Leigh Sales Spills On Who Could Replace Dumped ABC Boss Michelle Guthrie
Leigh Sales has weighed in on possible replacements for former ABC head Michelle Guthrie, noting at least one of them "has media experience."
Speaking on Studio 10 on Monday morning, the highly-respected ABC presenter joked that former Nine boss David Gyngell, whose name has been thrown around, could well be a replacement.
Studio 10 host Sarah Harris also mentioned Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate, but the person who has Sales' backing is David Anderson, the head of ABC TV and the current acting manager in Guthrie's absence.
"He is somebody who I think is in the Mark Scott mould," said Sales, referring to the boss prior to Guthrie.
"I thought Scott was an excellent managing director, so maybe in the sake of stability they're going to stay with Anderson, I don't know. They're going to have a process, so we'll have to see. All I know is, I know what I'm doing."
Studio 10 presenter Joe Hildebrand suggested that Guthrie was hired to be "trendy" in hiring a woman, but Sales refuted that.
"I think on paper, everyone is trying to deal with this digitisation, the business model of media being broken... wouldn't you think that on paper she would look like a good candidate?" she said, pointing to Guthrie's previous experience as a Google executive.
The 7.30 presenter also offered some behind-the-scenes views of the unfolding situation, which dominated headlines for most of last week and has prompted stern words from the prime minister himself.
"At 7.30, I'm sort of left alone, with me and my executive produce and our team to do what we do. Those big picture things around restructuring and pulling the ABC into the modern age for digitalisation, is not really my area, so I'm watching that stuff as an observer," she said.
"But from my perspective, like every ABC managing director really, when they're doing the job, they have critics, they have backers... I certainly didn't realise it was as bad as what it suddenly unfolded to be."
ABC chairman Justin Milne resigned last week after leaked emails reportedly showed he'd called for top reporters Emma Alberici and Andrew Probyn to be sacked because the Coalition government didn't like them.
The full story of what happened is not yet clear, said Sales, but she thinks the secrecy of the board's operations and how it relates to impartial reporting is "unsettling" for Australians.
"At the ABC, we're all the time holding the blow torch on other people, so we can't then go, oh well, sorry, confidential," she said.
"You've got to be a bit transparent about it."
Earlier in the program, Sales had spoken about the terrifying moment she almost died while giving birth to her second son.
"I was just gripped by this blinding pain, and was rushed into the [operating] theatre," she said.
"I'd had this terrible hemorrhage, and [my baby] had been deprived of oxygen. I couldn't see him for a few days because I was so sick and he was so sick. It was just an absolutely horrendous experience. It made me really grapple with my own mortality."
Her own brush with death -- and her nightly experience on 7.30 of speaking with people experiencing trauma -- inspired her to write her new book, Any Ordinary Day, about resilience and healing.
"They wake up, it's an ordinary day, you eat your breakfast and go about your business, and then something happens and it's the day that changes your life irrevocably," she said.
"It's very uncomfortable to think about , but we're all as vulnerable as the next person."
Her book looks at her own experiences of trauma, as well as talking to people who have experienced the worst things imaginable: losing loved ones in Port Arthur, for example, or the Thredbo landslide.
"You look at some of these people in the news and think, how could you ever go on from that?," she said.
"And the reality is, you have to."
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Lead image: Ten.