Poisoned spies, diplomatic mocking and hate speech: Tova O’Brien doesn’t like Jacinda much does she?


While international media gush, Tova burns.

Tova O’Brien doesn’t like Jacinda much does she?

Her latest story seems intent on cornering Jacinda into saying she doesn’t believe the comments by Israel Folau are hate speech and then damning her for being painted into that corner by Tova…

Israel Folau’s gay comments aren’t hate speech – Jacinda Ardern

Gay people who don’t repent are going to hell, according to rugby player Israel Folau – so is that freedom of speech or hate speech?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reluctant to say.

“As I said, I disagree with them but I’m very careful around how I categorise someone’s speech,” she said.

…this follows a remarkably Fox News-esque Sean Hannity conspiracy styled story by Tova over a supposed Russian spy who was living in NZ and was supposedly poisoned.

And that story follows a scathing attack on the Prime Minister by Tova for supposedly ‘fence sitting’ over not supporting illegal missile strikes against Syria and not expelling any Russian spies.

All of these aggressively critical attack pieces are fine in a liberal democracy, all power to Tova for being a critical member of the media, but equally we have the right to be critical of her direction and questions because the assumptions she comes from and the conclusions she draws seem like fantastic deviations from recognised reality and just come across like very negative projections rather than journalistic insight.

Painting Jacinda into a corner and demanding she refer to Israel Folau’s comments as hate speech while the PM diplomatically wants to not pour petrol on a situation that has already inflamed passions seems like cheap shots.

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Leadership requires not condoning actions rather than condemning them if you want to build bridges between the religious and rainbow communities. Jacinda is so inclusive she brings the bigoted into the fold as well.

Damning her for that inclusiveness rather than respecting it seems mean spirited rather than journalistic.

As for Tova’s Sean Hannity minus the white boards conspiracy theory, it’s concerning that Tova can do a story on a supposed Russian spy getting poisoned in NZ and it not be laughed at. We can’t believe John Key signed off on mass surveillance but we can believe a Russian spy was poisoned in NZ on Queen street? The speed with which that story appeared in our media right after the UK spy poisoning is what should be investigated, because that entire Skripal story seems to be unravelling as fast as the claims of a Syrian chemical attack in Douma.

Finally, the mocking for not expelling any Russian diplomats. Jacinda never said there weren’t any Russian Spies in NZ, she said that under the definition the UK asked for – undeclared Embassy Staff – the Russians didn’t have anyone in NZ that matched that definition. What Tova is in fact demanding is that NZ just expel some Russian Embassy staff so that we are mindlessly in lock step with our Allies rather than hold the line for an independent foreign policy that isn’t dictated by bullshit.

Tova is of course free to take the lines of inquiry she wants, she is the Political Editor of a main News Network, it is utterly her prerogative, but the results seem to be cheap headline gotcha’s rather than meaningful comment.


  1. Meh, I can do that too because this is just motivation for the All Blacks to put the hurt on the wallabies but I digress. I can do a comparison of both Western and Eastern democracy and analyze which one provides the better answer to the scope of law, the ratio legis of the text. What’s the scope of a text that defines how a political faction must be financed? The scope is to ensure as much as independence as possible and, in that regard, in this example western laws provides better answers.

    Tova seems to believe that free speech methodology used on a wider scale to compare whole systems. Comparative law mainly involves the study of the different legal systems (Common law, Civil law, Islamic law, religious rituals…,) and in this area she is right: it doesn’t take into account enough externalities and variables to be useful other than as an overall analysis or as a material for normies to understand and navigate the complex families of legal systems. But that’s not what she stated. Here, it’s an applied comparative law: looking at how the law is written, how it is applied and how it answers the ratio legis. The ratio legis of campaign funds is pretty much the same in the US than in European countries and less in New Zealand or Australia, it can be compared, but the answer provided and applied by Tova doesn’t have the same guarantees as New Zealands legal fraternity does. Now maybe at some point, New Zealand law provide enough security. We now know — with the Russiagate — that it doesn’t. It does not answer the ratio legis well.

    And I can say the same about our New Zealand counter-terrorism law: based on an identical ratio legis, the law as written and applied doesn’t provide a full answer while other states in Europe do. Thus, their counter-terrorism laws are a little better than ours. They’ve taken into account possibilities we didn’t. Some electoral laws have better checks and balance than us, etc. I’m not a theoretician, I’m a practician. I don’t care about say, monism vs dualism or legal families. I care about how the law is written, what it provides for, how it is applied and is it efficient enough for my needs or that of homosexuals.

