GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 83

18 FEBRUARY 2011

“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”

Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.

“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time.  Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep. For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”

– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.

“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

  • Stop Press: Meanjin’s Grant Addiction: No Debate on Slow TV

  • Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: John Pilger Demolishes Julian Assange’s Defence (Unintentionally Of Course)

  • Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Michael Brull Nails The Assange Apologists On Sexual Misconduct Allegations

  • The Maurice Newman v Jonathan Holmes Segment Resumes

  • Malcolm Fraser Poses As Liberal on 7.30 Report

  • A Deborah Cameron Moment: On Hamstrings and Bad Weeks

  • Michelle Grattan’s U-Turn

  • Correspondence:  Concerning Tim Colebatch & The Age

STOP PRESS 1

Taxpayer Subsidised Journal Of (Leftist) Opinion Seeks Deputy Editor To Obtain More Taxpayer Subsidies For The Publication of (Leftist) Opinion

One of Nancy’s Melbourne mates has forwarded a copy of the following “help wanted” advertisement. Here it is:

Melbourne University Publishing

Deputy Editor, Meanjin Melbourne

Part-time, .8 fraction

Reporting to the editor of Meanjin, you will be responsible for a wide range of editorial and administrative duties to support the production of Meanjin, one of Australia’s most significant literary publications. These will include editing, website/online work, grant applications and acquittals, subscriptions and administrative tasks.

Meanjin has been the house journal of the Melbourne University left since it was founded by leftist Clem Christensen in the 1940s.  These days it is reported that the quarterly sells fewer than 1000 copies each edition. [Gee. In my (Catholic) youth the Holy Name Monthly did better than this – without a penny of taxpayer money. – Ed].  Now, according to this advertisement, Meanjin has an editor (the gorgeous Sally Heath – formerly of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, of course) and a general manager (a certain Ross Wallis) plus, no doubt, others.

And now the taxpayer subsidised Meanjin is looking for a deputy editor – who can, believe it or not, work for 0.8 per cent fraction of a normal workload and who must be proficient at “grant applications” – meaning squeezing out more taxpayer funds for this low circulation journal.  Once upon a time deputy editors were involved in such mundane tasks as proof-reading and fact-checking.  Now grant application skills are a prerequisite.

Still, you have to admire the Melbourne Left.  They are just great at getting bucket loads of taxpayers’ money and publishing articles in magazines – and putting on functions – where everyone agrees with everyone else.

STOP PRESS 2

The Monthly’s Slow TV and the Wheeler Centre Hold Non-Debates – On Mr Assange

Just arrived in the inbox all the way from The Friends of the Monthly in Melbourne is The Monthly’s latest Slow TV video.  This program is devoted to promoting “some of the nations’ leading voices on free speech” who addressed “the rise of WikiLeaks and the legal issues faced by the organisation and its leader, Julian Assange” at a forum in Melbourne during February. The gig was sponsored by Liberty Victoria, a fully paid-up entity of the civil rights lobby.

It would seem that The Monthly, Slow TV and the like are channelling the ABC.  Julian Assange’s and his defence lawyer Jennifer Robinson addressed the audience at Melbourne’s Federation Square via video-link from Britain.  The night was chaired by Professor Spencer Zifcak who set the tone for the evening by mocking Australian intelligence services and police forces.  This sure raised an audible smirk among the leftist audience. The speaking order was as follows. Professor Zifcak who agreed with Assange’s defence lawyer Jennifer Robinson (also from London), who agreed with Julian Assange, who agreed with Greens MP Adam Bandt, who agreed with media union boss Christopher Warren who agreed with lawyer Lizzie O’Shea, who agreed with perennial litigator Peter Gordon, who agreed with all the previous speakers.  Or something like that.

At The Monthly (Professor Robert Manne is chairman of the editorial board) this kind of intellectual love-in qualifies as a debate.  Professor Zifcak is a director of Robert Manne’s Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University.  [Strange that advocates of free speech don’t want to hear alternative views – don’t you think? Ed].

The taxpayer subsidised Wheeler Centre – which was set up by the Victorian Labor government – is having a similar “debate” at the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne tonight.  According to the Wheeler Centre’s website, it is hosting a forum titled “Secrets & Lies: How WikiLeaks Has Changed The World”. There are two presenters – Julian Burnside QC (who is on record as a supporter of WikiLeaks and Mr Assange) and Age editor Paul Ramadge (who has published much WikiLeaks material due to an arrangement with Mr Assange).  Admission free – per courtesy of taxpayers.

