I’m not going sides in the dispute between Brian Edwards and Duncan Garner over Garner’s targeting of Chris Carter. I think Edwards is wrong to attack Garner’s general worthiness as a political editor, he is one of our best journos, and I think Garner is wrong to attack Edwards’ politics rather than responding to the legitimate issues raised. The level of behaviour all round is unimpressive. The only one who comes out looking good is Margaret Bazley:
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, â€˜Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’ Carter told him to â€˜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, â€˜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, â€˜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.
Though his Christmas deadline was ambitious, Garner appears to have been as good as his word. Just over 3 months later, in the April 7 post, Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign?, I wrote:
â€˜Garner has now run four stories on Carter’s overseas travel. All four have featured pictures from the Civil Union, mentioning Kaiser’s name and on at least one occasion the name of the school at which he is Principal.
â€˜Garner’s coverage of Carter’s international travel has begun to take on the complexion of a personal campaign to discredit the MP. In a different context, it would constitute harassment.
â€˜If I am wrong, I invite Duncan Garner to respond to this blog and, providing nothing in it is defamatory, I undertake to publish that response unedited.
â€˜If I’m right, TV3 should be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job.’
Garner did not take up my invitation to deny that he was running a personal campaign to discredit Chris Carter.
I do not want to revisit the issue of Carter’s excessive international travel. He has apologised for the second time. Labour leader Phil Goff has declared himself satisfied with that apology. He has his pound of flesh.
Instead, I want to direct the following questions to TV3â€² Head of News and Current Affairs, Mark Jennings:
*Would you consider it acceptable for a Political Editor to say to a Member of Parliament, â€˜I am going to fucking get you. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’?
*Could you continue to have confidence in a the integrity and impartiality of a Political Editor who said these words to a Member of Parliament?
*Will you now make enquiries to establish whether your Political Editor, Duncan Garner, did say these words to Chris Carter?
*If those enquiries reveal that Garner did in fact say these words to Chris Carter, will you continue to employ him?
[Oh, and one other silly little enquiry while I'm at it: Why was there a shot of a semi-naked man going into a sauna in last night's coverage of the Carter apology? Just struck me as a bit queer.]
I have never denied there was an incident between myself and Chris, indeed I told everyone about it at the time because I was shocked that Chris would call me by a four letter word – that your version of this story doesn’t reflect.
Unfortunately your version of it is very, very wrong and you do yourself no favours.
You have relied on the word of Chris Carter and even Phil Goff can’t rely on that.
Yes Darren Hughes was there and he will confirm what happened if people wish to approach him.
Darren may even wish to write on this site?
But why rely on my word? Surely the Chief Whip, Mr Hughes will launch a defence of the incident for Mr Carter. Or will he?
I bet he doesn’t. Because Carter behaved disgracefully in the Koru Club that evening and provoked the incident.
I will consider posting the full version on the 3News website tomorrow. I certainly won’t do it here to satisfy former broadcaster and Labour Party raffle ticket seller Brian Edwards.
Because Brian, I am not going to give you the pleasure of writing it on your site. Before you publish your version, you should check your facts – you will be very embarrassed shortly. Once again, in your attempt to defend your Labour mate – you will drag this on and perhaps back into the public arena. Just what Labour needs. What a media strategist you are!!!!
Your version is simply wrong on so many fronts – you expose yourself once again as a sham and a Labour Party hack.
And an increasingly unemployed one at that. Why is Labour now using other â€˜mediatrainers’ and not you?
Once again I will consider putting my version on the 3 News website tomorrow.
But one more thing Brian. I also notice that your claim I attacked Chris was because I hated gays and was homophobic? Even Chris says that’s not true now. So where does all this leave your wimpering campaign against me? In tatters.
Once again, rather than taking my word, why doesn’t Darren Hughes post on here now about the Koru Club incident?
Don’t take my word Brian, take his.
Like you challenged me to front to defend myself – I am inviting Darren to tell the full story, to defend Chris. I somehow think he won’t .. but I’m waiting ..
Duncan, I’m not going to respond to your infantile insults. But I will correct some of the things you’ve said in your comment.
I’m not particularly inerested in what was said in the Koru Club. I said in the post that Carter told you to â€˜fuck off’. If he used a stronger four-letter word, it makes very little difference. Both of you behaved badly. And, as I also said in the post, â€˜Not surprisingly, there was bad blood between the two men.’ Which is why I did not write about this incident at the time.
I have never said that you â€˜hated gays’. This is what I said in the post of April 7:
â€˜There was a barely disguised homophobia in those earlier television reports of Carter’s allegedly spendthrift approach to taxpayer subsidised travel. Considerable emphasis was placed on the fact that he was often accompanied on overseas trips by his partner, Peter Kaiser. Shots of the couple drinking champagne at their Civil Union appeared in almost every story, while photographs of the wives or husbands of other MPs and cabinet ministers on â€˜overseas jaunts’ rarely if ever appeared.’
I stand by that. But you might like to explain to me the relevance of the shot in Friday’s 3 News bulletin on Carter’s apology of a half naked man going into a sauna.
Finally, Duncan, the post you complain of, was headed â€˜Incident on an Air New Zealand Flight’. What the post was about is your allegedly having said to Carter, â€˜â€˜I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’ If I were in your shoes, I would consider this the more damaging allegation made about you. Yet not only is there no denial of this event in your reply to me, it is not even mentioned. I would consider that admission by omission. If in fact Carter â€˜behaved disgracefully’ to you in the Koru Club before the flight, then you may well feel that what you are alleged to have said to him on the plane was understandable. But it is no less unacceptable from the political editor of a major television network.