GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 623

17 February 2023

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  • SARAH FERGUSON’S DONALD TRUMP OBSESSION CONTINUES APACE ON 7.30 WITH A NON-STORY ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES WHICH WILL NOT BE LAID

Alas, it would seem that ABC TV 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson’s trump-phobia is still not in remission.  How else to explain that last night (16 February) she conducted a seven minute interview with the little-known American Mark Pomerantz? Your man Pomerantz is the author of the recently published People vs Donald Trump: An Inside Job (Simon & Schuster, 2023).

This is how the ABC explained what the segment was all about:

Mark Pomerantz is a former federal prosecutor, part of the New York team investigating claims that Donald Trump had committed financial crimes while head of the Trump organisation. They delivered an indictment against the company and Pomerantz believed they were ready to bring charges against Trump himself for misleading banks about his wealth to acquire bank loans.

Then in 2022, a new district attorney took over the New York office and decided to halt the investigation. Pomerantz quit and has now written a book, “People vs Donald Trump”, setting out why he thinks the DA was wrong and why Trump should face charges.

Is that all Comrade Ferguson and the 7.30  team have got?  What the summary did not declare is that the financial crimes in question involved the alleged overvaluation of assets in order to secure bank loans.  That’s all, folks.

Your man Pomerantz banged on and on about this – until Comrade Ferguson finally asked an important question. Let’s go to the transcript:

Sarah Ferguson: The incoming District Attorney [in New York] was also a Democrat. How do you explain the decision to yourself?

Mark Pomerantz :  I am not suggesting, have never suggested and there’s no basis to suggest, uh, that, uh, the decision was anything other than one taken in good faith….

Turn it up. Here was your man Pomerantz banging on about how former Republican President Donald J. Trump should have been charged with financial crimes – even though he acknowledges that the case was not strong and was discontinued by a Democrat district attorney acting in good faith.

And yet an American author got to plug his seemingly useless book on the Australian taxpayer funded public broadcaster – to feed Comrade Ferguson’s ongoing obsession with Donald J. Trump.

[Extraordinary when you come to think about it – or even if you don’t. Sarah Ferguson and ABC management have still not apologised for the farcical – and very expensive – Four Corners three part series titled “Trump/Russia”.

As you will recall, Ms Ferguson travelled to large parts of the world attempting to prove that Trump became president of the United States with a little help from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.  The conspiracy theory was completely demolished by The Mueller Report. For a critical analysis see MWD 7 June 2019, Issue 254.  MWD Editor.]

  • LOUISE ADLER IN DENIAL ABOUT THE 2023 ADELAIDE WRITERS’ FESTIVAL AS A CONSERVATIVE FREE ZONE LEFTIST STACK

As avid Media Watch Dog readers will be aware, in the issue of 10 February reference was made to the forthcoming Adelaide Writers’ Week (AWW) – curated by publisher Louise Adler.

MWD looked at the list of Australian guests in the non-fiction area and concluded that the 2023 AWW was yet another leftist stack. Indeed, MWD could not identify even one political conservative who was scheduled to appear in even one session.

In recent days, The Australian has carried news of objections to the appearance of two international members of the extreme left – Mohammed el-Kurd (a fanatical opponent of Israel) and Susan Abulhawa (a fanatical opponent of Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy). MWD does not object to such individuals expressing their views – provided other views are heard on the same or similar platforms.

Louise Adler has rejected the criticism of those who have complained about the AWW line up with respect to Ukraine/Russia and Israel – and has stated: “I don’t want us to be party to cancel culture”.  You’ve got to be joking. The 2023 Adelaide Writers’ Week is a testimony to cancel culture as practised by Comrade Adler and her leftist mates.  It’s a conservative free zone.  Yet Louise Adler is in denial about this.


Can You Bear It?

  • AFR’s IN-HOUSE HISTORIAN ANDREW CLARK’S GOUGH WHITLAM HOWLER

Ever since he was born – many moons ago – Jackie’s (male) co-owner has sought to live his life by being helpful.  Very helpful.  This ethos has been subsumed by Media Watch Dog since its inception – as avid readers will be only too well aware.

Now, here’s (helpful) advice to the Australian Financial Review and its editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury.  The AFR should engage a fact-checker to check the work of its in-house historian Andrew Clark.

As avid readers will recall, the left of centre Andrew Clark recently won MWD’s prestigious “Media Fool of the Week” gong for his howlers about The Sydney Institute and Gerard Henderson (see MWD 23 September 2022, Issue 606).

On 2 February, the AFR published Andrew Clark’s obituary of one-time Australian senior diplomat Richard Woolcott (1927-2023). Mr Woolcott was a talented public servant. Moreover, he was a good friend of The Sydney Institute which he addressed a number of times.

So, what was the occasion of Comrade Clark’s latest error?  – MWD  hears readers cry.  Well, your man Clark wrote this in his obituary of Woolcott:

…Woolcott became part of the inner circle of William McMahon, Liberal prime minister 1971-72, and accompanied McMahon to London, Washington, Jakarta and Singapore. It was, he wrote later, a “difficult time.”  He easily negotiated the transition to the Whitlam era, with the Labor government recognising the communist government in Beijing, ordering the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam, and ending conscription.

