GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 579

14 March 2022

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  • ABC INSIDERS’ (SO FAR) UNREQUITED LOVE FOR THE PM

The Australian’s “Media” section reports today that the powers-that-be at the ABC were mightily upset that Prime Minister Scott Morrison chose to be interviewed by Chris Uhlmann on Nine’s Weekend Today on Sunday rather than by David Speers on ABC TV’s Insiders  program. Quelle Surprise!

For starters, despite the ABC’s claim that it is Australia’s most trusted news source, it still comes in third behind Seven and Nine in the news bulletin stakes.  The Prime Minister’s Office would be conscious that a Morrison/Uhlmann interview would get a good run on Nine’s News.

Moreover, an interview with Chris Uhlmann is just an interview with Chris Uhlmann.  Whereas an interview with David Speers is always followed by a discussion on the Insiders couch – where everyone invariably agrees with everyone else in a left-of-centre kind of way.  It’s not a friendly place for a Coalition prime minister – and frequently contains one panellist from the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia. Yesterday it was Amy Remeikis.

What’s more – it is not clear that the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster – with its large Green/Left audience is actually a vote-changer.

More undecided voters would tune into the news/current affairs programs on Seven, Nine and Ten than would watch the ABC’s news and current affairs’ output. Perhaps the PM will take up offers from Insiders, Q&A and so on before the election.  But if he does, there’s nothing in it for him, the Liberal Party or the Nationals while the ABC remains a conservative-free-zone.

  • MORRISON GOVERNMENT CRITIC GETS (SOFT) INTERVIEW ON ABC TV’s NEWS BREAKFAST

Australia is an influential nation with about the twelfth largest economy in the world.  However, at a population of around 25 million, Australia can do nothing of any significance to prevent climate change.

It would seem that many Australian journalists do not understand the fact that a nation which is responsible for just over one per cent of global emissions cannot stop climate change.  This was evident again this morning when ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Lisa Millar interviewed (yet another) Morrison government critic. In this case, Greg Mullins. Let’s go to the transcript:

Lisa Millar: Former NSW Fire Chief Greg Mullins is part of a group calling for more action. He joins us now from Sydney. Greg, good morning. You’re on your way to Brisbane, I understand, to be part of these announcements, today. What do you think has happened during the response to the floods?

Greg Mullins: Look, Lisa, I think it needs to be put up front that we’re now facing natural disasters; bushfires, floods, um, cyclones that can’t be dealt with by the emergency services. We’re regularly being overwhelmed…We tried from April 2019 to warn Prime Minister Morrison about a bushfire calamity. We weren’t listened to. They laughed at the idea that climate change might be involved – now, they’re acknowledging it. And they must take action on emissions….

Mr Mullins, who retired as Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW in January 2017 and is a member of the Climate Council (Chief Councillor Tim Flannery), has become a leading critic of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government.  Lisa Millar said nothing when your man Mullins claimed that the Morrison government was bungling climate change, had “dropped the ball” and was “missing in action”.

In yet another cliché, Greg Mullins accused the Coalition of having a “tin ear” when it comes to climate change and said that the policies of the Morrison government have Australia at the “back of the pack, with Russia and Saudi Arabia, on the world stage” with respect to climate change.  He claimed that this was “embarrassing”.

Lisa Millar, during the soft interview, did not challenge any part of Mullins’ rant.  In fact, Australia’s record of reducing climate emissions is far, far better than that of Russia and Saudi Arabia – and also of New Zealand (prime minister Jacinda Ardern) and Canada (prime minister Justin Trudeau). Yet Mr Mullins does not blame Ms Ardern or Mr Trudeau for Australia’s droughts, fires and floods.

Moreover, Australia’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 is the same as that of New Zealand, Canada and the United States – and more ambitious than that of Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and India.

The lesson is that any critic of the Morrison government is bound to get a soft interview on the ABC these days.


Can You Bear It?

