ISSUE – NO. 527

29 January 2021

* * * *

  • Stop Press: Michael Rowland fires up on the Daily Telegraph’s Front Page

  • Jackie’s Back

  • Howler of the Week: Virginia Haussegger’s wow factor about female Australian of the Year winners in 2021 – but not in 2015

  • Can You Bear It? – The cash-strapped ABC sends Sarah Ferguson & Tony Jones to report on “Trump’s American carnage”; Quentin Dempster comes out as a conservative; Andrew Hornery on the “plump” late Queen Mother

  • Doctor in the (ABC) house – Norman Swan’s COVID-19 prescriptions based on flawed predictions

  • New Segment: Good News Week – Murpharoo returning to Insiders in 2021 after surviving super spreader Christmas

  • New Feature: The Most Shameful Recent Self-Promotion by a Self-Promoting Journalist – Step Forward Louise Milligan

  • History Corner: Kirstin Ferguson overlooks Switzerland’s role in financing Hitler’s war as revealed in SMH profile

  • Documentation – A lesson for David Speers & Michael Rowland on US Presidential Elections

  • Correspondence – Tim Bowden helps out from Tuncurry re the ABC

* * * *


 At 6.10 am this morning the Melbourne-based ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland had a whinge concerning what the Daily Telegraph in Sydney had to say about Queensland Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Brisbane.

In MWD’s view, the Daily Telegraph cover was a clever reflection – from a NSW point of view – of the fact that the Queensland premier is seeking additional Commonwealth government assistance for the Queensland tourist industry.  This despite the fact that Queensland tourism had suffered markedly due to Ms Palaszczuk’s decision to close the Queensland/NSW border.  No doubt, sometime in the future, the Courier Mail in Brisbane will retaliate in a tabloid/tribal kind of way on another matter.

Later in the morning, Comrade Rowland let off steam during News Breakfast’s “Newspapers” segment. Let’s go to the transcript – when discussion turned on the Daily Telegraph’s front page today:

Steve Carey: …We’ve gone from a very serious topic in the pandemic and now we’re having a bit of levity. It [the Daily Telegraph] basically is having a go at Anastasia Palaszczuk who has asked the Federal government to extend JobKeeper to areas like tourism in Queensland that had been sorely hit, largely because of the border closures that she and her government implemented. And the NSW [Coalition] treasurer basically called her the “broke banana bungler”.

Michael Rowland: Yeah, we have different views Steve. I think that front page absolutely stinks. It’s very – yes you know, I’m all for a very funny front page. But no, big thumbs down. By all means have the argument, have the debate –

Steve Carey: Why so, Michael?

Michael Rowland: Just, it’s just, you know.

Steve Carey: You think it’s too low rent?

Michael Rowland: It’s demeaning, yeah. In my view. And I’d say it’s not just a Liberal/Labor thing. I’d say the same if, you know, the Courier Mail had a shot at Gladys Berejiklian in that, in my view, demeaning way as well.

Steve Carey: You don’t think it’s just a bit of fun? Trying to lighten the mood?

Michael Rowland: I see what they were trying to do but I just think it’s too juvenile. Missed the mark. In my view….

And so it came to pass that one-time journalist Steve Carey’s role as a commentator on today’s newspapers this morning was taken over by Michael Rowland – with the Queensland-born co-presenter Lisa Millar watching from the sidelines.

By the way, MWD was most impressed by the reply to Steve Carey’s question as to why Comrade Rowland believed that the Tele’s  front page today “really stinks”.  Here it is again:

Michael Rowland: It’s just, it’s just, you know.

In fact, Steve Carey didn’t know.  But then it was around 6.45 am and perhaps we all missed the gravamen of the Rowland wisdom.

Media Watch Dog returns after what journalists like to call a Well Earned Break – or WEB.  Mere mortals admit to having holidays but journalists only have breaks that are well-earned.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner spent some of his time during his WEB collecting material for MWD – which will be used as space and time allows in forthcoming weeks. The early issues of MWD this year will also look back occasionally on the top media performances of the previous year.

Unlike the ABC TV Media Watch program which has close to ten staff, MWD is produced by a very small workforce.  Jackie rises early from her kennel on Friday mornings to help out.  Then there is Hendo who gets a bit of assistance here and there until MWD goes out around Gin & Tonic time on Friday afternoons.  Thanks to the avid readers who provide material from time to time. All of this intel is read and as much as possible is used.

