In addition to his role on 2GB, Smith runs Sky News’ Chris Smith Tonight on Sundays at 6pm. He was expected to become the host of a program at 5pm weeknights from 2023.
News Corp-controlled Sky News has not publicly announced whether Smith will return to the news channel following an investigation into his alleged behaviour. “The welfare of our staff is our absolute priority. We have a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate conduct and take these allegations very seriously,” a Sky News spokesperson said on Sunday.
But the channel’s high-profile hosts Panahi and Bolt made it clear overnight they did not want him to return.
“What he did on Saturday night, how he made a number of women feel, means that in my opinion he can never be on this network again,” Panahi told her viewers.
Bolt said he wished Smith all the best with his recovery, but that he should be sacked.
“I am stunned that Chris still does drink at parties,” Bolt said. “That is a choice that Chris made and that is what I hold against him.” Sky News host Laura Jayes also took aim at Smith, posting “good riddance” on her Instagram account under a Sky News article about the incident.
Smith’s most recent misconduct occurred after Sky News’ Christmas party at after-party drinks. However, it was the third News Corp event that Smith had attended in just three days that involved alcohol.
Smith was among the crowd at Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas party on Thursday evening, and he was also an attendee of an intimate dinner of Sky News hosts held at ARIA on Friday night where he was praised for his work, according to multiple people familiar with the event. Smith attended the Sky News Christmas party in the Ivy Sunroom, before heading to the Establishment with other colleagues. He was seen leaving the city about 7.30pm.
Media sources said concerns about Smith’s behaviour on Saturday were raised with senior members of the Sky News executive team and were dealt with immediately.
News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller wrote to staff on Thursday to remind them of behaviour at events. News Corp, the owner of Sky, has not held its Christmas parties yet.
“As we approach the end of the year, formal and informal parties and team gatherings are rolling in and as we anticipate those events I want to say something as plainly as possible,” Miller said. “Do not let a bad choice you make at a party undermine all the good you have achieved.
“Remember that inappropriate behaviour has consequences. We all have earned the right to celebrate with friends and workmates and urge you to make them occasions to remember, not regret.”
Smith has behaved poorly previously. He was suspended indefinitely from his afternoon show on 2GB in 2009 for allegedly groping female colleagues at the Christmas party of Macquarie Radio (now Nine Radio). He blamed the 2009 incident on drinking and ran an apology in The Sunday Telegraph, which said he had bipolar disorder. When he was working with A Current Affair, Smith exposed himself to staff and on another occasion fondled a woman’s breasts.
On his 2GB program on Tuesday morning, presenter and former colleague Ray Hadley said he agreed with Bolt.
“What happened at the Christmas party last weekend is not wokeness. He was sacked in 2009 for his performance at a Christmas party – I don’t think he should ever return to our network,” Hadley said.
“Unfortunately, he did, but I’d be very surprised if he ever returns anywhere ever again. The radio and television industry won’t be poorer for him … leaving it. Young women should be protected. They shouldn’t be going to Christmas parties and being monstered by drunken fools. I have no sympathy for him.”
This is the second time in a matter of months News Corp, the owner of Sky News, has had to deal with allegations of inappropriate behaviour at a function. This masthead revealed last month The Australian’s editor-in-chief Christopher Dore departed the company over lewd comments made towards a woman at an event in the US.
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