  • NIKI SAVVA ON WHY THE PM IS HOPELESS – WITH ONE (BELATED) CORRECTION

Avid Media Watch Dog readers have requested advice as to how The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Niki Savva is going writing about her fave topic – namely, the (allegedly) hopeless Prime Minister.  Well, here’s an update of the past month:

17 February 2022:  Scott Morrison is hopeless – because some colleagues in private text messages have described him as “horrible, psychotic, a liar and a hypocrite”.

24 February 2022: Scott Morrison is hopeless – because an unnamed woman in a Labor Party focus group (allegedly) “likened him to a toddler having a tantrum”.

3 March 2022: Scott Morrison is hopeless – because of his “command-and-control operational style”.

10 March 2022: Scott Morrison is hopeless – because when he visited the Lismore flood zone last week without the media present he argued “it was for privacy reasons despite the presence of his official photographer”.

Er, hang on a minute. That’s wrong.  On Saturday the SMH published this “Correction” on Page 2 – without mentioning Comrade Savva’s name:

Correction

A comment article in some editions of yesterday’s Herald, “History repeating a disaster for PM”, incorrectly stated that the Prime Minister’s personal photographer’s images from his meeting with flood victims in Lismore were shared.  While the Prime Minister’s photographer was present at certain events, no such photographs were posted.

What could have happened here? Did Niki Savva receive fake information? Or did she just make this up?  In any event, Can You Bear It?

  • THE GOOD PEOPLE OF LISMORE DISAGREE WITH PK AND SPEERSY

There has been much gnashing of teeth from large sections of the Canberra Press Gallery and their inner-city comrades and others about the fact that Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the flood-stricken town of Lismore in north east NSW without taking a pack of journalists with him.

This led to an awkward exchange between ABC Radio National presenter Patricia (“Call me PK”) Karvelas and Lismore farmer Paul Weir on 10 February 2022. Let’s go to the transcript:

Patricia Karvelas: When the Prime Minister spoke to farmers yesterday, the media wasn’t with him, including when he spoke to you.

Paul Weir: Yep.

Patricia Karvelas: What do you make of that?

Paul Weir: Well, to tell you the truth, I was actually – it was actually good. We had Bridget McKenzie, our local federal member Kevin Hogan, the Prime Minister and the Premier and my family. And we could actually have an uninterrupted, straight talk. You know, there was no interruptions, it was an open, free conversation just like we’re having now. It was actually very personal, and yeah, I actually thought it was pretty good. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of – well, I don’t like, and our leaders come under a lot of criticism from picking up a shovel for 5 minutes just for a photo op. So, I understand that he didn’t want to, and I actually thought it was good. We could have an uninterrupted conversation about our needs –

Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] Okay.

Paul Weir: – about what our concerns were.

Patricia Karvelas: Okay, thanks Paul.

Yeah okay.  Thanks Paul and so on. Clearly this was not the answer that PK expected.  It would seem that she is one of the oh-so-many journalists who believe that everyone wants the media in their lives.

Steve Krieg, the mayor of Lismore, expressed a similar view to Farmer Weir when talking to Chris Smith on Sky News last Thursday. He had this to say:

Chris Smith: When he [Scott Morrison] went into the community without cameras, did he cop some from locals?

Steve Krieg: Of course he did. But you know what, I don’t blame him for that. I did a street walk with the Premier, you know, a week or so ago. And I had to tell a camera crew to eff off, and you know, and I had to use language like that. Because at the height of emotion, you know, and when you’re trying to get a sense of what people are feeling, you don’t need a camera crew in your face. You don’t have to actually record everything. And I can, I can understand that because Dominic Perrottet was bad enough. I can’t imagine the absolute scrum surrounding the Prime Minister. And I don’t blame him for that. I understand why he did it. Because you know what? People are still emotional. People are still hurting very deeply. And it’s an emotional time, people’s lives and their livelihoods are literally sitting in the gutter.

