'Waging War': Chris Uhlmann Takes Down Media Over Leadership Spill
"People have to see this for what it is."
As the country watches the Liberal Party fracture before its eyes, the Australian people are getting caught in the crossfire, with daggers pointed at parts of the media.
Veteran political journalist Chris Uhlmann on Thursday delivered a scathing attack on coverage of the leadership spill from conservative commentators, accusing the likes of News Corp newspapers, Sky News evening presenters and 2GB radio hosts for “waging a war against the prime minister”.
“Unfortunately the people in the media who yell the loudest seem to have the biggest glass jaws when you point this out, but everyone, from the prime minister, has pointed out to me that there is a campaign being waged against them,” Uhlmann told the Nine Network's Today.
“They’re not just commentators, they are players … and they are part of the story.”
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That story, and speculation around the Prime Minister being toppled, has for some time been a talking point for the media. But things took a dangerous turn on Wednesday night when news circulated of a petition reportedly pushing the PM to order a party room meeting to face a second leadership challenge from rival Peter Dutton.
It began with the likes of this tweet from 2GB radio host Alan Jones.
“Get ready. Party room meeting tonight,” the radio host tweeted. “Goodbye Malcolm who doesn’t have the numbers.”
What followed were a series of tweets from various media commentators reporting “anonymous” Liberal sources who were backing the challenge.
Questions have been directed at fellow 2GB host Ray Hadley who read out a text message he had received from a “Liberal Party MP” attacking Scott Morrison, who is now a leadership rival to Dutton.
“Scott Morrison is now running around trying to put a ticket between himself and Peter Dutton together to try to challenge Malcolm Turnbull,” Hadley said.
“He’s told those he’s lobbying he won’t serve as my -- as the deputy to Peter Dutton.”
Some questioned Hadley’s source, and the radio station’s move to put an edited version of the segment online, after it and other media commentators have been vocal supporters of Dutton in recent days.
When questioned by Fairfax Media, he said the questions over his comments were a “storm in a teacup”.
On Thursday, Nine's political chief said the public needs to “see this for what it is”.
“A lot of people are asking me, who is talking to Peter Dutton? Well, there would be a lot of people inside his party … but who is talking to him outside his party?”
Uhlmann compared Sky News' evening line-up to Fox News in the US, saying it was, after dark, “turning Liberal Party voters into One Nation voters”.
‘They’re not just commentators, they are players. They have crossed the line and that needs to be pointed out,” he said.
“People need to know everyone who is involved this today, because it’s the Australian country that is at stake here.
“We have a paralysed government at the moment that can't progress any of its policies through the party room or its parliament. It can’t do the things for Australia that need to be done. All people who are involved in bringing us to this point need to be held to account.”
Uhlmann's attack has received wide praise on social media, while some have accused him of "pontificating".
Uhlmann said he doesn't give a "rat's arse" about how those commentators he sprayed react.
“ I don’t really care what they say about me ... they are players in the game. Listen to them, watch them,” he said.
"If you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it."