The Wheeler Centre maintains that the panel will answer two questions. Namely (i) what are the lasting implications of WikiLeaks? and (ii) where does the public’s right to know begin and end?

Not with a real debate, that’s for sure.  For it seems likely that Mr Burnside will essentially agree with Mr Ramadge who will essentially agree with Mr Burnside.  Such is the state of “debate” in contemporary Melbourne, it appears. [Funny that. Nancy’s co-owners, both born in Melbourne, put on a real debate about WikiLeaks at The Sydney Institute in January where – horror of horrors – two of the speakers essentially disagreed with the other two speakers. Needless to say, the event was not filmed by Slow TV. But it was shown in full on the Foxtel and Austar Channel 648 and covered by the ABC’s Big Ideas program. – Ed].

NANCY’S PICK-OF-THE-WEEK

John Pilger’s Q&A Pilgerisms (With One Surprise Exception)

What a stunning performance by John Pilger on Q&A last Monday – who was fawningly introduced by Q&A presenter Tony Jones as “one of Australia’s best known journalists and filmmakers”.  No mention here that your man Pilger is a leftist expatriate who departed Australia for domicile in Britain half a century ago but still, somehow or other, is considered by the Sandalista set to be something of an expert on Australia.

During his appearance last Monday, John Pilger:

▪ Dismissed a survey by PEW Research Centre, which found that 84 per cent of Egyptians believe that Muslims who abandon Islam should be subjected to the death penalty, because the PEW finding was reported in The Australian whose proprietor is Rupert Murdoch.  Pretty convenient, eh?

▪ Revealed that WikiLeaks has “insurance files” which “have to be taken very seriously” since they “include files on Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation”. How exciting, etc.    Mr Pilger did not inform the Q&A audience how any such files could help Julian Assange evade extradition to the United States from Sweden and/or Britain.

However, John Pilger did surprise on Q&A when he completely discredited one of the planks of Julian Assange’s  case in his current predicament in London. Early on Pilger alleged that “the whole threat of Julian Assange going to Sweden is about the prospect of him being extradited to the United States”.   Yet, following an incisive question from an audience member, John Pilger admitted:

There is a very one-sided extradition treaty between the US and the UK.  You can be extradited from the UK virtually on the basis of hearsay.

John Pilger’s loose comment completely undercut Julian Assange’s case.  The fact is that Assange could be extradited from Britain to the US – as from Sweden.  In which case, why is Assange resisting extradition to Sweden on the basis of his assertion that this could result in his extradition to the US?  – since, as Pilger admitted on Q&A, Assange could just as readily be extradited to the US from Britain.  In any event, no extradition request has been made by the US in respect to Mr Assange.

NANCY’S FIVE PAWS AWARD 

Michael Brull Vs Richardson J., Deveny C., Pilger J. And Waterstreet C.

The (most prestigious) gong returns this week. And the winner is Michael Brull – traditionally not a fan of Nancy.

Writing in The Drum Unleashed on Wednesday, in an article titled “Time to end the idle smear of Assange’s Swedish accusers”, Mr Brull criticised the likes of Graham Richardson, Catherine Deveny, John Pilger and Charles Waterstreet for belittling the Swedish women who have accused Assange of sexual misconduct.  Mr Brull concluded his opinion piece as follows:

I’m not saying Assange is guilty. I’m not saying WikiLeaks is a bad thing: I think it’s fantastic. I’m not saying I agree with the deranged American commentators who think he should be assassinated.

What I’m saying is that rape is an extremely important and urgent issue. Those who make an accusation of rape should not be subject to scurrilous public attack, to derision, to trivialisation and so on. They should be given the same presumptions of innocence as anyone else. We should demand better from Ms Deveny, Mr Waterstreet, Mr Pilger and Mr Richardson. We should ask them to correct their factual errors. We should ask them if they think those making accusations of rape should be treated with respect. And we should ask them if they believe that they have done so.

I imagine I’m not the only person who regards their statements on this issue with bitter disappointment. They could do a great public service yet if they admit their mistakes. Let’s hope they do so.

Five Paws.