This is one of the great myths of Australian history – much engaged in by members of the Gough Whitlam Fan Club.

Australia began to wind down its forces in (then) South Vietnam in late 1970 – at the time of the John Gorton led Coalition government. All combat troops and all air units were withdrawn from Vietnam by 7 November 1972 – when William McMahon led the Coalition government.  Gough Whitlam was sworn in as prime minister on 5  December 1972.

Certainly the Whitlam government, in December 1972, withdrew the remaining members of the Australian Army Training Team – but they were not combat forces.

It’s simply a myth that the Whitlam Labor government ordered the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam when it came to office.  Yet this howler is still being perpetrated by the AFR’s in-house historian. Can You Bear It?

  • ABC AM’s MICHELLE RIMMER GOES SOFT REPORTING THE RESIGNATION OF LEFT-WING HERO NICOLA STURGEON

It was a shock (to some comrades, shocking) announcement that came through late in the evening of Wednesday 15 February – Nightcap Drinks Time, in fact – that Nicola Sturgeon had resigned.  The news that Scotland’s first minister was to step down after eight years in the job was covered by Michelle Rimmer on the ABC Radio AM program the following morning.

Introducing the segment, presenter Sabra Lane commented that Ms Sturgeon “has been the driving force behind Scotland’s independence movement”. This was the essential message in the Rimmer report – after referring to the fact that the outgoing Scottish leader had worn “her trademark red suit” for the occasion. Let’s go to the transcript:

Michelle Rimmer: The announcement came as a surprise to many, including members of Sturgeon’s own party. She’s been a dominant figure in Scottish politics for the last eight years, leading the Scottish National Party to repeated election victories. But Ms Sturgeon says she’s been wrestling with the decision to step down for some time…Nicola Sturgeon says she was motivated to join politics by Britain’s first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose policies she disagreed with so intensely she felt compelled to campaign against them. …Nicola Sturgeon’s historic career will likely be remembered for her passionate and so far unsuccessful fight for Scottish independence.

How frightfully interesting, as the saying goes.  AM  listeners (if listeners there were) learnt that Nicola Sturgeon was a red coat-wearing Margaret Thatcher-hating advocate of Scottish independence.  It was a matter of don’t talk about:

  • The fact that the support for Scottish independence in Scotland is lower now than it was at the time of the unsuccessful independence referendum in 2014.
  • Ms Sturgeon getting into an unholy mess about the refusal of the United Kingdom government to pass her Gender Recognition Reform Bill – on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on the safety of women who are born female.
  • Ms Sturgeon’s initial support for a convicted transgender rapist, who was born male and who was convicted of raping a woman, being placed in a women’s only prison. The rapist was subsequently removed to a male prison.

In short, Nicola Sturgeon was losing support in Scotland over her stance on gender among other issues, in particular the poor state of the Scottish economy. What’s more – the main advocate of Scottish independence was presiding over a situation where support for Scottish independence was in decline.

Yet, none of the above inconvenient truths were covered by Comrade Rimmer in her report on ABC Radio AM. Can You Bear It?

  • THE AGE’S BEAT-UP ABOUT THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS IN VICTORIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

Lotsa thanks to the avid Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to this lead story in The Age on 16 February by Madeleine Heffernan. It was titled “Catholic schools lose students as more families go independent”.   The article (which was based on data in a Productivity Commission report) commenced:

Catholic schools have shed students for the first time in more than a decade as families increasingly choose independent schools.

Talk about a beat-up.  An examination of the data revealed the number of students attending Catholic schools in Victoria decreased by a mere 0.6 per cent.  Which is a minute loss out of nearly 211,000 children who attend Catholic schools in Victoria –nearly 21 per cent of the total.

Catholic schools down 0.6 per cent. A whopping fail according to The Age.  Can You Bear It?


JOHN-LAWS-STYLE-DELIBERATE-MISTAKE

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).

  • RE NICOLLE FLINT & JACINTA PRICE

Lotsa congratulations to the avid readers who were obsessive enough to identify the deliberate mistakes in the previous issue of MWD.  Here they are:

  • Nicolle Flint was not defeated as the Liberal Party candidate in the Adelaide seat of Boothby in May 2022. She resigned from politics and did not contest the election. The unsuccessful Liberal candidate was Rachel Swift.
  • Sarah Ferguson’s interview with Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price – in which the former directed several leading questions which were critical of Price – occurred on 7 February (not 2 February).

As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch and seek her advice about behaviour, courtesy and all that – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame. Your man Edward has demonstrated a first class ability to communicate with the dead, albeit not so much with the living. And so, Nancy’s “Courtesy Classes” continue – albeit from the “Other Side” in a Zoom kind of way and are channelled to Jackie (2016- __) who passes the “learnings” of Nancy on to Media Watch Dog’s avid readers.  Or something like that.

  • ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR DAVID ANDERSON EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT AT COMRADE ADAMS’ TWEETS

The Hansard  transcript of David Anderson’s appearance at the Senate Estimates Environment and Communications Legislation Committee on Tuesday 9 February has just been published.

