ISSUE – NO. 681

17 May 2024

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In today’s issue, ABC TV Insiders presenter David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers wins the born-again Media Interrupter of The Week Award for constantly interrupting opposition shadow treasurer Angus Taylor on Sunday 12 May.

It seems that ABC TV presenter Sarah Ferguson may have got a hint that Speersy was in line for this honour. How else to explain her constant interruptions – 25 in number – of opposition leader Peter Dutton after his budget-in-reply speech last Thursday? Needless to say, Comrade Ferguson’s interruptions have not been documented in the ABC’s official transcript of the 7:30 interview. That’s why Media Watch Dog is a more trustworthy outlet than the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

By the way, Ms Ferguson made this howler during the interview. Let’s go to the transcript.

Sarah Ferguson: I think only 4 per cent of international students are in the rental market.

Peter Dutton: Really? Where are they living, Sarah?

Sarah Ferguson: I’m not an expert in…housing.

Peter Dutton: No, obviously.

Sarah Ferguson went on to say she had gotten the 4 per cent figure from the “Real Estate Institute”. MWD could not find any reference online to this statistic being put out by the Real Estate Institute of Australia, an industry body representing real estate agents. However, in April 2024 the Student Accommodation Council, a subdivision of the Property Council of Australia, released a report claiming that 4 per cent of renters are international students (as opposed to Sarah Ferguson’s claim that 4 per cent of international students are renters).

Ellie’s (male) co-owner also does not claim to be an expert on the topic but this would seem to be a more plausible claim. Could it be that Ms Ferguson interrupted the opposition leader to inject a misstated and misattributed statistic?


The Melbourne businessman Joe Gersh served a five-year term on the ABC Board between May 2018 and May 2023.  When he stepped down from the ABC Board last year, his performance was publicly praised by ABC managing director David Anderson.

Joe Gersh was interviewed by Sharri Markson on her Sky News’ Sharri program on Thursday 16 May – where he acknowledged that the directors of the ABC don’t run editorial content. 

Mr Gersh told Ms Markson that he was in Tel Aviv last month when Iran fired some 300 missiles and drones into Israel and said that he had visited the scene of Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians on 7 October last year.

Discussing the Australian media’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, Joe Gersh said that “one of the reasons why the ABC is not part of the solution here is that it’s part of the problem”.   He made this point about John Lyons – the ABC’s global affairs editor:

[John Lyons is] an experienced journalist, and he’s knowledgeable on the subject. But he’s written a book [Balcony Over Jerusalem], which makes it very clear where he stands on the question of Israel. Then a monograph [Dateline Jerusalem] in which he roundly attacked the Jewish communities, organisations and advocacy groups for standing up and defending Israel. Now, he has a right to his views, obviously. But how can he be the lead spokesman on global affairs at the ABC dealing with this issue with that particular position?

Joe Gersh then turned his attention to Antony Loewenstein, who presented the entire ABC TV sss program on 5 May titled “Not In My Name”.  He said this about Antony Loewenstein:

He is a stock standard anti-Israel spokesman. The fact that he has Jewish parentage is a curiosity but not to the point. Now, Compass is the [ABC’s] leading religious affairs program. And yet, it deals with this fringe issue. And fringe person, frankly. Instead of asking this question: “Why is it that, for the first time in living memory, Jews in Australia, who have been part of the fabric of this society, are saying to themselves: ‘Is Jewish life viable in the medium to long term in Australia?’” And that is a very serious consideration.

The ABC management invariably goes into denial at the suggestion that the ABC lacks political balance. In other words, viewpoint diversity. It remains to be seen if Mr Anderson will respond to Mr Gersh’s critique.  But, in view of his past praise of Joe Gersh’s judgment, the ABC cannot dismiss him as some kind of obsessive anti-ABC nut job.


There was enormous interest in the last issue of Media Watch Dog which revealed that Geoffrey Robertson KC was back in Australia telling Australians what to do.  And, in particular, to MWD’s news that tickets for your man Robertson’s forthcoming show on 25 May in Melbourne, titled “How Do We Fix A Turbulent World?” can be obtained at the special price of “4 Tickets for the Price of 3”. How exciting is that?

