On top of that, both Neil Mitchell and Derryn Hinch gang up to chastise him
On Sunday as the big story loomed with Julian Assange about to make a statement from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, 3AW had lined up an interview with his mother, Christine. While on hold and having heard how Howson had abused the previous guest, Ms Assange declined to continue.
This brought on an outburst from Howson that included a Hitler salute.
“I won’t be doing an interview with you because you’re acting like a pig,” Ms Assange said.
Howson responded by screaming on air: “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil”
This morning, 3AW GM, Shane Healy went on-air to inform listeners that Howson had been suspended and to play a pre-recorded apology from him which will be repeated next Sunday in his regular time-slot.
Then it was Derryn Hinch’s turn as he referred to John-Michael Howson’s “bizarre outburst” saying he “felt sick as this radio station’s reputation and standing was trashed in a moment of undisciplined hysteria from a veteran who should know better.”
Healy also agreed that it was a most unprofessional for Howson to cause Ms Assange to hang up on him. “She was quite a get for us,” said Healy referring to the amount of work it took to get her to agree to the interview in the first place.
While walking out on an interview can look dramatic on television, it has little affect on radio and you still end up with no interview.
In his apology, Howson said…
Yesterday on the Sunday Morning program we discussed the matter of Julian Assange and his decision to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador in London.
During that discussion I made offensive comments by citing the Nazi salute.
I unreservedly apologise for saying what I said.
I understand that many listeners took offence to these comments and I sincerely regret having uttered them.
I did not intend to imply that our guests or anyone shares the views of the Nazi party or seeks to control free speech.
And I again offer my sincere apologies