There has been some media reporting of what the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief had to say on this occasion.  Particularly with reference to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s report of what the ABC presented as a “white supremacist” meeting at Alice Springs on 30 January. Re which see today’s Editorial.

However, MWD believes that it has an EXCLUSIVE concerning what your man Anderson had to say with respect to the ABC’s Man-in-Black. To wit, Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA.

And now for some background.  As Gerard Henderson wrote in The Weekend Australian on 7 January, some academic sociologist somewhere or other did some research which revealed that the former cricket star and businessman Don Bradman wrote a private letter to the newly elected Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Fraser in December 1975 in which he was critical of former prime minister Gough Whitlam – a bestie of the Australian left.

And so it came to pass that your man Adams weighed into the debate – describing the late Don Bradman as a “RWNJ” – as in Right Wing Nut Job. Whereupon the singer Kandiah Kamalesvaran AM (aka Kamahl) defended Bradman. Whereupon Adams called Kamahl, a man of colour, an “Honorary White” – and alleged, without evidence, that Bradman did not approve of South African leader Nelson Mandela, a black man.

This led to some controversy – and Comrade Adams appears to have deleted his tweets.  No surprise here – since calling Kamahl an Honorary White (especially in capital letters) was discourteous at best by a frequently discourteous tweeter.  Moreover, Bradman was an admirer of, and corresponded with, one-time South African President Mr Mandela.

Now here’s MWD’s exclusive. At Senate Estimates on 7 February, NSW Nationals Senator Ross Cadell raised this issue with David Anderson – in particular whether the ABC’s Man-in-Black’s tweets in this instance were consistent with the public broadcaster’s guidelines on the use of social media by ABC staff.  The answer was in the negative.

Indeed, Mr Anderson described Comrade Adams’ tweets as “certainly unfortunate” and advised the Senate that “Mr Adams has written to Kamahl apologising for that”.  He continued:

David Anderson: Privately – written to him [Kamahl] apologising for that. And look, yes we have investigated. And, as I have said before, that I think any employee is entitled to confidentiality when it comes to – certainly, allegations by the ABC of serious misconduct. They [ABC staff] have a right of reply, right to procedural fairness. The ABC makes a determination and that should remain confidential. But, yep, I think that, you know, that was disappointing to see.  …Certainly, an individual, in this case Kamahl, was offended by that, but I think many other Australians were offended by that too.

For the record, Mr Anderson did not say whether your man Adams has also written to the family of the late Don Bradman.  Moreover, there appears to have been no apology for what ABC supremo David Anderson regards as “unfortunate” and “disappointing” (tweeting) behaviour.

This is all very well. But if Comrade Adams is to be loosed of his sins of discourtesy – he should learn some manners from the late Nancy.

Phillip Adams AO etc – it’s off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.


  • IN WHICH KATHARINE MURPHY USES THE ABC INSIDERS PLATFORM TO FANG THE COALITION AS “A DISGRACE” TWICE

The avowedly leftist The Guardian Australia is the colonial cousin of the avowedly leftist The Guardian – originally of Manchester and now London based.  The Guardian’s dirty little secret is that it was primarily founded and sustained by profits from the slave trade of recent centuries.  It’s one of those sensitive matters concerning which Guardian comrades, and their primarily leftist luvvie readership, like to avoid.

As avid readers know, The Guardian Australia has a designated slot each Thursday on the politics segment of the ABC Radio National Breakfast program presented by Patricia Karvelas. This is usually filled by Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy and occasionally by a MWD fave – none other than wage slave Amy Remeikis, The Guardian Australia’s  political reporter. The Guardian Australia has a reputation for paying some its staff lower wages than should be the case.

Comrade Murphy is also a regular panellist on the ABC TV Insiders program where her political commentary is mixed with her political activism.  Most recently, on Sunday 12 February, when discussion turned on the Labor government’s Safeguard Mechanism scheme aimed at reducing carbon emissions – which the Coalition in opposition opposes.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Phil Coorey: Yeah Peter Dutton’s sort of steering it straight back to cost of living and going back in time on the old tax thing. The Liberals got a big wake up at the election on climate change, you know. Those seats they lost, you know, to the Teals – and seats like Boothby in South Australia [to Labor]. And they’ve yet to make a concession to that, to that, to that swing against them in a policy sense. You know, and they voted against the 43 per cent [reduction in carbon emissions by 2030]. And now they’re going to try and vote against the safeguard mechanism, which is essential to both 43 per cent [reduction by 2030] and net zero by 2050. So you can sort of – it’s one thing to sort of play hardball and “We’re going to make life hard for the government”. But yeah, they’re definitely gambling here by you know, sort of –

David Speers: In the meantime –

Katharine Murphy: What Phil’s trying to say is that this is a disgrace.

[uncomfortable laughter]

David Speers: I’m not sure –

Katharine Murphy: [interjecting] It is, it’s a disgrace.

Phil Coorey: The other thing too, you know, they [the Liberals] say the business groups are telling them one thing and saying another thing publicly.

Note how Murpharoo repeats the reference to the Coalition as a disgrace. It would be perfectly understandable if a Labor Party operative criticised the Coalition’s opposition to the safeguard mechanism legislation being introduced by the Albanese government. That’s politics. But it’s not the role of a professional commentator to condemn a political party’s policy as a “disgrace”.  That’s what activist journalists do. No wonder the Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey decided to change the topic.  However, ABC presenter David Speers said nothing about Murpharoo’s fanging of opposition leader Peter Dutton in this instance.

