Where Are They Now? is an occasional column in New Matilda which looks at the people behind moments from history that some would rather forget. In this edition, we remember heavyweight party prince Corey Worthington, and his thrashing of lightweight journalist Leila McKinnon.
The year is 2008, and the outcome is one of the very first train wreck television interviews to go viral on social media.
In the presenter’s chair is ‘journalist’ Leila McKinnon, a ‘professional’ with so little concern for her journalistic reputation that she took a job with A Current Affair.
Facing off is Melbourne teenager Corey Worthington, who made national headlines after organising a little party while his parents were out of town, only to see if expand to more than 500 people… before police (including the air wing) had to come and shut it down.
As you’ll no doubt recall, the EXCLUSIVE interview went from bad to ridiculous very, very quickly..
It’s easy to forget just how many times 35-year-old McKinnon got slapped down by 16-year-old Worthington. So here’s a refresher.
Leila McKinnon: The only question that I can think to ask is what were you thinking?
Corey Worthington: Ummm, I wasn’t really.
Leila McKinnon: What have your, ah, parents had to say Corey?
Corey Worthington: Umm, I haven’t really talked to them because every time they try to call I don’t answer….
That particular part of the interview was overlaid with a shot of a naked teenager doing a nudie run for the cameras, with a hat covering his nether-regions.
The burns continued…
Leila McKinnon: Why don’t you take off your glasses off so we can see you, and then apologise to your neighbours for frightening them.
Corey Worthington: Nah I’ll leave these on. I like them.
Leila McKinnon: Take off your glasses and apologise to us.
Corey Worthington: I’ll say sorry but I’m not taking off my glasses…
Leila McKinnon: Why not?
Corey Worthington: Cause they’re famous…
Leila McKinnon: You’re pretty happy with the way you look and the attitude you’ve got are you?
Corey Worthington: Yeah. My parents aren’t but I am.
And then it all ended as badly as it started… for McKinnon.
Leila McKinnon: What would you say to other kids who were thinking of partying when their parents were out of town.
Corey Worthington: Get me to do it for you.
Leila McKinnon: Well we’ve got to go but I suggest you go away and take a good long hard look at yourself…
Corey Worthington: I have, everyone has, they love it.
There are parts of the interview that are just sublime, not only for their dialogue, but for how thoroughly ridiculous they are. This part features the ‘newsreader inflection’ of McKinnon, while she’s lecturing Worthington and trying to project authority. We’ve pulled it out for its own soundbite and included it here… because it’s so good.
What’s perhaps most extraordinary about the whole affair is that it was a pre-record. So someone, somewhere, having watched it all unfold, then decided to package it up and play it for viewers.
In one sense it was good for ratings – Worthington went viral almost instantly – but in another sense, all it really did was reinforce how puerile A Current Affair is on any given day, and how utterly vapid its presenters are.
On that front, McKinnon began as a TV journalist in Queensland, and then landed at Channel 9 in Sydney, where she climbed the greasy pole and ultimately ended up fucking her boss (McKinnon was, and still is, married to former Channel 9 Boss David Gyngell). The power couple have now semi-retired to what they call “the country”… it’s actually Byron Bay, which is roughly as ‘country town’ as Los Angeles. But anyhoo…
Last year, McKinnon gave an interview to Channel 9 about her amazing new life in ‘the bush’. Sadly, there was no sign at all that her capacity to foresee a train wreck interview had improved at all.
It included amazing, awe-inspiring quotes like this: “Sometimes when I’m driving my kids to school – we live down a dirt road – there’s a cow on the loose. Or we see a cow lying down with a bird standing on its back so we stop to have a look. We’ve got it pretty good.”
As for Worthington, as you might expect he very much went on to make something of himself, parlaying his appearance into a career in entertainment.
Last year, Worthington competed in the Australian season of Ninja Warrior. He’s even claimed to have formed his own company, called ‘Not Sorry Entertainment’.
Over the years, A Current Affair and McKinnon have tried to make light of the interview, even going to the trouble of organising a ‘reunion interview’ in 2015, in the hope people would forget how ridiculous Worthington made McKinnon look.
Regardless, it remains one of greatest moments of Australian television and a reminder of what sort of journalism (and journalists) Channel 9 produces.
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