And now it’s time to bounce the ball (in Australian Football League terminology) for the 2021 Season.



Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to Canberra-based Virginia Haussegger’s tweets celebrating the fact that all the 2021 Australia Day top honours went to women.  Formerly a journalist, Ms Haussegger is the chief executive of BroadAgenda and chair of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra.

It would seem that the University of Canberra is in desperate need of a fact-checker.  The Australian Capital Territory comrades only have to walk one or more canines around Lake Burley Griffin to learn that 2021 was not the first occasion that all four Australians of the Year awards were won by women.  Below is a plaque celebrating the fact that this also occurred in 2015 – during the prime ministership of, wait for it, Tony Abbott.  Or what the green-left like to term the Abbott-Clerical-Fascist-Misogynist-Dictatorship.

Alas it would seem that Comrade Haussegger did not hear “that rumble of change between our feet” in January 2015!!!!! – to borrow a few exclamation marks. Nor did she experience a Whooohhhoooooo!!!!!! moment.

The plaque on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin celebrating the 2015 all-female Australians of the Year.


Can You Bear It?


The ABC board, management and staff alike are forever banging on about an alleged lack of Commonwealth funding.  It seems that, at ABC HQ down (Sydney inner-city) Ultimo way, the taxpayer funded broadcaster finds it difficult to get by on a handout of a mere $1 Billion a year.

As avid readers are aware, the ABC is a Conservative-Free-Zone without even one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  Also, while journalists tend to be into flattery – at the ABC it is laid on with a trowel – to paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli’s comment on the Royal Family somewhat.

So it was no surprise when the Brilliant Sally Neighbour (Four Corners’ executive producer) sent out a tweet on 13 January that the Brilliant Sarah Ferguson (a Four Corners  presenter) and Brilliant Tony Jones (now a Four Corners producer) were heading off to report on the contemporary United States after the Trump administration.  Comrade Neighbour put it this way:

So that’s pretty clear then. Ferguson/Jones are not being despatched to provide an objective assessment of the US after the presidency of Donald J. Trump and during the early days of President Joe Biden. Not at all. Rather the taxpayer funded duo has been commissioned “to cover Trump’s American carnage”.

On the morning of Friday 15 January, Comrade Ferguson put out this tweet of Comrade Jones doing a radio interview before the plane departed:

Yep.  And so it has begun – as the Brilliant Ferguson pic of the Brilliant Jones in the all but deserted airport depicted.

Some ABC staff have been known to object to Australians obtaining permission to travel overseas – since their return takes up places in Australian quarantine hotels and other institutions – at a time when over 30,000 Australians are stranded overseas.  So it’s good to know that the Brilliant couple have been sent to the US for essential work.  Which doesn’t say much about the numerous ABC staff currently based in the US.  It can only be assumed that the likes of Zoe Daniel, Kathryn Diss and Greg Jennett are currently not brilliant enough to carry out orders from Sydney and report for Four Corners on “Trump’s American carnage”. But there you go.

To whom was your man Jones talking to in this lonely part of Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport? – MWD hears you cry. With none other than the brilliant Josh Szeps who was standing in for the brilliant Wendy Harmer/Robbie Buck duo on the ABC Sydney 702’s brilliant Breakfast program.  Here’s a bit of what they had to say:

Tony Jones:  I’m travelling with, Sarah Ferguson on a six-month posting to Washington DC. We’re obviously meant to be in China at the moment – but something happened with the relations between Australia and China that’s meant that the visas haven’t come through.

Josh Szeps: Can’t imagine what that is. Yeah, right. Maybe just a bureaucratic snafu.

Tony Jones: Yeah, I think so. Washington is obviously the other side of the great global coin at the moment, probably the biggest story in the world. And maybe the biggest story in American political history is occurring as we watch, and where we are on our way there very quickly to do the first Four Corners  program of the year. So Sarah will be reporting that, I’ll be producing it. So we’re teaming up in our bubble. And it’ll be a Washington bubble.

