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Eddie McGuire apologises for remarks about drowning The Age reporter Caroline Wilson

TripleM breakfast host Eddie McGuire has apologised for remarks made on-air at a charity fundraiser about drowning The Age sports journalist Caroline Wilson.

EddiemThis morning TripleM breakfast host Eddie McGuire, who is also the president of Collingwood football club, sought to dampen the furore over remarks including comments about Wilson being held under water, which began circulating widely on the weekend as part of the AFL’s anti-domestic violence White Ribbon Day round.

During its breakfast show this morning TripleM replayed the comments, which host McGuire argued were made in jest, telling the audience: “There were no complaints at the time but then later in the week, in the context of (anti domestic violence initiative) White Ribbon Day, clearly people had a look at it, revised it, and made their points.

“I will just reiterate what I said last night to the Herald Sun (that) anything at all that would be seen to promulgate domestic violence is unacceptable. Full stop. That’s the big issue here…

“I said also to the Herald Sun that that was the least of anyone’s intentions and that did not even cross anyone’s minds. In fact the Big Freeze (event) was based on good humour, sledging each other, tomfoolery… the whole thing was about having fun at Gil’s expense, my expense, etc.”

In a later segment McGuire went further telling the audience of the top-rating Melbourne breakfast show: “I have been really disappointed that these comment have led to these feelings from people. I apologise and retract them in the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve.”

The apology came a week after Triple M covered the Big Freeze fundraiser at the MCG on the Queen’s birthday public holiday, which raised more than $2m for motor neurone disease research and awareness.

McGuire had been dunked in cold water and in an segment with former St Kilda captain Danny Frawley, and fellow TripleM host James Brayshaw they joked about next year signing up The Age’s Caroline Wilson for the event.

“In fact, I reckon we should start the campaign for a one-person slide next year featuring Caroline Wilson,” said McGuire, “and I’ll put in 10 grand straight away, make it 20. And if she stays under, 50. What do you reckon guys?”

Brayshaw then said he would be involved while Frawley noted he would ensure Wilson would be held under the freezing water, saying: “I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t [come up] … I’ll hold her under, Ed.”

McGuire replied: “I reckon we could charge 10 thousand for everyone to stand around the outside and bomb her.”

The Collingwood president also sought to draw in other commentators, with only football journalist Damian Barrett seeking to distance himself from the remarks.

“I’m on Caro’s side now, Ed. I’m on Caro’s side these days, Ed,” Barrett said.

McGuire then took aim at award-winning AFL journalist, Wilson, describing her as “a black widow”.

“She just sucks you in and gets you and you start talking to her and then bang! She gets you,” he said.

Wilson today responded, telling Melbourne talk back station 3AW that she believes McGuire is a bully who is allowed to get away with such remarks because people are scared of him.

“To be honest I think he gets away with a lot because people are scared of him,” said Wilson. “His board didn’t stand up to him over the Adam Goodes business, the AFL didn’t stand up up to him over equalisation, it just keeps happening because he has such power.”

This is not the first time McGuire has been in hot water with the TripleM host criticised in 2013 for comparing indigenous footballer Adam Goodes with King Kong, weeks after Goodes had been subjected to racial abuse during a match against Collingwood.

It is understood that the media watchdog Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is not currently investigating whether TripleM breached the Codes of Practice but may take up the issue if there is a complaint.

Sister Southern Cross Austereo station 2DayFM currently has a licence condition against it for decency, but this condition does not apply to Triple M Melbourne. That condition was imposed after shock jock Kyle Sandilands launched a tirade against News Corp entertainment journalist Alison Stephenson who wrote a critical review of his TV show. 

Commercial radio guidelines on ACMA’s website regarding acceptable practice in the portrayal of women include the advice:

“Do not broadcast material which condones or incites violence against women.” The guidelines add: “Ensure that reporting and ‘on-air’ discussions respect the dignity of women
and are non-exploitive.”

Frawley has also since apologised for what he conceded were “insensitive, inappropriate” comments, while McGuire today told listeners he had been in contact with The Age’s sports editor Chloe Salter about the remarks.

“I spoke with Chloe Salter yesterday and she went through the whole situation, and I’m just looking at her texts now, she said ‘I’ve had a listen and I accept it was all jovial but I still find the image of men laughing about Caro being held under water inappropriate.’ So I said ‘yep’ and she said ‘I hope you take that on board’ and then I said ‘I do accept your point of view there, then I said I didn’t see it as in any way, shape or form sexist – I don’t think anyone is saying that now’.

“That was what the original suggestion was – that it was sexist against Caroline Wilson or anyone else.

“But as I said, and I will say it again, anything that can be perceived to promulgate domestic violence is unacceptable.”

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