ISSUE – NO. 536

9 April 2021

* * * *

·         Stop Press – Record low ratings for Q&A and a proposal for the ABC; 7:30’s Justin Stevens now plugging failure

·         Can You Bear It? – Fitz on “le tout Sydney” gathering to see Hamilton; Jon Faine (fresh off 25 years at the same prestigious job) on blokes who won’t make way for sheilas; Fran Kelly & Lisa Millar still members of the Malcolm Fan Club

·         You Must Remember This – Niki Savva’s (failed) cabinet reshuffle prophecy

·         Media Fool of the Week – Tom Ballard on the evil, greedy, fascist, soulless pig dogs who support his taxpayer-funded gigs

·         An ABC Update – Davids Anderson & Speers avoid Senator Sarah Henderson’s comments about historical sexual harassment at the ABC

·         Five Paws Award – Step Forward Robert Zoellick

·         MWD’s Deliberate Mistake Segment – 7:30’s Justin Stevens helps out re the relative ratings of his show and A Current Affair

·         Documentation – On Q&A Sam Mostyn was neither interrupted nor talked down to by Adam Creighton & Stan Grant

·         Correspondence – Gerard Henderson & Justin Stevens on La Tingle and more besides

* * * * *


The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth reported today that ABC TV’S Q&A ratings for last night were the lowest in the program’s history.  Little wonder really.  Presenter Hamish (“I don’t watch television unless I’m on it”) Macdonald does not protect conservative panellists from the baying leftist mob which presents as the audience on most nights. And with the exception of the 25 March 2021 program, the panels are invariably stacked with left-of-centre and leftist types.

Liberal Party Senator Jim Molan recently told The Australian (5 April 2021): “There is no upside for a conservative Liberal to go on the show.  The technique is [for there to be an] ambush by the audience, by fellow guests and the Twitter crawlers”.

Some conservatives will not go on Q&A. Others are not invited – read cancelled.  Last night was another stacked panel which consisted of three outright critics of the Coalition government – Labor’s Anika Wells (fair enough) plus Antoinette Lattouf and Teela Reid.  Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman from the Liberal Party’s moderate group was a quiet defender of the Morrison government policy. And then there was Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby. He was bagged by all four panellists along with presenter Hamish Macdonald. A modern day high-tech medieval stocks event.

When Q&A was moved from Mondays at 9.35 pm to Thursdays at 8.30 pm, the ABC said that “audiences now look for content elsewhere around 9 pm”. In which case, the ABC might as well close the joint down at 9 pm each night and head for the local hotel.  Sure, this would be halfway through Q&A on Thursday – but it would seem that no one much would notice.


As the saying goes – it pays to advertise.  This slogan normally applies to individuals and organisations who/which want to advertise their success.  But ABC TV 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens appears to be in the business of advertising failure.  In this case, the program’s failure to get ministers on to 7.30 – including the prime minister.

Here’s Comrade Stevens’ latest whinge via Twitter:

Well, at least your man Stevens did not accuse of the above of, er, ideological bastardry.

Can You Bear It?


There was enormous interest in the segment in Media Watch Dog Issue 532 which covered the row between MWD fave Stan Grant and Peter FitzSimons.  As avid readers are aware, Fitz recently has gone naked from the neck up – having abandoned the Red Bandanna which he wore for about a decade. In particular, there have been numerous requests for MWD to re-run the photo of the leftist luvvies’ Independence Day (nee Australia Day) get-together which Mr FitzSimons and Ms Lisa Wilkinson put on around 26 January each year. See below.

Entry to the Fitz/Lisa annual knees-up is relatively easy. All you have to do is be a luvvie suitable to be invited and “bring a plate” – preferably with food on it.  It’s very much a Sydney inner-city/lower North Shore function where everyone agrees with everyone else in an ABC/The Age/Sydney Morning Herald/Guardian Australia/The [Boring] Saturday Paper/The New Daily kind of way.

Those whose views  are no longer considered compatible with the Fitz/Lisa ideological world view get dumped from the invitation list.  MWD understands that this was the fate of Stan Grant and Sky News’ Paul Murray – among others.

But MWD digresses. Did anyone read “Fitz on Sunday” in last Sunday’s Sun-Herald?  Peter (“I used to wear a red rag on my head”) FitzSimons had this to say about those present at the first night of Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre in Pyrmont on Saturday 26 March:

I will always remember March 12 last year. With three friends over lunch at Machiavelli’s, the hits just keep coming as the Plague descended….

