GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 670

23 February 2024

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  • ABC TV – OUT WITH THE DRUM AND Q+A REVAMPED – HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?

ABC TV’s The Drum did not merely “pass” before Christmas. It died. As Media Watch Dog pointed out for eons, The Drum was boring primarily because it lacked political diversity and contained too many panellists who had little of interest to say. Also, it de-platformed many conservatives.

So far it seems that, after having junked The Drum, ABC TV is leading into the 7pm News with Back Roads and Hard QuizBack Roads was set up some years ago to accommodate the interests of ABC conservative viewers in regional and rural Australia. It became very successful. Hard Quiz features Tom Gleeson – about the only funny one of those ABC types who (in Barry Humphries’ term) identify as comedians. Even repeats of these shows are better than fresh versions of The Drum.

So, The Drum having failed, what did ABC management do? Well, it appointed Eliza Harvey, who was executive producer of The Drum, to become executive producer of Q+A.  It’s too early to judge whether Q+A can recover from the poor performance and falling ratings it witnessed last year.

However, the problems of 2023 were evident in the first edition of Q+A this year on 19 February. There was much the same baying leftist mob in the audience along with a panel which was tilted to the left. MWD will return to this topic in the next edition.


  • THE SATURDAY PAPER TALKS TO BRUCE HAWKER ABOUT BARNABY JOYCE’S BAD BEHAVIOUR – BUT NOT THAT OF THE LATE BOB HAWKE

Wasn’t it great to see Malcolm Farr – a one-time leader of the Canberra Press Gallery Rat Pack – back in action in The Saturday Paper on Saturday 17 February?  As Media Watch Dog readers know, The [Boring] Saturday Paper is printed on Thursday evening and arrives in inner-city coffee shops on Saturday, at Hangover Time, when the sandal-wearing comrades are enjoying their ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter or some such.

Ellie’s (male) co-owner reads The [Boring] Saturday Paper around Gin & Tonic time on Mondays. What’s the hurry?

And so it came to pass that Comrade Farr wrote a piece for TSP on 17 February titled “Pissed as a Nat” – which related to the (old) news that Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce had fallen, when sitting on a planter box, to the footpath while talking on the phone. The location was in Canberra’s Braddon – late on Wednesday 7 February.  This issue was covered in the previous issue of MWD. Hendo was broadly sympathetic to Mr Joyce – who said he had mixed prescription drugs with alcohol – and cited a poem from an unknown Irish writer of a century ago to help explain the predicament.

Needless to say, the leftist Farr does not agree with Joyce’s politics.  He referred to the former deputy prime minister as promoting “the anti-renewables gripes of farmers”.  But, then, Comrade Farr has neither a wind farm nor a transmission line on his property to gripe about.  Oh yes, Farr quoted an anonymous “close observer” as describing Joyce as “Pauline Hanson in short pants”. That’s just abuse. [Interesting. I’ve never seen Mr Joyce in short pants. – MWD Editor.]

Seeking authority for his piss-poor analysis, Farr found refuge in the thought of a certain Bruce Hawker (Chairman of the Campaigns & Communications Group) – but failed to mention that your man Hawker is a Labor Party apparatchik of long-standing. How about that?  In any event, here is the Farr reference:

Bruce Hawker…said of Joyce’s behaviour: “It just traduces the whole institution of politics.  You think you have reached the bottom and then there is another level.”

Somewhat sanctimonious, don’t you think?  After all, Bruce Hawker was a fan of the late Bob Hawke who was a successful Labor prime minister but hardly the embodiment of good behaviour.  The Australian journalist Troy Bramston is not a Hawke antagonist.  However, in his book Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny (Viking, 2022), Bramston refers to Hawke’s “personal indiscretions which risked the moral integrity of his government”. Hawke was sober when prime minister.  But, in his alcoholic fuelled days, Hawke was described by Blanche D’Alpuget as a “loathsome drunk” – a description which has not been ascribed to Joyce.

