In a rare interview with Stellar magazine, Leigh Sales has opened up about leaving Twitter, revealing a major concern that social media backlash would “translate into real-life violence”.
The veteran journalist admitted the online trolling “took a really hard toll on people close to me”.
“People have reported that I left because there was an interview with Scott Morrison and then I was abused,” she said.
“But I was abused all the time, so actually that had nothing to do with it.
“I just decided to jump off before the election because I thought the level of the trolling would ramp right up.”
Sales said that while you can choose to ignore the hate, the “constant narrative” that she was supporting particular political parties led to the current affairs host having to take social media threats seriously.
“I have two protective violence orders on me from random people who’ve made threats against me. There have been others where police have looked at them and recommended certain courses of action,” she said.
“I don’t know for sure that that’s related to that online mentality, but I think it certainly wouldn’t help, particularly the level of misinformation that’s out there; this constant narrative that I’m attempting to back in one side of politics or the other, which is completely false.”
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During the political campaign, Sales was accused of going easy on former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with the ex-PM “bulldozing” the interview.
When asked by Sales what he would do differently, Morrison talked over the top and interrupted the retiring journalist.
“What would you have done differently for example, when it came to the way your Government used community sports grants as a slush fund to channel money to marginal seats?,” Sales asked.
“Well, I completely reject that, Leigh. Over the course of this campaign -,” Morrison replied.
Sales interjected: “Well that was the finding of the Australian National Audit Office.”
Morrison defended: “Now I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Every place I’ve gone where we’ve continued to provide support for local clubs, these clubs matter in these communities.”
“Yeah, but -”
Morrison continued: “I don’t think public servants. And I’m sorry, Leigh. I was just going to finish. I don’t think public servants sitting in Canberra have a better idea about what people need in their communities than their Members of Parliament -”
“Yeah, but Sport -“
“… who work in those communities every day,” Morrison finalised.
Sales faced backlash on social media, with people labelling the interview as “softball” and “pathetic”.
Leigh Sales topped off her career as head of @abc730 with the most pathetic interview possible, not holding a bullying, blustering @ScottMorrisonMP to account on a blatant rewriting of history on his part.
— Charles Harvey (@CJHarvey56) May 16, 2022
Leigh Sales let Morrison ramble at length about whatever questions he chose to hear
The most softball interview I’ve ever seen Sales give
The ABC has fallen a long, long way
— Media Analyst (@MediaAnalystOz) May 16, 2022
After more than a decade, Sales announced June 30 will be her final show with ABC’s 7.30, journalist Sarah Ferguson has been named as her replacement.