Issue 149

GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 149

10 AUGUST 2012

“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 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”

– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”

– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

- Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

“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

“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”

- Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)

“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”

- Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)

Stop Press: Peter FitzSimons’ God Dilemma and Usain Bolt

Can You Bear It? Mark Latham Lunching on the Right; Sasha Burden’s Sexist Burden

Exclusive : Robert Manne Foretells the End of the World to Nancy

Maurice Newman Segment: Hugh White & Paul Keating and Others All Agree on China on Lateline

Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Robert Hughes Remembered

● History Corner: Stephen FitzGerald’s Many Positions on China

● Correspondence : Adrian Kelleher on Paul Comrie-Thomson and Counterpoint; Bill James on Latham/Lenin; Daniel Brooks on Uncorrected Errors on The Drum

STOP PRESS

Peter FitzSimons, Christian “Public Wankers” – Usain Bolt and All That

What a fantastic run by Usain Bolt in the 200 metres Olympics final this morning. Here’s hoping the Sun-Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons will enthuse about Bolt’s dash in his column on Sunday.

There is just one potential problem. On 17 December 2011, in his regular rant against Christians, Peter FitzSimons had this to say about Christian athletes who embrace God – or
“god” as Fitz writes the word [Do you mean “fitz”? – Ed].

One-Kneed Fans

“Tebowing”. This new word in the American lexicon refers, no kidding, to people who kneel on one knee with head bowed – a la Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow – every time they want to thank their god for allowing them to do something so fabulous on the sports field.  The closest Australian word is probably “public wankery”.

So there you have it.  American footballers like Tim Tebow who thank their God (or “god” according to fitz) are public wankers.  So, what about Usain Bolt?

Before the start of the 200 metres final, Bolt blessed himself.  At the end the race he made a sign-of-the-cross again and later knelt down and kissed the ground (a la the late Pope John Paul II). Usain Bolt seemed to be thanking God for allowing him to do something so fabulous on the sports field.

Will Peter FitzSimons be consistent and accuse one of the world’s greatest ever sprinters – and a black man –  of “public wankery”?  We’ll know on Sunday. Don’t hold your breath.

CAN YOU BEAR IT?

▪ Mark Latham’s AFR Lunch with Captain Frans Banning Cocq

It’s all very well to be asked to write the occasional “Lunch with The Financial Review” column.  The only problem is – who can you ask as your guest?  And who will accept the invitation?  This is a special problem for failed Labor leader Mark Latham since he is detested by much of the Labor Party and is on record as declaring how he hates Liberals.

It seems that only right-of-centre types will do lunch with Latham – even if the Australian Financial Review is paying.  First up Latham got former Liberal heavyweight Michael Kroger to front up. See MWD Issue 138. Saturday’s Australian Financial Review carried Mark Latham’s account of his lunch with Andrew Bolt at the A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra.

In case Mr Latham is looking for future potential lunch partners who will accept – or at least not decline – his invitations, Nancy suggests (i) Genghis Khan, (ii) Silvio Berlusconi, (iii) Marion Marechal-Le Pen and (iv) Rush Limbaugh.

As to Mark Latham’s writing style, it’s become more pretentious than the Pave Bearnaise which was ordered at the lunch.  Here’s how Latham explained Andrew Bolt’s Dutch background :

When I think of the Dutch, I think of the Protestant work ethic, a breed forever on duty, in the manner of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Bolt could easily slip into the role of Captain Frans Banning Cocq…

Can you bear it?

Georgina Wilkins Outs Sasha Burden (Victim of Courtesy)

The Guardian-on-the-Yarra yesterday made a BIG STORY out of the piece written by “Anonymous” in the Melbourne University student newspaper  Farrago titled “The Hun Mole: Notes From A Tabloid Newsroom”.  The story was about “Anonymous”’s two weeks as an intern at News Limited’s Herald-Sun in Melbourne.

