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When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

30 July 2014 4 comments

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Tova O'Brien - foot in mouth award

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It had to happen, I guess… The media pack-campaign against Labour Leader David Cunliffe has managed to  plumb new depths of absurdity.

On TV3, on 24 July,  TV3/Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;

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tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe

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The print-version on the TV3 website had this to say on the story;

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Key nestles in with the All Blacks

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Tova O'Brien 3 News Political Reporter

Political Reporter – Thursday 24 Jul 2014 6:32p.m.

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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has labelled the Prime Minister a poser and an imposter after yet another photo opportunity coup.

First it was tea with the Queen, then golf with United States President Barack Obama – now he’s managed to nestle in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine.

“Some people will love it and some people will hate it,” says Mr Key.

With the All Blacks almost like royalty in New Zealand it could be seen as an endorsement, and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not impressed.

“I was surprised to see it,” he says. “It’s not often you see a major sporting body getting involved in politics.”

The New Zealand Rugby Union was forewarned by the magazine.

It did nothing but request a small disclaimer that Mr Key leading the pack wearing an All Blacks jersey was not an endorsement – it was photoshopped.

“I think I need to accept that I’d more than likely make it as a mascot than a player,” says Mr Key.

“It’s posing and impostering,” says Mr Peters. “You wouldn’t put an All Black jersey on unless you’re an All Black. He looks like an imposter.”

He did not request the cover, the magazine approached him and it does not breach any electoral laws.

3 News

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However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, is this incredible parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team.Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

Geddit? “Cringey”. “Whingey”. They rhyme!!

Oh how very witty, Ms O’Brien!

Ho, ho, ho! Tova, you certainly earned your salary with that piece. There must have been several children who laughed their heads of at the ‘funny’ you made!

Not so funny is that despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe. This is what we are being served up as “news”;

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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This is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

So what should be the response of the Left? To work our arses off in the next two months and score a decisive victory on 20 September. That will be our “FUCK YOU!” to the media in this country.

 

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References

TV3:  Key nestles in with the All Blacks

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2014.

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When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

29 July 2014 4 comments

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The people will believe what the media tells them to believe

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The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

When you look at the Tale of Two Holidays, it is glaringly obvious how differently the media – and certain ego-driven political commentators who shall remain nameless – reported both events. The public must have been scratching their heads, wondering, What-The-F**k?!

Even right-wing political commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton, remarked on the apparent contradiction on 21 July, on Radio NZ’s political panel;

 “The Prime Minister was away for ten days at his bach or his holiday home. As you say, it seems terribly unfair and Labour people are very angry with the media because they say ‘here’s the Prime Minister goes away for ten days and our leader get’s sick for two days and goes skiing for three days and then get’s criticised’

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… to be completely crass about about this, if the CEO of Coca Cola and there’s the CEO of Pepsi Cola, and one of them’s sale’s are increasing making great profits, and the other one’s got a whole lot of product recalls underway and sales are down and they’re in a shambles, then the first CEO get’s to go on holiday and the other one doesn’t.”

The media’s unhealthy fixation on Cunliffe left me wondering…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:          Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 11:16 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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There has been public disquiet that the mainstream media appears to be unfairly treating the leader of the Labour party, David Cunliffe.

This disquiet appears to have been confirmed by the recent attention and disparaging remarks by political reporters and commentators on Cunliffe’s three day holiday in Queenstown.

The same disparaging remarks were not directed at Prime Minister John Key, who himself took a ten day holiday – three times as long! – in Hawaii, at the same time.

Or the recent Donghua Liu “story”, where Mr Liu claimed he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine to Labour – and then had to retract his allegations. No apology to Cunliffe was forthcoming, I noticed.

It appears to be different rules of reporting by the media when it comes to both men.

Of course, the media will respond that Labour is low in the polls and criticism by political commentators reflects that.

The irony is that constant negative stories by the media, including focusing on trivia (Cunliffe’s red scarf!!) and smear campaigns, feeds into Labour’s low poll rating. It is a ever-descending vicious circle.

Wouldn’t it be a fine idea if the media simply reported the news, instead of making it up and generating sensationalistic headlines, just to sell advertising space?

