Paul Holmes on the media

November 19th, 2011 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

writes:

I don’t join lynch mobs and I don’t intend to now. For that’s what it’s been this week, a sanctimonious, high and mighty news media lynch mob baying for John Key’s blood. …

And I’m not blind. This is not happy politics for John Key. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. But it never ceases to amaze and disgust me how so few in the news media understand how much the public detests the newspapers and other media ganging up and demanding blood, in this case, because of a few words said in a tape recording of a private meeting, a tape recording that was in itself a dirty trick. People hate this.

I have been amazed at how thuggish the media reaction has been, where they have tried to turn the victim of an alleged crime into the wrong-doer.

Many in the media have argued that because this was a discussion between two politicians with media just outside, that there was no expectation of privacy and the law doesn’t apply. Those who argue that miss the point. If the media honestly thought there is no right to privacy in that conversation, they should have refused to leave the café. They should have said “No this is a public political discussion, and we are leaving our tape recorders behind”. That is an acceptable response. What is unacceptable, and I believe illegal, is to leave a recorder behind concealed and secretly recording.

And any person who argues that the reason it was turned on, yet inside in bag, wasn’t so that it wouldn’t be noticed is either incredibly gullible or dishonest.  Numerous other cameramen have said you never leave a recorder on while in a bag, as it drains the battery, and it interferes with the quality. Anyone who seriously argues this was not a deliberate bugging is naïve at best.

It saddens me greatly when our media makes the UK media look honourable by comparison. Some may resile at my strong language, and say the secret recording is not in the same league as the News of the World. I agree, it is not. But the difference is the rest of the media in the UK has condemned the News of the World, while in NZ the media are all but condoning the tactics involved in the secret recording, and instead expressing outrage that a complaint was laid with the Police. I’m sorry, but isn’t that what you are meant to do when you believe the law has been broken? The media are not above the law, and do not get to decide which laws apply to them, and which do not.

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50 Responses to “Paul Holmes on the media”

  1. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    Agreed David, I don’t believe it is credible that the microphone was left on inside a bag by mistake. And even if it was, there was nothing to stop the cameraman deleting the audio afterward. According to Andrew Geddiss on DimPost this act was essentially legal if unintentional (and we can all guess how difficult it would be to prove intent). But every profession should, in my view, aim for a higher standard than simply what is legal, particularly where the public interest is not necessarily at stake.

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  2. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Would these same ‘journalists be so understanding if their employers took to recording their private conversations in ‘public’ areas of their business’s.? Of course not.

    They would be out there whining like school children regarding their ‘rights’.

    The fact that the PM and Banksy were involved in this is irrelevant, it would be just as illegal if Norman and Goff had been recorded. Its against the law to make the recoding and really really illegal to act on or publish anyting on the recording.

    There is only one politician arrogant and stupid enough to act on anything recorded on this tape in New Zealand. I would wonder how he would feel if his late night whiskey soaked ramblings were recorded at the Green Parrot.

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  3. Scott Chris (6,176 comments) says:

    Yes I agree that the press have been unfair to John Key. He’s a tall poppy, but by the same token, he could have handled the situation better.

    Doesn’t change the fact that Paul Holmes is a sanctimonious hypocrite.

    He’s been part of ‘media lynch mobs’ on many an occasion.

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  4. Lindsay Addie (1,587 comments) says:

    Holmes in his Herald column usually writes with good insight something he didn’t always show when he was on TVNZ at 7pm weekdays all those years ago.

    I do think what he writes about StormInATeacupGate is what the majority of sane, normal Kiwi voters think of this media beatup. By that I particurlarly mean the average person not political junkies like us who run and/or post on blogs.

    Also Key’s media foes didn’t know history which shows that politicians such as Muldoon and Thatcher won multiple elections whilst battling the media.

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  5. tvb (4,493 comments) says:

    The cameraman looks a nasty piece Of work. Just the kind of guy fOr a dirty job

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  6. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    “If the media honestly thought there is no right to privacy in that conversation they should have refused to leave the cafe.”

    That is a great point, a salient point, a point missed by many.

    A point that totally escaped the genius lawyer Mai Chen in her piece in todays Herald.

