Sarah Dowie – valedictory swipe at media

Sarah Dowie mostly kept out of the spotlight as National MP for Invercargill since 2014, until it was revealed that she had had an affair with Jami-Lee Ross and had sent him a controversial text.

From Wikipedia:

On 25 January 2019, Dowie was revealed as the MP who had an affair with fellow MP Jami-Lee Ross. Ross had disclosed this in October 2018, but the news media chose not to name her at the time. After it was learned that a police investigation had been launched into a text message allegedly sent by Dowie to Ross, media revealed her identity.

However, the police decided that no further action was needed

In 2019 Dowie was re-selected by National in Invercargill unopposed, but in February 2020 announced her decision not to stand for re-election.

Dowie addressed her treatment by the media in her valedictory speech.

According to the more experienced politician, everyone has an annus horribilis. Mine hit full peak in January 2019, and I didn’t think my personal life was too out of the ordinary until my name scrolled across The AM Show‘s newsreel, bumping Brexit as the lead story. While it’s clear I had made some poor choices, the fact that a press gallery reporter was live providing analysis brought the whole sorry affair to a new level. In my eyes, it can only be described as comical. She was maniacal, could hardly get her words out, and she didn’t have the nous to work out the difference between a complaint, investigation, charge, and proceedings. What followed was worse: a litany of diatribe from even the so-called reputable outlets. At best, some comments could be called wide of the mark. Others were just downright lies. In hindsight, I question whether I should have sued some publications.

One article claimed I ran on family values in 2014. I absolutely did not. The journalist wrote that story without seeking confirmation of facts. It’s irresponsible, lazy, and just downright wrong. A subsequent article on the Politik website suggested I only got promoted because of my alliances—nothing about me holding a law or science degree, having practised and worked for the Department of Conservation. One other paper said I’m not a conservation naive, but for some reason, in 2019, my qualifications and experience were overlooked in favour of the salacious. These stories made taking the high road a very bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I rose above it, continued to front and show up to work.

Compared with recent events where media analysis lasted only a couple of news cycles, the speculation and rubbish continued for me for weeks on end. One woman said to me recently, “Sarah, you were absolutely trashed in the media in 2019, and yet these other MPs experience a couple of media cycles of scrutiny and hide behind mental health issues for their bad behaviour.” The antithesis is the hypocrisy of the media calling for a clean up of politicians. Yes, we are representatives and should take responsibility for poor behaviour, but we are not elected as angels. We too are human and make mistakes, just as journalists do and have. But when a predator is able to manipulate the media for his agenda and the media is directly party to it, it is the media fraternity that needs to audit themselves as to their ethics and their conscious peddling of sexism and patriarchy. If it takes me to be New Zealand’s scarlet woman to highlight this, then so be it.

New Zealand has a long way to go with how we view women. Successive Governments have been concerned with eliminating all forms of violence against women. Violence does not stop at the physical and sexual, and from what I’ve seen and experienced, it seems that unless a woman loses her life, they are afforded very little sympathy for situations or circumstances they find themselves in—ones in which they can’t control.

It’s that underlying patriarchal view that persists in New Zealand that stimulates this. “She shouldn’t have been travelling alone.” “She shouldn’t have led him on.” “She should have seen the signs earlier.” “She should not have been wearing that skirt.” What about: “No, she deserves justice and an environment where she feels safe to report abuse.

What is surprising and deeply disappointing to me is that in some cases these views are held by women who can be most vicious in their criticisms. You cannot legislate for a women’s code, but policy can re-educate. We should encourage everyone to encourage women to contribute to our communities, and we should build a society that enables our daughters to achieve all their hopes and dreams and to do so without judgment or guilt.

Therefore, I am not unchanged from the experience of being an MP. People often say to me, “Why on earth would you want to be an MP?” referring to the endless criticisms—some fair, some not; the hours of work; the arduous travel schedule; endless days away from family and your home; and, even when you are at home or off the clock, eagerly watching for media alerts. Being an MP is all consuming; it’s not like normal employment where you get to switch off at the end of the day.

Her parliamentary experience was not all bad.

But we do not walk alone. We seek out a pack for camaraderie and support, and I have been so fortunate during my lifetime in politics to meet some of the very best men and women in New Zealand, to call them my friends, and I will be eternally thankful for their care. In particular, I mention four colleagues who came in with me in 2014.