Insiders presenter David Speers agrees with PK and not Farmer Weir or Mayor Krieg.   Speaking to PK on RN Breakfast last Friday, the following exchange took place:

Patricia Karvelas: Talking about the floods. They’ve wreaked havoc on the country’s east coast. There are people who are essentially homeless right now. Right? They are sort of couch-surfing. They don’t have answers to any of this. The Prime Minister finally went to Lismore. I mean, he was in isolation, he had no ability to go any earlier. He went. David, how important was that trip and did he get it right?

David Speers: Look, I think it’s important in any natural disaster, certainly of this scale, for leaders to be seen on the ground, to be seen to be having a better understanding of what people are going through. I do think that’s important. Did he get it right? Well, no. I don’t think this is going to win him points, this particular visit.

Needless to say, Comrade Karvelas did not remind Comrade Speers about what Farmer Weir had told her a couple of days earlier.  It does not suit the journalists’ narrative to hear that some of the good people of Lismore did not want media types interfering in their discussions with politicians and government officials. Can You Bear It?

  • SARAH FERGUSON’s ERRONEOUS REPORT ON UKRAINE’S AIR DEFENCE CAPACITY EARNS A TRIP TO KYIV

And so it came to pass that the ABC has sent Sarah Ferguson – one of its fave reporters – to Kyiv to cover Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As avid Media Watch Dog readers know only too well, Ms Ferguson did that ridiculous and very expensive three-part Four Corners report titled Trump/Russia which ran the line that Donald J. Trump obtained the support of Vladimir Putin’s Russia which helped him to win the 2016 United States presidential election. The ABC described this as “the story of the century”.  This conspiracy theory was completely discredited by what was called The Mueller Report.  The Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, III found no collusion between President Trump and Russia – in spite of the fact that Mr Mueller and his Special Counsel team (which comprised many Hillary Clinton-supporting Democrats) were no fans of President Trump.

In more recent times, Comrade Ferguson joined in the ABC led media pile-on against Cardinal George Pell by dint of her three-part ABC TV documentary Revelation – the final episode was moved forward by five days from Tuesday to Thursday in order to get it to air before the High Court’s decision in George Pell v The Queen. As it turned out, the High Court quashed Pell’s conviction in a unanimous decision.  The publisher Hachette originally declared that Revelation  – the book of the series which Sarah Ferguson is said to have written with the ABC’s Tony Jones – would be published in late 2020.  It is now scheduled for December 2030 – which is sometime after the Twelfth of Never.  MWD can barely wait.

In a way, it’s somewhat surprising that Ms Ferguson made it to Kyiv. This is what she told ABC TV 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales on Thursday 24 February 2022 from Washington DC:

Sarah Ferguson: …Joe Biden as we know, he’s been extremely clear that the number one thing he’s going to avoid here is any involvement of American troops. He wants to avoid a ‘hot war’ in the Ukraine, he called it. He said it would set off World War III. So we know that American troops are not going to go in. They have hardly anything, really very small contributions to Ukrainian defence. We’ve seen tonight the Ukrainian air defence already nearly devastated by Putin’s invasion.

So, we don’t expect, we don’t anticipate to see more substantial contributions to Ukrainian defence. There’s not going to be American troops. There is a potential for some involvement if this becomes a much wider cyber-war, but I think what we’re talking about, economic sanctions, economic sanctions that will hurt the world and will hurt America.

So there you have it. The ABC fave reporter on Ukraine told 7.30 viewers over two weeks ago that Ukraine’s air defence had already been “nearly devastated by Putin’s invasion”.  This was simply false.  The Ukrainian air defence continues to inflict considerable damage on Russia’s invading forces – and it is one of the reasons why, so far at least, Russian forces have not taken the city of Kyiv.

Jennifer Griffin, Fox News’ Pentagon reporter, spoke to Bret Baier at the weekend about the United States’ assessment of Ukraine’s current air defences:

Bret Baier: Jennifer where do things stand regarding the Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine, from the Pentagon’s perspective?

