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Nurse who answered "prank" Duchess call found dead.
December 7, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe

2Day FM's DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian phoned the King Edward VII Hospital from Australia on Wednesday morning pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles asking for an update on the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. The call was described as a prank by the DJs who made it and foolish by the hospital. The nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, was convinced by the impersonation and relayed confidential medical details. Today Ms Saldanha was found dead, early reports indicate the death is not suspicious and is suspected to be suicide.

The hospital said in a statement: ““We can confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha. Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and a well-respected and popular member of staff with all her colleagues. We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital has been supporting her at this difficult time.”
posted by samworm (242 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure conspiracy theorists will just let this one slide.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, it pisses me off that a radio DJ in Australia would be so casual about harming someones' career. The nurse certainly didn't deserve this treatment.

On the other hand, I can't help but ask why someone would kill themselves over this. They were tricked by fraud; there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps I'm giving my own country of residence too much credit, but I can't imagine any nurses in the United States killing themselves after being tricked into divulging the private details of a middling celebrity personality.
posted by anewnadir at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2012


Oh, I can imagine it over divulging the private details of say, the first daughters.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:03 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


samworm: "The nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, was convinced by the impersonation and relayed confidential medical details."
This appears to be incorrect. Ms Saldanha merely put the call through to the royals' private nurse, who then proceeded to divulge medical details.
posted by brokkr at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


empath: I think the key qualification in my comment is the word "middling."
posted by anewnadir at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2012


This is sad.

RIP Jacintha Saldanha and condolences to her family and friends.
posted by mazola at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


The hospital need to say how they treated her in the aftermath of the prank phone call, and whether Buckingham Palace told them to threaten her with the sack. They likely put her under immense pressure for her mistake, so it's not surprising that she cracked.
posted by Jehan at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can't imagine any nurses in the United States killing themselves after being tricked into divulging the private details of a middling celebrity personality.

Um. I don't know if you're aware of this, but the Royal family are pretty big business over here in the UK. This has been a massive story since it broke. I'm not surprised if the poor woman was feeling pressured by the scrutiny of the press and the public.
posted by fight or flight at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


The association with royal families that many residents of countries which were, for most of their history, monarchies don't have any sort of equivalent in the U.S.
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the key qualification in my comment is the word "middling."

Kate is married to an heir to the throne, will be Queen of England, and is the mother-to-be to a future King or Queen of England. She's nowhere near "middling."
posted by tzikeh at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2012 [36 favorites]


The hospital need to say how they treated her in the aftermath of the prank phone call, and whether Buckingham Palace told them to threaten her with the sack.

If you read the articles you will discover that she had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital. Crack down on those conspiracy theories, please.
posted by fight or flight at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kate Middlington
posted by mulligan at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


@brokkr - you are correct. Perhaps someone can update the post, otherwise here is a clarification:
BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mrs Saldanha - who was married with two children - was the person who answered the call from the Australian DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess's medical condition.
I don't remember this detail from when I originally read the article. Either I misread it or it has been expanded upon. Either way, apologies all round, especially. to Ms Saldanha.
posted by samworm at 9:08 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


anewnadir: if it helps at all, I can't imagine anyone trying to precisely delineate which levels of celebrity do and do not warrant suicide, so it seems that there's more to human nature than either of us can conceive of.
posted by kavasa at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, I can't help but ask why someone would kill themselves over this.

Suicide is a complex thing; I'm sure if we were privy to the details of Ms. Saldanha's personal life, there would be other factors going on that are also part of the picture. This stupid prank phone call was likely the last of a string of perceived failures/losses.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:10 AM on December 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


This is terribly, terribly sad. Anybody who is feeling low this holiday season, please remember there are places and people you can go to for help.
posted by RokkitNite at 9:10 AM on December 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


That is just tragic. I have made medical errors far worse than falling for a prank phone call and would never think of harming myself over them. However, my mistakes have never had worldwide press either. I can only speculate on what was going through that poor lady's mind and wonder why she didn't reach out to anyone.
posted by TedW at 9:10 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


That poor woman and her family. I loathe media prank calls because every single one I've seen or heard involves taking some poor person at a low level job, who is probably overworked, and screwing with them for 3 minutes of feeling superior about how stupid they are not to work out this is a prank call.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:11 AM on December 7, 2012 [101 favorites]


This is awful. Pranks where the person who is being pranked will not find the situation funny in the end shouldn't be done. If you're putting someone on the spot and making them feel frustrated/embarrassed/angry etc. are just you being an asshole, not really you being silly.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:11 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Kate is married to an heir to the throne, will be Queen of England, and is the mother-to-be to a future King or Queen of England.

Yes, fine, but other than marrying someone whose ancestors killed their way to the top, what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention? And why is she so important that an innocent woman would be hounded by the press until she reached her breaking point? Kate Middleton is a normal person. William Saxe-Coburg is a normal person. There's nothing particularly special about either them. No obvious talents, no serious contributions to civilization.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


On the other hand, I can't help but ask why someone would kill themselves over this. They were tricked by fraud; there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps I'm giving my own country of residence too much credit, but I can't imagine any nurses in the United States killing themselves after being tricked into divulging the private details of a middling celebrity personality.

Oh, I can imagine it over divulging the private details of say, the first daughters.


AMERICA FUCK YEAH

In other words, these two comments speak volumes about how Americans sometimes perceive themselves on the world stage.
posted by Kitteh at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you read the articles you will discover that she had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital. Crack down on those conspiracy theories, please.
It's not a conspiracy theory, thank you very much. It's a simple accusation that the pressure she was put under for her mistake made her crack. Nobody killed her, nobody meant to kill her. But they question is, did they treat her with so little sympathy that she killed herself?
posted by Jehan at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2012


And this is why US DJ's just fake their 'prank' call.
posted by muddgirl at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or if they don't, then an example of why they should.
posted by muddgirl at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2012


The ones where idiot politicians are made to look stupid(er) (since none of them have the sense to feel stupid apparently) are fine by me, though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, I can't help but ask why someone would kill themselves over this.

It seems unbelievable but this could have just been the straw that broke the camel's back. And the people around her may have been kind but who knows, she also may have been teased by colleagues and friends, yelled at by bosses, and had it suggested by some self-appointed expert that she was going to have the queen's take-no-crap lawyers down on top of her. Wouldn't put it past the tabloids to be calling her cellphone round the clock either and some of the "person on the street" interviews I saw on the news were very critical of the hospital and nurses too. She was also living in the hospital residences away from her husband and kids apparently so there may not have been anyone to give her a hug and tell her it wasn't a big deal. Very sad regardless, would be nice to think the media can back off the pregnancy hysteria a bit as a result but I suspect this will only ramp it up.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


being tricked into divulging the private details of a middling celebrity personality.

I'm no Royalist, but K.Middleton has taken the role Diana had in terms of the media spotlight here and overseas (the Daily Mail newsroom reportedly cheered when the Royal Foetus was announced, presumably because it will fill their sidebar for the next six months). If you're old enough to remember, there was a lot of criticism of press intrusion after the death of Diana, which is why you didn't see footage of Royal children much after her death. The first daughters are probably the closest analogue in the US.

I would hate to have her life, in the gilded cage of royalty, but also this story makes me feel really sad for women who can't have children or who are having trouble conceiving, because the nation is essentially being forced into following the progress of this woman's pregnancy, and it's hard when you're confronted by something like that daily. My dad died in the same week as the Richard Hammond crash, and while I didn't know who he was and think he's probably aq reasonable bloke, the coverage annoyed me because I didn't want to care about a stranger in hospital, nor realise that he would be likely to leave. It's just as emotional for the unhappily unpregnant.
posted by mippy at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Man, one time I tried to get my *own* medical records from a hospital. I couldn't remember if I'd had just a tetanus shot or if it was TDAP. They wouldn't answer the question over the phone. They asked for my address and mailed me a form I could use to request that information.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:16 AM on December 7, 2012


It seems unbelievable but this could have just been the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'd say having your mistake replayed over and over and replayed to the world might well be enough to drive someone to suicide, no matter how sympathetic everyone was.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:16 AM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


William Saxe-Coburg is a normal person. There's nothing particularly special about either them. No obvious talents, no serious contributions to civilization.

That's just your personal opinion. However, objectively speaking, the royals are a Big Deal in Britain, with massive media coverage. You surely aren't denying that, are you?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:16 AM on December 7, 2012


Yes, fine, but other than marrying someone whose ancestors killed their way to the top, what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention?

Your issues with Royalty/Monarchy don't have anything to do with the question at hand. Kate Middleton is enormously famous, belongs to an incredibly famous and oft-revered family, and is therefore not a "middling" celebrity. I was responding to that qualification of her status, and not whether or not she "merits" it. She has it.
posted by tzikeh at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2012 [41 favorites]


Yes, fine, but other than marrying someone whose ancestors killed their way to the top, what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention?

Well, arguably, nothing (short of signing herself up for a lifetime of hard work in a very bright spotlight). But that's hardly the point. Kate didn't ask a couple of bored DJs on the other side of the world to call the hospital for her personal medical information. They, and the producers and directors who authorised the public airing of the call, are to blame for this awful situation. Not Kate.
posted by fight or flight at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's nothing particularly special about either them. No obvious talents, no serious contributions to civilization.

I think there is something different about her, though, compared with other young royal people, in terms of the narrative played out in the news cycle. She isn't from a royal line (I can't believe I'm typing this) so the media spun it as a fairytale - yes, you too, commoner, can marry a Prince and have a massive wedding in a cathedral with a pretty dress. Royal-watchers seem to think she's great because she has 'the common touch', even though she comes from serious money, went to boarding school, and has grown up in a way that 99% of the country has not.
posted by mippy at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2012


I'd say having your mistake replayed over and over and replayed to the world might well be enough to drive someone to suicide, no matter how sympathetic everyone was

Yeah, I agree. I still get a horrible feeling in my stomach when I think about a situation where I humiliated myself at work. And that was fifteen years ago and only observed by a dozen people who I'm sure forgot about it the next day. She must have been very upset.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


What a sad story. To the extent that we should take a lesson from it, surely that lesson is about the consequences of our insane celebrity obsessions. The DJs are a good scapegoat and acted like utter assholes, but aren't we're all implicated in the conditions that made this latest media obsession spiral out of control.
posted by naju at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So how ya likin' your prank calls now, DJ's? Feeling smug? Feel like you accomplished something? Yay you.
posted by Lynsey at 9:23 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


.In other words, these two comments speak volumes about how Americans sometimes perceive themselves on the world stage.

Excuse me, I was just trying to find an american equivalent to a future queen of england. It's not exactly easy.
posted by empath at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I can't help but ask why someone would kill themselves over this.

Not everyone is a cold cynical bastard with a thick skin trained by years of online trolling and counter-trolling.
posted by stbalbach at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


In other words, these two comments speak volumes about how Americans sometimes perceive themselves on the world stage.

We perceive ourselves to be where we are, like anyone else. Or is there some other basis for most mefite's commentary here besides one's personal experience, whatever its geolocation?

Or perhaps you'd prefer that any/all Americans just STFU about the Royals because We Just Can't Understand? Now who's the exceptionalist?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It would be cool if this were a hoax.


But I don't suspect this will be cool at all.
posted by mazola at 9:25 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems unbelievable but this could have just been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Yeah. Another factor. Today, the sun rose at 7:52AM. It set at 3:52PM -- a day just 8 hours long. The sun climbed to only 15.9° above the horizon at local noon.

It is literally a dark time to be in London.
posted by eriko at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also:
[cue antidrug PSA music]
From you! OK? We learned it from watching you!*

*Also, Spain and France.

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2012


I'm a little disturbed that folk are quick in shifting the blame to the DJs. The hospital management is responsible for the well-being of its employees, and need to be investigated to insure that their actions did nothing to cause this suicide. They had the power to help this prank "blow over" and that Saldanha wasn't caught in the middle of it because of a little mistake. But we need to know that their course of action actually was supportive of her (more than just their word), and not threatening or abusive.
posted by Jehan at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is fraudulently obtaining somebody's personal and confidential medical information considered just a "prank"?
posted by Aquaman at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


I feel like the entire royal pregnancy is being scripted by Hilary Mantel
posted by Conductor71 at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


And because discussions about suicide can be triggering for people:

Help in the US

Help in Canada

Help in Europe

Help in Australia

Befrienders Worldwide

Please reach out for help if you need it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [27 favorites]


Excuse me, I was just trying to find an american equivalent to a future queen of england. It's not exactly easy.

Or perhaps you'd prefer that any/all Americans just STFU about the Royals because We Just Can't Understand? Now who's the exceptionalist?


My point was the comments in question were just the weirdest take on Why Should Anyone Care About the Medical Details of Kate Middleton.

I am no royalist--an American, actually, living in a Commonwealth country--by any means, but the remarks very much came off as "Wait, if this isn't a Kardashian or whomever, why is this a big deal?"
posted by Kitteh at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is fraudulently obtaining somebody's personal and confidential medical information considered just a "prank"?

"Prank" and "crime" need not be exclusive terms.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is literally a dark time to be in London.

Let's not make fun of people committing suicide.

The Royal family, though, knock yourself out.
posted by mippy at 9:32 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Appalling. What must her children be going through?
posted by Segundus at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Royal-watchers seem to think she's great because she has 'the common touch', even though she comes from serious money, went to boarding school, and has grown up in a way that 99% of the country has not.

