Sorry Tony, it’s time to go

I don’t see how Tony Veitch can hang on to his jobs with TVNZ and Radio Network in light of the public reactions to the revelations this week that he bashed his former girlfiend and tried to buy her silence.

Tony’s performance at yesterday’s media announcement has done nothing to repair the damage to his reputation. If any thing it’s perhaps made some people even angrier. The tide of media opinion (which is not necessarily the same as public opinion) is that he is a liability now to his employers.

The “mea culpa” yesterday was, in the eyes of many, only half a step. It won’t satisfy the critics and it won’t necessarily prevent a police inquiry and charges arising from the incident.

Unfortunately, Tony Veitch’s career seems to be over.

Perhaps Tony should recognise this and offer up his resignation, rather than hanging on in the grim hope that he might be rehabilitated. It’s a long shot and in the meantime, he’s left swinging in the breeze. That’s an awful stress to cope with. In my view he’d be better off to get out of Dodge and let the media frenzy die down a little.

In the cut-throat media marketplace “brand” has value and if TVNZ and Radio Network hang on to Tony they risk doing irreperable damage to their brand and market position. Advertisers will be warily watching over the next few days to see which way opinion swings. I don’t thnk Tony can recover his credibility or prominence.

I was on TV3’s Sunrise this morning commenting on the media coverage and I described it as “media cannibalism” – that is a feeding frenzy where one of our own is the entree, main course and dessert all rolled up into a simple digestible package.

It’s not pretty to watch and I do feel sorry for Tony Veitch in one way – without at all condoning his actions then or now. I knew him as a promising young journalism student in the mid 1990s. Like many in his class he was destined to become part of the famous “Mitchell Mafia” as graduates of the Charles Sturt University journalism course were known. He was always mad about sport and wanted nothing more than to be a radio/TV sports broadcaster. A decade later he was at the top of his game – now it’s all over.

Bu my real sympathy is with Kristin Dunne-Powell. Not only has she endured the pain and suffering of the apparently brutal bashing (though Tony says some in the media got details wrong); she’s now having to relive all of that and I’m sure she’s being pursued by the news media.

Her comments are now a hot property. I’m particularly keen to hear what she’s got to say about the Dom Post story that broke this news on Monday morning.

TV star’s secret assault payout

Who spoke to the Dom Post?

Somebody broke the confidentiality of the silence agreement that Tony’s lawyers brokered on his behalf with Kirstin Dunne-Powell. Who? Why?

I’d like to know if she or her family were the source; if they approached the paper; or if someone agreed to speak because the Dom Post had got hold of enough details to confirm aspects of the story.

I was asked on Sunrise if I really thought the motives of the source were a concern in this story. I said “yes” then and I still think so.

If the allegations are correct and the reporting of the extent of Dunne-Powell’s injuries is accurate then a serious crime has taken place. The attempted cover-up (I say “attempted” because if failed to hold) appears to make it worse. My taxi driver this morning in Wellington told me his wife works in the Crown Prosecutions office and that they are looking at possible charges. That was always going to be the case. The police have to take it seriously given the profile of those involved and the attention it’s receiving.

Not only are the motives of the source important, but also those of the Dom Post itself. One of my colleagues last night suggested Tim Pankhurst would have run the story for two basic reasons:

  1. it’s a good “yarn”, a terrific “story, and
  2. Veitch deserved to be outed  because of the serious nature of the crime and the attempted cover up.

That’s fine as far as it goes,  but I would like to hear from Tim Pankhurst about this as I suggested in my post yesterday.

A couple of questions for the Dom Post

I think this is important because the motivation of the parties involved can have some bearing on how we read this story.

At the moment all the public sympathy is with Ms Dunne-Powell. Tony Veitch is a parahiah. If she didn’t go to the paper, and didn’t sanction the so far anonymous source, was she consulted by the Dom Post. How is she feeling now? Does she feel that her privacy’s been invaded – the very thing the hush money was supposed to prevent? Did she consent to be silent willingly, or did she feel threatened and pressured as some of the commenters on my previous post suggest.

On the other hand, if Ms Dunne-Powell did sanction the story in Monday’s Dom Post, what was her motivation? Revenge? To raise awareness of domestic violence? What else?

