1 APRIL 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

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these email are private correspondence and not for publication”

– ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.

Stop Press: Alex Mitchell, Scott Burchill, The Times and Jonathan Cheng – All Get a Dishonourable Mention

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week Goes to David Marr

● Exclusive: Bob Ellis Writes for MWD via Nancy

● RN Breakfast – Focus on Chicken Coops Rather than Political Coups

● Charles Waterstreet on Charles Waterstreet – Say No More

● Maurice Newman Segment: On the ABC and Tony Abbott’s Welfare Policy Speech

● Five Paws Award: Step Forward Barry O’Farrell

<p><a href=”” mce_href=””>VIDEO: Barry blanks Kerry</a></p> <p>

● Correspondence: Robert Manne Writes to MWD (Wacko)


– Alex Mitchell On Gaddafi’s (Pacifist) Defence  Force

Did anyone happen to hear Sun-Herald columnist, and superannuated Trotskyite, Alex Mitchell on the “Journos Forum” on Radio 702 last night?  When the discussion turned to Libya, Alex “call me Leon” Mitchell said that Libyans belonged to several tribes and they would never fire on one another.  So how could all the violence be explained? – presenter Richard Glover asked. Well, it was Africans –  who were being trained for military purposes in Libya – who were carrying out the killings on Gaddafi’s behalf. Moreover, according to Mitchell, it was all the West’s fault. It’s a novel view that it was Africans – not Libyans – who were flying Gaddafi’s air force and driving Gaddafi’s tanks. What evidence did Mr Mitchell have for his opinion?  Answer – zip.  Absolutely – zip.

Scott Burchill’s Hyperbolic Moment

Then there was Scott (“call me Doctor”) Burchill on ABC News Breakfast this morning. Let’s go to the video tape:

Scott Burchill : As you know, The Australian newspaper’s got a jihad against the Greens and is publicaly open about it. The front page of The Australian this morning shows that they’re asking Senator Brown, leader of the Greens, to rein in the new Senator Rhiannon – who has been found to have supported a campaign against Israel, a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign, which is a global campaign launched to criticise Israel for its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories. Now apparently, according to Craig Emerson, this is a disgusting policy. I’m not quite sure why he’s chosen those particular words. But whether or not you agree with whatever you know, Israel is doing in the Middle East, a peaceful campaign of trying to effect change through, you know, negotiation, pressure, not buying Israeli products, is legitimate whether you agree with it or not – “disgusting” is a strange choice of word.

Professor Burchill (for a Deakin University professor he is) went on to criticise Julia Gillard’s policy on Israel and described the report of Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon’s views supporting the Israeli boycott as “just branding people”.

Really.  According to Scott Burchill, it is a “jihad” if The Australian reports criticism of Lee Rhiannon by Cabinet minister Craig Emerson on Page 1.  Outside of Deakin University, some readers might regard this as news.

The Times (of London) – Soft On Gorby

The Australian today runs a London Times story on Mikhail Gorbachev’s 80th birthday bash where he’s described as “the man who dismantled the Iron Curtain”. Eh, not really – that’s the opposite of what happened. In his last years Mr Gorbachev desperately tried to save Communism which he believed in. This involved him authorising the shooting of protesters in Georgia and the Baltic States. The protesters against Communism were the brave ones who literally and metaphorically tore down the Berlin Wall. The only sense in which Mikhail Gorbachev did this was that he was so out of touch that he didn’t see the consequences of his own policies of glasnost and perestroika. It’s bizarre that history is being rewritten so quickly, and by The Times of all papers.

ANU Academic Sees the Sunnyside of Assad

Also in today’s Australian there is an article by Jonathan Cheng of the Australian National University. Jonathan Cheng has no criticisms of and much praise for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad whom he tells us is really a reformer, even a liberal, with a “pragmatic foreign policy orientation”. Tell that to the Hariri family in Lebanon, whose Prime Minister father was mysteriously killed by a bomb while the Syrian
Army was in charge of Lebanon. Maybe this is what Cheng means when he writes of Assad’s policy of  “warmer ties with neighbours”. Bombs can be quite hot you know.

Cheng also refers to the “Israeli war against Hezbollah in Lebanon”, a great example of role reversal. The naive people at MWD thought Hezbollah had started a war against Israel, but now Jonathan Cheng has put us right.  Anything naughty Syria has done recently is attributed by Cheng to dark unnamed backroom hardliners acting against Assad’s will. We heard the same unlikely story about another murderous dictator’s son, Saif Gaddafi, who conned many in the West that he was a liberal reformist but who, like Assad, has now emerged under the pressure of events in his true colours.


