GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 598

29 July 2022

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  • ABC TV NEWS BREAKFAST PRESENTERS INTERVIEW THEIR PRODUCER ON ABC TV NEWS BREAKFAST

As avid Media Watch Dog readers are aware, Jackie’s (male) co-owner just loves it when journalists interview journalists about journalism.  Even though this gives media incest a bad name.

And so it came to pass this morning during the “Newspapers” segment of ABC TV’s News Breakfast.  Michael Rowland and Catherine Murphy were on the presenters’ couch and they interviewed – wait for it – News Breakfast  producer Lucy Carter who, presumably, had given herself the gig to comment on her own program.

First up, Comrade Murphy told her boss that she loves “the stories you’ve picked”. The inaugural story turned on the decision of the Manly Rugby League club to wear an “inclusivity jersey” in last night’s game against South Sydney – in what had been designated as Women in Rugby League Week.

Comrade Carter declared that this was a you-beaut idea. Comrade Rowland added: “You’re so right, Lucy”. Whereupon Lucy agreed with Michael that she was right about this. Earlier Murphy had declared that there had been an “uplifting end” to the controversy.

No one mentioned that the Roosters defeated Manly 20 to 10 after seven of Manly’s  leading players –  Pacific Islander Christians, apparently – refused to play wearing the “inclusivity jersey”.  Nor did anyone mention that (as reported in The Australian)  a number of fans turned up to give support to the Manly Seven cause.

Then, after a discussion about NSW state politics, focus turned on the decision of German driver Sebastian Vettel to retire from Formula One racing.  Lucy Carter told viewers that your man Vettel wants to do something about climate change by reducing emissions from fast cars.  Better late than never, perhaps – but late all the same.

This is how the ABC to ABC discussion concluded:

Lucy Carter: I know, I remember seeing a graphic a while ago that was all of the private planes that took off after the Superbowl, all of the billionaires and just exiting that. I mean, this is something that the sporting world is going to have to reckon with in years to come.

Michael Rowland: Absolutely. Thank you, Lucy.

Yes – absolutely.  And thank you, Lucy.  Needless to say, neither Catherine nor Michael nor Lucy mentioned the carbon emissions emitted by private planes as the wealthy eco-catastrophist virtue-signallers departed the World Economic Forum at Davos and the United Nations COP 26 get-together in Glasgow in recent times.  This would suggest that, in the view of Lucy Carter, some carbon emissions need to be reckoned with more than others.

  • NINE’S CBD FIRES AT SENATOR PRICE

What distinguishes Nine’s CBD column in The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald  is that it rarely has anything to do with the Central Business District in Melbourne or Sydney.

Take today’s CBD by Kishor Napier-Raman (he of what Paul Keating was wont to call the Hyphenated-Name-Set) and Noel Towell, for example.  The inaugural CBD segment commenced as follows:

New Northern Territory senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price was a Sky News favourite well before her election to the red chamber in May. And while few actually tune into the network’s notorious “after dark” programming – when conservative pundits rule the roost – those TV appearances have won Price some rather influential fans, among them Gina Rinehart, who dropped in on Parliament House for the Country Liberal senator’s first speech on Wednesday.

CBD spotted Australia’s richest woman masked up and being whisked down to the Senate car park right after Price’s address, in which the Warlpiri-Celtic conservative attacked the “pointless virtue-signalling” of an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

The CBD scribblers threw the switch to sneer by referring to Country Liberal Party Senator Price as “Warlpiri-Celtic conservative”.  Would they try a similar (attempted) put down with respect to Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe?  Not likely.  And is it not odd that CBD bangs on about how “few tune into Sky News at night” – while feeling the need to report on the allegedly “notorious” subscription channel?

  • SKY NEWS’ “ABC EXPOSED” – A SUCCESS WITH ONE QUALIFICATION

While on the topic of the notorious  Sky News After Dark, MWD regrets to advise that its recording of Chris Kenny’s “The ABC Exposed” on 26 July did not record.  Hendo watched the program but detailed comments will not appear until the next issue.  The documentary will be repeated on Sky News at 9 pm tonight.

“The ABC Exposed” was a success.  Even Karl Quinn, Nine’s culture writer, conceded that Kenny landed some punches. MWD’s only criticism was that the program lacked an historical context.  It did not mention the role of avowed Marxist Allan Ashbolt (1921-2005) in consciously appointing left-wing journalists in the ABC in the 1960s.  In short, the fact that, over the years, the ABC became a Conservative Free Zone was no accident (to use a Marxist term). More of this in MWD’s  next issue.


Can You Bear It?

  • THE AFR’s PHIL COOREY REALISES THAT EVERYONE ON INSIDERS IS AGREEING WITH EVERYONE ELSE

The best moment of the ABC Insiders  program on 24 July was Comrade Katharine Murphy’s one minute rant.  Re which see today’s (hugely popular) “Rant of the Week” segment.

David Speers (from inner-city Melbourne) was in the presenter’s chair – and his panellists were all Canberra residents.  Namely, the AFR’s Phil Coorey (who, as usual, was thoughtful and informative), one time Labor staffer and Fairfax and ABC journo Mark (“Please call me professor”) Kenny and The Guardian Australia’s Murpharoo.

