GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 626

10 March 2023

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  • THE GREAT 40-MINUTE ABC STRIKE IS CALLED OFF

It seems that all is quiet on the ABC Front – since the toiling masses at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster called off their 40-minute strike planned for Tuesday 7 March – for the moment at least.

This was not quite like the General Strike in Britain of 1926. Rather, ABC strikers would have been docked for 40-minutes off their weekly wage. It was a gesture which was designed to coincide with the Reserve Bank of Australia’s scheduled announcement on interest rates.  Like the Melbourne Cup, this takes place on the first Tuesday of the month.  As if Australians would have given a toss – or even have known –  that the strike occurred.  The ABC is not that important at a time when there have never been more media outlets in Australia.

It appears that the ABC management is in continuing discussion with the unions – to which ABC employees belong – about a wage rise, along with a bonus. This is at a time when the taxpayers who fund the ABC to the tune of over $1 billion a year are doing it tough – and jobs are disappearing in sections of the media industry.

In days of old, members of the Communist Party of Australia used to defend the absence of strikes in the Soviet Union, China and other communist dictatorships by declaring: “You can’t strike yourself.”  Meaning that there was no reason for workers in an alleged workers’ paradise to strike.

Apparently the journalists in the ABC Soviet –  or staff collective – believe otherwise.  But only if the action of downing to down computers and iPhones does not last for more than 40 minutes.


Can You Bear It?

  • SYDNEY MORNING HERALD LETTERS PAGE IN HANGING JUDGE JUDGMENT OF PETER DUTTON

There was enormous interest in MWD’s coverage on 3 March advising that in Nine’s newspapers – the previous day – a column by Niki Savva had appeared.  After what journalists term a Well Earned Break or WEB. Yet again, Comrade Savva used the opinion page to bag the Liberal Party and its leader – now Peter Dutton.

Ms Savva described the Coalition frontbencher Paul Fletcher with the cliché that he is in the “pale, stale, male category”. Groan.  Overlooking the fact that Prime Minister Albanese is pale and male – and older than Fletcher.  She went on to give the Liberals and Nationals lotsa advice about what they SHOULD do.

It was not long ago that the Sydney Morning Herald Letters editor wrote that there was virtually always diversity among correspondents on the Opinion Page.  Not when Niki Savva is fanging Peter Dutton, it would appear.

On 3 March, the SMH published six letters on the topic of Peter Dutton.  All but one bagged Dutton and one was all but meaningless.  Two of the SMH correspondents expressed support for Savva’s comparison of the Opposition leader with the French Bourbon kings. Really.  And one ran the hoary old line against Peter Dutton that “sitting on the fence only gets you splinters”.  Groan.

How’s that for political diversity on the Letters Page?  More importantly – Can You Bear It?

  • MICHAEL (“I’M ALL FOR ETHNIC DIVERSITY”) ROWLAND BACKS THE WHITE LA TINGLE OVER A WOMAN OF COLOUR FOR A BOARD SEAT

Lotsa thanks to Sky News’ The Kenny Report for drawing attention to ABC TV presenter Michael Rowland’s response to the allegation in the recently released Diversity Council Australia report that racism and sexism is quite prevalent in Australian workplaces.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: You could write all the reports that you want to write, and this is a good report. But unless there’s a top-down change to corporate culture in Australia, nothing’s going to change quickly in terms of allowing women to be themselves and achieve these leadership positions.

Fine sentiments, to be sure, don’t you think? Your man Rowland wants what he terms culturally and racially marginalised women across Australia to achieve leadership positions.

However, this is the very same Michael Rowland who put out this tweet on 1 March urging fellow ABC employees to vote for ABC TV 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle to be the staff representative on the ABC Board:

So what’s the problem? – MWD  hears readers cry.  Well it’s this.  Comrade Rowland wants Comrade Tingle to become a non-executive director at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. For the record, the position carries an annual remuneration of over $60,000 – as determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.  It also provides much needed business class travel to destinations where ABC board members are wined and dined and generally fawned over by local ABC staff, mayors and the like.

No problem with all that.  But if Comrade Rowland is so committed to racial diversity within the workforce and on boards – why is he not spruiking for Indira Naidoo? – who is running against La Tingle and some others for the ABC Board gig. She presents evenings on ABC Radio 702.

Ms Naidoo is not only female – but she is a woman of colour.  As such, she could provide the kind of ethnic diversity to the ABC Board which your man Rowland demands from other enterprises in order to make it possible for women to achieve leadership positions.

