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Podcast execs were concerned for Jessica Rowe’s mental health amid Pauline Hanson controversy

A senior executive at Southern Cross Austereo didn’t hesitate to pull a controversial episode of Jessica Rowe’s podcast featuring Pauline Hanson as a guest after his conversation with the veteran journalist left him concerned for her wellbeing.

Rowe’s request to have the episode removed following backlash on Twitter was ‘quickly actioned’ by SCA chief content officer Dave Cameron after they spoke on the phone late Wednesday evening, reports The Australian.

Mr Cameron said SCA, which owns podcast platform LiSTNR, was ‘really supportive’ of her wishes and didn’t hesitate to delete the episode.

Rowe, 51, who has spoken openly of her mental health issues in the past, was deeply upset by the negative response to the episode, which included criticism from people she respects, such as Australian of the Year and activist Grace Tame.

Concerns: A senior executive at Southern Cross Austereo didn’t hesitate to pull a controversial episode of Jessica Rowe’s (pictured) podcast featuring Pauline Hanson as a guest after his conversation with the veteran journalist left him concerned for her wellbeing

‘That was a conversation that went late into the evening yesterday [Wednesday] and, to be honest, we are really supportive of Jess [and] of what she wanted to do and how she wanted to go with what unfolded yesterday,’ Mr Cameron said.

‘We are about talents’ needs and wants first and foremost. We certainly weren’t going to push her into a situation where she was going to be made to feel more uncomfortable over the coming week or so. It’s just not worth it.’

Meanwhile, Hanson said she believed Rowe’s mental health issues were a factor in her decision to pull the podcast after being targeted by Twitter ‘bullies’.

Scramble: Meanwhile, Hanson (pictured in June) said she believed Rowe's mental health issues were a factor in her decision to pull the podcast after being targeted by Twitter 'bullies'

Scramble: Meanwhile, Hanson (pictured in June) said she believed Rowe’s mental health issues were a factor in her decision to pull the podcast after being targeted by Twitter ‘bullies’

‘The usual woke suspects freaked out and made it their mission to bully a female host who openly admits to struggling with mental health issues brought on by keyboard warriors,’ the senator said.

‘Serial culprits should be ashamed of themselves for the deliberate intimidation, targeted harassment and stress they put on Jessica Rowe.

‘I don’t agree with her pulling it down, but I get it.’

It comes after Hanson said she was ‘disappointed’ in Rowe after the former TV newsreader removed their podcast interview following backlash on Twitter.

Rowe had been fiercely criticised for giving a platform to the One Nation politician, 67, and eventually caved into pressure from activists by pulling Hanson’s episode of the Jess Rowe Big Talk Show just hours after publishing it on Wednesday.

The Queensland Senator called her backflip the latest example of ‘cancel culture’ killing free speech in Australia.

Furious: It comes after Hanson (pictured) said she was 'disappointed' in Rowe after the former TV newsreader removed their podcast interview following backlash on Twitter

Furious: It comes after Hanson (pictured) said she was ‘disappointed’ in Rowe after the former TV newsreader removed their podcast interview following backlash on Twitter

‘Last night at 9:56pm, my office received an email to advise a podcast I’d participated in some weeks ago with Jessica Rowe was being pulled,’ Hanson said in a statement on Thursday.

‘I note throughout the day [it was published] that Jessica was sent several tweets condemning her for conducting a non-political interview with me.

‘We discussed my grandkids, family, how to cope with public pressure and depression, as well as some other non-controversial matters in a 30-minute podcast.

‘Twitter haters bombarded Jess online to a point where she obviously felt pressured to remove the podcast.’

Angry: The Queensland Senator called Jessica's backflip the latest example of 'cancel culture' killing free speech in Australia. Her office also released this mock-up parodying Rowe's podcast artwork, dubbing it 'The Jess Rowe Big Fail Show'

Angry: The Queensland Senator called Jessica’s backflip the latest example of ‘cancel culture’ killing free speech in Australia. Her office also released this mock-up parodying Rowe’s podcast artwork, dubbing it ‘The Jess Rowe Big Fail Show’

Hanson added that a producer from podcast platform LiSTNR had advised her the episode was being permanently removed.

‘Cancel culture in this country is killing debate, freedom of speech, and shutting down conservative political representation,’ she continued.

‘While I’m disappointed with Jess and her manager’s decision to remove the podcast, I also recognise how much pressure keyboard warriors can put on a person like Jessica who openly discussed with me in the interview how public opinion has impacted her mental well-being.