Josh Szeps: I was joking with my producer that you were supposed to be headed to a one-party, militaristic, authoritarian superpower, but instead – the joke sort of writes itself, doesn’t it? [mutual laughter] Things are gonna be moving fast when you get to Washington…

Tony Jones: Yes that’s going to be very difficult to film. We don’t actually have permissions to get inside the COVID-safe and incredibly high security set-up that will be there for Biden’s inauguration. In fact the Washington Mall will be mostly closed down and there will be only a symbolic crowd represented by flags as far as I know. So there will be a small number of people down the front – if he [President Biden] does actually do the inauguration out in the open because clearly there’s a fear of assassination attempts. And we’ve some evidence of fifth columnists operating in the Congressional – the Congress insurrection. So, you’d imagine since the joint chiefs put out a statement to all of the troops protecting Biden to remember their constitutional duty, there’s a certain amount of fear that even within the police and military there may be people sympathetic to the insurrection in Congress….

A lot to investigation, it will only be us and a thousand other media organisations.

Which raises the question: If the brilliant Ferguson/Jones Duo are to be just one of “a thousand other media organisations” reporting on the departure of President Trump and the inauguration of President Biden – why bother to go?  Especially in view of the fact that the ABC already has (media) troops on the ground in Washington DC.  And especially when the ABC is crying poor.  Can You Bear It?

[How fascinating that Jones laughed along with Szeps’ “joke” that, like China, the US is a “one-party”, militaristic, authoritarian super power” – in spite of the fact that the White House recently passed from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration. How very ABC – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone – did anyone see the interview by Rowan Dean of one-time ABC presenter and ABC board member Quentin Dempster on Sky News’ Inside the News program on Monday? It was all good fun.

The ABC never asks its critics to criticise the ABC on its platforms.  But Rowan Dean was willing to hear Comrade Dempster’s familiar criticism of Sky News on Monday evening. Towards the end of a, well, “lively” discussion the following took place:

Rowan Dean: Okay, just very simply Quentin. If the ABC – how does the fact that not a single conservative presenter and not a single conservative producer, not a single conservative – how does that contribute to national identity? [Talking over each other]

Quentin Dempster: That’s an old Gerard Henderson – that’s an old Gerard Henderson –

Rowan Dean: It may be, but it’s a goodun. It’s a goodun.

Quentin Dempster: No it’s not. It’s rubbish.

Rowan Dean: How does it contribute to national identity? We don’t need any conservatives because conservatives aren’t part of the national identity. Is that what you’re saying Quentin? Is that what you’re saying?

Quentin Dempster: I’m conservative, I’m a conservative.

Rowan Dean: You’re conservative? Excellent. Okay. Now we agree on something.

Quentin Dempster: I’m conservative on the institutional strength of a democracy, including the separation of powers, that is part of conservative institution, institutional strength and democracy. All things that are being tested in the United States.

Rowan Dean: I look forward to meeting you at the next Conservative party in Roseville or somewhere else, you and I’ll be there, and we’ll have a beer together. Thanks, mate. Have a very happy Australia Day tomorrow.

So there you have it? The left-of-centre Comrade Dempster, who currently writes for the left of centre The New Daily online newspaper, told Sky News that he is the example of an ABC conservative.  Despite the fact that few would regard him as a conservative and he is currently not even an ABC presenter, producer or editor. Which raises the question – is this the best that Comrade Quentin Dempster – who describes himself as “an advocate” for the ABC – can do?  More importantly – Can You Bear It?


It seems that blokes at Nine Newspapers (nee Fairfax Media) are trained not to comment adversely on how women look or dress.  Except, apparently, when the person is dead, white royal who drank lotsa Gin & Tonic over her long time on this earth.

On 2 January, in its gossip column pretentiously termed “Private Sydney”, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a comment by Andrew Hornery on Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  The gossip commenced with how George VI – as he later became – fell in love with an Aussie sheila appropriately named Sheila Chisholm.  It turned out that Prince Albert (aka Bertie – as he then was)  was advised by his old man King George V not to marry down, so to speak.  So the Albert-Sheila relationship ended by royal command.

Miss Chisholm went on her merry way – becoming married to a couple of gentlemen, but not at the same time.  And what about your man Prince Albert? Here’s what Comrade Hornery had to say:

…Sheila took London society by storm and embarked on an intense affair with “gentle” Prince Albert – “Bertie” – the stuttering younger brother of handsome socialite Prince Edward.

