GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 632
28 April 2023
* * * *
* * * *
ABC TV’s NEWS BREAKFAST IGNORES FRESH EVIDENCE ABOUT THE 2013 ACCIDENT INVOLVING DANIEL ANDREWS’ CAR
As Media Watch Dog has demonstrated, the comrades at the ABC have close contacts with their fellow comrades at the avowedly leftist The Guardian along with their comrades at the avowedly leftist think tank The Australia Institute.
So it came as no surprise when, once again, The Australia Institute’s deputy director Ebony Bennett appeared on the “Newspapers” segment of ABC TV News Breakfast this morning. Comrade Bennett’s choice of topics was as follows:
- The Albanese government’s proposal to reform Australia’s immigration system.
- The Sydney Morning Herald’s report about criticism by the Health Services Union of the new Labor government in NSW over not having removed the existing cap on public sector wages.
- A report in The Advertiser in Adelaide on a South Australia Parliament Upper House committee concerning local governments amending their by-laws to make sure that transgender people can use the bathroom of their choice. Ms Bennett objected to The Advertiser’s headline “Councils Flushed Genders” – claiming it was bringing American culture wars into Australia. Co-presenter Michael Rowland agreed.
- The Age’s report about groups disrupting local government meetings in Victoria in protest of drag queens reading books in local libraries to young children. According to Comrade Bennett, this is merely an example of councils doing their job. Co-presenter Madeleine Morris concurred. The Australia Institute’s deputy director alleged that the late Barry Humphries was a drag queen in his Edna Everage performances. This is absolute tosh. Dame Edna never dressed as a sexualised drag queen but, rather, as a middle-aged housewife. And Humphries performed before adult audiences – not young children.
However, News Breakfast missed the morning’s big news. Namely, the lead story in today’s Melbourne Herald Sun. As Michael Warner’s exclusive report reveals, an Ambulance Victoria document in 2013 has revealed that Daniel and Catherine Andrews’ car “was travelling at 40-60 kmh” when it “struck” a teenage cyclist in Blairgowrie, Victoria. The car was being driven by Mrs Andrews at the time. In 2013, Daniel Andrews was Victorian Labor Party leader in opposition. He then became Labor premier of Victoria in 2014.
Previously the socialist left politician and his wife had told Victoria Police that a speeding cyclist had T-boned their car at an intersection. The teenager – now an adult – has always claimed that the Andrews’ car crashed into him. The then 15-year-old was badly injured as a result of the accident.
Media Watch Dog cannot say which version of events is correct. But MWD can say that this is a big story. But Ebony Bennett’s account of this morning’s newspaper reports completely ignored the Herald Sun’s exclusive about Victoria’s Labor premier in preference to discussing unisex toilets in South Australia and drag queens in Victoria. A clear example of what in media terminology is called missing-the-lead.
By the way, at the time of MWD going out today, the ABC has not covered the Ambulance Victoria report about the 2013 accident.
NINE’S JENNA PRICE CONFESSES THAT SHE IS SANS HUMOUR
Jenna Price – a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – is something of a Media Watch Dog fave. However, Jackie’s (male) co-owner has heard that Comrade Price – who is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University – has not taken well to some irreverent comments about her in this somewhat irreverent blog. Fancy that – demonstrating, once again, that many journalists are oh-so-sensitive to criticism.
On 26 April, the SMH published the latest column by Dr Price (for a doctor she is) under the title “If it’s a mortal sin to speak ill of the dead, I have a confession to make”. The point of the column – if point there was – turned on the proposition that it was okay to criticise both the living and the dead. The latter covered Barry Humphries (1934-2023).
With reference to the latter, Comrade Price rejected the proposition “de mortuis nil nisi bonum”. Fortunately, the visiting professor translated this as follows: “Of the dead, nothing but good is to be said”. Phew. Thanks for that.
Rejecting this proposition in both its Latin and English forms, Comrade Price went on to support the comments by Hannah Gadsby criticising the recently departed Barry Humphries as someone who (allegedly) hated “vulnerable minorities” and “completely lost the ability to read the room”.
