GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG SPECIAL – No 5 (AFTER LUNCH, OF COURSE)
13 DECEMBER 2013
The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner appears to be channelling the late Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931). In other words, Gerard Henderson keeps coming out of his temporary break. In Media Watch Dog Issue 210 (on 29 November 2013), it was announced that this blog would be going on what journalists – particularly those who work for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – call a Well Earned Break. However, last Friday MWD came off its WEB for an abridged Special Edition.
Ditto this week. The truth is that Nancy’s (male) co-owner was so excited about the media events this week that he could not fight it. So here is MWD Special 6. There may, or may not, be another abridged MWD Special before The Real Thing resumes on Friday 31 January 2014. We’ll keep you posted. Or not. One thing is for certain. Such taxpayer funded programs as Q&A and Lateline remain in bed, declining to come off their WEBs to cover the last week of Parliament, Nelson Mandela’s death and more besides. Apparently, even with the ABC’s $1 billion annual budget, Nice Mr Scott cannot stretch the public broadcaster’s finances to comprehensively cover news and current affairs for one sixth of the year.
- Can You Bear It? Mark Latham; Bob Ellis; Tim Flannery; Laura Tingle; The Age’s Andrew Dyson; Paul Bongiorno
It was Friday night, not long after 7 pm, and Nancy was taking her (male) co-owner for a walk. Nancy, being deaf, was not in listening mode. But Gerard Henderson decided to tune in for the “Question Time” segment on ABC Radio National Drive. James Carleton was presenting RN Drive for the very first time. Apparently Julian Morrow – one of The Chaser Boys (average age 371/2) – was on a W.E.B.
The guests for the irreverent “Question Time” segment were Craig Reucassel (one of the Chaser “Boys” – Average Age 371/2), Margot Saville (a Crikey regular) and Chris Berg (an Institute of Public Affairs irregular) with James Carleton in the presenter’s chair. Or is it the presenter’s pulpit? – since RN presenters broadcast standing up these days (re which see below). One of the questions turned on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. In turn, everyone made fun of ASIO. What fun. And then – as is the segment’s wont – it was time to phone a celebrity.
Guess what? Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown who also became O’Gorman by marriage before becoming Rhiannon by deed poll) had agreed to be interviewed on her ASIO file of recent memory. And so Senator Rhiannon took the call from James Carleton – who just happens to be one of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of MWD readers.
As regular MWD readers will know, perhaps this blog’s biggest SCOOP was the revelation that Lee O’Gorman – as she then was – had studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow in 1977. Alumni of this institution include such one-time Stalinists as Markus Wolf, Wladyslaw Gomulka and Erich Honecker. See MWD Issue 210.
In MWD’s view, Senator Rhiannon’s qualification of BSc(Hons) UNSW – as expressed in her Who’s Who in Australia entry – is incomplete. It should be BSc(Hons) UNSW, Dip. Rev. (Hons) Moscow. This is MWD’s view. But Senator Rhiannon has refused to confirm or deny that she had studied at the International Lenin School – presumably for a Diploma of Revolution or some such. See “Unanswered Correspondence” segment in MWD Issue 116 (14 October 2011).
Senator Lee Rhiannon attended the International Lenin School as Lee O’Gorman, the daughter of Communist Party of Australia leading functionaries – and lifelong Stalinists – W.J. (Bill) Brown and Freda Brown. The Browns split with the CPA in the early 1970s in opposition to the CPA’s criticism of the Soviet Union’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The Brown-led breakaway pro-Moscow communists formed the Socialist Party of Australia before it, too, split. Lee O’Gorman edited for a period the pro-Moscow magazine Survey – which was controlled by the Brown family.
Lee Rhiannon has not denied that both the SPA and Survey magazine – at different times – received financial support from the Soviet Union. Survey went out of action in 1990 – following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of European Communism. Lee Rhiannon joined the Greens soon after.
Senator Rhiannon has said very little about her pro-Moscow past or her trips to the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. This includes her time at the International Lenin School in Moscow in 1977. Those on the left of politics who have drawn attention to Rhiannon’s past include Mark Aarons, Michael Danby MP and Paul Howes.