MWD is not aware of Comrade Hawker (or Comrade Farr) ever suggesting Bob Hawke’s behaviour – which was well known to, but not reported by journalists/operatives at the time who are of similar age to both men – as being at a level below the bottom.  Talk about double standards. Can You Bear It?

  • IN WHICH LA TINGLE APPEARS TO TELL HER BESTIE PHILLIP ADAMS THAT HE HAS ONLY 5 READERS (TOPS)

Media Watch Dog just loves it when ABC journalists talk to ABC journalists on the ABC about the ABC.

Thanks to the Sydney avid reader who drew attention to Late Night Live on 19 February – aka Phillip Adams’ “little wireless program”. For some 15 years, Comrade Adams has been talking to Laura Tingle on a weekly basis about Australian politics. La Tingle – a MWD fave – is ABC TV 7.30’s chief political correspondent and an Australian Financial Review columnist.

By the way, in his Weekend Australian Magazine column on 22 February, your man Adams described Laura Tingle and Bruce Shapiro as “honoured regulars” on LNL. La Tingle provides an analysis of Australian politics from a left-of-centre perspective. And Comrade Shapiro provides an analysis of United States politics also from a left-of-centre perspective. How’s that for political balance?  The ABC’s Man-in-Black used this occasion to reflect on the fact that he will be leaving LNL in June. For the record, he will be missed by MWD.

The program on 19 February commenced with Comrade Adams’ statement that he was “tempted to begin the night by defending ourselves against the attack on today’s Australian…but there are more important issues”. The said “attack” was just criticism by James Madden and Sophie Elsworth of the fact that the previous week La Tingle had referred to Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce’s tired and emotional performance outside a Canberra restaurant after dark.  But had not covered Senator Lidia Thorpe’s tired and emotional performance outside a Melbourne club in the early morning at some earlier time – April 2023, in fact.

The self-identified Adams’ “Mingle with Tingle” soon got around to the topic of The Australian’s “Media” section of 19 February. Let’s go to the transcript:

Phillip Adams: You know, we’re gonna get into trouble with The Australian for saying that [about Barnaby Joyce], don’t you?

Laura Tingle: Well, that’s, you know, that’s just shocking and terrible, Phillip. I mean, isn’t it encouraging that the “Media” section, i.e., you know, [the] “let’s just perpetually attack the ABC” section of The Australian, as well as your personal best friend Gerard Henderson, is listening in every night to make sure we’re doing correct thought. I’d just like to say, Phillip, just for the record, this suggestion that you’ve got double standards because we dared to say that the former Deputy Prime Minister shouldn’t be seen lying drunk on the footpath in Canberra is a bad thing – is somehow a double standard because one didn’t say the same thing about Lidia Thorpe. I just point out that I was actually on leave when the Lidia Thorpe thing happened. But I’m pretty sure I did say something about it at the time.

Phillip Adams: Excuses, excuses.

Laura Tingle: So just a big hello to all those people, all those readers of The Australian. And I hope all five of them are still awake at 10:00 tonight.

How about that?  La Tingle is pretty sure that she did say “something” about the Lidia Thorpe matter at the time – but can’t remember. That’s pretty clear, then.  And she told Comrade Adams that The Australian has just “five” readers.  Forgetting for the moment, it seems, that Phillip Adams writes a column for The Australian Weekend Magazine and has always claimed to have more than five readers. Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really – now that you ask.  Interestingly, Comrade Tingle dishes out criticism of others but is oh-so-sensitive about receiving criticism herself.  As to Gerard Henderson, Hendo tells me that he rarely listens to Late Night Live.  But that occasionally an avid MWD reader sends him material from the program. It would appear that Laura Tingle – influenced by the hype of Taylor Swift in “always watching” mode – believes that Hendo is listening  “every night” to LNL’s Mingle with Tingle.  For his part, Ellie’s (male) co-owner reckons it would be a dreadful waste of LNL (as in “Late Night Liquor”) Time. – MWD Editor.]

