Stephen Mayne ended his stint as a fill-in presenter on ABC radio in Victoria this morning with a heated on-air debate with Herald Sun
columnist Andrew Bolt. Bolt turned up at the studio to have a crack at
the Crikey founder for allegedly using the ABC as a platform to pursue
a vendetta against him. Mayne said on air that Bolt was appearing
because ABC management wanted him to.

A seething Bolt accused Mayne of using his week in the presenter’s
chair to “pursue personal animus,” including “three highly personal
attacks in three days.” (Perhaps Bolt wasn’t listening when Mayne defended
him to a talkback caller…) Bolt also said the ABC had made a “gross
error in judgment” in allowing Mayne on air, but he’d expect no less
because “the left stick together.”

“I voted for Robert Doyle in the last election,” said Mayne, pointing
out that he was also a former Kennett staffer. “You’re saying that I
shouldn’t be allowed to criticise you,” he told Bolt, but “you’re the
most critical commentator in the News Limited stable.”

“The ABC is disgraced by your presence,” concluded Bolt.

CRIKEY: We rang Mayne who didn’t want to comment before a meeting with
management but he said he and his producers were overruled. After
giving Bolt five minutes on air earlier in the week, Mayne and
his producers thought it was unnecessary to give him a second crack when
called to ask for another right of reply this morning. But Bolt then
complained to ABC management and Mayne’s producers were only given seven
minutes notice before the irate columnist turned up at the
studio. After the interview Bolt stormed out of the studio and the way the
issue was handled is now being debated at an ABC staff meeting.