GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 659
3 November 2023
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ISRAEL ANTAGONIST FRANCESCA ALBANESE GETS A FREE RUN ON THE ABC – EXCEPT FOR A FEW BRIEF COMMENTS BY PATRICIA KARVELAS
Francesca Albanese was the go-to-commentator on matters Israel/Gaza on the ABC on Friday 3 November. A special rapporteur for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, she led much of the news and current affairs output on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster with her comment accusing Israel of committing genocide in its retaliation against Hamas’ terrorist attack on southern Israel on 7 October.
For example, on ABC TV News Breakfast, ABC Reporter Allyson Horn made the following comment from Jerusalem:
Allyson Horn: Gaza City is the main city in the northern part of Gaza. Israel says it’s also one of the main areas for Hamas to be, to have its tunnels and its command centres. But importantly, it’s also a massively densely populated area for civilians. And so there are real risks and warnings that the civilian casualties will continue to dramatically rise. The Hamas-run Ministry of Health is saying the death toll so far is more than 9,000 people and more civilians are expected to be killed as this ground offensive escalates further. United Nations experts have just released a new warning – in their words they are saying that Palestinians in Gaza are now at risk of genocide.
Emma Rebellato: Very strong language there Allyson, thanks for the update.
Yes, it was strong language. Sure, Horn mentioned that the Gaza Ministry of Health is controlled by the Hamas administration. But she did not say why a journalist should give legitimacy to figures produced by Hamas – a terrorist organisation that advocates the total destruction of Israel.
Allyson Horn did not mention that the principal spokesperson for the UN ”experts” was Francesca Albanese, an outspoken critic of Israel. Later, Emma Rebellato directed this question at Industry Minister Ed Husic:
Emma Rebellato: Minister, a group of UN experts also, overnight, came out calling for humanitarian ceasefire. And in their words, they said, they were convinced the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide. How do you feel about that statement?
Minister Husic replied that Australia has called for a “humanitarian ceasefire to allow aid and assistance to get through to Gaza” but added: “Be very careful about using words like genocide, what we need to do is to de-escalate, to calm things down.”
Soon after, Ms Albanese was interviewed for over ten minutes by Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Breakfast. The UN’s special rapporteur did not calm things down. She falsely implied that the Israeli government supports “the erasure of Gaza” as part of its acts of genocide – but did not explain why Israel would advise Gazan authorities to vacate land on which it intended to attack the Hamas organisation if it just wanted to murder Palestinians.
Ms Albanese went so far as to compare Hamas with Israel’s leaders – overlooking the fact that on 7/10 Hamas went to war with Israel with its surprise attack on Israeli citizens – including women, children and babies in acts of all but unbelievable savagery.
At least Patricia Karvelas challenged some of Ms Albanese’s most outrageous claims – unlike other ABC presenters and journalists. Here are some facts:
- CNN reported on 18 October that Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, has depicted Ms Albanese as an Israel-hater whose expertise lies in “supporting terrorism and anti-semitism”.
- Francesca Albanese’s anti-Israel resume was documented in an article by Luke Tress in The Times of Israel on 15 December 2022. In 2014 she used an anti-semitic trope by referring to the “Jewish lobby”. The article also pointed out that Albanese has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Tress quoted Deborah Lipstadt, the Biden administration’s anti-semitism envoy, as saying that “Albanese’s anti-semitism severely undermines the credibility of the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur to deal with the issue of human rights in the context of Israel and Palestinian territories”.
In response to Karvelas, Albanese apologised (again) for her 2014 statement about the Holocaust and acknowledged that she has made errors in the past. However, her hatred of Israel shone through.
It was unprofessional for the ABC to give Francesca Albanese a platform on numerous outlets without introducing her as an Israel-antagonist.
NINE’S LATIKA BOURKE MOCKS SENATOR JACINTA PRICE AS “THE RIGHT’S DARLING”
On Friday 3 November, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age ran a short profile on Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price with special attention to her performance at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship conference in London. Re which see the “Can You Bear It?” segment. Latika Bourke’s report was balanced. Not so her post on X about the Country Liberal Party Senator which reads as follows:
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is the first to acknowledge her "meteoric rise" through federal politics following her successful frontline role in leading the No Voice referendum campaign.
