ABC’s Lateline has been in the firing line in recent weeks but last night it got an endorsement from the Prime Minister following a heated interview between Emma Alberici and Wassim Doureihi, a spokesman for Islamic State supporters Hizb ut-Tahrir.
In the interview Doureihi dodged many of Alberici’s questions, resulting in both talking over one another.
EMMA ALBERICI: And with respect, many commentators all over the world have made that very point. What I’m asking you specifically is their tactics. Of course people are angry; we understand that. But what I’m asking you is the tactic that’s being employed to push back. Do you support it?
WASSIM DOUREIHI: Well let me explain something very clearly. I will explain very clearly.
EMMA ALBERICI: Answer my question, please.
WASSIM DOUREIHI: I’ll explain to you why the question itself is quite disconcerting, because what we’re talking about is a particular reality where millions have lost their lives. Countries have been destroyed, homes …
EMMA ALBERICI: You are clearly obfuscating …
WASSIM DOUREIHI: Absolutely not.
EMMA ALBERICI: … and I did not invite you …
WASSIM DOUREIHI: No, I reject that, I reject the accusation.
EMMA ALBERICI: … onto this program to do that.
WASSIM DOUREIHI: I’ll say very clearly: why is it not offensive …
EMMA ALBERICI: Why will you not point blank condemn the actions of IS fighters?
WASSIM DOUREIHI: Why is it not offensive – because the question itself is offensive.
EMMA ALBERICI: Men who cut off the heads of innocent journalists and aid workers. Why will you not take the opportunity?
WASSIM DOUREIHI: You can ask the question – you can ask the question …
EMMA ALBERICI: You have a national platform here.
WASSIM DOUREIHI: Yes. And I’m quite aware of that.
Tony Abbott applauded Alberici for grilling Doureihi as he tried to avoid her questions.
“Good on Emma Alberici, she’s a feisty interviewer… I think she spoke for our country last night,” he told 3AW this morning.
The Prime Minister said Doureihi’s views did not represent the wider Muslim community and said extremists would not be welcome.
“It’s wrong, it’s un-Islamic, it’s un-Australian and I hope he wakes up to himself,” he said.
“I regard it as un-Australian, to stand up there and make excuses for terrorism. To blame everyone but the terrorists for their actions. What the terrorists are doing in the Middle East is abhorred.”
Lateline has attracted its own criticisms lately amid looming budget cuts and questions about its own TV ratings.