At last, Eddie Everywhere dumped from Saturday Hun
It lasted about two years too many but finally the Herald Sun has given Eddie McGuire the flick from his plug-infested full-page column each Saturday. Or did they?

Could it be that Eddie resigned in a fit of pique after a powerful
column appeared in last week’s Sunday Herald Sun by football writer Jon
Ralph? This followed the earlier critical effort by fellow Hun
columnist Neil Mitchell as Eddie copped it from all sides for sitting
on the story about the Collingwood player rampage at Mooloolaba.

Even better, did Eddie and Hun editor Peter Blunden have a bust-up over
last week’s lead item which devoted several paragraphs to attacking The Sunday Age for
its portrayal of Christian Kerr when he outed himself as Hillary Bray?
Did Eddie try to break the Hun’s ban and mention the dreaded “Crikey”
word, only to see his copy changed to “an internet site”? We can only
speculate.

So it came to pass on Saturday there was no Eddie column and not even
an acknowledgment of his passing on the very page he’s occupied since
1997. However, there was a very small announcement at the bottom of
page 4 headlined “McGuire on move”. It said that after more than 300
columns the gig is up and Eddie would now become “an occasional guest
writer”. Very occasional, we suspect.

It hasn’t been a good few weeks for Eddie. He suffered his first major television setback when the 5.30pm version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire
flopped? His beloved Magpies have also flopped this year and will
finish in the bottom five with just 5 wins from 16 starts so far. Then
you have this apparent blow-up with the Herald Sun after a week
of heavy criticism when the Collingwood players committed their worst
indiscretion since Eddie took over as President.

The sequence of events for the Collingwood rampage is interesting and might further explain his departure from the Herald Sun.
After sitting on the story for more than two weeks, 3AW firmed it up
and were set to go with it in the 4pm bulletin two Fridays ago before
Collingwood put out a release at 3.30pm.

Eddie was only filmed by the Nine news that night but the Herald Sun
ran the story as the page three lead and he was interviewed by Derryn
Hinch on 3AW and Virginia Trioli on ABC 774. Eddie didn’t even offer
some insights in his column the following day, which might have further
infuriated Blunden who can rightly expect his star columnist to at
least deliver the odd morsel of juicy news rather than a never-ending
stream of plugs for the Eddie empire.

Eddie’s subsequent comments about the affair included howlers such as
Collingwood “not hiding away from it” and dealing with it in an “up
front manner”. Yeah, right.

The key paragraphs in the Ralph column were as follows:

“This week’s refusal to unveil on his major television
vehicle what he obviously regards as a serious incident on the club’s
recent trip to Queensland goes to the very heart of Eddie’s conflict of
interest. No one seriously expects Eddie to ditch the Pies presidency,
tear up his multi-million dollar television contract or reveal every
minor secret or piece of dirty laundry that threatens to stink up his
club.

“All that is expected is for McGuire to use the same standards of
disclosure and scrutiny to his club that is applied to the other 15 in
the league. That would include not hiding for two weeks exactly the
type of incident that occurred during the club’s trip to the Sunshine
Coast, because the stakes are much higher than simple credibility.

“This time Eddie is not just a trifle inconvenienced by his multiple
roles, but directly limited in his ability to break news for Channel 9
as a result of his Collingwood presidency. “

What price McGuire spat the dummy big time when he read the Ralph piece, especially given the same edition of the Sunday Herald Sun
ignored his denials and published a piece saying he was looking to
trade up in Toorak from a comparatively modest $2.5 million pad to a
lavish $5 million mansion? In Eddie’s world of personal loyalty, he
probably went ballistic over this intrusive snippet and having his
integrity questioned like that by his own paper?

The other alternative is that after being attacked on all sides
(including having his journalistic credentials attacked by the AJA boss
in The Age) and the fact he even passed up the chance to tip off his
own paper, Blunden finally admitted what we have been arguing all along.

It was a good idea to give Eddie the page in the first place back in
1997, even though it got a little trickier once he became Collingwood
president in 1998. However, once Eddie started using his influence to
set up things like Sportsview, which commercially developed the
websites of four AFL clubs, won the tender for the AFL-sanctioned
Tipstars betting franchise in 2001 and then secured the AFL broadcast
rights for Nine, it was clear he had way too many balls in the air. Any
cursory analysis of the column showed that Eddie was using Rupert’s
space to protect and build the empire rather than report genuinely
interesting news and views.

The Herald Sun is the most powerful outlet in Melbourne and the
only reason that Eddie was able to build up all these untenable
conflicts is because the tabloid wouldn’t attack their own star
columnist. If Blunden had ended the column in 2001, the Herald Sun
could then have run a decent campaign to keep a lid on the Eddie
conflicts which remain a complete joke to this very day.

It will be very interesting to see if the paper finally gives his
conflicts and contradictions a decent working over now that’s he no
longer collecting more than $1000 a week for his column (which used to
be ghost written by Graeme Samuel’s son).

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW