GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 599

5 August 2022

* * * *

* * * *

  • Q+A ENDS WITH A “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH” WARNING

When it comes to the ABC, Media Watch Dog is a dedicated follower of the (alleged) teaching of Joe Stalin – or was it Vladimir Lenin? – that worse is better.  For the moment at least.

So MWD does not rejoice in the appointment of Stan Grant as the permanent presenter of the ABC TV Q+A program. Unlike such one-time Q+A presenters as David Speers, Virginia Trioli, Hamish Macdonald and Tony Jones – your man Grant has the authority required to prevent the usual leftist baying mob in the audience from bagging those with whom they disagree.

Last night, the only barracking from the (overwhelmingly green left) Melbourne audience involved loud support for Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.  Moreover, Stan Grant does not engage in cult-of-personality type presenting since he is not motivated to project his own opinions on the viewers (if viewers there are).

The Q+A executive producer could not entice any Coalition politician to come on the program on 4 August.  In view of recent programs when conservatives were bagged – why would they?  The panel comprised Hannah Diviney, Greens Senator Hanson-Young, Labor minister Jenny McAllister, Larry Marshall and Warren Mundine.  The highlight occurred during the final audience contribution when 13-year old Hannah threw the switch to The End of the World is Nigh with this question (which was approved in advance by Q+A).  Let’s go to the transcript for the early part of the final segment titled “Politics – Trust & The Future” :

Hannah: Has anyone looked past the 10-year deadline, to when my generation is in positions of power? With your current plan, will my generation even reach 50? Younger generations do not trust the government, it’s just a massive joke to us. So why should we put our little remaining faith into something that may not even help us in the long term? So my question is, what then? And why should we trust you?

Jenny McAllister: Can I just ask how old you are, Hannah?

Hannah: 13…

Larry Marshall: So, Hannah, what do you want to do, when you leave school or what is it?

Hannah: Well, I want to go into zoology. But, honestly, at the rate we’re going, there might not be animals – any animals left to study.

What a terrific way to end an ABC current affairs program with declining ratings.  And how interesting that Dr Larry Marshall, the CSIRO’s chief executive and the only scientist on the panel, did not attempt to assure Hannah that there will be humans and animals still walking on this earth by 2032 – by which time Hannah will be 23 years old (the Planet permitting).

It would seem that young Hannah has embraced the position of American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed in the MLK Now 2019 event:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: And I think that the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people. And, you know, Gen Z, all these folks that come after us [millennials] are looking up and we’re like: “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is…”. [clapping]

So the pessimist AOC reckons that the world will end in 2031 whereas the optimist Hannah reckons we’ll make it to 2032.  Phew.  Thank God for Q+A in the Time of Stan Grant.


Can You Bear It?

  • MURPHAROO LAUGHS LOUDLY AT THE OPPOSITION SENATE LEADER WHOM SHE REFERS TO AS “POOR OLD SIMON BIRMINGHAM”

One of Media Watch Dog’s fave experiences occurs on a Thursday morning when The Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy talks to ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia (“I break deals”) Karvelas about Australian politics.  As is well known, Patricia Karvelas likes to be referred to as PK.

Not only is this weekly exchange (yet) another example of The Guardian/ABC Axis in action – it is also witness to the fact that lotsa journalists are activists rather than reporters.  Like Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly – Comrade Karvelas’ predecessor.

Here’s how the PK/Murpharoo exchange commenced on 4 August – just after the former had interviewed Senator Birmingham – the leader of the Coalition opposition in the Senate.  Senator Birmingham had told PK that if the Albanese government’s policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 had needed to be in legislation – then he would have voted for the bill in a heartbeat. It wasn’t – and he didn’t – since the 43 per cent target could have been achieved without legislation.

Let’s go to the transcript of the commencement of the interview:

Patricia Karvelas: Katharine Murphy is The Guardian’s political editor.  Katharine Murphy, welcome.

Katharine Murphy: Hello, how are you?

Patricia Karvelas: Well, [Simon Birmingham] would have voted for it in a heartbeat, if it required legislation.

[Murphy laughs]

Patricia Karvelas: What did you make of that?

Katharine Murphy: Oh he sure would have, I reckon [Murphy laughing]. Poor old Simon Birmingham.

