Arguably Australia’s finest two television journalists ever have found comfort in mutual support and admiration following rare on-air mistakes by both in the space of just a few days.
The Bug reported several days ago how the ABC’s News Breakfast host Virginia Trioli sobbed uncontrollably for several days in her star’s dressing room in the program’s Melbourne studios after saying “countries overseas” during a report on preschool education.
And then on the 7.30 program late last week, host Leigh Sales in a report on Geoffrey Rush’s defamation case win talked of “female actresses”.
Both mistakes have stunned industry insiders who say the on-air gaffes are only the second errors either of the two media stars have ever made in a combined four decades of outstanding print and broadcast journalism practice.
And The Bug can now reveal how Ms Trioli came immediately to her colleague’s aid as soon as Ms Sales made her mistake.
“I was sitting at home watching the show but at the same time listening to a language tape and practising how to pronounce place names and geographical features of the lands of the San or Saan peoples, the Khoesān-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer groups that are the first nations of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa,” Ms Trioli said.
“You might mistakenly know them as the Kalahari bushmen?
“Anyway, you never know when a story on them might come up so I was tongue clicking away and getting my pronunciations perfect when I saw and heard Leigh’s slip-up and rang her right on 8pm as soon as she came off air.
“She was understandably pretty devastated but I just said straight out to her: ‘Girlfriend, what are the chances that either of us are going to make another mistake at this stage in our careers with, what, probably only another 20 years each left in the industry?’
“Leigh stopped sniffling and said: ‘You’re right, of course’, and I knew straight away we were both going to be okay.”