GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 671

1 March 2024

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EDITORIAL

  • PAUL BARRY’S GLASS JAW

As Media Watch Dog has pointed out for eons, the ABC TV Media Watch program – currently presented by Paul Barry – allows for no on-air debate or right-of-reply segments.  Moreover, all of its presenters have been leftists or left-of-centre types.

Kim Williams, the ABC’s chair elect, remarks in the March 2024 edition of The Monthly that “the Australian media’s incapacity to receive criticism is staggering”.  He added: “The glass jaw of our media…completely overwhelms the glass jaws they allege elsewhere.” Once Mr Williams assumes his duties on Wednesday 6 March, he is likely to come across Paul “Glass Jaw” Barry.  And now for some background.

On 19 February Media Watch ran a story presented by Barry titled “Humanising war victims” which was highly critical of The Australian with respect to its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. Writing in The Australian on 21 February under the heading “Media Watch’s war claim ‘a joke’”, James Madden commented that: “Jewish leaders have expressed outrage at claims made by the ABC’s Media Watch program that the public broadcaster has been the only news outlet to ‘give equal coverage to both sides’ in the Israel-Hamas war.”

After reading Madden’s report, Paul Barry wrote a letter to The Australian on 21 February.  When it was not published, Barry put up a post containing his (unpublished) letter.

How about that? Barry and his executive producer Timothy Latham do not allow for any corrections/complaints to be covered on the Media Watch TV program itself.  But they expect to have their complaints published in the same paper as the piece to which they object. An unpleasant double standard, to be sure.

Then on 26 February, Barry took up a whole segment of his taxpayer funded Media Watch program to defend his comments of the previous week.  He started with quoting considered praise along with abusive criticism.  Clever, eh?  Since it implied those who agree with Barry are rational while those who disagree with him are irrational.

Barry’s essential criticism of the Madden story was this:

The Australian not only misrepresented our findings and glossed over its own bias in reporting, but implied that we relied entirely on research by Dr Susan Carland for our conclusions. So I wrote a letter to the editor to say that was completely untrue, and I had explained as much to the reporter.

That letter has still not been published, despite a tweet to remind them, and we have received no response. Now, I really don’t care what The Australian writes, but I do think it’s a problem when our national broadsheet can’t deal fairly with scrutiny on such an important issue.

The fact is that Paul Barry’s segment on the Israel-Hamas war was flawed. It cited Dr Susan Carland’s Islamophobia Register which covered the Instagram accounts of only six of Australia’s most-followed news outlets. Just six. What’s more, it only paid attention to Carland’s findings with respect to “Humanising Stories” – and ignored the other two categories.

In short, Madden’s critique of Barry was considered and reasonable. In his self-justification defence on Media Watch, Barry also failed to mention that Carland told The Australian that her research “should not be taken as a definitive analysis of Australian media bias against Palestinians”. A significant admission. Yet Barry implied that, in one instance at least, Carland’s research was definitive.

As Dr Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, told Madden: “It’s … predictable that Media Watch neglected to mention failings by much of the Australian media to the detriment of Israel, such as the failures to cover the links between journalists and Hamas, or UNRWA and Hamas, (stories) that were highlighted by The Australian, which was typical of its overall balanced, comprehensive and factually accurate coverage.”

For its part, Media Watch’s executive producer Timothy Latham said in a statement: “We stand by our story and what we put to air.” Quelle Surprise! More glass-jawism.


  • NINE’S JAMES MASSOLA CHANNELS BARBARA CARTLAND ON THE PRIME MINISTERIAL WEDDING

There was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog’s “Can You Bear It?” segment on 16 February.  Some avid readers burst into tears of emotion after reading about the accounts in The Age  and Sydney Morning Herald  concerning the engagement of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon.  This was particularly the case with James Massola, Nine’s political affairs editor – whose report of the forthcoming union between Mr Albanese (born 1963) and Ms Haydon (born 1979) was, well, somewhat Barbara Cartland-like.  Your man Massola emoted about the matter as if this was a bit like a Pride and Prejudice moment with the PM as Mr Darcy and Ms Haydon as Elizabeth Bennet.

The good news – for MWD readers at least – is that James Massola is at it again.  Lotsa thanks to the Canberra reader who drew attention to Massola’s piece in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 29 February titled “Big day is coming for PM and Haydon (but diaries are filling up)”.

