GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 618

16 December 2022

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EDITORIAL

  • MWD TO GO ON A W.E.B.

This is the last MWD of this august online publication for this year – which takes place on 16 December commencing what journalists call a Well Earned Break.  It is anticipated that MWD will return from its W.E.B. on Friday 20 January 2023 – at around Gin & Tonic time – with a round-up of the previous year’s media highlights. God willing.

Unlike the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Media Watch program which has close to a dozen staff, Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog is put out with a very small but highly talented team – with a little help from the canine Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute).  Special thanks also to the Mysterious Mr M who, some years ago via email, appropriated the role of spell-checker/proof-reader/ fact-checker, or whatever.  As readers will know, every now and then the Mysterious Mr M lets through a howler or two – this is done to keep the hugely popular “John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake” segment alive – re which see this issue.

Thanks to all the MWD readers who sent in material.  MWD gets a large number of emails and the like and cannot respond to everyone.  But all are read – some are used straight away and others somewhat later.  The late Dean Martin used to urge his TV viewers to “keep those cards and letters coming”.  Jackie’s (male) co-owner has the same request – with respect to emails and the rest.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas/Happy Hanukkah and all that to avid MWD readers. And Keep Morale High – until we meet again (in the words popularised by the late and lamented Vera Lynn – except that we do know where and we do know when).


  • DAVID CROWE PRAISES THE FLOOR-CROSSING OF LIBERAL BRIDGET ARCHER BUT OVERLOOKS THE SUCCESS OF HER FELLOW LIBERAL PARTY MP GAVIN PEARCE

Many left-of-centre journalists quite like Liberal Party politicians – provided they are a bit like the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.  However, they are rarely fans of such Liberal Party leaders as John Howard, Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison or Peter Dutton.

Writing in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald this morning under the heading “Dutton dices with voters’ dosh”, David Crowe (Nine Newspapers’ chief political correspondent) argued that “the problem for Dutton is his history”.  But Crowe then went on to state that Dutton’s future resembles the task of mixing “cement about as hard as granite”. So, his problem also lies in his future, according to this logic.

You see your man Crowe likes Liberals like Bridget Archer, the member for Bass in northern Tasmania, who are on the left of the party and occasionally cross the floor to vote with Labor, the Greens and Independents.  He had this to say about the Opposition leader’s decision to oppose the Albanese government’s energy package:

Some Coalition backbenchers would rather not go to the brink by blocking the whole bill. Russell Broadbent, the member for Monash in regional Victoria, told the party room on Thursday morning that the Liberals could not govern from opposition. He made the case for letting [Anthony] Albanese get his way and then holding him to account when energy bills rise.

Others see things the same way. Bridget Archer, who proved by her victory in the Tasmanian seat of Bass that she is one of the smartest minds in the party room, also urged caution. Nobody is breaking ranks in a way that makes things worse for their own side. It is Dutton’s call and the party room is giving him its loyalty.

Ms Archer may, or may not, be one of the smartest minds in the Liberal Party room in Canberra based on her recent victory in Bass.  But the fact is that she is not the best performing Liberal politician in northern Tasmania where the Liberal Party usually polls well.  Southern Tasmania, on the other hand, is dominated by Independent Andrew Wilkie, Labor and the Greens. The Coalition’s primary vote in Clark (based on Hobart) is one of the lowest in Australia. Hobart is essentially a public sector city where the Green Left vote is high.

Take the May 2022 election, for example.  Bridget Archer suffered a swing against her of 2.6 per cent on primary votes and obtained a two party preference vote swing to her of 1 per cent.  Gavin Pearce, the Liberal Party MP for Braddon in north west Tasmania, who is not the floor-crossing kind, gained a 4.6 per cent swing in primary votes which was translated to a swing to him of 6.2 per cent after the distribution of preferences.

According to David Crowe’s logic, Pearce must be a lot smarter than Archer. But the highly successful member for Braddon did not rate a mention in David Crowe’s piece today.  It would seem that Comrade Crowe likes Liberals like Archer – not so much Liberals like Pearce.


Can You Bear It?

