How many times can Stuff repeat a false slur?

First the Stuff headline:

Sam Neill denounces Heather du Plessis-Allen for calling Pacific people ‘leeches’

Except of course she didn’t.

Hollywood heavyweight Sam Neill has chimed in to the general outrage surrounding broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan’s outspoken comments against Pacific people.

False slur repeated second time.

Heather du Plessis-Allan says Pacific people are ‘leeches’ on New Zealand

No 3.

The Kiwi actor was referring to du Plessis-Allan saying Pacific people are “leeches” on New Zealand, during a Wellington broadcast of Newstalk ZB.

No 4.

Buried deep down is this:

“I was not talking about people living in this country or the people themselves, I am talking about the Pacific Islands and the people who run it.”

It is clearly obvious she was referring to the governments or the countries. One can debate the merits or otherwise of her comments. But to repeat a false assertion four times as fact is awful journalism.

Here’s an analogy.

If someone in the EU said that Poland is a leech on the EU because they receive more from the EU than they pay, would people regard that as slurring Poles, as opposed to the Polish Government?

Donald Trump attacks fellow members of NATO as leeches for not spending 2% of GDP on defence. I don’t like his comments, but he is clearing attacking the countries, not every individual German, Italian or Spaniard.

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