It appears that Comrade Rowland is all for diversity – except when he is backing Ms Tingle over Ms Naidoo for an influential $60,000 a year seat on the ABC Board for a  five year term. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really, now that you ask.  I understand that Comrade Tingle is the favourite, with Melbourne ABC reporter Comrade Daniel Ziffer said to be in second place.  So right now, the departing white ABC Board member Jane Connors is likely to be replaced by a white sheila or a white bloke.  And the ABC is always banging on about ethnic diversityMaybe Hendo should support Indira Naidoo – except that, since he is one of many conservatives “cancelled” by the ABC, it could be counter-productive. – MWD  Editor.]

Laura Tingle has Rowland’s Support

Indira Naidoo does not have Rowland’s Support

  • NINE’S CHIP LE GRAND REMEMBERS MONIQUE RYAN’S MORAL IMPERATIVE RE COVID-19 BUT FORGETS HER GLENFERRIE DANCE

The (male) co-owner of Jackie (Dip. Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) has had a wonderful time in recent days reading about The Battle of the Kooyong Leftist Luvvies.  He followed the news at around Gin & Tonic Time on hearing days of the Federal Court of Australia.

In the Teal Corner is former Teal staffer Sally (“I want to be an MP”) Rugg. And in the other Teal Corner is the Teal MP for Kooyong, Monique (“I want to be PM and, by the way, put your mask on”) Ryan.

As avid readers will be aware, Dr Ryan (for a medical doctor she is) won the first round in the Federal Court of Australia.  Monique Ryan will not be forced to re-employ Sally Rugg.  Other matters relating to working conditions remain to be determined – which is good news for MWD.

But MWD digresses.  At issue in the Federal Court case is the revelation that Sally Rugg, the former campaign director at the leftist GetUp!, had travelled by air from Canberra to Melbourne while aware that she had COVID-19. She was Ryan’s chief of staff at the time.  The date was 22 November 2022.

This led Nine’s Chip Le Grand, in an analysis piece in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 4 March, to write this:

Ryan, until a year ago the director of neurology at the Royal Children’s Hospital, is the only MP who habitually masked up during the most recent parliamentary sittings. Staying COVID-safe is central to her political brand.  She also sees it as a moral imperative. Her immediate response to Rugg on November 22 was laced with disapproval, disbelief and a tinge of sadness.

How frightfully interesting.  Except that your man Le Grand overlooked something in his analysis.  Namely that, on 15 September 2022, Sky News reporter Tyrone Clarke revealed that Dr Ryan had been filmed dancing maskless at a community trivia night at the Glenferrie Primary School in her Kooyong Electorate.  The date of the gig was 19 August 2022. See more here 

This sounds plausible. As a former voter in Kooyong, Hendo is well aware that there is lotsa trivia among the leftist luvvies of Glenferrie.

So, there you have it.  Chip Le Grand told his readers (if readers there were) that staying COVID-safe is not only central to Monique Ryan’s political brand – but that she also sees it as a moral imperative.  Overlooking the Glenferrie Dance. Can You Bear It?

  • ANOTHER LEFTIST COMMENTATOR ON THE (DULL) NEWS BREAKFAST NEWSPAPERS SEGMENT

The Newspapers segment on ABC’s News Breakfast is an invariably dull affair. A leftist commentator – often from the ­Guardian Australia, the Australia Institute or a left wing academic – drops in to comment on the new stories of the day. The guests generally don’t have much insight to offer, but perhaps it is a good alternative for those who don’t want to spend 5 minutes looking at the news of a morning. Like the rest of the ABC it is a Conservative Free Zone, and you will not find a conservative turning up to list a few news stories of the day.

On 8 March, Newspapers segment featured Zara Seidler, co-founder of “social first” news service The Daily Aus. For readers wondering what that means, the Daily Aus shares news on Instagram and produces a podcast – that Seidler co-hosts – aimed at young people.

Presenters Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar and guest Seidler discussed the Monique Ryan vs Sally Rugg lawsuit and Seidler lamented that as a former staffer to an independent parliamentarian it can be a difficult job. Which Independent you may ask? Bob Katter? Fraser Anning? Jacqui Lambie? The correct answer is Kerryn Phelps, former member for the wealthy seat of Wentworth. Dr Phelps has much in common with the Teal Independents, though she predated the term.

Seidler is surely correct that staffers for Independents work hard, despite the fact that other than at the Senate level, independents in parliament are largely inconsequential when the government has a majority in the House of Representatives.

