ISSUE – NO. 683

31 May 2024

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The news that Donald J Trump had been found guilty on all 34 charges had only just reached Australia on the morning of 31 May when ABC TV News Breakfast’s Bridget Brennan and Michael Rowland were telling viewers what they should think.

Let’s go to the transcript:

Bridget Brennan: President Donald Trump speaking outside the courthouse in Manhattan. Falsely claiming that it was a rigged trial, also falsely claiming that it was a push made by the Biden administration…

Michael Rowland: Some important fact-checking there, Brig. Thank you so much.

It’s not Comrade Brennan’s role to form instant judgments about whether Donald J. Trump’s statements outside the court were false or not.  Viewers can make up their own minds.

It turned out that Josh Burns, the Labor Party MP for McNamara, was in the studio when news of the conviction broke. Let’s go back to the transcript:

Michael Rowland: Josh. I appreciate you can’t say much about this, but do you find it extraordinary that you hear a former president, now convicted felon, the presumptive Republican nominee to be president again, tossing around those wildly false claims after being found guilty in this Manhattan courthouse?

Josh Burns: The one thing I did hear, which, which was of great concern, was there was a reference to a conspiracy theory which, which does have ties to anti-semitic conspiracy theories. That is very concerning –

Michael Rowland: That’s a reference to George Soros.

Josh Burns: And that is very concerning that a presidential nominee would be willing to throw that around in, in a sort of, such a flippant way. It gives you a sense of where the direction of the US election might be going. And that’s, that’s something that gives me shivers, to be frank.

The hostility to the former president was evident – not only by the Labor Party MP (Labor is closer to the US Democrats than the Republicans) but also the ABC presenters who are supposed to act with impartiality.

It’s true that George Soros, a Jewish American, financially supported the election campaign of Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney who laid charges against Trump.  But it’s also true that many prominent American lawyers – including the Jewish American, Alan Dershowitz – believe that Bragg’s action against Trump is both flawed and unjust. In short, Trump’s criticism of Soros was not in any sense anti-semitic.

It is also true that Bragg is an elected Democrat who campaigned on the platform that he had taken civil litigation against Trump.  And it’s also true that the judge, Juan Merchan, is a Democrat.

If Bridget Brennan and Michael Rowland were to be impartial – as demanded by new ABC chair Kim Williams – they would have raised these points in response to Trump’s statement outside the court.  They didn’t.  Indeed, Brennan specifically referred to the “false information” that Trump “spoke on television”.  Enough said.


As this edition of Media Watch Dog was about to go out, a copy of the June 2024 issue of The Monthly arrived on the desk of Ellie’s (male) co-owner. The lead essay is titled “Discourse Correction:  The erosion of civility in the public square”. It is written by – wait for it – Laura Tingle.

Yes, this is the very same La Tingle who accused the Morrison government of “ideological bastardry” and has described Opposition leader Peter Dutton as dangerous.  This matter is covered in Gerard Henderson’s Weekend Australian column of 1 June. MWD will return to the Tingle essay in the next issue.

MWD does not call for individuals to be dismissed. However, ABC managing director David Anderson would be well advised to consider whether an ABC journalist who has described Peter Dutton as dangerous on an ABC program (i.e. Insiders on 26 May) is a fit and proper person to be ABC 7.30’s chief political correspondent in the lead-up to the forthcoming election.

In the meantime, MWD’s avid readers may be interested in this issue’s (hugely popular) Can You Bear It? segment – which examines La Tingle’s obsession with an (alleged) needles-in-strawberries political controversy.


Here’s a MWD exclusive.  MWD examines the ABC TV 7.30 presenter’s obsession with needles and strawberries.

In Comrade Tingle’s 1300+ word statement defending her appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, she included the following comment:

Not having the time in that setting to attempt a detailed and serious assessment of what has changed with the change of government, I made an off-hand observation that simply observed we now had fewer stunts like the “needles in strawberries” affair and that, whatever its failings, the current government seemed serious about policy.

This is not the first time Tingle has referenced needles in strawberries as a criticism of the Coalition government. In an AFR column of 27 April 2024, Tingle said:

It has become a standard, if unfortunate, part of Australian politics in recent years for politicians to pick up and run with some incident to crystallise public sentiment on an issue and let the media debate rage on it. Think African gangs, needles in strawberries, Woolworths not selling enough Australia Day merchandise. You might notice that these have tended to be the preserve of the Coalition side of politics more than the Labor side.

