ISSUE – NO. 545

11 June 2021

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As avid Media Watch Dog readers will almost certainly be aware, on Tuesday The Australian’s editorial made some brief, considered criticisms of Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour and journalist Louise Milligan.  In short, the suggestion was that they are, er, a bit arrogant.  Many journalists do not take well to criticism – and today ABC management felt the need to issue a statement titled “Response to The Australian editorial. Here it is:

The Australian’s editorial on 8 June (“Greatest enemy of truth is those who conspire to lie”) made serious and unfounded allegations against two ABC journalists, Louise Milligan and Sally Neighbour, and the Four Corners team.

To see The Australian use its editorial space in such a way undermines the traditions of journalism it purports to stand for.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson stated his position clearly at Senate Estimates this week, when he said: “I have absolute faith and the utmost respect for the Four Corners team. They are an outstanding, award-winning team…I stand by the journalism of Four Corners. I always have. Still do. And I will continue to work with Four Corners on the excellent work that they do.”

How defensive can you get?  According to the ABC, for The Australian to criticise two ABC journalists amounts to an undermining of the traditions of journalism.  What a load of absolute tosh.  Ms Neighbour and Ms Milligan readily criticise others – but ABC management reckons it is improper to criticise them.

It appears that it took the ABC Communications team – headed by Nick Leys (Head of Communications) and Sally Jackson (Communications head, ABC News) – three full working days to produce a statement totalling a mere 121 words.  Or 64 words –  if the words in quotes are excluded.

In other words, ABC Communications produced 20 original words a day for three days before releasing the ABC’s response this morning.  Moreover, the ABC did not cite the alleged “serious and unfounded allegations” against Louise Milligan, Sally Neighbour and the Four Corners  team. Convenient, eh?

Meanwhile, ABC journalists –  including Sabra Lane and, believe it or not, Louise Milligan –  have tweeted today in praise of the ABC management’s defence of ABC journalists (including Louise Milligan).  Quelle Surprise! See also this week’s hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment.


Meanwhile the ABC has confirmed that the Four Corners  story – which was held over for a week – will run on Monday. Titled “A Family Divided” it focuses on one previously obscure Sydney family – where a husband is alleged to have embraced the conspiracy theories of the United States’ extreme right-wing group QAnon.

Here’s a transcript of the promo which the ABC is currently running about “A Family Divided”:

Voiceover: A Family Divided

Woman 1: We’ve watched the change over these last years be quite dramatic.

Voiceover: By QAnon.

Woman 2: Tim believes that the world has really been taken over by satanic paedophiles.

Voiceover: And questions about the Prime Minister’s old friend.

American Man: When you are put in a position of public trust, you have to maintain the public’s trust.

Scott Morrison: [clip from media conference] I find it deeply offensive, any suggestion I would have any involvement or support for such a dangerous organisation.

MWD stands to be corrected. However, Woman 1 appears to be a close relative of the QAnon bloke Tim. The promo suggests that Four Corners  has enlisted an American to give Australians a lecture about the standard of public trust by which Mr Morrison should abide.  Thanks for that. What’s missing from the promo is any evidence that Mr Morrison has any connection whatsoever with QAnon.  MWD will keep avid readers posted.


Last night on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live,  panellist John Ruddick said that in the Second World War, “Hitler was defeated by the Russians”.  Your man Ruddick overlooked the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 which made it possible for Germany to commence the war.  And also the D-Day invasion of 1944 by which the Allies (led by Britain, Canada and the United States) effectively opened a second front in Western Europe which took pressure off the Soviet Union (it was not named Russia at the time).

More criticism of the Ruddick secular heresy in next week’s Media Watch Dog.

Can You Bear It?


Did anyone read the “Fitz on Sunday” column in the Sun-Herald on Sunday titled “Let’s not cancel Kroger, but he has no idea on Ita”?  Peter (“I used to wear a red bandanna on my head until I had to wash both”) FitzSimons bagged Michael Kroger (who served a five year term on the ABC board in the late 1990s and early 2000s), for criticising Ita Buttrose (the ABC chair).  Mr Kroger appeared on Sky News a week or so ago and called on Ms Buttrose to resign as ABC chair since “she’s lost control of the board” and “the board’s lost control of the managing director”.

