of political figures”, Winston said by way of an encomium. Maybe he is still smarting about Ramsey’s column published on November 24, 2007, the day Howard was defeated at the “Poles”. He mentioned the rows of recycling bins that had been lined up, just before election day, in the basement of Parliament House’s ministerial wing. “The bins seemed a more apt commentary than all the desperate, last-minute Coalition windbaggery going on around the nation on what is about to descend on the Prime Minister after 33 years in public life and almost 12 years remaking Australia in his own miserable, disfigured image.” Requiescat in pace, Alan Ramsey.

Pretty impressive Latin to be sure – which MWD translates as “Rest in Peace” – an unlikely occurrence for the ever-angry Alan Ramsey in this world or the next.

It would seem that, in his own anger, Gadfly failed to appreciate that John Howard was being courteous to the late Comrade Ramsey who constantly used his Saturday SMH column to bash Australia’s 25th prime minister.  Comrade Ramsey thought that abuse was clever – which is why he was so abusive for so long.  John Howard OM AC obviously has a different view on what constitutes cleverness. [Interesting. Is Mr Howard’s “AC” like Hendo’s – a self-awarded Always Courteous gong – or is it the Companion of the Order of Australia real thing?  Come to think of it, the former prime minister deserves both. – MWD Editor.]

In his obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 November, Damien Murphy wrote that your man Ramsey burnt up many friendships in his time.  Niki Savva made a similar comment writing the final paragraph of her column on 26 November:

Finally, a sad farewell to Alan Ramsey who died on Tuesday. Ramsey was a friend for about 40 years, almost, but not quite, to the end, which also makes for a painful goodbye. He was a brilliant, difficult, engaging, infuriating, charm­ing, challenging writer and friend. No one, ever, was left in any doubt about his feelings, opinions or the way he liked things done. Particularly when it came to tea, where it was always best to let him make it when he turned up for a cuppa. Hopefully he has found peace.

It was interesting to note that Comrade Ackland dug up how Comrade Ramsey correctly predicted John Howard’s defeat in 2007. What he did not say was that Ramsey had incorrectly predicted Paul Keating’s defeat by John Hewson in March 1993 in his SMH column of 13 March 1993 (election day) in which he wrote:

Now it’s all coming to an end, for Labor as well as for John Button. Somewhere along the way, in the turmoil of the 1980s, the pace of events overwhelmed the Government. Employment as the “major goal” got lost in a million unemployed. For that it will be held accountable today. The Huns are inside the castle.

And on 9 October 2004, the morning of the 2004 election when most commentators thought that John Howard would prevail over Labor’s Mark Latham, Alan Ramsey had this to say:

And Latham?  I think he can get there.  At the very least Labor will eat into the Government’s majority.  People are sick and tired of Howard and many of us detest him for his duplicity, his divisiveness and his gross mendacity. It’s simply a question of whether the undecideds in the marginals think Latham is ready. They just might.

In fact, John Howard not only led the Coalition to its fourth victory in a row – the Coalition also increased its vote and won seats from Labor.  In short, Ramsey was hopelessly wrong.

Did Richard Ackland make any reference to Alan Ramsey’s (failed) political send-offs to Paul Keating in 1993 and John Howard in 2004.  Not on your nelly. Can You Bear It?


A quarter of a century ago the names Roger Douglas (1937 – ) and Ruth Richardson (1950 – ) were reasonably well known in Australia.  The former was the one-time finance minister of New Zealand primarily responsible for implementing the economic reforms of David Lange’s Labor government in the late 1980s – his reformist agenda was sometimes referred to as “Rogernomics’. The latter was the minister for finance in New Zealand’s National Party led by the Jim Bolger – her reform agenda in the early 1990s was sometimes labelled “Ruthanasia”.

As avid readers are aware, MWD just loves it when ABC journalists interview ABC journalists about their books, essays, life and the like.  On such occasions, rarely a difficult question is asked. And so it came to pass when ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interviewed ABC TV 7.30’s political editor Laura Tingle last Monday.  It was on the occasion of the release of Laura Tingle’s Quarterly Essay titled “The High Road: What Australians Can Learn From New Zealand”.

Early in the interview, Comrade Kelly and La Tingle referred to “Rogernomics”. Neither said what this was – and nowhere in the whole interview was the name Roger Douglas mentioned.  It was much the same with “Ruthanasia”.  Laura Tingle mentioned the term – but neither Tingle nor Kelly ever referred to the name Ruth Richardson.

