Why is Mike Hosking so wrong?

Mike Hosking compels Mike Hosking to issue apology and correction

In a rant about media peddling nonsense, the Newstalk ZB host peddles nonsense about that Time border cover and we look forward to him saying sorry for peddling nonsense.

The host of the Mike Hosking Breakfast, Mike Hosking, has left himself with no alternative but to issue an apology and correction over words spoken by Mike Hosking in yesterday’s “Mike’s Minute” (running time: two minutes, 30 seconds).

The segment refers to media coverage of the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy which has seen thousands of children separated from their parents at the Mexico-US border.

“From a media perspective,” says Mike Hosking, “if the election of Trump has shown nothing else it has exposed glaringly the sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty of so many of the industry’s operators.”

The latest “and perhaps best example” of this nasty sounding ailment is “the photo of that distressed, some might say distraught child, that has been flashed around the world over and over again as an example of a kid who was snatched from its parents who had entered America illegally”, he says.

“And yet, as it turns out, that child was never taken from its parents at all,” he adds, correctly.

“The child was doing what a lot of kids that age do, cry. For who knows what reason, but the reason we do know is it wasn’t because they had been separated from their parents.”

It is true that we don’t know why the child was crying. It could be any old reason!

The photograph was initially issued with a caption saying it was unknown whether she was separated from her mother and later, after it was established that she had not been, updated to say that she had not been (John Moore/Getty Images)

I’m going to take a wild guess, however, and suggest she’s crying because her mother is being detained and searched by an armed border guard and it’s dark and frightening. As almost all mainstream media – if not social media – who used the image noted from the outset, it was unknown if she had been separated from her mother.

Oh but, hold on – maybe Mike Hosking doesn’t mean the photo itself but that dramatic Time cover?

Time magazine issued a correction to its cover, explaining the crying child had not been separated from its mother at the border,” explains the print version of Mike’s Minute.

Hosking says: “Now you may not have known this until now, and the reason for that is that this particular revelation exposing the sheer dishonesty of those who so heavily peddled the picture originally, is that the apology and declaration has not been quite as lavishly published as the original accusation.”

And why not? “It’s embarrassing … They’re not interested in the truth or fact, they’re interested in message peddling under the guise of neutrality. A simple rule should be, you put it on the cover, and when it turns out wrong, you put that on the cover as well. But they never do, they put in it on page 27 where they hope you won’t see it.”

Right: the provocative, non-literal Trump cover. Left: evidence that Mike’s Minute is done by Mike Hosking

But the Time cover is very clearly symbolic – I mean, obviously Donald Trump did not pose in a red-walled studio staring down at a two-year-old. So why would Time issue a correction and apology at all?

You’ll have guessed where this is going: They Did Not Issue a Correction and Apology.

The magazine did correct and annotate one article that had wrongly stated that the child was separated from its mother, but far from backing down on their cover, they issued a statement strongly defending it.

“The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason,” said editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents. Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment.”

Hosking wasn’t the only ZB morning giant incensed by Time. A “propaganda journal … junk, trash,” railed Leighton Smith, the cantankerous great-uncle of the nation, the one for whom you might find yourself bewilderedly feeling a fondness via some kind of talkback Stockholm Syndrome. He devoted dozens of Leighton’s Minutes this morning to admonishing the evils of the “left propaganda” of mainstream media. “The photograph was fraudulently utilised and misled everybody who saw it.” Everybody! “It went everywhere, it went feral … The hypocrisy of all this is unbelievable.”

There was certainly a lot of tugging on the alarm cord on America’s rightwing sites claiming, like Hosking and Smith, that everyone had been saying the child in the photograph had been separated from her parents, but there weren’t in fact many actually saying the child in the photograph had been separated from her parents.

It’s a canard. As verified by the fact-checking squirrels at Snopes, “Major news media outlets generally provided accurate information about the image, but social media users were sometimes unaware of those details.”

In the course, therefore, of complaining about media peddling nonsense, Mike Hosking is peddling nonsense, and awkwardly it comes just days after his pedalling nonsense. For the sake of his profession and his own self-respect, Hosking leaves himself no choice but to correct the error and apologise.

And, however awkward it might be, he’ll have to do it in the prominent Mike’s Minute slot, during the 7am hour on Newstalk ZB, and cross-post it in video and print on the website of the New Zealand Herald. Because, you know, a simple rule should be, you put it on the cover, and when it turns out wrong, you put that on the cover as well.


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