In the same spirit, I will always remember Saturday night a week ago at the premiere of Hamilton, as the night it felt like the war was over. For the first time in a year, it felt like le tout Sydney was in the one place at the one time for a knees-up gala occasion. Yes, what was happening on stage was exciting – no less than a triumph – but the buzz in the air was also for the fact that none of us had been in the theatre in over a year, not been in an indoor crowd that large, not seen each other during the Blitz!

They were all there: Malcolm and Lucy, Ita, Delvene, Leigh, Stan – not him, the other one – Albo, Gladys, Keith, Gretel, Guy, Laura, Rachel, Bryan, Hannah, Tim, Clover, Julie, Waleed, Celeste and myriad others.

How elitist can a scribbler get?  Comrade Fitz simply assumed that all his mates are so well known that his readers (if readers there are) would know all this lot without reference to their surnames. Sure, Malcolm (Turnbull) and Lucy (Turnbull) are well known by their first names – especially when linked together. Likewise “Ita” and “Albo”. But who is the “other Stan”?  And which Keith is this? Also Fitz reckons that this privileged lot represents “Le tout Sydney” – which, translated, means All Sydney.

Talk about pretension.  And a lack of self-awareness.  Your man Fitz reckons that the teeming masses will support his Australian Republic Movement while he fawns over the well-heeled luvvies who are so famous that they can get by without their surnames.  Can You Bear It?

[Due to popular demand here’s a pic (which MWD obtained from The Australian’s “Media” column) of one of the Fitz/Lisa get-togethers.  Not a conservative – or a person of colour – among this lot. First names only please – but MWD can pick (clockwise) David and Peter and Tim and Leigh and Annabel and Norman and Nigella and Julia and Kate and Mia.  Any other ideas? – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of a lack of self-awareness among luvvies, thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to former ABC broadcaster Jon Faine’s column in The Age (28 March 2021) titled “The Liberals’ problem with women is simple: the men block their path”.

Your man Faine sounded off about the lack of females among Liberal Party parliamentarians – with special reference to Victoria. Here’s how Sandalista Faine commenced his article:

The Liberal Party has failed to modernise. Having spent years kicking the “we don’t need quotas for women” can down the road, their leaders now feign surprise at how difficult it is for Liberal women to progress. But the reason it is hard for women in the Liberal Party is because their paths are constantly blocked by men.

It is not just at the federal level where men have refused to make way for the many talented and ambitious women who want to play a serious role in the running of the country. At [Victorian] state level, example after example shows how a hard-fought preselection left competent women stranded. Some male parliamentarians loudly claiming to care about making room for women are only there because they denied women a chance in preselection contests.

Jon Faine made some reasonable points. But he overlooked the fact that some Victorian female Liberal Party parliamentarians recently won pre-selection for winnable seats at the 2019 election and subsequently. Namely Katie Allen (Higgins), Gladys Liu (Chisholm) and Sarah Henderson (Senate).

There is one other matter the leader of the Melbourne Sandalista Set overlooked.  Here it is – as explained by MWD’s  avid Melbourne reader:

Sandalista Jon Faine held tightly to his morning show on ABC Melbourne radio for almost 25 years, refusing to go and blocking the path for countless presenters including women. Now he shuns others. Sure he finally was blasted out and made way for a woman, La Trioli, but it took 25 years.

Quite so.  For a  quarter of a century, it was “Mornings with Jon Faine” on ABC Radio Melbourne 774.  And not “Mornings with Virginia Trioli” or some other woman.  And now Sandalista Faine is lecturing all and sundry about how blokes should not block the path of women. It seems like a  case of “Do as I say, not as I did”. Can You Bear It?


Malcolm Turnbull just loves the ABC – and in particular, it would seem, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly, the presenter of ABC Radio National Breakfast.  The question is this – is the ABC/Turnbull affair good for the former prime minister?  Or would the one-time Liberal Party leader do better without the soft interviews provided by the likes of Comrade Kelly.

On 2 March 2021, Turnbull fronted up to RN Breakfast and spoke to the presenter about the allegation concerning Christian Porter’s behaviour in 1988 when he was 17 years old and is alleged by some to have raped a 16 year old female. The woman in question withdrew her complaint and subsequently committed suicide.  This matter is now the subject of a defamation action.

As avid readers will recall, Mr Turnbull queried on two occasions – without being challenged by Fran Kelly – as to whether the woman had died by her own hand.  The RN presenter did not challenge either comment until the end of the long interview when she suggested that there was no question that the woman had died other than by suicide.  Mr Turnbull’s response was “I don’t know”.  Not a wise response.

