GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 589
27 May 2022
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The inaugural issue of Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Between November 1997 and October 2015 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
YET ANOTHER GREENS-SUPPORTING BAYING MOB ON Q&A
When David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers presented ABC TV’s program Q+A on Thursday 5 May he asserted that every program went to air with an audience which comprised 25 per cent of Coalition, Labor, Independent/Greens and Undecided voters. Speersy provided no information about how Q+A obtained such an audience.
There was no evidence of any such balance on Q+A last night. The panel was its usual unbalanced self – comprising Amanda Rishworth (Labor) Andrew Bragg (Liberal Party), Mehreen Faruqi (Greens), Monique Ryan (Teal Independent) and Alexander Downer (former Coalition foreign affairs minister) with your man Speers in the presenter’s chair. In other words, three left-of-centre politicians plus one self-proclaimed moderate Liberal and the politically conservative Alexander Downer. That is, one conservative out of five panellists.
As usual, the baying mob in Melbourne (where Q+A was filmed) overwhelmingly cheered for the Greens’ Mehreen Faruqi and presenter David Speers’ only hostile questions/comments were directed at Mr Downer. However, on a couple of occasions Downer scored some applause.
Proving once again MWD’s point that there is only a downside for a conservative to appear on Q+A – since they only present a target for fellow panellists, audience participants and (invariably) the presenter to fire at. In spite of this, Alexander Downer held his own in difficult circumstances.
ROD QUINN’S IGNORANT ATTACK ON SKY NEWS
It was Hangover Time this morning, 5.06 am in fact, when Rod Quinn on ABC Radio Overnights program declared “nobody watches Sky News at night”. Needless to say, Comrade Quinn provided no evidence to support his assertion.
Which raises the question, if “nobody” watches “Sky News After Dark” – as your man Quinn claims – you wonder why so many ABC comrades bang on about Sky News’ opinion programs which go to air in the late afternoon and evening. In particular, why does Paul Barry’s Media Watch program, on the taxpayer funded broadcaster, examine the (television) entrails of such Sky News presenters as Chris Kenny, Peta Credlin, Andrew Bolt and Paul Murray if Comrade Quinn is correct and “nobody” is watching them? What a load of absolute tosh.
DAVID MARR FUDGES HIS “I WAS WRONG” – MOMENT OR “DON’T-TALK-ABOUT THE PELL CASE”
Alas, Jackie’s (male) co-owner could not make it to the 2022 Sydney Writers’ Festival – which was yet another leftist stack as documented in recent issues of Media Watch Dog. First up, Hendo was not invited. Moreover, there are better things to do than attend alleged discussions where virtually everyone agrees with virtually everyone else in a leftist kind of way.
However, one avid reader made it to the 2022 SWF’s “I Was Wrong” session on the afternoon of Sunday 22 May where a number of left-of-centre Australians were invited to talk about changing their minds. Here is how the SWF artistic director Michael Williams described the session:
There are seemingly the three hardest words to say in public life: “I Was Wrong”. The process of changing minds – individually, collectively and culturally – is made that much harder by a political landscape in which admitting uncertainty, confessing error or revealing a change of heart is actively discouraged.
MWD was particularly interested in what David Marr was going to ‘fess up about having got something wrong – and was not disappointed. Here is MWD’s EXCLUSIVE report by MWD’s intrepid reporter on David’s Marr’s “I Was Wrong” moments:
▪ Comrade Marr confessed that in 1974, when covering a story about floods in the New South Wales Tablelands, he said he was knee-deep in Namoi. There is no such town as Namoi. But there is a Namoi River that runs through parts of the Northern Tablelands up to Jackie’s ex-hometown of Gunnedah. And your man Marr was not knee deep in the flooding Namoi river. It’s an error to be sure, but a very minor one.
▪ Comrade Marr then confessed that in his 1980 biography of Sir Garfield Barwick he erred in depicting the connection between the Barwick and Ellicott families. Garfield Barwick was a minister in the Robert Menzies government who became Chief Justice of the High Court. Bob Ellicott was the Commonwealth Solicitor General who became a minister in Malcolm Fraser’s government. Hardly a serious error – but the one-time Anglican felt the need to confess this.
