Sky News Australia Director of News Greg Byrnes is the first casualty of last night’s disastrous decision by the channel to host an in-studio interview with Neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell.
Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos moved quickly on Monday to move Byrnes into a newly created role of Program Director while appointing Kaycie Bradford as acting News Director.
In addition, Frangopoulos has banned Cottrell from further appearances on Sky News, and suspended the program that broadcast the interview, the Adam Giles Show, hosted by former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles.
Sky News faced a barrage of criticism after producers and Giles thought it would be a good idea to give Cottrell a platform to air his hateful views last night.
Cottrell has previously called for a photo of Adolf Hitler to be hung in every Australian classroom, and has admitted to using “violence and terror” to manipulate women, and has also been convicted of intimidation, assault and racial vilification.
“We deeply regret featuring the interview on our channel,” Frangopoulos wrote on Twitter. “It was an error of judgement.”
But critics on social media have accused Sky News Australia of long peddling racist, sexist and hate-filled views by allowing commentators like Andrew Bolt and Mark Latham, and laughing stock duo Rowan Dean and Ross Cameron, to host their own programs.
The latter were recently forced to apologise after interviewing Senator David Leyonhjelm who disparaged Senator Sarah Hanson-Young with a number of sexist and defamatory comments.
Long time respected Sky News commentator Craig Emerson was widely praised after announcing today that he would resign from the channel in the wake of the Neo-Nazi scandal:
“My father fought Nazis in WWII and was interred in a German POW camp.
“The decision to allow Cottrell onto the channel was another step in a journey to normalising racism and bigotry in our country.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, said the fall out from the interview was to be expected.
“You cannot put a Neo-Nazi and convicted criminal on your channel and not expect any backlash,” he said.
“This was a poor decision by a number of people, and heads should roll.
“But when you peddle in hate and racism and sexism and Islamophobia for long enough, as Sky News Australia has done with their late-night panelists, you are bound to eventually get burnt.”
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