    In France, they used to compare our laws and their results on the streets not only because the European Court of Human rights and the EU (for its member states) provide and push for some convergence but also because we share similar issues and yet, the answers are not only different but often some do answer better than others. Counter terrorism law, the Italian version provides a wider and better answer, they have a set of laws inherent to their experience during the years of lead (repentant, pentito) that now allows them to infiltrate terrorist cells in a way that we cannot do, legally. And so implement a similar law. Overall our laws are similar, but we lack an option that they possess and it has tremendous importance on the ground. Thus they’ve not only done things differently based on their experience with terrorism, but also in a better, smarter way than us. For the time being at least, I have no idea when or if the current GCSB working group will lead to a formal amendment to our counter-terrorism law…

    Comparing democracy and laws is meaningless if reality is out of scope. In the few examples I provided here, you can see that the scope, reality is always at the center of the comparison: how is it applied, and is it efficient.

    • Martyn why have you allowed this comment? I resent and object to the assumption that because someone disagrees with a woman she is a tart out of her depth. Noone would have used similar terms for Paddy Gower, your commentators tend to try and play the ball not the man but when it comes to commenting on a woman all ideas that you need to look at what is said goes out the window! You appear to have commentators that are as nasty and spiteful as any of the kiwiblog ones

      • Umm, idk. Gower power is in fact a homicidal chipmunk adept in the art of essays about money’s finding a banana. Not a colloquial term but you get that with low IQ distributions.

      • Like many others, I’ve called Key and Hosking (among others) all sorts of things over the years here on TDB (although hopefully with more context than R.P MCMURPHY). That said, I’m pretty sure R.P MCMURPHY didn’t intend this as a gender attack – I suspect he’s just calling like he sees it. The much sought after “gender equality” cuts both ways you know.

      • Yes Lucy, I think calling a woman a tart is abuse. We saw this type of comment in the Dirty Politics saga, and some of those players still use ugly language.

        Con. Oxford Dictionary : a prostitute; a promiscuous woman.

        Let’s not go there.

        • Which is all distracting from this: O’Brien, exhibiting all the rich self-importance of the talking head media yuppie was always reliable for ‘tartness’ directed at the non-National Party.

          Aaron below has it spot on: “I don’t think Tova is corrupt, I think she is so lost in doing what it takes to have a career in TV that she’s lost all connection to the real world.”

          Just like Heather Plastic-Allan. Loftily expressed but essentially shitty little soundbites for Africa, and that’s all there is. Anyone who’s had a mate from TV will know what I mean.

  2. Remember when John Tamihere called Tova a little girls well he was right she is still a little girl and a stupid one at that she was right up jhonkeys backside after a few trips away with him and his entourage it was sickening to watch and listen to her bullshert

  3. I don’t think Tova is corrupt, I think she is so lost in doing what it takes to have a career in TV that she’s lost all connection to the real world.

    I don’t watch the TV so the first time I came across her was when David Cunliffe was set up by the media pack for not remembering that his staff wrote a letter to a dodgy Chinese business man 11 years previously. Someone had posted some footage of Cunliffe being interviewed by the media pack when the news broke and I heard this voice breathlessly asking him; “Is this the mother of all brainfades?” I asked who she was in the comments section and got the answer.

    What Tova O’Brien really meant was; “is this the mother of all scandals?” – or at least something “we can build up to create a big political storm.”

    A sign of just how bonkers our political journalists are is that none of them seemed to see anything strange in harassing Cunliffe for not remembering he’d sent a letter eleven years ago when they’d spent the previous 6 years dumbly accepting John Key saying he couldn’t remember things he’d done a week earlier.

    I don’t know these journalists personally but I assume it’s a matter of priorities. If you’re focused on making a name for yourself on TV then facts and logic are of secondary importance – what really matters are things like being seen interviewing a really important person and/or being involved in creating a scandal and ending someone’s career – because that will bring in the ratings and help their career.

    These people will never take on a popular PM no matter how corrupt but taking down the leader of the opposition while the elites applaud from the sideline is right up their alley

  4. It wouldn’t be the first time Ms O’Brien has put her foot in it…

    When she f**ked up over the GCSB Bill: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/the-gcsb-law-oh-ffs-2/

    When she took a cheap shot at David Cunliffe – despite the actual story revolving around another of Key’s cringeworthy moments: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/when-the-mainstream-media-go-feral-the-descent-into-sheer-farce-according-to-tova-obrien/

    She is not one of our better journalists.

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