POPULAR MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT (RETURNS)  –  GROUP THINK ALIVE AND WELL ON JOHN CLEARY’S SUNDAY NIGHTS

MWD resumes its increasingly popular segment devoted to analysing ABC chairman’s Maurice Newman’s suggestion that there just might be a “group-think” ethos extant in the public broadcaster – and the ABC Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ refutation of any such possibility.  See MWD passim.

Consider the “debate” which took place at the Anglican Church’s “Breakfast Conversations” which aired on the ABC Local Radio’s Sunday Nights with John Cleary program on 21 November 2010 – just before Nancy entered her kennel for what in the media trade is termed as a “well-earned break”.  [Could this be a holiday for lesser mortals? – Ed].

The moderator was Phillip Freier, the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne – a sandal-wearing leftie type who also wears his heart on his cassock.  The function had two guests for this conversation – chairman of The Monthly’s editorial board Professor Robert Manne and former prime minister Malcolm Fraser. The topic was “Australian Politics Today”.

It was quite a competition, really, as Archbishop Freier competed with Professor Manne who competed with Mr Fraser who competed with Archbishop Freier to demonstrate to the audience just who was holier-than-thou, in a sandal-wearing, socially concerned kind of way.  The truth is that it was pretty much a dead heat as Archbishop Freier essentially agreed with Professor Manne who essentially agreed with Mr Fraser who essentially agreed with Archbishop Freier.  In the words of the modern cliché, they all ticked all of the boxes on all the fashionable issues of the day covering economic, foreign and social policy.

All three speakers – there was no question/discussion period in the lengthy session which went to air on Sunday Nights with John Cleary – essentially agreed that both the Labor Party and the Coalition were bitter disappointments and sent out the message that all would be for the best if only Australian politics today was run in accordance with the political philosophy of FMF – as in Fraser/Manne/Freier. [Did you see that in his pompous interview which La Trobe University aired on 9 August 2010 Robert Manne declared that he was now a Greens voter? – Ed].

It’s not surprising that such a “debate” was held in Melbourne’s Federation Square.  This, it seems, is the type of debate found in Federation Square.  There may have been three (male) voices but there was only one theme.  Now it’s time to score the Newman/Holmes contest.

Maurice Newman: 2

Jonathan Holmes: 0

MALCOLM FRASER  DISGUISED AS LIBERAL ON 7.30 REPORT

While on the topic of Malcolm Fraser, there was a time – around three decades ago – when ABC presenters, journalists and producers were paid-up financial members of the Shame-Fraser-Shame Club.  Not any more.  All was forgiven a decade and more ago when Mr Fraser threw in his lot with the leftists – so much so that, today, Malcolm Fraser’s political views are closer to the Greens than to either the Liberal Party (which he once led) or Labor.  In other words, Mr Fraser’s views are similar to those of Professor Manne – see above.

Last night on the 7.30 Report Mr Fraser was wheeled out (once again) by the ABC to discuss contemporary Australian politics.  The report – presented by Mary Gearin – ostensibly ran the line that it was investigating different views on multiculturalism within the contemporary Liberal Party.  John Roskam, director of the conservative inclined Institute of Public Affairs, was interviewed by Ms Gearin.  Fair enough.  And then it was over to Mr Fraser, who bagged the Liberal Party and (of course) former prime minister John Howard.

The 7.30 Report neglected to tell its viewers that Mr Fraser resigned from the Liberal Party in 2010 or that – according to his public and private comments – he has probably not voted Liberal for two decades. Instead Ms Gearin presented Malcolm Fraser as a Liberal Party supporter who happens to disagree with the Liberals on multiculturalism.

By the way, MWD came across the paperback edition of Malcolm Fraser: A Political Memoir in a Melbourne bookshop a fortnight ago – which Mr Fraser authored with Margaret Simons (see The Sydney Institute Quarterly, Issue 37, July 2010 for an analysis of the tome’s many howlers).  In the paperback edition, Fraser/Simons are still claiming that Malcolm Fraser won four elections – the correct number is three.  Oh well, what’s an error in the range of 25 per cent when an author is trying to demonstrate that he was as successful electorally as Bob Hawke and John Howard?

