George Hook: My family took brunt of abuse after radio controversy
Newstalk broadcaster apologises again for comments concerning alleged rape case
George Hook says there wasn’t a true sentence written about him in the wake of his Newstalk controversy.
Newstalk broadcaster George Hook has said that people rang up his son’s customers and asked them why they were doing business with the “son of a rapist” following his controversial comments about the topic on his programme last September.
In an interview with the Neil Prendeville show, on Cork’s Red FM, Hook said he readily accepted his comments were wrong and indefensible.
However, he said his family had suffered arising out of the furore that surrounded his remarks.
” I am watching my family take the brunt of it. My son — people rang up his customers and he runs the biggest rugby tour company in this country. They rang up his customers with words to the effect of ‘why are you doing business with the son of a rapist?’ I brought this on my family.”
The broadcaster, who returns to Newstalk on Saturday stepped down from hosting his lunchtime show in late September following comments he had made earlier that month on air during which he discussed the case of a woman who claimed she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.
In the course of the show he said “Is there no blame to the person who puts themselves in danger?”
Hook said he had handled the item in an “unprofessional” manner and that it was a big item to do off the cuff. He readily accepted that he had dealt with the issue “badly” on air and that he “regretted” his words.
However, he said what really disappointed him was the “fake news” that followed in the subsequent media reports.
“I don’t think there was a true word written in the newspapers in the weeks after that event. There wasn’t one sentence that was entirely true.”
He added: “I am not trying to make myself into a martyr. I think an awful lot of people who broadcast today will now look at items and say ‘should we really do this?’. Are the Twitterati going to be the determining factor of radio or television success. Are they going to decide ?”
He stressed that he was “finished” by around 200 people. “There were 150,000 people listening to me and there were probably 200 took me down. I am not defending it. I am not defending it at all. I have apologised twice. If people want me to apologise three times I will apologise three times. I know what I did. I know it was wrong. I am not happy about it. And I paid the price for it.”
He added that Kevin Myers, whom he described as a “good mate,” was really speaking for him on the Claire Byrne show.
“Because what he said was ’I have a right to be wrong.” I was wrong there is no doubt about that. I have never denied that. I was wrong. But like Myers I was clumsy.”
Hook said there was “incredible opportunism” in the wake of his comments and that he bore no animosity towards his employer, Newstalk, for how they handled the situation.
“They didn’t really have a lot of choice. I understood exactly. There was no animosity between me and the radio station at all. I sat there and let the cards fall where they may.
“There was incredible opportunism. The hotel group that sponsored the programme says with great integrity ‘We can’t possible continue to sponsor this man.’ They had two weeks left in their sponsorship.”