Unfortunately, Ellie’s (male) co-owner could not get to the earlier Geelong gig on 10 May due to the pressure of Gin & Tonic Time leading into Pre-Dinner Drinks followed by Dinner Drinks and Post-Dinner Port.  It being a Friday night, alas, there wasn’t much time to hear the learned Robertson.  Also, Geelong is a long way from Sydney. And Hendo missed Robertson’s  performance in Sydney on Thursday 16 May – for much the same reasons. Except that The State Theatre is not far from Hendo’s base.

However, your man Robertson was interviewed for The Daily Telegraph by Kerry Parnell. Her report, titled “How I’d Save the World”, was published on Saturday 11 May. Robertson told Parnell that his intention for those attending his show was “to entertain and instruct”.

So, there you have it.  It’s very much a “Roll-up Ladies and Gentlemen and be instructed by Geoffrey Robertson KC” – for a mere $95 (C Reserve) to $175 (Premium) a seat.

Your man Robertson also told The Daily Telegraph about his move to London circa 1970: “It was 1970 and we weren’t quite sure where we were going (as a nation).  We weren’t clear what the world held for us.” He went on to run the fashionable leftist line that Australia was a “cultural desert” in the 1950s and 1960s – but provided no evidence for this view.  

The British writer Howard Jacobson taught at Sydney University in the 1960s.  Interviewed by Virginia Trioli on ABC TV News Breakfast in September 2014 about his documentary Brilliant Careers  (on Australian expatriates Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Barry Humphries and Clive James), Howard Jacobson rejected the view that Australia in the 1960s was a cultural desert.  He spoke about the “vitality of the culture” in Australia at the time. He added:

What I found when I came here was I loved the demotic, I loved the lively speech of people, I loved the sense of humour which was disrespectful, I loved the absence of reverence for authority. …I’d just come from Cambridge where I’d been miserable as a northern working class Jewish boy. I felt that was a world that excluded me. I shouldn’t have felt like that but I did. But the minute I came to Australia, I felt this is a world which is open to everybody. Everybody feels a bit outside here. This is a world that everybody is contributing to, a world that everybody was making.

On 4 October 2012, the musician Jonathan Mills (who also trained as an architect) addressed The Sydney Institute on the topic “The ABC and the Arts: A Matter of Consequence”.  The talk is published in The Sydney Papers Online (January 2012).

Mr Mills argued that the ABC production schedules in the “musical, operatic, dance and dramatic genres” for radio and television were more substantial from the 1950s to the 1980s than was the case in the early 21st Century.  He also spoke about the vibrant theatre, literature, poetry, art and architectural scenes at the time.

There was also a profile of Geoffrey Robertson in The Age on 4 May by Kylie Northover –  who is deputy editor of the Nine Newspapers section “Spectrum”. 

GR KC told Ms Northover that his national tour involves instructing his audience (if an audience there is) about law – including defamation law – along with a discussion about the date of Australia Day.  Groan. In view of the public debate in recent times, Australian residents surely know enough about these topics without being “learned” by Geoffrey Robertson KC.

So, what have we learnt from this visit already?  – MWD hears avid readers cry. Well, the man who identifies as one of the world’s leading legal minds told The Daily Telegraph that he gets his heart checked in Harley Street, London and his teeth done in Macquarie Street, Sydney.  Essential knowledge, don’t you think? – and well worth paying for a front-row seat to listen to Robertson’s instructions.

Robertson was asked “7 Questions” by The Age.   Queried about his worst habit – GR KC replied, “My addiction to orange juice”.  Fancy that. There followed this:  Question: “Greatest fear?” Answer: “Losing the love of my life.  No, I won’t say who that is.”

Turn it up.  There has only been one love in Geoffrey Robertson’s life. Namely, HIMSELF.  Can You Bear It?

[No, not really – now that you ask.  I note that you have not referred to Geoff’s Epping accent – you know the kind of polo-ball-in-mouth accent a middle-class Aussie bloke develops when he moves to London’s legal circles and subconsciously disguises the fact that he was brought up in suburban Sydney – Epping, in fact.  Perhaps next time. – MWD Editor.]


Media Watch Dog prides itself on its intellectual honesty.  And, to be honest, Ellie’s (male) co-owner just loves it when ABC fave Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly gets to present a prominent program once again.  Like, when, on 13 and 14 May, she stood in for Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas (who was preparing for and, later recovering from, presenting the ABC’s Q+A program) as the presenter of ABC Radio National Breakfast.