During her RN Drive interview, Senator Rhiannon commenced by mocking ASIO for incorrectly reporting that she had studied motor mechanics at the University of New South Wales. There was much laughter all around. Until Mr Carleton asked his MWD-inspired question. Let’s go to the CD:
James Carleton: Tell me, you did study – correct me if I’m wrong – in Russia? The International Lenin School for around 6 months or so, when you were a member of the Socialist Party? Is that correct?
Lee Rhiannon: Yes. Yes. I’ve always been very open about my work and I’ve studied in many countries – political economy, Marxism. I’m a zoologist – so I worked as a zoologist a long time ago. So I was a bird keeper at Taronga Zoo. So there’s a whole range of things that one does when growing up and it’s disappointing how ASIO spends their money.
Hold it there. How frightfully interesting. Caught on the hop, Senator Rhiannon admitted that she had studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow at the time when the communist neo-Stalinist (to use Mark Aarons’ term) dictator Leonid Brezhnev ran the Soviet Union. The year was 1977 and Rhiannon (born in 1951) was in her mid 20s. But on RN Drive she attempted to make light of the issue by equating her course at the International Lenin School in Moscow with her undergraduate UNSW course in zoology in Sydney and her time as a bird-keeper at Taronga Zoo. Fancy that.
Also, Senator Rhiannon implied that ASIO had documented her time at the International Lenin School in 1977. Not so. It was MWD which discovered this fact – following a phone call from one of her former comrades-in-arms who is currently living in central Queensland and who renounced Soviet communism during the 1977 trip.
Let’s go back to the transcript – as James Carleton throws the switch to humour while Senator Rhiannon resorts to fudge:
James Carleton: Tell me, what happens when you want to appeal one of your poorer marks – not suggesting that you got one – at the Lenin School in Moscow in 1977? Is it the sort of thing, if you do get a bad mark, you go : “That’s fine by me; no worries”?
Lee Rhiannon: Well, I mean, it’s not like marks. It’s like, you know, when I’ve been travelling I study at many different places. And it’s disappointing what ASIO thinks is important. And again, I said, like, they got so much wrong. And even issues where, in those days – we’re talking about the ‘70s – where they would have had access to Customs – people coming and going and passport information – they still had my travel arrangements contradict what I have in my passport because I’ve kept all my passports. So, yes, I wonder how they [ASIO] spend their time.
Once again, Lee Rhiannon avoided the point. She may have studied in other places and she did once work in a zoo. But the point is that Lee O’Gorman (as she then was) undertook a course at the International Lenin School – which was an exclusive institution in Moscow which trained willing comrades for political action and which was controlled and funded by a totalitarian communist regime which locked up dissidents in psychiatric institutions and was overly anti-Semitic. The Greens Senator did not break with the pro-Moscow communists until 1990 – when she was close to 40 years of age.
Until James Carleton posed the Lenin School question, so to speak, there was no confirmation of Senator Rhiannon’s extra qualification. Well done Mr Carleton. [Perhaps you should consider him for one of Nancy’s prestigious Five Paws Awards. Just a thought – Ed.]
MWD is astounded, absolutely astounded, that few members of the Canberra Press Gallery – outside the News Corp stable, where Christian Kerr has done considerable research – have focused on what Lee Rhiannon did between the ages of 18 and 39. Yet there has been excessive focus on David Marr’s unproven (and now revised) claim that Tony Abbott punched a wall at Sydney University when still a teenager. See MWD passim.
And then there is the matter of double standards. Imagine what ABC journalists would say if Cardinal George Pell confessed on RN Drive that he studied at, say, the International Mussolini School in Rome financed by the French National Front. Just imagine.
For Greens’ senators, however, it seems that the past is a matter of no contemporary interest.
● NANCY HEARS IT ON THE GRAPE-VINE THAT MARK LATHAM HAS REJOINED THE LABOR PARTY
This morning Nancy was awoken by the presence of a pigeon delivering a message to her kennel. It was this. Apparently, the Lair of Liverpool has done a Jack (“Lang was greater than Lenin”) Lang (1876-1975) and successfully sought re-admission to the ALP. Or so the rumour goes. As the late Julius Sumner Miller was wont to say: “Why is it so?”