Man, there is just nothing about the obsession with these figureheads that is not gross.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say having your mistake replayed over and over and replayed to the world might well be enough to drive someone to suicide, no matter how sympathetic everyone was.

When CBC radio reported this on their nightly news, there was definitely a "can you believe she fell for this?!?" bent to the reporting. And if that was how the Corpse was reporting it, I can only imagine how magnified that must have been world-wide, and then to have it all focused onto one person, 'let's all laugh at the dumbass'.

Not really knowing any of the details of her situation, I would imagine that she was a very ordinary person first put into the extraordinary position of having to attend to a future Queen, and the future King or Queen within, and anyone would be totally unprepared for that. Is it surprising she fell for the prank? Probably not, when you're already operating in such strange circumstances. Then on top of that, you become the subject of a world joke?

I have no idea if there were already-existing pressures in the nurses' life. But her new situation was so beyond anyone's normal experience, who could handle that?

There's a need for serious introspection on the part of many players in this.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am no royalist--an American, actually, living in a Commonwealth country--by any means, but the remarks very much came off as "Wait, if this isn't a Kardashian or whomever, why is this a big deal?"

Ah, my apologies then.

To me, it they seemed more like a failure of foresight--as was pointed out above, Middleton's stature doesn't only involve who she is now, but who she will become.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2012


Kitteh: Defining someone's "level of fame" is hardly an objective process. My original comment was meant to point out that Kate Middleton has benefited from two contradictory reverential impulses in Britain: she's been lionized as a member of the "middle class" (and thus the earlier comparison to Diana is apt) while simultaneously having her persona take on a gloss of state-bestowed legitimacy. She's now a "royal", whatever that means.

If Kate Middleton actually took her role seriously, there might be good reason to see her as "special," which would then explain why someone could have their life destroyed by a simple mistake like this.

But Kate Middleton is not Special. She is merely an avatar of royal fecklessness and late-stage consumerism in the rich West. This, to me, is the quintessence of "middling", regardless of your belief that the amount of attention paid to her refutes my description.
posted by anewnadir at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2012


The whole thing makes me physically ill. There is absolutely no reason why, in the year 2012, people should be fussing over the progeny of a line of cruel dictators who lost power over a century ago.

Kate should get exactly the same care and attention as that of anyone else married into a rich family, which is to say probably a lot better than average. The idea that a simple mistake in her care could destroy dozens of people's careers and one person's life is simply disgusting.
posted by miyabo at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously, one last time: I AM NOT A ROYALIST. I DO NOT GIVE A TOSS ABOUT THE ROYAL FAMILY IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

The majority of the world perceives this woman as famous and worthy of being so. I do not. So please, let us move on to discussing the actual topic at hand.
posted by Kitteh at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only people I give a hard time (read: mess with as much as my time allows) on the phone are A) telemarketers/solicitors who have called me and B) people who refuse to believe me when I tell them they have the wrong number.

I think this should be a rule punishable by having the finger that is used to operate the keypad chopped off, repeat offenders should lose additional fingers.

. for the lady nurse.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2012


This is tragic, and my sympathies and prayers go out to her children and family. That said, this particular station is responsible for some other really horrific stuff, and I would not be sad to see them taken off the global stage.
posted by dejah420 at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


anewnadir: "This, to me, is the quintessence of "middling", regardless of your belief that the amount of attention paid to her refutes my description."

Your internal definitions of things are perhaps not key to the discussion in many ways.
posted by boo_radley at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2012 [30 favorites]


progeny of a line of cruel dictators

I'm sure you're not talking about the Windsors. The Royal Crown of England hasn't had dictatorial powers for centuries.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


But Kate Middleton is not Special. She is merely an avatar of royal fecklessness and late-stage consumerism in the rich West. This, to me, is the quintessence of "middling", regardless of your belief that the amount of attention paid to her refutes my description.

You don't seem to really understand the definition of middling. It is not just a synonym for mediocre in the kinds of qualities you would prefer celebrities to have.
posted by OmieWise at 9:42 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


How is fraudulently obtaining somebody's personal and confidential medical information considered just a "prank"?

Being an asshole helps in understanding how you can call it a "prank".

> It is literally a dark time to be in London.

Let's not make fun of people committing suicide.


I didn't take this as "Making fun of suicide," more like an observation that seasonal shift may also be making some people more sensitive to things than they would be in summer.

And yes, 1adam12, you don't think the royals deserve their level of fame. Nevertheless, they have it, and the media responds accordingly, and running afoul of them will make the media run roughshod over you. I don't think the Kardashians deserve their fame either, but I at least acknowledge that the rest of the world considers them famous nevertheless. If you want to start an FPP on "whether the royals deserve fame" you're welcome to it. but this is an FPP about something else.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Kitteh: Defining someone's "level of fame" is hardly an objective process. My original comment was meant to point out that Kate Middleton has benefited from two contradictory reverential impulses in Britain: she's been lionized as a member of the "middle class" (and thus the earlier comparison to Diana is apt) while simultaneously having her persona take on a gloss of state-bestowed legitimacy. She's now a "royal", whatever that means.
To note, Diana Spencer was not middle-class. She was born into pretty old nobility, and a descendent of royalty. Kate is pretty common though, overall. But her character and looks will help the royal family in no small deal, which is why she was chosen.
posted by Jehan at 9:44 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is just awful. I couldn't believe, how after this happened everyone was going on about how we should feel sympathy and compassion for the duchess in her time of morning sickness and what a nasty thing to do to her, and I'd be yelling at the radio/tv 'what about the poor nurse that they just humiliated in front of billions of people?!" Damn, poor woman. RIP .
posted by Flashman at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2012


These DJs have said "sorry" but they still have jobs. In a perfect world, they would be fired and the radio station would have their license pulled.
posted by Fnarf at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


"If Kate Middleton actually took her role seriously, there might be good reason to see her as "special," which would then explain why someone could have their life destroyed by a simple mistake like this."

I really don't know what you mean by 'take her role seriously'. As far as I can see it, the Royal Family are diplomats - their job is to do a lot of travelling and shaking hands. They don't get to make public statements unless they've been through six advisors first. They can patronise charities, but not controversial ones. What do you think the Royal Family should be doing apart from abdicating and moving to Redcar, obviously? How does one demonstrate taking a role as head of state, or heir to, seriously? (I didn't apply to enter St Andrew's in 2000 in the end, so I'll never find out.)

She's an advantage in terms of raising their public interest - Diana was lionised after her death, and now there's another young woman who's come along and married the little boy who was sad at the funeral. I don't have any interest in what she does, I find it utterly bizarre that grown women are rushing out to buy any item of clothing that adorns her body, but a lot of people really like her in a way that few of the current royals have enjoyed.

And even if you, as I do, feel that the wealth of press attention on someone's haircut is slightly sickening at a time when more foodbanks are opening up in the UK and pensioners are freezing to death, it would be crazytown to deny that she is a very, very famous woman. It's like saying nobody's heard of Michael Jackson because you don't like his records.
posted by mippy at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I was griping (to my own employee) yesterday about how I thought this whole debacle was indicative of typical shitty management communication. I'm willing to bet the staff has been beaten over the head repeatedly with orders about not taking cell phone photos or telling their friends or otherwise indulging in what I assume is criminal privacy violations, and yet nobody bothered to post a memo saying "ALL inquiries regarding That Patient go to x3456. ALL. Yes, even if the fucking Queen calls. Handling this craziness is not your job, so transfer to x3456."

Problem solved. Social engineering vectors removed. x3456 is answered by either a hospital administrator or palace employee accustomed to this sort of thing. Nobody fucks up, nobody gets piled on from multiple continents, nobody feels so awful and stupid - because of their fucking job - that they die. But it was probably more important to pre-accuse the staff of posting about it on Facebook than it was to write a proper management communication protocol.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


she's been lionized as a member of the "middle class" (and thus the earlier comparison to Diana is apt)

Diana was Lady Diana Spencer. I find the idea of anyone being called a 'commoner' in 2012 bizarre, but Diana was a member of the aristocracy before she married into the Royal Family proper. KM's public school education makes her seem more upper-class in my book, but then I don't write articles for the Standard about how one can't possibly live in London on less than £100k a year, so what do I know>?
posted by mippy at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2012


Agreed Kitteh. Hey some people: We get it, royalty is theft or something. Or they deserve to be famous. Who cares? This is more about the prank and the sad death of this woman.

I don't know the exact circumstances of the prank but I really pity the DJs now. I'm sure they didn't think they were hurting anyone "real", only the privacy of famous people they consider fair game for being in the public sphere. I've often wondered about the victims of the jokes that people like the Jerky Boys used to torment, how their lives turned out after being punked so hard publicly. This certainly was a lot more victimless, seemingly, but now their careers are essentially over (even if not literally yet). It's sort of just bad luck, the price of being audacious, but also now they know that aggressive, amoral actions like this, even done in the name of 'art' or 'comedy' or 'journalism' or whatever this was, can have unintended and devastating consequences.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:50 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also thought that was odd, Lyn. I mean this isn't the first time a member of the royal family has been hospitalized, and it went massive right away. It seems weird that there wasn't a protocol already in place, or a gaggle of royal functionaries sitting on top of the reception desk watching everything that goes on.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:52 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


When your parents are middle-class, non-Oxbridge business people, you've got the common touch by definition, no matter how well your parents may have done in business. There's no comparison to Diana, a landed aristocrat of the bluest possible blood.

It's quite ahistorical to label the current British monarchy dictators or descendants thereof. The English and Scottish spent most of the 17th Century and early 18th Century shaping the monarchy into a rather precise tool for orderly and democratic (at least among landowners) self-governance, with the the overthrow of the last two Kings to attempt any like dictatorship being the key events, and the succession of George I (the direct ancestor of the present Royal Family) being the capstone of those efforts.
posted by MattD at 9:52 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've heard prank calls here that have made me really uncomfortable - there was one where a guy was egged on to phone his wife and pretend to have been made redundant during the run-up to Christmas. The distress in her voice was painful, and they just kept it going and going while she wondered aloud how they'd pay the mortgage and tell the kids.

The other kind of prank call involves pissing off underpaid service staff because apparently it's well funny to make people on minimum wage feel confused and stupid.
posted by mippy at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So there's a segment on Seattle's pop radio station (KIIS-FM) wherein the morning DJs try to trap guys into revealing that they're cheating on their wives/S.O.s. It's called "War of the Roses" and it's hyped as scandal-entertainment. They call the guy up (with the wife/SO secretly on the line) and present themselves as a florist company, saying he has won a free delivery of flowers, and who would he like them sent to? Often, he directs it to the "other woman," and then there's a salacious audio confrontation and the DJs feel just oh so bad for the cheated woman.

I've been waiting for something like that to turn out like this. Yes, cheating is bad. Calling up private people, with no real understanding of their stresses and their lives, and subjecting them to real life trauma and public ridicule is just disgusting.

I feel so bad for Saldanha and her family right now.

.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Many thanks to those of you who mentioned the role of the DJ's in promoting and precipitating this tragedy. While they may not have been both the necessary and sufficient cause for this death they were the necessary element. That these comments should take turns to castigate the hospital or belittle the family of the patients is a bit disturbing and just plain sad. Errors are made, procedures should be followed--but there is hardly ever any excuse for lying, deception and putting people in vulnerable and embarrassing situations. That is exactly what the DJs did--public pranks are unacceptable, dirty business and totally self serving.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


(BTW: I've only listened in once or twice to make sure I understood what's going on. I'm a compulsive channel-flipper, and it has popped up on me a few mornings... but I'd honestly rather listen to commercials and bands I hate than that sort of crap.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:55 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


the Royal Family are diplomats

Pretty much. And the Queen has a significant role that America could actually make good use of: she is a non-partisan representative of the state. The US can't send a representative to ANYTHING who really represents the entire country -- it's always going to be a Republican or a Democrat, and in practice, they always represent the President and his party.

The Queen does not; she represents "Britain", ALL of Britain, quite apart from whether Cameron or Brown or whoever is Prime Minister. It's a valuable distinction, in my view.

That said, I have no personal sympathy for any of the Royals, seeing as how the above reason only calls for the one, and I would happily see the whole lot of them ground up and fed to the corgis. There certainly cannot be any justification for all the assorted Philips and Margarets and the rest of the parasites in their multitude of castles and diamonds and million-acre estates and whatnot.

Kate Middleton's only function on this earth is exactly that of a breeding cow, to produce a new prize bull. Ditto Diana. All the rest is ridiculous princess-fantasy, more suited to the attentions of eight-year-old girls with Barbies than grownups with a country to live in. She's horrible, full stop. So was Diana. No, Diana was worse.
posted by Fnarf at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


That poor woman and her family. I loathe media prank calls because every single one I've seen or heard involves taking some poor person at a low level job, who is probably overworked, and screwing with them for 3 minutes of feeling superior about how stupid they are not to work out this is a prank call.

I got prank called by a DJ when I was at working at a Kinko's. Busy as hell, as usual. This guy called and said he had a computer problem or some such thing. I noticed right away that this guy had an amazingly clear, golden voice, but only subconsciously.

He said, "Yeah, I'm having an issue with my system of a down."