For those not as consumed by thoughts of strawberries as La Tingle, here is a refresher:

On 9 September 2018, a NSW man was taken to hospital after eating a strawberry containing a needle. In the week following, confirmed cases strawberries contaminated with needles were found in NSW, QLD, WA and SA. Along with the confirmed cases were several copycats and hoaxes. Many growers had to dispose of large amounts of strawberries or install metal detectors.

2018 was 42 dog years ago, but MWD does not remember this series of events as some sort of culture war issue or political “stunt” from the Coalition government.

Scott Morrison did publicly condemn the strawberry sabotage – unsurprisingly as it was adversely affecting strawberry growers who had to dispose of their crops. What Tingle refers to as a “stunt” was devastating to many farmers – in fact, Adrian Schultz, Vice President of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, stated that “A single act of commercial terrorism has brought a multi-million-dollar industry to its knees.”

Morrison announced harsher penalties for food tampering, and they were passed with the support of Labor. The Labor governments of Queensland and Western Australia offered financial rewards for information about the impaled berries, with Labor premier Mark McGowan describing the act as “evil”, and Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk calling it an “ugly, calculated and despicable crime”. Was it a “stunt”, in Tingle’s words, when Labor MPs condemned the strawberry saboteur? Both former Premiers used stronger words than Morrison (who called the strawberry-needler a coward and a grub). But according to Tingle, it is the Liberal side of politics which uses things like needle-ridden fruit to score political points. Or some such thing. It is unclear what point La Tingle is making, but she has brought it up several times, so she obviously believes she has one.

While there is no official polling on the matter, it is safe to assume the majority of people were already against needles in their strawberries in 2018, and Scott Morrison did not need to influence public sentiment on this issue. Unlike another example Tingle used – Australia Day merchandise in Woolworths – there was no debate over whether needles belonged in strawberries.

It would seem that La Tingle just made this up. Can You Bear It?


Believe it or not [I’m likely to believe you. – Media Watch Dog editor], the ABC is still running this promo (see below) for its Breakfast show on ABC Sydney Radio.  The program is presented by Craig Reucassel – one of the Chaser Boys (average age 481/2). Come to think of it, the Chaser Boys are a bit like guests at the Hotel California – they enter the taxpayer-funded broadcaster but never leave. Currently, Julian Morrow, Dominic Knight, Chas Licciardello and Chris Taylor are still hanging around the ABC – as is your man (formerly a boy) Craig Reucassel.

At around Post-Dinner-Drinks Time last night, Ellie’s (male) co-owner noticed the promo on ABC TV:

Camera Guy: What time does your show start?

Craig Reucassel: 5.30 in the morning, but I’m talking about shifting that to pm. Really the only reason I signed up to this job is obviously the fact that I don’t have to shave, I don’t have to get changed. I’ll rarely wash, the hair will be pretty long. I mean, you will not recognise me by the end of this year. One of the secrets about ABC Radio Sydney is that Karl Kruszelnicki, Dr Karl, sleeps under the desk. He’s always there – that’s why he’s always on.

Is it any wonder that, like so many ABC programs, the ABC Breakfast show in Sydney has declining ratings?  After all, does anyone want to know at Hangover Time that your man Reucassel rocks up to the ABC studio in inner-city Ultimo in his pyjamas – unshaven and unwashed?  Or that the boring Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (for a doctor he is) is in a similar state – having spent the night sleeping under the Breakfast desk?  Here’s an additional question.  Can You Bear It?

[Could it be that the reason that Comrade Reucassel has falling ratings is that he’s losing listeners down-wind from Ultimo? – MWD Editor.]


While on the subject of journalistic trivia, did anyone read Malcolm Knox’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald on May 25?  Titled “A disabled parking offender’s confession”, it was all about – well, it’s not quite clear. You be the judge. This is how your man commenced his piece:

Last Sunday, I took my mother to church and committed many sins. First I parked illegally, in a “School Bus Only” spot. Does it compound the sin if you’re rehearsing your excuses before you even get out of the car? There are no school buses on Sundays; it was the only spot to get my mobility-restricted mother into the church; the organist, whose music we had come to hear, had told us to park there. None strictly a lie, but none a fully compelling truth either, not least so close to the eye of God. But we had a trump card: the space, though designated for buses, was marked what I like to call “disability blue”, and we had The Sticker.

Turn it up.  Does your man Knox really believe that God gives a toss as to where he parks his car on a Sunday morning? It turns out that this was an excuse for Comrade Knox to write about disability stickers – to wit – The Sticker – which makes parking easier for disabled drivers or carers.

But he bored on – touching on such topics as St Mary’s Cathedral, the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, the Holy Spirit, your man Moses, improperly looking at his phone during what he called “the service” (it’s called Mass) and so on.  And on. And on. And on.  Oh yes, Comrade Knox managed to get Gina Rinehart’s portrait controversy somehow into his column.  Plus John Howard and Scott Morrison and, naturally, Donald J. Trump.  Well done Malcolm.

