Australian radio personality Eddie McGuire apologized after making violent comments about the Age’s chief football writer, Caroline Wilson.
McGuire, the president of Australia’s Collingwood Football Club, compared the journalist Wilson to a “black widow. She just sucks you in and gets you and you start talking to her and then bang! She gets you,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald. He said he was willing to pay to have Wilson under ice water and for people to “bomb” her.
“McGuire made the comments on radio station Triple M last Monday, during the ‘Big Freeze at the G,’ where celebrities slid into ice water to raise money for research into motor neurone disease,” the Age reported.
When asked about the controversial comments about its employee, Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood said in a statement sent to iMediaEthics,
“The comments were infuriating and appalling.
“I had planned not to comment on this matter out of respect for Caroline Wilson. One of the country’s top journalists, I know she never likes being the story. But then I read the transcript of the Eddie McGuire interview on 3AW. He just doesn’t seem to get it.
“This is repeat behaviour by McGuire. It is old style bullying, intimidation and physical threats and when challenged they are dressed up as a misunderstanding and just a bit of fun. It just isn’t acceptable. McGuire has undermined the AFL’s best efforts to expose the insidious impact of domestic violence in our community. Collingwood needs to act if it is serious about its culture.”
“No one should feel threatened or uneasy in the football family, and for that I’m deeply sorry, and I apologize unreservedly to Caroline for putting her in that position,” McGuire conceded, claiming his comments were supposed to be “harmless fun” and weren’t related to gender.
Video of his apology is below.
His football club will hold a fundraiser for “disadvantaged women and children in crisis,” McGuire noted.
His club sent iMediaEthics its statement on his comments and the fundraiser, adding “the very clear view of the board of Collingwood is that there is no place in our community for the support of violent behaviour or language, even in humour.”
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Previously, the Age reported, McGuire didn’t exactly apologize. “I say from the bottom of my heart that I am so sorry that those comments have resonated that way, I am so sorry that anyone could even think that’s what anyone was thinking,” McGuire said on 3AW Radio. He also called the comments about Wilson “playful banter.”
Another person on the program, former Australian football player Danny Frawley, said he would hold Wilson under water. He apologized, admitting his comments were wrong, claiming they were a “poor attempt at humor.”
“They were inappropriate, they were unacceptable, and any comments that translate into or are seen as being violence against women are totally inappropriate,” he said.
Of McGuire’s June 20 apology, Wilson said “He’s definitely changed his tune. He’s had a few cracks at it and he’s finally got there.”
In a June 20 column, Wilson wrote in part that the comments about her made her “uncomfortable.” She wrote in part,
“To let his so-called jokey banter get through without trying to explain why language like McGuire’s is so wrong would be letting down true victims of violence; although not for one minute am I attempting to compare my treatment to theirs. In terms of the football beat that I cover it’s also important to reinforce the point that club presidents should surely not be contributing to the problem.”
Wilson called McGuire’s comparing her to a black widow sexist, explaining, “This sort of sexist nonsense has long been an acceptable part of his occasionally violent vernacular but I don’t accept that it’s jokey or banter. I have no doubt that he was angry that I suggested he start thinking about a succession plan after almost two decades in the job.”
McGuire said she isn’t opposed to criticism but that the “personal attacks” like this crossed the line.
iMediaEthics has written to Wilson, McGuire’s football club and Southern Cross Austereo, the owner of the radio station that aired McGuire’s comments.
Hat Tip: Mumbrella