ISSUE – NO. 621

3 February 2023

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Media Watch Dog, at Hangover time each morning, watches the Newspapers’ segment on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program.  It’s a good way to find out what leftist commentators – from The Guardian Australia and The Australia Institute plus some left wing academics – are on about. It seems that the segment has not had a conservative contributor since Moses was a boy – reflecting its role in the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone.

This morning it was The Australia Institute’s turn again.  Let’s go to the transcript of the first item – with commentary by Ebony Bennett, The Australia Institute’s deputy director.

Lisa Millar: Let’s have a look at what’s making news in print and online this morning. We’re joined by deputy director at the Australia Institute, Ebony Bennett, from Canberra. Ebony, good morning and welcome to News Breakfast.

Ebony Bennett: G’day, thanks for having me.

Lisa Millar: There’s been some interesting feature pieces, uh, in the wake of George Pell’s funeral – the mass in Sydney, haven’t there?

Ebony Bennett: Yeah, absolutely. It’s in some ways likely to be very devastating news for survivors of child sexual abuse. Former prime minister Tony Abbot, uh, as part of his eulogy for Cardinal George Pell, who was found to have knowledge of child sexual abuse and failed to act on it, described him as “a saint of our times”. Uh, and likened his charges of child sexual abuse against him as “enduring something like a modern day crucifixion”. Uh, and obviously that news was greeted, uh, you know, with awful consequences from child sexual abuse survivors who were outside the Church and elsewhere across Australia looking at other elements of Cardinal Pell’s legacy.

Michael Rowland: Yes, uh, lots of passions on display, as you say, Ebony, both inside the Cathedral and outside, uh, as George Pell was laid to rest yesterday. Let’s move on…

Hang on a minute. Ms Bennett seems ignorant of the law.  She seems unaware of the fact that Cardinal Pell’s conviction for historical child sexual abuse was quashed by all seven judges of the High Court in a single unanimous judgment. In other words, according to the law of Australia, there are no victims or survivors of Pell.

As to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – they were brought down without the support of any oral or documentary evidence.  The Royal Commission’s findings in this regard were a matter of opinion not backed by proof.  No one can appeal against the findings of a royal commission which is not a court of law.

And so continued the ABC’s pile-on against Cardinal Pell – at a time when it has censored three qualified authors who have written considered and documented accounts of the Pell Case.

Can You Bear It?


In the previous issue, MWD drew attention to the fact that activist journalist Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas – who presents ABC Radio National Breakfast – has been appointed to the position of honorary professor at RMIT University in inner-city Melbourne.  And so, Comrade PK became Comrade Professor PK – much to MWD’s delight.

Alas, shortly after news of this “Arise Professor” moment reached the hoi polloi (per courtesy of PK’s very own tweet), Sophie Elsworth broke the story in The Australian on Monday 30 January that PK had been cautioned over a social media post when she tweeted a picture of herself with Linda Burney on the night of Labor’s victory over the Coalition at the 19 May federal election.

As avid readers will recall, MWD reported the moment in its “Fawn Again Journalism” section in MWD 591 – 10 June 2022.  It pictured PK with Ms Burney – soon to become the Minister for Indigenous Affairs – above a caption which read:  “This woman is a legend and looks like she will be the next Indigenous Affairs minister #ulurustatement”.

As MWD pointed out at the time, this was an act of an activist journalist.  There is nothing wrong with someone expressing delight with the fact that a certain politician is likely to attain a senior ministerial position consequent upon an election victory from opposition – except if they are a working journalist who is expected to report impartially.  By the way, MWD believes that the use of the word “legend” has become something of a cliché.

ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson was quizzed by Victorian Liberal Party Senator Sarah Henderson about this in Senate Estimates on 29 November 2022 and declared that PK had not breached the ABC’s social media guidelines in this instance. Let’s go to the transcript:

Mr Anderson: I did have a look at that. I think that I saw Ms Karvelas championing an individual as opposed to a political party. I think you could suggest #UluruStatement is supporting that. Again, I’d prefer that I didn’t know people’s position on anything that is political. But I didn’t see it as something that I needed to take action over.

Senator Henderson : So that’s in compliance with your personal social media code, is it?

Mr Anderson: Look, I did not see it as a breach of what we do for our code of conduct. With the personal use of social media, I think that if somebody is championing a political party, then, yes, that’s problematic, but I didn’t see it as undermining her ability to be an impartial journalist into the future.

Senator Henderson: But Ms Karvelas has said of a prominent Labor minister attending Labor’s celebratory party on the night of the election, ‘This woman is a legend.’ Doesn’t that show some inherent bias?

