In the aftermath of this “Group Sex Scandal” (is that an official name? Perhaps we should rename it “Group Sexgate” to give it that Nixon feel) there has been one person that has been at the front of the chorus to have Matthew Johns’ head on a platter and pursuing a vast culture within Rugby League. That person is Rebecca Wilson. She has taken it upon herself to be the voice for women in Rugby League, claiming to have “dozens” or “500” emails (depending on what breakfast show you listen to) from women as equally as hysterical as she is claiming to claim that they will never watch another game of League again. Well it is certainly appropriate that they email her about messages of Doomsday proportions. In this blog I will outline the problems I have with Rebecca Wilson. I will try my hardest not to stoop to her level with sensationalist journalism because, even though I’m just a League loving bloke, I know the value of balanced reporting, and I am here restoring said balance.
Wilson began her loose association with journalism and Rugby League in Brisbane 25 years ago, and was met with some resistance from the players and fellow scribes who wanted the footy to be the domain of only people with a penis. The players exposed themselves to her among other pranks and tests of endurance. It was presumably here that the seeds were sown for her attitude 25 years down the track.
I first noticed her on the ABC sports show The Fat, I was a bit too short of attention to remember if she was as opinionated about League as she is now, but as around 3 years ago the League world was recovering from Super League, the evil entity in the League world where she was on the payroll, I suggest she would’ve kept it a bit more shut then she does now.
But enough of the past, onto the present. Since the group sex scandal broke out Wilson has been telling anyone who would listen that Matthew Johns should be stood down from all of his positions involving Rugby League. May have been a non-criminal consensual act 7 years ago, it has done the poor girl irreparable damage, she will never be the same again! And as the story about the girls attitudes post life-shattering moment have spread, surely a moment should’ve been taken to do a slight “we were slightly mislead” article? Nosiree, on Saturday, the article “A culture of cringe”, another attempt to leave Rugby League dead on the footpath.
I honestly don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with her Saturday opinion pieces. They are, for the most part, heavily biased against Rugby League with a clear agenda driven towards positive messages towards AFL. Only once in recent memory have I seen her donate an opinion piece to criticising the Australian Football League (an article regarding AFL expansion titled “It’s A Premier Sting”). There have been cursory mentions of players such as Nathan Bock and Albert Proud, but certainly none of them were mentioning that she thought those two should be banned for life for assaulting his girlfriend in a pub and allegedly glassing a woman in a Gold Coast nightclub respectively. Not a mention for those players to be banned, yet she’s all over Greg Bird for similar violence against women (“Rub Greg Bird out forever”). I agree with the sentiments in that case, I also think if an Aussie Rules player commits a serious criminal act, they should be recipient of equal condemnation. Yet ol Bec raises barely a peep on matters of primarily AFL-related scandal, but she gets on the high horse so quickly when it comes to NRL scandal I’m surprised the saddle doesn’t catch alight.
Although that’s probably because of her undying love for the Sydney Swans, her radio show often has her gushing about her Swannies, even recently found time to write a puff piece celebrating Swans player Brett Kirk (“Brett Kirk is a true great”). I’m sure, in the interest of journalistic integrity we can expect something similar from the NRL side of things, when a star that plays Rugby League hits 200 games? No, of course we can’t. I am of the opinion that someone so blatantly anti-Rugby Leagueand pro-Aussie Rules should not be allowed to write any sort of article on Rugby League at all. I have a strong suspicion a lot of people would agree, both male and female. Perhaps she should have a look at this site of AFL scandals, a resource thread lovingly compiled by some of the boys at the League Unlimited forums: http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/showthread.php?t=131608
Wilson leans strongly on the gender aspect of things; this scandal has brought about several mentions about males in the rugby league community, including – but not limited to: “The Rugby League bloke ‘Mafia'”, “the male bosses at Nine“, “core group of male league reporters“. These people want to protect Matthew Johns, and it’s being alluded to that is because they are all blokey blokey and Bec’s the disgusted woman in this. Indeed “female league fans” have been emailing her by the dozen. “Female league fans who have partners or children have every right to feel disgusted and disappointed” apparently. I have a news flash for you Bec, you are not the spokeswoman for female League fans, for all the “dozens” of emails that you got, I can tell you how many females I know that share your view, do you want to have a guess? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a number between -1 and 1.
Indeed someone tried to tell Rebecca Wilson that they didn’t agree with her point of view. For the record, Wilson said in her “A culture of cringe” opinion piece that “I was even forced to hang up on one shameful female radio jock in Brisbane who continued to insist she could not see any wrongdoing in Johns’ behaviour and that I had a personal axe to grind. The rugby league culture is a sick bunny, indeed, when female football fans can find good in the poisonous”
For people who don’t know that “shameful female radio jock” was Meshel Laurie on the Nova 106.9 breakfast show, and Laurie was trying to express a different point to what Wilson had peddled in her opinion pieces. The link is here, roughly 5 minutes in: http://podcast.nova1069.com.au/nova1069_podcasts_140509.mp3
What Laurie was saying, for the deaf and/or lazy, was that she took exception at the comment where Bec says how “most women” feel, as Laurie, quite rightly, doesn’t believe the same thing as Bec, nor does a lot of other people she knows. She believes, AS MOST PEOPLE DO, MALE AND FEMALE, that whilst it isn’t pleasant, What happened after that was a pure at of petulance, radio’s example of taking your bat and ball and running home to have a good old sook. “Why have you got me on?” was where the interview turned sour and she has claimed to have “500 emails in the past week ” (roughly 42 dozen for you playing at home) where “80% of the emails received have been against Matty Johns, male and female”. Because others have have differing opinions just as much as Bec has differing letters in her inbox,apparently the people on Twitter have less of a valid opinion than the people using email. I find that strikingly odd to allude to the fact that one form of Internet is more worthy than another. The interview turned even more sour when Laurie made the assertion that she had a personal axe to grind against the Footy Show (which she does, everyone knows that), and she disputes that and says her axe to grind is with Rugby League culture (not AFL culture, where they also have massive women issues, not sport culture, RUGBY LEAGUE culture). The last sentences go as such: “And you know what? Next time don’t ring me if you want an opinion, if you want a genuine, proper, grounded and informed opinion. Goodbye.” And with that she spits the dummy in a major fashion and hangs up because she didn’t get the audience she wanted, she got an opinion that’s shared with the majority of people it would seem. For someone as grounded and informed as Rebecca Wilson she surely acts very precious when the people she’s preaching to aren’t converted.
Since Rebecca Wilson’s so fond of numbers, let’s work with some Facebook numbers. It may not be as reliable as panic emailing, but surely it has more of a finger on its pulse than Twitter? (This just in – the most informed opinion landed on Rebecca Wilson’s desk via carrier pigeon) Just browsing through the groups on Facebook, out of the first 100 groups shown searching for “Matthew Johns” this is what the stats were
14 groups were either not relevant or were “I DON’T CARE ABOUT MATTHEW JOHNS GROUPS”
25 were Anti-Matthew Johns, the largest group had 694 members.
A whopping 61 groups were pro-Matty Johns, the largest having a staggering 159,885 members (at the current time, it’s growing exponentially) Surely that’s some convincing argument about the public mood about the saga? Of course not. It wasn’t emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Just for fun, I also checked groups with the name “Rebecca Wilson”. “We Hate Rebecca Wilson was the largest, most relevant group, with just over 1,000 members. Other group names include “Rebecca WILSON is a whingeing hack”, “Petition against Rebecca Wilson Publishing RUBBISH!!”, “I wont buy the Saturday Advertiser while Rebecca Wilson writes for them.” In other words, of all the relevant groups, not one is a pro-Wilson one. How’s that for the mood of the public?
Lastly, Wilson had a live blog on Friday about this scandal, where people could ask questions and she would respond live. But the catch is only to the questions that weren’t questioning her journalistic integrity and agendas. One that slipped through the net was a question from a “Matt of Sydney” which almost looks like a classic set up:
“Im not going to pass judgement as to be honest I dont know what exactly transpired (The same goes goes for everyone outside of that room – ‘Hacks’ included). As police didnt charge him, we can only presume innocence from a legal perspective. Morally – Guilty as hell, and his poor wife is really paying the price for it (again).
In light of that I want to go briefly digress to a side topic: Given that he has been sacked/stood down, even though he has for not comitted a crime, Shouldn’t other Companies (in Particular Media) sack their staff if they commit a crime (ie not petty crime or traffic infringement etc)? Or is OK for them to turn a blind eye?”
To which Wilson replied:
“I think if you commit a serious crime, you have to be sacked.”
Hang on, what serious crime did Matthew Johns commit? Adultery isn’t illegal here.
Of course the fact Wilson was convicted of driving whilst disqualified we’ll think of as a traffic infringement, even though she was placed on a good behaviour bond because of it, but surely being convicted of drink driving twice qualified as a serious crime? (I can’t find an active link to it, so I’ll link an old Phil Gould blog where he references it:http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/27/1072308726945.html?from=storyrhs) Now Drink Driving is a lot more dangerous than consensual group sex isn’t it? Rebecca Wilson could’ve KILLED someone with her reckless action, Matthew Johns could not have. He lost his job, she, unfortunately for the rest of us, keeps hers. Now I call on Rebecca Wilson, if you have any dignity, you must resign from all media positions, as you said yourself, if you commit a serious crime, you have to be sacked. You can claim you’re not an influential person, but you are, you’re trying to use your influence to speak for half the population of league followers, and you must think you’re more influential than you are because you get stroppy when people don’t see it your way. You think you can push an AFL agenda as a League writer, but everyone sees through it. But when most people come to criticise you, you play the gender card, instead of being constructive with it. Not everyone can be an inbred feral when they criticise you surely? I’ve just spent 2000 words doing it and haven’t swore once! (and people who know me will tell you that’s a record). You write AFL puff pieces and increasingly negative NRL pieces because you have an axe to grind with Rugby League, male media culture and the Footy Show. You claim to want to fix League, but the stories you write only try to hurt the game, by claiming the game is permanently losing fans, that’s not helping! You are a major media personality who has committed a dangerous crime that could’ve killed someone. If you think judging someones consensual group sex from 7 years ago should be enough to get Matthew Johns away from League, I think that DMG Radio and News Limited should use your logic to judge your own employment and sack you as well. Judging by the Internet, people will be more supportive of this move than any other job losses associated with the Matthew Johns scandal.
Any opinion piece I have given a title to can be found at www.dailytelegraph.com.au