Now Simon Birmingham (born 1974) is a little younger than Murpharoo – so he is not “old”. Nor is the senator “poor” – in so far as MWD is aware. So the “poor old” Simon Birmingham reference is no more than a condescending put-down by an antagonist.

As to the feigned and mocking laughter – well, that’s just rude. It’s okay to laugh with people.  But it’s just bad manners to laugh at them in a situation in which the person being publicly mocked has no right of reply.  The Guardian’s political editor clearly needs to undertake a course in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes – re which see MWD passim, ad nauseam. In the meantime, Murpharoo’s continuing forced laughter addressed at her political opponents raises the question: Can You Bear It?

[I note that Comrade Murphy went Full Rant in The Guardian  on 3 August.  The activist Guardian Australia  political editor declared that, between 2013 and 2022, “the Liberal and National parties abrogated a core responsibility of being a government party”. It’s just that some 48 per cent of Australians did not agree with her opinion at the 21 May election – but there you go.  Comrade Murphy also referred to Coalition politicians as “unserious plonkers” and “oxygen thieves” and used such words as “cacophonous”. Excuse me, I’m off to find a dictionary. – MWD Editor.]

  • MWD FAILS IN THE ATTEMPT TO GET GUARDIAN WAGE-SLAVE AMY REMEIKIS A PAY HIKE

While on the matter of The Guardian Australia, Media Watch Dog regrets to report that MWD’s  campaign to get wage-slave Amy Remeikis (The Guardian’s political reporter based in Canberra) a salary increase appears to have failed.  Alas.

As MWD readers are aware, Comrade Remeikis told ABC TV Insiders  viewers (26 June) that she had no hope whatsoever of getting a 5 per cent wage increase. More recently, she has complained about copping a $40 a week rent increase along with the high cost of food – which she correctly commented on Twitter (27 July) is “hurting us all”.

The Guardian Australia, editor Lenore Taylor, is always banging on about the need for wage increases for low and middle income wage earners – but has a reputation for paying middle-level staff and contributors poorly.

The Guardian was originally established in Manchester as the voice of the British socialist left.  To the question: “What about the workers?” – the answer was “Any wage should be big enough so that the toiling masses can buy The Guardian everyday” . Or something like that.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s  attention to an article in The Telegraph in London on 20 July which revealed that The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner (who set up The Guardian Australia) with the encouragement of Malcolm Turnbull, has just received a 42 per cent pay rise taking her annual salary to £509,850 – about 890,000 in Australian dollars.

And yet wage-slave Remeikis Down Under struggles to pay the rent and buy food – while the likes of Comrade Vine in London and Comrade Taylor in Sydney bang on about the fact that wage rises are lower than the inflation rate. Which raises the question –  Can You Bear It?

  • PAUL BARRY IGNORES MEDIA COVERAGE OF HUNTER BIDEN – AND PREFERS TO MOCK A MISSING MOGGY IN BONDI

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is essentially a canine kind of guy.  However, having been well brought up, Hendo is always courteous to visiting cats.  So it came as some surprise to see the cat story on ABC TV’s Media Watch (presenter Paul Barry, executive producer Timothy Latham) on 1 August.  On the ABC official transcript, the segment is described as follows: “Catnapping caper: Wall to wall coverage for a missing cat as A Current Affair suffers its own feline faux pas”. [I love the usage of the (French) word “faux-pas” in this context. – MWD Editor.]

Paul Barry is the latest in a line of left-of-centre presenters who have fronted the ABC Media Watch program since it commenced in 1989. Like the rest of the ABC, Media Watch  is very much a Conservative-Free-Zone.

Now, Media Watch has about ten staff for a program which runs for almost 15 minutes a week for around 42 weeks a year.  So you would think that the Media Watch team at the taxpayer funded broadcaster could consistently put considered material to air each week.

But no.  Comrade Barry’s output is often lightweight and trivial.  As was the case on 1 August when the topics covered included a story about property developers on the Gold Coast getting undue coverage in the local media (yawn). Plus the coverage of a former Australian Football League player agent being involved in a punch-up with a Nine journalist. Plus, oh yes, the cat thing.

