How biased are the media? A Patrick Gower case study



Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance


Isn’t it interesting that Patrick Gower – who made his partisan feelings crystal clear on Twitter on 29 May with this extraordinary outburst;

 “Lalia Harré – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP Same goes for your pals Hone, Dotcom, Minto and Sykes.

– is also the same one who interviewed Laila Harre on Saturday, 22 November, on TV3’s “The Nation”? What measure of  neutrality did “The Nation’s” producer, Tim Watkin, believe that Gower possessed, to run that interview?

Quite simply, any reasonable individual would have arrived at the conclusion that Gower should have disqualified himself and the role given, instead, to the highly talented Lisa Owen.

Notice how Gower was very well behaved during the interview, when face-to-face with  Harré?

But once Harré was off the set and he was with the panel (Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton), the gloves and mask came off and Gower’s vitriol issued forth;

“… She blamed Labour there, she blamed the Greens, she blamed the National Party, she blamed the media, she blamed Georgina Beyer, although she did say-“

“… I think there’s two words for what we saw over there, before and that’s called in denial. Hmmph!”

“… She’s not going to go in with the Greens, she’s betrayed them. Labour won’t have a a bar of her. No chance of Laila Harré coming back to Parliament. And that’s why you see this sort of denial from her. She’s got it horribly, horribly wrong and she still can’t admit it.”

It should be noted that neither Williams (an ex-Labour President) nor Hooton (a right-wing commentator) could possibly comment impartially on the Mana-Internet Alliance. Both Labour and the Right had a unified agenda to smash Mana-Internet at the election (See: 2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date). There was simply no attempt at balance with the panelists or the the host-interviewer (Gower).

What is abundantly clear is that Gower seemed to lack a certain inner fortitude to say the things he did to the panelists, to Harré’s face.

TDB Recommends

This was part of  an ongoing, unrelenting onslaught against the Left. The same dirty media that saw right-wing, self-professed “media personalities” appointed to host political debates, despite public opposition and cries of partisanship;


Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll


There was good reason for public disquiet over Mike Hosking hosting one of the election leadership debates. His political allegiance was already well known;


"As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight. "We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government."
Hosking: “As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.
“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them [National] in Government.”

An example of media bias was clearly shown over the issue of two holidays by two party Leaders. As I wrote on 24 July;

The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

(See:  When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays)

Perhaps the most outrageous, recent political “hatchet job” was the Herald’s  character assassination scheme launched against David Cunliffe, using unproven (and later discredited) allegations from immigrant-businessman, Donghua Liu. The story behind Liu’s shonkey allegations; a 13 year old letter; and information strategically released by National minister, Michael Woodshouse, to Herald and TV3 journos, was nothing less than a disturbing abuse of ministerial power and media influence. (See:  The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed)

When a party leader continually receives bad press (eg; condemnation over taking a 3 day break; the colour of the scarf he wore; a manufactured “scandal” regarding a 13 year old letter, etc) what is the mainstream media telling this country?

At one stage the level of attacks against Cunliffe descended into pettiness and farce when, on TV3, on 24 July,  TV3’s Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;


tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe


However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, was this oddball, juvenile parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team. Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

(See: When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien)

As I pointed out on 30 July,

Despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe.

Such was the mainstream stream leading up to the election on 20 September.

Returning to Patrick Gower, there are three questions I would like to pose to him;

1. Why is it that Gower condemned the Internet-Mana alliance as “sickening” – but not the ACT-National deal in Epsom, with the same intensity?

2. Or the National-NZ First-Maori Party deal to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis over Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau?

3. Why was Dotcom’s funding of Mana-Internet such a big deal worthy of condemnation – but millionaires funding National and ACT is barely noted, in passing, if at all?

Otherwise, Patrick, this is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

Postscript1 (Brick-bat)

Note to MSM journos, sub-editors (those remaining), current affairs/news producers, et al) – ok, we get the “Stuart Little” reference,


andrew little - stuart little


Ho, ho, ho.

But enough already.

It was funny for the first thirty seconds. Now it’s just lame.

Message to journos: don’t be lame. It’s not cool.

Postscript2 (Bouquet)

For an excellent interview with a political leader (whether Labour, National, Greens, whatever), check out TVNZ’s Q+A today (22/23 November), where veteran reporter/interviewer, Heather du Plessis-Allan interviewed new Labour Leader, Andrew Little. This is how an interview should be conducted; the host asks the questions; the guest is given time to respond, without interuption.