  • ABC ALUMNI STAR GAEL JENNINGS PITCHES FOR MORE MONEY ON THE TAXPAYER FUNDED BROADCASTER

While on the matter of ABC types talking to ABC types about the ABC on the ABC, did anyone see the “Newspapers” segment on ABC TV’s Breakfast program on 22 February?  Bridget Brennan and Michael Rowland were in the co-presenters’ chairs and they talked to Gael Jennings – who is an honorary fellow at Melbourne University’s pompously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism.  Which suggests that Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) is in some kind of journalistic advance party to somewhere or other.

But MWD digresses. The advancing journalist, a former ABC employee, is on the Board of (the also pompously titled) ABC Alumni.  In this capacity, when discussing the news, she somehow managed to talk about the non-news. Namely that the morning’s Canberra Times had reported that Kim (“Sure I swallowed a copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus but the digestion is working well”) Williams was to meet representatives of ABC Alumni later that very day. As MWD readers know, your man Williams will become ABC chair on 6 March this year.

And then came the pitch. Gael Jennings ran the line that – wait for it – the ABC “just needs more money”. It’s as simple as that.  The taxpayer funded public broadcaster can’t get by on over $1 billion annually and needs more moolah from the taxpayer.  Comrade Brennan and Rowland concurred with Comrade Jennings.

How self-indulgent can the taxpayer funded public broadcaster get? Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?

  •  BRIDGET BRENNAN GIVES ISRAEL ANTAGONIST CHRIS GUNNESS A FREE KICK ON NEWS BREAKFAST

While on the topic of Bridget Brennan, didn’t she give one of the softest interviews of the year so far on 22 February?  The ABC News Breakfast’s guest was Chris Gunness, a long-time antagonist of Israel. The interview commenced with this leading question:

Bridget Brennan: Thanks very much for your time this morning. That toll, nearing 100,000 dead and injured [in Gaza], is staggering. Chris, have you ever seen anything like this, uh, during your career?

Chris Gunness: Not at all and I think, for Palestinians, it’s not been seen since the Nakba, and even at the Nakba, the figures are, um, dwarfed by what’s going on. Now, the Nakba being the primordial catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in 1948….

It has always been Media Watch Dog’s contention that the ABC criticises both the Coalition and Labor – but only from the left.  Brennan did not challenge Gunness’ criticism of the Albanese Labor government’s responsible decision to withhold, for the moment at least, funding to UNRWA. This decision was made after evidence showed that some UNRWA personnel participated in Hamas’ atrocity-laden terrorist attacks on southern Israel on 7 October 2023.

Bridget Brennan said nothing when Chris Gunness accused the Albanese government of being “complicit” in a “slow motion massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza.  He then repeated the charge.

…it’s time for the Australian government and others to wake up and to realise that they need to get on the right side of history, which will judge them very harshly. Do Australians really want a government that, as a matter of deliberate political choice, has decided to inflict starvation on 2.3 million people? I would sincerely hope not.

The interview ended with Gunness suggesting that Australia was somehow associated with genocide.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Chris Gunness:  I would argue the Australian government – and I’m sure the Australian people listening to this, would want their government to get on the right side of the law and to get on the right side of history.

Bridget Brennan: Chris Gunness in London. We very much appreciate your time, thank you.

Talk about ABC giving a free kick to the British leftist intent on fanging Australia.  Bridget Brennan made no reference to the fact that Gaza is a Hamas-controlled dictatorship.  Nor did she state that the conflict commenced when Hamas invaded Southern Israel and murdered and raped and kidnapped civilians.  As to the wrong side of history – well, Can You Bear It?


EDITORIAL

  • THERE’S MORE DEBATE ON FOX NEWS’ MEDIABUZZ (PRESENTER HOWARD KURTZ) THAN ON ABC TV’s MEDIA WATCH (PRESENTER PAUL BARRY)

As Media Watch Dog readers will know, the ABC is a conservative free zone without one conservative presenter, executive producer or editor for any of its television, radio or online outlets.  The taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s management denies this – but has not been able to name one presenter, executive producer or editor who is conservative. Quelle Surprise!

