Question: How many radio morning shows play pranks on unsuspecting people every morning for our mere entertainment? You can probably name every station programmed in your car. And if you can do that, or if you have ever laughed along as Uncle Nephew tells a white man his wife is having a black baby, then I’m telling you to give the Australian radio hosts involved in the royal prank a break. The death of Jacintha Saldanha is not their fault.
Yeah, I said it. And I’ll say it again.
It’s not their fault.
Before I jump into why I’m not placing the blame on the radio hosts, let’s create a blame game hierarchy.
First and foremost, anything that is aired needs to be approved by executives and lawyers. Both the radio hosts and the chief executive of the radio station’s parent company have confirmed that the prank was approved and given the green light before being demonstrated on air. With pressure mounting, and who knows what going on behind the scenes, both Michael Christian and Mel Greig are being mum about exactly WHO signed off on the prank…but it is evident that SOMEBODY did.
Had Greig and Christian proceeded with the prank without approval, you’d think there would be a call from radio executives to apologize immediately, which didn’t happen, or their immediate resignation, which also didn’t happen. It wasn’t until three days later when Saldanha was found dead that anyone prompted the hosts to basically take responsibility for the incident.
Virtually no one could have suspected the receptionist at King Edward VII’s Hospital Sister Agnes in London would have committed suicide…clearly not even radio executives who I am sure comb through every thread of content that could cause sponsor pull-out or serious conflict of any kind. And when your boss gives you the “OK,” you trust that he knows what he’s talking about…no?
Both Christian and Greig were asked to keep quiet about the process involved in approving content for the station, but during an interview they had this to say:
In a televised interview with Clare Brady, the DJs were asked, ‘Did you have legal advice or senior producers nursing you through this?’ – but did not answer the question.
They were also asked if they had ‘sat down in a legal class’ for training on how far their prank calls were allowed to go, and Christian replied: ‘There are people that make those decisions for us.’
When Brady asked if they had considered identifying themselves to the nurse who took the call and passed on Kate’s intimate medical details, Greig said: ‘We just record everything and pass it to the team. That’s what we do.’
In another interview with Tracy Grimshaw, the DJs again attempted to pass the buck as they referred to ‘other departments’ responsible for approving the material they broadcast.
‘There’s a process in place for those calls or anything that makes it to air,’ Christian said. ‘And you know, that’s out of our hands, this was put through the filter that everything was put through before it makes it to air.’
Yet, it is the radio hosts who we look to for apology…alas, they are the ones that made the “fatal” call. Bullshit. It’s cowardly for the radio station not to defend their actions. Instead they have placed the brunt of this weighty incident on two radio hosts who were following directions…and with a bad accent I might add.
The second level in this hierarchy is the hospital itself. This is what they had to say about the radio station in the wake of Saldanha’s death:
The chairman of the hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was a patient slammed the Australian radio station’s decision to broadcast the recorded prank call as “truly appalling” on Saturday,
“King Edward VII’s Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call,” wrote the chairman, Simon Glenarthur.
“The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients.
“The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words.”
Glenarthur called on the radio station to take steps “to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated.”
It might be shocking that I would place blame with the hospital, but I wouldn’t write that theory off so quickly. First and foremost, there have been some debates about what hospital procedure is and if Saldanha was informed about policy. While they haven’t come out directly with details on how to handle phone calls in sensitive situations such as Kate Middleton’s, it could be that no one ever told Saldanha what to do. Perhaps they did. Perhaps Saldanha flubbed and put the call through because it was the queen calling. Who questions the queen!? Does that mean that her supervisors were planning on reprimanding her? Was there some disciplinary action being taken against Saldanha? Was the stress of possibly losing her livelihood too much to take?
If either one of these was the case, then the hospital has some part in this. But we’ll let them call the kettle for now. They have successfully diverted the public’s attention to Greig and Christian.
Lastly, and please do not confuse my opinion for insensitivity for Saldanha’s family, we can place full responsibility on Saldanha. And while that sounds harsh, we cannot possibly know what caused her to take her own life away. Without knowing the stresses of her life, her job, her psychological problems if any, the public has gone on a witch hunt, blaming the latest event in her life on her death. And it’s unfair.
You would think Greig and Christian picked up a gun and shot Saldanha. That is not the case. If the call had been any other prank call (not involving the royal family) it might have gone unnoticed, like the hundreds of others every day. But involving such a high-profile family and a suicide just days afterwards, the media has chosen its scapegoat and the radio hosts are holding the death of a woman they spoke with for 30 seconds in their hands.
And it’s just not fair.
Details are emerging, but we’ll never know for sure what drove Saldanha to commit suicide. We continue to pray for her family, but I am also praying for Greig and Christian for being thrown into the world’s latest game of “whodunit.”
After all, if either one of them were to commit suicide because of the stress of this situation, who are we to blame?
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind. As a previous science writer, she is obsessed with NASA and is a self-proclaimed foodie with a crush on Anthony Bourdain.
Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole
SOURCE: CNN/Daily News