Paul Murray and Donald Trump

Scoring an interview with the president of the United States isn’t easy. You have to be cleared by the White House media team, the Australian ambassador in DC, and the prime minister’s office. In short, you have to be in step with the political party of the time — so it comes as no surprise the conservative media were well represented during Scott Morrison’s state visit with Donald Trump. 

Favouritism was at the forefront of the media’s visit, with Sky News host Paul Murray hand-picked by Morrison’s office for an exclusive interview with the president himself, something no other Australian outlet managed during the trip. Morrison called Murray over at the end of a pooled picture opportunity — which quickly turned into an impromptu press conference lasting nearly half an hour — to meet Trump, with the conservative journo making sure to grab a photo along with his interview. 

Though calling it an interview might be a bit of a stretch. The four-minute-long conversation, which took place as Trump was leaving the Oval Office to get ready for the state dinner, mostly consisted of Murray showering Trump with praise.

“What do you want to say to your many Australian supporters who wish you nothing but the best in November 2020?” Murray pandered, adding “there was a wonderful smile on our prime minister’s face when you were taking on part of the fake news media today.” 

“You have very good references, I have to tell you that,” Trump responded. 

It’s almost no surprise Morrison picked a Sky News journalist for a personal introduction. Sky News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Trump has made no secret of his support for the Murdoch media, often singing praise for Fox News. Fox CEO and co-chairman of News Corp Lachlan Murdoch — the eldest son of Rupert — was one of the lucky few to land an invite to the state dinner. 

Morrison also singled out the ABC’s Andrew Probyn during the trip. When he called on Probyn for a question, Trump interjected with, “I assume Andrew is a nice person?”. “To quote you, Mr President, the best,” Probyn quickly jibed back.

Peter Fray

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