Then on 31 March, Malcolm Turnbull fronted up again on RN Breakfast where he received another soft interview from Fran Kelly. This time, in opposing the extension of coal mines in the Hunter Valley, the former prime minister said that he was a property owner in the Hunter Valley.  Fran Kelly did ask Mr Turnbull about whether he was speaking out of perceived self-interest but did not press the point when the answer was in the negative.  At the time Malcolm Turnbull had recently been appointed by the NSW government to the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.  In time, the offer of this position was withdrawn.

On both occasions Malcolm Turnbull would have benefited if Comrade Kelly had asked some tougher questions – since it would have mitigated potential problems. She didn’t. And Malcolm Turnbull’s lack of political judgment manifested itself again.

The problem was evident on ABC TV’s News Breakfast on Wednesday when co-presenter Lisa Millar commented on the controversy surrounding former Australia Post chief executive officer Christine Holgate.  Out of the blue, at the end of the segment, Comrade Millar proffered this comment:

Ben Oquist: …a big submission to a Senate inquiry [from Ms Holgate] that’s going to have a hearing next week into these matters .  So I think you’re going to hear a lot more about it.

Lisa Millar: For sure, for sure. I thought it was interesting, also, Malcolm Turnbull said if she’d been called “Christopher Holgate”, she would not have been treated as she was, including by the current prime minister. So there’s a lot of stuff going on there as well.

In fact this was yet another criticism by Malcolm Turnbull of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Yet Lisa Millar chose to endorse it in spite of the fact that Scott Morrison had not been mentioned in the discussion between the Australia Institute’s Ben Oquist and the News Breakfast co-presenters.  Another example of an ABC journalist attempting to give Malcolm Turnbull a boost. Can You Bear It?


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


The last episode of ABC TV Insiders program took place in Melbourne on Sunday 28 March. On 4 April, the program enjoyed what journalists like to call a W.E.B. – a Well Earned Break.  This despite the fact that Sky News’ Agenda and Outsiders’ Sunday morning programs went to air on Easter Sunday.

In any event, wasn’t it great to see the Canberra based Niki Savva back on the virtual Insiders couch last Sunday week?  As far as Media Watch Dog can work out, this was the first occasion in 2021 that Ms Savva has been on Insiders.  And the program certainly needs yet another critic of Prime Minister Scott Morrison  and the Morrison government.  After all, it only has half-a-dozen or so on the panel – including MWD fave Laura (“The PM is guilty of ideological bastardry”) Tingle. Moreover, few if any of the panellists who are generally supportive of the Morrison government.  But that’s another story.

MWD just loved Niki Savva’s final observation on 28 March.  Here it is:

Niki Savva: Unfortunately, I know quite a few people who have been badly bullied in Parliament House by people in very powerful positions. And the message from those people, who have been abused, to the perpetrators is: “They see you. They know you. And you will be brought to account.”

Sounds interesting. A warning – given direct to the camera – on a Sunday morning. Enough to concentrate the minds of the bullies and viewers alike at Hangover Time.

But here’s a warning.  Ms Savva, who claims to be a conservative-leftie (whatever that might mean) does not always get her Sunday morning predictions on Insiders about what will happen around Parliament House correct. For example, does anyone remember this prophecy on Insiders on 13 December 2020?:

David Speers: We’ve still got a reshuffle to come this year before Christmas. I mentioned earlier, my understanding is Linda Reynolds will stay as Defence Minister. A lot of speculation, pressure for Peter Dutton to get the job – that won’t happen. Niki. What else do you know?

Niki Savva: Well, look, there’s a big proviso here, right, because prime ministers change their mind in a split second. But according to information that I was given yesterday, the highly respected Arthur Sinodinos is going to be cutting short his tenure as Ambassador in Washington and will be returning home to Australia. And one of the potential replacements for him could be the foreign minister Marise Payne. And it’s all kind of COVID related. Because Arthur’s health issues are very well known to people

David Speers: Given COVID at the moment in the US?

Niki Savva: Given it’s running rampant in the US, it’s made life very difficult for him and his family. So he might be returning home. So there will be an opening there for the Prime Minister to appoint a senior person to a plum post and thereby open up another position in the cabinet.

David Speers: Wow, the watch this space. That would be huge. If that happens.

