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Media complicit in normalising fascism

  • 13 August 2018


The fallout from the Sky News debacle of last week has been an interesting one to watch, not least because it highlights once again how far away Australia is from unpacking its structural racism.

For those who didn't catch it, last Sunday night, Sky News chose to conduct an interview with a noted fascist and vocal figure in the Far Right movement in Australia, Blair Cottrell. Not only has Cottrell described himself as a 'fascist' in a now infamous video of him and a few of his brethren abusing a street performer following their ill-fated 'flag march' back in June, but he's also called for pictures of Hitler to be hung in classrooms across the country. A delightful character who has been continually front and centre at Far Right rallies and has a noted criminal record including stalking and arson.

This was who Sky News felt would make a good interviewee on the Adam Giles Show. He was engaged by news director Greg Byrnes and then interviewed by Giles himself. The interview was a warm and collaborative one where Giles quizzed Cottrell on whether he felt he spoke for 'ordinary Australians' then engaged in a nice bout of race-baiting over the alleged 'African gangs' crisis Melbourne has. It was an appalling and, frankly, embarrassing show from the 24 hour news network.

The fact that Giles — both the former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and an Aboriginal man — felt compelled to collaborate with a fascist figure on air raises serious questions for me about just how far right an Aboriginal person looking to climb to the upper echelons of the Liberal Party must aim to be. Though given this was a man who frequently sold Aboriginal people out and ignored reports of brutality in youth detention while in power, and then when challenged for leadership, dug his heels in with a born-to-rule entitlement which would make any blue tie proud, we can safely say Giles is definitely no 'wet'.

Credit where it is due though: when the controversy hit, Sky News acted swiftly. Indeed, they have ended up acting with more integrity than often-derided-as-lefty ABC did who have also played host to Cottrell and his harmful views. Sure, former minister Craig Emerson had to tender his resignation and sponsorship dollars had to be lost before they got the picture, but when they did, they moved on it. Byrnes issued a statement of