Dr Norman Swan ABC health reporter gives bizarre interview for upcoming book

ABC’s favourite Covid commentator gives absolutely BIZARRE interview about the women in his life as he admits it’s ‘mildly embarrassing’ being a two-time divorcee

  • ABC health reporter Dr Norman Swan has spoken out about the women in his life
  • He gained widespread fame through supporting Covid lockdowns and mandates
  • Promoting new book he talks about losing his virginity and his ‘difficult’ mother 

ABC health reporter Dr Norman Swan has opened up about the women in his life in a bizarre interview, admitting it’s ‘mildly embarrassing’ to be divorced twice.

Dr Swan has hosted ABC’s Health Report since it started in 1985, but gained widespread fame during the Covid pandemic for his strong support of lockdowns and mask mandates. 

Now he has spoken out about his grandmother, his mother’s mental health, his first wife and the double standard women experience when it comes to ageing. 

The Scottish-born physician, 69, revealed he lost his virginity at the University of Aberdeen to a woman two years older than him.

But it wasn’t until after he qualified as a doctor that he felt ‘more confident sexually’ and had more ‘mature’ relationships.

Dr Norman Swan (pictured left with journalist Sue Mauger) said he learnt how to be friends with women through a left-wing youth movement he joined as a teenager

Dr Norman Swan (pictured left with journalist Sue Mauger) said he learnt how to be friends with women through a left-wing youth movement he joined as a teenager

He moved to Australia aged 25 to continue his paediatrics training and in 1982 became a health reporter at the ABC and later became the general manager of Radio National. 

While there he hired Geraldine Doogue, who went on to become one of Australia’s best know journalists and broadcasters. They are still very close friends.

When he met his first wife, Lee Sutton, a fellow paediatric doctor, he said he soon ‘recognised she would make an incredible mother, which she has been to our children Anna, Georgia and Jonathan’.

Dr Swan normally keeps his private life very private. So much so that he hardly acknowledges his award-winning political reporter son Jonathan Swan, who works for Axios in the US.

But with his new book So You Want to Live Younger Longer? now on shelves, he took the opportunity to speak more candidly about himself.

‘It’s mildly embarrassing to have been married (and divorced) twice,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald

‘I’ve heard men complain about the women in their lives as the reason they’ve been married more than once, when 50 per cent or more of the reason is us, the men.’ 

ABC presenter and author Dr Norman Swan is pictured (right) with his daughter Anna. He also has two other children, Georgia and Jonathan

ABC presenter and author Dr Norman Swan is pictured (right) with his daughter Anna. He also has two other children, Georgia and Jonathan

He said he only learnt how to be friends with women through a left-wing youth movement he joined aged 15 and that to this day his closest friends are women. 

‘Men who speak about women in a horrific way horrify me. Just what is the anger there,’ he said. 

Dr Swan’s grandmother Yaris escaped to Scotland from eastern Europe after his great-grandfather was killed in anti-Jewish riots in 1905 in Odesa, Ukraine.

The family settled in a slum area but by the time he was a boy they were considered middle class. 

On Thursdays, Yaris would take him on the tram to town, where they would ‘schmie’ – a Yiddish word for window shopping. 

‘We weren’t going to buy anything, but she and her friends would dress up and we’d wander around department stores and then have high tea. I used to love that,’ he said.

Though he enjoyed his time with his grandmother, Dr Swan found his mother, Nanette, ‘difficult’, who he thinks probably had elements of borderline personality disorder. 

Norman Swan's second wife was Perth woman Karen Carey (pictured). Swan keeps his private life very private

Norman Swan’s second wife was Perth woman Karen Carey (pictured). Swan keeps his private life very private

‘I suspect there might have been abuse in her early life, but she never spoke about that,’ he said, adding that while she loved to be the centre of attention, there also was a very dark side to her,’ he said. 

She would sometimes ‘become incredibly aggressive’ over a a completely innocent comment and Dr Swan’s father, Leon, lived in fear of her. 

Though there were ‘great times’ when his mum was happy, Dr Swan left home as soon as he could, to study medicine.

In his new book, Dr Swan writes about how ageing can be more difficult for women. 

He said while he is not critical of people having plastic surgery, ‘as a community we are much less kind to women in terms of looks and how they age’.

Dr Swan said both his grandmothers took great care over how they looked, throughout their lives and that women have told him they do this for other women, not men.

‘They’ve not the slightest interest in what men think about them. It’s what other women think of them, that is whom they dress for,’ he said. 

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