To the Barry/Latham team, the so-called “catnapping caper” was a bit of a joke.  A vet in Sydney’s Bondi handed the cat Tara to a family member of the cat Lara by mistake.  Whereupon Tara escaped from its new and unwanted abode and got lost in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Comrade Latham and the Media Watch writing team really got behind Comrade Barry on this one – with a little help from The Dictionary of Puns.  The Media Watch presenter made reference to “cat catastrophe” and “cat nappers” plus there was a reference to a neighbour (of someone or other) who “let the cat out of the bag”. Groan.  Come to think of it, these are the kind of puns which Comrade Barry is wont to mock when used by other journalists.

Comrade Barry concluded his 1 August program with this (mocking) comment:  “Nice to know that someone – or actually almost everyone – is there to cover the stories that really matter.” In other words, to the Media Watch  team, the plight of Tara doesn’t matter.

How insensitive can a Media Watch presenter get? To the owner of Tara, the loss of the cat really did matter. Moreover, Comrade Barry did not tell viewers whether or not the missing cat had been found.  To the ten-person strong Media Watch  team it was all a bit of a joke. Can You Bear It?

[Not, not really. I note that Paul Barry has not reported in any detail on the media coverage (or rather for the most part, lack of coverage) of Hunter Biden’s lost laptop.  Apart from a mocking reference to Australian journalist Miranda Devine – who played a big part in the story being broken in the New York Post on 2 November 2020.  Clearly Media Watch is more focused on a missing cat in Bondi than the contents of the mislaid laptop of President Joe Biden’s controversial son. – MWD Editor.]

  • LA TINGLE’S (PRETENTIOUS) LATIN HOWLER

While on the topic of the use of foreign words and phrases – did anyone read ABC TV 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle’s piece in ABC Online on 30 July?  In case it was missed, here’s the heading: “Labor gets down to business, trying to shake off the modus operandis [sic] that have dominated our politics for a decade.”

Alas, this was not the error of a sub-editor but of Laura (“the Morrison government was replete with ideological bastardry”) Tingle. La Tingle wrote this towards the end of her piece effectively welcoming the victory of the Albanese Labor government.  “The other tasks of the new government this week involved casting off the shibboleths and modus operandis [sic] that have dominated our politics for at least the last decade.”

Now, MWD does not mind flashing a bit of Latin around from time to time. Consequently, for this reason, MWD much values A.J. Bliss’ A Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases in Current English (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967). A quick reference to this – or most other dictionaries – would have revealed that the phrase “modus operandi” is in the singular and “modi operandi” in the plural. The lesson is – don’t flash Latin unless you check first – because English will do.  As to howlers in Latin usage: Can You Bear It?


NEW SEGMENT: GREAT JOURNEYS OF OUR TIME

  • ABC NEWS DIRECTOR JUSTIN STEVENS’ EPIC JOURNEY TO PARRAMATTA

Last time MWD checked in with ABC’s Director News, Analysis and Investigations Justin Stevens, he had made a heartfelt apology to staff via email over findings of bullying and racism at the ABC. This was reported by the Nine Newspapers’ Matthew Knott who had presumably been leaked the email.

This was not reported on by the ABC at the time and it’s unknown if it was covered on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – the ABC is quick to report on the toxic behaviour of others but not within its own ranks. And what was the result of the findings of the internal advisory group? Apparently, nothing.

As reported by the SMH’s Zoe Samios this week, the ABC has finally announced when it will be relocating some of its staff to their new Parramatta studio – the end of 2023. The move was proposed in 2020 as part of the ABC’s five year plan.

Justin Stevens told the SMH that he is “really pumped” about the move – but not enough to relocate himself full time, as he plans to “spend a bit of time in both places”. Who knows what the Ultimo to Parramatta ratio will be.

Whatever the split will be, it is truly commendable for Stevens to commit to regularly making the long journey from the ABC’s inner city Ultimo headquarters to their new Parramatta premises located in Parramatta Square.

Stevens acknowledged that staff may have concerns about the move –understandable as it is quite a journey.

It will take about half an hour to drive from the ABC’s Ultimo studio, take the long winding Parramatta Road through the vast plains of the Inner West, make the voyage down James Ruse Drive to cross the border to Parramatta.

