I MUST HAVE MISSED the news bulletin in which the appointment of Jack Tame as People’s Prosecutor was announced. I guess Winston Peters missed it, too. Otherwise, why would he have put himself in the dock on Q+A last Sunday morning? (6/9/20) Not that Winston was ever in real trouble, not from “James” – as the NZ First leader kept calling him. Winston’s been around too long to be seriously discommoded by an ambitious young journalist less than half his age. But, as he angrily told Tame and his producer, he had plenty of other things to be going on with, 40 days out from a general election in which he is fighting for his political life and legacy, than to submit himself to the inquisitorial fury of People’s Prosecutor Tame.
Anyone who knows anything about the way current affairs shows like Q+A are put together will share Winston’s outrage. Securing the appearance of a prominent politician on such shows is always a delicate exercise. The person, or, more likely, his or her minders, will want to know what the programme intends to talk to their boss about. And believe me, if they are told that the programme intends to ambush him with a whole series of questions of the “Are you still beating your wife?” variety, then the show’s producers will be told, very politely, to fuck right off.
So, you can bet your bottom dollar that Winston and his minders weren’t told anything remotely like that. He’d made himself available for an interview on the understanding it would mostly be about the tragic loss of the live-cattle-carrier capsized by a typhoon in the East China Sea. He did this believing, perhaps naively, that he was dealing with honest broadcasting professionals, not media bushwhackers.
You can also lay down a fairly heavy bet that Tame and his producers talked through the interview with considerable care, deciding exactly when the ugly shift from friendly interviewer Jack, to pitiless inquisitor Jack, would take place. Equally likely is the encouragement Tame would have been receiving through his earpiece from the control room as the interview unfolded. Were it a case of an interviewer gone rogue, Tame would have been shut down immediately. So, the Tame-Peters interview didn’t just happen – it was organised.
Just think about that for a moment. The leader of a political party – precariously poised on the edge of political oblivion – is invited to appear on a television programme whose producers’ and host’s intention is to ambush and embarrass him. Not, it is important to note at this point, to question him on evidence gathered by its own journalists, and about which he, having been given fair warning, will be invited to make comment. No, no, no: that would be what honest-to-God professional journalists would do.
I’ll never forget my old boss at The Independent Business Weekly, Warren Berryman, drumming it into me that real journalists don’t do ambushes. The subject of a story must always be offered the opportunity to respond to its content. It’s called “fairness” and there was time when TVNZ understood the meaning of the word.
Not anymore it would seem. If Tame had anything solid in the way of evidence of Winston’s and NZ First’s wrongdoing, then he and his producers kept it to themselves. All we got to hear was a series of quick-fire questions cleverly constructed to leave their guest with nowhere safe to go. Maybe they really did have the goods on Winston, and what they were trying to winkle out of him was a flat denial, which they could then expose as a lie – as the cameras rolled. Then again, maybe they didn’t.
Which leaves me – and I’m pretty sure a pretty large chunk of the Q+A audience – wondering what TVNZ’s game is. This is, after all, a public broadcaster. That should mean, at the very least, that the highest possible standards, not just of journalism, but also of common human decency, are drummed into every single staff member. Because, you know what, they used to be. Back in the days when news and current affairs constituted a sort of holy order, separated and secured from Hunter S Thompson’s “cruel and shallow money trench where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs for no good reason” – i.e. the rest of the television industry.
For what it’s worth, this is what I think their game is. I think it’s about the substitution of the news media (young journalists in particular) for the people. And since democracy itself is about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, what we’re actually looking at is a bunch of journalists who no longer put much faith in democracy. Because, you know, there are so many people out there who are racists, misogynists and homophobes. As such, they shouldn’t really be allowed to govern the country – should they?
What we’ve got is a bunch of journalists who, wittingly or unwittingly, are dragging us all in the direction of government of the media, by the media, for the media. They’re doing it for us – of course they are – because, you know, most of us really aren’t up to the job of doing it ourselves.