I said, "What?"

He said, "Yeah, I'm having an issue with my system of a down."

I caught on and said, "Sir, are you talking about a computer problem or the band System of a Down?" I guess he thought I'd take the bait and assume his system was down...or something.

He dropped the gag and gots all chummy, explained he's a DJ with KFUCKU or whatever and asked my permission to use the conversation on the air.

I said "Sure, go ahead. But it's not funny." And I hung up.
posted by zardoz at 10:01 AM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's called "War of the Roses"

Any suggestion that it is faked? Or maybe the women are already suspicious to begin with, and that's why they are on the show. It strikes me that a random selection of couples wouldn't yield great results this way. I mean, the scheme isn't even going to catch out all the guys who are cheating..
posted by Chuckles at 10:02 AM on December 7, 2012


Yes, fine, but other than marrying someone whose ancestors killed their way to the top, what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention?

It really makes zero difference whether you think she merits this level of attention. She gets it.

Kate Middleton's only function on this earth is exactly that of a breeding cow, to produce a new prize bull.

That is exactly the function of all humans. Including the one who will eventually invent a cure for cancer. Do you think evolution gives a flying fuck what percentage of us die of cancer? No, no it does not. So what is your point?
posted by DarlingBri at 10:02 AM on December 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


This isn't the first time a 2day FM "hard-case" breakfast DJ prank has gone wrong though, is it? Wasn't the station threatened with license suspension over something else like this a couple of years ago?
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any suggestion that it is faked? Or maybe the women are already suspicious to begin with, and that's why they are on the show. It strikes me that a random selection of couples wouldn't yield great results this way. I mean, the scheme isn't even going to catch out all the guys who are cheating.

I suppose it's entirely possible that it's faked. I'm too disgusted to listen frequently enough to develop a firm opinion on that, but my guess is no. I have heard at least one case where the guy really did send the flowers to his wife, and so the DJs brought her on to talk, and then there was still a blow-up over her being overly suspicious, bringing their problems out in public on the radio like this, setting him up, etc... so it's a win for the radio station either way.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:07 AM on December 7, 2012


Yo if you're seriously writing that national figures should be ground up for dogfood you should probably either take that shit to your own cool livejournal page or metatalk or group therapy but not a thread that is actually about something else so like idk for real you got a problem yo.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:08 AM on December 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yo if you're seriously writing that national figures should be ground up for dogfood you should probably either take that shit to your own cool livejournal page or metatalk or group therapy but not a thread that is actually about something else so like idk for real you got a problem yo.
Nobody is seriously suggesting that real people should be killed, only the "royals" as imaginary figures. Yes the queen should be killed, but the little old lady who currently plays her should be left in peace.
posted by Jehan at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fnarf: "Kate Middleton's only function on this earth is exactly that of a breeding cow"

What is wrong with you?
posted by boo_radley at 10:14 AM on December 7, 2012 [61 favorites]


That is exactly the function of all humans. Including the one who will eventually invent a cure for cancer. Do you think evolution gives a flying fuck what percentage of us die of cancer?

Um, what? Why do you or anyone else give a flying fuck what "evolution" gives a flying fuck about?

Let me put it another way: What does "function on this earth" have to do with evolution? Do you go to work? Why? Evolution doesn't care if you go to work, pay your rent, feed your kids. I mean, seriously, why are you posting here if the perspective of evolution is the only one that matters to you?

I'm quite certain that the people who get, or don't get, cancer give a flying fuck what percentage of us die of that disease. And they give a flying fuck about the people who are working on curing it.

Many, many people serve valuable functions during their time in this life. Some of them cure cancer; some of them sing popular songs; some of them cook your dinner. Some of them drop valuable livestock out of their wombs. It's not ridiculous to point out differences between them.
posted by Fnarf at 10:14 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If their public statements are true, the hospital and the palace did not put pressure on her. She wasn't disciplined or suspended. The palace did not complain, and made a point of recognising the quality of care Kate received.

Also, she's not Kate Middleton, and hasn't been for 18 months.

Diana wasn't middle class. She was Lady Diana Spencer before she married Prince Charles.

Love them or loathe them, most people agree they wouldn't want the royals' life for all the tea in China. The Queen has not - midway through her eighties - yet retired.

I personally find it amazing William has turned out well enough that there is even an argument for him being normal. I have enormous respect for him just for being able to emerge in an OK state from a childhood in which his parents went through an extremely public divorce, his mother died at the age of just 36 and he's been followed about by the press from birth. Whereas you hear on the back channels various stories about the other royals, William is widely liked.

Finally - I'm pretty amazed at how class warfare makes it ok to come out with misogynistic statements that a woman is just a breeding cow. In Kate's case, as with several of the royals, she has, and I suspect recognises that she has an opportunity and a duty to carve her own path, modernise the royal family and actually bring about change.

For Philip it was self-sufficiency and leadership. For Diana it was AIDS and landmines. For Charles it is sustainability and the work of the Prince's trust. For group of people often regarded as a throwback to the past, it is interesting how ahead of the times they prove. I don't know what floats Will & Kate's boat, but the deal with being a royal is that you pick your causes and champion them and drive public opinion for the common good. They don't seem so dismissable to me.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2012 [41 favorites]


As for who might have hounded the nurse after the hoax call, three words: British; Tabloid; and Press.
posted by Hogshead at 10:17 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Many, many people serve valuable functions during their time in this life. Some of them cure cancer; some of them sing popular songs; some of them cook your dinner. Some of them drop valuable livestock out of their wombs. It's not ridiculous to point out differences between them.

Kate Middleton (or whatever it is we should be calling her) is a woman and a human being and saying that her life function is to "drop livestock" is straight-up misogyny, whether you intended it to be or not.
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2012 [65 favorites]


^Seriously please take that weird shit elsewhere Fnarf you're derailing this thread and making yourself just look like a huge jerk. I hate the idea of royalty too but bringing it up here is both tasteless and dumb and the way you are doing it is preeeetty sexist.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Many, many people serve valuable functions during their time in this life. Some of them cure cancer; some of them sing popular songs; some of them cook your dinner. Some of them drop valuable livestock out of their wombs. It's not ridiculous to point out differences between them.

I have no idea WTF you're trying to say, but I wish you'd find another way to say it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


William Saxe-Coburg is a normal person

NB, if you want to use the "real" name of Prince William, it would be "Glücksburg" or "Oldenburg" (the royal house of Denmark, of which the royal house of Greece, into which Prince Philip was born, is a branch). The Queen would be "Saxe-Coburg" (as a male-line descendant of Prince Albert, Victoria's husband).
posted by dhens at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2012


[Seriously, enough with the women-are-breeding-cows thing. Whatever point you are hoping to make is going to be badly overshadowed by the problematic nature of that metaphor. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is wrong with you?

Nothing is wrong with me. I don't much like princesses, that's all. I don't understand why the media is so fascinated by them. I don't understand why there are not one but TWO magazines ("Majesty" and "Royalty") devoted to these people on American newstands. I don't understand why they have to own such a vast amount of British real estate and wealth, when they contribute so little. I don't understand why media attention focuses so intently on them that people are motivated to commit suicide if they step on protocol a little.
posted by Fnarf at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's all fun and games until someone kills herself. :(

...

Radio: It's time for another Bill and Marty Classic Prank Call!
Bill: Hello, is this Mr. Justin Sherman?
Chester: Yes..
Bill: Sir your wife is dead!
Chester: Oh...god, no!
Bill: Thats right, she just walked through a plate glass window, there's blood everywhere!
Chester: But...but I just talked to her (starts crying)
Bill/Marty: (Laughs) (MP3)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2012


For Ms. Saldanha,

.
posted by dhens at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


She is merely an avatar of royal fecklessness and late-stage consumerism in the rich West. This, to me, is the quintessence of "middling"

To me the quintessence of "middling" is trying to redefine your terms to try and support a rapidly collapsing lame troll made in a nasty way rather than taking your lumps and retracting.
posted by fightorflight at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't much like princesses... I don't understand why media attention focuses so intently on them

And yet here you are. Talking about her.

Hm.
posted by muddgirl at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Given that Ms. Saldanha apparently did nothing but pass the call on to Ms. Middleton's personal nurse, and that there's no evidence she was blamed by either the hospital or Ms. Middleton's in-laws -- is there any reason to think that her suicide was caused by the incident with Bubba and Dumbass in the Morning, or is this just a case of the press conjuring causality out of correlation in order to gin up ratings?
posted by steambadger at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just heard this news on the radio. What a tragic story.
posted by Gelatin at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2012


I can tell you what the conspiracy theory people are saying, because I check out their lists fairly frequently and did today.

They're saying, "Why would anyone want this woman dead?" and "She isn't even the one who made a mistake," and "It's likely that she was suicidal anyway and this happened to set her off."

Even the conspiracy theorists want a convincing story...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2012


The US can't send a representative to ANYTHING who really represents the entire country

In theory, while in office, the President and Vice President DO represent the entire country. More to the point, that is the job of Ambassadors and the professional foreign service. Maybe our current partisan rancor has diminished this sense, but I'm old enough to remember when certainly the news media as well as most of the public really did put party aside for the most part. I don't think it's an advantage or a disadvantage to have the Head of State and Head of Government situated in the same person; it's just the way it is.

Similarly, I'm no royalist, but the British monarchy is what it is. Barring a major change in sentiment -- and clearly Kate is likely to be far more popular than Charles ever can -- one day she'll be Queen Consort and part of that tradition, and I respect that for what it is.

As for whether this should have been handled differently by the hospital, that same hospital was founded by the future Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales, and has served the royal family (although not exclusively) for decades. I'm pretty sure there was a great deal of stiff-upper-lip self-regard for their own ability to handle this sort of thing professionally, and that regardless of her susceptibility to discipline or teasing, Saldanha likely had a great feeling that she had let her colleagues down. At least that's my reading of the British professional mentality.

Still, I also think it's important to view this as a precipitating event, rather than the "cause" per se. Although the myth of high suicide rates appears to be rather poorly substantiated, the medical profession is a high-stress occupation and one can speculate this wasn't the first time she had considered suicide. I speak as someone who has been treated for major depression with suicidal ideation, although to be sure, I never actually made any attempts. I'd hope the focus here would be on the highly-necessary-to-solve problem of reaching people with mental illness and risk of suicide, and not on the rather pointless one of why there are political systems that persist in ancient hierarchies.

NB, if you want to use the "real" name of Prince William

It is my understanding that in the Army, where he and his brother are required to have last names, they go by "Wales". Otherwise, technically they do not actually have last names. I think Victoria had her lawyers research whether or not she had one and there was a legal fiction devised which has continued since.

I don't understand

It's not for us to understand. For the most part, the celebrity and its trappings -- like the media coverage -- is simply noise. The property they own is hereditary and separate from things that are property of the UK itself (e.g. I believe Balmoral is the Windsors', but Buckingham Palace is the country's). But there's a lot of property in the UK that is owned by the aristocracy (many of the stately homes, on the other hand, have been sold to New Money). Fnarf, I don't understand the nasty tone here, as the royal family and particularly Kate, the Duchess, did nothing to precipitate this event you're angry about. Certainly, get mad at the media and the DJs. Get mad at the public. But stow your inappropriate cartoon of someone who was just hospitalized for a potentially life-threatening condition.
posted by dhartung at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't like or understand all sorts of things, but I somehow find it possible to not mock and ridicule them on a personal level--on this site and in a thread like this.
posted by ambient2 at 10:32 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I also thought that was odd, Lyn. I mean this isn't the first time a member of the royal family has been hospitalized, and it went massive right away. It seems weird that there wasn't a protocol already in place, or a gaggle of royal functionaries sitting on top of the reception desk watching everything that goes on.

Just goes to show you what a hollow shell of an institution the monarchy is. If ti was the Prime Minister or someone who actually does something real and important, there would be something like that involved, I'm sure.

If their public statements are true, the hospital and the palace did not put pressure on her.

Buhuh, right. And who will gainsay them now?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:32 AM on December 7, 2012


This is a clear failure on the part of the hospital and the Palace. Under no circumstances should the hospital have released information about any patient over the phone, and the Palace should have backed this up with a strict protocol detailing the small number of people who are allowed to know the details of Kate's condition. So of course the hospital and the Palace are blaming the DJs.

I want to see the Palace make some kind of financial restitution to that poor nurses family, and I want to see a follow-up investigation to see if there is any evidence the tabloids were harassing her. And someone needs to retire Nicholas Witchell asap.

What a terribly sad story.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


If their public statements are true, the hospital and the palace did not put pressure on her. She wasn't disciplined or suspended. The palace did not complain, and made a point of recognising the quality of care Kate received.
If. And that's the key point. The hospital management must have spoken to her about the prank call, and it's imperative to know that they acted properly and supportively. When somebody kills themselves over something which happened at work, the management must be open and truthful about everything that happened. There can't be any leeway in this, none.

It has also been mentioned that Saldanha lived in hospital residences, away from her husband and two children. A lot of nurses are migrants--although that hasn't been said yet about Saldanha--and so would face extra pressure in this situation because losing her job would mean losing an awful lot more. It angers me to think that she could have been dumped on by all sides, and felt like she was trapped with nowhere else to turn.
posted by Jehan at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


dhartung: Otherwise, technically they do not actually have last names.