On Monday 13 May, Comrade Kelly interviewed Katy Gallagher (the Minister for Finance and Minister for Women) followed by Senator Jane Hume (the Shadow Minister for Finance and Shadow Minister for Women). The former received a soft interview – the latter a challenging one.  As would be expected when a leftist activist ABC journalist interviews a senior Coalition politician on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

As far as MWD is aware, this was Senator Gallagher’s first appearance on RN Breakfast since Justice Michael Lee delivered his judgement on 15 April in the case Lehrmann v Network Ten Pty Ltd.  As MWD readers are aware, Bruce Lehrmann took a defamation action against Network 10 and its journalist on The Project,  Lisa Wilkinson.  As MWD readers are aware, Justice Lee found – on the balance of probabilities – that Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House at around 2 o’clock on a Saturday morning in March 2019.  What’s more, Justice Lee found that neither Coalition Minister Linda Reynolds nor her chief-of-staff Fiona Brown had attempted to cover up the incident.  This is what he had to say:

…When examined properly and without partiality, the cover-up allegation was objectively short on facts, but long on speculation and internal inconsistencies – trying to particularise it during the evidence was like trying to grab a column of smoke. But despite its logical and evidentiary flaws, Ms Higgins’ boyfriend selected and contacted two journalists and then Ms Higgins advanced her account to them, and through them, to others. From the first moment, the cover-up component was promoted and recognised as the most important part of the narrative. The various controversies traceable to its publication resulted in the legal challenge of determining what happened late one night in 2019 becoming much more difficult than would otherwise have been the case…. 

As I said during the hearing, it is the only alleged cover-up of which I am aware where those said to be responsible for the covering up were almost insisting the complainant to go to the police.

This is an important finding – especially since Senator Gallagher was among a number of prominent Labor senators who accused Senator Reynolds of a cover-up.  In view of this, it is of interest to learn the finance minister’s view on this matter – even if it happened to be of the “no comment” kind.

Given the opportunity, did Comrade Kelly ask Senator Gallagher even one question about Justice Lee’s findings with respect to this matter?  Not on your nelly.  And here’s another question: Can You Bear It?


While on the matter of Lisa Wilkinson, MWD acknowledges that while Lehrmann’s defamation action against Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson is over – unless there is an appeal – Senator Reynolds’ defamation action against Brittany Higgins is extant.

As those who have read all – or even substantial parts of – his judgment, Justice Lee was very critical of Network 10’s coverage of the case on The Project. 

Lisa Wilkinson won the Silver Logie in June 2022 for her interview with Ms Higgins concerning her rape allegation against Lehrmann and her criticism of Senator Reynolds and Ms Brown. Justice Lee found that the latter claim was seriously flawed. Does she have to hand the Logie back in light of the Federal Court’s decision?  If not – Can You Bear It?


Nine Newspapers’ chief political correspondent David Crowe concluded his column in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 17 May with the cry “Bring on the Bollinger”. But Ellie’s (male) co-owner wonders whether there was an earlier delivery.  For this is how your man Crowe’s column titled “Only one billionaire irks Dutton”, commenced:

A casual observer of parliament could easily assume that Peter Dutton has been reading Karl Marx since Labor revealed its budget plan to offer tax credits worth $13.7 billion for critical minerals and clean energy. The opposition leader pretends to line up with the proletariat to oppose the scheme as “billions of dollars for billionaires”.

Marx likened capitalists to vampires, so the Coalition attack lines seem mild by comparison. Even so, the thrust of Dutton’s complaint is that Australian billionaires are exploiting taxpayers to get a handout they do not need. He suddenly dislikes giving billionaires a helping hand.

Comrade Crowe went on to mock Peter Dutton for going to the parties of billionaires – as if he is the only politician to do so.  And he reckons that the Coalition’s attack lines against the Albanese government seem mild when compared to those of Karl Marx. Somewhat hyperbolic, don’t you think?  Can You Bear It?


It was Hangover Time on Sunday 12 May when Ellie’s (male) co-owner turned on the ABC TV Insiders program. Presenter David Speers was about to interview the Coalition’s shadow treasurer Angus Taylor.  The previous week, Speersy (as he likes to be called) had given a soft interview – relatively free of interjections and unsuccessful attempts at interjections – to the Albanese government’s Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher.

