Viewers are reacting angrily after Today Show host Karl Stefanovic repeatedly used the words “tranny” and "transvestite" on air this morning.
The veteran reporter was crossing live to Rio de Janeiro, where members of a Channel Nine crew were confronted this week by a group of assailants who they allege were trying to steal their camera equipment.
One of the assailants reportedly swung a heavy handbag at the head of a security guard before the Nine crew were ushered into the lobby of a nearby hotel.
Introducing the story in a jovial manner, Stefanovic said: “A top TV reporter and her crew on assignment in glamorous Rio de Janeiro, enter a murder of transvestite muggers - I think that's the collective,” using the name given to refer to a group of crows.
After Christine Ahern - the reporter in question - explained that their cameraman Glen Edwards fought to hold onto their equipment, Stefanovic commented that “Glenny is no stranger to the ways of the tranny”.
He went on to end the segment by flashing a ‘wanted’ poster featuring an image of Hugo Weaving in the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on the screen.
“Look I know that you've gone to see the police about this tranny,” he said, “We've got a confit (police sketch) done up and we know not all trannies look the same – is that the tranny there that we're talking about, Hugo Weaving like?”
Viewers have condemned Stefanovic’s language on Twitter saying he “should know better, this is awful”, and asking “how could you?”
In their reference guide for transgender specific terminology, GLAAD, formally known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, stress that "transvestite" is an antiquated term that should not be used "at all, unless someone specifically self-identifies that way".
They also list the word "tranny" as defamatory and note that "while some transgender people may use 'tranny' to describe themselves, others find it profoundly offensive."
SBS has contacted Nine who have declined to comment further.