Former broadcaster George ‘furious’ at media reaction to his rape comments: ‘I was angry as hell...they compared me to Harvey Weinstein’
The former radio presenter and TV pundit also reveals he was dramatically confronted by his wife and daughters over controversial remarks he made about rape in 2017, which ultimately led to the end of his media career.
In his first TV appearance in more than five years, the former rugby pundit insists that there is a place in broadcasting for the likes of him “and Kevin Meyers and Joe Brolly”.
And the 81-year-old rages against The Irish Times for equating him to film producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.
Hook was initially suspended from his radio show on Newstalk in September 2017 over controversial comments he made then about rape, and was later replaced by Ciara Kelly.
The Cork-born star has not appeared on either radio or television since.
Women’s groups at the time were up in arms over his remarks relating to a UK rape case, when he questioned why the woman had gone back to the hotel room of a man she had just met, asking: “Is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?”.
In a TV debate about cancel culture with Tuam comedian Martin ‘Beanz’ Ward, Hook brings up his sacking and how he was tempted to sue for libel.
“Like, The Irish Times famously compared me to Harvey Weinstein,” he says.
“I had, and it cost me my job, certain views that when we send our girls out we have a responsibility to tell them that if they have 10 vodkas they are not in a good position to defend themselves against predatory men, and I was viewed as I was sort of supporting rape culture, rape.”
He admits he was furious at the media backlash.
“The point I’m trying to make is ‘was I offended?’. Of course I was offended, of course I was offended. Did I do anything about it, which I probably could have done, no.”
He says he was furious about the way he was portrayed in the media following his comments.
“I was angry as hell. The thing is, I think there is a place for George Hook, there is a place for Kevin Meyers, there is a place for you (Ward),” he notes.
Hook points out there are ways to fight back, but says his wife and children persuaded him not to go down the legal route.
“There is. It’s called the law of libel. When The Irish Times compared me to Harvey Weinstein, I had the right to take an action,” he says.
“It is now incumbent on the newspaper, the radio, or the television to give the alternative view.”
Hook admits that he toyed with the idea of suing The Irish Times, but was persuaded not to by his family.
“I’m taken out by wife and my two daughters and they said ‘Pop, if you think for one minute you are dragging the entire family through all this horse manure again just for you to try and get some kind of release, it’s not going to happen, Pop’.”
On Virgin Media’s ‘Eating With The Enemy’ programme, Hook still appears to be sticking by his guns that women need to take more responsibility and urges them not to get drunk on nights out on the town.
“There have been some famous rape cases in the last number of years, in which there have been girls who literally did not know where they were. Were they taken advantage of? Absolutely.
"Should those guys have gone to jail? Absolutely. All those things are a given,” he reflects.
“Now, do you tell your daughter as she goes out, ‘sweetheart don’t have 25 vodkas, it’s not a smart idea’.”
At the beginning of the show, which centres on two diners with conflicting opinions, Hook describes himself as “very poor in Cork and now living happily here with a tonne of money in Dublin”.
He adds: “My mother thought I was born in a stable in Bethlehem, she did not train me for marriage. I am undisputedly a “s..h..one..t’.
“There are no opinions anymore. If everybody who writes and talks is afraid to say what they truly believe, then we are in a bad way. Nobody is going to change my mind on it.”
He tells Ward that people can be too cautious about offending others.
“There’s two great words that immediately shut down all discussion. One word starts with ‘R’. If you say ‘that’s racist’, and now you’ve no comeback,” he insists.
“And the second one deployed brilliantly by Fianna Fáil politicians I find, is ‘that’s Trumpism’. If you’re accused of ‘Trumpism’, there’s no way back.
“I didn’t do anything. I just became a retired broadcaster. This isn’t about George Hook, Joe Brolly, Kevin Meyers, the list goes on.”
Ward (37), who has no children, brings up the topic of feminism.
“All the women in my life, family, dating, marriage, have all been incredibly strong women,” Hook points out.
“I’m a huge fan of women. If I had this affliction while I was a child of wearing women’s underwear, I may be a feminist. I think the interesting thing about that, in today’s world, if they had discovered that 70-year-old George was wearing women’s knickers I would then get injected with some sort of stuff to help me transition to transgender. It is true. Do you think that’s not happening?”
When Ward argues that Hook is conflating transgenderism and crossdressing and they’re two different things, Hook insists “they’re not”.
The topic of abortion is also addressed.
“This foetus is our child as well as the woman’s child,” maintains Hook.
While he confirms that women have a right to choose, he discloses he is fundamentally opposed to abortion.
“I have a religious objection to abortion. In the referendum I voted against abortion, but what I believe in, absolutely, equally, passionately is the right of the Irish people and they have and are happy with it,” he adds.
“I voted against abortion, but I voted for gay marriage.”
As a former businessman the former rugby analyst says he became suicidal when his company went down the tubes.
“My biggest regret is pretty simple, and it’s why I’m so passionate about career guidance,” he remarks.
“ My biggest regret is to go into a business because I wanted to show people how good I was, whereas out of two million people you couldn’t pick a worse businessman than me.
“I wasted 25 years in my life in business. It drove me to Dun Laoghaire pier, to take my clothes and plan on diving in and ending it all. The trauma of the 25 years, damage to marriage, family, relationships with friends, my own self esteem…20 years of so-called success doesn’t fix that.”
Hook then becomes emotional when talking about his late mother.
“There’s two things in my life I carry in my head,” he says. “Every day of my life I think about the wasted 25 years, and I think of my mother, who adored me as an only child, she loved me, she got me to school and all that sort of thing.
“Then I treated her like crap. She was old, and then she was dying. That was all happening at a time when I was avoiding the cops and the creditors and the Revenue Commissioners and everybody and I didn’t give my mother the time.
“Here was this woman who has done everything, everything, and I’m not there.
“It’s why I believe in Heaven, because I’m going to get there, and she is going to be there. Peter is going to say at the gate, ‘George your mother is over there’. And I’m going to go over and ‘Howya Mam, I’m really sorry. I came good in the end, fulfilled your beliefs’. I mean that, there isn’t a trace of pretence about that. I believe that, every day of my life.”