The discussion on climate change commenced with the learned Australian National University professor and ended with Comrade Murphy. Let’s go to the transcript towards the end of a somewhat ponderous Kenny comment on climate change, carbon emissions and all that:

Mark Kenny: …I think the message I’m getting, more generally, is that people are very happy with the fact that Chris Bowen is, as Katharine says, he’s actually legitimately negotiating on this. He’s not negotiating on the 4, on the 43 [per cent reduction in carbon-emissions by 2030]. But, you know, he’s certainly open to discussions. That’s the impression that the Crossbench have, the Greens seem to be more flexible than they have been in the past. Whether that actually turns out to be the case, I think, is the critical. It’s a critical issue.

David Speers: For the Libs though –

[Everyone talking over each other]

Phil Coorey: It’s a, it’s a huge, it’s a huge, huge issue – sorry, you go.

Katharine Murphy: No, no, no, no, no, no. I spoke over you.

Phil Coorey: We’re probably gonna say the same thing anyhow….

Your man Coorey was correct.  Insiders, invariably, is one of those ABC programs where almost everyone agrees with almost everyone else on almost everything.  Which translates to boring. Which raises the question. Can You Bear It?

  • THE AFR’s “REAR WINDOW” DISMISSES THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THE NORTH SYDNEY ELECTORATE APPARENTLY WITHOUT REALISING THE DOMICILE OF ONE OF THE AFR’s VERY OWN

As avid Media Watch Dog readers will recall, on 13 July the Australian Financial Review “Rear Window” columnist Michael Roddan declared, ironically, that “post-parliamentary careers are often a thing of wonder given Australia’s best and brightest, by virtue of their calling to higher office, generally lack any discernible skills or qualities befitting human beings operating in a civil society”. So there, ex-MPs.

Your man Roddan was having a go at former Liberal National Party senator Amanda Stoker – a barrister who has just taken up the role of a fortnightly columnist for the AFR.  He appears to have forgotten that former Queensland Labor parliamentarian Craig Emerson is also an AFR fortnightly columnist.  Which, according to The Thought of Roddan must mean that two of his fellow AFR columnists have no discernible skills or qualities etc.

And then, on 26 July, MWD fave and “Rear Window” columnist Joe Aston wrote a devastating piece debunking the so-called Teal Independents Monique Ryan (Kooyong) and Kylea Tink (North Sydney).  A fine critique indeed.  However, it included this assessment of the good people of the North Sydney electorate:

…The clue could be Tink’s electorate on Sydney’s lower north shore, a province whose economic affluence is inversely proportionate to the humour and imagination of its citizenry. Which is none. Anyone with abundant loot who also possesses a modicum of joie de vivre plainly chooses to live in the eastern suburbs.

So, according to your man Aston, not one person who can afford to move from the electorate of North Sydney to that of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – yet fails to do so – possesses even a “modicum of joie de vivre”.  Not even a “modicum” of happiness and physical well-being. [Thanks for the translation from the pretentious French. – MWD Editor].

Hang on a minute.  Fellow AFR columnist Aaron Patrick is understood to live in the North Sydney electorate and is not without means. But Aaron Patrick’s AFR stable mates Joe Aston and Michael Roddan reckon that since he has not moved to Sydney’s eastern suburbs he is seriously lacking in the joie de vivre stuff.  Can You Bear It?

  • JONATHAN GREEN REVIEWS A VERY SMALL PART OF AARON PATRICK’S BOOK ON MALCOLM TURNBULL AND THE LIBERAL PARTY

While on the topic of joie de vivre and all that, have any avid Media Watch Dog readers come to notice the increasing (and disturbing) habit in which writers of emails invariably commence a communication with “I hope you are well” – or some such enquiry?  Irritating, don’t you think?  After all, someone who is really sick would not be able to read the note – so, what is the point?

But MWD digresses.  The question is – how well is MWD fave Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s sneerer in chief”) Green, who presents Blueprint for Living on the ABC Radio National at 9 am (aka Hangover Time) on a Saturday going? Your man Green is also the editor of Meanjin magazine, a somewhat boring academic tome associated with the University of Melbourne.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s current concern about Comrade Green turns on the possibility that he has swallowed a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.  How else to explain the opening paragraph of his review of Aaron Patrick’s book Ego: Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s Civil War (HarperCollins, 2020)?  It was published in Nine’s The Booklist weekly newsletter – which is put out by Jason Steger, the books editor of Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – on 28 July.  Here it is:

If there’s a single passage that sums up the occluded, oleaginously revisionist view of recent political history bundled in Aaron Patrick’s Ego: Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s Civil War, it’s this. It comes late in the book as Patrick observes the “anticlimax” of Christian Porter’s eventual departure from parliamentary politics.

“Occluded”, “oleaginously” – talk about word-flashing.  There followed a quote from Ego about former Coalition attorney-general Christian Porter – without saying who this person is.  It would seem that Green simply expects that his readers (if readers there are) will know what he is on about without any background.