It will come as no surprise that Ita Buttrose told the (one-time) Red Bandannaed One that Michael Kroger’s comments were “out of line and disrespectful”. So it’s okay for ABC journalists to call on the likes of former Attorney General Christian Porter to step down – but out of line and disrespectful for anyone to suggest that Madam Buttrose should do the same. Shucks.  How precious can an ABC chair get?

In Fitz’s case against Kroger, he referred to what was an altercation between Kroger and on-line ABC journalist Chris Masters over the latter’s book Jonestown on Sky News presenter Alan Jones which was published around two decades ago. Yes – two decades ago.  This is what, with a little help from Comrade Masters, Comrade FitzSimons had to say:

Chris Masters became so convinced that the Liberal powerbroker was trying to interfere with his Four Corners profile of Alan Jones, that when Kroger agreed to an interview about Jones, Masters, told me this week, “my first question was about his blatant attempt to pressure me. He was so angry a button on his shirt burst…”.

Chris Masters wants us to believe (and Fitz does believe) that in a pre-recorded interview for Four Corners some two decades ago, Michael Kroger got so angry that “a button on his shirt burst”.

MWD checked with Michael Kroger in locked-down Melbourne earlier this week.  He said that Masters’ claim is absolutely false.  A bloke would have to get mighty angry for a button on his shirt to break.  According to Kroger, his chest is not big enough to bring about such an eventuality. [Is anyone’s? – MWD Editor.]

In any event, since (if Masters is to be believed) the button-popping occurred at the commencement of a filmed interview – there would be footage to support the (hyperbolic) claim.  So where’s the footage?  And why did Masters not show it at the time? – since it surely would have been quite a story.

It would appear that Comrade Masters had a clear “recollection” of an event that never happened.  So here you have two of Australia’s most senior journalists telling an implausible story for which there is not a skerrick of evidence.  Can You Bear It?


Once upon a time, Media Watch Dog looked forward eagerly to reading the Australian Financial Review’s back page column “Rear Window”.  Those were the days in the not so distant past when the gossip column focused on business and was co-authored by MWD fave Joe Aston – a multiple winner of MWD’s hugely prestigious “Five Paws Award” for excellence in scribbling.

Your man Aston seems to be missing-from-action these days and has not put his name to “Rear Window” for some time.  Currently written by Myriam Robin and Tom Richardson, the column has been in the news of late – but not, alas, for being funny.

Take yesterday’s “Rear Window” for example, where the leading story was headed “Send help: Melbourne has lost the plot” – which concluded as follows:

After nearly 170 days locked inside, many of Melbourne’s citizens appear to have finally lost their minds.

How about that?  The AFR’s gossip column alleges that “many” anonymous Melburnians have gone bonkers – but it still expects the good people of Melbourne to buy the newspaper which employs Comrades Robin and Richardson.

The following questions arise – Who are these “many” Melbourne citizens?  Will “Rear Window” take their names and let us know? If minds have been lost in Melbourne – can they be found? And – most importantly – Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of madness and Melbourne, did anyone see this late night tweet put out by Mike Carlton – the Sage of Avalon Beach – on Tuesday?

It would seem your man Carlton was mighty angry that Louise Staley, the Liberal Party’s shadow treasurer in Victoria, had asked some questions about Labor Premier Dan Andrews’ injury of recent memory – which has meant that he has been off-duty for some months.

It’s reasonable to discuss whether or not Ms Staley should have ventured into this area at this time. But only if it is remembered that Daniel Andrews, the effective leader of the Socialist Left in Victoria, is no shrinking violet when it comes to playing politics hard.

In any event, this is what Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton tweeted on Tuesday at around Post-Dinner Drinks Time – over a photo of Louise Staley talking at a media conference:

So there you have it.  Comrade Carlton reckons it’s okay to comment about a conservative woman’s outfit and hairstyle. He even implied that Ms Staley might have got her gear at a bargain basement sale – something unacceptable around Avalon Beach, apparently.

There has not been a word of criticism directed at Comrade Carlton’s sexist behaviour by such leftist commentators as Jane Caro. But imagine what would be the case if, say, Andrew Bolt made a similar remark with respect to, say, left-wing MPs such as Tanya Plibersek, or Penny Wong, or Sarah Hanson-Young. Can You Bear It?