The Age’s Georgia Wilkins outed “Anonymous” as a certain Sasha Burden. MWD was not surprised by Ms Burden’s objection to the Herald-Sun’s alleged “homophobia” and “transphobia”.  That’s a fashionable complaint these days.  However, MWD was somewhat taken aback from the following oppression which Ms Burden suffered as a consequence of her two weeks in the capitalist press. Namely:

Men were also continuously and unnecessarily sexist, waiting for me to walk through doors and leave the elevator before them.

How about that?  Sasha Burden happened to chance across a newspaper office where she was not trampled in the rush to enter rooms or exit lifts.  And she whinges about her predicament. Can you bear it? [Er, no.  Nancy is neither gay nor trans.  But she just loves door openers of whatever gender. Perhaps Sasha could learn from Nancy who has recently published a pamphlet titled How Not To Be Insulted By Gestures Of Kindness (Kennel Press, 2012) – Ed.]

ROBERT MANNE’S THOUGHTS ON THE END OF THE WORLD – AS HACKED BY NANCY

Recently Nancy was able to hack into Professor Manne’s computer at La Trobe University (“Proudly one of Australia’s Top 500 Big Polluters”). She downloaded an early abstract of an article which Professor Manne had submitted to The Monthly (“Proudly Published by Multi-Millionaire But-Oh-So-Green Property Developer Morry Schwartz”).  This pirated abstract bears a certain resemblance to Professor Manne’s full article, titled “Dark Victory: How vested interests defeated climate science”, which is published in the August 2012 of The Monthly – now available at all environmentally friendly magazine sellers. The hacked abstract is set out below.

* * * * *

“Dark Victory : How vested interests defeated climate science”. We are living at a time of looming catastrophe. This is perhaps the darkest period in the history of mankind, of womankind, even transgender kind. It’s as dark as this.  And it will become even darker when, due to human induced climate change, the world finally cooks because climate science has been defeated by vested interests.

Then darkness will encompass the earth – much like a scene from the Book of Revelations. Then I will no longer be able to use this computer nor have my thoughts published in print by Mr Schwartz, per courtesy of the dead trees.  In fact, everything will be dead.  All that will be heard is the gnashing of teeth – along with dentures.  We are all doomed. Doomed. Doomed. What’s more, I do not believe in Second Comings – so when I say Doomed I mean Really Doomed.

I have no qualifications in science or medicine or engineering.  But I know what I am talking about when I write about climate science.  As my friend Clive Hamilton (or was it Jacob Hamilton?) once said, we non-scientists must follow the science consensus.

I know that the very essence of science is that there can be no unchallengeable truth. But there is no time for such sophistication – since the end of the world is nigh.  Look, 97.5 per cent of the 200 most published climate scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change.  As to the remaining 2.5 per cent, well, they are in the pay of the Marshall Institute or the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute or the Cato Institute or the Heartland Institute or Rupert Murdoch or Charles and David Koch or the late Senator Joe McCarthy.  So why listen to them?

Australians should listen to me.  I have been in the employ of La Trobe University since Moses was a boy and I have never worked in the private sector, or the public service or politics.  So I am well qualified to preach about the private sector, the public service and politics.

There are three categories of people who do not believe in the Science of (Robert) Manne.  Namely sceptics, contrarians and denialists.  Simple really.  All three groups are Hayekian neo-libertarian intellectuals who are fanatic anti-communists and still fighting the Cold War.  So there. That ends the argument. Oh yes, they also smoke tobacco. Enough said.

All three groups – sceptics/contrarians/denialists – engage in what I call “verbal violence”. Such language should be avoided.  That’s why in my planned Monthly essay I will limit my criticism of the American columnist George Will to describing him as a “know-nothing denialist”.  I will merely refer to the late Andrew Brietbart as an “ultra right-wing blogger”.  That’s quite gentle, really.

In recent times the cigarette smoking followers of Hayek and Fox News and George Will have been trying to discredit the work of our saviours at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) just because they made errors in coming to their scientific conclusions.  Maybe it was a “serious error” for the IPCC to declare that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. But not that serious. Surely.  After all, the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2036 or even as late as 2037. Why bother about a bit of scientific fraud here or there when the very existence of the planet is at stake?

Certainly it was a “real error” for my heroes Michael Mann and Phil (“Hockey Stick”) Jones to make mistakes and then attempt to conceal their howlers.  But only a small error.  And what’s a small error between 97.5 per cent of climate scientists when the future of the world is at stake?  And not only the world. Also government grants to climate scientists about how to reduce global warming – whether or not the planet is currently warming. That’s at stake as well. There is no time for what I call “ill-judged over-scrupulousness”.  Saviours of the world need to exercise well-judged under-scrupulousness.  This will be my position in The Monthly.

Sceptics/contrarians/denialists – even the scientists among them – are all against science and against reason.  They should all go away and shut up.  Discussion should have ended long ago.  In future the climate change debate should be run by political philosophers at La Trobe University (“Proudly One of Australia’s Top 500 Polluters”).

* * * * *

Morry, will this do?  Is the proposed article catastrophic enough for The Monthly? Perhaps I should have given a date for the end of the world – in 2037 or 2038. Maybe I should have added…[continues for 69,000 words].

MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT

HUGH AND PAUL AND STEPHEN AND PHILIPPA ALL AGREE ON CHINA – ON LATELINE

Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week.  As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

Last Monday, Lateline covered the launch by former prime minister Paul Keating of Professor Hugh White’s book The China Choice (Black Inc, 2012). Stephen FitzGerald, Australia’s first ambassador to China, was in the audience.

It was one of those the-end-of-the-world-might-be-nigh occasions.  Professor White warned that the “rivalry” between the United States and China “could grow to a war” and “the war would become a nuclear war”.  [Could this be the very same Professor Hugh White who wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 March 2005 that there might be a Battle of Taiwan in  2005 – fought between the US and China. See MWD Issue 138. Tell me it ain’t so – Ed].

Lateline reporter Philippa McDonald was on the job at The China Choice launch. She interviewed Hugh White and Stephen FitzGerald and showed footage of Paul Keating’s talk.  Needless to say, Hugh agreed with Paul who agreed with Stephen who agreed with Hugh.  In spite of the fact that what was being discussed involved a possible nuclear war between the US and China in which Australia would be involved, no other view was heard. Everyone agreed with everyone else that the US was too tough on China and that Australia should tell this to the Americans.  Sounds like a group-think, don’t you think?

Maurice Newman:   3

Jonathan Holmes:   Zip

Note: Stephen FitzGerald’s changing views on China are documented in “History Corner”.

NANCY’S PICK-OF-THE-WEEK

ROBERT HUGHES AO, HON D.FINEARTS, HON D.LIT, RIP

These days most obituarists speak well of the dead.  This generally was the case following the death of art critic and author Robert Hughes (1938-2012).  However, the occasional truth was heard. In an otherwise supportive comment on Hughes, Malcolm Turnbull (who is married to Hughes’ niece Lucy) told Lateline Steve Cannane that “like a lot of critics” Hughes “didn’t like to be criticised”.

You can say that again. Robert Hughes was long on alienation and hyperbole but short on self-awareness and oh-so-sensitive to criticism.

As it turned out, some obituarists exhibited certain Hughes-like qualities in writing about the New York based expatriate.  Step forward:

▪ Barry Humphries AO, CBE, Hon.LLD, Hon D.Univ, AA  – who made the following (gratuitous) comment to Fairfax Media’s Damien Murphy which was subsequently reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times on Wednesday:

He [Hughes] gave a wonderful and witty speech at my last birthday party in New York and I’m deeply saddened that alcoholism, or whatever name it sometimes goes by, should have claimed yet another distinguished victim.

Turn it up.  If Hughes was a hopeless alcoholic as recently as last February, it is unlikely that he could have delivered wonderful and witty speeches.

▪ Geoffrey Barker – who wrote this in the Australian Financial Review last Wednesday:

[Robert Hughes] was self-deprecating, warm and warm-hearted and he described himself as a partly unfulfilled romantic.  He was also a hedonist who had experimented with LSD and marijuana, and who claimed he contracted gonorrhoea from his first wife Danne, who he believed had contracted it from Jim Hendrix.