‘The removal of this innocuous podcast is a step in the wrong direction for conservative Australians.’ 

When it comes to giving a platform to controversial public figures, Rowe learned this week you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

The former Studio 10 host faced intense backlash on Wednesday for interviewing Hanson on her podcast, eventually deleting the episode just hours later and issuing an apology for her error of judgement.

Can't win: Rowe (pictured) faced intense backlash on Wednesday for interviewing Hanson on her podcast, eventually deleting the episode just hours later and issuing an apology for her error of judgement

Can’t win: Rowe (pictured) faced intense backlash on Wednesday for interviewing Hanson on her podcast, eventually deleting the episode just hours later and issuing an apology for her error of judgement

While left-leaning Twitter users celebrated this as a victory, other listeners argued Rowe should have stood by her initial decision to interview Hanson, whose views on immigration have made her one of Australia’s most divisive political figures.

‘It’s a shame you’ve been bullied into taking it down,’ one fan wrote on Instagram.

‘I thought it was really admirable that you were willing to interview and have a human conversation with someone whose views were so different from your own.

Controversy: While left-leaning Twitter users celebrated this as a victory, other listeners argued Rowe should have stood by her initial decision to interview Hanson (pictured in 2019), whose views on immigration have made her one of Australia's most divisive political figures

Controversy: While left-leaning Twitter users celebrated this as a victory, other listeners argued Rowe should have stood by her initial decision to interview Hanson (pictured in 2019), whose views on immigration have made her one of Australia’s most divisive political figures

‘It’s so easy to never interview anyone controversial. You did a brave thing, but it seems people weren’t able to see that, which is small-minded of them.’

A similar comment read: ‘So the bullies win. It’s okay for them to have their ‘free speech’ but not for anyone else who differs in opinion.’

A third critic added: ‘Disappointed to hear that you had no choice but to remove that podcast. I think there was nothing wrong with interviewing Pauline.

 

'Shame': Listeners said Rowe should have stood by her initial decision to interview Hanson, whose views on immigration have made her one of Australia's most divisive political figures

‘Shame’: Listeners said Rowe should have stood by her initial decision to interview Hanson, whose views on immigration have made her one of Australia’s most divisive political figures

Having her say: Real Housewives of Sydney star Krissy Marsh commented: 'I never listened to it but now I wish I had... has coronavirus made everyone super PC?'

Having her say: Real Housewives of Sydney star Krissy Marsh commented: ‘I never listened to it but now I wish I had… has coronavirus made everyone super PC?’

‘Just because the views are not shared doesn’t mean you can’t interview that person. We don’t all have to have the same opinions in life.’ 

Real Housewives of Sydney star Krissy Marsh commented: ‘I never listened to it but now I wish I had… has coronavirus made everyone super PC?

‘I know you are super-smart and an amazing wife, mother and journalist. When did the world stop wanting to hear other people’s opinions? Why do we all have to agree? Why have journalists if it’s not to delve and deliver?

‘If we only want our own opinions then…’ 

Differing opinions: Others argued Hanson didn't deserve a platform because of her extreme views, which now include spreading misinformation about Covid-19

Differing opinions: Others argued Hanson didn’t deserve a platform because of her extreme views, which now include spreading misinformation about Covid-19

'Educating': Disability activist Carly Findlay commented: 'I hope you're listening. Many of us commented on your post and by deleting it, you deleted the work we put into educating you'

‘Educating’: Disability activist Carly Findlay commented: ‘I hope you’re listening. Many of us commented on your post and by deleting it, you deleted the work we put into educating you’

However, others argued Hanson didn’t deserve a platform because of her extreme views, which now include spreading misinformation about Covid-19.

‘Correct move to delete and listen [to feedback]. Perhaps also reflect on the diversity (or lack of) in your guests to date. It’s up to us to do better,’ a listener wrote.

Another added: ‘Thank you for doing that. I briefly saw your teaser post for the episode earlier today [Wednesday] and I had to quickly scroll past it.

‘I refuse to give any energy to someone who has caused so much pain for my community and other ethnically diverse Aussie communities.’

Disability activist Carly Findlay commented: ‘Thank you. I really hope you’re listening. Many of us commented on your [previous] post and by deleting it, you deleted the work we put into educating you.

‘I look forward to seeing you platforming some people who do good.’