Jennifer Griffin: Brett, US defence officials say Poland can provide the MiGs if they want, but US defence officials don’t believe the MiG-29s would be helpful militarily right now. Ukraine still has 56 working fighter jets that are flying between five to ten sorties a day inside Ukraine – the airspace remains contested. Sadly, this US official says sending the 24 MiG-29s to Ukraine would not help stop Russia’s siege and encirclement of Ukraine’s population centres because the airspace is still so contested. The US is still sending other weapons that are more useful on the ground.

That was a reference to the air force part of Ukraine’s air defences.  There are also ground-to-air missiles and drones.

Moreover, Ms Ferguson’s comment that “economic sanctions will hurt the world and will hurt America” overlooked the evidence that these sanctions are currently substantially harming  the Russian economy.

Which raises the question – is Comrade Ferguson the best-informed reporter that the ABC can find to send to Ukraine to report for Four Corners? If so, Can You Bear It?


  • ELON MUSK DEBUNKS SHANE WRIGHT’S CERTITUDE

Avid readers have expressed enormous interest in Shane Wright’s confident prediction – expressed on the ABC TV Insiders program on 11 June 2017 – that coal in the early 21st Century would go the way of candlesticks in the late 19th Century. Nine’s senior economics correspondent (who files for The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald) declared at the time: “Sorry, you can see the lights turning out on coal fairly quickly”.  [I wish the likes of Wright would desist from saying “sorry” when they are not sorry at all. It is quite irritating. – MWD Editor.]

Alas, Comrade Wright’s prophecy has experienced more problems.  As MWD pointed out in issue 577, Germany is considering extending the life of its coal-powered energy stations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resultant disruption to Germany’s gas imports from Russia. Moreover, other European nations are re-assessing their energy security with respect to gas, coal and nuclear power.

And then Elon Musk – once upon a (recent) time one of the world’s biggest barrackers for the widescale use of renewables – had this to say last Saturday 5 March:

How about that?  Elon Musk believes that these “extraordinary times” require an increase in the output of oil and gas.  He made no mention of candlesticks.  [Perhaps your man Musk doesn’t read The Thought of Shane Wright in The Age  and the SMH.  Just a thought – MWD Editor.]


  • THE RED BANDANNAED FITZ STEPS UP WITH UKRAINE “HUMOUR”

The overwhelming majority of Australians support Ukraine’s brave resistance (to the Russian invasion) led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Moreover, virtually no one believes that this tragedy is an opportunity for self-indulgent attempts at humour.  Except for Nine journalist/columnist Peter FitzSimons – aka the Red Bandannaed One apparently – whose writings can be found in the Sydney Morning Herald  and The Age.

Last Wednesday morning, your man FitzSimons put out this attempt at humour.

How out-of-touch can a man who wore a red rag on his head for a decade (until it had to be sent to the laundry where it was lost) get?

From his abode in Sydney’s Lower North Shore, FitzSimons nominated Mark Humphries – the not so funny ABC TV 7.30  resident satirist who (in Barry Humphries’ term) identifies as a comedian.  Plus any one of the Julian Morrow led Chaser Boys (average age 481/2 years). Plus Judith Lucy who, FitzSimons assures us, “would certainly take no prisoners”.

How funny is that?  Has Fitz got nothing better to do on a Wednesday than send out a totally insensitive tweet like this at 11.35 am in the morning – at a time when Ukrainians are being killed or wounded or facing deprivation?

Sure, Volodymyr Zelenskyy was an actor and comedian before he became president of Ukraine.  But after he became a politician, Zelenskyy has achieved much – ending up as the courageous and inspirational leader of a nation at war.

There is no evidence that Mark Humphries whose single joke is to ridicule Coalition politicians and Julian Morrow who was mainly known for still doing university-style gags even as he entered middle-age, will ever be in the Zelenskyy mould. As for Judith Lucy – she gives the impression that she would not take herself seriously enough as to enter politics.

In any event, to Fitz the tragedy of Ukraine is an opportunity for attempted humour.

Peter FitzSimons: Media Fool of the Week.


