Sam Newman’s NZ insult crosses the line
FORMER AFL star turned media personality Sam Newman has hit back after being slammed for a comment he made about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks.
Ms Ardern has been widely praised for how she's dealt with the tragedy that took 50 lives when Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant attacked two mosques last Friday. Preaching a message of inclusion, she has remained stoic and compassionate in the face of a horrible situation.
This week Ms Ardern said her thoughts - and her words - would be reserved for those grieving the dead and she would never "speak his name".
"He sought many things from his act of terror but one was notoriety, that is why you will never hear me mention his name," she said.
"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.
"And to others, I implore you - speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we, in New Zealand, will give nothing - not even his name."
Newman, who was a longtime panellist on the AFL Footy Show before stepping down from the program at the end of last season, sparked outrage when he criticised Ms Ardern's accent on Twitter after she delivered her powerful message.
Thank heavens NZ prime minister said she will never mention the name of the terrorist. How grating is her accent?— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) March 19, 2019
Known for his controversial views both on TV and social media, the response to Newman's tweet was overwhelmingly negative. Entertainment reporter Peter Ford said the timing was all wrong for his opinion to be aired in public.
"He tweeted something that I thought, and I like Sam … but even I don't know if I can accept that," Ford said on Perth radio's 6PR Breakfast.
If circumstances weren’t so sad it would be ripe for send up. But Sam she’s been so impressive, so eloquent and compassionate in recent days. Her political leanings may not be yours but she’s conducted herself as a remarkable leader in a time of her nation’s grief.— Peter Ford (@mrpford) March 19, 2019
"It's certainly inappropriate given the timing. Is that the best you've got?"
Ford praised Ms Ardern's leadership and said Newman's critique was uncalled for given what she - and the people of New Zealand - have been through in the past week.
"She's been incredibly impressive, so eloquent and compassionate. Just the timing (is wrong)," Ford said.
"Not at the moment, not for her when she's under such pressure and by every account performing incredibly. That's all Sam's got to deliver?"
The backlash on Twitter was savage. Less than a day after being posted, Newman's tweet had received more than 1100 comments - and few of them were kind.
Hey, look.— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) March 20, 2019
Sam Newman is still one of the worst people. pic.twitter.com/ePu8hdLsYt
you know Sam, you were an idiot when I knew you back in the 80s - instructive to know you haven't changed one bit— Alison Mau (@Alisonmau) March 20, 2019
How grating is your very existence?— Michele McKenzie (@MColvinMcKenzie) March 20, 2019
But Newman defended himself, doubling down on his position.
Thank you so much for comments re NZ prime minister - and her accent. To be clear, this had nothing to do with her sentiments. It DID have to do with the ghastly accent NZ’s have cultivated. Now, bang on about that being racist. That should occupy your tiny brains.— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) March 20, 2019
The 73-year-old had earlier tweeted his jarring perspective on the Christchurch tragedy when he took aim at Sunrise co-host David Koch and Senator Derryn Hinch for their "cowardly" attacks on One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
Koch confronted Hanson on Channel 7 this week, questioning whether her anti-immigration views had "empowered" white supremacists like Tarrant. Koch told Ms Hanson Tarrant's manifesto, which the 28-year-old sent to Ms Ardern before the attack, "reads like One Nation immigration and Muslim policy".
Hanson rejected the accusations and was called "cowardly" by Hinch when she suggested she would not vote to censure Senator Fraser Anning, who was widely slammed for his comments on the shootings.
Newman stood by Hanson as he ripped into Koch and Hinch.
Newman's latest furore comes after he was blasted for a "disgusting" stunt earlier this month where he dressed up as a woman and made a distasteful joke about "transitioning".
In a video posed on Twitter alongside AFL journalist Mike Sheehan and former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas, Newman was wearing heavy make-up, a white hat and a scarf.
"I think I've run my race as an older male, and I'm thinking of transitioning," the 73-year-old said.
"I think I could feel comforted by being an older female, and it'll work well because my partner is thinking of turning herself into a boy. It doesn't change we're still man and woman."
Great, cowardly stuff by Koch and Hinch, bullying Hanson on her opinion of the future of immigration. Talk about ‘white supremacists’. Get a mirror and tell us what you see.— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) March 17, 2019
Newman said he was "going to clean up on world titles as a woman, an older woman" when asked if he was going to compete in the Olympics.
Newman was widely slammed and after the backlash Thomas said he asked for the video to be taken down, but argued Newman was trying to highlight "those men that transition to women for personal gain in sporting events".
Hannah Mouncey, a trans woman who fought to play in the AFLW, led the criticism against the video.