Regrets: Rowe confirmed in a statement on Wednesday evening she had asked for her interview with Hanson (pictured) on the The Jess Rowe Big Talk Show podcast to be deleted, just hours after it went live. She had mostly avoided politics during the chat, instead focusing on Hanson's love life, children, 2003 jail stint, and even her favourite cocktail

Regrets: Rowe confirmed in a statement on Wednesday evening she had asked for her interview with Hanson (pictured) on the The Jess Rowe Big Talk Show podcast to be deleted, just hours after it went live. She had mostly avoided politics during the chat, instead focusing on Hanson’s love life, children, 2003 jail stint, and even her favourite cocktail

Rowe confirmed in a statement on Wednesday evening she had asked for her interview with Hanson on the The Jess Rowe Big Talk Show podcast to be deleted, just hours after it went live.

‘There has been much reaction and comment to my podcast conversation with Pauline Hanson today. Pauline’s political views are the opposite of mine. I have never agreed with her on those issues. Never will. Kindness is at the heart of who I am,’ she said in a statement on Instagram.

‘Amongst the comments today I heard from some who I admire enormously including Nakkiah Lui and Grace Tame and I want to thank them especially for their candour.

‘This will be the start of a bigger conversation for me and with those who this topic directly affects. I’ve asked LiSTNR to remove the episode ASAP. Thank you, everyone.’ 

Divisive: Rowe thanked her critics for their 'candour' and said she'd asked LiSTNR to delete the podcast episode

Divisive: Rowe thanked her critics for their ‘candour’ and said she’d asked LiSTNR to delete the podcast episode

Rowe had mostly avoided politics during her chat with Hanson, instead focusing on her love life, children, 2003 jail stint, and even her favourite cocktail.

But she was nonetheless criticised for giving a platform to the polarising senator.

‘Wow, I’m really shocked that someone with such a bright, positive vibe would interview someone like Hanson who is openly and unapologetically racist. Disappointing, Jess,’ tweeted one fan.

Australian of the Year and activist Grace Tame added: ‘This is how discrimination and hate is subtly enabled and normalised. Everyone’s entitled to their own views but not all views should be valorised by promoting their source.

‘Pauline doesn’t need help to be heard, but those whose oppression she’s both driven and reinforced do.’

Not happy: Rowe was criticised on Twitter for giving a platform to the polarising senator

Not happy: Rowe was criticised on Twitter for giving a platform to the polarising senator

‘Bad move, Jess. I understand you mean well, but the divide between good and bad is glaringly obvious… Hanson is cold hearted, that’s it,’ another listener commented.

‘There is absolutely no way I could engage with Pauline Hanson or anyone like her. Racists must be called out,’ a fourth added. 

Yet another wrote: ‘Jessica Rowe! Pauline Hanson? Really? Bad move, dude.

‘I hope you know what you are doing is heartbreaking and vile. Thank you for reminding me that as a child of brown immigrants, I do not belong. Giving this divisive politician a platform is completely unfathomable.’ 

Hanson spoke to Rowe about her time in prison after being sentenced to three years behind bars in 2003 for electoral fraud and fraudulently obtaining electoral funding.

‘When they stood up and they gave that guilty verdict, I just shut down,’ she recalled. ‘I couldn’t believe it.’

‘Then they came and put the handcuffs on me, took me down to process me, put into a strip search, then put into a van and taken to the watch house all night.’

She said she was taken to prison the next day and went through the ‘whole process’ at jail, which involved being photographed and having her details ‘put into the system’.

Hanson explained she was put into the hospital ward because she had spiralled into a deep depression and wasn’t eating.

Her convictions were later overturned by the Queensland Court of Appeal and she was released after spending 11 weeks behind bars.

She rejoined One Nation in 2013 and was became leader of the party the following year.

Tough: Hanson spoke to Rowe about her time in prison after being sentenced to three years behind bars in 2003 for electoral fraud and fraudulently obtaining electoral funding

Tough: Hanson spoke to Rowe about her time in prison after being sentenced to three years behind bars in 2003 for electoral fraud and fraudulently obtaining electoral funding

Elsewhere in the podcast, she told Rowe her favourite alcoholic beverage was rum topped with lime cordial.

‘These days I don’t mind a gin and tonic,’ she said. ‘But I also like my Bundaberg rum full of ice in a glass and you top it up with lime cordial.

‘Plenty of ice, fill up your whole glass, half Bundy and half lime cordial.’

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