GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 638
9 June 2023
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NINE AND THE ABC MISS THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE NEWS LEAD
Talk about missing the lead, to use journalism-speak.
This week the principal story in Australian politics turned on whether Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher misled the Senate in June 2021 when she said that she had no advance knowledge that an alleged rape had taken place in Parliament House until the matter was revealed on Network Ten’s The Project.
The story has been raised in The Australian, Sky News, Network Seven and The Daily Mail – and finally took off today. But in today’s Nine newspapers, David Crowe, chief political correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, devoted his column to the Morrison government’s administration of the Community Health and Hospitals Program – but provided no evidence that any grant under the program was unworthy. Oh yes, your man Crowe also made reference to Keanu Reeves’ role in the blockbuster movie Speed. Really.
Nine was not the only media outlet to miss the story. It was ignored by ABC TV’s 7.30 last night. Moreover, this morning ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Hamish Macdonald asked Opposition frontbencher Anne Ruston on some six occasions about whether there were any questions that Senator Gallagher had to answer. Somewhat naïve, don’t you think?
Your man Macdonald seemed unaware that the Finance Minister had declined to answer questions about the issue during the previous 24 hours. The matter was cleared up when news.com.au’s political editor Samantha Maiden appeared with David Speers on RN Breakfast’s political forum after the Macdonald/Ruston interview. Let’s go the transcript:
Hamish Macdonald: What is the question for Katy Gallagher? The Prime Minister says he’s got complete confidence in the Finance Minister.
Samantha Maiden: Well, it’s interesting that you just had Anne Ruston on talking about who knew what and when, because Anne Ruston actually knows a fair bit about what Katy Gallagher did and didn’t know. And the reason is that because in June of 2021, when there was that confrontation in Senate Estimates … where basically Linda Reynolds said: “I know where this started”.
And Penny Wong said “excuse me”. And then Katy Gallagher said, “how dare you, no one had any knowledge”. After that confrontation, they repaired to Anne Ruston’s office. And in that private office, sitting around a room, Linda Reynolds, Anne Ruston, Katy Gallagher, Penny Wong. Basically Linda said that she was tipped off that this was going to occur before the story broke. Now my understanding has always been that in that meeting, Katy Gallagher actually indicated to Linda Reynolds and Anne Ruston that she had had some pre-knowledge, but that she didn’t know the names. She didn’t know the details.
Now after that meeting, they walked out and Linda Reynolds agreed to read a prepared statement, where she carefully worded, essentially suggested that Penny and Katy Gallagher didn’t know names.
Now, the [recently released] text messages now suggest that what was said in Parliament was untrue. And that is the question that Katy Gallagher has to answer, because Katy Gallagher has told parliament: “How dare you, no one had any knowledge”. Now there does seem to be a prima facie case that she has misled parliament.
I am shocked a little bit, to be honest, at Anne Ruston saying “all she needs to do is come forward and say who knew what and when and this will all go away”. If she [Senator Gallagher] has misled parliament, that’s a serious thing.
This story has now been around for more than 24 hours. And Katy Gallagher has been silent and she has not corrected the record. She needs at the very least to provide an explanation to Parliament. This is a serious matter.
Media Watch Dog has absolutely no idea as to what are the facts in this case. But MWD does know that had a Coalition minister in the Morrison government been involved in such a controversy, ABC interviewers would have taken a more formidable stance than that adopted by Hamish Macdonald this morning. And that Nine columnists would have regarded the matter as more important than the worthiness of a cancer telehealth service in Gladstone – which currently interests David Crowe.
INSIDERS’ PRESENTER SPEERS NEGLECTS TO RAISE THE ISSUE OF THE GREENS (ALLEGED) RACISM IN CANBERRA
Just when it seemed that racism was of special concern to the ABC TV Insiders’ program – suddenly the issue was forgotten, for 15 minutes or so.
Look at it this way. On 28 May, Dan Bourchier was on the Insiders’ couch. Your man Bourchier identifies as Indigenous and is the ABC’s correspondent for the Voice referendum – which will take place before the end of the year.
And so it came to pass that the ABC’s Bourchier accused the ABC of racism on the ABC. How about that? In an exchange with Insiders presenter David Speers, Bourchier referred to “what happens within the ABC with respect to racism” – stating that he had experienced racism at the ABC. The exchange continued:
David Speers: [interjecting] You’re talking about racism?
Dan Bourchier: Yeah, yeah.
David Speers: In the organisation?