We have spent countless days and nights in each other’s company, experiencing the highs and lows of Parliament and life. Brett Hudson, Stuart Smith, Matt Doocey, and Todd Barclay. We are the self-proclaimed breakfast club of misfits, acutely comfortable in our own skin, never actively seeking limelight—[Member hands Dowie a box of tissues] Thank you—but quietly going about our jobs, doing them well and with skill. That shouldn’t be underestimated or underrated.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there in the dark times, for taking me under their wings like a sister and protecting me. I also thank you for the endless laughter and gibes and the ability not to take ourselves too seriously. These friendships are what restore my trust and faith in people. To the class of ’14, a family of alphas, each in our own niche, yet a group that has fitted together like a jigsaw and now withstood two terms without any falling outs, you are talented, kind, and compassionate, and I value each and every one of you.

She concluded:

In conclusion, I refer to the lines of The Breakfast Club, and I tailor them for the context of Parliament.

Dear media, we accept that we had to sacrifice part of our lives in your scrutiny for whatever it is we did wrong, but we MPs think you are crazy to make us write a valedictory telling us who you think we are. You see us how you want to see us—in the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what each of us found out is that one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the breakfast club.

Media have a very important job to do in a democracy, but they would do well to reflect on their own behaviour at times, when they relentlessly pursue MPs in order to make their own headlines.

Leave a comment

37 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  30th July 2020

    While I am unaware as to the name of the female journalist on the AM show she refers to, I can only assume she refers to Tova who has a propensity to become maniacal when discussing the opposition .
    Good for Sarah to expose the hypocritical, so called “ journalists “ for what they are.
    A group of over paid mouth pieces for the government.
    Turns out $50 million was a very wise investment by the governing parties.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  30th July 2020

      the $50 mill was for the network ‘lines’ and license fees for radio …not for the journalists.
      Anyway this woman, who acts all innocent, was the year previous.

      “It includes $21.1 million to cut transmission fees for six months, $16.5 million to cut NZ On Air contributions by 80 percent until 2022, and $1.3 million for Government departments to purchase news subscriptions.
      The Government has set aside $11.1 million for specific targeted assistance to media companies. It will also continue its local democracy reporting pilot which has so far funded eight reporters based in regional newsrooms.

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/04/short-term-50-million-covid-19-media-support-package-announced-to-help-with-ad-revenue-drop.html

      If she hated it, and had any integrity she should have resigned back then. No she sought and got pre selection again, unbelievable, before changing her mind and saying she is going…along with some nonsense being a pleasure to serve etc….

      None of that story rings true, she did get promoted under Bridges because she had ‘alliances’ – a euphemism if their ever was one

      Reply
  2. Television personality, Tova O’Brien, is not a journalist. She does not report the news, she makes it and embellishes it. Her recent dispicable hounding of the parents of MP, Andrew Falloon, is a classic example of how she operates. What a nasty piece of work she is. John J. Harrison is right, the $50m was a good investment for Labour.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  30th July 2020

      And her biggest source inside the National party was reputed to be Judith Collins…. patsy questions and allowed to play her passive agressive ‘ games is what JC gets in return.

      Again , as I showed with the detail of the $50 mill, it didnt go for wellington news journalists , you got more Reality shows would be closer to the truth.

      Reply
      • I doubt if Judith Collins is doing that; Tova’s insolence and smart-arse disingenous questions suggest otherwise.

        Tova O’Brien’s bias could hardly be more obvious. She IS a nasty piece of work, spiteful and arrogant.

        Reporters & journalists tend to have a short shelf life and be forgotten soon. My ex-partner’s brother was a well-known one at one time, he was on the news and current affairs frequently. But I suspect that the name would mean little to anyone now in that context.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  30th July 2020

          Made for each other !
          Same as Dunne was the leaker for another well known journo…whose career flourished. Now that Dunne is gone ( but not buried) same journo lost her TV job and is back where she began.

          The Punch and Judy show with Tova has to be the corniest made up fake reality where ‘Judy’ gets to play ‘punch’ as well, the national party activists are the real ones played, and like you who think Judith gives her some ‘comeuppance’

          Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  30th July 2020

    ‘yet these other MPs experience a couple of media cycles of scrutiny and hide behind mental health issues for their bad behaviour.”

    Unfortunately seems to be in vogue with National M.P’s these days.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th July 2020

    Woman Bites Dog: MP speaks truth to power.

    Nice inversion. Media hubris was also on display in the UK yesterday:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/29/government-punished-today-wants-diminish-power-bbc-outgoing/

    Reply
  5. Jack

     /  30th July 2020

    To be fair, if we are to accept certain aspects of Sarah’s choosing of the high road, logically, Mr Ross chose a higher one and continues travelling bravely onward.
    If media were crazy toward Sarah, what were they toward Mr Ross? And what do they continue to be?
    Sarah was a very poor representative of the people who put her there – and no use to real victims. I wish she wouldn’t talk herself up. IMO, the high road is knowing when/how to repent. She knows how to look after herself alright.
    Her words about the media are likely to spur them on to continue unfairness toward Mr Ross.
    We need a clean up in media. Sarah’s life stage, played out as an MP, achieves nothing in that regard. She has simply exposed herself as part of the problem.