OUTSIDE INSIDERS – THE WRITTEN VERSION

As avid readers are well aware, a certain William (Bill) Thompson – who identifies as the ABC’s Southbank Correspondent – set up the “Outside Insiders” video segment some years ago.  This is the print edition of the Bill Thompson initiative.

  • EVERYONE AGREED WITH EVERYONE ELSE ON INSIDERS AGAIN – AS THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT IS BAGGED

That was a terrific ABC TV Insiders program on 6 March – from Media Watch Dog’s perspective, at least.  As avid readers well know, when it comes to the ABC, MWD adopts the saying attributed to Soviet Union communist dictator Josef Stalin – to wit, “worse is better”.  The reason why worse is better in this instance turns on the fact that a flawed Insiders is best for MWD.

For starters, the Insiders program was one of those oh-so-typical ABC programs where everyone agrees with everyone else on almost everything.  The ABC’s David Speers was in the presenter’s chair and the panel comprised Raf Epstein (ABC Melbourne), Katharine Murphy (The Guardian Australia) and Peter van Onselen (Network Ten).  The “Talking Pictures” segment consisted of presenter Michael Bowers (The Guardian Australia) and commentator Lewis Hobba (ABC Triple j).

For seconds, this was yet another example of The Guardian Australia/ABC Axis in action – in that five out of six presenters/commentators on Insiders were from either the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia or from the Conservative Free Zone that is the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  In MWD’s  calculations, that’s around 83 per cent.  [I’m looking forward to a complete consummation of The Guardian/ABC Axis with a 100 per cent roll-out on Insiders. It would work for MWD. – MWD Editor.]

After a discussion on Ukraine and David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers’ interview with Defence Minister Peter Dutton, attention turned to the disastrous floods in south east Queensland and eastern New South Wales.  Let’s go to the transcript early in this segment:

David Speers: So, politically, the, um – the big question, I suppose, is how the government’s gone with this natural disaster? Katharine.  You know, the Black Summer bushfire was a shocker for Scott Morrison. What about this time around?

Katharine Murphy: Well, there’s a lot of frustration on the ground, in these communities, uh, that people have had to fend for themselves for a number of days. Uh, so, I suspect, uh, there’ll be anger at both state and federal governments, though, I think – rather than necessarily directed at the federal. But, uh, obviously, a natural disaster on this scale also reinforces the reality – the fact that Australia is on the front line of the climate crisis. Uh, it will definitely spark debate again about the adequacy of the Morrison government’s climate policy [laughing] or should I say, gross inadequacy, of the Morrison government’s climate policy.

How about that?  Speersy threw a Dorothy Dixer question to Morrison government antagonist Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy and she took the opportunity to mock the Coalition government’s climate policy by means of artificial laughter.  However, Murpharoo overlooked the fact that, whatever the Coalition’s policy on global emissions, there is nothing that Australia can do to prevent climate change.  Since Australia is responsible for just over one per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Also she did not stress the point that natural disasters are primarily the responsibility of the State and Territory governments.

Then your man Speers asserted that, in his interview, Minister Dutton “was very defensive of what [sic] the ADF [Australian Defence Force] has done on the ground”.  He invited Peter (“I like to be called PVO”) van Onselen to comment and he agreed that the floods were a competency issue for the Morrison government.  Then your man Epstein, who keeps talking about his listeners on his ABC Melbourne Radio Drive program, criticised the Morrison government. Yawn.

Comrade Epstein then said that “the clean-up bill” for the floods “is the carbon tax we are all paying”. What a load of absolute tosh.  If the Gillard Labor government’s carbon tax had prevailed after Labor lost government in September 2013, it would not have made a skerrick of difference to the levels of the 2022 floods.

Raf Epstein went on to claim that he was reluctant to make predictions about the political impact of the floods since “we were all burnt last time”.  More tosh.  Sure, all the Insiders’  panellists who appeared on the program in the lead-up to, and immediately after, the 2019 election got the election result hopelessly wrong.  But there were commentators on Sky News and the News Corp papers – as well as in The Spectator – who said or wrote that the Coalition had a path to victory in May 2019. It’s just that not one was invited on to the Insiders couch during this period by the program’s executive producer Samuel Clark.

