Today is exactly why I never let Yumi Stynes on Studio 10
The way she treated KAK proves Yumi does not belong on morning television.
I have never met Yumi Stynes and for all I know she is a kind, gentle soul who cares deeply for those around her. However, her onscreen persona does not portray her in that light and today’s showdown with Kerri-Anne Kennerley is why I never allowed her to appear on Studio 10 when I was the Executive Producer from 2013 - 2017.
In case you missed the news that has become click bait on every news website (and with good reason I might add), Yumi essentially called Logie Hall Of Fame recipient Kerri-Anne a racist.
The on-air exchange started during a ‘hot topic’ discussion about “Invasion Day” protests, in which thousands of Australians took to the street to call for changing the date of Australia Day.
KAK spoke about the real issues facing indigenous communities and questioned whether the protesters had done anything more than a symbolic protest;
“OK, the 5000 people who went through the streets making their points known, saying how inappropriate the day is. Has any single one of those people been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped? Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done?” asked Kerri-Anne.
Stynes, who is filling in for Angela Bishop, cut in;
“That is not even faintly true Kerri-Anne and you’re sounding quite racist now.”
The studio audience were audibly aghast at the exchange and KAK immediately responded, saying;
“I’m offended by that, Yumi”.
This is the point any other presenter would have taken the chance to soften the blow, seeing that a fellow performer didn’t like how the discussion was going, but not Stynes;
“Well, keep going then, because every time you open your mouth, you’re sounding racist.”
Now, there is an argument over whether she actually meant KAK is racist, but the implication is that Stynes thinks she is and didn’t back down. The producers and executives at 10 might be patting themselves on the back over the amount of publicity this confrontation is generating, but not all publicity is good publicity.
The headlines alone are causing one of their regular presenters serious brand damage;
Yumi Stynes calls Kerri-Anne Kennerley racist in on-air clash over Australia Day - The Guardian
Yumi Stynes v Kerri-Anne: “You’re sounding quite racist right now.” - TV Tonight
Ugly row rocks Studio 10: ‘Every time you open your mouth you’re sounding racist’ - news.com.au
None of these paint KAK in a good light. In fact, they are very damaging, especially when they don’t represent the point she was trying to make. Essentially, she has been thrown under a bus by a co-host and that’s not cool.
That’s not to say heated debates aren’t a good thing on morning TV. Ita Buttrose and Jessica Rowe had some pearlers during my time there, but they were always done with respect and never ended up in name-calling with labels like ‘racist’ being thrown about. Labels like that have the ability to damage a career and it looked like Yumi just didn’t care.
And as for the publicity generated by this argument I only have to take you back to the infamous Brussels sprout headlines. The amount of publicity the show received during that time led to a major decline in audience numbers, a decline that is still being felt today. Where the show was once on track to overtake Today Extra, it is now lucky to still be on the air.
I always had a bad feeling about a personality like Yumi’s being on morning television, especially after the whole Ben Roberts-Smith controversy. After the ability of men like him ‘in the sack’ was questioned by George Negus, Yumi was forced to air an apology on behalf of the program, but she did so half-heartedly.
It wasn’t long after that incident The Circle was cancelled. If Yumi and the producers had handled that whole situation differently the show could still be on air today.
Morning television is like having a cup of coffee with a friend, viewers do not want to watch world war three erupt.
With both Yumi and KAK returning to the panel tomorrow, it will be interesting to see what happens though!