GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 601
19 August 2022
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BRITISH AUTHOR COMPARES FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER TO HERPES – AND GETS LOTSA LAUGHS ON Q&A
Just when Media Watch Dog thought that, under the new management of presenter Stan Grant, the ABC TV’s Q&A program was heading into kinder/gentler territory – this is what occurred last night.
The inner-city ABC types headed to Western Sydney, Penrith in fact, for what was presented as being a discussion focused on the problems of suburban Australia, in the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. However, as it turned out, once again, Q&A was focused on Australian national politics. So much so that the ABC named last night’s program “Morrison’s Secret Ministries”.
In fact, yesterday even the Canberra Press Gallery was bored with the old news that, when prime minister, Scott Morrison had himself sworn in as minister with respect to five other portfolios without announcing the fact. So much so that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese only got a couple of questions on the issue yesterday. But to Q&A, all this was breaking news. Here’s how the program commenced with the question from the floor approved by Q&A executive producer:
Shari Driver: What Scott Morrison did, with all the secrecy around his actions, just fell short of absolutism – a Napoleon who proclaimed himself Emperor. What measures is the government going to take to prevent such an abuse of power?
Stan Grant: Johann, um, you know, you’ve lived through the UK, and you’ve seen Boris Johnson. We’ve all watched that from afar. What have you made of this week here?
Johann Hari: Well, Scott Morrison seems a bit to me like herpes; just when you think it’s gone away it comes back worse than ever. [Grant and audience laughing] But, um –
Stan Grant: [interjecting] I wasn’t expecting to go there so quickly. [audience laughing]
Johann Hari: Yeah but [audience laughing] as you can tell from my accent, I am an outsider here, I am from Downton Abbey. And I’ve been thinking about – [Grant and audience laughing]
Murray Watt: Upstairs or downstairs? [Grant laughing]
Johann Hari: Definitely, definitely downstairs. But the – I’ve been thinking about Scott Morrison a lot in relation to three other leaders, right?…
How about that? Can you imagine an episode of the BBC Any Questions? program (on which Q&A was modelled) in which the presenter asked an Australian to be the first panel member to comment on a controversial week in British politics? Not on your nelly. Talk about the colonial cringe and all that. The Q&A team should have known better.
Then your man Hari equated Australia’s former prime minister with a sexually transmitted disease. How funny is that? Well the Q&A audiences thought so and Stan Grant did not attempt to call the baying mob to order.
Comrade Hari – who has a, er, somewhat controversial background in journalism – went on to compare Scott Morrison, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump unfavourably with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. No one on the panel raised the issue that Ms Merkel was an architect of Germany’s disastrous softly, softly approach to Russia which has left the nation facing an energy crisis as the northern winter approaches.
There was more of the same. Stan Grant asked the audience whether what the Queensland Liberal National Party Keith Pitt, who was a panellist, was saying made sense. The audience responded with a loud “No”. It was that kind of Q&A.
In the event, only about half the program was devoted to discussing the problems of Western Sydney and there was no mention of gang crime in the area. It was like the Q&A of old in that it was a case of Keith Pitt versus the presenter and all the other panellists. Which is great for MWD – on the basis that worse is better. Stan Grant wondered out loud why NSW Liberal Party Premier Dominic Perrottet had not taken up an invitation to appear on Q&A. Perhaps Mr Grant and his producers should view a repeat of this program to understand why.
THE ALLEGED ADAMS v HAWKE FISTFIGHT: THE (VERY) LATEST
There was enormous interest in last week’s Media Watch Dog which broke the story that, in May 2011, Ita Buttrose AC OBE said that she wished that someone had taught Phillip Adams good manners. The occasion occurred when Ms Buttrose addressed The Sydney Institute on 11 May 2011 on the topic “Australians Behaving Badly”. The current ABC chair declared that it had been bad manners for the ABC’s Man-in-Black to have “parodied” her lisp on not one but two occasions some years previously.
Now, Jackie’s (male) co-owner – who was well brought up – practises good manners. Ita Buttrose understood the Adams problem when she declared that: “I do wish someone had taught him [Adams] manners. I contend that it is lack of proper training at an early age that causes the problem of people behaving badly.” Quite so.
And so it has come to pass that Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA continues to exhibit bad manners into his eighth decade on this earth. This in spite of all those gongs and honorary degrees.
