ISSUE – NO. 586

6 May 2022

* * * *

* * * *


In Media Watch Dog’s  view, it is difficult to think of an election campaign when so many ABC journalists wanted the incumbent government to be defeated.  It’s not that so many ABC types necessarily want the Labor Party to prevail – quite a few give their prime support to the Greens and others left-wing Independents. But they want the Morrison government to be defeated.

Take the ABC Radio AM program this Friday 6 May – which is presented by Sabra Lane.  It contained a segment by reporter Gavin Coote titled “North Sydney voters consider backing Independents”.

The North Sydney seat is held by Trent Zimmerman for the Liberal Party. He is being challenged by one of multi-millionaire Simon Holmes à Court’s Independents – Kylea Tink. This is how the segment was introduced:

Sabra Lane: It’s not just in Melbourne where Independents are ruffling the Coalition’s feathers. In Sydney, the seats of Wentworth and North Sydney are also being targeted. When our reporter Gavin Coote visited North Sydney, he found voters who’d lost faith with the Liberals and weren’t fussed by the possibility of a hung parliament.

There are tens of thousands of voters on the electoral roll in North Sydney.  Comrade Coote spoke to three of them.  Just three.  There was a businessman named Chris, an unidentified woman, and jeweller Peter Prischl. All three are supporting Ms Tink.  Your man Coote could not find anyone who supported the Liberal Zimmerman – or indeed the Labor candidate.

The final say went to Zali Steggall, the Independent MP for Warringah.  She bagged Scott Morrison and supported the Independents. Quelle Surprise!

So there you have it.  Comrade Coote’s report on the contest between Zimmerman and Tink in North Sydney only interviewed Tink’s supporters and ended with a comment critical of the Coalition – not by anyone in North Sydney but rather the Independent MP for the neighbouring seat of Warringah who supports Ms Tink.

How unprofessional can an ABC election report get?

Can You Bear It?


Did anyone see the article by Karl Quinn published in the Sun-Herald on May Day?  Titled “Left join the Right in online ABC pile-ons”, your man Quinn told the story of ABC TV Weekend Breakfast  presenter Fauziah Ibrahim who has been stood down by ABC management for having two Twitter lists named “Labor Trolls/Thugs” and “lobotomised sh**heads”.

The decision to stand down Ms Ibrahim followed criticism of her from the left. However, Karl Quinn hit the moral equivalence button and tried to also blame the right. Confused?  So was Comrade Quinn. You be the judge – this is what he wrote:

The ABC is being forced to contend with: a growing tendency among self-identified Labor supporters to target certain ABC journalists who they perceive as biased. Attacks on the ABC from the right, however, are nothing new. Josh Bornstein, national head of employment law at Maurice Blackburn and briefly a contender for an ALP Senate seat in this election, says undermining the public broadcaster has been “a joint venture of the Murdoch press and the conservative parties for decades”… . While the Right tends to target the ABC in its entirety (#defundtheabc) the Left tends to direct its fury at individual presenters. News Breakfast host Lisa Millar, former Q+A host Hamish Macdonald, Insiders host David Speers and 7.30 host Leigh Sales have all been targeted on Twitter and accused of pro-Coalition bias.

The volume of tweets can be overwhelming. According to a sample analysis run for the Sun-Herald by Dr Timothy Graham of the Queensland University of Technology, in the first four months of this year, an average of 120 tweets an hour were directed at the Twitter handle of Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas, @PatsKarvelas.

So there you have it.  It is left Twitter  warriors who troll the likes of Lisa Millar, Hamish Macdonald, David Speers, Leigh Sales and Patricia Karvelas – none of whom are conservatives.  Yet Quinn links such personal bullying with generalised criticism from the right of “the ABC in its entirety”. What a cop-out.

Karl Quinn also quoted from Deakin University academic Matthew Ricketson, co-author with University of Canberra academic Professor Patrick Mullins of the piss-poor book Who Needs the ABC?  Re which see MWD passim ad nauseam.  According to the learned professor: “The fact it [the ABC] is coming under attack from super-heated and hyper partisan players on the left and the Right undermines our faith…in its ability to provide a bedrock of verified facts.”

Turn it up.  It is the left which is venting “fury” at the likes of Millar, Macdonald, Speers, Sales and Karvelas.  The left does not direct “fury” at ABC conservatives – simply because the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

It’s as simple as that. But Karl Quinn is ignorant of this reality.  Can You Bear It?


So far at least, the appointment of Bevan Shields as editor of Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald does not seem to have improved editorial standards.  An example illustrates the point.

