Former Australian AFL star turned media personality Sam Newman has hit back after being slammed for a comment he made about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks.
Ardern has been widely praised for how she's dealt with the tragedy that took 50 lives when the Australian accused gunman attacked two mosques last Friday. Preaching a message of inclusion, she has remained stoic and compassionate in the face of a horrible situation.
This week Ardern said her thoughts — and her words — will be reserved for those grieving the dead and she will never "speak his name".
"He sought many things from his act of terror but one was notoriety, that is why you will never hear me mention his name," she said.
"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.
"And to others, I implore you — speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we, in New Zealand, will give nothing — not even his name."
Newman, who was a longtime panellist on the AFL Footy Show before stepping down from the programme at the end of last season, sparked outrage when he criticised Ardern's accent on Twitter after she delivered her powerful message.
Known for his controversial views both on TV and social media, the response to Newman's tweet was overwhelmingly negative. Entertainment reporter Peter Ford said the timing was all wrong for his opinion to be aired in public.
"He tweeted something that I thought, and I like Sam … but even I don't know if I can accept that," Ford said on Perth radio's 6PR Breakfast.
"It's certainly inappropriate given the timing. Is that the best you've got?"
Ford praised Ardern's leadership and said Newman's critique was uncalled for given what she — and the people of New Zealand — have been through in the past week.
"She's been incredibly impressive, so eloquent and compassionate. Just the timing (is wrong)," Ford said.
"Not at the moment, not for her when she's under such pressure and by every account performing incredibly. That's all Sam's got to deliver?"
The backlash on Twitter was savage - including from Kiwis on this side of the Tasman. Less than a day after being posted, Newman's tweet had received more than 1100 comments — and few of them were kind.
Writer Clementine Ford said: "Oh look, the saggy old b***sack is courting controversy again."
But Newman defended himself, doubling down on his position.
The 73-year-old had earlier tweeted his jarring perspective on the Christchurch tragedy when he took aim at Sunrise co-host David Koch and Senator Derryn Hinch for their "cowardly" attacks on One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
Koch confronted Hanson on Channel 7 this week, questioning whether her anti-immigration views had "empowered" white supremacists like the alleged Christchurch shooter. Koch told Hanson that the gunman's manifesto, which the 28-year-old sent to Ardern's office before the attack, "reads like One Nation immigration and Muslim policy".
Hanson rejected the accusations and was called "cowardly" by Hinch when she suggested she would not vote to censure Senator Fraser Anning, who was widely blasted for his comments on the shootings.
Newman stood by Hanson as he ripped into Koch and Hinch.
Newman's latest furore comes after he was blasted for a "disgusting" stunt earlier this month where he dressed up as a woman and made a distasteful joke about "transitioning".
In a video posed on Twitter alongside AFL journalist Mike Sheehan and former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas, Newman was wearing heavy make-up, a white hat and a scarf.
"I think I've run my race as an older male, and I'm thinking of transitioning," the 73-year-old said.
"I think I could feel comforted by being an older female, and it'll work well because my partner is thinking of turning herself into a boy. It doesn't change we're still man and woman."
Newman said he was "going to clean up on world titles as a woman, an older woman" when asked if he was going to compete in the Olympics.
Newman was widely slammed and after the backlash Thomas said he asked for the video to be taken down, but argued Newman was trying to highlight "those men that transition to women for personal gain in sporting events".
Hannah Mouncey, a trans woman who fought to play in the AFLW, led the criticism against the video.