Paul Murray’s media menu: Conservative firebrand also listens to the left

You might expect Steve Bannon, but he also reads The Guardian and watches MSNBC.

Sky News Australia host Paul Murray told Mediaweek recently how he enjoys a good political debate. Today, we share just how far the conservative firebrand goes in search of a political argument.

It’s a journey that includes one of the internet’s most controversial conservative commentators. It also includes two pillars of the left. One based in the UK with an Australian arm. The other a TV channel that is part of the global NBCUniversal giant.

Murray on the media and the ‘Turnbull Times’

During his Mediaweek interview, Murray referred to the straight media. He doesn’t openly critique too many brands or people by name. There are a few exceptions. Especially Guardian Australia, which Murray brands the Turnbull Times. “Because he brought them into existence,” he explained.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull is credited with planting the idea for the Australian edition of the British brand. “I don’t read Guardian Australia by choice. I read it because I want to know what the other end of the spectrum thinks.”

On Paul Murray Live, the host will debate headlines or analysis features he thinks are worth critiquing from Nine Publishing metro dailies and the AFR. “For obvious reasons, I support the content that our own organisation makes,” he noted [News Corp Australia owns Sky News Australia].

“I don’t get into a pitched battle with the good guys and bad guys in the media. I am double-focused on the narratives some reporters try and push. There is no point getting involved in a very specific blow-up on a specific reporter. There are a couple of people though I will always call out by name.

See also: Why is Paul Murray so pissed off? Sky News Australia host on ‘Airbus Albo’

Murray’s favourite lefty hotbeds

“I will watch the content that people assume to be the exact opposite of what I do. I respect the people I disagree with enough to listen to them.

Surely you wouldn’t find Murray tuning into such ‘lefty hotbeds’ like the ABC or maybe even MSNBC? Well yes, he does. All that and more.

“I listen to a lot of Bill Maher, who is amazing. I would love to do Club Random [Maher’s podcast].” Maher hosts a weekly talk show for HBO which is shown locally on Foxtel and Binge.

I absolutely devour the content at MSNBC. Morning Joe [MSNBC breakfast show] as a concept is a breakfast show I would definitely watch in Australia.” He doesn’t agree with everything they say, of course. “They have completely lost their brain over Trump. So much so that Mika Brzezinski [co-host] thinks that editorialising is huffing and folding her arms.

“It is really interesting what CNN do in primetime. Except for Anderson Cooper, it is all women.”

Murray admitted he has been getting little sleep lately because he’s been watching coverage of the Trump trial. “It is incredible how channels can construct quite gripping television despite being unable to get any audio or pictures.”

His Australian diet includes ABC’s Q&A hosted by Patricia Karvelas on YouTube. “I don’t get to listen to as much live radio as I’d like to. I’m a mega Kyle and Jackie O fan. Kyle Sandilands is amazing. I always listen to Ray Hadley. On TV, I enjoy The Cheap Seats, also Shaun Micallef when he has a show on. I’ll even keep watching when I’m a joke on those shows.

He’s on board with Foxtel Group’s streaming strategy: “The Flash app is amazing for me because you can go back to the top of the hour on lots of different news channels.

US election recommendation

Murray has two tips regarding the US election. “Watch the first 10 minutes of Morning Joe on MSNBC and the first 10 minutes of Steve Bannon’s [daily] War Room podcast. You don’t have to agree with them, but you will know what the id of the Biden campaign is and the id of the Trump campaign is.”

Right v Left in US politics: War Room and Morning Joe

Guest firepower

The move by Sky News Australia to have content that engages both live on the TV and across social platforms has supercharged the guests on Paul Murray Live. “We wanted to get the best possible people to not just talk about UK and US politics, but people who had online popularity,” said Murray.

Megyn Kelly and Nigel Farage are both unbelievable guests. Rather than trying to find 10 different people to fill two weeks worth of slots, we went all in on two that would really kick ass. And they do.”

Megyn Kelly is a regular on Paul Murray’s show. He also appears with her at times on her US programming

Murray explained Farage is live when on his show because of a time zone that works in the UK. Murray prerecords a chat with Kelly that can last between 15 and 30 minutes when it fits into her day. “Some of that content goes on the TV, other parts of it are used online.”

When asked about his Australian guests, Murray said, “There’s only ever been a couple of bad ones. And I’m not about to name them. Over the years, as a breakfast FTA TV breakfast show would do, we have developed a cast of regular guests that people would look forward to hearing from.

Nigel Farage with Paul Murray

Contrary to some perceptions, while my opinion is really strong, I also have strong guests from the Labor side.” One of them used to be Graham Richardson. These days, it’s more likely to be Stephen Conroy or Sam Crosby.

Paul Murray Live format

The host likes a feisty debate: “I seriously want people to engage with me in the way I engage with the content I disagree with.

“The thing I have learnt through my whole career is that although the show is in a good place today, I expect it to be completely different in two years’ time.”

Murray is amongst his harshest critics. “One thing I have told everybody, from AFTRS students to my own producers is: The best thing about a bad show is the chance you get to do another one tomorrow night. The worst thing about a good show is you have to do another one tomorrow night.”

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