Knowing it could not last, Sheila and Bertie nonetheless fell deeply in love. Sheila influenced Bertie to emerge from the shadow of his charismatic brother and dominant father, helping him to embrace his own nobility and unwittingly giving him the confidence to become the king he did not know he would be.

However, when Sheila and Bertie’s clandestine affair reached the attention of King George V, he ordered his son to end it at once. Bertie obliged and was rewarded the Dukedom of York and a plump fiancée in the shape of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

MWD does not understand how Miss Chisholm could have given Prince Albert the confidence to assume a role that he never expected to inherit. But, then, MWD is not into the art of the gossip columnist.  But Jackie’s  (male) co-owner does take strong exception to the “Private Sydney” put down that Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was “plump” when she became engaged to Prince Albert in January 1923.

The photographs of the day do not indicate that  Lady Elizabeth was plump – see below.  In any event, who cares?  The Queen Mother – as she became – should be a role model for us all.  She lived to 101 years of age.  Which demonstrates that for a long life you need to do no more than drink lotsa Gin & Tonic.  And yet Elizabeth The Queen Mother is plump-shamed by a gossip columnist hack. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not now that you ask.  Mr Hornery would be well-advised to attend one of the late Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – now brought to clients per courtesy of the psychic John Edward. Just a thought.]


Regular readers will recall MWD’s coverage of the dire predictions of Dr Norman Swan, who has served as the ABC’s resident COVID-19 expert since early March 2020 [See MWD 2020 Passim] Most notably on Saturday 21 March 2020, when Australia was in the early stages of what we would now identify as the first wave of COVID, Swan let loose with the following Tweet:

Luckily for Australia, Dr Swan’s condescending prediction proved hopelessly wrong as the exponential growth he imagined never materialised. Australia did not reach 7,000 cases until mid-May 2020 and hit 8,000 in early July 2020 as the COVID outbreak in Victoria spiralled out of control.

After this embarrassment Dr Swan seems to have avoided making any concrete predictions about future COVID case numbers, perhaps realising that projecting case numbers during a pandemic is a little more complex than “primary school maths” [As an aside Dr Swan is selling himself short, even the kind of simple exponential growth calculation Dr Swan was engaged in would certainly qualify as high school maths].

Dr Swan still waded into various COVID-related policy debates over the course of 2020, almost always on the side pushing for harsher restrictions. Notably in July 2020 he joined a campaign by left-leaning media figures to push for Australia to adopt an explicit target of elimination of COVID instead of suppression [See Issue 504].

Then in December 2020 and early January 2021, during NSW’s Northern Beaches outbreak, Dr Swan flipped the switch once again to doom and gloom unleashing a deluge of tweets naysaying the State and Federal government responses to the latest wave of cases:




Dr Swan also made a 30 December 2020 appearance on ABC News in which he made the following claim:

Norman Swan: Well if you take the cumulative case numbers there are around about 150 to date and we know from research done at the Kirby Institute in Sydney that we underdiagnose by at least a factor of threeAnd so there are 450 to 500 cases out there in NSW not 150.

Certainly, the true number of Australians infected with COVID-19 is likely to be significantly higher than the roughly 28,800 confirmed cases detected to date. Various studies have shown a higher rate of SARS-COV-2-specific antibody seroprevalence in the Australian population than you would expect based on the confirmed case numbers for COVID-19.

However, it should be obvious that almost all of these undetected cases took place either during the initial nationwide wave of COVID cases or during the out of control second wave in Victoria. During the first wave, Australia’s testing and contact tracing regimes were still ramping up and during Victoria’s second wave these systems were overwhelmed. There is no indication that these estimates of underdiagnosis could be applied to the Northern Beaches outbreak, during which NSW saw record testing numbers and rapid contact tracing. Yet Dr Swan felt no compunction about hopping on to the TV and informing Australians that hundreds of cases were circling undetected in Sydney.

So according to Dr Swan, NSW Health was supposedly only detecting a third of cases. And NSW did not institute the “Greater Sydney lockdown” Dr Swan requested. Nor did NSW ban fans from the Sydney Cricket Test. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and Federal Government also seem to have ignored Dr Swan’s panicked call for bringing in vaccine doses “right now to help get the clusters under control”.

