Today in Tragic PR Stunt News: radio prank calls are as old as radio itself. Sometimes they can be amusing—who can forget the time an excited Sarah Palin answered a call from Canadian radio host “Nicolas Sarkozy” or the time Miami pranksters insulted Hugo Chavez?
Unfortunately, shock jock antics sometimes go too far. This week two Australian DJ’s followed up on the “Kate Middleton Is Pregnant” story by prank-calling the hospital that housed the Duchess after she suffered from a spell of nausea. They convinced a nurse/receptionist to put them through to the Duchess’s private nurse, thereby gaining undisclosed personal details about her case. The prank got them plenty of attention.
Today brings news of that first nurse/receptionist’s death by apparent suicide. While media outlets rightly hesitate to draw a direct line between the prank call and the tragic passing of Jacintha Saldanha, longtime hospital employee and mother of two, we think it’s quite fair to say that the DJs made a very bad decision by continuing to hype their #RoyalPrank story after Saldanha died and the radio station issued a public apology.
And now we’re very slightly satisfied to report that the hosts in question appear to have been fired for their bad behavior. Their Twitter accounts are no longer active.
We guess the station made the right move in the end, but the whole incident rightly leaves them looking very bad indeed.