Far be it for me to tell the media how to do their job. I’m just an ordinary citizen who has to hear this kind of garbage day after day.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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There is another reason why it seems bizarre that the media made such a fuss over Cunliffe’s three day break.

It’s common knowledge that Key takes his holidays in Hawaii. Which is an odd way for a Minister of Tourism to show his endorsement of the local tourism industry, and is something I’ve blogged about in the past. As usual, the mainstream media never considered it worthy of consideration.

But it seems to have been a different story  when David Cunliffe dared take three days off – supporting local businesses in the process – and all hell broke loose.

The campaign against Cunliffe was no better highlighted than the Herald’s recent Doinghua Liu Affair*, when an immigrant businessman made several allegations against David Cunliffe. Of those allegations, one (about a $100,000 bottle of wine) was retracted; one (about a supposed $15,000 book) remains unproven by any evidence; and the other two appear to have been overt attempts by Mr Liu to “curry favour” with a previous Labour minister.

Yet, the allegations were given wide prominence, even though,

  • there was very little (if any) actual evidence presented – it was all hear-say based on one man’s claims,
  • the Herald has pointedly refused to make public Mr Liu’s written statements, despite making public a copy of a letter signed by Cunliffe in 2003,
  • no apology, for the mis-reporting of the now-discredited $100,000 bottle of wine, has been forthcoming.

Then again, perhaps the purpose of the Donghua Liu Affair was not to report the news – but to manufacture it,  and in the process unfairly damage a reputation and undermine a party’s  election campaign…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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John Key takes a ten day holiday in Hawaii and David Cunliffe takes a three day break in Queenstown – and the media go nuts over Cunliffe. All because of one unattributed “letter” from an anonymous individual claiming to be a “senior Labour party official”.

For all we know, the letter could have originated from the National Party’s dirty tricks team and hyped by certain TV3 and Herald commentators.

The Donghua Liu Affair was another sensationalised story based on one man’s unsubstantiated allegations – one of which has been retracted through lack of evidence.

Cunliffe addressed a family violence conference in Auckland and one tiny portion of his speech was taken utterly out of context by a headline-seeking media desperate for a sensational story. His full statement – which is rarely reported – “I’m sorry for being a man right now because family and sexual violence perpetrated overwhelmingly by men”

The true meaning of Cunliffe’s speech was lost in the subsequent media-generated hysteria.

Meanwhile, John Key refuses to apologise to crime-victim, Tania Billingsley for the shocking way in which the government botched the apprehension of the alleged perpetrator. Key says, “I don’t make apologies unless there’s a serious reason for me to do that.”

Evidently sexual violence is not a “serious” matter for the PM?

Key feels he can get away with such an outrageous comment because he knows full well that the media is fixated, with pack-like mentality, on David Cunliffe.

The public are not well-served by such poor “news” manufacturing.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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The  concerted attacks on Cunliffe do indeed reek of a “pack mentality”; the kind of schoolyard or workplace bullying that takes place when a group recognises someone who, for whatever reason, is constrained in hitting back.

In Cunliffe’s case, he can’t “hit” back at the media. Not without adding fuel to the hysterics from the likes of Garner, Gower, Henry, Armstrong, et al.

In John Armstrong’s case, the man is simply so wedded to his mates in the  National Party  that, on the same day Donghua Liu made his allegations, the Herald columnist called for David Cunliffe to step down as leader of the Labour Party;

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John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order

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The fact that there was little actual evidence of wrong-doing was not a matter Armstrong considered.  Indeed, if one carefully reads Armstrong’s diatribe, one curious truth becomes apparent; at no point does he mention that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ was written in 2003 – eleven years ago;

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cunliffe - 2003 dated letter - partial

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Unless one had an eidetic memory, no human being on Earth could possibly recall signing a letter written over a decade ago.

Of course, it suited Armstrong’s purpose to omit the date. To any reader unfamiliar with the full details of the story, taking the letter out of it’s historical context gave Armstrong’s column validity that it barely deserved. It suited the Herald’s agenda to undermine the Labour leader. And it fitted like a hand-in-glove the collective media pack-attack on Cunliffe.