  • GAEL JENNINGS’ SELF-CONFESSED “CORNY” REFERENCE TO THE NEED FOR THE ABC IN THE CONTEXT OF THE QUEENSLAND MURDERS

Readers of MWD often ask Jackie’s (male) co-owner: “How is the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne advancing?”  And the answer is: “Not too far of late.”

Look at it this way.  On Wednesday 14 December, Gael Jennings – the Centre’s honorary fellow, did the “Newspapers” gig on ABC TV News Breakfast.  The presenters were James Glenday and Lisa Millar – and the discussion took place in the wake of the tragic murder of two police officers and a civilian in southeast Queensland.

Let’s go to the transcript where discussion turned on the motivation of the murderers:

Lisa Millar: …the questions will go on for some time. But we’ve seen the rise of online conspiracy activists, especially over the last couple of years. But both of us in America saw it with the rise of Trump –

Gael Jennings:  Absolutely…

Lisa Millar: –  and this one has ended in tragedy. Who else is out there? Do we have a real grip on the numbers of people who are borderline?

Gael Jennings: Yeah, completely down a rabbit hole of false information that is, you know, swirling around and becomes a paranoia. And I know this sounds very corny. But that’s why we need a public broadcaster that’s well funded and well looked after because we get fact here, we get evidence here, you know. Public interest journalism is the only way that people can be dragged out of holes.

It’s worse than corny. How insensitive can a News Breakfast commentator get?  Three people were murdered in Queensland – and Gael Jennings, a one-time ABC presenter, reckons that the triple murder indicated the need for public broadcasting in general and the ABC in particular.  Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) overlooked the fact that the ABC has an annual budget of over $1 billion and has a considerable presence in Queensland by means of television, radio and online outlets. Moreover, it is not as if the murderers were uneducated types in need of being “learned” by the ABC. Two had been school teachers in government schools and had held positions of school principal.

Soon after, discussion turned on the news that there has been movement in the development of fusion as an energy source. Let’s go to the transcript:

Gael Jennings: Amazing. Fusion. Seventy years they’ve been chasing fusion. It’s amazing. But I do know that it is shooting lasers and releasing like 1000 times more energy than you would get from something else. So, one kilogram of fusion energy is worth 10 kilograms of fossil fuel energy. So, when it comes about, when we get there in the next few years, gonna be great.

Lisa Millar: It’ll be great it may take –

James Glenday: [talking over] It’s gonna be many decades I think until we get close to it.

Gael Jennings: At least they’ve got there. Little steps.

James Glenday: Little steps.

Gael Jennings: It’s a breakthrough really.

Lisa Millar: Well, it’s not even a little step. It’s a –

Gael Jennings & Lisa Millar: Big step.

Gael Jennings: They’ve been trying to do it for so long.

Lisa Millar: We’ll see where, how long it takes. Gael, thanks for coming in.

The following morning Professor Andrew Stuchbery, head of Nuclear Physics and Accelerator Applications at the Australian National University, was interviewed on ABC Radio National Breakfast. He threw some cold water on Gael Jennings’ “amazing”, “gonna be great”, “in the next few years” hyperbole of the morning after the morning before.  The professor put it this way:

Andrew Stuchbery: It does have the potential, but it is not something that I believe we can scale up in the next few decades. So, ultimately it could help us with clean energy but I don’t believe myself, and this is the general feeling among my colleagues here at the AIP [Australian Institute of Physics] congress. It’s not going to be soon enough and quick enough to really help us with our immediate imperatives concerning climate change.

Quite so. Judged by Gael Jennings’ amazing performance on News Breakfast, it would seem that the Melbourne Centre for Advancing Journalism is moving – but not in the advancing direction. Which raises the question – Can You Bear It?

  • SBS DOCO LET BOB BROWN OFF THE HOOK ABOUT HIS OPPOSITION TO RENEWABLES IN HIS HOME STATE OF TASMANIA

Did anyone see the SBS documentary Franklin which aired on Saturday 17 December? It was described this way by SBS: “Franklin recounts the seven year campaign to save the Franklin River, one of Tasmania’s World Heritage listed sites, from being drowned by a hydroelectric project in the early 1980s.”

