Radio talkshow host James Whale has been suspended after appearing to laugh at a guest who was speaking about her rape on air.
TalkRadio announced its decision to suspend Whale pending a full investigation on Friday, following the interview with journalist Nichi Hodgson on Monday in which she disclosed details about her sexual assault.
Writing for the Guardian, Hodgson said she was “interrogated, ridiculed and had [her] journalistic integrity questioned” after she spoke about her experience during a discussion on flirtation and the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
In a statement, TalkRadio said Whale’s interview with Hodgson “completely lacked sensitivity,” and was conducted “in a manner that did not reflect the values of the station”.
talkRADIO statement pic.twitter.com/9PHiM9NdV7
August 3, 2018
In a video clip of the exchange, which was removed from the TalkRadio YouTube page but re-posted by the Guardian in Hodgson’s comment piece, Whale can be seen appearing to laugh when Hodgson describes being “orally raped” by a man in a taxi following a party in January this year.
Hodgson reported the incident to the police, but they told her they had little chance of catching the man as, among other things, she did not know his name, and CCTV that may have captured the incident would have been destroyed after 30 days.
In the clip, Whale proceeds to ask Hodgson whether she got the number of the cab, and questions her handling of the situation.
“Are you not concerned that unless you did perhaps go further with this, this brute could actually do this to other women?” he asks.
In her comment piece, Hodgson wrote: “Using every sneeringly dismissive and misogynistic trick in the book, [Whale] made the matter of my sexual assault an interrogation of my behaviour.
“What began as a typically strident exchange between me and a journalist known for his belligerent presenting style became a merciless exercise in how not to interview someone who has experienced a sexual assault,” she said.
The initial debate centred around comments made by author Jilly Cooper in an interview with the Sunday Times last week, in which she suggested the post-#MeToo environment makes men afraid to flirt with women.
Whale and Hodgson both retweeted TalkRadio’s statement about the suspension on Friday evening.