The entire issue became a Monty Pythonesque-style farce when,  on 22 July, when Patrick Gower reported on David Cunliffe’s exasperation with a media obsessed with finding fault with him;

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David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

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Patrick Gower 3 News Political Editor

By Patrick Gower

 

Political Editor

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has done what politicians hate to do: he has admitted to getting it wrong.

And it is a long list – there is his apology for being a man and his apology for taking a holiday. There is even an apology for the scarf he has been wearing.

“I am being straight up – things I could have done better, things that I will do better.”

The Labour Party is in a crisis at just 26.7 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll.

Mr Cunliffe took three days off to go skiing in Queenstown last week and he says he got that wrong too.

 “I’m happy to say, with the information I now have about movement in the polls, when I made that decision I would have made a different decision.”

The poll shows since Mr Cunliffe took over as the Labour leader last year, voters who say he’s performing poorly have doubled, to 53 percent.

After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key takes 10 days off in Hawaii, and refuses to personally apologise to Tania Billingsley – the woman at the centre of the botched Malaysian diplomat case – but instead, it is Mr Cunliffe forced into making multiple apologies.

The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind.

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So there you have it, even the colour of Cunliffe’s scarf had attracted media attention and criticism.

Gower does admit one thing; “The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind“. So the scrutiny on Cunliffe’s leadership was not based on policies nor his  pronouncement on policy matters – it was predicated  on “Labour […] so far behind”.

 In other others; kicking someone when they’re down. Because to bullies, when someone is down, it’s easier to put the boot in. And make no mistake, this is a form of public bullying. When a person is attacked because of the style of their clothing, what else does one call it?

However, it get’s ‘better’. Listen to Gower’s commentary at the end of this TV3 report, on the same day;

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"So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple 'mea culpas' about what can only be described as  pretty minor issues..."
“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”
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“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”

Pretty. Minor. Issues.

Those “pretty minor issues” are the “issues” which TV3, NZ Herald, and other media outlets have been fixated upon for the last few months – and now Gower is criticising Cunliffe for raising those very same issues?!

This is what I call manufactured news. Manufactured news made worse when a political figure is boxed into a corner to address them, thereby validating the synthetic nature of said “news”.

No wonder that Cunliffe said in the same video;

“I am determined that I will be extremely careful about the way I put things going forward…”

Just what the public needs; politicians fearful of  saying plainly and clearly what’s on their minds because they are wary of their remarks being taken out of context; twisted; and  hyper-sensationalised, by an increasingly tabloid-style media in this country.

We have been poorly served by the media which is more interested in ratings and selling advertising rather than reporting events. As matters stand, we may see politicians self-censoring, thereby pressuring political journalists/commentators to generate even more of their own asinine, manufactured ‘stories’, with ever-more lurid headlines.

Fifteen months ago, John Key expressed his frustration at what he perceived as media hounding. He retaliated;

“What I should have done, and what I will be doing in the future, is saying, well, the member needs to put that down to me in writing, and I’ll be doing that to the journalists as well.

‘Cos if you want perfection of everything I have done, two, three, four, five years ago, I will get you all that information for you, but I’ll get you the whole lot and give it to you.”

Perhaps the Labour leader might consider that mainstream media are no longer merely news-gathering and reporting organisations. They are selling advertising to earn revenue to return a dividend to shareholders.

As such, the mainstream media has it’s own agenda and reporting the news is no longer as profitable as it once was. “News” now has to be “packaged” and delivered to “consumers”. The “packaging” is now more important than the content.

Bear that in mind, Mr Cunliffe; you are being “packaged” for media consumers in whatever manner will sell the product (advertising).

My advice to David Cunliffe; refuse to be “packaged”. Develop a strategy for ignoring “pretty minor issues“. Treat the  next smear campaign that rises in the same way that Key treats such matters; with casual disdain.

And give the Gowers and Garners and Henrys of the media circus a simple message; “if you want to talk with me, fine. But if it’s about “holidays” or “scarves” or non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine – don’t expect any co-operation from me when you’re vying for information.  Because I’m just as likely to give it to your competitors instead.”

So stay aloof and don’t buy into being “packaged” by the media.

It seems to work for Key.