Are you following this?  Probably not.  Green’s second paragraph commences with the query “where to begin?”.  It’s a good question – which Green does not appear to be able to answer.  Here it is – plus his (equally imprecise) third paragraph:

Where to begin? The first point to make is that Porter’s star had, in fact, been shining brightly; he was considered prime minister material despite being a “confident man who pursued attractive women”. The second, and I’ll slow this down for emphasis, is that he … was … accused … of … rape.

It was the documented possibility that Porter had raped a woman in 1988 – an allegation muted by her subsequent suicide – that curtailed the hitherto irresistible rise of this “eligible bachelor”. Patrick’s conclusion seems driven by culture war allegiance, or is wilfully obtuse.

Well thanks for…slowing…this…down.  But the fact is that Christian Porter was never accused of rape in the legal sense of the term.  No formal complaint was extant by the woman – given the nom de plume “Kate” – before she took her own life.  Moreover, NSW Police did not lay charges concerning the alleged event in 1988 when Porter was 17 years of age and Kate was 16.  These are the facts – whether slowed down or not –  by Green in Nine’s The Booklist.  By the way, what is a “documented possibility” in any legal sense of the term?

MWD understands that the proposed title for Patrick’s book commenced with the word “Revenge” – not “Ego”.  This may have been changed for legal reasons.  You would never get to know this from Nine’s The Booklist – but Ego documents in some detail former Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s frequent interventions in Australian politics as a critic of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the lead-up to the May 2022 election.

Your man Green deals with only one of these interventions. Even here, Green conveniently ignores Turnbull’s implied suggestion – in one of his occasional interviews with ABC Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas – that Kate might have been murdered rather than committed suicide. No one else – not even journalists and activists hostile to Porter – suggested this.

Green says on a number of occasions that Aaron Patrick has failed “to demonstrate that Turnbull was acting out of ego and revenge”.   However, Green gets to this point by overlooking virtually all of Patrick’s evidence in his book that supports this claim. It would seem that Green has either chosen to ignore Patrick’s case – or did not read enough of the book to get to know Patrick’s argument.

In the event, Green lines up with Christian Porter’s critics – Malcolm Turnbull, the ABC’s Louise Milligan, plus others – and, in the process, accuses the author of being “wilfully obtuse”, engaging in “hyperbole”, “scapegoating” and suffering from “delusion”.

What a load of absolute tosh.  It would seem that, not for the first time, the leftist Comrade Steger has commissioned one of his inner-city Melbourne leftist mates to write a review. And, lo and behold, the reviewer has used the occasion to fang a political conservative (Porter) and attempt to discredit an author (Patrick). Can You Bear It?

[I note that, due to factors unrelated to Patrick, Ego has been withdrawn from sale until later in the year. So Nine’s The Booklist  is reviewing a book that is not readily available for purchase by readers who want to make up their own minds.  Which is quite convenient for Comrades Green and Steger – if somewhat unprofessional. – MWD Editor.]


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 occasions where journalists are oh-so-impressed with their interviewee that no challenging questions are asked and too much gushing’s all the rage.  The kind of fawn-again analysis much suited to the cover of the Good Weekend.

  • GOOD WEEKEND’S  MELISSA FYFE FAWNS OVER THE WELL-DRESSED, WITTY, BRILLIANT “TEAL” INDEPENDENT MP MONIQUE RYAN

The most interesting new parliamentarians in the 47th Parliament are this trio (in alphabetical order) –  Dai Le (Independent Member for Fowler), Jacinta Nampijinpa Price (Coalition Senator for the Northern Territory) and Monique Ryan (“Teal” Independent for Kooyong).

Ms Le defeated high-profile Labor candidate Kristina Keneally and Dr Ryan defeated high-profile Liberal Party Deputy leader Josh Frydenberg.  Senator Price is the first Indigenous female Coalition politician – along with the newly elected South Australian Senator Kerrynne Liddle.

Given the choice of doing a profile on Dai Le (who was a Vietnamese refugee) or Senator Price (whose mother is Indigenous and whose father is Anglo Celtic) or the medical specialist Dr Ryan – Nine’s Good Weekend magazine, published in The Age  and the Sydney Morning Herald, chose the last one.  It would seem that, in the view of Nine’s management, Age  and SMH  readers are more interested in a representative of the well-off folk of inner-city Melbourne than the hoi polloi of Western Sydney or the Northern Territory.

Nine’s Melbourne-based intrepid reporter Melissa Fyfe got the gig for what became the Good Weekend cover story. For some reason, Monique Ryan was photographed on the cover wrapped in a dark-teal theatre curtain – posing like a diva having a sneak look at the audience through the curtains. The cover story read “The lady vanquishes:  Monique Ryan’s path from paediatrics to politics – and the trouncing of a treasurer.”  The message on the cover of the Good Weekend was that Monique Ryan had vanquished Josh Frydenberg at the May Federal election.

And so the story was told by Comrade Fyfe. Ryan is married to Rhinomed executive Peter Jordan and has two step children and a 14-year old son.  Before entering parliament, she was a consultant in paediatric neurology at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne in charge of a department of around 40 employees. This would put Ryan among the top one per cent of salary earners in Australia before she took up her relatively well paid job as a politician.

