Friday, May 27, 2005
Misha Ketchell writes:
Derryn Hinch has gone to ground today. The human headline has even refused to do any more interviews defending his claim that Graham Kennedy died of AIDS — but his producer Kate Murphy told Crikey this morning he will pursue the claims on his program today when he interviews one of Kennedy’s former lovers.
It’s hard to imagine what evidence Hinch hopes to unearth that could save him now — as soon as he heard about the Hinch AIDS claim on Crikey, Graham Kennedy’s close friend, Tony Sattler, phoned Kennedy’s doctor and a got him to release results of an AIDS test that came up negative shortly before Kennedy’s death (see below). Both Sattler, and his wife, actor Noeline Brown, rang Hinch and 3AW program director Clarke Forbes and asked them to pull the story, but they refused.
“Someone rang me and said that it was on Crikey,” Sattler told us this morning. “I organised to get documentation from the doctor. I found out that HIV is a notifiable disease. As such a doctor is legally bound to report a case of HIV. The death certificate clearly says pneumonia.”
“Armed with this information I rang 3AW at 3.50pm, ten minutes before Hinch went on air. I spoke to Clarke Forbes, the program director and confronted him with all this information. I said you’d better talk to
him and get him to pull the program. Meanwhile my wife Noeline was on the phone to Hinch’s producer saying he shouldn’t go on with this slanderous b-llshit. Needless to say he went on and said it.”
Hinch told his audience that before his death Kennedy had “large black patches on both his cheeks — so dark they looked as if they had been applied with make-up” and that these patches were “the black sign of the black death.”
“My theory was then, and still is, that at the peak of his fame Kennedy was paranoid that his awesome audience, his massive audience, would think he was gay. There’s nothing wrong with that … but remember … this was at a time where if the word got out that you were a poofter it would or could destroy your career.” Kennedy, he said, “was imprisoned by his s-xuality.”
But, he said, Kennedy was “cruel and vindictive” and “one of the most vicious old queens you could shake a stick at.”
Callers rang to attack Hinch and Brown, an old Hinch’s buddy from Beauty and the Beast days, said: “I have never told a lie Derryn. I just want to reassure the people listening to you that Graham died peacefully from pneumonia.”
This morning she told Crikey her friendship with Hinch could never recover from the slur. “He and my brother started in journalism together as two little wide eyed cadets,” she said. “It’s a very distressing thing for me to discover that he’s got his feet firmly in the mire. I was there at Kennedy’s bedside. I was the one he should have checked with, and he could have checked with me, and I would have said yes if he had AIDS.
“He’s got documentary evidence that it isn’t true. If it had been true and he had died of AIDS I’m sure everybody would have known. By law it’s one of those diseases that a doctor has to reveal. But it wasn’t true. Even when I went on the program and I told him the truth he still decided to go with it. I believe it was beause Derryn wasn’t part of the story.”
Sattler said he had no idea why Hinch was persisting with his campaign when he knew it couldn’t be true. “Does Hinch think that he’s some sort of medical genius that knows more than the doctors? There cannot be any other evidence that he’s got. You either have AIDS or you don’t, you can’t have it in your foot.
“The worst thing about this is the fact the he knew he was lying,” he said. “He knew he was about to say
something that’s a lie. You can’t do that as a journalist. If he doesn’t resign he needs to be sacked and 3AW owes the people of Australia a huge apology.”
Sattler said Hinch was motivated by vanity, and a desire for publicity, and he did not believe Hinch
genuinely believed his claims were true. “The fascating thing is that years ago when he was hosting Beauty and the Beast, he refused to wear underpants under his suit because he reckoned it made his bum look bad. This is a serious vanity problem.”