Announcer Erin Molan was simply speaking “gibberish” when she said “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” during an on-air discussion about the names of Pacific Islander football players.
Barrister Kieran Smark SC said his client’s comments were “completely taken out of context” and distorted to make it look like she was mocking the islanders’ names.
Molan is suing Daily Mail Australia for reporting the reaction to her comments during a broadcast of the rugby league program Continuous Call Team on 2GB.
The lawsuit alleges that the publication defamed her in an article and two tweets on June 4 and 5 last year, including accusing her of being racist.
Molan is suing Daily Mail Australia for an article and two tweets from June 4-5, 2020 accusing her of mocking Pacific Islanders’ names by uttering ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ on the radio
Molan is part of Nine Network’s rugby league coverage and hosts the 2Day FM Morning Crew along with Dave Hughes and Ed Kavalee. She is pictured working for Nine
It also claims the 38-year-old was portrayed as so insensitive that she deliberately mocked Pacific Islanders’ names on the sky and then refused to apologize.
Mr. Smark told federal court that the Continuous Call Team was a live, light-hearted, irreverent show with no script.
It was intended to be entertainment ‘about sports in a sense’, but with a panel of presenters discussing sometimes totally unrelated matters.
Mr Smark played a short clip for Judge Robert Bromwich that was selected ‘almost at random’, which included panelists talking about scented candles, putting hail in the freezer and Molan leaving her mobile phone on the roof of her car.
“They were silly shows in a way,” Mr. Smark said. “To the extent that it was a target for humor, it was the participants themselves or their media colleagues.”
The first Daily Mail Australia article accused Molan of mocking the islanders’ names by uttering ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ on a broadcast on May 30 last year.
Erin Molan is said to have mocked the names of Pacific Islander NRL players live on 2GB radio as part of The Continuous Call Team. She is pictured with the show’s current host, Mark Levy
Mr Smark said Molan had said “some gibberish syllables” while referring to a “funny story” previously told on the air.
“What happened has been completely taken out of context and distorted by the Daily Mail and what that did in turn caused a frenzy on social media,” said Mr Smark.
Mr Smark said Molan was subsequently the subject of criticism on social media platforms, including from a user who called her a “racist titled mutt.”
“She was very upset by what was being said about her,” Mr. Smark said.
Both Nine Entertainment, owner of 2GB, and Molan herself said her “hooka looka” comment referred to a story fellow broadcaster Darryl Brohman told on April 5.
Brohman had discussed a debate between father and son commentators Ray and Chris Warren about how to pronounce the name of Haumole Olakau’atu, a male attacker of Tongan descent.
“His name was about 30 letters and I was having a hard time pronouncing it, so I asked Chris, ‘How do you pronounce this guy’s name?'” Brohman said.
“He said, ‘Well, Dad and I discussed this today… and Dad thought his name was Chuka-lala-lulu.
“And I said, ‘Well, Dad, I think it’s Chuka-lala-lulalulalo, and he says, ‘Chris, that’s not right—it’s Chukaka-lulalulalo.'”
Molan alleges that Daily Mail Australia additionally defamed her by claiming she refused to apologize for deliberately mocking Pacific Islanders’ names with her ‘hooka looka’ comment
Mr. Smark said Brohman also told the story on October 5, 2019 and April 12 last year, it was well known to listeners on the Continuous Call Team and Molan’s response to it was not part of an “inside joke.”
Molan had apologized to 2GB in case anyone was offended by her “innocent, funny or unfunny attempt at funny” comment which she described as “clumsy and inappropriate”.
“The last thing she tried to do was try to mock,” Mr. Smark said. “That wasn’t her concern at all.”
Molan claims Daily Mail Australia portrayed her as “a racist” and an “arrogant white privileged woman” who refused to apologize for deliberately mocking the islanders’ names.
The publication in its defense argued that these allegations were essentially true and that her conduct on the air was “objectively racist.”
NRL players of Polynesian descent represent a significant portion of the athletes in the competition, the defense argues.
Daily Mail Australia argues in defense that the Continuous Call Team program is “often engaged in discussions of racist content”.
Both Nine Entertainment, owner of 2GB, and Molan herself said her “hooka looka” commentary referenced a story fellow broadcaster Darryl Brohman told on air on April 5 last year.
“Sometimes this has included mocking ethnicities, especially names of Pacific Islanders and Maoris,” the defense statement reads.
Molan alleges that Daily Mail Australia also defamed her by claiming she refused to apologize for deliberately mocking Pacific Islanders’ names with her “hooka looka” comment.
She claims the articles also portrayed her as “so disrespectful and incompetent that she is unfit to be an NRL commentator.”
Molan said in a tweet the ‘hooka looka’ comment regarding ‘a story Darryl [Brohman] talks about Chris Warren and his father from a dragon game last year’.
She claims the article and tweets have “seriously injured her in her character and in her personal and professional reputation.”
‘[She] has suffered pain and shame and has suffered and will continue to suffer loss and damage.”
Daily Mail Australia rejected this in its defense and ‘denies’ [Molan] entitled to the claimed remission or not at all’.
Molan is part of Nine Network’s rugby league coverage and hosts the 2Day FM Morning Crew along with Dave Hughes and Ed Kavalee.
Both Nine Entertainment, owner of 2GB, and Molan herself said her “hooka looka” comment referred to a story fellow broadcaster Darryl Brohman told on air on April 5 last year. Molan is pictured with fellow Nine commentators Wally Lewis (center) and Darren Lockyer