    She asks 4 questions and then doesn’t answer any of them.
    Just serves up a bunch of woffle.
    This is the kind of advice you would need from a genius lawyer. NOT.

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  7. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    There will be a few journo’s considering the consequences of their actions about now given they rely on good relationships with Government to get good stories, some may find their less assassinous peers get the news for the next 3 years.

    Wouldn’t that be a crying shame.

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  8. Dave Mann (1,248 comments) says:

    Don’t be so sanctimonious DPF. This whole teacup fiasco is a product of two dishonest conniving politicians conspiring to make a media event out of their plan to deprive Epsom voters (and the country) of their right to democracy.

    A plague on both their rotten houses. Sure, the media is having a field day on this and there probaly isn’t much of interest in the tape anyway….. but the way these two assholes and their parties have gone about their attempted rort disgusts the average voter. Scum.

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  9. Nookin (3,455 comments) says:

    Well said David and well said Paul Holmes. The dishonesty of the news media in this case it is astounding. It confirms my belief that, as far as many in the news media are concerned, everything is all about them. As far as they are concerned, politicians do not have a right to privacy. On the other hand, the news media have every right to invade privacy and publicise Whatever they considered to be newsworthy. The news media is of the view that it has every entitlement to withhold information relating to the commission of a crime but politicians are not entitled to have discussions in private.

    It seems to be a plank of the news media that this conversation took place in a public place. It did not. It took place in a privately owned cafe. The public do not have an Unconditional right to go into that cafe. The owner has every right to exclude them. The owner has the right to organise seating. The owner has the right to allow two politicians to have a private discussion without being eavesdropped. If this was not intended to be a private discussion then why was the news media excluded? If the news media thought that this was a public place and that they were entitled to be inside the cafe, why did they not protest at being excluded? MSM knows very well that this was a private conversation in private premises and that the news media was excluded. It is now taking advantage of a cheap shot. Worse, it is turning Key & Banks into the oppressors rather than the victims. MSM made it clear from the outset that Key would wear its wrath if he had the temerity to protest. It is carrying out its threat. Well done, Mr Key for showing them up.

    The excuses (public place, public interest, political stunts et cetera) are simply red hearings. What we have here is a criminal offence. I have yet to see the likes of Garner triy to explain that away. He seems to take the view that the news media are not bound by the criminal law if they think that there is a story in it. Somebody should tell Garner that he is also committing a criminal offence if he refers to the contents of the conversation.

    It is sad, and worse a public disservice, that mainstream media in New Zealand is plagued with superficial prima donnas more interested in advancing their own sense of self-importance than they are in publishing discerning comment on what really matters to New Zealanders.

    Their treatment of Winston Peters is a typical example. If push came to shove, I suspect that most political commentators and journalists would regard Peters as venal and a negative influence on the politics. Despite that, he is newsworthy. That is all that matters to mainstream media. There seems to be a concerted effort to generate support for him so that he is a contender. This is not journalism. This is journalists making news and not reporting it.

    Key was right on the button when he said that New Zealanders are more interested in talking about the economy, education and employment. He has been consistent and he has been proved right. Goff is looking stupid. He spent a week blathering on about the tapes, realised that he was on the wrong track and now protests that he wants to talk about things that matter. Goff’s problem is that when talking about releasing information, dirty tricks and just being plain nasty, he is in his element (remember “gone by lunchtime”). However, when it comes to the economy, employment, health and education, he is out of his depth.

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  10. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    the media have lost a huge amount of credibility over this especially the opinion writers from the Herald, morning report went totally feral. I have switched back to TVNZ news as I couldn’t stand another moment of Garner and Gower, Willy and JT has been dumped at work before someone threw the radio through the window with JTs love in with the labour party and attacks on Key.

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  11. davidp (3,587 comments) says:

    The UK had the Guardian to tackle criminality in the rest of the media. It is a pity NZ doesn’t have an equivalent.

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  12. Mark (496 comments) says:

    The media are corrupt lying hypocritical wankers – their behaviour is replusive.

    They would have a different attitude if they had been in a cafe where paparazzi had turned up and were told to go away, but they then secretly recorded their conservation by leaving a device behind.

