Opinion

Push or no push, Costello’s exit from Nine ‘had to happen’

Peter Costello sealed his own fate after last week’s incident at Canberra airport, but his role as the chair of Nine was already in peril.

On a new episode of the Mumbrellacast, editor Neil Griffiths and Adam Lang discussed the fallout from Costello’s resignation this past weekend, which came just days after the now-former chairman allegedly assaulted a reporter while walking through Canberra airport.

This incident came as Nine was already dealing with a number of controversies, including numerous reports of alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct across the business.

“The conversation and the reporting was around the fact that [CEO Mike Sneesby] is the one in the hot seat and it’s Costello that’s keeping him there. Then the push happens, and now the roles are flipped,” Griffiths said.

Lang added: “It was significant. It could have been handled differently.

“You can imagine if, immediately, Peter Costello had stopped and said, ‘are you okay?’ Something as human and compassionate as that could have changed the course of this. But it didn’t.

“Given the perspectives of Peter Costello and the journalist, the evidence of what happened on, on film, I think that this was the outcome that had to happen.”

However, Lang believes Costello’s position during this time, regardless of the Canberra airport run-in, was also in question given other issues such as the allegations of inappropriate behavior made against former news boss, Darren Wick.

With the 2024 Olympics now just over a month away, the findings of an external investigation conducted by Intersection will be revealed at the end of July, while the network will also present its annual results on 28 August.

Despite reports that she may be a “stopgap” solution during this time, Lang said incoming chair Catherine West now has the opportunity to lead the media giant out of this “crisis”.

“She can put a stamp on it and own the repatriation or own the story from here,” he said.

“I think that she can do that and she should be given every support to do that.

“I hope it’s not a stopgap. I hope it is an ongoing task that she can take and role model fantastic leadership.”

Listen to the full episode here.

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