GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 604
9 September 2022
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VALE ELIZABETH II – BUT DID THE ABC REALLY NEED TO INTERVIEW KATHY LETTE ABOUT THE CORGI SUIT?
The Media Watch Dog team regrets the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She was an exemplary sovereign who did not seek to interfere in domestic or international politics. Also, the late Queen was a fine Christian who led by example.
The commentary about Elizabeth II (1926-2022) commenced in Australia before dawn and, no doubt, will continue for many days. Former Australian prime ministers Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison along with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have all paid their respects to the late monarch.
But there has been a trivial moment or two – along with some discourteous commentary which is covered elsewhere in MWD. For its part, MWD noted this exchange that took place on ABC TV’s News Breakfast this morning:
Lisa Millar: When we were speaking to Kathy Lette earlier, the author and an Australian who splits her time between the UK and here. She has met the Queen on numerous occasions. And as only Kathy Lette could do, has been extraordinarily cheeky with her. And she has, she told us that the Queen always had a great sense of humour. And it was those around her who wanted to sort of gasp in horror, that things might have been said, or that conversations shouldn’t have gone down tracks that they did. But Kathy said the Queen was up for it. That was you know, she really did have that sense of humour that bit of mischief.
David Speers: Wonderful story she told of wearing a suit with corgis printed on it to meet the Queen. [Laughs] Quite the icebreaker. Yes, yeah.
Turn it up. Jackie’s co-owners are long-time republicans. However, they have scant regard for republicans like Kathy Lette and her former husband Geoffrey Robertson KC (formerly QC) who appear to have never knocked back an opportunity to be in the presence of the Monarch.
To Comrades Millar and Speers, attention-seeking by means of wearing a suit with corgi images to meet the Queen may be a gesture of the icebreaker kind. But to MWD it is just exhibitionism which enables the wearer of the said garment to remind others over and over again that she met the Queen at Buckingham Palace or whatever.
[Perhaps you’ve been a bit tough on Kathy (“look at moi”) Lette and should have focused on Geoffrey Robertson instead. You know, the Australian-born bore with an Epping accent. What’s an Epping accent? – I hear you ask. It’s the kind of accent an Australian bloke in London acquires – when he does not wish it to be known that he was brought up in the Sydney suburb of Epping. – MWD Editor.]
YET MORE FAKE HISTORY ON ABC’S Q&A
The ABC regards Q&A – presenter Stan Grant, executive producer Erin Vincent – as one of its leading current affairs programs. That’s why Stan Grant, one of the ABC’s best presenters, presides over the program. Yet the taxpayer funded public broadcaster appears to have no way of correcting serious errors of fact when they appear in the live broadcast or even after the program has concluded.
Take last night’s Q&A, for example, which was titled “Ambition, Power and Storytelling Without A Pen”. At one point, Deborah Cheetham – a Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator – responded to a question which related to the proposed Voice to Parliament. She had this to say:
Deborah Cheetham: But this point about, about colonisation and our journey and our Voice To Parliament. I – look, I’m going to say it right now; this is going to be my third referendum, right? ’67 – “can we count you as a human being and not a plant or an animal?” That was the first referendum. Marriage equality, right? Second –
Stan Grant: [interjecting] The plebiscite.
Deborah Cheetham: – referendum, yeah? I’m engaged to be married now, my fiancée is here, and I’m telling you what we went through to get to that point where love is love, that was punishing. And what was it, 67.8 [per cent of the vote] for across the line? And now this third referendum. Ok, that’s what we’re going to do. But I really ask you: Should I live through another referendum to tell me that I can be? – that I can have a Voice to Parliament?
Deborah Cheetham is a fine musician but not much of an historian or political commentator. It is a myth to state that Indigenous Australians were regarded as “a plant or an animal” prior to the passing of the 1967 referendum. The relevant question asked voters whether they agreed to amend the Constitution “to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people”. A second question sought to make it possible to include Aboriginal people in the national census. Both provisions gained a majority of votes in a majority of states and the Constitution was amended accordingly. Neither had anything to do with what Ms Cheetham claimed on Q&A.
