Australian DJs apologize after world vilifies them for death of Kate Middleton’s nurse

Matt Coutts
Daily BrewDecember 10, 2012

Two Australian radio personalities who made a prank phone call to the hospital where pregnant Kate Middleton was being treated for morning sickness have broken their silence and publicly apologized for their role in the death of a duped nurse.

One hopes the apology is enough to ease their haunted souls, because it will not be enough to satisfy the indignant public horde that has already forgiven itself for laughing in the first place.

[ Related: Nurse who fell for Kate Middleton prank call, found dead ]

Reuters reports that Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian granted their first public interview, telling Australian television they were "shattered, gutted, heartbroken" at the tragic end to their silly prank.

Everyone involved in the Kate Middleton prank phone call, which came before nurse Jacintha Saldanha's untimely death, has now publicly and in this case tearfully apologized.

The station has issued a public statement extending its "deepest sympathies" to Saldanha's family and the hospital, and saying the program would be removed from the air until further notice.

The hosts have been squarely abused by holier-than-thou media around the world, who would never stoop so low as to find such a prank worthy, and have been fed to the screaming social media masses for the horrors they inflicted on a U.K. nurse in the name of shock radio.

Greig helpfully explains in the interview that the prank was "never meant to go this far."

Their boss, Rhys Holleran, has also added that the people involved in the prank "could not have reasonably foreseen this outcome."

Consider those comments for a moment. The prank was never meant to lead to a nurse's death. That result was not one that could have been reasonably expected. Both unequivocally true.

Yet we pile on, demand punishment against Greig and Christian — termination, expulsion, execution. Whether we found the prank funny before the death or not, no one found it mean-spirited.

Remember that the prank phone call did not start catching on outside the show's immediate audience with Saldanha's death. The radio program was at first celebrated in headlines for successfully duping hospital officials and getting an actual update from a nurse tending to Middleton.

It was the second prank that made heavy rounds on Twitter and Facebook last week, following a Brazilian television show's much nastier, and still celebrated, "haunted elevator" gag.

The perpetrators of that gag have not been vilified. They have not been fired and forced to apologize, although this writer felt certain someone would drop dead of fright in that case. No one could have expected a poorly-accented prank call would result in anything but a finger wag.

The remorse of the radio hosts may have been more accepted had it come immediately after the death, had the radio station not celebrated its success even as Jacintha Saldanha's death made headlines around the world.

But the ghost that haunts Greig and Christian is not so much the death of a nurse, but the world that blames them for her death. A public that realized a prank they once laughed at as foolish and harmless was not as harmless as it seemed.

[ Related: Royal phone scandal highlights new media risks ]

We have the liberty to step away from the affair and point fingers, while Greig and Christian have nowhere to hide. They take the blame and are forced to live with it.

They should have seen this coming. We all did and our consciences are clear. At least that is what we get to tell ourselves.