This week saw the return of Australia’s 60 Minutes and to start the year off with a bang they interviewed Matt Newton. Groundbreaking journalism? Not at all.
PR exercise, more likely.
This week I wrote a short piece about the interview for the mental health website mindshare. In it I wrote that 60 Minutes was reckless not to verify Newton’s claim he had never been formally diagnosed with an illness.
When someone has used mental illness as a defense against assault charges, an admission like this is highly controversial. This defense is on the public record and has been used in rulings. You just can’t let that go without verifying it.
But they did.
They also did not verify or scrutinize his claim that he was ‘clean’. Even from the above picture used by Adelaide Now you can tell he is glassy eyed.
Aside from Newton’s story, this piece did nothing to de-stigmatise mental illness. Newton wanting to distance himself from any association with it is perpetuating the myth that mental illness is a crippling life sentence.
I’m guessing Newton wants to revive his career. Well the Producer in me says he still has a long way to go based on that interview.
Sure shows like 60 Minutes need a bit of fodder and being fed PR like this is the norm. Unfortunately for them, this interview did not seem to generate the water cooler conversation they may have hoped for.
Perhaps we are tired of seeing violent men try and redeem themselves on national television in an interview conducted by women who really, let’s face it, go soft on them.