The mild-mannered Mr Taylor did not get so easy a run.  Soon after the 17-minute interview concluded, avid Media Watch Dog readers were messaging Hendo with a view to the return of the once hugely popular “Top Media Interrupter of the Week” segment. And so, it came to pass. Needless to say, the winner this week is David (“Oh yes, I’m the Great Interrupter”) Speers. Here’s the scoreboard after 17 minutes of the Speers/Taylor interview.

David Speers Interjections in the Angus Taylor interview

24 Successful interjections

12 Unsuccessful attempts

Total:  36

So, in a 17-minute interview, Speersy disrupted Angus Taylor’s thought process by interjecting, or attempting to interject, on 36 occasions.

The truth is that Sky News’ Andrew Clennell is a far better interviewer than the former Sky News presenter David Speers.  Andrew Clennell listens to what interviewees say. Whereas, David Speers tends to be too busy thinking about his next interjection to listen to what the interviewee is saying.

But Speersy supplies great copy to Hendo when writing MWD. So, in this sense, the more interjections, the merrier.

David Speers: Top Media Interrupter of the Week.


In his “Five Minutes with Fitz” column in the Sun-Herald on 12 May, Peter FitzSimons (aka The Red Bandannaed One) interviewed Media Watch Dog  fave David Marr.  Now, five minutes with Fitz can seem like an awfully long time.  But your man Marr is an interesting bloke and the exchanges worked well.

Fitz’s column was headed: “I’ve been embarrassing my family all my life: the Insiders’ Outsider” –  and it was not long before the topic got around to David Marr’s past life as an occasional panellist on the ABC TV Sunday Morning Insiders program.  Let’s go to the transcript – taken from the online edition of the Sydney Morning Herald:

Fitz: …You also had a huge presence on the ABC’s once mighty Insiders, and the nation really would lean in. How long since you’ve been on that show?

DM: I sort of drifted off with the new regime. David Speers wanted actual insiders on Insiders, and I was never a Canberra reporter. I was rather afraid of getting down to Canberra and becoming friends with power. The distance between Sydney and Canberra is good for people like me. So, I’m not an insider in that sense, and the show has taken a different path. But yes, there is, for some reason, still a public appetite for David Marr having a stoush with Gerard Henderson.

David Marr did not appear on Insiders after 2019.  Nor did Gerard Henderson – nor did Australian Financial Review editor Michael Stutchbury.

Peter FitzSimons referred to the “once mighty” Insiders.  This reflects a common view that Insiders has become dull and, at times, boring with presenter David Speers (who commenced in 2020).  Samuel Clark is the show’s executive producer. Speers replaced Barrie Cassidy who was based in Melbourne – as was the program. It relocated to Canberra last year.

Comrade Marr’s account is significant.  In that he maintains that David Speers wanted full-time journalists on the Insiders program (primarily members of the Canberra Press Gallery) and not types like him.  Your man Marr noticed that “the show has taken a different path” – and so he drifted away from it. FitzSimons, for his part, reckons that Insiders is no longer “mighty”.  And that the audience no longer “leans in” to the panel discussion as it once did.

There has been talk about the Marr/Henderson Insiders’ exchanges of recent memory – to which FitzSimons referred.  Despite being well remembered, they took place only about twice a year – and, sometimes, three times.  No more than that –out of about 40 programs annually.  But, for some strange reason, they are still talked about today – as David Marr related to Peter FitzSimons.  Probably because Marr and Henderson often disagreed and there was a contest of ideas.

For his part, Hendo enjoyed the occasional catch-up with Marr at the ABC Melbourne studio – some of which he has written about in MWD and elsewhere. Comrade Marr has his own recollection of these occasions – on what was called the Insiders’ couch.  Here’s what he told Fitz:

Fitz: Do you miss Gerard Henderson?

DM: God no! I thought they were bleak public displays of me losing my temper. And I would call Barrie Cassidy and beg him to let me on the show without Gerard. Gerard and I get along, and he made a very funny video “obituary” for my 75th birthday, with me jumping around the backyard on a Pogo Stick.

Fitz: The mind boggles!…

Sure, there are some fine journalists on Insiders – and one lively one. To wit, the zany Samantha Maiden.  However, these days, Insiders invariably involves Canberra journalists talking to other Canberra journalists about what happened in Canberra that very week.  Worthy to be sure – but, at times, Zzzzzzzz – since essentially everyone essentially agrees with essentially everyone about essentially everything.


