Former The Project co-host Charlie Pickering has launched an impassioned – and very tongue-in-cheek – defence of Waleed Aly.
Aly, who now has the chair Pickering once held on The Project, made headlines this week when it was announced he was among the six nominees for the biggest award in Australian TV, the Gold Logie.
But not everyone was happy.
The first response came from Today show co-host Karl Stefanovic – himself a former winner of the award – who joked that his colleague Lisa Wilkinson was “too white” to be nominated for the gong.
Next came an article in The Herald Sun, quoting a “well-placed TV insider”, which slammed the selection.
The insider questioned “what has Waleed ever done?” and “is The Project successful?”.
Interestingly, The Project’s credentials were not questioned last year, when Aly’s co-host Carrie Bickmore took out the Gold Logie.
The Daily Telegraph then ran a story entitled “six reasons why Waleed Aly should not win the gold”.
But Pickering, on his ABC show The Weekly, went into bat for Aly in his usual sardonic style, declaring if anybody should be upset about his nomination, it was him.
“Congratulations to all of the nominees, voted to be the six most popular people on TV,” Pickering said.
“But also, congratulations to the media for making the good news of Aly’s nomination something to get angry about with articles questioning his nomination.
“It culminated in an article in The Daily Telegraph listing six reasons why Waleed Aly should not win the gold.
“Those reasons included that he doesn’t use social media and that The Project isn’t as popular as the breakfast shows, even though it rates twice as much as they do and it’s co-hosted by another Gold Logie winner.
“Now the truth is that if anyone should be angry about this, it should be me.
“I sat on the desk at The Project for five years and was repeatedly passed over for the Gold Logie. Now was it because I’m white? Who knows.
“Was it because I just wasn’t popular enough? Best not to speculate.”
— The Weekly (@theweeklytv) April 6, 2016
Aly, who is a Muslim born in Melbourne to Egyptian parents, refused to bite back during Wednesday’s episode of The Project.
He briefly mentioned the furore during his ‘Something We Need To Talk About’ segment, while having a go at the delays and cost blow-outs in building the National Broadband Network (NBN).
“Now, understandably, the guy who set up the company responsible for delivering the NBN is more put out about this than Karl and Lisa were when Lee Lin Chin and I were nominated for a Gold Logie,” Aly said.