So there you have it.  A you-beaut, huge, watch-this-space prophecy. Alas, of the false genre. Arthur Sinodinos did not step down as Australia’s Ambassador to the United States due to health related matters.  And Senator Marise Payne remains Australia’s foreign minister. So there are lotsa Savva supporters hoping for Ms Savva’s most recent prophecy making it to fulfilled status. Others wish.  MWD Will Remember This.


Stand up comedian Tom (“I just love dropping the ‘f’ word”) Ballard is a Media Watch Dog fave.  If only because, in recent times, when he presented Tonightly on ABC TV’s second channel, your man Ballard provided lotsa copy for MWD.  Sure, much of TB’s stuff isn’t funny – but his Green/Left rants at political and social conservatives has worked well for Hendo’s MWD.  Particularly since they were brought to taxpayers by the taxpayer funded broadcaster – and provided MWD readers with an example of what their tax contributions were supporting. To wit, bad jokes.

But MWD digresses.  MWD always reads the Nine Newspapers’ “CBD” column by Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook.  Invariably because it has got nothing to do with Business or the City or any District.  For example, a recent MWD fave “CBD” column in The Sydney Morning Herald (16 March 2021) covered a private WhatsApp group discussing what The Brook and The Hutch called “the trials and tribulations of modern private school life”. To wit, Ascham School in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

“CBD” focused on the following crises concerning (private) school life at Ascham – such as (i) “the hard bits” at the end of the school socks, (ii) whether certain students are “old enough to not have to cut their cherry tomatoes and blueberries” and (iii) picnics with a pony named Zeus on Centennial Park. Oh yes, “CBD” told readers (if readers there were) that the Ascham School’s “old girls list” – not that there is anything wrong with old girls – includes Macquarie (“We prefer good borrowers not hoi polloi types”) Bank chief executive officer Shemara Wikramanayake, Federal Court judge Brigitte Markovic and philanthropist Lady Primrose Potter.  Alas, “CBD” did not advise about how this trio handled school socks in their day – or how they cut their cherry tomatoes and blueberries.

But again, MWD digresses. Last Monday, “CBD” excelled itself by leading with a topic which, again, had nothing to do with the CBD.  Namely, the abovementioned Comrade Ballard.  The Hutch and The Brook reported that the ABC declined to run Tom Ballard’s gig at “the opening night gala of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival” since it contained a blistering attack on the Liberal Party and its voters. In fact, the correct reference was to the MICF’s The Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow. But this is of no moment and MWD is grateful to “CBD” for bringing this to MWD’s attention.

For the record, MWD does not believe in cancelling political opponents. The point of interest is whether Comrade Ballard’s stand-up rants qualify as comedy. You be the judge.

According to “CBD”, one of Tom Ballard’s lines was as follows:

Tom Ballard:  I’m not saying Liberal voters are bad people. I’m saying they’re not people. They’re cold-blooded lizards ruining the country who should go back to the hellmouth from where they came.

Then Ballard threw the switch to aged care – he referred to nursing homes. The comrade said that COVID-19 had “killed a lot of people in nursing homes – but I checked and they were all Liberal voters”.

So that’s okay then – apparently.  Then there was this final send-off to Liberal Party voters:

I hope you die.  I hope you choke on your own franking credits – you evil, greedy, fascist, soulless pig dogs.

According to “CBD”, the ABC cancelled Tom Ballard’s contribution to The Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow which aired on ABC TV on Wednesday – and issued the following statement:

The ABC checks all content prior to broadcast to ensure it meets editorial standards. In this case, it was determined that the risk of causing offence to viewers was not editorially justified.

This is a good result, albeit for the wrong reasons.  The problem with Comrade Ballard’s comedy is not that it offends.  But, rather, it’s not funny.  Calling people “evil, greedy fascist soulless pig dogs” is not witty – and unfair to pig dogs.  It’s just abuse.  Ditto the reference to Liberal Party voters in aged care dying of COVID-19 and the wish that Liberal types “choke to death”.  Not even the most left-wing backers of the Green Left Weekly would rant in this way and pretend that this is comedy.

There is a (time-delayed) message for your man Ballard in the song “Oh! A private buffoon is a light-hearted loon” from the Gilbert & Sullivan musical The Yeomen of the Guard (words W. S. Gilbert).  “Point”, the privately employed buffoon – the family fool – reflects:

If your master is surly, from getting up early
(And tempers are short in the morning),
An inopportune joke is enough to provoke
Him to give you, at once, a month’s warning.