The Right's new darling addressed @arc_forum in London this week.
I caught up with… pic.twitter.com/Fq0YOzfuf3
— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) November 2, 2023
Senator Price is an impressive political performer despite her brief time in the Commonwealth parliament. For Ms Bourke to depict her as merely “the Right’s new darling” is demeaning and undeserved.
[Quite so. Perhaps you should have placed this in your highly popular “Can You Bear It?” segment. Just a thought. – MWD Editor]
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD AS SNEERER IN CHIEF ABOUT THE CONSERVATIVE ALLIANCE FOR RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP CONFERENCE
Did anyone read the report on the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 October? Written by Jordan Baker and Latika Bourke, the story was headed “Heavyweights to discuss the future of conservatism in the age of Trump”.
Some one hundred or so Australians turned up at the three-day ARC conference in London – including John Howard (who was interviewed and photographed for the SMH) and John Anderson. Apparently, Mr Anderson initiated the conference with Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. Media Watch Dog regards your man Peterson as a frightfully interesting guy – but has little idea of what he has been on about in recent times. But then, MWD did not hear his pearls of wisdom at the London conference. [Could he be in search of a Media Watch Dog Flann O’Brien Award for Literary or Verbal Sludge? Just a thought. MWD Editor.]
The likes of Messrs Howard and Anderson are not beloved by Nine Newspapers – the SMH and The Age. So, it came as no surprise that the Baker/Bourke duo went out in search of a critic or two of this conservative knees-up. They found a few anonymous types whom they identified as “one”, “another one” and “one”. Plus a “critic”. Pretty brave types, don’t you think?
Donald J. Trump had nothing whatsoever to do with the ARC conference, but he got a mention in the SMH report and in the headline. He has little impact on Australia. Yet, the SMH headline writer reckons that we are living in “the age of Trump”. Go figure.
Now, the SMH ’s letters editor is wont to claim that there is diversity in its Letters Page – which comes as a surprise to MWD. As it turned out, on 31 October the SMH led the Letters Page with a collection of correspondence headed “Howard in comfort zone at conservative Woodstock”. Guess what? Seven out of seven correspondents bagged either Mr Howard or the ARC conference – or both.
A Graham Cochrane of, you’ve guessed it, inner-city Balmain sneered at Howard – as did Colin Stokes of inner-west Camperdown, who described Australia’s second longest serving prime as “an old man, in an armchair, surrounded by dusty old books”. This is mere abuse.
John Vigours of fashionable Neutral Bay accused Howard of promoting “greed and fear” – while another made reference to his “breathtaking and wilful ignorance”. There was more – Ray Alexander from fashionable Moss Vale declared that Howard believes that “trying to help the less fortunate is a sin” while Tim Schroder declared him to be “out of touch”. What a lot of lightweight commentary.
The Sydney Morning Herald appears to be going the same way as the ABC in that it has lost much of its one-time conservative base – as is evident from reading its Letters Page.
On 1 November, following the news that Paul Keating was the only former prime minister not to sign the joint letter which expressed sympathy for Israel in the current war which Hamas initiated, the SMH published nine letters. The joint letter was signed by John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.
The segment was headed “Former leaders should stay quiet on pro-Israel views”. All but one letter supported Mr Keating, but this correspondent did not criticise him. The rest criticised former Liberal and Labor prime ministers alike. And the SMH claims that there is political diversity on its Letters Page. Can You Bear It?
SMH JOURNALIST ROY MASTERS BELIEVES WHAT HE WANTS TO BELIEVE ABOUT WHAT BOB HAWKE (ALLEGEDLY) SAID TO MARGARET THATCHER
As avid Media Watch Dog readers know only too well, Ellie’s (male) co-owner’s criticism of many journalists is that they believe what they want to believe. Here’s an update on the problem.
On 21 October, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article by Roy Masters on former Labor politician John Brown (1931-___) who was a minister in the early years of Bob Hawke’s Labor government in the 1980s. Masters wrote about John Brown’s recent memoir which carries the title Brownie: The Minister for Good Times.
It seems that John Brown had good times with his prime minister – but had no time at all for one-time Labor leader Bill Hayden who died recently. This despite the fact that Brown resented that Hawke had claimed all of Brown’s policy initiatives as his own in his 1994 book The Hawke Memoirs. Quelle Surprise! However, according to Brown via Masters, Bob contacted John “with a very gentle apology” soon after publication.
