ISSUE – NO. 685

14 June 2024

* * * *

* * * *


Late on Thursday 13 June, the English-born Paul Barry let it be known that he would not continue as the presenter of the ABC TV Media Watch program after December 2024.  Here’s a list of Media Watch presenters over the last three decades or so:

Stuart Littlemore (1989-97)

Richard Ackland (1998-99)

Paul Barry (2000)

David Marr (2002-04)

The late Liz Jackson (2005)

Monica Attard (2006-07)

Jonathan Holmes  (2008-13) – Paul Barry hosted for 3 months in 2010

Paul Barry (2013-2024)

Notice anything in common?  In case you didn’t, it’s this.  All seven presenters since 1989 have been leftists or left-of-centre types.  Meaning journalists who regard themselves as “progressives”. There’s not a single conservative among this lot.

It remains to be seen whether ABC management will throw the switch to viewpoint diversity and find a conservative to take over Comrade Barry’s (political) pulpit. Or whether the ABC’s Media Watch will come to resemble Fox News’ MediaBuzz in which presenter Howard Kurtz allows for different views to be heard on the program. Or whether it’s more of the (ABC) same.

In the meantime, here’s a scene from Paul Barry’s “Media Bites” segment – which went out online on the afternoon of Thursday 13 June, just before his forthcoming retirement from Media Watch became known.

Paul Barry: Meanwhile, [Nigel] Farage is always welcome in Australia with the Murdoch Sky News. And sitting down for a recent chat with his chum Donald Trump, he was keen to advertise that relationship.

Nigel Farage: Our friends at Sky News Australia wanted me to ask you this.

Paul Barry: Friends with Farage? If that were me, it’s something I would not want advertised.

The reference was to a question posed to Donald J. Trump concerning Kevin Rudd – Australia’s ambassador to the United  States. Farage’s question led to the former US president’s fiery assessment of the former Australian prime minister.  That’s called news-making.

In view of this, who cares what the former Brit thinks of a current Brit? MWD will occasionally look back on Paul Barry’s Sermon from the ABC Mount, in subsequent issues.


For its part MWD is more interested in the American psychic medium John Edward than the leader of the Reform Party in Britain.  After all, as avid readers are aware, the MWD segment “Nancy’s Courtesy Classes” has been able to keep going following the death of the late Nancy (2004-17). In this sense, Nancy did not die – she merely “passed” to the Other Side – where she can be contacted with a little help from your man Edward.

For this reason, Ellie’s (male) co-owner was SO EXCITED to hear that the Crossing Over star is about to tour Down Under.  This was announced at Hangover Time on ABC TV News Breakfast on 14 June. Let’s go to the transcript:

James Glenday: Lovely to be on the couch with my great friend Bridget Brennan.

Bridget Brennan: It is.

James Glenday: This Friday morning.

Bridget Brennan: It’s great, who else might be joining us on the couch today? Any predictions? Any vision coming to you? Any visions coming?

James Glenday: There’s an energy in the room. I can feel it. I can feel it. We are going to be joined by John Edward who, of course, is probably well known to a lot of you for the show Crossing Over. He is a US psychic. You excited about this one?

Bridget Brennan: Well he is a global superstar. I’m so excited. I mean, John Edward has millions of fans across the world, and he’s helped a lot of people get in touch with the Other Side –

James Glenday: [Interjecting] Purportedly….

MWD is with Comrade Brennan on this one. Hendo knows for a fact that John Edward has helped him to get in touch with two canines on the Other Side – namely Nancy and Jackie (2016-2023). We will keep MWD readers up to date on the John Edward tour and cover the Edward interview on ABC TV News Breakfast.


Just when you thought that it was safe to assume that David Crowe – the chief political correspondent for Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – had given up predictions, this is how he concluded his column on Thursday 13 June.

