Dark Sky over TV news

Blair Cottrell (left) with Adam Giles. Photo: Facebook

JEWISH leaders have voiced deep concern after Sky News hosted a Nazi sympathiser for a studio interview.

Blair Cottrell – who has said he wants to see portraits of Adolf Hitler in Australian classrooms and pupils issued with copies of Mein Kampf, and has described Jews as “parasites” – was interviewed about immigration on Sunday, provoking condemnation.

The channel also posted videos of Cottrell, former head of the ultra-right United Patriots Front, who has a criminal history, arguing for race-based immigration, and ran a live Twitter feed.

Cottrell, who has also appeared on Seven and Triple J, was invited to Sky News for an interview with host Adam Giles, a former Northern Territory chief minister, to discuss immigration, after an inflammatory column in the Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph by commentator Andrew Bolt singling out Jews and other minorities to claim “immigration is becoming colonisation”.

Stating Sky News has “debased its brand”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said, “Aussie Diggers who fought and died to stop Hitler’s tyranny would be turning over in their graves at Cottrell’s grovelling admiration of their enemy, and at the mainstreaming of Cottrell’s prejudices by his appearance on Sky.”

Noting Sky News “has already distanced itself from Blair Cottrell”, ALP candidate for Macnamara (Melbourne Ports) Josh Burns, said, “But we are yet to hear a word of contrition from former Liberal leader Adam Giles, who invited the neo-Nazi onto his show.”

He added, “The Liberal Party needs to stop flirting with these extremists. Blair Cottrell is a dangerous anti-Semitic thug and should be condemned, not interviewed.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said, “The interview raises serious questions about Sky News’ due diligence and judgment.”

Former ALP minister Craig Emerson said on Monday he would no longer appear as a Sky News commentator. “My father fought Nazis in WWII and was interred [sic] in a German POW camp,” he tweeted, adding Sky News interviewing Cottrell was “another step in a journey to normalising racism & bigotry in our country”.

Greg Byrnes, news director at Sky News, stated, “It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia. His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms.”

Senior News Corp journalist Chip Le Grand tweeted it was not wrong to interview Cottrell, adding, “The mistake was not subjecting his views to any journalistic rigour.”

PETER KOHN