David Campbell gay-bashed out of office

The NSW government minister, David Campbell, who was forced to resign his portfolio after a TV network outed him is the victim of media gay-bashing.

Campbell had done nothing wrong. He had not breached any government protocols; he hadn’t acted corruptly; he hadn’t done anything inappropriate with children.

The only thing that could be pinned on Campbell was that the use of his ministerial car to drive himself to the gay sex club where he was videotaped might be “inappropriate”.

But Campbell resigned in disgrace. What’s the disgrace?

That he had the temerity to be a closeted gay man living in a marriage with a wife and two children. This is not unusual, nor is it grounds for dismissal from office, but the more homophobic elements of the news media can’t leave this scabby drama alone.

Channel Seven, the network that spied on the minister and ran the story, behaved appallingly and this sleazy justification for destroying the life and career of David Campbell is absolutely fucking pathetic. [Yes, I’m angry about this]

Channel Seven said it was right to broadcast the story because the minister’s private conduct was at odds with his public persona.

Seven’s news director Peter Meakin says Mr Campbell has been hypocritical.

“I think you’ve got to look at the aspects that apply in each case,” he said.

“In the case of Mr Campbell, here was a guy who had been minister for police, which is a very sensitive portfolio, who had been presenting himself and gaining re-election as a happy family man – sending out Christmas cards with his wife and sons pictured on the card and portraying himself as a loving father and husband.

“Now all this time and apparently for the last 25 years he has been acting otherwise. I think the electorate have the right to know that.”

Meakin you are an asshole insensitive jerk, plain and simple. What the fuck gives you the right to determine what Campbell’s electorate needs to know about his private life?

And what shitful fucking logic and homophobic thinking leads you to conclude that Campbell is not a “happy family man…loving father and husband”?

There is no link between homosexuality and a lack of ability to be a family man and father. Well, there is one…it’s the tired old wall of prejudice that swells the heads of the media’s self-appointed moral police [who themselves are booze-swilling, pill-popping, fornicating sons of bitches].

When this is linked to venal exploitation of circumstance, gossip and rumour, all journalistic honour is sacrificed to the horned-beast RAATINGs

Channel Seven’s weak justification for running this story is just another example of media overstepping the bounds of personal privacy in order to shaft someone and then use the ritual slaying as fodder for jaded eyeballs and cynical advertising sales.

This ABC story has good coverage of comments from the St James Ethics Centre in Sydney and the Gay & Married Mens’ Association. Both of these organisations have condemned Meakin and Channel Seven.

Peter Meakin obviously has some sociopathic empathy impairment going on. He told the ABC he was proud of the story.

Mr Meakin insists Channel Seven has acted appropriately.

“When it comes to handing out Walkley Awards, we probably won’t get one for this,” he said.

“Am I proud that we have done the story? Yes, I am.”

Dear reader, I am sitting here shaking my head in disbelief. But really I just want to kick the old goat fair in the nuts.

There’s now a debate (of sorts) about politicians and their rights to privacy in the wake of this case and David Penberthy of the Murdoch stable has a stab at it on his blog, The Punch.

To a degree Penberthy is right; politicians (and other public figures) have a lesser expectation of privacy than ordinary citizens. They are subject to scrutiny because of their role in public life and decision-making. And he’s right too that the fuck-up fairy is a constant shoulder-riding companion of the NSW government. It has been for sometime. He’s also right that as a senior member of that government David Campbell should be subject to some scrutiny.

But that’s where my agreement with Penberthy ends. What he then goes on to do in the article is link Campbell’s problems to the “fact” that he must be “massively distracted by living a highly complicated double life”. So again we get back to the homophobic nub of the issue:

That somehow (if not automatically) Campbell’s homosexuality (or at least that he’s a man who enjoys sexual activity with other men) is what makes him unfit for office.

We don’t ever get this sort of linkage made when straight people fuck each other under circumstances that might construe a “highly complicated double life”. And again, the implication that you can’t be into same-gender sex and be family-oriented, trustworthy or reliable is made; despite all of the denials.

When you have to resort to saying “I’m not homophobic, but…” You know what I mean.

It will probably sound disingenuous but I feel sympathy and pity for Campbell; his private life has been rendered a mess by his inability to reconcile his sexuality, and he has paid an enormous price as what he did is in no way corrupt or criminal.

But I still think people have every right to know about it, especially when he is part of a government that has lurched from one distraction to the next, with so many of its members unable to stop their private lives from impinging on their ability to execute their public responsibilities. [Penberthy]

So this “gay politician” scandal may well be another blow to the credibility of the NSW government, but the destruction of a man and his family is a high price to pay for the media being right.

There’s an entirely different slant in The Sydney Morning Herald where Andrew West argues that the whole drama is a manufactured crisis to satisfy the maw of television ratings. I’ve already rehearsed this argument, but you can read it for yourself.

Once again, we have seen a political career end in a scandal that is manufactured by the media, based on a series of so-far thin justifications.

Campbell had never set himself up as a ”family values” campaigner. A photograph of himself with his wife and sons is merely that – a family photograph – not a morals crusade.

But even more obnoxious than the faulty justification is the self-righteousness of journalists and TV executives who set themselves up as arbiters of public morals. [West]

The key thing is that we should not confuse the public right to know with either:

a) public curiosity about the personal life of a public figure, or

b) the media’s unethical penchant for prying, spying and scandal for the sake of it.

5 Responses to David Campbell gay-bashed out of office

  1. Medusa says:

    Agreed, and your opinion seems to be reiterated in most comments online. There is an argument that if he lied to his family for so long he probably lied to everybody else about everything political as well.

    Show me a politician who doesn’t lie, doesn’t have any secrets and portrays themselves as who they really are…it just doesn’t exist.

    Sad indication of Ch7’s level of journalistic standards I would say, but I’m no expert. Maybe Mr Meakin could be followed around for a few weeks to see how he spends his free time but that would be stooping to the extremely low standards they choose to employ.

  2. Ha Medusa, your last suggestion is a good one. I have read in a Facebook ‘friend”s comments that a certain TV exec has an issue with substance abuse and driving coordination. But to mention that would be, as you say, stooping to extremely low standards and EM won’t go there.

  3. Loose says:

    It is a complete indictment on the Australian (and to some degree the NZ) media that the Campbell story has received so much prominence on the same news days that a Malawian gay couple have been sentenced to 14 years in prison for apparently being indecent. Where is the sense of fairness? Time that the media stopped paying lip-service to the rights and expectations of homosexuals to be treated equally.

  4. Greg James says:

    Agreed.

    From an unreconditioned old conservative, this was unnecessary. It was not just unecessary, it was punitively spiteful, and it was a set up.

    The “journalist” who was responsible for this should forever be named and shamed.

    I am still wondering what possible public service Channel 7 thought it was serving in airing this rather sad thing.

  5. rob says:

    Totally agree Greg,
    His name is Adam Walters…ex Channel 9 – former snr communications adviser to Morris Iemma (that went well eh Morris?) – revelead last year he was ‘schtupping’ NSW Minister for Health Reba Meagher – Andrew Crook’s piece on Crikey last Friday’s worth a look, especially the ‘revenge’ angle

    and you’ve gotta love the quote

    One Seven insider told Crikey this morning:

    “Adam Walters is the last person who should be throwing stones. He has three children to three different women, and is unable to keep his own penis in his pants.”

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/05/21/the-minister-the-gay-sauna-and-a-reporter-with-scores-to-settle/

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