MEDIA WATCH: Groan – ok, let’s talk about Tova O’Brien then 

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I didn’t really want to talk about Tova, but Stuff decided to…

‘Political muckraker’ Tova O’Brien: ‘Take a step back before you have a go’

You don’t have to explore the depths of the internet far to find it. As our lockdown routines have become constructed around the Government’s daily 1pm press conferences, Kiwis have had front row seats to journalism in action. The reviews are in; the news is bad. 

…personally I find nothing more self inflated in importance than journalists interviewing other journalists.

This is a puff piece which takes a very soft lens to the criticism Tova inspires, but let’s acknowledge upfront that a lot of the criticism she gets online is nasty misogynistic bullying that should be rightfully called out and criticised.

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The recent tsunami of attacks against her comes off the back of everyone watching Jacinda’s press conferences and being unaware of how the political reporting sausage gets made for the 6pm week nightly news.

Those watching have been wanting standing ovations, not mean questions, so the journalists themselves outside the rarefied oxygen of the press gallery have fallen victim to the needs of the self-sacrificing lockdown masses and thus have been eviscerated online.

But beyond garden variety anger towards women and a news watching audience demanding gratitude, there are very genuine criticisms of Tova’s political journalism.

As one of the major media platforms in NZ, whoever has that job matters and that’s why you can be legitimately critical of her work.

Tova comes from the Gower/Garner ‘Gotcha’ school of political journalism, which is fine if you actually have a ‘gotcha’ but unfortunately the only one who seems to think they do is Tova herself.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever watched a Tova story and gained an insight from her overview, there is no explanation of why anyone should care about what she is revealing   and half the time you’re not sure Tova does either.

It always comes across like a girl crying wolf and the wolf turns out to be a 3 legged sheep dressed up as a dog.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong or bad about Tova, I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person and the occasions our paths have passed she’s always been pleasant, but I do think she’s a product of a media market that focuses on entertainment above holding the powerful to account.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. She’s descended into pointless carping. Yes, there are legitimate questions to be asked of the government and public service, but she isn’t asking them.

    Most people don’t care about the media, except when they need it to do its intended job, which is now. That’s why she’s getting flak from everyone–she’s getting in the way of people finding out what they need to know. You might have noticed the slight uptick in overall public rationality (with the usual honourable exceptions). That’s not an accident and too many in the media have been left behind.

    If she stopped asking stupid questions and getting in the way of the news, people would stop criticising her.

  2. Yes Martyn;
    Politics is a game riddled with ‘delusions and lies’, and the sly player often wins.

    We under nine years of “national dirty politics” we all were growing so tired of that torture, and now are 50% free of it, but we’ve got a way to go yet.

    Better the devil you know is the term of the day here.

  3. ” I don’t believe that I’ve ever watched a Tova story and gained an insight from her overview ”

    Bomber if i was after insight i would tune into these braindead news broadcasts every night or waste a few hours listening too the likes of ZB whose only imperative is too incite hatred against any government that is not a National one and won,t tolerate anybody who doesn’t agree with them.

    Funny it took a pandemic too finally wake the sleepy hobbitts up to how our fourth estate actually behaves and they don’t like what they hear or see.

    Yet Gower in his role as a political correspondent ( and acting on orders from above ) made it his mission too destroy the careers of David Cunliffe , David Shearer and Phil Goff.

    And certain members of TVNZ too it upon themselves too use their programmes as a anti left battering ram against anyone foolish enough too appear hoping too get the chance too get their point across.

    A lot of people including myself who just wanted too be informed and have all MPs and ministers and CEOs scrutinised about their actions regardless of their political affiliations have just stopped watching.

    Gotcha is what happens when you corprotise your countries news organisations that allows only one biased view point that dominates everything as the narrative.

    The only thing that has been positive has been the internet and platforms like the TDB which gives us a more balanced interpretation of what we get with the dumbed down version offered up as msm coverage.

    • Made the mistake of watching TV3 news tonight. The word gutterpress or tabloid still comes to mind. They are so obsessed with so called ‘exclusive reports’ and ‘ government leaks’ that they forget about reporting the real news. O’brien the main gotcha, never objective. Again, no wonder they’re going bankrupt.

