Enough real abuse that TVNZ staff don’t need to make more up

February 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television New Zealand has apologised for a Breakfast stunt after discovering two of their staff had made up abusive messages to them that were read on air.

The programme two days ago had eight staff read out messages of abuse in the wake of the weekend death in Sydney of television presenter Charlotte Dawson.

But this morning the programme apologised saying that broadcaster Peter Williams and Seven Sharp reporter Dean Butler had made up their messages.

In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.” The other messages were genuine, Breakfast said.

is taking this matter very seriously and will be dealing with it appropriately,” Breakfast said.

Williams and Butler have had their parody messages removed from on-line.

The message read out by Williams, now known to be made up, said: “My mother always told me that people who talk slowly think slowly. You talk slowly, Peter Williams.”

Butler’s said: “Don’t take this the wrong way but I hope someone punches you.”

In the genuine messages reporter Brooke Dobson was told to “shave off” a moustache, Seven Sharp co-host Toni Street was criticised for her “disgusting flabby arm skin” and co-host Jesse Mulligan was labelled “thick as a plank”.

That is a huge fail. Even if one generously accepts it was a misunderstanding, then it was a huge communications failure for a broadcaster that is meant to be good at communications. There is some real hideous abuse of those with a high profile, and highlighting it was a great idea. But having two of them as invented undermines both what they did, but also the two staffers involved.

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26 Responses to “Enough real abuse that TVNZ staff don’t need to make more up”

  1. Reid (16,447 comments) says:

    In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.”

    They’ve really lost their way, haven’t they – TV “journos.” They’re less journos and more propaganda and comedy mouthpieces masquerading as journos.

    Perhaps they’ve forgotten there are still a lot of people out there who haven’t yet realised they stopped reporting facts a long time ago. Perhaps they think everyone knows they’re not supposed to be taken seriously, that stuff like this is just BAU for the “newsrooms,” so it doesn’t matter.

    If they don’t think that and they don’t want their audience to think that, then why precisely have they been acting as they have for the last say three decades, gradually becoming less and less objective, less and less insightful, covering less and less serious news and more and more celeb and sport pap? Ratings? Duh. Have a look at where the ratings have been heading.

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  2. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    This entity should be top of the list for privatisation . . . it is merely a breeding ground for left-wing doctrine, just look at their political journos, not one worth a blurt.

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  3. Longknives (4,742 comments) says:

    “the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.”
    Bullshit- You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard all the huffing and puffing about ‘cyber bullying’ lately.
    Lies,lies and more lies!
    I guess they don’t teach ‘Ethics’ at Journalism School anymore?

    * Also- does Jesse Mulligan realise how ironic his pathetic wailing about being ‘bullied’ sounds after his childish attack on Colin Craig??

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  4. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.”

    What did Peter Williams’ one say?

    It’s been years since I’ve watched much TV, but that guy is a fully funny c***. I bet his fake one was gold. :-)

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  5. Manolo (13,765 comments) says:

    Why waste one’s time watching TVNZ or TV3 crap? Just turn off the idiot box.

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  6. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    They wanted to jump on the victim bandwagon. Not ever being abused by anyone at anytime was an obstacle to that. No wonder they had to improvise.

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  7. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    Williams read: “My mother always told me that people who talk slowly think slowly.

    You talk slowly, Peter Williams.”

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  8. tom hunter (4,834 comments) says:

    In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.”

    It seems that others have jumped on the same comment, but I’ll disagree with Longknives and agree with RRM: this is entirely believable coming from TVNZ’s “news” department.

    Is it any wonder that so many people have tuned to the likes of The Daily Show, where one can enjoy deliberate, knowing parody.

    I know Key won’t do it but please – sell this dog now while it’s still worth something.

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  9. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    The ‘celebs’ will take publicly to anyone who doesn’t agree with their pet causes – gay marriage, wealth disparity ect – then wonder why they get abused!

    If they just presented all sides of a story HONESTLY then most people would then take their case of being abused seriously. I don’t. I couldn’t give a fuck about the lying, cheating, dishonest, scaremongering, hypocritical, thoughtless and brainwashed PC know it alls. I hope they all get fired.

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  10. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    As I’m fortunate never having seen Breakfast, I just looked up what it supposedly was about. It is billed as a “News Show”. So when TVNZ reporters are asked to contribute to “news” they do, and have no problem inventing news.

    Inventing news, talking about non-news, and suppressing genuine news, doesn’t that sum up the MSM?

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  11. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    Is this a new trend…?

    :arrow: TV3 on Labour’s TVNZ branch meeting.

    :arrow: Stuff & the Herald on fake shit at TVNZ.

