When the offenders become the story

IT COULD only happen in Australia. Two DJs stage a prank call to the hospital where a member of the royal family, Kate Middleton, had been admitted as she was suffering from morning sickness; they pose as Queen Elizabeth and her son, Charles.

The call is passed on by an unsuspecting nurse who is doubling as a telephone operator, and her colleague in the ward provides an accurate rundown of Middleton’s condition.

The DJs, from 2Day FM, play the recorded conversation without asking the hospital for its permission as they are required to do by the rules of their own station. The recording was played by several other stations and the nurse involved, Jacintha Saldanha, was made to look like a fool.

A conservative woman from India, she then proceeded to take her own life. The two DJs, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, proceeded to try and spin themselves as innocent, appearing on trash TV shows on two channels. Shedding crocodile tears aplenty, they tried to project themselves as the ones needing sympathy.

Until a week had gone by, there was no thought for the family of this poor nurse, two teenage children and a husband who has been left suddenly bereaved. No thought was given to the possibility that a woman from a conservative part of India could possibly have held the royal family in such esteem that to be duped in this manner and laughed at was the ultimate humiliation.

She was obviously unable to bear the thought of having to face people in the UK and, more importantly, back in Mangalore, her place of origin. This did not strike the people in Australia who tried to make the story about the poor DJs who were said to be emotionally distraught. As well they should be, having caused the death of an innocent woman.

2Day FM has form in the regard; one of its broadcasters, Kyle Sandilands, has once interviewed a 14-year-old girl on air and she ended up confessing that she had been raped. On another occasion, he slagged off a journalist who had criticised a TV show he had made.

Now the radio station boss is coming around to the fact that making a donation to the family would help. He should have twigged to this a long time ago. Once the attempt to make the narrative about the two DJs was not working, he started talking about Saldanha’s family. The DJs are now suspended and the radio station has stopped prank calls which were part of its arsenal to make its offerings attractive.

There is talk of an inquiry by the Australian Media and Communications Authority, a toothless tiger if ever there was one. Six months from now, it will all go back to the status quo and some other poor soul will suffer at the hands of stupid operators like Christian and Greig.


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