Comrade Gadsby – who identifies as a comedian (re which see this issue’s “The Guardian/ABC Axis” segment) – seems to believe that comedians should read the room and not shock or criticise anyone in that room. No wonder that Humphries is reported as having described Gadsby being “as funny as an orphanage on fire”. In any event, Humphries had his audience in stitches – so he must have “read” something about the room.
And now let’s hear from Jenna Price and her confession in Nine newspapers:
I’ll be honest and reveal I don’t have a terrific sense of humour. I sat stony-faced through endless Monty Python movies while at the same time asking my patient, beloved spouse to explain scenes to me. While I enjoyed The Castle, I didn’t laugh. Kath & Kim, same. Frontline, an Australian classic, made me extremely uncomfortable yet turned me into a fan for life. I will often describe something as hilarious based on the reactions of those around me.
I only saw Humphries live once, maybe 40 years ago, and I found the character of Edna Everage to be, how shall I say, mean and dull…. Mind you, I don’t find Gadsby all that funny either. But she doesn’t have to be funny to be right about Humphries.
Jenna Price went on to write that “surely, the ultimate disrespect is to treat Humphries as if he was a child and brush over his bad behaviour”. What a load of absolute tosh. The self-confessed humourless ANU visitor fails to understand that no one treated Humphries as a child – when he was alive or when in a post-mortem state. [I’m impressed with the Price-style Latin. – MWD Editor]. He was criticised by the left in life – and the same is true in death.
Moreover, Barry Humphries celebrated his bad behaviour – both when on this earth and in the pre-mortem obituaries he wrote about himself in advance of his “passing” (which used to be called death). Yet Jenna Price seems unaware of this. Perhaps she should have checked with her beloved spouse. Can You Bear It?
NEW INSIDERS PANELLIST TOM CROWLEY CALLS STAGE 3 TAX CUTS “MAD”
Wasn’t it great to see some new, fresh talent on the (increasingly boring) ABC TV Insiders program on Sunday 23 April? One problem is that there is rarely any debate on the panel as journalists tend to agree with each other while the presenter concurs with them. Or is it the other way around?
But Media Watch Dog digresses. The brand new talent was young Tom Crowley. This is how he was introduced by presenter David Speers:
David Speers: Tom – and I should point out, you’re former Treasury, former Grattan Institute. You’ve looked at a lot of these, sort of, arguments over the years.
This sort of argument turned on what economic reforms the Albanese Labor government could take in the forthcoming budget – to be delivered by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on 9 May. This what Comrade Crowley had to say:
Tom Crowley: I mean, I think, you know, the government may never be as popular as it is now. The opposition may never be as weak. And you’ve got a context, I think, with cost of living, where people may be, sort of, more willing to, you know, accept the fact that you’ve got to take some big steps. So, yeah, I think so. I think Stage 3 [tax cuts] is just a symptom of where we’re at with this conversation. Because, I mean, you know, I know it’s sort of a hackneyed thing to talk about it. But the tax cuts are mad. No treasurer in their right mind would design them right now, if they didn’t exist, for the current economic climate –
David Speers: With inflation where it is.
Tom Crowley: – with inflation where it is. Of course not. But we’re stuck with it.
How’s that for sophisticated economic analysis? – born of experience gained at Treasury and the Melbourne-based Grattan Institute (which seems to prefer revenue collection to expenditure reductions). According to your man Crowley, the Stage 3 tax cuts – which have been legislated and are supported by both the Labor government and the Coalition opposition – are just MAD.
Now, let’s hear from former Treasury secretary Ken Henry – who is much beloved by ABC and Grattan Institute types. Interviewed by Laura (“Yes I once accused Scott Morrison’s government of ideological bastardry”) Tingle on ABC TV’s 7.30 program on 22 March, your man Henry had this to say:
Ken Henry: …I wouldn’t change them…. As far as I’m concerned, I’d leave them as they are. They’ve already been legislated. They are consistent in their framing with what we recommended in our tax review [commonly called the Henry Tax Review], published 12 years ago. It’s not in the personal income tax system where the effort has to be made. It’s in the other components of the tax system where the effort has to be made to raise more revenue.
