In an astonishing exchange, a testy Pauline Hanson took a verbal swipe at Today host Deborah Knight during a Thursday morning TV grilling.
During a live cross on the Nine breakfast show, Knight asked Senator Hanson about her party’s dire polling figures leading into Saturday’s election.
“The latest Newspoll, it shows support for One Nation collapsing to 4 per cent, on par with Clive Palmer’s party,” Knight said.
“In light of all the things you’ve faced, all the scandals, all the things that have been going on, can you really blame people for having their doubts about One Nation and considering Clive [Palmer] over you?”
The One Nation leader – who was parked in front of a giant cow statue near a lake in Shepparton – had instant beef with the line of questioning.
Fired up, she launched a personal sledge against Knight.
“I’ve actually gone up since the last election, unlike your show, Deb, since you’ve actually taken over,” she said.
“You’ve actually gone down in your viewership.”
Knight snapped back: “Ooh, you’re having a go.”
Today’s ratings have collapsed since the spotlit departure of former host Karl Stefanovic in December after a raft of personal and professional issues turned viewers off him.
Nine named Knight and Georgie Gardner as Today’s hosts but the new-look show has struggled to gain traction since its January launch.
On Wednesday, Today drew 217,000 metropolitan and regional viewers. Its Seven rival Sunrise more than doubled that, with a total audience of 465,000.
The Nine show has also trailed ABC’s News Breakfast.
“Should you hand over your job or should we bring Karl back? Should we bring Karl back?” Senator Hanson asked Knight.
“You have a go at me about this all the time.”
Viewers reacted swiftly on social media, with many backing the senator.
“Gold, Pauline, pure bloody gold. You rock lady,” said one Twitter user. Added another, “She’s 100 per cent correct.”
Nine was fine with what was said, a spokesperson told The New Daily.
“We always welcome politicians to come on Today and we have a proud history of keeping public officials held to account.
“Pauline is always welcome back to debate the issues.”
Video of the tense exchange was initially uploaded to social media then deleted.
It was replaced on Nine’s twitter feed with footage that didn’t show Senator Hanson’s Today criticism but did have Knight trying to smooth things over as the cross wrapped up.
“I’m just an Aussie who feels so disheartened with what is happening in my country and I just want a voice That’s all the people want, is honesty and integrity from their members of parliament.” @PaulineHansonOz #9Today pic.twitter.com/TiRqaU026t
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) May 15, 2019
“We want to end on a positive note, Pauline. I’m worried that you think I’m having a dig at you and I’m not,” said Knight.
She told Senator Hanson a Triple M radio poll showed she’s the politician most people surveyed wanted to have a beer with.
Senator Hanson played along, saying she goes to “a lot of pubs” and likes to “have a beer with a lot of Aussies.
“And it’s nice to know that people want to have a beer with me. I’m just one of the guys out there.”
Senator Hanson also slammed Clive Palmer, saying “people won’t be happy” the United Australia Party leader is in Fiji two days before the federal poll.
“Clive’s not going around the country supporting his candidates. Clive’s not interested in the country. Clive Palmer’s only interested in himself.”