And now let’s pause for…

A DEBORAH CAMERON MOMENT – In Which The ABC’s “Green-Left-Daily” Presenter Ignores The Polls To Opine About Tony Abbott’s “Bad Week”

Due to MWD’s recent well-earned break, there is a backlog of material in our A Deborah Cameron Moment file.  Of which more later.  But for this week, consider the comment by the presenter of Mornings With Deborah Cameron on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 – otherwise known as the “Green Left Daily” program – when discussing Opposition leader Tony Abbott last Monday. Let’s go to the audio tape:

Deborah Cameron:  Now the, um, ah, question of the connection between a hamstring and a brain. I wonder if you’ve observed this. Yesterday on Insiders there was this really fascinating theory, um, put about actually by Annabel Crabb who said that the Opposition leader’s bad week might be able to be explained by the fact that he’d had a problem with his hamstring.

Um, he’d had an operation – he can’t ride his bike or run.  And she made the connection between what happens to your hamstring connecting directly to what happens to a well-functioning brain.

So his [Tony Abbott’s] remarks about the, you know, “when it happens it happens”, um, his, even the comment about “the biggest surrender since Singapore”. I mean, these are sort of loose sort of ideas. Coming up, we’re going to be talking to a physiotherapist about this….

Now, um, ah.  How about this?  Um, sort of. There was Deborah Cameron, shortly before 9 am on Monday 14 February, opining about Tony Abbott’s “bad week” and connecting his (alleged) poor performance with his bung hamstring.  But the Sydney Morning Herald that very morning (Monday 14 February 2011) led with the headline: “Landslide happens.  Team Abbott secures election-winning lead.”

The Herald reported the latest Herald/Nielsen opinion which had the Coalition leading Labor, on a two-party preferred basis, by 54 per cent to 46 per cent – with Labor’s primary vote at a truly dreadful 32 per cent compared with the Coalition’s 46 per cent.

The Herald-Nielsen poll was taken over the period of 10 February to 12 February – towards the end of what Ms Cameron described as Tony Abbott’s “bad week”. How about that?

Truly, A Deborah Cameron Moment.

GREAT U-TURNS OF OUR TIME (CONTINUED) – MICHELLE GRATTAN STEPS UP

Still, to be fair to Deborah Cameron, the “Green Left Daily” presenter was not the only commentator to foretell bad times for Tony Abbott last week. The Age’s political editor Michelle Grattan – who comments each morning on Radio National Breakfast – also fared poorly in political tea-leaves reading stakes.

Michelle Grattan On Why Julia Gillard’s Ascendancy Is Increasing

Paradoxically, Julia Gillard this week grabbed the ascendancy over Tony Abbott just when the Parliament was locked in solemn bipartisanship. – The Saturday Age, 12 February 2011

Michelle Grattan On Why Julia Gillard’s Popularity Is Declining

The Coalition has opened an emphatic 54-46 per cent two party lead in an Age/Nielsen poll that shows Labor’s primary vote and the Prime Minister’s popularity sliding. – The Age, 14 February 2011

So there you have it – per courtesy of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s political editor.  Or not.

CORRESPONDENCE – TIM COLEBATCH AND GERARD HENDERSON IN THE MATTER OF THE AGE

In the January 2011 edition of The Sydney Institute Quarterly (Issue 38), The Age won a gong in the “Best of the (Media) Worst in the 2010 Election” awards covering the prestigious “Most Wacky Analysis For Both Before And After The Election” category.  Well done.

The SIQ was most impressed by the fact that, in its pre-election qualitative poll for the seat of Melbourne, The Age could not find one Labor voter but located several Greens supporters.  Quite an achievement really – since the ALP won the highest primary vote in Melbourne with 38 per cent.  The Greens won 36 per cent of the primary vote but The Age’s pre-election qualitative poll in the seat of Melbourne had primary support for Greens candidate Adam Bandt at, wait for it, 67 per cent.

Also the SIQ pointed out that, in its post-election special edition, The Sunday Age made no reference to the fact that the DLP’s John Madigan was well placed to win the final Senate vacancy in Victoria.  This should have been evident once it was realised that the Coalition vote was low in Victoria.  It turns out that the SIQ report was based on the first edition of The Sunday Age and that, in the second edition, Tim Colebatch did canvass the possibility of a win by John Madigan.

This will be clarified in the on-line edition of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. The SIQ readily makes corrections/clarifications. Attached below is correspondence between Tim Colebatch and The Sydney Institute – which demonstrates Mr Colebatch’s sensitivity to criticism and his past reluctance to correct his own errors.  It is published here in the knowledge that The Age has signed up to The Right To Know Coalition

Email From Gerard Henderson To Tim Colebatch – 9 February 2011

Tim

As requested, Anne Henderson passed on to me your email dated Sunday 6  February 2011, which was read as follows:

Subject: RE [Sydney Institute] Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog No 81

Anne

Please pass this on to Gerard. I don’t understand his vindictiveness towards me. And I am surprised by his lack of professionalism.

