The blame game rages on over Jacintha Saldanha's death
Sydney-based 2DayFM radio presenters Michael Christian, left, and Mel Greig speak during an interview with Seven Network's current affairs program "Today Tonight" in Sydney on Monday. The 2DayFM announcers said the tragedy had left them "shattered, gutted, heartbroken". (Reuters)
A woman died ... guilt must be assigned to someone.
That is the sad reality of the bizarre and tragic turn of events that has enveloped a hospital, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a radio station, two DJs and Jacintha Saldanha's family (right: daughter Lisha, husband Ben Barboza and son Junal).
The cries for blood and blame have rung from Britain to Australia and all ports in between. The British press, no slouches at intrusive tactics to spark circulation, instinctively went on the attack.
“It is quite easy to blame us … The Australian industry seems to sit quite fairly behind us. ... It was only supposed to be a harmless prank.”
The grief-striken human faces -- Saldanha's family and, yes, even radio hosts Michael Christian and Mel Greig -- are the front cover to what seems to be a larger question about ethics.
To get an idea of the scope of this tragedy and its subsequent soul searching, we've gathered a sampling of the opinions and editorials from the British and Aussie press below. Then, we ask you the question: Who do you blame?
"Oh, the crimes that are committed in this world by people who are just “having a bit of a laugh”.
The Aussie funsters who made their prank call to the hospital where Kate was recovering did not mean to hurt anyone.
They did not intend to drive the tricked nurse to suicide.
But they have blood on their hands and they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
Because every prank is laced with spite, and behind the mocking laughter of the clever ones there is real and virulent cruelty.
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha's grieving family and friends are entitle to be angry at the crass Australian radio hoaxers who apparently drove her to suicide.
And the station, with its history of offensive antics, cannot pretend it was blind to the stunt’s folly.
Police have launched an inquiry. Some critics want the hoaxers charged with manslaughter.
But the last thing we want is yet another witch hunt.
This sad story is a matter for a coroner's inquest, not mob justice.
Sam Leith in London Evening Standard:
Daily Star (UK):
Whoever thought it was a good idea to prank call a hospital, trying to get a sick pregnant woman on the phone by trickery, should be sacked.
That’s even without the tragic consequences of the Australian radio station’s Duchess of Cambridge stunt which led to the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
Radio boss Rhys Holleran doesn’t agree. “We’ve followed procedures,” he said. “We haven’t done anything illegal.”
For a start, many experts think they have broken the law. If he has followed procedures, everyone who came up with those procedures needs to join the dole queue.
Scumbag Holleran’s first orderof business should be to sign a hefty cheque to Jacintha’s family to help bring up her two kids. His second should be to disappear into the Outback for good.
Daily Express (UK):
... Despite international public outrage and a family's keen grief, management at the Australian station is digging in.
Rhys Holleran, head of Austereo which owns 2Day FM, said no one could have "reasonably foreseen" the tragic outcome of this puerile prank.
Incredibly ... regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority had not launched an investigation despite a deluge of complaints and a clear breach of its code. It's hard to see how the show did not treat all those involved in a "highly demeaning or highly exploitative manner."
Jenny McCartney takes a royals perspective in The Telegraph (UK):
We live in an age that devours trivia like manna, and its most zealous peddlers will trample on lives in order to seize it. The value is meaningless, but the price to individuals caught up in the chase is high.
... Kate seems a more robust, resilient personality than Diana, and her marriage to William is happier and less complicated than Diana’s was to Charles. Whether one is a royalist or not, it is possible to admire the way she consistently displays grace under pressure, but that is no argument for intensifying the pressure. One could understand if – amid their happiness over the pregnancy – Kate and William were already feeling besieged. The worst invasions of their privacy -- the long-lens photographs of Kate sunbathing topless in France, and this hoax hospital call -- have come from media sources outside Britain. As we have repeatedly seen, the boundaries of normal, respectful behaviour are invisible but powerful: break through them and the human consequences can be unpredictable and disastrous.
This most recent incident, one must hope, might come as an international wake-up call to back off.
Bel Mooney writing on at Daily Mail (UK):
"His female co-host Mel Greig thought this (phone prank) would be 'awesome.' That, in turn, shows a very moder take on the word 'awe' -- which correctly implies respect as well as wonder. Never mind the ethics or legality of the broadcast, there was no respect for anybody's feeling in his sorry incident; no hint of decency or basic human compassion.
Now an innocent woman is dead, her family bereaved and bewildered, and the whole world knows the story -- the thoughtless joke doesn't seem funny at all, least of all to the shamed perpetrators.
To me, it never was. ... I saw the prank as another example of the casual, tacky, thoughtless cruelty that has infected popular culture like a plague -- on radio, on television and increasingly on Twitter and other social media outlets."