Attila the Pun
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Softly softly now - we don't want to appear that we are actually disappointed that Douglas Wood was released, so instead we can just snipe at the outskirts of the issue.

Tracee Hutchinson (who kindly informs us at the end that she used to work for Channels 7 & 9) suggests that Channel 10 secured the Wood story because 7 & 9 figured that the story is "dead in the water".

She shows her charm by comparing his capture and possible execution to a Big Brother nomination process:

The promos started rolling through Big Brother's live nominations on Monday night, which was unnervingly apt given we had all become bit players in this bloke's life, tuning in day after day to find out whether it was time for Douglas to go or not. And what form his eviction would actually take.

Then suggests that 10 prevailed because Wood was a fan of Sandra Sully:

Was it at the behest of our newest beer-drinking celebrity that Sandra won the day? Did she fit somewhere in the Freed Iraq Hostage's expatriate views of Australia, alongside the Geelong Football Club and Waltzing Matilda?

Oooh - good collection of sneers - the man drinks beer, likes football, and even sang waltzing matilda - what a yob! Not to mention the swipe at him being an ex-pat.

Or was it more likely the hostage would receive kid-glove treatment from a charming woman, whom I count among my favourites when it comes to reading news but whose mettle is yet to be tested when it comes to asking the tough questions?

He has been held by terrorists for 47 days, you don't think a bit of kid-glove treatment might be appropriate? Any anyway, what are the "tough questions" that need to be asked? He was kidnapped, locked up, beaten, shaved, videotaped, then released through sheer luck. Even if there were tough questions for him to answer, why would Channel 10 be less approriate than 60 Minutes - who gave Habib an armchair ride through his paid interview?

But now Wood has turned out to be a supporter of Bush and Howard, not to mention described the terrorists as "arseholes", its okay to pile on:

Or was it simply that the story was dead in the water the minute the hostage revealed himself to have none of the grace or dignity dished out to his brothers and looked like a blustering buffoon at his airport news conference when responding with a "definite maybe" to the question of going back to Iraq.

The nerve of the guy, after being kidnapped and threatened with execution, he didn't have th grace to empathise with his kidnappers after his release. What a buffoon.

It was enough that his words "God bless America" had been played over and over on his release, but the 20 years Douglas Wood has spent as an expat Australian in America were played out in all their cringe-worthy ingloriousness when he decided to meet our media singing a song about a sheep thief who would rather die than be caught for his crimes . . . oh dear!

Oh no - he is an ex-pat, lets not listen to a word he says. I hope this policy is more rigidly enforced next time Germaine Greer comes calling. Worse than being an ex-pat, he is living in America!

Sure, the story kept its pace thanks to the media, but it was absolutely, and categorically, power-driven from the front seat by John Howard and Alexander Downer. That made it different from the get-go. It became a national priority to "get our man home".

Isn't it terrible that the PM and foreign minister took any sort of leading role in freeing an Australian citizen? It is also instructive that Tracee suggests that the wider public didn't care that much about Wood, and the story only had legs because the Government "power drove" it.

I can't say for sure, of course, but I fancy I was not alone when I slunk away from the telly muttering unkind things under my breath about the hostage and his "business opportunities" in Iraq.

His line about going back to Iraq (since retracted) was silly, but this was a recently released hostage speaking off the cuff, not a carefully stage managed and scripted press conference. Why would you possibly be muttering unkind things about him?

And I bear him no ill will.

Thats big of you, really.

And so I'm back to the chequebooks and Channel Ten. Winners or losers? Like 'em or loathe 'em, chequebooks have become an integral part of commercial media, but perhaps what we are seeing is the first example of a discerning call by the veterans of the game. Have they let the story of the year slip from their grasp, or have they sniffed the breeze and decided that by Sunday we won't care?

Why? Because Wood didn't act the way you wanted him to? Does anyone believe that things would not have been different if Wood have have criticised Bush and Howard, denounced the Government's handling of his situation, and called for the removal of all troops?

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