Meanwhile, lest we forget this shameful episode…

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor*
NZ Herald

 

It is now nearly one month since your editorial, “Cries of bias will not stop reporting”, where the NZ Herald tried – to no avail – to justify it’s campaign of lurid allegations and sensationalised headlines against Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

So where are we now with the Donghua Liu Affair?

Claims of a $100,000 bottle of wine – retracted.

Claims of a $15,000 book – still not proven.

Claims of a Yangtze River boat-trip and $2000 donation to a rowing club – shown to be one businessman’s ineffectual efforts to ‘curry favour’ with then-Minister, Rick Barker. (One doubts that a free feed and two grand donated to a rowing club would “buy” much in the way of favours from a Backbencher, much less a Crown Minister.)

Where does that leave your paper which has promised “further revelations”? Where is the “evidence” promised by the Herald?

And why have Donghua Liu’s “signed statements” still not been made public so we may judge for ourselves as to the value of his claims?

This has been a shameful, sordid episode from the Herald and will be long remembered by many as an example why journalists rank low on surveys of trusted professions – just marginally above used-car salesmen, politicians, telemarketers, and prostitutes (no offence intended to the latter two).

Indeed, the public will have every justification in treating with total scepticism any future story involving David Cunliffe (or any other senior Labour politician).

This has not been the Herald’s finest moment.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

 

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* Note: the matter of the Herald’s reporting of the Donghua Liu Affair is now a subject of a Press Council complaint, laid by this blogger, as well as OIA lodgements with the offices of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Immigration.

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References

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Radio  NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Fairfax media: John Key changes tack over questioning

NZ Herald: Cries of bias will not stop reporting

Previous related blogposts

John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 July 2014.

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Another media gaffe – this time it’s TV3’s Brook Sabin

26 July 2014 4 comments

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Foot In Mouth Award - Brook Sabin

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Every so often (quite regularly, in fact), a media personality will say something outrageously offensive, or just plain gormless, that results in an uncontrollable  *facepalm* reaction. On 19 July, on TV3’s “The Nation“, it was Brook Sabin’s turn.

Brook was one of three panellists on “The Nation“;

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(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson

(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson

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The discussion centered around coalitions and pre-election deal-making. Colin Craig from the Conservative Party and Jamie Whyte from near-defunct ACT Party, had just been interviewed by a very competant Lisa Owen (unlike the uber differential performance between a very chummy Patrick Gower and NZ First Leader, Winston Peters).

At  1.42 into the panel discussion , there was this extraordinary exchange between Sabin and Wilson;

Sabin: And if John Key says ‘no’ to Colin Craig, he can say why is Labour not saying ‘no’ to doing a deal with Kim Dotcom, and I think that’s quite powerful as well-“

Wilson: Actually, I think that’s, that’s unreasonable. Now, Labour hasn’t done a deal with Kim Dotcom. They are saying maybe they will do some kind of deal after the election, in the same way that National would do a deal with the Conservatives. But right now, Labour’s made it very clear they’re going to do their best to win Te Tai Tokerau. They’re going to do their best to win all the Maori seats. They’re not doing a deal to give Internet-Mana a seat. On the contrary they’re going to fight them. They may need to do a deal later, but it is very different from the Epsom-Ohariu scenario.

Sabin: Yeah, absolutely. But David Cunliffe is leaving that door open…

Wilson: I think… I think they’ve said very clearly Kelvin Davis…[interuption]…

Sabin: …And I think he needs to try to close that door a little bit more…

Wilson: …Kelvin Davis has the party support to win that electorate and they’re going to do that.

Where has Brook Sabin been? Holidaying on Pluto?

The last few weeks have been rife with Labour MPs excoriating Mana-Internet. Simon Wilson  was 100% correct that  David Cunliffe has made it abundantly clear that Labour is not prepared to do Epsom-Ohario style deals – as the Labour leader pointedly made explicit on “The Nation“, just the previous week;

Patrick Gower: If Internet-Mana get there and you need their numbers will you use them to form a government or will you rule them out?

David Cunliffe: We’re not doing any pre-election deals with anybody.

[…]
Patrick Gower: But you would perform-

David Cunliffe: Paddy, with this team to win the election, campaigning for the Labour party vote. After the election we will work with whoever we need to work with to change the Government…

Seems fairly clear to me.
Is it clear to you, the reader?

