Natasha Exelby has spoken publicly about her infamous on-air gaffe, saying the ABC “didn’t do the right thing by me” immediately following the slip-up.
The now former ABC News newsreader told KIIS FM she kept her silence after the event went viral to “do the right thing by them [the ABC]”.
Exelby, who only recently returned from a foreign correspondent and anchor role with Turkish broadcaster TRT World, was told Monday she has been axed from news reading duties, after being caught off guard during a live news shift Sunday.
In the video that has since gone viral, the former “Wake Up!” co-host is seen looking startled as she suddenly realizes the cameras have returned to her after a prerecorded package has finished.
It’s a slip-up almost every newsreader in the world has committed but rarely costs the TV presenter their on-air job.
The decision to bench the freelance newsreader and producer comes from the same broadcaster widely criticized for the more serious charge of failing to vet the audience of its panel program “Q&A” and allowing one-time terror suspect Zaky Mallah to join the live TV debate.
The error, described by then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott as “completely incomprehensible” and compounded when it was rebroadcast on ABC24, saw no one from the program sacked.
Most viewers laughed off Exelby’s innocuous gaffe, posted by the ABC’s own Media Watch program — it sparked waves of support, rather than acrimony, for the “mortified” news professional.
SBS newsreader Janice Petersen tweeted a screen grab of herself caught putting lipstick on while live, writing in solidarity: “it happens.”
Sky News political reporter Samantha Maiden celebrated the human error, telling her Twitter followers: “that’s @NatashaExelby and she’s awesome. She’s too much for @ABCmediawatch. Too fabulous.”
Exelby told News Corp. “it would be inappropriate for me to comment.”
Exelby was told Monday she would no longer be used in an on-air role, an ABC spokesman said in a statement: “Natasha Exelby is a casual contributor, not a staff member. She has been booked for occasional on-air shifts when needed and also does other occasional shifts for the ABC News channel.
“Contributors work out their shifts with managers on a per-needs basis. Details of individuals’ shifts are confidential to them and not something the ABC publicly comments on.”
News Corp. is pursuing ABC management for further comment, addressing directly her removal from news reading duties, either as a freelancer or otherwise.