Malcolm Turnbull’s final press conference as prime minister on Friday wasn’t the usual free-for-all when it came to questions. Turnbull allowed only a handful of reporters a question and, unsurprisingly, nearly none of them were from News Corp.
Instead of waiting for questions to be called out, Turnbull had a list and he directly asked for questions from his favoured journalists. The move upset at least one News Corp reporter, the Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri Markson who tweeted that there were “not too many tough questions in that mix”.
Rupert Murdoch’s media group — its columnists, in particular — played into the push for Turnbull to step aside as prime minister, both in the newspaper and through Sky News in the evenings. All the journalists he called on were, however, veterans of the Canberra press gallery.
The ABC’s recent recruit as 7.30 chief political correspondent, Laura Tingle was offered the first question. She’d previously been at Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review since 2002, and has worked in the Canberra press gallery since 1986. Tingle regularly appears as a panellist on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday mornings.
Coorey succeeded Tingle as political editor at the Fin (Fairfax), where he’s worked since 2012. He’s been covering federal politics for 20 years. Coorey is also a regular on Insiders.
Nine’s Chris Uhlmann wasn’t present when the PM called on him on Friday, but it’s no surprise that he was one of those chosen. The former ABC political editor’s rant on Today, the network’s breakfast program, was widely reported the day before. Uhlmann questioned the influence of News Corp columnists and 2GB broadcasters Alan Jones and Ray Hadley in agitating for Peter Dutton to replace Turnbull.
Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy was also allowed one question. Murphy has been with the Guardian since it opened its Australian outpost, and has worked in the Canberra press gallery for 15 years. “Murpharoo” (the PM referred to her by her Twitter handle) is another Insiders regular.
In Uhlmann’s absence, Sky News was the closest to News Corp any questions got. The pay TV network is fully owned by News Corp, and its “after dark” rotation of commentators has been widely criticised for pushing Dutton to run. Chief political reporter Kieran Gilbert, however, works for the channel during the day, when its journalists break news daily, especially in politics.
Fairfax’s chief political correspondent David Crowe is only recently out of the News Corp stable, having moved across to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald from The Australian at the beginning of the year. Before the Oz, Crowe was at the Australian Financial Review, another Fairfax paper.