In the lead into the troubled and ratings-challenged ABC TV program Q+A on Monday 13 May, the following promo was heard:

Woman’s Voice: Next, an electrifying exchange of ideas. Q+A is your portal to the world of insightful discussions and engaging debates.

This was misleading.  In fact, Q+A is noted for its lack of debate – along with its targeting of political conservatives. Not for an insightful, electrifying exchange of ideas.  For example, on 13 May the Q+A panel consisted of two independents (Teal Allegra Spender and left-of-centre David Pocock), a small “l” Liberal (Matt Kean), a former Labor pollster (Kos Samaras) and journalist (Janine Perrett). Not a political conservative in this lot.

Q+A went on what journalists call a Well Earned Break on 25 March and returned on 29 April.  Here’s what happened since its WEB:  not including the boring 13 May occasion when Ms Perrett was the only panellist with something fresh to say. 

Monday 29 April: The Q+A panel comprised Murray Watt (Labor), Bridget McKenzie (Nationals), Mark Speakman (NSW Liberal Party), journalist (Tracey Holmes) and Jon Owen (CEO Wayside Chapel).  Of this group only Senator McKenzie would regard herself as a political conservative.

It is a known fact that very few political conservatives appear on Q+A.  Many are not invited.  Some decline invitations believing that they will be targeted by the panel along with the audience (which is invariably replete with green-left types).

This is especially the case with political conservative women from the Liberal Party and the Nationals.  One such exception is the feisty Senator Bridget McKenzie – who is willing to go on the program.

As MWD documented on 3 May, Senator McKenzie was treated unprofessionally by presenter Patricia Karvelas when debate turned to nuclear energy.  PK, as she likes to be called, ran the left-wing line by asking McKenzie who would want a nuclear reactor in their backyard. As MWD recalls, PK never asks Teal parliamentarians whether they would like a colossal 90 metres (blade span) by 150 metres high wind turbine in their backyards.

There was another incident on 29 April in which Q+A demonstrated a lack of professionalism and fairness.

PK called Vincent Hurley in the audience.  He was presented as a Macquarie University criminologist and a former policeman.  Karvelas told the audience that Hurley had been invited on to Q+A “because we wanted to hold them [the politicians on the panel] to account because they actually make laws”. 

This overlooked the fact that Hurley’s comments – it was, in fact, a rant – were directed at Labor Party minister Murray Watt and Coalition frontbencher Senator McKenzie. Both are members of the Commonwealth parliament which has scant legislative authority with respect to crime, policing, sentencing and the like.

Watt and McKenzie had to sit there as Hurley accused them of “putting politics” ahead of protecting young women from domestic violence.  An angry Hurley then threw the switch to a Greta-Thunberg-like “How dare you?” mode and called the Watt and McKenzie duo “disgraceful”.  Hurley accused the politicians of not doing enough and claimed they were pontificating. He went on to assert that the Labor and Nationals politicians had been “offensive” and engaged in a “talk fest’.

Karvelas made no attempt whatsoever to protect Watt or McKenzie from this abuse.  This left them in a difficult situation because it is unwise for politicians to criticise audience members on the live Q+A format.

MWD understands that Q+A finds it especially difficult to get female politicians from the Coalition onto its program.  Most decline – aware of the treatment they will receive from panels that lack political balance and from an invariably hostile audience.  After her treatment on 29 April, why would Senator McKenzie make another appearance on Q+A in a hurry?

Monday 6 May:  On this occasion, Patricia Karvelas decided to attack an audience member who was appearing live via a video link.

Simon Potts, who presented as a small business owner, told Tony Burke (the Minister for Industrial Relations who was on the panel) that he was concerned that the Albanese Government’s industrial relations reforms “tend to favour employees, often at the expense of employers”.  His specific point was:

Simon Potts: ….For example, the right to disconnect focuses on protecting employees’ personal time outside of work hours. But it doesn’t address employees using paid work time for personal matters, such as private calls on their mobile phones or engaging in non-work-related activities during business hours. So, obviously, fair work environments are important. So how can the government ensure that its policies support both the workers and the small businesses that employ them?

The audience responded in a hostile manner to Mr Potts’ question – and Karvelas joined in the (hostile) chorus by describing the audience as consisting of “a whole bunch of people who are sick of getting emails out of hours”. In other words, PK indicated that she did not think much of his case and did not protect Potts when ACTU secretary Sally McManus asked this leading question: “Do you think people should work for free?”