Dan Bourchier: Well, yeah, when I come on this program and am dismissed as your “diversity pick” or your “box ticker”. You know, that comes from within our organisation, and then that sends a message that that type of language is normal. And it’s not. It’s unacceptable.
David Speers: It is unacceptable. And it’s not why you’re here [laughing] for the record. We love your [inaudible].
Your man Bourchier did not name any ABC employee who had exhibited racist behaviour towards him. Consequently, all ABC employees are tarnished with the “racist” label since no employees are excluded.
The following Insiders program – on 4 June – saw David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers interview Brisbane-based Greens housing spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather – the member for Griffith. It was generally a soft, and relatively interruption-free, interview. However, Speersy did ask a few challenging questions about Chandler-Mather’s attitude to housing developments – commercial and social alike – in his well-off Brisbane electorate.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes is perhaps best remembered for the clue he took from the dog which did not bark. What was significant about the Speers/Chandler-Mather interview turned on the issue which Speersy did not raise during the 15-minutes or so interview.
On 28 May, former Greens and now Independent senator Lidia Thorpe was the guest on Insiders. Senator Thorpe told the Insiders audience: “I’ve experienced racism all my life in every workplace, and the Greens were no different.” The senator added that she would lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging that she was subjected to racism as a member of the Greens party in Parliament House.
Here was an opportunity for the Insiders’ presenter to ask the Greens MP Chandler-Mather about his former Greens colleague’s claim that the Greens are a racist party and that she had experienced racism from Greens parliamentarians in Canberra. But David Speers chickened out and did not raise the issue. Can you imagine Comrade Speers avoiding such a topic if a former Liberal Party MP had accused another Liberal Party MP of racism? Not on your nelly. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?
NINE’S OSMAN FARUQI THROWS THE SWITCH TO CONFUSION ABOUT THE VICTORIA CROSS
While on the topic of the Insiders program that aired on 4 June, this is what leftist panellist (and one-time Greens candidate) Osman Faruqi had to say concerning whether Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith should lose his VC following allegations – and the finding of the Federal Court in the first instance – about his conduct while on active service in Afghanistan. By the way, Comrade Faruqi is currently the culture news editor of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Let’s go to the transcript:
Osman Faruqi: The Victoria Cross component is also a really interesting one. Because I’m not sure people are aware of how political that process is. There’s been five Victoria Cross recipients; four of those have been soldiers who served in Afghanistan. And even when the debate was being had around Ben Roberts-Smith potentially being awarded one – the Sun-Herald back in 2010 reported that so many senior military figures were refusing to sign statements supporting him for – for that – uh, for that award. There is a political dimension to when governments choose to award these things, who they are awarded to –
Samantha Maiden: [interjecting] People have known – this is another thing though….
What a load of absolute tosh – which was not corrected by Insiders’ presenter David Speers. Four members of the Australian Defence Force were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in Afghanistan, one of whom was killed in action. The other surviving VC winner is Keith Payne who was presented with his VC by the Queen in 1970 for gallantry in Vietnam.
In fact, 101 Australians have been awarded the Imperial Victoria Cross or its successor the Victoria Cross of Australia. Moreover, Faruqi is ignorant of the fact that governments do not award military honours – they are recommended to the Governor-General by the Minister for Defence who acts on the advice of the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (CDF).
In other words, there is no “political dimension” to the awards of VCs and the like. Comrade Faruqi just made this up. Can You Bear It?
[No. Not really – now that you ask. I note that the leftist Faruqi gets agitated at the thought of the monarchy and gallantry awards named after Queen Victoria and the like. I recall that he said this on Insiders on 18 September 2022 – just a few days before Queen Elizabeth’s funeral:
Look we’ve been talking about how much Australians are into, or not into, the news about the Queen. I’d be really surprised to see big numbers for the funeral on Monday. I think most people are far less into this than the media – that includes all of us.
Your man Faruqi’s crystal-ball assessment was hopelessly wrong. The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth reported on 23 September 2022 that the Queen’s funeral had 3.9 million viewers in Australia – more than an AFL or NRL grand final. MWD Editor.]
TEN’S HAMISH MACDONALD ENTERS THE CONFUSION ZONE ABOUT THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Isn’t it great to hear Hamish Macdonald, a presenter on Ten’s The Project, back on Radio National Breakfast filling in for Patricia Karvelas?
