Naomi Robson’s PR resuscitation unit is running on overdrive this morning after the news that Robson and crew are set to be deported by the Indonesian Government after they sought access to West Papua with incorrect visas.

So is this yet another embarrassing incident for the beleaguered TT anchor — or a giant publicity coup? All the promotion must be music to the ears of Seven and its managers, who have been fighting off a number of sharp attacks on Naomi’s credibility in recent months.  

There was Amanda Meade’s acidic but well-crafted profile in The Australian’s Media Section a month or so ago. Robson also copped flak from viewers who labelled her live broadcast last week from outside the Steve Irwin shrine at his Australia Zoo — where she appeared complete with khaki shirt and lizard on her shoulder — as “crass” and “tacky”.

Conveniently, a genuine letter to the editor of the local paper from the young lizard owner’s dad has emerged, removing blame from Robson and saying “the offending lizard was placed on Naomi’s shoulder without consultation and without her permission…”

The Daily Tele is claiming that they received multiple emails of the letter yesterday from “the good people at the Damage Control department of the Seven network”.

Last week, we reported that Naomi’s trip to West Papua was another bid to restore her journalistic credibility, but do viewers really care? TT has been ahead in the ratings for most of the year although A Current Affair has been gaining ground. Since Tracy Grimshaw went on leave and Karl Stefanovic stepped in, ACA has closed to within a few thousand viewers some nights, and gone past TT on other nights.

Stefanovic has impressed with a crispness and strong delivery not exhibited or wanted on the Today Show (where he shares the fronting role with Jessica Rowe). He has quickly established a point of difference with Naomi: ably supported Robson’s current stand-in Ms Sam Armytage who is younger and in the minds of quite a few viewers, an established news reporter, unlike like Naomi. TT won last night, narrowly — but a win is still a win.

For now, the decision to send Naomi and a crew to fight the wilds and lizards of the Indonesian half of New Guinea appears to be paying off for Seven.

As for the rumours that the crew was planning to shoot a story on cannibals, that angle does have a signature TT ring to it and makes much more sense than Madame Gucci covering the independence movement.

Peter Fray

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