Well, it’s possible. As readers of MWD will be aware, Mark Latham currently has to support a wife, a horse, three children and half a dozen bookmakers – all on a lousy taxpayer funded superannuation hand-out of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed). So maybe your man Latham needs all the contacts he can get – including within the Labor Party.
Moreover, such an about-face would be consistent with the Lair of Liverpool’s past behaviour. In The Latham Diaries, the author promised to “ignore” the media in future and declared: “I’m stepping off the television screen and leaving it all behind”. Within a couple of years he was doing a gig on Channel 9 and appearing regularly on Paul Murray Live – until neither Channel 9 nor Sky News renewed his contract and television left him behind. But the Lair of Liverpool appears regularly on Fairfax Radio and in the Australian Financial Review and does occasional guest appearances on Q&A which he once despised.
And now it appears that Mark Latham has rejoined the ALP – despite having described Labor in The Latham Diaries as a “slug of an organisation” and a “shitcan”. Next we might find Bob Ellis – the False Prophet of Palm Beach – has been employed as a speech writer for Bill Shorten. Can you bear it? [Well, frankly – No. – Ed].
● AFR POLITICAL EDITOR BLAMES TONY ABBOTT (AGAIN)
Stunning piece by Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review’s political edition this morning – don’t you think? La Tingle reported that Tony Abbott had told the Coalition party room yesterday that his government was facing challenges due to Labor’s legacy with respect to such issues as the car industry, Qantas, school funding and debt. She continued:
…these were some of the challenges Abbott was referring to when he told his colleagues their task was to not let “challenges of the day blow us off course”. And he’s right, why should you let things like the spectre of the final collapse of Australian manufacturing blow you “off course”?
Things like major industries leaving the country can be such an irritant when you have a course set out, in a “this would be a great hospital if it weren’t for all the bloody patients” sort of view of government.
So there you have it. According to La Tingle, manufacturing in Australia faces “the spectre of final collapse” – but she did not name a year when the prediction would eventuate. And the Prime Minister should do something about this. NOW. Laura Tingle is a life-long journalist. Can you bear it?
● TIM FLANNERY’S LATEST CATASTROPHIC PREDICTION
The Age on Monday ran a piece by Tim Flannery, chief councillor of the Climate Council, declaring that “we are now seeing the season of bushfire weather lengthening from October to March, and this will continue to extend to the future”.
Apparently the powers-that-be at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra (aka The Age) still take the predictions of Dr (for a doctor he is) Flannery seriously. Yet this is the very same Tim Flannery who predicted that the dams supplying such cities as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne will “no longer fill even when it does rain” (New Scientist, 16 June 2007). Can you bear it?
● GUARDIAN-ON-THE-YARRA BLAMES TONY ABBOTT (AGAIN)
While on the subject of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, here’s how cartoonist Andrew Dyson depicted the foreshadowed closure of GM Holden’s car making plants in Australia. Australia now has “football, meat pies, kangaroos and economic rationalists”. The latter replacing “Holden cars” in the original ditty.
So there you have it. GM Holden has received substantial subsidies over decades – and there was a promise of more to come. But to one of The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s bevy of leftist cartoonists, it’s all the fault of unnamed “economic rationalists” and none of the fault of the trade union movement for bringing about a situation where Australia is the most expensive place on earth to manufacture Holden cars. Can you bear it? [I wonder how many Age journalists buy Holden cars. – Ed].
● BONGE BLAMES TONY ABBOTT FOR (ALLEGED) IGNORANCE
Meanwhile this is what Paul Bongiorno, widely regarded as the most pro green-left journalist on the commercial side of the Canberra Press Gallery, had to say on RN Breakfast this morning – in conversation with Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and Michelle Grattan (who works for the taxpayer subsidised The Conversation):
Paul Bongiorno: Well I think they [the Abbott government] have had a surprisingly bad one hundred days. …Many of the events this government has dealt with have been dealt with in a bumble-footed way…. So I think the Summer Holidays is gonna have to be a time to regroup. They’re gonna have to realise that not every single voter in the country voted for them and they’ve got to bring onside the millions who didn’t in a more inclusive way.
So there you have it. According to Bonge, the Coalition really and truly believes that “every single voter in the country voted for them”. Well, thanks. Can you bear it?