One of the talents interviewed for the documentary was the medical doctor Bob Brown who, in time, became the leader of the Greens in the Senate. He had this to say:

Bob Brown: I arrived in Tasmania and I went down the [Franklin] River. This was long before the protest activities for our [no dams] campaign. That first trip, it was transformative. It was the best fortnight of my life. No sign of the impact, the destructive impact, that modern materialism is having on the planet. A real rejoinder with the wild planet which makes us all we are.

As a young doctor – working in a busy practice in Launceston, where more than half the people who came in were suffering from stress – it seemed to me after that [it was] crazy to be building a dam to provide electricity for more tranquiliser factories when the best answer to human anxiety is re-engagement with nature. And the Franklin offered that forever and a day, if only we looked after it.

So, there you have it.  According to Bob (“The doctor will see you now”) Brown, close to half a century ago more than half of his patients in the Tasmanian city of Launceston were suffering from stress – due, it would seem, to “the destructive impact of modern materialism”.  Consequently, he saw no sense in Tasmania producing hydroelectricity via dams in order to fund “more tranquiliser factories” – when the best solution for good health of the good people of Launceston was a paddle down the Franklin River followed by a lie-down. Or something like that.

Comrade Brown was not asked in the Franklin documentary team how his opposition to hydroelectricity in this instance was consistent with his commitment to replacing oil and gas as sources for energy with renewables, including hydro.

Come to think of it, Bob Brown also opposes wind farms – in particular a proposed such installation on Robbins Island off northwest Tasmania. He told ABC TV 7.30 program on 29 July 2019: “We have alternatives for renewable energy; we don’t have alternatives for extinct species of birds”. It would seem that Dr Brown regards wind turbines as bird-murderers. [He has a point here. – MWD Editor.]

So, there you have it.  The Tasmanian based Bob Brown supports alternative energy.  Provided it does not involve the building of a dam in southwest Tasmania or a wind farm off northwest Tasmania.  However, the director of the SBS documentary did not ask one of Australia’s leading proponents of alternative energy to explain his position whereby he favours renewable energy – except in his own state.  It was not that sort of taxpayer subsidised documentary.  Can You Bear It?

  • THE LEFT-WING AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE’S (VERY) OPEN LETTER TELLING THE PM TO BREAK LABOR’S TAX CUT ELECTION PROMISE

Media Watch Dog just loves it when members of the intelligentsia flash their qualifications and learning in an attempt to “learn” the less educated and impress governments about the need to do this or that. Especially when the activity entails the sending of an open letter per se [to flash some Latin usage here – MWD Editor].  Not that MWD has got anything against open letters.  After all, there is much to be said about any form of correspondence which does not require a response – including encyclical letters issued by a Pope in Rome.  It’s just that the open letters that flash the qualifications of signatories seems somewhat pompous.

But MWD digresses.  How about the open letter – addressed “Dear Prime Minister Anthony Albanese” –  which was published in Nine Newspapers’ The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald on 15 December?  The signatories were said to be “over 100 Economists and Tax Experts” – although MWD is not sure that all the signatories fit this description.  But there you go.

The advertisement – sponsored by the self-proclaimed progressive (read left-wing) Australia Institute – called on the Albanese government to “Re-consider the Stage 3 Tax Cuts” which are due to come into effect in 2024.  The signatories include one laureate professor (the American Joseph Stiglitz) plus lots of professors and associate professors and doctors (for doctors they are) along with a few who, alas, have no title to hang in front of their names.

Other Open Letter writers include Bernie Fraser (a former Reserve Bank governor), Professor Steve Keen (who, as MWD recalls, a decade ago made hopelessly wrong predictions that Sydney property prices would drop by 40 per cent), Professor Anne Summers AO [I didn’t know that she was an economist or tax expert but I did know that she has a gong – MWD Editor] and such leftist professors as Frank Stilwell and John Buchanan.

The learned signatories declared “we believe that politicians should take their promises seriously”. Except, it seems, when it comes to tax cuts – in view of changed “economic circumstances”. So, The Australia Institute called on Prime Minister Albanese to junk his promised tax cuts.