And then Malcolm Knox’s Sticker Day came to an end.  As, thankfully, did his column.  Here’s the conclusion:

By the end of Pentecost Sunday I had to take my mum and her Sticker, regretfully, back home…. Without The Sticker, I felt reduced, no longer a superhero of righteousness. I would have to go back to being more considerate. A thought came to me. I could have nicked Mum’s Sticker for myself! But then I would really need a God and a confessor.

So, the column ended much as it commenced – with the Nine columnist of the view that God gives a toss about where he parks with his mum on the occasional Pentecostal Sunday. Can You Bear It?

[No, not really – now that you ask.  I note that Gerard Henderson wrote about the very same Malcolm Knox in his book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-One & Collective Guilt. As I recall, he quoted the Nine columnist as maintaining (in a column dated 8 April 2020) that all juries in criminal trials always come to the correct decision.  And that no guilty verdict should ever be overturned by a superior court on appeal – since it leads to anonymous jurors having to “suffer this insult in silence”. What a load of absolute tosh. Come to think of it, Comrade Knox makes more sense when writing about disability parking stickers. – MWD Editor.]


Gerard Henderson AC (aka Always Courteous) has always been a fan of Ita Buttrose AC (a real gong), OBE.  For many reasons, but especially since Ms Buttrose is into good manners.  After all, Ms Buttrose (MWD does not call her “Ita” – it’s a bit undignified) wrote The Guide to Australian Etiquette.  Ellie’s (male) co-owner never leaves home in the morning without this tome.

But MWD digresses – again.  Soon after stepping down as ABC chair, Ita Buttrose did a “Lunch with the AFR: Weekend Fin – in the weekend edition of the Australian Financial Review. She dined with Sam Buckingham-Jones (he of what Paul Keating used to call the Hyphenated Name Set).

During the interview, Ita Buttrose used the term “we” when discussing the ABC- despite the fact that she ceased to be ABC chair in March.  However, MWD was most interested in this section of the hyphenated name bloke’s article:

One of her own leadership mentors was Sir Peter Abeles, the former Ansett and TNT boss, who taught her many lessons. He showed her how to manage her company’s bills during the recession in the 1990s. “Sir Peter would say to me, ‘tell him you would pay him half next week, another quarter the next week, and another quarter the next week.’ It always worked. He was a very good mentor. Very reassuring.” she says.

Needless to say, MWD was shocked by this comment.  Ms Buttrose was praising the fact that wealthy Peter Abeles delayed paying bills to other businesses – big, medium and small – in order to benefit his company during a recession. And Ms Buttrose boasts about such self-centred behaviour. Can You Bear It?

[Perhaps Ms Buttrose AC OBE should get a refresher courtesy class at Nancy’s Courtesy Classes. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


Wasn’t it great to see Sean Kelly – a columnist for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – back on the ABC TV Insiders on Sunday 26 May? MWD is a bit of a fan of Mr Kelly. After all, he managed to work for both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard when they held the office of prime minister. Quite an achievement when you consider the rivalry between this pair.

Comrade Kelly is one of about a dozen Insiders panellists who are antagonists of the Coalition in general and Peter Dutton in particular.  No Insiders panellist is an Anthony Albanese antagonist.

When discussion turned to nuclear energy on Insiders, Samantha Maiden said that it was reasonable to debate whether Australia should embrace nuclear power as part of the nation’s energy mix.  But your man Kelly was having none of this.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Sean Kelly: I think you can have a debate but I feel a little bit like I’ve been trapped every time we end up having, trying to have a serious discussion about nuclear, because it’s not it’s not a real policy. It’s a fantasy policy. This is a policy that allows the Liberal Party and the Nats in particular, yeah, to put off the hard reckoning with the transition to renewables. And, crucially, at the next election to run really sharp campaigns against local renewable projects, which is a lot of what Nats really strongly want to do.

David Speers: That’s what’s driving a lot of this.

Sean Kelly: That is 100 per cent what’s driving it. And the beauty of nuclear and not coming until 2040, which, you know, we might present as a disadvantage, is a win, actually, for Peter Dutton.

So, there you have it. Sean Kelly described the prospect that Australia moving, over time, to nuclear energy s a “fantasy”.  And David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers concurred.  This despite the fact that most developed nations rely on nuclear energy as part of the energy grid.

In any event, at least nuclear energy works. If Comrade Kelly wants to talk about fantasies – perhaps he should have a look at green hydrogen which does not operate commercially in any part of the world, but which is presented by some as suitable for Australia.

While on the topic of Kelly and fantasies, MWD recalls that in his book The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison, Kelly wrote about how he dreamed of Morrison – to the extent that, in some dreams, he imagined he was becoming Scott Morrison. This is what he had to say:

In this dream, I interacted with Morrison, but the more notable fact was that, after a little while, people began mistaking me for him.  People would come up to me on the street and ask to have their picture taken with me; I would have to remove my baseball cap to show them that I was not, in fact, Scott Morrison. At one point in the dream, I looked at myself in the mirror and I could see why this kept happening: the resemblance was uncanny.

And Sean Kelly now accuses Mr Dutton of engaging in fantasy?  Can You Bear It?



Media Watch Dog has consistently maintained that journalists and others should not believe what they want to believe – and should check allegations.  This was evident recently when the likes of ABC journalists Louise Milligan and Sarah Ferguson regarded the men who accused Cardinal George Pell of historical child sexual abuse as being correct.  In the event, all charges were dismissed by a unanimous verdict of the High Court of Australia or dropped before then.  During the High Court hearings, Justice Virginia Bell was emphatic that assessments about the validity of an accusation made by a complainant should not turn on his or her demeanour. But rather on evidence.

Thanks to the Queensland reader who drew attention to a decision of the Queensland Magistrates’ Court this week.

The Townville-based Catholic priest Fr David Lancini was charged with eight counts of historical indecent treatment of a child under the age of 14.  He always denied the allegation.  The offences were alleged to have taken place in Townsville.  But Lancini demonstrated that, at the time, he was based in Brisbane.  Let’s go to the report in The Townsville Bulletin of 27 May:

Defence barrister Justin Greggery KC who was instructed by Andrew Peel from Purcell Taylor Lawyers, told the court Fr Lancini provided proof from the outset that he was a Brisbane resident at the time the “false” allegations were alleged to have occurred.  “Despite this evidence, he was arrested months later,” Mr Greggery said.

He said the statement provided to police was “fabricated” and the man who accused Fr Lancini of the abuse did not originally identify him in initial reports, but was sent internet images of the retired priest by a woman who Mr Greggery said had a “vendetta” against him [Fr Lancini].  “She publicly pursued in an online vendetta against (Fr Lancini),” the defence barrister said. “She posted a public statement ‘Bystander priest I am coming for you now’.”

When the matter came to the Townsville Magistrates’  Court on 27 May, Queensland Police dropped all charges – having failed to produce any evidence whatsoever to support the case.  Consequently, the magistrate dismissed the case.

Which demonstrates that the position advanced by former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews – that all victims (the correct term is complainants) of child sexual abuse should be believed irrespective of the evidence – can result in a grave injustice.

The Front Page of The Townsville Bulletin, 27 May 2024



As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, the ABC is a Conservative Free  Zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its news and current affairs programs or online publications.  As such, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster increasingly resembles a religion where believers believe in the truth as handed down on high – and everyone essentially agrees with everyone else on essentially everything. David Anderson, the ABC’s managing director, along with his senior managers and staff are in denial about this. But no ABC figure has ever cited the name of one such conservative.

It’s the old-fashioned error-has-no-rights phenomenon.  Those who believe in the faith are free to remain in the secular church.  While those who dissent are free to depart.

In the Catholic church of old, censorship was all the rage.  It existed in two forms – as described in The Testament Christian Dictionary. Namely, the Index Expurgatorius and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

 The Index Expurgatorius “consisted of a list of books that may be read by Roman Catholics after the deletion of certain objectionable passages and after being amended to meet certain standards of faith and morals”.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum “consisted of a list of books that Roman Catholics are prohibited from reading except with special permission.  The index was established in the sixteenth century as part of the Inquisition.  The first general index was issued in 1559 and the second in 1564 after the Council of Trent.  In 1571 Pius V established a special Congregation of the Index to be in charge of the list to revise it as needed.  This Congregation survived until 1917 when its duties were transferred to the Holy Office. Further revisions were issued in 1590, 1596, 1664, 1751, 1897, 1990 and 1948.  At the Second Vatican Council of 1966, it was decided that no further indexes would be issued”.

So, there you have it. In 1966 the Catholic Church finally abandoned the Index of censored books. But a secular Index of the Librorum Prohibitorum genre is alive and well at Nice Mr Anderson’s ABC. Here’s an example of some books on the ABC Index at the moment:

  • Frank Brennan’s Observations on the Pell Proceedings (Connor Court – now in its second edition).
  • Gerard Henderson’s Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (Connor Court – now in its third edition).
  • Keith Windschuttle’s The Persecution of George Pell (Quadrant Books).