    If you are in a cafe having a conservation where the media have been told to go away this is private conservation. You cant spin it away.

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  13. kowtow (8,730 comments) says:

    Dunedin Channel 9 news covered this last night. The academic being interviewed took the view the tape is public property,no surprises there.
    However the reporter showed a journalism ethics book and quoted from it ,basically it was a private conversation and the taping is unethical. Well done Channel 9.

    Having said that I wish JK would man up and say outright “in an MMP environment there is nopthing wrong with strategic voting and that is what we are asking our supporters in Epsom to do”. Then he’d look a lot less weevilly and he and Banksy could tell Gower eta el to FUCK OFF.

    National now need to start making their Christmas hit lists of all these media wankers so they can show them their post election appreciation!!!!There’s lots of taxpayer money to be saved .

    I reckon these media tossers are actually working this very hard as they want to get the ring master Winston Peters back in so the show can go on,they love it.

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  14. Pete George (23,680 comments) says:

    This whole teacup fiasco is a product of two dishonest conniving politicians conspiring to make a media event

    Act were obviously keen, Key seemed reluctant, but the media were egging it on all week before it happened, daily they kept asking Key when he was going to do it, and when he finally did it they said he set it up.

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  15. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    Paul Holmes’ political instincts on this issue are spot on – as were John Key’s. The media really thought they had Key on the run and Key (backed with the results of National’s internal polling and focus group soundings) made a calculated decision to buy a fight with the media – a it looks like he won. It is interesting to read the talking heads commentary on this subject in the aftermath of 3 major polls showing National’s commanding lead barely dented. Through gritted teeth they grudgingly admit that Key has the public behind him but then proceed to prattle on about the issue in a vain attempt to continue doing what the various specific polls just on the subject of the teapot tapes have shown that voters dislike, that being to beat the issue up. The new variant of the beatup is the police complaint – the media’s disdain for Key having outflanked them is palpable and is evident in the snarky way they are now reporting the issue. Paul Holmes is right – when will they learn that the public hate this.

    NZ has a small political media bench and they exist in a very isolated Wellington vortex of like thinkers. Their left leaning bias is so clearly evident in the pass the Greens are getting. In most countries even with their mostly left leaning MSM, the partner of a party leader’s EA being at the heart of an orchestrated nationwide vandalism campaign against their opponent would be a major story – partly because in the UK, US and to a lesser extent Australia, you have credible right leaning media outlets with a reasonable following that can and regularly draws viewers and readers away from left leaning media outlets because they will investigate more even handedly. Aside from bloggers like David, Cameron Slater, Cactus Kate and dare I say it Ian Wishart, there are very few journalists who would have the courage to dig deeper on an issue like that or press Russell Norman harder on his denials. Like the MSM who were (and largely still are) in the tank for Obama and the Democrats, a media dream narrative has taken hold in NZ and that is of a miraculous win by the left driven by the rise in support for the Greens. The two keys legs to a centre left victory is a resurgent Green Party that doen’t entirely cannibalise Labour and Winston Peters crossing the threshold. The spin on the reporting of the teapot tapes has been so blatently partisan as to actually backfire. I predict that Banks will now just squeak in in Epsom because voters there don’t want to hand a victory to the media and the saga has jolted uncommitted but National leaning voters to decide to vote when perhaps they were going to not bother sensing Key had it in the bag all because the media has so shamelessly tried to screw the scrum in favour of the left.

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  16. gopolks (52 comments) says:

    The media gets a big fat zero with this. They have lost so much respect with the NZ public, this will come back to bite them.

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  17. Someone Else (135 comments) says:

    Paul Holmes made his name by ambush journalism by demanding an apology from Dennis Connor on the debut Holmes show!

    Holmes also is mates with John Key and the Shipley family. The Shipleys even marketed his ‘Paul Holmes Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ to China.

    Holmes is right that people don’t trust the media as biased pricks like him and Farrar have infiltrated it to run their agendas!

