We have a question: Why are male journalists never accused of being ‘aggressive’?
I’m confused about Leigh Sales.
Is she too soft or too hard? Does she lean left or right? And more importantly, does she kick off her shoes under that fancy desk on ABC’s 7:30 every night?
These are the questions gripping the nation this week. Except for the shoes which is my own personal question because I’ve always wondered.
Here are some of the headlines you may have read about 7:30 host, Leigh Sales:
So which is it, Leigh? Are you too soft or too hard? Too left or too right?
I’m also confused about this: Why is all this attention being put on the interviewer rather than the politicians she’s interviewing? And how come male journalists are never accused of being “aggressive”?
Here’s what I know for sure: Leigh Sales is the most high profile political interviewer in the country right now. It’s her moment. She’s always been a well respected and critically acclaimed journalist, but since returning from her second maternity leave earlier this year, she’s been on fire.
In her absence, the 7:30 chair was filled by another Walkley winner, Sarah Ferguson whose combative interview style earned her huge public praise and an ABC inquiry about potential bias for a post-budget interview she did with Joe Hockey.
So high were the accolades heaped on Ferguson that one columnist wrote a particularly cruel column suggesting that politicians should be queuing up outside Leigh Sales’ front door offering to help hang out her washing and mind her babies so she could return to work from her maternity leave earlier.
The implication being that Ferguson was tough and Sales was not and the lives of politicians would be so much easier when they were facing someone less capable. It was a backwards slap of the worst kind, intended to compliment Sarah while belittling Leigh.
But Leigh rose above the backhanders, took the time she’d always planned to take with her baby and returned to work on top of her game. Ratings for the show increased and she has brought her signature mix of warmth, wit, innate curiosity, masterful interviewing and forensic questioning back to 7:30 where it has lived since she took over as host in 2011.