Kyle straddles the line with the spider baby

I may be going soft.

Today I’ve been served a news story about Kyle Sandilands on a plate, and I’ve decided not to go with it.

It’s relatively rare I find myself doubting my news sense, but this morning I have.

And I’m not sure whether I’ve become so jaded that Sandilands can say anything he likes and it no longer shocks, or whether his enemies are so keen to jump on any off colour comment that we’re in danger of having a collective sense of humour failure.

Today’s potential scandal came in this clip, emailed to me by the Sack Vile Kyle campaign:

For context, the news story being discussed is that of a baby born in Pakistan with additional limbs after the death of its conjoined twin in the womb. This “spider baby”, as Sandilands described it, would, he suggested, have something of an advantage in the Olympics.

Bad taste? Yes.

But widely offensive? It’s hard to work out who the victim of his comments would be. It’s not as if the baby would ever hear them.

Tasteless as his words were (and I’m no fan of Kyle’s), his comments were also kind of amusing. And I don’t remember mass outrage when UK comedy Father Ted mined similar spider baby territory.

Inevitably, there will be complaints. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has not yet begun its new regime for the station which would see  it tackle complaints directly. So those complaints will go intially to radio station 2Day FM. And just as inevitably eventually be passed on to ACMA anyway.

If we didn’t have the context of Sandilands’ previous comments – this just wouldn’t be a story at all.

But there is extra scrutiny for him now. And questions like this are going to come up with increasing regularity.

I don’t envy the regulator working out where the line is, or the station keeping on the right side of it.

For today at least though, I think he straddled the line, but didn’t cross it. So we’re not writing a news story about it. But I’m genuinely unsure whether ACMA will see it the same way.

I guess when they report back in a few months, I’ll know whether my news sense deserted me.

5.35pm update: Turns out, much the same material featured on the Fitzy & Wippa show on Sydney’s Nova (and arguably went further) too:

Tim Burrowes


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