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  18. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    The media are suffering a case of 99 Percentitis, where the normal rules and laws don’t apply to them. The perils of an unchecked press are very real for anyone who remembers the horror that was Camillagate. Eeeuwuchh.

    http://the-yeas-or-nays-have-it.blogspot.com/2011/11/best-use-of-phrase-dirigible-behemoth.html?spref=tw

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  19. peterwn (3,298 comments) says:

    It seems like cronyism to me – the journos are out to protect one of their own. I bet in the old days Mr Horton would have told his editor and journos to lay off pretty smartly. I remember when Wilson & Horton (Herald publishers at the time) objected to the content of ‘Outspoke’ (a student newspaper set up in opposition to Craccum) and told them to find another printer (they did and it was printed on the first offset press in NZ). And Mrs Horton was a formidable ‘society’ woman then.

    I see it as the journos threatening to (figuratively) break John Key’s fingers if he refuses to yield. This is straight out thuggery.

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  20. Black with a Vengeance (1,865 comments) says:

    spin baby spin

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  21. coolas (115 comments) says:

    Is this same Paul Holmes who called the Secretary General of the United Nations, ‘a cheeky darkie.’ If so, he’s a nasty racist with zero credibility.

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  22. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    There’s a lot of double standards going on around this – especially in the comments above. If the politicians involved had been Red and Green rather than Blue and Blue (hiding behind yellow) then you would all be saying that the tape should be released.

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  23. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    coolas and someone else
    Left’s usual tactics on display – dont debate the substance of what Holmes actually said just make personal attacks on him!

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  24. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    One of the best of Holmes’s columns in a while.

    John Armstrong and some of the rest of the media seem to keep digging their holes. The media have not fully got how out of step they were with the public.

    There has always been a solution to this, the moment the tape or transcript was put into Herald on Sunday editor Bryce Johns’s hands.

    Publish.

    If the conversation was that important for the public to know, they should have published.

    Then they could have taken their chances with the courts.

    Who knows? They might have got away with it. The case could have been argued all through the courts for years and years.

    But it seems that lawyers and non-publishing executives are calling the shots.

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  25. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    kiwi in america @ 12.11

    Well said. These nasty lightweight birdbrains will never get it though.
    Typical leftards. Both.

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  26. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Davidp,

    Actually, we know that the Guardian newspaper has also engaged in criminal conduct, some of it apparently just this year. The only reason it exposed the News of the World was because it was/is anti-Murdoch.

    I just find it interesting that TV3 is leading the charge, yet again.

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  27. Someone Else (135 comments) says:

    FFS you in-bred smug Nat gits! I am not a lefty! I am a liberal who sees things as they are rather than through your blue-tinted glasses. This election has been as much about the messenger than about the message! Terms like personality politics and media commentary have dominated this campaign. If someone makes a comment based on opinion disguised as fact they deserve to be hammered.

    It is not innappropriate to highlight Paul Holmes obvious hypocrisy.

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  28. coolas (115 comments) says:

    The substance KiA, is that Key created a media event to endorse Banks in Epsom, and a camera man left a mic on the table which recorded their conversation while they were being filmed from a distance out of ear shot. Key says the recording was an invasion of privacy. Some media think it was such a public meeting and what they said was not private. Holmes opinion is just that. His opinion. My point about Holmes, the racist, is that he lost both his integrity and credibility long ago because he slagged Kofi Annan because he is black.

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  29. mickrodge (27 comments) says:

    Has anyone else noticed how smug & sanctimonius Patrick Gower has gotten in the last couple of weeks?

    Every interview & story i’ve seen him in he’s salivating like a dingo at a roo carcass.

    It’s been bad enough with Garner & his self importance without Gower going the same way.

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  30. 103PapPap (131 comments) says:

    Isn’t it going to be interesting on Tuesday when Mr Ambrose/White explains that the reason he wants to make his tape ‘public property’ is so he can sell it!

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  31. Anthony (798 comments) says:

    I don’t agree that National’s tactics in Epsom are a rort – the whole idea of MMP is that the number of MPs a party gets are proportionate to the vote it gets, and that’s all Act will get. The Epsom thing is to ensure that the 5% threshold (which in my opinion is too high) doesn’t mean a vote for Act is wasted. Hone has the same thing with his party and Peter Dunne with his – are they rorting the system too? Banksie won more votes than Len Brown in Epsom in mayoralty vote so is hardly unpopular.

