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As we all wait for Stuart Littlemore’s return to the small screen, Crikey’s Media critic Dr Stupid is more than adequately filling the gap in the market and pointing out all manner of stuff ups. This week it’s Tom and Nicole.

One – journalists make stuff up. Have you noticed how many unnamed “close friends” have been quoted in the avalanche of Tom and Nic stories? Do you believe, even for a second, that these “close friends” really exist anywhere outside of a journalist’s imagination?

(Among the few actual live human friends of Tom and Nic who have spoken is Naomi Watts. In 1991 she starred in those ads where the girl knocked back a night out with Tom Cruise so she could go home for a lamb roast. Weird, huh?)

Two – journalists exaggerate, distort, or just plain get things wrong. According to the Australian on Wednesday, Tom and Nicole were “Australia’s first Hollywood glamour couple”. Hang on – when did Tom become an Aussie? The Sydney Morning Herald gushed that Tom was rated by Premiere magazine as the 12th most powerful figure in Hollywood – but neglected to tell us he’d slipped six places since 1998. The Daily Telegraph screamed “Nicole Heads Home” when she didn’t, and wrote that Cruise was divorced from Mimi Rogers when he first met Kidman. In fact, the Cruise-Rogers divorce didn’t go through until April 1990, six months after Tom and Nic met on the Days of Thunder set.

By the way, even after the Cruise-Kidman lovefest began, Tom was still babbling about how much he adored Mimi. “I just really enjoy our marriage,” he told US magazine in December 1989. “I couldn’t imagine being without her.”

Ha!

Three – journalists write absolute crap. In the Oz, Jane Fraser claimed that “something has never rung true” in the Tom-Nic marriage. If she’s so damn clever, why didn’t she tell us this earlier, before the split was announced? In the Daily Telegraph, Mark Day went nuts: “The two together made us feel good … it was as if there was a kind of royalty in our midst … they were role models for a generation … something to dream of and aspire to.”

Role models? Sure, Mark. Let’s all become Scientologists like Tom, and ditch old Mimi for cute young Nicole. And let’s adopt kids instead of giving birth so we don’t wreck our taut Hollywood bods. Yep, these two are great role models. (Note also Mr Day’s admiration of royalty. Is he no longer a Republican?)

On Thursday, the Tele’s Darrell Giles and Michael Bodey declared: “Kidman wanted to separate because she was desperate to be home in Australia.” In the Sunday Telegraph, Giles had a new theory: “The sole reason Nicole Kidman left Tom Cruise was because his devotion to the Church of Scientology suddenly deepened.”

The source of this information? An unnamed “close family friend”, of course. The Sunday Telegraph tied that to some three-year-old Kidman quotes and ran it on pages 1, 6 and 7. The report didn’t explain why, if it was Kidman’s decision to leave Cruise, it was the midget Scientologist who filed for divorce on Thursday instead of her. The Sunday Telegraph is a joke.

(Funny, isn’t it, how Tom’s unusual religion was off limits for the ten years he and Nic were wed. Expect a wave of anti-Scientology opinions now that Tom is no longer our favourite adopted Australian, and for papers to begin mocking him by publishing his real name: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.)

In non-Nicole news:

* On Monday, the SMH published an article from the New York Times in which Robert Hughes bellowed that Australia should be towed out to sea and sunk. This infuriated columnist Peter Fitzsimons, who slammed Hughes for being out of touch.

So is the Australian press. The article which upset Fitzy ran in New York on January 14. It took the SMH more than three weeks to catch up, while everyone else missed it completely.

* Monday’s Tele ran a cartoon by Warren which fed off the paper’s coverage of deep vein thrombosis, or “economy class syndrome.” Warren obviously didn’t read the bit about DVT being caused by cramped seating; his cartoon showed a dead passenger slumped in a spacious front-row seat, with all the leg room he could wish for.