On 8 June, your man Macdonald interviewed Marianne Williamson who has announced her intention to contest the forthcoming Democrat primaries against the incumbent President Joe Biden. Let’s go to the transcript towards the end of the interview:
Hamish Macdonald: Could Trump win again, that’s really the question?
Marianne Williamson: Well listen, it’s a democracy. It’s no different than in your country, the person who gets the most votes is who’s going to win. So obviously, you know, our politics, like yours, is not really predictable. You wait and see. And you see who gets the most votes. Could he win? Absolutely he [Trump] could win, he won once before.
Hamish Macdonald: I suppose that’s the curious thing about American politics. You don’t actually need the most votes. I don’t think he got them the first time and he definitely didn’t get the most votes the second time…
Not so. The US president is elected by the Electoral College not by the popular vote. The Electoral College is made up of delegates from individual states in accordance with the population. A party that wins a State takes all the votes of that State to the Electoral College in support of its candidate – i.e. Biden or Trump. The small states of Maine and Nebraska have a slightly different electoral system.
In 2016, Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. In 2020, Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the Electoral College. That’s the way the system works. The total votes received by candidates across the US has no electoral relevance.
Contrary to your man Macdonald’s claim, there is nothing “curious” about such a system. In Australia with quite a different electoral system, it’s possible for the party which scores the most votes to lose in an election. Such a fate befell Labor’s Kim Beazley in 1998 and probably Labor’s Bert Evatt in 1954. Both Labor leaders won a majority of votes but not a majority of electorates – and, consequently, did not attain a majority of seats in the House of Representatives to form a government.
So there you have it. Hamish Macdonald – one of Australia’s leading journalists – appears not to know how the US’s presidential electoral system works. Can You Bear It?
NINE’S CBD COLUMN SNEERS AT A BOOK BY LIBERALS BUT NOT A SELF-SERVING TOME ABOUT INDEPENDENTS INTRODUCED BY LA TINGLE
In the early hours of each weekday morning, four newspapers arrive with a loud bang on the roof of the late Jackie’s kennel. Now, alas, vacant. In time, Media Watch Dog’s attention is drawn to the CBD column in the Sydney Morning Herald. What’s so interesting about Nine’s CBD column which also appears in The Age, is that it contains virtually no news or even comment on the goings-on in the Central Business Districts of Sydney or Melbourne.
There are exceptions, of course. MWD was moved by CBD’s sensitive reference on 23 May to the death of Jackie in a segment called “Dog Days”. CBD correctly predicted that Jackie, like her immediate predecessor Nancy, would make some appearances in MWD – from the Other Side – with a little help from the American TV clairvoyant John Edward. Re which see this issue’s inaugural “Dame Jackie’s Conversion Watch” segment.
But MWD digresses. In recent times, CBD – currently compiled by Kishor Napier-Raman (he of what Paul Keating used to call “The Hyphenated Name Set”) and Noel Towell (who appears to have an honourable interest in canines, both the living and the dead) – has been focused on books. Yes, books.
On 6 June, in a piece called “Post Chapters”, CBD sneered at the recently published edited collection Dignity and Prosperity: The Future of Liberal Australia (Connor Court, 2023). The book, edited by former PM John Howard staffer David Stevens, contains chapters on what it calls Liberal Australia by the likes of John Howard, Georgina Downer, John Anderson, Alexander Downer and Judith Sloan. An afterword is written by Tony Abbott which is said by CBD to demonstrate that the Liberal Party has become “intellectually moribund”. That’s abuse posing as analysis.
Throwing the switch to smear [Could this have been written by the Hyphenated Name Set guy? – MWD Editor], CBD referred to the contributors as “ageing party has-beens”. MWD understands that such contributors as Ms Downer are around the same age as some Nine editors – but there you go. Also, CBD is content to ridicule the successful Howard government – despite the fact that it lasted for four terms – only one less than the successful Hawke/Keating government.
MWD notes that CBD did not bother to have a laugh at the oh-so-worthy and somewhat dull The Indi Way (Scribe, 2023), which contains an introduction by Laura Tingle who writes a weekly column in Nine’s Australian Financial Review – and could be classified as an obvious shortlist finalist for any Most Boring Book of the Year Award. It contains around 30 chapters about how an independent won and retained the federal seat of Indi. Yawn. This was assessed in MWD Issue 635.
So there you have it. A book – the first chapter of which is written by Australia’s second longest-serving prime minister (behind Robert Menzies), is mocked by CBD because it contains an afterword by former prime minister Tony Abbott. But it’s a case of nothing-to-mock-here with The Indi Way – which contains an introduction by Laura (“The Morrison Government was replete with ideological bastardry”) Tingle. Can You Bear It?
