Graham Norton cancels social media after ‘misstep’ towards JK Rowling

Watch part of Graham Norton's interview

Source: Times Radio

Britain’s most beloved, award-winning TV talk-show host, Graham Norton, has been compelled to delete his social media account after commenting on trans issues and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Asked by interviewer Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in the UK on October 11 to discuss cancel culture, Norton, 59,  said accountability by famous people for their words and actions was better than “cancel” culture.

The literary festival prides itself on “leading the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers”.

“You read a lot of articles in papers by people complaining about cancel culture and you think, ‘In what world are you cancelled?’,” questioned the openly gay, award-winning Irish author.

“I’m reading your article in a newspaper, or you’re doing interviews about how terrible it is to be cancelled? I think the word is the wrong word. I think the word should be ‘accountability’.”

When thrown a question about author JK Rowling, who regularly faces “anger, rage and attempts at censorship” for her views on transgender people, Norton replied: “What I feel weird about this is when I’m asked about it, then I become part of this discussion.”

“All I’m painfully aware of is that my voice adds nothing to that discussion. I’m sort of embarrassed that I’m somehow drawn into it.

“And if people want to shine a light on those issues, and I hope people do, then talk to trans people. Talk to the parents of trans kids. Talk to doctors. Talk to psychiatrists. Talk to someone who can illuminate this in some way.

“I’m very aware as ‘bloke off the telly’, your voice can be artificially amplified. Once in a blue moon, that can be good. But most of the time it’s just a distraction.”

Although he received widespread support for talking about the issue and deferring to experts for comment, when singer-songwriter Billy Bragg‘s post which went viral, Rowling was quick to respond.

“Very much enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats to those who dare disagree,” Rowling tweeted.

A fearless live performer and long-time political campaigner, Bragg angrily fired back: “I’m not complaining that you have a view, JK. I’m complaining that you conflate my view with support for rape and death threats.

“I have never expressed such sentiments and if you had any self respect you would apologise for making such a blatantly inflammatory accusation.”

The Spectator weighed in, saying Norton “dodged the issue” when asked about the “slurs and threats that are frequently fired at JK Rowling”.

“He was making fun of ‘men of a certain age’ like John Cleese who complain about being cancelled. Then the host, Mariella Frostrup, brilliantly turned it around,” wrote Brendan O’Neill.

“Norton ridiculed the entire concept of cancel culture.

“Old blokes are an ‘easy target’,” she said. What about JK Rowling? she asked, a woman who is ‘deluged with … anger, rage and attempts at censorship’?

“Norton’s response? A flat, perfunctory ‘Yeah’ and then he moved on to talk about the need for more expert commentary over celebrity chatter.

“It was a stunning misstep for such a seasoned broadcaster,” he said.

Frostrup was “delighted to spawn” the Spectator piece, sharing it on her Twitter account.

“Still baffled by the four millions views of my interview clip but delighted to spawn this interesting piece. Why won’t Graham Norton speak up for JK Rowling?” she wrote.

‘Hounded off Twitter’

London-based columnist and author Owen Jones echoed the sentiment of many who were following the heated debate.

“All Graham Norton did is suggest we should listen to trans people and their parents when discussing trans issues.

“He specifically made it clear he didn’t want to be directly involved in the discussion.

“For that, he’s been hounded off Twitter by anti-trans activists,” he wrote.

This from Irish drag queen Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera: “Graham Norton, asked about JK Rowling in a public interview, gives a thoughtful reply not even mentioning her, and simply says journalists should talk to experts and trans people about trans issues.

“JKR responds by sneeringly trashing Graham.”

Another saying “what a world we live in when you can’t even say, ‘listen to the experts’, without being hounded off Twitter”.

Norton explained it best, giving context to his comments, saying you don’t need Graham Norton in the headline: “You don’t need to attach a Kardashian, or whatever, to a serious subject, the subject should be enough in itself.

“Can we rustle up some … experts and talk to them rather than a man in a shiny pink suit.”

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.