Perth shock jock Howard Sattler quizzing the Prime Minister on whether her long-term partner is gay is just the latest in a long list of offensive quips the 6PR drive host has delivered in his 31-year broadcasting career.
In yesterday’s interview (for which he has been suspended pending an internal inquiry) Sattler took the opportunity to “test out” a few “myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendos” by asking the Prime Minister to respond to rumours on the s-xuality of her partner, Tim Mathieson, given that he’s a former hairdresser.
Julia Gillard responded: “I don’t think in life one can actually look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say we know something about everyone of those human beings.”
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That’s not a creed that Sattler himself seems to live by. Between 1989 and 1992, Sattler was the subject of 19 individual complaints to the Australian Broadcasting tribunal for comments by himself or his callers relating to Aboriginal people and culture.
On April 4, 1990, Sattler commented on the deaths of three Aboriginal children who had died while Perth police were pursuing a car they had stolen, declaring: “Well, I say good riddance to bad rubbish. That’s three less car thieves. I think, they’re dead, and I think that’s good.”
The comments sparked protests and much public outrage. Sattler was found to have contravened the rules of the Australian Journalists Association; however, the finding was later overturned.
The 6PR star was then heavily involved in orchestrating the 1991 protest Rally for Justice, which was designed to put pressure on the government to introduce harsher penalties for juvenile offenders. Sattler ran a strong campaign on a local “crime wave”, predominantly Aboriginal crime, however crime statistics show there had been no increase in crime. Effectively, the protest gathered a lynch mob on the steps of the Western Australian state Parliament.
Sattler said himself in Demons at Drivetime, a 1995 documentary on the country’s top drive-time hosts:
“When I went up there and saw a sea of people, must have been 30,000 people, surrounding Parliament House, I felt fairly uneasy, I’ve got to tell you. All of a sudden I realise what a position I’d been placed in. These people came here because largely I told them to, or asked them, implored them to go there. And now, to a degree, I had them in my hands and I could say things to them and they may do things that they would regret and I would regret later.”
The shock jock also became embroiled in the 1999 cash-for-comment saga involving radio broadcasters Alan Jones and John Laws — although not to the extent of that duo. Sattler had sponsorship deals with Optus, Qantas, Rams and Mitsubishi, and the Australian Broadcasting Authority found that 6PR breached the industry codes of practice 17 times.
In October 2009, Media Watch devoted a segment to examining Sattler’s on-air claim that refugees were ripping off our welfare system. Sattler lashed out: “They’ve got a cast of thousands putting that together — disaffected journalists — people who have just got a gripe on the world, who wouldn’t make it in the real world of media.”
Not like Sattler, of course, who noted in a 2011 interview given to mark his 30 years in radio that people often called him a racist in the street.”You get tagged because you ask questions about Muslims, burqas and that sort of thing,” he said. “You can tip-toe through the tulips if you like, but I think you’ve got to confront these things.”
But to give him credit where it’s due, Sattler spoke with Sunrise in May to offer his take on the Gillard-Vegemite-sandwich incident and conceded that people shouldn’t actually throw things at the Prime Minister.
In his profile on 6PR’s website states that his most embarrassing on air moment was “interviewing actress Bette Davis, who disagreed with every statement I made about her”.
Looks as though he has a few to choose from.