I was so angry last night that I tweeted.
I could not believe what I was seeing on Close Up. A police officer’s body lying in a Napier street and the vultures of the media circulating, sniffing out a tasty morsel or two.
In the case of Close Up the tasty morsels were the mother and the brother of the alleged gunman.
Then again this morning, the brother, Peter Molenaar, was back on air. This time on Morning Report and the questioning was sickening.
“Do you think you’ll see your brother alive again”
“Why did he open fire? Did you know he had guns in the house?”
“Did you know he was doing drugs? Was he using P?”
These are questions for the coronial inquest, not for radio hosts. The news media is overstepping the boundaries of public decency in relation to this story. It’s not over yet. The siege is ongoing, there’s likely to be more blood on the streets of Napier. The way things are going, we’ll get it live at 6pm tonight and again at 7pm.
Where’s the formidable bulk of Glenda Hughes when you need her. If the PR flack had been able to intervene on behalf of the family, I’m sure her advice would have been “Tell Mark Sainsbury and the Close Up team to fuck right off.”
But of course a working class family from Napier cannot afford the celebrity protection service that Ms Hughes offers to her wealthy clients. Instead, the hapless Molenaar family were lambs to the slaughter.
The interview with Mrs Molenaar was excruciating. An old lady obviously very upset and traumatised by what was happening to her son. She should not have been put in that situation
How could it happen? What would possess someone to shoot at police?
It is a question all New Zealanders will ask – a question that is torturing the family of Jan Molenaar, the man suspected of carrying out the attack on policeman and the public in Napier.
Close Up reporter Donna Marie Lever spoke to Molenaar’s brother Peter Gerrit Molenaar and his distraught mother Anna – herself at a loss to understand why it happened. [“I’m sorry,” says mother…]
I have linked to the video, so that you can see for yourself, not because I endorse what Close Up did. The torture was going on right before our eyes last night and it continued all morning today with Peter Molenaar’s interviews on television and radio.
How does this type of coverage unfold? You could be forgiven for thinking that the Molenaar family were desperately ringing Close Up, keen to get their story across.
No, that’s not how it happens.It goes something like this.
The Close Up team hears about the siege and the death of the police officer and decide they need to move quickly to get Mark Sainsbury down there.
They have to get hold of the family to stop the opposition Campbell Live from getting an advantage.
They can’t get “Sainso” [all TV blokes have blokey nicknames] to the site of the siege, but they can stick him on a street corner in Napier to imply he’s on the scene looking out for our interests. After all the programme is Close Up.
Update: I hadn’t noticed because I don’t actually watch all of Close Up, but a keen-eyed viewer noticed this:
The interesting thing is that I thought that Mark was also on the scene in Napier, however, he was actually standing outside the Auckland Art Gallery as a few moments latter he was in the gallery for an interview which included the Prime Minister (John Key).
The producer and reporter move in on the family and take advantage of their lack of media-savvy to persuade them to go on camera. They would put the vulnerable family members under a great deal of pressure by suggesting they have a duty to tell the people of New Zealand about the alleged gunman.
This is bullshit, the family has a right to privacy. I am also amazed that the police have not given the Molenaar family some protection from the media. The questions being asked are critical to evidence and to any trial of the “gunman” if he surrenders, or is captured. The media should not be asking these questions, particularly during an ongoing investigation.
I also wonder if Sainso took Mrs Molenaar to Chennille’s Maison de Beaute for the dreadful perm and heavy make-up job, so she’d look her best for the invading cameras.
The whole event is nothing to do with public right to know, it’s all about ratings and money. Now, unfortunately, the flood gates are open and Peter Molenaar is all over the media. He’s been handed around like a used tart at a gangbang. It’s not pretty and it’s not good journalism.
[I’ll come back to this later today. I just needed to get this off my chest before breakfast.]