Last week Mark Webber did the unimaginable and terminated a radio interview after being repeatedly questioned about his “nanny state” comments post the 2010 Australian Grand Prix.

Webber apparently told the journalist conducting the interview that he “wasn’t going there” and eventually terminated the call.

Respected journalist Gerard Whateley joined the fray last Friday in an article on the ABC website, Webber’s monumental fall from endearment.

Whateley writes:

How did Mark Webber lose the sporting electorate? At precisely the moment victory is finally within his grasp …
After extolling the virtues of his third career victory, Webber was asked to reconsider his “nanny state remarks” made after the impounding of Lewis Hamilton’s car under Victorian hoon laws.
Webber said he wasn’t going there. And held true to his word as he hung up under repeated questioning. He followed up with a text message to the program’s producer stating he would never again appear on the station.
It sparked immediate and overwhelming condemnation.
By the next morning a second sports radio station had joined the public stoning. Webber was told he was not only “precious” but had become “hard to like”.

Whateley went on to write that as an Aussie ex-pat Webber’s mistake was to criticise his former home and that in regards to the ‘hoon-gate’ affair, he “affronted decent citizens by backing an English playboy who treated the city like his personal playground. He backed the wrong horse.”

What I find remarkable (and more concerning) is that many journalists think they have a right to push an issue to the point where a/the subject says ‘enough is enough’ and to then feign indignation when the subject actually pushes back.

What Whateley seems to forget, or worse understand and not mention, is that the interviewer’s behaviour was unacceptable. The bottom line is that the journalist had adopted a bullying stance.

This is not to say that there is not a place for repeated, hard questioning of interview subjects. But this is a non-story and a non-issue. And Whateley failed as a serious journalist to question the vailidity of a fellow member of the media’s behaviour.

And for what it’s worth, Australia is indeed becoming a nanny state.