Gerard Henderson rarely gets invited on to ABC programs these days. Apart from Insiders – which is filmed in Melbourne. So it was a wonderful occasion yesterday – following his acceptance of his first invitation since April 2008 to appear on Radio National Breakfast – to rock up at the ABC Ultimo studio. Just wonderful.
Hendo was expecting Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly to be in the chair. Not so. He soon discovered that the ABC in Ultimo has abandoned chairs and now all presenters and guests stand during programs like RN Breakfast. [Does Phillip (“I was a teenage Stanlinist”) Adams also stand during Late Night Live? I wonder – Ed].
Soon after entering the studio at about 7.55 am for a scheduled 8.15 am interview, Hendo was greeted by Dr (for a medical doctor he is) Norman Swan. He then met Geraldine Doogue – presenter of RN’s Saturday Extra – who was about to do a pre-record for tomorrow’s program.
“Are you here for my program?”, Ms Doogue joked. “No” was the reply: “I’ve never been asked on Saturday Extra”. “Yes you have” responded Ms Doogue. “No I haven’t”, responded Hendo. End of the exchange.
Hendo then advised Ms Doogue why he was sitting next to Dr Swan – it was comforting to have medical attention available when operating in enemy territory. She replied – but asked that the comment be “off-the-record”. Ms Doogue then hastily disappeared on urgent (pre-record) business – leaving her handbag unattended on the couch.
It was one of those RN Breakfast mornings. Executive Producer Tim Latham was on family leave. [Don’t you mean “A Well Earned Break”? – Ed] and one guest was missing – for a while at least – in action. A planned introduction to Gerard Henderson’s interview – promised for both after the 6 o’clock News and before the 8 o’clock News – did not eventuate. Which indicates that not only politicians break promises.
Then, at 8.05 am, Ms Kelly advised listeners that Gerard Henderson would be interviewed soon and foreshadowed the occasion as follows:
Fran Kelly: Also Gerard Henderson [is] returning to RN Breakfast. He’s just written a new paper, it’s about the Industrial Relations Club – which was a term Gerard coined back in the 80s. He says the Club is back in place and he’s suggesting that new Prime Minister Tony Abbott is actually a member of that Club – unlikely to make the IR changes perhaps necessary for a modern economy. He says that Labor, under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, brought the Industrial Relations Club back into being and Tony Abbott is a part of it. We’ll be trying to flesh that out a little more.
Just as well. For virtually everything was true in the introduction – except for the facts.
Gerard Henderson’s recently released monograph titled The Return of the Industrial Relations Club (Minerals Council of Australia, 2013) does not claim that Tony Abbott is a member of the IR Club. He merely argues that the Prime Minister did not agree with WorkChoices in 2006 and is unlikely to go back on his promise not to re-introduce WorkChoices type legislation. That’s all. Tony Abbott was happy enough with the IR legislation in place after the 2004 election. The IR changes implemented by the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government have re-regulated the industrial relations system well beyond where it was in 2004, 1994, even 1984. In other words, industrial relations under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard was even more regulated than it was under Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
In the event, the interview commenced at 8.25 am and went just fine. Nancy’s male co-owner was polite and courteous. And Ms Kelly responded in kind. The advantages of a good Catholic education in both instances – with its focus on good-manners – it seems. For his part, Hendo is looking forward to receive another invitation to be interviewed by Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast in another six years time. It will be worth the wait.[I bet you just can’t wait. I note that you will be in Melbourne next week. I wonder if La Trioli and Young Mr Rowland will invite you on to the ABC’s News Breakfast couch to discuss The Return of the Industrial Relations Club? – Ed].
WALEED ALY FORGETS JULIE BISHOP
In the olden days, leftist academics in Australian universities taught that Labor was the party of progress while the Liberal Party was the party of reaction. Or something like that.
It seems that Monash University academic and Age columnist Waleed Aly has been influenced by this teaching. Here’s how he introduced the Acting Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek on his RN Drive program last Tuesday:
Waleed Aly: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for speaking to us. I am right in saying that you are the first female Opposition Leader in Australia? Is that right?
In fact, a check through the files reveals that Julie Bishop was Acting Opposition leader in 2008. But, then, in academic parlance Julie Bishop is not from the progressive party in Australia – so why would a leftist academic member remember this?