Stan Grant, who had a lot on his mind presenting the show, did not correct the error. It appears that no member of the Q&A production team sent Stan Grant a message. The fact is that all Indigenous Australians were classified as Australian citizens by no later than 1948. Ms Cheetham was born in 1964.
Moreover, what was regarded as the same-sex marriage vote was not a formal plebiscite but rather was termed the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey 2017 and was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Sure, this was a minor error – and Stan Grant’s on-the-spot correction was good enough. But it was unprofessional for the powers-that-be at Q&A to allow Deborah Cheetham’s earlier claim that Indigenous Australians were once regarded as flora and fauna to go uncorrected.
As has been previously documented by MWD, this is not the first time the flora and fauna myth has been spread on Q&A. On the 19 February 2018 edition actress Shareena Clanton stated it as fact, without a correction by then presenter Tony Jones. After the error was pointed out by Nyunggai Warren Mundine on Twitter it was the subject of a fact check by the RMIT ABC fact check unit, which concurred with Mundine’s assessment that it is a myth. The myth was then repeated on the 27 May 2021 edition of Q&A by singer Mitch Tambo, again without any correction from then presenter Hamish Macdonald.
PETER FRAY’S UNREALISTIC HOPE
As avid Media Watch Dog readers know only too well, Jackie’s (male) co-owner regards Morry Schwartz’s The [Boring] Saturday Paper as, well, boring – for many reasons. Including that it is a newspaper without news – going to print on Thursday evenings and arriving in inner-city coffee shops on Saturday mornings. So Hendo reads TSP on Mondays – what’s the hurry?
On Monday 5 September, MWD was surprised, so surprised, to notice that the paper contained an article that was not boring – even though it also carried oh-so-boring and predictable columns by Paul Bongiorno and Dr John Hewson (for a doctor he is). In short, the 3 September issue of The Saturday Paper ran a Page One article by Paddy Manning titled “Crikey lawsuit ‘I thought Lachlan Murdoch was really cool’”.
The “cool” quote was from the Crikey newsletter editor, Peter Fray, who referred to an incident he witnessed some years ago when Lachlan Murdoch (along with film director Baz Luhrmann) pulled a driver and a passenger from a burning car in Sydney.
But MWD digresses. The Manning piece was about Lachlan Murdoch’s decision to sue Private Media, the publisher of Crikey, for defamation. At the end of the article, Manning referred to the well-known fact that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, along with his senior ministers Richard Marles and Penny Wong, recently met with Lachlan Murdoch at News Corp headquarters in Sydney. It is not uncommon for political leaders to meet with senior media executives. However, what was interesting about this get-together turned on Peter Fray’s reaction. Let’s go to the penultimate paragraph of Paddy Manning’s article:
Fray admits he was a “little bit surprised at Albo’s visit to Holt Street”, adding “I’d hope the prime minister of the day – and Penny Wong and Richard Marles – thought that this was a worthy point of discussion. I would have thought they would have said, ‘Hey, do you really want to do this?’ But maybe not – who knows?”
How about that? Crikey’s editor Peter Fray seriously hoped that the Labor Party’s trio “would” have suggested to the News Corp co-chairman that he might want to discontinue his defamation case against Crikey. But why would they interfere in a legal matter – which bears no relation to the Albanese government or News Corp – in this way? Peter Fray did not say. But MWD says: Can You Bear It?
THE SATURDAY PAPER’S BONGE FASHION-SHAMES DAI LE
While on the topic of Paul (“I used to share digs with Gerald Ridsdale but I don’t talk about it much”) Bongiorno – how about this tweet which Bonge put out around lunch time on 5 September:
Independent Dai Le mars a gut wrenching First Speech of refugee survival by wearing an Australian flag and like end lock downs to Communist suppression. Simply appalling.
— Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno) September 5, 2022
The reference was to the first speech by Dai Le, an Independent MP who in the May 2022 election defeated Labor’s Kristina Keneally in the former Labor safe seat of Fowler in western Sydney. Dai Le is a refugee from South Vietnam who escaped from Vietnam following the victory of the North Vietnamese communist regime over the non-communist South Vietnamese government in April 1975. She travelled with her mother and sister by boat to Hong Kong and arrived in Australia in 1979 as part of Australia’s intake of Indo-Chinese refugees.
Comrade Bongiorno tweeted that Ms Le had marred her speech “by wearing an Australian flag”. In fact, the Australian flag was stitched like an Áo dài – the traditional Vietnamese dress. Moreover, Dai Le – who lives in Fowler – experienced some of the most extensive lockdowns that prevailed in NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, they were not comparable with a communist prison or a labour camp. But they were unpleasant enough – particularly for those living in western Sydney in small units and the like.
Bonge appears to have had a good pandemic lockdown experience living in affluent Canberra and scribbling away for such leftist publications as The Saturday Paper and The New Daily, presumably in his pyjamas from home. But Ms Le and the good people of western Sydney had a hard pandemic experience – as Dai Le explained in her first speech.
Yet Comrade Bongiorno saw fit to condemn the member for Fowler’s first speech as “simply appalling”. To which MWD simply responds: Can You Bear It?
SATYAJIT DAS SHOCKS LNL LISTENERS WITH SOME TRUTHS ABOUT FOSSIL FUELS
Did anyone listen to ABC Radio’s Late Night Live on 5 September when Phillip Adams, the ABC’s Man-in-Black, interviewed the left-of-centre economist Satyajit Das? – who presents as an author, financial market expert and former banker. Everything was going according to plan when your man Das said something unexpected. Let’s go to the transcript:
Satyajit Das: The other important issue, and this is behind higher energy prices in part, is there’s been absolute under-investment in traditional fossil fuels and natural gas, because nobody will finance it. And that’s holding up in part, our energy transition. So essentially, the lack of –
Phillip Adams: I’m sorry, stop. Stop the – stop the flow there. Walk this back a bit, because this will come as a great shock to most of our listeners.
Satyajit Das: Well, the real issue is there’s a thing called ESG, which is environment, sustainability, and governance investing. So all the investors want to know whether you’ve done good in terms of climate and all of these sorts of things. So many banks and investment funds will not invest in or lend to many oil companies. And if you look at investment in the oil and gas industry, for instance, over the last 20 years it’s been falling steadily. And the best way to describe what we’re doing at the moment with energy is – we’re on one side of a river which is very wide. And there’s an existing bridge and it’s not a good bridge. And we have plans to build another bridge, which is our famous renewable energy transition. But what we’ve decided to do is basically blow up the old bridge before we have the new one.
Phillip Adams: You’ve heard Twiggy Forrest’s announcement today, or utterances, that he believes there should be no government support for fossil fuels or gas.
Satyajit Das: Oh, well, you know, I think Mr Forrest is entitled to his own opinion. But every forecast I’ve seen suggests that fossil fuels whether we like it or not – and I don’t like it – will play a very important part for 40, 50, 60 years to come.
Your man Adams quickly switched the topic to the impact of petrol prices on inflation – no doubt concerned about the reaction by “most of” the listeners to his little wireless program (if listeners there were) when they heard that oil and gas would still be around to possibly the end of the 21st Century.
And so it has come to this. Just when the powers-that-be at Radio National are busy cancelling anyone who believes that the transition from fossil fuels to renewables is a challenging and difficult process – up pops Mr Das and talks truth to wish fulfilment. No wonder Comrade Adams quickly switched the topic to Australia’s fuel excise. Can You Bear It?
MELBOURNE-BASED STEVE CAREY FINDS THE NSW TRAIN STRIKES AN OCCASION FOR LAUGHTER
Just when you thought ABC TV News Breakfast viewers could get a break from Steve Carey’s comments in the “Newspapers” segment, up he bobbed again on Monday 5 September – having not appeared the previous week.