    Reply
    • Jack

       /  30th July 2020

      https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/122280458/invercargill-mp-sarah-dowie-would-walk-across-hot-coals-to-get-out-of-politics

      “Claw…”…?
      Is it just me, or does this person sound like a spoiled brat.
      me, me, manipulative much.
      It’s to be hoped the people deserve much better.

      Reply
      • Jack

         /  30th July 2020

        “You cannot legislate for a women’s code, but policy can re-educate. We should encourage everyone to encourage women to contribute to our communities, and we should build a society that enables our daughters to achieve all their hopes and dreams and to do so without judgment or guilt.”

        Policy cannot/does not educate and ‘re-education’ is brainwashing.
        Sarah complains about women being her harshest critics. They were probably trying to encourage her – and her daughter – all the while she discourages/frightens theirs.

        Reply
        • Pickled possum

           /  30th July 2020

          Her speech and her tone had such an element of … ” I was forced into this by an uncaring safe work place”
          Ot was it …”I am a victim of my own fuckwittery. I’m going down in a heap and Im going to take as many of you as I can!!!.
          That is till my book comes out just before xmas mania.”

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th July 2020

            I didn’t see either there. As far as I can see she says she got taken in by a bad guy, done over by the media and looked after by her Parliamentary mates.

            Other people seem to read into it what they want to.

            Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th July 2020

      All humans are part of the problem, that’s our saving grace and entitlement to seek solutions.

      Seems to me JLR has much bigger problems than Ms Dowie. Knowing almost nothing of her contribution to Parliament and support for her constituents I won’t be passing judgement on her.

      Reply
      • Jack

         /  30th July 2020

        But you pass judgement on Mr Ross.
        Being human is not our saving grace Al.

        Reply
        • Jack

           /  30th July 2020

          Entitlement. Nice word. I agree with you and disagree, simultaneously. And if there was ever an entitled MP, it was Sarah. Sadly, there are a few and it’s we they represent. Where is your entitlement Al?
          I think older Kiwis behave more entitled than the younger. Hopefully the tide is turning.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th July 2020

          Is saying JLR has big problems passing judgement or merely stating the obvious?

          If you want to get theosophical I could argue that being human was also Christ’s saving grace. But my actual argument was that we are all part of the problems of life, power, politics and reputation and therefore entitled to involvement in how to solve them. Even MPs you don’t like.

          Reply
          • Jack

             /  30th July 2020

            Being human was not Christ’s saving grace. Being God was.
            I like Sarah Dowie, very much.
            As an MP she has been unfairly choosy about who she likes. Ask JLR😇

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th July 2020

              I don’t think so. Being God just put him off the planet. Being human put him on it and relevant to us.

            • Jack

               /  30th July 2020

              A straw man’s argument. The relevance of the god you began commenting about does not occur off the planet – unless you believe in heaven?
              As for relevance, are you off topic Alan?
              I really like Sarah Dowie. Great potential.
              “Being God…” as you say is quite ho hum, as you say – relevant.
              We’d have politicians like Sarah doing well if Kiwi churches weren’t so daft.
              I agree with JLR that the National party is a cult. They’re getting found out, hopefully. After that, perhaps they’ll clean up themselves.
              Sarah’s speech leaves a lot to the imagination. Pity. I’d like to think we all deserve better.

      • Duker

         /  30th July 2020

        Not mentioned for some reason is JLR 180 pages of line details of the National partys donation records.
        A lot of trouble , including using legal heavies to silence an MP from revealing it all in the house, when they know the courts can touch proceedings like that, but just going to court might cost him

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  30th July 2020

          NZF donation records get leaked and get to be on Radio NZ and passed onto other media.
          Nationals donations leak gets blocked from being released……lawyers are mentioned as thats the partys first response to anything being revelaed

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th July 2020

      Jacks baack 😉

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  30th July 2020

    Sarah Dowie wants and expects, quite rightly, some humanity. The business she’s been in is people, it is humanity. We all are.

    Humanity is a lovely thing to observe in the rear view mirror as you drive away from it. Or pass by occasionally and wave to on brief return visits.

    I get Dowie’s position and her thoughts and observations. I get all the stuff about poor behaviour, not being elected as angels, making ‘mistakes,’ media ethics and violence.

