David Warner has caught some flak this week for a Twitter exchange that he had with two News Ltd journalists, Robert Craddock and Malcolm Conn. He has since apologised and been fined $5750 by Cricket Australia.
His outburst occurred after his picture was splashed all over a Courier-Mail article focused on corruption in the IPL. David Warner is not accused of being involved. His photo was on the article because he is a prominent IPL player and some incredibly lazy sub or digital editor used his photo. Given the context of the article David Warner was right to be concerned about his reputation and this sort of journalism is arguably defamatory and inexcusably lazy.
David Warner responded on twitter:
“Shock me @crashcraddock1 talking s*** about ipl jealous p***. Get a real job. All you do is bag people. #getalife”
Malcom Conn then decided to get involved for no reason. Perhaps he couldn’t bear the implication that being a sportswriter is not a real job, but his response betrays his obvious jealousy:
“@davidwarner31 cricket is a real job? Please. Most people pay to play. Million dollar cricketers milking the IPL are hardly the best judges.”
Warner: “@malcolmconn coming from you champion all you do is talk shit as well. What about encouraging Aus players rather then bagging them.”
Conn: “@davidwarner31 You lose 4-0 in India, don’t make a run, and you want to be tickled on the tummy? Win the Ashes and get back to me.”
Warner: “@malcolmconn are you still talking you old fart, no wonder know one buys your paper.”
There has been substantial coverage of the incident in the Australian papers this week by journos such as Richard Hinds and Peter Fitzsimons who have leapt to the defence of their colleagues. I haven’t read an article yet which has admitted that the Courier Mail article was inflammatory and the photograph poorly selected.
Richard Hinds, who is usually a reasonably intelligent and amusing writer, lamented that David Warner should have settled his differences over a beer with the journalist at a hotel bar. Of course, this is self-serving rubbish. In David Warner’s eyes, his reputation was substantially damaged by an article distributed to hundreds of thousands of readers via a newspaper column. David Warner does not have a newspaper column of his own to respond with (just as well, because he can’t spell for shit), but he does have access to Twitter to get his voice heard. In my view it is entirely appropriate to respond to a public attack on his character via another public forum such as Twitter, although clearly he could have chosen his words better. Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t lend itself to nuance and not everyone on the Australian cricket team can write like Ed Cowan. A chat with the journo over a beer would not have led to a retraction or the public becoming aware of David Warner’s perspective of this story. As Warner said himself “If I let it go and didn’t say anything, was I going to be defended by anyone?”
Clearly, he wasn’t.
Peter Fitzsimons went as far as to call the Courier-Mail column “a quite reasonable article critical of corruption in the IPL”. He clearly hadn’t seen the photo which accompanied the article and missed the point, which was Warner’s problem was that his photo was splashed all over it, not that Craddock dared to write about corruption. He then went on to make fun of David Warner’s spelling ability and called him “bleeding sensitive” and “downright nasty”, again, missing the original context. This is equally lazy and one-eyed journalism from Fitzsimons, who is usually a reliable advocate of players rights (a notable exception being when rugby league players are dealing with ASADA).
Robert Craddock is a well-regarded writer who obviously didn’t select the photo of Warner which accompanied his article. However, it is too much to expect David Warner to understand the intricacies of the journalism production process. He is right to be angry about the article. Robert Craddock’s name is on the article and he can’t escape the blame for the photo which accompanied it. Craddock is likely to have significant influence to address these sorts of issues within the News Limited production department.
The fine Warner received is the maximum allowed under Cricket Australia’s rules regarding unbecoming behaviour. As far as I can tell, he is guilty of calling a journalist a “prick” and an “old fart” after significant provocation (first from the article, and then from Malcolm Conn’s tweets). Warner is the vice captain of the Australian team and deserves to be held to a high standard of behaviour, however I have a problem with him being hung out to dry by his employer while the media as per usual, skates through unscathed despite being the root cause of the issue.
I haven’t seen an apology from News Ltd or Craddock about the article and I suspect Warner shouldn’t hold his breath.
Next time you hear a boiler plate response from a professional athlete who is “taking things one game at a time”, or “putting in 110%” and giving “full credit to the opposition” and you wonder where all the characters in Australian sport have gone, think back to examples like this which only serve to make players more insular and distrusting of the media and the public.