ISSUE – NO. 684

7 June 2024

* * * *

* * * *


Media Watch Dog has always maintained that the ABC attacks both the Coalition and Labor. But only from the left.

There was a fresh example of this phenomenon on ABC TV Breakfast on Friday 7 June. James Glenday was in the presenter’s chair as the Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather was interviewed.

Talk about a soft interview. James Glenday challenged almost nothing of what the leftist Green MP said. Glenday allowed Chandler-Mather a lengthy rant in which the following allegations were made – as the transcript indicates:

Max Chandler-Mather: …the Labor government is complicit in a genocide being carried out by Israel in Gaza. That is what this is. This, all of these comments and attacks on the Greens are an attempt to get the media and us talking about protests and accusations. And away from the fact that this Labor government continues to support the invasion of Gaza, refuses to take any meaningful action to put pressure on Israel to cease its genocide in Gaza.

Max Chandler-Mather: And again, what is causing social unrest is the fact that the Australian Government is not taking any meaningful action to stop Israel and put pressure on Israel to stop its genocide in Gaza.

Max Chandler-Mather: So on the other side, has there been any material action taken against Israel [by the Albanese Government], any form of sanction? They could sanction the Israeli war cabinet. They could do that and they refuse. They have sanctioned other countries around the world but, apparently, Israel’s mass murder of civilians does not warrant any material action from the Australian Government.

So there you have it. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster gave the radical activist Greens MP a free kick to rail against the Labor government. And to accuse Israel of mass murder. Without any challenge to provide any evidence to support his serious allegations of genocide and mass murder. And without querying whether any Australian government could affect the outcome of the Israeli-Gaza war.

ABC TV News Breakfast is supposed to be a news program. Not a platform for the Green Left to rant at will without challenge.


One of the tragedies of war, however just, is that civilians – children, women and men – get killed and injured.  This is occurring in the current Israel-Hamas war in which Israel retaliated following Hamas’ invasion of southern Israel – which resulted in the brutal acts of murder, rape and kidnapping of Israelis

The most appropriate way to end the war is for Hamas to surrender and hand over the hostages along with the bodies of those who have died. The false assertion that Israel is engaged in acts of genocide in Gaza ignores the reality that civilians die and are injured in all conflicts.

The Second World War was certainly a just war which resulted in the total surrender of Nazi Germany. On 6 June, the Allied nations remembered the 80th Anniversary of D-Day 1944 – the invasion of Normandy in German-occupied France. This opened a second front in the war against the Nazi regime.  The Soviet Union was at war with Germany on the eastern front – and had been since June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union having abandoned the Nazi-Soviet Pact of September 1939.

Having secured a landing on the Normandy beaches, the military forces of Britain, Canada and the United States liberated Paris and moved towards Germany. As to casualties, it is estimated that around 13,000 to 20,000 French civilians died – children, women and men – during Operation Overlord, which ran from 6 June 1944 to 15 August 1944.

No one called it murder or genocide. Likewise when Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, despite the carpet-bombing of many German cities.


Did anyone read Shane Wright’s report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 5 June titled “Future Made In Australia: Economists give Albanese’s $23 billion plan thumbs up”?

Comrade Wright presents as a senior economics correspondent for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald – despite the fact that he declared in 2017 that coal today is like candlesticks circa the late 1870’s – meaning that coal would soon be totally redundant.  In this sense, your man Wright combines economics with wishful thinking – since the likes of China and India have a different view.

But Media Watch Dog digresses – once again. This is how Shane Wright’s journalism – read advocacy – commenced (taken from Nine Newspapers’ Online edition).

A large group of economists has backed the federal government’s Future Made in Australia policy, accusing critics of consigning the country to an “extract and export” business model while ignoring the potential for hundreds of thousands of well-paying industrial jobs. The economists and policy experts, from institutions including the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, NSW, Monash, Western Australia and Newcastle, have signed an open letter declaring Anthony Albanese’s $23 billion budget plan represents a chance to rebuild the manufacturing sector and support regional jobs while slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

The idea was that Mr Wright’s readers (if readers there were) should be mightily impressed that this group of some 70 “economists and policy experts” has supported the Albanese government’s Future Made in Australia policy. In fact, there were three references to “the economists” in the report.

