UPDATE 2 – This piece was first published on 22nd Nov. Today (14/12) we learn something that gives it renewed importance.
“Actor Matthew Newton is accused of punching a taxi driver in the head on Sydney’s north shore.
Police arrested the 35-year-old after an incident about 10.20am (AEDT) on December 4.”
The commentary today following the Matthew Newton interview with Tracy Grimshaw has been all negative and quite rightly given his refusal to apologise to his victims.
But that is an issue for Mr Newton, his victims and their families and friends. A more important issue is why one of the highest rating programs in Australia would air such disregard for Domestic violence and the damage it does to individuals and our community? The answer of course is in the question, ratings is seemingly all that drives programs such as ACA and Today Tonight. But what really got on my nerves was the promotion and production of this sordid tale as if the people making money off it actually give a shit.
Tracy Grimshaw on her twitter account. “Huge response to Matthew Newton
#aca. We endeavored to be fair to him, to the women he has hurt, and the mentally ill. Polarising, for sure.” Right, you know what would be fair to the victims Tracy, giving the same amount of time on your show to experts on both Domestic Violence and Mental Illness! But hey, where is the ratings and financial reward in that. This should come as no surprise given only a show earlier they ran the story on Warwick Capper asking “so could the loveable larrikin be the next big thing in Aussie television?” Right, you mean the guy who had a failed porno career? Classy stuff! But of course it doesn’t stop there, ACA has form and you only need to look at what is being talked about on their website to find the story “Asylum Seeker Heaven” – A Current Affair investigated just why the system is costing us so much. In the process we discovered not only huge medical and security costs, but also luxuries like plasma TVs and internet cafes. Detention centres, known breeding grounds for mental illness, condemned by Psych workers the country over are heavens are they?
So we should not at all be surprised that this program and presenter who peddles Racism, demonises Asylum Seekers, profits from Mental Illness and delivers startling investigations on “Migraine botox” might be less than responsible when it comes Domestic Violence. Tracy obviously defended this today by saying “We gave white ribbon number“. Only for that organisation themselves to criticise the interview today “Australia’s primary organisation against violence towards women, the White Ribbon organisation, has criticised Matthew Newton for copping out in a TV interview last night.”
Given all of this, the pre show predictions, the interview itself and the following criticism was expected. Another opportunity missed to really give the public the facts on Domestic Violence and Mental Illness (two of the biggest issues we face as a society). But I was further miffed (understatement) when I saw Mia Freedman take to her account to promote the interview. “Set your iq for
@tracygrimshaw‘s Matt Newton exclusive on #ACA tomorrow night. Can think of nobody better to do it. Sublime.” Talk about a good helping of pre tabloid porn promotion! Mia is actually someone I respect and wrote a piece defending after her remarks on the Today Show about Cadel Evans. But “Sublime” about an interview with an unapologetic perpetrator of Domestic Violence and a tabloid treatment of mental illness? Before I played the John MacEnroe “You cannot be serious” line in my head I thought I better ask for clarification. The response, “I meant that tracey is a sublime interviewer. One of the best. Not a statement about content particularly.”
No, obviously the content is complete shit, BUT… You cannot be fucking serious (throw racquet), Tracy Grimshaw…, one of the best? By what standard do we lower ourselves to that someone who sits in the chair of a program that does NOTHING for the national debate on any serious issue is one of the best. That anyone who makes a huge amount of money peddling fear, making people feel bad about their body appearance and generally making crap about the least fortunate amongst us is one of the best. Can you imagine Kerry O’Brien ever asking if Warrick Capper was the next big thing? Speaking of Kerry, he is one of the best! So is Tony Jones, Leigh Sales, Jenny Brockie, etc Speaking of which, can you imagine Brockie introducing a show entitled “Centrelink scammer justice”?
You know who does “sublime” interviews? Andrew Denton! You know who doesn’t? Tracy Grimshaw!
Maybe Mia Freedman is simply towing the party line, she too is employed by Channel Nine.
