Paul Henry apologises for “starve to death” asylum seeker comment

EXCLUSIVE: TEN Breakfast co-host Paul Henry has apologised after comments he made yesterday that asylum seekers should be allowed to starve to death.

The controversial New Zealander was reacting to news that Christmas Island asylum seekers were on a hunger strike over plans to shift them to Nauru Island.

He was slammed by viewers on Twitter and Facebook:

Lynne D Johansen: @channelten PAUL HENRY!! Disgusting remarks on Breakfast… Let all the boat ppl starve to death.Get rid of this disgusting person!!!

Kaz: @channelten Racist Paul Henry states we should just let asylum seekers starve to death. Go TEN. Isn’t your rep bad enough at the moment?

Victoria Craw: Execs must be wincing after that outrageous call from Paul Henry re asylum seekers #tenbreakfast

Andrew Butler: @tenbreakfast Did Paul Henry say “let them starve” whats that about, there needs to be an inquiry into his comments!

Trev Good: @tenbreakfast send Paul Henry back to nz. Dehumanize yourself else where #refugees=human

Yesterday Henry issued a statement:

“I want to apologise for some of my comments on Breakfast this morning.

“My aim was to stimulate debate about the Government policy concerning asylum seekers in light of the hunger strike.

“People have interpreted my comments on Breakfast regarding asylum seekers and hunger strikes inaccurately. Some people believe I was implying that asylum seekers on hunger strike should die. I’m genuinely sorry if I gave that impression.

“It is the personal choice of the hunger striker to take this course of action. I was merely stating my view that our response to their action should be to stand firm and follow through with current Australian policy.

“I believe doing that will ultimately save many lives.

“I didn’t set out to offend anyone, nor do I believe that anyone should die over such a matter.”

He will also apologise on air today.

TEN was quick to distance itself from his remarks, despite Henry being hired by TEN Chairman, Lachlan Murdoch.

A network spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Network TEN unreservedly apologies for Paul Henry’s inappropriate and offensive remarks. His comments do not reflect the views of Network TEN.”

But this isn’t the first time the controversial host has been criticised for his comments on asylum seekers. In May he commented on the government’s plans to pay families to temporarily house asylum seekers in their homes to help deal with increasing arrivals.

He suggested they could live in linen cupboards.

“That’s a good idea, 300 bucks a week for the linen cupboard. You could put – you’d want to get the linen out, wouldn’t you? Otherwise (inaudible) ‘oh, these sheets are dirty. Ergh’.

“Don’t ask. These towels… (sniffs) oh no, don’t ask. We’ve got someone living in the linen cupboard kids, just don’t go in there.”

Meanwhile the ratings for the ailing Breakfast continue to flop, last week averaging a dismal 32,000 viewers.

While The Circle never fully recovered from comments about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, at least it had a following to begin with.

67 Comments:

  1. TEN is a total failure with this show..and more of a failure employing the dude with the glasses – he just totally ruins the whole thing! Fail

  2. Well said SusanP. Personally i like 10’s morning show, although i find it offensive that they had to get someone from overseas for the show, i find it more refreshing than the over the top & fake cheeriness etc on 7. But if i was a tv exectuive i would be making damn sure thats what the majority of the tv viewing public also liked before i put it on air, not jus reflecting on my own personal tastes. I thought 9 were the biggest boys club around but maybe 10 are catching up.

  3. I think the trouble with host selection in some networks is that the boss chooses people that he/she finds personally funny and fascinating – rather than actually understanding what the broader audience finds funny and fascinating. Lachlan seemed to really liked Henry and hired him…but may not have stood outside his own response system and considered him from the external perspective. Same with Karl etc on 9..

    We wind up with these whole gangs or groups of people on a network who seem to love each other’s [lame and old] humour…while the audience are largely saying “this just isn’t funny or great any more”. But, still the networks keep hold of the same people with the same group-think attitudes and humour. The ‘boys club’ worked for a very long time. But I think a few need to join the ‘audience club’.

  4. Kas – you are right. Kath does sometimes try to infuse balance but I agree she doesn’t exactly stand up to him. She’s a very smart woman though. Kath’s seen how standing up to him has detrimental affects. Remember what happened to Andrew Rochford. Rochy regularly stood up to him on his extreme views but that didn’t exactly work out too well. First he was removed from the studio and oddly placed around the Ch Ten building for his segments, then he got the chop. Paul Henry knows he is (for now at least) protected by management. It’s also well known that The Circle would likely still be on air if not for the high cost of Breakfast and Henry himself. Kath can’t afford to be on Henry’s bad side. He treats the people around him, interviewee’s and the public with contempt and that makes his segments hard to watch as he’s relentless. The show itself however is of a good standard (and I genuinely wish people would see this). It’s completely devoid of patronising dancing cash cows and half hourly phone call giveaways complete with fake excitement from the presenters. Breakfast has a weather person who’s an actual meteorologist (with a genuinely infectious passion for her job) – something that’s completely unheard of in the industry. I would love nothing more than for it to survive and provide a credible alternative in the mornings. With Paul Henry at the helm, this will never happen.

  5. gregaus. Have to say I agree with your views on this show. The show itself is much more relaxed and easy to watch than the other breakfast shows and there certainly appears to be a lot of talent amongst the roving reporters and Magdalena etc. In fact TEN do seem to have quite a lot of good young talent in their newsroom – they just don’t always use it wisely. I fear Kath has become tainted by the Henry brush – she never seems to stand up to him, so is seen as agreeing with him. My advice to TEN would be – don’t give up on the show rebrand it and start again with new hosts.

  6. Those that think Paul Henry is adding comments on this site have clearly never ever watched the show. The guy is a self confessed technophobe that regularly mocks people that understand technology. If he was to even attempt posting here, he’d spend an hour wondering where the ink ribbon goes.

  7. @Sims….Quoting from SMH 2011 “He resigned as host of TVNZ’s Breakfast last year after public outrage over on-air comments regarding former New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.”

    Throughout the Games he kept referring to her as either Dips*** or Dick****. Repeatedly.

    He was then working on NZ radio etc and he basically says that Lachlan contacted him…asked to meet…the two met along with MediaWorks boss Sussan Turner. Henry says (this was in NZ press) that Murdoch never referred to the TVNZ issue but discussed all the videos he had seen of Henry on YouTube and his (Murdochs?) roadtrips in the U.S.

    Henry was enabled to keep working on NZ TV3 btw via his deal with Murodch; on two shows, one broadcast from Sydney.

    No idea if he’s still doing that. It was, in the end, a highly lucrative deal for Henry. A big salary and the ability to keep working in and appearing on NZ television.

    Has he been worth all this and should it continue to be supported? I suggest, “no”.

  8. Reading the twitter feed about this and somebody linked to a video from last year of him being unforgivable racist, ignorant and rude in regards to a name: youtube.com/watch?v=4gHGqy5o0VQ How did he even stay on air after that? Who is this guy? Who hired him? Why is he allowed to pollute the airwaves with his offensive comments? And yet The Circle made one mistake and have paid for it ever since despite truly sincere apologies.

  9. Those interested in researching ratings could go to the OzTam site I’m sure. Don’t think it’s within David’s brief to actually do research for posters here.

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