Most of David Koch’s 21-year reign on Sunrise was spent discussing the news of the day but there were times the breakfast host made unwanted headlines of his own.
In December 2006, Koch managed to get then prime minister John Howard offside by telling an off-colour joke about Mr Howard’s wife Janette and Opposition leader Kim Beazley.
The joke, sent in by a viewer, referenced a message written in urine in the snow and so offended Mr Howard he refused to appear on Sunrise.
Viewers were unimpressed and co-host Natalie Barr gave only an awkward laugh at the time.
‘I think that’s actually… Did you vet that with anyone before you… ?’ Barr had asked.
David ‘Kochie’ Koch announced on Monday morning he was leaving the Sunrise desk after 21 years as a breakfast television host. He is pictured with current co-host Natalie Barr (left) and former co-host Melissa Doyle
Koch wrote a grovelling letter of apology to John and Janette Howard (above)
The day after the joke misfired Koch told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘If I offended anyone, I apologise.’
‘In some people’s view I may have crossed the line yesterday, which I think I agree with but you never know until you do it.
‘You don’t intentionally try and offend anyone and a joke’s a joke and you’re never quite sure what’s on the line, what’s over the line and what’s the other side of the line.’
Seven Network owner Kerry Stokes reportedly forced Koch to write a letter of apology to Mr Howard. Eight years later former Sunrise executive producer Adam Boland said Mr Howard still hadn’t forgiven Koch for the line.
‘To this day, John Howard refuses to talk to Kochie, even when he’s seated on the same table at functions,’ Boland said.
‘I suspect the joke is only part of the reason. The former prime minister is only too aware of the role Sunrise played in the rise of Kevin Rudd.’
[Mr Rudd had a weekly spot on Sunrise in which he debated politics with senior Liberal Joe Hockey before he toppled Mr Howard in 2007].
David Koch was on the scene when Tasmanian miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb were freed after being trapped underground for a fortnight in the Beaconsfield mine disaster. As Russell was being taken to hospital Koch jumped into the back of the ambulance (above)
David Koch’s crude joke about Janette Howard
This is the joke David Koch told which offended then prime minister John Howard:
‘John Howard is on a skiing trip – Christmas holidays, Aspen, the whole thing.
‘He’s coming down the slopes and then in the snow written – obviously someone has relieved themselves in the snow – and written, “John Howard is a dork”.
‘Well, John stops in front of it and looks at it absolutely fuming and says to the secret service guys who are sort of shadowing him while he’s on his holiday in Aspen: “Look into this. I want to know who did it, under what circumstances.” They say, “Yes sir” and he went off skiing.
‘That night the forensic guys have taken a sample of the thing in the snow. They go to him, “Well, Mr Prime Minister, we’ve got good news and bad news.
‘”We’ve tested the urine samples and we’ve come to a conclusion. What do you want – good or bad news?”
‘And he said, “Well, what’s the good news?”
‘And they said, “Well, it’s Kim Beazley’s urine”.
‘And he said, “Well, what’s the bad news?”
‘And they said, “Well, it was in Janette’s handwriting”.’
Most famously, in May 2006, Koch was on the scene when Tasmanian miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb were freed after being trapped underground for a fortnight in the Beaconsfield mine disaster.
One worker had been killed when the mine collapsed, but Russell and Brant were found alive almost 1km below the surface, eight days before they could be rescued.
As Russell – a big fan of Sunrise – was being taken to hospital, Koch pushed through the security cordon and jumped into the back of the ambulance.
Koch later said Russell, who had sent him messages through rescue workers, invited him into the vehicle to give him his tag from the safety board at the mine entrance.
‘So, I got into the ambulance and that’s when he gave me his miner’s tag, which is a moment, I got to say, a moment and a symbol I will cherish forever,’ he told the ABC.
‘And I make no apologies for doing it.’
In January 2014, Koch became briefly embroiled in ‘strippergate’. Onetime Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage had joked in a short fashion video on the show’s website she was wearing ‘stripper shoes’. Koch then carried out a stripper pole
Koch upset mothers while discussing a Queensland woman breastfeeding at a public pool in January 2013. While agreeing with the right of mothers to breastfeed in public he said doing so discreetly was a common curtesy to others
In January 2013, Koch upset mothers while discussing a Queensland woman breastfeeding at a public pool.
While agreeing with the right of mothers to breastfeed in public he said doing so discreetly was a common curtesy to others.
Three months later Koch wondered aloud on air if the Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people and injured hundreds more runners could have an ‘Irish’ link.
‘It’s a very big Irish Catholic city, we’ve got Margaret Thatcher’s funeral coming up tomorrow in London,’ Koch said. ‘Is it a really long stretch to think they could be related?’
[Islamic terrorist brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsamaev planted the bombs as revenge for US military action in Iraq and Afghanistan].
In January 2014, Koch became briefly embroiled in ‘strippergate’.
Onetime Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage had joked in a short fashion video on the show’s website she was wearing ‘stripper shoes’.
Koch then carried out a stripper pole which Armytage wrapped her leg around. Koch then pointed to her shoes and said: ‘Be careful because they’re quite reflective’.
When Mamamia editor Jamila Rizvi website accused Koch of humiliating Armytage he blasted the women’s website for portraying him as grubby.
In March 2019, Koch was accused of bullying One Nation leader Pauline Hanson during an interview three days after the Christchurch mosque shootings
In October 2018, Koch got himself in more trouble while reviewing a segment about Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s brief stint with the Central Coast Mariners in soccer’s A-League.
Koch had asked another panelist if the Mariners would get a lot of money from trading the Olympic gold medalist then started to say, ‘Who said slavery was over?’ before cutting himself off.
After social media backlash Koch explained his use of ‘slavery’ when talking about a black-skinned athlete.
‘The use of the word “slavery” is a reference I’ve used to defend players who want to trade clubs or change jobs in sport… that you can’t keep them… it’s a free world,’ he said.
‘There’s no slavery anymore. People have rights.’
In March 2019, Koch was accused of bullying One Nation leader Pauline Hanson during an interview three days after a far-right extremist murdered 51 worshippers in the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Koch had said gunman Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto ‘reads like One Nation immigration and Muslim policy’.
Most of David Koch’s 21-year reign on Sunrise was spent discussing the news of the day but there were times the breakfast host made unwanted headlines of his own