    Is there a state of war between the NZ MSM institutions?

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  12. flipper (4,058 comments) says:

    The TV front room that we see is only half responsible for this nonsense.

    It is clear from the report that this self promotion was dreamed up in the back room where smart arse producers, left wing and committed ideologues like Watkin lurk. Those pricks are probably more guilty than those that front their theatre, and they appear to escape scott free.

    For so ling as the media think it appropriate to engage in “slings and arrows” with people they have in their sights, they must expect push back. A snide comment by someone like Mulligan, or Dann, or Williams, or the idiotic editorials written by some half brain newspaper functionary, does deserve really solid push back.

    They are all afraid of push back.
    Joe Blow, guilty or innocent of any misdemeanour, is not accorded any privacy. But the princes (or most probably Princesses in 2014) of the airwaves, they assert, are different.
    That is why their telephone numbers are unlisted, and they are usually granted exemption from inclusion in published electoral rolls.

    The old adage about glass houses and stones is surely applicable to these self important children.

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  13. Peter (1,712 comments) says:

    If everyone who “makes shit up” in the MSN is fired, how many would be left?

    What a disgrace.

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  14. mandk (993 comments) says:

    Interestingly, not a word about this on Radio NZ.
    Protecting their buddy’s back?

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  15. tvb (4,420 comments) says:

    This is serious. Peter Williams May gave seriously damaged his career. Newsreaders do not simply read a script. Viewers trust them to be telling the truth and they have a professional responsibility NOT to knowingly read out an untruth. Can anyone imagine Walter Cronkite doing that. People BELIEVED him. I may be a bit harsh but I think Williams is finished as a newsreader.

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  16. ben (2,379 comments) says:

    Now I suppose the real abuse starts. Good luck TVNZ. Someone explain what state ownership is buying here.

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  17. Akaroa (557 comments) says:

    So what?

    IMHO anyone who takes anything, rpt anything, on TV seriously – graphic instant news footage excepted – needs to take a get-real pill!!

    TV? It’s show biz folks – a la Barnum and Bailey.

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  18. Fentex (974 comments) says:

    Some time ago, the early 1990’s, a young woman who worked for me while completing university moved on to study journalism in Auckland. She told me that she was explicitly instructed that detachment is impossible and the purpose of journalism was to gather attention rather than inform.

    While I can admire the honesty of such direction it is depressing.

    So it’s easy to see how journalists can ‘misunderstand’ a request to supply examples of on-line abuse as a requirement to produce ‘satire’, they’ve been ‘educated’ to mistake misleading for commercial and ideological benefits with reporting.

    Context and ideological blinkers do influence what meaning we draw from events and peoples expression (I’m commenting on a politically orientated blog, every reader should be observing this routinely) but an honest person trying to understand or debate learns this and tries to allow for, not manipulate, it. These people do not seem honest.

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  19. Jaffa (94 comments) says:

    Obviously, they are not getting enough real abuse.
    How about “lying prick”, there we go, some real abuse!

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  20. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I believe that Williams is lying through his teeth. Misunderstanding – Yeah right. He should be sacked.

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  21. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Peter Williams is clearly annoyed he doesn’t get any abusive comments. I’m sure some commenters from here could help him out. :)

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  22. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    Or maybe they thought it was a stupid request, they were asked by some earnest young thing to provide examples of online abuse and thought “they cannot be serious”, so they made some up. Then it all got out of hand and they found themselves reading it out on air, and kinda thinking “oops”. But in that particular hothouse, admitting they had made them up would have been a big problem, so they let it roll on. Stupid, but I can see how it could happen.

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  23. Dexter (303 comments) says:

    How hysterically sophomoric do you have to be to start calling for him to resign or question his credibility as a journalist over this. Either that or you have been living under a rock and haven’t seen all the similar parody’s of celebrities reading mean tweets to see where he was coming from. How anyone thought he was being serious given the content…..With all the atrocities going on in the world there’s a clear lack of perspective when the self-inflicted death of a gossip page minor celebrity evokes more of an emotive response than the murder of thousands of children and innocents in places like Syria.

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  24. DJP6-25 (1,387 comments) says:

    I think the sale of TVNZ will have to wait until the supply of OPM becomes critically short.

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  25. Bob R (1,371 comments) says:

    ***Can anyone imagine Walter Cronkite doing that. People BELIEVED him. I may be a bit harsh but I think Williams is finished as a newsreader.***

    @tvb,

    Hahaha, get a grip.

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  26. Steve (North Shore) (4,561 comments) says:

    Quite childish actually. These are people who are supposedly adults but act like silly teens.
    No wonder I don’t watch that shit – ar any of the TV1 or TV3 media

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