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Dec 7, 2007

And now, a letter from Gerard Henderson ...

The Monthly is one of the few journals of opinion in the democratic world which does not run a letters/correspondence page in its printed edition. Hence this note to Crikey, writes Gerard Henderson.


The Monthly, published by Morry Schwartz, is one of the few journals of opinion in the democratic world which does not run a letters/correspondence page in its printed edition. This is convenient for contributors to The Monthly who can bag their opponents sure in the knowledge that those they criticise have no adequate right of reply. Hence this note to Crikey – which readily publishes replies and corrections and genuinely believes in debate.

The current issue of The Monthly carries a long article by Robert Manne on the ABC during the time of the Howard government. Professor Manne also happens to be the chairman of The Monthly’s editorial board. In his piece, Manne alleges that “the Howard years saw the rise and rise of an aggressive right-wing commentariat” including myself who “for the past 11 and three quarter years… maintained a consistent rhetorical attack on the supposed left-wing bias of the ABC…”

Manne’s article completely overlooks the fact that the Hawke and Keating Labor governments were highly critical of the ABC before the Howard government came to office. And I was critical of aspects of the ABC well before John Howard entered the public debate on this issue. In Whose ABC? (Black Inc, 2006), historian Ken Inglis refers to my criticism of ABC TV’s coverage of the First Gulf War (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 1991) as initiating a “public and domestic conflict as troubling as any in the ABC’s history”. Prime Minister Bob Hawke supported me publicly at the time. John Howard said nothing. The fact is that I had a difficult relationship with Mr Howard between 1986 and 2003.

For the record, I commenced my regular spot on ABC Radio National Breakfast in January 1994 – during the time of Paul Keating’s government. Manne claims that I “moved from Keating fan to Howard lover without so much as a word of explanation”. If Manne had followed my work, he would know that I was broadly supportive of the economic and foreign policies of the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments.

From his comments in The Monthly, it is clear that Manne believes that I should be dropped as a commentator on RN Breakfast. How interesting, then, that John Howard’s Office was a key critic of my RN Breakfast appearances in the second half of the 1990s. How interesting, too, that Manne actually voted for John Howard in 1996 – as he later confessed to readers of his Age column.

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5 thoughts on “And now, a letter from Gerard Henderson …

  1. Glenn Brandham

    Why is my subscription being used to provide this schill with a soap box to stand on? The sooner you shut up, Gerard, the sooner our Kyoto Protocol targets on CO2 emissions are met. Oxygen thieves!

  2. David Sanderson

    This is a sadly inadequate response to the argument that Manne put forward. Other governments were critical but no government bullied and repressed the ABC the way Howard’s did. Board-stacking -Windschuttle, Albrechtsen et al – was outrageous and odious.

  3. Brian Byrnes

    Must Crikey use up valuable space with this argument between Manne & Henderson ? Does any body really care what either of them thinks or says ?

  4. Piers Kelly

    Shock horror! I am astounded by Henderson’s revelations of bias in The Monthly, an independent magazine paid for by regular punters. I’m taking my objections straight to shady side of a toilet door with a fat texta.

  5. Sue

    I’m with you Glenn – who in hell cares about these two and their ongoing feud? Put them in a sandpit together and let them throw sand at each other till they’re done! Boring, boring, boring.

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