Crikey likes to take the time to recognise the worst expressions of journalism with a Wankley award. And we can think of no one more deserving this morning than Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, for its softer-than-soft paid interview with former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and his partner Vikki Campion (featuring their baby son).

Reporter Alex Cullen’s questions, including who made the first move and asking Joyce whether Campion was “sassy”, were notable for what they missed — in short, just about anything that made the affair newsworthy.

Several minutes were dedicated to details of how and when Campion considered an abortion, and Nationals party pressure to do so. There was a staged visit back to the scene of the Daily Telegraphs paparazzi shot, and a visit to Parliament House with baby Sebastian.

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But there are many questions Sunday Night could’ve put to Joyce to avoid taking out this Wankley. For example:

  • In 2014, you were a senior member of the government when it rejected a tort of privacy recommended by the nation’s most senior law reform body. Did you speak up internally back then, or have you only seen the light when your own privacy was invaded?
  • Do you accept that it is hypocritical to accept $150,000 to go into details about your affair while also arguing your privacy has been invaded?
  • You once called abortion “the slavery debate of our time”. You say now that didn’t want to enforce your views on your partner, and that you can’t enforce your views on other people. What’s changed?
  • The whole saga has been marked by missteps and poor judgement, including accepting six months rent-free in an Armidale apartment and creating plum new jobs for Campion in the offices of other Nationals MPs. Do you worry that your behaviour has damaged your credibility as a politician, and for all politicians? 
  • You say you knew you couldn’t continue as deputy prime minister once Campion had the baby. Why did you contest the New England byelection without being frank with the public about what your role would be?
  • If you knew your position as deputy prime minister was untenable once you knew the baby would be born, why did you continue to put your party and the government through the sustained embarrassment of this affair for as long as you did?

With a full program dedicated to the interview just a week after a bizarre in-depth look at Senator Jacqui Lambie’s love life, perhaps Sunday Night should leave politics alone entirely, and stick to celebrity puff pieces and Denham Hitchock’s stunts.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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