DAN ZIFFER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT RENEWABLE ENERGY IS EXPENSIVE TO BUILD AND TRANSPORT – AND THAT ELECTRICITY PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO RISE
Gerard Henderson, the (male) co-owner of the recently departed Jackie (2016-2023) – Dip Wellness The Gunnedah Institute, remembers a time when humans and animals died. Now, apparently, they just “pass”. And so it came to pass that the great Jackie passed. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Jackie will continue to assist Media Watch Dog – albeit from what is now termed “The Other Side”, to where the passed go.
As with the late and much-lamented Nancy (2004-2017), Jackie will keep in touch with MWD per courtesy of the American psychic, John Edward. As avid readers know, your man Edward gets on remarkably well with the dead – but not so much with the living. In any event, he has agreed to pass messages from Jackie to Hendo for reportage in MWD.
That’s good news. And there’s more. Jackie was delighted to learn, from The Other Side, that her fave Marxist – one-time New Zealand Labour prime minister Jacinda Ardern – has been gonged by her comrades in the New Zealand Labour government and will now be known as “Dame Jacinda”. Jackie reckons that, if becoming a dame is good enough for the one-time republican Ardern, then it’s good enough for a republican canine like her. So, being in contact with the deceased monarchs of Britain, Jackie has also arranged to be gonged and will grace the pages of MWD as Dame Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute). [Gee, I hope it wasn’t that swine Henry VIII – who cut off sheilas’ heads when he wasn’t dissolving the monasteries – who arranged Dame Jackie’s gong. – MWD Editor.]
Dame Jackie has volunteered to oversee and report on political and other conversions – of the kind which saw Comrade Ardern go from being President of the International Union of Socialist Youth to becoming a Dame of the Realm.
Now, thanks to Dame Jackie, MWD’s attention has been drawn to the apparent conversion of ABC economics editor Dan Ziffer (who was narrowly defeated by Laura Tingle in his attempt to be elected as a staff representative on the ABC board) to the view that renewable energy is unreliable and expensive.
For some time now, your man Ziffer and his ABC comrades have been cheering on Australia’s (intended) embrace of net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. He’s welcomed the closure of emissions-producing energy outlets – and cheered on such China-made renewables as solar panels and bird-murdering wind turbines. Along with cheering on the slow-moving Snowy 2.0 hydro scheme, much beloved by Malcolm Turnbull.
However, on ABC TV’s News Breakfast program on 6 June, Comrade Ziffer appears to have had a “Paul on the Road to Damascus” conversion. Let’s go to the transcript:
Lisa Millar: Let’s move on to the front of The Australian, we talk a lot about power bills and energy prices.
Dan Ziffer: We do, and you can expect them to keep rising. …But what we’re talking about here is the transition from a system that’s been based on coal-fired power stations – what we call this kind of base level of power coming out. To renewables that go up and down over time. So, when the sun is shining, we have too much energy in the middle of the day, and we need more of it in the evening. So, we need to build a lot of batteries…. So, what we’re trying to avoid here is the “Dimery” of the overall system, is that we’re not essentially building enough of this infrastructure. The issue is that it’s really expensive. So, we have to do it. And it’s really expensive….
And then you’ve got to connect it [renewables] into the national grid. There’s a fantastic part of Victoria…where they’ve got a ton of renewable energy, a ton of farms [wind and solar], and they don’t have the bits to connect it into the national grid sufficiently. So, they’re doing that, but very controversial, very difficult, very expensive. So as a result, over time, over the next kind of coming years, we are going to see that flow into power bills, as we move to a really different type of electrical network.
Talk about a conversion. Comrade Ziffer told ABC TV viewers (if viewers there were) that the infrastructure for renewables is very expensive – as is the connection of renewables to the national grid.
Dan Ziffer’s conversion scores 81/2 out of 10 – as judged by Dame Jackie.
TUCKER CARLSON EMBRACES THE PARANOID STYLE IN AMERICAN POLITICS
On the morning of Wednesday 7 June (Australian time) former Fox News host Tucker Carlson launched his new Twitter-based opinion program, the appropriately titled Tucker on Twitter. This marked Carlson’s first return to the (virtual) airwaves, following his unexpected firing by Fox News on 24 April 2023. The debut episode consisted entirely of a 10-minute monologue by Tucker – though apparently other segments, including interviews, will be added to the format later.
