The Dim-Post

June 27, 2010

Hopefully the last word

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 7:13 am

Brian Edwards blogs about an alleged incident between Duncan Garner and Chris Carter on an Air New Zealand flight:

It is no secret around Parliament  that, roughly 11 months ago,  Garner and Carter had a verbal stoush in the Auckland Koru Club.  Following the release of the report detailing the 2008 travel expenses of Labour Ministers, Garner had run a TV3 story alleging that Carter was a big-spending Minister whose travel could not be justified in what was essentially a domestic portfolio – Education. The story also referred to Carter’s long-time partner and travelling companion, Peter Kaiser, and included the name of the primary school of which Kaiser is principal.

Not surprisingly, there was bad blood between the two men. Carter and Darren Hughes were in the Koru Club waiting for their flight to Wellington to be called when Garner approached them. He is reported as having said, ‘Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’ Carter told him to ‘fuck off!’

Carter had already taken his seat on the plane when Garner, who had boarded later, stopped next to him, jabbed his finger into Carter’s chest and said loudly, ‘I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’ Sitting directly behind Carter was Dame Margaret Bazley. Appalled by what she had heard, she commented loudly, ‘What a disgraceful man. You don’t have to put up with rubbish like that on a plane, Mr Carter.’ Garner moved on down the plane.

Edward’s thinks TV3 should sack Garner. I think a lot of Garner’s attack stories about Carter were stupid and unprofessional – but if those were grounds for dismissal then TV1 and TV3 would show nothing but static between 7:00 to 7:30 PM.

And in the final analysis Garner was right – Carter was travelling around the world with his partner pissing away huge amounts of taxpayer money while being paid a very large salary as Minister of Education. This behaviour combined with Carter’s arrogance and sense of entitlement would have exploded into a massive scandal when the credit card receipts were released irregardless of Garner’s relationship with Carter.

Edward’s anecdote is a reminder that when it comes to political reporting  invisible ley-lines exist between MPs, their media staff and the journalists who cover them: friendships, romances, rivalries and hatreds that are invisible to the public. One pundit once told me that he wrote his best political analysis when he lived in Auckland.

Incidentally, a similar story is playing itself out in the US – the Washington Post just sacked Dave Weigel, a columnist writing about the conservative movement who insulted senior leaders of the movement on a private listserv that was leaked to a political website. General consensus is that it was a bad look for the WaPo and if TV3 were to punish Garner because he took a dislike to an MP misspending public money it would set a dreadful precedent for New Zealand political journalism.


  1. Irregardless??!!! (Bursts into tears) How could you?

    Comment by Guy Smiley — June 27, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  2. Poor Carter being picked on by that nasty Garner. Fuck off Edwards, Carter has brought every column inch onto himself.

    Comment by arfarf — June 27, 2010 @ 8:32 am

  3. If you think that a political editor setting out to ‘destroy’ a member of parliament is acceptable journalism, your site is well named.

    Comment by Brian Edwards — June 27, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  4. Would you have been happier if Garner had decided to ‘destroy’ Carter but kept his intentions a secret? I guess that would have been more professional but I’m dubious as to whether it would have been more ethical. Besides, in the final analysis Carter destroyed his own career – Garner and his bombastic threats were irrelevant.

    Comment by danylmc — June 27, 2010 @ 10:58 am

  5. Would you have been happier if Garner had decided to ‘destroy’ Carter but kept his intentions a secret?

    I believe so, yes.

    At the US Supreme Court anyway. Next month, there will be Senate hearings into the appointment of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. What will be important for her, is that she doesn’t reveal how she thinks about any of the key contentious Supreme Court decisions. That’s the test. She can say she’s never thought about Roe v. Wade, or doesn’t know how she’d rule in a case challenging it, and it will be fine when she sits on a case that goes to its heart. But if she fronts up and gives her opinion, she’ll have pre-judged it and have to sit it out.

    Just as with Duncan, only if she announces her pre-judgment will this be a problem. If she’s made up her mind and tell no-one there won’t be an issue.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 27, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  6. “Dim Post” . . . now I understand what the name means!

