Image: Channel 9.
Controversial comments aren’t uncommon on morning television, but occasionally you’ll overhear a sound grab that leaves you completely flabbergasted.
On Channel 9’s Today show this morning, an Australian doctor delivered exactly that. While discussing new CSIRO research into the nation’s junk food consumption, Dr Ric Gordon — known professionally as Ric Porter — made an observation that made hosts Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic visibly uncomfortable.
When Stefanovic asked what Australians should be eating, Dr Gordon — an IVF specialist based in Sydney — said, “We’ve got to start weighing people. We’ve got to get them more active, and we’ve got to teach them about sugar. It’s what you eat that’s important.”
So far so reasonable, right? Well, things quickly took a turn for the controversial.
“There were no overweight people in the concentration camps. Now they weren’t exercising a lot, they just weren’t eating,” the regular Today show contributor went on.
“Now, I’m not going any further with that, except to say that what you put in your mouth ends up on your hips. Very important.” (Watch the interview here. Post continues after video.)
Obviously, these statements are offensive and alarming for a number of reasons — not least because prisoners in the concentration camps of World War II were forcibly starved, stripped of their basic human rights and, in too many cases, killed. The fact they weren’t eating wasn’t a weight loss measure. It was an atrocity.
Stefanovic — who has made his own share of controversial on-air comments in the past — was clearly stumped, and quickly brought the interview to a close. “Righto, thanks for that” he said, before telling Wilkinson, “He said it, not me.”
"I'm moving on," was Wilkinson's response. Wise move.
Unbelievably, this isn't the first time a public figure has used the death camps of World War II — and all their associated horrors — as a 'suggested' weight loss method.
Back in 2009, radio host Kyle Sandilands was suspended from his role on 2Day FM's Kyle and Jackie O Show for making similar comments about actress Magda Szubanski, who was an ambassador for Jenny Craig at the time. (Post continues after gallery.)
When co-host Jackie O suggested Szubanski might struggle to shed weight due to her build, Sandilands responded, "That's what all fat people say — you put her in a concentration camp and you watch the weight fall, like, she could be skinny."
Making this situation particularly thoughtless was the fact Szubanski is of Polish descent.
If there isn't already an unspoken rule among media personalities that out-of-context references to the Holocaust are just not on — especially when it comes to the topic of weight loss — there should be one.
The topic of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight is an important one, and requires reasoned discussion and measured recommendations. There's no need to stir up controversy to make a point.
Did you catch this interview today? How did you react?