On 25 April, Phil Lutton continued the SMH’s  campaign against Katherine Deves, who is the Liberal Party candidate for Warringah in the 21 May election.   She is running against SMH  fave Zali Steggall, the incumbent Independent.  Ms Deves has become controversial for expressing the view that sports people who are born male should not be able to compete in women’s sporting events against people who are born female.

Following a report that Australian star swimmer Emma McKeon had made comments along the lines that she would not compete against trans swimmers who were born male, the SMH’s  Phil Lutton had this to say on 25 April in an article titled “Swimming Australia fuming after athletic images hijacked for anti-trans campaign.”:

McKeon was up for an award at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Sunday night, where she was nominated for World Sportswoman of the Year. She would probably be mortified by the use of her comments as a political talking point after they were picked up at a forum hosted by Griffith University, where she trains on the Gold Coast. [Emphasis added].

It was not clear at the time whether Emma McKeon was “mortified” that her comments became a talking point.  Maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t.  Comrade Lutton’s use of the word “probably” in this context means that he was surely speculating.  Yet this speculation was included in what was presented as a news report. Can You Bear It?


Will the ABC’s whingeing about its failure to host a Leaders’ Debate during the 2022 election campaign never stop?

On Thursday 5 May, ABC TV Q+A presenter David Speers raised the apparent refusal by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to debate Anthony Albanese at the ABC on two occasions – including a desperate final comment at the end of the program.  Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers:  Alright, that is all we have time for tonight…. Now Prime Minister, if you are watching, the invitation still stands here on Q+A.

Then on Friday 6 May, Speersy appeared on ABC TV News Breakfast and continued to advance his (apparently lost) cause by answering a “Dorothy Dixer” question:

Lisa Millar: Is the Prime Minister going to do a similar Q&A? I know you’ve put the invitation out there.

David Speers: It’s a good question, Lisa, we have put the invitation out there. We reminded viewers and the Prime Minister of that last night. So far, no, he has not accepted the invitation for either that format, the one-on-one on Q+A, taking people’s questions. Or to come on the Insiders program on Sunday morning either.  But [there are]  a couple of weeks to go. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Michael Rowland: Yes and again, because I know they watch, an open invitation to the Prime Minister’s office. Mr Morrison is welcome anytime on this show as well. Hey, have we got a wooden spoon winner this week?

Groan.  The ABC keeps banging on about its pain that the Prime Minister appears to have better things to do than to go on the ABC.

On Monday 2 May, The Australian’s “Media” Section revealed that ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson wrote to the Liberal Party and implored the Prime Minister to participate in a debate at the ABC on Monday 9 May – arguing that this is the one debate the campaign could not do without.  So far, the PM remains unmoved. So far, the campaign has done without an ABC debate.

There has been a Morrison/Albanese debate on Sky News’ “People’s Forum” on 20 April 2022, with others to follow on at Network Nine’s 60 Minutes (chaired by Sarah Abo with a panel comprising Chris Uhlmann, David Crowe and Deb Knight) on Monday 9 May and on Network Seven on Wednesday 11 May (chaired by Mark Riley with a panel comprising Lanai Scarr and Jennifer Bechwati).

This makes sense.  Sky News is Australia’s only subscription channel and the only leaders’ debate which entails questions from other than journalists – and Networks Nine and Seven clearly out-rate the ABC when it comes to news audiences.  It’s just that many ABC managers and staff believe that the ABC has an entitlement to host at least one leaders’ debate in an election campaign.

At the journalist level, Michael Rowland and Patricia Karvelas have led the ABC’s campaign.  When co-presenting ABC TV’s News Breakfast on 3 May, Rowland complained that the ABC had not been chosen for a debate and that this was a “very bad thing”. The following day he tweeted:

The previous day, ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas had this to say:

In the Sydney Morning Herald and Age on 4 May the “CBD” column reported that, since last November, Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark and the program’s presenter David Speers developed a concept whereby Speers would chair the leaders’ debate sitting at the end of a round table with Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese on either side of him.  Apparently it took some five months to come up with this you-beaut idea.

It seems that when ABC management enticed David Speers to leave Sky News and join the ABC with effect from early 2020 it was believed that, somehow or other, this would provide some balance to the ABC and reduce the criticism that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.

The problem with this cunning plan is that Speers is not a conservative.  Moreover, he seems to have been engulfed by the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone culture.  What’s more, Sky News made Speers – not the other way round.  Sky News’ ratings have increased substantially since Speers went to the ABC – not because he left Sky but because Sky was more important than Speers – and there were other Sky presenters who could take his place. For example, Kieran Gilbert did very well in chairing the People’s Forum in Brisbane.