The trio go on to discuss abortion access for women in regional Australia and a Guardian article covering an interview with opposition leader Peter Dutton which had taken place on Seidler’s very own Daily Aus podcast. The Guardian article was unsurprisingly hostile to Dutton’s comments on the Voice, and featured a contribution from a Yes campaign supporter that Dutton risked being “on the wrong side of history” – a favourite phrase of the left.

After discussing the incoming changes to the design of chocolate bar Toblerone, Rowland shares an old joke book joke about Switzerland’s flag: “What’s the best thing about Switzerland?” “I’ve heard the flag is a big plus”. In typical News Breakfast fawning fashion, Rowland “highly recommends” The Daily Aus and it’s “really great” podcast, and hopes that Seidler will be back soon in spite of his jokes. As Zara Seidler is not a conservative, it is highly likely News Breakfast viewers will see her again.

Can You Bear It?

  • ABC’s ERIC TLOZEK FUDGES LACK OF POLITICAL DEBATE AT 2023 ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK

As avid Media Watch Dog readers are all too well aware, the 2023 Adelaide Writers’ Week was yet another literary festival leftist stack.  MWD could not identify one political conservative on the entire program – which was directed by leftist luvvie Louise Adler.

The general criticism of Comrade Adler’s line-up for the 2023 AWW turned on the complete lack of political diversity – in that, like the ABC, the taxpayer funded literary love-in in Adelaide was very much a Conservative Free Zone.  The specific criticism focused on the AWW’s coverage of the Middle East – seven Palestinians were on the line-up but not one Israeli.

Writing in The Australian on 6 March, Caroline Overington commented on the 2023 AWW panel titled “Authors Take Sides”. She wrote that there were three writers of Palestinian background on the panel – Randa Abdel-Fattah, Ramzy Baroud and Mohammed el-Kurd.

The session was chaired by Sophie McNeill, a former ABC journalist and a long-time critic of Israel, who has described as a “fallacy” the idea that reports of the Israel/Palestine conflict must be by journalists who are “dispassionate neutral observers” (See MWD Issue 620, 23 January 2023). Comrade McNeill believes that reporters should take sides on issues. So, there was no neutral chair of the “Authors Take Sides” segment and Comrade McNeill declared that the organisation for which she works – Human Rights Watch – regards Israel as an apartheid state.

The other member of the panel, Peter Singer, is also a critic of Israel. Neither Singer nor any member of the audience disagreed in any way with the views of the Palestinian trio. Caroline Overington concluded her report as follows:

Obviously, there is nothing controversial about pro-Palestinian speakers being pro-Palestine. What else are they going to be? But festival artistic director Louise Adler has promised passionate debate about the important issues of our time. There was no shortage of passion. There was also no debate.

In addition to the lack of balance concerning the Middle East, some (but not all) critics of the 2023 AWW line-up objected to the presence at the function of Susan Abulhawa and Mohammed el-Kurd. Abulhawa has described Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, as a “depraved Zionist trying to ignite World War III” and has claimed that “it’s possible to be Jewish and Nazi at the same time”.

She recently described a Jewish American citizen (Elan Ganeles), who was murdered by Islamist terrorists in Israel, as “human garbage”. Moreover, el-Kurd has declared in a tweet on 13 May 2021 that Zionists have “an unquenchable thirst for Palestinian blood & land”.

Susan Abulhawa’s first performance at the 2023 AWW occurred on 7 March.  Her appearance was covered by Eric Tlozek on ABC TV News Breakfast on 8 March. The clips of Abulhawa run by the ABC had the author praising her AWW audience and rejecting the idea that her views on Israel should be policed.  This was in response to some critics of the AWW (but by no means all) that she should not be allowed to appear at the festival.

This is how Eric Tlozek concluded his report:

Eric Tlozek: Writers’ Week has been criticised for hosting many Palestinian authors, including poet Mohamed el-Kurd, who also wrote a number of inflammatory tweets. But its organisers have defended their inclusions, saying their comments are political, not racial. Eric Tlozek ABC News, Adelaide.

What a load of absolute tosh.  The essential criticism of the AWW with respect to the Middle East did not turn on the fact that it heard from “many Palestinian authors”.   Rather, it centred on the fact that there were no Israelis or supporters of Israel on the program.  It seems that Comrade Tlozek is so subsumed in the ABC culture – where everyone essentially agrees with essentially everyone else on essentially everything – that he does not recognise the absence of debate. Can You Bear It?