It’s unlikely that any Australian born after 1975 would know much – if anything – about Roger Douglas or Ruth Richardson.  Yet Comrade Kelly did not ask Comrade Tingle to advise who these people are – and Comrade Tingle did not proffer the information. It was that kind of private discussion. It could have been held over a private smashed avocado and toast with soy latte breakfast in inner-city Sydney.  It’s just that it was conducted on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster at RN Breakfast time.

Towards the end of the discussion, one ABC employee asked another ABC employee about an alleged mutual lack of interest by each nation in each other’s history. This is the answer:

Laura Tingle: …Right in the early days, we were comp – we weren’t interested in each other, we were interested in competing for the attention of Britain, going right back to the sort of era of Federation. And that sort of affected the way we went into wars, we competed with each other to get into Britain’s wars before the other one did. And I think that sort of set the trend for us to look independently outwards to the rest of the world, particularly New Zealand, to the Pacific, us to America, and to Asia. And we never actually stopped and thought “Actually, here’s a country that’s very like ours; they’re doing things that are very similar to us but doing something differently, we might have something to learn from them.”

What a load of absolute tosh – there is no evidence that Australia and New Zealand competed with each other to get into Britain’s wars. In any event, what were Britain’s wars?  Was the Allied war against Nazi Germany just one of “Britain’s wars”?

Australia and New Zealand went to war against Germany at around the same time in late 1914.  The First World War can only be regarded as “Britain’s war” from an Australasia perspective, if it is forgotten that Imperial Germany had possessions in the Pacific-close to both Australia and New Zealand. Presumably in circa 1914 the likes of La Tingle would have asked the Kaiser “what do you want?”- and when he replied “Belgium, France and Russia”, would have said “okay”.

Australia declared war on Germany in September 1939 – New Zealand also in September 1939. Australia joined the United Nations-led action in Korea in June 1950, New Zealand in July 1950. Australia committed forces in South Vietnam in April 1965. New Zealand in early May 1965. New Zealand did not join the Coalition of the Willing against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003 (which was led by the United States, Britain,  Australia and Poland).

There’s not much evidence of military competition to be first to fight in “Britain’s wars” here. By the way, Britain had no military involvement in the Vietnam War.

As to La Tingle’s view that Australia never stopped to think that Australia could learn something from New Zealand – it seems that the ABC political editor forgot about the Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement signed between Australia and New Zealand, in March 1983 – one of the freest such agreements in the world.  Can You Bear It?

[I note that CER was an initiative of the Australian Coalition government and was opposed by NZ Labour’s Helen Clark – who later became something of a hero to Australia’s Sandalista Set. – MWD Editor.]


In spite of Nine’s takeover of Fairfax media, there are lotsa leftists left in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald offices.  Consequently, from time to time, left-wing alienation bursts into Nine Newspapers.

Take last Tuesday, for example.  This is how cartoonist Cathy Wilcox depicted the current disagreements between China and Australia.  That’s China’s leader with the table-tennis bat.  And that’s Australia’s leader as the table tennis ball.

The impression given is that Australia is a small, economically insignificant, powerless nation. If this was the case then China would simply take Australia’s iron-ore – not purchased it on world markets.

Which raises the question – why is the talented Comrade Wilcox so alienated from her own country.  And, more importantly, Can You Bear It?

MWD Exclusive


As avid readers are aware, ABC TV freelance satirist Mark Humphries, who appears fortnightly on 7.30, has one joke every 14 days – which he repeats on many occasions.  All this with the help of off-camera writer Evan Williams. Perhaps if your man Humphries engaged a second comedy writer, he could get, say, two jokes into his fortnightly performances. But MWD digresses.

Comrade Humphries’ humour, for want of a better word, is invariably directed at Coalition politicians, conservatives and the like.  He rarely if ever makes fun of the Greens or members of the Green Left.  But, then, he works for the ABC.

But hang on a minute. An avid reader has drawn MWD’s attention to a tweet which the 7.30 satirist put out at Gin & Tonic Time last Sunday. Here it is:

Seriously (to use a Humphries word) was this a “joke”?  Or is Comrade Humphries a joke in this instance?

Apparently last Sunday Sky News’ presenter Rowan Dean criticised some likely members of Joe Biden’s administration – suggesting that a Biden presidency was shaping up as a horror show.  Now, compared with what many ABC types said between November 2016 and now about Donald J. Trump’s administration – this is mild criticism indeed.