Take ABC TV’s Media Watch, for example.  It has been in action since 1989.  Its presenters have been Stuart Littlemore, Richard Ackland, Paul Barry, David Marr, the late Liz Jackson, Monica Attard, Jonathan Holmes and Paul Barry again. Not a conservative among this lot. All Media Watch presenters have been left-of-centre or leftist types.  All have been competent.  It’s just that there has been a lack of political diversity.

Howard Kurtz presents MediaBuzz on Fox News in the United States.  Formerly of CNN, Kurtz commenced MediaBuzz in 2013 taking over an earlier program, Fox News Watch. Kurtz has views which he states. But he hears from a variety of individuals, including right-of-centre and left-of-centre commentators.

There is no debate on the ABC’s Media Watch.  It resembles a Sunday sermon in the olden days.  The presenter, currently Paul Barry, lays down the line each Monday night by means of a lesson.  No other views are heard. And there is no on-air right of reply.

The current Israel-Hamas conflict is likely to be one of the big stories of the 21st Century. It is an issue on which many Australians have different views. But Media Watch has only one view – to which there is no right of reply, ever. In short, Barry is a preacher – whereas Kurtz is a compere. A few examples illustrate the point.

  • On 9 October 2023, a large contingent of protestors conducted an unauthorised march from Sydney Town Hall to the Sydney Opera House. They chanted “From the River to the Sea/Palestine will be free”. The call was for the elimination of Israel which exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

There was video footage plus witness evidence that, at the Opera House, some protestors chanted “Gas the Jews”.   Note this was before Israel invaded Gaza in response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks on 7 October.

On 5 February, Paul Barry declared that the protestors chanted “Where’s the Jews?” not “Gas the Jews”. In doing so, he accepted the opinion of NSW Police which had engaged one expert to examine the audio of the video.  Barry did not mention that NSW Police had been criticised for allowing the unauthorised demonstration to take place on 9 October and for only arresting (albeit briefly) a man carrying an Israeli flag.

When the video was shown on Media Watch, the sound was turned down while Barry spoke over the top of the video. Viewers were not allowed to make up their own minds about this issue.  Rather Paul Barry told them what to think.

  • On 12 February, Paul Barry again lined up with authorities. In this case, the discredited Victoria Police. Like NSW Police, Victoria Police has been criticised for taking action against pro-Israel demonstrators while giving a free hand to demonstrators supporting what they present as the Palestinian cause.

This time, Barry criticised Sky News’ The Bolt Report. On 29 January, Andrew Bolt interviewed two Victorians who said that they had been put briefly under arrest during an Australia Day event for breaching the peace. Barry accepted the view of a Victoria Police media operative that this had never happened.  No other view was heard.

  • On 19 February, Barry devoted a significant proportion of Media Watch to asserting that The Australian’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict was “shameful”. His view was endorsed by the leftist Mike Carlton who referred to the newspaper as “The Israelian”. Barry was also somewhat critical of the Sydney Morning Herald in this instance.

No other view was allowed.  Barry and his team (executive producer, Timothy Latham) backed up Media Watch’s case against The Australian with reference to what was described as “a preliminary analysis for the Islamophobia register by Dr Susan Carland”. Barry claimed that Dr Carland’s research found that The Australian “humanised Israeli victims but not Palestinians…with the ABC the only one to give equal coverage to both sides”.

Once again, no other view was heard on-air.  However, James Madden reported in The Australian on 22 February that Susan Carland did not agree with Barry’s assessment of her research. Madden wrote as follows:

…When contacted by The Australian, Dr Carland said her report clearly stated the research “should not be taken as, a definitive analysis of Australian media bias against Palestinians”. [She added]: “As this research is limited to the Instagram posts of the six outlets, this report is also not a definitive account of the outlets’ reporting on the Israel-Gaza war, and does not comment on fairness or equality found in any of their other stories on the Israel-Gaza war on their other platforms”….

Asked if she felt that Media Watch had misrepresented her research, Dr Carland told The Australian: “I cannot comment on the intentions of Media Watch. That would be a question best posed to them.”