All TV/radio hosts take note.






Twitter: Patrick Gower

Pundit: Tim Watkin

TV3: Laila Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

TV3: “The Nation” Panel – Patrick Gower, Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media – Hosking plugs car and Key

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

TV3: Stuart Little, leader of the Opposition?

TVNZ: Q+A 22/23 November

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date


media sensationalism and laziness - Jon Stewart



= fs =



  1. Why do Gower and his ilk do this? Very simply, because their political masters on Fairfax, APN, Radio NZ and TV NZ let them. They can claim one minute they are journalists and then the next minute they are just ordinary members of the public and can say what they like (this is a democratic right, you know). The guiding principal for the right is that what one says with one hat on does not impinge on what one says with a different hat on. If you had suggested this to any public figure, be it sports superstar, high profile politician, TV weather presenter, etc 15 or 20 years ago you would have been laughed at. Public figures were expected to behave professionally at all times when they stepped out their own front door. The political right obviously thought the time had come for change and they have taken control of the media to create the Jeckyl and Hyde persona, one public and one private, except that the private one is actually not private at all. They have convinced the sleepy hobbits that having a number of hats that can be interchanged at will is perfectly acceptable. They take their inspiration from dear leader who is the ultimate hat changer. If it is acceptable for John Key to do it, then obviously it is acceptable for anyone – unless you are from the political left and then the rules are different.
    The poor standards of journalism that exist in this country will only change when journalists wish to regain their status of the nation’s watchdogs, instead of National’s lapdogs. But this is hard to do when you are being well paid for being a lapdog.

    • Christ, Gower’s a muppet. I’m an EPMU delegate and I can state as fact that we most definitely DON’T do whatever Union bosses tell us. Our bosses are the workforce we represent. Voluntarily I might add. If the workers aren’t happy with a Union initiative, the Union hears about it in short order and ‘lively’ discussion ensues. Unions aren’t autocratic organisations where you just shut up and do as you’re told.

      Unlike the National Party.

  2. But nothing changes Frank, look at the daily papers a hundred years ago. Same attacks, just different framing. Indeed it got worse, the closer it looked like a socialist /social democratic government might actually win an election.

    The best thing to do is switch off the TV and stop buying the paper. They need the add money – but you only get that when you have a audience. No people watching or reading – no income.

    Also the left need to up the game and get a rag in every working stiffs home once a week. Even if it’s only 4 pages, maybe 8 pages. Keep it simple, free and funny.

    • Yes, we’re back in the same place we were 100 years ago. On the other hand, it was only 97 years ago that our lords and masters got the fright of their lives.

  3. Another big difference between political left and right commentators is consistency. The political right commentators are staggeringly inconsistent. I nearly collapsed with laughter last week when I heard (on National radio Nine to Noon’s political panel) Michelle Boag saying “how rude” the media have been to poor Andrew Little and the other Labour Party leadership contenders. As I hadn’t tuned in at the start I assumed that the “Michelle” on the panel was Michel A’Court or some other Michelle. But Michelle Boag sympathising with a Labour Party person!!!!???? Yeah right! The right are so full of themselves that they have absolutely idea how hypocritical they are, and no-one in the media is going to tell them, so they will live within their delusions of grandeur for a long time yet.

  4. Was so disgusted at Mr Gower’s interview I walked out of the room. It was arogant – he wasn’t even listening to her answers. That guy should pass in his jornalist’s card as should – sadly – a large majority of ‘top political journalists’ out there in NZ.

    In case any of you are reading this I work a minimum wage job, I do my job with integrity and diligence. Your pay and conditions are – I bet you – 100% better than mine. Why can’t YOU do your job with diligents and integrity? Because my job contributes to individuals’ quality of life but your job upholds democracy.

  5. Excellent article thank you.
    I eagerly await Gower’s response. For one, this sleepy hobbit won’t watch ONENews as it is blatantly straight from the horses ass.

    Gower and those pathetic schoolkids, O’Brien and Sabin, are not just as bad but worse with their pretence of professionalism and impartiality.
    And gutlessness…

    Patrick (or is it “Paddy” as Collins calls you?), you silence is deafening.
    You are so loud of calling others to respond to allegations. Or do you need a little more time to answer?….

  6. I have made a complaint to the Press Council about biased reporting by Dominion Post of the Ashburton killings – after I was protesting repeatedly outside MSD after it – and they knew it.

    Will be interesting to see how it goes – but why can’t we make a complaint to the Press Council about these situations?