Clearly Ken Henry understands the role of the Stage 3 tax cuts in providing incentive and mitigating the effects of bracket creep as inflation pushes wage and salary earners into higher tax brackets due to inflation. However, according to Tom Crowley – who was not challenged by David Speers – the likes of the highly competent Henry are just, well, bonkers. Can You Bear It?
[Er, not really – now that you have asked. I note that Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark is an outspoken proponent of transparency. Except, er, for the fact that Insiders’ panellists Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy were never required to tell viewers that they were recommended to their current senior positions at the Guardian Australia by Malcolm Turnbull. See MWD passim ad nauseam. However, no one mentioned during Tom Crowley’s inaugural Insiders performance that he is currently employed at The Daily Aus which was founded in 2017 by Sam Koslowski and Zara Seidler (a former staffer for once-upon-a-time Independent MP Kerryn Phelps). It is edited by Billi FitzSimons (who previously worked at Mia Freedman’s Mamamia). It’s a left-of-centre online news service but Comrades Speers and Clark did not disclose this. Rather the impression was given that Comrade Crowley may be in-between jobs. As if Insiders needed yet another left-of-centre panellist. – MWD Editor]
NINE’S SHANE WRIGHT THROWS THE SWITCH TO HYPERBOLE – BUT REALLY NEEDS A HANDS-ON SUB-EDITOR
While on the topic of Insiders, did anyone read the analysis piece by Sydney Morning Herald reporter Shane Wright on 21 April? As Media Watch Dog readers know, Shane (“Coal circa 2023 is like candlesticks circa 1883”) Wright is an occasional Insiders panellist. This is what your man Wright had to say about the Reserve Bank governor – and all his works and all his pomps – in his Nine newspapers column:
The problems of the Reserve Bank, and the economic pain facing millions of Australians, is not all the fault of Phil Lowe. The bank governor has been attacked from the left, right and centre for more than a year. It’s gone far beyond interest rate settings. If you lost two bob down the back of the couch, Lowe was to blame. He was the reason the TV was on the blink, he caused your team to lose at the weekend and that strange limp afflicting your dog probably had something to do with the quietly spoken central banker.
Talk about an overstatement – with references to two bob down the back of the couch (despite the fact that the 2 shillings coin went out of circulation six decades ago), a bung TV set, failure at sport, a limping dog and so on. Surely one bit of hyperbole would have been enough. However, at least there was no reference to coal or candle sticks. Your man Wright needs an editor with (in old-fashioned terminology) a sharp blue pencil to cancel such verbal sludge. In the meantime, the question arises – Can You Bear It?
NIKI SAVVA USES THE “R” WORD IN ANTI-PETER DUTTON RANT
Wasn’t it great to see Niki (“Alas, I’ve only really got one topic”) Savva back in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 27 April? Her column was titled “Next to Albanese, Dutton is Labor’s greatest asset”.
According to Media Watch Dog’s count, this was her third Nine column for the year. The previous ones were titled “Dutton risks being blamed if the Voice fails or deemed irrelevant if it succeeds” (2 March) and “Dutton submerged like a Virginia class sub as periscope turns to Aston” (30 March). In other words, three out of three columns bagging the Opposition leader.
It’s far too early to make any considered analysis as to whether the proposed referendum on the Voice will succeed or fail when Australians vote about changing the Constitution sometime later this year. However, the Yes case will not be enhanced if it abuses or ridicules No supporters. The reverse is also true.
Niki Savva is a strong advocate for Yes. In her latest rant against Opposition leader Peter Dutton, she referred to unnamed No supporters as “maddies”. And Ms Savva made this claim:
While it is not true to say that every Australian who votes No in the Voice referendum is a racist, you can bet your bottom dollar that every racist will vote No.
In MWD’s view, it is not helpful to the Yes case if its advocates seek to shame their opponents by associating them in any sense with racism – without evidence. It would seem that Niki Savva is so desperate to see Peter Dutton’s No campaign fail – that she is blind to the fact that her words are counter-productive to the Yes cause. Can You Bear It?