Who knew about the cover-up?

The other side of this story is of course how much did the various managers at TVNZ and Radio Works know about the incident and the payout. If there have been rumors circulating in media circles for some time (I’d never heard them, but others may have) then it’s reasonable to assume that someone senior might have known. Bill Ralston says he didn’t and it was before Anthony Flannery arrived at TVNZ, but Bill Francis has been around a long time. I’m not suggesting he’s hiding anything, but plenty of people are asking if others were not somehow complicit in the cover-up.

I suppose this is important because if others did know and let it go it does perhaps leave us wondering about the culture in the media. An associate I spoke with yesterday, who’s a senior executive and has a position on the board of a prominent NZ woman’s lobby group, said she thought the “boy’s club” culture in the media had something to do with the fact that people knew about the incident but were prepared to look the other way.

The same woman also mentioned Tony Veitch’s association with rugby and league players and the “lad’s culture” and misogyny that is evident there. We can no longer just look the other way.

Media Cannibalism
I think that the old adage about stone-throwing from the comfort of a glazed dwelling is appropriate here. Anyone with a shady past, or any embarrassing incident in their past (that’s most of us) needs to be cautioned by this. Are we all now fair game? Who might be thrown to the wolves next.

I read the gossip pages in the Sunday papers every week. There’s always a “media type” in there who’s trying to bed some young intern, or who is alleged to be on the “marching powder”, or involved in a punch-up, infidelity or drunken collapse.

Where there’s smoke there’s usually heat, sparks, fuel and eventually a conflagaration.

We’ve all been warned.

5 Responses to Sorry Tony, it’s time to go

  1. Tu ne cede malis says:

    yes, pertinent questions… , two weeks before tony was off to beijing, TV3 conspiracy maybe ?

  2. You’re right Martin, Veitch must depart his positions at TVNZ and Radio Sport. Whether or not he can rebuild his career after this, only time will tell. Sympathy for Tony pales compared to that most of us feel for his exwife, who reportedly got beaten really bad. Of course it is no surprise, but it appears most of the public have little sympathy for Veitch, and most have no time for his perceived excuses (although he said they were not excuses). However, and I don’t know how to phrase this without seeming to condone his actions, perhaps we should consider his given “reasons” for his behaviour. If those that do commit domestic assaults tend to be suffering from stress as Veitch says he was, should we not look to address the root of the problem. It is not enough for society to simply say to violent people, “do not hit your wife/children”, without offering alternative methods of dealing with their stress, such as counseling, which Tony sought. I hope that does not sound like I am condoning abuse, I just think we need to look at the causes, and how we can address them. Excessive working hours could well be a start.

    By the way, i love the taxi driver source there Martin!

  3. Cheers Paul. I think you’re right about the “sympathy” angle. No one wants to be seen or thought to support what Tony Veitch did, or the subsequent cover-up. However, he looks like a broken man now and I don’t take any pleasure in that; or the front page coverage which was particularly vicious in today’s (Wednesday) NZ Herald. The headline was just a little OTT. In the print edition it was “What DID you do to her, Tony?” Apparently a question called out from the media pack that was there. But it’s not on the website version.
    Heavy on contrition, light on revelation

    Whatever sympathy we may have for a man who’s career is effectively over because of this, Tony Veitch deserves to face the music for what he did. There are no excuses for his violent assault on Ms Dunne-Powell. I’ve been thinking that the parallel is the exposure of Schollum and Shipton on historic sexual assault charges. Justice is catching up with Tony Veitch and it’s not pretty for anyone.

  4. Yeah, there certainly are parallels between the Veitch case and the police pack rapists. Both had offenders who believed they had gotten away with it, only for the past to catch up with them. Speculation runs rampant, the media goes crazy, and the perpetrator faces a very public lynching. Not very pleasant, although perhaps deserving.
    The online herald did go with the “What DID you do to her, Tony?” Headline, which I agree was inappropriate and over the top.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10520881
    When the dust settles and the truth is aired, will the public still crave their pound of flesh, or should we take the opportunity to consider why we have such an appalling rate of domestic violence? Does the media want to facilitate this debate? Or will sensationalism overcome all reason?

  5. […] know that Mr Veitch resigned from his high-paid jobs when the story refused to go […]

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