Then if you refrain, he is at you again,
For he likes to get value for money:
He’ll ask then and there, with an insolent stare,
“Do you know that you’re paid to be funny?”

The problem is that Tom Ballard is paid to be funny – often per courtesy of the taxpayer – and much of his stand-up is about as funny as listening to a recording of one of Joe Stalin’s four hour rants.  Why, even the “CBD” account of The Battle of the Socks at Ascham is funnier than Tom’s “f-ck off fascists” humour.

Tom Ballard: Media Fool of the Week.

[I note that the 2021 MICF Gala host Becky Lucas is on record as once having expressed a wish to cut Prime Minister Morrison’s head off.  The broadcast of this show is produced by the ABC in association with the MICF (Festival Director Susan Provan, ABC Executive Producer Rachel Millar). Apparently, Comrade Lucas rationalised her de-capitation wish as just “a bit of frustration and silliness”.  So there you go. Comrade Ballard (who wants Liberals to choke to death) is off-side with ABC management. But Comrade Lucas (who once wanted to cut the Prime Minister’s head off) is still on the ABC team. Is there no fairness in life? – MWD Editor.]



There was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog  Issue 526 which pointed out that ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson showed scant interest in a case of alleged historical sexual harassment at the ABC.  And now ABC TV Insiders presenter David Speers has shown a similar lack of interest in the very same case.  This in spite of the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster shows inordinate interest in such matters when it comes to other secular – and also religious – institutions.

On Monday 7 December 2020, David Anderson appeared at Senate Estimates where the following exchanges took place:

Mr David  Anderson : We have things like a sexual harassment policy that means that there is no tolerance of sexism and no tolerance of an abuse of power that sits within the ABC.

Senator Sarah Henderson:  I’m sorry to interrupt. I take exception to that. I worked at the ABC for nine years, Mr Anderson, and I really take exception to that. Sorry Chair….

The record shows that David Anderson did not respond to Sarah Henderson’s comment about historical sexual harassment at the ABC.  Soon after, the following exchange took place:

Senator Sarah Henderson: As I mentioned before, I just want to declare that I worked for and on behalf of the ABC between 1989…and 1997. And Mr Anderson and I worked around the corner from each other at Ripponlea [in Melbourne]. I did take issue with the comments that you made, Mr Anderson, because certainly when I was at the ABC there were a number of incidents I saw where sexism was tolerated and action was not taken. Very serious inappropriate workplace behaviour was tolerated, and no action was taken. I just want to put that on the record. Obviously that was during that period, but that’s why I took issue with what you said. You mentioned that you sought assurances from someone as to the integrity and impartiality of the story [i.e. “Inside the Canberra Bubble”] tonight. Who did you seek assurances from?

Mr David Anderson : Both Gaven Morris and John Lyons as well as Connie Carnabuci, our head of legal, and Mr McMurtrie over here….

As the transcript demonstrates, David Anderson ignored Sarah Henderson’s comments about historical instances of sexual harassment at the ABC – not once but twice. It would seem that David Speers got a message from above – since he also deflected a comment about the ABC and historical sexual harassment by Liberal Party Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson on the most recent Insiders program (28 March 2021). Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: I want to cover that – you’ve both (i.e. Katie Allen, Liberal MP for Higgins and Sarah Henderson)  had careers, lives, outside politics, outside Parliament. So I guess I’m interested in finding out whether you’re unsurprised by what we’ve been hearing over the last six weeks – or whether you have genuinely been shocked. Sarah Henderson?

Sarah Henderson: Well, that’s a risky question to ask me because I had nine years at the ABC. It was over 20 years ago – and I did have some pretty unpleasant moments, particularly when I was hosting the 7.30 Report, David, and I did address those and action was taken. But I have to say I’m absolutely shell shocked and disgusted by the allegations which have emerged, starting, of course, with a terrible story involving the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins. And the fact that she didn’t get the support that she needed. I can’t obviously talk about all of the factual matters and then some of the incidents that have emerged this week. It’s absolutely disgusting. And even now, Lidia Thorpe, a Greens Victorian senator has given a speech in the parliament, raising concerns about a –

David Speers: A government senator….

Sarah Henderson: A government person, a member of parliament or senator…

As the transcript demonstrates, David Speers declined to engage with Senator Henderson about her past experiences working at the ABC in Melbourne. So there you have it.  Senator Sarah Henderson has twice raised the issue of historical sexual harassment at the ABC’s Melbourne studio in the 1990s. First up, the former ABC employee and now ABC managing director David Anderson didn’t want to know about historical sexual harassment at the ABC.  And then current ABC employee David Speers did not want to know about historical sexual harassment at the ABC.

