We’ve finally learned what it takes to get fired from Sky News.
For Mark Latham, it wasn’t defaming his colleague on his barely-watched Sunday program Outsiders.
It wasn’t calling ABC broadcaster Wendy Harmer “disabled” and a “commercial failure” after she attacked the program on Twitter.
It wasn’t accusing a senior bureaucrat of hiring employees based on “the shape of their genitalia”.
It wasn’t even attacking a 15-year-old girl for being privileged and selfish.
Latham was not sacked — or even suspended — until yesterday, after the Daily Telegraph, with comment from ministers, reported that the former Labor leader called a Sydney Boys High School student “gay” when discussing a video the school produced about gender equality. Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but we found it.
Latham had made those comments on his program back on March 12, but Tele reporter Sharri Markson wrote about it for yesterday’s paper, including criticism from Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham and NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes.
As Latham rightly pointed out in his return to Twitter last night, there hadn’t been a problem with what he’d said until the Tele picked it up.
The Guardian also published a story yesterday by Amanda Meade on comments Latham made on Sunday’s show about the Reserve Bank governor’s 15-year-old daughter, suggesting she was privileged and needed to be more interested in the disadvantaged.
Sky News political editor David Speers announced Latham’s sacking on his show, and then on Twitter yesterday afternoon. Sky News CEO, Angelos Frangopolous, also confirmed this on Twitter, saying: “While we support strong opinions and robust arguments we pride ourselves in doing so in a civil and respectful manner”.
Former NSW premier and current Sky commentator Kristina Keneally lodged a formal complaint with Sky last week over comments Latham had made, calling her an “Obeid protege” among other statements she considered defamatory.
Wendy Harmer tweeted that she only wanted an apology from Latham, and in response to last night’s sacking, repeated this in response to a comment from The Australian’s columnist Chris Kenny.
He also resigned from Spectator after editor Rowan Dean refused to run one of his columns about the author of this week’s Tele piece, Sharri Markson, back when she was media editor at The Australian.
Sky News would not comment on whether Outsiders would continue without Latham, or which of his comments in particular had triggered his sacking.