Letters & Opinion

The Bottom Line — The Greatest Grand Slam of All

By Earl Bousquet

When the mainstream media decides to go after you, might as well you start counting your life’s blessings – and start kissing the world goodbye.

This age-old truth was on show again all this past week with three almost-larger-than-life figures: Tennis Star Novak Djokovic, Britain’s Prince Andrew and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Djokovich was the headline-grabbing darling of the BBC (and others of its ilk) for daring to single-handedly take-on the entire Australian government, determined to enter the country without being vaccinated.

The 34-year-old billionaire, who lives in Monte Carlo, is dead-against vaccination and did all he could afford to enter the world’s largest island to defend his Australian Open championship without having to do like every other player (or visitor) to enter the country with the world’s highest level of COVID-19 vaccinations and super-tough visitor entry requirements for non-vaccinated non-nationals.

Djokovic was presented as a rich-and-influential poster-boy for the global anti-vax campaign who’d successfully beaten the Australian government on its own court, at its own law – but only until he admitted having knowingly broken quarantine protocols at home (in Belgrade) after testing positive for COVID on December 16.

Same with Prince Andrew, who got almost-all his royal respect — until the Queen’s second grandson failed to avoid answering allegations of a steamy series of incidents involving sex-trafficking (by now-disgraced British billionaire socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein) in an American dock.

PM Johnson was also given (almost) due respect while sticking to his strong denials of press revelations about Downing Street ‘Wine and Cheese’ and ‘Bring Your Bottle’ parties while the Queen was mourning her husband (Prince Philip) and the rest of the nation was under its first government-ordered COVID lockdown — until he admitted in parliament and apologized.

In all three cases, once the top-ranking headliners became potential ratings liabilities, coverage changed — and Djokovic, The Prince and the PM were dropped like hot potatoes.

In the Serbian star’s case, after his admissions, it became an argument like: ‘How could he have done that?’

In the Duke of York’s case: ‘How could he dare expose Her Majesty to this in the year of her Platinum Jubilee?’

And in PM Johnson’s case: ‘How could his government have been asking people to Stay Home and observe Social Distancing while hosting parties at Downing Street? How dare he…’

Of course, the BBC and others were (and still are) just being themselves and doing what they do: riding the waves according to the tide, but always in the direction of a safe beach landing.

Neither the Prince, nor the Prime Minister, or Djokovic could claim they weren’t given ‘full coverage’ and like-minded media giants can also always pull the ever-ready and ever-helpful ‘Independence’ card and claim to be ‘giving all sides of the story…’

But, is that really so?

I don’t think so…

In Prince Andrew’s case, he was thrown under the royal bus by the Palace aristocracy indicating all his royal titles, honours and military positions were ‘returned to Her Majesty’ and would ‘continue to not’ use the title ‘His Royal Highness’ – and he’d be paying his legal fees out of his own pocket, ‘as a citizen.’

In Johnson’s case, the most coverage was given to calls for him to resign and by the time the daily newspapers and TV channels were through with him, the PM’s future in the post looked very-much at bay: never mind his comfortable parliamentary majority, he entered this weekend swimming against the tide, for partying while The Queen was mourning.

Djokovic’s case speaks the loudest: Never mind his claims his legal representatives made ‘a human error’ and ‘ticked the wrong box’ on his Immigration Form on arrival, never mind him being given a special free-pass by state authorities and never mind his legal court victory, his confession/admission/expression/acceptance of guilt (never mind all his related apologies) was enough to seal his fate.

I’d always held that this was a case that put the Australian Government’s very future in jeopardy and never mind the opening court win in the halls of Australian justice, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke would have applied the law in a manner that would have dealt Djokovic the ultimate grand-slam of cancelling his visa a second time.

The drip-drip approach was quite evident from the moment Djokovic and his family started claiming he’d been ‘kidnapped’ and ‘jailed’ by the Australian authorities just-like-that, like he’d done nothing wrong….

Djokovic behaved like he was bigger than Australia from the moment he landed and tried to enter in legal defiance of the country’s necessarily tough immigration laws that all Australians sacrificed hard-enough to ensure the population was over-90% vaccinated.

The Herald Sun reported that on Thursday, Prime Minister Morrison had explained that ‘having a visa is different to satisfying the requirements for entry to Australia’ and warning that the two shouldn’t be ‘conflated’.

Morrison said the law is that ‘non-citizen, non-resident arrivals’ would need to ‘show they were double vaccinated’, or present ‘acceptable proof that they can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.’

First Counsellor at the Serbian embassy, Ivana Isidorovic on Friday revealed Djokovic had a diplomatic passport that ‘should ensure adequate treatment…’

However, it didn’t cancel the vaccination requirement or prevent visa cancellation — and was not an argument in his federal circuit court case.

So, in the end, with Djokovic’s fight to battle on the tennis court has returned to the courts of justice and public opinion, unless miracles happen in and on both courts today and tomorrow, Djokovic can be deported before Monday’s Grand Slam, unable to return for another three years.

It’s easy to conclude that this is all about a game that’s featured more-than-a-little-bit of politics and diplomacy on behalf of the rights of The Vaccinated and The Unvaccinated.

But in all three cases, each huge honcho was always set to pay the ultimate price, because all served wrong on the court of public opinion – and that’s The Bottom Line!

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