It is MWD’s melancholy duty to declare that most of the signatories – including the Australia Institute’s executive director Dr Richard Denniss – are white men of a certain age.  But that’s okay, apparently, if some five score and more blokes join the left-wing Australia Institute in telling the government what it should be doing.  Can You Bear It?


MWD EXCLUSIVE

  • GERARD HENDERSON’S SPEECH AT DAVID MARR’S (FAKE) WAKE

Towards the end of the month which commences with May Day, The Australian’s Greg Bearup emailed Gerard Henderson asking for “a favour”. To wit, “a joke on an old sparring partner of yours”. The message was that David Marr was turning 75 in July and your man Bearup suggested that Hendo might prepare an obituary on Comrade Marr which could be read at his 75th Birthday Party bash.  As MWD readers know, it is common for newspapers to have draft obituaries on file – ready to action when someone is anticipated to depart this Mortal Coil.

In the event, it was agreed that Gerard Henderson would prepare a speech to be read at Comrade Marr’s party – as if it was a wake.  Hendo did not attend the birthday party/wake – primarily because he wasn’t invited.  But he understands that the joint was crammed with a soviet of inner-city sandal-wearing lefties. So, it would not have been (ideological) congenial company.

Since word of the occasion has got out, Media Watch Dog has attached a video of Jackie’s (male) co-owner’s “Speech at David Marr’s Wake”. Who knows? – it might be able to be recycled if Comrade Marr ever gets into a situation where he has two feet in the grave.


  • IN WHICH CHINA EXPERT STEPHEN FITZGERALD OVERLOOKS THAT HE ONCE CRITICISED WHAT HE TERMED AUSTRALIA’S KOWTOWING TO – WAIT FOR IT – CHINA

On 3 December, Stephen FitzGerald was interviewed by Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra on the topic “50 years of Australia-China relations”.  As the Saturday Extra blurb puts it: “Gough Whitlam’s Labor government established formal relations with the People’s Republic of China in December 1972. Dr Stephen FitzGerald, former Ambassador of Australia to the People’s Republic of China, reflects on the time and relationship.”

And so he did.  Dr FitzGerald (for a doctor he is) was adviser and interpreter to the Australian Labor Party’s delegation (led by Opposition leader Gough Whitlam) which visited China in 1971. Prior to that, FitzGerald made trips to China in 1965 and 1968. Following the election of the Whitlam Labor government on 2 December 1972, FitzGerald was given responsibility for negotiating terms for Australia’s recognition of China – which came to fruition on 21 December 1972.  FitzGerald subsequently became Australia’s inaugural ambassador to China, taking up the position in early 1973.

Talking to Geraldine Doogue, Stephen FitzGerald spoke with pride about his role in Australia’s recognition of China.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Geraldine Doogue: And so were you conscious, then, of making history? I, I’m really trying to capture that feeling of the time that certainly I think [Henry] Kissinger conveys very well. And if you go back and look at Gough Whitlam, he does too. But I mean, were you conscious of that?

Stephen FitzGerald: Oh, yes, to an extent that it was – it was like an exploration into a new territory. I’d been involved, of course, in Australia in the narrative that called for diplomatic relations. I’d been quite involved in the whole debate about relations with Asia in general. And the need to change the way we thought about Asia, and to learn Asian languages and study Asian societies and so on. And so here, suddenly, this had happened. It went against everything that had been dominating domestic politics relating to foreign policy, that was China, conceived of as enemy and threat. It also, to some extent, went against the established policy of the United States. And so it was not just me, I think the whole team in Beijing was, was very conscious of the idea that this was breaking ground, and an adventure.

Well, that is Stephen FitzGerald’s position in December 2022, looking back in happiness on Australia’s recognition of China half a century ago.  But this was not always his position.

In October 1989, FitzGerald delivered the George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Canberra. In it, he accused successive Australian governments (Labor and Coalition alike) of exhibiting a craven attitude towards China. He alleged that, following the decision of the Whitlam Labor government to recognise China in 1972, Australia “fell into such a national embrace with China that at times we have seemed to lose perspective”.  He even used the word kowtow – with Australia doing the kowtowing to China.