Ryan, who lives in the well-heeled suburb of Hawthorn,  was educated at Loreto Mandeville Hall in affluent Toorak – a high fee Catholic private school (although the fees would have been relatively less when Ryan attended school than they are today – due to the fact that there would have been a number of unpaid nuns/sisters on the staff).  Its current name is Loreto Toorak (something not mentioned by Fyfe).

Ms Fyfe reported that Ryan’s son had arrived home from school during the Good Weekend interview “besuited in his boys school uniform”. She did not say whether this was a private or government school uniform. Probably the former – since they are rather more  likely to be “besuited” rather than, er, suited. Oh yes, the Jordan/Ryan couple have a cavoodle – a suitably fashionable canine for the affluent streets of Hawthorn – where cavoodles bump into cavoodles on their morning walks as their owners listen to ABC Radio National on their iPods, having eaten a breakfast of avocado toast, sauteed mushrooms and truffle oil.  Or some such.

These are the “highlights” of Fyfe’s fawning profile:

  • Monique Ryan’s dress – according to Fyfe:

[She was] wearing an appropriately Melbourne-in-late-autumn outfit of black R. M. Williams boots, black jeans and a black-and-white chevron-print suit jacket.

Fancy that.  To Comrade Fyfe, such a fashion statement is appropriate for Melbourne in late autumn.  She seems blissfully unaware that many Melburnians cannot afford the $650 required to purchase a pair of R.M. Williams boots – however appropriate and whatever the Season.

  • Monique Ryan’s wit – according to Fyfe:

Ryan ponders whether Frydenberg will leave any handover materials [as he vacates his office]. “I think I’ll be lucky to get more than a packet of prawns in the air-conditioning vent,” she deadpans with her low-pitched voice. This is when I realise one of the many surprising things about Ryan: she’s naughtily funny, something probably not evident in her serious, furrowed-brow media appearances.

How “naughtily funny” can a Simon Holmes à Court “Teal” Independent get? – MWD hears readers cry.  Prawns in the air-conditioning – what a hoot, even when delivered in a deadpan way. By the way Josh Frydenberg is Jewish.  The new member for Kooyong apparently lacks the cultural awareness to understand that Jews do not eat shellfish.

But there is more about the Member for Kooyong’s humour. [Groan. MWD Editor.] According to Fyfe, Ryan contemplated her immediate move into Frydenberg’s electoral office in Camberwell with this comment:

 “We’re going to have to have a smoking ceremony. And probably an exorcism,” she muses. “And then a really big party.”

An exorcism no less – to drive out the evil spirits and perhaps Satan himself from Frydenberg’s former office. Yet another attempt at “naughty humour” no less.

  • Monique Ryan’s IQ – according to Fyfe:

Comrade Fyfe reports that at Loreto Mandeville (aka Loreto Toorak), Ryan scored 406 out of 410 in her High School Certificate – compared with her brother Peter who attended St Kevin’s in Toorak and got 398 out of 410.  Essential information, to be sure.  By the way, both were dux of their respective schools. Impressed?  Well, Hendo’s canine Jackie is very impressed – having attained a mere 390 out of 410 in her Dip. Wellness at The Gunnedah Institute, where she was more interested in chasing ducks than being a dux.

  • Monique Ryan on EVs – according to Fyfe:

On an afternoon in early June, Monique Ryan’s 10-year-old VW Golf is parked outside their Hawthorn home in a quiet street not far from her campaign office. Next to the Golf is Jordan’s 17-year-old Subaru wagon, bearing a Mon4Kooyong sticker. The “Gooms”, a term Ryan and team gave the Grumpy Obnoxious Old Men who would scowl or lecture her during the campaign (with their wives often winking at Ryan supportively behind their backs), regularly ask her why she doesn’t drive an electric vehicle if she cares so much about climate change. “I tell them I can’t afford one, but I’d love one,” says Ryan. “Then I say, ‘Can you afford one?’ And they say, ‘No.’ And I say, ‘Exactly! That’s what I’m talking about. We need to make them more affordable.’ ”

Turn it up.  Monique Ryan has just resigned as a senior consultant at the Royal Children’s Hospital and is now a well-paid parliamentarian.  And her husband Jordan is a business executive.  But both drive gas guzzlers since, allegedly, they cannot afford electric vehicles. And she equates her financial position with men who are not only old – and, presumably retired – but also obnoxious.

By the way, Monique Ryan’s you-beaut idea for making EVs more affordable for Australians is for governments to provide an $8000 taxpayer funded hand-out to Australians wealthy enough to pay around $80,000 for a new EV.  In short, if Monique and Peter were to score $8000 each from taxpayers they would purchase EVs under Ryan’s EV policy.

  • Monique Ryan’s Biggest Blunders – according to Fyfe

Probably Ryan’s biggest blunder was made early on, when she failed to declare that she’d been a Labor Party member between 2007 and 2010. Asked by The Age if she had any political experience, she answered, “No, nothing. I am a complete cleanskin.” “That was a mistake,” she says now.

