Teapot tapes and media collusion in politics

In The Big Read:David Fisher has written about Teapot tape – the real story of 11-11-11, which details what happened, and of particular interest is the herald’s involvement and how they saw what unfolded.

From Fisher’s account it’s not hard to see how Key and his team were highly suspicious of how and why the recording was made. It is now officially accepted by Key that the recording was accidental, which is plausible in the context of a frenzied media scrum and the use of new technology used by a video novice.

It raises one important question in particular about how TV3 and Winston Peters appear to have worked together in an election campaign that may have had a significant impact on the election result.

A few points of note:

In a piece by political reporter Isaac Davison, which described the event as “the most eagerly awaited conversation of the election”, Mr Banks said he wasn’t bothered about any recording because he and Mr Key discussed “pretty bland stuff”.

It may have been “the most eagerly awaited conversation of the election” for journalists going by the circus they made of it (and helped make happen through public pressure on Key) but did the people of New Zealand really care about it?

I thought the whole thing was trivial and farcical and a blot on media and politics.

It was a staged meeting which was equal parts media and political circus. The meeting was the Prime Minister’s signal to his National Party supporters in the electorate that they were free to vote for Mr Banks as the local MP.

If enough people did so – and they did – it would secure a coalition partner for the National Party and assist in forming a government.

I give Epsom voters a lot more credit for thinking for themselves without needing manic media signalling. After all they has already elected Rodney Hide in the two previous elections. Key wisely avoided a repeat in 2014 and David Seymour still managed to get elected without the same media madness.

It’s bizarre, looking at the footage and photographs now, that no one noticed Ambrose’s little black bag with its recording device inside on the table next to the politicians.

Perhaps it is a bit bizarre but not really surprising considering the frenzied focus on what was little more than a nod and a wink, except for the mad scramble for media headlines.

There was also disbelief at the claims it was a “News of the World-style” operation. I – and others involved in the story – were astonished at the claim, disbelieving and simply speechless at having actions and motives ascribed which bore no resemblance to what happened.

It’s not as if the media are ever guilty ascribing actions and motives that bear little resemblance to what happens.

Ambrose, though, was deeply upset. He became the focus of the attention that followed after Mr Key made a police complaint.

Not surprising he was upset, but it also shouldn’t be surprising that Key was also very upset – although the police complaint wasn’t a smart reaction.

The issue didn’t go away, either, after he gave a copy to TV3 and it started reporting on the content of the conversation, albeit via claims being made by NZ First leader Winston Peters.

I think this is an aspect of the story that should get much more scrutiny.

Did TV3 feed Peters content of the recording?

They gave Peters’ election meetings special attention, I remember one in particular in Invercargill that TV3 promoted in advance and then covered.

It appeared to be deliberate media-political collusion and may have had a significant impact on NZ First getting back into Parliament. They got a late surge to get them over the 5% threshold, partly at least thanks to publicity given to Peters by TV3.

The circus over the cup of tea meeting was a headline hinting circus with many media involved. It is disturbing to see how much they try to influence election outcomes.

As Barry Soper says in A real storm in a tea cup:

But it was the media melee and the fact that a recording device was left on the cafe table that got all the publicity, derailing the campaign for at least a week.

It was the media that derailed the campaign in 2011. I think there’s no doubt they changed the outcome of the election so some extent.

When media collude with politicians to give them a campaign advantage this raises serious questions about how our media can influence elections in order to create headlines for themselves.

Who will challenge media on how they manipulate politics for their own purposes? It’s not likely they will call themselves on it.

Firearm purchase warning

The Police have given what are now Newshub staff (from Story on what was TV3) a warning over the forgery involved in illegally purchasing a firearm to demonstrate how it could be done.

This is about when Heather du Plessis Allen and Story forged a police signature to obtain approval to purchase a firearm.

And Newshub have apologised for what they did.

I think this is a reasonable result, as long as it’s seen as a warning to journalists not to break the law in doing stories or prosecutions could eventuate next time.

The police statement from Superintendent Richard Chambers – District Commander, Auckland City District:

Outcome of investigation into TV3/MediaWorks staff

Police in Auckland City District have concluded the investigation into the actions of some TV3/MediaWorks staff involved in the purchase of a firearm for a television report broadcast in October 2015.

Police became involved as a result of those staff seeking to surrender a firearm that had been illegally purchased from a licensed Auckland firearms dealer.

