A RADIO producer who was labelled the “most hated guy in Australia” when his ill-timed stunt went viral for all the wrong reasons has described the time as the worst experience of his life.
Intern Pete, a producer at The Kyle and Jackie O show, whose real name is Peter Deppeler, hijacked former cricket captain Steve Smith’s press conference in March in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.
“Mate I’ve got to tell you … hold your head high for what you have done because what’s actually been worse is what Davina and Dean did on Married At First Sight,” he said to a teary Smith at the time.
Deppeler copped nationwide abuse for the statement.
That was emotional stuff from Steve Smith. Well done. He’ll be back. As for Intern Pete from @kyleandjackieo show that was embarrassing. Pull your head in you moron.— Cameron Phelps (@phelpsy6)
Reflecting on the footage for the first time, he opened up about the incident on Disgrace!, a panel show hosted by former Labor politician and self-titled “Chinese stooge” Sam Dastyari.
It is one of eight new shows that will air as part of Pilot Week on Channel 10.
“I’ve never been able to bring myself to go back and watch it to be honest,” he said on the new pilot, which airs on Sunday night.
Dastyari, who had his own fall from grace after being embroiled in a Chinese business donations scandal back in 2017, interjected saying “can we watch it again?”
But it was no laughing matter.
After an awkward exchange of forced laughs by the panel which included Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice, communications strategist Greg Baxter and comedian Becky Lucas,
Deppeler revealed just how badly the tirade abuse affected him.
<i>Disgrace</i> to speak about his controversial question to former cricket captain Steve Smith.’ width=’650′ />
“To be honest and I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, but it was the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.
“And you know what, I asked the question, I went on the press conference but I didn’t want to be told I should get murdered or want to hang myself before, get HIV and die tomorrow.
“It was s**t, it was really s**t, but we’ve got to push through.”
Deppeler got kicked out of the press conference immediately after his comment, but it wasn’t until he checked his mobile when he realised the severity of his actions.
“I looked at my phone and there was almost 300 text messages from friends and family,” he said.
“The thing that shocked me the most, say on Facebook you get a comment or a message and you click on their profile and you’re like ‘oh that’s a mother with three kids’ or ‘that’s a 14 year old kid who just told you to go hang yourself’ and you think ‘oh my God, this is our culture, this is our world’.”
Panellist and comedian Becky Lucas admitted she didn’t like Deppeler for what he did, particularly because it was “hard enough watching Smith cry and in such a vulnerable state.”
“I don’t even know what you said, I just remember thinking, ‘why would you say anything in this moment’, it’s already so tense and awful.”
“But when I rewatched it, it’s not that bad and like everything it just wasn’t that big of a deal and I could see what you were doing at the time and you just misread it a bit.”
Rice, who too was at the centre of controversy back in 2010 for a homophobic slur on Twitter, also jumped to Deppeler’s defence.
“If I were in Steve’s position I would have hated what you did, because you are so vulnerable but at the same time I don’t think what you said was disrespectful, it was more just the timing of saying it in that situation.”
In an exclusive interview with news.com.au after the controversy, Deppeler said that upon reflection it wasn’t the best time to ask such a lighthearted question.
“I just wanted to let him know that it truly wasn’t the end of the world.”
“It wasn’t my intention to make light of his personal situation, but to show him that the millions of Australians who aren’t obsessed with cricket empathise with him. But timing is everything and, on reflection, it wasn’t the best time to ask that.”
Kyle Sandilands had addressed calls for Deppeler to be sacked and Cricket Australia’s decision to pull advertising from ARN in the wake of the scandal, declaring he couldn’t “give a s**t”.
“What if Intern Pete actually took his own life after the weekend? … It’s dangerous!” he ranted.
“ … They [haters] want his mother dead. What sort of people are these people? It’s a f**king game … This kid could have killed himself over the weekend because of all the hell he’s been put through. Imagine if he’d taken his own life because some flog somewhere who’s so obsessed with cricket wanted him dead?”
Admittedly, Kyle and Jackie O had no idea of what he was planning to do at the conference, but said they supported him anyway.
“Who cares? It’s a cricket game at the end of the day … he got death threats, people threatened Intern Pete with death — these are loons,” Kyle said at the time.
“We didn’t know he was going to [ask the question], but I still support him — I couldn’t give a s**t.”
The next program to air on Network 10’s Pilot Week is Drunk History featuring Stephen Curry.
The shows are basically auditioning for a permanent spot on our screens and Channel 10 says it will use “audience reaction, social media buzz and ratings” to determine which of the eight shows are popular enough to be given a full run on air next year.
— Sam Dastyari’s show, Disgrace!, featuring Intern Pete, airs on Channel 10 on Sunday night at 8.30.
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