David Marr on Barry O’Farrell’s Victory Celebrations

How gracious of David Marr to respond with such warmth to the Coalition’s victory in New South Wales last Saturday.

In the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Mr Marr wrote about the Liberal Party celebration at the Parramatta Leagues Club – the home of the Parramatta Eels.  David Marr looked into the audience and saw “rent seekers…pouring in from the eastern suburbs” along with “young men with short hair and hyphenated names, old warhorses eager for another salary, and lobbyists come to ask their first favours”.

The SMH sub-editor headed David Marr’s article: “Same old Liberals snaked their way into the home of the Eels.”

To which Nancy responds: Same old David Marr.


–  as told to Nancy (per  courtesy of  the Australian tax payer)

The  ABC’s The Drum Unleashed (editor Jonathan Green) pays out taxpayers’ money to the occasional columnist Bob Ellis, otherwise known as The (False) Prophet of Palm Beach. Equipped with only half a dozen bottles of scotch, Nancy was able to “scoop” the public broadcaster by enticing The (False) Prophet to meet with her, at his Palm Beach abode on Sydney’s northern beaches, in the early hours of this morning – April Fools’ Day.  Bob Ellis’ comments – as dictated to Nancy – exhibit a certain similarity to his articles in The Drum Unleashed this year on 3 January, 12 January, 31 January, 10 February, 18 February, 1 March, 9 March, 25 March and 27 March – all of which can be located on the ABC’s website. Here we go.

It’s April Fools Day. Discuss.  Last Saturday fell on a Saturday.  Prove that I lie.  Up here, in the under-privileged ghetto of Palm Beach where I live, you can hear the gnashing of Labor teeth in Sussex Street, in New South Wales Parliament House and in Governor Macquarie Tower.

How can we get over our loss to that fat bloke Barry O’Farrell – you know, Fatty O’Barrell?   Some people have been so unkind as to suggest that I carry much more weight than the newly elected Liberal Party Premier of New South Wales.  But I think thin.  And so it goes.  And so it went.

There will be some mean-spirited types and fascists and crazed cross-bearing Catholic papists and smokers and free traders and Rupert Murdochs who will mock me for writing in The Drum Unleashed on 3 January 2011: “I alone in all of Australia think Labor will hold government, in perhaps a hung parliament, in New South Wales on March 24”.  They were bold predictions – especially since the election was due to be held on Saturday 26 March.  But Jonathan Green at the ABC was very reassuring.  He told me that my election date prophecy was only two days out – and that a day or two here – or even there – isn’t really noticed at the ABC, where the taxpayers pay the bills which buy the clocks. And that, in any event, it was only fascists like Mussolini who bothered about the importance of things being on time.  Like trains and wars and appointments with Italian mistresses and things like that. Time is on the wing. Discuss.

As to that triple-super-girl-cheerleader Kristina Keneally’s defeat.  Well, look no further than that 80 year Rupert Murdoch and Fox News and Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Glenn (or is it Glen?) Beck and their lackeys Down Under.   It’s not often that prophets like me get it wrong.  And certainly not my wife – whom I refer to as having “reliable clairvoyant powers (reported in most of my books)”.  She foretold the gorgeous Ms Keneally narrowly losing by only a seat or two.  Which, alas, does not do much for the clairvoyant industry.

It’s odd when one crystal ball gets fogged up.  But two?  This shows the ability of the 80 year old Rupert Murdoch to manipulate our future from elsewhere – he, who with his insistence on publishing pics of Page 3 topless lovelies in The Sun, ruined and distorted and imperilled the futures of 25,000 teenage girls. Work it out for yourself.  Seven (topless) sheilas for seven (topless) days for 52 (topless) weeks for 40 (topless) years. Well, okay, it’s not quite 25,000 – more like 16,000, in fact.  But it’s more than 25,000 if you count each individual (topless) bosom.  And that’s a lot of tit.  Think about it.  I certainly do. And so it goes.

I don’t quite know what I am going to do now that Labor has lost in New South Wales and the Golden Age has ended and I am out of a taxpayer funded job.  I have never told anyone before – except readers of The Drum Unleashed, of course – that during their Golden Age I used to write speeches for (Bob) Carr and (Jeff) Shaw and (Bob) Debus and (Andrew) Refshauge and (David) Borger and (Virginia) Judge and, and, and. All now gone – one way or the other. I also wrote poetry for Labor staffers who were about to resign from their jobs in order to enter Parliament or to become head of the Water Board or to go to prison – or who had birthdays or whatever.  My (many) admirers still recall my brilliant ditty to Miss Little Goa, which went like this:

Twenty-one today. Twenty-one today

She’s got the key to the door

What a pity

She’s drunk on the floor.

