ISSUE – NO. 591

10 June 2022

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Can You Bear It?


The Sydney-based novelist Nikki Gemmell is something of a Media Watch Dog  fave.  So, Jackie’s (male) co-owner could only feel Ms Gemmell’s pain after reading her column in The Weekend Australian Magazine at Hangover Time on Saturday 4 June.

You see, NG described her life as a survivor of the Coalition government – presumably that led from August 2018 by Scott Morrison, but it might have gone all the way back to September 2013 when Tony Abbott’s government came to office. Who knows?

In any event, Ms Gemmell described the Morrison government’s defeat as almost feeling like she had “left an abusive relationship”.  It may be an attempt to get into Gerard Henderson’s end-of-year round-up of hyperbole and all that (or perhaps not). For the record, this is what the columnist had to say:

The Morrison campaign felt like a throwback to a time when we worshipped the god of coal, liked women in their place at home and were in thrall to religious bigotry – and it wasn’t the Australia I knew. Loved. It made me feel like I’d been living under a regime of wrong-think, for years; that I didn’t belong to this world. It felt like our country had become fossilised, barricaded, desperately clinging to a dying fossil fuel industry in the face of catastrophic climate change and fearful of The Other, the great unknown that was “different” – whoever that was….

Immediately after reading Nikki Gemmell’s cri de coeur, MWD – in a trembling state – turned to The Weekend Australian. And there, on Page 4, was Greg Brown’s report titled “Coal is king under Labor’s watch”.  He reported Resources Minister Madeleine King as saying that the Albanese government would not negotiate with the Greens over the minor party’s push to end coal and gas development.

Then MWD turned to the Australian Financial Review of that very day.  It reported on Page 1 that Minister King said that coal-fired power generation must step up to reduce current soaring energy prices in Australia.

So there you have it.  Nikki Gemmell, having declared that, under the Morrison government, Australia worshipped “the god of coal” – now faces the immediate reality of living in a “fossilised” country into the immediate future at least.

Nikki Gemmell concluded her column as follows:

And Scomo? What did he do for our nation in terms of visionary change? Crickets. Where had my beloved country gone under his watch? He wanted the past, calcified, not the future. Bring on the breath of fresh air.

But, alas, it seems that – according to Comrade Gemmell’s analysis – the breath of fresh air made possible by the election of the Albanese government may be tarnished by coal. Which could lead to yet more reflections about why Ms Gemmell no longer believes she belongs to this world. Can You Bear It?


There was enormous interest in last issue’s “An ABC Update” which commented on the discussion on ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra that aired on 28 May. And now there is more news on this story per courtesy of Nine’s “CBD” column.

Titled “The Liberal Party’s Move to the Right”, the Saturday Extra presenter was MWD fave Geraldine Doogue and her guests were Greg Barns SC and historian Judith Brett.  Saturday Extra’s executive producer is Skye Doherty – she is primarily responsible for the selection of panellists.

Introducing the segment, Geraldine Doogue stated that Mr Barns and Dr Brett (for a doctor she is) were “coming from different perspectives”.  Not so – as MWD demonstrated.  Sure, Greg Barns has been a Liberal Party operative in the past – but he has been a Liberal Party critic for around two decades.  And Judith Brett is a left-of-centre academic and a life-long critic of the Liberal Party.

Indeed, the dedication of Judith Brett’s book Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class (2003) reads as follows: “In memory of my grandparents, Harry and Matilda Brett and Harry and Elsie Williams, none of whom ever voted Labor – and for their grandchildren, most of whom did.”  MWD reckons that Comrade Brett is in the majority of the grandchildren in this instance – and points to her written work and commentary as evidence.

MWD just loves Nine’s CBD column which appears in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. If only because it seems to be about everything except what really matters to Central Business District types – that is, business.  Rather, “CBD” focuses on the parties of leftist luvvies, what’s going on in the boardrooms of expensive private schools and so on.

On 8 June, CBD revealed that lotsa leftist luvvies were behind a campaign called “1in50” to fight the Morrison government.  The idea was to raise money for Facebook advertisements aimed at defeating the Coalition in the May 2022 election.  In the event, a mere $20,000 was raised from this well-heeled lot.  But it was enough to run a Facebook ad in 22 marginal seats. As CBD put it, the advertisement “focused on a standard suite of anti-Morrison talking points”.