In other words, Media Watch’s research in this instance was shoddy – in spite of having a staff of around a dozen for a weekly program that runs for a mere 15 minutes.

And what was Media Watch’s response to the widescale criticism of the program by pro-Israel commentators?  Well, executive producer Timothy Latham said: “We stand by our story and what we put to air.”

In other words, there will be no debate on the taxpayer funded broadcaster’s media program.  For all the ABC’s criticism of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News – there is debate on Fox News’ MediaBuzz but no debate on the ABC’s Media Watch.


JOHN-LAWS-STYLE-DELIBERATE-MISTAKE

Veteran Sydney radio presenter John Laws was wont to say that he did not make mistakes when broadcasting – only “Deliberate Mistakes” to entice corrections, comments and so on. Ellie’s (male) co-owner Hendo is something of a disciple of Mr Laws – and has adopted this practice.

  • BEVAN SHIELDS FINDS “DELIBERATE MISTAKE” IN MWD’s MOST RECENT ANALYSIS OF THE SMH’s OVER-THE-TOP ROSS GITTINS 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

There was enormous interest in the previous two issues of Media Watch Dog which, inter alia, carried an analysis of the Sydney Morning Herald’s extraordinary tribute to the fact that its economics editor Ross Gittins had spent 50 years at the institution. As avid readers will be well aware, on 7 February the “Sydney Morning Gittins” contained some 10 pages which were devoted to the Great Man plus 20 illustrations.

The last issue of MWD said that the focus on your man Gittins had led the SMH failing to cover news which was published in its sister paper The Age in Melbourne on the same day. In fact, this material was covered.  It’s just that the SMH published more pages than usual to accommodate Gittins.

Bevan Shields, the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, sent a polite email to Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) and received a courteous reply. MWD is always willing to correct mistakes – deliberate or otherwise.  How the error occurred is explained in Hendo’s response to nice Mr Shields.  See Correspondence.


Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan — nom de plume Flann O’Brien, (1911-1966) — and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing, incomprehensible prose and incoherent verbal expression.

  • SANTILLA CHINGAIPE SCORES FOR INCOMPREHENSIBLE RANT RE TAYLOR SWIFT

This week’s gong goes to The Saturday Paper’s Santilla Chingaipe, for her rambling article of 21 February 2024, titled “The exclusionary empowerment of Taylor Swift”. While it is hard to decipher what exactly is the point of the article, it appears to be a criticism of Ms Swift and her fans for being too white. In fact, the words “white” or “whiteness” appear 19 times.

The article is subtitled “Success and scale of Taylor Swift’s Australian tour reflects the country’s unresolved relationship with class, gender and race”. The opening paragraphs appear to claim that Taylor Swift’s successful tour in Australia is due to white privilege and classism, or something of that nature. See the sludge below:

To me, it is no surprise this fervour is being expressed in a country failing to confront its own anxieties about race, class and gender. In Swift’s world, you do not have to feel guilt or shame about white privilege – you embrace it. In fact, Swift makes it permissible to buy into this world and many are willing to go into debt to experience it. She is the sound of whiteness. She makes music that confirms whiteness for an audience large enough to be reassured by its whiteness. This might not be its intention, but it is certainly part of its attraction, especially in Australia.

A recent article about the Melbourne Cricket Ground in The Age claimed that: “Planning and events experts said the stadium’s unique combination of size, proximity to the city centre and extensive public transport links enabled the MCG to host the biggest crowd Swift has ever performed in front of at any stadium in the world.” But according to Ms Chingaipe, the reason for Swift’s large audience in Melbourne is not due to stadium capacity, but because Taylor Swift fans are failing to confront their anxieties about race, class and gender. Or something like that.

The deranged Saturday Paper rant does not mention that the pop star recently played four sold-out shows in Japan, and will soon play six sold-out shows in Singapore – countries not known for their hordes of race-anxious white people. In 2023, Spotify announced Taylor Swift as the number one streamed artist in Saudi Arabia – apparently the Saudis are also into “the sound of whiteness”.