Laugh. Did they laugh?  Yes. They laughed so loud the top fell off my whisky bottle. Prove that I lie.

The truth is that I’ve written speeches for many a Labor leader.  Including nice Mike Rann (in South Australia) and Kim Beazley and Bob Carr and Nathan Rees and that Jack Lang bloke.  Hang on a minute.  I think I wrote that “Lang-Is-Greater-Than-Lenin” line. But it was some eight decades ago – and a lot of (empty) whisky bottles have passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge since then.

I have a common bond with leaders – certainly with Labor and Labour leaders and occasionally the odd (read very odd) conservative.  In my book Goodbye Babylon, I revealed that I knew Winston Churchill so intimately that I alone was aware that he was still alive in 1974. Previously some fools and knaves thought that Old Winnie died in 1965. This was even the case with some fools and knaves who went to Old Winnie’s funeral – which demonstrates the frailty of (other people’s) memory.

In my book Goodbye Babylon I also recalled that the New Zealand Labour prime minister Mike Moore and I once drank more than a dozen bottles of wine between us in just a few hours. (See MWD Issue 8). And we survived. Prove that I lie.  In the olden days, a drinking session with a prime minister used to end with a “Carriages at Eight” reminder.  When I got on the piss with Mike, the word went out: “Hearses at Ten”.

In spite of the end of the Golden Age, I’m still available.  Come to think of it, I should not have called Mr O’Farrell “wheezy, pudgy, puffy” nor declared that he “looks like a deflated football” nor written that “he has no ideas and no courage and he will kill the Arts” nor suggested that he would only win the votes of “certain pudgy old Westies and whinging Poms”. Who knows? Maybe if I had not been so unkind, Mr O’Farrell may have continued my role as Court Jester to the NSW Government. I would not have written any such abuse if only I had a windscreen wiper on my crystal ball – and known that he was about to score the biggest winning margin in modern Australian history.  As Hamlet of Denmark once mumbled: “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping’?”  It’s a good question – even if I don’t understand what Mr Shakespeare was on about here.

And it’s a pity.  And it’s a sorrow.  But my wife tells me that I may yet continue as a Court Jester.  All I need is a court. And a bit of jest.  Prove that she lies.

Bob Ellis’ latest two books on Australian politics have been remaindered and placed in the fiction bargain bins at your local bottle shop.


While on the topic of the NSW election, it’s been a busy week for Tim Latham, executive producer of the Radio National Breakfast program. Barry O’Farrell led the Coalition to a record breaking win last Saturday.  However, like many staff of the public broadcaster, Mr Latham has been more focused on the losers – principally Labor and to some extent the Greens (who did less well than expected and who failed to win the inner city seat of Marrickville).

On Monday RN Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly spoke at length to former NSW Labor premier Morris Iemma and Federal Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon.  Independent MP Tony Windsor also appeared on the program.  On Wednesday there was an interview with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.  Then on Thursday former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr and former NSW Labor minister Frank Sartor were heard. There has been no such coverage of the winners in last Saturday’s election – the Liberals and the Nationals.

On Monday, the under performance of the Greens in the NSW election was a topic of considerable interest.  But not on RN Breakfast.  After the 8 am News on Monday, Fran Kelly introduced a story titled “Urban Coop”.  Talk about “Hold the Front Page”.  It turns out that some 22 families in inner-city Melbourne have decided on a sandal-sharing purchasing arrangement whereby, in Ms Kelly’s words, “environmentalists will create their own sustainable community”. They plan to share the cooking and have a communal hall for birthday parties.  Wow.

It was over to intrepid reporter Mike Woods who told listeners that “a group of ordinary people who care about the environment and want to live a sustainable lifestyle” are buying into the Urban Coop project at a mere $450,000 per dwelling.  As Urban Coopist Alex Fernside declared:

The Urban Coop came about because a group of people got together and worked out that we couldn’t do what we wanted to do – the market wasn’t providing what we needed as individuals. And what we were looking for was a smarter way of living. A way that you could live in the inner city, and not have to drive, not have to buy everything that you needed for yourself. And the key driver was we all wanted to have chickens. And you can’t do that in a townhouse unless you have some common area. And the market just wasn’t there for this. And, furthermore, what was being provided was very car-centric. We don’t need as many cars if we’re in the inner-city. So it’s a lot more about shared resources as well.