PHILLIP ADAMS (1939- ) ON BARRY HUMPHRIES (1934-2023)
2018: The ABC’s Man-In-Black Concurs With Hannah Gadsby (Who, In Humphries’ Terminology, Identifies As A Comedian) That Barry Is “An Irrelevant, Inhumane Dick Biscuit”
Having known Barry for 60 years,worked with him from time to time and watched him evolve it is my sad duty to agree with Hanna …a genius,but
— Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams_1) July 22, 2018
2023: The ABC’s Man-In-Black Acknowledges Barry As The “Cleverest Person” He Has Ever Known – Without Withdrawing The “Dick Biscuit” Reference
Vale Barry Humphries …I’ve known you since 1956 and we did lots of things together- including three significant films – parting company because of politics differences . But I still regard you as the cleverest person I’ve ever known
— Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams_1) April 22, 2023
Verily, A Great Media U-turn of Our Time
THE ABC: THE AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF (BAD) COMEDY STARRING (AGAIN) CHARLIE PICKERING
It was a slog to get to the end of the latest The Weekly hosted by Charlie Pickering. The highlight of the episode was, as usual, the segment not featuring Pickering – an interview with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese by comedian Rhys Nicholson. Nicholson’s brief appearances on the program serve as a reminder of why the ABC is so dull – Nicholson is one of the best comedians in Australia, yet instead of having his own hosting gig, he makes short appearances on a long-running show hosted by someone who first appeared on the ABC (on Triple J) in 2002.
By the way, if The Weekly isn’t enough Pickering for you, he is also inflicted on ABC Radio Melbourne Friday Breakfast listeners as the program’s weekly host.
After the interview with the prime minister, The Weekly went to its segment called “The Australian Bureau of Cancellations”. This is when Pickering takes a prop file on a person or organisation out of a box labelled “in”, makes some jokes, puts a stamp on the files that say “cancelled” and puts them in a box labelled “out”.
Here are some jokes featured this time:
When discussing Pope Francis gifting two shards of wood from the cross it is believed that Jesus Christ was crucified on, Pickering said: “Nailed it”. Get it? Pickering and writers, if writers there are, once again proving their commitment to the laziest joke possible.
In a segment about “Cancelling the Dictionary”, Pickering said: “You used to be a best-seller like Harry Potter, but now you are irrelevant like whoever wrote Harry Potter”. This “joke” is in reference to Harry Potter author J.K Rowling. Despite an attempted boycott due to the author’s personal politics and comments about transgenderism, a video game based on J.K Rowling’s series was the biggest launch in history for the studio and generated over $850 million in sales revenue. Additionally, Rowling is an executive producer on an upcoming series based on her books. Hardly irrelevant – as Pickering asserted.
Pickering moves on to Barry Humphries which gets a groan from the audience. This is, surprisingly, a somewhat positive tribute to Barry Humphries, cancelling him for “not leaving even one of his amazing creations behind to keep us entertained”. Pickering assures viewers that he is not cancelling Humphries for his controversial comments in his later years. Although this is the ABC so, of course, Pickering has to devote time to clarifying that he thinks Barry’s comments were very bad. He then says: “But nobody is as bad as their worst act except of course for Hitler. And for very different reasons Trevor Chappell. And apparently George Calombaris”. How funny is that?
MARK HUMPHRIES REMEMBERS LABOR IS IN GOVERNMENT
Self-described Satirist Mark Humphries returned to ABC TV’s 7:30 on the evening of 27 April. Avid readers will recall that the 30 March 7:30 Humphries’ sketch was disappeared by the ABC, not being made available on iview or any of the ABC social media pages. The lost item, which satirised advertisements for gambling companies, has still not reappeared.
For his latest attempt at satire, Comrade Humphries appears to have consulted a newspaper and learned that Federal Labor is now in government. After a lengthy series of acts which either steered clear of politics or focused on the Coalition, Humphries finally found the time to poke fun at the Albanese Labor government.