    Also gave Patrick Gower a bollocking outside Parliament a couple of weeks ago over his biased reporting – felt real good. Him and woman he was with took the long way round to get past me. Be sure he knows what people like you and I think of him.

    • Damn I saw Gower in a pub months and months ago. From what I know now, I would have loved to have taken a swipe at him. Glad you did! I’ll save mine up for next time.

  7. I have almost stopped watching TV 3 because of Gower’s bias . He particularly Farts National . It is really painful to watch him fawn over Key and ravage everyone else .

    • Gower should change his name to “Laces” because he’s so far up Keys arse all you can see is his boot laces.

  8. I only just found out about the media tearing him apart over a scarf. I WAS THERE WHEN HE GOT IT! A senior member from my town made it for him and gave it to him as a gift, hell, there is photographic evidence. He was wearing it out of pride for his supporters!

    Hopefully the media wise up now that Key is stripping their rights away, ignoring their rights and trying to force them to become right-wing fanboys. Want proof of this? Google Nicky Hager.

  9. Oh, and one more thing; I wonder if National will ever disclose the identity of one of their major supporters being The Exclusive Bretheren, a psuedo-cult?

  10. Patrick is now so bad that although I sat through that interview I never actually even heard it…My brain has turned off.

  11. Well, we are at war now, unofficially…being ‘advisers and trainers’ thanks to John XkeySTROKES ,….so why cant Gower be sent to the theater of war as an embedded journalist ?

    For a long extended period …I should imagine that instead of talking shit as he does he will then be producing it….the real Mcoy…and we wont have to be subjected to any more of his crap.

  12. Gower and co – a pack of irrelevant, self important non-entities, who we spend too much time listening to and not enough time ignoring – as they deserve.

  13. A political journalist should try and maintain impartiality. There are two points about this I’d like to raise. In theory this is to try and avoid unduly influencing their audience’s political opinions and voting practices. In reality they are all human beings who do have their own personal views on politics, politicians and what is ‘right for the country’.

    I say the above because while none of it excuses Gower’s behaviour, he is clearly politically biased and should be culled from any position where politics is the subject, he is only human. In this case a flawed human who is letting his opinions on an issue bias his reporting.

    He is also only one manifestation of this problem, with reporters, journalists and presenters all chiming in with off-hand remarks about their views on political matters which influence their audience. It has to stop.

  14. My son is one of those silly Key supporters, and even he says when Gower is on tv,”please don’t smile Patrick you make me feel ill”
    To me Gower is sickening whatever he does,ditto Hoskins.
    Since the election we neither of us watch TV1 orTV3 or bother with Herald,our house is much more peaceful.
    Tv3 is advertising itself so I suppose that means they have lost an audience.
    How about The unions print a newspaper, I would buy it .

    • Ellie said “How about The unions print a newspaper, I would buy it”

      Good move I would join the movement as a retiree that stands in solidarity, as Unions are now the only group we have out there with any power to represent us with no voice any more as the Public owned media is Nationals Propaganda tool so yes Ellie a newspaper and a TV/radio channel too so we can all leave TV1 and three behind forever. Please someone begin a fundraiser for a free press and TV/radio network, I will pledge $100.

  15. Some very good analysis, Frank. I watched the DuPlesdis interview and it was very good. For the likes of Gower, Campbell etc it has become more about their own ego’s than about informing the public.

    • I’ll say one thing for Campbell, he genuinely cares about people. Hosking cares about Hosking.

      If I haven’t changed the channel after the TV1 news and Hosking’s heap of crap comes on at 7pm, my hand’s on the remote faster than Wyatt Earp ever pulled a six-shooter. Seeing his face turns my stomach.

  16. Yes, so true, the media, the MSM (Main Shit Media), we knew this throughout the election campaign, it was all so blatantly obvious, and it already started to some degree early in the year, when every chance was used, to discredit Labour’s then new leader David Cunliffe, and the rest of the party also. Cheered on was Shane Jones, who as a former business lobbyist and spokesperson of very vested interests, was a preferred “leader” for the right, and the rest of Labour were labeled “out of touch”.

    Sadly the majority out there, the wider public, do simply follow the piper who misinforms and manipulates, and they also love to fall into the “mob mindset”, to beat the ones that are down, so they stay down, and never come up again. Bullies are “in fashion” now, after decades of neoliberal brain-washing, and genuine, honest and moderate politicians, who speak the truth, are bullied into submission and silenced.