Now, who comprised the luvvie collective which campaigned against the Liberal Party in this instance? – MWD hears avid readers cry.  Well, here are the names provided by CBD.  Namely, one-time Gough Whitlam staffer Richard Whittington, Ian Temby QC, Jenny Hocking, Richard Butler and Richard Ackland plus – wait for it – Greg Barns and Judith Brett.

How about that?  Both Comrade Barns and Comrade Brett, who were introduced by Saturday Extra  as presenting different views on the Liberal Party following its defeat on 21 May, had campaigned against the Liberal Party in the days leading up to 21 May. But no one mentioned this on Saturday Extra. And the ABC proclaims that it provides balanced coverage. Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog just loved Cathy Wilcox’s cartoon, titled “Out of the dark”, which was published by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 1 June (see below).  It depicted the coming out of a Coal Free World – or a Coal Free Australia, at the very least. There was a man – presumably a former prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison kind of guy – breaking out of a large mound of coal and looking up at the blazing sun.

That was 1 June – when coal died Down Under, according to The Thought of Cathy Wilcox.  On the third day – 4 June – coal seems to have risen from the dead. The Australian  and the Australian Financial Review reported Madeleine King, the Albanese government’s Minister for Resources, saying that Australia could be exporting coal beyond 2050.  Oh yes – and the Coalition’s Matt Kean, NSW Treasurer and Minister for the Environment, was reported as calling for more coal production to help ease Australia’s current energy crisis.  This was the very same Mr Kean who as recently as 2 October 2021 told The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy that coal was a “rust bucket” industry. How times change.

So there you have it.  Comrade Wilcox has “seen the future and it works” (to borrow Lincoln Steffens’ phrase). But, alas, not for very long.  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Now that you ask. But the reference to the late and unlamented Comrade Steffens is a bit of intellectual flashing, don’t you think? – MWD Editor.]

The Wilcox original

Jackie’s effort


Once upon a time Network 10 presented The Project  as “news presented differently”.  You can say that again. On 8 June The Project  led with the big news of the day – presented differently, it must be said.

Discussion turned on reports that authorities in Spain have decided to impose fines on supermarkets, restaurants, bars and the like which waste food.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Peter Helliar: Who in Spain is not finishing their Tapas? I mean, they’re tiny. [panellist laughing]

Georgie Tunny: That’s true.

Rachel Corbett: That’s an excellent point. That’s an excellent point.

Peter Helliar: Thank you.

Hamish Macdonald: Some of them have got weird stuff in them that you didn’t anticipate when you took the little tapas [audience laughing] plate.

Peter Helliar: It sounds like you’ve had an experience [panel laughing]. Did you make it home in time [panel laughing] or did you… [audience laughing] I wasn’t expecting this conversation to go here but –

Georgie Tunny: Yeah.

Peter Helliar: – have you had an accident?

Hamish Macdonald: I have had some unfortunate [panel laughing] …

And so it went on and on and on.  Hamish Macdonald told The Project audience, if audience there was, that he “actually travelled from Spain back to the UK with a backpack covered in the remains of spew”.   And then Rachel Corbett opined “we’re knee deep in Hamish’s stew bag”.  All this led to rapturous laughter by panellists and studio audience (or was it just the camera crew?) alike.

No one bothered to ask Comrade Macdonald why he didn’t wash his backpack before boarding the flight to Britain.  In truth this wasn’t news – presented differently or otherwise.  Just self-indulgent journalism.  Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of flashing, did anyone watch The Weekly with Charlie Pickering on ABC TV on 8 June?  It contained a (truly boring) joke about Scott Morrison moving out of the prime minister’s official residence at Kirribilli House in Sydney “after 13 days”.  The suggestion was that Mr Morrison had delayed his departure.  In fact, as pointed out in MWD’s last issue, the former prime minister had reached an agreement with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (who has decided to base himself at The Lodge in Canberra) to depart Kirribilli within 14 days after his defeat at the May 21 election – which he did.

