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Channel 4 News hire ‘security specialists’ after presenter Cathy Newman threatened over interview with psychology professor

By James Walker

Channel 4 News has hired security specialists to analyse threats to presenter Cathy Newman following an interview with a psychology professor about gender politics.

Newman discussed trans issues with professor Jordan Peterson, a psychologist known for his opposition to transphobia laws in Canada, earlier this week.

Shortly after the interview, a clip of Newman appearing stumped by Peterson’s argument for freedom of speech went viral.

At the time of writing, the 30-minute interview has amassed more than 1.5m views on the Channel 4 News Youtube channel. 

Speaking about the response to the interview, Channel 4 News editor Ben De Pear tweeted: “Our Channel 4 News onscreen journalists expect to be held to account for their journalism but the level of vicious misogynistic abuse, nastiness, and threat to Cathy Newman is an unacceptable response to a robust and engaging debate with Jordan B Peterson.

Such is the scale of threat we at Channel 4 News are having to get security specialists in to carry out an analysis. I will not hesitate to get the police involved if necessary. What a terrible indictment of the times we live in.”

In a statement, a Channel 4 News spokesperson said: “Following her interview with Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson broadcast earlier this week, our presenter Cathy Newman has been the target of unwarranted and unacceptable misogynistic abuse and threats.

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“As journalists in the public eye, our presenters expect criticism, but we will not tolerate this level of abuse towards our staff. We have taken immediate steps to ensure Cathy’s safety and security and continue to offer her our full support on this matter.”

Although some viewers criticised Newman’s approach, Peterson himself has said she took him to task in “quite the goddamn interview”.

At one point Newman accuses Peterson of “stirring people up”, adding: “Any critics of you online get absolutely lambasted by your followers.”

Referring to Peterson’s rejection of a Canadian bill requiring people to refer to transexuals by their preferred pronouns, Newman asked: “Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans person’s right not to be offended?”

Peterson replied: “In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. Look at the conversation we’re having right now. You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth.

“Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable.”

He later added: “You get my point. You’re doing what you should do, which is digging a bit to see what the hell’s going on.

“But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me and that’s fine. More power to you, as far as I’m concerned.”

Newman then struggled to put a comeback together, saying: “You have got me.”

Tweeting in support of his colleague, Channel 4 presenter Matt Frei said: “Whatever your views of Cathy Newman interview any kind of abuse on social media is just unacceptable. Enough.”

Press Gazette has contacted Peterson’s UK spokesperson for comment.

Picture: Channel 4 News / Screengrab

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