Mr Fernside reflected on the vicissitudes of his past life – even recalling “those horrible experiences where you’d wake up in a student house and someone would have eaten your yoghurt”.  [I can feel his pain – Ed]. Then it was over to Tanya Lewis who declared:

Rather than seeing something like Coop as a kind of fringe, um, movement – as something, you know, I guess a bit hippyish and communal – I really see this development as part of a whole number of movements I’ve been witnessing occurring in Melbourne.

So there you have it.  Stand up for a surge of inner-city chickens in Melbourne competing with inner-city sandal wearers for space.  And all listening to Radio National.  Nancy’s co-owner may be getting a bit old.  But he recalls that the have-a-chicken-in-your-urban-backyard scenario was the theme of the BBC’s The Good Life some decades ago.  It was a comedy.

In her concluding remarks, Fran Kelly declared that Ms Lewis’ Coop concept “sounds good” but queried: “What’s so bad with a commune anyway?”  Apparently, when a student, Ms Kelly did not mind her yoghurt being stolen each morning.  Still, it sure beats discussing why the inner-city sandal wearers in New South Wales failed to prevail in Marrickville and no longer have the balance of power in the Legislative Council.  And it beats bothering to contact Liberals or Nationals to come on to RN Breakfast and discuss how and why they won.


RN Breakfast may have been somewhat off the pace this week.  But not Sun-Herald columnist, barrister Charles Waterstreet.  In his “Waterstreet” column last Sunday, your man Charlie was on to the big issues of the day. Namely, what to do when a photo of your “girlfriend” turns up on a “porn website” – and what is the correct etiquette to handle the fart-in-the-lift.  It seems that Mr Waterstreet checks out the occasional porn website and inhabits an “upper floor” apartment. Hence his interest in these vital questions of our time.

Your man Waterstreet told his readers that neither of those dilemmas is discussed in The Christian Gentleman which he read in school.  Nor, according to MWD’s research,  in any issue of the Holy Name Monthly of recent memory.  Mr Waterstreet is 103 years old – or thereabouts. [That’s about the same age as Nancy’s co-owner – Ed].

What to do?  Well, according to CW, his girlfriend does not read his column.  Phew.  This in spite of the fact that he sends it “to her religiously every Saturday”. So “it is unlikely she will ever know there has been a leak, probably from the ambitious photographer trying to stretch his artistic reach”.  Well that settles that, then.

Then there is the remaining “other burning issue” of what CW calls “fart etiquette”. You see, the problem does not merely arise in office and apartment lifts.  As last Sunday’s  “Waterstreet” column put it:

Furthermore my experience applies to many confined areas such as taxis, where there appears to have been a plague-like increase in this department. It may be the increase in drivers from the curry countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh – and their rich blend of spices and condiments, though straw polls in the wind indicate a more widespread pool.

Fancy that.  If a conservative columnist had made such a comment, he or she would have been dispatched to see the beak at the Racial Discrimination Commission or some such.  But when M’learned (leftist) Friend Waterstreet refers to “the curry countries”; everything is quite okay.  [Perhaps taxi drivers don’t read his column, either – Ed].


On AM, The World Today and The Drum

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

Tony Abbott’s speech on welfare reform was yet to be delivered when it was analysed by ABC reporters on the AM and The World Today programs yesterday.

On AM Michael Vincent sought the views of three commentators. Namely Cassandra Goldie (chief executive officer of the Australian Council of Social Service), Lin Hatfield Dodds (chief executive officer of Uniting Care Services) and Maree O’Halloran (chief executive officer of The Welfare Rights Network).

The questions indicated that Michael Vincent did not think much about Tony Abbott’s ideas.  So it came as no surprise when Cassandra Goldie agreed with Lin Hatfield Dodds who agreed with Maree O’Halloran who agreed with Michael Vincent.  And no one mentioned that Ms Hatfield Dodds was the Greens Senate candidate in the Australian Capital Territory last year. It was not that kind of discussion.

It was much the same on The World Today at lunch time.  Reporter Alexandra Kirk did not think much about Tony Abbott’s speech on the unemployed.  So it came as no surprise when she interviewed Associate Professor Roger Wilkins (of Melbourne University) and David Thompson (from Jobs Australia). Ms Kirk agreed with Professor Wilkins who agreed with Mr Thompson who agreed with Ms Kirk.