On Monday 22 August, your man Carey – who presents as a media trainer or some such – called on former Prime Minister Scott Morrison to step down as the Liberal Party member for the seat of Cook in Sydney’s south. This follows revelations of Mr Morrison’s unwise decision, when prime minister, to appoint himself as minister for five additional portfolios without informing four of the relevant ministers or making the appointments public. Later that day, the Solicitor-General found that Mr Morrison had done nothing invalid but stated that he had failed to act in accordance with the conventions of representative government.
Talking to Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland, Steve Carey supported the view of Liberal Party frontbencher Karen Andrews and Liberal Party backbencher Bridget Archer that Scott Morrison should resign from the House of Representatives immediately. Comrade Carey said that “the driver of this has been women”. And – yawn – bagged “the boys’ club”. Overlooking the fact that the most senior women in the Liberal Party are Sussan Ley, Jane Hume and Michaelia Cash – none of whom want a by-election in Cook in the short term.
Comrade Carey went on to talk about his “mum” and to declare that people who work in “the café industry, retail, these areas” are employed in “lower class things”. He added: “No disrespect intended” but did not withdraw the comment. Later, when commenting on staff shortages, Carey declared “You can only serve yourself so much wine”. How profound is that?
The Newspapers’ commentator went on to give his opinion on Qantas and all that. Not being able to bear it (to coin a phrase), Jackie’s (male) co-owner decided to ignore the Carey dictum and serve his own (early morning) wine in a bid to forget the verbal sludge he had just heard.
Alas, the Melbourne-based Carey was back doing the ABC TV News Breakfast gig on Monday 5 September. This time his self-proclaimed expertise focused on the train strikes in the Sydney/Newcastle/Wollongong regions.
Comrade Carey bagged the Page One lead of the Daily Telegraph which focused on the pay and conditions of train employees. It read: “Striking rail workers’ cosy cash perks exposed – Gravy Train”. The report, by James O’Doherty and Angira Bharadwaj, commented “the train workers holding the city hostage with industrial action already have a suite of highly generous allowances not found in the private sector”. It quoted the NSW Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope as saying that rail workers were well paid but had an “eagerness” to strike.
The Melbourne-based Carey was none too impressed with the attitude of the NSW Coalition government and took the union’s side in this dispute. Let’s go to the transcript:
Michael Rowland: Look, the third thing that you’re looking at is the train strikes over in Sydney [Steve Carey laughs], which is just causing all sorts of woes.
Steve Carey: Well it’s funny. I was in Sydney on the weekend. And it was actually pretty good. I mean, jumping on the train from the airport to the city. I mean, if only we could have it here. That’s another story. That’s another story.
But basically, this one it’s “gravy trains”. So, you know, this is classic tabloid newspaper fodder, if you read it, striking rail workers, cosy cash perks. Because there is a problem between the unions and the government. You know, the workers are trying to get increased wages, the minister there has basically come out. And it’s pretty inflammatory, some of the language, you know. Holding…the city to hostage; they’re not going to be bullied anymore. But it’s just classic, it’s classic stuff to get one side against the other.
Michael Rowland: Yeah, and it’s protracted, no sign of ending. But the headline news this morning is for the first time in a long time, there won’t be a train strike this week. At this stage. It’s only Monday morning Steve [Steve Carey laughs] so anything could change.
Steve Carey: But you know and I know, you have to negotiate at some point.
Michael Rowland: You do.
Talk about ignorance. Steve Carey seems to believe that the ongoing rail strikes are a bit of a joke – and that the NSW government has failed to negotiate with the trade unions involved in the train strikes. This is absolute tosh.
Only a fool would comment on national television about serious industrial action concerning which he knows little. What’s more, Comrade Carey has scant understanding of the impact of the rail strikes on NSW residents who are dependent on public transport to get to work – including those who work in what he terms “lower class things”. To NSW workers, school children and others who commute by train the rail strike is no laughing matter.
Steve Carey – Media Fool of the Week.