And what does Australia have to show for ignoring Dr Swan’s advice? 12 days, so far, without a local transmission.



As the sun was beginning to set on 2020 – the Year of the Rat – Gerard Henderson (aka Jackie’s male co-owner) received some depressing news.  It was this tweet from MWD fave Katharine (“Malcolm Turnbull calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy – which was interpreted by some to mean that she was not to appear again on the ABC TV Insiders couch – real or virtual –  again.  Here it is:

Sure the tweet was ambiguous. But one interpretation was that Murpharoo would not be seen again at 9 am on ABC 1 on a Sunday.  It turned out that Murpharoo meant that she would not be on Insiders again in 2020.  That’s all.

Phew. Comrade Murphy, the Guardian Australia’s  political editor, is something of a MWD fave. What’s more she fulfils a vital part in the Guardian  soviet which is central to Insiders – along with Comrade Lenore Taylor, Comrade Mike Bowers, Comrade Amy Remeikis and so on.  So much so that it wouldn’t be an Insiders’ couch if there wasn’t a Guardian bum on it. Or so it seems.

But MWD digresses.  What’s so good about Murpharoo on Insiders and elsewhere is that she provides such great copy for Jackie’s (male) co-owner as he struggles to get this blog out each Friday – before the onset of Gin & Tonic Time.

Take, for example, this gem proffered when she was last on Insiders on Sunday 29 November 2020.  Let’s go to the transcript where Murpharoo goes into COVID-19 rant mode about the disaster that WILL BE (not might be) Christmas:

Katharine Murphy: I was astonished several months ago, in our Essential Poll, to see like a massive majority in favour of home detention with security devices. I sort of thought, “Oh my God, what country do I live in?” But anyway. I don’t think it’s – I think the government could actually do it. But what’s being created in this whole management of COVID thing is, obviously we’ve been successful in suppression – that has been done successfully. Leaders don’t want to create risks, particularly during a third wave in America and Europe, of overwhelming quarantine systems here and spiking another round of infections. And Christmas, let’s be honest, will be a super-spreader event. So, it’s sort of – I understand the politics of it. But in practice, there are tools at the government’s disposal, all governments’ disposal, that they are choosing not to deploy.

David Speers: Let’s hope Christmas is not a super spreader event.

Katharine Murphy: Yes, sorry. I shouldn’t have said that out loud. I just [should have] sort of thought it to myself and not said it.

David Speers: Let’s hope everyone’s COVID-safe.

In the event, despite the Bob Ellis style false prophecy by Murpharoo, Christmas was not a COVID-19 “super-spreader event”.  In short, she was talking through her hat.  That’s part of the Good News.  The other part is that there could well be more of the same on Insiders in 2021. After all, appearing on Insiders means that journalists never have to say sorry for false predictions about the outcome of the May 2019 election, COVID-19 alarmism and… [That will do. MWD Editor].



Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s  attention to the ABC journalist Louise Milligan’s attempt to get-out-the-vote for her book Witness in the Victorian Premier’s Literary  Awards People’s Choice category.  It’s the kind of literary award where The People get the chance to vote for an author to receive a gong and a taxpayer funded hand-out to go with it.  No voter has to demonstrate that the tome in question has indeed been read.

As to self-promotion, you be the judge:

It all sounds excessively shameless to MWD – even for a self-promoting journalist. We’ll let you know how the promotion fares – but MWD would put money on a win in this category along with a follow-up self-promoting comment that “The People have spoken”.

[Perhaps this should have been placed in your hugely popular “Can You Bear It?” segment.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]



Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the profile of then ABC deputy chair Kirstin Ferguson by Michael Koziol in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 September 2020. It was all about, er, MWD is not too sure.  Except that Ms Ferguson has moved from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast, has acquired a caramel Cavoodle (like everyone else who is into trophy dogs these days) and has stopped flying (like everyone else who can’t get on a plane). Oh yes, the ABC deputy chair had Mooloolaba  prawns for her Zoom lunch with Comrade Koziol – he had chicken pasta. Yawn.