The article also states that Swift “exists in an apolitical world that refuses to engage with the social and political issues around her.” While she is not political enough for The Saturday Paper writer – who thinks she should be singing about “the climate emergency, being repeatedly failed by our political leaders, racial injustice, the raging conflicts” – Swift has encouraged voter registration, endorsed Joe Biden and Democratic candidates in her state, and weighed in on numerous other political issues.

It was a long article that does really say anything, but a few lines stand out, such as “It’s much safer [for white people] to feel like an old cardigan than it is to feel like part of the problem”, and “It is rather terrifying that one individual can have more influence than governments combined and chooses to line her pockets under the guise of female empowerment.” There you go. Ms Swift apparently has more power than “governments combined” (it is unclear which governments Ms Chingaipe is referring to in this statement) but instead she makes the immoral choice to be a successful white woman.

At various points, the article also criticises Taylor Swift for being wholesome and cultivating a kind and polite fanbase, profiting off misogyny, and makes a strange comment about Swift being a 30-something childless woman. It was at this point MWD had to check that the article wasn’t actually written by some bloke who thinks women should stay in the kitchen.

MWD notes that this verbal sludge was published in The Saturday Paper – Editor in Chief is Erik Jensen – who happens to be one of those terrible white people.

 

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £

Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Ellie’s literary effort for today:

Literary Criticism

By Ellie

of Santilla Chingaipe

My grasp of what she wrote or meant

Was only five or six per cent

Maybe someone needs to gift

San tickets to Taylor Swift


  • THE ABC ADDS YET ANOTHER CULTURAL ADVISER

The most recent edition of MWD included an analysis of the ABC’s labyrinthine diversity efforts, as outlined by ABC News Director Justin Stevens in an email to staff (and obtained by The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth). As part of that analysis MWD included a flowchart summarising the diversity resources available to ABC News staff:

This chart appears to have created quite a stir among MWD’s avid readers, with many writing in to express their astonishment at the scale of the ABC’s diversity bureaucracy. However, some readers were unsure as to the provenance of the chart. Was it an ABC original or the work of Ellie and/or her (male) co-owner with a little help from a graphic designer?

So as not to contribute to what former President Donald Trump calls “fake news”, MWD would like to clarify that the chart was an original production. It represented Ellie’s best effort to make sense of the diversity apparatus as outlined by ABC News boss Justin Stevens.

Monday’s edition of The Australian included another scoop by the ever-vigilant Sophie Elsworth. On this occasion she reported that the ABC is recruiting a “senior cultural adviser of content”, who will be on a six-figure salary and provide “advice, support and guidance on Indigenous issues, protocols and opportunities”.

This new hire will join ABC journalist Miriam Corowa, who earlier this month was appointed as the senior cultural adviser for the news division. MWD was unaware of Ms Corowa’s appointment during the preparation of last week’s edition and so she was sadly excluded from the flowchart presented, apologies, apologies. Below is an updated version of the chart with her central role included:


YOUR TAXES AT WORK

This hugely popular Media Watch Dog segment looks at how taxpayer’s money is spent by governments and councils – along with the various institutions they fund. Of particular interest to Gerard Henderson – a published author who never gets invited to literary festivals, which obviates the need for him to respond to any literary festival RSVP in a negative way – are the various taxpayer funded writers’ weeks.

MWD defines a literary festival as an occasion when a soviet of leftist activists and bureaucrats get hold of a bucket load of taxpayer funds and invite members of the leftist intelligentsia to rock up to festivals (speakers’ fees, travel and accommodation costs all paid). There they meet fellow panellists of like mind and participate in forums in which everyone agrees with everyone else in a leftist kind of way.