How about that?  Monique Ryan accused Josh Frydenberg of telling “a lie” when he told the ABC in April 2020 that the Coalition has always been committed to getting fuel energy standards in place.  But when Ms Ryan told a whopper about her past association with the Labor Party – this was just “a mistake” and a blunder.  How convenient.

  • Monique Ryan and Brunswick Mum – as interpreted by Melissa Fyfe

Comrade Fyfe said that she knew that Frydenberg was not that popular in Kooyong after she met a mother in inner-city Brunswick – which just happens to be Sandalista Central – where professional women wear Prada nappa-leather sandals in summer and spring and R.M Williams boots in winter and autumn. As the Good Weekend scribbler related:

Frydenberg wasn’t that popular, either [in Kooyong]: many were furious with him over his anti-lockdown stance during Melbourne’s extended COVID response. Shortly after the election, I met a Brunswick mum – a senior public servant and lawyer – who had signed up to Ryan’s campaign out of sheer rage over the former treasurer’s actions.

How about that?  Comrade Fyfe met Brunswick Mum in inner-city Melbourne.  A lawyer and a senior public servant, no less – who was in no danger of losing her job, could work from home and who lived  in some comfort. Brunswick Mum railed at Josh Frydenberg for expressing concern about single mothers on welfare with several children being locked in small flats during the lockdown imposed by the Victorian Labor government – which happened to be the longest lockdown in the Western world.

All this suggests that Melissa Fyfe is yet another out-of-touch Age/Sydney Morning Herald journalist.  She sees nothing unusual in Monique Ryan gaining support by conducting a “guerrilla movement” by joining several book clubs. Yes – book clubs.  Oh yes, and at “her hockey club”. Sounds a bit like Che Guevara, eh?

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Finally the Monique Ryan profile came to an end [Thank God. – MWD Editor] with yet more talk about unidentified old white male GOOMS and yet another culturally insensitive (bad) joke about prawns. Here we go:

And the Gooms won’t let up. They accost her daily in the supermarket, and even in her bathers after swimming, to explain why she’s unqualified to be the MP for Kooyong. Meanwhile, Ryan is now ensconced in Frydenberg’s old office. He left “a couple of highlighter pens and a ruler”, she says, but thankfully no prawns in the air-conditioning vent. “I’m still looking for the bottle of Veuve and the chocolates. I’m sure they’re here somewhere.”

It would seem that cheap plonk will not suit the Green Lady of Kooyong – she appreciates expensive Veuve at $76  a bottle, apparently. And then Monique Ryan disappeared behind the  Good Weekend’s dark-teal stage curtains.


A MARK HUMPHRIES MOMENT

  • HUMPHRIES FINALLY MANAGES TO (GENTLY) MOCK LABOR AND THE GREENS

The last time MWD checked in on 7:30’s self-described satirist Mark Humphries (24 June 2022, Issue 593), he was struggling to deal with the post-federal election reality that he doesn’t have the Morrison Government to kick around anymore. Following the election, Comrade Humphries and his always-referenced co-writer Evan Williams produced a premature sketch about the United Australia Party failing to win any seats (it eventually won a Senate seat in Victoria). After this they churned out three apolitical sketches in a row, seemingly no longer interested in political subjects.

At the end of the previous A Mark Humphries Moment, MWD took the liberty of suggesting some political topics your men Humphries & Williams might want to satirise. Among them was “Labor and The Greens still bickering about the 2009 Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme vote”. Well, it appears that Mark Humphries may have been reading, as this topic was mentioned in the latest sketch, which aired on 28 July.

[I have been told that some people have automated “Google Alerts”, which inform them whenever an article is written mentioning them. How could they be so vain? – MWD Editor].

This new sketch takes the form of a movie trailer parody, in this case the trailer for a romantic comedy starring Humphries in a red shirt playing Labor in a tumultuous romance with a woman in a green shirt playing the Greens. As in some of their previous sketches, Humphries and Williams are parodying a style of movie trailer which went out of fashion years ago and the sketch contains references to the 2003 film Love Actually and the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain. While mocking the Greens and Labor for still being invested in political disputes during the Rudd government, 7:30’s crack satirical team appear to be stuck making cultural references from the Howard years.

Alas, despite finally working themselves up to writing a sketch mocking Labor and the Greens, Humphries and Williams pull their punches. The sketch treats the disagreements between Labor and the Greens as a lovers’ quarrel, with both sides ultimately interested in doing the right thing. That is, the Left thing.

The biggest laugh of the night came when, immediately following the sketch, 7:30 returned to presenter Sarah Ferguson who had a pained expression on her face. For once Ferguson and MWD were in agreement.


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”.