David Anderson and his management team just don’t get it.  He presides over a Conservative Free Zone which is hostile to politically conservative Liberal Party leaders like Scott Morrison.  And yet Mr Anderson reckons that the PM should front up on request and take part in an ABC Leaders’ Debate or appear on such programs as Q+A, 7.30, Insiders, News Breakfast, Radio National Breakfast and the like on demand. This despite the fact that Laura Tingle, 7.30  political correspondent, who is also an Insiders panellist, is on record as accusing the Morrison government of “ideological bastardry”. Ms Tingle has never withdrawn her public criticism of the Coalition government – we are all supposed to forget that the comment was ever made, apparently.

The fact is that if the ABC audiences determined the outcome of Australian federal elections then there would have been a Green/Left government in office in Canberra for many years.  This may or may not change after the 21 May 2022 election. But nothing that Prime Minister Scott Morrison might say on the ABC before then is likely to have any effect on the election result. The fact is that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is not a vote changer and much of what passes for news and current affairs on the ABC is the Green Left talking to the Green Left.

The ABC is “enemy territory” for the Coalition.   There is always a downside and rarely an upside if any Liberal Party leader (other than a Malcolm Turnbull type) appears on the public broadcaster.

David Anderson’s recent decision to appoint internal ABC candidates to the top jobs in news and current affairs – Justin Stevens to head of ABC News, Analysis and Investigations and Sarah Ferguson to present 7.30 – indicates that the ABC is likely to remain a Conservative Free Zone for many years to come.  Consequently, it is unlikely to be high on the list of Coalition politicians when they decide to whom they should speak.

This increasingly popular segment of MWD is inspired by the Anglo Irish satirist Dr Jonathan Swift’s proposal to relieve the plight of the Irish under British control by certain suggestions which he proffered in his writings. Most notably “A Modest Proposal – For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick”.  As a consequence of such irreverence, your clergyman Swift (1667-1745) never attained his due rank within the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican Church in Ireland). But that’s another story – and he was a great writer who popularised the term “a modest proposal”.


The evidence is mounting that David Speers’ move from Sky News to the ABC of recent memory has neither diminished the former nor improved the latter.  Moreover, since moving to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, your man Speers has not only become the ABC’s Great Interrupter on Insiders but also tends to dominate Q&A when it comes to asking questions.  ABC management used to describe Q+A as the program where viewers ask the questions.  Now viewers (if viewers there still are) provide a prop for your man Speers to ask the majority of questions.  As occurred on 5 May when Labor leader Anthony Albanese was the sole guest.

Now here’s Media Watch Dog’s modest proposal. Sure, the ABC’s recruitment of Speersy has not been a great success. But why not try again and offer an ABC role to Sky News’ Rowan Dean?  At Q+A  perhaps.

MWD developed this you-beaut idea when an avid Broken Hill reader reminded Jackie’s (male) co-owner of what your man Dean had said on Sky News’ Credlin program on Friday 18 March:

Rowan Dean:  Second week in a row, Q+A  dropped to their lowest ratings ever.  The program bombed last night. When is the ABC going to put it out and us out of its misery – and just can the program. It’s gone downhill ever since Tony Jones was on it.  When I used to be with Tony – the ratings back in Tony Jones’s days were about ten times what they are now.

Oh yes, MWD sure remembers Q+A’s glory days when Rowan Dean was a panellist on Q+A  with Tony Jones in the presenter’s chair.  Sure, according to MWD’s records, the “Jones and Dean” show only occurred on a total of four occasions – twice in 2014, once in 2015 and once in 2016. Er, that was it.  But we all remember it – well, at least your man Dean remembers the occasions.

In any event, the idea has merit.  Get your man Dean on to Q+A and the ratings will rise to about ten times what they are now. For sure.

A Modest Proposal – but MWD believes a useful one.



Thursday’s Albo-centric episode of Q+A ended, for no particular reason, with a performance by the ABC’s in-house musical comedian Sammy J accompanied by Richard Vaudrey on the cello. Here is how presenter David Speers introduced the act:

David Speers: A warning. This performance does perform some coarse and colourful language. And should, most certainly, not be taken as a guide on how to vote.

The opening lines of the song quickly revealed the need for this strange introduction:

I wish I lived in a marginal seat

Then my vote would actually count

I wish I lived in a marginal seat

Then I could control the amount

Of swings that occur

In every election

In either direction

Don’t care who wins

Just give me a say

But my seat doesn’t sway

So I might as well draw a penis

Or a vagina

I guess I’ll decide on the day

This call for lewd and informal voting was apparently the only joke Comrade J could muster for this particular song and so was repeated many times. Twice during the performance there was a cutaway to the audience who appeared (at best) bemused.

