As a website that watches the media, Crikey’s role is not to
eulogise the tragic death of David Hookes but to coolly analyse the way
journalists handle the situation. A senior Australian spindoctor
believes they’ve gone too far and kicked off a strong debate but in the
circumstances he’s justifiably copping plenty of tough feedback.

The media has been irresponsible in its coverage of the
Hookes tragedy. In a case which will depend on degrees of intent and
aspects of the role Hookes himself played in the ugly mess that
unfolded, how can the 21-year-old St Albans security guard who
allegedly whacked him get a fair trail?

All of Hookes’ mates
(including very influential media figures) have stated what they see as
the facts, which have been dutifully reported in the media. As a
result, one thing appears to be crystal clear:

Hookes
played absolutely no part in the melee and was in the wrong place at
the wrong time. I’d hate to be defending the bouncer who has been so
thoroughly stitched up already.

And
surely this spells the end of Darren Lehmann’s international career? It
is not a great look to be in a headlock outside a St Kilda pub at the
scene of a violent death, when you have form for previous indiscretions.

The
media dutifully reported the bouncer’s comments about paying the price
for “smart-mouth comments” but where was the coverage of Hookes and
Lehmann’s form on this front.

Afterall, didn’t Hookes label the
woman who accused Shane Warne of harassment as a “dopey hairy-backed
sheila” and didn’t Lehmann scream “black c*nts” at the Sri Lankan
dressing room last year?

If the media is reporting the bouncer’s
assault form, why not report the sledging form too, even if the bouncer
has clearly massively over-reacted.

It looks like the culture of
sledging that permeates elite cricket could have contributed to the
death of a much-loved cricket personality.

Less sledging on and off the field might be the one good thing which flows from this tragic event.

The Spinner”

Your feedback: Spinner is a moron

What
on earth is the spindoctor on about? Moron. Whether anybody is a smart
arse to a bouncer is irrelevant when it comes to physical violence.
This equates to people saying that while they don’t condone rape girls
should not wear short skirts because it invites trouble.

May I
suggest that the real issue here is not about adequately training
security staff but the influence of amphetamines and to a lesser extent
steroids, combined with a lack of mental competence to deal with
quick-witted remarks. I have seen numerous incidents of revved-up
bouncers responding to verbal barbs (often provoked by
over-zealousness) with violent actions, as has anyone that has been out
often enough to less-than-reputable pubs and clubs.

Perhaps random drug testing would be far more effective than a legislated poncy workshop on how to deal with a smart arse.

Cheers, Andrew

Spinner is callous and disgusting

The
spinner is a callous disgusting individual who should be deeply ashamed
with himself. The conclusions he jumps to are ridiculous particularly
re sledging. It is way too easy to become a bouncer in this country.
These individuals should be trained and registered criminal record
holders particularly should be rsetricted from acting as bouncers
security. One must assume that a number of members of the
security/bouncer fraternity may well be steroid users and have anger
management problems. The spinner should realise that belting someone
senseless particularly by a cowards “King Hit” is utterly indefensible
in a civilised society regardless of verbal or other provocation.

Regards David

Spinner is a fucking idiot
 

Crikey,
 
Whoever
Spinner is, he or she is fucking dickhead. To make the connection
between sledging and what happened to Hookesy is an outrage. Even
assuming there was a bit of lip going around (and I’m not), it doesn’t
explain why the bouncers followed him out to the car park. Isn’t there
job to be “on the door”? Shouldn’t their interest in him cease when he
leaves the premises and is about to get into a car?
 
I will
be watching this trial with great interest, because it is going to be
the entire legal system on trial as well. If this guy gets off
relatively lightly because the judge thinks of himself as a social
worker, or his barrister is able to pull some smarmy legal manoeuvre to
minimise the sentence, I think this could have far-reaching
ramifications.
 
Hookes’ death is strange in that it has
affected so many people I know, so much. None of them knew him
personally, but had simply grown up watching him play or listened to
him refreshingly frank media commentary and felt as if he was a mate.

Don

Spinner is a dopey hairy-backed wanker

So
your correspondent ‘The Spinner’ has managed to link sledging by David
Hookes and Darren Lehmann to Hookes tragic death.  Well try this
one ‘Spinner’ you are a ‘dopey hairy backed wanker’.   Now
does that mean it would a defence for the Spinner to knock me into a
coma or more? Mind you it is doubtful we will see a shallower, more
insipid attempt at shifting the blame from the attacker to a
victim.   