Keith Windschuttle (author of the first book published by this trio) received one interview on ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report. The date was 17 February 2021. There followed an outcry by some – ABC journalists and ABC managers along with many ABC listeners – that Windschuttle had discussed his book on Cardinal Pell on the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster. There was no subsequent interview.

Neither Frank Brennan nor Gerard Henderson received even one interview – nor participated in one panel discussion – concerning their books. This despite the fact that the ABC has two channels that cover news and current affairs along with some 60 radio stations and an online newspaper. Clearly, these books are on Nice Mr Anderson’s Index of Banned Books.  Moreover, over the years the ABC has given widescale coverage to books and programs on George Pell by his critics such as Louise Milligan, Paul Kennedy and David Marr – all of whom are employed by or have close contacts with the ABC.

Chapter 6 of Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt contains around 120 names of those involved in the media pile-on concerning Pell. Around 40 were ABC journalists. Not one of those named in the pile-on contested anything written about them in the book. All went “under the bed” and refused to engage with the author – by declining or refusing to discuss the case.  In other words, they threw the switch to censorship.

[Very interesting.  You must keep readers advised if David Anderson abandons the ABC Index – along the lines of what Pope Paul VI did at the Second Vatican Council.  Also, remember to keep avid readers advised of other books on Nice Mr Anderson’s (Censorious) Index. – MWD Editor.]

ABC Managing Director David Anderson Channelling the Late Pope Pius XII as Head of the Taxpayer-Funded Public Broadcaster’s Very Own Index Librorum Prohibitorum.



Left wing journalists in affluent Western nations do not mock believers of the Islamic disposition.  But Christians? – they’re fair game.

Scott Morrison – a Christian Pentecostal – recently wrote a book titled Plans for Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness. It is part memoir, part statement of faith.

God only knows (or perhaps not) why the former prime minister agreed to an interview about his tome with journalist/ranter Antoinette Lattouf. It appeared in The Briefing podcast which is part of The [Boring] Saturday Paper, editor-in-chief Erik Jensen.

Comrade Lattouf wasted no time in declaring her contempt for Mr Morrison and his beliefs.  She titled the interview: “Is this Scott Morrison’s most awkward interview ever?”.  Enough said.  It is a heading so replete with derision as to invite listeners not to tune in to the podcast lest they be bored witless.

It would seem that Scott Morrison did not know who Comrade Lattouf is – and seems to have accepted her request for an interview from his publisher.  Which is understandable since she was little known until her recent public disagreement with the ABC.  In any event, Morrison was polite and respectful during the interview – in spite of Lattouf’s mocking hostility. And he did not lose his cool.

Comrade Lattouf seems to be of the view that how some politicians handle their political rivals, or bushfires, or immigration, or welfare may be sins requiring repentance.  An unusual view, to be sure – which suggests that the interviewer has scant knowledge of Christianity in its various forms.  But, then, she works for The Saturday Paper.

When the interview concluded, Helen Smith, The Briefing’s producer, came into the studio and did a two-minute rant against Mr Morrison – while fawning over Ms Lattouf.  Here are some highlights:

Antoinette Lattouf: Helen Smith joins me now…Helen, you still look a little bit shell-shocked by that chat.

Helen Smith: Yeah. I was firstly very impressed with you and your interviewing of Scomo. You did a really good job. Awe. And I was standing in the, it, the studio: “Don’t stop it. Just keep going.” I know, I know you love a compliment. I was standing in the studio producing it with you and I was inside the studio, so I had to be quiet. Yeah. And wow, that was hard because my jaw was just dropped. And I, I just think you were asking the questions that I was like, “Oh my God. Yes. I’m so glad you asked that.” The one about repenting his sins when he, like anything he repented. Yeah. When he was Prime Minister, I was like, yeah.

Comrade Smith’s rant continued peppered with words such as “Yeah” and “like” and “wow”.  The Briefing’s producer also declared that the former prime minister, whom she called Scomo, had been “incredibly damaging to both the Liberal Party and to Australians” along with “minorities”. No evidence for this assertion was presented.

Helen Smith went on to state that she just “loved” Lattouf bringing up a few lines about “the Christian faith in Australia…being almost a minority” in view of how “he [Morrison] treated minorities when in government”. Smith also said: “I did read some of it [Plans For Your Good] for research.” Just some.  Overlooking the fact that producers are expected to read more than just “some” of books.

It’s difficult to imagine The Saturday Paper comrades mocking the faith of an imam and declaring that it would be a you-beaut idea if the Muslim faith declined in Australia. Such mockery and wish fulfilment these days is reserved for Christians.



Until Next Time