Regards

Tim

For the record, there was no reference to you in Media Watch Dog 81, which went out on Friday.  There is, however, a reference to you in the January 2011 edition of The Sydney Institute Quarterly (Issue 38). I can only assume that you have confused the two publications.

In this SIQ piece, I commented on The Age’s Greens-focused coverage of the 2010 Federal election – both before and after the election of 21 August 2010.  You seem upset about my comment that your report in The Sunday Age on 22 August 2010 did not flag the possibility that the Democratic Labor Party candidate – John Madigan – could win a Senate seat.

My comment is correct. I read the first edition of The Sunday Age. In your email [to Anne Henderson] you forwarded me a copy of your piece in the second edition – where you wrote that “the Coalition’s Senate vote in Victoria collapsed, and preference flows could see the DLP candidate, Ballarat blacksmith John Madigan, take the final Senate seat, even though he won only 2.2 per cent of the vote.”

I am willing to amend the on-line issue of The Sydney Institute Quarterly (Issue 38) – it will not be placed on the web for some weeks – to record that The Sunday Age recognised, in its second edition, that the DLP could win a Senate seat in Victoria.

However, I believe that – based on Antony Green’s modelling – you could have anticipated at least the possibility of a Madigan victory in the first edition of The Sunday Age.  After all, it is not that unusual for candidates to win Senate vacancies with low primary votes.  Steve Fielding won in Victoria in 2004 with a 2 per cent primary vote, the Greens’ Kerry Nettle won in New South Wales in 2001 with a 4 per cent primary vote and the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s Rob Wood won in New South Wales in 1987 with just one per cent of the primary vote.

Once it was evident that the Coalition’s vote was low in Victoria – a fact that was established by around 7 pm on election night – you and The Sunday Age should have realised that such minor parties as the DLP and Family First were in with a chance to win the sixth Senate vacancy.

I continue to remain surprised at the sensitivity to criticism of so many journalists who make their living from criticising others.

There was nothing “vindictive” in what I wrote about you in the SIQ. I believe – and there is plenty of evidence to support my view – that in recent years The Age has focused on inner-city issues at the expense of the suburbs and regional areas.  One manifestation of this phenomenon has been an obsession with inner-city Greens voters.  I provided one example of this in the SIQ article to which you have taken exception.

By the way, I do not believe that you should be lecturing me about my professionalism.  My reputation was severely damaged by your misreport of a conference I attended in Washington in March 1987 – your false claims about me were picked up by the leftist journalist John Pilger and can still be found in his book The Secret Country, which remains in print.  Your report was so unprofessional that you claimed that the Australian commentator Peter Coleman was at the conference – he wasn’t.  The Coleman who did attend was Peter Tali Coleman, the then governor of American Samoa.

Your Page 1 article, mockingly titled “US told Reds are Down Under the bed” (The Age, 5 March 1987), was replete with ridicule.  There was a reference to the “Rambo Right from Down Under”, one speaker was referred to as a “haranguer” and you asserted that speakers at the conference (which you did not attend) had spoken of a “vast Soviet plot” in Australia.  It was woeful journalism which mixed reportage and opinion.

As you may or may not know, I spoke by phone to Peter Cole-Adams at The Age about this. Soon after, you turned up at my room at the Sheraton Carlton in Washington DC and apologised for the errors in your report and the “negative journalism” it contained.

However, there was no public apology or correction – apart from a brief “We were wrong” report on the bottom of Page 3 (The Age, 6 March 1987), which acknowledged the Peter Coleman mistaken identity howler. That was all.

In time, the papers at the 1987 Washington conference – which was sponsored by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University – were published.  They revealed a considered and measured – and professional – discussion about the influence of the Soviet Union in the Southwest Pacific.

Those Australians who gave papers included such anti-communist Labor identities as John Wheeldon (a minister in the Whitlam Labor government), Michael Danby (now an ALP MP) and Michael Easson – along with Robert Manne, Tom Millar and Colin Rubenstein.  As you know, the co-director of the conference was Owen Harries (whom you described as Dr Owen Harries) – who is not, and never was, a member of what you termed the “Rambo Right from Down Under”.

