Garner on bias

September 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

In election campaigns, many people accuse journalists of bias. I have been accused of bias for more than 15 years; I have been left wing and right wing, apparently. So, let me set the record straight.

For a start, I have never voted. I know that sounds wrong and I know voting is important; but, I worked at Parliament for 17 years, I got to know politicians so well. I didn’t want to vote for any one of them and at the same time cover all of them on a daily basis. It is my rule. I still stand by that today.

They are not my friends. Yes I have some of their cell phone numbers, but that’s for work purposes. I don’t ring them on their birthdays and they don’t call me. They don’t know where I live, they don’t know the names of my kids, they don’t know when my birthday is – they are not friends.

Duncan continues:

I have never been a member of a political party, I have never donated to any party.

I think National has some good policies, I think Labour has some good policies, I think New Zealand First has some good policies, I like some of the Greens’ ideas at times.

I have had a few nights out with Winston Peters over the years: who hasn’t?

I have had dinner twice with Gerry Brownlee. I used to meet Annette King for coffee on occasion. I have had a few beers with Ron Mark over the years. I had a night out with John Key when he was opposition leader. I have had lunch with Grant Robertson.

No politician was invited to my wedding, but a handful sent messages.

I like to see myself as an equal opportunity journalist. I like to give it to them all when they deserve it. I’ve piled into Labour Party Ministers and National Party Ministers over the years. Ask any politician if I’m biased and I bet they say I treat them all the same.

I’ve always said Duncan is an equal opportunity scandal monger :-)

I don’t think they are all bad people; Some are, some have rampant egos. Many of them are ok.

I regard around 90% of MPs as being basically decent people – probably the same level as in many occupations.

It’s the left and right bloggers who call us names; they like to pigeon-hole us. But the reality is they are the biased ones. They have the political views, and when our stories and interviews don’t fit their biased narrative they lash out and label us.

They are biased. I am not.

They pick sides. I do not.

I don’t think Duncan is referring to me, because I very rarely say a journalist is biased. I may critique their stories, and certainly some have worldviews that colour their stories, but that is not the same as bias.

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27 Responses to “Garner on bias”

  1. jaba (2,146 comments) says:

    the problem I have with journos is that they seem to have become the story .. it’s all about them. Gower is top of the class on that one.
    Coran Dan is an over excited school boy who only wants to report scandal (they all do I guess but more than the rest).
    The so-called scandal over the Hager book shows how hopeless they are .. most people don’t care. Two weeks from an election and we still haven’t had the policies of many parties put under the spotlight and we are running out of time.

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  2. SPC (5,772 comments) says:

    A little too precious – some criticism of journalists and journalism is valid and cannot simply be lumped into the biased narrative box.

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  3. Alan Wilkinson (1,889 comments) says:

    The bias is to hype and sensationalise the story. Gower and Garner did that flagrantly.

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  4. Inthisdress (298 comments) says:

    As George Orwell once remarked: ‘Everything is political. Even the statement ‘I am not political’ is a political statement.”

    Not voting is a form of bias – it is biased towards a status-quo.

    If that status-quo is providing one with a comfortable life and career, then to try and claim not voting represents a sort of moral higher-ground is just disengenous, or self-deluding.

    It’s just displaying a conscious effort not to shit in your own nest.

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  5. Simon (762 comments) says:

    Easy to say in a one party State where big government is the answer for everything and all that is left is the tribalism of team blue vs team red. So fucking what. This guy even frames the bias as left wing vs right wing. The real battle is the individual vs the collective.

    Garner will have a bias towards which ever Statist can organize the collective better.

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  6. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    Haven’t had a problem with Duncan.
    Never thought of him as being biased.
    So far even find Katie Bradford (Surprise!) reports the news as it is….

    Unlike Campbell, Corin Dann or Patrick Gower.
    As biased as they come.

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  7. Grizz (610 comments) says:

    Should the identity of Rawshark and their associates be made public, then Journalists will probably start discussing policy and the real election campaign will begin.

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  8. trout (944 comments) says:

    ‘some have world views that colour their stories, but that is not the same as bias’ has got to be a beautiful oxymoron.
    But generally we are being served up superficial pap in a contrived manner; ‘questions will need to be answered’ Corin Dan is the worst I have seen (but I do not bother with TV3). And served up by a bunch of bimbos and beginners that have no wordly experience or analytical ability and yet dare to venture personal opinions.