Mr Anderson: No. I think that suggests that she was a fan. I don’t think it suggests that there was political bias there at all….

Later on, Mr Anderson said that the Karvelas tweet had been forwarded to the complaints division, stating “Yes we did take a look at it”.

However, as Sophie Elsworth has since revealed, the learned professor has been cautioned by the ABC with respect to this tweet.  In response to a Question on Notice, the ABC recently replied to Senator Henderson in part as follows:

The ABC also has a duty of care to protect the wellbeing of its staff, while still administering its policies and implementing disciplinary action. Having regard to privacy considerations, the ABC does not disclose the detail of confidential staff reviews or investigations however, in this matter, we can disclose that Ms Karvelas was cautioned following the social media post in question.

How about that? Professor Comrade PK was “cautioned” about a social media post which ABC managing director David Anderson had declared earlier did not breach ABC’s social media guidelines.

Liberal Party Senator Sarah Henderson has sought answers from the taxpayer funded public broadcaster about how this could be the case.  Guess what?  Once again the ABC Communications Department has refused to communicate on this issue and has gone into “No Comment” mode. And the learned professor has declined to address this issue herself – despite the fact that PK gets oh-so-upset when anyone declines to answer her questions.

The ABC is a signed up member of the Right To Know Coalition which calls for less secrecy by governments and government institutions.  But the ABC fails to practise what the ABC preaches about the right of Australians to know. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog was shocked – literally shocked – to read Andrew Bolt’s column in the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph  on 16 January 2023.  Titled in the Daily Telegraph “Nothing funny about distasteful joke book”, your man Bolt drew attention to The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes – compiled by MWD fave Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA and his wife Patrice Newell.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is old (or young) enough to remember when Ms Newell did the Macleans toothpaste advertisement on the telly (showing smiling women with white teeth) which asked this intrusive question: “Are your Macleans showing?”  The suggestion was that if they were – then it was just as well that you were using Macleans.

But MWD digresses.  Andrew Bolt made the point that the Penguin Book of Australian Jokes (Penguin, 1994) includes the most disgustingly racist anti-Aboriginal “jokes” he has ever heard – the most offensive of which he declined to repeat.

Now MWD does not possess a copy of The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes circa 1994.  But a search through Hendo’s library a couple of weeks ago revealed that he received a review copy of The Penguin Book of More Australian Jokes, which was published in 1996.

The (unread) tome was discovered just after Phillip (“I was a teenage commo”) Adams’ column in The Weekend Australian Magazine was published under the heading “The World in Black and White” on 20 December 2022.  It contained this sentence:

In the ’60s, African-Americans found it necessary to assert that “black is beautiful” – and more recently that “black lives matter”. The word negro – hence the N-word – helped brand Africans as “the other” and to justify their enslavement.

Quite properly, Comrade Adams did not spell out the “N” word in his column.  But, believe it or not, the “N” word is spelt out in full in a “joke” about a Nine Network quiz show in his and his missus’ second volume of his (piss poor) book. Really. The index points to “jokes” under the titles “Hitler, Adolf-Jewish assassination”, “Jews, persecution of”, “vaginas, for sale”, and “Vietnamese, cultural habits of”.  There are also eight jokes titled in the index under the heading “Aborigines”.  How funny can an Adams-endorsed joke get?

In The Australian Weekend Magazine on 26 March 2022, PA AO etc etc wrote that The Penguin Book of Australia Jokes sold a million copies and got him and Ms Newell through a drought.  However, in The Penguin Book of More Australian Jokes he wrote that “at least a million Australians must have read the previous book”.

There’s a  bit of difference here.  Let’s hope the second volume had a million readers and not a million buyers.  Can you imagine how full Australian tips would be when a million people of this Great Southern Land find out that they have a joke containing the “N” word on their shelves and need to junk it.  Can You Bear It?

[That’s truly shocking.  If Comrade Adams wishes to assuage his guilt (if guilt he feels) – for publishing racist “jokes”, he could forward the lotsa of money he made on royalties and send the moolah (plus interest) to a worthy Indigenous cause.  Just a thought which may be helpful. – MWD Editor.]


Lots of thanks to the avid atheist Sydney reader who drew MWD’s attention to the piece published in Crikey on 20 January 2023 by Maeve McGregor titled: “Can  you speak ill of the dead?  How defamation law impacts Pell’s legacy.”

It was a lightweight piece by a lightweight journalist.  Ms McGregor presents as a Crikey reporter who, previously, was a lawyer.  As anyone with any familiarity with Australian law knows – defamation law does not cover the dead.  The ex-lawyer told Crikey readers this (if readers there were) half way down her article. Yawn.