But were they all economists in the usual sense of the term?  One (alleged) economist cited by Wright is from the Sydney University’s School of Social Services with a primary research interest in the area of energy and heterodox economics. Read “Marxism Institutional Economics”.  The others include (i) a lecturer in Human Geography, (ii) a professor in Accounting, (iii) an academic lawyer specialising in Law, Sociology and Criminology, (iv) a professor of International Political Economy, and (v) a political scientist who is also an author.

All the above are academics – not one works in the private sector.  Moreover, most do not teach economics.  Yet their statement criticises the Productivity Commission (headed by Danielle Wood) and the likes of Chris Richardson.  Both Wood and Richardson are well qualified and well-regarded economists.

Then Shane Wright declared that a copy of the letter signed by “almost 70 economists, has been obtained by this masthead”. Turn it up.  It’s an open letter available to anyone who wants to read it.

Comrade Wright was sent an open letter written by some little-known economists and he pretends he received a leak.  What a load of absolute tosh.  It’s a hand-out written presumably by taxpayer-funded academics who want more taxpayers’ money to be spent. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog readers have expressed enormous interest that Phillip Adams will soon be stepping down as the presenter of the ABC Radio National Late Night Live program to be replaced by MWD fave David Marr.  It’s a case of one sneering left-wing secularist being replaced by another sneering left-wing secularist.  Which is good news for Ellie’s (male) co-owner who needs all the copy he can get when putting MWD together at Hangover Time.

As avid readers will be aware, Peter FitzSimons (aka The Red Bandannaed One) got so excited about the news that he sent out a post declaring that Gerard Henderson would be replacing the Man-in-Black. Fitz took it down immediately – unlike the red rag that remained on Fitz’s head until, after a decade, he sent it to the dry-cleaners, where it got lost.

Thanks to the avid reader who drew attention to the story in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 May about the matter.  Garry Maddox interviewed your man Marr who said that there would be no shortage of topics to address as Late Night Live host. He added:

I will start soon after Britain has dumped the Tories into the garbage bin. Then we’re going to be through the horrifying prospect of Donald Trump becoming the circus clown president of the United States. We’ll have our own elections early next year. At the same time there are profoundly important things going on in this country and, in particular, reckoning with the aftermath of the Voice defeat and working out how we move forward from that …  And, of course, we have continuing appetite for this country, no matter what, to keep on burning coal. There’s a lot on the plate but I hope that I can do it in unexpected and fresh and convincing ways.

So, there you have it – there is not likely to be much that is “unexpected or fresh” with Comrade Marr at the LNL microphone. The British Conservative Party in the garbage bin.  Donald J. Trump as the “circus clown president of the United States”. Evil coal.  Sounds like more of the (Phillip Adams) same. And ABC management reckons that the taxpayer funded broadcaster is not a conservative free zone.  Can You Bear It?


Just when it seemed that the 2024 Sydney Writers’ Festival was yet another taxpayer funded leftist stack, where almost everyone agreed with everyone else on almost everything in a left-of-centre way, there was a controversy, albeit in a leftist kind of way.

As the left-wing newsletter Crikey reported on 29 May, there was a verbal punch-up between David Marr in the left corner and Melissa Lucashenko in the other left corner. It was, after all, a writers festival ring. This is how the segment was presented.


Literary legends expose bloody truths of national history

Unpack the legacies of Australia’s frontier wars with Miles Franklin-winning novelist Melissa Lucashenko and esteemed writer David Marr, discussing their latest books Edenglassie and Killing for Country with Matthew Condon.

But then this is what happened – according to Crikey:

On Friday afternoon, the festival hosted award-winning authors Melissa Lucashenko and David Marr, both promoting their respective new releases, Edenglassie and Killing for Country: A Family Story. The session — titled “Colonial Truths” – reportedly went a little too close to home at a point. After a robust conversation about reparations for First Nations peoples, Crikey’s spies told us Marr was visibly irritated, and allegedly later berated Lucashenko backstage with some choice words.