And Kirstin Ferguson praised New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and criticised Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison. How predictable.  By the way, Ms Ferguson is a leadership coach – whatever that might mean.  However, MWD was most interested in what the leadership coach said to SMH’s  intrepid chicken pasta eating profiler in distancing herself from ABC chair Ita Buttrose’s criticism (of recent memory) of Millennials (i.e. those born between 1981 and 1996).  As reported uncritically by Michael Koziol the Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2020:

Gen-X Ferguson isn’t having any of that [i.e. what Ita Buttrose said]. “Millennials are brilliant. I love Millennials,” she says. “They teach me more than I could ever hope to pass on to them. I think the work ethic Millennials bring is equal to, if not greater than, the generations that have preceded them – including my own.”

Her own generation tends to sit out the war between Millennials and Baby Boomers. “We like to pretend we’re Switzerland. We just sit back and stay in the middle and make friends with everyone.”

This appears to be a reference to Switzerland since 1900. In which case, what a load of absolute tosh.  Switzerland did not sit out the Second World War between Nazi Germany and the Allies and “just sit back and stay in the middle”.  Rather, Switzerland helped to finance the German war machine.  Indeed Switzerland effectively money-laundered for Germany. The Nazis deposited stolen gold – including the gold possessions of Jews in or destined for death camps – with Swiss banks which provided finance to the German war machine using the stolen gold as collateral.

As noted in Werner Rings’ Life With The Enemy: Collaboration and Resistance in Hitler’s Europe 1939-1945, even before the war the Swiss authorities had effectively endorsed Nazi racial laws, requiring that the passports of German Jews be marked with a “J” so that they could be readily identified in Switzerland. In 1947 Max Petitpierre, a member of the Swiss Federal Council and head of the Political Department (essentially the Swiss equivalent of Foreign Minister), admitted that:

These credits and the deliveries of war materials and other products … contributed to the war efforts of one of the belligerents [i.e. Germany]. Not only had we abandoned integral neutrality, but – even worse – in so doing, we were as a rule deviating from the very notion of neutrality.

See Switzerland, National Socialism and the Second World War: Final Report  by the Independent Commission of Experts Switzerland, Pendo, 2002.

In short, without a little help from Swiss bankers, Adolf Hitler would have been defeated earlier than May 1945. And yet the former ABC deputy chair reckons that Switzerland sat out the Second World War – much like the Gen-X types like her sit out the (alleged) war between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers.    Here’s hoping that business woman Kirstin Ferguson catches up on 20th Century history in her new abode up the Sunshine Coast way.

[An earlier version of this piece was published in The Australian Online’s edition of Media Watch Dog late last year. But, due to a technical error, was not published in Media Watch Dog on The Sydney Institute’s website.]



In recent weeks, in his Weekend Australian column, Gerard Henderson has reflected that Donald J Trump was defeated in the 2020 United States presidential election by Joe Biden in what was a close contest. And that Hillary Clinton had lost to Donald J. Trump in 2016 in what was also a close result.

Some readers have contested that the 2020 election was close.  Apparently they are influenced by the comments of leading ABC commentators David Speers and Michael Rowland – who had this to say on ABC TV’s News Breakfast on 11 December 2020:

Lisa Millar: Do we have a Wooden Spoon this week?

David Speers: Look, I’ll give one for the year. I’ll give one for the year. And I don’t think I can go past Donald Trump. I know it’s an obvious one.

Michael Rowland: Good choice.

David Speers: For a number of reasons right. One is, losing an election by, how many votes is it now, Michael? 8 million?

Michael Rowland: A gazillion, yes….

David Speers’ comment – which was endorsed by Michael Rowland – is hopelessly wrong.  Apparently neither understand that the US president is indirectly elected by the Electoral College – not directly elected by the national popular vote.  The popular vote is only important in that it determines which candidate will prevail in each state – since delegates from each state comprise the Electoral College.

