Posted in Not So Light

When reporting the news is not enough

Two weeks ago, I had never heard of Tara Brown. I have since learned that she is employed by a television programme entitled ’60 Minutes’, and that’s not all it feels entitled to, apparently. Discerning viewers have dubbed the programme “45 minutes” and it is this 15 minute discrepancy that is the key to the fiasco embroiling Ms Brown and her hapless associates.

In an article dated April 17th, Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Kylie Northover, quotes two of Brown’s colleagues: Karl Stefanovic and Tracy Grimshaw. Stefanovic once appeared on television in an apparent state of intoxication after attending the Logies. Getting drunk is not a crime unless you are a person of indigenous heritage, but attending the Logies or even watching them should be – so I declare my bias here. Karl Stefanovic may be a very nice guy, but he appears to be a dickhead. He is involved with a morning television programme, but not, I have been able to ascertain, the one hosted by the bald guy from Port Adelaide who sits on a couch surrounded by women, which is nice work if you can get it. I don’t watch the bald guy’s show, or Stefanovic’s either, because I work for a living and because preliminary investigations suggest that both programmes are in fact steaming piles of horseshit. Grimshaw hosts a programme in the evening. She bobs up on my screen as I change channels. I had never really formed an opinion of her except to note that she has a hairdo. Subsequent investigations have revealed that she is in fact, a hairdo. She divides opinion between intelligent people who think she’s an idiot and idiots who think she’s intelligent.

As I read Northover’s article I discovered that Stefanovic is not an idiot. In his defence of Brown, he uses words like, ‘personal’, ‘definition’, ‘cornerstones’, ‘simplicity’, ‘complex’, ‘elusive’, ‘forensically’ and ‘notorious’, so, assuming he knows what all these words mean, on the upside, he is a lot smarter than I gave him credit for, but on the downside, he’s coming off a very low base.

Grimshaw, on the other hand in her ‘defence’ of Brown, concentrates on more weighty issues: “Tara doesn’t come across as some commando. I’ve never seen her dirty. Or even remotely dishevelled. She could wear a white shirt in the Syrian desert and it would still be white and unwrinkled after three days. I’d get coffee on mine before I left the airport.”

Some might have hoped for a more wide-ranging defence from Grimshaw: an acknowledgement of Brown’s hairdo, for example, or praise for her ability to accessorise, but I am impressed (if a little disappointed) to learn that Tara Brown does not go commando on assignment. I am equally impressed to learn of Brown’s ability to keep a white shirt clean, which is no small thing when reporting from one of the planet’s hottest, smelliest and ickiest locales. And don’t forget there are people dying there too, so there’s that as well.

From the outset of this truly awful story, my sympathy, like many others, has been with the mother, Sally Faulkner. Ill-advised, even foolish, she may have been, but any parent who loves his or her children, can relate to Faulkner’s desperation and her determination to do whatever needed to be done, in order to get them back. This is not to deny the rights of the father. The problem, as Mr Stefanovic has identified, is a complex one. Whatever the rights or wrongs of this case, there can be no doubt that what Sally Faulkner did, she did for love.

The motivations of Channel Nine and Child Abduction Recovery International are equally obvious, and are also a kind of love, though perhaps in less readily identifiable form. Both organisations are shining examples of capitalist culture, exhibiting the corporate virtues of greed, arrogance, amorality and hubris. Nine’s decision to downsize, to cut their partners adrift and leave them to their fate in a Lebanese gaol was an act upholding the highest traditions of economic rationalism.

The one exquisite, high point of this tragic farce has been to watch Channel Nine skewered by its own opportunism. Whoever dreamed this up, presumably the same genius responsible for serving up the mind-numbing litany of cooking, home renovation and so-called reality programmes, should be invited to take a pay cut and offered a position overseeing turd management in the Channel Nine toilets. As for Tara Brown, who two weeks ago I’d never heard of, but who I now know to be a woman of irreproachable grooming: it’s time for you to retire now and write that book. Just remember your audience and keep it simple. But you know all that, don’t you.

Tara Brown – a woman of irreproachable grooming.

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