So there you have it. Asked to tell SWF attendees when he had got something wrong in his life – David Marr confessed a couple of verbal and written typos of half a century ago. Really.
Needless to say, David Marr did not discuss any errors he made when covering the case of Cardinal George Pell for the Guardian and the ABC – that is, The Guardian/ABC Axis.
After Cardinal Pell was charged by Victoria Police on 26 counts of historical child sexual abuse, Marr said that Pell would face a series of trials extending for “perhaps four or five years”. Wrong. Pell was convicted on the only trial he faced (which included a re-trial). There was not a series of trials and the whole process took around a year and a half.
When Pell was convicted on the only trial he faced, Marr told Pell supporters to accept the decision since there was no hope of the verdict being overturned. Wrong. When Pell appealed, Marr said that if Pell’s verdict was overturned by the Victorian Court of Appeal, it would be re-instated by the High Court. Wrong. When Pell appealed to the High Court, Marr said it was most unlikely that the High Court would hear the case. Wrong. Marr then declared that the High Court, having heard the case, would reject the appeal. Wrong – all seven judges of the High Court quashed Pell’s conviction.
In short, David Marr was hopelessly wrong on the Pell Case. But he did not tell his adoring SWF audience about this – preferring to focus on some trivial errors in the former century. What a cop-out. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. I note that all of Comrade Marr’s errors are documented in Gerard Henderson’s Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (Connor Court) which neither The Guardian nor the ABC will discuss or give any publicity to – having “cancelled” Hendo. – MWD Editor.]
David Marr at the 2022 Sydney Writers Festival confessing to only two errors in the last 50 years
TRUCULENT TURDS DECLINE TO VOTE FOR JANE CARO IN THE SENATE
While on the topic of writers’ festivals, MWD fave Jane Caro was on the SWF’s “I Was Wrong” session with David Marr on 22 May.
It was the afternoon after the previous day when Comrade Caro had run for the Senate in NSW for the Reason Australia Party, previously termed the Australian Sex Party. It would seem that, over a decade or so, reason took the place of sex. Or something like that.
How did Jane Caro go? MWD hears avid readers cry. Er, not that well. In terms of Senate votes, Reason Australia came in 11th. Jane Caro finished behind the Liberals & Nationals, Labor, The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the United Australia Party (aka Clive Palmer), Legalise Cannabis Australia, the Animal Justice Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and the Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia. It is equivalent to being the 12th man in the first eleven in cricket.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Comrade Caro and her fellow Sandalistas did finish in front of the Socialist Alliance and something called “Group F” – whatever that might mean.
How could Jane Caro have put in such a poor performance? Well, Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) has a theory. Here it is. Three years ago, in a late-night tweet, Comrade Caro described those Australians who supported the return of the Coalition government as “truculent turds”. That is, just over half the Australian population are “truculent turds” according to Jane Caro (BA Macquarie University).
According to Jackie, due to this outburst, “truculent turds” have declined to vote for Jane Caro – which explains why Reason Australia scored a mere 0.6 per cent of the Senate vote. In Jackie’s opinion, if Comrade Caro had not made this Twitter rant – Reason Australia would have scored a whopping 1.2 per cent of the primary vote since some truculent turds probably would have voted for Comrade Caro – especially if they were drunk at the time.
Jane Caro told SWF that she was disappointed in her vote. Apparently, Comrade Caro expected the truculent turds of Australia to unite behind her. Can You Bear It?
NO DIVERSITY OF VIEWS WHEN RN BREAKFAST DISCUSSES THE LIBERAL PARTY
The Victorian State Liberal Party MP Bernie Finn was expelled from the Victorian Parliamentary Liberal Party on 24 May on account of his publicly expressed views on abortion.
