Popular TV and radio presenter Meshel Laurie has broken her silence on her exit from Channel 10’s The Project in 2019.
The 49-year-old claims network executives found her political views ‘too left’ for the notoriously left-leaning current affairs show.
While Laurie did not explicitly state she was sacked for her views, she says concerns were raised about her politics not long after former Today host Lisa Wilkinson joined the panel in 2018.
Laurie, who now runs her own successful podcast company, also alleges she ‘tried for years’ to get Channel 10 to hire more Indigenous presenters but her requests were apparently ignored.
She spoke bitterly of her years working for the network in a series of Instagram posts last week, telling her followers she has ’emails to prove’ her explosive claims.
TV and radio presenter Meshel Laurie (left, with Waleed Aly, Lisa Wilkinson and Anthony Lehmann) has broken her silence on her exit from Channel 10’s The Project in 2019
She was prompted to speak about inclusivity in the media and her personal grievances with Channel 10 after reading a newspaper article about efforts by Scott Morrison’s government to paint a more ‘positive’ picture of colonial history in the school curriculum by removing references to the British ‘invasion’ of Australia.
Laurie said there were ‘heaps of brilliant Aboriginal comedians’ but ‘you’ve never seen them on TV’ because Australian networks ‘still give all the jobs to white men’.
Laurie added: ‘I tried for years to get The Project to employ Aboriginal comedians, by the way, and I have the emails to prove it. No interest.’
She went on to claim The Project only brought on Aboriginal contributors for NAIDOC Week this year as a ‘token’ gesture, and that her sincere effort to diversify the panel was allegedly ‘ignored’.
‘I wrote a thorough pitch document for the executive. No reply. Ever,’ she claimed. Laurie did not say when she wrote the pitch or to which executive she submitted it.
She added: ‘I should really tag @channel10au in this for sure. I’d love a response from their execs. They know who they are and so do I. I still have the emails…’
The 49-year-old (pictured on The Project) claims network executives found her political views ‘too left’ for the notoriously left-leaning current affairs show
Laurie, who now runs her own successful podcast company, has lost a significant amount of weight since quitting The Project. (Pictured left in 2016, and right in November 2021)
Laurie then addressed her own exit from The Project in a follow-up comment, saying her left-wing views became an issue during her last year on air.
‘The same @channel10au execs who thought I was “too left” supposedly after Lisa Wilkinson joined,’ she wrote.
Former Today host Wilkinson, 62, joined The Project and its Sunday edition in 2018, after defecting to Channel 10 following a pay despite with the Nine Network.
While Laurie did not explicitly state she was sacked for her views, she claims concerns were raised about her politics not long after Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) joined the panel in 2018
‘The same @channel10au execs who thought I was “too left” supposedly after Lisa Wilkinson joined,’ she wrote
Laurie claimed she had heard ‘word around the campfire’ at 10 that executives ‘thought [Wilkinson] was too old’ for The Project ‘so they wanted to surround her with much younger people’.
‘How’s that working out for you?’ she added, seemingly in reference to the show’s well-documented ratings decline.
Laurie also lashed out at the Australian entertainment industry, which she said is dominated by a culture of fear with TV and radio presenters afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be ‘blackballed’.
Laurie added: ‘I tried for years to get The Project to employ Aboriginal comedians, by the way, and I have the emails [to a Project executive] to prove it. No interest’
Laurie also lashed out at the Australian entertainment industry, which she said is dominated by a culture of fear with TV hosts afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be ‘blackballed’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Channel 10 and Laurie for comment.
Laurie previously said in a May 2019 interview she abandoned her lucrative radio job and regular appearances on The Project for personal reasons and burnout.
She told McKnight Tonight she contemplated suicide after being relentlessly trolled on Twitter and betrayed by people she once considered friends.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting she was referring to anyone at Channel 10.
Laurie said: ‘[In] early 2019, I was in a situation where I was having a breakdown basically. I was drinking heavily every night [and] tweeting, a hideous combination.’
In addition to her problem drinking, the outspoken TV personality was dealing with the fact her elderly father, who was living with her at the time, was dying.
Laurie said she became ‘anxious’ and ‘manic’ worrying about her father’s health and started self-medicating with alcohol to cope.