Turn it up.  There is no evidence for Robert Hughes’ reported put-down of his first wife – who died in 2003 and is not around to correct Geoffrey Barker’s gossip.  In his article Barker condemned  “Australian thought and manners” but seems completely unaware of his own deficiency in this regard.

▪  Peter Costar – who made the following comment in last Wednesday’s Herald-Sun :


Robert Hughes took a long time dying. Not in the Calvary Hospital in New York on Monday. That was the end of a road bearing a cross he carried from a near-fatal car crash in Western Australia. It was as he lay broken in the wreckage 13 years ago that the art critic and historian first saw death.

This brilliant son of a transplanted Irish Catholic family that achieved so much in Australia saw Death “sitting at a desk like a banker. He made no gesture, but he opened his mouth and I looked right down his throat, which distended to become a tunnel”. Hughes said it led to the inferno of old Christian art. He was grievously hurt in that car crash on what seemed an empty road in the Outback when his car and another somehow collided. Had they not seen each other? Were the drivers drunk?

Close to death, on life support, Hughes endured many operations. Catholics never escape their Catholicism, and Hughes thought he experienced a descent into hell as he lay in the wreckage of his car, his flesh torn by demons. A handsome, powerful hunk of a human being, he was reduced to a shambling wreck as he staggered on over the next 13 years to die, like Christ at Calvary.

Turn it up.  There is no evidence that either driver had been drinking when Hughes collided head-on with another car in remote north-west Western Australia.  Hughes’ car was on the wrong side of road and the most plausible explanation of the crash is that he turned on to the wrong side of the road at a T intersection.  After all, Hughes was used to driving in North America.

And as to the comparison between Robert Hughes, in New York’s Calvary Hospital and Christ at Calvary, what can be said?  [Thankfully nothing – Ed].

▪ Guy Rundle, Marxist Retd; currently based in London

Guy Rundle commenced his “Robert Hughes, an obituary”  article in Crikey on Tuesday by mimicking Hughes’ hyperbolic writing style.  But, soon, Rundle was back into his very own writing-style and it was even worse.  Here’s  a sample:

[Robert  Hughes’] style was captivating, intoxicating, addictive, at least at the first. Art in Australia is powered by it, as are the essays and reviews from Time collected in Nothing If Not Critical. It reaches its apotheosis in The Fatal Shore at which point it has become as much a barrier to clear thinking as an agent of it; Hughes” conception of convict-era Australia as an Antipodean gulagchipelago was as much a product of the operatic weltanschauung weltschmerz God, it”s like eating macadamias this, you do it till you throw up – as it was of the evidence itself. By then he was also adding irascibility to the mix.

God it’s like incomprehension this, what does Guy Rundle mean?  The comedian concluded his obit by referring to Hughes’ mental health:

Not coincidentally, Hughes had suffered a breakdown of sorts before the writing of it [American Visions], one of such severity that he felt unable to write. Put on anti-depressants — it was the early “90s, the acme of the heroic Prozac era — he banged the book out over a period of eight months, and became something of a proselytiser for chemical enhancement, in his habitual harrumphing style. He did not stop to ask whether the failure of art to save him from the depths was not a pretext for jacking into his neurology, but was a sign that art was failing in presumed task, to help us enjoy and endure, be transformed and redeemed.

Yeah, go on Guy. Turn it up.  Tell us about the Weltanschauung Weltschmerz thingo again.

HISTORY CORNER

NO CONSISTENCY WHATSOEVER – STEPHEN FITZGERALD’S MANY POSITIONS ON CHINA

Dr FitzGerald Backs Hugh White/Paul Keating Line on China – 2012

Last Monday, Stephen FitzGerald attended Paul Keating’s launch of Hugh White’s book The China Choice (Black Inc, 2012). Interviewed by the ABC 1 Lateline program, Stephen FitzGerald told Philippa McDonald that Australia relied on China for its prosperity and on the United States for its security.  He said that this situation has been put at risk by Australia strengthening its alliance with the US and hosting hundreds of US marines in the Northern Territory.  As Dr FitzGerald told Philippa McDonald:

Stephen FitzGerald : Despite the denials, it [the hosting of US marines in Darwin] is clearly aimed at China. The [Gillard] Government should not be in any way associated with that objective because it”s not in our interests to be caught in the middle.