In Sammy J’s defence, this reaction may have been due to the audience struggling to hear his lyrics as, at least on the TV broadcast, he was sometimes drowned out by the cello. This was perhaps for the better as the audience no doubt gained more from hearing Mr Vaudrey’s cello than from being able to make out the fifth or sixth reference to drawing a penis on a ballot paper.

Although the song was focused on House of Representatives voting it did contain one reference to voting informally on the Senate ballot. As avid readers well know, the senate is elected based on states and territories not seats. And so the Senate votes of residents of safe seats are equally as valuable as the votes of residents of swing seats within the same state. Anthony Albanese would no doubt prefer Labor voters in safe seats refrain from drawing lewd images on their Senate ballots.

There was no audible laughter but at the song’s conclusion there was applause from the crowd. Whether this was for Sammy J’s musical comedy, Richard Vaudrey’s playing or just because they could go home is unclear.


The discussion on Radio National Breakfast last Thursday between presenter Patricia Karvelas and The Guardian’s  political editor Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy is perhaps the fave moment of MWD’s week.  It’s not only a leftist-luvvie occasion. But, every now and then, Murpharoo calls PK “love”.   [I just love it.  MWD Editor.]

On 5 May, Murpharoo got stuck into Scott Morrison and his government – with some mocking laughter.  She described the Coalition’s program as unfulfilling – in such areas as health funding, service delivery in the NDIS, education funding, aged care, energy transition, the proposed independent commission against corruption and more besides.

Then Murpharoo wound up and threw the switch to contempt. Let’s go to the transcript:

Katharine Murphy: Um, look, the offerings from the Coalition that are currently on the table, they don’t meet any of these challenges [scoffs]. And then – you know, that’s even before we get to the region and the world and the dangerous times that we live in. And, you know. So, that’s why I’m frustrated. [scoffs] That, here we are in this election, and the primary pitch is: “Vote for us because we’re not Labor”. I mean, please, spare us. But, you know, your question though, love, was – can it work? Well – well, yes. It did in 2019. We’ve seen it, so we know it can. And we also know that Scott Morrison is going to be throwing everything at it over the next, you know, the remaining two weeks.

So there you have it.  It’s no surprise that the political editor of the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia  fangs the Morrison government.   It is to be expected.

What is surprising is that the ABC contracts Comrade Murpharoo to fang and mock the Morrison government once a week – but does not engage a political conservative to fill a weekly RN Breakfast commentary spot on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday.  And the ABC wonders why it is frequently criticised for lack of balance.



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 a print edition of the Bill Thompson initiative.


The decision to extend ABC TV Insiders from an hour to 90 minutes has not made the program any more interesting. It’s rather bland most weeks as a panel of three invariably Canberra-based journalists speak to journalist presenter David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers about the 2022 election campaign and all that.

For example, on Sunday 24 April, David Speers interviewed Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers. The panellists on the couch were Clare Armstrong (Daily Telegraph), David Crowe (The Age/Sydney Morning Herald) and Patricia Karvelas (ABC).

Speersy interviewed Jim Chalmers and, inter alia, raised with him Labor’s safeguard mechanism.  This entails that 215 companies will have to reduce emissions to a level determined by the Clean Energy Regulator.  Speers mentioned that Chalmers and Labor’s deputy leader Richard Marles “were asked about this yesterday” – i.e. Saturday 23 April. But that’s all he said.

In fact, at a press conference in the Hunter Valley on 24 April, there was disagreement among Jim Chalmers, Richard Marles and the local Labor MP Patrick Conroy about what Labor’s policy really meant.  But Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark apparently did not want Labor’s internal divisions discussed by the panellists on the Insiders’ couch – so it was not put on the run-sheet and not discussed by the panel.  That’s how bland Insiders has become.

On May Day, the Melbourne-based Herald-Sun’s James Campbell made some fresh comments but otherwise Insiders  went over old ground that had been covered by the media (including the ABC) the previous week. Yawn.

