I like Morning Report, it’s my daily fix of news and current affairs. Occasionally I get annoyed with the focus on local crime stories, traffic and weather, but that’s cool; it’s just a morning heart-starter.
But in the last few days I have become more than annoyed, I’m totally jacked-off with Sean Plunkett in particular. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Morning Report is just an echo-chamber and amplifier for every piss-ant little claim made by the Nationals and now also the ACT Party.
It was double-barrel this morning and Sean really got on my goat.
First an uncritical acceptance of National claims that DOC is going to spend $2 million on a re-branding campaign; then ACT Party defence spokesbot, Heather Roy, (are they even big enough to have spokesbots?) banging on about some 40 year-old clapped out jets that the Government wants to sell.
Then the claims are rewritten and bundled up into the next news bulletin, making them ‘fact’.
Have the Morning Report presenters and producers left their critical faculties at the door?
I don’t mind intelligent and even belligerent interviewing, but sometimes (and today was one of them) Sean Plunkett gets overly moralistic and his questioning becomes repetitive, rude and ultimately pointless.
Today he gave Al Morrison from DOC a tough time over the Nationals’ claim that the conservation department would spend $2 million on a rebranding campaign only a few months after a reorganisation led to 60 or so redundancies. Prior to the interview with Mr Morrison, the programme played a grab of Nationals’ Nick Smith and he wasn’t asked a single question, or challenged on the $2 million dollar claims.
At one point Mr Plunkett asked Morrison what he might now say to the recently redundant staff.What indeed? It was a silly question, and Mr Morrison treated it as such, but then Plunkett repeated the Nationals’ $2 million claim as if it was an established, incontrovertable fact. Morrison had repeatedly said the figure was closer to $100,000.
Where’s the questioning of National spokesbot Nick Smith who raised the $2 million figure?
Then the interview with Defence Minister Phil Goff and ACT defence spokesbot Heather Roy about the ageing, moth-balled planes that the Government wants to sell.
Mr Goff says there are two tenders in play awaiting approval from the US State Department (which is routine in such deals for some reason), Heather Roy was in the studio with Sean and Mr Goff was on the phone. The interview quickly turned into a gangbang. Roy and Plunkett were a happy duo beating up on Mr Goff who hardly got a chance to make a point because of the chorus of interruptions coming from the studio.
Mr Plunkett took at face value all the claims made by Heather Roy and dismissed Goff’s rebuttals. That’s not balanced journalism, it amplifies the claims against the government and gives credibility to Heather Roy’s position.
These are examples from today, but they’re not the first and they won’t be the last.
I think there’s a difference between tough and uncompromising journalism and being an echo chamber for every opposition claim made in an election campaign.
I also understand that incumbency must be challenged, but when are we going to hear some hard interviews and tough questioning of National. For example over its welfare and other policies. I listen every day and I have not yet heard John Key or Bill English, or any Nationals spokesbot put under the gun by Sean Plunkett.
I’m looking forward to it.