Sky News Fucked Up Big Time
Screw up. Offer a half-hearted apology. Repeat.
Sky News is under fire for hosting notorious far-right agitator Blair Cottrell on one of its programs over the weekend.
If you’re not familiar with him, Cottrell is the head of far-right, anti-immigrant group the United Patriots Front. He’s been convicted of inciting contempt for Muslims after he staged a mock beheading at the site of a proposed mosque in Victoria, and once called for a copy of Mein Kampf to be kept in every Australian classroom.
He is, to put it lightly, a piece of shit.
And where do shit blokes go for the attention they crave? Sky News, of course.
Cottrell was a guest of former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles on Sunday night.
Following the interview, Sky posted three videos — all of which have since been deleted — giving Cottrell free reign to spout his terrible views.
Pretty quickly, people on Twitter called out the station for giving Cottrell a platform.
When a media company normalises a racist criminal thug, I'm out.
This isn't public "debate."
— Grumplestiltskin (@2FBS) August 5, 2018
Following the backlash, Sky News deleted the videos and admitted it had fucked up big time, but stopped short of offering an apology.
It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia. His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms.
– Greg Byrnes, News Director
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) August 5, 2018
The decision to put Cottrell to air was slammed by Sky News a handful of Sky News journalists who usually work during the day, when Sky is more balanced. (After 6pm, the tone of Sky’s news and opinion coverage shifts pretty far to the right, during the day it’s more balanced.)
I have just arrived back in the country tonight to be met with the understandable outrage over this. 100% agree with @ljayes. As News Director Greg Byrnes says it was wrong to have this guy on Sky News. https://t.co/QQF4ESRmbJ
— David Speers (@David_Speers) August 5, 2018
Laura Jayes didn’t hold back, calling Cottrell an arsehole.
Blair Cottrell is a far right-wing fascist who’s a self confessed Hitler fan. He’s boasted about using “violence and terror” to manipulate women. His rap sheet includes arson, burglary, racial vilification.
He’s not an activist. He’s just an arsehole.
— Laura Jayes (@ljayes) August 5, 2018
But plenty of people were pretty quick to point out that Sky’s “apology” rings a bit hollow when it regularly gives a platform to far-right speakers, like US alt-right figure Lauren Southern, who appeared on the station several times when she was in the country last week.
Sadly, this isn’t plausible. Sky had Southern on the network 3 times. Sky has actively pursued far right guests https://t.co/cEYpdVaauA
— Ben Eltham (@beneltham) August 5, 2018
And plenty pointed out that Cottrell had already got what he wanted. His cover photo on Twitter has already been changed to a shot of him in the Sky news studio, giving him a legitimacy he never had before.
The videos may have been deleted from Sky platforms, but are still live on Cottrell’s Facebook page, which we won’t link to because we try to avoid linking out to dickheads.
But of course, Cottrell is already using the backlash to his appearance to his advantage, claiming that he’s being silenced by “the left” — which is all he really wants.
Blair Cottrell is going to be absolutely thrilled that he got legitimised with a Sky News interview AND now gets to claim that he's being censored by the mainstream media, this is the best possible outcome for him
— thomas violence (@thomas_violence) August 5, 2018
So, happy Monday. It’s not even 9am as I write this, and already we’re talking about a hugely influential TV station giving a platform to a far-right shitbag.