David Koch’s controversial breastfeeding comments were a ‘stunt’

Article by Kristin Shorten /
News.com.au /
January 22, 2013 /
Click here to view original /

SOCIAL commentator says breastfeeding mothers are dummies for being sucked into a Sunrise publicity stunt.

Sunrise co-host David Koch sparked outrage last Friday when he said mothers breastfeeding in public should be “a bit classy”.

He made the remarks after staff at the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre asked Queensland mother Liane Webster to move or stop breastfeeding her baby on the poolside.

Lauren Rosewarne, from University of Melbourne, told news.com.au today that Koch’s comments were “carefully orchestrated” to “irk feminists”.

“Breastfeeding mothers, who are already a well-organised group, seized on an opportunity that was dangled largely in front of them,” she said.

“I was watching (the program) at the time and this was so very obvious.

“Breastfeeding is an important issue but when you bite at this stupidity you downplay other real challenges (for breastfeeding mothers).”

Amy Ahearn, who helped organise the “nurse-in” outside Channel 7’s studios in Sydney, said she may have been sucked in.

“It was well done (if it was a stunt),” she said. “I can’t take too much offence (at being called naïve). I am naïve (about the media) because I don’t work in this field but I’d feel somewhat taken advantage of (if it was a stunt).”

The nursing mum-of-two said she would be disgusted if Seven had taken advantage of such a “vulnerable issue” to raise publicity.

“A lot of mums struggle with breastfeeding and to say that feeding in public is something to be ashamed of for the sake of a television show is pretty disgusting,” she said.

“If that’s the case they’ve also taken advantage of the situation at Bribie Island which is pretty disappointing that they’d use such discrimination for their own publicity.”

Dr Rosewarne said breakfast chat shows were “heavily scripted” right down to the impromptu gags.

“Nothing is off the cuff like that,” she said.

“He knows how inflammatory the breastfeeding stuff is. The second he said it he was lighting the fuse deliberately.

“Five minutes after he said it they started reading the Twitter comments (on air). Why would they do that unless they were trying to create a brew-ha-ha?”

The breakfast chat show declined to respond to the allegations and a spokeswoman said there was nothing “left to say” on the topic.

However, if it was a stunt, it backfired with ratings crashing from 359,000 on Friday to 325,000 yesterday as “lactivists” staged a protest outside the program’s Martin Place studios.

Dr Rosewarne said the stunt was all about brand solidification – not increasing viewers – for Sunrise.

“It’s to remind viewers why they chose him over Karl Stefanovic (on Nine’s breakfast program Today), ‘’ she said.

“They choose Kochie because he ‘dares to go there’.

“I don’t think (the controversy) will change the viewership. Those who like the show will continue watching and those who think he’s a tool will continue to think as much.”

She also doubted Koch’s comments were a true reflection of his views.

“I don’t think Kochie is anti-breastfeeding. He has three daughters.”

“You go back and listen to what he’s said it’s nothing like what the debate’s become.”

But Koch milked the controversy for all it was worth, she said.

“This is what he wanted. You can’t buy this publicity but you can orchestrate it.”

“For an egotist like Kochie, who wouldn’t love to have his giant photo on the front page of the newspaper websites?”