The Police investigation focussed on the actions of staff members in the creation of a forged document and the use of the document to obtain a firearm.

Having completed a thorough investigation, an independent review of the case has been undertaken by a Detective Superintendent.

Police have now issued formal warnings to three TV3/MediaWorks staff.

In reaching this decision, the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines were considered, together with independent legal advice.

Police are satisfied that in this instance, there is no evidence that the acquisition of the firearm was for a sinister purpose, a factor which was taken into consideration in reaching this decision.

Police is aware of some commentary suggesting that the television report was in the public interest and should not have been investigated.  Police would like to make it clear that for any investigation, public interest considerations are applied at the conclusion of an investigation and in accordance with the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines, when prosecution is being considered. The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.  The circumstances of individual cases are routinely assessed to ensure that an appropriate investigation is initiated.

We would also like to be clear that the freedom of journalists to report on any matter is fully accepted without question by Police. The law, however, applies equally to everyone, including members of the media and Police do not accept that it is appropriate to commit a criminal offence purely to publicise the ease with which something can be done.

The outcome of the investigation has been communicated to the individuals involved and to TV3/MediaWorks, which brings this matter to a conclusion.


There will be no further Police comment or interviews on this matter.

Media note: A formal warning does not result in a criminal conviction against an individual. However a record of the warning is held by Police and may be used to determine eligibility for any subsequent warnings, and may also be presented in court during any future court proceedings.

So no prosecution or conviction but a warning on their records. And a warning to other journalists and media organisations.

And Newshub have apologised in this report:

MediaWorks warned over Story’s gun item

Police have decided not to lay charges over an item on TV3’s Story programme last year in which a firearm was purchased online.

A number of MediaWorks staff have been warned, and the Story team has apologised to Gun City, the store at the centre of the item, and its owner David Tipple.

“The intention behind the story was to put a spotlight on an issue rather than any one individual business,” a MediaWorks spokesperson says in a statement.

“Story regrets any impact that may have inadvertently been caused to Mr Tipple as a result of the story.”

Superintendent Richard Chambers says there is no evidence to suggest obtaining the firearm was for “a sinister purpose”.

He says police are aware of suggestions the television item was “in the public interest” and shouldn’t have been investigated.

“The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

“Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.”

Following the item, which aired in October, police were quick to close the highlighted loophole.

That there was no malicious or ”sinister’ intent will have helped kept this at a warning level.

Breaking: news as we knew it

On Twitter today NZ Herald went overboard with ‘breaking’ news about one of their main competitors, Mediaworks :


#BREAKING MediaWorks announces the end of 3News, to be replaced with Newshub Live. More soon

But it was soon pointed out:

.@nzherald They announced it October last year

They linked to this (30 October 2015) – MediaWorks reveals new multi-platform news service.

MediaWorks today revealed its new news service which will launch in early 2016.

Newshub will be a multi-platform TV, radio and digital news service, transforming MediaWorks’ award-winning 3 News and RadioLIVE News services into a combined organisation, beginning with the move to an integrated newsroom later this year.

The service will provide the latest news and in-depth analysis across one of New Zealand’s largest media organisations.

“We are bringing an entire organisation together from the TV, Radio and Digital newsrooms with a clear vision of how we can best serve the evolving New Zealand audience,” said MediaWorks Group CEO Mark Weldon.

The launch date is what was announced today – Multi-platform news service Newshub to launch February 1

MediaWorks’ new multi-platform news service will launch on February 1.

Newshub, an integrated digital, TV and radio news service, will provide breaking news and in-depth analysis across MediaWorks’ TV and radio channels, as well as online through a mobile app and website, the company says.

Newshub Live at 6pm will be presented by Mike McRoberts and Hilary Barry, while Jeff McTainsh will present Newshub Midday.

“Journalism is all about communities, and with our integration our ‘community’ has just got a lot wider,” McRoberts says.

Newsworthy will be rebranded as Newshub Late, and be hosted by Samantha Hayes. The weekend news bulletin will be hosted by Melissa Davies and Tom McRae, both of whom are returning from overseas posts.

The service will also provide news content across other programmes, such as Paul Henry and will place a strong emphasis on digital.

3 News was struggling to retain audience, as are most traditional media in a rapidly changing world. They had already tried a cross platform approach with Paul Henry’s morning television also broadcast over radio as well as promoting online content.

