An insider at The Project has claimed Channel 10’s flagship talk show is being trashed by sloppy production values and editorial standards.
The ‘Jesus’ joke disaster – where gay comedian Reuben Kaye offended Christians by saying ‘I love any man who can get nailed for three days straight and come back for more’ – would have been easily avoided in previous years, the source told Daily Mail Australia.
The informant said The Project used to pre-record 90 per cent of all interviews with potentially controversial performers such as Kaye, for the simple reason they could edit out anything offensive.
And on the occasion an ‘edgy’ guest wasn’t available for a pre-record, the hosts would be meticulously briefed, allowing them to ‘neutralise any situations like that, intervene if necessary and apologise if needed… not laugh like Sarah Harris or sit stony-faced like Waleed’.
But on Tuesday night Kaye’s joke went to air live and uncensored with co-host Sarah Harris doubling up with laughter while her Muslim colleague Waleed Aly looking on shocked, sparking a firestorm.
The Project insider said the car crash that was comedian Reuben Kaye’s Jesus joke interview on Tuesday night (above) would never have happened under old standards which dictated that 90pc of ‘red flag’ interviews were pre-records
In previous times (above old The Project panel of which Waleed Aly is the only survivor) in the rare case an edgy interview wasn’t pre-recorded ‘the hosts would be meticulously briefed’ to allow them ‘to neutralise any situation, intervene if necessary and apologise if needed’
The insider said they ‘can’t understand why Reuben Kaye’s interview wasn’t pre-recorded when it was an obvious “red flag interview”.
‘In the few cases (before) an interview like that would be done live, the hosts would normally be well primed beforehand.
‘If the interview was done live because that was only time (Reuben Kaye) was available, why weren’t Sarah Harris and Waleed Aly more prepared?
‘It’s yet another sign of the slipping professionalism on the show, the declining standards of 10, sloppiness and, frankly, their general slack approach.’
The backlash from Muslims and Christians offended and outraged by the joke was swift and brutal, forcing the Harris and Aly to issue a lengthy and grovelling on-air apology on Wednesday.
This retreat comes at a time when the left-leaning current affairs program is bleeding viewers in the wake of the high profile departures of Carrie Bickmore, Lisa Wilkinson and Peter Helliar.
And it inspired calls for an end to the show with a #CancelThe Project hashtag trending on Twitter.
High profile Nine Network star Omar Slaimankhel joined the chorus of critics to stick the boot into The Project.
Slaimankhel, who last year became the biggest winner in the history of The Block with his mate Ozman ‘Oz’ Abu Malik after being the first Muslim team to join the hit renovation show, was not impressed with Wednesday night’s apology.
He accused Harris of hypocrisy for laughing at the off-colour joke only to apologise for it 24 hours later when she realised some viewers found it offensive.
He posted a screenshot on Instagram of the pair’s stony-faced apology, and wrote: ‘She was p****ing herself laughing and now wants to apologise.’
Instead of being meticulously briefed and prepared, co-anchors Waleed Aly (left) and Sarah Harris (right) were forced to issue a grovelling on-air apology on Wednesday for offending Muslim and Christian viewers
This apology didn’t go down well with Omar Slaimankhel (left), who last year became the biggest winner in the history of The Block with his mate Ozman ‘Oz’ Abu Malik (right)
Slaimankhel also called The Project ‘trash TV’ for giving a platform to an anti-religious comedian like Kaye.
Meanwhile, Aly and Harris’ on-air apology seems to have done little to stem the tide of criticism from members of the Christian and Muslim communities – who are already planning protests at Channel 10’s headquarters.
The show’s social media posts are being spammed with the hashtags #CancelTheProject and #BoycottTheProject in what is a seemingly organised effort.
Addressing the inappropriate joke on Wednesday, Aly began: ‘During an interview last night, our guest told a joke which we know was deeply and needlessly offensive to many of you.
‘We want to acknowledge the particular offense that caused our Muslim viewers but especially our Christian viewers.
‘Obviously I understand just how profound that offence was.’
Slaimankhel accused Harris of hypocrisy for laughing at the off-colour joke only to apologise for it 24 hours later when she realised some viewers found it offensive (left). He also called The Project ‘trash TV’ for giving a platform to an anti-religious comedian like Kaye (right)
The show’s social media posts are being spammed with the hashtags #CancelTheProject and #BoycottTheProject in what is seemingly an organised effort
Harris, who had burst out laughing after the joke, then joined in.
‘Live TV is unpredictable and when this happened in the last few moments of last night’s show, it took us all by surprise, there wasn’t a lot of time to react in any sort of considered way,’ she said.
Aly insisted it took the program’s producers and panel by surprise.
‘It’s fair to say we weren’t expecting a comment like that to be made,’ he said.
‘We wouldn’t normally broadcast a comment like that. We acknowledge the offence it caused and more than that we’re sorry.’
Daily Mail Australia sought responses from Channel 10 and The Project since Wednesday’s apology, asking if standards of preparation on the program have changed, and why the hosts were not primed to handle Kaye’s off-colour joke.
Network 10 said The Project had provided on-air apology on Wednesday.
Harris (left), who had burst out laughing after the joke, backpedalled on Wednesday by saying, ‘It took us all by surprise, there wasn’t a lot of time to react in any sort of considered way’
The joke was met with major backlash on social media.
‘What a disgusting joke about Jesus, and The Project team just giggled and did not say anything. So offended by your inaction,’ one viewer wrote.
Another said: ‘Actually a filthy joke about Jesus. I’m all for being who you wanna be, but that’s too far.’
A third said: ‘Interesting to see Waleed’s reaction to that joke! He knew it was inappropriate! Project is so desperate these days!’
But others thought the lewd gag was hilarious.
One person said: ‘I can’t believe Rueben Kaye just said that on national, prime-time television. What an icon!’
Other positive comments included, ‘I nearly pissed myself,’ and, ‘That was gold, the best thing on The Project in months!’
Kaye is known for his crude humour which he combines with singing and all-around showmanship in his comedy shows.
He is embarking on a national tour set to feature an array of jokes centered around touchy subjects sexuality and racism.
‘I want to poke the bear,’ he said. ‘I’m so thickly spread around this country that I might as well be systemic racism.’