Q+A a Failed Product

So there you have it.  Labor’s Murray Watt and the Coalition’s Bridget McKenzie were bagged on Q+A. But Vincent Hurley received considerable media coverage for what was a lone, long emotional rant. And Simon Potts was dismissed.

Q+A is a failed product.  If it was a family pet – you would put it out of its misery.  Having dropped the ABC’s The Drum, another left-wing stack, late last year, it’s unlikely that Q+A will be removed quickly.

But at least the ABC should withdraw the dishonest advertising which pretends that Q+A presents differing views. For the most part it is not so.  Sure Q+A presides over criticism of both Labor and  the Coalition from a left-wing perspective.  It’s a program for the left, by the left, of the left – with falling ratings. Bridget McKenzie would be well advised to reject the next desperate attempt by Q+A to get a conservative politician on the panel.


Phillip Coorey, the Australian Financial Review’s political editor is a fine journalist – but not much of a prophet.  Alas, he does not act in accordance with the teachings of Media Watch Dog.  Namely, that it is unwise to make predictions – especially about the future.

For nearly a year now, your man Coorey has been speculating about the date of the next federal election – which is due by no later than mid-2025.  Here’s how:

Phil Coorey: The next election is due by the latest May 25. You go November, it’s early-ish. But they will be thinking of that…. Paul Erickson, from the Labor national secretariat, will have a plan to go in the end of the year, just in case. You always go when you can win. And if Erickson went to Albanese and said: “Look, mate we go now” –  it’d be quicker, out of Yarralumla quicker, than a rat up a drainpipe.

– ABC TV, Insiders, 5 February 2024.


Phil Coorey: I’m going to revisit one of my early predictions about the possibility of an early election this year.   I think that prospect is dwindling rapidly. Inflationary pressures are back on in the US. Economists here now no longer sort of thinking there may be an interest rate cut this calendar year. And if that’s the case, then you couple that with the Queensland election, which isn’t until the end of October, and before which the federal government will not go because they want voters to hammer Labor there before they go. …I’m unpredicting. 

– ABC TV, Insiders, 22 April 2024.


Phil Coorey: I think it [the Budget] definitely gives them [the Albanese government] the option. Early could either be the end of this year or earlier next year than May. I don’t think they’d want to do another budget after this. You know, we get this sort of surplus this year – then we go heavily into deficit for the next four years and stay there for the next 10 years. And there’s a lot of spending. And if the inflation gamble doesn’t work, it could start, things could start going the wrong way quickly. So, I don’t know – my first thought was this is might not be an early election budget, but it’s certainly one that gives them the option. 

– ABC TV Insiders, 14 May 2024.

So, that’s pretty clear then. The next election will be held circa November or December 2024.  Or perhaps not.  Or perhaps late 2024 or sometime in 2025 but earlier than late May 2025.

Media Watch Dog’s advice to Phil Coorey – Put away your crystal ball.

Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was then ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici.  Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.  And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of western Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany). Soon after, the USSR invaded eastern Poland in accordance with the protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.


Writing in The Telegraph in London on 14 May, columnist Michael Deacon made the point that BBC sports broadcaster Gary Lineker “suffers from the same problem as an awful lot of Western progressives, which is that, when it comes to Israel, he has absolutely no idea how biased he sounds”.

Deacon quoted the man he called Saint Gary as having said: “I can’t think of anything that I’ve seen worse in my life than the Israel-Hamas war”.  Deacon pointed out that there have been many more deadly wars than the current conflict in Gaza since 1960 – when Lineker was born. Namely, the Second Congo War, the Vietnam War and the Afghanistan War, and more besides.  Deacon continued:

Indeed, far from being the bloodiest conflict since 1960, the war in Gaza isn’t even the bloodiest being fought right now. The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, has so far killed more than 600,000 people. Then there’s the small matter of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And,…the ongoing conflict in Sudan. To give just one small glimpse of the horror: a 17-year-old Sudanese boy told Human Rights Watch that he’d witnessed paramilitaries shooting children and then flinging their corpses into a river.

St Gary, however, says he can’t think of anything that he’s seen worse in his lifetime than what Israel is currently doing in Gaza, in its efforts to destroy Hamas. I’ve no doubt that he’s being entirely sincere. I merely wonder how he came to such a conclusion, given that so many other conflicts in his lifetime have been even more horrifying, and killed vastly more people.