Alternatively, one could travel via train. After a 10-minute hike through the hills of Ultimo, the trans-Sydney-Parramatta Express will take passengers on a train ride that rivals The Ghan, dropping them off at Parramatta 27 minutes later.

MWD will watch keenly to see what impact the ABC relocating some of its staff and sometimes its News boss to Parramatta will have – but strongly suspects it will remain a Conservative Free Zone.


NEW SEGMENT: A “CBD” ENCOUNTER

Due to overwhelmingly popular demand, Jackie’s (male) co-owner has decided to establish this new segment concerning the CBD column which is published from Monday to Friday in Nine’s The Age  and the Sydney Morning Herald.  What makes the CBD column unique is that it’s essentially a gossip column unrelated to the activities of those who work in the Central Business District of either Melbourne or Sydney. In the words of the currently fashionable cliché – “Enjoy”.

  • CBD SNEERS AT TONY ABBOTT AND NARENDRA MODI

Could it be that the scribblers who put regular CBD columns in Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald have taken lessons from some of the leading media sneerers in our midst?  It would seem so – judging from the effort of Kishor Napier-Raman (he of what Paul Keating once called the Hyphenated-Name-Set) and Noel Towell in their CBD column on 2 August.

CBD’s leading story on 2 August was titled “Abbott positions himself as an expert of everything” (in the print edition) and “All hail Tony Abbott, globe-trotting expert of everything” (in the online edition).

The CBD scribblers (whom virtually no one would know anything about if they didn’t write a gossip column) referred to Australia’s 28th prime minister as the “former somebody”.  Which raises these questions.  Why did CBD lead on 2 August with the bagging of a nobody?  And will the CBD duo ever become anybodys?

Comrade Towell and the Hyphenated-Name-Set guy objected to the fact that Tony Abbott is scheduled to address a seminar on the topic Indian democracy: troubled or triumphant?  to mark India’s 75th year of independence.  Seems a reasonable topic – don’t you think?  But CBD reckons that Abbott should not be talking on this matter – despite the fact that he knows Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (whom CBD dismisses as a “Hindu nationalist”) and was appointed by the Morrison government to the position of Australia’s special trade envoy to India.

Oh yes – the CBD duo also objected to the fact that Abbott commented on Shinzo Abe (1954-2022) – ignoring the fact that Australia’s former prime minister knew the former Japanese prime minister very well.  The column also made reference to Abbott “offering his two-bob’s worth on the affairs of state of foreign nations”.  And the mockery classified Tony Abbott as “Truly, Mr Worldwide”. Which might work in, say, a leftist university rag like Honi Soit (which Comrade Napier-Raman used to edit not so long ago) – but seems out of place in a newspaper which takes itself oh-so-seriously. [Don’t you mean Hanoi Soit? – MWD Editor.]

By the way, CBD ended by stating, mockingly, that “You know it’s [the seminar] going to be good stuff!”  MWD is of the view that if a journalist makes the desired point, no exclamation mark is necessary.  But if an exclamation mark is required, then the piece in question is clearly a load of boring literary sludge!!!!!!

  • CBD BAGS APPOINTMENT OF ABC OMBUDSMAN WITHOUT REFERENCE TO FIONA CAMERON’S QUALIFICATIONS

Immediately after the oh-so-fashionable dismissal of Tony Abbott, CBD turned its attention to yet another matter of huge interest to CBD readers (if readers there are). Namely, that the new president of the Australian Medical Association believes that “he may have contracted COVID-19 in Sydney” where the AMA national conference was recently held. But then again, he may not have COVID. How frightfully interesting.

The CBD column of 2 August concluded with an account of how the Department of Home Affairs had requisitioned “stationery, laptops and other office essentials” from the staff of the former Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews.  On Collins Street and Pitt Street that very day, business men and women were discussing nothing else, MWD hears.

The second last CBD topic on 2 August was headed “Know your ABC”. It reported that media executive Fiona Cameron – who worked for communications minister Richard Alston in the Howard government close to two decades ago – has been appointed to the newly created position of ABC ombudsman.  Your men Napier-Raman and Towell mocked the appointment – without reference to Ms Cameron’s evident qualifications.  Here’s how CBD concluded this piece in the online edition (it was deleted from the print edition) – under the heading “Australian Broadcasting Cowed”:

Also working in Alston’s office with Cameron was a young Paul Fletcher, who as communications minister in the Morrison government pushed the ABC to investigate its complaints, helping kick off the process that led to Cameron’s appointment. Perhaps someone at Aunty forgot that, with the Coalition in opposition, it no longer needs to bend over backwards to appease the Libs and Nats.