Some Liberals talk of a two-term strategy because everyone can see the mountain ahead of Dutton. We may look back at this week as a point where he lost his footing on the climb

The reference is to the theory that Peter Dutton has a two-election strategy to become prime minister. Stage 1 – win seats in the suburbs and the regions. Stage 2 – have a second attempt at the PM’s job in 2028 by winning back some Teal seats.   That’s why the Opposition has decided to propose Australia’s move to nuclear energy.  The aim is to win seats in the regional and suburban seats at the first election and win the Teal seats lost to the Liberal Party at the subsequent election. Or so the theory goes.

As MWD readers are aware, Comrade Crowe got the results of the 2019 election and the 2023 referendum hopelessly wrong. In 2023, Nine’s chief political correspondent had Peter Dutton pointing his aircraft “to the ground and hitting the accelerator”. Now, in 2024, he has Peter Dutton losing his footing while climbing a mountain. Groan.

By the way, your man Crowe’s reference to the anonymous views of “some Liberals” seems to reflect what Liberal backbencher Keith Wolahan said on ABC Radio National Breakfast on the 13 June. He was interviewed, along with Teal independent Zoe Daniel, by Patricia Karvelas. This interview will be discussed in greater length in next week’s issue.


It was a bit like deja vu all over again as the cliché goes.

On Tuesday 11 June, Ellie’s (male) co-owner switched on ABC TV’s News Breakfast – only to hear this announcement:

Lisa Millar: Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled Donald Trump a bully while warning about what a second Trump presidency might bring to the world. Mr Turnbull, who was Australian Prime Minister when Donald Trump was first elected to office, has told 7.30 he fears the former president will be more emboldened and surround himself with more yes men, should he defeat President Joe Biden in November.

Sure, it was Hangover Time.  Even so, Hendo felt that this was old news.  Or, in the words of another cliché – he had seen this movie before. And so, he had.  As Media Watch Dog readers know only too well, on Friday 31 May (US time) the online edition of Foreign Affairs published an article by Malcolm Turnbull titled “How the World can deal with Trump”.

News of this reached Australia in the week commencing Monday 3 June and Mr Turnbull was interviewed at some length by ABC Radio National Breakfast on 5 June.  In a soft interview with Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas [Is there any other when PK interviews the Prince of Point Piper? MWD Editor], Malcolm Turnbull described the former US president as “a big, narcissistic bully” and added that “the only way you win respect from bullies” is to “stand up” to them.

All this was covered in the previous issue of MWD – and elsewhere.  However, it would seem that the executive producer of the ABC TV 7.30 program thought it was a you-beaut idea to interview the former Australian prime minister on 10 June – close to a week after the story broke.

Your man Turnbull told interviewer Laura Tingle that “Trump was a bully obviously” to whom others “suck up”. Thanks for the advice.

Needless to say, Laura Tingle used the occasion to raise the issue of Peter Dutton’s attitude to Australia’s emissions. And the former Liberal Party leader used the occasion to criticise Peter Dutton, the current Liberal Party leader.  Quelle Surprise! Let’s go to the transcript when Malcolm Turnbull was asked about renewables.

Malcolm Turnbull:  Well, the trend towards renewables is very, very strong, right around the world. The cheapest form of new generation is solar and wind and particularly solar and as long as there is the sufficient storage, pumped hydro for long duration storage, batteries for shorter durations, then you can get to zero emission energy at a much lower cost.

This is the thing, renewables are not more expensive and this is the problem Peter Dutton has because he’s out there saying renewables are expensive and they are putting prices up. Australia has the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the world. So there are millions of Australians who know that renewables are effective and do lower their power prices.

Now here was a chance to ask the former prime minister about his fave renewable project. Namely, the Snowy 2.0 battery.  Reportedly Snowy 2.0 is massively over-budget and has suffered long delays. Did the 7.30 chief political correspondent ask this tough question?  Not on your nelly.  Can You Bear It?


There was considerable interest in the “A Laura Tingle Moment” segment in last week’s Media Watch DogMWD quoted the 7.30 presenter and Australian Financial Review columnist’s John Button Oration at the leftist stack that was the 2024 Melbourne Writers Festival.