[Er, not really.  I note that, recently, Comrade Carlton referred to Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy as “Smirko”, “the Truculent Runt” and “Furphy” respectively.  It would seem that such humour (for want of a better word) gets quite a laugh up Avalon Beach way. By the way, I asked Jackie to check out Mike Carlton’s fashion sense – using some pics he used in his oh-so-long 2018 memoir called Mike Carlton on Air.- MWD Editor.]

Jackie comments for MWD:

I am surprised that the author chose to put this photo of himself, aged 12 as a Boy Scout Patrol Leader, in his self-indulgent memoir.  I think it’s fair to ask why the socks don’t match the shoes – and the shorts are two sizes too big. The shoes look like hand-me-downs and there’s too many pockets on his shirt. Great knees, though.


While on the issue of standards, consider the sensitivity of Comrades Patricia (“PK”) Karvelas (ABC), Amanda Meade (The Guardian) and Alan Sunderland (ex-ABC) to criticism of fellow comrades – ABC Four Corners’  Sally Neighbour and Louise Milligan.

But first, some background. As MWD demonstrated last week, ABC management has ruled that it’s quite okay for Four Corners’ executive producer Comrade Neighbour and star reporter Comrade Louise Milligan to make serious accusations against the likes of Morrison government minister Christian Porter – despite the fact that the accusations could not pass the test of guilt beyond reasonable doubt (the criminal law standard) or even on the balance of probabilities (the civil law standard). In other words, in ABC land almost anything goes – in that it appears to operate by a Neighbour/Milligan standard of proof.

On Tuesday, the lead editorial in The Australian commented, in passing, that “many senior people at The Australian know well the work, the habits and the hubris of Sally Neighbour and Louise Milligan”.

In view of the serious accusations which the likes of Sally Neighbour and Louise Milligan make about conservatives, this was mild and considered criticism.  But it was too much for some members of the Sandalista Set who are members of the ABC/Guardian  Axis.

Your man Sunderland described The Australian’s  editorial as “frankly laughable”. Yet he didn’t even smile – and went on to describe it as involving the “use of character attack, veiled innuendo and selective targeting”. His verdict was “Poor form”.

And there was more. The Guardian’s Amanda Meade accused The Australian of “getting down to a very new low”.  And the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas described it as “Repulsive” with a capital “R”.

How about that?  It’s no problem, apparently, if the Four Corners’  team accuses someone of rape without evidence.  But according to Comrades PK, Meade and Sunderland, it is variously “repulsive”, “poor form” and “low” if The Australian suggests that a couple of left-wing journalists might be a little bit obsessive and arrogant.  Talk about a double standard.  Can You Bear It?


“Media Bites” is Media Watch’s shorter mid-week program, which describes itself as “Bite-sized media criticism for a mid-week Media Watch fix.” Paul Barry delivers it with a lot of wacky expressions on a youthful set. See below.

This week’s “media criticism” included a clip of ABC News presenter Joe O’Brien sneezing on air – and a clip of ABC presenter Tamara Oudyn typing while not realising she’s on air. How would we get through a whole week without Paul Barry updating us with some minor ABC news bloopers?

“Media Bites” also covered 9 News making, and then correcting, an error on Australia’s vaccine numbers (by the way, a prompt correction is almost unheard of at the ABC).

The title of this episode of Media Bites is “Kochie’s Breaking Bad”, which featured the title image seen below. [I wonder how many of Media Watch’s many staff it took to put this together?] For unfamiliar readers, the reference is to popular American TV crime drama Breaking Bad, about a middle-aged chemistry teacher turned meth cook. David Koch (aka Kochie) has been photoshopped to resemble the main character.

You may have spent the whole episode wondering what this was in reference to. Finally, all is revealed. “Media Bites” discusses some uninspired but inoffensive commentary on the Australian Federal Police (AFP) crime raids of this week – featuring clips of various news presenters likening the story to a plot of “a Hollywood movie”.

In reference to the raids, Kochie says: “I’m bidding for the Hollywood movie rights on this, I reckon it will be a cracker”. Paul Barry follows this with “Breaking Bad with Kochie”. Well, that explains it. Or not.