ABC Radio’s The World Today reported the story that very day. ABC reporter Oliver Gordon commented and two apparent “experts” on the Liberal Party were interviewed by Gordon and Sally Sara respectively. Namely, Melbourne University’s Professor Sarah Maddison plus La Trobe University’s Professor Clare Wright
The only problem was that the learned professors essentially agreed with each other from a left-of-centre point of view. Comrade Maddison declared that the Liberal Party had been effectively decimated and, amid laughter, said the expulsion of Finn would not send the necessary message to the electorate. Then Comrade Wright commented that the Liberal Party has not been listening to women or history.
Both arguments deserved to be stated. The problem was that no alternative view was heard. Imagine if an ABC reporter rounded up two right-of-centre academics (if such people exist) to discuss the future of the Greens. The problem is that the likes of ABC’s Sally Sara and the ABC’s Oliver Gordon do not appear to believe that alternative views exist when it comes to discussing the Liberal Party. Can You Bear It?
The 2022 election has come and gone with Labor obtaining an absolute majority in the House of Representatives and so-called Teal Independents defeating some high-profile Liberals in what were regarded as relatively safe Liberal seats. There were a number of media highlights of the 2022 election – some of which occurred after 6 pm on Saturday 21 May. Here are a few.
BARRIE CASSIDY BERATES HIS ABC COLLEAGUES IN LATE-NIGHT TWEETS
Retired ABC journalist Barrie Cassidy, who still does occasional gigs for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, threw the switch to anger late on Saturday. Comrade Cassidy sent out tweets at 9.59 pm, 11.10 pm and 11.11 pm criticising the ABC’s coverage – headed by Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb – for being too focused on the Morrison government’s defeat and not enough on Labor’s victory. The first one read as follows:
Disappointed the ABC could not even congratulate Tanya Plibersek for Labor’s win but instead they should be embarrassed about the greens winning a couple of seats. Reset guys. You don’t have to be cowed anymore.
— Barrie Cassidy (@barriecassidy) May 21, 2022
Sure, it was late at night. But if Bazza believes that such ABC presenters as Leigh Sales, Laura Tingle, Patricia Karvelas, Annabel Crabb and Virginia Trioli were “cowed” by Scott Morrison and his ministers, he is delusional.
At 11.10 pm, Comrade Cassidy really put the hype into hyperbole by claiming that on the ABC “there’s barely any mention that we have a new government”. Perhaps he had slept though part of the night. And at 11.11 pm your man Cassidy complained that “the discussions around how the Liberals will cope” in defeat “is nauseating”. Not so – it was an important issue in view of the severity of the loss. After that, it was a matter of ZZzzzz from the Cassidy computer. Thank God.
NINE’S CBD COLUMN GETS INTO THE BUSINESS OF COMMENTING ON THE ELECTION ATTIRE OF LEIGH SALES AND ANNABEL CRABB
While on the topic of Comrades Sales and Crabb, has anyone noticed that the ABC female dress code became quite an obsession of Nine’s CBD column – which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
On 23 May, CBD focused on the fact that Jenny Morrison, the PM’s wife, wore “a $929 Carla Zampatti dress” when Scott Morrison made his concession speech. It’s unlikely that any other topic was discussed in the Central Business District of Sydney and Melbourne that very morning – such was the significance of this CBD story. Or so the CBD columnists imagined, it appears.
CBD revealed that, on election night, Sales “looked fabulous in a stylish two-piece of suffragette white”. CBD also read something into the fact that Ms Sales wore “undeniably teal” earrings and that Ms Crabb had teal “spectacle rims”. How about that?
Alas, this was denied the very next day. On 26 May, CBD reported that Leigh Sales had advised that her earrings on the night were aquamarine, not teal, and that they were worn to match the Jan Logan ring she was wearing. How about that? Meanwhile Annabel Crabb reported that her glasses were “not teal; they’re green”. A hold-the-front-page moment, to be sure.
Believe it or not, the powers-that-be at Nine Newspapers appear to believe that fashion commentary – not business or politics – is what the business men and women on Pitt Street in Sydney and Collins Street in Melbourne want to know about in the wake of the change of government.