What a load of absolute tosh.  The ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  The idea that the likes of Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly, Patricia (“I break deals”) Karvelas, Leigh Sales or Laura (“the Morrison government was replete with ideological bastardry”) Tingle were cowed by, or appeased, the Morrison government is just nuts.  It suggests that Nine’s CBD columnists do not watch or listen to ABC news and current affairs programs – but comment on it, nonetheless.

  • CBD STILL USING EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!

Alas, CBD has still not reported back on whether the AMA president has got COVID.  This is how the column commenced:

CPAC is back, baby! And we’re not talking about the famed Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, but the Conservative Political Action Conference, which will hit Sydney’s Luna Park in early October.

What an exclamation mark, baby!!!!  [Sounds like this was written by a recent student newspaper editor, don’t you think? MWD Editor.]  This time, CBD droned on about who might be addressing the 2022 CPAC meeting in Sydney and some submission the NSW Young Liberals have forwarded to someone or other.  Yawn.  There was also mention of the fact that the Labour Union Co-operative Retirement  Fund has merged with Australian Super and that someone has left the Sports Minister’s Office and gone somewhere else.  Zzzzzzzzz. [If you wake up before the next issue of MWD you should give avid readers an update on CBD and all that. – MWD Editor.]


  • ABC TV’s “THE ABC OF [THE ABC’s] SARAH FERGUSON”

Media Watch Dog just loves it when journalists are interviewed by other journalists, actors and the like.  So it was a terrific occasion when ABC TV’s Sarah Ferguson appeared on ABC TV in The ABC Of… series – and was interviewed by actor David Wenham.  It was a joyous time – as DW praised SF, SF praised DW, DW laughed at SF’s jokes and Sarah Ferguson laughed loudly at her own jokes. [That’s fair enough, surely.  Who else was going to laugh at them?   MWD Editor.]

The ABC of Sarah Ferguson interview commences with excerpts of previous interviews which had SF interrupting her guests with such words as “forgive me for interrupting”, “excuse the interruption” and so on. Her targets are Chris Bowen, Scott Morrison, Joe Hockey and Bill Shorten. That is, senior Labor and Liberal Party politicians – but no Greens. Enough said.

First up, there is a clip of Sarah Ferguson’s “ABC debut”.  It was a report for Foreign Correspondent by Tony Jones on the French referendum vote in 1992 about the Maastricht Treaty.  SF, who speaks French, was commissioned to work on the program and – wait for it – also met Mr Jones and it was love at first sight. Or something like that.  SF informs viewers that she fell in love with your man Jones and they married soon after. How lovely.  To be sure, Mr Jones will be relieved to hear this – but why should viewers (if viewers there were) care?  By the way, SF goes on to say that she didn’t like TJ at first sight because she didn’t think he knew as much about  France as she did. Need-to-know information, to be sure.

SF and DW proceed to discuss SF’s past ABC series – including an interview with Marcus Einfeld, the first Federal Court of Australia judge to go to jail – for perjury.  SF relates how ME was her neighbour at around this time – they lived in semi-detached houses in inner-city Sydney that shared a common wall. SF declares that she used to visit ME when he was in his pyjamas, no less.  In any event, she secured an interview after many attempts – including, on occasions, hearing her unanswered phone calls through the common wall.  A clip is shown demonstrating that your man Einfeld did not do the interview with SF in his PJs.

DW asks SF about her interview with businessman/politician Clive Palmer – an interview which the latter walked out of.  DW queries SF how far she can push an interview and where the line is. SF congratulates him on “such a great question”. The answer is – you only find out where the line is after you’ve crossed it. Helpful, eh?

SF shares the tip that it’s important to remember that when doing interviews “it’s not about you” – something many an ABC journalist should take on board. She adds, “Once you hear yourself say something argumentative, you’ve lost the plot”. Which is somewhat odd – because SF gives the impression of being argumentative at times. But apparently not.  There you go.