A danger for TV3 is turning off traditional viewers and failing to attract the new breed of Internet and smart phone users.

But the large media organisations have to try something to stay relevant in a diversifying media world where users are very easily distracted or diverted.

One thing that needs immediate attention is how they present their new brand. Newshub was criticised for being easily mis-recognised as…

  • New shub
  • New shrub

…and other things.

Is this Mike McRoberts’ new shub (shower with tub)?

The logo is clearer…


…but as text on Twitter and in news reports Newshub is not clearly defined.


ReThink on racism

I discovered a programme called ReThink on TV3 yesterday morning that broadcast at 9.30 am,  just prior to their Sunday repeat of The Nation.

Yesterday’s ReThink had a very interesting look at racism in New Zealand via a panel discussion with Raybon Kan, Shamubeel Eaqub and Kath Akuhata Brown:


It runs for 25 minutes but is worth a watch.

From ReThink’s Facebook page:

Solutions to Issues affecting New Zealand and New Zealanders -TV3 Sun 9.30am

Dotcom claims National killed Campbell Live

The Herald has an item previewing a John Campbell exclusive “I was devastated” due out in Metro today that gives Campbell’s views on the demise of Campbell Live earlier this year.

John Campbell breaks his silence: I was devastated we couldn’t make show work

John Campbell has finally spoken of the dramatic cancellation of his show Campbell Live and his subsequent departure from TV3, saying his axing came as a shock and left him grieving.

“I still feel sad about it,” he said. “It wasn’t about me or my career or anything, because what I believe we created was a model of constructive, illuminating, empathetic television that also had enough going for it to commercially be sustainable. And I was devastated by our inability to make that work.”

There’s no mention in the Herald article about Kim Dotcom but he refers to it in a tweet:

Kim Dotcom Retweeted nzherald

Your brave investigative journalism about my case killed your show. National killed it. I’m so sorry .

So Dotcom is claiming his story killed Campbell Live, and somehow National is responsible. I’ve seen this claimed on the activist left but I’ve never seen it substantiated close to adequately.

Dotcom could claim his story mortally wounded the Mana Party election chances but somehow I doubt he was responsible for all the ratings problems of Campbell Live and TV3 (Story is a similar story with no stories done on Dotcom).


Morning TV

I like to keep an eye (or at least an ear) on morning TV from 6 am to catch up with news and interviews. This complements what I look for around the Internet.

I used to mainly watch TV3’s version because the presentation on TV1 annoyed me. Especially the pouty blonde co-presenter.

But the Paul Henry started and he annoyed me more. Too dominating, rude and opinionated for me.

So I started watching TV1 mostly with the occasional switch to 3 if there was something in particular I wanted to catch.

Now the blond pouty one has gone off on maternity leave (and yeah, her going on about having a baby was a bit wearisome) I find TV1 much less irritating so that will be my main background noise.

I source mostly from the Internet but a little from TV1 and substantially less from TV3.

3D on Malcolm Rewa

3 News is promising revealtions on Malcolm Rewa tonight on 3D (6.30pm). They are promoting the news in advance:

Malcolm Rewa family member: ‘We know what went down

A member of Malcolm Rewa’s family has come forward with new evidence against him in the unsolved Susan Burdett murder case.

He has told 3D Investigates he is prepared to testify against Rewa in any fresh prosecution.

“I would give evidence,” the man told the programme. “We know what went down and how it happened.”

3D Investigates will tonight reveal fresh information about Rewa’s involvement in the 1992 rape and murder of Burdett in her Papatoetoe home.

The family member, one of two witnesses with new details, says he wants to apologise to the Burdett family.

“I apologise for what has happened. They lost a loved one and I wouldn’t like it to happen to my family. And I don’t mind helping the family.

“I should’ve been a man enough way back and come forward.”

Yes, he should have been man enough way back. But better very late than never.

Rewa, jailed in 1998 for attacks against 25 women, faced two trials for murdering Burdett. He was convicted of raping her, but neither jury could agree on whether he was guilty of murder.
The complicating factor in the Rewa case was that another man, Teina Pora, had previously been found guilty of killing her.

Pora spent twenty years in Paremoremo prison. Possibly because one or more people remained silent. Until now perhaps.

UPDATE after 3D screened – two pieces of information.