As readers will recall, on 4 March MWD reported that your man Adams boasted on his ABC Radio National Late Night Live program that he had a “fistfight in an airport lounge” with former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke. The true confession took place when Comrade Adams was interviewing Hawke biographer Troy Bramston on 3 March 2022.
On 4 March, MWD speculated that the Adams v Hawke title fight took place in the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge – to which Comrade Adams had access until he didn’t have access in April 2019. But writing in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 26 March 2022 in a column titled “Why Bob and I came to blows” – the ABC’s Man-in-Black had this to say:
This column on Bob Hawke begins with a joke and ends with a fistfight. First, the joke Hawkie told me. PM: “There are two dead bodies on the Hume Highway. One’s a dead kangaroo and the other’s a dead politician. What’s the difference?” PA: “I dunno.” PM: “There are skid marks before the kangaroo.”
All the funnier coming from a prime minister. Hawke’s joke began my collection published in 1994 as The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes. It sold a million and got us through a drought. Thanks Bob. So how did our relationship end in a scuffle in an Ansett Lounge, witnessed by a horrified Sir Arvi Parbo?
As will be noted, MWD’s speculation was off the mark. The (alleged) incident took place in the Ansett Lounge. As older MWD readers will recall, Ansett Australia ceased operations in early 2002.
So there you have it – allegedly. Comrade Adams reckons that he had a fistfight with Bob Hawke when Hawke was the incumbent prime minister. That is, between March 1983 and December 1991. It’s not clear what Sir Arvi Parbo was (allegedly) doing in the Ansett Lounge at the time. Sir Peter Abeles (1924-1999) was Ansett’s managing director between 1982 and 1992 – i.e. around the time Bob Hawke was prime minister – and is more likely to have been in the Ansett Lounge than Sir Arvi. Also, it is unlikely that a prime minister would be in a commercial airport lounge. Then, as now, prime ministers travel on RAAF planes which operate from RAAF bases or sites. Also, prime ministers invariably travel with a security detail which is trained to ensure that the likes of Mr Hawke do not engage in public brawling.
There is another point. Bob Hawke was an athletic kind of guy – with good hand-to-eye coordination as was evident when he played cricket and tennis. Phillip Adams, on the other hand, gives the impression of being more attuned to collecting honorary degrees than the jaw of an opponent in a fistfight.
Alas, Comrade Adams has not reported on the outcome of the Adams v Hawke punch-up refereed (allegedly) by Sir Arvi Parbo. Perhaps the ABC’s Man-in-Black was knocked-out by Hawke and could not fully remember all the details of one of Australia’s greatest fights. Can You Bear It?
[No, not really. I note, however, that if the Adams family had taught young Phillip manners along the lines suggested by Ita Buttrose, it would be unlikely that such an undignified punch-up would have ever occurred, er, if it did occur. – MWD Editor.]
READ ALL ABOUT IT IN THE GUARDIAN – JENNY HOCKING’S VERY LATEST BUCKINGHAM PALACE CONSPIRACY
Media Watch Dog’s dog, to wit Jackie, is immensely proud of the fact that Professor Jenny Hocking’s Twitter page quotes Gerard Henderson as describing her as the “official historian of the Australian left”. The fact is that some member of the Sandalista Set has got to do the job. After all, there is a lot of work in applying for and receiving all those taxpayer funded grants in order to record the lives of such left-wing heroes as former prime minister Gough Whitlam, former left-wing politician and High Court judge Lionel Murphy and author and long-time Communist Party member Frank Hardy.
Currently Dr Hocking (for a doctor she is) is an emeritus professor at Monash University and a distinguished fellow at the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University. [Does the Whitlam Institute have any undistinguished fellows, I wonder? – MWD Editor.]
On 18 August, the leftist Guardian Australia published an opinion piece by the official historian of the Australian left titled “Scott Morrison must resign immediately and try to salvage what remains of his shredded reputation”. Comrade Hockey, like many a leftist intellectual, loves telling others what they MUST DO.
As MWD readers are aware, the Hocking outburst was ignited by the revelation that, when prime minister, Scott Morrison had advised Governor-General David Hurley to appoint him to five ministerial posts where ministers were already in situ. An unwise decision to be sure – but not one that has amounted to the “destruction of our system of responsible government” as Comrade Hocking contends.