Here’s why the 2020 result was close:

2020 Election

  • Popular Vote: Joe Biden 81,268,757 (51.3%), Donald Trump 74,216,722 (46.9%)
  • Electoral College: Biden 306, Trump 232
  • States Trump would have had to flip to win Electoral College: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin
  • Georgia: Biden 2,473,633, Trump 2,461,854 – Biden wins by 11,779 (0.24%)
  • Arizona: Biden 1,672,143, Trump 1,661,686 – Biden wins by 10,457 (0.31%)
  • Wisconsin: Biden 1,630,866, Trump 1,610,184 – Biden wins by 20,682 (0.62%)
  • Combined Margin 42,918

In other words, the outcome of the 2020 election was very close.  Contrary to the assertion of ABC TV’s “experts” – Trump did not lose by “8 million” votes (Speers) or “a gazillion” votes (Rowland). In short, if Donald Trump had obtained an extra 43,000 votes across the states of Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin he would have won in 2020. That’s close.

* * * * *

As indicated above, the outcome of the 2016 election was also very close.  Here’s why:

2016 Election

  • Popular Vote: Hillary Clinton 65,853,514 (48.2%), Donald Trump 62,984,828 (46.1%)
  • Electoral College by state results: Trump 306, Clinton 232
  • Electoral College including “faithless” electors lodging protest votes: Trump 304, Clinton 227, Colin Powell 3, Bernie Sanders 1, John Kasich 1, Ron Paul 1, Faith Spotted Eagle 1
  • States Clinton would have had to flip to win Electoral College: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
  • Michigan: Trump 2,279,543, Clinton 2,268,839 – Trump wins by 10,704 (0.23%)
  • Pennsylvania: Trump 2,970,733, Clinton 2,926,411 – Trump wins by 44,292 (0.72%)
  • Wisconsin: Trump 1,405,284, Clinton 1,382,536 – Trump wins by 22,748 (0.77%)
  • Combined Margin 77,744


In short, if Hillary Clinton had won an extra 78,000 votes across the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin she would have won in 2016.


* * * * *

For those with an obsessive interest in close US presidential elections, the following data may be of interest concerning 2000 and 1960:

2000 Election

  • Popular Vote: Al Gore 50,999,897 (48.4%), George W. Bush 50,456,002 (47.9%)
  • Electoral College: Bush 271, Gore 266 (1 Gore elector abstained)
  • States Gore would have had to flip to win Electoral College: Florida
  • Florida: Bush 2,912,790, Gore 2,912,253 – Bush wins by 537 (0.009%)


1960 Election

  • Popular Vote: John F. Kennedy 34,220,984 (49.72%), Richard Nixon 34,108,157 (49.55%), Unpledged 610,409 (0.42)
  • Electoral College: Kennedy 303, Nixon 219, Harry Byrd 15
  • Explanation of Unpledged/Byrd votes: Southern Democrats opposed to desegregation had unpledged Electoral College voters placed on the ballot in several Southern states. The idea was in the event of neither candidate getting a majority of electoral votes they would be able to negotiate for the votes in exchange for concessions on segregation. However Kennedy won a majority without them so instead the unpledged electors and one “faithless” Nixon elector cast protest votes for Harry Byrd, a segregationist Democratic senator from Virginia.
  • States Nixon would have had to flip to win Electoral College: Illinois, Texas
  • Illinois: Kennedy 2,377,846, Nixon 2,368,988 – Kennedy wins by 8,858 (0.19%)
  • Texas: Kennedy 1,167,567, Nixon 1,121,310 – Kennedy wins by 46,257 (2.00%)
  • Combined Margin 55,115
  • Voter fraud was alleged by Republicans in both Illinois and Texas – although Nixon himself chose not to contest the results and put pressure on Republican friendly media outlets to not push the issue so as to avoid a constitutional crisis. There is some evidence of fraud although it has never been definitely shown whether it would have been enough to tip the states of Illinois and Texas.
  • Alternatively Nixon could have won if he flipped Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and New Jersey – all of which were within 1% and had a combined margin of 43,338.

* *  * * *

So there you have it.  Here’s hoping that by 2024 the likes of David Speers and Michael Rowland come to understand that the nation-wide popular vote does not determine who will occupy the White House.

[PS. Lotsa thanks to the avid MWD reader who put together the above information. Speersy and Mike – if you want to get in touch with someone who knows how US presidential elections really work – give Jackie’s (male) co-owner a call or send a text. – MWD Editor.]

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 avid readers are only too well aware, MWD Issue 526 (11 December 2020) carried a missive from a certain Tim Bowden (ABC Rtd) who lives on the NSW North Coast in some comfort – per courtesy of his taxpayer subsidised superannuant’s pension.  It is from here that Comrade Bowden sends Gerard Henderson occasional letters – invariably of the sneering genre and always about the ABC.