Laurie claimed she had heard ‘word around the campfire’ at 10 that executives ‘thought [Wilkinson] was too old’ for The Project ‘so they wanted to surround her with much younger people’. (Pictured from left: Lehmann, Hugh Riminton, Wilkinson and Laurie on The Project)
Despite having conservatives and centrists on the panel, The Project has been criticised in the past for its perceived left-wing bias. (Pictured: Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore)
As her parents became more of a burden, she had to ‘give up working full time in breakfast radio because [she] couldn’t cope with the hours and the pressures at home’.
‘I knew that I was giving up a lot of money, which I also needed. But I just couldn’t cope,’ she added.
In addition to leaving KIIS FM’s Matt & Meshel radio show, about this time Laurie also stopped her regular appearances on The Project.
‘I’d worked hard for a long time and I’d always enjoyed [working in the media] but I just hit a wall, you know?’ she said.
‘You’re so driven by the next job and getting the job and keeping the job, and the fear of other people coming up behind you, and the fear of taking a day off [in case] whoever replaces you will be great. I was that person, I wanted to keep grinding.’
But eventually Laurie reached a point where she could not continue and was simply ‘exhausted’.
Laurie previously said in a May 2019 interview she abandoned her lucrative radio job and regular appearances on The Project for personal reasons and burnout
In addition to the challenges at home, as Laurie’s drinking got worse she became more reckless on social media – getting involved in Twitter feuds and tweeting while intoxicated.
‘I’m laughing because it’s so insane [but] I’d literally be in my bath drinking red wine tweeting obscenities at the Prime Minister!’ she said.
In 2018, Laurie travelled to South Sudan to experience the refugee crisis first-hand for the SBS documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From Live.
The trip had a profound impact on Laurie, who has long been a supporter of humanitarian causes, and she ended up donating considerable sums of money to refugees in the country.
‘I sent a lot of money to South Sudan, sent about three times as much as I got paid for the gig on SBS,’ she told McKnight Tonight, before acknowledging these donations may have been due to her ‘mania’ at the time.
‘How the ATO has never investigated… you’d think some government [agency] would ask why I sent so much money to South Sudan?’ she added.
‘And I’m not showing off, because I am now quite broke by the way.’
Laurie surprised fans in July last year when she shared debuted her slimmed-down figure
Laurie then recalled how she ‘made some mistakes’ while drunk on Twitter, sparking the anger of black activists who accused her of shedding ‘white tears’.
She had encouraged counter protesters to boycott a white supremacist rally as it would only cause a media circus – but many Twitter users were angry at Laurie for telling them what they should and should not be protesting.
‘When people started attacking me and saying, “Stop telling black people what to do”, I reacted and I felt insulted. Then it just got out of hand,’ she said.
‘But then I was deleting my tweets so I don’t even know what happened.’
In 2018, Laurie travelled to South Sudan to experience the refugee crisis first-hand for the SBS documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From Live. Afterwards, she donated considerable sums of money to refugees in the country, leaving her ‘quite broke’
According to Laurie, there was a ‘lot of people’ who she had personally supported over the years who ‘poured s**t’ on her on Twitter around this time.
‘I ended up being really terrified of social media, which I still am now.. I’m really frightened of speaking in public,’ she confessed.
The backlash left her feeling lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide.
But at one of her lowest moments, which happened in January 2019, Nine News anchor Georgie Gardner reached out to Laurie via Twitter.
‘There was something about [Gardner’s] message that just… like, I was embarrassed but… you know normally when you’re embarrassed you get angry? Particularly when you’re drunk. But I don’t know, it didn’t make me angry,’ she said.
‘She was really kind and she was just saying, like everyone used to say to Charlotte [Dawson, who died by suicide in 2014], “Switch off [social media], mate. Let it go, get some sleep, tomorrow’s another day sort of thing”. And I did. I just switched it off.’
At one of her lowest moments, which happened in January 2019, Nine News anchor Georgie Gardner (right) reached out to Laurie via Twitter
Laurie said she was surprised by Gardner’s kindness and could not understand why people were so critical of the veteran journalist.
‘I woke up and read her messages again and thought, “Oh, God. What a nice lady. She’s got enough to deal with in her actual life”. And I haven’t spoken to her again,’ she added.
‘And I sometimes I see things in the media… and I think, “I must try and find a way to tell the world that she’s a really nice person!”‘
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