Don’t you bloody hate it when you book a guest on your TV show and it turns out they have done basically everything shy of getting ‘I love Adolf Hitler‘ tattooed on their forehead? Obviously, it’s a mistake we’ve all made before, but most recently it’s been made by Sky News, who last night aired a softball interview with white nationalist Blair Cottrell.
You might remember Cottrell from the recent time that he and his crew of jacked-up racist fuckwits harassed a street performer in Melbourne because of the way he dressed. You might also remember him as the guy who expressed a belief that there should be “a picture of [Adolf Hitler] in every classroom and every school” and that schoolchildren should be issued a copy of Mein Kampf. If that doesn’t ring any bells, he’s also the guy that proudly claimed to have used “violence and terror” to manipulate women. You would think openly being a Nazi sympathiser would maybe stop people from putting you on TV, but that would not be in line with the thinking of Sky News, Triple J, or Channel 7.
Sky News responded quickly to the backlash, removing the interview from their social media channels and reruns within a few hours but, obviously, the damage had been done. Taking the videos down means Cottrell gets the best of both worlds: he gets the legitimacy of being treated as a TV media figure while also getting to whinge about being censored (“I suppose my ideas are so irrefutable, that the only recourse is to silence me. How pathetic.“).
For anyone familiar with Sky News’ night-time programming, the inclusion of an actual white supremacist wouldn’t be that surprising, given the insane far-right talking points regularly floated by Sky News hosts and regulars like Rowan Dean, Mark Latham, Andrew Bolt, and Ross Cameron. It appears they might have a line though, with even convicted racist Andrew Bolt – who last week had a factually and morally ridiculous column published in the Murdoch tabloids that suggested Australia is being invaded and colonised by immigrants – objected to Cottrell’s appearance:
We at Sky News can’t attack other outlets for letting themselves be platforms for Left-wing extremists and jihadism apologists, and then ourselves give a platform to a thug, bully and anti-Semite like Blair Cottrell.
The right, much like the rest of Australia, prefers its racism when it’s spoken politely by someone wearing a suit and tie.
Sky News took further measures today, following their apology from last night. In a statement, CEO Angelos Frangopoulos said that Cottrell would be banned from the channel, the Adam Giles Show put on hold, and new editorial positions created to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
A statement from Angelos Frangopoulos, CEO Australian News Channel, regarding the Sunday night broadcast of The Adam Giles Show. pic.twitter.com/KLS9AEgXhM
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) August 6, 2018
While a lot of outlets have been hedging their language in describing Cottrell (‘far-right activist’, ‘far-right figure’, ‘bodybuilder’), Sky News political editor David Speers didn’t shy away from calling him a “neo-Nazi” in an on-air address in which he said it was a mistake “legitimising, normalising or mainstreaming these sorts of repugnant views“.
Let’s see how long it takes for someone on Sky News to espouse exactly the same views on immigration and Islam as Cottrell, and let’s see how much it’s ignored because they haven’t said anything crazy about Hitler lately.