In his G.E. Morrison Lecture, FitzGerald also criticised the fact that what he termed Australia’s “China preoccupation” had led to an inadequate relationship with Taiwan.  Despite the fact that, over the previous two decades, Australia’s volume of trade with Taiwan “has rivalled or exceeded our trade with the People’s Republic of China”.

In an interview on ABC’s The World Today the morning after the Morrison Lecture the night before, FitzGerald said that many countries which had established relations with China circa 1972 had managed to do so “in a way which gave them greater flexibility in their dealings with Taiwan” than Australia.

So, there you have it.  In December 1989, not long after the Tiananmen Square massacre, your man FitzGerald criticised what he termed Australia’s kowtowing to China commencing in December 1972 (when, FitzGerald omitted to say, he was a leading kowtower).  But the learned doctor soon changed his mind on this and, by December 2022 when he spoke to Geraldine Doogue, had all but forgotten what he said in Canberra three decades earlier.

Verily – A Great Media U-Turn of Our Time.


A MARK HUMPHRIES MOMENT

  • A REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT SKETCH TO END THE YEAR

It was a surprise to see Mark Humphries return to 7:30 on the night of 15 December, only a week after his last appearance. Humphries’ sketches are, in theory, a fortnightly occurrence. But, in reality, they generally appear less often and with no set schedule.

It would appear this will be Comrade Humphries final appearance for 2022 [How kind of him to sync up with MWD – MWD Editor]. As has become a tradition, Humphries ended another year of lazy sketches by rehashing his previous end of year sketches.

On 16 December 2020, Humphries put out the first edition of his end of year closing-down-sale sketch, titled “Let’s chuck out 2020!”. The sketch was repeated on 16 December 2021 with “Everything 2021 must go”. Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams are apparently so enamoured of the format that they brought it back on 20 May 2022, this time looking back at the 2022 federal election. The latest rehash is titled “2022 – Everything must go!”.

The sketches feature Humphries, dressed like a retail store manager, standing in front of a warehouse backdrop, and yelling about all the things from the previous year that “must go”. This flimsy premise allows Humphries to merely list events from the previous year, sometimes, but not always, with a lazy joke afterwards. Examples from the latest edition include: lions escaping their enclosure at Taronga Zoo, a controversial film about Marilyn Monroe and actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Why any of these pop culture events are being covered during a supposedly satirical sketch airing on the ABC’s lead current affairs program is unclear. Humphries and Williams do manage to mention a few events in the realm of news and current affairs including the media coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the FBI raid on President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago and the data hack at Medibank.

Predictably, 7:30’s self-described satirists take cheap shots at Scott Morrison, Liz Truss, Dominic Perrottet and Barnaby Joyce. No politicians from the left of politics were mentioned. In other words, it’s business as usual for ABC political satire heading into 2023.

Comrades Mark Humphries and Evan Williams.


  • ABC ALUMNI’S JONATHAN HOLMES CONFUSES LEGITIMATE CRITICISM WITH CENSORSHIP IN HIS ATTACK ON JANET ALBRECHTSEN

As avid readers are only too well aware, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  ABC management – along with prominent ABC journalists and the ABC Fan Club – say this isn’t so.  But no one has been able to name any such conservative at the ABC.

One of the problems with the lack of political diversity within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is that many in the ABC Soviet fail to recognise that there are valid positions other than their own.  This applies to those on the ABC payroll and those who are the beneficiaries of the taxpayer subsidised superannuation scheme in their post-ABC retirement – where they join the Friends of the ABC, ABC Alumni and the like.

Take Jonathan Holmes, who identifies as a former presenter of the ABC’s Media Watch and as chair of ABC Alumni. Comrade Holmes fitted the ABC’s apparent requirement as a media commentator.  Start your TV career in England, get a job at the BBC, then emigrate to Australia after accepting a job at the ABC and end up presenting Media Watch giving pretentious lectures to journalists in the colonies about what good journalism is all about.  Jonathan Holmes presented Media Watch from 2008 to mid-2013 before retiring on an ABC-subsidised pension.

Paul Barry has a similar background. He was born in England, worked for the BBC, emigrated to Australia and ended up presenting Media Watch – giving pretentious lectures to journalists in the colonies concerning what good journalism is all about.