Having declared that Scott Morrison MUST step down as the Member for Cook, Comrade Hocking went on to declare that the Governor-General “MUST now consider his position” (emphasis added). She also declared that “it is quite possible…that the Queen knew of Morrison’s duplicate appointments”.
Well, that’s true. It is quite possible that the Queen knew of these events. And it’s also quite possible that Elizabeth II knew nothing about the matter whatsoever. Which makes you wonder what passes for history at Monash University and Western Sydney University and whether The Guardian Australia has any fact checkers among its toiling masses of wage-slaves. Can You Bear It?
[Is it possible that the learned left-wing professor will ever cease and desist from providing conspiracy theories? – of which this is the very latest. As has been documented in MWD, Comrade Hocking maintains – in the face of the evidence – that Queen Elizabeth was somehow involved in the decision of Governor-General Sir John Kerr to dismiss the Whitlam government in November 1975. And Jenny Hocking was the research assistant for the 1995 documentary Conspiracy which asserted, without evidence, that the bombing of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney in 1978 was a conspiracy involving ASIO, ASIS, the Australian Defence Force, NSW police and the NSW judiciary. – MWD Editor.]
REMAINDERS OF THE DAY (WITH APOLOGIES TO PRIVATE EYE) – THE LISA WILKINSON/KMART EXPERIENCE
Like many a courteous guy, Jackie’s (male) co-owner does not like drawing attention to sales of the disappointing kind. In short, Media Watch Dog does not endorse the sentiment contained in the first line of the late Clive James’ poem The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered :
The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
However, there are exceptions where the James approach has a particular appeal to MWD. Namely, for example, in the case of the leftist luvvie Lisa Wilkinson, co-presenter of Network Ten’s The Project and lecturer to the world about all and sundry – often in tandem with her bombastic husband and Nine Entertainment journalist Peter FitzSimons.
So, set out below is a pic taken by an avid Perth reader of the remainder stand of a Kmart store where Lisa Wilkinson’s memoir – part fact, part fiction according to some who have read the 496 page tome – can be obtained for a highly-competitive 70 cents.
Comrade Wilkinson’s autobiography, published in November 2021, is titled It wasn’t meant to be like this. And – as MWD’s Perth literary scout has commented with respect to the fate of this remaindered book – it wasn’t meant to be like this either, but it is. Here’s hoping that MWD’s many, many Perth readers get around to their local Kmart and do the right thing.
The truth is that Lisa Wilkinson and her husband Peter (“I wore a red rag on my head for a decade until it had to go to the laundry where it got lost”) FitzSimons had enough cash to buy up all the unsold copies of this opus magnum – before any found their way to Kmart stores throughout this vast brown land (parts of which are green due to drought-breaking rains).
Then The Thought of Lisa Wilkinson could have been pulped and recycled – thus helping to reduce Australia’s contribution to global emissions. Instead it seems that the good people of Perth who purchase the Wilkinson memoir will probably leave the said book unread on their bookshelves – where, in time, it may end up as landfill. Can You Bear It?
SENATOR PRICE v PETER FITZSIMONS – FITZ’S GREAT SILENCE CONTINUES
While on the topic of the Wilkinson-FitzSimons duo, avid MWD readers will be interested to know that the Red Bandannaed One has continued to decline to release the tape of his hour-long interview with Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. She appeared in his “5 minutes with Fitz” column in the Sun-Herald on 7 August.
As is widely known, the white multi-millionaire from Sydney’s Lower North Shore put it to the Indigenous senator from Alice Springs that, in her criticism of the Voice to Parliament, she was dividing Australia. Senator Price, in turn, said that she had been bullied – which was denied by Fitz.
The solution? Easy – release the tape and anyone who is interested can listen to the exchange and draw their own conclusions. But Comrade Fitz won’t do this – and he is supported by Sydney Morning Herald editor Bevan Shields. Your man Shields proclaims that the SMH is “Independent. Always.” – but not independent enough for its high-profile columnist to release the tape of the FitzSimons/Price exchange. Can You Bear It?
BACKGROUND BRIEFING THROWS THE SWITCH TO TRUE CRIME
MWD is interested in how the ABC covered the story of the two sisters – Saudi Arabian asylum seekers – who were found dead in their Sydney apartment recently. The police investigation is ongoing, and the deaths are being treated as suspicious.