Yet another example of The Guardian/ABC Axis in operation.


A MARK HUMPHRIES MOMENT

  • MARK HUMPHRIES MAINTAINS HIS LACK OF INTEREST IN SATIRISING THE ALBANESE GOVERNMENT

It seems self-described satirist Mark Humphries is still struggling to find anything to satirise about the Albanese government. Humphries, who produces allegedly comedic sketches for 7:30, has moved away from political satire in recent times. Comrade Humphries joined the program shortly before the 2019 federal election and the majority of his sketches focused on federal politics, and in particular the Morrison government, right up until the 2022 federal election.

However, following Labor’s victory, your man Mark has managed only a handful of sketches that even mention the Albanese government, instead choosing to focus on pop culture and non-political news stories. This leaves the sketches as a peculiar fit for 7:30, the ABC TV’s top news and current affairs program.

His most recent effort, which aired on Thursday 16 February, is a mock trailer parodying the 2022 film Top Gun: Maverick. It combines the film (which is about US Air Force pilots) with the recent news stories about a Chinese balloon and other, as yet unidentified, objects being shot down over North America. The sketch has nothing to say about the shootdowns or China-US tensions, instead focusing on balloon-based puns and a dated reference to the 2009 children’s film Up. It’s not clear whether most 7:30 viewers would know what this was all about.

Bizarrely, the only political figures to get a mention in the sketch are Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott, who are shown sitting in fighter jets during visits to RAAF bases. These images seem to have been included as an excuse to make a tedious reference to Tony Abbott eating an onion almost eight years ago.

It would seem that, with Labor in office, satirising news and current affairs is no longer of much interest at 7:30.

Mark Humphries plays Mark Humphries on 7:30 (16 February)


  • Q+A GUEST JON SOPEL JUST LOVES THE BBC IN BRITAIN IN 2022 –  BUT NOT IN AUSTRALIA IN 2023

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is still in a state of grief about ABC TV’s Q+A’s program moving from Thursdays to Mondays.  When Q+A was a Thursday event it invariably provided great copy for Media Watch Dog  – much of which is written at Hangover Time on Fridays.

But MWD digresses. The Q+A panel was somewhat typical on Monday 13 February.  There was a token political conservative – the Liberal MP for Menzies Keith Wolahan, who did very well in difficult circumstances.  The rest of the panel were left-of-centre types. Quelle surprise!

The overseas guest was Jon Sopel. He was introduced by presenter Stan Grant as “a British journalist and host of The News Agents podcast”.  In the middle of the program, anyone still watching would have heard your man Sopel take a question from an audience member concerning the BBC.  Believe it or not, the said person – a certain Luke Jenner – was of the view that, wait for it, the BBC is biased in favour of right-of-centre politics. Let’s go to the transcript:

Luke Jenner: Thanks, Stan. The BBC has a global reach like no other news outlet. However, it also has its problems – strict impartiality being one – which I assume, Jon, were instrumental in you seeking a new career direction. Nearly a year on from your departure, how do you think the BBC needs to change in the future if it’s to maintain its integrity and influence?

Jon Sopel: What a great question. Well, thank you for that. I mean, part of the reason I left the BBC – you’re right – I thought that they were getting the definition of “impartiality” wrong, by which I mean – and I think that public broadcasters around the world are struggling with this, whether it’s here in Australia or in Britain as well.

Your man Sopel went on and on – but provided no evidence about the BBC’s (alleged) bias against left-of-centre politics.  In the process, Comrade Sopel let it be known that he believed the majority of Brits who voted for Brexit were wrong.  Your man Sopel also gave the impression that he believed that the BBC should have been more critical of the Brexit cause.  Really. As if it wasn’t anti-Brexit enough. Moreover, the ex-BBC journo seems to think that an impartial public broadcaster would have strongly opposed Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Well, that’s what Comrade Sopel had to say on the first anniversary of his BBC-EXIT. But what did he say when he left the BBC for a new job a year ago?  – MWD hears readers cry. Here’s his Twitter thread:

So, there you have it. In February 2022, Jon Sopel told his Twitter followers that he had loved his time at the BBC.  However, in February 2023 he told Q+A viewers (if viewers there were) that part of the reason he left the BBC turned on his view that the BBC was “getting the definition of impartiality wrong”. Sopel did not say what the other “part” was.

Verily, A Great Media U-turn of Our Time.

[Perhaps you are being a bit tough on the well-dressed Mr Sopel.  After all, he did tell a great story about how he and his wife had attended a Barack and Michelle Obama Christmas Party where they not only had their photo taken with the Obamas but also drank champagne with the famous couple. IMPRESSIVE, eh?  Only to return home to, (naturally) fashionable Georgetown, to find that the Sopel canine had eaten some mince pies and had to have its stomach pumped out at the cost of $2000 US.  I don’t know about you.  But I watch Q+A for self-indulgent, name-dropping moments like that.  MWD  Editor.]