Comrade Pickering also tried to make a “joke” – out of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – in a sketch titled “Insane in the Ukraine”. How funny can you get?

However, the team at The Weekly missed the real “Joke of the Week”. On 31 May, the Daily Telegraph reported that Chris Walker – the executive producer of The Weekly – had appeared naked in front of his online colleagues during a production meeting over Zoom.

Apparently, it was all a terrible mistake as your man Walker prepared to get into the shower at his current home in Britain – unaware that his Zoom had not been turned off. The Daily Telegraph’s intrepid reporter Claire Heaney wrote that the ABC has offered counselling to ABC employees who were on the Zoom call. An understandable reaction, to be sure.

How about that?  Just imagine if a well-known, say, Sky News male producer or presenter accidentally appeared starkers in front of colleagues via Zoom.  To Comrade Pickering and the team at The Weekly this surely would have been a real hoot and the occasion for much mockery.

But, apparently, The Weekly’s  executive producer – your man Walker – decided it was not at all funny that he had been caught with his pants down – or, rather, off.  So Charlie Pickering and the team had to rely on an old “joke” about Scott Morrison, as well as an insensitive “gag” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Can You Bear It?



MWD has previously covered ABC COVID-guru Dr Norman Swan’s 10 May 2022 comparison of COVID deaths to “jet crashes every week” – See the 13 May 2022 issue of MWD. Swan appears to have cribbed this plane crash analogy from Professor Michael Toole of the Burnet Institute, who has been pushing the line for months.

In a 29 May article in The Sydney Morning Herald by Michael Koziol, former

Commonwealth Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth pushed back:

Coatsworth acknowledges Australia is currently experiencing a relatively high number of COVID deaths. Some people have called it “a plane crash a week”. But he takes issue with that analogy, pointing out COVID deaths are very much skewed to the elderly.

“A plane crash has anywhere between babies through to people at the end of their lives and everything in between,” Coatsworth says. “So it’s not a reasonable analogy to draw when we’re talking about largely the very frail elderly, who are very likely to succumb to infection whether there’s a pandemic or not.”

Dr Coatsworth is correct. It is an uncomfortable subject to state plainly, perhaps even a taboo, but most people see the death of a child as more tragic than the death of an elderly person. This is partly why events like the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas are international news stories, while the hundreds of daily COVID deaths (or the numerous daily killings) still occurring in the United States receive much less coverage.

Swan’s jet crash comment was also criticised on 11 May by 2GB’s Ben Fordham. Fordham described him as a “fearmonger” and “COVID bogeyman”.  On Monday 6 June, Swan responded in The Australian’s Media Diary column. Media Diarist Nick Tabakoff quoted Swan as saying:

I’m quite happy to be called a panic merchant on that dimension. I’m not calling for a lockdown or anything. All that I’m saying is that I’m worried about how many deaths are preventable. I couldn’t care less what people call me: I just care about lives being saved.

Well, what a relief to know that your man Swan only cares about saving lives. Of course, this is not actually a response to Fordham’s criticism – since if Dr Swan is just a fearmonger then his comments won’t actually save any lives.

Presumably, saving lives was also Dr Swan’s only motivation when he appeared on six seasons of Network Ten’s The Biggest Loser. And life saving must be the reason he has a new book coming out in July (the bizarrely titled So You Want to Live Younger Longer?).

And if Norman (“trust me, I’m Australia’s most trusted doctor – even though I haven’t practised medicine for four decades”) Swan has written a life saving book then, in the interest of saving lives, it must be his life saving duty to sell as many books as possible. It’s a terrible burden but someone has to do it.

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 economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns plus the occasional essay. 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 declared 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.


In the midst of the current energy crisis, Shane Wright does not appear to have commented on coal this week – instead focusing his energy on 80’s singer/songwriter Kate Bush – whose song Running up that Hill has experienced a recent boost in popularity.

In addition to his article in The Age “`Nothing else sounds like it’: How Kate Bush keeps finding new fans, across the generations” published on 6 June, Wright has tweeted or retweeted about Kate Bush at least 18 times in the past week.  However, he has not found time to address his comment that coal is like candlesticks – or the way that coal keeps finding new fans across the generations.