* A few years ago the Oz ran a picture of an Aussie Rules player being tackled in such a way as to reveal a considerable amount of tackle, if you know what I mean. It was a case of Scrotal Recall at News Ltd on Tuesday when a hospital shot of shark attack victim Mark Butler showed why the Tele is known as “the paper with balls.”

* Bogus headline of the week goes to The Age, for Tuesday’s “PM Relents On GST.” Not true. He was relenting on the BAS requirements, not the GST. Incidentally, subs who think they’re being clever with their “BAS relief” puns should note that “bas” is pronounced “bah”. The joke doesn’t work.

Second most bogus headline: “Tszyu Keeper” in Monday’s SMH, which might almost have worked if Kostya had merely retained his title last weekend. Of course, he had added the WBA super-lightweight belt to his existing WBC title. He’s a “Tszyu Acquirer”.

* Rosemary Neill, in Friday’s Oz, revealed how deeply uncool she is by describing Eminem as a “wigger” (white nigger). The correct spelling, as any homie knows, is “wigga”. Dr Stupid’s in the house, rock the party!

* Dermott Brereton had a mathematical moment on Sportsworld last week when he announced that three out of five equals 66 per cent. Still suffering Grand Final concussion from 1989, Dermie?

* Ray Kerschler also had number troubles in Wednesday’s Tele. Pondering the upcoming practice game between Sydney and Essendon, he wrote: “With 15 players on each side there will be, technically, one left over on each side once the defenders and attackers match up on one another.” Here’s an idea – maybe the two left over players could match up on each other. Problem solved!

* Lynden Barber (Oz, Thursday) and Sally Loane (SMH, Monday) ruined all our fun by blabbing about the vital final scenes of two new movies. Thanks a lot.

Dr Stupid’s prognosis: this week we will be swamped with media panic over the One Nation revival. Brace yourselves, people – it’s going to be rough, and it’s going to be stupid.

ends

Dr Stupid is not Stephen Mayne but send us your emails to [email protected] and we’ll pass them on to the good doctor. The best contribution of the week will win a free subscription which from Wednesday this week is worth $55 rather than the current bargain of $30.

Now, let’s take a look at last week’s excellent Stupid column.

Dr Stupid: a f….. arsey c…

Here’s what happened last Sunday week at the SCG: Zimbabwean batsman Stuart Carlisle cut Shane Warne for three runs. As Carlisle scampered between the wickets, Warne – hunched over the stumps waiting for the ball to be thrown in – yelled “F…… arsey c…!”

And here’s how the papers reported it:

Phil Wilkins, in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald, was the first to mention the incident in print, but he got the batsman wrong. He claimed Grant Flower was Warne’s target.

The Daily Telegraph ran not a word on the Warne obscenities in its first Monday editions, taking until the afternoon to realise how outraged it was. Monday’s Australian made little mention of it.

By Tuesday, the Oz, the Tele, and the SMH were in full “bag Warney” mode. All complained of “profanities”, which shows just how seriously these papers take their cricket. A profanity is an expression which demeans God or religion.

Tuesday’s Telegraph editorial got the sequence of events wrong, claiming Warne’s outburst happened after he was hit for six. Ray Chesterton, writing a comment piece in the same paper, made the same mistake – and also noted that, while Carlisle hadn’t heard the remark, “it is unlikely he would have needed an interpreter” if he had.

Well, duh. Of course he wouldn’t have needed an interpreter. Carlisle speaks English.

In Tuesday’s Oz, Andrew Ramsey wrote that Warne had “muttered” the controversial remarks, which means that Ramsey must not have seen the broadcast or any replays. Either that or he doesn’t know what “muttered” means.

The SMH’s Peter Fitzsimons saw a saving grace in the controversy, noting that now Warne will never be Australia’s captain. But the odd obscenity didn’t stop Steve Waugh becoming captain. In 1995 he told Curtly Ambrose “You’re here to bowl, so f…… bowl.” A couple of years earlier, Waugh was picked up by stump mikes in South Africa telling Hansie Cronje “What’s that, Hansie? Get f….., is it?”