  4. I’ve met Tova, and she does come across as a genuinely nice person. So I can’t hate on her like I can with Mike Hoskings.

    I think that in this country that once upon a time, and to this day as well, journalists typically come from middle class backgrounds. Thirty years ago the middle classes were typically, though not generally, centre left in their political views. Unfortunately, the political landscape has changed dramatically in that time. And as a result, the questions asked today, reflect that change. The journalists and broadcasters who recieve the most airplay are centre right, and this because the companies they work for are pandering to their audience.

    Add in reality TV concentration spans, click bait infomercial style reporting, the decimation of bias free investigative reporting… and you have what we have today. A society that kinda really don’t care about whats going on, unless Scandal!

    The only way to change this would be to make tertiary education free. Get Kids from poor backgrounds getting higher education, rather than being frightened off with the idea of educational debt that will leave them fiscally compromised for life. It would mean middle class kids would be forced to rub shoulders with kids from poor backgrounds, and would hopefully destroy any class biases they might have.

    Just a thought…

  5. Aren’t the media digging a deeper hole here? Is the criticism they are receiving not part of a feedback loop? Is it a chance to get a feel of the audience and maybe refine the product?

    No. The media reports on themselves and give us another victim story.

        • So if we do Ross( and I do think you’re stalking me) what are the answers to why Tova behaves this way. After all, if others are asking the same question of Tova’s behaviour, are we all wrong Ross?
          Others have asked the question Ross, why did Key get such and easy ride, why English? And how on earth was Brownlee not polarised for his illegal breach through Christchurch airport that had a potential fine of $5000, when David Clark broke the rules when he went for a bike ride(on his own).
          And what do you make of this photo?…
          https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/mike-hosking-as-tvnzs-moderator-for-political-debates-wtf/

          Is there right wing media bias in the media… damn right there is! I go as far to say it is a little further right than what is normal.

  6. NZ MSM with few exceptions is poor, and a blight on our democracy. Instead of informing the public they do trash, or push pro business perspectives. RNZ is increasingly guilty of this. I’ve switched off and seek information elsewhere.

  7. I have often wondered how deep into the NZ National Party are the Mainstream NZ media eg TVNZ, TV3(and co), Radio NZ especially Newstalk ZB? Are there National MPs who own majority shares in the mainstream NZ media and therefore pull the strings of what quality of journalists there are in the mainstream NZ media? Because what we have in the journalistic society leaves a Hell of alot to be desired.
    Whilst he was prime minister of New ZIlland(as Key called this country)John Key successfully conducted a witch-hunt on those more respectable journalists who intelligently questioned and criticised the National government of the time and replacing them with Wannabe National MPs like Mike Hosking.
    But since we have had the lockdown and every time I hear Tova asking stupid questions eg consuming bleach; I wonder where her brains are because it certainly isn’t in her head!!!!
    I now listen to what Jacinda and Ashley and others say before I switch off the sound for the ‘journalists’ questions because I well know Tova’s will just want to put in her two cents worth of questions even the stupid ones.
    It’s like she loves the sound of her voice being heard on the telly some time later when she gets home to watch it again.
    I do wonder if the likes of Tova etc who are obviously biased towards National would have criiticsed the previous National government or are on record of having done? I very much doubt it. She is like many others eg Hosking; of “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” when it comes to close links with National.

    • There is no way, Pulla Bennett, TraitorKey and BillshitEnglish could have got away with it, without an utterly compliant, biased, look the other way, prostitute media.
      There is NO genuine 4th estate in NZ, bar the few exceptions, e.g. Hager, Stevenson, TDB etc.
      SOS.….Save our souls.

