The Danny Weidler story – a scribbler or a dribbler?

We can understand that the Fairfax Media‘s business model requires that they engage the “young, dumb and full of rum” galoots that tweet and toggle as FM’s rivers of gold dry up.  We did also understand that it was only a matter of time before fiscal expediency caused their online presence to become full of total tosh from beauty tips for the busy to shock horror celeb stories but we never expected Fairfax to recruit from the shallow end.

I understand that sports scribbler, Danny ‘Favours’ Weidler is an engaging and highly intelligent cove who loves nothing more than to sink a ‘Beam and cola’ while debating  the merits of coordinating conjunctions before moving onto the topic of Joyce’s “Ulysses” as a language destabiliser.  But in his writings poor ‘Favours’ is seriously not a weapon of mass instruction.

In an article on the SMH website on 17 February he wrote a syrup strip titled, “Sharks grill players for info on Dank.”(Sharkies Story)  Weidler is keen to point out at the beginning “The Sharks won’t say it but they are conducting the most thorough of investigations imaginable to find out exactly what controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank did at Cronulla for two months in 2011.”  That’s a nod and a wink reference as in “sources close to the club” and “I am reliably informed” blah. Weidler then goes on to document the “thorough” investigation which turns out was to simply sit down players who were there in 2011 and then get them to “confess all”. Well Danny, even though the “Sharks won’t say it”, I will.  Firstly that methodology doesn’t sound thorough to me – it sounds like a game of “Simple Simon” and secondly if the Sharks didn’t say it who did?

While never short on sources ‘Favours’ can go a touch florid at times in his stories, in one he describes a bit of lower grade gossip as “juicier than a body-building competition in the 1980s”.  But it’s not his purple prose that annoys true sports fans – it’s in his writing where he at times becomes a gushing apologist for heavily tattooed, lightly brained “sports people”.

Pithy homilies seemingly to please player managers and their spawn generally go like this, “Player manager Slippery is understandably upset at criticism of his client, Brutus who is the victim of a smear campaign after it was alleged by Bondi police that Brutus was caught with 25 stolen Ipads in the boot of his car.  Slippery claims that Brutus, a victim of circumstances, collected the Ipads in good faith, unaware they were “stolen”, for an upcoming charity auction.  Slippery said the auction had not been advertised because his client wanted to make sure that he had the goods first.  It seems everyone is just too quick to judge these days.”

If one trawls the sporting blogs and forums you’ll find references to Weidler and he has certainly created heat.  On “the hutch” (the hutch), a forum for South’s supporters, a post by “The Perp” states, “Danny Weidler, the gossip columnist from the Sun-Herald newspaper, is a lickspittle for the rich and famous.”  I’m not sure of what if any agenda Weidler had in writing the piece that got up Perp’s nose.  What is remarkable is that by any measure, “The Perp’s”  research and writing seems far more detailed and logical than that of Weidler.

Now I’m sure ‘Favours’ does his best.  I am equally sure it’s difficult to balance the demands of quality journalism with servicing sources however it appears that true balance is missing in his writing at times.

Look at this shameless tosh that Weidler recently dribbled lazily onto the SMH site about the Roosters going upmarket with their suits and oh dear how close am I going to the spittoon with this?

“Apsley Tailors are now the official tailors of the Roosters and will christen their new threads at their season launch. If you aren’t a suit fanatic you won’t know Apsley are also the official tailors for Fulham and West Ham.  Renowned tailor Arshad Mahmood did a couple of fittings with the the (‘Favours’ double) Roosters team and board, including Mark Bouris, Mark McInnes (doesn’t he shop at Myers now?), Mark Fennessy and Luke Ricketson.  Fennessy and a couple of the players, including Mitchell Pearce were so impressed they purchased extra suits.”

In past non-digital times Herald sporting journalists would have refused to allow a column inch of this blighted plop to ever appear in their paper.  ‘Favours’ would have been kicked onto Parramatta Road and told that he was more suited to driving a Tooth’s brewery horse across the road rather than driving the PR agenda for sporting spivs and ne’re-do-wells.

Scribbler or dribbler?  That was the question.  All I can say is pass the spittoon please.

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