    I can already see the same “journalists” get ready to discredit, incessantly challenge, chase and ridicule Andrew Little. Some have already started. Only because Little surprised many with his pragmatic and decisive decisions, with no nonsense BS talk, and rather straight talking, did the MSM “bullies” give him some credit for his first week, just a bit of an easy going time, before the storm, that will surely follow.

    Too many of the ordinary folk have lost all ability to understand and discern, so they simply take things as they are reported, or shrug it off, or some simply have given up altogether, to fight this shit.

    It is perhaps time to OCCUPY the MSM, and “socialise” the (media) “voice” that should SERVE the people, yes to place the power back into control of speakers and reporters of the truth, where it belongs?!

    Let us start with TVNZ, perhaps?

  17. I tuned out of politics for 20 years. All politicians seemed pretty much the same. In the last couple of years, however, it started to really bug me that Key never took responsibility for anything. Coupled with his fake, chummy, public persona, I began to wonder if he was less than trustworthy.

    I paid closer attention in the past 15 months or so and found Key to be a story-changing liar suffering from mysterious relapses of brain fade at the most convenient times. He also proved to be more interested in the concerns of the US than NZ, and in big business than the little bloke.

    He’s a con artist, a throwback to those sharp fellows who used to turn up in wild west towns with a big smile and a wagon full of snake oil, able to convince the gullible that the rubbish they retailed for a pretty penny was good for them. I’m certain that eventually he’ll pack his millions into his covered wagon and high-tail it out of Dodge, all the way to Hawaii, just before the populace discover they’ve been played for dim-witted suckers for quite a long time.

    But far worse, to my mind, is the realisation in the past 15 months that the mainstream media are so unbelievably biased towards National. When the hell did they go from fair-minded political commentators to Fox News? How did they come to stop giving the left a fair go? I had no idea the MSM had become such hard-core backers of the right.

    The dreadful character assassination of Cunliffe, the false allegations over THAT letter, Hosking handling the debates, even snipes at Cunliffe for sensibly grabbing a kip on the road during the campaign, for god’s sake — it was shamefully one-sided coverage, sickeningly against all that fair play stands for.

    That so many Kiwis don’t give a hoot about how their PM and ministers behave and turn a blind eye to the Dirty Politics expose has me wondering if we’re headed down the path to a one-party state. The Govt have got the SIS and the media in their pocket. Not a bad start, is it?

    (I wonder if a bottle of snake oil can cure depression? The label says it can, but!)

  18. I quite like Gower’s work, and he dishes it out to all sides. He seemed to enjoy skewering the Nats over Dirty Politics.

  19. Frank, because you’re such a regular viewer of the programme, a quick reply. It’s not my job to be an apologist for Paddy and nor do I agree with everything he does. But I wanted to respond to some of your comments involving me and the programme because I think there are some pretty big flaws in your argument.
    We may not agree, but I figure it’s useful for you to hear another side.
    First, if I didn’t let Paddy interview anyone he’d criticised we would be denied his undoubted interviewing skills altogether! As some of your commenters have noted, he’s had a crack at just about everyone. As an interviewer on The Nation I expect him to put such criticisms aside, which is exactly what he did in this case, as you acknowledge.
    I understand your principle that some people shouldn’t do certain interviews, but as you say yourself he was “well behaved” in this interview. That’s proof of his professionalism and that there was no “reasonable” reason for him to not do it.
    You seem to see something insidious in the fact that he was then critical of Harre on the panel; or as you put it when “the gloves and mask came off”.
    I’d rather say that his interviewers hat came off and he put on the hat of a political analyst, as is his role on the panel.
    I’m sure you’re aware how common that is these days and that Paddy has interviewed Nats and others and then offer analysis afterwards. That he was critical of Harre is a perfectly legitimate and informed opinion. Just because you disagree with it does not mean there’s something biased or corrupt about it.
    You damn the panel for a lack of balance, but seem to ignore that fact that we have to construct a panel that offers balance (as well as other virtues, such as insight, experience, speaking ability) across the entire programme, not just a single interview. Having done this for years, I can tell you that as hard as we might try to offer balance (and however quick you are to assume that we’re all corrupt media hacks, we do) it’s nigh impossible to achieve that sort of perfect balance, insight etc.
    What your criticism also misses — as, to be fair, most non-media critics do – is the sheer practical nature of finding the perfect panel you assume we can produce at will. We invite any number of guests on who are unavailable or unwilling.
    Yet having demanded — and by your own admission received — fair behaviour from Paddy, you turn on a dime and suggest that he was wrong to be fair and instead should have said what he did on the panel to Harre’s face. Now you can be in no doubt that as EP I would have seen that as unprofessional. I expect an interviewer to interview and an analyst to analyse. I’m sure in retrospect you get my point. Do you accept that penultimate sentence rather undermines the rest of your argument?
    Of course you won’t be surprised that I disagree with your conclusion that we are aprt of some “unrelenting onslaught against the Left”, and in fact find that a huge insult to the integrity of the people who work hard to make the programme each week. Easy words for you to write, but this is a team’s professionalism you are unfairly denigrating.
    Go back to episodes we did on Dirty Poltics, for example, and I’m sure your opposite number could make the same claims; indeed they have.
    So while I’m happy to be critiqued and to agree to disagree, I’d ask you to pause a moment and reflect on the fact that a team of experienced journalists — Paddy included — do their best to produce an intelligent, rigorous and lively programme each week to the best of their ability.
    You don’t have to like the decisions we make, but please be careful in your assumptions about why they are made.
    Yet as always, thanks for watching and debating.