Your man Masters also told SMH readers (if readers there were) of a phone call that Bob Hawke made to Britain’s prime minister Margaret Thatcher about the 1986 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh. There was concern that African nations would boycott the event if a Rugby Union tour of the British and Irish Lions to South Africa went ahead. Let Masters take up the story about Hawke’s phone conversation with Thatcher which Brown overheard:
Brown, who was present at the phone call, quotes a frustrated Hawke telling a defiant Thatcher, “Listen, you f—ing bitch, get that f—ing team to withdraw from South Africa or otherwise the Commonwealth Games will implode and possibly the British Commonwealth of Nations.” Thatcher finally agreed and Hawke apologised for his language. Brown writes, “I remember their conversation vividly”.
What a you-beaut story. But is it true? On 27 October, the SMH published a letter from Jill Saunders, Hawke’s long-standing private secretary. Put simply, Ms Saunders believes that John Brown has a clear “recollection” of an event that never happened, since Hawke would never have spoken to Thatcher in such a manner. As Saunders put it:
Notetakers would have been present at both ends of the call and it would have most certainly been leaked, creating sensational headlines and considerable consequential diplomatic ripples. The fact that this alleged conversation in the alleged terms has not appeared in any of the various published books about Mrs Thatcher’s prime ministership, not least her autobiography for the period of her cabinet years, leads me to believe it did not occur; Mrs Thatcher would not have forgotten the alleged exchange. Sad that Bob [Hawke] is no longer around to defend himself against such an implausible story.
Quite so. It would seem that Roy Masters wanted to believe what John Brown told him – and that no one at the SMH queried this unlikely story about Australia’s third-longest serving prime minister. Can You Bear It?
RANALD MACDONALD (REMEMBER HIM?) FANGS HIS OLD COMRADES AT THE AGE AND THE ABC – AND CALLS FOR CENSORSHIP
Thanks to the avid readers who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to the article by Ranald Macdonald in the Independent Australia online publication dated 17 October 2023. Ranald who? – MWD hears avid readers cry.
Well, Mr Macdonald was kind enough to tell IA readers (if readers there are): “I am writing this as the former managing director and editor-in-chief (and founder of the Australian Press Council) because I believe lessons need to be learnt”. So, there you go – your man Macdonald is going to “learn” his fellow Australians.
You see, the former managing director of The Age (1964 to 1983) is not happy with the way the Australian media reported the 14 October 2023 referendum on The Voice. Indeed, he believes that “the mainstream media – journalists and commentators – have failed this country” – except for such leftist hang-outs as Independent Australia, The Guardian, Crikey, The New Daily, The Monthly and The Saturday Paper. [What about the comrades at the Green Left Weekly? – MWD Editor.]
Macdonald – a “Yes” advocate – even despairs of the ABC and SBS, whose journalists overwhelmingly supported “Yes” – as did many journalists/columnists in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He believes that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster allowed too many “No” advocates to state their case.
The former editor-in-chief of The Age (1966 to 1970) also accused unnamed journalists/columnists of engaging in “lies”, “blatant lies”, “fantasies” and “misrepresentations” in reporting the referendum campaign. Moreover, he maintains that some journalists and columnists “should have not been given exposure on television, radio or in print”. In other words, they should have been censored or cancelled. But he gave only one example. Here it is – a critique of the Voice:
A gracious request? It’s a militant document penned by far Left, inner-city activists. It would enshrine racial division & privilege into the Constitution. NO! https://t.co/GnitoHS4MH
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) October 13, 2023
That was on 14 October 2023 – and Macdonald calls this a blatant lie. However, in a speech delivered in Canberra and reported in The Australian on 31 October, leading “Yes” advocate Stan Grant declared that “The Voice” if placed in the Constitution, would have led to a “monumental” change in Australia. His exact words were: “The Voice was never a modest ask; it was monumental.”
What Ranald Macdonald fails to understand is that most issues in the public debate are contested. Ms Panahi had one opinion on this matter, Mr Grant had another and Mr Macdonald had another. It’s called debate and discussion.
