Sam Newman's decades-long career at Channel Nine has ended after the controversial figure sparked outrage with an explosive rant about George Floyd.
Calls grew louder for the TV network to cut ties with the outspoken former AFL Footy Show host in the wake of Thursday’s attack on Floyd.
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Newman has been a vocal critic of the AFL's support for the Black Lives Matter movement, hitting out at players for taking a knee before matches last week.
However, it was his scathing attack on Floyd - the African-American man killed by a white police officer in America - that has caused the most backlash.
“George Floyd, who is a piece of sh*t incidentally,” Newman said in reference to the 46-year-old’s criminal history.
“You know who George Floyd is? He has been in jail five times, he held up a pregnant black woman with a knife, he's a drug addict, he's a crack head and he's a porn star.
“He’s dead because of the police brutality and it never should have happened. But I am telling you who George Floyd is, now they’ve made a monument about him and he’s a piece of sh*t”.
An online petition gained steam for Newman to be sacked but on Friday evening Nine released a statement confirming he would no longer be continuing at the network.
“Sam Newman announced today that he would no longer appear on Nine. The decision was made mutually and amicably,” a Channel Nine statement read.
“Sam Newman has been a part of the football landscape in Melbourne for generations. He enjoyed an illustrious playing career, notching up 300 games for the Geelong Football Club.
“Sam parlayed his playing days into a highly successful media career.
“We thank Sam for his service with Nine over several decades. His contribution to The Footy Show was paramount to the enormous ratings success the show enjoyed over many years.”
Newman insisted on social media that the split was a mutual agreement between himself and Nine and that he had thoroughly enjoyed more than three decades of association with the network.
Let’s see how this gets reported. Can’t wait. The 9 network and I have MUTUALLY decided that, in the station’s best interests, I withdraw form appearing on their programs - forthwith. And, for me, the last 35-odd years have been fantastic. Really! @Channel9
— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) June 19, 2020
Channel Nine employees turn on Sam Newman
Newman’s comments about Floyd sparked an angry backlash on social media, with a number of Channel Nine employees among those outraged.
Jim Malo of Domain (owned by Nine), tweeted: “Genuinely ashamed this clown is employed by the same company as me.”
Genuinely ashamed this clown is employed by the same company as me https://t.co/X4uuKkkNpw
— Jim Malo (@jimmalo7) June 18, 2020
Veteran journo Mike Carlton said: “How much longer will Nine put up with this vulgar, ranting, knuckle-dragging f***wit?”
Meanwhile, Rosie Thomas tweeted to Channel Nine saying: “It’s time to #StandDownSam hate is not commentary and it’s definitely not footy”.
— Rosie Thomas 💪🏼💕 (@1RosieThomas) June 18, 2020
Thomas, a co-founder of the ‘Project Rockit’ movement against bullying, hate and prejudice, also linked to an online petition calling on Nine to sack Newman.
“Channel 9 has given one of Australia’s most prominent racists an unrivalled, paid platform to broadcast his hateful, racist views,” the petition says.
“In pursuit of ratings and profit during a shortened footy season, Channel 9 is banking on racism to make back their advertising bucks. And by doing so, Channel 9 has made itself complicit in fuelling hatred and violence.
“Newman’s hate speech normalises bigotry and emboldens those who seek to do harm to Black people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Muslim people, and others.
“We need your help to show Channel 9 this is the wrong decision. It needs to take responsibility for its role in the spread of hatred, violence, and bigotry.”