11/12/2013 8:40 am
Gerard Henderson leaving the Herald is the end of an era. Probably the Cretaceous.
Brilliant – don’t you think? This is how Erik Jensen reacted to the announcement that Nancy’s (male) co-owner has resigned as a weekly columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, Mr Jensen was unaware that Gerard Henderson will commence a weekly column with The Weekend Australian this Saturday. Still – it was early morning in the inner-city Melbourne twitter-sphere at a time when many members of the Sandalista class are still affected by the whiff of the Age of Aquarius and news travels as slowly as in the Cretaceous era. Or so it seems.
“[Gerard Henderson is] a sclerotic warhorse, unhelpful to debate, unwilling to think…a wonderful study in delusion…ideologically-constipated.”
– Erik Jensen, editor of Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper [forthcoming], 23 November 2013
“The last time Gerard Henderson smiled was in 1978, when he saw a university student being mauled by a pitbull.”
– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 13 October 2013 [Editor’s Note: Mr “Why Can’t I Score an
Invite on Q&A?” Pobjie is wrong. In fact, the year was 1977 and the dog was a blue-heeler – like Nancy]
“I think Henderson is seriously ill. There’s enough there for an entire convention of psychiatrists.”
– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton (after Pre-Dinner Drinks tweet to Jeff Sparrow), 8 October 2013
“Wrong, you got caught out, off to Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog for you!”
– Tim Wilson tweet to Jonathan Green and Virginia Trioli, 8 October 2013.
“Nancy as ever will be the judge”
– Jonathan Green to Tim Wilson and Virginia Trioli (conceding to the arbitral authority of Nancy), 8 October 2013
[Gerard Henderson’s analysis of the ABC] is absolutely simplistic.”
– ABC managing director Mark Scott talking to ABC presenter Jonathan Green on ABC Radio National Drive, 2 May 2013.
“Oh my God; you’re as bad as Gerard Henderson.”
– Dr Peter Van Onselen (for a doctor he is), The Contrarians, Sky News, 20 September 2013.
“The nation mourns Gerard Henderson. He’s in perfect health.”
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 2 July 2013 (favourited by Virginia Trioli)
“Old Australian saying. ‘He wouldn’t know a tram was up him unless the bell rang’. Wholly appropriate to Gerard Henderson”
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 7 May 2013
“I said publicly once that I thought that Gerard’s views on the ABC came not from his brain but from his spinal cord”
– Tim Bowden as told to Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams, Late Night Live, 11 June 2013 – Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday.
“Gerard Henderson is a crank”
– David Marr at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival (as reported by Mike Carlton)
“The great Australian media nutter Gerard [Henderson is an] ungrateful bastard”.
– Mark Latham, Q&A, 10 June 2013.
“[Gerard Henderson] is a moral dwarf …Gerard, pull your head in”
– Professor Sinclair Davidson, 24 April 2013.
“[Henderson] You are mad. In the 18th century you would have been caged, with the mob invited to poke you with sticks.”
– Mike Carlton, 5.23 pm (Gin & Tonic Time) 25 March 2013
“I like to think of Gerard [Henderson] as the Inspector Clouseau of forensic journalism”
– David Marr, ABC News 24 The Drum, 21 March 2013.
“[Media Watch Dog is] not a moan, more of a miserable dribble”
– Peter Munro, 21 March 2013
“You are a fool, Henderson, a malicious and mendacious piece of shit… Now F_ck off”
– Mike Carlton, 11 March 2013 (Hangover Time).
“[Gerard Henderson is] an internet pest”
– Dr (for a doctor he is) Jeff Sparrow, 26 February 2013.
Jonathan Green: “Nancy, will be taking notes, I suspect”
Michael Rowland: “Nancy…yes. We’ll get a nice write-up on Friday. Good morning as well, Gerard. Thanks for watching, by the way.”
– ABC 1 News Breakfast, 18 October 2012
“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”
– Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)
“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”
– Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)
“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”
– Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012
“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”
– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)
“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”
– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.
Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”
– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.
“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails are private correspondence and not for publication”
– ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.
“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
“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.
“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.
Until next time, keep morale high.