Prominent ABC TV reporter Alan Kohler has been suspended indefinitely following an on-air meltdown.
The incident that caused the suspension occurred last night during the ABC’s flagship 7pm TV news bulletin.
A statement issued by the ABC said Mr Kohler, the national broadcaster’s finance reporter, would not be returning to duties “for the foreseeable future”.
In his segment in last night’s bulletin he was discussing the disappearance from the Australian market of retail chains whose trading names contain gratuitous references to mental illness.
Mr Kohler began the segment calmly enough in his trademark conversational style by saying: “Years ago it seemed there was a Mad Barry’s home improvement centre in every suburb.
“And there was always a Crazy Clark’s in just about any shopping centre, which was handy for picking up some cheap birthday or Christmas gifts for relatives or friends you don’t really like.
“While clothing maker Mad Huey’s sells its surf and beach wear, and the Mad Monkey hostel chain operates an establishment at Sydney’s Coogee Beach, most business names referencing mental illness have disappeared.”
His voice began to waver and he started to shake visibly as he continued.
“Even Silly Solly’s has contracted its market reach and now has outlets only in Central and North Queensland.”
Looking at someone out of camera shot, possibly a studio crew member, Mr Kohler added: “Well, that’s pretty apt. Have you ever met the idiots who live in Central or North Queensland?”
Apparently listening to a reply that was not picked up for viewers by studio microphones, Mr Kohler remained looking at the unidentified off-camera person and said: “Well fuck you. Who gives a rat’s arse what you think.”
Then a few seconds later: “Yeah, we’re live. Yeah, viewers can see and hear me. I know all that, Einstein. So what?”
The incident escalated rapidly from there with Mr Kohler loudly complaining about “the constant pressure” he faced in preparing for his nightly segment.
“You think it’s easy? Why don’t you try it a few times? How many fucking decent graphs are out there?” he yelled off-camera.
“I need one a night. I’m not scraping the bottom of the barrel — I busted through the bottom years ago. That’s why I have to resort to graphs like this shitty one tonight.”
Suddenly shouting even louder and looking directly down the camera lens and moving rapidly towards it, Mr Kohler said: “And as for all you stupid fucking viewers. Demanding more and more graphs. None of you discuss real financial or economic issues with me when you see me in the street. It’s always: ‘Oh, I love your graphs Alan.’ All you want is more and more and more and more useless and meaningless information. I can’t do it any longer. You can all go fuck yourselves you stupid cun….”
The broadcast ended suddenly at that point and a test pattern appeared on screen until the scheduled end of the TV news bulletin.
At the beginning of the 7.30 current affairs program, a clearly shaken Leigh Sales initially stumbled over her greeting to viewers, as muffled yelling and what sounded like a fist fight could be heard in the background.
However, after the end of 7.30’s first story Ms Sales appeared calm and settled.
An ABC spokesperson would not comment on the incident and referred The Bug to the broadcaster’s official statement.
The Bug understands The Australian newspaper was last night rushing to publish a special 96-page edition devoted entirely to the incident including an eight-page section on the life and work of physicist Albert Einstein and how the ABC had allowed taxpayer funds to be wasted on trashing his reputation.