Today Tonight “doesn’t deliberately push buttons”

Craig McPherson, Executive Producer of Today Tonight, has defended the content of Seven show following a volatile article in the Fairfax press yesterday.

Strongly branded as an “Opinion” piece, the story’s opening paragraph said:

Today Tonight is a cancerous growth inside Australian broadcasting. The Channel Seven ‘current affairs’ show, which regularly draws an audience of more than 1 million on weeknights at 6.30, is an amoral production house where the race to the bottom has been won with stories that begin as sensationalist and move towards the sordid. The notion that it’s so bad it’s funny is no longer applicable. It’s so bad that it’s a disgrace.”

The article went on to criticise some of the show’s regular topics and style.

McPherson, who rarely gives media interviews, has since told Mediaweek he didn’t know much about the author, of the piece Craig Mathieson.

“Who is he?” he asked.

“From what we can gather he’s an alternate rock music critic who has decided I guess to delve into the more popular domain of television and he’s come at us all guns blazing. Naturally everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Don’t shy away from that.

“But the way it was written, the tone, the vindictiveness, the rabidness of it I think was totally unjustified and unfair.

“He knew the end before he started the means.”

But while the article provoked a reaction, Today Tonight is often accused of the very same agenda.

“The show is relevant to what’s going on out there, as best as we can be, and that’s always a judgmental thing,” said McPherson.

Asked whether TT pushes buttons he said:

“Push buttons? I guess, yeah, we do push buttons. The community often requires buttons to be pushed. We spark debate, we see what they’re interested in, what they’re not interested in and we go with that.

“We don’t deliberately set out to push any particular button. But we’re there to try and be as relevant as we can to the Australian population.”

He was also questioned about his views on A Current Affair, but despite some robust criticism, arrived at one point on which both shows could agree:

“Both shows do serve a purpose. I don’t care what the intelligensia media try and make of either program. They both actually do serve a purpose, in a community that is crying out for somebody to help them on any given topic,” he said.

So far the Fairfax article has attracted over 600 comments.

The interview addresses content, promos, competition, ratings, interstate editions and more.

You can hear more of it here.


  1. If we could watch Today/Tonight, we would! Because of the controversy usually making news in other venues, it would be a treat to see first hand some of the antics involved and allow us to draw own own opinions. The real shame is that Port Macquarie, a mere 300km up the coast, is denied the ability to tune into Today/Tonight!

  2. Working Dog, please revive Frontline, Media Watch needs the back-up.

    I appluade the Telegraph article, but let’s keep in mind (And I’m in no way defending TT or ACA) that at times the Telegraph does the exact same thing.

    So there’s an element of the pot and the kettle. Doesn’t make it any less true.

  3. David Trevarthen works at channel 7. Or am I supposed to put a ? at the end of this sentence ?
    Glass jaw the pathetic folk associated with Trash Tonight.

  4. Armchair Analyst

    This just goes to show that the idiots who run TT arejust out for ratings and they dont care that they are continously damaging the reputation of journalism, they keep trashing it everytime, although there probably isnt much good journalism left. Its all about money and ratings, i am sure that the journos who work at the show didnt go to Uni so they can end up like this, what a waste of HECS money and time spent at Uni. But the onious is on the australian public who have clearly voted with their remotes, they preffer the trash then quality journalism, sad but true.

  5. Secret Squïrrel

    @Lizzy – get a grip. Catering for the masses is one thing, but lies and deception – something else again, and hate-mongering even worse. These programs *are* nasty but, unlike cancer, fortunately do not appear to be growing.

  6. You’ve all missed the point.
    Both shows are great for the environment.

    These shows recycle so much trash.. making the same idiot people watch the same stories every night. And they aren’t printed on trees either. And the more you dumb down the population, the more dumb people you have to watch this trash.

  7. Last Night, they ran a story on Fat People, and how society discriminates against them.

    The next story was on the sexist models!

    First they criticise society for discriminating against fat people and then they do exactly the opposite and show skinny models and tell us they good they look.


  8. I’ve watched TT and ACA, its good to have them around because someone has to champion the causes and keep people honest, If you feel this way about TT sand ACA then Andrew Bolt must also go into this category??
    Then theres Paul Henry (to come on to 10), I don’t know when but theres an article on here, maybe david can provide a link for those that missed it??

  9. “But the way it was written, the tone, the vindictiveness, the rabidness of it I think was totally unjustified and unfair.” Sorry, is that a description of the article or virtually every story (except the “miracle water” and “fat buster” ones provided with video by PR companies) on TT and ACA?

  10. Jezza (the first original one)

    Both these shows are like smoking, they can both seriously damage your health albeit in different ways. However the govt should legislate so both of these shows have to carry a constant health warning taking up at least a third of the screen at all times. Warnings can be along the lines of “watching TT or ACA for more than 10mins per day will rot your brain and turn it into mush” “if you watch this programme for more than 10mins per day you will become a brainless zombie” “Danger..this programme contains mindless garbage”….and so on

  11. Let’s keep in mind tabloid is merely catering for the masses, no harm in that. To be honest I thought the article particularly malicious, poorly written and unkind. Particularly the talk of “cancerous growth”. Please, one of the show’s esteemed journos had only just spoken publicly about her fight with breast cancer.

  12. As much of a disgrace as this show is… what’s a bigger disgrace is that it rates… that’s what’s really disgusting… Turn it off and stop watching people!

  13. The Fairfax article was so true. TT and ACA are the most pathetic shows on TV and any one who watches them, other than to laugh hysterically, is deluded.

    Proud to say i never ever watch either of them and never ever will!

  14. Can we please stop referring to these shows, TT and ACA as Current Affairs? Mike Willesee must cringe at what ACA has become. When was the last time there was a serious interview with a politician for example? No wonder Jana Wendt resigned.

  15. I haven’t read the article yet, but it seems that it’s too close to the truth.

    The common purpose these shows share is ratings points, which has kept the synchronised “current affairs” bingo game going. This Fairfax article will not change their “winning” formula.

    Regarding pushing buttons, I surely wish viewers would push some of the other ones!
    Particularly those with ratings boxes.

  16. TT and ACA are consumer affairs shows, not current affairs ones, that a segment of the ultra dumb viewing public seem to want to watch. The funny thing is, when TT want to do some good investigative journalism (which is virtually never), they can do a good job, like the stuff they’ve done on Scientology and the level of foreign ownership in Australia.

  17. Today Tonight is absolute crap and is a blight on channel 7- who i watch a lot of- but it really is low brow trash…just beacuse it’s “popular” doesn’t make it right channel 7- Hitlers views were “popular” with the locals in their day…didn’t make them right though…

  18. “the way it was written, the tone, the vindictiveness, the rabidness of it I think was totally unjustified and unfair” – amusingly ironic that such a description is so perfectly for given TT story! I too just view TT with a smirk – it’s almost like a p*ss-take some nights. What I found scary though was the number of people in that Fairfax video vox-pop who didn’t find TT sensational and seemingly took what they present as actual fact and news!

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