As is invariably the case when ABC comedians mock Labor, the criticism came from the left. Specifically, the sketch focused on the federal government’s apparent reluctance to increase JobSeeker payments.
Despite the unusual choice of target, the sketch featured many of the usual features of your man Humphries’ work. It featured a fake government ad, Humphries playing a smarmy government minister and a lack of laughs from Jackie’s (male) co-owner.
AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST CENSOR (aka THE ABC)
The ABC led the media pile-on against the late Cardinal George Pell. The principal taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s attack dogs were Louise Milligan and Sarah Ferguson plus David Marr who made considerable commentary about the issue on ABC outlets – but there were many more. In his book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-on & Collective Guilt (Connor Court, 2021) Gerard Henderson named some 120 Australian journalists who led the pile-on. Around 50 were ABC employees.
A year and a half after the publication of Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-on & Collective Guilt, not one of the journalists named had contradicted any reference about them in Henderson’s book – including the 50 ABC presenters, producers and contributors cited.
Moreover, Louise Milligan – whose book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) was a major player in the media pile-on following her 7.30 program in 2016 – refused to answer any questions about her book or acknowledge any errors. Instead of responding to Henderson’s correspondence, Milligan sought the protection of her publisher Louise Adler. Adler then emailed Henderson – effectively telling him to shut-up. The lack of response from Louise Milligan to genuine enquiries about the scholarship in Cardinal was an act of intellectual cowardice.
This lack of courage is reflected in the response of the ABC – or, rather, the lack of response – to the three books published after George Pell was acquitted of historical child sexual abuse by a unanimous judgment, 7-Zip, of the High Court of Australia in a single judgment. A rare event in the history of criminal law in Australia.
Three books have been written about the Pell Case since the decision of the High Court in George Pell v The Queen on 8 April 2020 Namely:
۰ Keith Windschuttle – The Persecution of George Pell (Quadrant Books) first published in November 2020.
۰ Frank Brennan – Observations on the Pell Proceedings (Connor Court) first published in April 2021.
۰ Gerard Henderson – Cardinal Pell, the Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt – first published in November 2021.
The ABC has gone into denial about all three books – as if they were never published.
Keith Windschuttle received one interview by Andrew West on ABC Radio National’s The Religion & Ethics Report on 17 February 2021. It was a combative – but fair – encounter. However, it led to much criticism by sections of ABC management, ABC staff and ABC listeners. Windschuttle received no other interview – or even a mention – on any ABC television, radio or online outlets.
Following the controversy over the fact that Windschuttle was interviewed on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster about his book on Cardinal Pell, Frank Brennan’s book on the Pell Case was completely censored by the ABC – and Gerard Henderson’s book on the Pell Case was also completely censored by the ABC.
Gerard Henderson wrote to David Anderson, the ABC’s managing director and editor-in-chief, about the cancelling involved in the ABC’s treatment of the three books. The letter was sent to Mr Anderson’s private email account on 15 December 2021. He did not reply. A follow-up email was forwarded on 12 January 2022 – again there was no reply. In short – despite the fact that the ABC is a member of the Right to Know Coalition – Mr Anderson went into No Comment mode.
Gerard Henderson has discussed this matter with a few ABC journalists. Some simply refuse to address the issue. But there have been some responses:
۰ An ABC journalist told Henderson that his book was excellent but it would be impossible to have it discussed on the ABC in view of the criticism that would be vented by ABC management, journalists and audiences alike.
۰ Another ABC journalist said that Henderson’s book was important but did not see how it would fit into any three-hour daily program on a prominent ABC metropolitan radio program. When asked whether the same was true of all 60 ABC radio stations – there was no reply.
۰ The third ABC journalist conceded that it was a matter of real concern that the ABC had ignored all three books on the Pell Case and indicated that the matter was being looked into. But added that the situation was “tricky” – presumably because any mention of any of the Pell Case books would be opposed by sections of ABC management and ABC journalists alike.
The ABC has two free-to-air television channels which cover news and current affairs – which, at times, conduct interviews with authors and discuss books. Moreover, the ABC has some 60 radio stations throughout Australia with ample time to discuss books and interview authors. And the ABC has a news website – ABC Online – which discusses news and current affairs, including publications.