  • A MODEST PROPOSAL TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS & KEEP THE GAME OF CRICKET ALIVE IN 2042

Lotsa thanks to the Broken Hill reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s  attention to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 July titled “Under threat: Cricket leaders attend climate change summit” by intrepid journos Daniel Brettig and Malcolm Conn. Here’s how the report commenced:

Australia’s men’s captain Pat Cummins has backed up his calls for climate action by assembling a host of cricket’s leaders for a private summit in Sydney to address how the game can reduce its carbon footprint. The game’s heavy hitters were involved in frank discussions of climate change as an issue for cricket, in particular the concern that without decisive action, Australian summer temperatures could reach 50 degrees celsius within the next 20 years, making outdoor sport impossible. Europe’s recent heatwave, including temperatures exceeding 40C in London, only added to the matter’s topicality.

MWD loves nothing better than a you-beaut The-End-of-the-World-is-Nigh story.   Including this report that outdoor sport in Australia (presumably summer sport) will be “impossible” by 2042. By the way, the report of 40°C heat occurred at Heathrow Airport, St James Park and four other locations in the United Kingdom.  The average top temperature in London on 18 July 2022 was 36°C – around the same as the hottest day during the 1996 London heatwave.

Now MWD remembers when Australian fast bowlers like Keith Miller, Ray Lindwall, Dennis Lillee, Jeff  Thomson, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee were intent on reducing English batsmen to zero, or close to zero scores.  Now the likes of opening bowler Pat Cummins are intent on reducing cricket’s carbon emissions to zero.

Here’s Jackie’s (modest) proposals for reducing carbon emissions – of the cricket genre – which she hopes will appeal to your man Cummins.  Jackie is very much in the Cummins camp on this issue – as would be expected of a canine with a Dip. Wellness from the Gunnedah Institute. So, it is hoped that these suggestions will be helpful.

  • Junk day/night Test cricket – or rather, the night part of it – and reduce carbon emissions from lighting.
  • Junk day/night One Day Internationals
  • Junk T20 cricket played under lights (where the likes of Pat Cummins make lotsa moolah).
  • Abandon plane travel to cricket matches. Australian cricketers to travel by rail or electric vehicles in Australia and by passenger ship to international matches in England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies (as was the case in the days of Lindwall and Miller).
  • Cease all live TV coverage of cricket and rely on radio to advise fans of the scores.

If radio contact is unavailable, obtain the scores from London, Mumbai and the like using carrier pigeons (former Test batsman Bill Lawry, a pigeon owner, might be able to help with supply here).

Pat Cummins told the SMH that “the future” of Australia is “under threat”.  He maintains that “we’re not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the worst aspects of climate change, including extreme heat and natural disasters”.

Your man Cummins seems unaware that Australia’s carbon emissions amount to just over 1 per cent of global emissions. Even so, MWD hopes that this Modest Proposal will help keep cricket alive in 2042.

[That’s very interesting.  I remember that in the 1958-59 England v Australia series, one day was so hot the English bowlers in a game against Victoria at the MCG bowled no more than two overs in a row in the hot Melbourne summer sun – without the English captain Peter May theorising about The End of the World and all that. The top temperature in the Melbourne summer of 1958-59 was 43°C – MWD Editor.]


RANT OF THE WEEK

As avid readers are aware, Jackie’s (male) co-owner likes nothing better than witnessing a long Rant. In these times of social media and all that – there is a tendency for ranters to play a short game. However, from time to time, a ranter can play a long game – either in print or by talking at undue length on television, radio or podcast.

Since, inside the Vale of Tears, we live in the Age of Rant, MWD has decided to place greater focus on its Rant of the Week segment. And so MWD’s  Rant of the Week segment begins afresh with this you-beaut contribution by The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy.

  • IN WHICH (RIGHTEOUS BUT LEFTIST) PREACHER MURPHAROO TELLS THOSE  IN THE “WRONG” TO “HAVE A REALLY GOOD LOOK AT THEMSELVES”

It’s always great to see Media Watch Dog  fave Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy on the ABC TV Insiders program on a Sunday.  The Guardian Australia’s  political editor was in fine form on 24 July.  Indeed she starred with this one minute long Rant during a discussion about climate policy.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Katharine Murphy: …I just want to say this quickly David, because I know we need to keep moving. But it’s bigger than all of this, bigger than all of these minute political calculations. Obviously, [Peter] Dutton’s tactic is as obvious as the nose on his face. In terms of the internal disquiet, people are worried at two levels, as Phil [Coorey] said. One, climate change really stumped them [i.e. the Coalition] at the last election. And, two, this propensity for captain’s calls. That’s a bit tricky. But also, I mean, we should just actually step – get our heads a bit out of this minutia.

And just be very clear, the Liberal and National parties have spent the last 10 years doing the wrong thing on this issue, doing the wrong thing. And that has had a number of practical consequences. So, you know, the Coalition is a party of government in Australia, and a party of government carries responsibilities.

So I think the Liberal Party and National Party need to have a really good look at themselves about the difference between right and wrong. And they have been on the wrong side of this debate for a decade and we are paying for it. So, you know, it’s bigger than the, you know, intraday calculations. It is a matter of right and wrong.

What a terrific Rant – even by Murpharoo’s standards.  Preacher Murphy declared that the Coalition during the last decade has been “doing the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing” – with the use of repetition for emphasis in case viewers were not paying attention.  Then Preacher Murpharoo declared that the Liberal and National parties “should really have a good look at themselves”- a constant cry by a frustrated parent at one or more frustrating children.