Well, I put "real" in quotation marks because it's not his name: it is however his patrilineal descent, just as "Saxe-Coburg" was the patrilineal descent of all of the monarchs from Edward VII to Elizabeth II. However, that name was changed in 1917 to "Windsor" in reaction to anti-German sentiment. Basically, calling the British royals "Saxe-Coburg" is like when the (now deposed) Greek royal family was called "Glücksburg" in order to point out their "foreignness."

Sorry for the derail.
posted by dhens at 10:37 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So there's a segment on Seattle's pop radio station (KIIS-FM) wherein the morning DJs try to trap guys into revealing that they're cheating on their wives/S.O.s. It's called "War of the Roses" and it's hyped as scandal-entertainment.

Most evidence points to that stuff being completely fake.

See also:
"United Stations Radio Networks, a radio company co-founded by Dick Clark... is in the business of generating wacky characters and situations, basically mini-radio plays, and then they send them out to radio shows across the country."
posted by inigo2 at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


steambadger: Given that Ms. Saldanha apparently did nothing but pass the call on to Ms. Middleton's personal nurse, and that there's no evidence she was blamed by either the hospital or Ms. Middleton's in-laws -- is there any reason to think that her suicide was caused by the incident with Bubba and Dumbass in the Morning, or is this just a case of the press conjuring causality out of correlation in order to gin up ratings?

This entire thread should just be this comment.
posted by herbplarfegan at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jehan - why are you angry about something you don't actually know happened? It's your energy to waste, but it seems like a waste nonetheless.

What we do know happened is that Jacintha Saldanha was publicly ridiculed, her actions splashed across the front pages of many newspapers and a lead story on many news bulletins when she thought she was doing the right thing for the family of her patient.

From what I've seen, the Chief Exec of the hospital had made very measured public statements about the need to look at security protocols and criticised the radio DJs. He also looked genuinely aghast that things had come to this. He's not running megacorp but a small, 60 bed hospital where it is highly likely he knew Saldanha personally.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2012


FYI I actually hate the radio station/DJs now too.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:46 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by olya at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2012


I attack the Royals and Middleton in particular because I believe that public fetishism over them drives the media frenzy that probably made Ms. Saldanha to kill herself. The papers wouldn't print those stories if people weren't hungry to gobble them up.
posted by Fnarf at 10:49 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


While the decay of radio is something I am genuinely sad about, the idea that ClearChannel will eventually replace Morning Zoo DJs with a computer program that alternates ads for local electronic stores and fart noises is something to look forward to.
posted by griphus at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by ericb at 10:51 AM on December 7, 2012


For about a year around 2007, I was a contact to help a radio station find voice talent to play characters on a "reality" show. They needed new people weekly and had to wait about a year before they could use the same voice again. This show wasn't an ambush show, but it needed to sound like a real couple arguing about a personal situation. Usually, the first time the couple heard the other's voice was when the show was actually being recorded over the phone.

The little vignettes are meant to be entertaining and maybe provocative, but at least in the American market, its very unusual for them to be real. Its also unusual for them to pay the voice talent or the contact who helps them find voice talent, but that's an entirely different issue.

Anyhow, you can get more articulate speakers, consistently juicy stories and zero lawsuits if you're just staging little artificial reality radio plays. That the DJs would think divulging confidential medical information about *anyone* would be a good idea shows profoundly poor judgement on their part. At the very lease, this warrants a "what the hell were you thinking" talk with management.

In regards to management, though, if you hire idiots with no scruples, you get idiots with no scruples and shouldn't be surprised when they behave like themselves.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:59 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


That makes no sense. You state it's the public fetishism over the Royals that drives the media frenzy, but attacking the Royals and Middleton will somehow quell that craze?
posted by CancerMan at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It really says a lot about how horrible humanity can be when a woman who has dedicated her career to helping people kills herself, due to the public being obsessed with her connection to somebody who has fame, money, and prestige for no reason other than being married to an spoiled youth whose ancestors were vicious despots. It might almost make us question our priorities, perhaps? Maybe? Just a little?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad all the grubby little republicans are here to remind us how Kate Middleton isn't a big deal at all.
posted by atrazine at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2012


Most evidence points to that stuff being completely fake.

See also:
"United Stations Radio Networks, a radio company co-founded by Dick Clark... is in the business of generating wacky characters and situations, basically mini-radio plays, and then they send them out to radio shows across the country."
We have the exact same segment here in Philadelphia, only hosted by our own DJs. Unless multiple stations are using the same bit the "radio play" situation is more likely.
posted by schroedinger at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2012


For what its worth, we may well be assuming a causation here where there is none. At this point, we have no idea whether Ms. Saldanha cared even a jot about the prank call. Its possible that there were any number of other reasons that she took her own life. Its possible that the prank call (and subsequent media attention) was indeed a contributing factor. We don't know.

Perhaps we will learn more details in the coming days, but filling in the lack of details with our own suppositions transforms the real Ms. Saldanha into a fictional character, which is a kind of disservice to her in my opinion.

---

That said, regardless of her suicide, the DJ's were douches (again, no matter who their target was). Broadcasting a person's private medical information without their permission is bullshit.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


It would seem sympathetic to this poor lady, regardless of whether there is a connection, if we could discuss the role celebrity culture has played in the situation without reiterating how we personally are not taken in by it.
posted by lucidium at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Super sad story. Two kids without a mother, a family devastated and god only knows what else.

And if I were one of the two DJs who were involved in this, I'd be utterly mortified. I'm pretty sure that pretending to be the queen was never meant to be a mean gag, and to have this happen must be terrible. I can't believe people want to blame them for this senseless horrible mess.
posted by zoo at 11:27 AM on December 7, 2012


Most evidence points to that stuff being completely fake.

THANK YOU. That makes me feel slightly better about the world of radio. I don't care for being lied to, but at least that's not real people being screwed with so personally.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:37 AM on December 7, 2012


was never meant to be a mean gag

No, they just hoped to tie up the time of people working at a hospital, and as a bonus obtain sensitive medical information that they are in no way privileged to (not because Kate Middleton is a princess, but because everyone has a right to control their medical records).

Not mean at all!
posted by muddgirl at 11:38 AM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Jehan - why are you angry about something you don't actually know happened? It's your energy to waste, but it seems like a waste nonetheless.
I'm not angry, I'm concerned. We don't know everything that happened, and it's going to be too easy to sweep it under the carpet by looking the other way. Lots of folk are helping with the diversion saying that the DJs are to blame or that "she already had problems", and that deeply worries me. How do we know what pressure nurses at this hospital are under, or how they are treated in the workday? We can attack Foxconn and Walmart for what they to their workers, but ignore the potential for abuse here? Yes it's a much smaller business, but the cost of screwing up is so high that workers must always be on edge.
posted by Jehan at 11:46 AM on December 7, 2012


If something like this happened in America, everyone involved would surely lose their jobs for violating HIPPA. We had a big patient at our facility several years back (it was in the news, saying his name wouldn't violate HIPPA for me but I'm playing it safe anyway) and a ton of people lost their jobs for just looking at his records without authorization. Taking advantage of someone to get them to reveal privileged health information, even if it's just a "joke", is really fucking mean.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:48 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just goes to show you what a hollow shell of an institution the monarchy is. If ti was the Prime Minister or someone who actually does something real and important, there would be something like that involved, I'm sure.

Actually, no.
posted by mippy at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2012


mippy, I don't think those situations are at all comparable.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:07 PM on December 7, 2012


muddgirl:

That's an exaggeration of what actually happened. It was a prank & it went wrong in ways that nobody could have forseen. Is there any part of "let's call the hospital that the Royals are in and pretend to be the queen" is any way sinister?

You and I have different definitions of "mean", and that so many people are trying to make the story into something other than a senseless tragedy isn't suprising, but it is disappointing.

Anyway - this is sideshow to the actual death of this woman. It's probably worth pointing to the samaritans advice on reporting suicides. Social media is still media, and we'd probably all do well to heed the advice given.
posted by zoo at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2012


Is there any part of "let's call the hospital that the Royals are in and pretend to be the queen" is any way sinister?

(1) People don't make prank calls because they want to fail. They make prank calls because they want to succeed. Failing in a funny fashion is a secondary outcome.

(2) I used to work in the hospital. A significant amount of staff time is taken up with people who answer and direct phone calls. Wasting their time is not harmless.

and that so many people are trying to make the story into something other than a senseless tragedy isn't suprising

I actually haven't said anything about the tragedy, because I personally struggle with the philosophical implications of whether or not someone can "cause" someone else's suicide. Even if that nurse hadn't died, those DJs are assholes.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


You and I have different definitions of "mean", and that so many people are trying to make the story into something other than a senseless tragedy isn't suprising, but it is disappointing. ...
posted by zoo


As in Morning Zoo?
posted by mazola at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2012


I had no idea that Metafilter was so full of right wing royalists.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2012


zoo, I agree that there was nothing particularly "mean" about the original call -- it was just the sort of brainless frat-boy humor we've come to expect from drive-time radio. Continuing to hype the call after Ms. Saldana's death, however, goes beyond mean.

I still haven't seen any evidence, thought, that this incident had anything to do with the alleged suicide. It may just be because google has been overwhelmed with stories about Ms. Saldanha's death, but I can't even find a story in which her name was mentioned before today. I may be wrong, but it looks to me like the media is hyping this story in advance of the facts.
posted by steambadger at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2012


Medical Details Divulged: The princess was doing OK, but she was a bit dehydrated.
Time Wasted: 2 minutes.

I understand that you're taking a bright line position on these two issues, and I have some sympathy with that, but are we really saying that this is mean. Stupid maybe, unthinking possibly, but mean?

Unlike you Muddgirl and thepinksuperhero, I've done and said stupid things in my time. I think we can give the DJ's some sympathy in all this. I think we can agree that they probably weren't being malicious.
posted by zoo at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2012


Unlike you Muddgirl and thepinksuperhero, I've done and said stupid things in my time. I think we can give the DJ's some sympathy in all this.

So have I? I'm not calling for the DJs to be beheaded. I'm calling for them to start scripting their pranks from now on. It's not like listeners can tell the difference. I don't know why you're hung up on whether or not I think they were being "mean."
posted by muddgirl at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


But yes, I think it's mean (aka "selfish, unkind") to try and trick private information out of people. Whether or not that information is considered shocking is beside the point. Intent is also beside the point - people are thoughtlessly mean all the time.
posted by muddgirl at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I had no idea that Metafilter was so full of right wing royalists.

Royalist =! Right wing

Support for, or lack of withering dismissal of, the royal family is not a party issue in the UK.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can give the DJ's some sympathy in all this.

Their intention was to get medical information that they weren't entitled to about a woman so ill with morning sickness that she had to be admitted to hospital; their expectations were wildly exceeded, but that doesn't make this some silly little prank. I find it hard to think of that as some innocent little prank with no malicious intention. And they broadcast that call over and over and over again. The DJs should be blamed for making this call in the first place, and I have no problem in finding that repugnant and lacking in any claim on sympathy. I've done dumb things in my life but none of them involved intentionally and repeatedly broadcasting someone's humiliation and I cannot imagine the horror of having my dumber moments covered by the world press along with commentary about how stupid I was. It's like one of my worst nightmares. And while the DJs aren't necessarily responsible for that they set up this situation in the first place.

I had no idea that Metafilter was so full of right wing royalists.

I'm an Irish Republican and even I think that the royals are entitled to some privacy in hospital. And I really don't like prank calls for the reasons I outlined above, so a great deal of my reaction has nothing to do with Kate Middleton's status.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


This whole story makes me hate John-boy and Billy even more than I do.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:44 PM on December 7, 2012


I had no idea that Metafilter was so full of right wing royalists.

I had no idea Metafilter was so full of people thinking it's okay to make prank calls to hospitals in order to get private information about patients.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't think the DJs really intended to get anything or that anybody thought that Kate's medical details were that scintillating or interesting. I doubt they thought they'd get any further than the front desk of the hospital.
posted by Flashman at 12:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea MetaFilter was so full of itself.
posted by mazola at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think we can give the DJ's some sympathy in all this. I think we can agree that they probably weren't being malicious.

zoo: there's a fantastic real estate deal I'd like to tell you about - there's this bridge, see, right down the street from me here in Brooklyn, and...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


For the record, I am not a monarchist and do question the need for Canada to have a queen, but there is absolutely no reason to make dickish comments about very real people who are flesh and blood and have feelings just like the rest of us. Sure, the royals ought to be the subject of parody and satire, but, like everything else covered under the umbrella of "good taste", there's a time and place for scorn and ridicule.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It really says a lot about how horrible humanity can be when a woman who has dedicated her career to helping people kills herself, due to the public being obsessed with her connection to somebody who has fame, money, and prestige for no reason other than being married to an spoiled youth whose ancestors were vicious despots. It might almost make us question our priorities, perhaps? Maybe? Just a little?

I hope that few of us have illusions about how much labor goes into the construction of a civilized society, about how many centuries of work have gone into the culture we live in today. I suspect it's more common that we try to ignore how many problems still exist today, how much progress must still be made before things are okay. You see it not only in the people who go about as if the world is completely sane and orderly and everything is generally alright for everyone, but also in the reactions of people who'd pretend they're somehow more civilized and enlightened for withdrawing from "the public" altogether.

The world has been "might makes right" for thousands if not millions of years; this view that all people should be equal and respected and loved has been a radical vision, close to outright fantasy, for nearly as long. So of course people obsess over the family that once ruled an entire country, just as people obsess over Michelle Obama and Brad Pitt and anybody else who receives attention that they aren't getting themselves. Of course we idolize power and fashion and layers upon layers of class. That's what we've been told we ought to aspire to for the longest time.

That will change in some ways. Probably not entirely – it's easier to dream about the material world than to dream about immaterial ideals, and that easiness is not necessarily a bad thing. But it will take a long time to change, longer than any of us will be alive.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had no idea that Metafilter was so full of right wing royalists.

Trust me, the President-worship that goes in American politics, and that transcends partisan lines (see: The West Wing) is just as sickening and far more dangerous to real political outcomes than any admiration for the monarchy, either as a system or a bunch of individuals.
posted by Dasein at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Next time the DJ's should prank call an operating room, just for yucks. And after that, maybe an air traffic control tower.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


.
posted by antonymous at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2012


A very sad set of circumstances..

... and a very ugly thread.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Royalist =! Right wing

I get your point; but, technically, it kind of does.
posted by steambadger at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2012


Just to emphasise what's been referred to in the thread- the radio station involved has a really ugly track record of pranks gone wrong and revolting on-air statements. Although I'm not sure if the DJs involved in this case have a track record like Vile Kyle.

In any case, both DJs have gone to ground. They've been taken off the air and have deleted much of their online presence.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


So was this funnier than when they broadcast that child admitting she had been raped?
For all the scare stories about the Royals' flesh-eating lawyers or secret hands on the levers of power I sure wish they could make those two chucklefuck DJs disappear.

. for that poor women and her family.
posted by fullerine at 1:50 PM on December 7, 2012


Anti-monarchist Australian here and I think what they did was vile, even if it didn't 'cause' Saldanha's suicide. I also think placing the blame for princess worship on the objects (Kate and Diana) over the media, the purchasers or media content, or the entire Disney fucking line created to sustain the princess mythology is incredibly dimwitted at best, horribly misogynist at worst. And oddly enough, part of the industry that fuels such 'pranks', the magazines, the entire lot; it isn't an industry based in kindness, or love, but one of constant judgement.

I'd argue that the charitable works that the royal family do outweigh the media chasing nonsense by most 'middling' celebrities as well.

I feel sorry for Kate because fuck HG and fuck feeling sick with tabloid monsters chasing you, but I feel most sorry for the two kids who lost a mother.

.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


First:

.


...for that poor woman and her family. How awful.


For Philip it was self-sufficiency and leadership. For Diana it was AIDS and landmines. For Charles it is sustainability and the work of the Prince's trust. For group of people often regarded as a throwback to the past, it is interesting how ahead of the times they prove. I don't know what floats Will & Kate's boat, but the deal with being a royal is that you pick your causes and champion them and drive public opinion for the common good. They don't seem so dismissable to me.

posted by MuffinMan at 1:15 PM on December 7


You know the absolute irony of this thread? The one that made me *headdesk* as I was reading it?

The Duchess of Cambridge's cause of choice--what "floats her boat"--is BULLYING. This "breeding cow", as Fnarf so charmingly put it, was bullied at school. The Duchess supports the charity Beat Bullying, and chose it for the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund, drawing considerable attention to the organization.


This "horrible, full stop" woman takes a very public stand against bullying. Maybe you should let that sink in, Fnarf, before you keep acting like a bully and call her ugly, vicious names. Maybe you should think about that before you act like a bully and sneer about her job as princess and duchess.


It does not matter that you can't wrap your head around the fact that lots of people get excited over royalty. That's the reality of the world you live in, and it's not going away because you don't understand it.


The Duchess works to stop kids from hurting each other, to prevent child and teen suicide, and to make schools in the UK safe for all children. The fact that anyone would refer to her in such a misogynistic, ugly way, especially when she's been ill, makes me wonder where they were in the bully/geek divide in their own schools.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2012 [61 favorites]


That just puts an extra pall on the whole affair, and not just here on MeFi. Wow.
posted by boo_radley at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2012


...what has [Kate Middleton], you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention?

Cash cow for the tabloid press, still recovering from the awful, awful treatment they got at the hands of the Leveson Inquiry?
posted by sneebler at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2012


Nurses are typically under a lot of work pressure, dealing with multiple patients, interruptions, etc. Having a member of the royal family in the hospital could only add to that. The medical community does not have a great track record of supporting front-line care workers, esp. nurses, when something goes wrong.
Even NPRs "All Things Considered" treated it as a humor piece, complete with bad impersonations of the Queen.
And this thread is heavily focused on the status and meaning of the royal family, rather than the meaning of this tragedy. I do not presume to understand fully what brought about Ms. Saldanha to take her own life, but clearly this says something about the expectations placed upon nurses, and about the short-sighted and self-gratifying nature of media personalities who abuse innocent members of the public in their quest for content.
posted by neutralmojo at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just read the reddit thread about this tragic story and it was impressed at how thoughtful it was.
posted by futz at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2012


To be honest, it was derailed right from the off by people complaining about the royal family a) being news at all b) going about having children. And maybe there's some irony there.
posted by mippy at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by kaspen at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2012


BTW, I picked up the colour supplement to the London evening paper tonight, and there was an article - albeit frothy - comparing the 'Middleton Christmas' with the 'Prince Charles Christmas', speculating about what they will eat, wear and give to one another. It ran for about three pages.

It's a good indicator of why any coverage of this will focus on the damage to the DoC and not Ms Saldanha - because she was, essentially, the help, not someone about which they can write speculative articles on choice of giftwrap.
posted by mippy at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


On reddit those folks were down voted into oblivion. Sanity and discussion prevailed. Since we can't down vote we should ignore when obvious troll is obvious. But we never do.
posted by futz at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, fine, but other than marrying someone whose ancestors killed their way to the top, what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention? And why is she so important that an innocent woman would be hounded by the press until she reached her breaking point? Kate Middleton is a normal person. William Saxe-Coburg is a normal person. There's nothing particularly special about either them. No obvious talents, no serious contributions to civilization.


yeah, well du'h
posted by the noob at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2012


Australian Commercial FM Radio is a cesspit of idiocy.
posted by the noob at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


On reddit those folks were down voted into oblivion.

It's pretty fucking embarrassing when that cesspit does better than us.
posted by elizardbits at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's sad that anyone's pointless (and quite sexist) hatred for the royals has allowed the tragedy of this poor woman's apparent suicide to be derailed. She had two children who must miss their mother terribly right now. She was surely something much more fundamental to them than a "breeding cow."

I don't know Fnarf, but on a statistical basis alone, he - like most of us - is unlikely to effect a change with as positive benefit to the world as what Diana, for instance, did with landmines. That act may have been a far cry from curing cancer . . . but it meant a lot to people from my country.

Everyone's born with a burden, and it's not always obvious what that might be. I could quote from "Richard Cory" or something, but this should be obvious to most sentient adults. Anyway, hating a group of people due to the circumstances of their births is just as noxious to me as racism or sexism, so it doesn't surprise me when these prejudices are conflated.

I save my last thought here for Jacintha Saldanha and her loved ones, may they all find peace.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


what has she, you know, actually done to merit this kind of attention?

Isn't the very definition of celebrity sort of orthogonal to the whole question of merit?
/Kardashian

Basically, calling the British royals "Saxe-Coburg" is like when the (now deposed) Greek royal family was called "Glücksburg" in order to point out their "foreignness."

Except that Wills is the "most English" future monarch in generations, thanks to Diana's genes, and Kate is about as pure Blighty as you can get. They would seem curious targets for this particular charge.

coverage of this will focus on the damage to the DoC and not Ms Saldanha

I dunno, from what I can see online there's a healthy share of populist outrage. Of course the story is only sexy because of the royal angle, but then the story wouldn't have happened at all without that angle. What I'm seeing is leaning toward media outrage (in the media, natch) tinged by residual Jimmy Savile and phone hacking overtones, though, and I'm not sure that's as useful as, say, a focus on a) medical privacy rules and procedures, b) the stress of medical professions, c) any prior mental health issues (although paradoxically, Saldanha's own medical privacy applies here).

Dee, glad to see you back. Your humanism has been missed.
posted by dhartung at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2012


Everyone's born with a burden, and it's not always obvious what that might be. I could quote from "Richard Cory" or something, but this should be obvious to most sentient adults. Anyway, hating a group of people due to the circumstances of their births is just as noxious to me as racism or sexism, so it doesn't surprise me when these prejudices are conflated.
I dare say that once an individual is a grownup, continuing to claim that you're a "prince" or a "king" and therefore entitled to hereditary rights is pretty good grounds for disliking somebody. Maybe this issue shouldn't focus on the royal family and their claims, but it's poor to suggest that republicanism is equal to racism, however badly expressed. Indeed, it's a terrible conflation to assert that somebody's mislike of a king or a prince is actually the same as their dislike of that person. Though I personally believe that royalty should be abolished, I also believe that the individuals involved should be taught and helped to understand why their claims to royalty are wrong. If we let royals claim their birth puts them above others, isn't that a lead-in to racism? How can we work against racism when we still hold "blood" to be so important? Republicanism is about working to stamp out inequality, and moreover the harmfulness that comes from claiming that birth is important to who we are. No monarchist can truthfully work for equality, and no person who supports equality can sincerely believe in monarchy. To celebrate a group of people due to the circumstances of their birth is just as noxious as racism or sexism.
posted by Jehan at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


This "horrible, full stop" woman takes a very public stand against bullying. Maybe you should let that sink in, Fnarf, before you keep acting like a bully and call her ugly, vicious names. Maybe you should think about that before you act like a bully and sneer about her job as princess and duchess.

Bravo. Major buuuuurn!
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did anyone specify exactly what the "private information" was? That seems relevant to me.
posted by nowhere man at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2012


Jehan:

What you say about how to treat royalty is all very well and good, but can you explain how that relates to Jacintha Saldanha, who is the actual bloody topic of this thread?

Seriously, everyone crowing so loudly about how the royalty is no better than anyone else - YOU'RE the ones drawing the focus away from the ordinary woman who is the real topic of this entire FPP. If you're so concerned that the royals be paid no more attention than ordinary people, I invite you to be the example you seek.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Jehan: " Indeed, it's a terrible conflation to assert that somebody's mislike of a king or a prince is actually the same as their dislike of that person. "

I get what you're saying and appreciate it, but there's been a few viewpoints expressed that made that exact conflation in some terrible ways. That is, I think Dee was addressing a few noxious claims made directly by others here in this thread.
posted by boo_radley at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2012


What you say about how to treat royalty is all very well and good, but can you explain how that relates to Jacintha Saldanha, who is the actual bloody topic of this thread?

Seriously, everyone crowing so loudly about how the royalty is no better than anyone else - YOU'RE the ones drawing the focus away from the ordinary woman who is the real topic of this entire FPP. If you're so concerned that the royals be paid no more attention than ordinary people, I invite you to be the example you seek.
It doesn't relate to thread, only to the derail which I didn't start, but feel driven to answer because somebody was equating republicanism with racism, when it's the exact opposite. Besides, I've made several comments setting out my very real concerns over Saldanha and how she was treated. Go back and have a look for yourself. Your criticism is way off base here.
posted by Jehan at 3:57 PM on December 7, 2012


.
posted by Mezentian at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2012


I dare say that once an individual is a grownup, continuing to claim that you're a "prince" or a "king" and therefore entitled to hereditary rights is pretty good grounds for disliking somebody.

You paint a hysterical picture there. I don't care to defend the royals, but many of them seem fairly ambivalent and mystified with their position. They're hardly out carrying banners trumpeting their titles, and many of them, in their own way, downplay their titles more than one might think - serving in the military, working with charities, fundraising, and so on. Much of it's for show, but I think the sense you're trying to convey is that they're sitting around while their harems fight for the right to peel their grapes. In truth, I imagine being William or Kate or Charles is pretty tedious and tiring, despite the obvious perks. They may, in fact, do much more good than you or I do.

Royalty (with money or not) is just a weird form of inherited wealth. Your ancestors may have earned respect for the family name. You inherited that fine name without doing a thing. Money and position aside, the difference is one of degree.

Maybe this issue shouldn't focus on the royal family and their claims, but it's poor to suggest that republicanism is equal to racism, however badly expressed. Indeed, it's a terrible conflation to assert that somebody's mislike of a king or a prince is actually the same as their dislike of that person.

That's disingenuous. You are defending this:

Kate Middleton's only function on this earth is exactly that of a breeding cow, to produce a new prize bull.

As boo_radley already stated, that's exactly that sort of conflation at work here.

No monarchist can truthfully work for equality, and no person who supports equality can sincerely believe in monarchy.

Taken to the logical conclusion of your statement, no person of great wealth or power or privilege can be said to "truthfully work for equality." By your logic, the only way possible to work for equality would be to act to redistribute all wealth, opportunity and anything which in any way resembles privilege. There's no magic to a "monarchist," at least not anymore. I don't think any one still believes they have a right, granted by God, to rule over the people. They are figureheads bestowed with their status through odd quirks of history.

The British royal family may not serve much purpose, but they do, in their sometimes useful, sometimes pointless way, spend much of their lives in service. It's undoubtedly a cumbersome and inefficient way of doing things, with a poor level of effectiveness. But the vitriol against them seems disproportionate relatively towards really wealthy scumbags who'd never visit a hospital or tackle any sort of issue which might benefit society. Or the non-monarchist leaders of countries like Belarus, whose record of supporting freedom and equality pales considerably in comparison with that of Queen Elizabeth.

To celebrate a group of people due to the circumstances of their birth is just as noxious as racism or sexism.

No one here is "celebrating" anyone due to the circumstances of their birth.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:36 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's disingenuous. You are defending this:

Would you mind showing the comment where she was defending that? Besides, a mod asked to drop that characterisation and using it as a rhetorical weapon against another user doesn't help the conversation.

I'm sorry for Saldanha's family, what a terrible blow. Especially since Christmas is coming and media coverage of the pregnancy of the DoW will be a harsh reminder for them for months. A sad tale.

.
posted by ersatz at 5:09 PM on December 7, 2012


I think they do serve a purpose. If nothing else, they are indeed the "big business" mentioned up thread.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are the only members of the Royal Family to get an allowance from the Civil List. This allowance helps to support employment for 450 of the 1,200 people employed in the Royal Household. The rest are paid from the Queen's private purse. She voluntarily pays tax on her private means at the 40% rate.

The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Princes William and Harry do not get an allowance from the Civil List. The Queen pays about 1.5 million a year in allowances to eight family members from her private purse. The Prince of Wales has income from the Duchy of Cornwall, which employs 110 people. The Duchy is tax exempt, but Prince Charles voluntarily pays 40% income tax on income from it.

On balance, they're a pretty cheap date. They add tax to the public coffers and employment to several thousand people in total. The Royal brand is probably Britain's most successful export; they generate £107 million in tourism each year in London alone. I think they are actually brilliant value for money and I'm a fan of the monarchy on a financial basis if on no other. I would like it to continue and I'm pleased they newly-wed royals are pregnant. I wish them the best and I'm sorry this happened to them, though obviously the bulk of everyone's sympathy should be with Jacintha Saldanha's family and particularly her two teenaged children. This is really tragic.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Coles has pulled advertising from 2Day FM

oh Bravo - way to market yourselves, you'll slink back in a week or so.
posted by the noob at 6:12 PM on December 7, 2012


Coles will be back, there are post-Christmas sales to get to.
But at least they re-acted quickly and didn't faff around for a while.

The audience will still be there. They haven't been chased off by Kyle & Jackie O (who I'd have thought were more likely to kill someone with a "prank").
posted by Mezentian at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2012


These DJs have said "sorry" but they still have jobs. In a perfect world, they would be fired and the radio station would have their license pulled.
posted by Fnarf at 9:45 AM on 12/7 [4 favorites]


Because a key feature of a perfect world is total retribution?
posted by oxford blue at 8:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


No monarchist can truthfully work for equality, and no person who supports equality can sincerely believe in monarchy.

Bullshit. Just because we wouldn't invent a constitutional monarchy today doesn't make it a system worth abolishing. Constitutional monarchism is simply the best system in the world to ensure stablility and democracy. Separating the head of state and government avoids the spectre of systemic crisis that threatened the United States in 2000, and avoids politicizing the office through direct elections. It is inherently resilient in its transition of state authority - the King is dead; long live the King - and places an arbiter above the political system whose job is to ensure that system functions. What's more, unlike supposedly egalitarian systems where the children of the cultural and financial elite rise to the top, then imagine that they are exemplars of equality, the royals know that they have been blessed by chance, but also burdened by responsibility, and comport themselves accordingly. And if they don't, there are strong constitutional conventions - more flexible, more adaptable, and more useful than codified rules, if for no thee reason than that they can't be ignored in a 5-4 vote - that ensure any monarch straying too far from his duty would be forced to abdicate. The Westminster model, including the monarchy, is the best model if governance yet created to ensure a political system that is effective, resilient, and democratic. That's the sort of system in which equality can flourish. Sure, it's paradoxical, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.
posted by Dasein at 9:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


.
posted by Coaticass at 10:56 PM on December 7, 2012


dhartung:
[Quoting me]: Basically, calling the British royals "Saxe-Coburg" is like when the (now deposed) Greek royal family was called "Glücksburg" in order to point out their "foreignness." [endquote]

Except that Wills is the "most English" future monarch in generations, thanks to Diana's genes, and Kate is about as pure Blighty as you can get. They would seem curious targets for this particular charge.


Yes, this is 100% exactly my point: calling the British Royals "Saxe-Coburg" or "a bunch of German princes" etc. is a bizzarely xenophobic way to attack the monarchy.
posted by dhens at 11:44 PM on December 7, 2012


Global reaction after nurse who took prank call from Australian DJs found dead

A Scottish DJ swears off gag calls after nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death.
I can't believe hoax calls are found funny. No, not even crank yankers or whoever. But I've always thought they got permission, whereas many are done live.

Way to drag the unwilling into your grubby little world and humiliate them, or make them feel like shit.
Fuckers.

I have been angry about this all day.
posted by Mezentian at 12:39 AM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a republican, think the monarchy should have no place in our society, and equally think that referring to them as Saxe-Coburg or Germans is simply racist. Ironically many of the people who do so would have a hissy fit if anyone referred to a third generation black British family as Jamaican, or used the historical non-anglicised version of the name of a family of British Jews. There are many arguments to use to put the case for an end to the monarchy; petty racism hinders rather than helps that cause.

This is a terribly sad story. I don't know these two DJs but a shared characteristic of most people I've heard doing hoaxes like this is that they are in permanent danger of drowning in their own smug. Particularly hate those who hoax or wind up ordinary people who are just trying to get on with their jobs.
posted by reynir at 12:46 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, there's a link in there as well, which questions the legality of the hoax call: In short, it is possible the 2DayFM presenters broke the law, but highly unlikely the station will be prosecuted given commercial radio's long, mostly unprosecuted history of pranks, according to media law experts who spoke off the record.
posted by Mezentian at 12:47 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, dhens -- I was actually agreeing with you and directing my pique at the original germanophobic comment. Could have been clearer.

Certainly, from Victoria forward, there was a great sense that the royal house needed to be more English than the English themselves, putting aside the diffident Germanness of the first three Georges. But through Prince Philip there was also a great need to protect the bloodline by marrying as aristocratically as possible. It was only with Charles that this pattern broke, as he courted eligible Princess after Princess (an inclusive problem being the prohibition on marrying Catholic), all because he couldn't marry his beloved (whose pedigree is all of a Canadian PM), which led to the whole shambolic Diana saga. But on the whole it's probably better to marry down and at the same time marry local in terms of how the monarchy is now perceived.

Anyway, information about Jacintha Saldanha is finally reaching the media I see (dunno about UK media). She was a South Asian from Mangalore, likely a Catholic, and her name is an echo of the Portuguese colony at Goa (e.g. as with D'Souza), from which religious dissidents once fled. She was living in hospital housing during the week and commuting back to her family in Bristol on her days off. I've done that sort of commuting and it can be exhausting.

There's a Facebook page for her. [via]
posted by dhartung at 1:50 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dasein: Constitutional monarchism is simply the best system in the world to ensure stablility and democracy.
Yeah, it works wonders in Belgium and Spain, not to mention the democratic bastions of Thailand, Cambodia, Kuwait, UAE and Morocco. And we all know how Ireland, Finland, Iceland, France and Germany are hotbeds of instability.

Perhaps there's something else at work in the stable constitutional monarchies of northwestern Europe that makes them stable?
Separating the head of state and government avoids the spectre of systemic crisis that threatened the United States in 2000, and avoids politicizing the office through direct elections.
It is perfectly possible to have a republic with a non-partisan head of state appointed by the government.
posted by brokkr at 7:19 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was such a weird topic at my work as a hospital nurse yesterday. All the patients were talking about it, but none of the staff. Then late in the afternoon when we were all in the med room together someone mentioned it in a sad low voice as if we had lost one of our own. We had really, even thought she was across an ocean and non of us knew or worked with her. We had similar work. We've had similar phone calls. We've cared for royalty or famous people. All our patients were talking about it and we were all pretty sad over it and trying to cover that and finish the day's own difficult tasks. The conversation was ended as quickly as it was started because it was just too miserable to think about and we had lots of shit to do.

I feel immense guilt when I make any error with a patient or their family. It's overwhelming and broad. Its personal: Will I loose my job. Will I be fined money I don't have right now. Will I loose my license. But the worst part is for the patient: Did I hurt someone who is going through a horrible illness at this moment. Did I jeopardize the quality of their care. Oh my god did I hurt their care! Did I cause a family rift. And how it all relates to your place of work: Did I hurt the reputation of my floor/hospital. Did I hurt the perception of my field.

It's awful. That poor nurse. My empathy and sadness for her is unending.

The thing is, people try to trick you all the time it's ridiculous. And because you see and hear so much weird shit that you never think an odd sounding voice is unusual. I've personally had people claim to be some patient's doctor, a hospital administrator, the wife (for that one I just so happened to see the actual wife in the patient's room I just left to answer this fucking phone call), to name a few. All bullshit trying to get me in trouble. The one pretending to be a doctor was one at some other hospital and tried to give me an actual order for that patient's care. She later came to the hospital in a white coat and harassed one of my coworkers face to face for information.

Yes there are safeguards. There's lists of who is approved for this or that patient's information. But it takes time to look it up and I resent that 10 or 15 minutes I spend on the phone or face to face with someone talking with them and trying to see if they are cleared. All while I must be kind (the ever present push for good patient/family satisfaction scores!). And that's 10 or 15 minutes that my other patients (or the patient they're trying to find out about!) is waiting for pain medication or sitting in their own stool or needing some other relevant or immediate care that is my duty and honor to provide.

Fucking DJ's. They can rot away in their vacuous existence for all I care. Jeopardizing someone's job for their own job and the corrosive amusement of others. Casually dismissing the needs of the sick and those who care for them is awful.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:43 AM on December 8, 2012 [23 favorites]


Jacintha Saldanha.

.
posted by marienbad at 8:02 AM on December 8, 2012


Separating the head of state and government avoids the spectre of systemic crisis

The head of state needn't be a monarch: there are many democracies with a prime minister and a president who serves as the head of state that are doing fine.

I'd also contest your assertion that monarchy is "the best system in the world to ensure stablility and democracy". Monarchy stabilises a country only if the political environment allows it. For instance, monarchy in Greece legitimised the military junta after the king had appointed five short-lived governments because the king didn't like the prime minister, who had been elected with 52% of the vote. After democracy was reestablished, monarchy was abolished by referendum. In contrast, monarchy has fared better in Spain since the king opened up the political system and prevented a coup.

Sorry for continuing the derail, but my granny would have had a few choice words about the claim that monarchy is a silver bullet.
posted by ersatz at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flagged dog food sugar's comment as fantastic. Thank you, dfs, for posting that.
posted by bakerina at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2012


Winless sad, zeroes all round.

I've avoided almost all this whole thing, media-wise. To me, if they played on-air, or publically revealed, the private details told to them by the nurse dealing directly with Kate, then they must resign or be sacked.

If they didn't reveal the confidential details, then I think they are suffering pretty badly right now and it's a burden they'll bear for the rest of their lives. I imagine they and the radio station and some heavyweight PR people might find some way to turn this into a community service or charity project to benefit Jacintha Saldanha's family. It's about the only way to find any semblance of redemption.

I feel sorry for marks in prank situations and find it uncomfortable watching or hearing them squirm. But these bullshittery calls are (or were) a ubiquitous cheap means to a laugh, and the tiny bit I did hear of the "queen's" voice in this call was totally ridiculous. Stupid yes. Typing up a hospital phone and a staff member for 2 or 4 minutes is poor judgement but I don't see such a prank being raised to a level worthy of outrageous hatred and legal proceedings (save for possibly minor transgression of laws to do with voice playback permission).

It's not simply the DJs and that radio station who are the sole owners of blame here either. Just because one part of the media does a stupid thing doesn't exonerate every other outlet from repeating and replaying the prank with impunity, and acting all holier-than-them. The pressure this poor lady felt was surely a consequence of the widespread nature of the reporting : everywhere, 24/7. It'll be interesting to see if this event causes radio stations (in particular) to adopt some guidelines with respect to misrepresentation in phone calls. That might be the only upside to this whole sad mess.

Anyway, RIP Jacintha.
posted by peacay at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2012


My (admittedly distant) impression of Australian commercial radio is that it's engaged in a constant game of oneupmanship in terms of publicity and outrage, from talkback gobshites like Alan Jones to prankster dipshits like this pair, and that there's neither the regulatory heft nor, ultimately, sufficient backlash among the listening public to change the tone.
posted by holgate at 10:37 AM on December 8, 2012


Yeah, there's some talkback facists and an ample range of "humorous" radio people, but I'm not sure if it's better or worse than other large urban centre. I don't know that I'd categorise the atmosphere as oneupmanship particularly either, but maybe I don't really know. I may live here but I'm not an avid consumer of local media by any stretch. And there has definitely been backlash to some of the excesses of people like Jones both in the courts and in the media (nothing approaching proportion to the 'crimes', in the opinions of many of us of course). But I try not to judge UK press by, say, the Daily Mail; and like the UK, we have a strong independent govt. section of the media that acts as a pretty good counterweight, and sometimes overseer, to the excesses of the rest of the fools.
posted by peacay at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2012


The Sydney radio presenters behind the prank call that has been linked to a British nurse's death are said to be "fragile" and undergoing intensive psychological counselling.


Not sure how much sympathy I have for them though, but I sincerely hope no-one gives them a prank call.
posted by vac2003 at 7:12 PM on December 8, 2012


A key thing to remember here is that 2DayFM are bound by Commercial Radio Codes of Practice overseen by ACMA.

While the comments about the dire state of Australian radio - and particularly FM radio (and particularly 2DayFM/Austereo) - are spot on, there is now increasing coverage here of whether the station in question actually broke the rules under which it is meant to operate.

As Clause 6 of the Code of Practice linked to above states:

The purpose of this Code is to prevent the unauthorised broadcast of statements by identifiable persons.
6.1 A licensee must not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless:
(a) that person has been informed in advance or a reasonable person would be aware that the words may be broadcast; or
(b) in the case of words which have been recorded without the knowledge of the person, that person has subsequently, but prior to the broadcast, expressed consent to the broadcast of the words.


Apparently 2DayFM have come out and said they did not break the law or any such codes.

But it is nigh on impossible to believe this claim you'd think, given that the nurse in question would, in all likelihood, not permitted the broadcast of her voice/the exchange if she was informed it was a prank call.

If that is the case, the show's producers deserve a huge amount of condemnation. And if that is the case, the station/Austereo might be a massive amount of trouble given their priors involving Kyle and Jackie O.

But prank calls aren't new to Austereo stations - a breakfast radio host by the name of Matt Tilley on the network's Melbourne station (Fox FM) virtually made a career out of stupid, pointless, unfunny, offensive and racist prank phone calls.

Austereo has form on this count. I hope ACMA throw the book at them to be honest.
posted by chris88 at 2:06 PM on December 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


We needn't worry now that Internet hactivist group 'Anonymous' is on the case. Wonder if hactivists wear their underwear on the outside while appeasing the masses.
posted by de at 7:04 AM on December 10, 2012


The Sydney radio presenters behind the prank call that has been linked to a British nurse's death are said to be "fragile" and undergoing intensive psychological counselling.

While that may well be true, it's awfully convenient for them.
posted by OmieWise at 7:07 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


While that may well be true, it's awfully convenient for them.
Which is a pretty passive aggressive way of saying that two young people probably don't give a shit that they were involved in the death of another human being.

Yeah - Sell me your bridges, but I prefer to think that people are generally compassionate and care deeply when they accidentally cause harm to others. I really can't understand what's going through the minds of so many people (not just on metafilter) that they can't attribute any humanity to these two kids.
posted by zoo at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


> it's awfully convenient for them.

I don't see the 'convenience' for the DJs. It's too late for Jacintha Saldanha to get the help and support she needed. (I want to say her employer failed her.) It is awfully important for the DJs to get supportive help. They've gone from flamboyant young rookie DJs thinking they've found fame, to permanently notorious culprits in a senseless tragedy. It has probably crossed their minds that suicide would be an option for them (too).

I can't help wondering if the attention turning on the hapless DJs isn't awfully convenient for hospital administration.

As a matter of necessity Jacintha Saldanha would have submitted an Incident report or Adverse Event form that would take time for hospital administration to process, culminating in Corrective Action (which can and often does lead to termination of employment). Hospital administration would immediately be looking to assign blame for the breach in an effort to keep Royal clients. Think about it: someone's head was going to roll.

Jacintha Saldanha would have acknowledged in writing she knew nothing of the policy for taking calls from a member of the royal family. (Apparently) the hospital has a policy that should ensure all calls from members of the royal family are transferred through to a detective, reason being: it is not royal procedure to ring into hospitals via the main switchboard, so anyone taking such a call has a phone hoax situation.

All hospitals have a range of policies and procedures for types of incoming phone calls: bomb threats, nuisance calls, general enquiries where caller ID is unknowable. You would expect this hospital staff to be particularly drilled in assuring safety and confidentiality of royal patients given it's a hospital specialty.

Not one, but two nurses got it wrong. Jacintha transferred a call breaching policy, not confidentiality. Her colleague then answered questions about the royal patient's well-being, breaching policy and patient confidentiality. Believe me: both nurses knew a head or two could roll. Both immediately knew they were in strife. Nurses make such wonderful scapegoats. Sitting ducks. Fall guys. True.

Administration seemed very rational and reasonable performing at microphones in the street announcing Jacintha Saldanha's death to the world. Oh to have been a fly on the wall days earlier when Jacintha and her colleague were summonsed into the Director's office.

Here's hoping the hospital is treating the 2nd duped nurse with kid gloves and providing her with proper support (not just in-house lip service). At the end of the day, two staff members were not fully informed on policies, procedures and practices during Kate's admission. Bottom line: hospital administration is fully accountable for the breaches that caused Jacintha Saldanha so much stress, and they know it.

I'll be keen to read what the coroners' court has to say about the hospital's part in Jucintha's death, if anything. Conveniently, Jucintha's not around to tall anyone her story. Conveniently an unsympathetic public want to pin everything on a couple of tall poppy kids.

Anyway, what do I know?
posted by de at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2012


Sell me your bridges, but I prefer to think that people are generally compassionate and care deeply when they accidentally cause harm to others. I really can't understand what's going through the minds of so many people (not just on metafilter) that they can't attribute any humanity to these two kids.

Actually, I've come to learn (the hard way) that there's sometimes a subtle difference beteween "I accidentally hurt someone and hurting people is bad so now everyone hates me and thinks I'm evil" and "I accidentaly hurt someone and hurting people is bad".

In both cases, you're aware that you did a bad thing. But in one case, you feel bad because "that other person is suffering because of something I did" and in the other you feel bad because "now everyone thinks I'm evil".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2012


Yeah - Sell me your bridges, but I prefer to think that people are generally compassionate and care deeply when they accidentally cause harm to others.

Do you have any evidence to back that up? Because my personal experience suggests otherwise. Furthermore, a quick look at the state of the world around us suggests that we didn't exactly get the numerous problems we face from an overabundance of compassion and empathy in humanity.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:28 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see it as a subtle difference, and it's possible to feel both things to differing degrees. I think that the social aspect is writ larger when you're younger, but that's OK. "Now everyone thinks I'm evil" is useful, and it's more useful when you're dealing with the sociopathy of the young.

I guess that's me arguing that the DJ's do need to be ostracised to a degree, but the level of hysteria around them is just so over the top. This isn't "everyone thinks I'm evil", this is "everyone is coming for me with the pitchforks and I'm going to die."

I do really feel for them at the moment.
posted by zoo at 9:33 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is a pretty passive aggressive way of saying that two young people probably don't give a shit that they were involved in the death of another human being.

Yeah - Sell me your bridges, but I prefer to think that people are generally compassionate and care deeply when they accidentally cause harm to others. I really can't understand what's going through the minds of so many people (not just on metafilter) that they can't attribute any humanity to these two kids.


Well, there stock in trade is attempting to embarrass other people on the radio. Radio DJs of this sort are not just random people you might find walking down the street, they're already a self-selected particular sort of person for whom causing other people discomfort and emotional pain is part of their chosen profession.

And I'm not being passive. I actually imagine that these guys feel bad, not least because millions of people think they're fucktards. They stand to lose everything from this, and I expect that they have some natural empathy at work as well. I'm sure they'd rather no one was dead from their prank.

But you really shouldn't call them kids. I assume you do so in order to elicit natural empathy for them, but one is 30 and the other is 25. Both are more than old enough to know better.
posted by OmieWise at 9:34 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Transcript of Clare Brady's interview with Mel Greig and Michael Christian on Today Tonight.
posted by bakerina at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that the social aspect is writ larger when you're younger, but that's OK. "Now everyone thinks I'm evil" is useful, and it's more useful when you're dealing with the sociopathy of the young.

*nods* That's where I've noticed this. There's a maturity level at play.

Mind you, immaturity is not exclusively found among the young....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2012


I believe it is also found in poo-poo heads.
posted by zoo at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2012


Yeah - Sell me your bridges, but I prefer to think that people are generally compassionate and care deeply when they accidentally cause harm to others.

I have no problem believing that they didn't intend for anyone to die over this. But I also have no problem at all thinking that they didn't think about the human consequences for the person at the other end at all - and not just them but the lawyers and administration of the station, who bear equal blame in this, for sure. I doubt most people, apart from pure sociopaths, want real, long-term physical harm to come to the people they humiliate or bully. But as we see over and over again, humiliating people does have real consequences and people are harmed all the time over things that others dismiss as silly pranks. I still shudder over minor embarrassing incidents from long ago; I can't imagine how I'd react if that incident were being replayed on public radio.

I know the DJs are speaking with legal advice so there's little that they can admit on camera, but this interview made me dislike them more rather than creating much sympathy. First off there's their admission that they thought they'd be only one of numerous prank phone calls to a hospital. Who thinks 'hey! this hospital has been tied up with prank calls about a pregnant woman all day! I'll add another! That'll be awesome!"? If that's your thought process, then you have serious empathy issues. Then there's their defense that their accents were so terrible that no one would have been fooled - with the implication 'except for this one particularly stupid and foolish nurse at 5 in the morning,' I guess. I understand that that's their best defense at this point but it just compounding the whole mess that this is and I doubt it's making anyone feel better. And if you want an on air segment of yourself doing silly voices I can think of better ways to get that than phoning a hospital asking for private medical information.

I really, really hopes this signals at least the temporary cessation of on air prank calls. There's nothing more depressing than watching some slick media machine roll over some poor, low-level bastard who was unfortunate enough to pick up the phone at the wrong time. It's also lazy: people do it because low-level fruit is the easiest to pick and it might take real effort to try and get to someone with real power or know-how.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested lesbiassparrow - to know if there's any level of prank that you'd be comfortable with, and if this is something you've always hated.

Candid Camera, You've been framed, the 1938 recording of War of the Worlds, I've got your nose, April's fool, Trigger Happy TV, Ali G and Borat.

I think you'd struggle to find many people who'd consider all pranks to be cruel.
posted by zoo at 11:11 AM on December 10, 2012


Zoo, not all the pranks you mention involve humiliating someone and quite a few require people to sign permission after the fact to allow the airing of the prank - if they're fine with it, then go ahead.

I think it's pretty clear that I'm particularly uncomfortable with consciously humiliating pranks, especially ones played on people working in jobs where half the time they're not allowed to hang up on people, but have to sit through the damn prank trying to retain a small shred of dignity. Additionally, I do think that people who prank call hospitals for whatever reason are jerks especially if they admit that they'll be compounding a problem the hospital is already having with prank calls.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the interview with the DJ's, it seemed clear that their purpose was only to humiliate themselves. This seems pretty in-keeping with Australian humour which is relatively self depracating.

They never meant to humiliate anyone IMO. That the nurse was humiliated is more the fault of the press and the public. We do so love to gossip.
posted by zoo at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2012


Hopefully Jacintha Saldanha confided her concerns in someone independent so that the coroner can delve beyond media and hospital admin speculation/confabulation. And heaven help us all the day strings of twitter quotes start padding coroners' reports.



The unforgettable "Spider" [Vimeo] Shock alert: prank goes very wrong.
posted by de at 12:57 PM on December 10, 2012


They never meant to humiliate anyone IMO. That the nurse was humiliated is more the fault of the press and the public. We do so love to gossip.

You don't think that the likelihood of that precise public notoriety is reason enough for them to have thought twice about this?

Also: if you don't think that "making someone look silly by tricking them into thinking you're someone you're not" isn't an intent to humiliate, then what on earth do you think it is?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get that humiliating the hospital staff was the point, either. It's not like a Daily Show segment where they make a racist look deservedly foolish. But they also didn't consider the legal, ethical, or job consequences for the innocent parties. I'm sure that many, many pranks are perpetrated with a general sense that if the person on the other end figures it out then, hey, they can all have a laugh together on air. I can even imagine that sort of segment ending with a love fest and a thank-you present of swag. But here they were actually professionally jeopardizing people who really deserved nothing of the sort.

Essentially, this is something that is thankfully very, very rare but it's well within the predictable outcomes of a gag like this and underscores the essential meanness of the whole thing, especially when done at this level.

AFP had this today, which is one of the first I've seen (stateside, at least) that asks the questions some have attempted to make a somewhat perverse issue above -- that the public fascination with the royals, and attendant media 24/7 infotainment are one of the problems here.
Hospital hoax: media's royal fascination takes deadly turn
In keeping with my overall humanist credo, I think that Kate, particularly when compared with Diana, has done little to "deserve" her global scrutiny. If anything she's tried harder to be more demure, less flamboyant, less an actor in her own celebrity, and much more deliberately private, but it hasn't actually bought her less attention. Partly that's because the world is so much more suffused with 24/7 electronic media than it was a generation ago, but also partly that's because so much more of that media is filled with empty celebrity coverage.

I do hope this leads to some re-examination of policies and tempers the apparent eagerness of the broadcast industry for this sort of ratings juice. Both the Duchess and the nurse are real people, and the power of the media is a burning flame with the heat of Sauron's eye.
posted by dhartung at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm with lesbiassparrow. My sympathy for Greig and Christian went down to pretty much baseline levels after I read that interview. It matters not a whit to me that Greig and Christian's intention was to humiliate only themselves. No matter who the butt of the joke is, if your joke is dependent upon the actions of someone who isn't in on the joke, then you are introducing a variable that may not necessarily dovetail with the parameters you've set for the joke. Any claim that this was a joke by Aussies, for Aussies, about Aussies was gone the minute they telephoned a hospital on the other side of the world.

And yet, Greig and Christian are stunned by this. They never even considered that their "joke on themselves" would have any effect on anyone else. It's that lack of consideration, the lack of any sense than the world is bigger than their parameters for their joke, that irks me the most.
posted by bakerina at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's that lack of consideration

To further elucidate this line of thought, this is a pervasive problem with media today. In my hometown someone was just murdered, and there was a rather quotidian shot on the paper's front page of the coroners leading a gurney out of the house with her wholly concealed body on board. There was a visceral reaction to this on Facebook as a violation of privacy (it was actually taken from across the street and was completely public). I accept that such images are a part of the news, but there's a backlash to them.

It's the ones that aren't "news" that become even more problematic. Look at all those FAIL videos, some of them virtually snuff films. I can't imagine what it would be like to have the car accident that killed your daughter and mutilated her body become a viral photo sequence, for instance. But that sort of thing happens today so easily because of the mutability of digital media. At some level we're all in the fishbowl now, and just as with Zuckerberg believing that should be everyone's default state, it's difficult to adapt to under less-than-ideal circumstances.

The DJs were being bitterly attacked on Twitter, but they had the luxury of stepping back and closing their accounts. I think the bullying framework is useful here. The DJs are now under the same type of bullying pressure that their victim was being given. Shoe's definitely on the other foot now, and I think it's still instructive to see how stunned they are.

One thing really annoyed me in all this, and it was the -- I think -- CEO of their employer who urged compassion for who he called "journalists". How degraded that word has become.
posted by dhartung at 1:51 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos:
if you don't think that "making someone look silly by tricking them into thinking you're someone you're not" isn't an intent to humiliate, then what on earth do you think it is?

I'm not convinced that they thought they'd be tricking anyone, but to answer your question directly, there are tonnes of situations where we trick people or make them look silly and we're not doing it to humiliate them.

From the aforementioned "wheres your nose" to April Fools day to just plain lying to your kids (You know I invented the hairdryer?), to sending the new hire down to the stores for some tartan paint. These are all tricks to make someone look silly, but they aren't there to humiliate them or to make them look smaller. They're there because they're funny and they make you cringe, and they happened to you and after 10 minutes, yes - they were kind of funny, even though you felt like a dick for being caught out.

There's always some people who are really upset by being teased in this way, and when that happens, it's harsh. A friend of mine was pretty much scarred by the "Ask John about his piano playing" gag. But this isn't a criticism of my friend or the gag. It was just one of those things. Nobody held it against her and new people were still asked to ask whoever about his piano playing.

So yep - If anything, I do understand where these radio pranks come from. I do consider them mostly harmless. And the world would be a slightly duller place if we didn't have them. I understand that there are people in the thread that would be mortified to have such gags played on them, who would never play such gags on other people. Those people are OK. I'm not criticising them. But a large number (I would guess - a majority) of people see nothing harmful in pulling the wool over anothers eyes for mutual enjoyment.
posted by zoo at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2012


Zoo, if you can't understand why tricking someone into BREAKING A LAW isn't in the same realm as "got your nose", then I don't know what to tell you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:46 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because they were deliberately trying to make someone break the law? No. They weren't.

FWIW, I was answering your question.

Also: if you don't think that "making someone look silly by tricking them into thinking you're someone you're not" isn't an intent to humiliate, then what on earth do you think it is?

That's not a comment about breaking the law. That's a direct question about how making someone look silly can not be an intent to humiliate. It's a question I answered withing the context of my own experience. Are you seriously telling me that you actually meant the question within the framework of legality?
posted by zoo at 3:55 PM on December 10, 2012


No, Zoo, that was a comment on how you are attempting to defend the pranksters' actions by comparing to "got your nose".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2012


Zoo: The point is, they did this for their careers, he boasted about it on FB, they played it over and over and laughed about it. They did not care then about any repercussions on their victims. This is not the same as my old man sending the new lad at work to get a bucket of compressed air from the tyre shop next door. Seriously, you can't see the difference?

Also, yes they were trying to make someone break the law by tricking them into giving confidential patient records to an outsider.
posted by marienbad at 4:10 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've mentioned "got your nose" twice, and both times it's in response to statements to the effect that pranks are always hurtful, that they always have a victim.

I'm defending the pranksters actions - yes. Because I didn't see any harm in what they did before the death of Jacintha Saldanha, and I'm not going to become a hypocrite by condemning them now. And I'm not going to disrespect this possible suicide by scapegoating a couple of Australians whose main purpose in life is to give people enjoyment.

I laugh at pranks. I enjoy them when they're played on me, and I enjoy them when they're played on others. I understand some people don't like pranks. I know that pranks sometimes go wrong. But I'll not be forced into a kneejerk reaction against prankage because of this hugely unfortunate incident.

But to me, the disgusting treatment of these two DJ's trivialises the complex nature of suicide and it makes a mockery of our compassion.
posted by zoo at 4:14 PM on December 10, 2012


marienbad: that's not the point being made, that's just taking a different tack.

In the grand scheme of shitty damaging things the media does, phoning someone up and pretending to be the Queen is miles behind pretty much anything else you can mention. I think we've lost track of that.

I'm not sure if it's because we feel societally culpable for her death and we're just lashing out and looking for someone else to blame, but it's not something I feel comfortable doing.
posted by zoo at 4:20 PM on December 10, 2012


[zoo, please have a discussion with the people in this thread and don't jump to the "being even more controversial" stage, it makes the thread about you and not the topic of the thread. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2012


I've mentioned "got your nose" twice, and both times it's in response to statements to the effect that pranks are always hurtful, that they always have a victim.

I don't see people saying that. I see people saying that this prank was about trying to get medical information about a sick woman - her status surely doesn't matter, except insofar as it meant they knew they'd have an audience for this whether they succeeded or not - from a staff member at a hospital. They may not have thought that they'd succeeded, but when they did they proceeded to publicly broadcast that information. Over and over again. I'd say this is more akin to playing a prank on someone at work, one which ensured they screwed up with a major client (perhaps the most important client your company deals with), recording it, and uploading it to YouTube. Along with your commentary about how you couldn't believe they fell for it. And maybe broadcasting your success as well over your company's email or PA system. I think then if someone turned around and said about the victim 'well, I had no idea they'd take it so badly!', most people would raise an eyebrow. Or two.

Many people play pranks, but high stakes and public pranks have a much higher chance of going wrong with really damaging consequences for the victim. I don't know if that's what happened here or if there were other contributing factors, but it still doesn't make me think that this type of prank is much fun. Well, except for people who get to stand around pointing and laughing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:37 PM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Prediction: King Edward VII's CEO John Lofthouse will lose his job.
Opinion: ... and so he should. A nurse is needlessly dead.


John Lofthouse: "We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time."

Oh yes. Tell us about that support, John. Was it professional?

How was Jacintha treated by her employer of choice, a hospital she wanted to be at so badly she would leave her family for the working week only returning home on weekends? How was she treated Tuesday once the recording aired, John? Was Jacintha dragged in from sleep during business hours Tuesday -- still oblivious she had been duped at 0530, John? How did you break the news to Jacintha, John? Was that meeting recorded? Behind closed doors, was it? Accurately and correctly documented? ... with or without an advocate/representative accompanying a tired and shocked Jacintha? John? John?? How many suits were present John? Was there cream cake with the tea?

There were three full days between the airing of the prank call and the discovery of Jacintha's death. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday would have been one hectic day for Jacintha (especially on no sleep, having worked the night before).

Today, rumours are Jacintha had been dead for days -- 1 day? 2 days? not all 3 days, obviously -- prior to her hanging body being found.

When did you last speak with Jacintha, John? How was she? What was the nature of the support the hospital provided throughout her difficult time? ... a private room, a few days off, and a non-disclosure clap? She didn't even speak to her husband again, John. John? You there, John?
posted by de at 11:25 PM on December 12, 2012


Now, now, now, there's enough blame to go around for everyone.
posted by Mezentian at 1:09 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


To understand, you would need to put yourself in the shoes of the 46-year-old Indian nurse, described by her brother as a devout Catholic and "a proper and righteous person," who would have "felt much shame" from the incident.

Interesting short article about the cultural divide that may have played a role here and the importance of recognizing that low and mid level employees just trying to do a job are not the best subjects for ironic tricks.

The work culture of nursing often has an expectation of PERFECTION! that (like many medical roles) is shaming from peers as well as superiors and the public for every error. You are human and you will make mistakes. But as a healthcare worker you are expected to never make mistakes, big or small.
posted by dog food sugar at 5:10 AM on December 13, 2012


Oh yes. Tell us about that support, John. Was it professional?

How was Jacintha treated by her employer of choice, a hospital she wanted to be at so badly she would leave her family for the working week only returning home on weekends?


Your whole comment is really strange. It essentially suggests that Jacintha was hounded to her death by the hospital. Do you have any evidence to back that up? It's a pretty heavy charge. (It may well be the case, but you haven't shown your work, just a lot of heavy innuendo.)
posted by OmieWise at 5:30 AM on December 13, 2012


Omnie, I took de's comment as more like "like HELL you supported her" rather than "you hounded her to her death". He was questioning the hospital's assertion that they'd "supported her during this difficult time" and implying that they just sort of let her handle it on her own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's some of that at the end, but the start of the comment strongly implies that "John" probably bullied the poor woman in an unconscionable way, and that there was likely affirmatively bad behavior on the part of the hospital:

How was she treated Tuesday once the recording aired, John? Was Jacintha dragged in from sleep during business hours Tuesday -- still oblivious she had been duped at 0530, John? How did you break the news to Jacintha, John? Was that meeting recorded? Behind closed doors, was it? Accurately and correctly documented? ... with or without an advocate/representative accompanying a tired and shocked Jacintha? John? John?? How many suits were present John? Was there cream cake with the tea?
posted by OmieWise at 6:09 AM on December 13, 2012


Saldanha left three suicide notes: one concerning her funeral, one about the prank call, and a third criticizing hospital staff. The exact contents of the three notes are not public, but the third definitely needs to be known. It looks as though our worst fears might be confirmed.
posted by Jehan at 12:26 PM on December 13, 2012


Update from the Sydney Morning Herald:

The radio DJs linked to the death of the British nurse Jacintha Saldanha had been trained "not to air any prank calls without permission" and are now "playing dumb", a source from besieged Sydney station 2Day FM claims.

posted by bakerina at 4:43 PM on December 13, 2012


> It looks as though our worst fears might be confirmed.

Along with those three last notes from Jacintha, there's email exchange and phone call history of interest to those investigating Jacintha's suicide.

2dayFM claims 5 post-hoax phone calls were made to KEVII seeking permission to air the pre-recorded hoax. I've not read anything about the time of those calls or whether those calls were answered; and the post-hoax calls are totally denied by KEVII. I can't help worrying that Jacintha took those calls between 0530 and 0730 and in the absence of implied or given permission Jacintha felt safer to let the whole incident blow over unreported than to report the incident to KEVII. Given the research that goes into nurses' reluctance to report incidents, and the importance that incidents are reported, that Jacintha opted not to report would be simply the saddest possible finding of all (and also an indictment on management). It would go some way to better explaining her drastic choice to suicide. Right now it's easier for me to be critical of the management team, but that there is my worst fear for Jacintha.
posted by de at 4:41 AM on December 14, 2012


> most people agree they wouldn't want the royals' life for all the tea in Chin

I don't get that. I don't understand what's so awful about being mind-bogglingly rich, getting to travel the world, representing your country (presuming you're super-patriotic), knowing that your children will never be financially insecure and that they'll go to any school you want and they'll always have medical care and and and... Just what are Kate & William missing out on?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2012


Just what are Kate & William missing out on?

Privacy and downtime.

We could phrase it "You need to check your obscurity privilege at the door".
They will never, ever, have the comfort of obscurity.
Kate opted in, but Will never had much of a choice.

Personally, I think that would be horrible.
posted by Mezentian at 5:17 PM on December 16, 2012


Privacy and downtime.

We could phrase it "You need to check your obscurity privilege at the door".
They will never, ever, have the comfort of obscurity.
Kate opted in, but Will never had much of a choice.


Absolutely untrue. They can always abdicate and gradually media attention on them will die down. The reason most don't is that - despite all the claims made of how terrible it must be to have all that attention - the truth is that having fame, money, and privilege is actually pretty awesome.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:36 AM on December 17, 2012


Absolutely untrue. They can always abdicate and gradually media attention on them will die down.

That hasn't worked out so well for Di and Fergie.
Even nth tier royals pop up in the red tops at times for shame and scandal.
Sure, the attention might die down, but it will never go away.
If Edward had been around in modern times the Simpson Affair may have played out very differently.
posted by Mezentian at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2012


Absolutely untrue. They can always abdicate and gradually media attention on them will die down.

The complaint is that royals are constantly under the scrutiny of people/the media, and your refutation is something that happened in 1936? I don't really think that's super valid.
posted by inigo2 at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2012


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