It would seem that the ABC is only interested in alleged instances of historical sexual harassment of women when they take place outside the ABC.


Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany). Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


Geraldine Doogue is one of Australia’s best interviewers.  Why, she even asks genuine questions and listens to what her guests say. How about that?

On her ABC Radio National Saturday Extra program on 27 March, Ms Doogue interviewed Robert B. Zoellick – a former United States’ secretary of state, a former US Trade Representative and a former President of the World Bank – about his book America in the  World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy (Hachette Book Group).

Ambassador Zoellick was a foreign policy doer. Not a foreign policy theorist – a profession much loved by some tertiary institutions in Australia and elsewhere which believe there is such an entity as international relations theory.  There isn’t – it’s nonsense. As Robert B. Zoellick told Geraldine Doogue:

Geraldine Doogue: I understand this book of yours had its genesis over 25 years ago. Can you start by telling us what inspired it please?

Robert B. Zoellick: Sure. So when I was in government I often drew upon history and thinking about problems. And so part of my idea was to encourage others, particularly a younger generation, to take this approach. And many people have taken foreign policy courses, you know, that they often focus on international relations theories. And they’re fun and intellectually challenging to play with, but in my experience on issues as diverse as German unification, or trade, or China policy, or Darfur, they weren’t actually of too much use. So what this book focuses on is the experience of practical problem solving…

Robert B. Zoellick went on to talk about the need for those who write about and practise international relations to understand history.  Not only contemporary history but also the history of the past 150 years.  It sure beats the intellectual sludge that is international relations theory that international relations practitioners take no notice of.

Robert B. Zoellick: Five Paws



As avid readers are aware, once upon a time Sydney broadcaster John Laws used to describe any mistake as a “Deliberate Mistake” and praised any listener who sought to correct his howlers.  It was a clever idea – now brazenly stolen by Media Watch Dog.

MWD Issue 535 (26 March 2021) led with a piece titled “PM Morrison Speaks to Nine’s Tracy Grimshaw Last Night – But Not to Leigh Sales”. The reference was to the Prime Minister’s decision to be interviewed by A Current Affair on Thursday 25 March – having rejected numerous requests this year to appear on ABC TV’s 7.30. Here’s what MWD had to say in part:

Now here’s a question. Why should the Prime Minister go on 7.30 when Laura Tingle, its political correspondent, has accused him only recently of “ideological bastardry”?  As far as MWD can work it out, the PM has not appeared on 7.30 since then. Who can blame him?

Let’s say the PM appeared  on 7.30 last night. According to the program’s format, he would have been interviewed by Ms Sales. This would have been followed by a discussion between Leigh Sales and Morrison-antagonist La Tingle about the interview.  This, in turn, would have been followed by the 7.30 “satire” segment (which airs every second Thursday) – starring Mark Humphries (usually) and co-written by Comrades Humphries and Evan Williams. As usual, last night’s satire, titled “Scott Morrison’s message to women”, sneered at and mocked the Prime Minister.

Apparently, 7.30 reckons that Mr Morrison should front up to hostile territory to face the wrath of Comrade Tingle and the sneering ridicule of Comrade Humphries.  The PM had the good sense to say “Not on your nelly” – or words to that effect. Instead Mr Morrison spoke to ABC Radio AM presenter Sabra Lane yesterday morning – and to Nine’s A Current Affair presenter Tracy Grimshaw last evening. This made sense.  For starters, A Current Affair outrated 7.30 by around 90,000 viewers….

As avid readers are well aware, MWD goes out around Gin & Tonic time on Fridays. Readers had barely squeezed the first lemon into the first G&T for the day, when ABC TV 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens sent out this tweet:

How about that? Comrade Stevens ignored the references to Leigh Sales, Laura Tingle and Mark Humphries and focused on MWD’s error (aka Deliberate Mistake).  Jackie’s (male) co-owner accidentally used the ratings figures from Wednesday 24 March rather than Thursday 25 March.  It so happened that A Current Affair’s  ratings were artificially low on Thursday 25 March.  A Current Affair usually outrates 7.30. This did not happen on Thursday 25 March since A Current Affair was relegated to the digital channel GEM in Queensland to make way for the showing of a National Rugby League game on Network Nine.

If the Prime Minister’s office looked at the ratings for Wednesday 24 March, it would have observed that A Current Affair outrated 7.30 by about 90,000 on the night before the Prime Minister was interviewed by Tracy Grimshaw.