Evidently it was not clear to Brook Sabin.

Does Sabin not watch his own current affairs show?

The media appears full of political journalists and reporters who simply don’t seem to know what they are talking about and put a ‘spin’ on things that is misleading and damaging to the process of democratic debate. (Note the irony here; even whilst Cunliffe and Labour bend over backwards not to engage in any pre-election deal-making – the media will still portray them as doing precisely that! Labour might as well nut out a full-scale deal with the Greens and Mana-Internet, as media commentators have already convicted them on the charge. All the while, the same media commentators look on in awe at Key’s deft handling of deals with ACT, Peter Dunne, and possibly Colin Craig. My poor little Hypocrisy Meter, which goes *DING!*, has melted down from over-excitement at the double standards of mainstream media commentators.)

If the media cannot be trusted to report what a party leader has said, unequivocally, in black-and-white terms that a five year old can understand – then we are not well served for information.

Brook Sabin tried to ‘lump’ David Cunliffe with John Key when it came to pre-election deal-making. He failed because luckily Simon Wilson was onboard “The Nation’s” panel to correct Sabin’s patently untrue assertions.

Either Sabin was truly ignorant of Labour’s position, or he was indulging in sloppy, lazy “they’re-all-the-same” style of political commentary. If it is the latter, Sabin needs to find a new job.

Are they looking for bar-staff on Pluto?

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References

The Daily Blog: Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

TV3 The Nation:  Interview – Jamie Whyte & Colin Craig (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – NZ First Leader Winston Peters (video)

TV3 The Nation:  Panel – Brook Sabin, Jessica Williams & Simon Wilson (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – David Cunliffe (transcript)

Previous related blogposts

Labour’s collapse in the polls – why?

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!


 

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Lorde wants you to vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.

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Frankly speaking #2…

26 July 2014 2 comments

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FB profile 2

 

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Frankly speaking…

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FB profile

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Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

25 July 2014 5 comments

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everyday-sexism-book

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If there is one thing that Tania Billingsley has raised in this country, it is focusing the glare of public scrutiny  on New Zealand’s casually sexist and demeaning attitude toward women. Some refer to it as a “rape culture”, where men (and generally speaking, they are men) hold the most repulsive attitudes imaginable toward  women.

I’m not even referring to rapists, molesters, and men who beat (and often kill) their partners senseless.

I’m referring to the casual acceptance of views toward women that are more suited to less enlightened societies, than a supposedly advanced, well-educated nation like ours. It is views of some men who – whilst not abusers and rapists themselves – are enablers of attitudes that empower the abusers and rapists by creating an ingrained belief that they are entitled to abuse and rape. Somewhere in the back of what passes for the minds of abusers and rapists are the comments they’ve read and heard elsewhere in society; that it is ok to mistreat and violate women. (Though they have to be over 16 to be abused and violated. Anyone under that, and the abuser/rapist is labelled a paedophile – which is evidently still ‘not ok” for misogynists. Yet. But working on it.)

The vileness of such attitudes is not just found on rabid social media pages where  poorly-educated,  and often insecure males (predominantly),  click “Like” to show their solidarity  with several hundred (a minority) other poorly-educated and often insecure males.

The mainstream media also has a culture of sexism, ranging from crass innuendo and exploitation of women,  to outright violence.

Case in point is the media personality-cum-village-idiot, Paul Henry.

Henry has a track record in boorish behaviour, more befitting an immature, adolescent male, rather than a mature man who should know better.

As Mike Kilpatrick wrote for Fairfax media on 16 July, Henry’s obnoxiousness reached a nadir when he interviewed Dr Michelle Dickinson, a scientist working at Auckland University;

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Auckland University - Michelle Dickinson - Paul Henry - TV3

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To quote the Auckland university directory, Dr Dickinson’s  areas of expertise are;

Nanotechnology, Nanomechanical testing, Fracture Mechanics, Materials Engineering, Biomimetics, Calcified Biological Structures.

And,

Dr Michelle Dickinson obtained her PhD from Rutgers University (USA) and her MEng from Manchester University (UK) in Biomedical Materials Engineering. She has previously held positions in industry which brings an applied focus to her academic research.