I will clarify my comment about you in The Sydney Institute Quarterly as soon as possible.  It is now nearly a quarter of a century since your report of the Washington conference (which you did not attend) and you have never corrected or even clarified your report. So, if I were you, I would not be complaining about the (alleged) unprofessionalism of others.

One final point.  In my view, The Age would be a stronger paper today, and would not have lost so many conservative buyers/readers, if it had not pandered in recent years (especially under Andrew Jaspan’s editorship) to the inner-city Greens vote. That was the point in awarding The Age one of my “The Best of the (Media) Worst in the 2010 Election Campaign” gongs.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Email From Tim Colebatch To Anne Henderson – 10 February 2011

Thanks, Anne.

I have just checked our electronic library on this.

In fact, we were the only Sunday newspaper to report the possibility of the DLP winning a Senate seat.

On the Sunday, a senior reporter and photographer went out to Ballarat to interview John Madigan in his smithy, while I wrote a long piece explaining how he could win the seat.

Our coverage of it in Monday’s Age was far more extensive than that in either of the Murdoch papers. (Herald-Sun or Australian).

At the time I still thought McGauran would pull ahead when the postals and pre-polls were counted. Events proved otherwise, and I wrote a piece published on Tuesday 7 September calling it for Madigan – 10 days before it became official.

Gerard was just on the wrong tram. Perhaps he saw only the first edition of the Sunday Age, which goes to the country and interstate. It went to press at 9 pm, long before we had enough Senate votes counted to allow any but the most obvious conclusions about seats changing hands.

All the best

Tim

Email From Gerard Henderson To Tim Colebatch – 10 February 2011

Tim

Anne Henderson has passed on to me an email that she received this morning from you. I do not know why you write to Anne. As I indicated to you in the email I forwarded to you at 3.59 pm on 9 February 2011, I am willing to clarify the reference to you when Issue 38 of The Sydney Institute’s Quarterly is placed on the Institute’s website in a couple of weeks.

I note that you have evaded all the issues which I raised in my email yesterday.  So be it. It so happens, after writing to you yesterday afternoon, I spent some of last night reading my Melbourne newspapers for the past couple of days.

As someone who spent a majority of my years in Victoria, I was interested in the newspaper coverage of Australian Football League personality Jill Lindsay, who recently died of cancer.  As you will be aware, Caroline Wilson wrote a fine piece about the late Ms Lindsay on Page 3 of The Age on Tuesday – and Mike Sheahan wrote equally well about her on the same day in the Sport section of the Herald-Sun.

As you know, Australian Rules Football is massive in Victoria – due to the fact that (unlike some other codes throughout Australia) it enjoys the support of the well-off, middle income groups and the lower socio-economic groups and appeals to men and women of all ages.  In view of The Age’s focus on the “A-B market”, you would expect that The Age would be bought and read by a significant number of  Australian Football League followers – particularly families who live in the suburbs.

Maybe not – according to The Age’s Tributes section. On Tuesday, it carried just three paid notices of Ms Lindsay’s death – from the AFL Life Members Club, the Melbourne Football Club and Spotless. That was all.  This compares with 30 death notices concerning Jill Lindsay in the Herald-Sun on Tuesday – i.e. ten times as many – which occupied three entire columns on Page 64.  Those who bought space in the Herald-Sun’s Tributes sections included the AFL Commission itself, many of the ALF clubs and quite a few individuals.

When I lived in Melbourne, AFL supporters – of all kinds – bought and read The Age.  The Tributes section of last Tuesday’s paper would indicate that The Age has lost many of its traditional AFL supporters – many of whom are “A-B” types but now appear to be more interested in, and more in tune with, the Herald-Sun.

There are number of reasons for all this.  In my view, however, it reflects in part The Age’s cultivation in recent years of the inner-city leftist agenda (symbolised by the cartoons of Leunig and Tanberg, who are now unmatched by any consistent conservative tradition in the paper). As someone who has held a significant position at The Age for over a quarter of a century – and who defends The Age’s leftist agenda in recent times – you should bear some responsibility for this outcome. My (unanswered) email of yesterday refers.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

Mr Colebatch did not respond to Gerard Henderson’s emails of 9 February 2011 and 10 February 2011.

* * * * *

Until next time – when the comment on Alan Ramsey (held over due to popular demand) will appear. Really and Truly.