Eddie McGuire wants to punch Crikey, has sued The Age and attempted to take on all-comers at the Melbourne Press Club’s May Day lunch. Wendy Wedge was there and was not impressed with Eddie but loved Tim Lane’s contribution.

Now being a Broady girl from way back when Wendy would only be surprised if a Broady boy wasn’t disappointing in most departments. But she was surprised at just how disappointing this one was.

Indeed, it reminded her of the time Bronwyn Bishop, still with Prime Ministerial ambitions, self-destructed in front of a Sydney business audience demonstrating that not only was she no Maggie Thatcher but not much else either.

Eddie was late he’s be tied up in a meeting discussing comments on umpires and he apologised that he hadn’t really prepared for the day as he had set aside the time he got caught up with the AFL to do so. Then he promptly apologised for apologising and saying it wasn’t really an excuse at all. This was the first of the contradictions.

Eyes rolled and mouths were agape the longer Eddie went on with a self-justificatory, rambling and contradictory rant.

He damned the media and said that all the controversy about his recent comments was due to “sloppy reporting” and called on hacks to get back to reporting hard news. Clad in his Versace suit (has no-one told him just how terribly flashy and vulgar Versace is) he bemoaned the fact that journalists dressed unprofessionally turning up in “gardening clothes” to cover the footy. Presumably if they dressed in Versace they would be more professional. However, by the end of the speech he was telling the assembled corporates and PR people who make up the MPC that the journos in Melbourne were fantastic, totally contradicting his earlier comments.

On the subject of conflicts Eddie seemed (his line of argument was never that clear) to be pursuing two lines. First, everybody in the media and footy had conflicts so it didn’t matter. Second, all his conflicts were out in the open so they didn’t matter and somehow or other that made him better than the other people with conflicts.

He also based much of his speech on a long quote from Teddy Roosevelt (of walk softly and carry a big stick fame) which damned critics and spectators and suggested that the only people who counted were the men (no mention of girls) in the arena. This gave Adrian Anderson of Corrs (who in between pursuing crikey represents the AFL Players Association) the opportunity to ask why, if Eddie really believed that the combatants in the arena was everything, Eddie was opposed to higher player payments. At which Eddie seemed to say he favored an increase in the total salary cap to something over $100 million as long as players didn’t have managers and had some all-inclusive salary deal.

As Adrian has some experience in the defamation field he may well also have taken careful note of Eddie’s comments about The Age’s Caroline Wilson. Corrs could well think a touch of ambulance chasing might be worthwhile, although Minter Ellison does most The Age’s work.

Incidentally, Eddie kept referring to himself as a real journalist while boasting of having successfully sued The Age. Presumably he is not aware of the custom that real journalists don’t sue each other.

Eddie was also in fine form in the less public part of the lunch with the fellow guests at his table. Asked about the Mayne man he got a bit apoplectic and indicated that if Mayne had been there he would have punched him on the nose. At the risk of being sizeist Wendy did wonder whether he could reach that far.

Neil Mitchell played foil to Eddie and devoted most of his contributions to commenting on how rich Eddie must be giving him the opportunity to demonstrate his tastelessness by mentioning the Versace.

Meanwhile Tim Lane was also there. Tim gave the media a very considered serve for the reasons crikey readers who have followed the story would be very familiar.

As with his football commentary he was considered, intelligent and reasonable. He also mentioned, only when asked, that his suit was Australian-made.

Interestingly, Tim politely corrected Neil Mitchell when Mitchell erroneously mentioned that Lane had completed a Science degree.

The concern for both accuracy and the avoidance of hyperbole was in such contrast to Eddie that, if Lane wasn’t obviously a fairly decent sort of chap, Wendy might have thought it was a rather sly and vicious means of sending the Broady boy up.

One questioner asked Eddie if, given all the controversy, whether he had reflected on the incident and his conflicts and, if so, whether he had any doubts as a result of it all.

The answer seemed to have something to do with being prepared to get in, get your hands dirty and save Collingwood. Reduced to its essential, however, it appeared the answer was “No”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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