Hell of a week, this one. On Monday, tens of thousands of women took to Australian streets in protest of gendered violence. Today, Channel Seven will put Wayne Carey back on TV for yet another year of men’s AFL broadcasts.
Seven’s AFL commentary is rife with issues – a virtual broadcast monopoly has endured for the better part of 65 years, meaning it hasn’t evolved in any significant way purely because it hasn’t had to – but its persistence with Carey stands as its most egregious and baffling blind spot.
With the league itself preaching equality, and in an era where women are finally being given space in a previously male-only world, employing Wayne Carey for on-air duties is ridiculous.
Carey’s past is not exactly secret, and it’s twice cost him similar commentary jobs to the one he holds now. In 2008 Carey was let go by both the Nine Network (which wholly owns this publication) and 3AW following altercations with police attending alleged incidents involving Carey’s then-partner. That followed on from years of repeated indiscretions, including pleading guilty to indecent assault in 1997 for grabbing a passing stranger’s breast in a Melbourne street, and assaulting a female police officer in Miami in 2007 after they responded to a call regarding Carey allegedly glassing a girlfriend.
And while Carey, outwardly, claims to have “grown” and become a “better person,” the platform Seven affords him sends a truly terrible message nonetheless.
Broadcasting on a national platform is an immense privilege. Or, at least, it bloody well should be. But with Carey standing front-and-centre, what message does that send to victims of gendered violence? What message does that send to women in general? What message does it send to the whole audience?
No one is about to suggest that Carey isn’t deserving of a second chance (or, in his specific case, a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh one) or that he is somehow wholly irredeemable. But being present on-screen in a high profile media role confirms what far too many already know to be true: that those who suffer have to do so in silence and in perpetuity while those responsible prosper in protection.
At a base level, it’s a simple choice: Alienate large sections of your audience by continuing to elevate and promote a man with a laundry list of rotten acts on his public record, or put someone else in the position who has not done that shit. Not exactly the most complex equation to solve, realistically.
It’s Friday. It’s a beautiful day for footy. And it’s an even better one to stop putting Wayne Carey on TV.