At this moment – it being Hangover Time on a Sunday morning – Jackie’s (male) co-owner fell asleep.  However, Hendo was soon woken by the sound of Speersy, PVO, Murpharoo and Raf talking over each other.  Come to think of it, it sounded a bit like a
“Sky News After Dark” program with Paul Murray, Bronwyn Bishop and Nicholas Reece interrupting each other.  But at least Paul Murray Live doesn’t go to air at Hangover Time.

  • INSIDERS AGAIN IGNORES THE SECURITY AND ENERGY LESSONS FROM GERMANY FOLLOWING RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE

Last Sunday’s Insiders was not so MWD-friendly – in that panellists Stan Grant (the ABC) and Lanai Scarr (The West Australian) made some insightful comments. Amy Remeikis (The Guardian Australia) made a contribution to The Guardian/ABC Axis – which stood at four out of six presenters/panellists.  Or 66 per cent.  Not as good as 83 or 100 per cent – but okay from MWD’s point of view.

However, once again, Insiders failed to cover the enormous change that has occurred in Germany following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  It has decided to increase military expenditure, build more liquified natural gas and to consider extending its coal and nuclear energy power stations.  Apart from Stan Grant, most Insiders’ panellists are an insular lot.

And David Speers, like so many of his ABC colleagues, seems to believe that Australia can change the climate.  For example, on Sunday Speersy asked viewers whether “enough” is “being done on climate change” by Australia.  The fact is that Australia can never do “enough” to change the climate – even if Australia ceased to exist.  Speersy should know this.


NEW SERIES – JACKIE’S UPDATE OF FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, Jackie (co-owned by Hendo) has a Dip. Wellness from The Gunnedah Institute.  As such, she is well qualified to assess problems being experienced by well-heeled Australians – of the leftist luvvie kind – at a time of overseas war, pandemic and natural disasters – and to advise her co-owner to follow up in MWD. Here we go:

  • JONATHAN GREEN’S TOMATOES (FIRST WORLD) PROBLEM

At Hangover Time on Saturday, Jackie’s (male) co-owner occasionally tunes in to the Blueprint program (or is it still called Blueprint for Living?) on ABC Radio National at 9 am while walking the said canine.  The show is presented by Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green, an inner-city Melbourne luvvie if ever there was one. This is how the ABC highlighted Comrade Green’s program on Saturday 6 March.

Examining private conservation models, cities and the human body, what to do about tomatoes and a ride on the Ferris Wheel.

And this is how Jonathan Green commenced the program last Saturday:

It’s ok. Look, settle.  You’re overwhelmed, but we have a solution. I know – there are just too many tomatoes.  What to do with them? Annie Smithers, in shortly with a saucy suggestion.

Well, it’s good to know that Jonathan and Annie have solved one of the big (First World) problems of our times.

  • JULIAN BURNSIDE TWEETS ABOUT THE CANCELLATION OF HIS DINNER BOOKING IN ADELAIDE

MWD readers like to hear what Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC is on about.  Your man Burnside has gone fairly quiet in recent times after failing to win the seat of Kooyong as a member of the Greens at the May 2019 election and after failing to win pre-selection for a vacant Greens’ seat in the Senate in a run-off against (now) Senator Lidia Thorpe in June 2020.

Come to think of it, JB AO QC has had a difficult life. As avid readers will recall, he is still traumatised by the fact that Melbourne Grammar School did not give him full “blue” colours for high performance in such sports as swimming and tennis in his school days.  They went to the blokes who played cricket or football or were into athletics or rowing.  And, alas, he was a swimming/tennis kind of guy. For his part, Jackie’s (male) co-owner feels JB AO QC’s pain about his school days.

Alas, JB AO QC is still traumatised by life’s vicissitudes – as documented in his tweet sent out on Sunday 6 March:

It turns out that Shobosho declares itself to be “one of South Australia’s premier restaurants” – and, as such, a suitable dining abode for a well-heeled barrister from Melbourne who owns lotsa property.

It’s not all that clear whether the good folk at Shobosho in the Adelaide CBD can survive without visits from your man Burnside, who resides in a pile in the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn.  Only time will tell.

By the way, at Gin & Tonic time the very next day your man Burnside tweeted that he “got a nice call from Shobosho this morning” advising that “the reason for yesterday’s cancellation was a technical problem concerning ventilators at the restaurant”. He failed to mention that Shobosho cooks with “smoke, steam and fire only” – ventilation is very important for workplace health and safety. Could it be that the born-again-green-leftist does not care about the workers?

So there you have it.  JB AO QC’s planned fine dining in Adelaide last Saturday night was interrupted due to a ventilation problem.  A First World problem, if ever there was one.

[I note that on the following Wednesday JB AO QC sent out a tweet criticising the “appalling” service at the Adelaide Festival and whinged about a shortage of employees.  Someone should tell him that there’s been a pandemic and there are staff shortages throughout Australia – albeit maybe not in Hawthorn.  – MWD Editor.]


Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.

The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.

  • DECLAN (“DEC”) FRY’S INCOMPREHENSIBLE COMMENT ABOUT “THE RIVER”

Tom Patterson’s book Missing (Allen & Unwin) tells the story of Mark May.  In 1972, May was 18 and he had a scholarship to study law at the Australian National University.  Ten years on, experiencing problems with drug addiction and the law, he decided to leave society.  May entered a remote area in the Wild Rivers National Park in north-western New South Wales, where he lived rough for 35 years. Mark May’s family heard from him sporadically, but after no contact for a while his family went to look for him in 2017. They found his body in the bush.

It’s a sad tale which, according to the reviews, has been well told by Tom Patterson in Missing. However, Hendo found it hard to understand what the writer, poet and essayist Declan Fry was on about when he reviewed Missing for the Sun-Herald on 20 February 2022.  Here’s how Dec’s review concluded:

Coming full circle, he [Mark May] disappears into the country near his childhood home in Armidale. This is also the point at which the narrative stages its own disappearing act. Not much happens when you’re living at Walden Pond, unless you’re actually living at Walden Pond. Patterson is prevented from any faithful detailing of whatever meditations or psychological turmoil may have eventuated there, leaving these portions to the discretion of interregnum.

Mark does briefly return from applying Thoreau’s instruction, to take up a role in the public service in 1987; but, finding revolutionaries now revolve only through the ranks of government, promptly heads back into the wild. Pre-Iron John Mark, in any event, is a hell of a lot more interesting than post. Like Eliot, we never step in the same river twice, except when we do – because the river is not the same river but the river we dreamed and, dreaming, return to.

That’s it.  By the way there is no reference to Robert Bly’s Iron John  in Declan Fry’s review or to any work written by Thoreau or Eliot or to the location of Walden Pond. It’s all quite a mystery.

As to what it’s worth – here is MWD’s offering:

Literary Criticism
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £

***
Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism
By Jackie
of Declan Fry

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only four or five per cent

As to the river, what the heck?

The reference is to your man Dec


VALE KIMBERLEY KITCHING (1970 —2022)

Senator Kimberley Kitching was a good friend of The Sydney Institute. She addressed the Institute on one occasion in a discussion on religious freedom and attended some of the Institute’s functions including the talk in early 2019 by (then) Labor MP Michael Danby on the topic of “How to confront the new authoritarian powers without going to war”. Senator Kitching took up this issue when Michael Danby left the House of Representatives.

Kimberley Kitching was an unusual politician for the modern age.  She was not afraid to state her views – some of which were unfashionable inside the Labor Party and the Coalition.  Senator Kitching, though relatively young, was an old-style social democrat and never a leftist.  She was proud to oppose authoritarian and totalitarian regimes – including communist ones.  And she believed in social justice and human rights.

Above all, Senator Kitching was a pluralist – an increasingly unfamiliar position at a time of the march of the cancel culture – and was happy to be in the presence of, and argue with, people with whom she disagreed.