Soon after, Crikey’s ex-lawyer claimed that the late Cardinal George Pell “had regularly expressed anti-Semitic views”.  This is a wilful falsehood.  Not the sort of defamatory assertion that would have passed Crikey’s lawyers if Pell was still alive.  Needless to say, McGregor cited no evidence whatsoever in support of her claim.  And there was this:

Pell’s denials before the royal commission that he was ignorant of the systemic sexual abuse of children by clergy were emphatically rejected. As were his claims that he was unaware of the allegations surrounding some of the church’s most notorious paedophiles, including friend and former housemate Gerard [sic] Ridsdale.

How unprofessional can a Crikey reporter get?  It would seem that Maeve McGregor does not know the name of perhaps Australia’s most notorious pedophile – the one-time Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale.

It is true that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made findings against Pell that he was aware of child sexual abusers like Ridsdale when he was in Ballarat and that he did not take sufficient action to combat clerical child sexual abuse when he was bishop and later on archbishop in Melbourne.  But the Royal Commission produced no documented oral or written evidence to support its findings – against which no appeal was available since royal commissions are not courts of law.

It is true that George Pell, when a relatively junior priest, had a room in the East Ballarat Catholic presbytery for one year and that Ridsdale, among others, had a room in the same presbytery. But she did not say that former priest Paul Bongiorno – he of the leftist New Daily  and the leftist Saturday Paper – also had a room in the same presbytery in Warrnambool as Ridsdale for about a year.

On 21 May 2015, Paul Bongiorno said this to Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast:

…I know Gerald Ridsdale. I lived in a presbytery with him in Warrnambool. …Let me tell you this, Fran, I had no idea what he was up to. And when people look at me quizzically, I say: “Well look, let me tell you this; there are married men and women now who sleep with their husbands and wives who don’t know that their husband or wife is having an affair.” Let me tell you that Ridsdale never came into the presbytery in Warrnambool and said: “Guess how many boys I’ve raped today?” They hide it….

The full account of what Bongiorno said can be found at Pages 344 to 348 of Gerard Henderson’s Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt – which the ABC has censored along with Frank Brennan’s Observations of the Pell Proceedings. Both books were published in 2021 by Connor Court and neither has received a mention on any ABC TV, radio or online outlet across the length and breadth of Australia.

Also, George Pell was not a friend of Ridsdale – just an acquaintance.  They never studied or worked together but both were the product of Ballarat families.  Ridsdale was born in 1934. Pell in 1941. This was not mentioned by McGregor.

It seems that a journalist does not need to know much before getting a job as a legal reporter at Crikey. Can You Bear It?


Once upon a time the question “Is the Pope a Catholic?” was regarded as what m’learned friends refer to as a leading question.  Media Watch Dog’s theological advisers contend that this is no longer necessarily the case. But this is a matter for another day – or, perhaps, century.

Meanwhile the attention of Jackie’s (male) co-owner was drawn to this tweet sent out on Thursday at 2.15 pm:

Anyone who knows anything about Peter Dutton – who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2001 – knows that the Opposition leader is not a Catholic.  Needless to say, Dutton is one of the best-known Australians.

Who is this Comrade Withers who felt the need to engage in a shout-out to discover whether, shock horror, Mr Dutton might be a Catholic? – MWD hears readers cry.  And the answer is – Rachel Withers who presents herself as a contributing editor to Morry Schwartz’s magazine The Monthly. Quelle Surprise! The left-wing magazine’s editor-in-chief is Erik Jensen and another bloke – Michael Williams no less, sits in the editor’s chair.

And this learned trio apparently has, as a contributing editor, someone who feels the need to know whether Peter Dutton is a Catholic. Can You Bear It?


MWD is proud to present this new segment devoted to reviewing street theatre and the like.


Most of the “Chaser Boys” (average age 481/2) have long ago moved onto other things – it appears Charles Firth and potentially Dom Knight are the last remaining members clinging on to the Chaser brand.

So, it was a sad sight to see Charles Firth (age 47) and a single Chaser intern, Lachlan Hodson, fulfil a fan request to “crash” Cardinal George Pell’s funeral in Sydney on 2 February.

Firth and Hodson had the hilarious idea to act as pallbearers, carrying a fake coffin full of boxes labelled “Evidence” to the memorial at St Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesday 1 February, the day prior to the public funeral, where George Pell’s body was lying in state.

The pair hassled some security guards with such jokes as “don’t touch me, I’m not an altar boy.” Firth then asked to speak to someone “more senior in the Catholic Church”. Was this another “joke” or do they think this handful of security guards are employed by the Vatican?

