The silence of the media

November 16th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

A call from the may have been the “final straw” which pushed leading crime lawyer to take his own life.

Wellington lawyer Nikki Pender says it looked like Mr King did get a call from the Dominion Post which she says was just the “final straw”.

This confirms the story broken by Truth. The only other publication to touch on this revelation is NBR. I’m amazed that Mediawatch did not deem it worthwhile to even ask the Dominion Post if their staff called Greg King just before he died. Did the Herald ask any questions of the Dominion Post such as “Is it true you had written a story on Greg King, which you pulled just before the print deadline”.

Greg King’s death is tragic and profoundly sad. It is even more tragic if the catalyst was a story about a dispute over $1,500 of legal aid hours. Would journalists at the Dominion Post accept a refuse to comment from any of the subjects of their investigations? So, why is it acceptable from the newspaper itself?

I’m not saying the Dominion Post has done anything wrong. But I am saying they should front up and explain exactly what their involvement was.

When Christine Rankin was thought to be involved with the family of a woman who killed herself, the Dominion Post and other Fairfax papers pursued the story with vigour. There was no sense of being inappropriate to comment until the Coroner’s Report. The double standards in this case are hypocritical. I can understand the double standard from the Dom Post (who naturally do not want bad publicity), but why are other media and shows that are meant to focus on the media not reporting on this?

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30 Responses to “The silence of the media”

  1. louie (93 comments) says:

    > why are other media and shows that are meant to focus on the media not reporting on this?
    Because they only speak ‘truth to power’ when the subject is rightwing.

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  2. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    Because the mainstream media is shit?

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  3. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > This confirms the story broken by Truth.

    It does no such thing. It merely repeats the speculation around King’s death. Nikki Pender sounds like she is guessing. If she isn’t guessing, why not ask her to reveal what (if anything) she knows?

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  4. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “He had health problems as well and then there was obviously some sort of catalyst,” she said, referring to the Dominion Post call.

    Obviously some sort of catalyst? I didn’t realise Pender was an expert on the law AND suicide. Many victims of suicide never leave a note. Often their family and closest friends have absolutely no idea of what motivated the victim to take their own life.

    Footballer Gary Speed committed suicide last year. Like King, he was aged 42. His closest friends say they’re baffled at why he killed himself. He seemed fine the previous day and appeared on national tv where he was in a jovial mood. Maybe there was no catalyst in that case, and in many other cases of self inflicted harm.

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  5. Keeping Stock (10,250 comments) says:

    I posted this on WO’s blog this morning, so repeat it here to save some typing:

    Keep the pressure up Cam. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Dom-Post either running a story about Greg King and/or seeking comment from him. They had no way of knowing that events would take a tragic turn.

    There is however a strong element of dishonesty in the Dom-Post’s denials and obfuscation. The truth will come out (probably in the Truth), and the damage to the Dom-Post’s reputation will be far worse than had they issued an immediate mea culpa and expression of regret for the sad turn of events.

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  6. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    I’m not saying the Dominion Post has done anything wrong. But I am saying they should front up and explain exactly what their involvement was.

    How many employees at the Dominion Post? Surely it’ll leak out sooner or later, if there is actually anything to leak.

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  7. Keeping Stock (10,250 comments) says:

    Did you actually read the Truth story last week ross69, or are you just making shit up like you usually do? Check this out:

    Sources close to the family have told Truth that the Dominion Post contacted Greg King on the afternoon of Friday November 2.

    They informed him they were running a front page story based on an accusation made by one of their snitches in jail.

    Earlier that day they contacted King’s wife insisting Greg contact them at once regarding their front page story for the following day.

    The front page story never ran.

    Why did the Dominion Post pull the story? What did they know?

    In order to justify their approach to a distressed man, the Dominion Post and its investigative journalist Phil Kitchin need to answer the following questions:

    1. What was the nature and scope of the investigation that the Dominion Post was undertaking into Greg King and his legal practice?

    2. What contact did the Dominion Post (their staff, contractors or freelancers) have with Greg King and his wife or anybody in his legal practice in the week prior to his death, including on Friday 2 November?

    3. Who specifically from the Dominion Post has had contact over the last few weeks with an inmate at Rimutaka prison with regard to the investigation into Greg King?

    4. At what time on the evening of Friday 2 November was the decision made to pull the story that was scheduled to appear in the Dominion Post on Saturday 3 November? And why?

    5. When did the Dominion Post team learn of Greg King’s death?

    If the Dominion Post had uncovered the scoop of the century why did they abandon their story at the eleventh hour?

    What effect did their pursuit have on the overwhelmed King?

    Truth believes they need to take a long hard look at themselves.

    There is much, much more to come on this story.

    http://www.truth.co.nz/index.php/truthtells/690-the-king-is-dead-read-the-full-story

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  8. lastmanstanding (1,261 comments) says:

    The MSM stick to each other like shit to a blanket and as others have posted most of them are little pieces of shit.

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  9. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Ross: Just piss off back to the cesspits inhabited by your mates. Your comments on this thread are particularly offensive.

    I have enough knowledge of the facts of Greg’s sad death to know the few facts in DPF’s post above are correct. There is more, and it will inevitably emerge.

