Kyle fail, Jackie O fail, media fail

Reading comments on news sites over the last few days, it’s clear that most people – or most people who post comments on news sites, which may or may not be the same thing – don’t get why Kyle and Jackie O should get their butts kicked for asking a 14-year-old girl about her sex life. They think the problem is that when the girl revealed she had been raped, Kyle asked if that was her only sexual experience. (Thereby calling rape a sexual experience, rather of a violent one.)

But as much as he makes my skin crawl, I have to cut him some slack on this one as we’ve all said something dumb when put on the spot. Because what he said is not the problem.

Kyle, Jackie O and their producer should indeed get an almighty kick up the bum for deciding that strapping an underage girl to a lie detector and getting her mother to ask her about sex would be entertaining. The mother aside, that at least three adults did not think there was anything wrong with this situation is disturbing.

But then the story is reported as “Kyle, teen, rape revelation on air, stupid comment” and so it’s not surprising that readers don’t get it. Rape counsellors are interviewed to comment on Kyle’s stupid comment and no one is asked whether the segment should have been on air in the first place. And what we end up with is a large section of the public who think Kyle and Jackie O have been taken off the air because he said something stupid. Which means as journalists we haven’t done our jobs properly.

It also means that each time there’s a new “scandal” – The Chaser, footballers, take your pick – more people think each story is a media beat up.

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