Video still of host Virginia Trioli pulling a face off-air after interviewing Barnaby Joyce on ABC.
Video still of host Virginia Trioli pulling a face off-air after interviewing Barnaby Joyce on ABC.

The tragedy behind this TV gaffe

ABC presenter Virginia Trioli has opened up for the first time about her heartbreak over losing a baby, in the aftermath of an infamous on-air gaffe.

Speaking to a packed Women in Media conference at Bond University on the Gold Coast, the usually private News Breakfast co-host relived the ordeal that broke her in 2009.

It was in the aftermath of the "the most frightening moment" of her career, when much of the country was debating her now-infamous Barnaby Joyce scandal.

Before the saga, which played out in the media, Ms Trioli had gone through her "100th IVF cycle and 85th embryo transfer" and finally had a successful embryo take.

She returned to work from a week's leave "technically pregnant" but nobody knew.

Ms Trioli recalled she was exuberant and "high as a kite", and nothing was going to take that euphoric feeling away from her - but it did.

ABC journalist Virginia Trioli has opened up about her baby heartache, which came in the immediate aftermath of an embarrassing on-air gaffe.
ABC journalist Virginia Trioli has opened up about her baby heartache, which came in the immediate aftermath of an embarrassing on-air gaffe.

Recounting the moment she was caught out on air interviewing Mr Joyce, she pointed out her jubilant buzz could have played out on anyone that day.

"The hijinks in the studio that day, all generated by me, were funny, silly and incredibly risky," she said.

"Barnaby Joyce may have been the one who copped it from me that morning but it could have been anyone that day."

The camera cut back Ms Trioli unexpectedly and she was caught pulling a face and twirling a finger around her ear, implying Joyce was loopy.

"I think my heart stopped dead for a full five seconds," she said.

"I stumbled through the rest of the broadcast in a daze. A part of me will never recover from the shock and the horror of what I'd done."

The camera cut back to Virginia Trioli unexpectedly and captured this unfortunate moment.
The camera cut back to Virginia Trioli unexpectedly and captured this unfortunate moment.

Once off air she spoke to her executive producer and immediately rang Mr Joyce to apologise.

She said he accepted the apology but that did not stop the barrage of social media abuse that followed.

"The waves of abuse were pounding me," she said. "It was dreadful. I told my husband I thought I'd just killed a 20-year career in journalism. I cried and two days later I bled.

"I often think it was probable the tiny and precious embryo was never going to take but to this day I will always believe it was also that drama and my own silliness that stole my hope for a child."

Virginia Trioli is now the co-host of News Breakfast. Picture: AAP
Virginia Trioli is now the co-host of News Breakfast. Picture: AAP

Ms Trioli made it clear it was not a moment of left-and-right ridicule but the "abysmal lows and the ecstatic highs" of the IVF roller coaster no one knew of.

"We knew how this looked. An ABC presenter sending up a Coalition member at a time when the broadcaster was under sustained attack for perceived bias. It was dreadful.

"It was foolish. It was unprofessional. But it was not bias."

She shared the experience to encourage women in media to overcome adversity and not be afraid of self scrutiny.

"Never wait for someone who doesn't have your best interest at heart to point out your shortcomings - get their first," she said.

Ms Trioli and her husband have a six-year-old son.



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