Australian TV bosses defend anchors caught badmouthing Novak Djokovic in hot mic rant, and say leaking the footage was 'cowardly' and 'illegal'
- Australian TV network 7News is hunting for a leaker who shared footage of two anchors badmouthing Novak Djokovic.
- Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern were heard on a hot mic calling Djokovic an "asshole" on Tuesday.
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Australian TV presenter Rebecca Maddern has apologized over leaked footage that showed her badmouthing Novak Djokovic during an advert break on Melbourne's 7News network, with the channel's executives calling the leak "cowardly," and "illegal."
Maddern and her co-presenter Mike Amor were heard on a hot mic calling the Serbian an "asshole" during a break in a broadcast on Tuesday.
The pair also questioned the legitimacy of the tennis star's positive COVID-19 test on December 16. That test ultimately resulted in him being allowed to remain in Australia under a medical exemption despite initially having his visa revoked.
"Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky asshole," said Maddern, who later added: "I don't even think he was COVID positive."
Amor also called Djokovic an "asshole" and said: "He gave a bullshit fucking excuse. Fell over his own fucking lies, which is what happens, right? That's what happened."
Watch footage of the exchange here. Please be advised this clip contains strong language:
—Avi Yemini (@OzraeliAvi) January 11, 2022
Speaking with radio station 3AW, per Sky News Australia, 7Melbourne managing director Lewis Martin said Wednesday that Maddern had apologized and that the network was now hunting down the leaker.
"Well, it's disappointing. It's a private conversation. It's been illegally recorded and it's been illegally distributed," he said.
"I can assure you that we won't be leaving any stone unturned to find out how it's happened. It's disappointing from that point of view.
"I've spoken to [Maddern] this morning, and she's incredibly apologetic, but at the end of the day, it's a private conversation."
Craig McPherson, Director of News and Public Affairs for 7News, echoed Martin's comments in an statement on Wednesday.
"The illegal recording was of a private conversation between two colleagues," he said, per Sky News Australia. "It was an underhanded, cowardly act in breach of the Victorian Listening Devices legislation the perpetrator of which will be accordingly dealt with when found."
While bosses appear to be furious with the leak, one anonymous insider told Yahoo! Sport Australia that it could actually benefit the network.
"Is it a crisis for Channel Seven? Doubt it," the industry source said. "The reality is it makes your newsreaders look like the average person in the street. There's plenty of ordinary people out there saying Novak is an asshole.
"It's given them some street cred and I don't think Seven would be too worried. They say they will investigate but I'm not sure how vigorous that investigation will be."
Djokovic apologized in a lengthy social media statement
On Wednesday, Djokovic issued an apology of his own, admitting that he attended a press event on December 18, two days after finding out he'd tested positive for the virus.
"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L'Equipe interview as I didn't want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken," he said in a statement released on Instagram.
"While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of Judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment."
Djokovic also admitted making an error in his Australian travel declaration form. The 34-year-old had confirmed on the form that that he had not travelled or would not travel in the 14 days prior to his flight to Australia on January 4.
"This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur."
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