Lateline host Emma Alberici has fired up at a fellow journalist on Twitter.
Lateline host Emma Alberici has fired up at a fellow journalist on Twitter.

ABC host Emma Alberici accused of bullying in same-sex row

AN ONLINE debate between two high-profile journalists has led to accusations of bullying over same-sex marriage and drawn in the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

The spat began when Daily Telegraph columnist and Sky News reporter Caroline Marcus published an opinion piece arguing gay marriage advocates are helping encourage a "no vote" in the upcoming plebiscite by using "dirty tricks".

Entitled "Gay marriage activists are pushing many like me to 'No' column" Marcus wrote advocates are helping "strengthen the resolve" of those already against gay marriage.

"If gay marriage advocates and their media allies want to see the "No" vote triumph in the plebiscite, they're going about it in exactly the right way," she wrote.

Daily Telegraph columnist Caroline Marcus. Picture: John Fotiadis
Daily Telegraph columnist Caroline Marcus. Picture: John Fotiadis

"Have they really learned nothing from Brexit and Hillary "Basket of Deplorables" Clinton?"

Marcus said while she is "sympathetic" to same-sex marriage, "activists are almost sure to push many like me into the negative column."

She said Lateline host Emma Alberici was one of the "worst offenders" for "breathlessly accosting Finance Minister Mathias Cormann" in an interview about a child who had been turfed out of home for coming out to his family.

But Alberici wasn't taking the criticism lying down, sparking heated debate between the pair including accusations of bullying on both sides.

The Lateline host said it was "not very intellectually robust" to say that equality supporters were pushing advocates to vote "no" in the plebiscite.

It led Peter van Onselen to weigh in against Marcus' position, while Daily Telegraph writer Miranda Devine accused Alberici of "bullying".

Marcus hit back she was making a point that people are "sick of being told how to think" and that being called a bully was a "disgusting accusation to make".

Alberici also expressed incredulity at being "labelled a bully" after "asking a question about the vulnerability of young gay and lesbian Australians."

Meanwhile other high-profile members of the public and media weighed in.

The debate comes after the ABC reminded staff to remain balanced in coverage of the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Editorial policy manager Mark Maley wrote that "language is important" and warned against social media debate.

"In this charged environment I would also urge everyone to be circumspect on social media - advocating for one side or the other will make it more difficult for the ABC to be seen as impartial. The more high-profile you are the more important discretion is," he wrote.

The Daily Telegraph is also owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of