PoliticsJune 30, 2020

Winston Peters castigates ‘clickbait’ TV news story – before it even goes to air


In a curious election year development, the NZ First leader has hit out at a Newshub report for its ‘sensationalist, wilful misrepresentation of the facts’, many hours before it is broadcast.  

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has provided Newshub with a dream promotion for their 6pm news bulletin tonight.

In a furious press release, he denounced an upcoming story that apparently addresses links between the party and moves to delay cameras on fishing boats. The emailed version of the release had little doubt about the calibre of the yet-to-air story, deploying the all-caps headline “CLICK-BAIT JOURNALISM AT ITS WORST”.

Peters accused Newshub journalist Michael Morrah of “sensationalist, wilful misrepresentation of the facts” in his coverage of the rollout of cameras on fishing boats. There has been some speculation that pressure from NZ First contributed to the delay.

“As the fisheries minister Stuart Nash will attest, New Zealand First raised legitimate concerns about cameras on boats, namely their cost and who would be able to access the data. It is vital that sound policy has sound implementation – we are not going to be putting fishing boats, crew and families out of business because of thoughtless bureaucracy,” said Peters.

“Mr Nash and the Cabinet acknowledged these concerns and have been working hard to address them, seeking to engage with the fishing industry to work through an enduring policy solution.

“New Zealand First can also confirm that it was Mr Nash’s office who asked to delay the introduction of cameras on boats, not us.”

Fishing mogul Sir Peter Talley, and his company Talley’s, have been widely reported as donors to NZ First candidates and the NZ First Foundation. It is unknown whether this is part of this evening’s television report. It is not mentioned in the release.

Peters reserved his choicest insults for Morrah, describing his upcoming story as “clickbait” and “the worst form of unethical tabloid journalism”.

Two recent NZ First press releases.

He also accused Morrah of an “ambush”, after the initial interview request came in to discuss the trans-Tasman bubble – a concept that Peters has been pushing heavily in a wide range of media appearances.

“I delayed my travel an hour to accommodate Mr Morrah and my reward was to be ambushed with an allegation about New Zealand First stopping cameras on boats. I reacted as any would when so rudely mislead by a supposed journalist,” said Peters.

Michael Morrah has a long track record of ground-breaking investigations into fishing industry practices, after a decade of work on the topic. His investigations have included illegal dumping of bycatch and the environmental impacts of fishing, to exposing human trafficking and slavery on vessels fishing in New Zealand waters.

Approached for comment on the accusation, Morah was reluctant to get into the details, telling The Spinoff: “The public can make their own mind up tonight on Newshub Live at 6pm about whether this is click bait journalism as Mr Peters has claimed.

“I strongly reject any such suggestion, and I believe this story is in the public interest.”

It isn’t the first recent press release to come in from Peters with an all-caps headline. His contribution to the debate around the place of colonial statues was titled “NEW ZEALAND FIRST’S DISGUST AT WAVE OF WOKEISM”.

In the last Colmar-Brunton poll for TVNZ, NZ First was at 1.8%.

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