Paul Barry will present Media Watch  again in 2023 having done so since mid-2013 when he replaced Jonathan Holmes.  He presented Media Watch on occasions before 2013.  Comrade Barry has now exceeded Stuart Littlemore in the time spent presenting Media Watch.

So, how about that?  From 2008 and until the 12th of Never, the ABC has had two Englishmen in the Media Watch presenter’s chair.  Moreover, Media Watch has never had a conservative presenter since its birth over three decades ago, as befits a Conservative-Free-Zone.

But MWD digresses.  In his new role as chair of ABC Alumni (whatever that is), Comrade Holmes continues to lecture Australian journalists in his comfortable retirement.  Take, for example, his article titled “Free speech for some, but not for others” which appeared on the online publication ABC Alumni on 6 December 2022.

Your man Holmes took exception to a column Janet Albrechtsen wrote in The Australian on 2 November 2022 titled “Journalist’s speech to women lawyers ends in tears”.  This was a critique of a speech given by ABC fave Louise Milligan to the ACT Women Lawyers Association Awards Gala Dinner in Canberra on 21 October 2022.  Before going to print with the Albrechtsen column, The Australian requested an audio or transcript of the speech.  None was forthcoming.  Nor was there a print copy of the speech until Milligan released one on 10 November 2022 – some three weeks after her one hour talk was delivered.  It is not clear whether, when delivering her speech, Milligan diverted at all from the written text which was released subsequently.

Janet Albrechtsen, who has practised law, writes opinion pieces for The Australian and occasionally does reporting. Her 2 November 2022 piece was a column in which she expressed an opinion.  Namely, Albrechtsen was critical of Louise Milligan’s speech as reported to her by some of those present during the talk.  It is a matter of record that, on 3 November 2022, Rebecca Curran (president of the ACT Bar Association) wrote to Danielle Mildren, (president of the Women Lawyers Association, ACT) stating that “a significant number” of ACT Bar Association members were “deeply offended and distressed by the speech”.

In other words, Milligan’s speech was controversial. It had its supporters and its critics.  Nothing wrong with that.  Except that Jonathan Holmes is so used to people agreeing with him and his ABC comrades (like Milligan) that he mistook Albrechtsen’s article as a call for censorship.  It wasn’t. In short, Jonathan Holmes totally misunderstood the Albrechtsen column.

Initially, Holmes described The Australian columnist as “that doughty warrior of words”.  He then referred to her article on Milligan’s speech as “excoriating”. And he mocked members of the ACT Bar Association, like Rebecca Curran, who objected to Milligan’s speech, as “tender legal flowers”. That’s just abuse.

Sure, Ms Albrechtsen’s column was critical of Milligan’s speech – but it was criticism supported by evidence and without abuse.  Clearly, Holmes did not understand the difference between critique and censorship.

The ABC Alumni editor’s introduction to the Holmes article (it may have been written by Holmes himself) supported the view that criticism of Milligan’s speech is “News Corporation’s [sic] version of cancel culture”.

The problem is that, in his 2350 word long article, Holmes does not produce one quote from the Albrechtsen column to support his view that she wrote that Milligan should not have addressed the WLA (ACT) dinner in Canberra. Not one.  Yet this is how Holmes concluded his article:

In amplifying a dispute within the ACT’s legal fraternity into a public attack on Louise Milligan, Albrechtsen is…aiding and abetting an attempt to silence someone with legitimate, well-researched views on a matter of crucial public interest.  In other words, she is participating in the cancel culture. And, to quote her own pithy phrase, that is a really bad idea.

What a load of absolute tosh.  There is no evidence that Albrechtsen called for Milligan to be silenced or cancelled.  None whatsoever. Holmes just made this up. It was, in fact, the other way around.  Holmes argued in his article that Albrechtsen should not have criticised Milligan’s speech as it was reported to her.  Clearly it is Holmes in this instance who wants to silence debate and discussion in order to protect a former ABC comrade in his role as chair of ABC Alumni.