Yet the former chief executive of David Syme Limited (the one-time publisher of The Age) and a former ABC Radio Melbourne presenter chose to use the fringe website IA to bang on about how right-wing the old Fairfax papers (allegedly) are, and to fang the contemporary ABC – despite the fact that it is a Conservative Free Zone.
And so it came to pass that Ranald Macdonald, a one-time important Melbourne figure when The Age was a highly influential newspaper and when he was an ABC 774 broadcaster, now believes so strongly in his version of “freedom of expression” that, er, he wants to curtail the free expression of others. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?
POST-NOMINALS AT CENTRE STAGE AS LEIGH SALES AM TELLS A (LONG) ANECDOTE ABOUT ITA BUTTROSE AC OBE AT THE 2023 ANDREW OLLE LECTURE
Media Watch Dog just loves it when journalists get dressed up (sometimes down) in their finest and praise one another along with their profession, as they give one another applause and/or prizes and listen to one or more journalists talk about just how good journalists are. One such occasion is the Annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism (sponsored by the Walkley Foundation); another is the Andrew Olle Lecture (sponsored by the ABC).
The 2023 Andrew Olle Lecture was delivered by Leigh Sales – she was described as “Leigh Sales AM” on the ABC’s release of the speech. But more on that later. The function was held at Doltone House, Hyde Park, Sydney. In the Sydney Morning Herald/Age “CBD” column on 18 September 2023, Doltone House was referred to sneeringly as the “Sydney high school formal favourite”. But that was a reference to a function for “Liberal conservatives” with (alleged) “greying hair”. However, “CBD” did not sneer at the choice of Doltone House for such ABC faves as Ms Sales and ABC chair Ita Buttrose AC OBE (who gave the vote of thanks).
The Andrew Olle Lecture invariably commences with praise for the late Andrew Olle (1947-1995) and references to how well-regarded he was by the ABC. However, on this occasion, the speaker led off with – wait for it – a seven-minute anecdote about the ABC and, yes, HERSELF which occupied about one-fifth of her talk.
It so happened that on 10 November 2020 at about 1pm, Leigh Sales parked in Ita Buttrose’s car spot at the ABC car park under its Sydney inner-city Ultimo office. It turned out that the then 7.30 presenter was running late for a pre-recorded interview and decided to park her car for a short time in Ms Buttrose’s parking space – but promptly forgot to remove it. Let the ABC fave take up the story:
When I returned at 8.10pm after the show, I could see a note under my windscreen wiper. In beautiful cursive script it read: “Please DON’T (in capital letters and double underlined) park in my car spot again.” And there was that famous Ita signature and date. In the top left-hand corner was stapled a business card that read Ita Buttrose AC OBE. Being a life-long journalist, and as such a lover of anecdote, I found this turn of events thrilling. I carefully put the letter on my front passenger seat so as not to crease a souvenir from a legend.
And so, the story went on. And on. And on – with the Ita Buttrose note projected onto a large screen at Doltone House. It so happened that when, on exiting the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s car park, Leigh Sales AM found out that she had received a stern note from Ita Buttrose AC OBE she commenced laughing so hysterically that she had to pull over. Fancy that.
It also turned out that Ms Sales AM had parked in other people’s car spaces before. A serial offender, it would seem. In time, she apologised and the ABC chair forgave her in a note signed “Best, regards Ita” – that is, without post-nominals.
The speaker told her Andrew Olle Lecture audience that this was the “perfect moment” to tell the story publicly. Then Sales went on to acknowledge that “the public is losing interest in the stories we’re telling” and declared that recently she has been “one of those people avoiding the news” and that “people rightly don’t always trust us anymore”.
Leigh Sales had some important things to say about journalism – especially concerning the group-think that occurred about the Covid lockdowns, particularly in Victoria at the direction of Premier Daniel Andrews’ socialist left government, so beloved by many a journalist. Moreover, she said that “our choice of stances and the way they are told that no member of the audience can ever identify an ABC ‘position’ is an issue”. Without recognising that the ABC is replete with activist journalists and there are clear ABC positions on such issues as climate change, same-sex marriage, Indigenous issues (including “Yes” for the Voice in the recent referendum), multiculturalism and so on.
