EXCLUSIVE: Q&A host Tony Jones sent a message of support to Fran Kelly following a media storm over last week’s episode, and attributed the incident to the panel mix.
“It could have been managed by having a panel with serious differences of opinion on it,” he tells TV Tonight.
“If we were to go back and reinvent the panel we probably would have had a panel with alternative views, who might have actually argued if someone had talked about violence being an answer -even if they were just being rhetorical.
“But unfortunately the panel didn’t contain anyone who fiercely contested that idea.
“Fran has come out today and said she’s sorry she didn’t do more to do that. I can understand her position. I think everyone reflecting on it would think they could have done better.”
The discussion around violence against women led to panelists endorsing violence has received over 200 complaints, with ABC launching an internal investigation. ABC managing director David Anderson in a statement acknowledged, “I can understand why some viewers found elements of this episode confronting or offensive.”
Tony Jones, who was launching his new novel last week, In Darkness Visible, has not seen the episode which was taken offline at the direction of ABC Chair Ita Buttrose. But he has read much of the criticism levelled against the show and host Fran Kelly.
As he nears the end of his 12 years with the show, Jones is familiar with the scrutiny that comes with the role.
“I sent a message to Fran saying I’ve been through instances like this, and you basically have to hold your breath and swim through it to get to the surface,” he reveals.
“In Fran’s case she’s got a huge body of great work behind her. No-one is really going to say Fran Kelly is to blame, or that it in any way affects her reputation as a journalist. That reputation is based on many, many years of fine work.
“I would typically begin my day by listening to Fran and at the end of her programme I feel incredibly well-informed by a really acute, critical mind. There’s no way all of that is wiped out by one night on a Live television show.”