Keith Windschuttle, Frank Brennan and Gerard Henderson are all published authors of numerous books. Keith Windschuttle is a one-time ABC board member. Frank Brennan has appeared widely on ABC programs over the years. And Gerard Henderson had a regular slot on ABC Radio National for over a decade and was a panellist on the ABC TV Insiders program for 17 years. In 1994, he wrote and presented a Four Corners program on Bob Hawke. Gerard Henderson’s previous book, Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man (MUP, 2015), was widely covered on the ABC – including in such programs as ABC TV News Breakfast, Lateline and Late Night Live.
The refusal of any ABC presenter (with the one-time only exception of Andrew West) to even discuss the trio of books on the Pell Case demonstrates that the ABC is into censorship. Even with respect to cancelling discussion on one of the most important cases in Australian criminal law. In which, by the way, one of the High Court judges in George Pell v The Queen, (Hon. Virginia Bell) was a one-time ABC journalist and presenter of ABC’s Radio National’s Late Night Live program.
Leaving aside the fact that the ABC led the pile-on against the late Cardinal Pell, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s action in cancelling discussion of the Pell Case – even after the High Court in its 7-Zip judgment held that it “was evident that there is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted” – has other consequences. It is a rare occasion that the High Court uses the word “innocent” when overturning a criminal conviction. In this case, the High Court quoted from the words of Justice William Deane in his dissenting statement in the Lindy Chamberlain Case (Chamberlain’s conviction was subsequently overturned and Justice Deane’s dissent was validated).
In particular, the ABC’s cancelling of discussion on the Pell Case has avoided any proper analysis of the monumental failure of the Victorian legal system in this instance – from Victoria Police to the Magistrates’ Court, to Victoria’s two most senior judges at the time (who brought down a majority decision in the Victorian Court of Appeal where Justice Mark Weinberg dissented). And then there was the incompetence of the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions – who could not explain how the alleged crime could have taken place.
The Victorian DPP’s abject failure in this instance is illustrated by the fact that the Melbourne Law School’s Professor Jeremy Gans, one of Australia’s most highly regarded criminal law legal academics, put out a Twitter thread shortly before Chief Justice Kiefel announced the High Court’s decision. He commented that by the second day of the hearings every High Court judge had asked the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC “incredibly detailed questions about the evidence, especially the various ‘alibi’ and ‘timing’ witnesses”. Professor Gans added: “They [the High Court judges] were really on top of the factual details…way more than…Judd.” This was a devastating criticism of the Victorian DPP, whose role was to present the case for the prosecution to the High Court.
On account of the ABC’s decision to refrain from any discussion on the books about the Pell Case, there has been scant examination of the failure of the Victorian legal system – as demonstrated by the High Court’s unanimous decision in George Pell v The Queen. In this sense, the ABC has failed the taxpayers who fund it.
BARRY HUMPHRIES, THE MELBOURNE COMEDY FESTIVAL & THE GUARDIAN/ABC AXIS
It was yet another example of the Guardian/ABC Axis in operation. During the Newspapers segment of ABC TV’s News Breakfast on Monday 24 April, presenters Madeleine Morris and Michael Rowland interviewed Guardian journalist Josh Taylor. He is one of many comrades at the avowedly left-wing newspaper who have regular slots on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. The (comradely) list includes Lenore Taylor, Katharine Murphy, Amy Remeikis, Henry Belot, Josh Taylor, Van Badham, Mike Bowers, Bridie Jabour and Sarah Martin.
At the end of the segment, discussion turned to the death at the weekend of Barry Humphries (1934-2023). Humphries was a brilliant comedian and an accomplished writer, actor and artist, among his other considerable talents. Taylor came to the discussion not to praise Humphries but downplay his contribution to Western society – Humphries’ impact extended beyond Australia and New Zealand to Britain and North America. Initially Taylor spoke about the “wrap around for most of the tabloids” concerning Humphries’ death and the likelihood that “there’ll be calls for state funerals”.
