OPINION | No winners in Craig McLachlan tell-all


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Despite claims Channel 7 were airing a ‘redemption’ piece for Craig McLachlan, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only were viewers divided but so was the TV Blackbox team

Craig McLachlan in a promo for his exclusive interview with Channel 7

Bias is a funny thing. Journalists and TV stations are often accused of it by people expressing their own biased views.

Last night Channel 7 was accused of bias for having the audacity to air a controversial interview with fallen star Craig McLachlan. And I say ‘controversial’ because there are many people who say the interview should not have aired at all.

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But that’s not democracy.

In a democratic world those accused of a crime have the right to tell their truth. Whether you agree with the decision of the court of not, McLachlan has found NOT GUILTY on the thirteen charges laid against him.

This is an important point.

For those accusing the producers at Channel 7 of trying to fix his image, I couldn’t disagree more. The special titled Horror Story which ran last night was a well-produced piece of television which showed both sides of the story.

McLachlan did not come out looking like a hero. He came out as someone who has certainly been through the wringer, but also someone who is a narcissist and not able to see the other side of the story.

But there were others who also didn’t come out looking so good – specifically the journalists and producers who broke the original allegations. In the raw footage shown we saw activism, not journalism.

The women being interviewed were coached from the sidelines, mostly by an ABC producer. A senior journalist at Fairfax is on tape saying “We want him out of that job”.

I have spoken to people who have seen the full tapes and are shocked by the behaviour of the ABC producer. Having only seen the grabs which aired last night I can honestly says I am shocked even by hearing those small snippets.

In all the years of producing promos for programs like 60 Minutes, Today Tonight and A Current Affair I have watched a lot of raw camera tapes while looking for grabs. I can honestly say I have NEVER heard reporters and producers of any of those shows coaching talent. The closest they would have possibly come is asking the interviewee to be more concise in their thoughts.

It is important to note the women being interviewed did nothing wrong here. They were simply trying to tell their stories but the ‘journalists’ involved had an agenda, that is obvious.

And it should also be clearly stated the comments made by the Judge about the testimony of the women involved in the case, as tweeted by Christie Whelan:

Craig McLachlan is a man who only saw himself as a victim and that was made clear in the story. He thought it outrageous he should have been put through the court process and instead of feeling vindicated, attacked those who dared to question him.

But that’s the law and people have a right to have their cases heard by the court and the accused have the right to defend themselves.

We here at TV Blackbox have been talking about this story publicly on twitter and privately on slack. With permission, I am publishing some of those comments with my own responses.

I have to disagree with my colleague here. I found the special to be well-produced, balanced and very watchable. it seems to me a lot of people are judging the special on their own prejudices, not the content.

I agree with Molk that it was about ‘poor me’ but that was not from Seven’s point of view, that was from McLachlan’s. This is where he missed the whole point: instead of learning lessons, he saw himself as the victim.

TV Blackbox contributor Abbey Mikkelsen continued:

I personally didn’t have a problem with the comments from the journos. If I was a journo, especially as a woman, and I heard these stories, I’d want him out of the job as well. The safety of others has to take priority.

This is very dangerous stuff to me. Are we saying journalists are now allowed to take sides when it is an issue you support, so can they also take sides on an issue you object to? Journalists at the ABC and The SMH pride themselves on setting the highest standards, but what we witnessed on those tapes was an embarrassment of the highest order. Where was the objectivity? Those tapes only served to reinforce every claim ever made against the ABC that it is biased. I have always defended our ABC but how can I now seeing how their teams act behind the scenes.

How can I trust anything they report?

Molk went on to say:

“The story sends a very clear message to Seven’s female employees and those they contract through production companies that the “star” is the one to be protected. The entire tone of the interview/program was off-colour (the kiss recreation was…not cool). The blurring of producer/journo/victim’s faces so they could use the footage only made it seem more sinister (also we’re all not privy to the full tapes, and we all know by now a grab here and a grab there can be made to manipulate for the tone of the story. The musical score only underlined how the story was being set for portrayal. With more allegations surfacing about McLachlan’s behaviour this story isn’t going away, and while his one-man show in South Australia might be his performance ‘redemption’ I cannot see Craig appearing on an Australian TV or theatre production again any time soon…certainly not after that story.”

Seven dumped McLachlan from The Doctor Blake Mysteries the moment he was accused of wrongdoing. I don’t think Seven can be accused of trying to send a message to those who wish to complain, the facts just don;t support that argument.

There is no doubt this story has clearly divided people. Even though I have taken an even-handed approach I have certainly been attacked on social media because of it.

There are many lessons to take away from this but the first is democracy allows all people to speak. If you don’t believe in that then you don’t believe in democracy.

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Robert McKnight
Robert McKnight
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | "Always first with the correct info" - Beau Ryan | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 25 years in the industry. Publicly he is most well-known for creating and producing STUDIO 10 but has worked on SUNRISE, THE MORNING SHOW plus other prime time productions in addition to creating award-winning news campaigns for both 7NEWS and 9NEWS. Currently, Rob is the host and producer of the TV BLACKBOX, MCKNIGHT TONIGHT and MONSTERS WHO MURDER podcast, and executive producer of AFTERNOONS WITH SOFIE FORMICA on radio station 4BC



  1. Robert … you are certainly correct about ABC journalists and their “agenda”, but be aware that this is not just about individuals or even a group of people who call themselves journalists, it comes right from the top of the ABC news department … while I was working for the ABC in early 2013, the entire staff was forced to witness a most embarrassing presentation of boasting and crowing from the senior people in the news department where they stated quite clearly and unequvocally that it was no longer the job of the ABC news department to report news but, in their own words “to set the agenda” … it was one of the reasons that I then quit the ABC because it had reached the point that I was actually embarrassed to be associated with what it has now become – a poor clone of the old Melbourne Truth …

  2. Please it is wringer not ringer. “He came out as someone who has certainly been through the ringer,”……..


    a device such as a mangle for wringing water from wet clothes, mops, or other objects.

    a person or thing that looks very like another.
    “he is a dead ringer for his late papa”
    a person or device that rings something.

  3. “Journalists at the ABC and The SMH pride themselves on setting the highest standards, ”

    The highest standard in promoting their agenda you mean.

  4. To say it was a balanced program you obviously have not read Magistrate Wallington’s judgment. For example, the show mentioned a kiss on stage as something that had been complained about. What about all the other actions, for example, touching a colleague’s vagina while she was on stage and unable to immediately rebuke him?

    You talk about journalistic standards but McLachlan was barely challenged in what he said.

  5. What terrible liars these “progressive” “news” people are. Journalism has been dead for decades.

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