Friday, 18 July 2008

Remedial Journalism lessons for Mr Holmes

A public service to a broadcaster and journalist who seems to have lost his way, if this interview is anything to go by. In part inspired, and informed, by this epic thread at Public Address System.

Questions you should have asked your friend Tony Veitch:
1. Why didn't you ring an ambulance?
2. Have you already received more in payments for selling your story than you paid your victim?
3. Was this the first time you had hit your partner? Was it the last?
4. Do you think "lashed out" accurately represents what you did? Why?
5. You told me that "[this last week has been] the darkest period I think I've ever had..." Yet in your apology statement to the media you stated that at the time when you hit your former partner "I was at the lowest ebb of my life." Which is it?
6. Do you understand why some people might find the implication that this incident was a moment of madness a bit hard to reconcile with the timeline that your partner "fell" down the stairs, you followed her down them and kicked her while she was lying on the ground, and then you waited several hours, while she lay there unconscious, before seeking medical help? Seems like quite a long moment to me. (Ok maybe that's not a question!)
7. Are you going to hand yourself into the police, or at the very least cooperate fully with any investigation they might mount?
8. What type of counselling did you have? Did it involve anyone specialised in dealing with violence? Did it involve accepting what you had done and taking responsibility for it?
9. Do you see any conflict between saying things like "no excuses" and "it was inexcusable" and then offering a list of excuses?
10. You've stated that many of the reports in the media have been inaccurate, but you haven't actually given any detail about what did happen. Don't you think this tends to give the impression that you are hiding behind an excuse of respecting your former partner's privacy to give you the ability to fudge what did actually happen?
11. What did you tell your bosses at TVNZ and Radio Sport had happened? Did you tell them the extent of your former partner's injuries? And what was their response?

Questions Mr Holmes should have asked himself before doing the interview:
1. As Tony is a friend of mine, can I really do a fair job of interviewing him? Do I have any conflicted loyalty going in to this?*
2. And is it really appropriate for me to be interviewing one of my mates about a crime he has admitted committing, particularly given that I (allegedly) advised him on his (not really an) apology?
3. Am I prepared to ask any hard questions? (Does the Herald on Sunday's agreeement with Veitch even allow me to?)


Other writers here have been focusing on rehabilitation, redemption, and what we do next about domestic violence. I'm still a bit too angry to be able to think about that fairly yet. For some reason this situation really enrages me, particularly the way some people (Holmes, Garth George, Lindsay Perigo, many of the commenters at Kiwiblog) seem to be validating and feeding Veitch's idea that he is the victim here. This is summed up pretty well in his resignation statement, which echoes his apology attempt last week and his interview with Holmes, and makes it clear that the counselling hasn't worked yet - he still doesn't accept responsibility or honestly face what he has done, he still grasps for excuses, and he still focuses on what a crap time this is for him.

* Eg, Holmes states, preceding the interview itself " I remain loyal to Tony Veitch, I have a job to do." What exactly was the job he had in mind? Being a friend to Veitch or being a journalist? Because it's pretty obvious here that to do a fair job of the latter was to risk botching up the former, and vice versa. I actually don't think everyone should excommunicate Veitch, that isn't going to help him learn from this. But surely there is a way to be someone's friend and still say unequivocably it's not OK?


Anna McM said...

I'm just sickened by that interview - and it's not Tony Veitch's input but Paul Holmes's which appalls me. Especially the bit where Holmes tries to make the reader feel sorry for Veitch because he stayed up all night with the partner whose back he'd just broken then went directly to work. If Veitch is trying to reform himself, being surrounded by apologist turds like Holmes won't be helping much. In fact, Holmes is actively undermining the Family Commission's work. Perhaps the campaign slogan should be, 'It's not OK, except when...'.

barvasfiend said...

Yes yes yes. I am as baffled and disgusted by the frankly weird way the Herald has dealt with this story. It is a huge conflict of interest for Paul Holmes to be interviewing his friend, even if he states his friendship up front. I blogged about this in equally outraged tones (I used saltier language but you have better standards!). Your post has highlighted pretty clearly what is so wrong with how this has played out.

Telfer's comments in the herald this morning are equally baffling. I don't like replicating stuff, but I wrote this about telfer's comments this morning;

... "Telfer accused media rivals of playing a huge part in Veitch's fall from grace and he should be judged by the courts  not the media".

Quite right, Mr Telfer. He should have been judged by the courts. Unfortunately, they didn't get the chance. Because Veitch paid his victim a large sum of money to prevent her going to the police.

"Telfer accused media rivals of playing a huge part in Veitch's fall from grace"

Actually, I think you'll find, Mr Telfer, that he was teetering on the edge of grace right about the time he decided to bash the living bejesus out of his ex girlfriend and leave her unconscious on the floor for six hours before taking her to the hospital. I'm open to the possibility that he had "rival media outlets" on the phone, correcting his swing, but I think, on balance, he's on his own on this one.

It is so weird and so wrong...what are they smoking in the Herald offices? Baffling...

Julie said...

Just quickly, barvasfiend I have an Odds & Ends Drawer going up tomorrow morning which has your three posts in it :-)

bigblu said...

All this proves to me once again, the appalling standards prevalent in NZ journalism today. As far as Holmes is concerned and the likes of George, words fail me, but some like worm, gutless wonder, and slime come to mind. The fact that the 'man' himself is all of these and more goes without saying. The fact that a near monopoly exists in National News media, coupled with the complete lack of an independent publicly owned media outlet which could speak freely without pandering to it's commercial supporters has led to this wholly regrettable set of circumstances. Maybe my knowledge of the law is lacking, but is it not true that no complaint from the victim is necessary for the police to prosecute, and that any payoff is irrelevant when such an appalling crime has been committed.

Julie said...

Oh I thought of another question for Veitch - what did you tell the hospital when they asked you what had caused the injuries?

The Herald on Sunday today was a self-justifying disgrace. I flicked through it in the library and they appeared to be fixated on the confidentiality agreement Veitch's former partner signed, and in particular the negotiations and particulars of the pay-out. None of that changes the fact that Veitch committed a serious crime.

They didn't publish any letters on the issue, but did put in a selection from the Your Views (or whatever it's called) on the Herald website, all of which just happened to be reasonably supportive of Veitch (the most unsympathetic stated that it wasn't ok but that he would become a better man because of owning up).

And the columnists? Only Ralston touched it this week and he focused on putting the boot into TVNZ. Anyone would think the man was a disgruntled former employee...

bigblu said...

May I suggest we all don't purchase another copy of this disgusting 'newspaper'. After all it doesn't contain a scrap of real news. I stopped buying it about a year ago and certainly don't miss it.