Her research is involved in measuring the mechanical properties of materials from the nanoscale through to the macro scale, specifically using indentation techniques.

She has a special interest in biological material behaviour and adapting traditional engineering measurement techniques and models to suit realistic biological testing conditions.

Dr Dickinson is a scientist with serious credentials*.

Which makes what followed next all the more jaw-droppingly unbelievable.

After a cursory interview with Dr Dickinson, Henry then asked a  question of mind-blowing, crass sexism, as Kilpatrick  explained in his Fairfax piece,

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Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn't sink lower

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Henry then shows a photograph of Branson hugging Dickinson and then asks the question “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

Note the question; “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

For those with kevlar-lined stomachs, they can see the interview here. The offensive remarks are 5:21 into the interview.

To illustrate the sadly-all-too-predictable consequences of Henry’s  comment, read the public comments – 425 as at this blogpost – which followed Kilpatrick’s story. Note the attitude of  those who think that Henry’s comments are acceptable. Note the casualness of acceptance of a remark that, in other circumstance, would be utterly unacceptable in normal social circles, and result in oppobrium.

Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?

What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?

What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?

Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?

If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Allow me to remind TV3 executives, producers, staff, and presenters;

  • It is not ok to treat women like that.
  • It is not ok to have it beamed into our homes.
  • It is not ok to give voice to a culture of sexist denigration.
  • And it is not ok to dismiss it as just “humour”. There is nothing remotely funny about sexist denigration.

After all, this is precisely why 99% of New Zealanders were so horrified at the degrading  behaviour of a group of young men calling themselves “Roastbusters”.

At least the “Roastbusters” had the excuse of youthful stupidity (a crime I was guilty of, in my own youth).

Paul Henry has no such excuse.  He is a supposedly mature, responsible, 54 year old man.

I agree with Mike Kilpatrick. Henry’s comment was beyond the pale. He must resign, or be sacked. Unless New Zealanders are comfortable with more and more abhorrent, gutter-level attitudes being expressed by “media personalities” and broadcast into our homes, this kind of behaviour cannot be allowed to become a new norm.

Changing channels is not a practical option. Not if this kind of behaviour is to be normalised throughout the electronic media.

No wonder Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were able to inflict their decades-long reign of predatory-terror on hundreds of children and women. It had become acceptable and normalised. No one thought to speak out. And if they did, the new normality meant their cries for help fell on deaf ears.

Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were also funny men.

Their behaviour was anything but.

Well, Mike Kilpatrick has spoken out. And I add my voice to his. I refuse to give assent by silence. I refuse to turn my back on behaviour that, to fair-minded people, is just plain unacceptable.

TV3 – Paul Henry has no place in broadcasting.

He must go.

 

* Though all women, regardless of education achievements, professional status,  etc, should be treated with respect and not with degrading sexist attitudes that are demeaning and promote a culture of casual misogyny.

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Addendum 1

Email sent to TV3;

from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Producers <paulhenryshow@mediaworks.co.nz>
cc: Mark Jennings <mjennings@mediaworks.co.nz>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:10 AM
subject: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Kia ora,

Please refer below to a draft of a story which I intend to publish regarding remarks made by Paul Henry on his show, on 15 July and directed at his guest, Dr Michelle Dickinson.

I would appreciate your response to the issues I have raised and what remedies, if any, Mediaworks intends to make before I proceed further.

Your comment s would be appreciated.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

[Draft copy of this blogpost included as in-text]

I received a response the same day;

from: Paul Henry Show <PaulHenryShow@mediaworks.co.nz>
to: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM
subject: RE: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Dear Mr Macskasy

TV3’s company culture is one that highly values equality and equal opportunity. Our news and current affairs division has often led the debate on how women are treated in New Zealand culture, including two of the instances you mention – a 3 News investigation uncovered the Roast Busters group and led the subsequent coverage, and Tania Billingsley recently told her story on 3rd Degree.