Holmes is so irrational about any criticism of the likes of Louise Milligan that he brackets Janet Albrechtsen with “The Australian and its lynch mob at Sky News”. This is just emotional hyperbole – which grossly underestimates the suffering of real victims of real lynch mobs.  Clearly, the ABC Alumni needs an editor capable of counselling Comrade Holmes to avoid insensitive exaggeration. Moreover, there is more diversity on Sky News than there is on the ABC.  For example, Sky News’ Chris Kenny and Joe Hildebrand support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament – while the likes of Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Rita Panahi oppose it.  But not one prominent figure at the ABC opposes The Voice – all prominent ABC presenters either support The Voice or are silent about it.

Such is the state of Holmes’ confusion that he wrote this:

On 2nd November this year, Albrechtsen wrote an excoriating column about a speech that ABC reporter Louise Milligan had given ten days earlier to the Women Lawyers Association of the ACT. The article revealed that some members of that Association seemed determined to misrepresent and then banish (or at least, since it was too late for banishment, to “cancel” post facto) Louise Milligan.

It is not clear how anyone can “cancel” post facto a speech given some ten days earlier.  But MWD is impressed that the Englishman Holmes used such Latin terms as “post facto”. It sounds more plausible than to say that members of the WLA (ACT) were determined to cancel Louise Milligan’s speech after the event – don’t you think?

[I note that Jonathan Holmes defended Louise Milligan’s Witness:  An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice (Hachette, 2020). This was reviewed by Gerard Henderson on 30 March 2021 in The Sydney Institute Review Online – see here. MWD is not aware that Milligan has responded to criticism of Witness.  It is a matter of record that she went into “no comment” mode with her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) and refused to respond to the book’s errors and sloppy scholarship – instead passing off queries about, for example, her use of sources and quotation marks to her publisher Louise Adler (who also published Witness).  It’s called intellectual cowardice. – MWD Editor.]


JOHN-LAWS-STYLE-DELIBERATE-MISTAKE

  • MWD HOWLERS RE VICTORIAN GEOGRAPHY CORRECTED

As Media Watch Dog  readers know, this hugely popular segment is devoted to broadcaster John Laws’ (one-time) comment that any error he made on air was, in fact, a “deliberate mistake”. This made your man Laws infallible (sort of).

Lotsa thanks to the following readers who picked up two “deliberate mistakes” in recent issues.

  • In Issue 616 (2 December 2022) MWD described the leftist Melbourne community radio station Triple R (aka RRR) as being based in Sandalista country in Melbourne’s inner-city Fitzroy North. In fact, it appears that RRR is in Sandalista country in Brunswick East – according to an avid Melbourne reader.
  • In the very same issue, MWD described Ballarat as a large Victorian city situated to the north of Fitzroy North and suggested that Crikey’s Charlie Lewis should get out more by visiting the place. Thanks to the Wynnum reader who advised Jackie’s (male) co-owner that the last time he headed out of Melbourne he took the Western Highway and did not travel north on the Hume Highway. He expressed the view that “some of the good citizens of Ballarat would feel aghast at the suggestion they were remotely anywhere from Fitzroy North”.  Quite so. Apologies to the good people of Ballarat.

Asked to comment for MWD, Hendo said that he moved out of Victoria many a Gin & Tonic Time ago.  And maybe some cities and towns have moved since then – or maybe he just forgets things.


DOCUMENTATION

  • THE ABC’S CENSORING OF BOOKS ABOUT THE PELL CASE – PUBLISHED AFTER THE UNANIMOUS DECISION IN GEORGE PELL V THE QUEEN

In Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (Connor Court, 2021), Gerard Henderson listed around two score of ABC types who participated in the Pell media pile-on before his conviction for historical child sexual issues was quashed by a unanimous High Court judgment.  The most prominent ABC employees or panellists who took part in the pile-on were (in alphabetical order) Barrie Cassidy, Sarah Ferguson, Richard Glover, Tony Jones, Paul Kennedy, David Marr, Louise Milligan and Virginia Trioli.  A year after publication, none of the above has challenged anything in Henderson’s book.

