Insiders host Barrie Cassidy has farewelled fans in his final episode of the ABC show he created, and has helmed for 18 years, as tributes for the popular host pour in.
The respected journalist, who will be replaced by Sky News political editor David Speers next year, shared his joy at the impact of the Sunday morning program with an anecdote about a fan meeting at Bob Hawke's memorial drinks in Melbourne last month.
"I ran into a young bloke who said to me, 'A few years ago I went on Tinder.' And I thought, 'oh, where is this going'," Cassidy recounted. "He said that he found a post from a young woman who said that she wanted to meet somebody who watched Insiders, preferably with a hangover!
"Got in touch, they watched Insiders and now they're married. How good is Insiders!"
A roll call of politicians and journalists weighed in with their tributes, with former South Australian MP Christopher Pyne describing the nail-biting experience of being interviewed by Cassidy.
"He's the kind of person that can ruin your career - and if you get through it you feel really good about it," Mr Pyne said.
"He's a bit of a danger man. You'd think, 'this could go horribly wrong. It could wreck the day. Wreck the beginning of the week'. And you'd be blamed by all your colleagues for stuffing it up."
Former prime minister John Howard said while he hadn't always agreed with what Cassidy said, "the important thing is that he has promoted the contest of ideas".
"In his interviews with me, I found him straight up and down," Mr Howard said. "I enjoyed the jousting, and I always did."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hailed Cassidy as an interviewer who "could charm and disarm".
"You would enter into a conversation without your tie on a Sunday morning with Barrie Cassidy, only to realise afterwards you've been hit with a velvet glove," he said.
Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop said Cassidy was a consummate professional who was "always respectful of his guests".
"He never interrupts. In fact, some say he gives his guests just enough rope to hang themselves," she said.
"Barrie was always fair in the interview, even though he tested you and probed and challenged and probably didn't agree with you either."
Former South Australian senator Nick Xenophon agreed, saying: "Barrie Cassidy has one of the best bullshit detectors in the business - which is why politicians won't miss him, but the rest of the country will."
Labor's leader in the Senate Penny Wong described Cassidy as "Respected. Tough, but fair. And has a depth of political experience, which is almost unparalleled."
"Being caught out by Barrie is less about a gotcha moment," she said. "It's more that he will put something to you in a way that makes it very difficult to avoid the difficult answer."
News Corp political journalist Malcolm Farr said Cassidy was "one of the most skilled moderators that I've ever seen" and that people did not realise how difficult the job was - "particularly with a bunch of people who think they're all know-alls and should be allowed to say whatever they want".
Cassidy's final show centred on the topic of press freedom in the wake of the AFP raids on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC's Ultimo headquarters.
He challenged the Opposition over the controversial raids, which Labor leader Anthony Albanese had seized upon to attack Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
"Most of what they've done has been with the support of the Opposition," Cassidy said.
In his final interview with an MP, he challenged deputy Labor leader Richard Marles, saying: "These laws went through with your support."
Mr Marles retorted that the raids had been "initiated by the government" through a referral to the AFP by the Defence department secretary, before presenting his interviewer with the parting gift of a "unique, one of a kind Barrie Cassidy snow dome".
Cassidy thanked his devoted audience - including the many fans who had approached him on the street over the years.
"It's you that I want to just talk to you very briefly this morning," he said.
"[I've had] so many emails from people who essentially make the same point: that they change their routine, they change the way that they manage their Sunday mornings around Insiders. I just loved hearing that."
And he urged viewers to keep tuning in as the show went on with "the same team" and "the same coach".
"Just a different captain, so stay loyal, because the people around me deserve that. They really do."
- SMH/The Age