Craig Emerson quits Sky News over Blair Cottrell interview

Craig Emerson says he will end his association with Sky News after the channel aired an interview with far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell.

Former Trade minister Craig Emerson

Former Trade minister Craig Emerson Source: AAP

Former Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson has quit his regular commentary spot on Sky News in protest over the channel's decision to air an interview with far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell, who he labelled a "neo Nazi". 

Sky News had already scrubbed the footage from its website and social media channels, while a news executive conceded airing the interview was "wrong". 

A SkyNews interview with far right nationalist Blair Cottrell has been pulled by the broadcaster.
A SkyNews interview with far right nationalist Blair Cottrell has been pulled by the broadcaster. Source: AAP


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Mr Emerson said he would give up his regular guest spots on Sky, where he offers regular commentary on politics and economics. 

"My father fought Nazis in WWII and was interred in a German POW camp," Mr Emerson wrote on Twitter. 

"The decision to allow Neo-Nazi Blair Cotterell onto the channel was another step in a journey to normalising racism & bigotry in our country."

The interview with the former leader of the anti-immigration group United Patriots Front has been met with widespread condemnation, including from leading Sky News talent. 

Mr Cottrell, who once suggested a picture of Adolf Hitler should be hung in every Australian classroom, attacked Sky's "pathetic" backdown and accused the Murdoch-owned station of "caving in" to "Leftist abuse".

It was also criticised by two high profile Sky hosts, David Speers and Laura Jayes.

"It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia," news director Greg Byrnes tweeted after the program aired on Sunday night.

"His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms."

Sky News presenter Laura Jayes said Mr Cottrell was "just an a*sehole" while political editor David Speers tweeted he "100%" agreed with Ms Jayes.

Blair Cottrell is seen exiting the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Thursday, July 19, 2018.
Blair Cottrell is seen exiting the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Source: AAP


Mr Cottrell was convicted in 2017 of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims. He also has convictions for other matters, including arson.

He is due to appear in the High Court later this year to fight the 2017 conviction and has sought public help to finance his case.

Federal Labor MP Tim Watts questioned why Mr Cottrell was described by Sky as an "activist", tweeting: "Why is a man who has said he wants to see a portrait of Adolf Hitler hung in Australian classrooms and for copies of Mein Kampf to be 'issued annually' to students being given a platform?".



Outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said the interview was a "shameful low".



"We've come not to expect much from the nocturnal programming at @SkyNewsAust - but featuring a neo-Nazi with a history of crime and violence is a shameful low. It also highlights how extremists are being dangerously accommodated by sections of the Australian media," he tweeted.

NSW Greens upper house MP David Shoebridge said he would decline to be interviewed on Sky until it gave a "full apology".

"I hope my Greens colleagues, and all MPs who care about decency, will join me," he tweeted on Sunday.


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Published 6 August 2018 at 10:42am