[Fascinating that.  Does your man Wright have the hots for Kate Bush?  Or has he got nothing else to write about in this post-candlesticks world. Please keep avid readers posted. MWD Editor.]


Avid Media Watch Dog readers just love the end of the (calendar) year when Jackie’s (male) co-owner looks back on the previous twelve months of false prophecy and hyperbole.  However, there has been a demand for more reports about those who become instant false prophets – like, in a week or two.

Step forward the Australian Financial Review’s economics editor John Kehoe. Your man Kehoe commenced his AFR  comment piece on Monday 6 June – titled “RBA set to raise 0.25 pc, wait for minimum wage call” – as follows:

The Reserve Bank of Australia will likely increase the cash rate by 0.25 of percentage point tomorrow, even with money markets betting on a larger rise.  RBA governor Philip Lowe said last month that an increase of 25 basis points was a “signal we’re getting back to business as usual”….

That was Monday 6 June. On Tuesday 7 June the very same Philip Lowe announced that the RBA’s official rate would be increased by 50 basis points, not 25.  Your man Kehoe’s prediction was only out by, er, 100 per cent. Sure he used the word “likely”, but it was an informed prediction, nevertheless.

As MWD says from time to time:  It’s always dangerous to make predictions – especially about the future.  Stand by for more such instant false prophecies in this segment.

By popular demand, Media Watch Dog continues to cover journalists who give soft interviews to the important and self-important alike.  You know, the kind of fawning occasion where journalists are oh-so-impressed with their interviewee that no challenging questions are asked and too much gushing’s all the rage.  And then there is the fawning comment, sometimes on Twitter.


Lotsa thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to the recent fawning performances of MWD fave Patricia (“call me PK”) Karvelas – after it became clear that Labor had defeated the Coalition and would form a government under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

On election night (21 May), PK posted a photo of herself with Linda Burney – who was destined to be appointed Minister for Indigenous Australians:

Sure, Ms Burney is the first Indigenous woman to be Minister for Indigenous Australians.  But there is no evidence that PK ever fawned over Ken Wyatt when he became the first male Minister for Indigenous Australians in 2019.   In short, PK does not appear to have endorsed Wyatt as a legend. A bit one-sided it would seem.


Then, on the day that ministers of the Albanese government were to be sworn in (1 June), PK concluded an ABC Radio National Breakfast interview with Anika Wells – Labor’s incoming Minister for Aged Care and Sport – as follows:

Patricia Karvelas: Anika, it’s obviously just a very personally significant day for you.  Will your kids be coming to the swearing-in?

Anika Wells: Yes, they are twin-coming.  They are on a flight as we speak.  So if you hear a dull roar coming at you from Canberra Airport it will be a sign that the Brisbane flight has landed and I’m really excited that they’re gonna be able to make it.

Patricia Karvelas : Twins; a minister; you’re killing it so young.  Pretty amazing.  Anika, congratulations.

For the record, MWD does not recall PK in gush mode when the Coalition’s Amanda Stoker, also a young Brisbane mother, became an assistant minister in the Coalition government. As Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Everyone loves flattery – but when it comes to Royalty you need to lay it on with a trowel.” Or words to that effect.  It would seem that PK has learnt much from your man Disraeli when it comes to Labor Party “royalty”.  Pretty amazing, eh?


Wasn’t it great to see The Guardian/ABC Axis in full flight on ABC News Breakfast  on 9 June? ABC co-presenter Michael Rowland interviewed The Guardian Australia’s  Josh Taylor for the “Newspapers” segment.

Guess what?  Comrade Taylor, of the avowedly leftist The Guardian, reported on a story in – wait for it – The Guardian that very morning.  It was all about what he called “a happy news story about the environment for once”.  Your man Taylor referred to a CSIRO report that the amount of plastic litter on Australian beaches had decreased in 2019 compared to 2012.

