For the last two weeks we have had saturation coverage from Christchurch in the wake of the 22 February earthquake. Both TVNZ had 3News had large teams down there, and the disaster was brought into our homes in often graphic fashion. The networks have done a sterling job for the most part, in the most trying of circumstances.
Things started to return to normal (mediawise) as last week rolled to a close, and over the weekend, the news coverage, whilst still headed by earthquake stories, has been less dominated by it. But this morning, TVNZ has been in boots and all, suggesting that there is division between the government and the Christchurch City Council.
Both Bob Parker and John Key have denied any division. In this interview this morning, Parker was adamant that Christchurch could only be rebuilt in partnership with the government, and that the scale of the disaster was "bigger than we are able to handle". When the leaders of the two stakeholders are talking of the need for unity, why has TVNZ taken it upon itself to promote division?
Then there's the matter of John Key's reported "farcical" comments. TVNZ alleged last night that Key had offended those working tirelessly to identify the dead by calling delays "farcical". Key emphatically denied that when interviewed this morning, and although being quoted out of context is a convenient excuse, we reckon that this time it is 100% valid. Have a watch of this video, from around the 4 minute mark. Key is clear about what he said, in response to specific questions. He stated that the word "farcical" was used when a member of the media raised the issue of families releasing names of deceased or missing persons into the public domain when the police were not. And on that issue, he's quite right.
But what is even more concerning is this comment from Key at the 5min mark, after viewing a video clip dfrom last night's Sunday programme where the allegation was made; Key says:
That wasn't the question that was put to me, and honestly, Sunday know that because they've seen the transcript.
If TVNZ's Sunday programme has deliberately and knowingly misquoted the PM, then an immediate apology should be forthcoming; not just to John Key, but to Sue Johnson, the Christchurch Coroner, and to all her staff. They have been caused considerable distress by a comment which simply was not made in the context in which it was alleged.
And lastly, the cynic in us cannot help but wonder if TVNZ's conduct over the last couple of days has anything to do with the arrival on the scene of a rival morning news show this morning. Coincidence?