The saga of Andrew Bolt’s barnstorming performance on ABC Melbourne last Friday gets more interesting by the day. It has now become clear that the Herald Sun’s ideological warrior persuaded ABC management that he should be given a second “right of reply” on my fill-in program after arguing that we had a major falling-out over a personal issue when we worked together at the Herald Sun.

Bolt successfully arguedI was conducting a private vendetta over the public airwaves and he deserved another go. The personal falling out cited by Bolt to ABC management related to Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden leaving his wife.

Now this is quite perplexing because I have no recollection of ever communicating with Bolt about Blunden’s relationship. And how could we have fallen out when working together at the Herald Sun when I left the paper in June 1997 and then attended Bolt’s 40th birthday in late 1999, by which time the Blunden relationship was still not publicly known.

Crikey first referred to Blunden’s relationship in April 2000 in one of those “do unto others” pieces after the paper splashed with the story about Dick Pratt’s secret love child. Even if we fell out over this at the time, why did Bolt then attend our wedding cocktails in October 2000?

As far as I’m concerned, Bolt and I fell out professionally in 2001 over the “I wasn’t stolen” saga, Tampa, children overboard, demonising refugees and the 2001 national security election. Howard moved to the right and played the race card, Bolt cheered him on, I bagged Bolt and it was game over for the relationship. All related to our profession and all perfectly normal in the life of Crikey.

Yet anyone who listened to his highly defamatory claim that I was prosecuting personal and private vendettas that were too sensitive to reveal on air would think we’d fallen out over an affair I had with his wife or some other deeply personal dispute.

Bolt’s successful argument to management for being given air time was also controversial because he didn’t tell them he would be turning up in the studio, and he then went ahead and defamed the same manager who had caved in to his demands. The promised “right of reply” never eventuated either as all we got was a right of attack with no detail as to what he was upset about.

It will be fascinating to see how this one plays out in the weeks and months ahead.