[Well said. I note that on 6 September the Daily Telegraph revealed that Alex Claassens, secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, had emailed members declaring that the Perrottet government “does not deserve a moment of peace between now and the next election”. Which demonstrates that the NSW government is not the prime cause of the industrial disruption which the Melbourne-based media trainer appears to regard as a bit of a joke. – MWD Editor.]
ANOTHER LEFT-OF-CENTRE PANEL ON INSIDERS AS RISING ENERGY COSTS IGNORED
Wasn’t it great to see The Guardian/ABC Axis back in action on ABC TV’s Insiders program on 4 September. David Speers (ABC) was in the presenter’s chair and his panellists comprised Fran Kelly (ABC), Sarah Martin (The Guardian Australia) and Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper).
Both The Guardian and The [Boring] Saturday Paper are avowedly left-wing publications and the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone. The program’s “Talking Pictures” segment was presented as usual by The Guardian’s Michael Bowers who spoke to photographer Andrew Meares. In other words, The Guardian/ABC Axis amounted to some 83 per cent of the talent on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Insiders that Sunday morning.
Needless to say, it was one of those oh-so-familiar ABC occasions where almost everyone agreed with almost everyone else on almost everything. David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers commenced by referring to the recently completed Jobs and Skills Summit and asked for some “big picture thoughts” on the outcome.
Comrade Middleton led off by stating that the summit was worthwhile and praised the speech by Grattan Institute chief executive officer Danielle Wood as not only “excellent” but “really excellent”. A “Wow” moment indeed.
The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent also praised Nationals’ leader David Littleproud for attending the Jobs Summit – the Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton had declined an invitation. She said that Mr Littleproud had made not just an excellent contribution but a “really excellent” one – and bagged the Liberal Party for not engaging in the Jobs Summit’s “culture of goodwill and engagement”. In other words – Shame, Dutton, Shame.
David Speers then jumped in. He also lauded both David Littleproud and Danielle Wood (whom he said gave a “terrific address”) and praised the number of women at the event. Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly concurred stating that childcare will become “more accessible and cheaper” but added “it’s not going to happen yet”. Oh yes, Comrade Kelly joined in the circus of praise for Danielle Wood. This was followed by a discussion about childcare where the panellists essentially agreed with each other.
Then Speersy asked Sarah Martin about what was her main take out from the Summit. Comrade Martin said that the optics were great. Comrade Kelly then condemned any reference to the Summit being a “talkfest” – a claim which had been made by Opposition leader Peter Dutton. She also criticised former prime minister Scott Morrison and went on to praise – wait for it – David Littleproud. Your man Speers concurred about the Nationals’ leader as did Karen Middleton. Not a contrary view was heard.
This Insiders segment ended as it had commenced, with three Canberra-based journalists agreeing with each other while the presenter agreed with them. Another ABC Yawn Again Experience – without any considered debate and discussion.
By the way, for a second episode in a row, Insiders showed no interest whatsoever in rising energy prices at a time when there has never been so much renewable energy in the power grid. In particular, David Speers and his executive producer Samuel Clark seemed unaware about rising costs and evident delays in bringing the Snowy 2.0 renewable project into fruition. On 4 September, Insiders spent more time discussing Danielle Wood’s Summit speech than the impact on businesses and individuals alike of increasing power prices.
JONATHAN GREEN’S BLUEPRINT FOR KNACKERING (A HORSE LIKE JACK)
Avid readers will know that MWD has been monitoring Jonathan Green (presenter of ABC Radio National’s Blueprint for Living) and his complex relationship with the animal world for many years now. As an empathetic canine this is a topic that Jackie is very invested in. Here’s the timeline so far:
In 2015, Comrade (“proudly the ABC’s sneerer-in-chief”) Green posted a photo of himself aboard a horse in fox hunting get-up. In a 2016 tweet, your man Green confirmed he is indeed a fox hunting man, saying “I don’t shoot animals. I watch hounds kill them from horseback”. Now, MWD can’t speak for the foxes, but a bullet to the brain sounds preferable to being dismembered alive by a pack of dogs.