Fortunately, it was not a problem that the pair only had two pallbearers, as there is no evidence to fill their little boxes. Pell’s conviction for child sexual abuse was overturned in a unanimous decision in the High Court. The Cardinal spent 40 hours in the witness box at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – and the Royal Commission did not hear any evidence of George Pell abusing children. The Royal Commission’s findings against Pell in regard to covering up abuse were not supported by evidence, rather opinion that his testimony was “inconceivable”, “implausible” and so on.

MWD is not unsympathetic to the remaining Chaser holdouts and interns on this day – with Pell being laid to rest they are losing a source of lazy punchlines. It is a day of mourning for bad comedians everywhere.


Speaking of bad comedy, Mark Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams returned to 7.30 on 3 February. Comrade Humphries, who is apparently unwilling to satirise the left, continues his post-election habit of avoiding political sketches. This week he offered up a sketch on Rio Tinto losing a radioactive capsule from a truck in transit through Western Australia.

The sketch is in Humphries’ favourite format – a fake ad. This time an ad for “Rio Tinto Delivery Services”. Humphries proceeds to make a series of jokes, and then explain the jokes. For example, Humphries says “We deliver anywhere within Western Australia. Yep, that’s right, anywhere.” Get it? If you didn’t, Humphries goes on to explain: “by the side of the road near Newman, for instance, who knew?”

The Humphries/Williams sketch continues in a similar fashion when it turns into an ad for Rio Tinto’s meal delivery service “deliveriotinto”. At the conclusion of the sketch, Sarah Ferguson singles out “deliveriotinto” as a “very good gag”. Even if you think that’s the case, it feels like a very long minute to get there.


The ABC claims that it is Australia’s most trusted news source. Even though, in every television news bulletin, ABC News comes in third behind Network 7 and Network 9 and only ahead of the low-rating Network 10.  This means that, according to the teaching of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster, the overwhelming majority of Australians watch an evening news bulletin which they trust less than the ABC.  Figure that out, if you can.

Talk about a set of W.E.Bs – aka Well Earned Breaks.  ABC TV has three major current affairs programs – namely 7.30 which resumed on Monday 23 January plus Q+A which has moved back to the Monday night time slot of 9.35 pm. Plus Insiders which airs on Sundays at 9 am.  Q+A commenced this year on Monday 30 January and Insiders will on Sunday 5 February – both after long WEBs.

7.30 has barely covered the alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets of Alice Springs and in other places in the Northern Territory, northern Queensland and northern Western Australia.  Meanwhile Q+A and Insiders  have missed this big story while on their WEBs – along with the pre-Christmas energy price crisis, Australia’s involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the debate over Australia Day, recent developments about the Indigenous Voice in the Constitution proposal and more besides.

It was not so long ago – as MWD recalls – that the Coalition government provided the ABC with additional funding specifically directed at bringing about a situation whereby the ABC would be able to keep more news and current affairs programming in action over the summer holiday period.  However, it would seem that the ABC’s WEBs are becoming longer than ever.

Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was then ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany). Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


Sure, Sky News’ Outsiders goes to air at Hangover Time on Sunday morning – 9 am to be exact. This seems to fit in with the mood of the program – led by Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow.  The first two of this trio appear to operate on the principle that life is bad and will invariably get worse.  It’s called cultural pessimism.

When your man Dean looks out of the window each morning he sees advancing fascism – or is it communism? – as the heavy hand of the state encroaches on individuals.  The Outsiders’  team is driven by a Give-Pessimism-a-Chance ethos as the Outsiders bemoan, variously, Labor Party, Labor/Green and Liberal Party governments and Oppositions.

So it came as some surprise that, on Sunday 29 January, prominent British conservative intellectual and former conservative MP Lord Hannan of Kingsclere (aka Daniel Hannan, who was in Sydney) gave this response when asked to give an assessment about contemporary Australia.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Rowan Dean: Daniel, before we go, your advice for conservatives in Australia, for the conservative opposition? Where did we go wrong anywhere, in your opinion, under Morrison, Turnbull, or Abbott? And what should Peter Dutton be looking for?

Lord Hannan: I’m actually really optimistic. I mean, let me widen this a little bit beyond the opposition Coalition. I have felt the same since arriving here, that I always feel, which is you guys don’t understand how lucky you are. It is a very natural thing to complain about imperfections. And particularly if you do this as your job, right? – you’re going to be looking at the things that should change. But believe me when I tell you that most countries would gladly swap their problems for Australia’s.