EDITORIAL

  • ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR’S REVEALING APPEARANCE BEFORE SENATE ESTIMATES

The 50-page long transcript of Hansard containing the transcript of the hearings of the 14 February 2023 Senate Estimates Environment and Communications Legislation Committee has only recently been released.  It will be examined in detail  in the next edition of Media Watch Dog.

ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson appeared before the Estimates Committee and was queried at length about the initial grossly incompetent coverage of the 30 January meeting held in Alice Springs by the key ABC Radio AM program.  Mr Anderson’s performance gives a special insight into how the ABC works.

In the meantime, the (rare) good news is that the ABC’s newly established Ombudsman’s Office – headed by Fiona Cameron – appears to have worked well.  The Office responded promptly and professionally to complaints about the ABC’s coverage of this issue and released a report on 13 February.  Ms Cameron found against the ABC in this instance with respect to impartiality and accuracy.

Readers can view the report by going to the “Ombudsman’s Office investigation reports” page on the ABC website:

https://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Alice-Springs-AM-Final-Report.pdf


This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this: Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.

  • GERARD HENDERSON AND IAN DUNN RE THE ABC & POLITICAL DIVERSITY

Gerard Henderson’s column in The Weekend Australian on 11-12 February was titled “Death of political diversity exposes ABC echo chamber”.   This led to criticism from avid (but not uncritical) reader Ian Dunn – formerly of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Hendo’s learned friend did not concur with the column’s judgement.  Now read on – if you please:

 

Gerard Henderson to Ian Dunn – 14 February 2023

Ian

How wonderful to hear from you – especially since this is your second communication in just two weeks concerning my column in The Weekend Australian.

In my column on Saturday 11 February, I wrote: “I cannot think of one prominent ABC presenter or high-profile and regular contributor who opposes The Voice”.  I was making the point that Sky News presenter Chris Kenny and high profile Sky News contributor Joe Hildebrand support The Voice – despite the fact that most of Sky’s presenters and contributors are opposed to the proposed change to the Constitution.

On 11 February, you emailed me as follows:

Have you overlooked Tom Switzer, a powerful voice against The Voice?  Perhaps the most respected conservative thinker in Australia, he frequently promotes Senator Price and recently took part in a forum including her, and (of all  people) Mark Latham to campaign against The Voice. Between the Lines is heard by most of the political types I know.

Tom Switzer, who presents Between the Lines, is employed by the Centre for Independent Studies – not by the ABC.  Between the Lines,  which airs on the ABC Radio National at the non-prime time of 5 pm on Saturdays, is not a prominent ABC current affairs program.  You state that most of the political types you know listen to Between the Lines. If you checked with them they would let you know that no segment of Between the Lines this year has been devoted to The Voice. You must have a somewhat vivid imagination.

In my column, I also referred to the lack of political diversity within the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.  I illustrated the point by referring to ABC’s Radio National Breakfast presented by Patricia Karvelas – where there is a weekly commentary politics spot for the avowedly leftist The Guardian Australia.  I added that no conservative presenter has such a position.  Your response was to say:

And as for Karvelas  and her media segment  she includes Samantha Maiden, Chief Politics writer for Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, hardly organs beloved of the left .

This argument is inaccurate. For starters, Samantha Maiden shares her Friday spot on RN Breakfast with David Speers. Moreover, Samantha Maiden does not regard herself as a conservative. If you have any doubts about this – just ask her.  By the way, Maiden is not the chief politics writer for the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph.  She is the political editor of news.com.au – which is by no means a conservative publication even though it is owned by News Corp. You would know this if you read news.com.au.

All the best to you and The Melbourne Forum.  I trust that  your forum is not a conservative-free-zone like the ABC.

Gerard Henderson

 

Ian Dunn to Gerard Henderson – 14 February 2023

Would you like to speak at  Melbourne Forum Gerard? If you did you would follow in the footsteps of, amongst others , Greg Sheridan , Paul Kelly,  Tom Switzer, ( several times) George Brandis, Frank Brennan, John Pesutto, Georgina Downer, James Paterson, and numerous representatives of the IPA. The organisation was founded by a former Director of the Liberal Party John Ridley,  so it is likely we would endeavour to achieve balance , although in my term as Chair I found it impossible to find Victorian speakers on the topic “ Whither Conservatism”.  Perhaps Pesutto will improve the “Vibe” surrounding the Liberal Party here ,but it has been doleful. I was a member for 20 years .

John Ridley is again  Chair of MF, I would be delighted to suggest to him that we ask you to speak on the topic, Left Wing Bias at the ABC , or a topic of your choosing , by zoom.

Your  remarks about Between the Lines and my imagination  are both gratuitous and wrong .This year is but a few weeks old. Switzer interviewed Senator Price on 13 August 2022  My friends are well aware of this, for, following that interview we were aware that she was an opponent of The Voice and gave cause for us to consider an alternative view.  As with most RN programs, Between the Lines is repeated at various times ,  and most of my colleagues hear  it online . On any view Switzer is a “high profile regular contributor to the ABC “ and any argument to the contrary is nonsense. And Amanda Vanstone, similarly, is a regular, weekly, contributor .

