Katie Hopkins And Seven Are A Match Made In Heaven
We need to talk about Seven.
There are a few questions raised by Channel Seven’s ill-fated decision to import right-wing troll Katie Hopkins into the country, only to have her visa cancelled leading to her deportation before she even made it out of hotel quarantine.
Why was she given a visa in the first place? Who decided it was a good idea to import any celebrity into the country right now while thousands of Australians remain stuck overseas? Just how loose is the definition of “celebrity” these days anyway?
But one question with a painfully obvious answer is this: What was Channel Seven thinking?
They were thinking about headlines, ratings, and cash. There is literally no reason to put someone like Hopkins on a “celebrity” edition of Big Brother other than the fact that Hopkins is guaranteed to spout some of the most vile shit imaginable, which would then be amplified by Seven on its news and current affairs programs, to drive more ratings for the network.
In that sense, Seven got exactly what they wanted. Presumably they would have preferred that Hopkins wait until she actually made it into the Big Brother house before causing front-page news, but the gamble worked nonetheless. Google searches related to Hopkins and Big Brother have spiked in the days since Hopkins jumped on Instagram and revealed that she was planning a nude ambush on some poor unsuspecting hotel quarantine worker who presumably just wanted to drop off a disappointing salad without risking death at the hands of a washed-up old racist.
There is simply no justification for bringing Hopkins into Australia other than to perform the exact kind of stunt that has seen her already kicked out of the country. For a celebrity edition of Big Brother, the decision to import someone whose name recognition would be close to zero makes no sense. And it’s not like Seven can claim that Hopkins is just some kind of “edgy” artist who sometimes oversteps the mark. This is all she does. We have all just had the full Katie Hopkins experience.
Who Is Katie Hopkins?
If you’re fortunate enough to have never heard of Katie Hopkins until this week, let us bring you up to speed on some of her greatest hits. Hopkins first appeared on the third season of UK edition The Apprentice where she developed a reputation as someone willing to say nasty things about her fellow contestants on camera. Naturally, she parlayed this into a career as a media commentator, where her nasty comments made for great “controversial” segments on British chat shows and radio stations.
Around 2016, as the UK was being split in two by the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump was beginning his US Presidential campaign, Hopkins leaned into her right-wing persona, becoming increasingly outspoken against multiculturalism, with a particular focus on Muslim migration.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the vile things she has said in public, all of which Channel Seven would have known about when they decided to give her a platform:
- Following the Manchester Bombing in 2017, she called for a “final solution” to dealing with Islamic extremists. The “Final Solution” is a famous Nazi phrase referring to the extermination of Jews. Hopkins claimed she mis-typed.
- She said she would not allow her children to play with “lower-class” children who have names like “Chardonnay”. She also said she doesn’t like children with names based on places, such as Brooklyn. Hopkins has a daughter named India.
- She has stated that she’s comfortable being called racist, and has made numerous comments critical of Black Lives Matter, multiculturalism, Muslims and Pakistani men.
- She has called migrants “cockroaches”.
- She has said she wouldn’t employ an obese person because obesity is a sign of laziness.
- She is a proud supporter of Donald Trump, particularly his anti-Muslim policies.
- She subscribes to the anti-Semitic “white genocide” theory, which suggests that modern migration policies are intended to replace white people and make them a minority.
We Need To Talk About Seven
If you’re wondering why Seven would give someone with such vile views a platform, it’s worth looking at the network’s track record.
- In 2018, an all-white panel on the network’s flagship breakfast show, Sunrise, made comments calling for another Stolen Generation of Indigenous children.
- When protesters gathered outside of Sunrise’s studio, the show’s producers literally edited them out of the broadcast.
- The ACMA found that the segment breached the TV industry’s code of practice. Sunrise apologised via a faceless voiceover before 7am during one broadcast.
- One of the people involved in the segment, Prue MacSween, once said she was tempted to run Muslim writer and engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied over with her car.
- After far-right former Senator Fraser Anning incorrectly blamed the Christchurch terror attack on Muslims, Seven gave him multiple opportunities to justify his views
- Sunrise played a key role in reviving the political career of Pauline Hanson, and paid her to appear on the program.
- In 2018, Seven gave a platform to notorious far-right extremist Blair Cottrell.
- Big Brother is hosted by Sonia Kruger, who was found to have vilified Muslims when she worked for Channel 9 (who, incidentally, ran a puff piece on Katie Hopkins a few years back).
You have to wonder about the culture of a company that makes the kind of editorial decisions listed above. What are the conversations that don’t make it to air? What’s being said behind the scenes? Perhaps it’s the kind of culture that leads to a post on Facebook about “three black players” failing to win the Euro final for England. The intention may have been benign, but those mistakes don’t happen in a vacuum.
Seven can’t claim to have not known what they were getting when they agreed to fly Katie Hopkins to the other side of the world to appear on their network. What does it say that they felt there was nothing disagreeable about her history of overt racism, but that flouting quarantine laws was a step too far?
Flying Katie Hopkins to the other side of the world to spew her particular brand of hate on our airwaves wasn’t a mistake by Seven. It’s the business model.
Rob Stott is the Editorial Director of Junkee Media.