    Comment by JohnO — June 27, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  7. Carters actions epitomises the arrogant disdain the last Labour govt held the public. I have zero sympathy.

    Comment by davidg — June 27, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  8. While we can’t expect reporters to leave all their biases behind when pursuing and writing a story, we should expect reporters to not be *driven* by their biases. I’d like to think that news stories stand on their own merits (as this one eventually did) rather than having been pursued because of a personal vendetta, because that always shapes the final form of the story.

    Comment by Ataahua — June 27, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  9. Garner should be sacked – not for taking a dislike to Chris Carter but for being fucking stupid enough to say so in public in front of an audience when he’s a supposedly impartial journalist.

    Comment by JD — June 27, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  10. The Weigel and Garner cases aren’t entirely analogous. Weigel was mouthing off on a private listserv; Garner was speaking in public.

    Comment by pointer — June 27, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  11. Garner has a not-terribly-dignified response over on Edwards’ site:

    Comment by danylmc — June 27, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  12. Not entirely dignified but made me laugh like a drain!

    Go the Fatty Garner!

    Comment by davy crockett — June 27, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  13. Made you “laugh like a drain”? Yeah, he’s some sort of cross between Oscar Wilde and Chris Rock in the body of a bloated Ken Doll. Hilarious.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — June 27, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

  14. Guy Smiley bless you masser.

    Comment by davy crockett — June 27, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  15. I think it’s interesting that Edwards raises the ‘vendetta’ issue. It seems to me that he has a little vendetta of his own against Labour’s media team.
    There seems to have been frequent criticisms of them recently.
    Perhaps easily missed, but this comment from Edwards might reveal the reason for it: “My professional relationship with Labour effectively came to an end on the night Labour lost the 2008 election”

    Comment by Richard — June 28, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

  16. Richard — not so much a vendetta for Edwards as now feeling free or able to criticise, surely.

    Re: Garner. I just wish I had five bucks for every time he’s run that shot of Carter and his partner (decadently, wastefully, gayly) drinking champagne. I’d be able to retire …

    Comment by bob ricketts — June 28, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  17. You know, that sort off stuff never went down when I had frequent flyer status.

    Almost makes one want to schlep four times across the Pacific again, just for the free entertainment whenever flying on Air NZ. Do the hosties have Tasers to subdue battling pollies?

    Comment by Rich — June 28, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  18. Oh come on, who believes Brian Edwards? He makes, or at least made, a good part of his living off the Labour party, he’s hardly an impartial reporter.

    Let’s get Dame Margaret to settle the veracity of the story, shall we?

    Comment by Helen — June 28, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  19. Garner is quoted as saying:- ‘Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’

    I’m a taxpayer,thanks Garner!
    Irregardless – a portmanteau word, I can manage that!

    Comment by Charles — June 29, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  20. According to Garner, Darren Hughes was present at the altercation, he invited (sounded like implored) Hughes to comment on Brian Edwards Blog. Hasn’t happened and I don’t think Dame Margaret will respond either. Would you?

    From Guy Smiley: “Yeah, he’s some sort of cross between Oscar Wilde and Chris Rock in the body of a bloated Ken Doll. Hilarious.”

    I won’t be able to watch Garner on TV3 (not that I normally do) without this image in my mind.But why Oscar?

    Comment by Charles — June 29, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  21. There is a certain resemblance if you forgive Dunc’s crooked nose

    Comment by davy crockett — June 29, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  22. I see it now, Duncan should try Oscar’s hairstyle, it may become him.

    Comment by Charles — June 29, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  23. Oh come on, who believes Brian Edwards? He makes, or at least made, a good part of his living off the Labour party, he’s hardly an impartial reporter.

    Which we know about, because he has declared that interest publicly, and often. Not least on his blog.

    As opposed to those who have not declared their interest at all, like Paul Holmes providing media training for the National party.

    How about a register of interests for ‘independent’ commentators? They could declare their free dinners, their bottles of wine, all their nice little perks from the powerful. That would make interesting reading.

    They couldn’t possibly object, not in this new era of transparency.

    Comment by sammy — June 29, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

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