However, there were two “highlights” on 1 May:

  • First up, David (“Oh yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers interrupted Coalition Finance Minister Simon Birmingham on no fewer than 34 occasions in a 16-minute interview. Well done, Speersy – it’s a record for an Insiders interview for 2022 so far. On the previous week, Jim Chalmers was interrupted 17 times in a 17-minute interview. In other words, Speersy interrupted the Coalition’s Finance Minister twice as often as he interrupted Labor’s Shadow Finance Minister. What a legend.
  • Then it was time to mock Katherine Deves (the Liberal Party candidate for Warringah who is attempting to win the seat from the Simon Holmes à Court backed Independent Zali Steggall) and her supporters. This is how Comrade Speers introduced the wind-up segment on May Day – which would have been watched by any Insiders’ viewers who were still awake.

David Speers: Finally, Liberal candidate Katherine Deves has been causing plenty of headaches for her party in the campaign. Her supporters tried to rally a bit of positive energy, it didn’t quite go to plan. We’ll leave you with that.

Sure the performance of Deves’ supporters was not of an Oscar-winning standard.  But nor was the umbrella rain dance that was performed by Zali Steggall’s supporters as shown on ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday 27 April. Here it is:

So Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark decided to mock the Deves camp but not the Steggall camp. Quelle Surprise!



There was a time when Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper was so boring that it published book reviews by anonymous reviewers.  This could lead to a situation where a bestie or an enemy of a book’s author could praise or condemn an author without providing a name.  This, it seems, was the you-beaut idea of TSP’s editor-in-chief Erik Jensen. In the event, Comrade Jensen dropped this concept and in recent times the name of reviewers is provided for readers of The [Boring]  Saturday Paper (if readers there are).

Lotsa thanks to the avid Geelong reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s  attention to the review by (leftist) Jeff Sparrow of the late (leftist) Stuart Macintyre’s The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning (Allen & Unwin, 2022). [Note this book is reviewed by Keith Harvey in the current edition of The Sydney Institute Review Online  – see here:  – MWD Editor.]

This is how Comrade Sparrow’s review of Comrade Macintyre’s tome commenced:

In The Reds (1998), the first part of his history of the Communist Party of Australia, the late Stuart Macintyre commented: “With its passing, communism has become almost unintelligible.” Twenty-four years later The Party, the posthumously published second volume, continues the argument. The book begins with World War II, a conflict the CPA briefly opposed after the Hitler-Stalin pact, Macintyre’s description of the small campaign against conscription that followed defamiliarises the usual narrative about social unity during the Good War – as does his account of the wartime ban on communism….

What a load of absolute tosh – even for a Guardian Australia columnist.

The Communist Party of Australia did not “briefly” oppose the war effort after Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that Australia was at war with Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939. These are the facts.

On 23 August 1939 the leaders of Nazi Germany (Adolf Hitler) and the communist Soviet Union (Josef Stalin) signed what came to be termed the Nazi-Soviet or Hitler- Stalin or Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  This led, soon after, to the invasion of Poland by Germany in the west and the Soviet Union in the east. In other words, the Nazi-Soviet Pact led to the commencement of the Second World War. The Nazi-Soviet Pact ran for about two years – from 23 August 1939 until 22 June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union (to Stalin’s surprise). This was not a “brief” period in a war which went on in Europe for close to six years.

Members of the Communist Party of Australia opposed the Allied war effort (led by Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) for the almost two years that the Nazi-Soviet Pact was in existence. Were it not for the resistance of the Allies, Hitler would have won the war by early 1941 with the support of Stalin (and his backers in the Communist Party of Australia and elsewhere).

The other howlers in Jeff Sparrow’s review are:

  • Sparrow maintains that the CPA ran “a small campaign against conscription” at the beginning of the Second World War. It was, in fact, a big campaign.
  • Sparrow refers to “the wartime ban on communism”. In fact, the CPA was declared an illegal organisation on 15 June 1940 due to its support for Hitler and Stalin at the time and its attempts to undermine the war effort. The ban was lifted in December 1941, some months after Labor came to office.
  • Sparrow asserts that “Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1940”. Hopelessly wrong.  Germany’s Operation Barbarossa commenced on 22 June 1941. Note – this serious error remains uncorrected on The Saturday Paper’s  website.

It would seem that Comrades Schwartz and Jensen at The Saturday Paper  do not do much fact-checking.  And what about Comrade Sparrow?  In addition to being a columnist for The Guardian Australia, Dr Sparrow (for a doctor he is) is also a lecturer at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.

Which raises the question: Pray tell MWD – how are your man Sparrow’s students going to advance journalism if they believe that the Communist Party of Australia only “briefly” opposed the war effort until Hitler “attacked the Soviet Union in 1940 [sic]”?

[Interesting. You should comment about Comrade Macintyre, himself a one-time CPA member, in a forthcoming segment of the hugely popular “History Corner” segment. – MWD Editor.]


* * * *

Until next time.

* * * *