But make no mistake these shows support the 1% while claiming to be for the 99!. These are the people who just like bankers and traders make their money by selling things that don’t exist or are simply made up. Things like Warwick Capper being the next big thing, Asylum Seekers having their own little slice of Heaven and Domestic Violence and Mental Illness issues to simply pull ratings. Why report on the alarming rate of homelessness, the fact that the majority of low income Australian’s can’t afford the dentist or the suicides in detention when you can make a hell of a lot more from Matthew Newton. And with the spring collection on the shelves, a Range Rover to refuel and that delightful $100 Chardonnay just chilling in the fridge they’ll ask… What are you complaining about?!?!
UPDATE:- It’s still unclear if Newton was paid for the interview but with Ch9 only saying they don’t disclose such information it is fair to assume he was. Prompt Hughesy on radio.
“If he hadn’t have been violent against women that interview wouldn’t have happened…. that’s why it was a news story and he got paid for it,” Dave Hughes said.
It had been a good start to the year for Channels Seven and Nines flag-ship current affairs programs Today Tonight and A Current Affair, but as viewers changed the networks pulled out the big guns.
Today Tonight Seven tell us is “Australia’s number one current affair program” and it seems they will do anything to protect that myth. They’d started the year well with consistent top ten appearances in the weekly ratings but by the time October had come around it had been months since they’d made the list. Of course it comes as no surprise that they took their tried and true hack journalism route to ratings glory. “Dole Bludgers” can be an easy target although in these troubled economic times that might mean too many viewers are, well, on the dole. “Muslim Extremists” are another classic target for TT and ACA but with the Arab spring being given favourable publicity around the world it was best avoided for now. Say hello to the political football any grubby journalist can make a pay cheque from, Asylum Seekers.
So it came as no surprise that on October 10th after months of struggling to climb the ratings top ten, Kylie Gillies opened up the week with this:-
Kylie Gillies: First tonight our investigation into how the Government is putting out the welcome mat for refugees. We’ve gone inside the so called ‘refugee resort’ where there’s no wire fencing, there’s no bars, and the inmates live in four star luxury…
Two weeks later ABC’s Media Watch would prove that virtually everything in the report was false, fabricated or used to mislead viewers. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3346987.htm
Not to be outdone two weeks later Tracy Grimshaw fronted Nines ACA with “Asylum Seeker Heaven – Taxpayers footed a bill of nearly $800 million for detention centres last financial year, so A Current Affair investigated just why the system is costing us so much. In the process we discovered not only huge medical and security costs, but also luxuries like plasma TVs and internet cafes.”
More half truths and innuendo dressed up as journalism was trotted out pitching ill informed local residents against asylum seekers and using the created outrage to package together a nice report for a ratings win. Good news stories can sell but not on a nightly basis and when advertisers want ratings TT and ACA are all too willing to climb to the bottom of the barrel, fabricate a story and peddle fear to make a dollar.
It worked, TTs ratings for the Monday were the best they’d had for quite a while and the damage they had done to the community, the asylum seekers and the political debate would be lost in the joy of keeping their advertisers happy. One participant of the TT story who had been duped by the reporter went from outrage at asylum seekers to concern for them when told the real facts. The reality with any controversial debate is that the community is best served by the facts and not filled with fear by journalists and producers trying to make a buck out of the misery of others.
For too long ACA and TT have gotten away with being called “current affairs programs”, they are not! They are just the same as the sly and unethical journalists who brought the Murdoch empire to its knees in the UK. They will stop at nothing, obey no standard and break every rule in their attempt for ratings and the dollar grab. Such was the outrage in the UK over the behaviour of News of the World that it was forced to shut its door. The British public are better for it and their democracy better served by the closing of unethical hackers at News. The time has come for the same to happen to TT and ACA. And that starts with you!
The only way ACA and TT stay alive is by you watching. Even if you are doing so to see what hate they are peddling today you are helping their cause, lining their pockets and increasing the fear. Vote with your remote, when ACA and TT time comes around in your house change the channel. And in doing so be part of changing the tone of the debate that needs facts and responsible journalism to inform a solution that benefits us all.
If Monday nights 4 Corners on the ABC shocked you at the treatment of Asylum Seekers then not only should you write to your local MP, call the Immigration Minister and get involved in the debate. You should switch off ACA and TT and ensure that lies and fear are not the ratings winners of Australian democracy.