Liberal MP Christopher Pyne has received an apology from the ABC — the national broadcaster’s second Pyne mea culpa — after an offensive tweet was broadcast during his appearance last night on Q&A.

Pyne engaged lawyers last year after a Marieke Hardy piece published on ABC opinion website The Drum said many people wanted to see the shadow minister attacked by a “large, libidinous dog”. Now, Pyne may have another case after an errant tweet on last night’s Q&A program.

More than 600,000 people watching last night’s show would have seen the tweet that makes reference to Pyne’s s-xuality. The tweet, now deleted, said: “Just me, or does Pyne light up when he’s talking about men in uniform #qanda”.

Screenshot courtesy Pure Poison.

An Aunty spokeswoman confirmed to Crikey the program had contacted Pyne’s office to apologise after it was agreed the tweet could have caused offence. (Pyne’s office didn’t comment when questioned by Crikey.)

Q&A has a complex moderation process that deals with well over 19,000 tweets during the course of the live program. This tweet was one that unfortunately went to air and shouldn’t have,” the ABC spokeswoman said.

“On review, the program agreed it was inappropriate and has contacted Christopher Pyne’s office to apologise if any offence was caused.”

The account behind the tweet has since been deleted, although Google cache reveals a profile picture with a striking likeness to former ABC Radio presenter Helen Razer. Crikey asked Razer about the resemblance this morning, but she assured us it was a fake.

Q&A encourages readers to comment via the #qanda hashtag, with producers selecting the best to display on the show. The show is often inundated with tweets and becomes a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

The tweet, broadcast beneath a shot of Pyne sitting next to Greens Senator Christine Milne, caused an immediate stir on Twitter.

ABC Radio presenter Mark Colvin criticised the decision to run the tweet: “I really dislike personal attacks, whether on someone’s alleged s-xuality on #qanda or calling someone a harridan in #qt. Stick to policy.”

Producers agreed on Twitter this morning: “Agree @colvinius#QandA screen tweets should not be personal/snide. A mistake snuck through. Apologies.”

Last night, other Twitter users also lined up to have a crack at the show:

@Jen_Bennett: What the hell is with the homophobic Pyne tweets getting on screen, #qanda?

@samencel: #qanda producers select the ubiquitous anti-Pyne homophobic tweet. Disappointing.

@ohpointybird: Hey #qanda , leave out the homophobic tweets!!

@chriskkenny: Think #qanda just put up a homophobic slur against a Lib. Typical and classy. Mediawatch would excoriate commercials doing same.

Aunty has form ridiculing Pyne. Last year, ABC online opinion site The Drum published a piece by Marieke Hardy which was subsequently removed by editor Jonathan Green who also issued an apology. The article, titled “The Christopher Pyne Experiments”, said Pyne was one of the most unpopular people in the country.

Pyne sent two legal letters to the ABC on that occasion reserving his right to sue unless a settlement was reached.

Peter Fray

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