“Sunrise” presenters Samantha Armytage and David Koch are up in arms against a Web site blogger, who claimed Koch was “sexist and demeaning” to his co-host after holding a stripper pole for Armytage. The “strippergate” controversy led their critic, Mamamia Web site editor-in-chief Jamila Rizvi, to receive death threats after the incident.
On Tuesday, the Channel 7 breakfast show was criticised for its presenters “low brow” humour during an online fashion segment, in which Armytage was donning a pair of silver shoes that she thought looked like “stripper heels.” Koch then showed up with a pole, and Armytage wrapped a leg around it.
“Be careful because they’re quite reflective,” Koch told Armytage, referring to the shoes.
But there were viewers who didn’t find Koch’s humour funny, with some saying the show and Koch humiliated Armytage by forcing her to become a sex symbol on the show.
Executive producer Michael Pell defended the hosts, telling news.com.au that the stunt was “just a bit of fun. It certainly gave us all a good laugh. If any strippers have been offended by this video, we sincerely apologise.”
That didn’t appease Rizvi, though. She wrote on the women’s Web site that that the “bit of fun” excuse wasn’t enough because it “trumps Sam’s dignity.”
“It was sexist and demeaning,” the blogger wrote of the “strippergate” stunt. “Samantha Armytage is a journalist. Not eye candy there for the titillation of Kochie, the crew or the viewers.”
Koch replied to Rizvi on the Web site, but apparently, the reply was deleted from the site. Mamamia publisher Mia Freedman denied that they banned Koch’s reply from appearing.
The “Sunrise” host posted the photo of his reply on his Twitter, telling Rizvi that her claim was “ridiculous... pathetic really.”
“Your comment is actually demeaning to her [Armytage]. And as for being eye candy for me is just plain offensive to me, my wife, my daughters and my family.”
He continued, “It was all a bit of fun. I know it is shocking to have a bit of fun today, to have a bit of banter, to take the mickey out of each other... but that’s just us. Life is too short to be continually angry.”
— david koch (@kochie_online) January 22, 2014
Armytage also fired back on air, saying, “I found it to be far more insulting... to be labelled by a woman who doesn’t know me, who obviously doesn’t watch the show because she didn’t know what’s going on, who would describe me as a ‘piece of candy’ for my male co-host, which is ridiculous.”
She also backed Koch, adding, “I don’t like this part of the sisterhood that insists on running down men to be a feminist. I like the men I work with. I respect the men I work with. I won’t do it and I won’t be a part of it.”
The entire strippergate fiasco didn’t go well for Rizvi in the end, though. Freedman told Fairfax Media that Rizvi is “shaken after receiving a number of death threats.”
Both Freedman and Rizvi have been receiving “vile” messages since the incident, and have now arranged for a third party to record and delete each one.