Although it does fit with the desperately-trying-to-appeal-to-a-young-audience vibe of the show, this is confusing on a few levels. Breaking Bad is a prestige TV drama, not a Hollywood movie. It is also focused on the criminals – a police procedural would surely be a better comparison. Kochie owning the rights to the story would not mean he would cast himself as the main character. Perhaps the link is that Kochie is bald, just like Breaking Bad’s protagonist? Who knows.

Admittedly, MWD may be missing something – at age five, Jackie may be too old for the target audience of “Media Bites” presented by the youthful Paul Barry (born 1952).


Just when you thought that the ABC TV Insiders program (executive producer Samuel Clark) had enough leftist or left-of-centre panellists – up popped Waleed Aly on the virtual couch last Sunday.

However, Media Watch Dog readers should not be surprised. After all, Waleed Aly has all the requisites to be an Insiders  panellist.  He is a presenter on the left-wing ABC Radio National station as well as on Network 10’s left-wing The Project. In addition, Aly is a columnist for the left-of-centre Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. In short, Comrade Aly was already part of the ABC/Guardian Axis before he joined ABC TV’s Insiders. An appropriate fit, to be sure.

And so it came to pass that your man Aly soon found himself defending the current handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Socialist Left led Labor government in Victoria and its Socialist Left premier Daniel Andrews.  First up, Dr Aly declared that the Victorian Labor government and the Victorian Health Department were not being alarmist – in spite of continuing the lockdown around Melbourne even though there was a lack of evidence of significant community infection.  Then he praised “how good Victoria’s contact tracing has been in this particular outbreak” – despite that the Chief Health Officer was unable to trace the source of one of the two recent clusters. One of which was a hotel quarantine breach in Adelaide – the other originating in Melbourne.

At this stage, presenter David Speers tried to balance things up a bit by suggesting that Victoria’s QR Code was not quite up to scratch.  When panellist James Campbell agreed that it was not clear that the Victorian tracking system was good enough, your man Aly opined: “Is anyone saying that it’s not really good at the moment – anyone who knows?”

And on Comrade Aly went.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Waleed Aly: The one thing I would say about the criticisms that I’ve heard is they’re very general. They’re very non-specific. Now it may well be that, privately, there are some really specific criticisms being made.

David Speers: I think there’s a specific criticism being made around the QR code – uniform QR codes not happening until a week or two ago.

Waleed Aly: But that doesn’t seem to have any causal relationship to this outbreak.

David Speers: To the cases we’re seeing –

Waleed Aly: This is what I mean, there are those sorts of things you can point at.

James Campbell: The wrong Woolies. [This was reference to the fact that the Victorian Health Department had confused the Woolworths stores in Epping and Epping North.]

Waleed Aly: There was the mistake with –

David Speers: But again with the wrong Woollies, did that lead to?

Waleed Aly: No.

James Campbell: Well we don’t know.

Waleed Aly: So all of the criticisms that have been identified have either been really general, or the specific ones don’t seem to have had any causal connection to this particular outbreak. So it just makes me think that that’s actually not the main game here. And everything we’re seeing from how the contact tracing is working right now seems to be encouraging.

David Speers: Well, that brings us then to the specific criticisms that are being made of the federal government….

Yeah. Right on.  However, you wonder why severe restrictions still apply throughout Victoria – even though the Melbourne lockdown has been eased – if everything according to Waleed Aly is going so well.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Not really. On another matter, I note that the ABC Insiders/Guardian Axis was out in force again on Insiders  last Sunday.  The panel contained two ABC types (David Speers, Waleed Aly) and one Guardian  comrade (Sarah Martin). Then on the “Talking Pictures” segment, there was Michael Bowers (The Guardian) and Mark Humphries (ABC TV 7.30’s  in-house satirist). And, for “balance”, the Herald Sun’s James Campbell got a gig on the panel.  I note that, in true Insiders’ style, Comrade Humphries was given the opportunity to flog his forthcoming book.  Groan. MWD Editor.]


Alas, some avid readers have become a bit confused about Media Watch Dog’s  “Deliberate Mistake” segment.  Only MWD makes deliberate mistakes – a la John Laws.  Everyone else’s mistake is a real mistake – not a deliberate one. Is that clear?