However, when Mark Humphries learnt of Rowan Dean’s political heresy he apparently felt the need to put down his Gin & Tonic and bash out an angry tweet about Sky News’ presenters scrawling excrement on the walls. Somewhat of an overreaction don’t you think? The Humphries Twitter rant has been deleted. But MWD has preserved this for posterity as a MWD EXCLUSIVE.

[Perhaps it’s time for Comrade Humphries to attend the late Nancy’s Courtesy Classes which include “Anger-management at Gin & Tonic Time”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


It was Hang-Over Time on Sunday  when Jackie’s (male) co-owner turned on the ABC TV Insiders program at 9 am. For a moment or two – or was it three? – Hendo thought he was watching an advertising clip from the Opposition Leader’s Office bagging the Morrison government over its handling of Australians overseas who are anxious to return home before Christmas.

You see, the Insiders’ introductory montage on Sunday dealt with the decision by various State premiers to open up State borders.  There were lotsa people being happy about their restored freedoms.  However, the montage soon turned on to bagging the Coalition government in Canberra for not allowing more Australians to return from overseas.  In the process Insiders ran clips from four Labor frontbenchers criticising the Morrison government.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Airport clips

Reporter: “The government is set to announce more international flights to clear a backlog of Australians desperate to get home”

Anthony Albanese: “There’s more than 30,000 Australians who are stranded.”

Sad stranded people clips

Kristina Kenneally: “I’m so sorry that you have been unable to come back, that you’ve been in this situation.”

Scott Morrison: “The ability to get people home to Australia depends on the available quarantine capacity here in Australia”.

Reporter : “Facilitating their return hasn’t been the number one priority for Scott Morrison”.

Scott Morrison: “I would hope that those who are looking to come home would be able to do that within months, and I would hope that we can get as many people home and if not all of them by Christmas.”

Reporter: “Is that goal of now getting all Australians home by Christmas a bit too difficult?”

Scott Morrison: “The goal was to deal with the caseload that we had back in September. And that was around 27,700 people.  And we’ve already got 35,000 home.”

Stranded Aussie: “racehorses, tennis and cricket players, unskilled labour, are given….over Australians trying to return home.”

Marise Payne: “We are contacting all Australians, family by family.”

Anthony Albanese: “This government obsessed with making announcements but not delivering outcomes, needs to do much better.”

Kristina Kenneally: “If we can send a military plane to shoot Mathias Cormann around the globe so that he can apply for a new job, surely we can send out military planes to bring our fellow Australians home.”

Scott Morrison: “That’s [Mathias Cormann’s travel] funded by the government because we are taking this bid very seriously.”

Mark Butler: “Scott Morrison is spending more than $4000 an hour flying Mathias Cormann around on a private jet around Europe to campaign for a new job in Brussels for the OECD.”

Kristina Kenneally: “I mean, what kind of government is this that there’s one rule for them and their mates and a whole other rule for everyone else.”

Peter Dutton: “I think Australian’s understand that there’s a cost associated with us lobbying and becoming successful in this outcome.”

Penny Wong: “If that’s good enough for Senator Cormann why is a different standard being applied to Australians who are currently stranded overseas?”

End of montage.

David Speers: And my guest this morning…

So there you have it.  Insiders’ executive producer Sam Clark was responsible for a clip on Australians stranded overseas which featured Labor’s Anthony Albanese (twice) and Kristina Keneally (three times) along with Mark Butler and Penny Wong criticising the Morrison government for its alleged failure to get Australians home, double standards and the like.  There were clips of the Prime Minister (four), Marise Payne (two) and Peter Dutton (two) – but all were presented in defensive mode.  When it came to the issue of Mathias Cormann’s RAAF flights while canvassing the possibility of being appointed the OECD’s secretary general – the comments ran for four to two against the government and again the Prime Minister and Minister Dutton were presented in defensive positions.

What the Insiders’ montage missed was this – apart from a brief clip from the Prime Minister – currently the prime limitation on the return of Australians turns on the capacity of State and Territory governments to provide quarantine facilities.

Currently NSW is providing for around 3000 quarantine places a week.  As of last Sunday, Victoria was providing no places whatsoever.  In fact, Victoria suspended international arrivals on 10 July 2020 – they will resume next Monday.