Lucashenko, a Bundjalung woman, confirmed the pair had an argument, and claims the newly announced RN Late Night Live host swore at her, telling her that she had been “really f–king rude”. She also claims he told her “ad nauseam how generous he is with his money … He was also at pains to point out that he ‘spent five years unpaid’ writing his book — no doubt living in his car and eating from food banks — and indicated that this was a great financial impost for which Aboriginal people might be more grateful.”

Oh dear. An argument over money during which bad language was used and personal abuse delivered. It appears that Ms Lucashenko may have suggested to Mr Marr that he might contribute towards reparations for Indigenous Australians. Especially in view of the fact that, according to the tale told in Killing for Country, one of the author’s ancestors was involved in the killing of some Butchulla people.

Crikey reported Ms Lucashenko as saying:

“It’s not true that I asked anything at all about the proceeds from his book. That’s how he took me asking him about his personal relationship to the Aboriginal dead, after I spoke in general terms about the need for reparations,” she said. “I was looking for some indication that he saw the Butchulla his ancestor slaughtered as anything more than writerly material … I doubt enough people are going to buy his boring book to make any hypothetical proceeds worth considering.”

Oh dear – once again. Perhaps the author of Edenclassie should attend Nancy’s courtesy classes along with David Marr. Fancy telling Comrade Marr that his latest book is boring – at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, no less. And while the author of Killing for Country conceded that he “certainly exploded backstage”, Marr told Crikey that negotiated reparations were never discussed.

Now just imagine the controversy if a political conservative had exploded at a female author at the SWF. Only imagination is possible in this instance since only leftist authors get invited to non-fiction segments of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Even so, it raises the question: Can You Bear It?


As avid Media Watch Dog readers are well aware, Malcolm Turnbull appears to have an open invitation to appear on the ABC Radio National Breakfast anytime he wishes – knowing that he will invariably receive a soft interview from presenter Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas.

The former Liberal Party prime minister is the kind of Liberal that the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster likes. Namely, someone who presents as a political conservative but who loves to criticise political conservatism, from a left-of-centre perspective.

The date was 5 June. And Mr Turnbull wished to talk about his article of 31 May in the online edition of Foreign Affairs – which is titled “How the World Can Deal With Trump”.  Early in the piece, your man Turnbull described the 45th President of the United States as someone “more convinced than ever of his own exceptional genius” who is “never in doubt”. What’s more, according to Turnbull of Point Piper, Donald J. Trump is possessed of “a narcissistic self-belief” and surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear.

[Are you sure that Turnbull of Point Piper is not writing about himself here? – MWD Editor.]

Needless to say, PK provided a soft interview.  The ABC comrade did not challenge her guest when he engaged in a long anti-Trump rant, which included this character assessment:

Malcolm Turnbull: [Trump’s] a very different type of President and the natural tendency is for people to suck up to him. And be, you know, sycophantic. And, of course, he encourages that because he’s a big, narcissistic bully. And that’s, you know, that’s like saying the Pope’s a Catholic, it’s hardly a remarkable observation. But it is vital to stand up to him. That’s the only way you win respect from bullies.

So, there you have it.  The former Australian prime minister believes that the former US president is a “big narcissistic bully”. Which sounds like abuse, rather than analysis, to MWD and raises the question:  Can You Bear It?

[Er, no.  Now that you ask.  By the way, is the Pope really a Catholic?  I thought that the last Catholic pope was the pre-Vatican II Pope Pius XII.  But there you go. What would I know? – MWD Editor.]


While on the topic of Donald J. Trump, did anyone see this exchange on X on Friday 31 May – soon after news reached Australia that the former US president had been found guilty in a Manhattan court of 34 felonies – after making a payment to a porn-star in 34 instalments seven years previously?

The news certainly aroused MWD’s fave lefties Mike (“I used to pour the gin”) Carlton and the Canberra-based Paul Bongiorno. Let’s go to the exchange:

So, there you have it.  On 31 May, Comrade Carlton predicted that “it can’t be long before the shooting [by Lunar Right types] starts”.  And Comrade Bonge ranted that there will be another American Civil War which will lead to “an influx of American boat and plane refugees”.  All this at Hangover Time on a Friday morning which doubled up as Hyperbole Time.  Can You Bear It?

