Sky News, News Corp, 2GB 'waging war' against PM: Chris Uhlmann
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Sky News, News Corp, 2GB 'waging war' against PM: Chris Uhlmann

In a spray on Channel Nine's Today show, Chris Uhlmann has accused conservative commentators from Sky News, The Daily Telegraph and 2GB of "waging a war" against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Everyone from the Prime Minister on down has pointed out to me that they believe there is a campaign being waged against them," he said.

Uhlmann, Nine's chief political correspondent, said the conservative commentators such as Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, as well as Sky's after-dark presenters, were "players in the game" to depose Mr Turnbull.

"If they are making phone calls to people trying to push people over the line, then they’re part of the story," Uhlmann said.

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"They’re among the biggest bullies in the land and it's about time that people called them out for what they are."

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Uhlmann, who compared Sky's evening line-up to the conservative Fox News in the US, said certain commentators had "crossed the line" and he felt the need to point it out.

"Sky after dark has been running a campaign against Malcolm Turnbull, Sky after dark has been turning Liberal National voters into One Nation voters and they’re not coming back," he said.

"People need to know everyone who is involved in this today because it’s the Australian country that’s at stake here."

Uhlmann said the LNP was doing a fair job of "eating itself" without help from sections of the media.

"With friends like Sky News, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t really need any other enemies," he said.

Hadley responded on 2GB, which is owned by Fairfax Media, by playing a mash-up of Ronan Keating's When You Say Nothing At All/Labor's the best when they say nothing at all - a dig at Uhlmann and his wife, Labor MP Gai Brodtmann.

Some commentators took to Twitter in praise of Uhlmann's spray.

At least one conservative columnist accused the political journalist of pontificating.

But Uhlmann said he couldn’t give a "rat’s arse" how the commentators on Sky or 2GB responded to his spray.

"If you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it," he said.

Today Show full transcript:

Chris Uhlmann: I have just been informed by The Australian, that they’re writing a story on me at the moment, and I said to the people, well I hope that your balanced. And, you know, the nuance of what I said wasn’t lost, and I look forward with great interest to that, but let’s have the debate, let’s have the debate about the way the media is operating at the moment. The unfortunate thing is, and you know Twitter is the worst example of it, people on left and right who are just screaming at each other constantly as people ghettoise into these little communities and it's destroying our politics, we’ve got to rediscover the central ground in Australia.

Unfortunately the people in the media who yell the loudest seem to have the biggest glass jaws when you point this out, but everyone from the Prime Minister on down has pointed out to me that they believe there is a campaign being waged against them - so this is reporting news, right, this is what people are telling me about what’s going on - that News Corporation, so we are talking about the Australian, the Daily Telegraph, and all of those tabloid newspapers around the country - 2GB in Sydney, led by Alan Jones and Ray Hadley; and Sky News in particular with its evening lineup are waging a war against the Prime Minister of Australia. Now that’s what they think, that’s just reporting the news.

Apparently if you say that to them now they get their knickers in a huge twist. Now if they want to be players in this game, which is apparently what they are - and they’re working behind the scenes as well as in front of the scenes - if they are making phone calls to people, trying to push people over the line, then they’re part of the story. So all I’m saying is, if they want to dish it out,. They should be prepared to take it and they’re among the biggest bullies in the land and it's about time that people called them out for what they are, and if they don’t like that, then they can come after me.

Karl Stefanovic: Ok well, the blame game, it’s the blame game well they’re losing right, and at the moment you have had all sorts of influences coming from behind the scenes and that’s a big statement for you to make, why are you making it this morning?

Uhlmann: Because, look, people have to see this for what this is, and as I say, there are a lot of hands in this game at the moment, you’re asking me who’s talking to Peter Dutton. Well, there will be a lot of people inside his party talking to him, who’s talking to him from outside his party at the moment, who outside his party, who are influential figures in Australia, is talking to Dutton, and telling him what they believe that he should do today because they are not just commentators, they are players, they have crossed the line and that needs to be pointed out because people need to know everyone who is involved in this today because it’s the Australian country that’s at stake here.

We have a paralysed government, a government that is unable at the moment to be able to progress any of its policies through party, through its party room or its parliaments, so it can’t do the things for Australia that need to be done. Now all the people who are involved in bringing us to this point, need to be held to account and at least be out in the open. Like I say, they can blow-on as much as they like on their programs, they can talk about it as much as they like but when they cross that line to want to be players in the game, to help to feed this, and they were feeding it last night, then they’re part of the story aren't they.

Georgie Gardner: Very well said.

Stefanovic: Ok, and this is really important too.

Gardner: Hear, hear.

Stefanovic: And this is why Donald Trump had so much purchase in America with his mantra about fake news. Whether you like him or not, the ability for him to, I guess, disconnect from the media and connect with the audience who believed that was the case, is crucial for anyone who is in power now. There is a huge disconnect between, I guess, media and people watching at home as well. What is real, and who are behind things?

Uhlmann: Yeah, and one of the big forces in the United States was Fox News. And one of the big forces in this building, and it doesn’t have much purchase beyond this building because it’s a cable network, is Sky News. And Sky after dark has been running a campaign against Malcolm Turnbull, Sky after dark at the moment, is turning Liberal National Party voters into One Nation voters and they’re not coming back. So that’s a real problem for the Liberal National Party. What we are seeing, by the way, is the fracturing of that agreement between Liberals and conservatives that brings you that arrangement of the Liberal Party which has stood the test of time, put in place by Robert Menzies, it’s falling apart at the moment. It needs to stop and think that it’s eating itself, and the people who claim to be its allies, are not actually its friends. I mean, with friends like Sky News, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t really need many other enemies.

Gardner: Incredibly well said, Chris Uhlmann

Stefanovic: That is a carve up, that’s a complete carve up on Sky, and how do you think they will respond?

Uhlmann: I couldn’t give a rat’s arse, Karl, quite frankly I am tired of the bullying that comes out of that organisation, I’m tired of the bullying that comes out of 2GB, and again, I don’t really care what they say about me. It is that they are players in the game, listen to them, watch them. You can tell that they are players in the game, you can tell what it is that they are trying to do. All I’m saying is that the Australian people are being caught in the crossfire. Fine, go ahead, say it, but the other thing too is if you’re going to dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it.

With Kaia Nisser

Rachel Clun is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a reporter with the Brisbane Times and Domain.