Why Karl and Lisa owe Waleed Aly an apology

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Digitally altered

Breakfast television in Australia is a circus. And if this week has taught us anything, it’s that there is obviously no need to hire clowns.

Particularly on the Today Show, where there is more than enough Whiteface:

Ben (Sad Clown): “Where is Lisa Wilkinson’s Gold Logie?”

Karl (Happy Clown): “Lisa’s too white.”

Ben: “Is that it?”

Karl: “That’s it.”

Lisa (Laughing Clown): “I got a spray tan and everything, still didn’t make it. What can you do?”

Click the owl for a brief summary of this week’s Gold Logie race controversy:   

I don’t know, Lisa, I don’t know, but I’m guessing the answer isn’t to lapse into a 1950s sportsman’s night revue.

Nor can it be found at The Daily Telegraph, which at least tried to hide its prejudicial light under a bushel.

All the same, reading a News Corp columnist address ethnicity in Australian television is like watching a dog try to open a bottle of wine.

Smart, sensitive, can play a mean guitar and devilishly handsome. It's Waleed Aly. Photo: Getty

Waleed Aly’s only response to the comments on the Today Show was to say he had ‘no words’. Photo: Getty

On Tuesday The Telegraph punched out 800 words on Six reasons why Waleed Aly should not win Gold – the six reasons being the flimsy scaffold upon which the “cheat sheet for people who don’t want to appear racist” was cloaked in a signature brand of hot-rubbish-spewing nonsense.

Take the article’s fifth point, for example: “Aly needs to be truly popular to win”.

“It would be great if Aly was popular, but his show isn’t yet the league of breakfast television juggernauts Today and Sunrise,” it read.

This demonstrates the columnist has both a solid grasp of non-facts and doesn’t know enough about the Logies to feed the fish.

“Aly needs to be truly popular to win” is the pace car for what is a journalistic ten-car collision.

Yes, he needs to be popular to win. The Gold Logie is, if nothing else, a popularity contest.

Do you know how he came to be nominated?

He was popular.

The nominations for the popular categories are determined following a process by which each network submits a laundry list of talent to be nominated in each category. TV Week then asks the public for their vote – the top five in each category (six for the Gold Logie) become the nominees.

Granted I only read the fine print once, but nowhere did it suggest votes were weighted for skin colour and/or ethnicity.

So again, why was Aly nominated?

He was pop-u-lar.

The columnist’s claim thathis show isn’t yet in the league of breakfast television juggernauts Today and Sunrise” is something of a low-hanging fruit basket, as anyone who pays even the slightest attention to television in this country knows that breakfast television is by no definition a “juggernaut”. Not even close.

Network Ten

The Project, hosted by Aly, Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar, attracts much higher ratings than the Today Show. Photo: Network Ten

In fact, it is out-rated by Aly’s The Project by a factor of five to three, which is probably the real punchline to Today’s joke, which many would interpret as casual racism.

If the Australian television industry and the pratfall of clowns at Today are collectively scratching their heads, it is not because Waleed Aly is nominated for a Gold Logie; it is because they clearly have no idea of the broader television audience.

If Today and the wet bags of journalistic white flour came out in support of their point achieved anything this week, it was clearing the “PC gone mad” shark by about eight nautical miles.

As the ringleader of the Today Circus, the Chairman of Nine Entertainment Peter Costello should either demand Ben, Karl and Lisa apologise on air or fire them out of a cannon to the television outskirts of infomercials and re-runs.

But I’m guessing the Labrador will uncork the Chardonnay first.

* The New Daily offered the Today Show a chance to respond to the controversy, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

Craig Little has spent 20 years in advertising, PR and public affairs and is well versed in the dark arts of the media.

He can sometimes be heard on 774 ABC and was a member of The Spin team that once explored the murky side of politics and the media on Triple R. Most recently, he has been an ardent critic of the Carlton Football Club (which he supports), writing as “The People’s Elbow” on The Footy Almanac.


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