A seemingly breathless Massola canvassed all the options for the forthcoming marriage.  But first he wrote this:

Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon’s wedding conversations will get serious this Easter when they work through their diaries to try and agree on a date. Setting a date for Australia’s first prime ministerial wedding, which will have to balance the demands of personal happiness, government business and election timing, will be no easy feat.

Nine’s national affairs editor then looked at the options.  Here are his conclusions. The May budget “effectively rules out the next couple of months” and “June is typically one of parliament’s busiest months”.  What’s more, the PM “often goes overseas” in July and August.  September is a possibility “but parliament sits for a fortnight, and it’s also footy finals month”.  October is “the month for international summits” and there are elections in Queensland and the ACT [who cares about ACT elections? – MWD Editor.]  November is popular for weddings – however it “has three parliamentary sitting weeks”.   So, Massola went for December:

That leaves December – when parliament doesn’t sit, the weather is usually kind, and people take holidays. A wedding at the end of the year would allow the nation’s first couple to get married and take a honeymoon – somewhere in Australia, no going overseas in bushfire season – before Albanese springs into next year on an election footing. Just don’t expect it on Christmas Day, the least popular day for people to get married.

Groan.  What will your man Massola do if the couple just head off to the NSW Registry Office at, say, Chippendale in Sydney’s inner west at 9 am on a non-sitting Monday?  Hang on a minute.  If Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce choose to get hitched, Nine could always send its national political editor to Rhode Island to emote about another high-profile union.  Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really, now that you ask.  I note that the Sydney Morning Herald Online version of the Massola gush is even more embarrassing. It refers to the forthcoming “tiny little honeymoon”.  Even Barbara Cartland was not inclined to use such sludge. – MWD  Editor.]

  • THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE-ABC ENTENTE RIDES AGAIN WITH COMRADE EBONY BENNETT BAGGING THE LIBERAL PARTY

Wasn’t it good to see the ABC-Australia Institute Entente back in action on ABC TV News Breakfast?  The date was 29 February.

The Australia Institute, an avowedly leftist think tank, seems to have ready access to News Breakfast.  Hence the appearances on the program by such Australia Institute comrades as Richard Denniss, Ebony Bennett, Emma Shortis and Polly Hemming.  Whereas conservative and right-of-centre institutes never seem to get an invite.  But, then, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster is a conservative free zone – so that figures.

On 29 February, Ebony Bennett, deputy director of The Australia Institute, was interviewed by Bridget Brennan and Michael Rowland in the “Newspapers” segment. Comrade Bennett wears her (ideological) heart on her sleeve. Rather than commenting on what’s in the newspapers – Ms Bennett invariably gives political lectures.

On this occasion, she described the Tasmanian Liberal government’s decision to alter the existing deal with respect to logging as “a bit of a disastrous decision for the state”.  Michael Rowland concurred.

When discussion turned to the Albanese government’s decision to restructure the Stage 3 tax cuts, Comrade Bennett supported Labor and bagged the Coalition.  Then discussion turned to a report by the NSW Auditor General criticising the $5 billion West Invest program of the previous Coalition government in NSW.  Comrade Bennett declared that this was pork barrelling. Bridget Brennan concurred in the following terms:

Bridget Brennan: Absolutely. Ebony Bennett for us in Canberra.  Always great to chat and we’ll catch up with you in the coming weeks.

Ebony Bennett:  Thank you.

Yep.  MWD is sure that The Australia Institute will be on News Breakfast in coming weeks – but not a conservative or right-of-centre institute. Can You Bear It?

  • THE GUARDIAN/ABC AXIS CONTINUES – UNDIMINISHED BY KATHARINE MURPHY’S MOVE TO THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

While on the topic of the ABC’s ideological faves, MWD is happy to report that The Guardian/ABC Axis has not been weakened by the decision of Katharine Murphy – formerly the Guardian Australia’s political editor – to take up a media job in the Prime Minister’s Office.  What happened is that Karen Middleton has moved from The [Boring] Saturday Paper to The Guardian.  So, The Guardian/ABC Axis will not be weakened since Comrade Middleton is a regular on RN Breakfast and ABC TV Insiders – as was her predecessor Comrade Murphy.

So, how is Murpharoo doing in her new job? – MWD hears avid readers cry. Well, to use an old cliché, she seems to have moved from poacher to gatekeeper. In The Australian’s “Margin Call” column on 22 February, Christine Lacy reported that Comrade Murphy declined to answer a question from The Australian as “to whether the PM had forked out to attend the Eras tour himself or whether he’d been given a ticket by some generous corporate”.   This relates to the fact that Anthony Albanese identifies as a Swiftie – in which capacity he attended Taylor Swift’s concert in Sydney on 23 February.