In other words, Comrade Stevens focused on a trivial issue and overlooked the big story which turns on the reason why the PM has not appeared on 7.30 since late last year when La Tingle referred to his “ideological bastardry”.

In any event, the “Deliberate Mistake” was corrected on The Sydney Institute’s website soon after the error was identified.  Re which see this week’s (hugely popular) Correspondence segment.


As avid readers will recall, in Media Watch Dog Issue 535 Jackie’s (male) co-owner wrote that the ABC TV Q&A program which aired on Thursday 25 March was the best for some time.  There was a lively discussion on a range of issues where panel members expressed a range of differing views.  The panel comprised Adam Creighton, Gigi Foster, Stan Grant, Sam Mostyn, Bruce Pascoe and Thomas Piketty.

However, a number of commentators reckoned that the feisty Mr Creighton and the feisty Mr Grant had interrupted the feisty Ms Mostyn – far too close to International Women’s Day. Writing in the Nine Newspapers on 31 March, Craig Mathieson commented that “watching gender inclusion advocate and corporate leader Sam Mostyn get talked over by a man [Adam Creighton] when the topic was Australian women needing to be heard was sadly predictable”.

Mamamia made a similar point on 26 March in an article headed “Last night we watched a woman speak about Australia’s reckoning: A man immediately interrupted her”. And it included this tweet from Louise Milligan:

The two men referred to in the Milligan tweet were Adam Creighton and Stan Grant.  This was a serious criticism.  But did it happen?  The transcript, which is available on the Q&A website, indicates otherwise. Here’s what really occurred:

Thursday’s 25 March episode of Q&A opened with an audience question on the issue of Scott Morrison’s handling of women’s allegations of sexual assault and harassment within the Parliament. Sam Mostyn was appropriately given the first response and spoke for about two and a half minutes on the issue.  Adam Creighton then spoke for about half a minute before being interrupted by Sam Mostyn, as is evident in the transcript below:

Adam Creighton:….I mean, if you go back 120 years, obviously, women wanted the vote, and certainly, you know, they should have got it. Many decades later, there was abortion. But what is justice this time? It’s like – you know, it’s like marching for happiness. I mean, it’s – You know, of course everyone wants it. But what is the tangible outcome? That pe – [Interruption – note this interruption is not included in the Q&A transcript but can be seen and heard on iView. The remaining interruption references have been inserted by MWD]

Sam Mostyn: It was pretty clear, wasn’t it? I mean, what –

Adam Creighton: Yes, but what could the federal government do about attitudes? It’s the Commonwealth government, you know, it’s – It can’t legislate for people to be nice, right? It just can’t –

Sam Mostyn:  It – Well –

Adam Creighton: And no matter what the Prime Minister says, no matter what platitudes he utters, it’s not going to change people’s attitudes – [interruption]

Sam Mostyn: I –

Adam Creighton: That’s up to civil society.

Sam Mostyn: That’s what great leadership is all about. Tone from the top. The Prime Minister of the country going out and –

Adam Creighton: Most people don’t pay any attention – [interruption]

Sam Mostyn: Do you know what would have made all the difference?

Adam Creighton: – any attention to what the Prime Minister says.

Not long after this exchange, Q&A presenter Hamish Macdonald asked Stan Grant about his observations concerning “what’s going on in Canberra right now”. Here’s how this segment commenced – with Stan Grant being interrupted by Sam Mostyn after he had spoken for just one minute:

Hamish Macdonald:  Stan Grant, how did you observe what’s going on in Canberra right now?

Stan Grant: There are a couple of things. And I think Adam has a point, to this extent – that protests do not always indicate mood and do not always presage political change. Remember the Vietnam moratoriums, the biggest protests Australia’s probably ever seen – a quarter of a million people out constantly. The Holt government at the time was returned with an increased majority. We saw 200,000 people walk across the [Sydney Harbour] Bridge for reconciliation. John Howard would not say sorry. John Howard was returned to office time and time again. I don’t know that political movements necessarily translate to that political change or that mood.