Teal or No Teal? The ABC’s Leigh Sales (left) & Annabel Crabb (right) in action on the ABC’s Australia Votes on 21 May
CRIKEY’S BERNARD KEANE RECKONS THAT THE LEFT IS LIKELY TO JOIN THE IPA IN CALLING FOR THE PRIVATISATION OF THE ABC
On 24 May, Crikey’s political editor Bernard Keane supported Barrie Cassidy’s assertion that the ABC had been “cowed” by the Morrison government. By the way, Comrade Keane described Comrade Cassidy as a “legend”. Your man Keane whinged that the ABC during the time of the Coalition government had “routinely” given a “platform to unrepresentative right-wing groups”. He did not name any. And your man Keane asserted that “at times the ABC has looked a lot like a less entertaining wing of News Corp”.
In fully unhinged mode, Crikey’s political editor wondered aloud whether the (alleged) disillusionment among the left with the ABC would lead the comrades to take up the cry “Defund the ABC”. An unlikely scenario – since so many comrades work at the ABC’s Conservative-Free-Zone.
LA TRIOLI BLAMES NEWS CORP’S “POWERFUL” COLUMNISTS FOR THE COALITION’S ELECTION DEFEAT
While on the topic of News Corp, on 26 May ABC Radio Melbourne 774 presenter Virginia Trioli interviewed former Victorian State Liberal Party MP John Pesutto on the state of the Liberals.
La Trioli put it to her guest that the problem with the Liberal Party was caused by, wait for it, News Corp and in particular, Rupert Murdoch. Let’s go to the transcript:
Virginia Trioli: They [News Corp] insist that certain issues in contemporary Australia right now are divided up left and right. That issues about gender equality is a left issue, that climate change is a left issue, that indigenous issues is a left issue. You are swimming against that very powerful tide if you want to argue that anyone in Victoria may hold those views, and the Liberal Party has to encompass all those views, aren’t you?
Comrade Trioli’s (leading) question was somewhat confused. When your man Pesutto responded that “equality of opportunity means something to people on the centre-right of politics”, there was this response:
Virginia Trioli: Don’t you need to go and tell Rupert Murdoch and his powerful columnists all that?
Hang on a minute. For starters, News Corp has prominent left-of-centre columnists – such as Joe Hildebrand, Phillip Adams and Graham Richardson. The ABC, on the other hand, has no conservatives who present prominent programs. Moreover, if News Corp columnists are as ideological and “powerful” as La Trioli claims – how come Labor, the (so-called) Teal Independents and the Greens prevailed over the Coalition on 21 May?
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 to report on the ABC TV Insiders program.
ALL QUIET ON THE POST-ELECTION INSIDERS’ INTERRUPTION FRONT – ESPECIALLY FOR ABC FAVE ZOE DANIEL
Media Watch Dog has been asked on oh-so-many occasions – how does a guest on the ABC Insiders program manage to avoid oh-so-many interruptions from David (“Oh yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers?
There are two answers:
- Do an interview with Speersy after he has had a long night involved in ABC election coverage. On 22 May, the morning after the election night before, Speersy interrupted Labor Deputy Leader Richard Marles on only 5 occasions and Liberal Party Senate leader Simon Birmingham only 3 times. The last time Senator Birmingham was interviewed on Insiders, he was interrupted on 27 occasions. It would seem that on the Sunday after the election, Speersy was too tired to interrupt.
- Be a leftist luvvie who once worked for the ABC. Zoe Daniel, who defeated Liberal Tim Wilson to win the affluent seat of Goldstein for the so-called Teal Independents, was also interviewed on the morning after the election. Comrade Daniel received – wait for it – zero interruptions from Comrade Speers.
David Speers Allows ABC Fave to be Interviewed Without Any Interruptions
THE GUARDIAN’S MURPHAROO MOCKS PETER DUTTON WHILE THE ABC’s JONATHAN GREEN CONDEMNS THE LIBERAL PARTY FROM 1944 ONWARDS
Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy is the political editor of the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia who appears regularly on ABC Radio National Breakfast and the ABC TV Insiders programs. Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green presents Blueprint for Living (or is it for Dying?) on ABC Radio National on Saturday mornings.