To be fair, it’s not unusual for politicians of all political stripes to avoid such questions.  It’s just that in the Guardian days, Murpharoo was always banging on about transparency and all that. So, it came with some surprise that Christine Lacy did not get a response to her question.  Comrade Murphy has made a metamorphosis in a very short time from a moralising Guardian journalist to a hard-headed political operative.  Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?

  • MORE TAYLOR SWIFT OVER-ANALYSIS – THIS TIME FROM JACQUELINE MALEY AT THE SMH

While on the topic of Tay Tay, there was much interest in last week’s segment covering The Saturday Paper’s article by Santilla Chingaipe about how pop singer Taylor Swift is white (which is bad) and should be singing songs about topics like climate change instead of her personal life.

This week Jacqueline Maley is on the overthinking Taylor Swift train, questioning in a Sydney Morning Herald (aka Sun-Herald) article on 25 February whether or not it is okay for artists to include personal details from their lives in their work. Comrade Maley was inspired by the television series Feud: Capote v The Swans, and Truman Capote’s airing of the personal lives of his friends via his writing. She then associates this with Taylor Swift writing about her relationships.

The answer to the question posed by the article’s headline – “Is it OK to mine your past relationships to feed your art? Looking at you Tay Tay” – is MWD is not too sure if there is an answer. But the important thing is that the Sydney Morning Herald generated some more Swift-related copy, in turn allowing MWD to generate some Swift-related copy. Can You Bear It?

[As avid readers will recall, Ellie is herself a Swiftie – see photos below of her wearing a friendship bracelet – commonly made by many Taylor Swift fans. I understand that Hendo, like the PM, is also a “Swiftie”. Except that he belongs to the Anglo-Irish Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) fan club – since reading Swift’s A Modest Proposal and Gulliver’s Travels some decades ago.  I believe that Ellie’s (male) co-owner is in possession of a friendship bracelet made by an 18th Century Jonathan-Swiftie after a packed-out performance by Dean Swift in St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin circa 1739.  – MWD Editor.]

  • CLIMATE COUNCIL BREAKS MWD RULE THAT IT’S UNWISE TO MAKE PREDICTIONS, ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE FUTURE

On Wednesday 28 February the Climate Council put out, yet another, dire warning about the future impacts of climate change on Australia. On this occasion it has built an interactive “heat map”, which is meant to show how many more days with a maximum temperature above 35 degrees different parts of the country will experience. The map can be made to show the projected situation in 2050 or 2090. Users can also choose how much warming to assume based on how much is done to reduce carbon emissions worldwide – the options being “no action”, “existing action” and the implicatively titled “necessary action”.

The heat map can be zoomed in to show suburb-by-suburb data. For instance, it shows that by 2090, with “existing action” to combat climate change, the suburbs in Sydney’s Northern Beaches will be experiencing six extra days of 35-degree heat each year. Except for the suburb of Beacon Hill which will mercifully be spared on one day and so only experience five such extra days. If we instead assume “necessary action” will be taken, we can see that by 2090 the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy will experience five extra 35-degree days, while neighbouring Carlton only experiences four.

The map was given a dutiful write-up in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Readers were warned that towns like Darwin in The Northern Territory and Oodnadatta in South Australia could be rendered uninhabitable by climate change. Perhaps most seriously of all, the Australian Open could be under threat as the number of hot days in Melbourne soars. At no point was the wisdom of trying to project suburb-by-suburb data 66 years in advance questioned.

Especially since Nate Byrne, who does the weather on ABC TV’s News Breakfast, conceded on 2 January that in relation to weather it’s impossible to “predict the future” and that he has a job where he can get away “with not always getting it 100 per cent correct”. Yet the Climate Council reckons that it knows what the weather will be like at 4 pm on April Fool’s Day 2090. Can You Bear It?


  • ABC TV’s 7.30 RUNS COVER FOR THE ROYAL COMMISSION INTO INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE WITH RESPECT TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

On 27 February, at long last the ABC ran one of its reporter Russell Jackson’s investigations into pedophilia in Victorian government schools – which was at its height between the 1960s and 1990s.

As Media Watch Dog readers will be aware, the ABC has covered some of Russell Jackson’s reports on this issue on its web pages.  But this is the first occasion that it has covered the matter on one of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s main television or radio platforms.

