Aussie sports presenter files defamation suit against Daily Mail, denies Asian accent mimicry, racial jokes are racist

Erin Molan denies racism

Australian television sports presenter Erin Molan defended her frequent use of Asian accents and racial jokes during Tuesday’s defamation trial against Daily Mail Australia.

The case: Molan is seeking aggravated damages over the publication of an article published in June 2020, which she alleges implied that she is “racist, callous and arrogant,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

  • The posts in question referenced a May 2020 episode of “The Continuous Call Team show,” in which Molan can be heard saying “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” while discussing how to pronounce names of Pacific Islander National Rugby League (NRL) players.
  • Molan told the court that Daily Mail’s report prompted a deluge of abuse online that caused her to feel “sick, angry, upset, hurt and confused.”
  • Arguing a truth defense, the Daily Mail found over 20 other examples from 2017 to 2020 of the show’s hosts doing impressions of accents and making fun of players’ names.
  • During cross-examination, Daily Mail lawyer Bruce McClintock highlighted how she participated in potentially offensive gags in 2019, one of which had her imitating an Asian sex worker from a film. 

The write-up: An internal email thread presented to the court started with a message Daily Mail Australia editor Barclay Crawford received on June 5, 2020, with the subject line “Pacific uni lecturer says Erin Molan racist and trampling on the mana of generations,” The Australian reported.

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  • The email included a social media post criticizing Molan’s original radio broadcast.
  • Crawford then forwarded the email to a journalist with the message: “Let’s rip into this sheila.”
  • Molan’s lawyer, Kieran Smark, noted, “The ‘sheila’ being the applicant, Ms. Molan. Evidently, that’s an instruction to use this material in a particular way.”
  • According to Molan, she was “inconsolable” and “struggling to cope” after the article resulted in a “barrage of abuse” coming from people she respected and admired.

Not racist: The 39-year-old broadcaster defended her mimicry of Asian accents while on-air, saying her stereotypical portrayal of an Asian woman was neither racist nor inappropriate, reported the Age.

  • During cross-examination, McClintock played a recording of her in the clip in which she can be heard saying: “I wuv you wery long time, wery handsome man.”
  • Molan claimed she was not making fun of the accent but was merely quoting the 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket.” In the movie, a Vietnamese sex worker delivered a similar line. 
  • She told the Federal Court that the joke was that her “accent was so bad.”
  • While Molan claimed her role on the show was to question when they were “going too far,” she noted she never concluded their jokes were ever inappropriate.
  • Molan admitted that using accents on ”Continuous Call Team” had been a “large part of the show for many, many years.”
  • She added that she had “adopted American, French, Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Scottish, Irish and Welsh accents while on air.”

Featured Image via 60 Minutes Australia

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