Then the issue was discussed on The Drum on ABC News 24 last night.  Presenter Tim Palmer did not think much about Mr Abbott’s plans.  But he was not as critical as Drum panellists Fran Kelly who agreed with Antony Loewenstein who agreed with The Chaser’s Chas Licciardello who agreed with Fran Kelly.

Maurice Newman : 3

Jonathan Holmes: Zip


Premier O’Farrell Stands Up Red Kerry – Live

Nancy was so impressed by Barry O’Farrell’s performance on the ABC’s coverage of the NSW election last Saturday.  The Premier-elect (as he then was) agreed to speak to ABC panellist – the Liberal MP Gladys Berejiklian – but not to presenter Kerry O’Brien.  But when Mr O’Farrell was wired up, Red Kerry attempted to ask some questions. However, the Liberal Party leader politely refused to answer Red Kerry – who at first thought he was joking but soon realised that this was not the case.  Around this time Mr O’Brien made one of his familiar election night stuff-ups – this time declaring that Labor had won.  At the last Federal election, Red Kerry claimed victory for “the ABC”. Really.

The O’Brien/O’Farrell exchange can be found here – it has been taken from The Australian’s website.

Five Paws to BO’F.


Robert Manne Writes To MWD – Mainly In The  Third Person

Last week MWD (Issue 88) ran its exclusive “Robert Manne’s Diary: As Told To Nancy” – it resembled Robert Manne’s “Diary” which was published in The Spectator Australia on 19 March 2011.  In fact, some readers thought that the MWD version sounded more like Professor Manne than the Real Thing.  Following the publication of MWD Issue 88, the following correspondence took place – and is reproduced in full below:

Robert Manne to Gerard Henderson – Saturday, 26 March 2011

Dear Gerard,

Letter for next edition of Media Watch.

Robert Manne has read Issue 88 of Media Watch Dog. He has read your comment on his “Diary” for The Australian edition of The Spectator in which it is claimed: “The word “I” was used on more than two score occasions – in addition to lotsa “me” and “my” and “we” and so on.”

Robert Manne has re-read the “Diary”. In it he discovered nineteen uses of the word “I” and 30 occasions in which “I” or “me” or “my” or “we” or “our” was used. Robert Manne then read previous Diaries kindly emailed to him by Tom Switzer. He added up the uses of “I”, “me” “my” or “we” and “our” in them.

Here are the results:

Mark Latham: 33

Peter Costello: 34

Melanie Phillips: 35

Andrew Bolt: 51

David Williamson: 55

Robert Manne wishes to point out that the exercise took half an hour to complete and that it was completed on Saturday morning, therefore not at taxpayers’ expense. He would also like Gerard Henderson to inform Nancy that, sad to say, his office at La Trobe University is not air-conditioned.

Gerard Henderson to Robert Manne –  Wednesday 30 March 2011

Dear Robert

Many thanks for your email of Saturday 26 March 2011.

The “Correspondence” section of Media Watch Dog is popular and I am very happy to publish your missive in response to MWD’s exclusive “Robert Manne’s Diary as told to Nancy” which appeared in Issue 88.  I do this in spite of the fact that, as editorial chairman of The Monthly, you refused to allow me to correct howlers about me published in The Monthly (see MWD Issue 64). How times change.  These days The Monthly has not only a Correspondence Page but also employs a fact-checker and publishes corrections.  Well (albeit belatedly) done.

It’s not every day that someone complains about being accused of narcissism by writing a letter to the editor in the third person.  Wow.  To which I make the following response – in the third person, of course.

Gerard Henderson has read your email of 26 March 2011.  He is fascinated by the fact that you spent much of last Saturday morning, in The Monthly’s counting-house, counting out the number of times some others have used the words “I”, “me”, “my”, “we” or “our” in their pieces in The Spectator Australia’s “Diary”. Gerard Henderson also notes with interest that, on your own analysis, you are almost as dedicated a user of the first person as Mark Latham and Peter Costello but less so than Andrew Bolt or David Williamson.  Fascinating.

Immediately on receipt of your email, Gerard Henderson commissioned Nancy to fact-check your claim that you “discovered nineteen uses of the word ‘I’ and 30 occasions in which ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘my’ or ‘we’ or ‘our’ was used” in your “Diary” column.  Nancy (who, too, on occasions writes in the third person) told Gerard Henderson that Robert Manne’s count was incorrect.  Sitting in her counting-house kennel on Saturday afternoon, Nancy counted-out 21 uses of the word “I” – giving a total of 37 occasions in which “I” or “me” or “my” or “we” or “our” was used in your “Diary” column.

