Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: The Smalley scandal

Rachel Smalley. Photo / Robert Trathen
Rachel Smalley. Photo / Robert Trathen

Ok, so I think this is how it went down.

Rachel Smalley was on the radio and said the other New Zealand girls were fatties, sorry, "lardos" and "heifers" and then people on Twitter and Facebook got upset - probably obeasts themselves - I know the word is obese in Auckland, but it's obeast in the smaller towns and better for it. Then leftie tut-tutters did some tut-tutting and then the right-wingers tut-tutted them back and essentially said 'harden up sweetie'.

Meanwhile, everyone in New Zealand is getting slowly fatter.

Then Rachel got on the radio and blubbed her way to forgiveness. She told us that she has never even thought these thoughts, even though they formed, as thoughts and spirited their way from her brain and onto her slender and perfectly toned tongue. This would seem unbelievable if it were not for one thing. The studio chair! You've seen that insurance ad about the devil's chair, the one where the heifer defecates at the end? It's the studio chair idiots.


The chair that Rachel sat in that morning was the same chair that held the buttocks that withstood the fragrant wind of Paul Holmes. The build up over all these years must be monstrous in scale.

The sheer bad aura of that chair obviously overcame Rachel as she responded to its force. Blame the broadcaster if you want, but that chair, that's the problem. An insider* told me that the chair is kept despite fraying and smelling terribly because it's a sort of talisman, a lucky charm. It's link to the station's ratings is remarkable as it arrived the day of the first survey when Paul Holmes rose to the top and stayed there. Tellingly, the Dalai Lama refused to sit in the chair when he was at the station in the late 1990s.

What was lost in the kerfuffle and apology was the actual story itself. The fact that the morning after pill may not be effective on women over 70kg isn't as shocking as you might think as most of the people taking it are younger women, who typically are not in the heifer or lardo class. Still it says something about all of us when the story becomes a footnote to the 'scandal'.

Although Smalley's apology seemed Meryl Streep in its intensity, it served as a master class in crisis management, artfully showing the way for other broadcasters. Do it quickly and do it big.


Women and men say all sorts of things to their friends and colleagues that we don't say to strangers; it's one of the joys of life. I know few who don't make fattist, sexist, racist and all the other 'ist', comments, in jest. I'd be surprised if Rachel hasn't said worse, in fact I'd be disappointed. For a Hosking or a Henry there is no such problem, because they say these things out loud, but Smalley still has an eye to hanging onto that old fashioned notion of journalistic integrity. You know, the Geoff Robinson thing. That's admirable, understandable.

But was the intensity of her tears about sisterly concern for the affronted over 70kg listenership, or was she crying about damage to her brand? The prospect of the latter could really make a broadcaster weep. As a mildly obeast man myself, I am not in any way offended that she forgot to push a button, and although I applaud the way Smalley has already turned this into yesterday's news, I would suggest a photo op with a big bucket of KFC as the perfect coda. And maybe bring in a chair from home.

*A wild guess.

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Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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