Saturday’s Herald Sun took matters back to square one, writing that Grant Flower was the alleged “f…… arsey c…”.

Then on Sunday the Sun-Herald, having had a full week to observe and analyse the Warne-Carlisle confrontation, got things totally f….. up, writing that Warne’s abuse followed a six from Carlisle and that his remarks were “hurled” at the batsman rather than at the stumps.

And we trust these papers to explain complicated things like taxes and election campaigns …

A tiny item in Saturday’s Telegraph intrigued Dr Stupid. It mentioned that Ozemail was suffering technical troubles which blocked customers from retrieving their e-mail. Neither the SMH, the Age, nor the Oz – all of which have big internet supplements, unlike the Tele – covered the story.

Turns out the story was kind of big. An associate who has the misfortune to be an Ozemail user says her e-mail was down all Friday, all Saturday, and most of Sunday. All of Ozemail’s 430,000 customers were similarly affected. Let’s assume that each would ordinarily get at least two e-mails per day – that works out at 2,580,000 undelivered messages.

The same thing happened last year to Ozemailers when a upgrade went wrong, causing several days of delays. It must be nice to run an ISP in Australia, where you can get away with these kinds of service flaws without widespread media condemnation. Even after days of no e-mail, none of the Sunday papers in Melbourne or Sydney wrote a single word about it.

The press here doesn’t understand online issues, even basic ones like busted e-mail. Imagine the press reaction if 430,000 mobile phones stopped working or 430,000 ATMs went down …

Meanwhile the Oz on Saturday ran a page three lead about text messages on mobile phones, a story which is at least 10 months old.

In other news this week:

* The Telegraph’s gossip column described Angus Young as “AC/DC lead singer.”

* SMH television writer Doug Anderson included the following in one of his program previews: “The dumbing down, globalising, new world order insists we rationalise our idiosyncrasies and adopt a bovine demeanour perfectly suited to advertisers, homogenisers and economists whose own personalities were extruded by a doughbut-making machine on Wynyard Station.” Is Doug speaking to us or to the voices in his head?

* The Australian’s Amanda Meade wrote, yet again, that Paul Barry was sacked by Gail Jarvis. He wasn’t. His contract was not renewed. There’s a difference.

* Saturday’s Age wondered who would host this year’s Logie Awards. Pay attention, Age – Sydney radio broke the news on Friday afternoon that Shaun Micallef had the gig.

* Fairfax’s Washington correspondent Gay Alcorn wrote that President Bush would visit a Democrat get-together. “Bill Clinton was never invited to similar Republican functions,” Gay mused. But Bush wasn’t invited, either. As most US papers noted, Bush asked if could show up. He invited himself.

* And Paul Toohey, found guilty in this court for last week’s strange Holden-Ford blather in the Australian, was at it again. He’s decided that the Northern Territory’s three-strikes mandatory sentencing law is actually a ONE-strike law.

“Year’s jail for flat beer and a whisky” read the headline on Toohey’s report, which claimed Lionel Bara was sentenced to 12 months in prison for stealing the drinks last August.

He wasn’t. He was sentenced for stealing the drinks PLUS another crime he’s been convicted of (which Toohey doesn’t tell us about) PLUS yet another crime he’s been convicted of (which Toohey also doesn’t tell us about).

That’s why it’s called the “three strikes” law, Paul. There’s a clue in the name.

That’s all for this week. Bring on Stuart Littlemore!

ends

While on the subject of Warnie, this is an updated version of a sealed section we sent to subscribers about eight months back.

Profile of a cricketing lout

By Stephen Mayne

Former Warnie Team-maaaaate

So, foul-mouthed Shane Warne has been exposed yet again. Crikey reckons that Warnie got his just desserts losing the vice-captaincy for his off-field conduct conduct last year. Clearly, his onfield behaviour has a long way to go and we can say this with some experience having played with and against the All-Australian lout at school.