The sequence was as follows. At 8 am on 27 February, ABC Online published an article by Jackson titled “The truth needs to be told” on its website. This is how it commenced:

One survivor has called it “mind-boggling” and “beyond belief”. A lawyer for victims says it was “calculated” and “covered up, just like in the Catholic Church”. And on Monday, a small but important step was taken in addressing the Victorian Department of Education’s historical child sexual abuse crisis.

After six months examining decades of crimes against students in state-run schools, the government-initiated inquiry leading the investigation delivered its findings to the Victorian governor. The government has not said when it will make the report and its response public.

Although the inquiry has uncovered shocking evidence during public hearings that the Victorian Education Department knowingly shuffled paedophile teachers around the state and endangered children, its scope was limited to a cluster of offenders who taught at Beaumaris Primary School in Melbourne’s bayside south-east. Active civil claims and convictions suggest that more than 100 government schools may be affected.

The report by Jackson on 7.30 later that day essentially covered the same ground as the article.  Except that it gave the impression that former Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews (a member of the socialist left faction) was the first to take action on this matter in June 2023 – when he set up an inquiry into sexual abuse crimes at Beaumaris Primary School.

In fact, the (then) Premier was late to the task.  George Pell, when Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, set up the Melbourne Response to deal with sexual abuse by priests and brothers in Catholic institutions, including schools. The Victorian Labor government set up its inquiry in June 2023 – around a quarter of a century later.

7.30 executive producer Joel Tozer was soft on the Andrews’ government in this regard.  But not only on Andrews.  When Gerard Henderson read Jackson’s article he noticed that there was no mention of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – headed by Peter McClellan KC.

The Royal Commission was established in late 2012 by the various Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. Moreover, it had a wide terms of reference.

Even so, in its wisdom, the Royal Commission did not examine any government school in the whole of Australia to see whether pedophiles had committed crimes in these educational institutions and how any offenders were handled.

Gerard Henderson emailed Justin Stevens, the ABC’s Director News, suggesting that when Jackson’s report went to air on 7.30  some comment should be made about the McClellan Royal Commission in this regard.  Mr Stevens said that he had passed the comment on to Joel Tozer, 7.30’s executive producer. But the report went to air without any reference to the Royal Commission.

Mr McClellan KC and his fellow commissioners have no excuse for this oversight. The Royal Commission had a budget of $372 million and around 300 staff at any one time.  It had its term extended from three to five years.  Yet it did not do a case study on any one government school – preferring to focus on Christian (especially Catholic and Anglican) schools and other institutions.

Since the Royal Commission ended in December 2017, the governments of Tasmania and Victoria have set up their own boards of inquiries into historical child sexual abuse in government schools. It is possible that other states and territories might do likewise.

It is also worth noting that such ABC investigative programs as 7.30, Four Corners, Background Briefing and the like have “done a McClellan” and ignored government schools with respect to child abuse. At least 7.30 has looked at the situation in Tasmania and now Victoria.  But the ABC has focused on pedophilia in Catholic institutions for around two decades.


MWD’s RANT OF THE WEEK

  • STEP FORWARD SKY NEWS’ LIZ STORER CHANNELING TUCKER CARLSON ON VLADIMIR PUTIN’S RUSSIA

Wasn’t it fun to see Tucker Carlson’s Woman Down Under in action on Sky News Australia’s The Great Debate on 29 February?  The reference is to Sky News co-presenter Liz Storer. It was Post-Dinner Drinks Time heading toward Hangover Time. But Ellie’s (male) co-owner was alert enough to follow the rant of MWD fave Ms Storer on The Great Debate.

But first some analysis.  MWD is of the view that the Storer approach to Eastern Europe is like this.  Step One – ask Russian dictatorial leader Vladimir Putin what he wants.  Step Two – give it to him.

Certainly, Liz Storer was in full rant mode on Leap Day – focusing on the continuing war following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.  Her position is that, following Julian Assange, she believes that the supporters of Ukraine want an endless war not a successful one.  It’s all a conspiracy aimed at boosting the financial coffers of the “big military contractors” in the United States along with that of “the military industrial complex”.

Unlike the ABC, there are moments of real debate on Sky News.  Certainly, Caleb Bond and James Macpherson pushed back against The Thought of Liz Storer.  But, at times, it was difficult to break into Storer’s stream-of-political-unconsciousness – see here and you be the judge.

Let’s go to the transcript for an example.