Karvelas’ political pundits are Grattan, Crowe, ex Oz, now Age/SMH, Coorey , AFR,  Charles Croucher , Nine News and Speers , ex Sky with Maiden. To me that looks pretty balanced; not certain that you use Twitter, if you do you might be aware that there is huge dissatisfaction with Speers  from the left.

One other matter.  I don’t see your regular media blog very frequently, due to my need to read, again and again,  every leftist publication.! But I’m sure you must have been concerned about Robodebt and the use which Tudge made of your colleagues at The Oz? Or Benson’s failure , pre-election, to reveal Morrison’s self appointments to other ministries . Have these matters elicited comment from you ?

All good wishes

Ian Dunn

 

Gerard Henderson to Ian Dunn – 17 February 2023

Ian

Lotsa thanks for your email of 14 February 2023 – and especially for the wonderful invitation to address The Melbourne Forum.  I feel so honoured.  Hang on a minute – in modern fashionable word usage – “HUMBLED” is a more appropriate term.

Especially since, on 9 October 2022, you referred to me in your Facebook page as someone who is not only “as boring as batshit” but also expresses “splenetic outrage”.  This would suggest that The Melbourne Forum’s standards must have dropped in recent months for me to score an invite to your esteemed organisation.

As to the political balance of The Melbourne Forum – well, that’s good news.  It’s a pity that it is not mirrored by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Regarding Between the Lines, I wrote to you on 14 February that “no segment of Between the Lines this year has been devoted to The Voice”. That’s true. By the way, 13 August 2022 is six months ago. Your claim that Tom Switzer “frequently promotes” Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price on his program is simply false.

Between the Lines  is not a prominent ABC Radio National program.  The prominent RN programs are AM (presenter Sabra Lane), RN Breakfast (Patricia Karvelas), The World Today (Sally Sara), Drive (Andy Park), PM (David Lipson) and Late Night Live  (Phillip Adams). Not one of this lot is a political conservative – as befits the reality of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone.

Amanda Vanstone – whose program was originally named Counterpoint to demonstrate that it was a counter to all the other programs on Radio National – does not present a prominent program.  It’s delusional to claim otherwise.  Also, Lane, Karvelas, Sara, Park, Lipson and Adams are all employed by the ABC and all are on air either five or four times a week. Switzer and Vanstone are not primarily employed by the ABC and their shows are just once a week.

In any event, producers play a role in determining who appears on ABC programs. I am not aware of any conservatives who are producers on prominent ABC programs.

As to RN Breakfast – my point in my column last Saturday was that the Thursday political commentary slot is reserved for a journalist from the avowedly leftist Guardian Australia (usually Katharine Murphy, occasionally Amy Remeikis).  No such slot is reserved for an avowedly conservative commentator.

Check it out with them – but I do not believe that anyone of the people you name – viz Michelle Grattan, David Crowe, Phil Coorey, Charles Croucher, David Speers or Samantha Maiden – would identify as a political conservative.

By the way, the issues surrounding Robodebt and Scott Morrison’s (unwise) ministerial appointments were well covered in The Australian. Moreover, The Australian is not a left-of-centre free zone and, in any event, it is not funded by the taxpayer.  No one is compelled to pay for The Australian – all taxpayers are compelled to finance the public broadcaster.

I note that the ABC has never covered its own historical child sexual abuse case – namely that of the late Jon Stephens, who pleaded guilty and served prison time. The ABC will not reveal details of the payout it made to his victim. There were other charges pending when Stephens died.

I am aware of your interest in the case of the late Cardinal George Pell due to your criticism of me on your Facebook page and your correspondence with the lawyer Fr Frank Brennan which I have seen.

As you will be aware, the ABC led the media pile-on against Pell.  However, the ABC has censored the books by Frank Brennan and myself – namely, Frank Brennan’s Observations on the Pell Proceedings (April, 2021) and my Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (November, 2021). The ABC has two national TV stations that cover news and current affairs – ABC TV and ABC News. It also has some 60 radio stations around Australia which cover news and current affairs. And then there is the ABC Online newspaper.

However, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, not one ABC outlet has interviewed Frank or myself – or even invited us to debate the issue with one of Pell’s antagonists (Louise Milligan comes to mind). Keith Windschuttle was interviewed on The Religion and Ethics Report about his book The Persecution of George Pell (November, 2020) after which there was considerable criticism that Windschuttle had spoken on the public broadcaster. This criticism came from sections of ABC management, ABC staff and ABC viewers/listeners. There was no other interview with Windschuttle.

That’s the kind of cancellation/censorship which you and your anonymous friends apparently feel comfortable with.

Best wishes – and Keep Morale High.

Gerard

Gerard Henderson

 

  • GERARD HENDERSON AND BOB CARR RE THE LATE CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (CONTINUED)

There was enormous interest in the last issue’s Correspondence – concerning former NSW premier Bob Carr’s tweet that the late Cardinal George Pell was a “fond protector” of the pedophile Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale and Gerard Henderson’s refutation of this claim.  As advised in last week’s issue, Henderson’s reply of 8 February almost crossed with another email from Carr sent at 3.59 pm on 8 February followed by yet another email at 4.15 pm.

Bob Carr’s two emails of 8 February are printed below along with a final response by Gerard Henderson forwarded today.