Reporters Mahmood Fazal and Rachael Brown reported on the case for ABC’s Background Briefing with a podcast and an accompanying article titled “What happened to the Saudi sisters?”.
The blurb for the podcast reads like clickbait. “But who are they? What were they doing here? And most chillingly – why are they dead?”. And along with the article it has the vibe of a “true crime” podcast. Will the Background Briefing pair crack the case that the police so far have not? Read on to find out.
The answer is no. Aside from providing some details that seem unnecessary, such as commenting that the sisters’ apartment still smells, despite “an open jar of gel that neutralises the odour”, the article does one VERY IMPORTANT thing – it provides photos of the reporters in the process of investigating the story.
How would we comprehend the gravity of the story without photos like this – presumably featuring the very notebook used to take notes on the story. Truly fascinating.
In the image below, you can see reporter Mahmood Fazal holding a notebook and Rachael Brown having a very serious phone conversation. Or perhaps she is ordering a pizza for later.
The journalists mention that while “hunting for more clues” they buzz a neighbour’s apartment. Upon reading this, you might have been consumed with questions: Buzz? Is there an intercom? What brand is the intercom? What colour(s) are the buttons? Did they at any point press the number 1?
Fret not, Background Briefing is here with the answers and an image of the building’s intercom.
There are other images, such as a window of the apartment building and the reporters sitting in a car. As well as with the photos, the reporters make it about themselves with this comment:
We decide to head back to the office. As we’re standing waiting for a cab, something really weird happens. A car pulls up at the lights. Its driver pulls an iPhone out and takes a photograph of us. In a slow, deliberate fashion, like he wanted us to know, “I’m watching you”.
Perhaps Saudi spies are stalking the Background Briefing reporters to intimidate them into not publishing photos of an intercom. Or perhaps it was one of those odd interactions with a weirdo in a car that many a pedestrian has experienced.
In the spirit of Background Briefing, MWD will now provide a production image aka action shot of the making of this segment.
THE CULT OF PERSONALITY IS ALIVE AND WELL ON INSIDERS
As Media Watch Dog readers are aware, the ABC TV Insiders is invariably an example of The Guardian/ABC Axis in operation – in view of the number of comrades from both organisations who appear on the program.
It has also become an occasion where employees of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster advertise their products on the taxpayer funded broadcaster. Here are two recent examples.
ABC’s ANDREW PROBYN FLOGS HIS “TERRIFIC” PROGRAM – 7 AUGUST 2022
Andrew Probyn: …We all love politics, everyone on this show loves politics. So if you want to watch more politics, tune into The Brief. Which is, new episode out this weekend. You can get it on ABC In Depth and also iView.
Lenore Taylor: A plug – [Talking over each other]
Andrew Probyn: It’s a terrific program.
David Speers: It’s a terrific program. You should absolutely be getting it on all those platforms. You might even see Andrew Probyn on that show. Good plug.
ABC’s PATRICIA KARVELAS FLOGS HER BOOM/BOOM ABC ARTICLE ON GENDER – 14 AUGUST 2022
Patricia Karvelas: So I think that the systemic issues [about sexual harassment and bullying in the NSW parliament] are real across our parliaments. I’m sure if you were to do the same sorts of reports in other parliaments across the country, you would find the same kind of culture. And I think – and I’ve written a piece actually if I could plug it, I’m doing a fortnightly column for the ABC – boom, boom – on gender.
Good plug – Andrew. Boom, Boom – PK. Stand by for more plugs on the ABC by the ABC for the ABC.
DR NORMAN SWAN ON HIS MOTHER, HIS VIRGINITY AND HIS BOOK
ABC COVID guru Dr Norman Swan has been hard at work promoting his latest book, the bizarrely titled, So you want to Live Younger Longer?. This is the second health guide produced by Dr Swan since the beginning of the pandemic, following 2021’s So you think you know what’s good for you?.
As noted previously in MWD, both books – which were quickly produced after Dr Swan began making far more media appearances than previously because of the pandemic – describe Swan as “Australia’s most trusted doctor” on the cover. As avid readers are aware, your man Swan has not practised medicine in some four decades.
