Johns bidding war: our TV networks are run by goldfish
At the Walkley Awards last Thursday night one of the biggest cheers of the evening was reserved for Tracy Grimshaw, who won the gong for broadcast interviewing.
As the A Current Affair host made her way to the stage, the big screen behind the presenters played an excerpt from one of the interviews Grimshaw was being honoured for - her excruciating chat with former NRL star Matthew Johns.
There 10 times larger than life was a visibly distraught Johns, flanked by his wife Trish, responding to explosive claims about group sex in the NRL contained in a 4 Corners report - another Walkley winner. Half the media executives in the country were in the room watching Grimshaw accept the well-deserved award.
About the same time, according to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, Seven and Ten were engaged in a bidding war to see who can sign Johns to spearhead their NRL coverage. These network bosses sure do have short memories.
Grimshaw’s interview with Johns, just six and a half months ago, took place after she took the unprecedented step of calling out her then-Nine stablemate, demanding he give a full explanation of the claims made in 4 Corners that he took part in group sex with a 19 year old New Zealand woman when he played for the Cronulla Sharks, and at least 12 players and club staff were in the room at the time.
Johns maintains the sex was consensual. The woman told 4 Corners her life has been ruined.
In the clip played at the Walkleys, Grimshaw pressed Johns on the issue of how willing a participant the woman really was.
“She was 19 years old, she was naked, she was outnumbered. There was a very clear power imbalance in that room wasn’t there?” If you’ve forgotten just how inadequate Johns’s answers were you can watch the interview here.
Is this really the best the NRL has to offer our TV executives? Isn’t here anyone else they can throw money at to be the public face of their NRL assaults on Nine?
Johns has obviously done a lot of work in the past six months to make things up to his family and rebuild his career.
Australians love a good tale of redemption. But how any of the network bosses could sit in that room last Thursday night watching that interview, and still approve of cutting of a big fat cheque, is beyond me.
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