Australian media has a truly fascinating predilection towards airing the more ‘palatable’ views of neo-Nazis and far right extremists while casually neglecting to mention the perhaps less appealing things they also believe.

And here’s another wonderful example. Last night, 7 News continued its constant coverage of the so-called ‘African gang crisis’ in Melbourne – a crisis curiously aligned precisely with Coalition messaging on law and order – by interviewing a group of self-described patriots who plan to start a neighbourhood street patrol to protect people from criminals.

Billing it as the network having been “granted exclusive access to a secret meeting organised by right wing activists,” we’re immediately confronted with an interview with Blair Cottrell – who has come up in Australian media time and time again. Of course, ‘being granted exclusive access’ is just another way of saying, ‘they let us interview them because it’s going to be pretty softball’.

Here’s what Blair had to say about what his group describes as an ‘immigrant crime wave’:

Well nothing is being done. The government could be doing a lot more to combat this crime, but police aren’t being given the powers they need to combat this problem we have in this country.

Then we’re shown his fellow mate Kane Miller, also of the True Blue Crew.

We have a few ideas we hope to put in place. Um, it’s about time the community got involved, because it’s clear to see that the police can’t save us all.

Lovely! What a wholesome bunch of concerned citizens, interested only in protecting their neighbours from the scourge of criminal gangs.

But no. What S7 News neglects to mention when covering these ‘right wing activists’ is that Cottrell has on numerous occasions expressed neo-Nazi views, which have been widely covered and are just a Google search away. In now-wiped social media commentary, he’s said he wants a photo of Adolf Hitler in every Australian classroom, described Jewish people as degenerate in character” and said that he manipulates women “using violence and terror”.

There’s certainly evidence to back up his latest claim. Despite the fact he’s pitching himself as a man standing against the tide of crime in Victoria, he spent time in prison – by his own admission – for arson, after burning down the house of a man he says had sex with his then-girlfriend. You don’t need to take my word for it: here he is in a prison doco from a few years back admitting exactly this.

In case you still weren’t convinced, here’s Blair and his deadshit mates having a ‘birthday celebration’ at a German restaurant on April 20th, which is Hitler’s birthday:

Seems interesting that 7 News have chosen to air the views of a person who has espoused neo-Nazi views, while brightly saying that his group merely wants to “harness the power of social media” to “protect both them and their families”. Though they pepper the report with phrases like “the group says”, there’s literally no pushback or critique, and the report accepts the basic terms of the argument without comment.

You might be of the opinion that neo-Nazism is a viewpoint or stance with as much value as any other, and that the dictums of free speech hold that all opinions are only as credible as your ability to argue for them. The last century of human history might disagree with you, but fine.

But if you’re going to air the opinions of a known Nazi sympathiser on the six o’ clock news without once mentioning his other opinions, while portraying him merely as a concerned, upright citizen, then you’re going to see some pushback. That’s not ‘free speech’ – that’s political subterfuge, and you’re playing directly into the hands of a media strategy. The marketplace of ideas doesn’t really function as intended when someone is misrepresenting themselves.

Let’s stop accidentally putting Nazis on TV. And if someone whose ultimate political aim is ethnic cleansing and the establishment of a white ethnostate is the news’ go-to on law and order issues – well, God help us.

Image: 7 News