Andrew Bolt Ross Cameron

News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt — who has previously been found guilty of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act — has defended his former Sky News colleague Ross Cameron’s racist comments about Chinese people visiting Disneyland.

Cameron was sacked three days after he made the comments on Outsiders, following a boycott campaign from advertising activist group Sleeping Giants Oz. In announcing it, new Sky News boss Paul “Boris” Whittaker apologised for the comments and said:

Sky News is committed to robust discussion and debate however this language is totally unacceptable and has no place on any of our platforms, nor in modern Australian society.

Bolt, however, has been clear that he disagrees. In a column published in the newspaper and online Monday, he argued that calling Chinese people “slanty-eyed” was not racist but a “badly chosen comment” by “an apologist for China”. He also posted a video to the full segment on his blog — which Sky News has removed from all its own platforms because it was offensive — to prove his point, before expanding further:

Did any of Cameron’s critics even bother to check that context? Or did all lazily rely on the one quote supplied by the anti-Sky activists? Cameron’s ‘slanty-eyed’ comments were meant to contrast the populist image of the Chinese hordes with the fact that many Chinese were just queuing to get into Disneyland, a symbol of US culture.

That column followed a post on his blog, hosted by the Herald Sun‘s website, defending Cameron’s columns. “I am heart-sick that such a malicious spin of Ross’ words could be so effective in panicking advertisers, ending Ross’ career, and damaging Sky,” Bolt wrote.

Crikey asked Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston if he agreed with Whittaker — his former counterpart at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph — but he did not respond to our questions before deadline. Bolt, who also hosts The Bolt Report on Sky, indicated his time at the network may be coming to an end just weeks after Whittaker took the helm. Bolt’s column is syndicated across the News Corp tabloid newspapers, including at the Tele when Whittaker was in the top job.

Cameron’s sacking leaves just one of the three original hosts of Outsiders in place — Rowan Dean. The original line-up included Mark Latham, who was officially sacked from the network last year (but still appears as a guest) after a series of offensive comments. The tipping point for Latham’s sacking was calling a schoolboy “gay” for participating in a video about gender equality.

Bolt was found in 2011 to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act over a series of articles he wrote that suggested light-skinned Aboriginal people identified as Aboriginal for personal gain. And in August, Bolt was the subject of multiple complaints to the Australian Press Council over an article that argued a “tidal wave” of migrants was “changing our culture”. That case is still being investigated.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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