Liz Storer:  …this is a war that should never have happened. And Russia tried to stop it from happening for a very long time. It sat down with the US; it sat down with Ukraine. They had one condition: do not expand NATO into Ukraine. So, what does NATO do? “Let’s expand into Ukraine.” Why? Because the big military contractors stand to make a lot of money when someone joins Ukraine – sorry joins NATO. And then they can place a lot – a lot of conditions on that membership, and make themselves a lot, a lot of money.

Hang on a minute.  Russia invaded Crimea, part of Ukraine, in February/March 2014. Moreover, Ukraine is not a member of NATO.  It has not “joined” NATO.  Yet, Liz Storer would have us believe that Russia, which invaded Ukraine again in February 2022 tried to “stop” the current Russia/Ukraine war which it commenced. What a load of absolute tosh.

Liz Storer went on to declare that the financial company BlackRock is buying Ukraine’s assets and will “rebuild” the country once the war is over.  But if the NATO nations and some others stop arming Ukraine –  it will be conquered by Russia.  It’s hard to see Putin negotiating with BlackRock to rebuild a defeated Ukraine under Russian control.

The Storer rant ended in a verbal punch-up with Storer in the Red corner and Caleb Bond and James Macpherson in the Blue corner.  Until the bell rang – and it was time for some advertisements.  For his part, Ellie’s (male) co-owner headed for a bottle of port.


A LA TINGLE MOMENT

  • IN WHICH LAURA TINGLE CRITICISED ABC REDUNDANCIES WHICH OCCURRED UNDER THE COALITION BUT NOT THOSE UNDER LABOR GOVERNMENTS

An avid Media Watch Dog reader has drawn attention to the fact that this blog, when dealing with matters Laura Tingle, overlooks her role on the ABC Board. The point being that MWD focuses on La Tingle’s position at the ABC (as 7.30 national political correspondent and on Late Night Live’s “Mingle with Tingle” segment) and her weekly Australian Financial Review column on Saturdays. The reader wants more focus on Comrade Tingle’s position as the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s staff-elected Board member.

The criticism is well taken. So, here’s the beginning of the new focus on matters Tingle. As avid readers will recall, Laura Tingle put out this tweet on 9 October 2020 – After Dark, at 11.27 pm, to be precise:

Laura Tingle

@latingle

What a legend…watch this.  It is what us mere journalistic mortals aspire to have covered in our careers .. and we grieve the loss of so many of our fine colleagues to government ideological bastardry.  Hope you are feeling smug @ScottMorrisonMP

23:27, 9 Oct 2020

The tweet was soon taken down. The (alleged) “ideological bastardry” of the Coalition government led by Scott Morrison in October 2020 turned on the fact that the ABC had just presided over redundancies with respect to Laura Tingle’s ABC colleagues.  She believed that then prime minister Scott Morrison was “smug” about this, as well as being into “ideological bastardry”.

Move forward to 1 July 2023 when Laura Tingle won a narrow victory over Daniel Ziffer for election to the ABC Board.  Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s  attention to this story by Sam Buckingham-Jones which appeared in the Australian Financial Review on 20 October 2023 – just three years after Comrade Tingle’s late night rant.  This is how the report commenced:

Redundancy costs at the ABC leapt fivefold in the past year to more than $22 million, as the organisation went through a major restructure aimed at boosting audiences and making better shows….  In the 2022 financial year, the ABC paid out $4.3 million in redundancies. In 2023, it paid out $22.2 million.

The Albanese Labor government was in office throughout 2022-23.  La Tingle had accused the Morrison Coalition government of ideological bastardry for the ABC redundancies which occurred in 2020.  But said nothing about the redundancies which occurred in 2023.

What could La Tingle have done – in view of the fact that she was a member of the ABC board? MWD hears avid readers cry.

Well, Comrade Tingle could have put out a Late Night post on X (formerly Twitter) accusing the Albanese government of “ideological bastardry” and declaring the Prime Minister was being “smug”.  And/or resigned from the ABC Board in protest of the redundancies – forfeiting her $60,000 per annum honorarium in the process. But La Tingle did neither. How’s that for a double standard?


NEW SEGMENT – REPORT FROM ALIENATION LAND

  • ANU PROFESSOR AND MEDIA COMMENTATOR MARK KENNY & NINE’S NICK BRYANT EXPRESS THEIR ALIENATION

This brand new segment is inspired by the post put out by Mark (“Please call me professor”) Kenny at 8.09 pm on 14 October 2023. The former ABC and Fairfax journo – and now Australian National University professor – had just realised that the referendum on whether to place an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and the Executive in the Constitution had been defeated.  The final national vote was 40 per cent for “Yes” and 60 per cent for “No”.