Next up is a clip of SF being interviewed by Tom Gleeson (one of the few ABC  comedians who are funny). In this interview, SF spoke about the importance of “cleaning out the Augean stables of unfunny comics”.   Sounds like a cliché, don’t you think?  But DW praises SF for her “exquisite word selection”.  Go on.

For the record, MWD has long been campaigning for cleaning out the “Augean stables” of unfunny ABC comics – though has never phrased it in such a pretentious way. [I wonder if Sarah Ferguson recalls this comment when introducing the unfunny Mark Humphries on ABC TV’s 7.30 every second Thursday or so? – MWD Editor.]

DW and SF discuss SF’s love of poetry.  Then David Wenham describes her The Killing Season documentary (on Labor’s divisions during the prime-ministerships of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard) as “forensic” and “memorable for its raw antagonism”. He later mentions what he describes as “Ferguson’s ground-breaking documentary series Revelation”. Ferguson looks pleased while watching a clip of her interview with convicted pedophile Bernard McGrath, a former brother of the (now extinct) St John of God Catholic religious order – which she describes as “visceral”.

Ferguson talks about the challenge of interviewing a pedophile, as people like McGrath operate on manipulation. A good reason not to give him a platform, you would think.

Wenham brings this up, saying “some people think there’s nothing to be gained from interviewing the likes of McGrath – did you get what you wanted?” Ferguson says it was worthwhile as he gave up a name.

For his part, McGrath seemed to welcome the occasion – smiling on meeting Sarah Ferguson and seeing all the cameras and declaring: “Gosh, this is really big time, isn’t it?”  McGrath is currently serving a maximum sentence that will not end until 2053 – when he would be 106 years old. So you can see why an unintended consequence of the Revelation interview would have been to make his day more interesting than would otherwise have been the case.  The McGrath interview told us nothing new about pedophiles.

The pair then discuss Ferguson’s derailed plan to join the ABC’s Beijing bureau in 2020 which proved impossible due to Beijing’s clampdown on foreign correspondents and resulted in her going to Washington DC instead. Wenham says it was a “strange full circle”, since Tony Jones was her producer at the time. Not so strange, however, that a married couple would want to gallivant around internationally on a taxpayer-funded assignment – when you think about it.  After this, Ferguson bangs on about her marriage to Jones for a bit.

Then DW and SF go back to the 1992 Foreign Correspondent report and play some clips of a young Sarah Ferguson talking to a French woman beside Tony Jones. She refers to him as a “doll”. Wenham asks Ferguson how she’s changed over the course of her career. Ferguson says she’s changed deeply from being “a little arrogant” when she was young and talks about personal growth or some such thing. [It was hard to focus – I thought I might have developed ADHD but then I realised I was just listening to Sarah Ferguson. – MWD Editor].

For those who happen to be interested in – to use a cliche – SF’s personal journey, let’s go to the transcript:

David Wenham: So this show on one level is all about change. What are the biggest changes in you over the last 30 years?

Sarah Ferguson: I think I’ve changed deeply.

David Wenham: How so?

Sarah Ferguson: So I have to say, I can’t be the only person who was a little arrogant when they were young. Right? I can say that about myself. I knew what the world was. I knew what was right. I knew what was wrong. I knew where I belonged. I knew what the shape of society was. And I understood nothing. I was, I was wrong about all of it. I’m much kinder to everyone. I’m kinder about the world. I understand its frailties in a way that that person didn’t understand. And I think that I was curious, but I was curious within a very rigid sense of the architecture of the world. And I had that completely wrong. So I’m, I’m better now. I, I, I understand that I don’t understand.

David Wenham: Sarah Ferguson. What an absolute treat.

Yeah, an absolute treat – to be sure.  Sarah Ferguson told David Wenham that, until recent times, she did not know what she did not know.  The essence of professional journalism is that journalists understand that there are limits to everyone’s knowledge and that they should be aware of what they don’t know.  Yet, Sarah Ferguson, who was born in 1965, only realised that there are limits to her understanding in middle age.

The program finishes up with more of Sarah Ferguson’s interview with Tom Gleeson on his program Hard Chat. Wenham gets in one more compliment and tells Ferguson she has “great comedy chops”.  Er, that was it.  The ABC of – not very much at all.