Expat

Our beseiged Spinner responds

I
understand it might offend people to suggest that David Hookes may have
had more to do with his own death than the media has suggested, and I
apologise for any offence.

I was at that Centennary Test at the
MCG, and once had the privelege of having my innoccuous cream pies
smashed repeatedly into the car park of an exclusive Melbourne private
school by a rampaging Hookes who was appearing (as he often did) for
free at a charity fund-raiser. My respect for him as a player and a
person remains immense.

However, as angry as I am about Hookes’s
death, I am just as angry about how it is being exploited by an
irresponsible media who are fanning simplistic and populist outrage.
The Herald Sun, for example, has a jail cell already lined up for our
unfortunate crowd controller.

But if the trial gets compromised
as a result of all of this knee-jerk public comment (including
unhelpful contributions from politicians who REALLY should know
better), it will be the same media who rail against the inadequacies of
the justice system.

Indeed, there was a tragic irony that the
story of Hookes’s imminent passing was broken by Derryn Hinch, that
champion of the “damn the torpedoes” approach to commenting on issues
that are before the courts. But the reactions of some to my statements
once again remind me what a fragile legal system we have.

I
don’t resile from my comments, but nor do I disagree with Crikey
contributors that the euphemistically named security industry isn’t a
disgrace. However that is a completely different issue.

I am
talking about respect for the invaluable right to a fair trial that we
take for granted in Australia, and the imperative for professional
reporting by media, often in the face of great public outrage and the
temptation to indulge in populist drum-beating.

Crikey plays an important role in discussing these professional media
issues.

I apologise for my offence, but not for raising the issues.

The Spinner

Nice try Spinner, but you are still a wanker

As
much as you might protest, your first spray had very little to do with
justice or trials and more with suggesting that a defence could be
raised by the behavior of David Hookes and Darren Lehmann. You are
obviously a very callous person so let’s spell it out and just maybe
you will get the point.

1. Sledging on the cricket field IS NOT AN ISSUE HERE!

2. What Darren Lehman has done in the past or will do in the future IS NOT AN ISSUE HERE!

3. How someone can die from a beating on or near a licensed premise IS A ISSUE!

Your
attack on the media and your ‘spin’ on the situation is that Darren
Lehmann’s career is over, simply bizarre (How does this even get a
run). Sorry Spinner read your letter again, you had little to say on
the court system but a hell of lot insinuating that sledging was an
issue in this event. No reasonable person would equate a previous
assault charge with a previous name calling record, one is relevant and
newsworthy (like what the hell is he doing still working in the ‘crowd
control’ business with an existing assault charge) one is not, name
calling does not justify beating or worse and has no relevance.

Expat


At last, some punter support for the spinner

I’m sorry but I would have to agree with the spinner. It seems
his point is re-enforced more by the backlash and outrage of the
readers writing replies to his article. If this had happened to any
average Joe it would of only received a few seconds coverage and that
would of been the end of it. Not front page news.

However
since a sporting hero has died the media have blown the case all out of
proportion. I do not see how the bouncer can expect to receive a fair
trial when with the media turning everyone against him before he even
gets to say a word. Not once have I seen a report on his side of the
story. How can anyone make a judgment without hearing from the bouncer
and his reasons?

I am not saying he didn’t overstep the mark,
it surely seem he did. However the fact that he is still only being
charged with assault, not manslaughter, and has been let out on bail
already shows that the police feel there is more to the story than what
the media is telling us.

Gareth

Spinner is still a dickhead
 
I normally like to consider myself more articulate than this but I can
only agree with the Ex Pat – the spinner is still a dickhead.
 
For starters, what the fuck does ”populist drum beating” mean anyway?
Giving everyone a say? Writing editorial reflecting the views of its
readers/viewers? Heavens to Betsy. How truly underhanded.
 
The spinner is obviously stuck in some academic or legal time warp or
with his head up his arse – if there’s a difference between any of the
three.
 