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  9. Nigel Kearney (1,049 comments) says:

    They don’t have proper separation between what is fact and what is their opinion. Garner was certainly guilty of that. Just presenting the unvarnished facts and letting viewers form their own conclusion doesn’t make good television apparently.

    Some that are horribly biased are Vernon Small, Andrea Vance and Barry Soper. They have no equivalent on the right.

    Then there is John Campbell who isn’t really pretending any longer that he’s not just a left wing activist with his own prime-time TV show.

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  10. Jack5 (5,156 comments) says:

    Nigel Kearney is correct.

    Almost all pretence at following traditional practices intended to minimise mixing facts and opinion have gone out of TV, radio, and the print media.

    Still now that we know they’re all biased, it’s out in the open.

    Because of the small size of NZ, it’s annoying, though, that we don’t have a decent choice of opinions to be influenced by.

    If the Moonies were to buy control of the Hooerald and bump it towards centre or even centre-right that would be a good start.

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  11. Ross12 (1,454 comments) says:

    I say good on Garner for laying it out like this.

    But something tells me journalists are starting to cover their rear ends. Apparently on Leighton Smith’s program this morning he interviewed Michael Basset who said the Crown & Police knows who the hacker is –how true that is , we’ll have to wait and see.
    But I see whaledumb2 has “retired’ so where there is smoke etc.

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  12. BeaB (2,148 comments) says:

    He did a cracking interview with Cunliffe about CGT where Cunliffe couldn’t resist his fatal tendency to bluster and to fudge and embellish the truth. Garner pressed him and Cunliffe finally had to admit that, despite what he had led us to believe, no, he hadn’t been speaking to the IRD himself because he was the party leader and didn’t get “down in the weeds”.
    In one short interview Garner gave us the man himself – a blowhard, a windbag, full of his own importance, untruthful and scornful of what he considers beneath him. This interview tells us exactly why we can’t stand this phony.
    It’s still on the Radio Live site and is a tour de force.

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  13. dime (10,108 comments) says:

    as others have said. its not that duncan is bias, its that hes obsessed with hyping scandals. each one bigger than the last.

    most of his “scandals” are horse shit.

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  14. I Say Look Here (57 comments) says:

    Heard Garner do this live. In fact he thought it was so important he did it twice.

    In his own case, I can accept he’s unbiased. A tad self-important, but unbiased. But then he starts talking about journalists in general, as if he believes that because he’s straight, all journalists are.

    If he can’t see the problem with that argument, he’s not as perceptive as he thinks he is.

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  15. David Garrett (7,542 comments) says:

    I found it interesting that he said no pollies were invited to his wedding…that prick Espiner had Darren Hughes as his best man…tells you a lot about how unbiased HE was as political editor of TVNZ..and a lot about his judgment of character… By definition, your best man is someone you have socialized with and come to know very well…

    Is it true that the intended catamite at Hughes’ flat that night has been bought off? Does anyone know for sure??

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  16. TMC (75 comments) says:

    “But the reality is they are the biased ones.” That’s a penetrating glimpse into the obvious. Of course blogs are biased. They were never meant to be objective news platforms but rather a person’s musing on whatever they feel like musing about. Non bias is what the ‘news’ was meant to be for Duncan.

    The lines have blurred though, especially when people like TVNZ’s Katie Bradford openly admit frustration about not being able to move the polls with their reporting. And then bloggers end up calling them out on it.

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  17. freemark (616 comments) says:

    Ass covering methinks..

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  18. James Stephenson (2,225 comments) says:

    Of course blogs are biased. They were never meant to be objective news platforms

    What “proper journalists” seem to fail to grasp, is that people would rather look at the something through a few different known “lenses”, than a single “window” that the owner swears is plain glass.

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  19. flash2846 (289 comments) says:

    Am I the only one who gets a hard on when Tova O’Brian fronts?

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  20. Gravelroad (162 comments) says:

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind…
    Just give us the facts, Garner and Co – and balanced commentary if you must give us your opinions at all.