Sarah Ferguson watches her interview with the pedophile Bernard McGrath. McGrath smiles after seeing the ABC’s cameras in the interview room.


COMEDY REVIEW CORNER

  • DUELLING BORING SKETCHES FROM SAMMY J & MARK HUMPHRIES

For an organisation that is constantly begging for more taxpayer money, the ABC employs a shockingly large number of self-described political comedians and satirists – none of whom manage to regularly have anything interesting or funny to say. Fortunately for these satirists the only requirement for keeping their jobs is to reliably take aim at the right targets, that is anybody to the right of the Labor Left.

Sammy J – a comedian who has spent much of his career performing with, and being upstaged by, a puppet – produces comedy sketches which air on ABC TV each Thursday after The Drum. The 4 August effort was titled “Is this the death of the mask?” and featured Comrade J as a priest giving a eulogy in support of the practice of wearing face masks.

A more interesting comedian may have used this setup to draw parallels between Christian beliefs and the faith certain secular leftists have placed in the power of mask wearing. A really daring comedian might have even poked fun at a non-Christian religion, shock horror. Luckily for ABC viewers, who generally don’t like to have their own views challenged, the sketch was written by Sammy J. Who, with seemingly no awareness of the irony, turned it into a sermon on the virtuousness of mask wearing and the vice of the maskless.

That Sammy J could write a sketch in which he, dressed as a priest, preached to the ABC converted – seemingly without being aware that he was doing so – shows a remarkable ability to avoid doing anything funny or interesting intentionally.

ABC viewers who didn’t change the channel were treated to another attempt at comedy later that same night, when 7:30’s resident satirist Mark (“Please mention before the sketch that I’m a satirist”) Humphries returned with yet another attempt at humour. As mentioned in the last edition of MWD, Humphries and his co-writer Evan (“Please mention before the sketch that I’m a co-writer”) Williams finally managed to make a half-hearted attempt to satirise Labor and The Greens in their previous sketch.

Alas, this week 7:30’s crack satirical team returned to more familiar ground, making fun of, you guessed it, Liberal politicians. In particular, the sketch poked fun at shadow treasurer Angus Taylor and former prime minister Scott Morrison for using the phrase “Mr Speaker” incorrectly. No doubt this topic appealed to Humphries & Williams as it allowed them to pad their sketch out with clips of Taylor & Morrison’s slip ups.

It was another dismal night of what passes for comedy on the ABC, with both sketches reassuring the ABC’s left-leaning audience that they are correct in all their left-leaning views.


YOUR TAXES AT WORK

As MWD  readers are only too well aware, a Writers or Literary Festival is an occasion when a group of leftists gets together, acquires a bucket-load of taxpayers’ funds and invites leftists and left-of-centre writers (of both the published and unpublished genre) to speak at a function. And so it comes to pass that virtually everyone agrees with virtually everyone else on virtually everything – and a fine (ideological) time is had by all.

  • THE 2022 MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL – ANOTHER LEFTIST STACK

Gerard Henderson has written about taxpayer funded festivals in tomorrow’s Weekend Australian. However, it occurred to Jackie’s (male) co-owner that avid readers may like to check out the best known Australian performers at the Melbourne Writers Festival to be held on 9-11 September – since this list was announced recently. Here they are:

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Courtney Act, Dennis Altman, Waleed Aly, Tony Armstrong, Michael Bacheland, Julia Baird, Paul Barclay, Sophie Black, Bernadette Brennan, Judith Brett, Jane Caro, Andrea Carson, Anna Clark, Brian Cox, Sophie Cunningham, Sushi Das, Robert Dessaix, Jon Faine, Osman Faruqi, Peter FitzSimons, Clementine Ford, Declan Fry, Helen Garner, Jonathan Holmes, Chloe Hooper, Bridie Jabour, Erik Jensen, Patricia Karvelas, Bernard Keane, Fran Kelly, Paddy Manning, David Marr, Kate McClymont, Nick McKenzie, Louise Milligan, Shireen Morris, Rick Morton, Andrew Quilty, Amy Remeikis, Julianne Schultz, Sami Shah, Emma Shortis, Margaret Simons, Jeff Sparrow, Jason Steger, Scott Stephens, Norman Swan, Tom Tilley, Laura Tingle, Virginia Trioli, Christos Tsiolkas, Sally Warhaft, Michael Williams, Arnold Zable.