If Victoria had come close to NSW and provided, say, 2000 places a week – it could have accommodated over 40,000 places in this five month period.  This would have cleared the waiting list of Australians wanting to return home which Anthony Albanese, Kristina Keneally, Mark Butler and Penny Wong were depicted criticising on the Insiders’ montage.

However, due to its incompetence, the Victorian Labor government – led by the socialist left premier Daniel Andrews – bungled hotel quarantine security with disastrous effects on Australia in general and Victoria in particular as well as on Australians wishing to return from overseas.

In other words, the prime reason why Labor’s Kristina Keneally was shown on Insiders consoling Australians stuck overseas turned on the fact that Labor’s Daniel Andrews had bungled quarantine security and Victoria took no returnees whatsoever for some five months.

But this fact was not mentioned.  Rather Insiders’ montage gave the impression that the fact that some 30,000 Australians are stranded overseas is all the fault of the Morrison government.

In short, the Insiders’ montage was a load of “malicious garbage”- to use the term popularised by ABC chair Ita Buttrose in her 2020 Ramsay Centre Lecture (re which see MWD Issue 524).

This increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s proposal in 1729 to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. As a consequence of such irreverence, your clergyman Swift never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story. This is the current one.


What a you-beaut idea.  ABC TV’s Q&A, from next year, will go back to its original time-slot. That is, Thursday nights. This is good for Media Watch Dog – since the program invariably provides good copy.  MWD was disappointed when Q&A moved to Monday night in 2010 – although it was helpful with respect to Hendo’s appearances on Sky News’ The Bolt Report on Tuesday – alas, Q&A is not a nightly program otherwise it would provide good copy every day of the week.

The Q&A  series went out for 2020 last Monday night not with a bang but with a whimper – as the cliché goes. The penultimate show on Monday 23 November had seen presenter Hamish (“I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it”) Macdonald presenting in Western Sydney from the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith.  The program had been advertised as if Western Sydney were a foreign country.  It is, as MWD avid readers know, some 55 kilometres from the inner-city headquarters of the ABC in Sydney.

Last Monday, Q&A was back on its home ground in inner-city Ultimo.  The “star” of the five person panel was “rock legend” Jimmy Barnes – who provided free advice to the Morrison government about how to handle Australia-China relations.  The program concluded with Mr Barnes singing Silent Night.  For a while, Jackie’s (male) co-owner thought that the rock legend was worried about his shoe laces – until he realised that your man Barnes was bending over constantly in order to read the words of the song on the prompt-screen. It was that sort of (silent) night.

The evidence suggests that Q&A is a failing program.  In 2019 (then) presenter Tony Jones sent out a message to the Prime Minister that if he wanted to know what Australians were thinking in the lead up to the election, he should appear on the program.  Scott Morrison declined – and, to the surprise of the ABC’s political experts (including Laura Tingle), he won the May 2019 election. Your man Jones left the program late last year bound for China – but appears to be likely to end up in the United States via his holiday abode on the NSW South Coast.

So what’s the reason for Q&A’s re-location from 9.35 pm on Mondays to 8.30 pm on Thursdays? – MWD hears avid readers cry.  Well it’s this – as Michael Carrington (director of the ABC’s entertainment and specialist division) told Nine Newspapers’ Michael Lamb on 26 November:

Audiences now look for content elsewhere around 9 pm. Some still watch the ABC but others might watch a [subscription] streaming service.  In an era of declining budgets, we want to use the money we have to attract and engage the biggest audiences. We’re still exploring the options for that Monday timeslot after Media Watch.  It will be something that complements what’s already a great night of current affairs shows.

How about that?  Your man Carrington reckons that “audiences are looking for content elsewhere around 9 pm” – rather than watching ABC TV.  Moreover, the ABC is in “an era of declining budgets” and, apparently, is finding it difficult to get by on a taxpayer handout of over $1 billion a year.

Here’s MWD’s  modest proposal to handle this problem.  Close down ABC TV at 9 pm each night, since viewers are “elsewhere” and re-instate the ABC TV test pattern of old. As to Q&A’s  new time-slot, run it from 8.30 pm until only 9pm since viewers will be going “elsewhere” by then. Then Comrade Carrington won’t have to worry about what program to put in the vacant 9.35 pm time slot on Mondays. MWD hopes that this modest proposal is helpful.


As MWD readers are aware, in recent years ABC TV has produced programs and shown documentaries dealing with historical child sexual assault. Some have dealt with real pedophiles – others have speculated (falsely) about an alleged offender.