Sandal wearing inner-city leftist sneerer has a day off. pic.twitter.com/D0t1oRbZ87
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) May 2, 2015
@embritts I don't shoot animals. I watch hounds kill them from horseback.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) April 1, 2016
In 2016, Green posted a picture on Twitter of his previously fave butcher’s shop and advised that he was now a vegetarian, citing “A concern about animal commodification in the food chain”. This metamorphosis of the food chain kind occurred around the time that the ABC presenter moved into Melbourne inner-city sandal-wearing country. Carlton, no less.
Going to my favorite butcher is one of the things I miss most about meat. pic.twitter.com/76RvdBMlSI
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) March 26, 2016
Later, in an odd 2019 twitter thread, your man Green talked about buying a thoroughbred horse named Jack – a relative of a Melbourne Cup winner – and then taking him off to the knackery after failing to take proper care of the equine. The tweet seems to be intended to elicit sympathy for Green, and less for poor old Jack – hungry and cold through the winter in outer Melbourne then shipped off to the knackers.
I never do the thread thing, but maybe this once.
All the talk of horse slaughter, the industrial carnage that sweeps up after the racing industry … it's the extremity, but the sales, the knackers…they're an intrinsic, dark, accepted, part of horse culture.
Here's my story.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
I agisted him. tried with him. gave it all my best shot. But i had no idea. he dropped condition badly. was too much for me to handle in the saddle. The thing just fell apart badly. Let's be clear, a young thoroughbred is a serious piece of animal. Fast. Flighty.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
I put him out after that in a large paddock with others. But through the winter that followed he faded. I had no idea of how to look after a horse, especially a thoroughbred … they drop weight as easy as looking at them. Through winter they need rugging and lots of food.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
I wept leaving. The miserable place. sheds and dirt. Rough men. A rough end. But quick I think. I kept the cheque… the horse world shorthand is 'meat price'… for years. Uncashed. It's my eternal shame. I guess if anything came out if it it was to teach me a thing or two
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
Most horses do wonderfully well. Most people love them to pieces. Cruelty to them is often based on fear. Misunderstanding. and ignorance.
Sometimes it's a function, as we have seen, of money. Gambling. Business.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
Anyway… I'm sorry Jack (that's what I called him). I should have known better. You're on my mind.
— jonathan green (@GreenJ) October 18, 2019
Quite a rollercoaster, to be sure. So, MWD was interested to tune in to the 3 September episode of Blueprint for Living, where Mr Green interviewed the British/vegan/environmental activist/writer George Monbiot. Monbiot was on air to promote his latest leftist tome Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet. Green and Monbiot had a lovely chat where they appeared to be in agreement about the evils of factory farming, saving the planet and all that.
Jonathan Green even had a laugh when Monbiot shared a statistic from a US poll that “roughly 95 per cent of people are meat eaters, but 47 per cent of people believe slaughterhouses should be banned.”
Later in the program, Jonathan Green talked to his regular guest, chef Annie Smithers, about sauce. Ms Smithers asked him about his home saucing habits. Green said his favourite use for bechamel sauce is lasagne – a dish traditionally made with a generous serving of dairy. The vegan Monbiot would surely not approve. [Perhaps Green should have brought Monbiot back on to inform Smithers that her sauces are torturing animals and destroying the planet. It would have livened up the program. – MWD Editor]
Interestingly, Green was just as agreeable with Smithers as he was with Monbiot – especially when it comes to enjoying a steak. Could it be that Jonathan Green has given up on his concern about animal commodification in the food chain and returned as a customer to Donati’s Fine Meats in Lygon St Carlton? The transcript below suggests so.
Annie Smithers: What’s your favourite use for hollandaise – or its derivative?
Jonathan Green: Well, an egg thing, or maybe some asparagus – that kind of thing.
Annie Smithers: See, I’m a béarnaise and steak girl.
Jonathan Green: I love a béarnaise and steak, I’ve got to say. Well, you said hollandaise – if you’d said to me béarnaise, I would have said, the steak.
So there you have it. As far as Jonathan Green is concerned, it is okay to kill animals like foxes for sport, but not for food – unless it’s in the name of enjoying a sauced-up steak.