Comrade Murpharoo and Comrade Green identify as journalists and presenters respectively. But both are activists who exhibit a strong dislike for conservative governments and individuals. This is what they had to say after the Coalition’s defeat on 21 May and the likelihood that Peter Dutton will become leader of the Liberal Party and the Opposition.
First up, here’s what The Guardian’s Murpharoo had to tweet:
Peter Dutton wants the opportunity of leadership to show us his true character.
— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) May 26, 2022
And this is what the ABC’s Green had to tweet:
a thought: if a political party loses one base, then pursues another, as presumably the liberal party will now do as aussie-trumps in the regions and outer suburbs … what did it ever stand for, other than the pursuit of power? this is politics as parasite, looking for a host.
— jonathan green 💉💉💉 (@GreenJ) May 25, 2022
And now let’s record how The Guardian/ABC Axis works when the comrades interact in person. Let’s go to the transcript when Murpharoo spoke to the ABC’s Hamish Macdonald (standing in for ABC’s Patricia Karvelas) during her regular slot on ABC Radio National Breakfast. The date was 26 May:
Hamish Macdonald: Let’s return to politics – and Katharine Murphy is our regular commentator. Good morning to you Katharine.
Katharine Murphy: Good morning, Hamish.
Hamish Macdonald: Peter Dutton, a softer side. There will be many listening this morning that wonder about that, is it true, how will we see it?
Katharine Murphy: [Laughs] I’m sorry to laugh. No, look, obviously Peter Dutton has, as the ABC news report mentioned, sort of started in a softer vain. And we need to remember last time Peter Dutton wanted to be leader of the Lib party he did tell us all he wanted to smile more. Look, I’m being slightly flippant…
How’s that for contempt? Murpharoo is asked a question about Peter Dutton – and her immediate response is mocking laughter followed by a faux apology. Moreover, Hamish Macdonald does not challenge such (bad) behaviour.
The Guardian/ABC Axis in action.
As avid readers are all-too-well aware, Media Watch Dog believes in the dictum that it’s unwise to make predictions. Especially about the future.
Nine’s Shane Wright has risen without trace (as the late Kitty Muggeridge once said about the late David Frost) to become the senior economic correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns. Even so, you would expect a person in such an elevated position to know something about the international energy market.
It’s only a few years since your man Wright ridiculed anyone who said that coal had any future as a part of energy supply – even in such markets as India, China and Indonesia. He said on ABC TV Insiders on 11 June 2017 that “coal is like candlesticks” and compared those who said that there is still a demand for Australian coal exports with members of the Candle Makers Union circa 1870 who (allegedly) argued the case for candles over electricity.
NINE’S SHANE WRIGHT MOCKS WALEED ALY ON HOUSING – BUT HAS NOT YET CANCELLED HIS COAL/CANDLESTICKS COMPARISON
As far as MWD is aware, Nine’s economic correspondent has not commented recently on the increasing demand for thermal coal – following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps he still believes that coal circa 2022 is comparable with candlesticks circa 1892. Or perhaps his Insiders statement of recent memory has gone down Comrade Wright’s very own memory hole.
In any event, your man Wright was in fine, arrogant form on Network Ten’s The Project when he clashed with Waleed Aly on 16 May 2022 – around the eve of the 21 May election. After Dr Aly (for a doctor he is) had supported then Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s housing policy – which would have allowed first home buyers to use some of their superannuation (under certain conditions) to buy a home – he was mocked by Shane (“Candlesticks”) Wright.
Aly’s position was that the housing market can be a better investment than the stock exchange – a view which, at the very least, is plausible – but he was fanged by Nine’s senior economics correspondent. Indeed, Comrade Wright threw the switch to abuse telling Aly: “That’s why you’re a TV presenter and not in the property market”.
Turn it up. Over the years, there are more broke property developers than television presenters. Moreover, at least Aly understands the property market. But your man Wright does not understand the contemporary coal market – despite the fact that some nations like Western Europe are re-establishing coal-fired power stations due to declining gas imports from Russia. The energy ministers of Europe certainly do not regard coal as today’s candlesticks.
