Thursday, June 6, 2013

Where's the outrage?

We blogged a couple of weeks ago about a very disrespectful interview of Education Minister Hekia Parata on TV3's The Nation. In addition to asking Ms Parata if she was "a bit of a bitch to work for", interviewer Rachel Smalley also apparently asked the Minister "How Maori are you?"

We didn't pick that one up at the time. But National MP Tau Henare did, and has been badgering TV3 for an apology; the Herald reports:

Journalist Rachel Smalley, the host of TV3's political programme The Nation, has been called on to apologise to Education Minister Hekia Parata over questions she asked during an interview.
In an interview on May 25, Ms Smalley asked Ms Parata, "How Maori are you?" and, "Are you a bitch to work for?" - the latter in relation to the resignation of staff in Ms Parata's ministerial office.
Although Ms Parata has not complained to The Nation and will not be seeking an apology, she described the questions as "unfortunate".
However her National Party colleague, backbench MP Tau Henare, has posted a series of tweets since the interview, demanding an apology from Ms Smalley.
"This is not about batting for Hekia, it's about batting for Maori."
So far Ms Smalley has not offered an apology, saying on Twitter the questions were aimed at getting the minister on the "back foot".
A Facebook post from James Small said Ms Smalley had since spoken to a group of university students about the questions, saying: "She is pretty professional and described being highly uncomfortable asking those two questions.
She said in hindsight she ought to have listened to her gut, but it was a producer-led interview, not a Rachel-led interview. Still not okay, as Hekia is education minister, so who cares if she is Maori or not. Not a smart question really."
TV3 director of news and current affairs Mark Jennings said they were reasonable questions asked by one of the organisation's most senior journalists.
"They were part of valid question lines around the minister's relationships with her colleagues, and whether her personal views on the Maori electoral seats are out of line with those of the Government."
Jennings did not dispute that the questions could have been driven by the show's producers.
"I'd be surprised if that hadn't been case," he said.
A spokeswoman for Ms Parata's office said they understood the questions were producer-driven and were discussed at Front Page, the production company which makes The Nation, prior to the interview.
Ms Parata had been unaware of the line of questioning.

Apart from the fact that Front Page has been pretty devious about this whole thing and has hung Rachel Smalley out to dry, there's a huge double standard at play here. 

Remember Paul Henry? And remember the outrage when he suggested that then Governor-General Anand Satyanand was not a New Zealander. There were plenty of people calling for Henry's head over this, among them Danyl at Dim-Post, Idiot-Savant from No Right Turn, and even Russel Norman on Frogblog (how ironic is that after the events of the last week?). Henry's comments were out of line; even we called him out on that.

So where is the outrage from the Left at Rachel Smalley questioning Hekia Parata's Maori heritage? We'd especially love to hear whether Russel Norman thinks that a comment like that is appropriate.

To her credit, Metiria Turei is quoted in the Herald story; read on:

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the question about Mrs Parata's heritage was an insult.
"I'd be really angry if someone asked me that ... it's questioning your whole being. We value how we see the universe, how we see ourselves, our relationships," he said.
Asking whether Ms Parata was a "bitch" to work for was "disgraceful. It's really derogatory and insulting," he said.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Maori question was "unfortunate".
"Maori people don't need to explain ourselves about our whakapapa."
She said it was not appropriate to ask Ms Parata if she was a bitch to work for.
"I have a real problem with Hekia Parata; I think she should be sacked as Minister of Education and I think the fact she has a history of such bad relationships in her office is a relevant issue, but using language like that is not appropriate."

Ms Turei's position is interesting. Even though she has no time for Hekia Parata on a political level, she is prepared to defend the Minister where a clearly inappropriate question has been asked. She deserves credit for that.

Still, the silence from some of those on the Left who were so quick to damn Paul Henry as a racist is deafening. For the record we reckon that both Henry and The Nation (and its producers) went too far; however it seems that one will totally escape any criticism, whilst the other was eventually hounded out of his role. That's hardly cricket, is it?


Sober's Thought said...

Cricket is all about stats and averages and strike rates and nuance and subtlety to quantify all those hard days in the field, those drawn out sessions and short bursts of post drinks brilliance and just before stumps brain explosions; Henry is the Beefy Botham to Smalley's Mystery Morrison so the hounding or otherwise is well in proportion to the performance over the many innings and spells we've witnessed.

KS, you ought to be aware of this, Umpire as you once were... Unwarranted outrage is not an attribute in a man whose finger used to hold so much power.

bsprout said...

Interestingly Metiria questioned John Banks' credentials for allowing an open process regarding the financial management of Charter Schools. She suggested that his honesty around the Sky City donations and Kim Dotcom did not look good and hoped the same approach wouldn't be used to hide Charter School operations. It was stated in a robust way, but was based on actual events, a police report and the ongoing legal battles.

Banks responded with sexist remarks about Metiria's personal appearance, which was allowed by the assistant speaker. Apparently if you question another member's competency based on ample evidence then they can respond with sexist comments.

I can see we are going to have some dirty battles ahead. v=mt2WyqhbucY&feature=player_embedded

Carlos said...

bsprout does some laundering of what Metiria Turei said to soften the Green's new muscle image:

She suggested that his honesty around the Sky City donations and Kim Dotcom did not look good...

....if you question another member's competency......

That is how propaganda works.