Posts Tagged ‘Michael Christian’

With malice aforethought

December 9, 2012

After 18 hours of travel I have been catching up on the news. I find I still can’t get Jacintha Saldanha out of my mind but the news today is still disturbing.  Now there are a number of apologists trying to play down the consequences of the hoax perpetrated by Mel Greig and Michael Christian and their radio station. Even Piers Morgan tried to play it down – but with his role in the hacking culture, that does not surprise very much.

 Daily Beast: “Prank calls have been going on for 50 years in the radio industry,” says Sandy Kaye, a spokeswoman for Southern Cross Austereo. “It is not designed to humiliate or embarrass.”

But of course it was meant to humiliate. 

 Globe and Mail: “As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable”. ….. 

Ms. Greig and Mr. Christian have both apologized. Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, said they were “shattered” and undergoing counselling.

Guardian: Editorials in Australian Sunday newspapers said the DJs were not responsible for the tragic death.

“While the prank may have been stupid, Mel Greig and Michael Christian surely did not mean to hurt anyone,” said the editorial in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Telegraph newspaper. “Prank calls are among the oldest tricks in radio. Occasionally funny, mostly cringeworthy, they usually result in mere pointless humiliation of a hapless victim.”

A columnist for the Fairfax-owned Sun Herald, Peter FitzSimons, said the death of Saldanha was a “tragedy of unspeakable proportions”. ….. He said there was not a shred of evidence there was any malice in the prank call. “Who could possibly have thought that a silly prank call like that – one of thousands of prank calls, no doubt, made by radio stations around the world on that day – would have led to the young woman taking her life?” wrote FitzSimons.

I got to wondering why I was getting so upset. And then I realised that it was because it was always the intention to humiliate someone for the sake of a few laughs. For the “prank” to succeed somebody had to get hurt. The humiliation was not unforeseen. The laughs were obtained. Whether Australians like it or not Mel Greig and Michael Christian represent the face of modern Australian humour.  And it wasn’t thoughtless as I have previously called it. It was a deliberate attempt – after legal consideration – to continue with the humiliation and for the station to play for the laughs even after she was dead.

I have heard regret about her tragic death but none of those responsible has expressed any regret or seen fit to apologise to her family for humiliating her. It is too late to apologise to her.

The perpetrators are to get counselling! Poor things! When in the depths of her humiliation and they were gloating on air, Jacintha Saldanha could have done with some but there was none forthcoming. A public birching or a period in the stocks might seem appropriate for these 2 bright sparks, but that just wouldn’t be right. But instead of getting counselling perhaps they could volunteer for a year or two at a hospital?

When Jacintha Saldanha filled in at the reception that night she had no reason to expect to be humiliated for doing what any conscientious nurse would have done. She should not have been. Malice at any time and even against the rich and famous cannot be  justified. But malice against someone defenceless and vulnerable is worse than contemptible.

For all the apologists for Mel Greig and Michael Christian and their radio station:

The humiliation was intended.

The laughs were obtained as intended.

With malice aforethought!

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On murder by pranking

December 8, 2012

It is not the “prank” which disgusts.

It is the lack of thought by two giggling radio DJ’s and their managers. It is their juvenile behaviour. It is their lack of intelligence. It is their betrayal of the trust shown by someone trying to be helpful. And it is the utter disregard for what their victims might suffer.

It is the lack of thought for the consequences of deliberately trying to break the trust extended by the unfortunate staff who were the butt of their call. It should not be beyond the intelligence of even Australian radio DJ’s or their boss – Rhys Holleran – to have realised that in the event of their prank succeeding, some poor staff member would have faced the sack. It should not have been beyond their little intelligence that revealing the private medical details of a mother -to-be – no matter how famous the person – was a fundamental breach of an individual’s privacy. They deny the sapiens in homo sapiens.

Once many years ago my 5 year-old son fell on the ice and suffered a concussion while I was travelling in the US. He was kept in hospital overnight and my wife spent the night with him. By the time I got the message it was about 2am back home. I called the hospital and an extremely helpful nurse filled me in, reassured me and then woke my wife so I could speak with her. I am forever grateful to that nurse who took me at my word as to who I was. How else can a nurse – or a hospital –  operate except in an atmosphere of trust? How else could Jacintha Saldanha have reacted unless the hospital had routed all calls from all worried relatives through some faceless security system?

It was murder by pranking and Mel Greig and Michael Christian are guilty. Their legal advisors and the station management are also guilty. Jacintha Saldanha was their victim. This crime carries no legal penalty but it was a betrayal of trust. It was – in my book -criminal behaviour. Maybe it cannot be used to generalise about the media and their methods but it certainly does add to my view that the media are untrustworthy and many of their employees are unintelligent and unthinking. I doubt that they are capable of regulating themselves.

Nurse hoaxed by Australian call commits suicide

December 7, 2012

This is more than sad.

Update: The nurse has been named as Jacintha Sadanha. She was married with 2 children.

Update2: It is now early Saturday morning in Australia but there is as yet little regret for this childish prank gone horribly bad. Sky News Australia reports that Sydney-based 2Day FM was continuing to promote its prank call on air during the early hours of Saturday morning in the city”.

The hoaxers, Mel Greig and Michael Christian will no doubt get away with it. After all it was just a clever prank call. They have been bragging about it all week. But can they really not have any responsibility? I can only begin to imagine the harassment and embarrassment and ridicule the poor nurse came under — which was probably multiplied several times by today’s social media.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian: image thesun.co.uk

The Independent:The nurse who took a prank phone call at the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital has been found dead in a suspected suicide.

The woman received the phone call from two Australian radio presenters and, believing she was speaking with the Queen, passed it to a colleague who revealed private information about the Duchess’ condition.

An ambulance was called to the hospital this morning where the woman was found unconscious.

Paramedics made efforts to revive her but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The nurse is understood to be the first person to be heard during a hoax call to the Edward VII Hospital from two presenters from the Australian radio station 2Day FM.

…. The woman nurse who has been found dead took the call from the radio DJs in the early hours of Tuesday morning saying: “Hello, good morning, King Edward VII Hospital.”

The presenter, Mel Greig, who was impersonating the Queen said: “Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?”

The woman answered: “Oh yes, just hold on ma’am.” ….

… The two hoaxers, Greig and Michael Christian, were put through to a second nurse who told them: “She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night. She’s been given some fluids, she’s stable at the moment.”

Update! Nurse named but hoaxers are silent

The hospital said in a statement: ““We can confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha.

”Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and a well-respected and popular member of staff with all her colleagues.

“We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital has been supporting her at this difficult time.”

Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse said: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague.”


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