So Dr FitzGerald believes that it is not in Australia’s interests to be caught in the middle between the US and China lest this might upset the Communist Party of China’s leaders. In other words, Australia should go out of its way not to upset the rulers in Beijing.

So that’s pretty clear then. Or is it?  The fact is that FitzGerald has had many changes of attitude towards China.

Stephen FitzGerald On Australia’s Kow-Tow to China – circa 1989

In November 1989 Stephen FitzGerald delivered the Fiftieth George Ernest Morrison Lecture at the Australian National University in Canberra. In his speech, FitzGerald accused successive Australian governments of exhibiting a craven attitude towards China and alleged that, following the decision of the Whitlam Labor Government to recognise China in 1972, Australia “fell into such a national embrace with China that at times we have seemed to lose all perspective”.

FitzGerald spoke of Australia”s “breathtaking insouciance” about China and criticised our habit of kow-towing to the rulers in Beijing during the governments led by Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke.  FitzGerald also referred dismissively to the “syndrome of Marco Polo” which he said motivated so many Australians and asked rhetorically:  “Do we want to be the lap dogs of China?”

The speech was sprinkled with references to the fact that what FitzGerald termed Australia”s “China preoccupation” had led to an inadequate relationship with Taiwan – despite the fact that “in many of the last 17 years [Australia’s] volume of trade with Taiwan has rivalled or exceeded our trade with the People”s Republic of China”. There was also a severe rebuke for the fact that Australia had not taken issue with China over such issues as nuclear weapons, Hong Kong, Tibet and human rights.  Earlier, on 9 June 1989, Stephen Fitzgerald had organised the In Memoriam: China ’89 function which was held in the Great Hall of Parliament House to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre and addressed by Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Stephen FitzGerald’s Very Own Kow-Tow To China – Before 1989

There were many personal and political omissions from the Fiftieth George Ernest Morrison Lecture – including:

● Stephen FitzGerald was adviser and interpreter to the Australian Labor Party delegation (led by the then Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam) which visited China in 1971.  Prior to 1971 FitzGerald had made trips to China in 1965 and 1968.

● In the early 1970s, FitzGerald wrote a chapter for a book entitled The New China (1971) edited by J.A. Johnston and Maslyn Williams.  In his chapter, FitzGerald actually sympathised with the brutal Chinese suppression of Tibet, asserting:  “Whatever else may be said about the Chinese Communist rule in Tibet (and only those who take a romantic view of poverty, disease, illiteracy and serfdom, find it totally objectionable) it was not aggression or invasion”.

● Following the election of the Whitlam Government in December 1972, FitzGerald was given responsibility for negotiating the terms for Australia”s recognition of China.  The discussions took place in Paris.

● In March 1973, shortly before setting off for Beijing to take up the position of inaugural Australian Ambassador to China, Stephen FitzGerald addressed the National Press Club in Canberra. Around this time, Stephen FitzGerald joined in a public toast to the totalitarian dictator Mao Zedong.

In his written National Press Club speech, Dr FitzGerald defended, without equivocation, the talks in Paris that led to the Beijing-Canberra communique formalising Australia”s recognition of China.  FitzGerald stated that “the negotiations in Paris were concluded in less than three weeks; we yielded nothing in terms of our national interests, we were not asked to”.  The agreement determined what would be Australia’s future relationship with Taiwan – it entailed that Australia adopt a much more distant approach to Taiwan than that of the US or Japan.

● Then there is the matter of human rights. In late 1978 Stephen FitzGerald gave a seminar paper at the Australian National University in which he said that there was not enough evidence to say conclusively if there were any infringements of human rights in China. This enraged Pierre Ryckmans (who has written much on China under the pseudonym Simon Leys) who sought, and obtained, the right to put an alternative view at a subsequent seminar.