There Laura Tingle criticised the journalists who covered Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s speech at the National Press Club (NPC) on 24 January 2024.  She was miffed that the PM “was asked 12 or 13 times about whether he thought voters would penalise him for breaking his promise on the Stage 3 tax cuts”.   According to La Tingle, they should have asked how the tax cuts “would affect the community, the budget or the economy”.  [Talk about a (proposed) soft question. – MWD  Editor.]

The only problem with this scolding is that La Tingle asked the first question in her capacity as NPC president.  And it was about whether voters would bring down the Albanese government for having “broken a major promise”.  How about that?

Could it be that La Tingle is heading into contradiction land?  As MWD readers are aware, the focus of the 2024 John Button Oration was on “civility” – or the lack of it – in the public sphere.  She had something to say about Alan Ramsey (1938-2020) who ended his long journalistic career as a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald.  Tingle did so because Ramsey “was an early trendsetter in the art of being uncivil”.

You can say that again. Those who knew your man Ramsey will not be surprised by this description – as Damien Murphy’s entry on Alan Ramsey in Obituaries Australia attests.  La Tingle continued:

In his later years, he was more inclined to just be angry and uncivil – probably a reflection of a growing cloud of undiagnosed dementia, or of raging against the light. But, while Ramsey was very uncivil, he perhaps represents an argument to be had for the value of the uncivil in our public discourse.  The significance of his journalism was that it actually told you something.  He wasn’t just being controversial or a contrarian for the sake of it.

You may feel it has been indulgent to write of him at such length.  But here is a reason for doing that, central to my purpose here. The path from Ramsey-esque incivility in the media to that which prevails today in both media and politics, let alone what occurs on social media, is instructive.

Which raises the question. What was Laura Tingle on about in her John Button Oration? The June 2024 issue of The Monthly, in which Tingle’s speech is published in full, advertised the piece as examining “The erosion of civility in the public square”. But she declared that Alan Ramsey “perhaps represents an argument to be had for the value of the uncivil in our public discourse”.

So, according to the teaching of La Tingle, incivility is bad except when it’s valuable.  Which raises another question:  Can You Bear It?

[No. Not really now that you ask.  However, I was just so impressed that in her oration La Tingle managed to get the likes of the historian Orlando Figes, “Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Consort, Albert” plus “Martin Luther and The Reformation” into her talk.  I was just so impressed. – MWD  Editor.]


Did anyone see former BBC journalist Nick Bryant on Q+A? The date was Monday 3 June – the last Q+A before it went on a W.E.B. i.e. Well Earned Break.  It will resume on Monday 12 August.  Media Watch Dog cannot see the point in the taxpayer funded broadcaster having a major current affairs program which “goes-to-bed” for around half the year.  It would seem that – come 2025 – the sleep will be of the permanent genre.

The 3 June Q+A was not boring in the usual Q+A way.  But, as usual, its panel consisted overwhelmingly of the left-of-centre types.

As it turned out, the British-born Bryant – who currently lives in Sydney where he writes a column for the Sydney Morning Herald – led off the discussion with an oh-so-predictable criticism of Donald J. Trump. You know, Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the 6 January 2021 riot at the Capitol Building was an attack on democracy – despite the fact that none of the rioters were armed. And so on.

Comrade Bryant even declared, “This is an alarming moment; this is code red for American democracy”.   It would seem that your man Bryant does not recognise the checks and balances in the American federation which limit the powers of any president – even Donald J. Trump.

MWD was interested in Comrade Bryant’s comments on Australia as told to the Q+A audience.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Nick Bryant: [What] I wish Britain would do is actually take some of – not your politics, but your democracy. Australia’s a really innovative democracy, you know, in terms of coming up with preferential voting, in terms of proportional representation. You were the first country that allowed women to stand for parliament. I used to be against compulsory voting, but nothing makes you keen on compulsory voting like spending eight years in America. It’s your safeguard against polarisation. There are some really good democratic ideas in Australia that could be exported around the world. I don’t think you realise the extent to which you could become a global exemplar, not of politics, but of democracy.