Joining a political party, earning the trust and confidence of its members, being selected as a parliamentary candidate, getting elected. It’s all so tedious, so demeaning. Having to listen to ordinary citizens, secure their votes, stay on their good side. So much easier to cast the cloak of the media’s protection over the weak and stupid. So much more satisfying to slay the monsters – like Winston Peters – who, these journalists are pretty sure, are cheats and misleaders, live on the people’s airways, or luridly on private-sector newsprint.
Because, you must know that if the media doesn’t take on the role of the People’s Champion; the People’s Prosecutor; if charlatans and extremists aren’t lured in front of the cameras and microphones to be ambushed and politically executed; then there’s every possibility that the people – idiots that they are – will re-elect them.
I'm surprised you're so shocked by Tame's performance. He tried the same thing with Judith Collins a few weeks ago but was left squawking like some kind of demonic chook. TVNZ are biased, ignorant and basically malevolent in defending their icon Jacinda. They are State TV after all, the equivalent of the former GDR's Deutscher Fernsehfunk with just as much credibility. They perform no public service these days and should have been sold off years ago.
Isnt it about time TVNZ went back to interviewing(as you say) professionally??
Am sick and tired of journalists pushing an agenda be it synocphants of the PM or attackers of opposition polititians.
Excellent analysis Chris. Your assessment of the role and attitude of the media is increasingly, and sadly, reflected in social democratic parties as well. They appear to have abandoned their core constituencies. Instead of denouncing Trump, Brexit or NZFirst voters as every sort of 'phobe', they need to look to why so many good people are voting that way. Find out what their real and genuine concerns are; talk to them, ask them, respect them. Then develop policies that attend to those concerns..., ahhhh, policies!! Remember them??
"TVNZ are biased, ignorant and basically malevolent in defending their icon Jacinda."
Nonsense. Since the 1980s they have existed to make money. All private news media exist to make money. Once you realise there is everything else falls into place. The only reason they wouldn't do it to Arderne - if that is in fact the case, is because the way people regard her at the moment it would produce outrage rather than clicks. Collins is not particularly popular except in the regressive sections of the right. Winston is idolised by some but despised by many.
Mind you, they should have known better than to ambush Peters. He was once used as an example of how politicians treat the press with contumely on radio NZ. Not only is he an old tusker, these days he spends his time in a permanent state of musth :).
Which leaves me – and I’m pretty sure a pretty large chunk of the Q+A audience – wondering what TVNZ’s game is. This is, after all, a public broadcaster.
I think I remember from a recent interview about Discovery buying into Channel 3 that TV1 had got a large part of the viewers. I have the impression that this so-called public broadcaster is more interested in competition and money than any of the historical good standards of journalism that would be expected from a 'public' entity. Government don't expect it, but they do expect profits as shareholders, and so TV1 models itself on commercial neighbours, with whom their employees might land a better contract with tomorrow. Money is the important thing, and there is no loyalty in business these days.
I was reading about the BBC's new head Davie, who was with the BBC for some time in marketing and business. He is threatening cuts, and controls on imagination and reasonably free speech. and is dedicated to becoming an entity that reaches out to everyone. Sounds noble; I fear not?
But he told staff there must be "a radical shift in our focus" so everyone gets value from the licence fee.
He warned that the BBC currently faces a "significant risk" and has "no inalienable right to exist".
He said: "If current trends continue, we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience. We must evolve to protect what we cherish."
That reminds me of that line about having to bomb the village to save it.
This old rhyme pops up - 'I do not like thee, Doctor Fell, The reason why – I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.'
I think this Tame matter will seem quite tame in time, as we watch these Eunuchs of Marketing carry out their goals in their utilitarian way.
This was a set up by TVNZ. Tame is not the people's appointed media representative and has no right to treat viewers of TVNZ as he did, depriving viewers of an interview with Winston Peters. This is a big fail for TVNZ. Needs to show some self respect, some self restrain to ensure he goes a long way, otherwise he is being made to be a big failure as a journalist. I did appreciate him when he was on Breakfast, NO MORE!!