Moreover, Comrade Murphy of the Leftist Guardian reached into the Marxist word-usage bag and declared that the Coalition has been “on the wrong side of history” for a decade.  To Murpharoo, it is all a matter of “right and wrong”.  Those Australians who agree with her are in the right – and those who disagree with her are in the wrong.

Sounds like religious preachers of old, eh? – except that Murpharoo is a ranter of the secular kind.


HISTORY CORNER

  • GIDEON HAIGH COMPARES STUART MACINTYRE’S (TEDIOUS) HISTORY OF THE AUSTRALIAN COMMUNIST PARTY WITH MONTY PYTHON’S THE PEOPLE’S FRONT OF JUDEA

On 23 July, The Weekend Australian published a kind review written by Gideon Haigh of The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre (edited by Peter Beilharz and Sian Supski, MUP 2022).

The Work of History  contains some valuable chapters about the late Stuart Macintyre (1947-2021) – including the recognition by the editors that Dr Macintyre was a historian “on the Left”.  Macintyre was the author of such influential books as The Oxford History of Australia (OUP) and A  Concise History of Australia (CUP) both of which are highly critical of such politically conservative prime ministers as Joseph Lyons and Robert Menzies.

The Work of History is essentially the work of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club by the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club and for the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club.  It even runs Macintyre’s criticism of Gerard Henderson from beyond the grave – written by the Macintyre Fan Club member Professor Sean Scalmer who is Professor of Australian History at the University of Melbourne, no less.  Re which see MWD’s (hugely popular)  Correspondence section – which returns this week, thanks to Comrade Scalmer.

Gideon Haigh wrote that “at his best, Macintyre developed the sweep of a Macaulay or a Carlyle, as well as a crisp, limpid prose, not perhaps as aphoristic as Geoffrey Blainey or as astringent as John Hirst, but an appealing mix of the firm and the undogmatic”.

Gideon Haigh also had this to say:

The inanition of British left-wing history at the time [in the 1970s] is conveyed by the deadpan comment that when the official historian of the British Communist Party died in 1977, he had spent 20 years writing the story of the party’s first six years. And too much of The Work of History, really, is spent on Macintyre’s prentice works, for even his histories of communism here, studious and judicious as they are, can’t help but read like the inside story of the People’s Front of Judaea, or the history of a football club that never managed to get off the bottom of the ladder.

You can say that again.  Stuart Macintyre, who was a member of the Communist Party, for a few years from 1970 wrote two books on the Communist Party of Australia titled The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality (Allen + Unwin, 1998) and The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning (Allen + Unwin, 2022).  Both are overwritten.  Moreover, Comrade Macintyre only managed to get the Communist Party of Australia from its foundation in 1920 until 1970.  The CPA formally wound up with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – a continuing section of the CPA called itself the Socialist Party of Australia.  Comrade Macintyre’s CPA history was present at the birth but not at the death of his subject matter.

In his tiresome 1000 or so pages of historical sludge over two volumes, Comrade Macintyre does not address the issue of why so many of his communist besties supported Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev and the other dictatorial thugs who ruled the Soviet Union for much of its (unlamented) existence.  Nor does he explain why he joined the Communist Party in 1970.  It would be a bit like, say, a right-wing historian joining the remnants of the British Union of Fascists around the same time.

For a considered analysis of Macintyre’s history of the CPA see the review by Keith Harvey in the forthcoming The Sydney Institute Review.

For the moment, Gideon Haigh has served a valuable role in challenging some of Macintyre’s work – which is a bit like the Gospel to members of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club.  In particular Haigh mocks some of the ludicrous Marxist-style prose in The Work of History  concerning Macintyre the historian.


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 SEAN SCALMER ON THE LATE PROFESSOR STUART MACINTYRE, CONFECTED “FRIENDSHIP” AND ALL THAT

As referred to in History Corner, Melbourne University Professor Sean Scalmer has channelled the  late Stuart Macintyre in claiming that Stuart Macintyre and Gerard Henderson were friends. This led to the following correspondence. Now read on.

Gerard Henderson to Sean Scalmer – 28 July 2022

Dear Professor Scalmer

I have just read your essay in The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre (MUP, 2022).

In your article titled “Scrutiny, contest and power: Stuart Macintyre on Australian historians” you wrote – after referring to some critics of Stuart Macintyre:

Stuart’s response to these attacks was admirable and revealing. In published correspondence with Gerard Henderson, a critic and former classmate, he comes across as unfailing courteous.57  He did not retreat from his well-established positions, but neither did he lapse into futile polemics.