● Stephen FitzGerald never spoke out publicly against the appalling abuses of human rights that took place in China during the Anti-Rightist campaign, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the crushing of the Democracy Movement in the late 1970s. Indeed, in 1971 FitzGerald denied that there were periodic “massive purges” in China.  The following year he maintained that there was “considerable … intellectual ferment and expression” under the so-called “dictatorship of the idea”.

In 1973, during the rule of the Gang of Four, FitzGerald wrote an article in The National Times lauding the “splendid revolutionary operas” which he had seen.  Four years later he described Mao Zedong as a “prophet and visionary”.

While a member of the Gang of Four, Jiang Qing purged Chinese artists.  It is now widely accepted that around 45 million Chinese died as a direct result of Mao’s policies and perhaps one hundred million were purged during the Cultural Revolution which ran from 1966 to Mao’s death in 1976.

From Whateverist to Whateverist in Four Decades

Before the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Stephen FitzGerald belonged to that category of Western academics/journalists/diplomats who have been classified as “whateverists”. Meaning that they went along with whatever it was that the communist rulers in Beijing were saying – on such issues as Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, Mao Zedong, China’s foreign policy and so on.

Then, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Stephen Fitzgerald abandoned whateverism.  He no longer necessarily accepted the position taken by the leaders of the Communist Party of China on such issues as Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, China’s foreign policy, Mao Zedong and so on.

And now Stephen Fitzgerald seems to have re-embraced his “whateverist” phase.  Now he is saying that Australia should not have US Marines on Australian soil because this might upset the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

In 1989 Stephen Fitzgerald declared that Australia had become one of China’s lap dogs.  In 2012 he is declaring that Australia should not be associated with any policy which results in Australia being “caught” between China and the US. Kow-tow time again, apparently.

CORRESPONDENCE

Here is a selection from Nancy’s inbox this week. Proving – if proof was necessary – just how highly popular MWD’s Correspondence section is.  Keep those cards and letters – and emails – coming.

● ADRIAN KELLEHER AND GERARD HENDERSON

ON PAUL COMRIE-THOMSON/PAUL DUFFY – AND WHETHER COUNTERPOINT WAS EVER AN ADEQUATE COUNTER TO THE ABC’s PREVAILING FASHIONABLE LEFTISM

Adrian Kelleher to Gerard Henderson 3 August 2012

Hello Gerard,

I read your site with interest quite frequently, and enjoy doing so.  However I was very dismayed by what I read as an attack against Paul Comrie-Thomson from Counterpoint [in MWD Issue 148].

I don’t think Paul was self-aggrandising when he described himself as a right-wing [Phillip] Adams.  I think he was just playing to his audience, i.e. ABC types would regard him and Counterpoint as being extremist right-wing even though they of course aren’t.

I really have enjoyed listening to Counterpoint, and I often lamented the fact that Adams gets so much airtime when Counterpoint doesn’t.  The juxtaposition of the two programs and their respective airtime says it all about the ALPBC.

Regards,

Adrian Kelleher

Gerard Henderson to Adrian Kelleher – 8 August 2012

Adrian

I refer to your note re last week’s Media Watch Dog.

I do not believe that I engaged in “an attack against Paul Comrie-Thomson from Counterpoint”.  All I said that it was inaccurate and unhelpful for Paul Comrie-Thomson to give support to Phillip Adams’ own claim that Counterpoint promotes an adequate balance to all the left-wing presenters heard on the ABC.  I reported Phillip Adams’ position in Media Watch Dog Issue 25 in a segment headed “Aunty’s Continuing Sensitivity to Criticism – Two Case Studies”.

I do not listen to Counterpoint since I am invariably busy around 4 pm on Mondays and 1 pm on Fridays (when it is repeated).  Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live at 10 pm Mondays to Thursdays (with a repeat of a past program on Fridays at 10 pm) is much more accessible. LNL is also repeated at 4 pm Tuesdays to Fridays. In other words, LNL runs for nine hours a week – as against Counterpoint’s two hours.

