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Sep 10, 2013

Chris Uhlmann departs 7.30 to make Labor doco

Chris Uhlmann, the tough political editor of 7.30, is leaving the program to make a documentary for the ABC on the Labor years. Who will replace him in the important role as Leigh Sales' understudy?


7.30 political editor Chris Uhlmann is leaving the program to make a documentary on the Rudd-Gillard years.

Uhlmann will be replaced in the high-profile role by Sabra Lane, currently the chief political reporter for ABC radio current affairs.

Uhlmann confirmed his move to Crikey this morning, saying: “I’m stepping back from the day-to-day.” Uhlmann says he would consider his next move after completing the documentary project, which is also for the ABC. Thursday will be his last night as 7.30 political editor — a role he first took on in 2008 when Kerry O’Brien was the host.

Uhlmann, a former seminarian, began his career as perhaps the oldest ever cadet at The Canberra Times before working as a producer for ABC 774 host Jon Faine. He went on to become a political reporter for ABC radio and ABC News 24’s political editor. He co-hosted 7.30 in 2011 before Leigh Sales was promoted to be standalone host last year.

“I’m sure more than a few people will be glad I’m gone,” joked Uhlmann, who is regarded as a tough interviewer by both sides of politics.

While Tony Abbott has praised Uhlmann, who is married to Labor MP Gai Brodtmann, as a “highly professional journalist”, Paul Keating slammed him last year for not showing then-prime minister Gillard enough respect in an interview.

7.30 host Leigh Sales tweeted today:

Uhlmann says researchers have already begun work on the documentary, which will chart Labor’s six years in office under Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. Four Corners executive producer Sue Spencer will lead the documentary team. Uhlmann previously worked on a documentary about the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires.

When asked about a move to 7.30, Sabra Lane told Crikey: “I’m not in a position to comment.” ABC sources say a final decision has not been made on Lane’s replacement in the important radio reporting role.


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26 thoughts on “Chris Uhlmann departs 7.30 to make Labor doco

  1. Karen

    OMG! Chris Uhlmann doing a Labor Doco. What next? John Howard as the producer? I seriously thought when I read the Crikey headline that Uhlmann is leaving 7.30 that you were announcing him taking up a position the new Coalition government. Uhlmann’s loathing hostility to the former Labor government is legendary so why oh why would the ABC choose him to do the Doco? Could it be to serve their new political masters? Or maybe they are confusing hostility with neutrality.

  2. paddy

    [Uhlmann, who is regarded as a tough interviewer by both sides of politics.]

    LOL Seriously?

  3. Sharkie

    No great loss for Auntie there. Ulhmann’s standard interview technique was to regurgitate the talkie points of the major parties as a question. His constant use of irrational Liberal talking points was particularly annoying. Call me old fashioned but I still think a journalist’s
    job is to expose BS not repackage it.

  4. cnewt27

    I read with interest Paul Keating’s comments on Chris Uhlmann’s style and to me it was spot on. Cheap aggression and lots of interruptions and a sneering tone. His spot on 7.30’s post election special was pretty typical eg an uncritical assumption that somehow Abbott would have to “fix” a budget problem.Really? That was his take-away message from the nonsense of the last-minute bottom-line figure that exploded the whole “emergency” line? Just an uncritical agreement with the Liberal line. I can only assume ABC management likes the work done by the dreadful Uhlmann/Sales team. It’s either bias or a timid fear of Liberal cuts. In the case of Ms Sales I doubt her knowledge base eg her interview with Tony Abbott during the campaign in which he repeated the “states have to agree to change the GST” lie 3 times without challenge. I complained about this to the ABC and was told the question of whether Abbott was lying was “barely relevant”. To which my response has been I can only hope Abbott privatises this shameful excuse for a public broadcaster. Could it be any less independent?

  5. Andybob

    “Uhlmann confirmed his move to Crikey this morning … ”

    Welcome aboard Chris !

  6. dazza

    Uhlmann may not have showed prime minister Gillard enough respect in an interview, but he recovered by showing more than enough respect to Abbott.
    Why didn’t he get a gig at IPA?

  7. Interrobanging On

    You have it Sharkie. ABC Online eg Emma Griffiths does the same…every Liberal talking point and dog whistle, no matter how wrong, is packaged and displayed.

