Seven News has been slammed for giving a platform to a neo-Nazi activist as part of its coverage of gang violence in Melbourne.
Blair Cottrell, leader of a group calling itself the United Patriots Front (UPF), was interviewed about a meeting of “the True Blue Crew”, a vigilante outfit, held on Sunday.
It was stated on air that Cottrell and the group “have come together to help average Australians deal with what they are calling an immigrant crime crisis” and they preferred to be known as “patriots”.
However, the report did not challenge Cottrell’s past self-description as “a racist”, his stated admiration for Adolf Hitler and a history of anti-Semitic comments.
Nor did it mention that Cottrell has a record of convictions for offences including arson and inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims.
Anti-Defamation Commisison chair Dvir Abramovich described the report as “clearly poor judgment by Channel Seven to give this anti-Semite, who has called Jews degenerates, who wants a photo of Adolf Hitler in every Australian classroom, the megaphone to spread his noxious message.
“What were the producers and reporter thinking in furnishing a racist and a Jew-hater with air time on a respectable forum? This highly irresponsible decision risks normalising, legitimising and mainstreaming ugly incitement against Jews and a disturbing bigoted rhetoric,” he said.
Former cabinet minister Craig Emerson slammed Seven for giving air time to “Jew-hating neo-Nazis” and ABC presenter Charlie Pickering lamented the showcasing of “the expert local opinion of a guy who says Jews are parasites”.
Seven News director Simon Pristel said his news service “has reported on many meetings in the past couple of weeks held to discuss the African gang violence crisis, including governments, community leaders and police. Sunday’s meeting was newsworthy, so it was reported”.