Dec 6, 2017

Rundle: groupthink abounds in the trial-by-media destruction of Geoffrey Rush

Nothing indicates more clearly the potential injustices of the current process than the manner in which Rush has been treated.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The extraordinary and disgraceful destruction of Geoffrey Rush’s personal reputation continues apace, the most recent contribution being a piece on RN Breakfast — an interview this morning between Fran Kelly and Adelaide Festival director Neil Armfield, which began with a pleasant canter around the 2018 Festival and the Armfield-directed Brett Dean piece Hamlet, The Opera (which has been very successful, and sounds ghastly), before turning very dark indeed.

Kelly began with the general allegations — one, of alleged “inappropriate conduct” once, in an STC production of King Lear — and then, almost unbelievably, asked Armfield (the director of the production), to comment on “what he saw”. Armfield, in a tone that quite understandably went from ice-cold to sulphuric acid, first tried to defer any discussion at all, then corrected Kelly on facts relating to the accusations, before having to shut it down again, as Kelly returned to it.

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20 thoughts on “Rundle: groupthink abounds in the trial-by-media destruction of Geoffrey Rush

  1. old greybearded one

    I agree wholeheartedly. This is like a bad report from ASIO that you are not allowed to know about and therefore cannot defend. Fran Kelly is in my opinion, after a long time of listening alas, a vacuous twit. There are a number of talented female news folks at ABC, but she is not one. She folds in the face of the coalition, harasses others until she runs into di Natale, Wong, Butler or Dreyfus who make her look very foolish. She has been elevated beyond her skill and compares unfavourably with her occasional locums Ellen Fanning, Hamish MacDonald and James Carlton (wasted where he is)

  2. zut alors

    The bad behaviour comes from the STC for the manner in which this complaint/allegation was handled….& subsequently presented on a platter to Murdoch’s lowly Daily Telegraph. Which better rag to run with it as eagerly?

    The media has prior form in being judge & jury in sensational cases, Lindy Chamberlain branded guilty-as-hell well prior to any court case commencing. In the matter of Geoffrey Rush the media scarcely needs to be aided & abetted by the STC.

    1. leon knight

      When a complainant requests confidentiality and the employer agrees to protect their privacy, it leaves bother the employer and the accused in a bad place indeed….I have been there myself and I can appreciate Rush’s invidious position.
      In my view an invisible complaint from an unknown complainant should be ignored outright as being probably vexatious.

  3. Aphra

    I’m not clear as to why STC is behaving in this way. Surely, natural justice would insist that Rush knows what he is actually accused of, and by whom. Despite my sympathy and praise for all the men and women who’ve recently spoken out about past abuses, they named names and put their own to their accusations, unlike what’s happened to Rush. Protecting the ‘welfare’ of the anonymous accuser is one thing; publicly destroying the personal and professional reputation of another without showing cause, quite another.

  4. klewso

    Bit like 21st Century Salem.
    Is there anything more righteous that a hack on a crusade?

  5. Itsarort

    “RN Breakfast, in this case, responding to higher demands for a new crassness, one suspects”.

    Fran has a few possibles directions she can take I suppose; she can cop it sweet like a News Corp stooge, be fairdinkum or do a Jana Wendt. Either way, there will never be an excuse for the first option.

    1. Itsarort

      Oops, that’s weird. That was never supposed to be a response to Klewso. Sorry.

  6. Teddy

    I couldn’t believe what I heard on RN this morning… But then Fran Kelly and much of the ABC are culture war warriors themselves, much like the Tele, only on “our side”.

    Armfield handled it pretty well, though he was quite obviously appalled by the line of questions, and especially on Kelly’s insistence that “the inappropriate behaviour was sexual” “No it wasn’t” he quickly corrected her. But what was Kelly’s excuse here? She just persisted in the same vein…

    Everyone likes salacious stories, ABC listeners and Tele readers alike, and in the current Post-Weistein climate we’re sure to get more of them. The Tele probably just wanted a local Kevin Spacey. New Matilda is currently running a similar campaign, full of tabloid-style self-congratulatory and typically long-winded justifications and self righteous rage. I agree with Guy that one day, some media organization is going to come a cropper…

    The real mystery about this one is the STC itself. A staffer, probably a junior publicist, really stuffed up, big time. They issued the lamest excuse for what happened. “A News Ltd journalist asked if a complaint was being processed, and we answered truthfully” or words to that effect.

    Ahhh, the truth!! As if that’s ever matters. It certainly not to culture warriors like Fran.

    1. leon knight

      The ABC is really behaving badly at present and I blame Turnbull’s meddling squarely for it…take for example having both Abetz and Breheny on Q&A this week, just physically revolting…harassing viewers in my opinion.

      1. Woopwoop

        On the other hand, Media Watch on Monday made much the same points as GR is making here.

      2. [email protected]

        I agree Leon Knight, it was frightful. Breheny made a young woman in the audience cry – probably tears of rage – and yet his behavior wasn’t called out?

  7. lykurgus

    Wait… what are we doing?

  8. RoRo

    It’s completely understandable and correct that a complainant might not want to front their accuser (ie have the accuser know their identity). For this reason we need to separate STC’s decision to go public from GR not knowing the identity of the accuser.
    However I agree with the commenters that making the accusation (whatever it even is) public without anything to go off. Well yeah not cool at all regardless of whether you’re Geoffrey Rush or not.

    1. Jack Robertson

      exactly wrong ireckon, roro. the price of public accusation has to be ‘authored’ public accusation…can be hard on the genuinely shellshocked i know but civil soc just can’t work any other way

  9. Jack Robertson

    At the risk of tedious repetition the ‘only’ thing wrong with Rush story is the accuser’s anonymity. Which makes ‘everything’ wrong about it. (When did we lose the discipline to keep anonymity…erm…off the public record? Kind of the point, y’know, Fourth…)

    As for ‘reputation’, pfffft, what a crock in Teh WebzAge (or any, FFS). GRus no more has an ‘entitlement’ to one – btw shorely shome mishtake, GRun,‘personal reputation’ oxymoronic!? – than Weinstein, Jesus, Hitler, David Feeney Rebel Wilson Ben McCormack or any old GR or me or etc etc. If GRus’s feelings are hurt he should get hisself a blog. Or a battalion of PR professio-…oh. ‘Reputation’. Good one. He’s an arc-toooor, luv – and a Hollywood superstar type to boot. Like anyone sane I simply presume he’s an egotistical, narcissistic, bullying, vain, mercurial, self-absorbed and occasionally bullying nobhead both in the workplace and at leisure, unless & until I see any reason to believe otherwise. Never would have picked the author as the simpering stage door type, tbh. (Oh hang on…dimly recall an ancient Craven/Gillies bitch-slap-a-thon…?)

    Ooh ooh wait wait…got one more…’Reputation’? After Pirates V..?!? Titty boom, etc.

  10. John Hall

    This sole accusation with no corroboration is no story yet. Mr Rush deserves his privacy & I am dismayed by the grubby treatment by the press. I hope he has legal recourse & expect this could become an expensive outing for the leaker, if identified soon. You can’t address a so-called grievance by withholding it from the ‘accused’.

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