When Rowland raised the decision of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2019 to junk the annual Barry Award for the best performance “based on comments Barry Humphries made about transgender people about five years ago”, Josh Taylor responded – while sneering: “Yeah, I don’t think that his comments were very useful.” He added that Humphries “was a product of his time”. That’s all.
Taylor went on to make the (quite irrelevant) point that “a lot of the people who are now mourning his loss are the same people who are targeting drag queens at the moment”. Rowland responded: “That’s a very good point, Josh.”
In fact, Taylor’s comment was facile. Humphries’ Edna Everage character was not drag. Moreover, the contemporary controversy about drag queens centres on their performances in front of young children in some libraries and schools – Media Watch Dog is not aware of any criticism of drag queens performing before audiences in theatres or on television (outside of children’s programs).
Clearly Taylor supports the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s cancelling of the Barry Award. Speaking after Humphries’ death, the festival’s director Susan Provan told the ABC that “many in our industry were baffled by his comments that lacked empathy”.
Now that’s funny – comedians parading their empathy. Unlike so much of what passes for humour at the Melbourne Comedy Festival with performances by so many individuals who – in Humphries’ words – identify as comedians. Barry Humphries was disowned by the Melbourne Comedy Festival not only because he was a conservative but on account of his artistic and commercial success.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is funded by taxpayers and ratepayers. And its performances are shown on the taxpayer funded ABC. Humphries, on the other hand, was able to get audiences to buy tickets to his performances for around seven decades – and his highly successful TV shows were not funded by taxpayers.
No member of the oh-so-serious comrades at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival are ever likely to achieve Humphries’ enormous national and international achievements. The Barry Award is gone – but Barry Humphries’ body of work will never be silenced. This despite his memory being bagged by The Guardian/ABC Axis on ABC TV News Breakfast.
[I note that Barry Humphries’ death was appropriately recognised by such ABC programs as RN Breakfast and 7.30 – MWD Editor.]
QUELLE SURPRISE! ANONYMOUS ABC SOURCES ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE ABC IS A BORING LEFT-WING BROADCASTER WHICH IS RAPIDLY LOSING AUDIENCE SHARE
Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch commenced in 1988 – before the taxpayer funded entity of the same name – and it metamorphosed into Media Watch Dog in 2009. For all this time – and ever before it – he has been banging on about how the ABC is a staff collective (or soviet) which is dominated by the left.
It appears that, in the wake of its falling ratings, ABC management has woken to the fact that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone that has been abandoned by many of its traditional viewers/listeners without replacing them with younger types. Indeed, even Triple J – aimed at youth – is losing listeners at a rapid rate.
As The Australian reported in recent weeks, ABC management has established an internal advisory group to report on how to win back the tens of thousands of listeners who have deserted ABC Radio. In The Australian’s “Media” section on 24 April, James Madden wrote:e
One factor being considered by the nine-person advisory group…is the failure to recruit fresh talent from outside the taxpayer-funded giant, which has left its airwaves dominated by “ABC lifers”, according to a well-placed source. “Too many of our hosts sound the same, and offer the same views on the same topics,” another insider told The Australian. “They have not read their audiences … certainly not in radio, and not in TV either. You look at every piece of their editorial output – they have gone too Left, too woke, too fast. Given that the majority of the ABC’s listeners and viewers are over 50 these days, that hasn’t played that well among the audience. Unless you evolve with your audience, you’re going to be left behind.”
Quelle Surprise! It appears that – after only half a century – ABC sources have come out of a state of denial and acknowledged (privately at least) that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has a problem unrelated to the level of government finance.
It’s not clear that the ABC can recover its lost audiences. Nor that ABC management can diminish the fashionable/leftist ideology that pervades the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – particularly in its inner-city studios in Sydney and Melbourne, down the road from Newtown and Fitzroy North respectively.
The task, if attempted properly, will be a difficult one – as is exemplified in this issue’s “Documentation” segment which deals with the ABC’s cancellation, or censorship, of three books on the High Court’s unanimous decision in George Pell v The Queen.
* * * *
Until next time.
* * * *