Indeed, no one at the ABC has discussed the three books published on the Pell Case following the High Court decision of 7 April 2020 – with one exception.  The books are Keith Windschuttle’s The Persecution of George Pell (November 2020), Frank Brennan’s Observations on the Pell Proceedings (April 2021) and Gerard Henderson’s Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (November 2021).The only exception was that Andrew West interviewed Keith Windschuttle on The Religion and Ethics  Report on 17 February 2021 – after which, MWD understands, there was internal opposition from ABC staff. Even though West had given Windschuttle a challenging interview.

After that interview on 17 February 2021, the ABC went into full censorship mode.  Not one ABC television, radio or online outlet in the whole of Australia has discussed the books by Brennan or Henderson – who have been “cancelled”.

Some senior ABC journalists have privately expressed concern about the censorship involved – but apparently are powerless to do anything about it.  David Anderson, the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief, has ignored two emails sent to his personal email drawing his attention to the issue.  It would seem that the ABC’s censorship in this instance will go down what George Orwell referred to in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four (Secker & Warburg, 1949) as the memory hole.


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.

  • TIM BOWDEN & GERARD HENDERSON RE THE [BORING] SATURDAY PAPER AND MORE BESIDES

Tim Bowden is the very model of a modern fashionable left-of-centre ABC type. He presented the ABC TV Backchat program (about the ABC) between 1986 and 1993. Every now and then Comrade Bowden (Retd) sends an email to Hendo – who replies (after a slight delay). Now read on – if you wish.

Tim Bowden to Gerard Henderson – 10 October 2022

Dear Gerard,

Not sure whether you include The Saturday Paper in your regular reading, but I was interested to see in a recent edition front page story that the long serving current head of the barking mad IPA had resigned and made a statement to the effect that it had lost its mojo and former sponsors had dropped out leaving only two, one of which was – surprise surprise – Rupert Murdoch.

So it seems the IPA is on the skids, goodness me how sad never mind [sic].

Cheers,

Tim Bowden

PS Although ex-ABC I have never a member of the Communist Party.

Tim Bowden

 

Gerard Henderson to Tim Bowden – 16 December 2022

Good afternoon Tim

How wonderful to hear from you after all these years.  The reference is to the missive you sent me on 10 October 2022 around Gin & Tonic Time.  Apologies for the delay in responding. But, as explained to you previously, I am wont to put trivial letters at the bottom of my correspondence file and it takes time to get around to answering them.

I do hope that you are enjoying your taxpayer subsidised superannuation retirement on the NSW North Coast.  It gives me considerable joy to know that I made a contribution (however modest) to your current lifestyle.

As to The [Boring] Saturday Paper – yes, I do read it.  But since it goes to print on Thursday and contains no news, two days later on a Saturday morning – I read it on Mondays. What’s the hurry?  Correction – I read some of it – rarely confronting the literary sludge of Paul Bongiorno’s column or John Hewson’s weekly whinge.

I note that you are still into sneering – hence your reference to former Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam as “barking mad”.   By the way, I understand that Roskam Esq is still at the IPA.

I note that you claim that the IPA is on the skids – based on a story written by the leftist journalist Mike Seccombe which appeared on the front page of The Saturday Paper (editor Erik Jensen). Pray tell me – why would The Saturday Paper give page one coverage to an organisation that is “on the skids”? – if it had some real news to place on its front page.  Correct me if I am wrong – however I recall that The Saturday Paper has commented on the (alleged) death of the IPA on at least one other occasion some years ago.

For the record, I have no personal knowledge about the IPA.  But since your one-time comrades at the ABC have cancelled IPA folk from appearing on the public taxpayer funded broadcaster they must have some influence.  From my personal observations – the ABC censors influential conservatives but is happy to put an occasional barking mad (in your terminology) right-of-centre bloke or sheila on its platforms.

I never thought you were a member of the Communist Party.  After all, whatever its ideological faith, the  CPA was never attracted to supercilious types like you.  I do remember your days presiding over the Backchat program on the ABC TV in the late 1980s and early 1990s where everything was presented as a bit of a joke and serious critics of the ABC were mocked.  Backchat gave lightweight television a bad name.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year – and I look forward to hearing from you sooner if you happen to find any gossip in The Saturday Paper concerning which you want to opine.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

 

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Until next time – Friday 20 January 2023 (God willing).

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