The media has reported the facts as relayed by a wide range of
eyewitnesses. And heaven forbid if it doesn’t look good for the ”poor
vilified” amateur boxer. Hookes was 65 metres – maybe more – from the
hotel and a quick single from his car when he was king hit (or does the
spinner dispute that too?). Yes, it appears Hookes may not have been
entirely mute during the incident – his outspokeness was his trademark
– and both points have been duly reported. If there had been any other
testimony indicating Hookes was more of a “player” during the incident
that would have been reported as well. The Spinner’s inference that a
line of the ilk of the ”hairy backed sheila” observation could have
been responsible for his death is a disgusting and thus far baseless
and unverified allegation which nearly made me physically ill. Exactly
how would that fuck-wit have worked an accusation like that into a
credible article?
 
“Hookes was allegedly king hit by the bouncer outside the hotel, but as
the former Test hero was renowned for his outspoken ways, there is
every likelihood he brought it on himself. And that Darren Lehmann has
never been anything but trouble, either.”
 
Hmmm. Real responsible. Real accurate.
 
A trial hasn’t started so legally – to the best of my knowledge – the
media is entitled to explore the issue to the degree the story
warrants. Is the nation – not to mention Hookes’ family, friends and
colleagues – supposed to publicly muzzle its grief until after a court
case is over? In any event, the reaction has been, in my opinion,
largely responsible and dignified. Lines like “we hope the
investigation finds out the truth” plus – most intelligent adults
would agree – a long overdue analysis of the crowd control industry
hardly conform to the ”we’ve got a cell block waiting for you” theme
which the Spinner claims the media is trumpeting.
 
The fact that an idiot like ”Gareth” leapt to your defence should
have set the alarm bells ringing. Gareth, put down your crayons and
answer this question – exactly how did the media ”blow the story out
of proportion”? Is the violent death of a charismatic former Test
cricketer and media personality a one-time page three story? It’s a
miracle people like you learned to read. And by the way, if you had
continued to read your paper, the police are continuing their
investigation and won’t lay any further charges until that is
completed. That investigation may take weeks so the solitary charge of
assault is very far from final. Very far.
 
The Spinner is right on one point. Crikey offers an invaluable forum
for discussing and analysing the media which – I agree – is very far
from perfect. But this assault on the media’s coverage of a truly
tragic event was highly regrettable – both for Crikey and that
anonymous coward of a columnist.
 
Neil H

Spinner,  you have lost the plot

Yes we all know that Hookesy was not a squeaky clean individual. Maybe,
like most sporting stars he had a bit of a chip on his shoulders. 
And yes we all know that the media has got stuck into the
bouncer.  And yes we all know the media likes to reduce things
down to a simplistic good and evil, black and white world.  But
your rather tasteless attempt to save the judicial system is not
appreciated.  The judicial system will look after itself.

The point however, which seems to have missed you completely, is that
most of us (including the media) have reacted so vehemently against
this neuron-deficient rock ape, NOT purely because it was a sport star
that died, but also (mostly I would argue) because we are all too
familiar with the antics of these Neanderthals.  The fact that it
was a known sporting personality just ‘brought it home’ to us all, the
same way same as if someone we personally knew ended up like
this.  It is a natural reaction for most of us, because we have
all seen, on too many occasions, the way these troglodytes behave.

Perhaps you should get out more, and maybe you too will also rile
against these thugs and the inadequate laws that police their
activities.

CP.


Spinner had a welcome perspective

I had thought the kind of comments that Spinner was making re the
death of David Hookes were unsayable, and it was so refreshing to find
a dissident viewpoint outside the mainstream media. 

In the privacy of our homes many of us are questioning why a 22 year
old who punched someone in the head, is now being treated as the worst
kind of criminal.  The death is tragic and the security industry
needs reform, but the cult of the male sports hero in Australia (and I
speak as a big fan of cricket, football and tennis) is not good for the
country and is certainly not good for the individual sportsman (is hero
the most overused word in the Australian media?) It could be surmised
that it cost Hookes his life.

National sportsmen are so used to being admired and respected (and
one can only assume the bouncer mistook him for an ordinary punter)
that any insult will bring out a string of words such that would lead
three young bouncers to follow Hookes to his car and give him, as they
saw it, his just desserts. 

No doubt the bouncer will receive a fair trial, as Australian courts
have a much better sense of fair play than have the Australian media.

Margaret Brennan

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