Here’s an update on MWD’s  recent mistakes – of the deliberate genre.


MWD No 542 (21 May 2021) focused on ABC TV Insiders presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers’ comment (on ABC TV News Breakfast, 21 May 2021) that “Liberals traditionally will fight against any sort of market intervention”. Such as the Coalition’s decision to underwrite the building of a 660 megawatt gas power plant at Kurri Kurri in north east NSW to partially offset the forthcoming closure of the Liddell power plant.

MWD referred to Speersy’s comment as absolute tosh – which it is.  Now can you pick the Deliberate Mistake (John Laws’ style) in the comment in MWD that followed?  Here it is:

It was John Howard’s Coalition government which introduced the Renewable Energy Target in 2001 – initially aimed at sourcing two per cent of Australia’s energy generation from renewable sources.  This was increased by the Labor government in 2009 and was continued, in various forms, by Liberal Party prime ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

Well done to avid Melbourne reader Ian Farrow who wrote on 22 May 2021:

I think I have spotted your deliberate mistake in MWD 542.  The renewable energy target announced by the Howard Government…was for an additional two per cent of renewable energy.  There was already a significant renewable electricity energy base, mainly hydro (Snowy and Tasmania); about 10.7 per cent at the time.

The additional two per cent commitment was slightly flawed politically in that it looked like a small number but (at the time) it was actually significant in terms of the investment required to achieve it.


Ian Farrow

Your man Farrow is correct.  But your man Speersy is still wrong. John Howard’s market intervention in 2001 was to introduce an additional two per cent of renewable energy into the grid on top of what there was already. And it was  market intervention by a Liberal Party prime minister.

Well done, Mr Farrow.


In the hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment in Media Watch Dog 538 (23 April 2021), it was written that John Howard did not contest the Liberal Party leadership after the Coalition lost to Paul Keating’s Labor government in the 1993 election.

Well done to PJ for picking up this Deliberate Mistake. In fact, John Howard contested the Liberal Party leadership against John Hewson – losing by 47 to 30 votes, a significant margin.  Peter Costello was defeated by Michael Wooldridge for the deputy leader position. Which tells you something about the lack of judgment of a majority in the Liberal Party room at the time.  For reference, see Page 196 of John Howard’s Lazarus Rising (HarperCollins, 2010).


PJ was at it again not long after MWD went out at around Gin & Tonic Time last Friday.  On this occasion, the John Laws style “Deliberate Mistake” was the claim that Fitzroy is north of Carlton.  In fact, Nicholson Street divides Fitzroy and Carlton – in that Carlton is to the west of Nicholson Street and Fitzroy is to the east of Nicholson Street.

The point, however, is that after lotsa Gins and Tonics – Fitzroy and Carlton can seem divided on North/South lines and vice versa.



Isn’t it good to have Matt Bevan back on the ABC Radio National Breakfast program – joining presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly?  Except, as is currently the case, Comrade Kelly is on leave and, as such, not very active – in an ideological sense, at least.

In recent times, Comrade Bevan has hosted the podcasts “Russia Are You Listening?” and “America Are You Listening?”.  It’s not clear whether any Russians or Americans tuned into the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Newcastle Man and may have missed his account of the alleged Trump/Russia conspiracy and the alleged Hunter Biden/Russia non-conspiracy.

Recently your man Bevan relocated from Sydney to his hometown of Newcastle in the Hunter Region. This has been a good move for the Bevan family. But perhaps not so for Novocastrians – who, since Mr Bevan moved in, have seen the forward forces of the mice plague’s long march proceed from north east NSW to the Upper Hunter and on, it seems, to Newcastle itself.  Unless the mice in question take the by-pass highway to Sydney and avoid Newcastle. But MWD digresses – once again.

On Wednesday, Comrade Bevan decided to use one of his RN Breakfast slots to discuss the situation in Peru.  It was the case of “Peru – Are You Listening?”, apparently.   He looked back on recent Peruvian history and had this to say about former president Alberto Fujimori, whose daughter Keiko is currently running for president.

Matt Bevan: Alberto Fujimori, a businessman from the small but influential Japanese Peruvian community, was elected president in 1990. At the time, Peru faced a guerrilla insurgency from the communist Shining Path group which had been causing unrest throughout the 80s. Fujimori moved to crack down on them extremely hard.