    I think STV might be a better system with John Banks likely to get elected as one of maybe 5 MPs for a wider Auckland electorate.

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  32. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Anyone seen any ad’s for bodyguards in the papers recently?

    Can’t believe the DPS are still employed after missing the obvious black bag/mike/bomb etc. sitting on the table.

    Specially since the shaven headed one got trounced in the arm wrestle recently. :)

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  33. Someone Else (135 comments) says:

    The reason why the media have targeted John Key and John Banks and dragged the conversation out is because they are all holding onto something seriously damaging for the final week of the campaign. The media, especially TV3, have held onto dirt on Act every last week of the election since 1999. The media have targeted cuppa-gate as they know it will damage John Key too.

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  34. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Gidday Fester. Had your cuppa tea with Obummer yet??

    Watch out for mikes on the table if he asks you why you get paid more than him! :)

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  35. Paulus (2,657 comments) says:

    Following the Herald’s diatribe all week and again today, this has moved my wife and I, who are thinkers to the following courses of action –

    We voted this morning
    We cancelled the Herald finally
    TV3 will not be shown in our house
    RNZ no longer available.

    We believe that the so called MSM have been puerile and conspiratorial in their political belief, and am amazed at the cacophony of support within the media. It is a sadness to see New Zealand reduced to such a level.

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  36. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    coolas
    Holmes’ view of Kofi Annan is about as relevant to this argument as tits on a boar. Most NZers agree with Key that the recording of a public conversation WAS an invasion of privacy. You entirely fall into the same trap as the media by ASSUMING that just because the media were invited to the cafe to film and speak to the participants BEFORE the meeting that they were entilted to know everything that was said during the time that any neutral observer agrees was specifically PRIVATE time. So yea Holmes opinion but sadly for you and the left he (and Key) happen to be in sync with middle NZ.

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  37. Nookin (3,455 comments) says:

    Coolas

    “Key says the recording was an invasion of privacy. Some media think it was such a public meeting and what they said was not private. Holmes opinion is just that. His opinion.”

    So perhaps we should debate the validity of the opinion and the validity of the view of some media that it was a “public meeting”. I have cut and pasted the definition of “private communication”. As you will see, there is no pre-requisite that the meeting be held in private premises. Perhaps you could explain, given your reference to the fact that the news media was “out of earshot” and the fact that Banks & Key were clearly isolated, the basis upon which anybody could suggest that it was unreasonable for Key & Banks to expect that this conversation was to be confined to the participants? Perhaps, when responding, you could deal with the fact that the only way that the conversation could be heard by anybody other than the participants is if there was a hidden microphone, placed without the knowledge of the participants, recording the conversation?

    private communication—
    (a)means a communication (whether in oral or written form or otherwise) made under circumstances that may reasonably be taken to indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties to the communication; but
    (b)does not include such a communication occurring in circumstances in which any party ought reasonably to expect that the communication may be intercepted by some other person not having the express or implied consent of any party to do so.]]

    If the news media reasonably thought that they could participate in the communication, or intercept the communication, why did they not simply rock up to the table and listen in? Answer – they knew with absolute certainty that they would be turned away and told that this was a private meeting.

    Perhaps you could also explain why the “News Media” to which you refer, fail to use the correct criteria for determining whether this recording was lawful or not? The whole media argument seems to be based on the fact that they could be seen and therefore it is public. That, unfortunately, is not the test. It is part of the MSM deceit. I can sometimes be seen from the street when in my office. If I have a client with me, that client can also be seen. Does it follow from that fact alone that our conversation should be made public?

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  38. damocles (83 comments) says:

    It’s apparent that the only reason Mr Bradley Ambrose is taking the “was it private?” legal approach is because he knows the “unintentional” defence won’t work.

    It’s (perhaps) arguable that he “accidentally” left the microphone on the table. However the only way BA could have actually recorded the full eight minutes of the conversation was by leaving his camera on and recording all that time. For a professional cameraman recording two politicians through a sound-proofed window (where no sound could have been heard), that’s simply not credible.