The question line taken by Paul in Tuesday night’s interview with Dr Michelle Dickinson was checked with her before the interview, and Dr Dickinson has confirmed she was not offended at the time, and is not offended now. The question was not asked without Dr Dickinson’s okay. She is an intelligent and articulate person who has appeared on the show many times and can hold her own with Paul (and anyone else). Dr Dickinson has since made her views on the interview clear and it is worth paying her the respect of reading her blog at http://sciblogs.co.nz/nanogirl/2014/07/17/science-sexism-and-the-media/

For the record we completely reject the comparisons your email makes between Paul Henry, and the actions of the Roast Busters group and of renowned paedophiles Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris. Such comparisons are irresponsible, lacking in fairness and balance, and verging on defamatory.

I’m afraid it’s just not possible to take your blog or questions about TV3 seriously when they are written from a position of such ignorance.

Regards

Rachel Lorimer
Group Head of Corporate Communications

Fiona MacMillan
Executive Producer, Paul Henry Show

For the record, I did read Ms Dickinson’s sciblog post, and have several points to make;

  1. My criticism of TV3 and Paul Henry in no way reflects on Ms Dickinson or her professional career. Dr Dickinson can in no way be held responsible or associated with things that Paul Henry said.
  2. This issue is wider than Dr Dickinson herself, and if muppets like Henry can get away with asking obnoxious questions from a highly respected; well-educated; professional woman – then no one else is safe from his prurient “humour”. It was not too long ago that Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were suspended as radio-hosts from RadioLive, after  comments were directed to a woman about her sex life, after she disclosed on-air that  she had been raped as a 14-year-old.
  3. I sympathise with Ms Dickinson’s remark in her blogpost; “I feel passionately about providing our daughters with a positive role model for an educated female who is successful in a very male dominated field“. The question is – how does being questioned about one’s sex-life help our daughters to be successful in male dominated fields?
  4. Dr Dickinson further writes; “Yes, I’m not naive to the reputation that Paul has and I go on to his show prepared for a question that may be slightly off topic or controversial, but I’m an intelligent female who works in a very male dominated field, and I’m used to inappropriate and sexist comments and questions, it goes with the territory of being a female engineer!  Perhaps my past experience of being the only woman in a meeting (and asked to make the tea), or being told that if I want to be taken seriously I need to wear shoes with less of a heel as they could distract the men in the room has made me a little immune to sexism and a little more tolerant of comments that I should be offended by.” Should we not be offended by such remarks? And should we not do more than just being offended?
  5. Should boofheads like Paul Henry not be challenged when they make disparaging sexist comments to women they would never dream of making to male guests? Just as scientists once challenged authority on much-cherished beliefs that the world was flat and the sun orbited the Earth or that disease was caused by  ‘humors’ of the body?
  6. Ms Lorimer and Ms MacMillan seem more keen to label me as “ignorant” rather than addressing the issues I raised in my blogpost. Does this mean they have no answers to the criticisms I have levelled? They certainly have studiously avoided the questions I put to them;
  • Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?
  • What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?
  • What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?
  • Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?
  • If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Fairly simple, straight-forward questions I would have thought?

Or perhaps they would prefer to discuss their sex-lives, if it’s easier?

Addendum 2

A list of  companies advertising during the Paul Henry Show on 16 July;

Ford (Kia)

Subway

ANZ

Heineken

Placemakers

NIB Health Cover

Harvey Norman

Caredirect (caredirect.co.nz)

Whiskas (catfood)

Southern Cross Health

Masterfoods

Early Settlers (furniture)

Centrum (vitamins)

Future Finance (futurefinance.co.nz)

Skysport

KFC

Bridgestone Tyres

 

Dependent on TV3’s actions to follow, this blogger will be contacting the above advertisers next and posing three very simple questions; do they want to be associated with a TV show that promotes sexist denigration of women? Do they want to risk having their reputations tarnished when this story goes ‘viral’ in the blogosphere and social media? And is this what they are paying their expensive ad-slot times for?

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References

NZ Herald: Bryce Edwards – Does New Zealand have a ‘rape culture’?

Fairfax media: Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower…

Auckland University:  Dr Michelle Emma Dickinson

TV3:  Organic foods study finds significant benefits

Fairfax media:  Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower

NZ Herald: Roast Busters: RadioLive hosts taken off air

Additional

Sciblogs: Science, sexism and the media

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 July 2014.

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= fs =

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

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Labour claims Hosking's biased

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I checked the calendar, and it’s not April 1st.