Existing to make money, even if that is true, is not incompatible with bias and ignorance. But what is certain is that gotcha journalism is increasingly common. Most so-called journalists these days are held in contempt by much of their viewers, listeners and readers. While ambushing politicians is only unpopular if it’s one of “your” politicians being ambushed, it seems to be a common technique and all it does is make the interviewee look stupid and the interviewer look like a smart Alec. That the aim is to obtain information seems to have escaped the media. And then they wonder why they are going broke! Increasingly, one hears comments like “I can’t be bothered”. The good old days when newspapers were popular and respected are over and TV is going to go the same way.
The right wing nutjobs control the media, attacking Ardern and the Labour party at every opportunity. Hosking, and everyone else at NatmobZB/Nat Herald and Peter Williams, Sean Plunkett at the AM Show/Magictalk, Garner and Nathub. Completely biased and always cheerleading the Tories. Tame is a breath of fresh air by comparison.
Guerilla Surgeon said...
All private news media exist to make money. Once you realise there is everything else falls into place. The only reason they wouldn't do it to Arderne - if that is in fact the case, is because the way people regard her at the moment it would produce outrage rather than clicks.
Nonsense. They have had critical theory instilled into them. They see themselves as at war (look at all those rich middle class types fighting for Antifa). As such they have crossed the Rubicon and burned their bridges because (eg) if Trump were to be elected it would be a fate worse that death.
Their bias is even shocking to John Campbell
Isnt it about time TVNZ went back to interviewing(as you say) professionally??
Am sick and tired of journalists pushing an agenda be it synocphants of the PM or attackers of opposition politicians.
While still not acceptable, it does rather balance out the unhinged Hodges, Hawkeby and Du Plessis invective in the Herald.
Our media are fairly shy about criticising the authoritarian Government of one powerful country but are in a permanent rage about the elected leader of another country. I wonder why that it is. Perhaps our media organisations' financial records should come under the same scrutiny as our political parties.
What is striking about New Zealand media is its mind-numbing banality.
No where could you discern a Jeremy Paxman or a Christopher Hitchens.
Winston Peters has been around forever. He knows every trick in the PR book and has used them all. He should have been prepared for anything. The Prime Minister is expected to be ready and able to answer every question she gets from the RWNJ media and Press. So should Winston even if it's a Gotcha. On the Standard.org site 8 Sept. Mickey Savage summarised key points that I would have liked an answer to and perhaps like many other voters still do:
"Winston did what Winston does and during a 13 minute interview:
Broke Cabinet understandings of collective decision making by saying he disagreed with the Covid response over masks, quarantine arrangements and the use of the Military, even though they were used.
Called Jack Tame “James” a number of times and described him as “Junior” and “Billy the Kid”. Also claimed that he (Peters) was in control of the interview.
Refused to comment on allegations that NZ First was responsible for leaking information about the Green School funding and said that he should have been told he would be asked about this. Dear Winston when you go on media you should expect to be asked about anything.
Refused to answer questions about why two of his associates were given spots on a taxpayer funded flight to Antarctica.
Failed to explain adequately why Christchurch should have a racetrack funded by the Provincial Growth Fund.
Declined to say how much money the horse racing industry has donated to New Zealand First.
Refused to answer questions about the SFO investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation and in particular if he personally or his partner Jan Trottman have been interviewed by the SFO."
As for Gotcha questions. Would we have known about Corngate if John Campbell Hadn't asked Helen Clark
Disclosure I vote Labour and will again.
John Hurley. When you actually start writing posts with actual evidence and links that make sense I might start replying to you at length. As it is you just spout the usual buzzwords that conservatives love to fling around – like antifa – my father was in antifa class of 1939. As far as I'm concerned if you're not antifa you might as well be fa.
You're right, Chris. Whatever one thinks of Winston Peters, the "interview" with Jack Tame was an appalling show and a complete train wreck. It was apparent that Winston had been ambushed, but Jack Tame refused to resile from his line of questioning - and that was clearly not in the brief of the questions that would be discussed on air. I actually ended up feeling sorry for Winston (who looked like he'd not had a very good night!). Government ministers need to be held to account, but there are a few young whippersnappers (Tova O'Brien and Jason Wall I'd add to the list that also includes Jack Tame) who need to be taken to task for the appalling manner in which they conduct themselves when they interview a subject they consider to be not worthy of professional decency. Tova O'Brien's interview a few weeks ago with Jacinda Ardern showed Tova looking at her with such spite and malice that I could picture Tova as a frightening high school bully. Her manner, when interviewing a newly selected Judith Collins as National leader, was really telling and completely different to the interview with Jacinda Ardern.
