Virginia Trioli has won herself a legion of fans thanks to her emotive interview skills and razor-sharp wit, but the ABC host has revealed the dark side of her television career and the devastating aftermath of an on-air gaffe that went viral.
Trioli, who is celebrating 10 years on the national broadcaster’s breakfast program this month, told the Women in Media conference on the Gold Coast on Friday that she suffered a miscarriage after footage of her infamous 2009 interview with Barnaby Joyce was beamed around the country.
The 54-year-old was chatting to then-Senator Joyce when she was caught mocking him on air.
While accusations of ABC bias quickly followed, Trioli told the Gold Coast crowd that her “incredibly risky” joke was brought on by a sense of jubilation. She had just found out that after months of trying, she was pregnant.
“I’d just returned from a week’s leave during which I underwent what felt like my 100th IVF procedure and 85th embryo transfer — at least that’s how the numbers felt to me,” she said.
“We finally had an embryo that looked like it stood a chance. It was transferred and I returned to work, technically pregnant and over the moon.”
Feeling elated, Trioli said she spent the morning joking off camera and generating a series of “funny, silly” high jinks.
When she realised footage of her twirling her finger against her temple, implying Joyce was crazy, had been beamed around the country her “heart stopped dead for a full five seconds”.
She called Joyce to apologise and spent the rest of the day talking with ABC executives as they tried to stymie the narrative that had already swamped social media and rival news organisations: the ABC was biased and Virginia Trioli had just proved it.
Devastatingly, the gaffe had even more serious consequences for Trioli, who attributes the stress of that day to a miscarriage just two days later.
“Now — it is of course highly probable that this tiny precious embryo was never going to take — so many of them don’t,” she said.
“But to this day — and for all time — I will always believe that it was my own silliness, and all the drama that followed, that stole away one more hope for a child.”
While Trioli and her husband now happily have a six-year-old son, the journalist said she learned an important lesson and told the audience to never be afraid of self-scrutiny.
“Don’t wait for someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart to point out your shortcomings — get there first and do something about them.”