The Dismissal Of Howard Sattler: We Approve

IN THE WAKE of a provocative radio interview yesterday with the Prime Minister, veteran 6PR shock jock Howard Sattler has been fired for asking Julia Gillard on air whether the so-called “first bloke,” Tim Mathieson, was a closet homosexual. The Red And The Blue notes its approval.

On one level, who cares if the guy is in the cupboard. And does it matter if he is?

The interview Sattler described as “candid” featured perhaps a little too much suggestion and not enough candour; the climate of politics in this country is febrile as it is without stunts like this.

I intend to keep my remarks very general, given Sattler has indicated he will sue Fairfax Radio over the terms of his dismissal, and I do not wish to say anything prejudicial to any proceedings that arise from today’s events.

I would simply like to minute this column’s approval of Sattler’s dismissal; to be opposed to Gillard politically is one thing, but to question her partner’s sexuality publicly and without warning is another matter altogether.

Sattler alluded to “rumours” as the basis for his question; it is certainly true that rumours abound about famous people — not just politicians — of which many are false, mischievous, and malicious.

But in the absence of any evidence — which he did not, in fact, produce — Sattler may have been better served keeping his musings on such questions to himself.

There is a lot to criticise Gillard for, and much that she stands for and/or has done in public office is at odds, arguably, with what might be considered to be in the national interest.

But this column does not believe she should be subjected to idle innuendo and gossip about her partner’s sexuality, and — were there, hypothetically, any substance to Sattler’s insinuations — it would be a private matter for the two of them until or unless it could be proven to be damaging to the country’s interests.

Clearly, this is not the case.

This column, politically, is implacably opposed to Julia Gillard, and with good, sound reason.

And we note that considerations of common decency and courtesy have to a degree been abandoned by Gillard in her dealings with others as Prime Minister (as misogynists of Australia generally — and all male opponents of the Prime Minister particularly — know).

But the line of questioning to which she was subjected yesterday was a disgrace, and one which should not be inflicted on any public figure by a media identity in Australia, be they political friend or foe alike.

We endorse the 6PR decision to sack Sattler and express a hope that publicly at least, the matter is closed, and that others who would engage in similar conduct might think twice as a result of the Sattler incident.

As I said yesterday, the atmosphere of Australian politics is adolescent and puerile enough as it is, without this sort of thing adding fuel to the fire — and encouraging ordinary, decent people to emulate their political leaders in the less attractive facets of their public lives.