Sunday, 31 March 2013

Karl du Fresne Vs Kathryn Ryan

Karl du Fresne. 

Karl du Fresne and Radio NZ

Karl du Fresne wrote an opinion piece about Radio NZ and in it he clearly expresses [in my view] his total bias, this of course is his right, if you will excuse the pun. He by the careful and selective use of words and implications creates the impression that RNZ has a leftwing bias, He does this by failing to indicate that RNZ also permits a heavy rightwing bias at times and on a regular basis which is obvious when one considers Jim Mora’s afternoon programme which makes maximum use of well known rightwing guests such as past Act Party hacks like Steven Franks etc. He also writes for the Listener now owned by the NZ Herald. Karl du Fresne bias is dressed and hidden in journalistic jargon and skillfully camouflaged self defeating praise such as this paragraph:

RNZ is a national treasure, but it's a flawed treasure, and that makes it vulnerable. By correcting the most obvious of those flaws, whoever takes over from Mr Cavanagh could help protect the organisation against political interference.

Karl du Fresne then moves on to describe what those flaws are and there appears to be only one in his view…that RNZ leans to the left. So he offers some advice to any future RNZ Chief…

So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation's standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.

He then for doubtful reasons tells us that; public broadcasting tends to be left leaning because its journalists distrust capitalism! Good God, two thirds of the world distrusts capitalism. He does this in a fairly meaningless paragraph where he hopes to convince the readers that none of these traits exist in those of right leanings which are simply wrong in both fact and practice.

Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning. It's not hard to understand how this comes about. Journalists distrustful of capitalism naturally gravitate toward state-owned media organisations, seeing them as untainted by the profit motive. This becomes self-perpetuating, since the more Left-leaning an organisation becomes, the more it attracts other people of the same persuasion. The result is often an ideological mindset that permeates the entire organisation.

But to cover his backside he adds this to attempt to prove that he is wonderfully balanced and without bias.

Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to. But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.

But alas his true colours appear and overtake any rationality in his argument thus far. Here we come to his pet hates; perhaps hate maybe a too stronger word, dislikes may be better…but they are obvious.

Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she's also its biggest name.

But he fails to supply any evidence of why Kim Hill is the worst offender, could to be it’s because she recently won worldwide recognition for her interviewing ability?

Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw's Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.

He's perfectly entitled to believe that, of course, but he has no right to co-opt the resources of RNZ to pursue his fixation. It's an abuse of power to use a taxpayer-funded medium to promote pet ideological causes.

Really, doesn’t the PM do this everyday…

The question is ‘why he is worried about Chris Laidlaw and Kim Hill, are they too popular, are they too good in their respective roles, do they challenge too often, question too often. Once again Karl du Fresne covers his backside when he wrote…this denigration of Kathryn Ryan

And while I used to be an admirer of Nine to Noon host Kathryn Ryan, I've reluctantly been forced to file her under "L" too.

I had my first misgivings when she conducted a disgracefully partisan interview during the furore over the beleaguered Auckland employers' leader Alasdair Thompson in 2011. I was reminded of that episode when I recently heard her aggressively hectoring Chester Borrows; the Minister of Courts, over a Government proposal to take action against the partners of welfare cheats.

No-one who heard the Borrows interview could doubt that Ryan allowed her personal views and emotions to override her professional obligation of impartiality (which, I stress, doesn't preclude hard and rigorous questioning)

I heard both interviews and if ever a strong and demanding interviewing technique was called for it was both of those, Alasdair Thompson was forced to resign his position by his own organisation. Question; did Karl du Fresne agree with Alasdair Thompson’s outburst.

As to the interview with Chester Borrows I felt it was both appropriate and timely after the constant and bitter attacks on those on welfare that has been orchestrated over the last four years. Does he not listen to ‘from the right and from the left’ every Monday at 11am? Is he suggesting that Mathew Hooten doesn’t get a fair go from Kathryn Ryan, surely not? I think he does protest too much...

Karl du Fresne went on to say.   

An editor-in-chief who was doing his job properly would crack down on such abuses, for two reasons.
The first and most important is that they breach RNZ's duty to the public to present information fairly and impartially.

If he calls those interviews abuses I would suggest that he is being a little too sensitive, has he not listened to Paul Holmes, Paul Henry, Don Brash and John Banks all of whom have been interviewed on RNZ. Is he suggesting that they are without bias?

Now I think we come to the real reason for Karl du Fresne column:   

The second, more pragmatic, reason is that the Left-wing bias apparent in some of RNZ's programmes is hardly likely to endear the organisation to the politicians who control its fate.

Lastly and in one final effort to cover his backside he wrote:

In saying this, I'm not suggesting for a moment that RNZ should become a tame government puppet. That would be far worse than the status quo.
But we all have an interest in Radio New Zealand surviving, and a genuinely independent, non-partisan RNZ will be in a far stronger position to defend itself than one that consistently leaves itself exposed to allegations of bias

I agree with that last paragraph, Karl du Fresne needs to remember the Governments change often and a sound public service organisation such as RNZ should ensure that it is not sucking up to the government, or the opposition for that matter. The present government has rewarded its media supporters like private radio with interest free bail out loans [40 million] it has driven TV7 off air. So RNZ is the last bastion of public broadcasting in NZ. I don't see it as being left or right but balanced and if I had to pick between Rupert Murdock's Fox News or talkback radio and RNZ... I'd go for RNZ.

I am left to wonder if Karl du Fresne is lining himself up for a job at RNZ and if he is then I’d say he has a good chance of success, if Ian Fletcher can become head of the GCSB and Susan Devoy boss of the Human Rights Commission then anything is possible…but it would help him if he could have a cup of tea with you know who next time he is in Wellington.


Gerald Tait said...

Karl du Fresne is also religiously right wing, being opposed to abortion and same sex marriage, so I suppose it is all part of the territory.

Karl du Fresne said...

I could say a lot of things in response to this blog, but life is short so I'll content myself with just one.

As a very occasional guest on Jim Mora's panel myself, I recently suggested two people whom I thought would make useful additions to the panel's roster.

I don't know whether Jim's producers have followed up my suggestion, but one of the names I put forward was of a man with impeccable left-wing credentials.

Unfortunately, no matter how often I say that I have no interest in Radio NZ becoming a right-wing echo chamber, people whose brains are tightly clamped shut just don't hear it.

put forward two names for