Turn it up.  There is no valid distinction between Australian democracy and Australian politics.  For the simple reason that politicians legislated for the likes of preferential voting, proportional representation (in the Senate), votes for women, compulsory voting and the like – which Comrade Bryant praises.

In any event, Bryant appears to have changed his mind on matters Australian.  After living for six years in Australia while working for the BBC, Comrade Bryant wrote a book titled The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a Great Nation lost its way (Penguin, 2014).

It was an alienated work. Bryant criticised such leading Australian elected leaders as  Robert Menzies and John Howard.  He endorsed the view of the late Robert Hughes that Mr Howard was a “visionary with eyes in the back of his head”.  That’s just abuse.  And the former BBC journalist referred to the (then) Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s “hurricane-proof hair”.  Well, that’s just misogynistic.

It turned out that your man Bryant even doubted the thesis of his own book – asking himself: “If Australian politics is so bad, then why has the country done so well?” Good question.  Here’s an answer – perhaps Comrade Bryant writes hyperbolic tosh. And here’s Hendo’s question: Can You Bear It?


While on the topic of absolute tosh, consider this exchange which took place on the oh-so-boring ABC TV Insiders program on 2 June.  Presenter David (“Please call me Speersy”)  Speers spoke to James Massola about the Coalition’s policy that Australia should move to nuclear energy as a means of reducing emissions.

Let’s go to the transcript where Comrade Massola discusses Anthony Albanese’s 2007 line that the re-election of the John Howard Coalition government would result in every Australian having a nuclear reactor in their backyard.  The words were spoken by (then) Opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

David Speers: James, you spoke with the PM about this.

James Massola: Yeah, I had a chat to the PM yesterday about this. He ran the campaign in ‘07 when he was shadow infrastructure minister for Kevin Rudd against John Howard’s plans. And he’s rubbing his hands together and saying we will fight them on this every day from now until the election…

David Speers: I thought in your story there was a killer line too, from – was it from Labor?

James Massola: Yeah. An unnamed Labor MP about –  “wait till we get to the point where we start talking about handing out free iodine tablets to anyone who lives within 100km of a nuclear reactor”.

It would seem that Messrs Massola and Speers have forgotten that Australia has a nuclear reactor in the southern Sydney suburb of Lucas Heights. It’s been there for half a century.

Here’s a map with a radius of 100 kilometres from Lucas Heights – it takes in all of Sydney, Gosford, the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands, Nowra and Wollongong. Is Comrade Massola seriously suggesting that the Albanese government currently needs to provide free iodine tablets to ward off the radiation generated from Lucas Heights?  And Comrade Speers reckons that this is a “killer line”.  Can You Bear It?


Media Watch Dog’s “You Must Remember This” segment is based on the chorus line in the song As Time Goes By which was popularised by the film Casablanca. It is devoted to reminding the usual suspects of what they and/or those they supported once wrote or said or did – or, indeed, what they failed to write or say.


Sean Kelly, who writes a weekly column for Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, is something of a MWD fave. After all, he is a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – a significant achievement in view of the hostility between this duo.  This is how Comrade Kelly’s column of 10 June commenced:

Watching a touring production of Julia last week, I was surprised to find myself furious. I had lived through the events depicted, working for Julia Gillard in her media team when she was prime minister. Little was new to me. But being exposed, again, to the sheer density of the sexualised, misogynistic, personal abuse thrown at her was a genuine shock.

It is true that Ms Gillard experienced a degree of misogyny when prime minister between 2010 and 2013.  It is also true that some of this came from her own Labor Party MPs.  However, former Coalition prime minister Tony Abbott is the only one named by Comrade Kelly in this regard.  Seems a bit selective, don’t you think?

Your man Kelly used the current tour of the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of the play Julia to rail at News Corp for the misogyny in our midst and to defend the ABC. However, he produced scant evidence that female ABC journalists are the victims of misogyny. Rather, Kelly seems to equate legitimate criticism with misogyny in this instance.