The video currently boasts over 100 million views on Twitter, thanks in part to it being shared by Twitter owner Elon Musk. It is unclear how many of those viewers stuck around to watch the whole video, and how many would have seen only a few seconds as they scrolled through their Twitter feed.
The program began with a discussion of the recent partial destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in Russian-occupied Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, Ukraine has placed the blame for the dam’s destruction on Russia, while Russia in turn has accused Ukraine. Also, unsurprisingly Tucker, who has been highly critical of the Ukrainian government, chooses to place the blame on Ukraine. Let’s go to the transcript:
Tucker Carlson: The question is who did it? Well, let’s see, the Kakhovka Dam was effectively Russian, it was built by the Russian government, it currently sits in Russian-controlled territory.
Construction of the Kakhovka Dam took place in the early 1950s in, what was then Soviet-controlled Ukraine. Crediting the current post-Soviet Russian government with ownership of a dam, which began construction under Josef Stalin, would also seem to grant Russia ownership of structures throughout the post-Soviet states of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Why not also throw in the famous Soviet-era Fernsehturm tower in East Berlin while you’re at it?
Tucker goes on to say that “Any fair person would conclude that the Ukrainians probably blew it up”. At this time there is no clear culprit for the partial destruction of the dam, in fact it is not even clear the dam was “blown up”. Some experts have suggested it could have suffered a structural failure due to lack of maintenance during the war. If the dam was deliberately damaged, Russia is certainly a plausible culprit. The dam currently lies in Russian-occupied territory and the flooding caused by the dam would hinder a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the area.
Tucker then moves on to attack Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, describing him as “sweaty”, “rat-like”, “shifty” and “dead-eyed”. It would appear Tucker on Twitter will fit right in with the often-crass denizens of Twitter. [Perhaps he is in need of a visit to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes? – MWD Editor.]
After more discussion of Ukraine, Mr Carlson offers up the following rant:
Tucker Carlson: The media lie, they do. But mostly they just ignore the stories that matter. What’s happened to the hundreds of billions of US dollars we’ve sent to Ukraine? No clue. Who organised those BLM riots three years ago? No one’s gotten to the bottom of that. What exactly happened on 9/11? Well, it’s still classified. How to Jeffrey Epstein make all that money? How did he die? How about JFK? And so endlessly on. Not only are the media not interested in any of this, they are actively hostile to anybody who is. In journalism, curiosity is the gravest crime.
It would appear Carlson has never met a conspiracy theory he did not like. He starts with plausible questions about corruption in sections of the Ukraine administration and then, almost in the same breath, hints at truly unhinged claims about the assassination of President Kennedy and, even more bizarrely, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Tucker Carlson then demonstrates a willingness to move even further into the fringe beliefs of American conspiracy theorists:
Tucker Carlson: Yesterday, for example, a former Air Force officer who worked for years in military intelligence came forward as a whistle-blower to reveal that the US government has physical evidence of crashed non-human made aircraft. As well as the bodies of the pilots who flew those aircraft. The Pentagon has spent decades studying these otherworldly remains in order to build more technologically advanced weapons systems. Okay, that’s what the former intel officer revealed, and it was clear he was telling the truth. In other words, UFOs are actually real, and apparently, so is extra-terrestrial life. Now we know.
Your man Tucker goes on to complain that the front page of the New York Times website did not carry any articles covering the fact that “an alien species is flying hypersonic aircraft over our cities”.
Needless to say, it is not clear that the former Air Force officer (whose name is David Grusch) is telling the truth about the existence of aliens, a claim Tucker offers no evidence for. Nor do we “know” that UFOs and extra-terrestrial life are “real”, and secretly in the possession of the US military.
While he was on Fox News Tucker was often accused by his detractors in the media of being a conspiracy theorist. It would seem that post-Fox Tucker is determined to prove them right.
THE GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA’S AMANDA MEADE REPORTS ABC DISPLEASURE AT A CRITIC OF SOME ABC PROGRAMS
As avid Media Watch Dog readers are aware, The Guardian/ABC Axis tends to manifest itself when members of the only extant newspaper in Britain or Australia to owe its foundation to the slave trade appear on Australia’s taxpayer funded public broadcaster. See MWD passim ad nauseam.