You see Warnie was at Mentone Grammar in 1987 – the same year Crikey was finishing at Ivanhoe Grammar. We first clapped eyes on Warnie on one drizzly Saturday morning when he walked past our dressing room and said something like “C’mon boys, let’s nail these bunnies.” Hi mate, nice to meet you we all thought.

Needless to say, Mentone’s first 11 did just that – but Crikey did survive three fizzing leggies from Warnie and took a single before throwing away his wicket at the other end next over.

Anyway, because Crikey’s English teacher and cricket coach was on the All Grammars selection panel, we snuck into the combined Grammars team which was captained by Warnie who had successfully led Mentone to the championship.

This meant I got to play three matches under Warnie’s captaincy. He was one of those guys who made you walk tall with his infectious confidence and exceptional talent. He’d love to crack gags, play up and be one of the lads.

I bumped into him a couple of times in 1988 – the lout was driving a hotted up Cortina by this time – and then lost touch until the grand opening of the Crown Entertainment Complex on May 8 1997. Warnie, who was one of Lloyd Williams’s best mates and heroes, was on what seemed like the head table with Eddie McGuire and Ian Healy – the man Warnie says had the most positive influence on him in the Australian team. Anyway, I bowled up to him at Crown after a few too many wines and he was quite pleasant – even appearing to remember me.

A few weeks later Herald Sun sports reporter Ron Reed was asked to do a profile on Warnie but the lout was being thoroughly unco-operative, as apparently is his trademark with the press. Features editor Brian Walsh asked me to do a break out on Warnie’s finances so I simply rang Lloyd, got the details of Warnie’s investment in the All Stars Caf at Crown and postulated as to how many millions he was worth. Word filtered back later to Ron Reed that his profile piece was okay but Warnie was fuming about my break out. The lad seemed a bit precious. How dare anyone speculate about his personal finances.

He certainly likes a dollar if his $200,000 deal to promote nicarettes was anything to go by. According to some reports he welched on this deal and is back smoking even today.

Finally, two years back I met a senior journalist in Sydney who has a friend in DFAT (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). She tells the story of Warnie propositioning her in a New Zealand hotel room. I won’t go into the detail but it was Sam Newmanesque in its daring – along the lines of “what do you thing of this”. Clearly Warnie had no concept that Foreign Affairs refers to the Australian government and he thought he could treat this diplomatic person like some English nurse he met in a bar.

Rival Aussie leg spinner Stuart MacGill hs found Warnie to be very unfriendly and subsequently hates the guy so he’ll be really happy to watch the latest fall from grace.

Warnie’s great efforts over the years

1987: tells Ivanhoe Grammar first X1 they’re bunnies before a ball is bowled.

March 1994: Warne screams at jaapie opener Andrew Hudson after taking his wicket: “Fuck off. Go on Hudson, fuck off out of here” The ACB fines him $4000.

August 1997: Warne is accused of unacceptable behaviour and gloating after his arrogant Ashes victory dance at Trent Bridge, where he jigged with a cricket stump held aloft.

December 1998: Warne admits he took $5000 from an illegal Indian bookmaker for weather and pitch information during a 1994 tour of Sri Lanka.

May 1999: Warne is fined by the ICC for criticising Sr Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga in a newspaper column leading up to the World Cup. He gets 1000 quid a week from Rupert’s Sunday Times which is far too much.

February 2000: Warne calls two New Zealand 15 year-old boys “cock head” and “fuck face” after they took photos of him smoking. Warne later apologises.

Late 1999: Warne is acused by Scott Muller of the notorious “can’t bowl can’t throw” sledge until miraculously, cameraman Joe Privatera steps forward and takes the fall.

June 2000: Warne loses the Australian vice-captaincy after admitting making explicit phone calls to a British nurse and single mum.

January 2001: Warne calls Zimbabwe Stuart Carlisle a “fucken arsey cunt” after he hit a couple of sixes.

Peter Fray

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