JON FAINE’S HOWLERS RE THE WHITLAM AND FRASER GOVERNMENTS WHILE CLAIMING TO WRITE “HISTORY”
Media Watch Dog used to call The Age in Melbourne “The Guardian on the Yarra” – until the Real Guardian rocked up in Australia – due to a you-beaut idea by Malcolm Turnbull. Re which see MWD passim ad nauseam.
Jon Faine presented “Mornings with (yes – you’ve guessed it) Jon Faine” on ABC Radio Melbourne 774 for eons. On departing the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC in recent times, Comrade Faine moved smoothly to the left-of-centre Age where he writes a column. It is not published in Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald’s print edition. But it is available on Nine’s website.
On 22 May, Comrade Faine’s article was titled “Morrison’s legacy will be a shadow of his predecessors”. He commenced by stating that “it is a sad commentary on political life that most of our elected representatives leave little to mark their years representing the people.” Unlike columnists and presenters as the oh-so-pompous Faine, it seems.
Comrade Faine maintained that such premiers as Jeff Kennett, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dan Andrews have left their mark. Along with such prime ministers as Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.
As to Scott Morrison, your man Faine had this to say in his column which was written before, but published after, the election result was known.
As I compile this abbreviated history, his [Morrison’s] fate is unknown, but I struggle to get past “I don’t hold a hose”. His COVID-19 vaccine response was slow and inadequate. Despite being poorly targeted, JobKeeper undoubtedly prevented an even worse economic crash. His stubborn refusal to negotiate for an effective anti-corruption commission remains puzzling.
That’s all. Whatever the former prime minister’s faults, the Australian economy was one of the strongest in the world as at 21 May 2022 – despite having experienced drought, fire, floods along with a 100 year pandemic during the previous three years along with a resultant recession – with a low COVID-19 death rate and historic low unemployment. Also, Faine ignored the AUKUS Agreement – by which Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will share high-level intelligence and technology – including an agreement for Australia to acquire eight nuclear-powered submarines from either the UK or the US.
As to your man Faine’s claim to have written an “abbreviated history” in this instance – it is, rather, bunk. Here’s why.
Australia did not “quit the Vietnam War” under Gough Whitlam’s prime ministership as Faine claimed. All Australian combat forces were withdrawn from South Vietnam by William McMahon’s Coalition Government before Whitlam became prime minister in December 1972. All that was left was an Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam and that unit had few soldiers in South Vietnam on 1 December 1972.
What’s more, Malcolm Fraser did not end the White Australia Policy. The first significant steps to dismantle the White Australia Policy were commenced by Prime Minister Harold Holt in March 1966 and the legal changes were completed by the end of the Whitlam government in November 1975. When Malcolm Fraser became prime minister on 11 November 1975, the White Australia Policy was no longer extant.
This is just lazy journalism – not just small errors. Jon Faine (born 1956) lived through the era of the Whitlam and Fraser governments. Yet he made two howlers when claiming to write history about Australia’s Vietnam commitment and the White Australia Policy – which The Age’s editors did not pick up. Can You Bear It?
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.
PATRICK MULLINS AND GERARD HENDERSON re WHO NEEDS THE ABC? AND ALL THAT
In Media Watch Dog on April Fools’ Day, Gerard Henderson criticised the book Who Needs the ABC? – which is co-authored by academics Matthew Ricketson and Patrick Mullins. Your man Ricketson went into angry mode and wrote an angry letter to Gerard Henderson – who, being courteous, replied. The correspondence was published in MWD on 8 April. There were further references to the book by this ABC-loving duo in MWD on 22 April and 6 May. Just when avid readers thought that they no longer had to follow the thought of Ricketson/Mullins – lo and behold the latter wrote to Hendo and received a reply. This correspondence is printed below. Now read on – if you can be bothered.
Patrick Mullins to Gerard Henderson – 17 May 2022
Thanks for your email, and apologies for my much-delayed reply: it’s been a busy few weeks.