An April Fool’s joke is the first reaction I had when I heard  that someone at  TVNZ had appointed Mike Hosking to be the moderator  for live, televised election-year debates.

I mean – really? Mike Hosking?!?!

The same Mike Hosking who endorsed John Key’s government in January 2013;

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Media - Hosking plugs car and Key - NZ Herald - Mike Hosking - John Key

(Hat-tip, The Standard)

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Hosking was effusive when he endorsed Key last year;

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

The same Mike Hosking who recently vilified Labour Leader, David Cunliffe?!

“Is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad? Is he out to lunch or out of touch? Is David Cunliffe deluded or living in a parallel universe?

What possible explanation can there be that has any level of sense or thought involved that sees him on holiday skiing two months out from an election when he is where he is in the polls. A decision like this speaks to a person who fails to understand the basic principles of leadership.”

The same Mike Hosking who called David Cunliffe a moron?!

If Mike Hosking is the answer – can TVNZ please spell out what the question was?!

Meanwhile, ordinary New Zealanders are leaving comments here, highly critical of TVNZ’s appointment of Hosking as a “moderator”.

However, Fairfax closed off their comments section after this story, with the majority of posts scathing of TVNZ.

The majority  readers of the Fairfax article seem to be unimpressed with Mike Hosking in their (unscientific) poll;

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Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll

(Vote here)

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It is abundantly clear to many people by now that the mainstream media in this country, for the most part, is covertly or overtly supporting the re-election of a John Key-led government. The ongoing de-stabilising campaign against David Cunliffe, complete with non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine and criticising his red scarf, are strong indications of the  mainstream corporate-media’s agenda.

If you, the reader, are as bemused by TVNZ’s bizarre decision to use Hosking as a faux “impartial” moderator, then sign the petition here;

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Petitioning TVNZ to drop Mike Hosking from moderating TV debates

(click on image)

Please do your bit: share the link to the above petition as far and wide as possible!

Meanwhile, this from me, to “The Listener“…

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date:      Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

 .

The editor
The Listener

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Of all the professional broadcasters that TVNZ could have used for the upcoming Leader’s Debates, they chose Mike Hosking?!

The same Mike Hosking who, last year, very publicly and enthusiastically endorsed John Key and his government by saying,

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

By what stretch of the imagination do TVNZ executives think that Hosking is in any way impartial? It would be like asking Maggie Barry or Shane Taurima to do the job.

There are many impartial, talented, and highly respected broadcasters who TVNZ could call upon; Rachel Smalley and Greg Boyd are just two names that spring to mind.

Or, the incomparable Kim Hill, perhaps one of the most respected broadcasters in the country would be ideal. Her credentials for impartiality are impeccable.

But not Mike Hosking. Not when he flies the flag for John Key and the National Party.

We deserve better.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

Remember to share, far and wide!!

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References

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media: Hosking plugs car and Key

Newstalk ZB: Mike’s Editorial: Cunliffe looks like he’s given up

Yahoo Entertainment: Seven Sharp Returns and The Paul Henry Show Debuts

NZ Herald: Liu – $100k not just for wine

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Previous related blogposts

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

Other blogs

Against the Current: Mike Hosking claims he isn’t biased. Yeah, right

Against the Current: Mike Hosking says Bash A Beneficiary Day!

Against the Current:  Mike Hosking asks – What is David Cunliffe hiding

MIKE HOSKING ASKS: WHAT IS DAVID CUNLIFFE HIDING?
YES, MIKE HOSKING IS A MORON
HOW MUCH OF A TOSSER IS MIKE HOSKING?

– See more at: http://nzagainstthecurrent.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/mike-hosking-says-bash-beneficiary-day.html#sthash.4t68qxKz.dpuf

Against the Current: Yes, Mike Hosking is a moron

Against the Current: How much of a tosser is Mike Hosking?

Against the Current: Seven Sharp promotes anti-Gay politician

The Standard:Everything in moderation

Polity: Mike Hosking

The Daily Blog: Dear Seven Sharp – after learning Hosking will be the leaders debate moderator – NO I will not give you the pretence of balance & I refuse to appear on your show

The Daily Blog: UNBREAKING: The list of questions Mike Hosking will use in first TVNZ leader debate

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =