Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson and former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire have butted heads in a heated debate about Taylor Walker’s recent apology video.
After Walker was suspended for six games and fined $20,000 for a racist remark to SANFL player Robbie Young, the Crows forward apologised to the Indigenous footballer in a video uploaded to the Adelaide Football Club’s website on Monday evening.
The clip received a mixed response, with some pundits suggesting Walker was portrayed as the victim. The 31-year-old was consoled by Young, who put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
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Speaking on Footy Classified, Wilson slammed the decision for Walker to apologise in a scripted video instead of fronting the media and answering questions. The journalist also said the video made her feel “uncomfortable”.
But McGuire was more sympathetic to Walker’s situation, arguing he was not in a mental state where he could conduct a press conference.
Taylor Walker’s apology video with Robbie Young.Source:Supplied
Caroline Wilson: He did portray himself as a bit of a victim. I didn’t like that video the other night – I think he should have fronted the media. The victims here are the four Adelaide Crows players who have to front up at work day in, day out and of course Robbie Young. This contrived bit at the beginning, I was really disappointed they left it in there.
Eddie McGuire: I don’t think that was contrived. If you were shooting that … you roll that all day.
CW: There were a lot of divisions even as high as the club and the wider football community about whether that should have gone to air.
EM: Tex didn’t necessarily want to do that because he was so exhausted, hasn’t slept, wasn’t in the mental state to get up and have a public stoning by reporters. I got everything I needed to get out of that.
CW: He wasn’t going to get a public stoning Ed …
EM: In front of the media?
CW: You’re making it sound like he’s the victim here – he’s the perpetrator, he’s caused untold hurt and heartbreak among an entire community of footballers.
EM: No, you do this every time, you make it someone else’s problem. We’re discussing how this was done – we all understand that he has done everything wrong in this situation. We’re looking at the next stage. Whether or not he should’ve got harsher penalties is by the by, but he has a life sentence from this now, and so he should. He will recover, hopefully, or he doesn’t and that will be his legacy one way or the other. But for him to be put in front of a media conference on Monday, he was not mentally prepared or able to do it.
CW: I understand that, but I wouldn’t have done a scripted video, I would’ve waited until I could face the music.
Taylor Walker has played 215 games for the Adelaide Crows since making his AFL debut in 2008.Source:Getty Images
EM: The club needed to do something and I looked at that and I thought well, I see he is sincere. He has apologised in front of the cameras to the person who was the major person.
Ross Lyon: Do you not think Tex is injured as well?
CW: Of course he is …
RL: Everyone’s injured in this. I don’t see the benefit in injuring people more.
CW: But I’m a lot more sympathetic to the person that’s been injured. Of course he’s injured, he’s done something dreadful and caused heartbreak …
RL: Don’t we judge him going forward now?
CW: I just keep thinking watching that, how does the rest of Australia feel? How do Indigenous Australians feel when here’s a bloke who is a leader in society, former club captain, he has been educated for 15 years. How are normal Australians going to be in terms of racism if they have to cop that from someone who’s been taught for 10-15 years about how to behave.
RL: No one is condoning him. I’m not condoning him. I don’t know how he can go back and lead the Indigenous players that are there for Adelaide because that wound will be there forever.
Walker’s future is up in the air.Source:Getty Images
Eddie references Wilson’s remarks about ‘disabled athletes’
McGuire then mentioned Wilson’s controversial remarks on disabled athletes from 13 years ago, when she referred to some Paralympics events as “not really like sport” on ABC’s Offsiders.
EM: It was a horrible moment of madness. You said he read a script – Barack Obama is the best person on his feet that I‘ve seen in the last 50 years and he reads off an autocue. You can’t go into those situations … I’ll tell you what happens: If you apologise, it’s all spin. If you don’t apologise, then you’re recalcitrant. If you apologise too much, then you’re adding mayonnaise to it. There is no answer to this. Trust me about getting up and trying to do the right thing in a press conference and people taking it the wrong way. You said something once where people jumped all over you about disabled athletes. Anyone with any brain could see what you were trying to say and it wasn’t malicious, but you copped a kicking on it. You can sometimes say things where the words come out – it happened with me with Adam Goodes …
CW: You cannot compare what Taylor Walker has done here (that it) leaves him not a victim in any way.
EM: This is where compassion and empathy comes into it. It’s about what he does now. No one’s making excuses for him, he did a horrible thing and he’s paying the penalty. But you can’t pick and choose on these things. People do make mistakes. As Ross said, it’s what happens from here. And you know what, maybe the Indigenous community and his teammates just say we’ve had enough.
On Tuesday, Adelaide chief executive Tim Silvers remarkably offered no reassurances over the future of Walker at the club.
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