The ABC TV program Media Watch commenced in May 1989 – a month after the publication of Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch (which became, in time, Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog Blog). All Media Watch presenters have been left-of-centre types.  No conservative has had this gig in three decades – confirming the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s reality as a Conservative Free Zone. Since Stuart Littlemore fronted the inaugural program in May 1989, Media Watch has had the format where the presenter lays down the law.  There is no debate and discussion, and no one has a right-of-reply on air.

This contrasts with MediaBuzz on Fox News (proprietor Rupert Murdoch). Currently presented by one-time Washington Post columnist and CNN presenter Howard Kurtz, Media Buzz encourages debate and discussion on the program – where different political and social views are heard.

Due to popular demand, MWD continues to record your man Barry’s Occasional (political and social) Sermons on the Mount.

  • PAUL BARRY SILENT AS US AGENCIES CONCLUDE THE LAB LEAK IS LIKELY

In May 2020, Media Watch aired two segments seeking to discredit reporting done by News Corp Australia journalist Sharri Markson concerning the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Comrade Barry was, as usual, condescending towards Ms Markson, snidely remarking that she must have missed an earlier Sydney Morning Herald article in which “virus experts” had dismissed the lab leak theory. He went on to discuss other, less credible, theories and referred to “Wuhan lab conspiracy theorists”.

Since then, your man Barry has maintained that the lab leak theory is unlikely, even as the expert and media consensus has slowly shifted towards the theory. On Twitter, the ABC’s very own Saint Paul jumps at the chance to retweet any news story which casts doubt on the lab leak theory, while ignoring any that cut the other way.

On 8 August 2022, Media Watch aired another segment on the lab leak, this one concerning two scientific studies which concluded the virus most likely did not emerge from The Wuhan Institute of Virology. This segment seems to have been an excuse for your man Barry to take a victory lap, and further criticise Sharri Markson.

In recent weeks two news stories from the United States have strengthened the case for the lab leak theory. On 26 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that a classified intelligence report by the US Department of Energy concluded that a lab leak was the most likely origin for the pandemic. Then on 1 March, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed in a Fox News interview that the FBI believes that “the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan”.

These developments have not generated a follow up story by Media Watch and Paul Barry has not mentioned either story on Twitter. On 28 February, Markson’s Sky News colleague Chris Kenny aired a segment about the Department of Energy report, in which he defended Markson and criticised Barry.

During the segment, Kenny quoted from an email Paul Barry had sent in response to a viewer, and copied to Sky News. In the email Barry says he will happily apologise to Markson if the lab leak theory is “proved”. One thing almost all experts agree on is that we will likely never have definitive proof for either of the two primary theories concerning COVID-19’s origin. As such it seems likely no apology by Paul Barry to Sharri Markson will ever appear.


A Q+A MOMENT

  • ON THE BUSES WITH Q+A

Media Watch Dog just loves the CBD column – currently written by Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell – which appears in Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.  Primarily because it contains very little need-to-know information of importance to the blokes and sheilas who work in the central business districts of Melbourne and Sydney.  But lotsa information of the gossip kind – especially about, believe it or not, the media.

Now as ABC TV Q+A viewers know (if viewers there still are), the program has moved back to its original time slot of 9.35 pm on Mondays – after spending some years at 8.30 pm on Thursdays.  The Thursday slot was great for MWD since the program invariably provided terrific copy when this blog is put together at Hangover Time on Friday mornings.

But MWD digresses. On 6 March, CBD revealed that for the Q+A program which went live to air on 2 March, the audience was bussed to the ABC studio in Melbourne’s inner-city Southbank from the affluent bayside suburb of Brighton in Melbourne’s south-east.  Brighton falls within the electorate of Goldstein, currently held by ex-ABC journo Zoe Daniel who identifies as a (Teal) Independent.

An ABC spokesman told CBD that Q+A busses its audiences “as part of getting an audience mix right” and added:

Q+A provides weekly bus services from a range of areas with different demographics and voting intentions. The opportunity is often taken up by a variety of community groups, in particular students and older residents who otherwise wouldn’t be able to join the broadcast.

Turn it up.  Apart from the CBD duo, who takes seriously the claim that Q+A audiences reflect different voting intentions? In fact, the audience frequently resembles a baying leftist mob who invariably jeer the (usually) one political conservative on the panel and cheer on the (usually) multiple Green/Left panellists.

