Mungo MacCallum writes:

Gerard Henderson’s loyalty (to
use the word loosely) is not to John Howard as such, but to his anonymous
paymasters at the Sydney Institute. Henderson and his wife Anne set up the
Institute on the basis that they would be sole directors for ever, but the
shareholders (largely businesses sympathetic to the Right) would have a
mouthpiece for their views while never actually having to put their names to
them — the harlot’s privilege.

This, of course, runs against all the tenets of
ethical journalism, but the SMH has persevered with Henderson and the ABC, which
certainly ought to know better, also gives him regular air space. To its credit
The Age dropped him earlier this year, partly for the above reasons and partly
because of his predictability both in style and substance — he really is as
boring as batshit. Henderson, of course claims that the Institute is an open
and fair-minded think tank, but it isn’t — it is a grubby little propaganda
machine which provides him and his wife with a comfortable lifestyle.

As
another less hypocritical conservative, David McNicoll, once admitted of his
relationship to his employer (Frank Packer): “Whose bread I eat, his song I
sing.”

As for Ackerman and Bolt, I have no idea if the PM’s office or
department fed them lines about the Williamson speech, but we certainly know
they are on a drip-feed from various ministers’ offices when a favourable leak
is required or a political enemy is to be smeared: ask Ronald Wilson, Douglas
Wilkie, the Bakhtiari family, or, most obviously, Mark Latham.

Gerard Henderson responds:

Mungo MacCallum’s bitter and
twisted piece is dishonest, erroneous and defamatory. His criticism of me is
similar to that made in the past by both John Pilger and, wait for it, Piers
Akerman.
The fact is that The Sydney
Institute has no views – consequently it is not a “mouthpiece” for anyone. The Institute is a forum for debate and
discussion. Recent speakers include John
Howard, Kim Beazley, Mark Vaile, Natasha Stott Despoja, Bob Brown and many
others – including Kate Jennings, William Shawcross
and Tariq Ali. All have had their papers
published in full in The Sydney Papers
which Anne Henderson edits.

Mr MacCallum extends to a new low
by attacking Anne Henderson. She can defend herself but is out of the
office today.

The fact is that Anne and I do
not agree on all issues. Surprise? Anne
helps run the Institute but is entitled to her own views as a commentator and
writer – as am I. In recent years Anne
has been very active in supporting asylum seekers and refugees and is a firm
advocate of an Australian head of state. To suggest that Anne Henderson
engages in what Mungo MacCallum terms “the harlot’s privilege” is as inaccurate
as it is offensive.