These young reporters have grown up during the neo-liberal era, and I wonder to what extent this colours their world view.Then there are the likes of the Hoskings, Garners et al, who create the precedent for what the younger journalists must believe is the only way they can possibly make a name for themselves. It is sad and does democracy no favours.
GS, in taking a shot at John Hurley you prove Orwell had it right. The Left is blinded by "critical theory", it exists, look it up. It is a totalitarian dogma dressed up in the same logic as Marx, a cult of holy victimhood demanding the blood of those deemed guilty.
John points out Antifa, I'd be joining them if they were indeed fighting fascists. They are not. They merely label people fascists simply because they are political opponents. Are National supporters fascists? I think not. Are Trump supporters? Again no.
Antifa are running around cities in US burning down civic amenities and businesses, and fighting the police? Watch the videos quite definitely yes, read the Washington Post no they are "peaceful".
As a Left leaning person I learned long ago to identify my opponents, not merely to label them. Fascists were the people GS father and mine fought, who fought in Jack boots for a homicidal totalitarian state. They are not white working class rust belters who voted for an orange haired TV show buffoon. And that idiot hasn't run around shooting opponents or by now Hillary and Nancy would be pushing up daisies and NYT Wapo would be silenced.
Time to get perspective and see who our societies true enemies are, and where their thinking originates.
"Antifa are running around cities in US burning down civic amenities and businesses, and fighting the police? Watch the videos quite definitely yes, read the Washington Post no they are "peaceful"."
"NPR has reviewed court documents of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with the unrest. As of Tuesday morning, none is alleged to have links to the antifa movement."
"The FBI say three people from antifa have been actually indicted/convicted – of vandalism."
John to be blunt – is full of shit. I have at least bothered to check to see what antifa is doing. And as far as I can ascertain the total the amount of blood and damage that can be sheeted home to antifa is minimal. A lot of it is coming from actual fascists who are trying to fight a race war, and of course criminals will often take advantage of a demonstration. I suggest you do little more research into this.. I suggest Nick that you delve a little more deeply, and try to avoid the labelling you seem to accuse me of.
Start here maybe.
Try these GS
I hope you are savvy enough about Black Bloc tactics utilised by protest groups. You never go with known associates, nor claim affiliation if arrested. Of course nobody arrested would claim to be Antifa.
For the latest BLM nonsense try this chanting outside a hospital of "I hope they die", regarding two shot cops.
It's hard doing research for you GS, not so much a quick Google but you can't just read Leftist sites. Try some of the unsavoury Rightist sites and you will find out a lot of facts missing from our sides version that are wilfully ignored because they don't suit our narrative.
1.NPR is not left-wing.
2.I did mention the three members. That's not a lot.
3.Of course no one would necessarily claim to be antifa, but I'm sure the FBI have ways of finding out, considering they tend to concentrate on left-wing groups rather than where the real danger is in right wing ones.
4.The BLM thing is sad, but let's remember what they're protesting about – it's just chanting which is covered by their free-speech rights, only feelings are hurt. And conservatives should be pleased about this anyway considering it's an armed response to tyranny right? /S just in case.
What you are doing is taking a few isolated cases and extending them to everyone. There's been far more right wing violence on these occasions than left. But the right wing websites leave out the caveats – like the old man who was supposed to have been assaulted, and his car kicked and thumped by demonstrators – they didn't mention that he just run someone down.
"Antifa are running around cities in US burning down civic amenities and businesses, and fighting the police"
That suggests they're all doing it, the indictments, prosecutions and FBI investigations have shown they are not. In any large enough group of people there are always a number of idiots, there will always be those who take advantage of the disturbance caused by a demonstration, and there is an organised plan by neo-Nazis to commit violence and vandalism that on these occasions in order to start a race war. And your articles disprove none of this.
You'll notice that at least one of these is a right wing source.
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