And so it came to pass on 6 March that the leftist luvvies from Brighton found a fave in Teela Reid – whom presenter Stan Grant introduced as “a Wiradjuri and Wailwan lawyer” who was soon to appear at “Sydney’s All About Women” event.

It turned out that Comrade Reid wowed the audience from Brighton when she had the final say of the night, declaring: “I don’t usually agree with white men – but I agree [with British playwright David Hare] – abolish prisons!”

The leftist luvvies of Brighton who are on Q&A’s contact list noisily approved the idea – unaware, apparently, that if the Hare/Reid proposal was implemented, some of Victoria’s most vicious white male rapists and murderers would soon be walking the streets of Brighton and Southbank and perhaps Sandalista Central in inner-city Fitzroy North.

By the way, the somewhat pompous David Hare – who, on one occasion, referred to himself with the words “I, myself” – defended the leftist stack that was the 2023 Adelaide Writers’ Week without seeming to understand that it contained no political diversity.  Like many an intellectual, your man Hare seems to mix with only those who agree with him.

For his part, your man Grant criticised both the Liberal Party (Senator Andrew Bragg) and Labor Party (Matt Thistlewaite) panellists –  from the left.  For their part, the luvvies from Brighton just loved it when Comrade Hare condemned the good people of Britain who voted for Brexit, leading to Britain’s exit from the European Union.  Indicating that the elitist Hare has little time for the opinion of over 50 per cent of his fellow British voters who voted to leave the EU.

The essential problem with Q&A, whether it airs on Monday or Thursday, turns on the fact that it is boring – partly because it’s invariably a leftist gig which has “cancelled” many political conservatives – as befits the taxpayer funded broadcaster as a Conservative Free Zone.


  • STEP FORWARD DAVID SPEERS FOR HIS 33 INTERRUPTIONS OF ANGUS TAYLOR

Perhaps the most vicious trolls on social media in Australia are members of the extreme left.  Daily Telegraph columnist Joe Hildebrand – who is a mainstream social democrat Labor Party supporter – has referred to this lot as communists.  They are so intolerant that they regularly sledge ABC TV presenters David Speers and Leigh Sales.  Now, neither Speers nor Sales would regard themselves as political conservatives.  But they are not sufficiently left for ABC TV’s most left-wing audiences who, believe it or not, play a key role in determining who will not be heard on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster since some ABC producers are intimidated by left-wing ABC audiences.

Could this be why, when presenting the ABC TV’s Insiders program, your man Speers goes out of his way to be as tough on Coalition guests as possible – while tending to give Greens politicians a soft time?  Such an approach would diminish the firepower of the trolls for a while at least.

How else to explain that on Sunday 5 March Comrade Speers interrupted Coalition shadow treasurer Angus Taylor on 33 occasions during a 16-minute interview – while on Sunday 19 February Greens leader Adam Bandt copped 17 interruptions in a 13-minute interview from the Insiders presenter?  Also, your man Speers did not query some of Mr Bandt’s erroneous statements. But he adopted a consistent aggressive line towards Mr Taylor.

In any event, the good news is that David Speers has (again) won MWD’s Media Interrupter of the Week gong.


  • IN WHICH THE GUARDIAN’S AMY REMEIKIS IS AN INTERCHANGE FOR THE GUARDIAN’S MURPHAROO ON RN BREAKFAST

Further evidence that The Guardian has a regular political commentary slot on ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program was provided on Thursday 9 March.  Katharine Murphy (The Guardian Australia’s political editor) who usually does the Thursday slot did not appear.  She was replaced, once again, by MWD fave Amy Remeikis (The Guardian Australia’s political reporter in Canberra).

Now, The Guardian is an avowedly left-wing newspaper.  Always has been since it was established in Manchester in the late 19th Century.  Today the Guardian in London and its Australian relative continue this left-wing tradition.

No problem here.  Except that no political conservative has a regular slot on RN Breakfast – nor does a politically conservative newspaper or magazine like, for example, The Spectator.

What has taken place on the RN Breakfast  Thursday commentary slot is that if the leftist Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy is not available to talk to Patricia (“Please call me Professor PK”) Karvelas – then Amy Remeikis fills in. Thus consummating, once again, the existence of The Guardian/ABC Axis.


HISTORY CORNER

  • MARGARET SIMONS REPEATS HER MALCOLM FRASER/BOB HAWKE/JOHN HOWARD ERROR IN HER LATEST BOOK

Margaret Simons, the Melbourne-based left-of-centre journalist is a fine writer and a successful biographer. However, at times, she exhibits the flaws of many a journalist.  Namely, a tendency to believe what she wants to believe and a reluctance to admit to errors.