    • O>K> Tim. Thanks or commenting. Have you done a scrupulous audit of your journos? the panel? Why not do an independant review and see what you come up with? Lisa Owen is both a good interview and one of the more balanced reporters.

      Tova O’Brien often gets her facts wrong e.g stating that David Cunliffe became leader after a coup (Paddy’s spin line) She also rather than reporting John Key lies and denies Sallies report into child poverty, picked up on Keys deflection/spin and wrote some crap on “The battle of the mansions”. If you follow what Cunliffe said in Parliament, then what Key said and look at the angle Tova took, one would have to wonder that she wasn’t working for the National Party. I still do. Paddy makes stuff up to e.g the coup on in Labour story in the 2012 conference. Many, many other examples, but prove us wrong, get a truly independent audit.

    • I would be interested to know if any of you on “The Nation” production team have tried contacting Jason Ede, or anyone from in the PM’s office, for an interview. I strongly suspect they would decline the invitation but, if this was the case, don’t the public have the right to know they wouldn’t answer the allegations in “Dirty Politics”?
      I fail to understand why you, and your other media colleagues, have not being following this side of the story so please enlighten me.

    • I take your point that at times it may be difficult to assembly a balanced panel, however, I don’t understand why Paddy Gower couldn’t have been hard hitting during his interview with Ms. Harre as this would of afforded her the right of reply. Seems to me that it’s the job of a good political interviewer to probe for weak spots in another’s opinion during the interview, not wait to raise them during a panel discussion.

    • Just stop him trying to be ‘cunning’. It’s grotesque to watch; the gloating and grinning, point-scoring and nudge-winking. Just straightforward honest direct journalism, please.

  20. Anker, I don’t know what you mean by an independent audit of the panellists or what form that might take. Panels are not about numerical fact; they’re an art and the pros and cons are a matter of judgment and opinion. I get ‘audited’ by viewers – and critics like yourself – every week, but ultimately my job is to make journalistic judgments on such things.
    As for Cunliffe, even he admitted (on The Nation as it happens) that he was wrong to attack Key with his ‘leafy suburbs’ and mansions line. And there’s no doubt Cunliffe was agitating around that 2012 conference.

    Yogi, yes we and others have tried contacting Ede. As for Paddy’s Harre interview, not sure if you actually watched it, but he did probe the weaknesses around the Internet-Mana campaign and put to her the claims that the merger was a cynical manipulation that turned voters off etc. She then had the chance to give her right of reply and Paddy still challenged her version of events (a bit). However my point is that we did that in a less challenging tone than, say, we took with the PM the week earlier, a) because this was a reflective interview and we thought we’d get more info for our audience if Harre was drawn out rather than challenged hard and b) she doesn’t have any power, so this was not an accountability interview and there’s less public interest in putting her feet to the fire.

  21. Ever noticed how when National choses a new leader the MSM describes it as a “contest” but when Labour choses a new leader it is described as a “battle”?

    Many thanks for taking the time to reply to the points ANKER and I raised, it’s much appreciated.
    I’m pleased to hear you and others have tried contacting Jason Ede for an interview, but why haven’t we heard of his failure to appear?
    “Campbell Live” often tells viewers of various peoples’ refusal to be on the show but, if this show has contacted Jason Ede, I didn’t see any announcement stating this fact.

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