Each year, MWD focuses on various writers’ festivals – in particular, the taxpayer funded get-togethers in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

  • LOUISE ADLER’S 2024 ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK – ANOTHER (TAXPAYER FUNDED) LEFTIST STACK WITHOUT DEBATE

In her you-beaut “Come Writers & Critics” column in The Weekend Australian on 17 February, Caroline Overington drew attention to the 2024 Adelaide Writers’ Week. Ms Overington – who once told Hendo that she is younger than Kylie Minogue – focused her 2024 Adelaide Writers’ Week coverage on the Middle East forums at a time of the Israel-Hamas War.

As MWD readers are well aware, the current conflict commenced when Hamas broke a cease-fire agreement on 7 October 2023 and invaded southern Israel in an attack aimed at civilians – who were murdered, butchered, raped and kidnapped with the utmost barbarity.  Sometime after this terrorist atrocity, Israel invaded Gaza with the intent of decapitating the Hamas leadership.  The battle continues.

In her column on 17 February, Ms Overington remarked on the lack of balance on this issue in the 2024 AWW line-up. Here’s what she had to say:

So, who will speak in Adelaide? They’ve got Ilan Pappe, who says Israel is involved in ethnic cleansing. They’ve got Bob Carr, who makes no secret of his position. They’ve got Avi Shlaim (Israel is an apartheid state, etc). They’ve got Nathan Thrall, author of A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Palestine Story. They’ve got Tareq Baconi, who is on the board of The Palestinian Policy Network. They’ve also got Ben Saul, who just adored the anti-Israel boycott of the Sydney Festival and on it goes, and look, you could complain, of course…but it’s probably going to be the same at every writers’ festival this year, until all but the smug stop going.

Here is MWD’s “little list” of left-of-centre and leftist writers and intend-to-be-writers at the 2024 AWW who will take part in the various discussions: Phillip Adams, Mary Beard, Mike Bowers, Judith Brett, Bob Carr, Andrew Clark, J.M. Coetzee, James Curran, Zoe Daniel, Glyn Davis, Richard Denniss, Sarah Ferguson, Martin Flanagan, Richard Flanagan, Clementine Ford, Anna Funder, Richard Glover, Jonathan Green, Sarah Hanson-Young, Wendy Harmer, Tom Keneally, John Lyons, David Marr, Maxine McKew, Louise Milligan, Barbara Pocock, Alan Rusbridger, Ben Saul, Tory Shepherd, Emma Shortis, Jason Steger, Chris Taylor, Lenore Taylor, Laura Tingle, Christos Tsiolkas, Yanis Varoufakis, Marian Wilkinson, and Alexis Wright.

Not a conservative among this lot.  Sure, not everyone on the 2024 AWW speakers’ list is a left-of-centre type or a leftist.  But most are.  Moreover, MWD cannot locate one conservative in the field.  Amanda Vanstone, a former Liberal Party senator, is on the list. But she does not regard herself as conservative – identifying as a “liberal” in the North American terminology.

The only sitting MPs on the AWW stage are Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens), Barbara Pocock (Greens) and Zoe Daniel (a “Teal” of the leftist genre).  The only think-tank represented is the avowedly left-wing Australia Institute in the persona of its executive director Dr Richard Denniss (for a doctor he is).  No representative of the Centre for Independent Studies (Sydney), the Menzies Research Centre (Sydney), the Institute of Public Affairs (Melbourne) or the Robert Menzies Institute (Melbourne) is on the speakers’ list.  The conservative free zone that is the ABC is covered by Julia Baird, Sarah Ferguson, Richard Glover, John Lyons, Lisa Millar, Louise Milligan, Phillip Adams AO etc, Chris Taylor, Lenore Taylor and Laura Tingle. Needless to say, no conservatives in this workers’ collective.

Likewise, with the rest, it’s a leftist stack – funded by Australians, including South Australians, who pay taxes and rates. Which demonstrates, once again, that the left is only interested in hearing from fellow comrades and wants to censor or de-platform the views of others.