As a memory jogger, here’s Professor Kenny’s post:

How about that?  It’s understandable that the one-time Labor staffer was disappointed with the result. This occurs in Australia after national elections – where just over 50 per cent of the voters are happy with the result – and just under 50 per cent of voters are disappointed. Most Australians who voted for the losing party get on with their (political) lives intent on reversing the result at a subsequent election or referendum.

What’s the point of this? – MWD hears readers ask.  It’s just that the alienated Kenny is back in business as a commentator on the ABC, at least – despite his alienated state.

For example, he rocked up on AM on 26 February to comment on former prime minister Scott Morrison’s resignation speech as the Member for Cook.  And he gave political commentary on ABC Radio National Breakfast on 31 January and 19 January. And he joined fellow leftist Judith Brett on Between the Lines – Nick Bryant was the presenter – on 1 December 2023.  It was one of those oh-so-familiar ABC panels where everyone agreed with everyone else in a left-wing kind of way.

Here’s the problem.  Comrade Kenny feels that he doesn’t know his own country.  Then – pray tell MWD – why is the ABC asking him to comment on the politics of a country he doesn’t understand?  To the extent that Comrade Kenny does know Australia – he is full of contempt for 60 per cent of the population.  Which seems to make objective commentary somewhat difficult – don’t you think?

While on the topic of alienation, consider the case of former BBC journalist Nick Bryant who is currently based in Australia. In his Sydney Morning Herald column on 27 January, Comrade Bryant wrote that due to the “No” victory in The Voice referendum, “Australia seems both ever more untenable and ever more entrenched”. Whatever that might mean.  He also argued that, after the referendum, “many who still call Australia home but choose to live overseas” feel “shame” due to the defeat of “Yes”.

Bryant’s piece was illustrated by a Shakespeare cartoon mocking thongs-wearing and barbecue-attending Australian middle-aged males.  They seem to be the kind of blokes whom Mark Kenny looks down on in a “so disheartened” way.

Yet your man Kenny recently returned to Australia after a period overseas. And Comrade Bryant chooses to live in Australia rather than returning to his native Britain. Which suggests that domestic comfort beats a feeling of alienation in so far as the residential abode of leftist scribblers is concerned.


HISTORY CORNER

  • A HISTORY QUESTION FOR OUR TIME – WHEN DID PHILLIP ADAMS QUIT THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA?

Media Watch Dog fave Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA, has mentioned Gerard Henderson on three occasions in his last four columns for The Weekend Australian Magazine – with only the occasional inaccuracy.

Most of Comrade Adams’ latest columns have focused on his decision to retire as presenter of ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live sometime in June 2024. Most ABC “stars” get glowing and long send-offs from the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – so adulatory that some retiring ABC types return to work pending another retirement. Take, for example, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly who stepped down from ABC Radio National Breakfast to much acclaim only to be back at work at the ABC not long after with yet another send-off to follow. Come to think of it, after her send-off in December 2021, Comrade Kelly presented the unsuccessful Frankly on ABC TV and is currently presenting Saturday Extra  on Radio National.

As MWD reported in the last issue, ABC’s 7.30 chief political correspondent Laura Tingle, who has done the “Mingle with Tingle” LNL segment on Monday nights since Moses was a boy – believes that “Oh Phillip!” (as she calls him) has only five readers at the most re which see the previous issue of MWD.  But La Tingle reckons that the ABC’s Man-in-Black has a huge LNL audience due to him possessing a brain that she has described as being “the size of a planet”.  Wow.

[There is some inconsistency here – he certainly has more than five readers.  Was this an attempt at humour by La Tingle aimed at sneering at The Australian  I wonder? – MWD Editor.]

But MWD digresses, not for the first time.  With a brain the size of a planet,  Comrade Adams should be able to answer this question (see below) – especially since he has obtained his Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) file.  Here it is.

  • When did Phillip Adams join and later resign/retire from membership of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA)?

Traditionally Adams claimed that he joined the CPA as a teenager (he was born in July 1939) and quit after the Soviet Union’s crushing of the Hungarian Uprising of October/November 1956. This would suggest that he quit the CPA at age circa 17 years. But wait, there’s more.

On Thursday 11 July 2019, Phillip Adams was interviewed by Richard Fidler about Phillip Adams on Phillip Adams’ ABC Late Night Live.  Adams told Fidler that he was “either expelled or resigned” from the Communist Party in 1968 saying – “it was Czechoslovakia that was the final straw”.   See MWD 12 July 2019. The reference was to the Soviet Union’s crushing of what was called the Prague Spring in August 1968. But there’s more still.