Here’s the problem.  The presenters of many of the key ABC news and current affairs programs are female.  For example, Sabra Lane (AM), Patricia Karvelas (Radio National Breakfast), Laura Tingle (7.30) and Sarah Ferguson (7.30).  Kelly seems to equate legitimate criticism of these leading journalists – who happen to work in a profession where they criticise others – with misogyny.

This could be the case – but Kelly produced no evidence of misogynistic comments or acts to support his assertion.  It would seem that if the Nine columnist had his way it would be out-of-bounds to criticise female ABC presenters and producers – thus protecting the taxpayer funded public broadcaster from criticism of many of its key news and current affairs programs.

According to the former Labor Party staffer, contemporary misogyny in Australia is all the fault of former Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott – whose acts of misogyny include being so discourteous as to look at his watch on one occasion when being criticised by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Parliament.

According to Kelly, a certain level of sexist abuse was normalised in Australia between 2010 and 2013 – i.e. when Julia Gillard was the Prime Minister and Tony Abbott Opposition leader.  Here’s how the column concluded:

A decade ago, a leader of the opposition [i.e. Tony Abbott] deployed damaging political rhetoric as though it were unremarkable. We failed to talk about it properly or draw the lines we should have. With almost a year to go in this ugly lead-in to an election, there is every chance we are about to make the same mistake again.

This is a self-serving analysis.  Perhaps Comrade Kelly was too busy negotiating between the offices of Gillard and Rudd to notice the Australian sitcom At Home with Julia which aired in 2011.  It was a four-part series which ran on – wait for it – the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and depicted Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson.  A co-production, in fact, between the ABC and Quail TV.

At Home with Julia was replete with misogyny.  On 19 August 2016, The Guardian Australia reported that Gillard singled out the ABC for criticism in running the misogynistic sitcom. Mark Scott was the ABC managing director and editor-in-chief at the time.

The publicity for At Home with Julia which ran on ABC TV depicted actors playing Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson apparently undressed under an Australian flag. The ABC never presented Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd in such a way.

At the time, Gerard Henderson was one of the few columnists who criticised Nice Mr Scott’s decision to run the series on ABC.  Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald in September 2011, he criticised At Home with Julia for ridiculing Ms Gillard and her partner and made the point that the series mocked Labor and the Coalition – but not the Greens.

Hendo cannot recall any left-of-centre columnists attacking the sitcom. Nor does he remember getting a call from Sean Kelly in the Prime Minister’s Office thanking him for taking a stance against misogyny and stating the fact that the ABC attacks both the Coalition and Labor but only from the left.  Even today, when praising Julia, Sean Kelly has forgotten At Home with Julia.

You Must Remember This.


As avid Media Watch Dog readers know, The Saturday Paper (editor-in-chief Erik Jensen) goes to press on Thursday evenings and arrives in inner-city coffee shops on Saturday mornings.  As such, it is perhaps Australia’s only newspaper which contains no news.  But it runs lotsa boring columns by the likes of John (“Please call me doctor but don’t call me if someone is injured”) Hewson and Paul (“Please call me Bonge”) Bongiorno. But MWD digresses.


There was no news in The [Boring] Saturday Paper on 8 June – as even readers in Fitzroy North understand.  However, there was one article of interest – namely a piece by freelance journalist Gabriella Coslovich titled “Who is Justin Stevens?”.

Your man Stevens is the ABC’s Director News and these days seems to act as the ABC’s editor-in-chief.  The ABC’s current managing director, David Anderson, no longer presents himself in this role. This is how Comrade Coslovich commenced her article:

Justin Stevens is adamant he stands up for his journalists. The director of news at the ABC runs through a list of staff he has defended directly or for whom he has authorised statements of support: Patricia Karvelas, Louise Milligan, Lisa Millar, Tony Armstrong, Russell Jackson. He says this is not exhaustive.

No, it isn’t.  It’s interesting that so many prominent ABC journalists do not defend their own work but rely on senior management to defend them.  In this sense, Mr Stevens’ lot is not an easy one. Justin Stevens gave an interview to The Saturday Paper.  This is also unusual.  Senior ABC management tend to only give interviews to ABC staff – i.e. to their employees.