Comrade Simons became a “bestie” of the late Malcolm Fraser (1930-2015) towards the end of his life.  By then the one-time tough minded and politically conservative Liberal Party prime minister (between November 1975 and March 1983) had become much admired by the Green Left. Mr Fraser quit the Liberal Party in May 2010 – the story was broken by Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review  and confirmed the same morning by Simons on ABC Radio National Breakfast.

It so happened that news of Mr Fraser’s resignation from the Liberal Party coincided with the publication of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (MUP, 2010) – the authorship of which is attributed to “Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons”. In an acknowledgment at the back of the book, Malcolm Fraser wrote this note dated 12 October 2009:

Apart from being an author whom both Tamie and I believe has brought the pages of the book alive, Margaret has done not only the writing but also the assiduous research that the book required.  She has done this with unfailing care to make sure the facts are right.  This regard for detail is especially important since the book turns some current myths about my public life on their head.

In fact, the Fraser memoir is littered with errors – which have been documented by Gerard Henderson in his article titled “Malcolm Fraser’s Memoirs: The Fallibility of Memory” (The Sydney Institute Quarterly, Issue 37, July 2010 pp. 3-11). In media reports at the time, Simons acknowledged that there were some – what she termed small – errors in the book.  But she declined to say what they were. The howlers remained uncorrected in paperback reprint – despite the fact that many are significant.

What is being discussed here are not typographical errors, misspellings and the like – which are all but inevitable in the first edition of a substantial biography or work of history.  Rather, the point is that there are serious errors of commission and omission in Malcolm Fraser:  The Political Memoirs.

One of the most significant errors occurs at Page 629 where the following statement occurs:

[Andrew] Peacock successfully contested the leadership [against John Howard in 1989] and had his second chance to defeat [Bob] Hawke in 1990.  He lost.  This ended his hopes of becoming Prime Minister. Hawke had now won four elections – the same number as Fraser.  As Fraser had predicted, the divisions in the Liberal Party had made it unelectable.

The clear intention of Fraser and Simons here was to equate the political success of Hawke and Fraser – hence the claim that both men had won four elections each. At the time of writing the Fraser memoir – after Robert Menzies – Hawke and Howard had won the most elections, four each.  Both had been more successful than Fraser. Hawke won in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1990.  Howard won in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004.  Fraser’s victories occurred in 1975, 1977 and 1980.  Fraser did not win the same number of elections as Hawke.

Margaret Simons’ most recent book – titled Tanya Plibersek (Black Inc) – was published on Tuesday 7 March. The previous day, an extract from the work was published in Crikey.  It contained the following comment with respect to the political situation in 2005:

[By 2005], the Coalition had now won three elections in a row.  Despite lagging in opinion polls, Howard had, in 2001 and 2004, conjured what political scientist Paul Strangio was to describe as “Houdini-like escapes” come election time.

In fact, as pointed out above, by 2005 the Coalition – under John Howard’s leadership – had won four elections in a row:  1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004.

This is the same serious error which found its way into Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs. It would seem that Margaret Simons has conflated the elections of 1996 and 1998 into a single election – thus reducing Howard’s election victories from four to allegedly three.

To be fair to Simons, the howler in the Fraser memoir should have been picked up by Fraser himself along with Melbourne University Publishing.  Also, the Melbourne academic Brian Costar should bear some responsibility since the authors wrote that he “read the entire manuscript”.

However, if Margaret Simons had not gone into denial mode and acknowledged this error when it was pointed out to her in 2020, she would not have repeated the same howler in her Tanya Plibersek biography.

It remains to be seen whether the powers-that-be at Morry Schwartz’s Black Inc will include an erratum in the book and make a correction in any reprint.  This was not the path chosen by MUP concerning Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs.

[Interesting.  I note that at Page 735 of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs the authors refer to the launch of Malcolm Fraser’s Common Ground (Penguin Books Australia) in 2002.  By this time, Fraser was a critic of the Coalition government led by John Howard.  And much loved by ABC types and the leftist luvvies that get together at taxpayer funded literary festivals.  As the memoirs state:  “At literary festivals, Fraser was applauded by the same kinds of people who once reviled him for his role in the dismissal of [Gough] Whitlam [in November 1975].”  Ah, literary festivals. – MWD Editor.]

 

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Until next time.

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