When Eddie McGuire landed himself knee-deep in a media s*it storm for his ‘playful joke’ about drowning a respected, female colleague in icy, cold water, it was a very strange affair.
It was strange that the media waited a week to attack McGuire, not acting until days after the broadcast had been aired. It was strange that callers joined in on the joke. I think of the little girls that were forced to listen to this on the morning drop-off to school. It was strange (but not surprising) that McGuire refused to apologise … until the eleventh hour.
This may be Eddie’s most disastrous fiasco to date—but it’s far from his first. Let’s not forget, this is the same man who compared Adam Goodes to King Kong, threatened to ‘bone’ journalist, Jessica Rowe while she was under employment with the Nine Network and thinks ‘mussies’ is a term of endearment for Muslims.
But now we go to that ‘shotgun apology’ that was uploaded to the Collingwood FC website very late the same evening.
I can only imagine that Eddie didn’t relent without a good tantrum. His apology said a lot. It ticked all the clichés of a carefully crafted PR apology. It even managed to squeeze in some justification.
If there’s one thing worse than having to make an apology—it’s having to sit through a fake one.
In the spin that lasted just two and a half minutes, much was said. But what wasn’t said screamed out from behind McGuire’s carefully composed veneer.
Here’s my deconstruction of Eddie McGuire’s apology
‘TO THE Collingwood and the football community at large, I’ve spent the day taking counsel from friends and foes, senior government politicians, the AFL and community leaders.’
Translation: ‘This apology was made under duress—please buy it.’
‘In particular, Rosie Batty and an old footballing and political mate, Phil Cleary, both of whom have seen first-hand the tragic consequences of domestic violence.’
Translation: ‘I have no problem using the tragic circumstances of others to get myself out of hot water.’
‘I’m long past thinking of Caroline as anything but Caroline Wilson.’
Translation: ‘I’m long past thinking of Caroline as anything but one of the guys.’
‘In the last 24 hours, and particularly since this morning, I’ve seen the impact of the comments on her.’
Translation: ‘In the last 24 hours, and particularly since this morning, I’ve seen the impact of the comments on ME.’
‘No person should ever feel uneasy or threatened in football’s family.’
Translation: ‘Remember the 90s when my career would have never been threatened by this? Ah, memories.’
‘For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologise unreservedly to Caroline for putting her in that position.’
Translation: ‘Are you … are you buying this yet?’
‘I am a father and a husband.’
Translation: ‘My wife and kids like me … can’t you too?’
‘I am really disappointed that I made remarks that are at odds with my views on the place of women in modern Australia.’
Translation: ‘I am really disappointed that I can’t crack one little drowning joke without a public apology.’
‘On July 23, our club, in conjunction with the Pratt Foundation, will host a scheduled fundraising function with Rosie Batty.’
Translation: ‘When all else fails throw money at the problem.’
‘Today, on what would have been her son Luke’s 14th birthday, and having spoken to Rosie earlier, I’ll be making a personal contribution to support the victims of domestic violence.’
Translation: ‘Seriously, other people’s tragedies are a rich tapestry to exploit.’
‘At a time when I am so looking forward to being president of three women’s sporting clubs — Collingwood women’s football, Collingwood netball and the Melbourne Stars women’s cricket club, it is important to show leadership on this issue.’
Translation: ‘I’m letting them play professional sport out of my own pocket. Isn’t that enough?’
‘That includes being able to admit you are wrong and willing to learn.’
Translation: ‘I haven’t learnt jack and with the attention span of the Australian media—neither will most of you.’
Sponsors and even Football Clubs are removing themselves from Eddie, and there’s hope in that. But as I sit here writing this just over a week of bad publicity has washed over Eddie McGuire—the furore is already simmering down.
Caroline Wilson may accept McGuire’s apology—but I and many other people will find it unforgivable and unforgettable.
Words by Natalie Corrigan.