Lisa Wilkinson is accused of 'playing the victim' in speech announcing she'd quit The Project

Lisa Wilkinson has been blasted over her speech while quitting The Project, with one media commentator accusing her of playing the victim.

The divisive presenter stunned viewers on Sunday night’s show when she announced she was stepping down to reprioritise her life after a tumultuous six months.

‘The last six months have not been easy, and the relentless targeted toxicity by some sections of the media has taken a toll, not just on me but on the people I love,’ she said.

But The Australian’s media writer, Sophie Elsworth, said most of the attacks from the media were ‘her own doing’, including from delaying the trial of Brittany Higgins’ alleged rapist Bruce Lehrmann due to her Logies acceptance speech.

Wilkinson won a Logie for her sit-down interview with Brittany Higgins, in which the ex-Liberal staffer alleged she was raped by her colleague Bruce Lehrmann in a minister’s office in 2019. 

The original trial date was slated for June 27 but in the aftermath of Wilkinson’s acceptance speech, a judge delayed the high-profile case ruling it would be ‘unfair’ to continue among the public commentary surrounding the case. 

‘Lisa Wilkinson, in typical fashion, made it all about her and plays the victim,’ Ms Elsworth told Sky News’ Chris Kenny on Monday night.

Lisa Wilkinson announced on Sunday night she would be leaving Channel 10's The Project

Lisa Wilkinson announced on Sunday night she would be leaving Channel 10’s The Project

‘She made headlines back in June for that speech we know she gave at the Logies that was problematic, so that’s why she predominantly made a lot of headlines.

‘But she took last night’s exit from The Project to slam the media on the way out.’

Kenny said Wilkinson’s leaving message was ‘bizarre’, and said she appeared to be ‘blaming other media for her errors’.

‘She’s very good at playing the victim, and she did this very well last night,’ Ms Elsworth added.

‘All her fans say how shocking the media has treated her, but I must say a lot of it has been caused by her own doing.’

Last year, OzTAM ratings revealed Channel 10's flagship current affairs program had lost almost a third of its audience since 2011. Pictured (L-R): Tommy little, Peter Helliar, Hamish Macdonald, Carrie Bickmore, Waleed Aly, Lisa Wilkinson and Gorgi Coghlan

Last year, OzTAM ratings revealed Channel 10’s flagship current affairs program had lost almost a third of its audience since 2011. Pictured (L-R): Tommy little, Peter Helliar, Hamish Macdonald, Carrie Bickmore, Waleed Aly, Lisa Wilkinson and Gorgi Coghlan

The Australian's media writer, Sophie Elsworth, accused Wilkinson of 'playing the victim' in her leaving speech

The Australian’s media writer, Sophie Elsworth, accused Wilkinson of ‘playing the victim’ in her leaving speech

Wilkinson, who has been a familiar face on Australian screens for over 20 years, told the audience on Sunday night that she had some ‘exciting work ideas ahead’ but needed some time to regroup.

She promised other high-profile female journalists – Leigh Sales, Tracey Grimshaw and Carrie Bickmore – who had recently stepped down from presenting roles a margarita on her as she announced she would be departing The Project.

‘I have decided it’s time to reprioritise a few things in my life,’ Wilkinson began saying alongside co-hosts Hamish Macdonald and The Bachelor’s Laura Byrne.

‘And after almost 15 years of the early alarm of breakfast TV, and now another five years here at The Project desk, I’m looking at how I want the coming years to play out both professionally and personally.

Wilkinson won a Logie for Outstanding News Coverage for an interview with Brittany Higgins

 Wilkinson won a Logie for Outstanding News Coverage for an interview with Brittany Higgins

‘So, from tonight, I am stepping back from hosting the show.’

The host added she ‘wasn’t above criticism’, and sometimes made mistakes.

‘I’m human, and I don’t always get it right, none of us do, but by god I’ve tried,’ she said.

‘I’ve given this job everything I have, and I hope you, at home, know that. 

‘I hope I’ve brought you stories that matter and introduced you to people whose lives and experiences might have otherwise never been told, and helped bring into focus issues that deserve our collective attention.

‘So to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive and reached out, particularly in recent months, thank you. You’ll never know how much it has meant to me.’   

WIlkinson was signed by Ten for a staggering $1.7 million a year in 2018.

However, her appearance on the show has done little to stop the decline in the ratings. 

OzTAM ratings have previously revealed The Project had lost almost a third of its audience since 2011.

The struggling show saw its metro ratings plummet to an all-time low of just 367,000 last year.

That’s a 30 per cent decline from its five-city audience of 538,000 a decade earlier.

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