Now, that’s good news.  But no more than that.  Yet Comrade Rowland congratulated The Guardian’s Comrade Taylor on account of The Guardian reporting a CSIRO report.  Really. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: …And props to The Guardian  for publishing such a story.  And you’re so right, Josh. One very simple thing all of us can do in terms of reducing this threat of plastic in the oceans is just being a bit more conscious when we dispose of our own plastic products.

Josh Taylor:  Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, yeah indeed. The Guardian/ABC Axis in action.


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.


Just when you thought there were enough left-of-centre and leftist panellists on the ABC TV Insiders program, Osman Faruqi has been given a position on the Insiders couch.

Come to think of it, Comrade Faruqi has the ideal background to get a prominent gig on the ABC.  He has worked as an adviser to the Australian Greens and as a staffer to the one-time leftist Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon. Your man Faruqi has also run (unsuccessfully) as a Greens candidate for the NSW Legislative Assembly. He resigned from the Greens in 2015.

In his journalistic career, Comrade Faruqi has worked at Schwartz Media, at the Conservative Free Zone that is the ABC and at Junkee. He has also been a contributor to the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia  and the leftist The [Boring] Saturday Paper.

Now your man Faruqi has joined comrades at Nine’s left-of-centre Sydney Morning Herald  and The Age. In view of such a background, who could be more qualified to get a paid gig at the ABC?  Especially as it is likely that, in time, ABC types will criticise the Labor government – from the left.

In any event, Comrade Faruqi got off to a terrific start on 5 June. He referred to Australia’s (alleged) “period of disengagement with the Pacific, if not outright kind of hectoring, in a sort of weird neo-colonial approach to the way Australia participates in the region”.

What fun.  A reference to Australia’s “neo-colonial approach” to the Pacific.  Spoken like a true Schwartz Media/Junkee/Guardian Australia/Saturday Paper/Nine/one-time Greens candidate kind of guy – with a great future looming ahead on Insiders.


Wasn’t it great to see David (“Oh yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers back in top form on Insiders on 5 June?

Speersy’s form had been fluctuating somewhat of late.  On 1 May he managed 34 interruptions in a 16 minutes and 40 seconds interview with Coalition Finance Minister Simon Birmingham.  But on 29 May Speersy managed just 4 interruptions when interviewing Labor Finance Minister Katy Gallagher for 15 minutes and 22 seconds.

The good news is that Comrade Speers picked up the pace when interviewing National Party leader David Littleproud on 5 June – scoring 15 interruptions in 16 minutes and 16 seconds. Well done, Speersy.


Due to enormous popular demand, Media Watch Dog  commences a list of areas in which the ABC is into censorship, cancelling and the like.  It will be added to from time to time – and updated if the ABC drops its censorship practices.


The ABC has never reported the case of one-time ABC employee Jon Stephens, who in June 2017 pleaded guilty to indecent assault on a male in 1981.  Stephens’ male victim was 12 years old at the time.  The assault took place when both Stephens and his victim were working for the ABC.

Subsequently Stephens’ victim took a civil action against the ABC.  The ABC did not report this matter either.  The case was raised in Senate Estimates where the ABC declined to give details of the settlement it reached with the victim.  The taxpayer funded public broadcaster engaged outside legal assistance in this case – at the cost of $25,960 – despite having an internal legal department of around 25 persons. The Australian taxpayer shelled out an additional $77,910 in costs to the Department of Finance/Comcover.

As is common in such proceedings, the proceedings between Stephens’ victim and the ABC were, in the words of the ABC, “settled on mutually acceptable, confidential terms, without admission of liability”.  It is unknown how much the ABC paid to Stephens’ victim as part of the settlement.

At the time of his death, Stephens was facing two additional charges of historical child sexual abuse while in the employ of the ABC – one to be held in Sydney, the other in Queanbeyan.  It is not clear whether the complainants in these instances will make a civil claim against the ABC.

A number of ABC journalists have declared that they have no knowledge of the Jon Stephens case – despite the fact that the public broadcaster has provided widescale reporting of established cases of pedophilia unrelated to the ABC. This suggests that ABC journalists are not interested in in-house confirmed cases and allegations of historical child sexual abuse.

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Stand by for more segments, along with some updates, on this (bound to be hugely popular) “Australian Broadcasting Censor” segment.

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Until next time.

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