    Add to that his various defences as recorded in the media (and subsequently shown to be incorrect: eg “I tried to retrieve the microphone but was stopped by the PM’s minders”) — not to mention his smirking note to the effect “wonder what will be in the HoS tomorrow?” on his Facebook page (since deleted, but Whaleoil took a screenshot) and it’s pretty clear that this was a cameraman after a scoop.

    So — definitely intentional, but was it private? That must have been the expectation of both Mr Banks and Mr Key, otherwise they were scarcely likely to indulge in any (allegedly) imprudent comments ….

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  39. coolas (115 comments) says:

    Kia – I haven’t seen the polls on what most NZers think about this issue but it is bringing to the fore a whole bunch of stuff about public/private material and seems the Courts will be ruling on some of it next week. Look forward to that. I don’t see it as black and white as some on here. Context seems relevant. Be interesting and maybe catch up after the rulings.

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  40. RF (1,443 comments) says:

    I see that the old hack Soper is now backing off from spreading his tripe about the private conversation between the two David’s. Good…Now he can concentrate on the greeny criminals damaging Nationals signs.

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  41. Tauhei Notts (1,746 comments) says:

    Bradley Ambrose’s background throughout all of this is intriguing.
    Why did he have to change his name to Ambrose?
    What did he do that he had to resign from the police pronto, before they had the chance to sack him?
    I think Bradley Ambrose makes Phil U look like New Zealand’s finest gentleman.

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  42. Scott Chris (6,176 comments) says:

    Damocles says:- “For a professional cameraman recording two politicians through a sound-proofed window (where no sound could have been heard), that’s simply not credible.”

    It is quite possible that he was filming throughout the 8 minutes. He is a cameraman at a public media event after all. There are plenty of shots of the private conversation, so why couldn’t one of them not been his?

    If he wasn’t wearing his headphones, then he wouldn’t have been aware of the conversation until he played it back to edit the video. If he can produce this footage, he can exonerate himself.

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  43. Someone Else (135 comments) says:

    damocles – The term ‘unitentional’ requires ‘mens rea’ (guilty intent) whereas ‘private’ only requires ‘actus reas’ (the physical act). Ambrose is smart to seek a declaration on ‘private’ as it is a short and sweet way of avoiding prosecution.

    Scott Chris – the ‘sound proof’ glass door was open.

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  44. Mark (496 comments) says:

    If the media believe this was a public conservation then why are they so timid in publishing the full conservation. If they are so certain it was there is no risk of 2 years in prison and a fine.

    Or are they scared that they may come the new boy for the Black Power or the Mongrel mob. They way they have acted over this makes them look like dickless girly-men.

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  45. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Key created this situation. He invited the media..He turned it into an event. How could anyone sit there and not notice the microphone? He got what he deserved and showed his incompetence.

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  46. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    the Guardian to tackle criminality in the rest of the media.

    That tax-dodging money-haemorrhaging rag that did hacking of its own? Not really. Equivilent here might by the Herald considering its bias.

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  47. Nigel Ng (13 comments) says:

    @joana: Key created this situation. He invited the media..He turned it into an event. How could anyone sit there and not notice the microphone? He got what he deserved and showed his incompetence.

    Incompetence or not, it doesn’t make the recording legitimate. We have legal system for a reason. If the media believes the situation is public, they could choose to go to court to confirm so, or if the conversation is so damaging they could just publish it and justify their actions in court. They didn’t do that. What they have done is use the tap as ransom to Key & Banks.

    This is ugly, immoral in public eyes – the reflects by the recent pool.

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  48. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Cameraman-may-sue-Key-for-defamation/tabid/419/articleID/233313/Default.aspx

    Really?

    Has Key actually called the cameraman by name in public or on the record? Not to the best of my recollection, and if so, then how can any defamation have taken place?

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  49. Nookin (3,455 comments) says:

    Nigel – Joana doesn’t like John Key and has yet to concede anything remotely favourable about him. I doubt many others would regard him as incompetent for failing to consider the possibility that what appeared to be a glasses case was in fact a live microphone. If nothing else, her attitude proves that the media in this country can no longer be trusted.

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  50. oldpark () says:

    Agree to take all Herald purchases of my list .TV3 yuk.same as Heralds .As for deals in Epsom so what,Labour did it in 1981 and that was FPP.

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