Kimberley Kitching had many friends across the political divide.  But she had opponents too – some of whom objected to the fact that she did not always state predictable left-of-centre views or toe the party-line.  Shortly before Senator Kitching’s death by apparent heart attack, her pre-selection as a Victorian Labor senator was under attack from factions within the Victorian labour movement.  This was barely covered by members of the Canberra Press Gallery – who would have been outraged if, say, Senator Penny Wong’s pre-selection was under challenge.  The able Senator Wong is a member of Labor’s left.

What was unusual about Kitching the politician is that she had a sense of humour. I was on the ABC TV Insiders  panel soon after she won pre-selection to replace Labor Senator Stephen Conroy.  The date was Sunday 16 October 2016.  The panel was asked to comment about Kimberley Kitching’s pre-selection.  Panelists Fleur Anderson and Malcolm Farr opposed the appointment and presenter Barrie Cassidy did not offer any obvious support.

I did not concur – describing Kitching as a “pretty sassy kind of person” who was “good on television” and added:  “I reckon she’d make a fine senator.”

When Kimberley Kitching was formally appointed to fill the casual Senate vacancy consequent on Stephen Conroy’s retirement – she invited her supporters to a small celebration – signing off with “Keep sassy”.

The Labor Party, in Victoria and elsewhere, needs parliamentarians like Kimberley Kitching. Very few relatively junior politicians leave a mark.  Senator Kitching did – especially due to her role in passing what is termed the Magnitsky Act – which provides a legal basis for imposing sanctions on foreign government officials who are involved in human rights abuses.  It is this legislation that underpins the Australian government’s sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia.  A real achievement, to be sure.

Kimberley Kitching – Requiescat in Pace

Gerard Henderson

Friday, 11 March 2022


CORRESPONDENCE

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.

  • GERARD HENDERSON AND TROY BRAMSTON ON THE (ALLEGED) BOB HAWKE v PHILLIP ADAMS FIST-FIGHT PROMOTED (ALLEGEDLY) BY ALAN JOYCE IN THE QANTAS CHAIRMAN’S LOUNGE

There was enormous interest in last week’s revelation that Phillip Adams told Troy Bramston that he had a punch-up with Bob Hawke in an airport lounge.  This seemed to MWD to be the big SCOOP of your man Bramston’s biography Bob Hawke – Demons and Destiny.  Ater all, lotsa Australians knew that your man Hawkie was into Wine, Women and Song – mainly the first two.  But not (personal) war.  It now seems that, when it came to Hawke, Comrade Adams was a make-war-not-love kind of guy.

Gerard Henderson, being well brought up, wrote to the author about this revelation.  He is yet to receive a reply.  [Perhaps Mr Bramston was not as well brought up as Jackie’s (male) co-owner.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]  If Troy Bramston does reply, MWD will let you know.  In the meantime, this is the one-way correspondence – so far at least.  Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Troy Bramston – 10 March 2022

Good morning Troy

Great interview last night on 7.30  with Michael Vincent on your Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny biography.

You covered a lot of ground.  But I note there was no reference to what Phillip Adams has described as the “fist fight” he had with the late Bob Hawke in “an airport lounge”.  As you will recall, Phillip raised this matter when he interviewed you on what Phillip calls his “little wireless program” late last week.

As I recall, Adams was once a member of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge.  He tweeted-in-anger when his (honorary) membership of the Chairman’s Lounge was discontinued in 2019. Could there be a relation between the punch-up and what Phillip referred to as his eviction from the said lounge?

I guess that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce – who, as I understand it, was well brought up in Ireland – would have been upset on learning of the fight between two elderly gentlemen engaged in fisticuffs near his beloved cucumber sandwiches and fine wines trolley.

My question is this.  You’ve heard from the ABC’s Man in Black about his version of the Adams v Hawke Fight?  Did the former prime minister ever talk to you about any such brawl in the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge?

Good luck with the book.

Gerard

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Until Next Time

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