Gerard Henderson noticed a tinge of modesty in your count.  He is advised that, according to Nancy’s count, you scored higher on the Narcissism Scale than Mr Latham and Mr Costello – but not as high as Mr Bolt or Mr Williamson.  Gerard Henderson said to Nancy who agreed with Gerard Henderson that there is always next time – God and Tom Switzer willing.

Gerard Henderson wonders whether you also had the time to count how many occasions Messrs Latham, Costello, Bolt and Williamson quoted from themselves or praised the brilliant performances of their children or referred to the pride in a daughter held by “her parents”.

Gerard Henderson wishes to point out that he has told Nancy that he is surprised that it took half an hour for you to write the “Diary” piece for Tom Switzer.  Gerard Henderson concedes he initially thought that Robert Manne’s “Diary” was completed in a mere 15 minutes – dictating into a voice- recognition device while gazing into a vanity mirror.

As indicated, this will be published in MWD on Friday.  I have not mentioned your four decade career on the taxpayer funded drip at La Trobe University since this seems to give you a conscience pang or two – and I would not want to do this.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Robert Manne to Gerard Henderson – Friday 1 April 2011

For Publication.

In his “Diary”, Andrew Bolt expressed touching pride in the fact that his daughter was co-dux of her primary school. In his, David Williamson wrote amusingly about the gap between the reaction of the critics and the audience to his latest play. Both used the first person freely. That is what diarists are meant to do. Only a rather twisted individual would think of this as “narcissism”.

Gerard Henderson understands as little about the psychology of narcissism as he does about the science of climate change. According to one theory, narcissists are vindictive individuals who bear grudges about those who have threatened their fragile sense of self-worth. Readers of Media Watch Dog will notice the malice Gerard Henderson expresses regularly about people as different as Fran Kelly, Andrew Jaspan and Robert Manne. What links them in Henderson’s mind is simple. All wounded Henderson’s ego.

Fran Kelly terminated Henderson’s gig at Radio National. Jaspan told Henderson that he was no longer wanted as a columnist at The Age. In a recent controversy Henderson returned to a primal wound–the fact that as co-editor of Melbourne University Magazine Manne had rejected an article of his. The year was 1969! Only someone who is unhinged would still be brooding on this.

Most people avoid arguing with narcissists. They are remorseless in their hatreds of those who have, even inadvertently, pricked their fragile egos. Narcissists take their hatreds with them to the grave.

Henderson has turned his disgraceful Media Watch Dog into a public parade of his inner life. I have no idea why those who support the Sydney Institute cannot see this. Bitter sarcasm is not amusing. Enjoying the infliction of wounds on a weekly basis is sick. Has any of his corporate sponsors suggested he desist?

Robert Manne

Gerard Henderson to Robert Manne – Friday 1 April 2011


What a surprise to get another (quite revealing) letter from you.  Especially in view of the fact that you refused to publish my letters in The Monthly. I note that you excel in criticising others – and get oh-so-upset when someone laughs at you.

It’s interesting to hear that, when it comes to writing about your children in “Diary”, you are no more egotistical than Andrew Bolt.  That’s very reassuring – to me at least.  But perhaps not to Mr Bolt.

I should correct a few of your unsourced howlers.  Fran Kelly never “terminated” my “gig at Radio National”.  I left at my own volition when the RN Breakfast executive producer and I could not agree on when I should appear.  I have never spoken to Andrew Jaspan – before or after he was sacked by The Age. Moreover, at your request, Anne Henderson and I gave you free accommodation at our home in Hornsby in the late 1980s – around two decades after you maintain you delivered a “primal wound” to me in 1969.  During this weekend, you even advised me about lawn mower maintenance – a gesture which I will always treasure.  You and Manne also visited us in Hawthorn before we moved to Sydney – without discussing motor mowers. But those were the days before you became a Greens voter.

I am saddened that you now regard me as “unhinged” and “sick” and Media Watch Dog as “disgraceful”.  Since MWD upsets you, I would recommend the therapy of not reading it.  However, others enjoy MWD – we got a terrific feedback on the “Robert Manne’s Diary as told to Nancy” piece last week.  So much so that some readers have asked for more.

Best wishes for Q&A on Monday.

Gerard Henderson

* * * * *

That’s all until next time – when the much delayed comment on Alan Ramsey may well be delayed again.