    People who contribute to blogs are no different to those who phone up talkback radio, write letters to the editor, use twitter, or gossip in the pub.
    They give a snapshot of opinion and information at that moment in time.

    An “it’s not fair” anxiety about left and right bloggers should not be an issue for a true professional.

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  21. SPC (5,772 comments) says:

    The point that I can agree with Garner on is that their job does involve placing pressure on politicians to please explain and this does result in claims that this is motivated by bias.

    In the recent CGT case, Labour should welcome the scrutiny (and Cunliffe been better prepared for it) as an opportunity to explain and promote their policy.

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  22. tom hunter (5,086 comments) says:

    I have never been a member of a political party, I have never donated to any party.

    You don’t get it Garner. You just don’t get it. I’ve said before on this blog that proving your non-partisan bias is the easiest thing in the world for a journalist: witness the quote above.

    So what.

    It’s ideological bias that concerns me. Your ideological bias is leftist and statist, which means you don’t even think of right-wing questions such as:
    Will this proposed new government program actually do anything to make people’s lives better?
    – Could it actually make things worse for them over time?
    – What are the bad side-effects on the non-target population?

    Add to that the following problems:
    – It’s all about eyeballs with ratings, sales, subscriptions – and now clicks and tweets. Which means sensational headlines over substance.
    – The internet means I have access to experts in IT, Tax, accounting, business, welfare, etc. Expertise your average journalist does not come close to matching. Witness Liberty Scott‘s recent asshole tearing attack on the NZ Herald’s moronic review of Air NZ’s new plane.

    And you can understand why I have no interest at all in reading what Duncan Garner and company have to say about this election, or anything in New Zealand. I’d much rather read Kiwiblog, The Dim Post, Politco, Lindsay Mitchell, Not PC and their foreign counterparts. More informative, as detailed as one could want, with links to the weeds if that’s where you want to go, and I know exactly what bias I’m getting.

    So Duncan I’m sorry to tell you this, but you and the rest can drop dead as far as I’m concerned – and if overseas subscription and TV rating trends are anything to go by, you soon will.

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  23. Richard (871 comments) says:

    Whenever I hear a journalist loudly declaim- ‘’there is no bias in NZ journalism”’ I think of this news report from earlier this year:

    ‘’State broadcast station TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.
    Did management know what was going on in its Maori and Pacific Unit?
    If not, why did they not know that Labour Party business was being done from there by manager Shane Taurima, the man with editorial control of his department?
    Not only is Mr Taurima the Maori and Pacific Unit’s manager, he is also a Labour Party activist, and could be standing as a Labour MP this election.
    Following the revelations, Mr Taurima resigned earlier today.”

    Then I think of former TV news reporter Kris Faafoi and broadcaster Tamati Coffey- both standing for Labour in this election.

    For Garner to say there is no bias in journalism in this country is like saying there are no fish in the sea

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  24. IGM (523 comments) says:

    DG: Not only does it show Espiner’s political bias, but also highlights his sexual preferences . . . end of story.
    As for Garner’s comments . . . KRAP.

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  25. Sublime (295 comments) says:

    I miss Garner on TV3. He was one of the better ones.

    He’s got a good radio show and his Twitter conversations are revealing and engaging. He’s a media man who isn’t afraid to have a bit of a brawl – metaphorically speaking – every now and then.

    I recall when he left the gallery, DPF blogged it. Part of the post mentioned he [DPF] wouldn’t know which way Garner would vote in an election, citing his style of having a crack at whoever needed it. Good on ya Dunc, hope all is well.

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  26. Bond (75 comments) says:

    @ flash2846 at 3:39 pm

    If you are going to get a boner over someone, old thing (straying way off topic in order to do so), you could at least be gallant enough to spell the wench’s name correctly. It’s the decent thing to do, old chap.

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  27. budgieboy (113 comments) says:

    I accept that Duncan attacks left and right equally but what he doesn’t seem to get is that his world view affects his stance on a regular basis.

    As it would, indeed as it should.

    Thing is, Duncan’s world view is that the Government is responsible for everything that happens and does not happen. He constantly wants to know “what are they going to do about it?” I’ve never heard him consider any problem that he didn’t lay at the feet of Politicans demanding an answer.

    Maybe that’s a consequence of years in that highly political environment but for me that definitely places him to the left of centre.

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