Also, as you know, the ABC promotes Late Night Live but virtually ignores Counterpoint. For example, when Radio National manager Michael Mason announced RN’s 2012 line-up (on 15 November 2011) he did not even mention Counterpoint. Unlike Paul Comrie-Thomson apparently, I would regard such treatment as unprofessional and insulting.

Counterpoint was a token program set up by the ABC management to dilute criticism that the public broadcaster is replete with leftists. The likes of Michael Duffy and Paul Comrie-Thomson were entitled to present the program.  But they are not entitled to say – without challenge – that Counterpoint gave them the reach that Phillip Adams and other leftist ABC presenters have.

If I had been offered to present a program on Radio National (like Counterpoint), I would have quit if the ABC consciously failed to promote my program. I can only assume that Michael Duffy and Paul Comrie-Thomson were prepared to accept the ABC’s terms and conditions for presenting Counterpoint. In my view, the program is counter-productive in that it gives the impression that something has been done to address the lack of balance within the public broadcaster when, in fact, nothing has been done.

In conclusion, I should comment on your reference to the “ALPBC”. This is a fundamental error.  The ABC is not pro-Labor. Rather, it has a history of criticising both the Coalition and Labor – from the left. Large sections of the public broadcaster are a captive of the inner-city left intelligentsia, which is close to the Greens but detests political conservatives and social democrats alike.

It is a matter of record that the incumbent prime-minister who was most critical of the ABC was not John Howard.  It was Labor’s Bob Hawke, at the time of the First Gulf War.  Paul Keating was also critical of the ABC, when he was prime minister, for attacking Labor from the left.  John Howard was also critical of the ABC – for attacking the Coalition from the left.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Adrian Kelleher to Gerard Henderson – 8 August 2012

Hi Gerard,

Thanks for the reply.

I think we share the concern that the ABC is not a balanced, objective presenter of news and current events.

Regards,

Adrian

BILL JAMES AND GERARD HENDERSON – AUGUST 2012

ON MARK LATHAM’S VIEW THAT LENIN WAS REALLY A HAND-HOLDER

Following MWD’s revelation that failed Labor leader Mark Latham has a hopelessly naive view of Vladimir Lenin – who just so loved the secret police, gulags and executions – Bill James wrote in defending Latham’s view of Lenin-as-luvvie.  Or did he?

Bill James to Gerard Henderson – 6 August 2012

Dear Mr. Henderson

I cannot imagine why you are persisting with your attempts to besmirch

Lenin”s reputation.

Australia”s best-known seer and historian, Manning Clark, famously pronounced him “Christ-like”, which I would have thought settled the issue.

Regards

Bill James

Gerard Henderson to Bill James – 10 August 2012

Dear Mr James

I refer to your missive defending Mark Latham’s description of Vladimir Lenin as a fun-loving kind of guy who was just so relaxed and who loved nothing more than to construct sand-castles on the edge of the Caspian Sea. Latham wrote this some decades after (allegedly) reading the work of a now deceased Marxist. See MWD Issues 138 and 148.

Thanks for the reminder that, in his book Meeting Soviet Man, the late seer and historian Manning Clark referred to Lenin as “Christ-like, at least in his compassion”.

You may be correct in your view that Professor Clark’s kindly assessment of Lenin “settled the issue”. After all, as you know, Manning Clark exited this world with a service in Saint Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra, per courtesy of the Jesuit priest Fr. John Eddy S.J.   So, presumably, the late Manning Clark knew something about both Lenin and Christ.  It seems he was a Leninist when in active life and a follower of Christ when in extremis.

And yet, I wonder.  After all – as David S. Bird documents in his recent book Nazi Dreamtime : Australian Enthusiasts for Hitler’s Germany – for a period in the 1930s the seer-historian Manning Clark had a soft spot for Nazi Germany.