I did see this, and I have seen the subsequent instalments of your thoughts on Matthew Ricketson’s and my book, Who needs the ABC?
A few notes:
First, given that you had invited Matthew to speak at the Institute, I thought that your comment about his appearance — published in Media Watchdog issue 583 — was graceless. It rather belied your self-awarded post-nominals. Perhaps a revocation is in order.
Second, in Media Watchdog issue 584, you write that Matthew asked, during his and my interview with Phillip Adams, ‘Isn’t she [ABC chair Ita Buttrose] a wonderful woman?’ You should correct this schoolboy error. As the recording should have made clear when you listened to it, I asked that question.
Third, while I much appreciate your kind words about my McMahon and Portnoy books, in referring to me as a professor at the University of Canberra, in Media Watchdog issue 586, you have promoted me. As your (genuinely amusing) joke in issue 582 should have made clear, mine is an adjunct appointment. This howler should be corrected: by you, and perhaps by my university, too.
Fourth, you wrote in Media Watchdog issue 584 that whether you are politically balanced with respect to the need for debate and discussion is best judged by what happens at the Sydney Institute. In that vein, I would reiterate the offer Matthew extended in April: we remain willing to speak about our book at the Sydney Institute.
With best wishes,
Gerard Henderson to Patrick Mullins – 23 May 2022
I refer to your email of 17 May 2022 – concerning which I make the following comments:
- In your (somewhat boring) book Who Needs The ABC?, which you co-wrote with Matthew Ricketson, you describe my various written comments on the ABC as “sour” – without quoting from any of my work to support this assertion. And yet you describe my reference to Matthew’s address to The Sydney Institute in May 2012 as so unforgettable that I forgot it, as “graceless” and suggest that “a revocation is in order”. This indicates that Matthew is a bit like so many of his besties at the ABC in that he likes to criticise others but does not like being criticised himself.
- It’s true that it was you – not Matthew – who said to Phillip Adams on Late Night Live: “Isn’t she [ABC chair Ita Buttrose] a wonderful woman”. This was my error. I did not listen to Phillip and Matthew and you agreeing with each other – but worked off a transcript. The transcript attributed the comment to you, but I thought it must have been Matthew. The truth is that I did not believe that someone as bright as you would make such an obsequious comment. Even Comrade Adams sounded surprised and closed down the matter by simply responding “Okay”. I shall correct this in next week’s Media Watch Dog.
- I understand that you are an adjunct professor (or junk professor as I call them as an irreverent attempt at humour) at the University of Canberra – not a full professor. So the reference should have been to “the learned adjunct professor” – not “the learned professor”. How important is that? It occurs to me that no one has to use the term “professor” – and that flashing the adjunct professor status suggests a degree of self-importance.
In any event, I shall correct this in MWD – perhaps in “Pedants’ Corner”. I would imagine the University of Canberra would have better ways to use its time than to bother to correct what you describe as “a howler” – but you never know what priorities prevail in the groves of academe.
- All up, these are trivial points – especially since you have ignored all the criticisms of your book which are contained in my email to Matthew Ricketson on 11 April with a copy forwarded to you. This includes you misquoting my claim 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 by excluding the word “prominent”. Somewhat intellectually dishonest, don’t you think?
- One final point. You accuse me of being “unbalanced” with respect to the ABC – in spite of the fact that senior ABC management and journalists have addressed The Sydney Institute in the past. Moreover, you have ignored my point that the ABC has censored reference to the books on the Pell Case by Frank Brennan, Keith Windschuttle and myself.
- Since George Pell v The Queen in the High Court of Australia is one of Australia’s most important criminal law cases, it is quite unprofessional for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to “cancel” published authors who are critical of the reportage of the Pell Case on the ABC and elsewhere. I can only conclude that you and Matthew are in denial about this. It’s an unpleasant double standard for you to want to address The Sydney Institute, inter alia, about the ABC’s “balance” while not even recognising the ABC’s manifest lack of balance in this and other instances.
Best wishes – and Keep Morale High
Until next time