I wrote last week that I’d probably have little to say about the Tony Veitch case now that it’s before the court. I also wondered if the news media would do the same.
No chance actually. Now I find myself back in it too; trying to make sense of the spinning. I read this stuff and feel like it’s a public rehearsal of Tony Veitch’s defence arguments. It is trial by media. Only in this case it’s the complainant who seems to be in the dock.
The Sunday papers are all over the story again this week with revelations about the incidents covered in the charges laid against Veitch a week ago. The Veitch saga: What Kristin told police (SST) Water assault charge for Veitch (HoS)
But what really caught my eye was another interview with Zoe Veitch in the Sunday Star Times.
The interview quotes read like well-rehearsed lines, delivered from a closely dressed set and designed for maximum emotional impact. There’s plenty of little hints that perhaps Ms Dunne-Powell is not to be trusted on the details of any alleged assault, or in indeed on anything else. Then there’s the downplaying of the most high profile alleged attack angle by further clouding the picture:
Zoe Veitch would not comment on what Veitch had told her of the incident in which it has been reported that he kicked Dunne-Powell in the back. The Sunday Star-Times has been told medical reports suggest two vertebrae were damaged in the attack but that the crack to a third vertebra was an old injury.
Who told the Sunday Star Times?
There’s been far too much of that type of reporting around this story. Right from the beginning anonymous sources have been used to plant material in the media and most of it has gone on the public record without verification and without readers being told where the information has come from.
I am not against the use of anonymous sources in general; though I think the public interest threshold for using them is pretty high. I am not sure that this is a story where that threshold has been met. Also reporters and editors have to believe that the source is reliable, trustworthy and honest. Perhaps in this case they do; but the type of information that is being released seems to me to be very controlled and to have been polished to reflect a particular viewpoint.
The killer application in this interview comes in this neat little reverse spinning backflip, double-entendre’d pirouette:
Tony Veitch had made two payments totalling $12,000 to Dunne-Powell in the first eight months to cover her medical expenses and then she wanted compensation for loss of income and bonuses. A final payment of $155,000 was made last December.
“It was not hush money,” said Zoe Veitch. “It was so we could all move on, so we could secure our future – we didn’t want it to jeopardise our wedding. We were very uncomfortable with it at the time. We all had doubts. In hindsight we should not have given in to her demands.”
If it was not hush money, what was it? The deliberate PR-ized doublespeak implication here of course is that it was hush money paid because Ms Dunne-Powell was making unreasonable demands (we’re meant to read that as “threats”). The tell-tale PR scripting is there too: “secure our future”, “jeopardise our wedding”, “uncomfortable with it at the time”. Little juicy info-bombs in carefully constructed language that explode deliciously in the brain.
If you close your eyes and imagine you’re in the District court, where the smell of justice is overpowering, you can almost hear a well-paid barrister, drawn up to full height in cuban heels and a bouffant wig, bellowing at a young woman on the stand and it’s not Zoe Veitch… [Dear reader, fill in the blanks here, imagination is above the law]
The coup d’etat is always a sting in the tail:
Tony Veitch had been hurt by the reaction of some colleagues, but he was heartened by the reaction he received when he went to a league match last week, she said. “Guys were giving him the thumbs up and women were blowing him kisses.
“We are not trying to win the public over, but it is nice to know that people who have a brain know there is a lot more to this than what they have heard.
“The one thing that has been good out of all [of] this is that Tony and I have never been stronger. We are so strong and even more in love. I just need to remind him sometimes that he is a good person.”
Actually darling, your job is to remind us (again and again) that your husband’s a good person, right up to the end of the trial. And the PR people must be so proud of you. You are doing a sterling job, keep it up and Tony will be home for Christmas.
“We’re not trying to win the public over,” has to be the most crass line ever written by a PR flack to put into the mouth of a client. Don’t be so coy, if there was an Academy Award for best flacking under fire, your campaign for Mr Veitch would be a contender.
Only one little problem, the footy crowd giving Tony the thumbs up and blowing kisses is not the same as “people who have a brain”. Small mistake, so no golden statue on this one. Come back next week and try again, we know you want to.
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