Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir has described his treatment by veteran broadcaster Mike Willesee as "unethical".
Ricky Muir fumbles through interview
Clive Palmer defends the performance of Ricky Muir after the Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator repeatedly hesitates and is unable to answer several questions in an interview on Channel 7's Sunday Night.
Senator Muir's first and only TV interview, aired on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program in June, is widely considered to be one of the great "train wreck" interviews in Australian politics.
Under the glare of the TV lights, he struggled to explain the concept of the balance of power in Parliament, before stumbling over an explanation of the automotive "after-market industry".
The Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator asked Willesee for a break in the interview and was granted one, but when the Sunday Night program went to air, it showed him receiving calming advice from Motoring party founder Keith Littler before the interview resumed.
Senator Muir told Fairfax Media he left the interview under the impression that the footage of the break would not be aired.
"It was probably unethical, the way that it was played," he said.
"I wasn’t made aware, perhaps, that when I stood up and walked out [of the interview] that that footage could get used. Being the first time, not actually being aware of that possibility. But I knew they had it, I was there in the moment and so be it.
"I told all my family and friends that, hey, there was a couple of mistakes, let’s hope they don’t use it. I honestly didn’t think they would use it, but they did."
Senator Muir revealed that he prevented his new political handler, Peter Breen, a former NSW independent MP and qualified media defamation lawyer, from lodging a complaint with Channel Seven and the broadcasting watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Mr Breen said he had a complaint letter drafted that alleged unfair treatment because it caused Senator Muir to be the subject of ridicule and contempt.
"It contained the imputation that he wasn’t up to holding public office because he wasn’t a good media performer," Mr Breen said.
Senator Muir said: "There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Most people must have thought that I curled up into a corner but I didn’t, I just didn’t. I knew they had the footage and I thought I can either let this get me down or use it as initiative to get better.
"I will definitely find my feet with the media, and as I do that I will be speaking to the media more. In general, I’m a pretty confident person. It’s something new but in no time I imagine I’ll be like everyone else here [in Parliament]."
Sunday Night executive producer Mark Llewellyn said: ''Ricky is a quick learner when it comes to the sly art of political spin. Using weasel words like he was 'under the impression' gives away the game. There was no deal struck and no deal brokered by Mike Willesee or Sunday Night before, during or after the interview with Ricky Muir. The person being unethical here is Ricky. If Ricky looks back at the interview he will realise he was treated with kindness by Mike.''
It is understood the ABC’s Media Watch is looking into the Willesee interview and other media treatment of Senator Muir, including by the 7.30 program.