After having the expected go at News Corp, Sales conceded that, according to Ray Morgan Research, the ABC has dropped from being the 5th most trusted brand in Australia in 2019 to the 18th position in 2023. But she did not reflect on why this is the case or why, particularly with radio, ABC ratings are dropping dramatically. Nor did she address the fact that the ABC claims to be Australia’s most trusted news source – despite the fact that it comes third behind Network 7 and Network 9 in viewers of its main TV news channel every night. Which implies that Australians are so stupid that they watch news bulletins that they trust less than the one they trust most.
And now a word about high-profile ABC presenter Andrew Olle who died of an inoperable brain tumour on 12 December 1995. Olle was a fine journalist but, like so many of his colleagues, somewhat sensitive to criticism. According to Leigh Sales, even Olle’s “friends weren’t sure how he voted”. Turn it up. Perhaps they have not read Kerry O’Brien’s A Memoir (Allen & Unwin 2018) where the following comment appears concerning the election of 2 December 1972 – when Labor led by Gough Whitlam defeated the Coalition led by incumbent prime minister William McMahon:
Many journalists, inside the gallery and out, had been caught up in the mood for change. … I was one of those journalists, and to this day I believe the nation made the right call on 2 December 1972. On that night Andrew Olle and his wife Annette joined Carol and me at our rented Auchenflower house to watch history being made. The mood for change was palpable, and the excitement was contagious.
Sounds like a couple of Labor supporters, don’t you think? As it turned out, the O’Brien/Olle duo backed the winning side – but an estimated 47.3 per cent of Australians supported a return of the McMahon government and they included ABC listeners/viewers.
Kerry O’Brien’s book demolishes some of the ABC’s own mythology about Andrew Olle. O’Brien replaced Andrew Olle (then the presenter of the NSW edition of 7.30) and six other State and Territory 7.30 anchors when the program went national and they lost their positions. No one was told in advance of the announcement that “Red Kerry” O’Brien had become the 7.30 supremo – which took place on 28 September 1995 to take effect from early 1996.
In his memoir, O’Brien conceded that Annette Olle later stated that Andrew Olle regarded losing his high-profile role as presenter of the NSW edition of 7.30, which included undertaking high-profile interviews which were sometimes shown across all 7.30 editions of State and Territory programs, as a “kick in the guts”.
This is not the kind of “truth” which is raised at the Andrew Olle Lecture by the speaker – or its compere Richard Glover. No Andrew Olle Lecturer ever talks about the effective demotion of Andrew Olle at the ABC before he died which was followed by the O’Brienisation of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s current affairs presentations.
JOHN SILVESTER FOLLOWS THE AUSTRALIAN AND EXAMINES THE DISAPPEARANCE OF 8-YEAR OLD ELOISE WORLEDGE IN 1976
As Media Watch Dog readers are aware, in recent times this blog has focused on the failure of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – headed by Peter McClellan KC between 2013 and 2017 – to investigate historical child sexual abuse in government schools.
Currently, investigations into this issue are underway – or have been completed – in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. The Victorian inquiry was sparked by the discovery of a nest of pedophile teachers in the 1960s and 1970s at the Beaumaris Primary School in suburban Melbourne.
Writing in The Australian on 17 September, John Ferguson raised the question as to whether the disappearance of 8-year-old Eloise Worledge from her Beaumaris home in 1976 might have some connection with her school – Beaumaris Primary. Eloise was a student at Beaumaris Primary when she disappeared. Victorian Police believe that the young girl left her home with someone in the early hours of the morning. She has never been seen again. This matter has been covered in recent issues of MWD.
On 28 October 2023, John Silvester covered the story in his “Naked City” column in The Age. In his penultimate paragraph, Silvester wrote:
There are many things we don’t know. But what we do know is that if the authorities at the school had passed on concerns about the behaviour of some of the teachers at Eloise’s school, the investigators would have asked: Was the little girl ever in their classes? Had any of the teachers been to the Worledge home? Could a trusting kid have been lured into the night by an authority figure such as a teacher?
John Silvester is correct. Maybe we will never know what happened to Eloise Worledge. But we now know that there were pedophile teachers in many government schools – a fact overlooked by the McClellan Royal Commission – including the state school that Eloise Worledge attended in suburban Melbourne.
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Until Next Time.
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