Who knows?  Perhaps one day Mark Latham, after reading the work of a deceased fascist, will use his column in the “Aussie Speccie” to proclaim that Adolf Hitler really knew how to relax and loved nothing better than to construct sandcastles on the edge of Berlin’s Lake Wannsee. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

DANIEL BROOKS AND GERARD HENDERSON

ON MINOR ERRORS, BIG HOWLERS – AND ROBERT MANNE & ABC’S THE DRUM

MWD Issue 148 carried correspondence from Daniel Brooks who drew attention to a direct quote from Professor Manne in MWD Issue 147 which incorrectly used the word “most” rather than “more”.  The exchange continues:

Daniel Brooks to Gerard Henderson – 5 August 2012

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thanks for your reply of two days ago. I note your readiness to acknowledge errors and make corrections. Through reading MWD, I have noticed a reluctance in some others to do likewise.

The misquote which I e-mailed you about was, admittedly, just a minor misquote, but a misquote nonetheless. I agree that the distinction between “more popular” and “most popular” seems not to make a difference to the argument. However, as long as you are willing to accept even such minor corrections, I will continue to volunteer my services.

Were you referring to the article by Robert Manne titled “Payback; I criticised The Australian; now I must pay”?

Best wishes,

Daniel Brooks

Gerard Henderson to Daniel Brooks – 10 August 2012

Dear Mr Brooks

Thanks for your note of last Sunday and your commitment to volunteer your services with a view to correcting any errors in Media Watch Dog.  A most generous offer, to be sure.  Nancy will be so pleased.

It is interesting that you agree that there is not much difference in Robert Manne describing Kevin Rudd (in July 2012) as one of the more popular prime ministers in the post-war history of Australia rather than one of the most popular.  After all, there have been only 13 prime minister since 1945.  Moreover, Professor Manne has described Julia Gillard as “the least impressive Australian prime minister since Billy McMahon”.  So clearly Mr Rudd has to be more popular than Ms Gillard and Mr McMahon.

Yes, I know that R. Manne is on record as describing K. Rudd as a person “by temperament hyperactive, controlling, hectoring and interfering” who lacks a “native political instinct” and is possessed of “a manic work ethic”.  But that was in June 2010 before R. Manne changed his opinion of K. Rudd in January 2012.  Professor Manne constantly changes his (changing) positions.  I do not know whether Labor MPs need advice from a self-proclaimed Greens voter as to who should be their leader – but that, of course, in a matter for them.

As to your conjecture that, in my email, I may have been referring to Robert Manne’s article “Payback; I criticised The Australian; Now I must pay” when I wrote that it contained three errors in one sentence.  Well, guess what?  You’re right. Well done.

The article – which remains on the website of the taxpayer funded ABC The Drum Opinion and also The Monthly – still contains the following sentence with reference to an entity which Professor Manne calls “Larry Adler’s FAI Insurance” as follows:

When the National Companies and Securities Commission conducted a raid on its offices, Henderson used his column in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age to launch a vitriolic attack on its chairman, Henry Bosch.

Since Larry Adler died in December 1988, it seems that Robert Manne was referring to a time around 1987 or 1988. By the way, the company was called FAI Insurances Limited.

These are the facts:

  1. The NCSC never “conducted a raid” on FAI Insurances Limited.
  1. I did not write for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age until 1990 and 1993 respectively.   In short, I did not write for either paper during Larry Adler’s lifetime.
  1. I did not launch a “vitriolic attack” on NCSC chairman Henry Bosch as a consequence of NCSC’s (alleged) raid on FAI.  See 1 above.  It is true that I disagreed with Mr Bosch’s tactic of attempted regulation by media exposure.  And it is true that I criticised Mr Bosch’s description of Australian Aborigines as “the most backward one per cent of the population”.  But I did not do what Professor Manne claims.

In my view, three errors in one sentence is a shade unprofessional – even for an academic like Professor Manne who has a fading memory. Robert Manne still refuses to acknowledge his errors.  And The Drum and The Monthly ­ – neither of which employ fact-checkers – are untroubled by the fact that their websites contain errors.  With respect to The Drum, senior ABC management has confirmed that it does not correct errors if they are “contested” by its contributors.

As mentioned in our correspondence, perhaps you might consider devoting some of the time you have set aside for MWD to correcting howlers on the websites of the ABC and The Monthly. Just a thought.

Keep morale high.

Gerard Henderson

* * * *

Until next time.

'2012