Piers Akerman has always been a bit of a risk for theABC Insiders team, but his effort on the couch on Sunday was arguably the most embarrassing we’ve seen over the past five years.

For starters, Piers couldn’t even get basic names right – Cornelia Rau became Claudia Rau and Peter Singer was suddenly Peter Springer. However, it was the contributions on gay marriage and immigration detention where Piers really covered himself in glory and had David Marr requesting that host Barrie Cassidy move on to the next topic.

Marr laid out a typically forceful summation of the arguments in favour of ending discrimination against same sex couple gays and Piers responded by pointing out that the law currently states that two men or two women can’t get married in Australia and then extended the analogy to say that a man also can’t marry his dog, cat or goat. The calls started coming as Marr labelled Piers “disgusting” and they were still pouring in while the program was on air for the next 30 minutes.

Marr has been the subject of several homophobic attacks by Akerman over the years. Indeed, one column in June 2002 started as follows: “Fairfax journalist and sometime homosexual parade spokesman David Marr gives the lie to the folklore that wit and intelligence abound in the gay community.”

Truth be known, Marr demolished Akerman on Insiders with a combination of passion, facts and humour.

Even Cassidy and fellow panellist Karen Middleton demanded Piers expand on his loopy theory that we should not be surprised there is rape and drugs in Villawood given that the majority of occupants are criminals. Surely comparing illegal arrivals with convicted criminals is a sad joke.

For all his faults, at least Piers’ alternate on the couch, Andrew Bolt, can sustain an argument, get a few facts right and avoid sweeping inflammatory generalisations. And Bolt doesn’t have personal baggage such as these claims made about Akerman in the NSW Parliament.

We can only assume that Piers is feeling the pressure ahead of tomorrow’s showdown with yours truly at the Australian Press Council in Sydney. News Ltd baulked at the suggested mediated settlement of running a letter of mine online so now we’re going to a full hearing. We’re not expecting to win but are looking forward to experiencing the process and highlighting the hypocrisy of News Ltd heavyweights in demanding rights of reply in Crikey (David Penberthy last week) but refusing to run a letter when the boot is on the other foot.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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