Perhaps, during his glorious playing days, St Gary was so relentlessly focused on his football that he never watched the news or opened a newspaper – and therefore simply didn’t hear about these other conflicts. I suppose that’s one possibility. Even so, it is curious that Western progressives in general always seem so very much louder in their condemnation of Israel than in their condemnation of other warring nations. What exactly is it about Israel that makes them constantly single it out like this? I fear we may never know.

For the record, MWD fears we may know – but are too courteous to say.

Michael Deacon: Five Paws

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.


The late Melbourne University academic Dr Frank Knopfelmacher was wont to say that the best correspondence to receive was a Papal Letter – since there was no expectation that the recipient would be required to respond.  The taxpayer funded public broadcaster seems to be following the teachings of Dr K – in this instance at least.  The previous issue of MWD carried (unanswered) correspondence with ABC TV News Breakfast presenter Michael Rowland about his circulation of misinformation about the late Cardinal George Pell.  Today’s issue carries unanswered correspondence with ABC managing director David Anderson about misinformation concerning Cardinal Pell which ABC management has placed on the ABC Corrections & Clarifications page. To be continued. Now read on, s’il vous plait.


Gerard Henderson to David Anderson – 14 May 2024

Dear Mr Anderson

As you will recall, in your speech at Charles Sturt University in November 2021 you commented that “social media can be a place where facts are not always sacred, misinformation and disinformation are not uncommon and sadly trust can be misplaced”.

I write to draw your attention that the ABC recently placed misinformation on its Corrections & Clarifications web page while correcting an error by ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael Rowland.

The brief facts are as follows:

● I wrote to Michael Rowland suggesting that he correct a live to air false statement he made on ABC  TV News Breakfast on 4 May 2023 about George Pell – some months after the cardinal had died and was unable to defend himself.

● Michael Rowland did not reply.  So I took up the matter with Justin Stevens and he passed the matter to Mark Maley and Tyson Shine (who brought in Michael Rowland).  In time, the three worked on a Correction which was placed on the ABC’s Corrections & Clarifications website on Saturday 4 May – against my wishes.  The Correction, which does not mention Michael Rowland as the broadcaster of the error, reads are follows:

News Breakfast: On May 4, 2023 in an introduction to an interview with Chrissie Foster discussing her book Still Standing, the presenter said that Peter McClellan the Chief Commissioner of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had written in a forward to the book that George Pell and other senior clerics had given “evidence to the fact that they saw the rape of a child as a moral failing, not a crime”. In fact, Mr McClellan wrote “Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Australian Catholic of his generation…and other senior clerics gave evidence to the Royal Commission to the effect that the Church did not understand that the rape of a child was a crime, seeing it as a ‘moral failing’”

The ABC has edited what Peter McClellan wrote in this instance, by deleting the last sentence in the above paragraph which reads as follows: “I remain unable to comprehend how any person, much less one with qualifications in theology, could consider the rape of a child to be a mere moral failure and not a crime”.  [Emphasis added.]

The only person named by Mr McClellan was Cardinal Pell.

What the ABC has done here is to correct Michael Rowland’s mistake but replaced it with Mr McClellan’s misinformation.

As I documented in my book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (which has been “censored” by the ABC along with Frank Brennan’s Observations of the Pell Proceedings), Peter McClellan’s statement is incorrect. In short, it is misinformation.

I have raised this issue with Mr McClellan – by email and by post. He did not reply.  But he has not challenged what I documented in my book.

The fact is that – in a written submission to Mr McClelland and in oral testimony before Mr McClellan – Cardinal Pell said that clerical abuse was “a crime”.  He did not qualify this in any way by using such phrases as “to the effect”.

Michael Rowland’s principal mistake was not to fact-check what Peter McClellan wrote. And now the ABC has added to Mr Rowland’s original mistake by also not fact-checking what Peter McClellan wrote in his foreword to Still Standing.

My suggestion is that the ABC delete its Correction headed “George Pell evidence” – and thus remove the very misinformation you condemned in your speech three years ago.  I do not see why the ABC would wish to publish Mr McClellan’s assertion re the late George Pell, which the former royal commissioner is not prepared to defend himself.


Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Kim Williams, Chair, ABC – per

Justin Stevens

Mark Maley

Tyson Shine

Michael Rowland

PS: I have attached my email to Michael Rowland which explains the matter. I originally forwarded this to you on 30 April.


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Until next time.

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