Not a conservative in this lot.  It would seem that the only way a political conservative would get on a MWF platform is if they got lost on the way to, say, the Melbourne Club.

Your Taxes At Work.

* * * *

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’s, CONFECTED “FRIENDSHIP” WITH HENDO (CONTINUED)

As avid Media Watch Dog readers of the previous issue will be aware, on 29 July Gerard Henderson wrote to Sean Scalmer, Professor of Australian history at Melbourne University, concerning his essay The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre (MUP, 2022) which was edited by Peter Beilharz and Sian Supski.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner was concerned that the learned professor is perpetuating the claim that the late Stuart Macintyre and Gerard Henderson were besties for half a century – “classmates”, in fact.

This is absolute tosh as was documented in Gerard Henderson’s letter.  But Comrade Scalmer is obviously in denial and intent on continuing to burn the flame for Stuart Macintyre and fellow members of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club.  Now read on – if you wish.

SEAN SCALMER TO GERARD HENDERSON – 29 JULY 2022 – 4.49 pm

Dear Gerard Henderson,

I tend to rest on the OED, which defines “classmate” as: A fellow member of a class at school, college, or university; (North American) a member of the same graduation class.

I am not familiar with the “Cambridge Dictionary”, but in any case think my use of the term is certainly defensible.

One of Stuart’s arguments in The History Wars was that critics tended to focus on the person, not their work. I do think that your commentary on Stuart in the exchange I reference (and in the email) suggests that it is not inaccurate to describe you as a “critic” of Stuart’s. But I certainly do not claim that you made a very full study of his work.

As I said in an earlier email [dated 28 July], I hope that my reply (and this one) explain why I do not think you have made a persuasive case for me to make a change to the text of my chapter. But as I also said, please do take it up directly with MUP if you are not satisfied.

Best wishes,

Sean

SEAN SCALMER TO GERARD HENDERSON – 29 JULY 2022 – 5.03 pm

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 – 5 AUGUST 2022

Dear Professor Scalmer

How wonderful that you are an avid (albeit not uncritical) reader of Media Watch Dog.  And how wonderful that you forwarded me not one but two emails following the publication of our recent correspondence in MWD last Friday.

I’m not surprised that you are still in denial about my (alleged) decades-long friendship with the late Stuart Macintyre.  You assert that we were “classmates” at Melbourne University in the mid-1960s.  In fact, I attended one tutorial, once a week for one year along with Stuart and about a dozen others over half a century ago.  After that, we met on a couple of occasions – once when Stuart visited me at his request and once when he addressed The Sydney Institute. That’s all.

In any event, your assertion that – in Australian parlance –  the term “classmate” relates to acquaintances at university and not only school is just tosh.  As is your dismissal of the Macquarie Dictionary in this instance. A Melbourne University professor should be able to do better than this.

I appreciate that you are a member of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club and that your chapter in The Work of History: The Writing for Stuart Macintyre is something you wrote “for Stuart” –  even to the extent of running Stuart’s (false) claim that we were long-time friends.

As I have documented, Stuart invariably described me as a “friend” before criticising me.  It was a political tactic by a man whom the co-editors of The Making of History acknowledged in 2021 “has always been on the Left”.  In short, the left wing Macintyre feigned a long-term friendship with me when choosing to attack a conservative.

You have not been able to document any instance to support your assertion that I was a public critic of Stuart.  It seems that you just made this up.  My letter to Stuart of October 2007 was not a critique of his work – but rather a request that he desist from constantly claiming that we enjoyed a long friendship when we did not.  That’s all.

You maintain that Stuart used to claim that his critics “tended to focus on the person”.  Yet Stuart wrote in his 2003 book The History Wars that my work had “the ring of a Stalinist ideologue”.  How personal is that?  And yet you maintain that Stuart Macintyre was “unfailingly courteous” in his treatment of me. Turn it up. That’s just delusional.

Best wishes – and Keep Morale High at my Alma Mater of old.

Gerard Henderson

* * * *

Until next time.

* * * *