What’s remarkable about The Saturday Paper interview is that nobody at the ABC seems to have been willing to talk on the record about your man Stevens. Here’s a list of Coslovich’s sources (i) a long-standing ABC journalist, (ii) a former ABC presenter, (iii) another ABC insider, (iv) an ABC insider, (v) a former ABC reporter, and (vi) a current ABC journalist. The only present or former ABC journalist to talk about Stevens’ time at the ABC was Quentin Dempster. It’s impossible to assess the veracity or judgment of anonymous sources.

Not surprisingly, Justin Stevens defended the ABC.  And, not surprisingly, Comrade Dempster (who now presents as a director of ABC Alumni) criticised News Corp. Dempster is of the view that ABC management, including chair Kim Williams, should do more to defend the taxpayer funded public broadcaster from criticism.

No one interviewed by The Saturday Paper criticised the work of ABC journalists. And Coslovich did not interview any critics of the taxpayer funded conservative free zone.  For its part, MWD found this part of the article of particular interest:

…Stevens was an unexpected appointment. Many tipped the role would go to John Lyons, a decorated reporter and then head of current affairs and investigations at the broadcaster.

“When Justin got that role, I don’t think many people thought it was a bad choice, but a lot of people thought, Wow, that’s a big step for him. And then that reflects a very big step from 7.30 to news head – a meteoric rise”, an ABC insider says. “Each step along the way has been a big jump and that lack of experience and confidence is reflected in his managerial style.”

MWD is not sure that John Lyons – who currently holds the position of the ABC’s global affairs editor – has been “decorated”. But it is evident that he is an activist journalist – with two books highly critical of Israel and what he calls the Israel lobby in Australia.  Namely, Balcony over Jerusalem and Dateline Jerusalem. The former book was criticised by The Age’s former editor-in-chief Michael Gawenda in his book My Life as a Jew (Scribe, 2023) – the latter book reviewed by Gerard Henderson in The Sydney Institute Review Online Issue 20, November 2021.

Lyons is a partisan with respect to Israel. He would not be an ideal fit as ABC Director News in the current Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.  Moreover, Sophie Elsworth in The Australian on 31 January 2024 reported Lyons as having said at a staff meeting – which declared a vote of no confidence in ABC managing director David Anderson – that he was embarrassed to work at the ABC in view of its reportage of the Israel-Gaza War.

The Saturday Paper on 8 June contained no news.  But at least the Justin Stevens profile was worth a read.  Which is probably why it was run on Page 3.


Lotsa thanks to the avid Media Watch Dog reader who picked the John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in the previous issue.  Yes, the Nazi Soviet Pact (or Hitler-Stalin Pact or Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) was signed on 23 August 1939. Not in September 1989 as MWD stated last week.

As MWD readers know, the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 occurred when Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Nazi-Soviet Pact 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.


It was around Gin & Tonic Time – or was it Pre-Dinner-Drinks Time? – on Friday 7 June when Ellie’s (male) co-owner saw this report from Rani Hayman on ABC TV News.  She was reporting from London concerning the commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy on 6 June 1944.  Let’s go to the transcript:

World leaders and diplomats including Australia’s Governor General David Hurley, are in Normandy paying their respects. …Despite being an ally of France during World War Two, President Emmanuel Macron did not invite Russia.

Er, that’s not quite right.  France surrendered to Germany on 22 June 1940 following the Battle for France. When the Nazis occupied Northern France in June 1940 the  Soviet Union (the predecessor to Russia) was an ally of Germany.  D-Day opened a second front in World War Two which drove Germany out of France.

The Soviet Union may be classified as an ally of France after Germany ended the Nazi-Soviet Pact and invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.  But the Soviet Union was not an ally of France when Paris fell to Nazi Germany in June 1940. As Hillary Clinton commented recently, many contemporary commentators have little sense of history.

* * * *

Until Next Time.

* * * * *