Leigh Sales’ replacement, Sarah Ferguson, has faced intense backlash on social media after her first week hosting ABC’s 7.30.
Interviewing Defence Minister and Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles on Australian relationships with China, the television journalist was labelled ‘a massive disappointment’ for roleplaying as Sales.
— abc730 (@abc730) July 4, 2022
Viewers were quick to call Ferguson “an attack dog”, labelling her “aggressive” and “rude” in her interview style.
To be clear, Sarah Ferguson has always been an aggressive, rude interviewer. Her performance on #abc730 so far has been nasty and uncouth. Leigh Sales must be having a good laugh.
— Major Bloodnok ♐???????????????? (@michaelrperth) July 8, 2022
— Jules The Red ???? (@RedJules4) July 7, 2022
Really disappointed and I agree with so many others, we are tired of agreessive questioing and gotcha moments. Turn off the channell now if I see this – because we now have a competent and mature government who are governing.
Disappointed with lack of research re the NZ economy..
— Macca21 (@MMCG200) July 8, 2022
I was looking forward to Sarah but now I’m thinking she’s not the right fit to host a show like 7.30. While we need good investigative journalism – like Kerry O Brian, we don’t want to watch/listen to an ‘attack dog’ when we’re just home from work and/or having our dinner.
— Mazza (@kav1948mary) July 8, 2022
Others jumped to Ferguson’s defence, saying she needed to “find her feet” and doesn’t deserve the “Leigh Sales treatment” from disgruntled viewers.
I see Sarah Ferguson is already getting the Leigh Sales treatment. Is it that some men just don’t like assertive female interviewers? Or they don’t like seeing a member from their ‘team’ grilled? Talk about a tough gig.
— Amber Robinson (@missrobinson) July 4, 2022
I don’t think Sarah Ferguson is doing that. She is just finding her feet. Sarah needs to understand that she must temper her usual combative nature. Australians want/need someone who teases out the facts. Australians are sick to death of conflict. #auspol #abc730
— #StopGreed (@daveyk317) July 7, 2022
I am liking 7.30 ABC again with Sarah Ferguson! And I like the way she asks Mark Butler MP the hard questions and let’s him answer!..And I like the way she chases him up when he doesn’t answer her questions properly!
— monty (@evensteveens) July 14, 2022
I really like Sarah Ferguson’s professionalism, she doesn’t make anything about her, & she’s tough & thorough.
— Dr Sheep Person aka Underclass Prole (@noplaceforsheep) July 14, 2022
Ferguson’s predecessor, Sales, has been open with her struggles with online trolls, attributing the virtual abuse to her stepping out of the limelight and leaving Twitter.
Speaking with Peter FitzSimons at The Age, Ferguson said she had no interest in the online criticism of her performance.
“Let me phrase this correctly because I don’t want to sound arrogant. I have many things to learn, so I’m interested in criticism. But I have to find the right level of combat myself. And so if people are nasty, my answer is: I don’t care. But I do care about doing it well, and better,” she said.
“Social media has some uses. But I do not look to social media to tell me what to think about myself, right? There’s nothing for me there. And it’s just a few people. So I am not really interested in it as a means of reflecting on who I am.
“It’s not worth going through the drunks at the back of the room in order to get to the smart person at the front. I’m very happy to find that critique elsewhere.”