Tom Ballard ‘sorry’ for Hitler gag

Triple J host Tom Ballard has apologised following an “inappropriate” Holocaust-related joke on yesterday’s breakfast show.

Joined by former Spicks and Specks presenter Alan Brough, Ballard and co-host Alex Dyson took part in a game called “Six Degrees of Hitleration”, which involves linking objects to Hitler in just six steps. The game is part of Brough’s “satirical politics quiz”, which has been running at Bella Union in Melbourne each Friday in August.

Ballard was tasked with connecting Hitler to wind farms, which he did using the example of fan-forced ovens, which in turn connected to the ovens Hitler used to incinerate victims during the Holocaust. The segment, and Ballard’s gag in particular, was roundly criticised on triple j’s Facebook page.

“I’m disgusted, sickened, saddened and mad as hell at JJJ who, this morning for laughs, played a game linking objects to Hitler,” wrote one irate listener, later suggesting that Ballard visit the Holocaust Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick. Another said that “Hitler’s rampage and slaughter of six million people is NOTHING TO JOKE about”.

But while Ballard’s response to the feedback was initially dismissive – “Dude, if you don’t like the show, just don’t listen. It’s profoundly easy,” he wrote to one listener on Twitter – the presenter has since apologised for the joke.

“I’m very sorry that on my breakfast radio program, I offended and upset a lot of people,” read a statement from Ballard issued to media today. “That’s not what I like doing; I like making people laugh and I like making people happy. I never set out to vindictively offend or belittle anyone or any group with my comedy, that’s not what I’m about. I sincerely apologize that’s how I came across in this instance.”

Ballard’s apology has also been reiterated by triple j this afternoon: “On Thursday morning’s breakfast show, some comments were made by a triple j presenter in relation to Hitler that have received a negative reaction. Further to our post yesterday on Facebook, triple j takes all complaints seriously. We recognise the concerns regarding the comments are serious. triple j agrees the comments made were inappropriate. The matter has been followed up with the Breakfast team. triple j regrets the matter and apologises unreservedly for any offence caused.”