Channel Nine has been hit with a blizzard of complaints over its Winter Olympics coverage, with host Eddie McGuire and Melbourne comedian Mick Molloy in the firing line over “homophobic” comments targeting figure skating champion Johnny Weir.
Last night, during Nine’s primetime “highlights package”, Eddie and sidekick Mick decided to whip out the schoolboy sniggering as they gave their considered assessments of Weir’s Vancouver routine. The graceful Weir, who has not formally “outed” himself, appeared to be too much for the duo to bear. Let’s go to the transcript. (We’d go to the tape, but copyright issues mean we’d be stuck in the courts for decades. You can see footage of Weir skating to Lady Gaga here).
EDDIE MCGUIRE: …what about the fashion at the ice skating?
MICK MOLLOY: They don’t leave anything in the locker room those blokes.
EDDIE: They leave nothing…
MICK: When they get out there…
EDDIE: They don’t leave anything in the closet either do they? [Laughs].
MICK: They [laughs], well they — careful you’ll get yourself into trouble there…
EDDIE: Sorry mate.
But the daring duo weren’t finished.
MICK: Look at this guy, it was like one of those fake tuxedos that you — even Prince saw that and went, oh hang on, you can’t go out wearing that. Oh look out, the hay seed look’s in this year. What is that?
EDDIE: A bit of broke back?
MICK: A bit of Brokeback Mountain exercise. You can’t wear it. They’re very flamboyant, they love a bit of colour as we said.
In the minutes after the exchange, Twitter lit up in anger, with a torrent of criticism demanding McGuire be booted, alongside a number of other general gripes over the Footy Show-style jocularity and gratuitous repeats that have dominated Nine’s coverage.
- @Shhhannon Just saw Eddie McGuire step in it with an inappropriate comment about a male ice-skater. Watch this space for controversy!
- @henrys_creek If Eddie McGuire wasn’t enough of a wanker, now makes quite a homophobic quip with Johnny Weir. Bastard.
- @bottled_love: Oh haha…. let’s make jokes about the male figure skaters being gay… groundbreaking televisual wit right there Eddie McGuire
- @linclefevre Go on Eddie McGuire. Make some more gay jokes. Dick.
- @nilesedge Ugggh who let Eddie mcguire near the winter olympics?? He’s a f-cking football yob and that’s it
- @dominiquelam Eddie McGuire you are such a douche bag. One rich douche bag.
- @abbiemc OMG Eddie McGuire. “they don’t leave much in the closet” “brokeback mountain” SHUT UP. I hope there are complaints. Many.
- @Selenadover OMG, did Eddie McGuire just suggest Johnny Weir is less than manly?
- @chicachow Can’t decide what he finds more offensive: channel nine’s vaguely ho-ophobic figure skating commentating or Eddie mcguire’s face.
- @ozreedgal: eddie mcguire has made a number of little digs about competitors’ s-xuality since I’ve been watching 2night. He’s obsessed #olympics.
The opprobrium then promptly spread to Facebook, with a group “Eddie Mcguire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage” bursting this morning with anti-Eddie vitriol. The Facebook page has said that it has submitted several formal complaint letters to the relevent department at Channel Nine.
Twitterers also pointed to “patronising” interviews McGuire has conducted with Winter Olympics superstars, including female figure skater Katarina Witt, where Witt’s 1998 Playboy front cover was dredged up again to her visible dismay.
Nine paid about $100 million alongside broadcast partners Foxtel for the TV rights to the 2010 and 2012 games. But the ratings have been disappointing, with the network coming in third last night behind Seven’s Gangs of Oz and Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
There is also serious chatter that the games themselves are in trouble: this Reuters article (“Vancouver’s Games in danger of sinking into meltwater”) wraps the bad news so far, with the opening-day death of Nodar Kumaritashvili snowballing into problems over spectator safety concerns, a lack of the white stuff and protests over the millions wasted while Vancouver struggles with the social fallout from its Downtown Eastside slum area.
McGuire has amazingly continued with his Triple M breakfast radio slot from Vancouver, phoning in the banter to Melbourne each North American afternoon.