Now read on.

 

Bob Carr to Gerard Henderson – 8 February 2023 – 3.59 pm

Dear Gerard

I am sorry for taking more of your time.  I am sure you want to take up correspondence with Premier Perrottet about his conspicuous absence from the Pell mass. As you recall, I referred to Pell’s surprisingly gentle remarks when asked about Risdale on Andrew Bolt.  You denied he said anything kind about Risdale and you provide a quote from the interview.

But you painstakingly excluded the earlier exchange between interviewer and interviewee.  The cardinal’s first response to the Risdale question was to deliver a homily on forgiveness.  I have just listened to the interview and I transcribed the reference which you preferred to overlook.

[This is much the same transcript as is contained in Henderson’s email to Carr on 8 February and can be viewed in MWD Issue 622 on The Sydney Institute’s website.]

Astonishingly, Pell’s response to Bolt mentioning Risdale was to give a lecture on forgiveness. Not to condemn Risdale.  Nor to talk about victims.  That had to be winkled out of him.  My point is identical with Bolt’s.  Namely people weren’t hearing Pell condemn Risdale but hearing him excusing him and asking people to forgive him (Bolt’s verbs).

And of course we are left with the fact that he accompanied Risdale to court in full knowledge of the accusations against him, admitting he hoped it would get the priest a lower sentence!  Perhaps you can nominate occasions when he accompanied victims to court to give them support when they were giving evidence against clerical rapists?

That’s it from me. Back to work on climate change about which the late lamented cardinal said, “Animals would not notice a doubling of CO2 and obviously plants would love it.” Great mind indeed.

Cheers

Bob

The Hon Bob Carr

PS:  You asked whether there were child protection initiatives in my time and I said absolutely and that they came out of the Royal Commission we forced on the Fahey government and forced to look at child abuse and the effectiveness of police response.  I’ve just checked with a senior public servant who has worked under Labor and Coalition governments who confirms that both the establishment of the Children’s Commission and the Working With Children Check (requiring anyone working with kids to register and declare their records) were introduced under my Premiership.  The other major reform was the amendment of the Ombudsman Act which established the child-related employment scheme. This required all organisations to notify the Ombudsman of allegations against staff and allowed the Ombudsman to oversee the investigation.  Both the Working With Children Check and the Child-Related Employment Schemes were world-first.

This package of CCYP, WWCC and child-related employment established a state-wide framework that resulted in government schools (among other schools and, indeed, any organisation that “worked with children”) lifting their response to allegations and prevented persons with a known history, or who were considered a high risk, from gaining employment in government schools.

The establishment of the Commission provided a “Voice For Children” which the more recent Royal Commission into CSA in Institutional Abuse identified as a key factor in preventing and improving the response to sexual assault.  Establishing the Commission was an Australian first.

The commission’s new power to screen applicants for child-related employment and to notify employers of high-risk applicants was important.  We were the only state doing it.  It was ground-breaking.  Designed from scratch.  It involved a lot of work dealing with unions, employers and other stakeholders to finetune the system.  The Check was a major challenge calling for new information technology systems, procedures and guidelines.  The Working With Children Check flowed from Justice Wood’s paedophile enquiry report delivered in August 1997.  I am advised that its 40 recommendations were faithfully implemented, most importantly with the establishment of the Office of Children and Young People.

The final legislation, the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998, was passed unanimously in the New South Wales Parliament in December 1998, along with related legislation the Child Protection (Prohibited Employment) Act 1998 and the Ombudsman Amendment (Child Protection and Community Services) Act 1998.

* * * *

There followed, not long after, this after-thought from Bob Carr

 

Bob Carr to Gerard Henderson – 8 February 2023 – 4.15 pm

Dear Gerard

For the record I instructed the then-Director of the Opera House (sometime in my first term) to cancel a plan to have men dressed as nuns act as usherettes- I think as a Mardi Gras event- telling him it was offensive precisely because of what the Sisters of Mercy were doing at their hospice for men dying of AIDS/HIV.  I made my view unmistakably clear and delivered the message to him directly.  The activity was cancelled.  I agree that practice had a sneering tone, and I recall using language like that, in letting my views be known on that occasion.  And I was happy that the infantile and offensive activity expired.

I most assuredly sponsored initiatives in New South Wales with respect to government schools and institutions which I confirmed today with a senior public servant.  Details in an email that you should have just received. I hope we can go back to talking about the Federal Labor caucus motion of early 1965 that endorsed the US role in Vietnam and other interesting nuggets of political history.

Cheers

Bob

The Hon Bob Carr

 

Gerard Henderson to Bob Carr – 17 February 2023

Dear Bob

I refer to your emails of 8 February 2023.  I was surprised by your occasional sneering tone. I make a few (final) responses. By the way, your reference should have been to Gerald Ridsdale (not Risdale).

  • You have drifted a long way from your original tweet that George Pell was a “fond protector” of Gerald Ridsdale. Presumably because there is no evidence to support this view. As previously explained, Pell was instructed by his superior – Archbishop Frank Little – to accompany Ridsdale to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in 1993 where Ridsdale pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse and faced judgment for the first time.  Pell declined to give a character reference for consideration when Ridsdale’s (initial) sentence was determined – so he had no impact whatsoever for the length of Ridsdale’s sentence.  Pell had no personal contact with Ridsdale after 1993 –  and little before that.
  • You write positively of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse headed by Peter McClellan KC. But you ignore the fact that the Royal Commission did not examine historical child sexual abuse in government schools throughout Australia.  This is now being addressed by the Tasmanian and Victorian governments.  It remains to be seen what might be discovered in other states (including NSW) and territories.
  • I note what you did privately on one occasion to stop men dressed as nuns mocking the likes of the Sisters of Charity – who, as you know, did so much to treat HIV/AIDS sufferers at St Vincent’s Hospital in the 1980s and 1990s. However, I am not aware that you ever made a public statement condemning the ridicule of nuns in the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney when you were premier. If this is not the case, then let me know.
  • You remain in “no comment” mode about your friend and one-time employee – the late Bob Ellis – who has been accused of statutory rape by the Lilley sisters. In my view, you should state that you believe he is innocent of the crimes – or criticise him.  Telling me that I am “defaming the dead”, with respect to Ellis, is just a cop out.

In conclusion, since you refrain from doing research on the subject, I have set out below a critique of the Royal Commission’s case against Pell. You may recall that some years ago you criticised royal commissions/commissions of inquiry for not providing due process to those against whom they make findings – which are not subject to any appeal to a higher court.  Pell was a victim of such a travesty – as the following analysis demonstrates.  There is more such material in my book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt – if you can be bothered reading it.

A Note on the Royal Commission & George Pell

  • George Pell (born 1941) was never in a position of authority with respect to Gerald Ridsdale (born 1934) when both were Catholic priests in the Diocese of Ballarat. Pell was one of a number of consultors to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns from 1977 until 1984. In this capacity, Pell attended some consultors’ meetings when his diary made this possible.
  • Pell attended his first consultors’ meeting on 19 July 1977. Also present were Fr Madden and Fr McInerney. At this meeting, a decision was made to appoint Ridsdale to the position of parish priest of Edenhope (previously he was acting in this position). The Royal Commission found that it was “inconceivable” that Pell, Madden and McInerney “did not know by this time” that Ridsdale was a pedophile. (Page 267 of Case Study No 28) – since this would have been discussed at the consultors’ meeting.

However, earlier, the Royal Commission had accepted Fr Madden’s evidence that he did not know of Ridsdale’s offending until 1988 (Page 174, Case Study No 28).  And the Royal Commission did not challenge Fr McInerney’s statement that he did not find out about Ridsdale’s crimes until early 1993 (Page 74, Case Study No 28).

A significant contradiction – since Pell was present at both meetings.  In effect The Royal Commission found that Pell had heard Mulkearns’ reference to Ridsdale’s offending – but not Madden or McInerney. A most implausible allegation.

  • Pell attended his second (and final) consultors’ meeting involving Ridsdale on 14 September 1982 – when Bishop Mulkearns announced that Ridsdale would be moved to Sydney. Four out of the eight priests (the others are deceased) who attended this meeting gave evidence that Mulkearns did not tell them that Ridsdale had been sexually abusing children.

In spite of this, the Royal Commission found that it was “inconceivable” that Mulkearns deceived Pell and others by not telling them the true reason for moving Ridsdale out of the Ballarat diocese. This despite the fact that there was not any oral or written evidence to support such a conclusion.  This finding did not meet any standard of proof – criminal or civil.

  • A man (identified as BPL) told the Royal Commission that, when a boy in the early 1970s, he had been sexually abused by Ridsdale. BPL said that he had reported Ridsdale’s crimes to (then) Fr Paul Bongiorno.  Bongiorno, like Pell, was a Catholic priest in the Ballarat diocese in the early 1970s.  PBL alleged that Bongiorno had promised to talk to the vicar-general but nothing happened.

The Royal Commission did not call BPL or Bongiorno to give evidence. But both provided statements. The Royal Commission found that it was “unable to resolve the differing accounts of PBL and Mr Bongiorno”.  In not dissimilar instances, the Royal Commission found for the accuser and against Pell.  An evident double standard.

  • The Royal Commission stated that “when Ridsdale was convicted in 1993 he was not sentenced to imprisonment”. Totally false – Ridsdale was sentenced to a maximum of a year with a non-parole period of three months.

A significant error on the Royal Commission’s part which was damaging to Pell – since this was the occasion when Pell, at the instruction of his superior Archbishop Frank Little, accompanied Ridsdale to court (but Pell did not provide a character reference for him).  Ridsdale was convicted again in 1994 and subsequently. He has been in prison since then.

* * * *

As Fr Frank Brennan has written, the Royal Commission’s report was a shoddy piece of work – especially in view of its $340 million budget and its large staff.  Peter McClellan presented a report which contained inconsistencies and factual errors – of particular damage to George Pell’s reputation.

* * * *

As far as I am concerned, this correspondence is concluded. You suggest that I should go back to writing about Labor’s foreign policy in the 1960s.  Perhaps you might do a few more walks in the bush to clear your head – at least this should diminish the time you spend on Twitter.

Best wishes

Gerard

 

* * * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *