tip off

Sydney’s Sunday sports stoush

Two takes on the Sydney’s waring sports columnists:

Freddy Kreuger writes:

The bad feeling is legendary between Danny Weidler, sports columnist on the Fairfax Sun-Herald and Rebecca Wilson, a columnist on the Murdoch’s Sydney Sunday Telegraph.

Snipe, slap, dig. No matter what you call it, these two have been
poking at each other for some years. It’s almost like they were
rejected lovers such is the depth of their antipathy to each other.

Every opportunity is taken, but to outsiders, it’s almost
invisible. Most of the digs are in code, for a small group of
insiders to read.

But last week Wilson took a big dip at Weidler and fellow Fairfax
writer, Sydney and NSW rugby league coach Phil Gould. She pointed out,
quite fairly in her column that both Gold and Weidler had mentioned the
UK betting exchange, Betfair, without declared their allegiances with
Kerry Packer’s PBL, which plans to take a half interest in Betfair.

Gould works for the Nine Network on the Rugby League coverage such as The Footy Show, while Wilson said Weidler, who writes the Last Word column in the Sun-Herald, plans to take a job at Nine later this year.

A good point from Wilson, who is also on the just axed 110% with Tony
Squires show on Seven that went from the ABC earlier this year and
failed in commercial teleland.

Well, Danny didn’t like being sprung and replied in the Sun-Herald of this week, obviously with official approval.

In another paper, columnist Rebecca Wilson took aim at
Last Word and said we should declare that I am moving to Channel Nine
and ACP in two months. Wilson, who has appeared in this column because
of two drink-driving charges and a charge of driving without a licence,
should take a look at herself. I will not be an employee of Channel
Nine until November and have not been paid a cent by the network. For
those who would have missed it Wilson is an employee of Channel Seven.
She doesn’t declare her vested interest. Since February she has plugged
Channel Seven at least 14 times in her column. She has also given
numerous favourable mentions to individuals connected to the program on
which she appears. She has bagged Channel Nine programs about their
ratings and attacked Nine’s sports personalties. She has used her
column to beg people to watch her show on five occasions. She should
have used it more, as it was axed last week.”

Phew, talk about pots calling each other black or whatever. These two don’t like each other.

There was that memorable Wilson column a year or so ago which asked who
was the media figure who sat on a table by himself at a rugby league
function because no players or other media would sit with him. That set
off a volley or two across Sydney on a Sunday.

Of course Wilson was right, there should have been a declaration on an
issue as sensitive about Betfair. It’s an idea that could very well
change the nature of the various football codes, horse racing, sports
betting, sponsorship and start all sorts of rumours. Stories or
commentary either for or against should have total disclosure about who
those writing work for and their links to the various parties.

Gould for example is employed by Eastern Suburbs Roosters rugby league
team, of which Nine Network, CEO, David Gyngell is a passionate
supporter and board member. Gould also works for Nine and writes for
Fairfax, so all comment on this issue should, in the name of good
transparency, be accompanied by a disclosure. That way the sniping from
the likes of Wilson has no force.

Wilson had nothing in her Smellie column on Sunday, except a nice
mention of the sort of coverage Nine was planning for the NRL finals in
a few weeks time.

She quoted Danny Weidler’s prospective boss, Steve Crawley, who is the
EP of Nine’s NRL coverage. Oh, and there was a dig at Nine’s NRL Footy Show
for offering a lot of money for the Melbourne Storm player outed for 18
weeks for king hitting another player. Wilson said he spoke to the Sunday Telegraph for nothing.

But then she wasn’t being fully transparent. News Ltd, which owns the
Smellie, employs Wilson, effectively employees the Melbourne Storm
player, Danny Williams, because the company owns the Storm.

For all its size, Sydney still is a small town.

Sydney Sunday cports columnists give 110% in professional rivalry

By Crikey sports editor Patrick Fitzgerald

Sports gossip columnists are a naturally competitive lot, but for some
that rivalry goes well beyond the traditional antagonism of working for
rival papers. For some it’s totally personal.

The most bitchy judging by how often they seldom waste an opportunity
to have a crack at the accuracy or credibility of each others stories,
is feisty and opinionated Rebecca Wilson in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph, and the equally combative Danny Weidler with his ‘Last Word’ in the Sun-Herald.

But even by normal standards Weidler really went for the Wilson jugular
yesterday, and felt his case was so strong this time he even abandoned
their normal convention of not naming each other, as he gave her an
almighty and highly personal spray. You can just imagine Wilson
now building up such a head of steam on her way to Athens that not even
a big night out at the Plaka will placate her by the time she pens her
first Olympics column by next weekend.

Very much having the last word (well at least this week) at the foot of
his column under the heading “Something to Declare” Weidler penned a
stinging attack on rival columnist Rebecca Wilson her habit of plugging
Channel Seven.

Weidler hasn’t pulled his punches and picked his moment well to win by
a clear knockout, although his use of her driving charges is totally
gratuitous to the actual issue of conflicts of interest. But
Wilson regularly displays via the failed “110%” that logic is not one
of her
strong suits. In fact TV exposes her as actually a bit of
lightweight when it comes to discussing the deeper issues of
sport. But as a gossip columnist even while also showing a
fondness at times for presenting something as fresh like her “we hear
rumours” Bill Hararrigan piece yesterday, she presents a very readable
column. How much of it falls into her lap from all the myriad
Murdoch sources only her own colleagues can best judge, just as Weidler
would be a similar beneficiary via Fairfax.

But what can’t be contested from reading both columns yesterday, is
that they’re both full of plugs for their respective networks current
and future. But how can both these columnists not comment every
week on topics involving network sport or their personalities? In
fact it’s so impossible there is only one answer. That columnist
can’t be affiliated or retained by any TV network in any role
whatsoever. Only then can they be said to be a genuine TV “clean
skin”. Wilson for now fails that test totally, while Weidler is
being a little disingenuous in saying he’s not yet employed by Nine or
been paid a cent by the network. Don’t expect him to upset James
Packer any time soon!

So while it might be more of the pot calling the kettle black as they
bitch on, there is a real issue at play here for both papers.
Wilson couldn’t help herself yesterday after plugging her upcoming
Athens columns, by adding: “I will see you on Channel 7 for the opening
ceremony”. So gone from “110%” after this week’s final show, but
not yet forgotten by Seven it seems.

Ok Rebecca, your silence on the demise of your TV panel show might be
personally understandable, but for you to attack Weidler for some kind
of undeclared future Packer and network association; no wonder Seven’s
viewers rejected what was coming out of your mouth? Should we
expect that every time you utter the words Rugby League, AFL or Rugby
Union or Foxtel/Fox Sports, and have anything positive to say about
them, you should declare you are employed by News Corp that has a
vested commercial interest in all of them? .

If we held you to that level of accountability as you seem to imply for
Weidler, would all your conflicting plugs including the Seven network
as well, make you the Melissa Hoyer of the Sports World?

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