  8. adrian

    You have got to be joking, Strident, obnoxious interviewer when interviewing ALP figures, pussy cat while interviewing Abbott etc.

    How can you take a media reporter seriously who so clearly misinterprets the media?

  9. CML

    Wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall in the Uhlmann household. After all, his wife is a LABOR MP!
    Fancy putting up with him and his Liberal lapdog persona!!

  10. Bort

    I thought he’d be collecting his 30 silver pieces in the form of a cushy job in the Abbott administration.

  11. cschmidt

    Good riddance, and take L Sales with you.

    1. Mike M

      absolutely!…..that program has lost any credibility long ago.

  12. klewso

    Anyone who questions a Coalitionist is a “tough interviewer”.
    I reckon Abbott is going to follow Howard’s Way and keep exposing himself to selected audiences, from Murdoch’s Limited Views, to Singo’s “Cock-or-Two Circus”? Pollywannacracka?

    Fruit cake journalism – full of undercurrants and conservative apeel.
    I agree, I think Uhlmann was Murdochtrinated – leading with his opinions – maybe not as much as Head Salesperson though. Sure there was “that” interview with Abbott – but fair crack, everyone has an off-day?

  13. burninglog

    These posts. Gold!
    Hope he reads them

  14. beachcomber

    If Andrew Bolt gets the job, we know there’s a problem

  15. MG99

    I think he is going to do a hatchet job on Rudd and a less than flattering one of Gillard. Over compensation because his wife is a Labor member??

  16. PDGFD1

    Pleased to see him go.
    CML…Hope so.. He’s caused more than one argument in my household (Y-chromosome carriers are easily led by anyone wearing a tie and speaking in an even – read monotonous + smarmy in this case – tone)

    Paddy, Klewso et al. Agreed.

  17. klewso

    …. and over-egged of(f) course.

  18. AR

    Not so much ‘light-weight’ as not there, the opposite of Clint’s empty chair rant at BO last year.
    He could have been replaced by putting a Mudorc tabloid frontpage in front of the camera and letting the interviewee respond. Would have saved bigbuck$ too on his salary which was overgnerous – ie that he was paid at all.

  19. peterh_oz

    I think his biggest problem is that, being married to a Labor MP, he tries so hard not to be biased towards them, that he is actually biased against them.

  20. Are you free?

    MG99, peterh_oz:

    If he was especially sensitive about his wife’s affiliation, then he would have adopted a disciplined, neutral professional approach. Instead he comes across as a lazy Liberal party staffer, so this is clearly Uhlmann’s true position. It is obvious that the ABC has promoted regressives under Newman, Scott and Co.

  21. Bob Law

    I’m sure an advisor role will appear shortly after production is complete.

  22. Adrian Taylor

    I’m sorry to see Chris Uhlmann leave 7.30. I always saw him as a fitting replacement to Kerry O’Brien. He was never a partisan hack and was prepared to question both sides. This obviously made him unpopular with many ABC viewers.

  23. kolah

    Yes, it will be a blessing not to have to endure Uhlmann on a daily basis, although, judging from her performance on Radio National, hopes should not be raised too high for Sabra Lane.

    It was not only infuriating but also deeply troubling to find that our public broadcaster was often as facile and unrelentingly hostile as the commercial media towards PM Gillard and the former government. Uhlmann epitomised the failure of the ABC during this landmark period. No wonder he earned Tony Abbott’s tick of approval.

    Paul Keating’s complaint about the contemptuous interview with PM Gillard was right on the money. The reply, with its reference to “devil’s advocate” and “fine journalistic tradition”, was the ABC’s standard provocative response to complaints about political bias.

    Significantly, the Liberals, News Corp and the Howard appointees on its Board demanded a more conservative presence within the ABC. Now, watch that space.

  24. pritu

    You mean he’s going off to ANOTHER anti-Labor doco? Must be an election coming up sometime soon!

  25. Mike M

    After his lazy analysis of the SA power blackout, I think he needs a break from anything serious. Just quite why the ABC thinks that his latest project is worthwhile, goodness knows. It will be just another hatchet job on behalf of their LNP masters. As for 730, I’ve stopped watching it…..it lacks a serious compere or any sense of objectivity.


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