In mid-1979, Peter Blazey (1939-1997) interviewed Phillip Adams for the left-wing weekly newspaper Nation Review.  The interview was published on 26 July 1979.  In it, Adams made vague references about Gough Whitlam’s (alleged) sexuality and described Australians as “a bunch of hoons”. He also made this comment:

Peter Blazey: Do you see anything to recommend in communist countries at all?

Phillip Adams:  Bugger off.  During the 1930s all sorts of romantic lefties from Britain were horrified by their experience in Moscow.  I went through the same sort of disenchantment in the 1960s when I made my first visits to Russia and Eastern Europe.

Peter Blazey:  All that dull conformity?

Phillip Adams:  All of that, plus a constant feel of what communism really is…. I’d like everyone who fantasises about the Communist Party to spend a bit of time in Moscow or Prague or Leningrad or Warsaw.  At the very least it will test their faith.

So, these days Comrade Adams says that he became disillusioned with communism as a teenager circa 1956. However, in 1979 he told Blazey that his disillusionment with communism occurred in the 1960s – that is, around a decade later. And in 2019 he said that the Soviet Union’s crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 was the “last straw”.

This is what we know. Comrade Adams joined the Communist Party of Australia circa 1952. That was after the CPA had supported (i) Stalin’s forced famine in Ukraine in 1934, (ii) Stalin’s purges of 1937, (iii) the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939 and (iv) the Soviet Union’s conquest of Eastern Europe circa 1948.  The CPA also supported the Soviet Union’s crushing of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.

Adams appears to have quit the CPA in 1968.  He would not have been expelled from the CPA in 1968 since it, too, opposed the Soviet Union’s crushing of the Prague Spring. In fact, the CPA split with its rulers – and financiers – in Moscow soon after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia.  Some members of the CPA, who were continuing Stalinists, formed the Socialist Party of Australia – led by Bill and Freda Brown – and continued to receive funds from Moscow until the Soviet Union disintegrated.

The evidence suggests that Comrade Adams was a member of the CPA during most of the 1950s and 1960s.  As such, he would have belonged to a political party that supported Soviet totalitarianism under the leadership of Stalin, Malenkov/Beria/ Molotov, Khrushchev and Brezhnev up until the end of the 1960s. Nothing to write home about, as the saying goes.

There is one clear way Phillip Adams can resolve this issue. He can release his ASIO file about which he talks and writes so much. The good people of ASIO circa 1950-1970 might well have recorded when this teenager or adult joined and left the Communist Party of Australia.

By the way, History Corner would be happy to report on Phillip Adams’ ASIO file.  Over to you Comrade.


DOCUMENTATION

  • GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA WOMEN: NOT YET A CLASSLESS SOCIETY

Each year the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), a federal government body established in 2012, publishes a “score card” giving an update on certain gender equality statistics in the Australian workforce. This year the WGEA has, for the first time, released data for individual private companies with 100 or more employees.

On Tuesday Crikey media reporter Daanyal Saeed published an article with the figures for the media companies covered in the report. That is Seven West, Nine Entertainment, Network 10, Australian Associated Press (AAP), News Corp, Foxtel, Sky News and Guardian Australia. The ABC and SBS were not covered by the WGEA score card as they are not public companies, they will apparently be included in next year’s effort. He also included data he obtained for Private Media, the publisher of Crikey.

According to the WGEA, Seven West had the largest gender wage gap out of the media companies, with women making on average 13.8 per cent less than men. In what must be a shock to some in the Sandalista set, Sky News was the only media company to show a “negative” (or should that be positive?) pay gap, with women making on average 1.1 per cent more than men.

The Guardian scored highest among the media companies in overall representation of women in the workforce (58 per cent), women in management positions (60 per cent) and the percentage of women within the highest paid quarter of their employees (57 per cent). However, it is not all good news for women working for Guardian Australia. When you look at the lowest paid quarter of the Guardian’s employees, they had by far the highest percentage of women among the media companies, at 72 per cent. On the other hand, Sky was the only media company to have disproportionally few women among its lowest paid workers.

Evidently Guardian Australia does a good job elevating women to senior management positions which are well-paid (at least compared to other jobs at notoriously stingy Guardian Australia). But it also relies on a large number of poorly paid wage-slave types, most of whom are women.