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  10. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    You’re easily offended David, except when you’re offending others. The fact is that the NBR is speculating. I have previously suggested that the NBR, and others, might like to wait until the Coroner has reported.

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  11. lastmanstanding (1,261 comments) says:

    Hope those responsible fall under a bus.. Karma.

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  12. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    So what exactly did the Dominion Post do wrong?

    Is it wrong to phone someone up or to ask difficult questions in case that person later commits suicide?

    [DPF: No. But we don't know exactly what did happen. All I am wanting is for the Dom Post to be open about their interactions, and what they were - just as Christine Rankin did]

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  13. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Did anyone see that piece by Willie Jackson in yesterday’s Truth? It was possibly the most ignorant piece of writing I have ever read…but perhaps that’s why Whale ran it…know the capacity of your enemy and all that.

    Greg was apparently not only a great lawyer but so insightful he knew, with absolute certainty before hearing any prosecution witnesses, that his clients were guilty. [That's IRONY if someone is stupid enough to think I mean it literally]

    tistanb: Oh dear me…READ the post…then read it again….slowly…then perhaps you will get it…Pay particular attention to the para beginning “I am not saying the Dominion did anything wrong….”

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  14. Chuck Bird (4,820 comments) says:

    I think it is very unfortunate that Greg was so overwhelmed that he killed himself. I think he did a lot of good things for free. I never met him. Even if I did I would have no idea whether it is possible he may have tried to get a little extra out of Legal Aid or more accurately the taxpayer. One can live with someone and be shocked how they behave. Let us suppose the Dominion believes there allegations were correct and still do. They are in a no win situation. If they carry on and try to prove their allegations they will be accused of attacking the character of a dead man who did much good.

    I am far from impressed with Cam Slater pursuing this. To say Slater is hypocritical would be an understatement considering his relentless attacks on many people including minors. The decent thing for Stater to do is follow the lead of the Dominion and let the matter drop.

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  15. Keeping Stock (10,250 comments) says:

    @tristanb – the Dom-Post did nothing wrong in seeking a quote from Greg King. They have every right to seek quotes or responses for a story.

    What they have done wrong is to deny that there was ever a front page story planned, and that they contacted King and his wife and business partner. No-one is going to blame them for King taking his own life, but they will lose a lot of goodwill by pretending that nothing happened.

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  16. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    But Greg was a smart guy. He would have known what he’d done and if it was just this pissy little $1500 amount then as a lawyer he would know those ramifications which can’t quite frankly be earthshaking. It obviously did come on top of an extremely overwhelmed man but how were they to know that?

    It’s Greg’s kids and wife I keep coming back to on this. He wouldn’t have done what he did to them, over something as trivial as this. Poor guy, that he wouldn’t let anyone in.

    To say Slater is hypocritical would be an understatement

    What’s hypocritical about it Chuck?

    No-one is going to blame them for King taking his own life, but they will lose a lot of goodwill by pretending that nothing happened.

    Good point KS.

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  17. Chuck Bird (4,820 comments) says:

    “What’s hypocritical about it Chuck?”

    Criticising the Dominion for something that may have been the final straw for Greg considering the number of relentless personal attacks Slater has made on people including a 15 year old boy.

    If the Truth had a strong case for their investigation is it going to help Greg’s family by engaging in a debate about the strength of their case.

    I wonder if Greg King’s family are happy and supportive of Slater’s article and promised follow up?

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  18. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    Criticising the Dominion for something that may have been the final straw for Greg considering the number of relentless personal attacks Slater has made on people including a 15 year old boy.

    Chuck in this case I don’t see he’s attacking Greg at all so I don’t see how what he’s done here relates to Cam making personal attacks.

    If the Truth had a strong case for their investigation is it going to help Greg’s family by engaging in a debate about the strength of their case.

    You mean the Dom Post I assume. Yeah fair point, any recent death is touchy. However beyond the family, if the Dom Post did do what is alleged then is it a story or not? Does it deserve to be told?

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  19. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Does it deserve to be told?

    Of course it does. So what’s the hold up?

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  20. Chuck Bird (4,820 comments) says:

    “Chuck in this case I don’t see he’s attacking Greg at all so I don’t see how what he’s done here relates to Cam making personal attacks.”

    Of course he is not attacking Greg. It is trying to blame the Dominion for tipping Greg over edge. Many of his persistent nasty attacks on others would have at times could easily done the same.

    “However beyond the family, if the Dom Post did do what is alleged then is it a story or not? Does it deserve to be told?”

    I would say probably not. Suppose there is lot of evidence to say Greg might have claimed a few extra hours at the Dominion think he may have. If the Dominion try to defend their actions do you think Slater will let things drop. Greg is dead now if and I say IF he claimed a few extra hours what benefit is there in debating it. I say let sleeping dogs lie unless Greg’s family approached the Truth in which I am quite wrong.

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  21. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    It is trying to blame the Dominion for tipping Greg over edge.