Here, Newcastle Man reported how Fujimori had sent death squads on missions to hunt down sympathisers of the Shining Path “rebels”.  He went on to discuss Keiko Fujimori’s rival for the presidency, Pedro Castillo:

Matt Bevan: Pedro Castillo, who has a penchant for wearing straw hats and carrying around a giant pencil –  it’s kind of his thing. He’s from the country’s hard left, a socialist, and has been accused by Fujimori supporters of being allied with the Shining Path terrorist group, which was crushed by Alberto Fujimori in the 90s.

That’s all very well as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go very far. Sure Alberto Fujimori acted brutally to crush the Shining Path guerrillas. But they comprised a communist terrorist insurgency – led by one-time academic Abimael Guzman – which literally terrorised Peru for over a decade.

In short, Guzman – an admirer of such mass murderers as Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot – did more than “cause unrest” in Peru in the 1980s and into the 1990s.

It is estimated that some 38,000 deaths in Peru’s two-decade long civil war were brought about by the Shining Path. Including that of the Australian Irene McCormack who was murdered by Guzman’s terrorists in the Andes in May 1991 while working as an Australian Josephite nun connected with the charity Caritas.  Re which see Anne Henderson’s The Killing of Sister McCormack (HarperCollins, 2002).

Listening to your man Bevan on Wednesday, someone could have got the (false) impression that Alberto Fujimori was primarily responsible for the death squads that plagued Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.  Not so.  Fujimori was no Francis of Assisi. But he was not responsible for the civil war that prevailed in Peru and which led to the deaths of so many Peruvians and severely damaged the nation’s economy.



In case there are queries about the Victorian Health Department’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic referred to in the ABC Update segment in this issue – here is some background information. It leads with a question by Sky News’ Julia Bradley to Victorian Chief Medical Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

Victorian Hotel Quarantine Press Conference Question – 8 June 2021

Julia Bradley, Sky News: We still have the biggest issue of any state, can you tell us why that is?

Brett Sutton: I don’t know that we have the biggest issue of any state. As I said, we haven’t had the most number of breaches from hotel quarantine.

Julia Bradley: With 1 in every 42 positive cases a breach. So that is the highest rate of any state.

Brett Sutton: There will be ongoing challenges with hotel quarantine, we just need to investigate and improve as much as possible.

A clever “look-over-there!” tactic if ever MWD witnessed one.  But Julia Bradley was correct – here is the data:

Numbers have been taken from Note this is from 27 October 2020 – that is, since the end of the Victorian second wave. If you exclude Victoria, the national average rises to around 1 in 120. So Victoria is averaging almost 3 times the breach rate of everywhere else.

MWD thought avid readers would like to know this.

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.


 On ABC TV’s Media Watch last Monday, presenter Paul Barry made an inaccurate reference to Jackie’s (male) co-owner. Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) took up the matter by writing courteously to Tim Latham (Comrade Barry’s executive producer).  And found – surprise! – that your man Latham threw the switch to denial. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Timothy Latham – 9 June 2021


Long time, no speak.

I refer to the introductory segment on Media Watch on Monday – in which presenter Paul Barry made a false comment with respect to me.  For the record, I was happy to get a mention – since I rarely if ever get invited on to the taxpayer funded broadcaster these days of cancel culture and all that. That’s why I particularly look forward to my regular invitations to appear on Phillip Adams’ little wireless program Late Night Live on Radio National which arrive every two decades or so – next one circa 2035 (God willing).

But I digress.  I would have thought that, with a staff of around ten for a weekly program that runs for around 15 minutes, Media Watch  staff could do some fact-checking before the program goes to air.  Yet on Monday night Paul Barry made a comment about me which was simply false.

Paul Barry said that “over at News Corp several commentators also claimed that the ABC had been defeated” with respect to the defamation taken against the ABC by Christian Porter.  The “several commentators” were (in order) James Morrow, Sharri Markson, Peter van Onselen, myself and Chris Merritt.

If Paul Barry had read my column in The Weekend Australian  on Saturday, he would know that it commenced as follows:

And so it came to pass that Christian Porter’s defamation action against the ABC resulted in a settlement, going the way of many libel actions. Both sides had said they would fight the case until victory was resolved, and both sides backed off before the proposed hearing in the Federal Court.

