SYDNEY (JTA) – The Executive Council of Australian Jewry criticized Sky News Australia for airing an interview with a far-right racist who once advocated for the display of images of Hitler in schools.
Blair Cottrell, the former leader of anti-immigration group United Patriots Front, was interviewed by a former chief minister of the Northern territory, Adam Giles. Cottrell was convicted last year of inciting contempt against Muslims after staging a mock beheading to protest the building of a mosque.
The interview was widely criticized by the Australian media, including members of the news team at Sky News. In response, news director Greg Byrnes posted a tweet that said Cottrell’s appearance was “wrong.” He announced the interview was removed from repeat time slots and online platforms.
The co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, told JTA that “Sky has debased its brand by giving Cottrell its platform to spout his bigotry. Sky’s News Director Greg Byrnes was right to acknowledge that Cottrell should not have appeared on Sky, but Byrnes should have gone on to make a full and unreserved apology.”