You know, you have a successful policy of controlled legal migration, which attracts the best and brightest. You have a consensus around free trade, around private property. Yeah, there are lots and lots of things that I dislike and disagree with about this [Albanese] government. But the fundamentals are very strong. And therefore I think that the appeal for Peter Dutton, or for the Opposition, they just have to go with the instincts of the people who fundamentally know what’s right.

Rowan Dean: Lord Daniel Hannan, thanks so much. Glad you’re optimistic about Australia. That’s fantastic news for conservatives in Australia….

It sure is.  According to the ennobled Hannan, the situation in Australia is quite okay.  So much so, that we do not need to fear the advancing hordes of bureaucratic fascists, communists and the like.  For the moment, at least. Jackie’s (male) co-owner was so relieved that he headed off for a (somewhat early) celebratory Gin & Tonic as a (temporary) solution to what these days would be called a headache-inducing event.

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere – Five Paws.


  • The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss gets sloppy in The Monthly

Avid readers will recall a small appearance by Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the left-wing Australia Institute, in the last edition of MWD. Dr Denniss (for a doctor he is), an economist by trade, appeared on a 7:30 panel discussion in which three guests (Denniss, Professor Brendan Crabb and Dr Nada Hamad) and one presenter (Laura Tingle) all agreed with each other that Australia is not doing enough to fight COVID. As is often the case on the ABC, no contrary view was heard.

It seems this appearance was merely a preview for an article Denniss was writing for the February 2023 edition of The Monthly titled “Nothing to see here”. The screed presents a remarkably sloppy argument that the Albanese government is not doing enough to combat COVID. Below is a sample of the muddled stats and confusing arguments that made it into the pages of The Monthly:

Excess deaths confusion

In the first paragraph, Comrade Denniss tries his best to summarise Australia’s COVID deaths and excess mortality in 2022:

And in addition to the 15,000 deaths directly attributed to COVID, the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that there were 20,000 more deaths last year than would usually be expected, largely due to the fact that people who have had COVID tend to die more quickly of the other diseases they have.

The Monthly readers might well have been confused by this sentence, believing that the 15,000 COVID deaths were “in addition” to the 20,000 excess deaths. It seems unlikely that Denniss is actually confused on this point, but it would seem to be a good idea to avoid carelessly throwing around the word “addition” in reference to numbers.

Denniss multiplies this error by misstating the ABS’s [Australian Bureau of Statistics] excess deaths estimate. 20,000 (19,986 to be precise) is actually the estimate for the period January-September 2022, not the entire year like the 15,000 COVID deaths figure. To his credit this mistake by Denniss works against his argument – so he is merely being careless not intentionally misleading.

New Zealand case number ignorance

A few paragraphs later Denniss warns readers that:

At the time of writing, our daily case numbers, per head of population, are well above those of the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the average for all rich countries.

We can’t know exactly when the article was written, but it seems likely it was sometime in the last four months. New Zealand’s daily case numbers, when adjusted for population, have been consistently higher than Australia’s since late September 2022.

Dubious pro-masking arguments

Near the end of the article, your man Denniss offers up his proposed solutions:

But solutions exist. The clearest proof that masks, fresh air and social distancing are incredibly effective ways to keep us safe was the collapse in the number of Australians who died from influenza in 2022. Last year was the first time in decades that “the flu” did not appear in the top 20 causes of death in Australia. Those in densely populated Asian countries have been wearing masks in public for years – refusing to wear them is like refusing to wear seatbelts.

Richard Denniss has once again misrepresented ABS figures. Flu deaths did not “collapse” in 2022. In 2020, with borders shut and COVID lockdowns introduced there were only 55 deaths – a huge decrease compared to previous years. In 2021, with the borders still closed throughout flu season and extended lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria there were only two flu deaths recorded all year. In 2022 with COVID restrictions removed (and mask usage down) flu deaths increased, though not to the levels seen pre-COVID. From January-September 2022 the ABS recorded 274 flu deaths, around 55 per cent of the figure typically seen pre-COVID.

Even if flu deaths had collapsed in 2022, it would not in any way prove the effectiveness of masks, fresh air and social distancing. 2022 was the year Australians largely abandoned mask wearing and social distancing. Richard Denniss wants to scold Australians for abandoning widespread mask-usage in 2022, to do this he cites high 2022 COVID deaths. But in the same article he wants to give mask-usage credit for low 2022 flu deaths.

As for the suggestion that masks are the equivalent of seatbelts. Seatbelts don’t do much to prevent a car accident but greatly increase your chances of surviving one. Sounds more like a COVID vaccine, doesn’t it?




Until next time.