The point – Another point I would make, though, and I think this is something that has been very apparent to me, is that, as necessary and as urgent and as righteous as these claims are and this movement is, there have been so many women’s voices who have not been listened to for a long time – [interruption]

Sam Mostyn: And it’s –

Stan Grant:  When – And I just want to say, when it becomes a white middle-class issue, when it is in private schools, when it is in Parliament House, when it is in the Press Gallery, we take notice. But when Aboriginal women, who have been suffering domestic violence at rates 40 times higher than the rest of the population, 10 times more likely to die as a result of that violence, when I have seen Aboriginal women marching and protesting and calling for support for generations, I did not see the same women outside Parliament House – [interruption]

Sam Mostyn: So, can I –

Stan Grant:  When – when poor women – when poor women, when migrant women, when refugee women have suffered these things, I did not see the same media attention. Poor women don’t get interviewed on television programs. They’re not on Q+A. There are a lot of voices that are not listened to here. And I think, while this is a movement and a moment, we need to also reflect on our own blindness and our biases, that we can walk past the suffering of others for such a long time until it lands in your own backyard.

Sam Mostyn:  I think you’re absolutely right to make that point….

Overall, it was an interesting and lively discussion.  It would seem that some, if not many, ABC viewers take offence at any kind of debate or disagreement among panellists on ABC programs.  To depict Sam Mostyn as having been talked down by Adam Creighton and Stan Grant indicates that many commentators/viewers see what they want to see.  Sam Mostyn held her own and did not need sympathy from the likes of Craig Mathieson and  Louise Milligan.

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 will be aware, ABC TV 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens is an avid (but not uncritical) MWD reader.  Your man Stevens features in today’s issue.  So it’s appropriate to end MWD Issue 536 with a Correspondence segment in which he features.


Gerard Henderson to Justin Stevens – 8 April 2021

Good afternoon Justin

Just a brief query – I know you are busy.

Has anyone at 7.30 made a public comment about 7.30 chief political correspondent Laura Tingle’s recent claim on Twitter that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is into “ideological bastardry”?  If so, who made any such statement?

I would appreciate a reply by 10 am tomorrow (Friday 9 April).

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Justin Stevens to Gerard Henderson – 8 April 2021

Dear Gerard

Regarding the tweet, I’d refer you to the comments by ABC Managing Director David Anderson in Senate Estimates.

For the record, I regard Laura as one of Australia’s most respected and best political journalists.

On another matter, may I request you correct an error in a recent blog post where you claimed A Current Affair outrated 7.30 by 90,000 viewers on Thursday March 25.  If you were going off the 5-city ratings that night, 7.30 outrated ACA by 65,724 viewers.

Please direct any further queries to Sally Jackson in ABC comms (cc-ed).

All the best.



Gerard Henderson to Justin Stevens – 9 April 2021

Dear Justin

Lotsa thanks for your missive of yesterday.  By the way, it’s great to know that you are an avid – if not uncritical – Media Watch Dog reader.

My responses are as follows:

  1. I was aware that David Anderson had made a comment about Laura Tingle’s late night tweet about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s (alleged) “ideological bastardry” in Senate Estimates. As I recall, he did not say very much – apart from stating that you “were satisfied that no more action needs to be taken”. Mr Anderson did not make clear what action had been taken. My interest turns on what 7.30  thinks about Ms Tingle’s tweet.  It seems that you – as 7.30 executive producer – have gone into “no comment” mode.  I note that 7.30 invariably complains when senior ministers will not come on the program to answer questions form Leigh Sales.  But you decline to answer questions from me.
  2. I have a high regard for Laura Tingle. After all, she has addressed The Sydney Institute. It’s just that I feel that I am entitled to criticise her in much the same way as she criticises others.
  3. I have covered the reference to 7.30/A Current Affair ratings of Thursday 25 March in today’s MWD. In fact, a correction was made on The Sydney Institute’s website immediately after you tweeted about the issue on the afternoon of Friday 26 March. Unlike the ABC, The Sydney Institute readily corrects errors and, where appropriate, issues an apology immediately.  Unlike, say, the ABC where corrections/apologies can take two years or more.  The current grovelling apology to Jacinta Price by the ABC refers.
  4. As explained in MWD today, it was a fluke that 7.30 outrated A Current Affair on 25 March due to Network Nine’s Rugby League commitments in Queensland on that evening. But there you go. MWD still made the correction.
  5. What I have found out about the ABC’s Communications Department – Nick Leys and Sally Jackson – is that it tends to communicate with me by declining to answer my questions. This despite the fact that the ABC has signed up to the Right to Know Coalition.

And now I must raise my first Gin & Tonic for the day.

Best wishes and Keep Morale High.


PS: Feel free to write to me anytime you wish.  I don’t need the protection of a Communications Department.

cc: Sally Jackson


* * * *

Until next time.


* * * *