ABC presenters have invariably described complainants of sexual assault as victims. Most are.  But some Australian juries and appeal courts have found that not all complainants have accurate memories and not all accused are guilty.

ABC TV has recently shown, in the currently vacant Four Corners slot at 8.30 pm on Mondays, a BBC Two documentary on terrorism.  In August 2020, BBC Two showed the documentary titled The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech. As MWD readers will be aware, Carl Beech (aka “Nick”) was a fantasist who made allegations of child sexual assault against such high profile Brits as Sir Edward Heath, Lord (Leon) Brittan, Lord (Edwin) Bramall and Harvey Proctor.  Early in its investigation, the Metropolitan Police Service (MET) said that what Nick had said was “credible and true”. The case fell apart and Beech is currently in prison for fraud.

The Carl Beech case created considerable attention in Britain.  Hence Vanessa Engle’s documentary The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech.  It has been favourably reviewed in the left-of-centre Guardian (by Lucy Mangan) and the right-of-centre Spectator (by James Walton).

On 16 November Gerard Henderson wrote a courteous letter to ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson asking whether the public broadcaster had any intention of showing The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech. Alas, there was no reply.  Likewise ABC’s senior communications staff – Nick Leys and Sally Jackson – did not respond to Gerard Henderson’s query. See this week’s “Correspondence” segment.

It is not clear why the ABC seems to be showing no interest  in the Carl Beech case – despite the fact that this was referred to by Justice Mark Weinberg in his dissent in Pell v The Queen in the Victorian Court of Appeal.  Justice Weinberg’s dissent was essentially agreed to by all seven justices of the High Court of Australia last April in what is also cited as Pell v The Queen.

Currently the ABC is giving the impression that it does not want to show a documentary which demonstrates that false allegations can be made by seemingly compelling and truthful complainants. Perhaps because it runs contrary to the ABC’s narrative on this issue. Certainly the fact that the Carl Beech documentary is a BBC Two product cannot be a problem. After all, the ABC broadcast the BBC’s three part documentary The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty earlier this year. Commencing on 20 September.

This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.


As readers of this week’s “An ABC Update” will be aware, Gerard Henderson has been in one-way correspondence with the ABC concerning the BBC Two documentary The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech. Here it is – for the record and in the public interest.

Gerard Henderson to David Anderson – 16 November 2020


I am writing to you in your capacity as to the ABC’s editor-in-chief.

I note that, from last week, Four Corners has gone on a well-earned break.  The Sydney Morning Herald’s  “The Guide” today has a “to be advised” note in the ABC TV’s 8.30 slot this evening.  However, according to The Australian, at 8.30 pm ABC TV will run the first of BBC Two’s three-part series The Face of Terror.

In view of the likelihood that ABC TV will have a gap at 8.30 pm on Mondays until Four Corners returns, I wondered if the public broadcaster would consider running Vanessa Engle’s BBC Two documentary The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech – which was first released in August 2020.

As you are aware, in recent years the ABC has done a number of programs covering the issue of alleged instances of historical child sexual abuse by high-profile individuals. The Carl Beech (“aka Nick”) case concerned false allegations made against such high profile Brits as Sir Edward Heath, Leon Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor.

Vanessa Engle’s documentary has caused considerable interest in Britain – and was favourably reviewed in the left-of-centre Guardian (by Lucy Mangan) and the right-of-centre Spectator (by James Walton).  As far as I am aware, so far The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech has not been scheduled to be shown on ABC TV.

I would be grateful if you could look into this and arrange for one of your staff to let me know the result of my enquiry.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Gerard Henderson to Nick Leys and Sally Jackson – 1 December 2020

Good morning Nick/Sally

On 16 November 2020 I forwarded a (courteous) note to David Anderson in his capacity as the ABC’s editor-in-chief. A copy is attached.

I asked Mr Anderson if he could arrange for one of his staff to advise whether ABC TV will run Vanessa Engle’s BBC Two documentary The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech –  which was released in August 2020.  As you will be aware, ABC TV is showing a BBC Two documentary in the (currently vacant) 8.30 pm Monday slot.

As you may or may not know, The Unbelievable Story of Carl Beech  is an important work which has been well reviewed in Britain – and it covers an issue in which the public broadcaster has expressed considerable interest for some two decades.

It would be appreciated if someone could advise me on the ABC’s intentions in this matter – by the close of business on Thursday.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


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Until next time.

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