Your Taxes At Work


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

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

  • BEVAN SHIELDS & GERARD HENDERSON RE MWD’s “DELIBERATE MISTAKE” ABOUT THE SMH’s SPECIAL EDITION OF THE “SYDNEY MORNING GITTINS”

As readers of this issue’s “John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake” segment will be well aware, in the previous issue Ellie’s (male) co-owner made a mistake. He claimed that certain matters were not reported in the “Holy Ross We Praise Thy Name” issue of the SMH on 7 February.  But they did, in fact, appear.  Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa and all that.  Attached below is correspondence between the SMH editor Bevan Shields and Hendo. Read on – s’il vous plaît.

Bevan Shields to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2024

Dear Gerard,

I hope you are well and apologise for bothering you on a Sunday. I hope you’ve taken Ellie out for a nice walk in the sun this weekend.

Given your strong interest in accurate reporting, I wanted to draw your attention to some significant problems in the most-recent MWD column (which I always enjoy).

In the item under the subhead ‘All the news about Ross Gittins that the SMH, but not The Age, believes is fit to print’, you rightly note that The Age didn’t run any of our coverage about Ross’ anniversary.

You note the many pieces The Age ran in that day’s edition, including:

* “Reports on the Reserve Bank of Australia and interest rates”

* “A sketch by Matthew Knott on the ABC’s Nemesis series”

* “The Coalition’s tax policy”

* “The Nationals’ position on renewable energy”

* “Indigenous issues”

You conclude: “Yet the SMH reckoned that its readers are more interested in the boring economics editor than interest rates. Can You Bear It?”

In doing so, you have left your readers with the very clearly [sic] impression that the Herald did not run any of the stories you have listed above, because of the space dedicated to Ross. This is wrong.

The Herald ran all of the above stories in the same print edition:

* “Reports on the Reserve Bank of Australia and interest rates” – PAGE !4

* “A sketch by Matthew Knott on the ABC’s Nemesis series” – PAGE 19

* “The Coalition’s tax policy” – PAGE 14

* “The Nationals’ position on renewable energy” – PAGE 19

* “Indigenous issues” – PAGE 16

We also ran many other good national, state and local stories in that edition. We were able to do so because I increased the size of the standard newspaper that day by eight pages to make sure the Ross tributes did not come at the cost of important news.

I know the value you place on accuracy, Gerard, so I hope you will be able to update your readers with the facts.

My best to you and Anne. And of course, to Ellie!

Bevan

Bevan Shields

Editor

 

Gerard Henderson to Bevan Shields – 19 February 2024

Dear Bevan

How nice to hear from you on Sunday – your email of 18 February refers. And how wonderful to know that you are an avid, albeit not uncritical, Media Watch Dog reader.

For starters, I should state that, on reflection, I am disappointed that the special edition of the Sydney Morning Gittins on 7 February carried only 10 pages in honour of the Great Man. Plus 15 pics and seven illustrations.  A little underdone, I now believe.  Since extra pages were available, perhaps you could have done more.

Unlike the SMH which carries the briefest of corrections on the bottom of Page 2, Media Watch Dog – as you concede – has a “strong interest in accurate reporting”.  I will certainly run a correction in the next issue – along the lines you suggest.  In a prominent place.

However, I would like to explain how the “John Laws Style Deliberate Mistake” occurred.

I follow my late father’s tradition of feeding canines on discarded newspapers. He maintained that our dogs liked the sports pages of The Herald in Melbourne.  I have found that the late Jackie (RIP, Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute) and Ellie (Bachelor of Catastrophic Studies at the Canberra Bubble Institute who is also a junk professor at the same learned institution) have found the Sydney Morning Herald as a great background on which to place an evening meal.  Especially on pages which feature The Thought of the Brilliant Ross.

And so, alas, over various nights the Sydney Morning Herald’s tribute to “Ross Gittins’ Brilliance” was consumed. In the end, the SMH’s  “Ross Gittins’ 50th Anniversary Edition” had disappeared with Ellie’s scraps.  And I went on my memory – not anticipating that the SMH had printed extra pages. Hence the error.

In any event, all will be corrected in the next edition of Media Watch Dog. And not with four lines at the bottom of Page Two.

Anne and Ellie send their regards.  Keep Morale High.

Gerard

Gerard Henderson

 

 

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Until next time.

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