In the past MWD has drawn attention to the plight of The Guardian’s own proletariat, who cry out for freedom from the crushing, neoliberal, late capitalist, colonialist rule of the professional managerial class. Alas, we now have data which shows The Guardian’s proles are disproportionally women, for shame. To paraphrase Goerge Orwell’s 1984: If you want a picture of the future, imagine a sandal stamping on a female face – forever.


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.

  • GERARD HENDERSON & RAFAEL EPSTEIN ON THE ABC AS A CONSERVATIVE FREE ZONE

In 2024, Insiders (after a late start) has been somewhat boring at times – as little-known journalists (many of whom are Canberra-based) talked about Canberra politics – mostly agreeing with each other about mostly everything. This prompted Hendo to write to Raf Epstein – who presents the “Mornings” program on ABC Radio Melbourne. To find out why, read on – s’il vous plait:

Gerard Henderson to Raf Epstein – 26 February 2024

Good afternoon Raf

Powerful performance on Insiders yesterday morning at Hangover Time.  However, your final comment seemed to lack a bit of self-reflection.  Consider the following comments which you made:

  • Raf Epstein: Just watching the Woolies and Coles CEO on Four Corners –  they do not talk the way the people who shop in their supermarkets talk.  They clearly never have people who ever disagree with them. They come across, in my opinion, as incredibly arrogant.

This reminds me of, er, the ABC.  The ABC is replete with journalists who never disagree with each other. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster is, after all, a conservative free zone without one conservative presenter, executive producer or editor for any of its television, radio or online outlets.  If there is such a conservative in the ABC house, name a name.

As you may or may not recall, I emailed you on 6 October 2022 concerning your defence of the fact that not one ABC outlet in the entire country would interview Frank Brennan or myself concerning our books on the Cardinal Pell case. Despite the fact that the ABC – in particular Louise Milligan and Sarah Ferguson – led the media pile-on against Pell.

  • Raf Epstein: At least they [the Woolies/Coles CEOs] do the odd interview.  We have so much reliance on people that provide monopolies.  AusNet – Melbourne’s just gone through storms; a whole lot of people didn’t have power.  They never do media interviews. Transurban build roads and take money from a lot of us every day.  These people only do investor calls, they never go out there and are actually accountable to the people for whom they provide an essential service. They should get out there.  There actually isn’t that much to be afraid of if you do it regularly….

Well fancy that.  What about ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson?  As far as I am aware, Mr Anderson only does interviews with his own staff. Most recently Patricia Karvelas (ABC Radio National), Sarah Macdonald (ABC Radio) and, yes, Raf Epstein (ABC Radio Melbourne).  In short the ABC boss talks to ABC employees only.

No doubt Brad Banducci would have received a softer interview if he had been interviewed by a Woolworths staffer rather than by Four Corners.  What do you think?

Perhaps – in your terminology – David Anderson should “get out there”  and actually be accountable to the people who provide an “essential service” by providing their taxes to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. If your man Anderson and other ABC types were more aware of what the folk “out there” believe – then the ABC may not have lost so many conservative listeners/viewers over recent years.

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Best wishes – Keep Morale High.  As you may, or may not, recall I was interviewed by you once in 2007 (it did not go to air) and once in 2015.  I look forward to another occasion. Is, say, 2035 too early?

Gerard

PS : A copy of my (one-way) correspondence to you of 6 October 2022 is attached.

Attachment – email of 6 October 2022

Raf

One final point re our recent phone conversations. I accept that the books published on the Pell Case after the High Court decision may not suit a program like the way you do Drive. But it’s a big call to hold that not one of the ABC’s two free-to-air TV stations plus the ABC’s numerous radio stations plus the ABC’s online outlets could have found time to discuss the books by Frank Brennan, Keith Windschuttle and myself. Even once. Such books would be suitable in, say, Melbourne for The Conversation Hour, Late Night Live and The Book Show and ABC TV News Breakfast – at the very least. Especially in view of the extensive coverage on the ABC of Louise Milligan’s Cardinal.

The real reason for the censorship is that Louise Milligan and her supporters – both ABC staff and ABC listeners – would have complained. This occurred when Windschuttle got one interview on Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report for his book on the Pell Case. I understand that the program was criticised by ABC management for interviewing Windschuttle and many ABC listeners complained.

Following that, Brennan and myself were completely cancelled and Windschuttle did not get another invitation. Silence prevailed.

I do not expect you to respond. But you should not be ignorant of how the ABC operates and how it has come to pass that many conservatives have been cancelled by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

Keep Morale High.

Gerard

 

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Until next time

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