29 Comments
Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

In the Kelly Dennett piece O'Brien is quick to disabuse us of the notion that the abuse she receives is gendered. Of course she does, if she points out that female journalists are routinely subjected to horrid treatment online she then opens up the avenue that she is playing The Sexism Card when in fact, she IS experiencing a disproportionate amount of abuse because she is a woman. It's infuriating. Before anyone come at me with the fact that many of the folks complaining about her are women let me feed you this hard to ear cookie: INGRAINED MISOGYNY IS REAL. When you are raised with the saying "like a girl" meaning "lesser than" as in "You throw like a girl" means you throw poorly, how the hell are women supposed to see themselves as equal? When you see countries where the sex ratio has been so screwed up by generations of sex selective abortions so that men who want to marry women now have to leave their home country to find them, when you routinely have men telling you what YOU find attractive, when you routinely see heterosexual pairings in movies and tv where the man is often twice as old as the woman and you are told this is what women want, when you are told that you are "emotional" and that those "emotions" rule how you behave which makes you unfit for political or business leadership positions....it's easy to start to believe that you are all of those things. It's easy to pick apart other women because the actual job of dismantling a sexist, racist and ableist society is too daunting so let's just say that this journalist is "strident" and "too loud" and let's hope that a man is around to pat us on the head and tell us that "You're not like the other girls" so that we can maintain our proximity to power while not actually holding any of our own (White Women Only Of Course). It's a tiring process to try an extricate oneself from ingrained misogyny, it's easier to laugh at the hack comic joking about his "nagging wife" and call it a day. It's easier to smile at your Tinder date when he talks about how all of his exes are "crazy" even though at some point his actions should probably be called into account. It's easier to just stay still on the subway when an erection is pressed into you deliberately because to call attention to it is just going to get you called "hysterical". It's easier to allow a guy in his thirties to catcall you when you are twelve and make you so self conscious that you go on to develop an eating disorder so that your budding breasts stop growing because clearly you did something to attract his attention so you need to remedy it. Not him. It's a journalist deflecting the truth of the matter because she just wants to do her job with as little abuse as possible.

It's exhausting and it's meant to be exhausting. Tova O'Brien is a superhero and as the old saying goes: She's doing it backwards and in heels.

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Hey Bentia - I think you are really on point here. And of course, the second you are a female journalist and make that call, further abuse just comes in. It's rough. I can't believe how insanely lucky I get it being a male in this field. I get such an easier run at things. And a white male, too.

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

This is the fucking truth. Kamala Harris getting shit during the VP debate for telling Mike Pence to STFU (I’m paraphrasing, of course) gets her called “shrill” and “mean”. Keep on fighting the good fight. I, for one, love and appreciate all of the women who have taught me so much personally and professionally and I admire the absolute hell out of them because I know how much harder they had to work to be where they are. And they still somehow find a way to be kind and humble. Can’t wait for the first female US president!

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I absolutely found her questioning during the Covid updates to be unnecessarily confrontational, in many cases trying to make mountains out of molehills, and it seemed so rude given the mild-mannered Bloomfield and and credible Ardern, both of whom were trying to steer us through a potentially difficult situation, and were doing it with grace and, it seems, considerable skill.

She also seemed to kept pushing after many felt she'd already been answered.

She was no different here, really. It's just that this jerk 1000% deserved it.

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Hey Madeleine - as a big Labour fan, I found it hard to watch too. I guess my point is, I am just a bit quicker to not jump to the idea that they were utterly pointless or randomly rude questions. Watching that presser is like watching the pudding being made - and I think largely the proof was in the pudding, as Marc made out:

"Despite the incessant condemnation of journos’ questioning during pressers, since March, there’s been next to no criticism of the actual reporting (articles, broadcast segments, etc.). Which is pretty telling - the questions are not the final product.

To clarify, I’m referring specifically here to Covid-19 reporting by the people in the press conferences. One would think that, if Jason and Tova were such crappy reporters just out for a soundbite, their reporting would have come in for the same criticism as their questions..."

A lot of the seemingly "rude" questioning may have not lead to anything - so there's no story. Unfortunately as everyone was watching the presser, it was like that was being treated as the end result. So I guess that's what I am pushing back from a little!

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From what David says though, that's what happens at press conferences, it's just we hadn't really seen it before.

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Oct 20, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I do understand that they often ask what seems like the same question over and over, but there might be slightly differences, or they feel it hasn't been answered on. Not so much a problem with that. More with the "So how do you explain to NZers that you've FAILED COMPLETELY to protect them..." kind of questioning. Invented example, but I can remember Ardern disputing the premise of similar questions more than once.

It came across like trying to manufacture controversy when there wasn't any. Trying to Trump up the news, as it were ;)

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Also I suppose I'm coming at it from a biological science-trained perspective, where it seemed like political reporting was being attempted where health/science reporting would have been more appropriate.

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Thank you for these insights into the professional world that Tova, yourself, and others inhabit. I consider myself to have been (re)educated.

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All good. I have no doubt the press gallery isn't always perfect, but it's not quite as haphazard and mean-spirited as people make out sometimes!

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I’ve watched that interview a few times and get all riled up every time. Hoping to see it happen here in the US.

