Reporters in Australia are being accused of engaging in egregious journalistic malpractice after newly obtained footage allegedly shows them coaching answers from women making sexual assault allegations against Australian actor Craig McLachlan.
Raw camera tapes from the interviews, conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Company and Fairfax Media, appear to show journalists giving specific instructions to the women on how to present their allegations in an exposé of the television star, Sky News reported in a show segment Friday.
During the segment, Sky News host Chris Kenny said the clips offered viewers “a disturbing insight into the intent of that journalism” behind the apparent hit job on McLachlan, who was acquitted of charges last year.
In the first clip, journalists can be heard encouraging an accuser to use the word “predatory.” Then in a second clip, one reporter speaks up to say, “I don’t think we should be putting words in her mouth,” but is ignored as the producers proceed to coach the accuser in multiple takes.
Later in the video, Sky News plays a clip of someone who is reportedly a senior journalist with Fairfax Media admitted that, “ultimately, we want [McLachlan] out of that job.”
‘Disturbing’ footage shows ABC journos ‘coaching’ answers to women making allegations
“This is a highly worrying look behind the scenes,” Kenny said before asking, “Are these journalists asking questions or dictating answers?”
In an op-ed regarding the story, veteran TV producer Robert McKnight recalled that “in all the years of producing promos for programs like 60 Minutes, Today Tonight, and A Current Affair, I have watched a lot of raw camera tapes while looking for grabs. I can honestly say I have NEVER heard reporters and producers of any of those shows coaching talent. The closest they would have possibly come is asking the interviewee to be more concise in their thoughts.”
The clips were first aired over the weekend by Australia’s Channel 7 News in a documentary that intended to show McLachlan’s side of the story. The actor was acquitted last year on seven charges of indecent assault and six of common assault — 13 total — for his actions during a 2014 stage production of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
In the documentary, McLachlan claims that he was a victim of a #MeToo activist campaign put on by journalists and recounts how he contemplated suicide as a result of “the absolute demolition” of his life.