No doubt book sales were on the agenda when Dr Swan sat down with Robyn Doreian for an article published in the 14 August edition of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life magazine. The focus of the article was women, as befits this Sunday Life segment, and specifically the good doctor’s views on the fairer sex.
In the accompanying photo, Dr Swan stands on the beach with the sunrise behind him, below the image is emblazoned the words “WHAT I KNOW ABOUT WOMEN”. The effect is almost messianic – the ABC’s doctor in the house has come at last to reveal the truth to us.
So what does Dr Swan know about women? Well, here is what he has to say about his mother:
My mother, Nanette, was a difficult person. She probably had elements of borderline personality disorder. I suspect there might have been abuse in her early life, but she never spoke about that.
She was the life of the party and told stories that were completely distorted. She loved to be the centre of attention, but there also was a very dark side to her. You could say something completely innocent and suddenly she’d become incredibly aggressive.
Mum dominated my father, Leon, and he lived in fear of her. There were great times when she was happy but I left home as soon as I could, to go to medical school.
These revelations would seem to fall under the category of things you should tell a therapist, not The Sydney Morning Herald’s readers.
Swan goes on to talk about some of his relationships with other women:
I lost my virginity at the University of Aberdeen to a woman who was two years my senior. I also had a relationship with someone in my class that lasted a year. It ended unhappily as she had expectations it would go further.
I had a girlfriend in the US whom I met on one of my overseas trips, but that didn’t last. I also had a passionate relationship in my final year with someone who wasn’t in my class. But I didn’t blossom into a proper relationship until I was 21 or 22. After I graduated I felt more confident sexually, and had more mature relationships.
No doubt Dr Sigmund Freud would find this terribly interesting, but MWD can’t help but wonder why anybody needs to know when and to whom the ABC’s COVID point man lost his virginity.
He goes on to say that he feels embarrassed to have been married and divorced twice. Why Dr Swan would feel embarrassed about that and not about publicly talking about his difficult mother and his earliest sexual encounters is not explained.
Towards the end of the piece, Swan manages to tear himself away from examining his own relationships with women to offer up some social commentary (and plug his book):
In my latest book, So You Want to Live Younger Longer?, I write about the stigma of ageing for women. I think men feel it, too. I’m not critical of plastic surgery or of people with money who want to tinker with their looks, but I do think as a community we are much less kind to women in terms of looks and how they age.
Well, there you go, Dr Swan believes women are judged more harshly re their looks. We can all be thankful that Australia’s self-declared most trusted doctor strode forth from the waves to offer up these revelations.
STEP FORWARD LOUISE MILLIGAN – FOR NEGLECTING THE ROLE OF CLIMATE 200 AND SIMON HOLMES À COURT IN MONIQUE RYAN’S KOOYONG VICTORY
The ABC gave much publicity to the Four Corners program which aired on 15 August headed “Independents’ Day: Behind the scenes with the new force in politics”. This is how the program was presented in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s blurb:
On Monday Four Corners goes behind the scenes with some of the Independent women who defied the odds and defeated high profile politicians from the two major political parties. Reporter Louise Milligan has gained unusual access to two newly minted MPs and one Senator to document their transition to Canberra.
On the morning of the Radio National Breakfast program, Patricia Karvelas spoke to the ABC’s star reporter Louise (“I just love working for the ABC because it’s prepared to cover my private defamation payouts and associated legal costs”) Milligan:
Patricia Karvelas: You went behind the scenes with Independents Dai Le and Monique Ryan in the House of Reps and Tammy Tyrrell in the Senate. Give me an insight into what you saw.
Louise Milligan: Yeah, so we were following them from just after the election to the first week of Parliament. And it was a very candid behind the scenes kind of thing, which you don’t normally get with politicians now.
In fact, the program focused on ABC fave Monique Ryan – who defeated Josh Frydenberg in the well-heeled seat of Kooyong in Melbourne’s inner-east. As avid readers know, Dr Ryan (for a medical doctor she is) was a high-profile member of the so-called Teal Independents – along with ex-ABC journo Zoe Daniel who won Goldstein. Six of the Teals – Ryan, Daniel, Sophie Scamps (Mackellar), Kylea Tink (North Sydney), Allegra Spender (Wentworth) and Kate Chaney (Curtin) – defeated Liberal Party sitting members.