    Yes I know which I think is a stretch and I don’t personally see the point of the Truth story as neither do you I suspect but as to having a right to publish, certainly Cam has that IMO because it is a story, of the type that get published every day. Also the Dominion is not a person, with feelings, so it can be attacked and so what if it is being. I don’t see that being personal.

    Personally I don’t think Greg ever did try to claim extra hours, I mean if you were going to do that would you do it for a lousy $1500 and King didn’t seem at all the type. He was not interested in admin. I think it was FES who said if it wasn’t for his staff doing the billing he wouldn’t have ever been paid. If it was anything it was just a minor office glitch. Had to be. So why was the Dom Post getting so excited about it. That’s the story, as I see it.

    Certainly it’s unseemly to do it at this time, personally I wouldn’t have.

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  22. Nostalgia-NZ (5,081 comments) says:

    Making a story out what might have been a story. $1.500 for f’s sake. I note that the ‘confirming’ paper also has some links to The Truth, also ‘supported’ by a criticism of ‘not commenting’ raised by DPF and Keepingstock. Happy little family.

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  23. Rex Widerstrom (5,342 comments) says:

    Reid:

    I take your point above but bear in mind that while the DomPost isn’t a person its staff are and in particular its Investigations Editor Phil Kitchin. It was he who worked hardest of any of his colleagues on the Spencer Trust story, amongst other things, so we as readers and taxpayers and voters owe him a debt of gratitude. And I personally know him to be a man of integrity and personal kindness.

    As I said to Cam over at WO as a journalist and editor you frequently have to weigh up the effect of the story you’re investigating, or about to run, on the subject and sometimes their family. Unless the person is a single, friendless utter scoundrel someone somewhere is likely to be hurt. Then a whole lot of other, inevitably subjective, factors come in to play. It is an unpleasant business and a side of journalism that often shocks the young idealists who join the profession assuming life is like a movie and the bad guys are easy to pick by their black hats.

    Having said that, I do think the DomPost needs to respond, and answer Truth’s questions, so that we might judge the propriety of whatever actions they may have taken. They won’t stop the bleeding any other way now.

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  24. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    Rex I see this as two professionals squaring off, it’s not personal in any way.

    The media’s job is to hold those who lapse in duty of care to account, even if, as in Murdoch’s case, it involves your own profession.

    They won’t stop the bleeding any other way now.

    I’m surprised Matthew Horton authorised such a provocative feature story as the first cab off the rank. It’s either a massive win (as in “Truth beats Dom Post”) or a massive loss (as in “Truth exploits …”), depending on what happens next.

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  25. Chuck Bird (4,820 comments) says:

    “And I personally know him to be a man of integrity and personal kindness.”

    Rex, good point.

    However, I beleive when a person is dead do not carry on attacking them in most case. Greg at worst according to the allegations claimed more hours than he was entitled to. The exception is it the person was totally evil like the pedophile in the UK.

    The coroner’s report is not in yet so i do not think possible cases should be discussed at this time. I support the Dominion in not responding.

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  26. Nostalgia-NZ (5,081 comments) says:

    ‘It’s either a massive win (as in “Truth beats Dom Post”) or a massive loss (as in “Truth exploits …”), depending on what happens next.’

    People aren’t outraged Reid, so how can it be a massive win in any direction? Stupid to pump up a no-end story. It might have made a potentially ‘nice’ start for The Truth, but the point is when to drop it. Flogging a dead horse and all that jazz.

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  27. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    People aren’t outraged Reid, so how can it be a massive win in any direction?

    Some people assess wins and loses on criteria other than “outrage” Nostaliga.

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  28. Reid (16,174 comments) says:

    What Whale has got to do is avoid Truth being tainted with an Ian Wishart Investigate flavour and this crosses that line. Doesn’t it.

    Personally I think Horton has misunderstood who he hired.

    OTOH maybe he knew exactly who he’d hired.

    Interesting, either way.

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  29. Lucy (32 comments) says:

    Why on earth would mediawatch ‘investigate’ this? It’s an absolute non-story. This ongoing speculation is exploitative and shows complete and utter disrespect for Greg’s family (Kiwiblog’s post included). As tragic as it is, Greg took his own life because he was in the frame of mind to do so – for reasons only Greg knew – and which we will never know. Asking the Dominion Post about a story regarding Greg that they didn’t even publish – is a complete non-issue. They have nothing to answer for. Nothing the Dominion Post did or didn’t do contributed to Greg’s death. Anyone who says otherwise, doesn’t understand the complex issue of suicide. This baseless speculation and finger pointing helps absolutely no one – least of all, Greg’s family. My condolences to them. I hope that the ‘more to come’ promise from the Truth newspaper will not be delivered upon and that the media and bloggers will allow the family to grieve and try and put back the pieces of their lives.

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  30. Myself (1 comment) says:

    As a former employee of LSA (legal aid), I have to say that in all my dealings with Greg King he was shown to be a diligent, honest, caring and all round decent human being. Because of this I cannot believe that he would claim more than his legal aid entitlements in any way. I was saddened to hear of his death; it is a great loss to our legal system and society in general.

    As for all the media speculation surrounding the circumstances of his death and what was/ or wasn’t reported – I think this all best left until after the coroner’s report has been released.

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