Backlash has increased since Monday morning’s heated interview when the One Nation leader was labelled “cowardly” after telling the program she would abstain from a vote to censure Senator Fraser Anning over his offensive comments about the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Senator Hanson rejected the accusation that her comments about Muslims in Australia “empowered” white supremacists like the one accused of carrying out Friday’s terror attack in New Zealand.
Koch told Ms Hanson that Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto, which the 28-year-old sent to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern before the attack, “reads like One Nation immigration and Muslim policy”.
But viewers have come out swinging against Sunrise for Koch’s harsh interview style, labelling him a “bully” and calling for him to be sacked.
Even those who aren’t supporters of Senator Hanson or One Nation have criticised Sunrise for trying to take a “moral high ground” when the program has regularly hosted her.
She has been a regular guest on the show for years, including being a prominent presence on the show in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election.
Sunrise producer Michael Pell confirmed to news.com.au at the time that Senator Hanson was paid for her appearances.
Commentators on Twitter have pointed out the hypocrisy of Sunrise lashing Senator Hanson when they’ve given her a paid platform for years.
“Why on earth do you give her a platform so out of proportion with her support and have done so for years,” one man on Twitter said.
“It is now time for everyone including Ch 7 to take responsibility for their actions.”
Ex-senator Andrew Bartlett said: “Do you feel complicit, given that your program and network have given her a platform for so long — and even paid her to do so?”
News.com.au understands Seven will continue to host Senator Hanson as a regular guest.
A petition calling for Koch’s sacking gained more than 50,000 signatures in a day.
They were planning to hit Seven with just 1000 to show them they’ve “had enough” of Koch.
HOW IT HAPPENED
“Do you, in any way, feel complicit with this atrocity?” Koch asked Senator Hanson.
“The anti-Muslim rhetoric that you espouse constantly here, that you did in your maiden speech when you came to parliament. Do you understand?”
Senator Hanson began to offer her sympathies for the 50 people who were murdered during Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques before turning the conversation back to Muslim immigration.
“I feel for these people,” she said. “I feel for the families that have lost lives … We have problems but you’ve actually got to discuss it and debate the issues. Why do we have terrorist attacks in this country? Why is it happening around the world?”
Koch told her that “most of the terrorist attacks are (carried out by) right-wing white supremacists that are egged on by your comments, by your anti-Muslim comments”.
“(Things like) ‘they don’t deserve to be here’, ‘they will take over our country’. Can you understand how that empowers a white supremacist … into seeing it as a call to arms?”
Senator Hanson then turned the focus to what’s happening in the UK, where she claims Britons have “lost their country”.
“Really, Pauline? That is just tripe,” Koch responded.
Mr Anning made a controversial statement on the day of the shootings that was widely condemned by both sides of politics and led to calls for him to resign.
“What is a censure?” Hanson asked Koch after being asked whether she would vote. “It will not prove a damn thing.”
Koch told her the vote is “drawing a line in the sand of humanity and respect”. Senator Derryn Hinch told her “it’s cowardly” not to vote.
“You either vote yes or no. (Not voting) shows you approve of what he said.”
— Peter Broelman (@Broelman) March 18, 2019
One woman who signed the petition said regardless of political views, bullying and intimidating behaviour was deplorable.
“Not only were Kochie and Hinch factually incorrect a number of times, the very way they conducted themselves is to be condemned,” she said.
“Absolutely disgraceful. Kochie and Hinch don’t always say and do things people agree with but they have the right to be heard.
“This conduct has absolutely no place in Australia, let alone on national television!”
TV commentator David Knox said while the segment was full of raised voices and robust opinions, Ms Hanson was given airtime to state her position within the context of a television debate.
“Koch may not have remained entirely independent in the segment, but compared to schoolyards and online where bullying is very real and personal, it’s hard to see how this qualifies as bullying,” he said.
“Sacking Kochie is unlikely to emerge from this segment. But the bigger question for Sunrise is how much longer it can give Hanson airtime while it is clearly has moral issues with her ideology.
“Yes a news show can couch two sides to an argument, but it has enjoyed Hanson as a hot topic trigger for self-serving purposes, and needs to consider whether it is part of the problem or part of the solution.”
Senator Hanson yesterday took to Facebook to respond to her supporters saying she felt “ambushed” and wanted to explain herself properly and answer the questions posed.
“I challenge, has David Koch or Derryn Hinch actually read my immigration policy?,” she said. “Do they really understand? I don’t think they do. They’re quick to criticise me.
“People in our society are in fear of the ever-changing society we now live in.”
Senator Hanson said she did not condone the terrorist attack in any shape or form. She said her comments were based on finding out the reasons behind “these terrorist attacks”, not shutting down debate.
“That’s the whole crux of the problem that we have here in Australia — debate it, talk about it, have a voice. You have a right to have a voice.”
Ms Hanson again said the censure motion meant absolutely nothing, only voters could have Mr Anning removed from parliament.
“Why I’m not going to support the censure motion is, as Voltaire said, ‘I may not agree with what you say but I defend your right to say it’ … because I’m sick of these politicians pushing their own political agenda, beating their owns chests, for what, so they look good? No.”
Seven declined news.com.au’s request to comment on this article.
Christchurch Shooting: The rise of the far-right?1:55
The Christchurch Shooting is the latest attack linked to the rise of far-right terrorism. Across the world hate speech and populism is growing.