All the successful Teals were supported by the Climate 200 movement led by multi-millionaire Simon Holmes à Court. Climate 200 raised a total of $11 million and probably spent about $1.5 million in Kooyong. This is how Comrade Milligan covered the financial support received by Monique Ryan:
Louise Milligan: Three thousand people donated a war chest to Monique Ryan’s campaign of 1.1 million dollars – from pensioners at five dollars a month to a single donor who gave $115,000. Peter Garnick was crowned the campaign’s “wallet whisperer”.
Peter Garnick: People were donating every fortnight, every month, and we would go back to people a week, a month, later and people would say, “Yes, I want to help again”. The intensity, the sense of urgency was just nothing I had ever experienced before.
Louise Milligan: And what do you think was the single most motivating factor behind that sense of urgency and intensity?
Peter Garnick: Hope. Hope.
How about that? The ABC’s intrepid reporter told viewers that some (anonymous) pensioners kicked in $5 a month to Ryan’s campaign – but failed to mention Climate 200 in this context. Moreover, there was not one mention of Simon Holmes à Court in the whole program. Really.
Monique Ryan and her fellow Teals contested the May 2022 election confident that they would hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives. It didn’t happen – the Albanese Labor government has a narrow majority in the House in its own right. Monique Ryan’s campaign focused on Australia reducing its carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2030 – compared with Labor’s 43 per cent commitment. Labor’s commitment prevailed – and Ryan and her fellow Teals had scant impact on this matter.
However, Louise Milligan wanted to run the line that the Teals like Ryan, Daniel and Chaney (all three appeared in the Four Corners report) have important roles in the Commonwealth Parliament. So, Comrade Milligan came up with this pitch:
Louise Milligan: During her [Dr Ryan’s] first ever question to the government, it’s clear from the Opposition jeers that the Liberal Party won’t soon let this woman forget that she took out one of their brightest political stars.
Monique Ryan: COVID-19 infections in this country are at a record high and increasing. Can the Minister please explain how he proposes to manage the oncoming national significant burden of disability and chronic illness – (Coalition MPs jeer)
Monique Ryan: Put your masks on! From repeated infection –
Monique Ryan: From repeated infections with COVID-19?
Louise Milligan: “Put your masks on!” went viral within hours…
It was a compelling first glimpse at how this new breed of politicians might wield their power.
In fact, the interjecting Coalition MPs did not do as they were told and refrained from putting on their masks. Even if they had obeyed the hospital matron-style command this would hardly have resulted in the wielding of power in any meaningful sense of the term.
To summarise, the ABC’s star reporter did a Four Corners program on the Independents – focusing on the Teals. Comrade Milligan not only failed to mention the Teals’ mentor Simon Holmes à Court. But she also claimed that the fact that Monique Ryan instructed some Coalition members to put their masks on in Parliament was an example of how the Teals could wield power over the next few years. What a load of absolute tosh.
Louise Milligan: Media Fool of the Week.
[Gee. Comrade Milligan must be a formidable force within the staff collective that is the ABC to get such sludge though Four Corners’ producer and executive producer. Surely Ali Russell and Matthew Carney were aware of Comrade Holmes à Court’s role in the Teal campaign against the likes of Josh Frydenberg. MWD Editor.]
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 readers are aware, Gerard Henderson has been in correspondence with Professor Sean Scalmer, an academic fanboy of the late Professor Stuart Macintyre. This relates to the learned professor’s article titled “Scrutiny, context and power: Stuart Macintyre on Australian historians” published in The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre (MUP, 2022).
The collection is an academic love-in for Stuart Macintyre (1947-2021). It is edited by Peter Beilharz and Sian Supski, editors of the latter-day Marxist journal Thesis Eleven. Comrades Beilharz and Supski acknowledge in the Epilogue of The Work of History that the late Comrade Macintyre was “always on the Left”. You can say that again.
In the previous issue, MWD advised of a correction concerning how Professor Scalmer’s correspondence was handled in the issue published on 5 August – and an apology was made. The correspondence continued.
GERARD HENDERSON TO SEAN SCALMER – 8 AUGUST 2022
First up – an apology. On checking this morning it is evident that someone claiming to be you sent a message at 6.59 pm on 29 July via the “Contact Us” link on The Sydney Institute’s website. I should have picked this up.