[By the way, your man Andrew Dixon is correct.  Gerard Henderson did invent the term Lunar Right to refer to some extreme and violent right-wing organisations in Australia during the early 1990s. – MWD Editor].


Spicks and Specks, the ABC’s music-themed quiz show, first aired between 2005 and 2011 with a panel featuring host Adam Hills and team captains Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough. On 8 June 2024, the ABC will air a new season, featuring host Adam Hills and team captains Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough.

The hosts aren’t the only ones returning – in an interview with the MediaWeek website, Hills said the program will have the original executive producer and talent booker. “There has been change though” – Hills reassures readers who may be concerned it is exactly the same show from 13 years ago – “we’ve refreshed the researchers and the writers”.

Spicks and Specks is another example of the ABC as a kind of Hotel California – ABC stars can check out but never leave. The ABC panel show The Glass House aired in 2001, yet Wil Anderson has remained a constant presence on the ABC – as MWD has said before, one can imagine Gruen will still be on in the year 2123, hosted by Wil Anderson’s frozen, preserved corpse and an AI voice. The same goes for The Chaser Boys, who at this rate will remain on the ABC as The Chaser Pensioners.

Watching the ABC you get the impression that no one with the ability to host a comedic panel show has been born since the late 1970s.  Can You Bear It?

[I note that the ABC bangs on about the need for appealing to youth – but it seldom gives young comedians a go. – MWD Editor.]


Media Watch Dog may focus on the (somewhat boring) ABC TV Insiders program in the next issue.

In the meantime, Ellie’s (male) co-owner offers the following highlights from last Sunday’s program.

One big story of the week beginning Sunday 2 June was the conviction of former US President Donald J. Trump by a Manhattan court. How did Insiders handle this? –  MWD hears avid readers cry.  Well, it didn’t.  This is how presenter David Speers explained the omission late in the program:

David Speers: We haven’t even had a chance to talk about Donald Trump. But I reckon in the next six months, we’ll have plenty of chances to talk about Donald Trump, and lots of commentary about that going on.

Groan. Insiders did not have time to talk about one of the big stories of the week. But it did have time to hear panellist James Massola, the national affairs editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Let’s go to the transcript:

James Massola: Anthony Albanese keeps saying he’s a full termer. I’m not so sure and neither are some of the members of his cabinet. There’s a few things in play that could mean a December election this year. Some of them including a Donald Trump win, a Queensland Labor loss, people having tax cuts still jangling in their pockets after six months, and maybe inflation starts to come off to the point where we get a rate cut in November. If that happens, I wouldn’t rule out an early poll.

David Speers: Alright, thank you all.

James Massola: And a PM wedding soon after.

Yep. Thank you all. One prediction and a wedding. But nothing too serious. Can You Bear It?



Avid readers will recall the tale of Uri Berliner, a former editor at National Public Radio (NPR), the American non-profit radio network which receives part of its funding from the taxpayer. For those who missed the story, on 14 April 2024, Berliner wrote an article for The Free Press. After the article’s publication, he was suspended by NPR and later resigned. Here is part of what he had to say:

It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding…. In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population…. Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six per cent of listeners described themselves as conservative…. By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 per cent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative….

As Gerard Henderson pointed out in his 4 May Australian column and the 10 May edition of MWD, this has obvious parallels to the ABC – in that NPR lost many of its conservative listeners who had not been replaced.

Another United States media news story broke on Monday 3 June (American time). The previous evening, The Washington Post announced the firing of its executive editor Sally Buzbee. On Monday, Will Lewis – the paper’s CEO and publisher – held a staff meeting to introduce Buzbee’s temporary successor Matt Murray, who previously worked with Lewis at The Wall Street Journal. Facing questions from staff about whether he was intentionally bringing in people from outside The Washington Post, Lewis is reported to have had this to say:

We are going to turn this thing around, but let’s not sugarcoat it: it needs turning around. We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience is halved. People are not reading your stuff. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.

Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, The Washington Post established an adversarial relationship with the new administration. During the Trump Presidency, this appeared to be a sound business decision as the Trump administration provided a steady stream of leaks and scandals which sent worried liberals (in the American sense) flocking to buy papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times.

However, since the election of President Joe Biden, The Washington Post has seen its readership decline rapidly. In October 2023, the paper announced that 240 staff would be given “voluntary buyouts” to compensate for “overly optimistic” revenue projections.

Many American conservatives are now deeply sceptical of media outlets like The Washington Post, correctly perceiving them to be largely staffed by leftie Trump-antagonists. Given the dire financial situationThe Washington Post finds itself in, it likely needs to somehow bring in more conservative readers if it is to return to profitability.

Like Australia, the United States is divided politically. About half of Americans are left-of-centre and half right-of-centre. If the likes of NPR and The Washington Post alienate their conservative listeners/readers, then one-time conservative listeners will go elsewhere to many available alternative news sources.

In Australia, the ABC has lost a large part of its conservative support – and has not been able to replace it.  In the US, the NPR and The Washington Post are going the same way. The lesson is that conservative free zones alienate conservatives who go elsewhere.


So far, the only special ABC program focused on the domestic impact of the Israel-Hamas war has been the Compass program “Not In My Name” of 5 May. It provided a friendly profile of Antony Loewenstein. See MWD 17 May.

Mr Loewenstein, of Jewish descent, is a vehement critic of Israel under any of its elected governments.  In no sense is he representative of the 100,000 or so Jewish Australians.  Not surprisingly, Compass has not done a profile of the likes of Suzanne Rutland and Colin Rubenstein, Australian Jews who support the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. But, then, the ABC is a conservative free zone.

Since 7 October 2023, there has been an appalling rise in anti-Semitism in Australia – exhibited most dramatically in the universities and streets. But the ABC has not covered this adequately – leaving the opportunity for Sky News to fill the gap.

This issue was commented on by Joe Gersh, in an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph on 31 May.  Here’s how it commenced:

As a former ABC Board director, I have long advocated for the critical role our public broadcaster plays in our national conversation. I have defended the ABC against calls for it to be defunded or privatised. When my term on the board came to an end last year, it was my firm intention not to become a critic of the institution I had been privileged to help advance and promote. However events are, as always, the greatest challenge to good intentions. The brutal attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7 was, until it happened, an unimaginable event. And everything changed.

Since then, anti-Semitism has risen to levels never before experienced in Australia. For the first time in living memory, the Jewish community is asking itself whether Jewish life is tenable in Australia in the future. I have waited for the ABC to call out the exponential rise in the manifestation of anti-Jewish hate in our midst. I have been disappointed.

The Melbourne lawyer, businessman and philanthropist used to be a public defender of the ABC. However, Joe Gersh wants the ABC to cover what, correctly, he believes to be the reality that “anti-Semitism in Australia is reaching unprecedented and dangerous levels”.  The taxpayer-funded public broadcaster has failed to do so.

Now, as MWD pointed out in the 18 May issue, Joe Gersh cannot be depicted by the Friends of the ABC comrades as some kind of anti-ABC nut case.  This is what David Anderson, the ABC’s managing director, said about Mr Gersh in an interview with Raf Epstein on ABC Radio Melbourne’s “Mornings” show.  The date was 31 January 2024.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Raf Epstein: A direct concern, actually, it was first raised with me by the State opposition [in Victoria] that I’d like to convey to the [ABC]  board through you. There’s no Victorian board member of the ABC. Do we need a Victorian person on the board of the ABC?

David Anderson: You’re going to see this as a cop-out. But we have absolutely no say in who turns up on the board. So –

Raf Epstein: If you don’t have any say, you can give me your opinion. Do we need a Victorian on the board?

David Anderson: Well, we used to, so we used to have Joe Gersh who sat on the board and Joe was a fantastic board member.

So, there you have it.  In late January 2024, David Anderson described Joe Gersh (who is also a member of The Sydney Institute’s board) as a “fantastic” ABC board member.

