Entertainment, Sports

Djokovic: TV: Game, set and match to Aussie pair for cutting through the bull***t

IT’S hilarious but cringeworthy at the same time. Two Australian newsreaders unknowingly caught on an “open mic” partaking in a candid exchange about anti-vaxxer tennis star Novak Djokovic. It started off like this . . .

Rebecca Maddern: “Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole.”

Mike Amor: “You’ve got a bull***t f***ing excuse and then he fell over his own f***ing lies, which is what happens right?”

And so on, you get the gist. As you can imagine, the pair were hailed on social media as straight-talking heroes for saying what everyone else was thinking. Well, they do say honesty is the best policy (unless you’re Boris Johnson, of course).

Such “hot mic” or “cutaway” incidents are the stuff of legend – the news-hungry media world’s equivalent of unearthing a diamond in a coal mine. Not to mention, hugely entertaining.

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The obvious value of these unguarded moments lie in the truth it exposes. Our only chance to hear throwaway comments – good or bad – normally hidden from public view within a stage-managed setting. But while two newsreaders being caught unawares is highly amusing, when the mask slips on the pompous, those we elect, or are expected to defer to, then it’s pure dynamite. So indulge me as I reminisce.

Who can forget when Prince Charles turned to his sons in front of dozens of journalists gathered at Klosters and, in reference to the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell, quietly (but not quietly enough) remarked: “Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful, he really is.”

Looking back, it’s hard not to feel a gentle whiff of nostalgia for such good old-fashioned snobbery when compared to the seedy sex scandal engulfing the royals today.

On the other hand, the far from light-hearted secret video of Donald Trump making obscene comments about women revealed a truly horrific mindset, and which should have blown his presidential hopes out of the water. Ever the rule breaker, he somehow survived, which said as much about his electorate’s misguided priorities as it did his monstrous inner life.

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But while John Major (“bastard” Cabinet ministers), George W Bush (“Yo, Blair”), Ronald Reagan (“We begin bombing in five minutes”) and Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama (Netanyahu is a “liar”) livened up otherwise run-of-the-mill political coverage, nothing quite compares to Gordon Brown’s “bigot” disaster. The embarrassment factor aside, when Labour supporter Gillian Duffy’s concerns over immigration were heard being dismissed by the soon-to-be-deposed PM it laid bare fault lines in working-class societies that pre-empted Labour’s election loss and ultimately led to Brexit.

The sad reality, however, is that such blunders only help to instil a batten-down-the-hatches mentality against the press. Wise to the pitfalls of predecessors, the PR machines are desperate to manage output as illustrated by No 10’s hiring of official photographers to take carefully crafted portraits.

While the Allegra Stratton and Matt Hancock sagas were the result of leaks rather than off-mic gaffes, the drip, drip, drip of party-gate says all you need to know about the wilful cat and mouse tactics of information control.

So it’s game, set and match to the Aussie broadcasters for cutting through the bull***t, giving us a laugh and saying it as it is. If only the UK Tory leadership could live up to their standards and stop playing us for fools.


Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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