Far-left wing journalist and activist Peter FitzSimons has refused to release audio that would clear him of bullying accusations by indigenous senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.
Price has urged FitzSimons to release the audio from an interview where she claims the Sydney Morning Herald columnist was 'aggressive' towards her and accused her of 'giving a voice to racists'.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, Price claimed the interview with FitzSimons started out well, but claimed that he became 'aggressive ... condescending and rude' to her.
Price said she deleted the post because she felt 'intimidated' by FitzSimons.
FitzSimons, the husband of TV personality Lisa Wilkinson, has strongly denied the bullying claims, telling The Australian newspaper the exchange was a 'friendly interview [with a] nice text exchange at its conclusion'.
The NT senator earlier this week told Sky News she would be happy for the recording of her discussion with FitzSimons to be publicly shared so the public could make up their own minds.
“I’d be very happy with that. I felt quite uncomfortable, and I’d be quite happy for the public to listen to that interview themselves,” she said.
“It’s hard to swallow, being a product of reconciliation myself, to be accused in this way (of being racially divisive) … it does speak to the fact it is difficult for Indigenous women, particularly conservative Indigenous women, to be accepted."
But FitzSimons has refused to release the audio that would clear him of the accusations, instead turning to Sydney Morning Herald editor Bevan Shields who took to Twitter to support his columnist.
"I’ve listened to audio of the full interview between Peter FitzSimons and Senator Price. There was no yelling and no shouting from either participant," he wrote before adding that The Australian, its competitor newspaper, should 'move on'.
Shields disabled replies on his post, adding to criticism of the masthead's lack of transparency.
ABC Media Watch host Paul Barry chimed in, quote tweeting Shields and asked for access to the audio so he could 'umpire' the argument.
But social media users were having none of it, asking why journalists and editors need to 'gate keep' public opinion when FitzSimons could simply release the audio himself.