But it works the other way around as well. On 2 June in her “The Weekly Beast” column in The Guardian Australia, Amanda Meade reported the (old) news that Janet Albrechtsen and Tom Switzer wrote a piece in The Australian on 24 May that criticised ABC faves Stan Grant and Patricia Karvelas. Criticism – isn’t that what opinion pieces are all about? – MWD hears readers cry. Well not when the likes of Tom Switzer (an ABC casual) who presents Between the Lines on ABC Radio National at 5pm on Saturdays, criticises full-time ABC presenters of prominent programs – apparently.
Believe it or not, The Guardian Australia’s Comrade Meade went to the ABC headmaster/headmistress for comment about the misbehaving Master Switzer – and reported this to Guardian Australia readers. This is her report:
The attack in The Australian on Grant and Karvelas by a fellow ABC presenter angered the management of Radio National and ABC staff, and the ABC said Switzer was given a dressing down.
“Stan Grant and Patricia Karvelas are two of the most respected and accomplished journalists in the country,” a spokesperson for ABC RN told Weekly Beast. “The ABC strongly disagrees with the remarks in The Australian on May 24 about Stan and Patricia that you reference. We can confirm we have expressed our disappointment about the remarks to Tom Switzer, who co-wrote the article with Janet Albrechtsen. We’re not going to comment further on any discussions with our presenters.”
So there you have it. The anonymous ABC spokesperson let it be known that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is not in the habit of commenting about ABC presenters. But it will comment in The Guardian Australia if an occasion arises when the likes of Tom Switzer are given a “dressing down” for criticising such faves as ABC’s Stan Grant and Patricia Karvelas.
That’s The Guardian/ABC Axis in operation.
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.
IT’S A CASE OF YEAR 12 MEETS SOCIAL MEDIA AS PHILLIP ADAMS SNEERS AT BOTH JOHN AND JANETTE HOWARD
In his column in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 3 June, Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA, had this to say when describing John Howard as Australia’s “worst ever prime minister”.
I see him (against stiff competition) as our worst ever prime minister. Although much of the blame might rest on his wife Janette, effectively our first female PM. Based on the eyewitness accounts of John Hewson, you’ll find the lurid details in my indispensable Backstage Politics (Penguin).
Time to confess that I’ve slept with Janette on three occasions. On each occasion some Qantas larrikin gazumped my preferred seat –1A – and gave it to Mrs Howard, plonking me in 1B. Ever the gentleman, and seeing her pained expression, I’d soothingly say: “Not to worry, I’m passing out” – and I would. But I couldn’t resist the temptation to reveal our intimate sleeping arrangements on air.
Clearly, the eco-catastrophist Comrade Adams AO etc is into recycling his jokes. For he has used the “I’ve slept with Janette Howard” line before with reference to flying Qantas first class. In fact, in its various forms, the joke is as old as Methuselah.
As to John Hewson and Adams’ Backstage Politics: Fifty years of political memoirs (Viking, 2010) – well, Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is) does not make it into the book’s index. Moreover, MWD cannot locate his name in the text. But there is one reference to “a previous Liberal leader” and “a very senior member of Howard’s personal staff during his years in opposition and as federal Treasurer”. Sounds like John Hewson – except that Hewson never worked for Howard when he was in opposition. But what’s fact got to do with it? – to rephrase a Tina Turner song.
Backstage Politics cites one hostile comment about John and Janette Howard cited by this anonymous source. But when Adams asked around the Press Gallery as to whether anyone could confirm the story – no one did. Nobody. But Comrade Adams chose to regard his source as “reliable”. How about that?
In any event, John Hewson – who worked for John Howard some four decades ago – became what Comrade Adams calls a “Howard-hater”. Which hardly makes him an objective source. Gerard Henderson worked for John Howard in opposition between 1984 and 1986 and maintains that it’s absolute tosh to assert that Janette Howard controlled her husband. Complete crap, in fact.
Elsewhere in his rumour-fuelled book, Adams writes:
Sadly, many of the best of my best stories, including an intriguing insider’s account of the nature of the marriage of John and Janette Howard, cannot be included. Either they are too cruel, too personal or too likely to provoke a libel action.
The reader is asked to accept Adams’ claim that such an insider’s account exists.
Adams does make some sneering juvenile references to the Howards – which sounds somewhat like Year 12 meets Social Media. Clearly, the ABC’s Man in Black fails to understand that it’s not okay to criticise a political leader by roping in his or her spouse or partner.
Phillip Adams – Off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you. Here’s hoping you graduate with a Dip. Courteousness to add to your long list of gongs.
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Until next time.
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