As previously advised, I had the Media Watch Dog Correspondence section taken down pending checking this morning. I will put it back up – with all references to the imposter email deleted. I will place a Correction and Apology in next Friday’s Media Watch Dog. Media Watch Dog is always willing to correct errors. Unlike the Professor of Australian Studies at the Melbourne University, it should be pointed out.
You still maintain that I was a “classmate” of Stuart Macintyre. Yet we did not attend the same school (the standard Australian meaning of “classmate”) and we each attended only one tutorial, once a week for one year at the University of Melbourne half a century ago. You also maintain that we enjoyed a friendship despite the fact that Stuart called me a Stalinist ideologue while he was alive. In his final book The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning (Allen & Unwin), published after his death, Stuart alleged that I was a member of the “arm of the Church militant”. The reference is to the Catholic Church. This is absolute tosh.
For the record, Stuart had no knowledge whatsoever about my religious beliefs – we never had a personal conversation on any matter whatsoever. Stuart went to Scotch College when it was run by the Presbyterian Church and, as I understand it, was the son of a Methodist minister. There was still a whiff of anti-Catholic sectarianism in the air when Stuart was a student at Scotch College in the 1960s – and some concern within some Protestant institutions about the “Church militant”.
Perhaps this explains why, in his histories of Australia, Stuart Macintyre all but wiped the Catholic Joseph Lyons – the successful prime minister from January 1932 until his death in office in April 1939 – out of Australian history. And why Stuart was still banging on about the (alleged) improper actions of the Catholic Church on his death-bed.
Sure, Stuart Macintyre did some good work – as I acknowledged in my column in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 20 September 1994. However, I find it somewhat amusing that historians, like you, should sign on to the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club – and throw the switch to denial when someone points out that Stuart during his time on earth, and some members of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club after his death, just make things up.
SEAN SCALMER TO GERARD HENDERSON – 8 AUGUST 2022
Thank you for your admission of an error and your commitment to print a correction and an apology.
Your reply contains two additional errors. First, I am not a “Professor of Australian Studies”, but a Professor of Australian History at the University of Melbourne.
You further state that I “maintain that we [that is, you and Stuart] enjoyed a friendship”. I have made no such claim. The sentence in my chapter to which you objected so strenuously states only that you were “a critic and former classmate”. I have explained and justified both descriptions in subsequent emails, but have not suggested in print or in later exchanges that you were friends.
I regret that in your pursuit of these matters you have falsely attributed to me statements that I have not made and claims that I have not made.
GERARD HENDERSON TO SEAN SCALMER – 19 AUGUST 2022
I refer to your email of 8 August. You may or may not be aware that the 12 August 2022 issue of Media Watch Dog corrected the error with respect to you in the published correspondence between us which appeared in MWD on 5 August 2022. MWD apologised for the error.
Unlike you, I apologise for my mistakes. Yet, on the other hand, you persist in the view that the late Stuart Macintyre and myself were “classmates”. This despite the fact that we never went to the same school and that the only connection in our younger days turned on the fact that we attended a British History (Hons) tutorial once a week for one hour during one year half a century ago.
As a member of the Stuart Macintyre Fan Club, in your contribution to The Work of History: Writing for Stuart Macintyre you imply that Stuart and I were close because we were once “classmates” – the implication being that we were friends. In Australian English, classmates means school mates. In fact, Stuart and I were not even “campus tutorial mates”.
As documented, Stuart’s claim of a long-term friendship with me was an unprofessional attempt to give credibility to his criticism of me. It was the kind of tactic Stuart could have learnt when he was a member of the Communist Party.
By the way, you have still not produced any evidence to support your claim that I was a public critic of Stuart’s work as an historian. Moreover, you have failed to address the fact that in The History Wars (MUP, 2003), Stuart described me as a “Stalinist ideologue”. I note that you do not refer to this in your apologia for Stuart titled “Stuart Macintyre on Australian historians” where you write about your late colleague’s alleged “courteous” ways with respect to historians like myself. Turn it up.
I note that you are a Professor of Australian History not a Professor of Australian Studies. My (minor) error, to be sure, but not so significant as a misuse of the Australian word usage of “classmate”. But there you go.
As far as I am concerned, this correspondence is concluded.
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Until next time.
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