Anger at Radio Royal Prank Increases

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 8 2012 1:40 PM

Anger at Australian Radio Royal Prank Continues To Grow After Nurse Death

A general view of the entrance to the 2DayFm offices in Sydney, Australia

Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images

It was the prank heard around the world. And now, the backlash is truly global. Outrage at the two Australian DJs who managed to ask questions about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge continues to grow after the nurse who answered the phone apparently committed suicide. The hospital where Prince William’s pregnant wife, formerly Kate Middleton, was being treated for acute morning sickness, sent a strongly worded letter to the owners of the Australian radio station accusing the DJs of “humiliating” the staff, reports the Guardian.  The letter (available in full here) notes that the idea to make the call was “extremely foolish” but what was “truly appalling” was learning that the call had been pre-recorded and management approved its broadcast.

The letter was sent shortly after Southern Cross Austereo Chief Executive Rhys Holleran held a news conference in Melbourne saying that while the station would cooperate with authorities he was “very confident” no laws had been broke. "This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen and we are deeply saddened by it,” he said. Two large Australian firms have pulled all advertising from 2DayFM, reports Reuters. Although the police have not made the connection between the death of 46-year-old Jacintha Saldanha and the call, people around the world immediately made the assumption, points out the Associated Press.

The Sydney-based station closed down its Facebook page after receiving thousands of angry comments. This isn’t the first time the station has been at the heart of a controversy. Earlier this year, there was also outrage at the station when a radio host convinced a 14-year-old girl to reveal on air that she had been raped, points out Reuters, noting that the issue once again brings the issue of media ethics to the spotlight. The DJs have apologized and “mutually decided” to go off the air for an undetermined period of time, Holleran said.


The controversy has so engulfed England and Australia that a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron commented Saturday, saying that he "thinks this is a very sad case and his thoughts are with her family and colleagues,” reports CNN. A spokesman for Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard also released a statement calling it a “terrible tragedy,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?