    In the past fortnight Judith Collins and Duncan Garner planned, or conspired, or incidentally or accidentally bumped into or used Ian Lees-Galloway. In the past fortnight Judith Collins and Duncan Garner directed their sense of humanity to the children of Ian Lees-Galloway.

    We could all see and hear what Sarah Dowie said in Parliament. We didn’t see what she said behind the scenes.

    Two days ago Judith Collins squeezed the Lees-Galloway corpse a bit more saying she would not have sacked him. (She also told us she believes she knows what Jacinda Ardern knows.)

    So when Dowie spoke in Parliament and lamented the role of our media, had she rehearsed it by talking to Judith Collins and shared her thoughts about ‘when a predator is able to manipulate the media?’

    Fair enough for laying the shit on us that we deserve but if the reservations, disgust and horror that needed to be distributed to those she worked with weren’t delivered without stint, she was just another politician. And humanity was just a disappearing rear view dot.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  30th July 2020

      Sarah Dowie just lost out in the power games which she willingly participated- remember the science and law degrees!!.. It seems that she wanted to claw her way back after the ‘fall from grace’, thats why she renominated and won selection again for her seat…but the power wheels turned again and she lost one more ….so at last she got, but only at that late stage.

      Its like a guilty plea part the way through a trial, a game for losers.

      I was amused at the coffee club of MPs she named, its seems you could call them ‘deadwood waiting to be pruned’, after 10 years on the backbench. Minor professionals with no heartfelt connection to the party nor did they give back much in terms of fundraising from donors , the real path to promotion in the Nats these days…which is why the ( young) alpha males flourish, or come crashing down as recent events showed

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  30th July 2020

        How many of the coffee club do you think have knocked on Collins’ door and addressed the issue of predators being not just able to manipulate the media, but relying on their ability to do that? 🙃

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th July 2020

          For a moment I thought you were talking about the PM but then I realised you would never do that.

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  30th July 2020

            For a minute there I thought you were accusing Ardern of a predatory use of the media rather that being controlled by her reactionary responses to it.

            I did realise you’d accept that Downie and co. were/are concerned about the predatory use and nature of the media when it bites them on the bum but likely not so worried when a similarly vicious mode of it is directed at opponents.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th July 2020

              Duplicitous in the extreme. The one who would not have sacked ILG and didn’t identify him is the predator and the one who did isn’t in your disturbed judgement.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th July 2020

      In the past fortnight Judith Collins and Duncan Garner directed their sense of humanity to the children of Ian Lees-Galloway.

      Link?

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  30th July 2020

        You know that Lees-Galloway would not be the only victim of their managed release of that story. I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that his kids were not victims. The Collins Garner sense of humanity may have been directed at the children by default but they were simply just insignificant collateral damage of the Collins Garner big picture. The same as Dowie’s children would have been when her story first came out.

        I could create links. I could get in touch with one of the sleaze ‘journalists’ and suggest they do a story, “when did you find out your politician parent was having an affair? Did kids tease you at school? What sort of questions did schoolmates ask? Do you think your mum and dad has been portrayed fairly? What was the worst thing about it? Did you contemplate topping yourself?”

        You know, the usual stuff of the usual standard.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th July 2020

          So it was all in your ever fertile imagination. And all it took was for Collins to refer an unidentified complaint to the PM to make her a predator and child abuser.

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  30th July 2020

            You’re kidding aren’t you?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th July 2020

              No. I’m serious and you are projecting Jacinda’s actions into Judith’s sins.

          • Fight4nz

             /  31st July 2020

            Not that alone, but as consistent with her long time predatory and manipulative behaviour. Don’t worry you’re not the only one to fall for it.
            Obviously had Jacinda found herself in the same circumstances it would be equally clear there was nothing underhand as her record is clean.

            Reply
  7. oldlaker

     /  30th July 2020

    Dowie failed to mention she collaborated in an anonymous hit-job to take down JLR published on Newsroom. For some naive reason, she didn’t think she would be outed.
    In her world, it appears, the media is to be reviled… unless it is useful to her.
    She claimed to be a victim… but if she had told us at that time that she was a successful lawyer, a fellow MP who was also married with children, and 10 years JLR’s senior, would sympathy have come her way quite so readily? A victim, really?
    Along with lambasting the media, she also called out other women this week for not supporting her (using those old sexist slurs “witches” and “Black widows”).
    Is she so naive not to know that many women don’t like other women having affairs with married men? Why should they support her if they don’t like her morals?
    It seems to me that she can’t believe other people (including the media) don’t share her own very high opinion of herself.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s