The host of the ABC’s Insiders program has been caught on a hot mic complaining about “horrible, horrible” social media trolls.

Presenter David Speers made the off-the-cuff comments as he was taking a photo with fellow panellists prior to Sunday’s show.

Speers told Katharine Murphy, James Campbell, Samantha Maiden and LNP politician Jane Hume: “Let’s get a photo… just for those lovely folk on social media.”

His colleagues laughed in response, and Speers told them: “It’s a horrible, horrible place, and after years of copping it, you just have to tell yourself there are hundreds of thousands watching and a few hundred who tweet.”

Speers later said Insiders had about 15 regular trolls on Twitter but added, “there are far more who are just loving our work”.

The exchange, which was not meant to be broadcast, accidently went to air on iView and was later posted on Twitter.

Some on social media speculated that someone at the ABC had purposely released the footage. But insiders claimed it was a technical error.

Ironically, the clip of Speers criticising social media users ended up on Twitter where it attracted more than 4000 likes, more than 1200 retweets and generated hundreds of comments, most of them critical of Speers and the ABC.

One social media user took issues with Speers saying Insiders had “hundreds of thousands” of viewers.

“Think he’s having delusions of grandeur about those figures. He’s pretty much dropped Insiders in the toilet and flushed.”

Neither Speers nor the ABC has publicly commented on the leak.

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