Some commentators believe Porter ended up in front of the ABC while others take the opposite view. The law aside, the case is instructive in what it tells us of the contemporary ABC….

In my column I never claimed that the ABC “had been defeated” in the Porter matter. The (large) Media Watch Team just made this up. As you and Paul Barry should know –columnists do not write headlines.  Only an ignorant or lazy journalist would make such a false assumption.

Rather, my focus was on the fact that ABC management  has stated that it is appropriate for ABC staff to write a story about an alleged rape – even though such a serious accusation cannot be substantiated to the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” (the applicable standard in the criminal jurisdiction) or on “the balance of probabilities” (the applicable standard in the civil jurisdiction).  This is an important point – even if the ABC Media Watch  agrees with the ABC on this issue.

I believe that Paul Barry should make a correction.  But I’m not expecting this. Media Watch  rarely if ever makes on-air corrections – and individuals criticised have no on-air right of reply. The ABC’s tactic is to recognise errors, on the rare occasion when they are conceded, on the “Corrections and Clarifications” section on its website where they are rarely noticed.

By the way, this is not an official complaint and I do not want it forwarded to the ABC bureaucrats in ABC Audience and Consumer Relations in Canberra – where they regularly dismiss over 95 per cent of the complaints they consider.  Life’s too short to get caught up in such a meaningless farce.

I would be grateful for a response by the close of business on Thursday.

Best wishes


Gerard Henderson

cc:      David Anderson (ABC managing director and editor-in-chief)

          Paul Barry (Presenter, Media Watch)


Timothy Latham to Gerard Henderson – 9 June 2021

Hi Gerard,

I’m glad you were happy to get a mention on Media Watch however I disagree with your assessment of our coverage.

In the throw to your article we said: “And The Australian’s Gerard Henderson also relished the opportunity to bash the public broadcaster”

We then voiced your critique of the ABC as being “essentially a staff collective”.

We never said you believed “the ABC had been defeated”.

If you feel the headline for your article in The Australian is misleading, or indeed wrong, then you should call the editors. Personally, I think the headline was fair and reasonable, as was our reference to your column.


Tim Latham

cc:      David Anderson

          Paul Barry

Gerard Henderson to Timothy Latham – 10 June 2021


How wonderful to hear from you again. You seem to be in good form. Albeit, it seems, still in denial – a condition quite common at the ABC as I understand it.

As you know, on Monday Media Watch presenter Paul Barry introduced a segment about what was termed the “Christian Porter case”. Paul Barry stated that “over at News Corp several commentators also claimed [along with Christian Porter] the ABC had been defeated” in the case.

I was the second last in Paul Barry’s list of “several commentators” – they amounted to five in all.  But now you assert that Media Watch  never said that I was in the group of several commentators who believed that the ABC had been defeated in this instance.  Despite the fact that I was referred to before  Chris Merritt – who said the ABC had done “a pretty big backdown”.

Also, this list of “several commentators” at News Corp who claimed that the ABC had been defeated was followed by names of several commentators who did not think that the ABC had been defeated. In other words, the initial lot of several commentators was contrasted with the latter group.

In short, you and Paul Barry are in denial.  If the reference to my comment that the ABC is a “staff collective” had been preceded by such words as “on another matter, The Australian’s Gerard Henderson said…” I would have had no objection to the reference. But Media Watch  did not say this.

In any event, your response came as no surprise.  I was thinking about advising you that – over a year after the event – Media Watch  still has an erroneous claim abut Cardinal George Pell on its website. However, since you are in denial there is no point in drawing your attention to this error since – judged on precedent – you would deny that any such error has occurred.

I am writing a book about the Pell Case and have made reference to this howler in my manuscript –  and will leave it at that.  It does make the ABC look unprofessional – but there you go.

By the way, I had no problem with The Weekend Australian’s heading to my column last Saturday.  After all, readers had a chance to read my column. Not so Media Watch  viewers – who only had Paul Barry’s out-of-context citation to go on.

Lotsa love to the Media Watch Team – and Keep Morale High.

Gerard Henderson

cc:      David Anderson

          Paul Barry

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Until next time.

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