MWD will keep an ongoing tally of animals concerning which Jonathan Green is indifferent to the continued existence on this Earth – here is the first instalment.
- Horses named Jack
- Numerous anonymous foxes
- Male and female cows
- Lotsa chickens
THE CHASER STILL EXISTS (SORT OF)
On Thursday night (Australian time), as the Royal Family rushed to Balmoral Castle and BBC presenters changed into funereal attire, the satirical comedy group known as The Chaser put out a series of tweets attempting (and failing) to make light of the situation. After an initial tweet referencing the Netflix series The Crown, The Chaser account offered up the following:
R U OK day not going well at palace
— The Chaser (@chaser) September 8, 2022
This lazy attempt to draw a connection between the Australian suicide prevention charity R U OK? and the Royal health crisis was apparently too much for even The Chaser’s followers, with many responding that it was in poor taste.
This was followed by an even lazier joke about Rupert Murdoch still being the leader of Australia. The Chaser Boys were apparently so happy with this joke that they retweeted their own tweet on Friday morning.
It is not clear who exactly writes The Chaser’s tweets. During the peak of their popularity many years ago the group consisted of “The Chaser Boys” (now average age around 47 1/2): Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel, Chas Licciardello, Chris Taylor, Andrew Hansen, Dominic Knight and Charles Firth.
These days only comrades Hansen, Knight and Firth seem to be regularly involved, with the other boys having moved on to other things like Reucassel’s War on Waste (ABC), Licciardello’s Planet America (also ABC), Morrow’s legal troubles and Taylor’s obscurity. Many of the later Chaser projects also seem to involve “the chaser interns”, a group of younger boys and girls (shock horror), who may or may not work out of Charles Firth’s basement.
Whoever is currently controlling the Twitter account continued tweeting on Friday morning – apparently attempting to cause controversy with tweets like “God fails to save Queen” and “JK Rowling furious to hear monarch has transitioned to a man”. As satire, these “jokes” rise slightly above the level of blowing your nose on the flag. A thoroughly lame attempt at provocation, to be sure.
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 & SALLY JACKSON – RE THE CONTINUATION OF THE ABC’S PELL PILE-ON
As avid readers will be aware, on 25 August Gerard Henderson wrote to Justin Stevens, Director ABC News Analysis and Investigations, concerning a report on ABC TV News which was prejudicial to Cardinal George Pell – containing, as it did, fake news. Mr Stevens flicked the matter to ABC Communications having classified the correspondence as a media inquiry – as is the wont of senior ABC management. In time, Gerard Henderson received an email from Sally Jackson, Communications Lead, ABC News, to which he replied. Now read on:
SALLY JACKSON TO GERARD HENDERSON – 2 SEPTEMBER 2022
Hi Gerard. Your email was passed on to me as I deal with media queries. If you would like your email to be treated as a complaint, you can of course seek a review from Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit that is separate to ABC content divisions.
Responses to points raised:
Virtually all mainstream media covered the hearing in the Supreme Court, not just the ABC, and like others the ABC will continue to report any newsworthy developments in this case.
The ABC report said that “Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence”, and noted prominently that the High Court had thrown out the previous convictions.
The reporter noted that George Pell didn’t take an active role in the hearing.
It is fair and accurate to describe RWQ as the father of an alleged victim when reporting on this case. The claim is contained within sealed documents accepted by the Supreme Court and in the judgement, including:
“Absent the phrase ‘arising from’ it is strongly arguable that a claim by a plaintiff for damages for nervous shock consequent upon the plaintiff being told that their child had been sexually abused, would be a claim founded on child abuse. However, the use of the phrase ‘arising from’ puts the matter beyond doubt. A claim by a plaintiff for damages for nervous shock consequent upon the plaintiff being told that their child had been sexually abused is plainly a claim arising from child abuse.”
Details of R’s mother being informed of the abuse were not contained within this judgement or in the writ.
Your correspondence has been forwarded to the relevant reporting team.