So, how has the ABC managing director responded to criticism by Joe Gersh – the ABC’s former fantastic Board member – about the ABC’s failure to cover the issue of rampant anti-semitism in Australia?  The answer is – with silence.



In the last issue of Media Watch Dog, comment was made that the June 2024 issue of the left-wing magazine The Monthly had just arrived on the desk of Ellie’s (male) co-owner per courtesy of Australia Post.

Last week Hendo had only the chance to glance at the inside cover of Comrade Erik Jensen’s magazine.  He noted that it highlighted an essay by Laura Tingle – ABC TV 7.30’s political correspondent and Australian Financial Review columnist. [Interestingly, La Tingle still holds the latter position – having described the AFR coverage of the 2024 budget as hysterical – re which see MWD Issue of 24 May – MWD Editor.]

Hendo was particularly interested in the description of the article which read: “The erosion of civility in the public square.”  MWD was surprised to learn that La Tingle had become an advocate of civility in the public or private squares – having described Scott Morrison when prime minister as presiding over “ideological bastardry” and, more recently, depicting Opposition leader Peter Dutton as “dangerous”. Sounds more like abuse than civil discourse, don’t you think?

MWD now has had time to read the essay – which is Tingle’s John Button Oration at the taxpayer funded 2024 Melbourne Writers Festival (which was, as usual, a leftist stack).

MWD was taken by Ms Tingle’s criticism of contemporary journalists who “lacking a deep background knowledge are working in an environment where the easiest thing to do is to chase political conflict over an issue, rather than explore what the government is doing about it”.  She continued:

As an example of this phenomenon, in January, at the National Press Club, the prime minister was asked 12 or 13 times about whether he thought voters would penalise him for breaking his promise on the Stage 3 tax cuts, rather than questioned at any length about how those tax cuts would affect the community, the budget or economy.

As avid readers know, Comrade Tingle is president of the National Press Club (NPC) and the ABC staff-elected director – in addition to her 7.30 and AFR gigs.  In the NPC position, she chaired Anthony Albanese’s address on 25 January 2024. Guess who asked the first question after the Prime Minister’s talk?  La Tingle.  And guess what she had to say?  Give up?  Well, here is the question from the transcript prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office:

Laura Tingle, National Press Club President:  Prime Minister, thank you for your address.  Every other Prime Minister who has broken a major promise has gone on to lose their job.  Paul Keating and his L-A-W tax cuts, Tony Abbott, cutting health and the ABC, Julia Gillard, on the carbon tax and Kevin Rudd on the CPRS.  Why will Anthony Albanese be different?

So, it was La Tingle who led the press questions about whether voters would penalise him for breaking a promise on the implementation of the original Stage 3 tax cuts – and ignored the issue of how the revamped tax cuts would affect the community, the budget and the economy. Yet, she bagged her colleagues for doing what she herself did.

Verily, a Laura Tingle Moment.

[Perhaps you should have run this in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment. Just a thought. – MWD  Editor.]


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

As avid readers know, Media Watch Dog is always willing to acknowledge mistakes and make prompt corrections. In the last issue:

  • Due to a transcript error, an answer by Labor MP Josh Burns was subsumed into a question by Michael Rowland. This has been corrected. The error did not change the meaning of the exchange since Mr Burns and Mr Rowland agreed with each other concerning Donald J. Trump.
  • Also, Media Watch Dog wrote that Antoinette Lattouf’s interview with Scott Morrison for The Briefing was part of The Briefing put out by The Saturday Paper. Ms Lattouf does not work for The Saturday Paper. This has been corrected. The rest of the segment remains unchanged. MWD listened to a podcast of the Lattouf/Morrison interview and made use of a transcript available online.

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.


As avid Media Watch Dog readers know (see the 10 May 2024 issue of MWD), on 30 April Gerard Henderson wrote to ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenter Michael  Rowland suggesting that he should correct the error he made a year previously. His mistake was to repeat the claim, made by Peter McClellan KC, that the late Cardinal Pell said that clerical pedophilia was a moral failure – not a crime.

