Sacked ABC boss Michelle Guthrie was pressured to fire a star presenter and worried about looking like an ‘idiot’ if she resigned from her $891,000-a-year job.
Months before she was removed by the ABC board, the former Google executive was sent an email by ABC chairman Justin Milne demanding she ‘get rid’ of chief economics correspondent and former Lateline presenter Emma Alberici to appease the government.
‘They hate her,’ Mr Milne said in the May email, which a source close to the ABC board gave to Fairfax Media.
Sacked ABC boss Michelle Guthrie was pressured to fire a star presenter and worried about looking like an ‘idiot’ if she resigned from her $891,000-a-year job
ABC chairman Justin Milne had emailed Ms Guthrie demanding she ‘get rid’ of chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici (pictured) to appease the government
‘We are tarred with her brush. I think it’s simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC – not Emma. There is no guarantee they [the Coalition] will lose the next election.’
This email was circulated to ABC board members last week, ahead of Ms Guthrie’s sacking as managing director on Monday, halfway through her five-year appointment.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had been angered at Ms Alberici’s analysis slamming company tax cuts, a Liberal Party policy, and his Communications Minister Mitch Fifield lodged a formal complaint.
In April, her story was pulled from the ABC website and a subsequent review found it contained nine factual errors, including confusing revenue with profit and omitting how companies like Qantas had made a loss for several years.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had been angered at Ms Alberici’s analysis slamming company tax cuts, a Liberal Party policy
A fortnight before Ms Guthrie was dumped by the ABC board, she was summoned to meet Mr Milne and another board member Donny Walford after they had sent her a letter asking her to quit, The Australian has learned.
Ms Guthrie, however, refused to go, sources familiar with the situation told the newspaper.
‘I don’t want to resign, I don’t think I have done anything wrong,’ she reportedly said.
‘I’ve brought all these people along for the transformation (of the ABC), we’ve gone through all the pain.’
ABC chairman Justin Milne (left) summoned Ms Guthrie (right) to a meeting in mid-September where he told her she needed to resign
Ms Guthrie has flagged taking legal action against the ABC.
As managing director, she sacked 200 middle managers to create a $50 million Great Ideas Grant, in which ABC divisions could bid for money.
She also sacked 20 capital-city journalists to instead hire new digital and regional reporters.
The ABC’s former director of television David Anderson is filling in as the ABC’s acting managing director until a permanent replacement is found.