Susan Burdett murder: Witness saw Malcolm Rewa on the night

A witness who lived in a house just down the road from Ms Burdett at the time of the murder saw Rewa parked in his truck in her driveway on his own on that night, and that evidence has never been heard.

She says she opened the curtain on the night of the murder and saw Rewa parked in his truck in her driveway, on his own, with nobody else around.

Up till now, there has only been physical evidence – DNA of semen – connecting Rewa with Ms Burdett. There were no fingerprints, no eyewitnesses, and Rewa claimed in his defence that he was at home on the night.

So to now have an eyewitness who saw him in Ms Burdett’s street, on his own, without Mr Pora, is a breakthrough.


In video the police took in 1992 at the scene of the crime, a bat can be seen on Ms Burdett’s bed. The prosecution has previously said the bat belonged to her.

“Yeah the old baseball bat,” says Mr Manapiri, “I first saw that when I come back from Australia.”

“[Rewa] had a Holden, and he took me up to Ruakaka on it – him and his daughter – and I seen that baseball bat quite often … it’s the old colour of the old baseball bat what he used to carry.

“That’s the one. And I seen it quite often. He used to carry it in his van and stuff like that too.

“He used to beat his dogs and he was in the gang, and I suppose that was his weapon.

“I’m telling you that’s his bat left at the scene and, you know, that shows that he did it.”

Mr Manapiri says he told the police at the time. He can even describe the policeman he spoke to, but it never appears in any of the police records

This looks like significant new evidence that may justify re-opening the case.

It also raises concernes that the Police may not have recorded important information given to them during the investigation.

The Garner and du Plessis-Allan Story

Mediaworks have announced hosts for their Campbell Live replacement. Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allen, who will front a 7 pm current affairs programme called ‘Story’ on TV3

I think this will be worth checking out when it starts. I rarely watched Campbell Live but could be more interested in this combination, depending on what they cover and how they cover it.

Garner will stay on his RadioLive slot from 3-6 pm. That could work quite well with Story able to be a television follow-up on stories of the day.’

And du Plessis-Allen, rated one of their better journalists, has been nabbed from TV1.

I wonder if the Left Mob who campaigned to boycott Mediaworks after Campbell Live was scrapped will campaign for viewers to support double the front line journos on story.

The proof of Story will be in their stories, but they should at least be given a chance to prove their worth.

Paul Henry still failing to impress

I occasionally go back to the Paul Henry Show, just to get reminded why I don’t like it – it’s too opinionated, with Paul Henry dominating. A shame because I don’t mind Hillary Barry and Jim Kayes.

So I switch back to One’s Breakfast, which I never liked much but is less bad. And barely watch it as I do the ‘net.

I’m obviously not the target demographic. In the early morning I’m interested in finding out as much about news and views as I can, not just one person’s views interspersed with a bit of news that’s often either stale or trivial (and often both).

Throng reports on the morning TV ratings.

Ratings: The Paul Henry Show week 4

Four weeks in and The Paul Henry Show enjoyed its first positive move on the previous week with a less than 1% gain on the previous week to have an average audience between 7am and 9am of 44,288 viewers.

Breakfast was up 2% on the previous week to an average audience of 135,300.

So Paul Henry is either failing to impress or is an acquired taste. But I’m unlikely to acquire an interest unless there’s a specific item signalled on Twitter that I’m interested in. I’ll keep looking for what interests me rather than be glued to a bit of a goon show.

Craig gets in on The Nation debate

TV3 has backed down to legal pressure from the Conservative Party and has agreed to include Colin Craig in the small party leaders’ debate on The Nation tomorrow.

TV3 to include Colin Craig in minor party leaders’ debate

TV3 has opted to include Colin Craig in the minor leaders debate, rather than hold no debate at all.

The Conservative Party leader took his case to the High Court, and has this afternoon been granted an interim injunction against the media organisation.

At court, TV3 initially opted to go ahead with no debate, rather be forced to include the politician.

But it’s now changed its mind, and Mr Craig will join tomorrow’s debate.

Good on Craig for pushing for the right to be included. Too often media organisations get away with arranging what suits them rather than what is best for fair democracy.

Brendan Horan is now trying to push for inclusion as well.

@TheNationTV3 given that I’m a current MP and the leader of the NZIC I hope to be there too.

I’m a leader of a political party that was represented in Parliament.

He might have left his claim a bit late.