This was Mr McClellan’s error.  Michael Rowland’s fault was not to fact-check the assertion.  When Rowland did not reply – Henderson wrote to ABC managing director David Anderson on 14 May.  Now read on – si’l 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 McClellan 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

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.


David Anderson to Gerard Henderson – 28 May 2024

Dear Mr Henderson

Thank you for your earlier correspondence concerning a 2023 segment on the ABC’s News Breakfast program and the subsequent correction placed on the ABC’s Correction and Clarification page.

Consistent with our complaints process, I have provided your correspondence to the Ombudsman’s Office to consider further. The Ombudsman’s Office is separate to and independent of content making areas within the ABC. The role of the office is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints about ABC content concerning the ABC’s editorial standards.

Thank you again for taking the time to set out your concerns.

Yours sincerely

David Anderson

Managing Director

Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Gerard Henderson to David Anderson – 29 May 2024

Dear Mr Anderson

I refer to your letter of 28 May 2024 in response to my letter of 14 May 2024.

As the correspondence makes clear, I did not ask for this matter to be placed on the ABC’s Corrections & Clarifications website.  I simply asked Michael Rowland to make an on-air correction for his error. He did not reply.

As it turns out, the Corrections & Clarifications reference contains misinformation – since Peter McClellan KC’s statement about Cardinal Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission is incorrect – as I documented in my letter to Michael Rowland, of which you are aware.  I am surprised that the ABC would place misinformation on its website without fact-checking.

I request that you advise the ABC Ombudsman that I do not want the matter dealt with in this manner.

For the record, contrary to the implication in the second paragraph of your letter, I have not made a complaint – indeed the word “complaint” is not mentioned in my letter of 14 May.

When I make errors – in my columns, articles, books, commentaries etc – I correct them.  Michael Rowland and other ABC presenters would be well advised to do the same.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson


Gerard Henderson to Fiona Cameron, Ombudsman, ABC  – 29 May 2024

Dear Ms Cameron

David Anderson advised me by email late yesterday afternoon that he had referred a matter which I raised with him to the ABC Ombudsman.

I did not want Mr Anderson to do this.  Instead, I wanted him to act in his capacity as ABC managing director and editor-in-chief. I note that he has not been using the latter term in recent times.  Instead, he flicked the matter to you.

This is a formal note to advise that I do not want this matter considered by the ABC Ombudsman.  I have never lodged a complaint with the ABC and I do not want to do so now.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson


Fiona Cameron to Gerard Henderson – 31 May 2024

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your emails. As you have been informed, your emails to the Chair and the Managing Director have been passed onto me for handling.

Whilst I acknowledge your wish for your complaints to be addressed by the Managing Director, complaints alleging that ABC content may be in breach of the editorial standards are generally referred to the Ombudsman’s Office. This is particularly the case where complaints have escalated or need to be dealt with in finality. Please be assured that the Ombudsman’s Office does not publish individual names of complainants.

I have reviewed your complaints, the relevant content (which was broadcast on ABC News Breakfast on 2 May 2023), the foreword written by The Hon. Peter McClellan AM KC in the book Still Standing and recommended that the correction published on the ABC Corrections & Clarifications page be removed.

The reasons for this recommendation are as follows.

The interview between Michael Rowland and Chrissie Foster was about the release of the book Still Standing that Ms Foster co-authored with Paul Kennedy. The interview included reference to the foreword in the book by Justice McClellan AM KC who was the Chief Royal Commissioner of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In the interview, Mr Rowland said that:

Peter McClellan who of course chaired the Royal Commission has written a lovely foreword to the book, and he says, he writes in particular about George Pell and other senior Catholics giving evidence to the effect that they saw the rape of a child as a moral failing, not a crime, and Peter McClellan writes, how he still can’t get his head around that and lots of people still can’t, right?

Relevantly, in the foreword published in the book, Chief Royal Commissioner Justice McClellan AM KC writes that:

The history of the sexual abuse of children within Catholic institutions is one of devastating criminal offending by individuals and catastrophic mismanagement by Church leadership. Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Australian Catholic of his generation and for some years the Director of the Aquinas Campus of the Institute of Catholic Education, 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’. 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.