This statement is simply false – for the following reasons:

  • I was not a “former classmate” of the late Stuart Macintyre – as even a modicum of research (web search, Who’s Who in Australia) would have revealed. Stuart went to Scotch College in Hawthorn, I went to Xavier College in Kew.  As you may or may not know, at the time Scotch was a Presbyterian school while Xavier was a Catholic school.  I do not know anyone, other than you, who maintains that I attended Scotch College as a student.
  • Footnote 57. The source for this claim refers to my correspondence with Stuart of October 2007 which I published in the Correspondence section of The Sydney Institute Quarterly Issue 34 (December 2008).  My emails of 15, 17 and 18 October 2007 had nothing to do with Stuart responding to my criticism of his work as a historian.  None whatsoever.  I do not recall that I ever wrote a considered critique of Stuart’s work as a historian.  Certainly no such criticism is cited in your book.
  • In fact, in October 2007, I wrote to Stuart to ask him to stop citing me as a friend before he proceeded to criticise me.  I regarded this tactic as intellectually dishonest – since I never had a personal conversation with Stuart in my life and knew nothing whatsoever about his personal circumstances. Sure we were acquaintances from time to time – but no more than that.

As pointed out above, I rarely criticised Stuart – and you cited no evidence whatsoever to support your claim that I did.  Rather, Stuart criticised me under the guise of our (alleged) friendship.  For example, as documented in our 2007 correspondence, Stuart wrote this in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13-14 October 2007:

My friendship with Gerard Henderson began when we were both first year history students at the University of Melbourne.  If he sometimes gives the impression that a historian needs no more than strong views and a good filing system, his enthusiasm for the study of the past is genuine. [Emphasis added].

In a subsequent reply, Stuart claimed that the above comment was not a reference to my “scholarship” as a historian.  What a fudge.  This was a condescending put-down of my work as a historian – including my Ph.D. thesis which, when published in book form, was very favourably reviewed in academic and non-academic publications.

Contrary to your assertion, it is a myth to maintain that in our correspondence Stuart came across as “unfailingly courteous”.  A courteous historian might have withdrawn the claim in his book The History Wars  (MUP, 2006) that an essay I wrote in The Bulletin in January 1983 – which effectively commenced the history debate in Australia – had “the ring of a Stalinist ideologue”.  But he didn’t – despite the fact that I cited this reference in my October 2007 correspondence.  This was an example of Stuart engaging in “futile polemics” – to borrow your terminology.

I am not aware that Stuart ever referred to his one-time Stalinist “friends” – and they were friends – with such discourtesy. In any event, Stuart’s reference to Stalinism in this context was mere abuse.  The Melbourne University Laureate Professor at the time should have been able to do better than this.

I accept that The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre is a get-together of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club – in praise of someone the editors describe as a historian “on the Left”. But the book would have benefited from some criticism, albeit of the courteous kind. For the fact is that, at times in his left-wing mode, Stuart just made things up.

For example, in his overwritten book The Party:  The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning (Allen & Unwin, 2022), Stuart Macintyre refers to me as a contemporary member of what he terms “the church militant” – a reference to the Catholic Church.  This is absolute tosh.  Stuart never spoke to me about the Catholic Church or, indeed, any other church.  And the source he quoted in support of his (undocumented) claim is a reference to a very long 2001 book, without a page citation, written by one of my critics.

* * * *

In conclusion, I was led to believe that the contemporary MUP has (anonymous) referees for its publications.  Yet it seems that you, your editors Peter Beilharz and Sian Supski along with the MUP did no fact-checking at all with respect to the one reference to me in The Work of History.  Somewhat shoddy history, don’t you think?

It would be appreciated that your howler concerning me is deleted from any current online or second edition.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

 

 

Sean Scalmer to Gerard Henderson – 28 July 2022

Dear Gerard Henderson,

my reference to ‘classmate’ referenced your shared tutorial classes here at the University of Melbourne (I understand that you were also in a tutorial class with the publisher Henry Rosenbloom, among others). The footnote provides the reader with a reference to what I read as Stuart’s unfailing courtesy in your exchanges.

I hope that explains my statements. I do not think that any changes to the text are merited. If you are unsatisfied you are of course welcome to take up the matter with the Director of Melbourne University Press, Nathan Hollier.

Best wishes,

Sean

 

Gerard Henderson to Sean Scalmer – 29 July 2022

Dear Sean Scalmer

I refer to your note of 28 July 2022.

Clearly you are in denial about your false claim in The Work of History that I was a “former classmate” of the late Stuart Macintyre.  The Macquarie Dictionary defines the noun classmate as “a member of the same class, as at school”.   According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word classmate refers to “someone who is in the same class as you at school”.  I was never a classmate of Stuart because we never went to the same school.

Melbourne University was not a “school” when I was a student in the late 1960s. Sure, Stuart and I were in one tutorial for one year when I did a combined Arts (Hons) Law degree. I attended lectures and tutorials with literally hundreds of fellow students during this time.  Are you suggesting that they were all my friends?

It would seem that you have taken up the cause of your genuine friend Stuart by claiming that we were friends.  Stuart used this alleged “friendship” to attack me.  That’s why I asked him to desist – which he did – but only after the false appropriation had been made and now repeated by you 15 years later.

By the way, you have not provided any evidence to support our claim that I was a public critic of Stuart when he was alive.  In fact, I wrote little about him.  Rather he wrote about me.

It’s great to know that you read at least some of The Sydney Institute’s publications. Keep it up.

Best wishes

Gerard

 

* * * * *

Until next time.

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