Sky News Australia aired an interview with Blair Cottrell, who was “convicted of ‘violent assault, intimidation and racial vilification'” according to the Guardian, which also labeled him a “far-right extremist.” Cottrell was interviewed in a live segment for the Adam Giles Show about immigration; that interview was “removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms,” according to a Sky News statement from news director Greg Byrnes.
Cottrell was convicted last year of “inciting contempt against Muslims,” the BBC reported, which also claimed that he once led an anti-immigration organization. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cottrell previously wrote on Facebook that “there should be a picture of [Adolf Hitler] in every classroom and every school, and his book should be issued to every student annually.” iMediaEthics has messaged Cottrell to verify.
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
Sky News pointed iMediaEthics to its statements.
In a statement tweeted by Sky News Australia, Australian News Channel CEO Angelos Frangopoulos apologized for its “error of judgement” in airing the interview with Cottrell, adding that the station will not have him on again. Sky News also appointed a new Acting News Director and created a new position, Acting Program Director, to help oversee editorial decisions, the station statement said.
“The Adam Giles Show will be in recess as we implement the new processes and review the production format and structure of the program,” the station added.
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
On air, Sky News Australia’s political editor David Speers noted “We’re not the first channel to put Blair Cottrell to air … but that’s no excuse. He should never have been invited on the Adam Giles program last night and someone should have stopped that happening,” according to the Guardian.
In addition, Sky News political commentator Craig Emerson resigned because he was upset that Sky News interviewed Cottrell. Emerson explained his decision in an article for the Australian Financial Review.
“Giving airtime to neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell might be passed off as defending the right to free speech, but former chief minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, was effusive in his praise, wrapping up the interview with: ‘Good luck. I hope it all goes well for you,'” Emerson wrote. “A Sky anchor wishing a neo-Nazi all the best in his endeavours is yet another step in the mainstreaming of racism and bigotry in our country.”