Hook finally suspended by newstalk after ads are pulled from station
GEORGE Hook may never be allowed to broadcast again because his brand is so toxic, it was claimed last night.
The speculation comes after the 76-year-old presenter was suspended from Newstalk yesterday as the controversy over his comments about rape escalated. Tesco became the latest company to distance itself from his High Noon show announcing it will no longer place adverts if George Hook is involved. The veteran broadcaster looked dejected yesterday when he arrived at his plush home in Foxrock, South Dublin, shortly before 1pm when he should have been presenting his lunchtime show. He would not comment but said to the Irish Mirror’s photographer: “I’ve nothing to say but I know you’re only doing your jobs.” It is understood he had been meeting with Newstalk bosses who informed him he was being taken off the airwaves. Pressure has been mounting on the station to dump him after the show’s main sponsor, Clayton Hotels terminated its deal over the broadcaster’s comments last Monday. The departure of supermarket giant Tesco and fears other major advertisers might join them left Newstalk will little choice but to suspend Mr Hook. It is now thought he may never be back at the station and friends fear his career is over. An industry insider said: “The reality is George’s brand is now so toxic Newstalk can’t put him back on the air even if they wanted to. “When the advertisers are pulling out it’s hard to see a way back for him. Who is going to want their brand to be associated with him or any show he is on? “When you have the Taoiseach coming out criticising what George said then it doesn’t look good.” Newstalk yesterday confirmed the suspension, adding: “The process regarding his comments last week is ongoing.” The controversy centres around comments Hook made about a UK rape case. Questioning why the alleged victim
had gone back to the hotel room of a man she had just met, asking: “Is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?” His suspension follows widespread condemnation from groups including the National Women’s Council of Ireland. Minutes before his suspension was announced Taoiseach Leo Varadkar voiced his concern about the comments. He told RTE’S Morning Ireland: “Nobody who is raped or sexually assaulted is responsible in any way,” adding the presenter’s comments were “indicative of attitudes that still exist in Irish society that need to change”. Mr Hook apologised on Monday for his comments but the move failed to quell growing calls for him to be sacked. A protest was held outside Newstalk calling for him to be taken off the air, with a banner held aloft calling for an end to the culture of violence against women. As pressure on the station grew, Tesco confirmed on Thursday it had ceased advertising during Hook’s show. The supermarket giant said: “We confirm we have restricted the airing of our adverts around this particular show in the short term, although we keep this under review.” RTE star Mairead Ronan backed the controversial broadcaster’s suspension. The former Today FM producer insisted Hook should have known better but added she had sympathy for those working behind the scenes. The 37-year-old said: “George really should have known better. I was away last weekend and only heard the comments in their entirety listening to the Sean O’rourke show. “To hear him say it out loud, it sounded worse.” Meanwhile, comedian Oliver Callan took a swipe at Newstalk following the Hook suspension, tweeting: “It’s despairing a firm only takes action against sexism when it damages the commercial interests of the company.” Other Newstalk staff were unhappy Hook was not removed as soon as he made the comments and some signed a petition calling for action. Presenter Dil Wickremasinghe, who hosts the station’s Global Village show, issued a statement saying she would be going off-air in protest at the handling of the issue.” email@example.com
But as Newstalk waited for almost a week before removing him it appears it bowed to commercial rather than moral pressure. There have been claims the host is being victimised and others have insisted calls for his removal amount to a witch hunt. Mr Hook is not a victim and appeals for him to go are not an attack on free speech. The action is a response to claims victims are in some way responsible for being raped and that is not and can never be the case.