Australia’s Fairfax Radio fired host Howard Sattler for a “disrespectful and irrelevant” interview with the country’s prime minister Julia Gillard, the BBC reported.
Sattler, described by Australian news outlets as a “shock jock,” had asked Gillard on radio station 6PR about “the sexuality of her partner, Tim Mathieson,” according to an apology from the station’s general manager Martin Boylen, published on the radio station’s website. Boylen’s statement went on to explain that Sattler was trying to find out “if there was a basis in fact to rumours circulating about the couple’s relationship.”
Sattler at one point asked directly if Mathieson was gay, adding what he said people believed:
“He must be gay, he’s a hairdresser. It’s not me saying it.”
Gillard denied Sattler’s claims, calling them “absurd” and “silly.” Sattler also asked Gillard if Mathieson had proposed to her, and if not, why.
An excerpt from the interview is posted on YouTube.
At first, the station said Sattler was “suspended…pending an internal inquiry” of the interview, but later the station announced Sattler was axed.
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According to News.com.au, Sattler defended his questioning, commenting that he’s “asked much more personal questions of previous prime ministers.” He added that he may sue over the firing, given that it broke his contract.
However, before being fired, Sattler did apologize because station management told him to, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Sattler said the interview was supposed to be “candid,” but “if you think I went too far, you’re entitled to have that view. I apologise. The management want me to do that and I have just done that.”
The Herald Sun noted that Sattler has a history of getting in trouble for his on-air remarks, including a 1990 comment “good riddance to bad rubbish” about dead children. And, according to the Herald Sun, in 2007, Sattler “as cleared of inciting racial hatred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, after complaints were made that he didn’t use the ‘dump button’ to stop a comment going to air by a caller who said an Australian mufti should be shot.”
iMediaEthics has written to Fairfax Media, the parent company for Sattler’s former radio station, asking what the internal inquiry into Sattler’s comments will include, for comment on Sattler’s intended lawsuit over the firing and if 6PR knew in advance about Sattler’s line of questioning. We’ll update with any response.
iMediaEthics wrote last year when Australian radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian prank-called the hospital where Kate Middleton was staying and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles. Because of that prank call, the pair’s radio station canceled their show and decided to suspend prank calls. Nurse Jacintha Saldanha connected their call to another nurse, and shortly after committed suicide.
Hat Tip: Media Bistro’s Morning Newsletter
UPDATE: 6/19/2013 4:10 PM EST: Fairfax Communications Manager Brad Hatch responded to iMediaEthics’ earlier inquiry with 6PR’s June 14 press release confirming the firing of Sattler.