GERARD HENDERSON TO SALLY JACKSON – 7 SEPTEMBER 2022
I refer to your email received on Friday 2 September 2022 – in response to my email addressed to Justin Stevens in his capacity as head ABC News, Analysis and Investigations dated 25 August 2022. In response, I make the following comments:
- I wrote to Justin Stevens concerning an ABC TV News report because he is head of ABC News. I sent a copy of my letter to David Anderson because he is the ABC’s editor-in-chief. I did not write to you because – contrary to your claim in your email – I was not making a media enquiry.
- I never lodge formal complaints with the ABC which end up with ABC staff in the Audience & Consumer Affairs department in Canberra – and do not intend to do so on this occasion. It’s just a waste of time since, as I recall, Audience & Consumer Affairs rejects over 95 per cent of the complaints after consulting with the ABC journalists concerning the said complaint. I am not sure what will be the case when the ABC ombudsman system comes into operation.
- It is just denial for you to claim that the ABC has reported “any newsworthy developments” on the George Pell case. For example, the ABC has failed to cover the considered and well-researched books written by Frank Brennan, Keith Windschuttle and myself following the decision of all seven High Court judges to quash Cardinal Pell’s convictions for historical child sexual abuse in April 2020. This despite the fact that the ABC gave substantial coverage to the 2017 book Cardinal by ABC journalist Louise Milligan who admitted, around the time of publication, that her coverage of the Pell Case was written “from the complainants’ point of view”.
I wrote to ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson about the ABC’s censorship of books on the Pell Case in agreement with the High Court’s decision on two occasions – 15 December 2021 and again on 12 January 2022. Both emails were ignored – I did not even receive an acknowledgement.
- Contrary to your claim, it is neither fair nor accurate for the ABC to describe RWQ as “the father of one of George Pell’s alleged victims” since the High Court has found Cardinal Pell not guilty of historical sexual assault with respect to both “J” and the late “R” (the son of RWQ) – as they were referred to in the County Court of Victoria. The ABC’s report implied that there are multiple victims of Pell. The fact is that Cardinal Pell has not been convicted of any crime.
Sir Richard Henriques, formerly a judge of the High Court of Justice in England, has commented that it is false to regard all complainants as victims before a criminal matter is resolved. The High Court found Cardinal Pell not guilty with respect to “J” and “R”. J was a complainant. The late “R” never made a complaint against George Pell – so he cannot be accurately described as a victim (alleged or otherwise) or as a complainant. ABC journalists should be able to understand this and report accordingly.
- Towards the end of your email, you write with respect to RWQ: “Details of R’s mother being informed of the abuse were not contained within this judgement [i.e. RWQ v Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne]”. Once again, this demonstrates the unprofessionalism of senior ABC staff in referring to the Pell Case. There has been no judicial finding that Cardinal Pell abused “R”. Victoria Police alleged that this happened. There is a difference.
- I note that you have forwarded my correspondence to the relevant ABC reporting team. In view of this, it would be appreciated if you could forward this latest correspondence to the same people, whoever they are.
PS: Mr Anderson, Mr Stevens and your good self may wish to know that Louise Milligan, the ABC’s go-to reporter with respect to Cardinal Pell, made a serious factual error in her tweet about Justice McDonald’s decision in RWQ v Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne .
On 24 August 2022, Ms Milligan tweeted:
Louise Milligan @Milliganreports. Aug 24
This is important. A Victorian judge has found legislation overruling the Ellis Defence means that families of alleged victims can sue the Catholic Church, not just complainants. Meaning the family of a deceased choirboy can now sue George Pell.
This is hopelessly wrong. For starters, Ms Milligan links the terms victims and complainants. Moreover, the family of the deceased choirboy could always have sued George Pell in the State of Victoria. The case of RWQ v Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne turned on whether “R’”s father was also legally entitled to sue the Archdiocese of Melbourne in this instance. That’s all. And that’s why Justice McDonald said that Cardinal Pell played no active role in the hearing.
cc: David Anderson
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Until next time.
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