Thursday, March 25, 2010
Ratings before justice!
Hey Dad was a very popular and highly rating sit com on Australian television in the 1980s. As I begin typing this entry, the latest in a continuing run of interviews is airing about the alleged inappropriate behaviour of the show's adult star, Robert Hughes, in essentially molesting young children on the set, in particular young actor, Sarah Monahan.
There are two aspects to this issue.
First, did he do it? With the number of people now coming out, including other members of the cast being pretty up-front about matters, things seem to be looking pretty grim for Mr Hughes. It also possibly explains his sudden departure from the series and also possibly the fact that he no longer lives in Australia but in Singapore. More and more people are now speaking up about the matter including other alleged victims.
Where things become particularly nasty is what now has the appearance of a senior management cover-up that has continued for years. Fellow actors from the set have now openly spoken about how they approached the executive producer, Gary Reilly, about what was going on, and how they were intimidated into staying quiet. Yet a couple of nights ago on national Australian television, Reilly emphatically denied any knowledge of the situation. Yet at the same time, he admitted that later in the series, he arranged a chaparone for another young i.e. child actor.
Last night, actor on the series, Ben Oxenbould, stated that Reilly knew. A few minutes ago, footage has aired of actor Simone Buchanan in interview on the program, A Current Affair, stating that she did take the matter to Reilly, and that Reilly's response was to tell her to be quiet about it. Further, Buchanan states that after she had left the show, when Reilly learned that she had discussed the matter with someone else, he rang her and told her in no certain terms that she was never to discuss the matter with anyone again.
It is appearing more and more that this actor has been a serial molester of young girls, that his television employers were well aware of the situation and that Hughes has been protected for years by others bullying people into silence on his behalf in order to protect their ratings and investment.
If these things have happened as described, then this man deserves the full strength of the law coming down on top of him. And if Gary Reilly and others, senior in the Australian television industry, have protected him as claimed, then they ALL need to be charged for their role in this. Exactly what charges, I don't know but there has to be something.
There is a second aspect of this matter. These revelations have all come via public exposure on an Australian television program before anyone went to the police. After an initial interview with Sarah Monahan that did not name the alleged perpetrator, since then he has been named repeatedly by the program and tracked down by a camera crew in Singapore.
If Hughes has done these terrible things, he needs to face retribution and justice. But by this week-long ever-increasing amount of exposure by A Current Affair, how could anyone possibly claim that any trial would be free of pre-existing bias as a result of this media coverage? There is now a real risk that these matters will not go to trial because this media circus could been seen to have tainted the chance of a fair trial.
This has happened before. Infamous Australian 'current affairs' reporter and DJ, Derryn Hinch, once named an alleged pedophile on national television. He had been warned by the judiciary not to do so but blatantly defied the courts all in the name of ratings. Hinch would later regularly boast about the strength of his 'convictions' in naming that alleged pedophile as he was sentenced to weekend detention on little more than a hobby farm of a detention centre. The real result of that stunt was to taint the judicial process and the offender, despite strong evidence against him, WALKED. Hinch's convictions were more about boosting his ratings rather than seeing justice done. And the arrogant clown boasted about his actions.
A Current Affair should have let matters on air rest after the initial exposure, passing all material including that of other victims who have since contacted the show, to the police. Instead this material is only now being handed to the police by which time the damage has probably been done. A Current Affair has had every opportunity to stop this matter becoming the media circus that it now is but is pushing a position that they have somehow been acting in the public interest.
Great for ratings but does SFA for seeing justice done.