It would seem that it took some time for the Scribe of Tuncurry to discover that his email of 8 December 2020 had been published in MWD three days later.  When your man Bowden did so, he sent Hendo a further missive on Christmas Eve. Now read on:


Tim Bowden to Gerard Henderson – 24 December 2020

Dear Gerard,

I must say I did not realise you were sharing our recent emails with your readership. I suppose I should feel honoured.  However returning to my preoccupation with the lunatical IPA, I thought you might be interested to see the following from the latest ABC Friends Update.

I would be surprised if even you would dismiss the comments by Ranald McDonald as a ratbag leftie in the same edition which laid out how exactly how the Morrison government is squeezing the ABC of its rightful budget which they say is not happening. It is. McDonald is even critical of Buttrose and the ABC Board for not showing some spine with what the Federal Government is doing to the national broadcaster.

Merry Xmas,

Tim B

Tim Bowden

Gerard Henderson to Tim Bowden – 6 January 2021

My dear Timothy

Thanks for your email of Christmas Eve and Christmas greeting.  I’m just so pleased that you feel “honoured” to have appeared in the (hugely) popular Correspondence segment of my Media Watch Dog blog. You deserved the honour.

Thanks also for providing a copy of the article by Marcus May (Secretary, ABC Friends, Victoria) in the December 2020 issue of the ABC Friends National Update titled “What is the IPA and what is its influence on Conservative Government” along with the article by Ranald Macdonald titled “A clear picture of how the ABC fared in the current Federal Budget” in the same journal.

In response, I make the following comments:

  • As I understand it, your position on what you term the “lunatical” Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is as follows:

(i) The IPA runs the Morrison government

(ii) The IPA wants the Morrison government to defund the ABC.

(iii) The Morrison government gives the ABC over $1 billion a year

(iv) Er….

  • You state that “you would be surprised” if even I “would dismiss the comments by Ranald McDonald [sic] as a ratbag leftie”.

For the record, I do dismiss them.  However, having been well brought up, I would not describe Mr Macdonald as a “ratbag”. Nor would I use the term “lunatical” the way you have with respect to the IPA or any other serious organisation.  Perhaps you should enrol in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – full details of which appear occasionally in Media Watch Dog – since they teach the difference between abuse and criticism.

As I recall, your man Macdonald was born to the wealthy Syme family.  He was managing director of The Age when that newspaper moved away from its conservative tradition to the left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As you will know, Chesborough Ranald Macdonald got a gig at the ABC in the 1990s broadcasting the “Mornings” program in Melbourne on what was then called 3LO. I still have an ABC “holy card” (aka bookmark) featuring Mr Macdonald in his ABC years.  See below.

In those days, Ranald Macdonald defended the taxpayer funded broadcaster from criticism by Labor prime minister Bob Hawke that its coverage of the First Gulf War was biased against allies (including the United States, Britain and Australia).   All this is well covered in K.S. Inglis’ book This is the ABC (MUP, 1983). I first met the late Ken Inglis when we both addressed a Friends of the ABC function in Canberra some time ago.  Fancy that.

As to your question, I would not call Macdonald a “leftie” – but he is a bit of a Melbourne luvvie and certainly not a conservative.  So it is of no surprise that Mr Macdonald supports the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone – in which he once worked per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.

Have a wonderful New Year. Best wishes and lotsa love.


Gerard Henderson

PS: Attached are pics of Ranald Macdonald which appeared in the December 2020 edition of the ABC Friends National Updates (note his name was misspelt as McDonald) and the very same Ranald Macdonald circa 1990 on an ABC book-mark advertising his program on ABC Radio Melbourne 3LO (now 774).  How remarkable your man Macdonald has not changed a bit in the last three decades. In short, he’s no Dorian Gray character. Just shows the benefits of working for the ABC – a fate which befell both you and Ranald.

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Here is Ranald Macdonald in an ABC Holy Card (aka bookmark) circa 1990.


Here is Ranald Macdonald’s dinkus in the current issue of ABC Friends National Update.

Which suggests that one-time ABC presenters do not grow old – but the spelling of their name may be forgotten.


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Until next time.


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