A television reporter has hit back at his critics after coming under fire for challenging Daniel Andrews over his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Channel Seven journalist Denham Hitchcock’s hard-hitting approach tested the patience of the Victorian premier at his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday by demanding an answer to the same question three times.
The grilling of the under-pressure premier didn’t win over many fans, with critics advising the Sydney-based journalist to head home and stick to surfing.
Hitchcock delivered the perfect response to his critics with a post on Instagram on Wednesday.
The reporter wrote: ‘Journalist asks tough questions to a politician at a press conference? Reasonably certain that’s part of my job description…..’
Seven News reporter Denham Hitchcock clashed with the Victorian premier on Tuesday
The hostile exchange happened almost an hour into the press conference after Hitchcock asked Mr Andrews whether he would wreck his state’s economy to save lives.
‘Well, that’s a choice that we have made as a National Cabinet from day one,’ the premier replied.
Hitchcock responded, ‘That doesn’t answer the question.’
The premier repeated his earlier answer before being interrupted.
‘If you would answer the question, yes or no,’ Hitchcock persisted.
Mr Andrews fired back: ‘How I choose to answer your questions is, with respect, a matter for me.’
‘And the National Cabinet has made a decision that instead of allowing this virus to spread throughout the entire Australian community, much like it is in Europe, killing many tens of thousands of people, we would fix the health problem first, and then we would all in a unified way, set about repairing the economic damage this pandemic has done.
‘You can do very little for livelihoods until you prioritise saving lives and defeating this virus. That’s the path we’re on.
‘Six weeks ago, there were 725 cases. 725 cases. Today we are at a much lower number. We can be pleased that this strategy is working and the only steps to take, the only steps to take, are safe and steady ones.’
Hitchcock delivered the perfect response to his critics with a post on Instagram on Wednesday. The reporter wrote: ‘Journalist asks tough questions to a politician at a press conference? Reasonably certain that’s part of my job description…..
Hitchcock was the latest reporter to test Daniel Andrews’ (pictured) patience on Tuesday
Mr Andrews acknowledged the significant economic impact Melbourne’s stage four lockdown has had on the state but said the health challenge had to be addressed first.
Victoria recorded 28 new cases and three more deaths on Tuesday.
‘This is a public health emergency. It’s called that for a reason. And that’s what is driving all of our response,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There is an economic crisis out there as well, of course. But you have got to deal with the health one first.’
Hitchcock faced a barrage of online abuse.
‘You should have stayed in Sydney,’ one critic tweeted.
Another mocked: ‘No one needs your hot Northern Beaches takes on a pandemic bud. Stick to surfing.’
It also sparked the hashtag #ThisisNotJournalism to trend on Twitter.
‘Victorians don’t need journos from Sydney blasting into Dan’s pressers and making false, sweeping statements on our behalf,’ one woman wrote.
The heated exchange between the reporter and the Premier sparked a divided reaction
Denham Hitchock (right) sparked the heated exchange when he asked Premier Andrews whether he would wreck his state’s economy to save lives
But some came to Hitchcock’s defence.
‘Everyone who is choosing to support this dictator of a premier obviously haven’t had their lives affected by the actions of this incompetent Victorian government but wait until they do, their tune will change quick smart. Thumbs up for real journalism,’ one woman commented
Another added: ‘About time someone stopped up and asked someone real questions of #DictatorDan, we had the premiers boys club in there for the last how many crap press conferences! Keep up the good work plenty of questions to ask this week of their utter incompetence!’
Sydney-based Hitchcock has been in Melbourne covering Victoria’s coronavirus crisis since September 14 after recent time off following the birth of baby daughter Kaia in August.
‘Will we look back on these days of closed borders and heavy restrictions and feel proud we did our part to try and save lives ? Or embarrassed over the damage we caused to the economy and ourselves? Now is the time for the debate,’ Hitchcock captioned an Instagram post about his Melbourne trip.
He’s the son of former award-winning journalist and news director Kevin Hitchcock, who broke his neck in a freak accident diving in Hawkesbury River in 1991.