The UK radio show The James Whale Show, aired on Talk Radio, dismissively interviewed self-identified sexual assault victim Nichi Hodgson. As such, it broke broadcasting guidelines, the UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled.
The July 2018 interview by James Whale and Asher Gould prompted 38 complaints, according to OfCom. In it, Whale called Hodgson “very patronising,” said she had “no proof” for her allegations, tried to cut her off, and said he was “listening to you rant at me.” Whale also claimed Hodgson was “shouting at” him and said she should have done more to complain about her alleged attack, arguing “are you not concerned that perhaps unless you did go further with this then this brute could actually do this to other women?”
In response, Talk Radio told OfCom it suspended Whale, began an internal investigation, reviewed the findings with Whale, and aired an apology from Whale. Talk Radio also argued its interview was fine because Hodgson was “more than a match for Whale” and handled the interview confidently. iMediaEthics reported in August 2018 about that suspension.
Regardless, OfCom ruled against Talk Radio for Whale’s “significant lack of sensitivity” and comments that were “abrupt, dismissing and undermining of her professional integrity.” Further, OfCom noted that just because Hodgson handled the insensitive comments well doesn’t justify them. “While Ms Hodgson dealt confidently with the combative response from the presenters to her disclosure she had been assaulted, we considered that the tone and content of the interview had the potential to discourage those with similar experiences from discussing them in programmes in future,” OfCom ruled.
iMediaEthics has written to Whale and Talk Radio for their responses to the OfCom ruling. In an article for the Guardian, Hodgson wrote that the ruling is “a matter of reinforcing the importance of appropriate tone and interviewing method.” She noted:
” Ofcom has rejected the notion that this meant no offence was caused either to me or the listeners. That sets an important precedent for how we treat any interviewee who reveals themselves to be a victim. It doesn’t matter if you manage to keep it together or how you talk about what happened to you – reveal something so serious and you should be afforded due respect. “