In case you missed it yesterday, a storm has erupted after Kyle and Jackie O did a stunt on their radio show that went horribly wrong. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. The fact the segment happened at all was horribly wrong.
The segment was one they do regularly – a lie detector test. It's all very Jerry Springer – dysfunctional families and couples exposing their dysfunciton live on the radio (why? WHY???)……
In this case, the mother of a 14 year old girl claimed to be concerned about her daughter's behaviour and wanted to quiz her about sex, drugs and partying.
The girl was not keen to participate and when pushed to speak, revealed live on air that she had been raped when she was 12. Most sickening, was the way she prefaced this revelation with the words to her mother: "I’ve already told you the story about this … and don’t look at me and smile because it’s not funny."
After a pause she then raised her voice and said: "Oh OK … I got raped when I was 12 years old."
Sandilands paused before asking "Right … is that the only experience you’ve had?"
The girl’s mother interrupted, saying she found out about the rape only "a couple of months ago". That in itself is almost too tragic to contemplate. That she found out that her daughter had been raped, did nothing about it and then dragged her onto a radio show to discuss it as part of a stunt. Dear lord, how are some people allowed to have children…..
Jackie O then said they would drop the lie detector test as they had been unaware of the rape incident.
An Australian Communications and Media Authority spokesman said it had received "several" phone calls and written letters of complaint about the segment.
Austereo's General Manager Jenny Parkes said:
"2Day FM were saddened by the turn of events this morning. In the normal course of preparing the segment all due care and consideration was given to the family and clearly we didnt know anything about this traumatic incident.
The moment we became aware of it was live on air and we brought it to an end as soon as we possibly could.
As is only appropriate, we are offering all the assistance we can to the family, including counselling, in what is of course an extraordinarily difficult situation."
Meanwhile, Kyle has written a piece for The Punch website, explaining what happened from his point of view. He writes….
There have only been a few occasions in my whole career that I’ve been sideswiped by something. When faced with a situation like what happened today, when a girl revealed live on air that she had been raped when she was 12, you react like anyone else. I was horrified.
We have had the lie detector thing on regularly for about six years. It’s a semi-regular segment on the show. We check with the mother before hand, and go through the questions they want asked.
I’m in New Zealand this week and all I have is a microphone, a computer screen, and a camera that relays back to Jackie and the producers in the studio.
The mum hadn’t said anything about the rape. She was concerned that her daughter was on drugs or was sexually active. Like a lot of mothers worried about their kid, she just wanted to find out what was going on.
She put her on and at the second question the girl said she had been raped when she was 12.
We were stunned.
To tell you the truth I was floundering around, signalling to the producers and Jackie – down the camera – indicating that we had to get it off air.
I didn’t realise I had said “Have you had any other experiences?”
At the same time I was speaking I was signalling to Jackie that we had to terminate the segment. I went into a slight panic as how to get the thing off the air and I was more focused on making that happen than on what I said.
I’m sorry for her that it turned out like that. I’ve certainly pissed off a lot of journos over the years but I’m sad that they’re using the rape of a 12-year-old girl to have a go at me.
We muck around a lot on the radio but off the air there’s lots of different things we do with people. Contrary to popular belief, Jackie and I care a lot about people.
As for what I said, it wasn’t intended to hurt. If people have found it appalling or offensive I’m sorry for them that feel that way, but I would ask people to put themselves into the situation where someone says to you during a live radio show that they have been raped.
This story is just so deeply wrong on so very many levels, it's difficult to know where to even begin to unpack it…..
For me, Kyle's initial reaction and what he said is immaterial. I believe he was shocked and it was live and those words just came out. But why was it live? Why wasn't there a delay? Why was a 14 year old girl allowed to be questioned by her mother on radio about her sex life?
To think Kyle and Jackie did it deliberately, KNOWING the girl had been raped in a bid to generate this publicity is ridiculous. I don't believe that. But the segment – with a lie detector revealing outrageous, personal things IS a ratings stunt. It's obvious they wanted the girl and mother to talk about sex and THAT is what's wrong. Dear lord, do we want to be listening to 14 year olds discussing sex over our Cornflakes?
Clearly, this is the Chaser moment this show had to have – when a line is crossed, a boundary pushed and the general public push back with tremendous, angry force. I wonder what will happen next? Probably nothing.
UPDATE: I've spent the morning – like many I imagine – tuning in to see what Kyle and Jackie would say about what happened. Much of the show was spent talking about the MEDIA reaction to what happened but they certainly didn't shy away from the criticism.
What disheartened – and infuriated – me, was the way the whole thing was somehow twisted into "isn't it great that this girl and her family now have the help and support they need". From DOCS. From the police. From counsellors. The vast majority of callers seemed to agree with this.
What disturbs me is the way everyone was so dismissive of the WAY this went down. So few people calling into the show seem to comprehend that it was always wrong and exploitative to strap a vulnerable and obviously troubled 14 year old (that was the whole premise of her being there – that she was troubled) and ask her questions about sex. If her mother was not able to see that was outrageous and damaging, how could none of the other adults involved have seen that?
And what were the mother's motivations? All this talk about how she wanted to help her daughter? Really? Or did she just want the attention and micro-celebrity that comes from being on a radio show? Issues as complex as this – and those of all the other dysfunctional families who parade on the show to air their personal dramas – cannot be resolved publicly in a 3 minute radio segment shared with the world.
EARLIER ON MAMAMIA…