A senior ABC journalist was caught criticizing Sky News presenter Sharri Markson, calling her “unhinged” in an embarrassing hot mic debacle.
Stephen Dziedzic, ABC’s foreign affairs reporter, shared his thoughts with other journalists on everything from the management of the station to the stars of ABC before a news conference attended by Defense Minister, Richard Marles, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Brisbane on Saturday.
But the hapless reporter was completely unaware that his words were being broadcast directly to rival newsrooms across the country.
In a recording of the episode, first published By news.com.au political editor Samantha Maiden, Mr Dziedic can be heard grudgingly acknowledging to other journalists that Ms Markson may be onto something with her reporting on the origins of the covid-19 pandemic .
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Stephen Dziedzic (pictured), ABC’s foreign affairs reporter, has been caught criticizing Sky News presenter Sharri Markson, calling her “unhinged” in an embarrassing hot-mic debacle.
Ms Markson (pictured) responded on her show Monday night, describing the comments as “defamatory”.
That morning, the Sky News presenter had published a front-page exclusive in The Weekend Australian on the theory that the virus emerged as a result of a laboratory leak.
“She’s like a pit bull and she’s so unhinged, but she could still be right,” says Mr. Dziedzic.
He then acknowledges that he “remembers being super dismissive of that” theory.
“That was the craziest thing in history,” adds Dziedzic.
“I was too influenced by the fact that these were really nasty, crazy people who were so down the rabbit hole. I probably didn’t look at it dispassionately enough.
Ms Markson responded to her show on Monday night, describing the comments as “defamatory”.
‘Calling me crazy and Pitbull? Well, I describe my investigative book, my features, my documentary, my dozens of world-exclusive articles as careful and forensic,” says Ms. Markson.
Journalists were chewing on the fat ahead of a news conference involving Defense Minister Richard Marles and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Brisbane on Saturday, unaware their words were being broadcast to newsrooms across the country.
She adds: ‘ABC is meant to serve the public interest and public interest journalism and the origins of the pandemic, what was unfolding in Wuhan is absolutely what was in the public interest with seven million people now dead. .
“But this shocking admission that a journalist did not consider or investigate it for ideological reasons… is a disservice to our society and it is a shame that public interest journalism was not pursued.”
The conversation between Dziedzic, The Australian foreign affairs and defense correspondent Ben Packham and The Sydney Morning Herald foreign affairs reporter Matthew Knott turns to the decision to sack former ABC political editor Andrew Probyn.
“It was the worst decision we’ve ever made,” says Mr. Dziedzic.
He then suggests that it would have been “super awkward” between Mr Probyn and Insiders presenter David Speers, who was cast in a similar role.
Mr Knott, who is in his mid-thirties, then complains about the number of new “young people” working at ABC’s Canberra bureau who don’t recognize who, he suggests, might have been hired to “make TikTok”.
“They all have like 70 thousand dollars, probably four or five of them would have been Probes (salary),” he says.
Dziedzic suggests there is a real “generation gap” in the ABC Canberra newsroom.
Sky News presenter Ms Markson had published a front-page exclusive in The Weekend Australian that morning on the theory that the virus arose as a result of a laboratory leak.
Matthew Knott (pictured), foreign affairs reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, was also recorded sharing his views on ABC’s decision to sack political editor Andrew Probyn.
“There was a generational divide and it was the worst, whoever leaked to our dear friends at The Australian,” he laughs.
‘It would be hypocritical if I complained about the leaks. But like, people in the office feel personally attacked, right? So we had this horrible, bloody meeting literally afterwards. It was just terrifying. I don’t think it was a diversity thing, I really don’t think so.
He then says there were “major editorial disagreements” between Probyn and ABC bureau chief Michelle Ainsworth, with the decision to let him go ultimately “personal”.
The chat then turns into an interview that new Q&A host Patricia Karvelas did with US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy on ABC Breakfast Radio.
Mr. Packham asks the ABC reporter what he thinks of Ms. Karvelas.
Dziedzic notes that some listeners who are “loyal” to former RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly are “hostile” to Karvelas and he doesn’t know why.
‘What’s the feeling at ABC about your Patricia kind of thing everywhere?’ Packham then asks.
“There is a level of cynicism,” replies the ABC reporter.
“I mean, honestly, there’s a bit of the high poppy in that stuff too, like, people… people are just jealous. I like P.K. I think he probably drifts a bit, but he also works fucking hard, which not everyone at ABC does.
An ABC spokesman said: ‘ABC has learned of a conversation between members of the press gallery, including an ABC staff member, which was captured on live microphone before the start of a press conference.
‘We are urgently investigating the matter. The ABC has a very clear code of conduct. You are also required to follow due process in personnel matters, including confidentiality.’