That Bacharach press conference opening question is the stuff of legend. 💀 And stumbling on your Zoom chats from lockdown (and that Scientology room) were just the boost I needed to kick off this week. yayyy

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:)

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Thanks for the background for Tova, her interview with Jami-Lee was incredible but it seems you're saying she has no responsibility during that whole process /approach of hounding the team during the covid response. Just because that's the way they do it or that's the way it's always been done doesn't make it right or she should be free from critique doing so. Surely they all could ask more appropriate, intelligent questions and listen to/accept the answers rather than circling back. Can you give me one example when that exposed something we didn't already know? They weren't helping people who were worried as she claims, they were adding to the hype that there was some kind of alternative motivation from the people in charge which doesn't help us in the health system without PPE and doesn't help pregnant women giving birth alone etc etc...because everyone was doing their best sort that. I'm all for challenging those in charge but at that time, those people (Jacinda and Ashley,) and the people behind them were working their asses off trying to do their best in a very challenging and uncertain time. Of course questions need to be asked but not in that accusative way. A true journo would change that culture where appropriate, not keep it going in all circumstances.

Challenge people who spread fake news and prey on the vulnerable but why the same approach to people who saved a lot of our lives and were working with very little information at the time.

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Hey KTW. I hear ya. I just think I'd argue there's a big difference between being "free from critique doing so" and the insanely nasty pile ons that I saw all over Facebook and Twitter. It was rough. Really rough.

I'd circle back to the point made by Marc in my piece:

"Despite the incessant condemnation of journos’ questioning during pressers, since March, there’s been next to no criticism of the actual reporting (articles, broadcast segments, etc.). Which is pretty telling - the questions are not the final product.

To clarify, I’m referring specifically here to Covid-19 reporting by the people in the press conferences. One would think that, if Jason and Tova were such crappy reporters just out for a soundbite, their reporting would have come in for the same criticism as their questions..."

As for your other points - sometimes, maybe? But I think when you are a journalist it's your job to not just accept answers, and to circle. To come at it again, or from other angles. It's tough and awkward to watch.

I am a giant fan of Labour and Jacinda's approach to the pandemic - so it was hard for me to watch, too.

Sometimes it will seem pointless, or rude - but you and I don't know what the end game of that can be. And of course there are cases it IS pointless - but the daily abuse of Tova and other reporters was just bonkers to me. Totally bonkers.

I guess that's my take, and what I try and point to.

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Sweet. I guess I just didn’t see any incredible articles or revelations to justify the questioning but I tend to get my news from the likes of the spinoff, RNZ and guardian etc (and of course here) so I can’t be sure there weren’t any. I also tended to avoid the news around that time...

I also didn’t see the abuse she got and that’s probably worse than any question or hounding she did and more pointless.

Thank you you for showing us another side of Tova and celebrating such an epic interview. She’s certainly awe inspiring! (And of course your words are always very nice to read too). Thank you

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Great interview. Best line by Tova “You’re dreaming mate”.

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Oh my gosh, just had a look at Owen Jones' tweet and none other than your old pal ANNA WILDING has responded trying to give her "insider NZ context" 😬

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Oh my gosh when world’s collide!

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I always thought Tova got way too much shit for the daily briefing questions. If there are actual serious issues with any part of the government's covid response, the way to deal with them isn't just not talking about it and pretending everything is fine. Media questioning is basically the only way we find out about things like basically no border workers getting tested or covid tests in MIQ being apparently optional for months. Actually pretty important.

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Yeah. And like - Jacinda and the team came off so well in them! So no skin off their nose. It's the journos that get the shit - it's not like they are out to appear cool or explain the reasons behind their questions. I just find it sad when abuse is levelled at them as they are clearly trying to get to a certain point we as the viewer of the press conference may not even grasp!

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I completely agree, Tova did a fantastic job, it was very cathartic to watch after all the drivel we've had to take from JLR over the years. It must be so hard as a journalist having to walk that fine line between holding a politician to account and maintaining some sort of working relationship so that person will agree to speak to you again in the future. This time Tova seemed to realise she need never talk to JLR again so this was one of the rare times when she could afford to burn the bridge down. She also did a really good job of co-hosting the Newshub election coverage on Saturday night, on point again.

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Thanks David! Yes I have found Tova's (and others) questions in the daily pressers rather shocking at times to be honest! Your explanations have made the reasons for the way questions are asked much more understandable. It is wonderful to see her eviscerate Ross! My estimation of her has gone up tremendously.(However I realize the public's opinion of her is of no consequence particularly to her!)

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

If only American journalists could do this

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Yeah, I think that's why it resounded so much with Americans who saw it. Like - "Holy shit, if ONLY!"

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its absolutely disgraceful how the WH press corp doesn't show any solidarity

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It seems like so often guests on these shows seem to think they are just there for a platform to spout their bullshit. Tova did an amazing job shutting down his lies. Now for JLR and Billy to fade back into oblivion

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Oct 19, 2020Liked by David Farrier

JLR...You have been served..Beautifully 🤗

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Oh man that Burt Bacharach story was fantastic. I really appreciate the Austin Powers quote, as that movie is the only reason I know who he is. Also your friend Tova totally rules.

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I saw a Twitter thread explain press conferences during the daily covid briefings (I don't remember who anymore, and haven't been able to find it since). Someone posted a link to the thread in response to people's adverse reactions to the briefings (or maybe it was the US covid briefings?). It covered the points you and Marc mentioned. In addition, they highlighted that tv journos and newspaper journos have very different aims in a press conference. I'm not sure I remember it right all these months after, but I think it was something along the lines of tv journos are after a story as well as the soundbite for what they'll air. That soundbite might mean trying to get the person holding the presscon to say a specific phrase or whatnot, which can be part of the circling. I'm not sure I'm remembering this right anymore, but newspaper journos are trying to write longer stories, so they ask different questions. There was more, but I can't remember it anymore (which is frustrating, since I think that explanation should be seen by more people if they plan to watch presscons).

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