We observe in the interview that Mr Rowland used the words “to the effect”, not “to the fact” as stated in your complaints and on the correction. Regrettably, the broadcast was not sufficiently reviewed before the correction was published.  This resulted in the publication of an unnecessary correction that was confusing to the audience.

In the context of this interview, and Mr Rowland posing the question to Ms Foster by paraphrasing from the foreword, I do not consider that there is a material difference between what Mr Rowland said and what Justice McClellan wrote. Mr Rowland was not reading the foreword verbatim. The interview is in keeping with the accuracy standards.

I note that as of this afternoon the correction has been deleted.

Thank you for raising this matter. Should you be dissatisfied with this response, you may be able to pursue the matter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority:

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Cameron



Gerard Henderson to Fiona Cameron – 5 June 2024

Dear Ms Cameron

Thank you for your email of 31 May 2024. In response, I make the following comments:

  • Contrary to the comment in the second paragraph of your letter, I did not make a complaint to the ABC’s Managing Director. I simply advised him that, contrary to my wishes, the ABC had placed misinformation on its website. The misinformation was not that of David Anderson or that of Michael Rowland, but that of Peter McClellan KC. But misinformation is misinformation.
  • I am grateful that, following your recommendation, the correction concerning the late Cardinal George Pell, published recently on the ABC Corrections & Clarifications page, has now been removed.
  • Contrary to the implication in your letter, I never claimed that there was “a material difference between what Mr Rowland said and what [former] Justice McClellan wrote”.

Rather, what I said was that Michael Rowland, and/or the ABC TV News Breakfast production team, failed to fact-check Mr McClellan’s comments in the foreword to the book Still Standing before repeating them on air.  The fact is that Cardinal Pell did state on several occasions before the Royal Commission that clerical pedophilia was “a crime” – not merely a “moral failure”.  There was no equivocation of any kind.

I do not believe in verballing anyone, intentionally or unintentionally – especially with respect to the dead who cannot defend themselves.

It does not matter whether Michael Rowland said, when quoting McClellan, that Pell had given evidence “to the fact” (as I and the ABC originally heard) – or “to the effect” (as the ABC now claims).  The point is that Rowland did not do any fact-checking about what Pell said – presumably because he believed what he wanted to believe.

The essential point is that Mr McClellan was wrong.  Pell did not tell the Royal Commission – in either direct or indirect speech – that he regarded “the rape of a child to be a moral failure and not a crime”.

In fact, in both a written submission and in oral evidence, the Cardinal said that clerical pedophilia was a crime. Mr McClellan has not contested my statement that he made an error.  I do not see why the ABC should cover for him.

I had hoped that Michael Rowland would have had the intellectual courage to correct Peter McClellan’s error, which he had repeated, on air. But Mr Rowland either went “under-the-bed” or into denial. Perhaps both. And nothing happened.

The McClellan error is documented in the new Chapter 12 of the updated edition of my book Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt which has been “censored” by the ABC – along with the book on the Pell Case by Fr Frank Brennan S.J.  By the way, Michael Rowland is named in my book as a Pell-antagonist.

I note that the ABC’s new chair Kim Williams told the March 2024 issue of The Monthly that “the Australian media’s incapacity to receive criticism is staggering”. He added that “the glass jaw of our media…completely overwhelms the glass jaws they allege elsewhere”. Who knows?  Perhaps he had Michael Rowland in mind, among others.

Still, it’s better to have Peter McClellan’s error in this instance filed away in ABC TV’s archives – than have the error repeated in print on the ABC’s current Corrections & Clarifications page. Since this would be misinformation – which Mr Anderson has railed against.

For the record, I will certainly not be pursuing the matter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority.  I have never done so in the past – nor do I intend to do so in the future.  Nor will I ever lodge a complaint with the ABC Ombudsman – as I declined to do with the ABC complaints procedure which, as you know, it replaced.

There is no need to respond to this email.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

cc:     Kim Williams AM

David Anderson

Mark Maley

Justin Stevens

Michael Rowland


* * * * *

Until next time.

* * * * *