  8. I think I can explain some of the criticism: She has a style of questioning and reporting that I believe began with Patric Gower. They do not report the news, they try to create it by putting themselves in front of the ‘story’ much the way Hosking does except Hosking does not pretend to be a journalist… They pursue an antagonistic approach from the outset eg I have a question: GOTCHA? No ok, I have another question: GOTCHA? No failed again… repeat over & over. This did not start with COVID press conferences, it has been TV3 approach for years and may well be part of the reason for their demise.
    Remember Gower whining about how they need to fly a chopper to White island when experts said it was not safe? Instead of interviewing an expert & it being their story, the journalist makes it about themself: PATRICK GOWER DEMANDS this & that etc…
    A cynic used to say with news, “if it bleeds it leads” but for TV3 it now seems to be stick a camera in their face & stay on them until they break down: “make them cry onscreen” – it is pathetic.
    TV3 journalists such as Tova OBrien & Patrick Gower are the cause of their own eventual extinction.

  9. A journalist interviewing a journalist?
    Similar to Bridges hand selecting people whom have been through difficulties and using their cases in front of the Epidemic Response Committee. Yet he will not allow a maori voice on the same committee speaking on education. Te Whata Tau o Putauaki school principal Ripeka Lessels called it disappointing and smacks of white privilege. Bridges makes the ultimate decision on who fronts the committee and given yesterday’s ” setup” of Ashley Bloomfield and Bridges and Bennets previous defence of being of maori descent , one has to ask if Bridges is really promoting himself or hindering our government.
    I can understand given Luxton hovering in the background.

  10. So the MSM are supposedly holding the politicians to account (and supposedly impartially), yet don’t like being held to account themselves by the public they purportedly serve.

  11. I Don’t watch the TV news for good reason but saw a clip online that bought Tova’s existnce to my attention. Thre pres gallery were hounding David Cunliffe about the letter he sent o corrupt Chinese businessman Doghua Liu and the breathless voice from off-screen asked Cunliffe if “this was the mother of all brainfades?”

    What idiot, I asked in the comments, would expect anyone to remember a letter they wrote 11 years earlier? (which was probably written by Cunliffe’s staff anyway).

    What she really meant was “is this the mother of all scandals?” and “Are we about to end a politician’s career?” but the sheer disconnection with reality put me off her reporting for life

  12. How come you only EVER live in delusional TV Land Martyn?
    I dumped TV 10 years ago.
    You know what?
    Theres a big WORLD outside NZ. and Global “Media.”
    a different REALITY. A REAL world. Where voices and TRUTH are never heard.
    Happy Cognitive dissonance to you.
    = “May you live in ” interesting ” times.
    Indeed.
    This is my best wish for you.

  13. Here is an additional comment on my part:
    I now think Stuff especially are under the control of the NZ National Party.

    So two of the largest rmainstream media outlets of the written form are controlled by National i.e the tabloid NZ Herald and Stuff. And the oral, the TV stations, are also controlled by National.

    Seems really strange. What an almost sycophantic relationship the mainstream NZ media must have with the NZ National Party???!!!!! But then it looks like most of those in the mainstream NZ media are willing to obey their greater God i.e the NZ National Party because if they don’t they are out of a job like what was done when John Key conducted his witch-hunt of those journalists that criticised and questioned the previous National government.

    And it’s interesting to note most of their articles are biased towards National because their ‘journalists’ obviously are National or backed by National.

    And perhaps there is that belief people take more notice of the written form of journalism than the oral form of journalism especially from tabloid NZ herald and Stuff.

    Therefore it looks like the written form of journalism is treated as Gospel when it has proven to be so wrong in say times like when Stuff or tabloid NZ herald has written it perhaps at the behest of Mike Hosking on behalf of John Key.

    I thank my lucky stars that I decided against writing articles for Stuff when they approached me in 2016.

  14. Unfortunately news reporting has turned into “infotainment”. The overwhelming need to acquire eyes and ears to generate revenue from advertising. Unfortunately the media functionary operating under pseudonyms such as “journalist”, opinion(ist), “commentator”.
    “Mass media” has been severely disrupted by the internet.

    Terrorism, covid 19, Trump, climate change, we live in interesting times. And, no, Martyn, we are not Hobbits, anymore than you are Gandalf.

    Tova is “collateral damage” of a much, much wider global interaction.

  15. Yes I agree, using “bloody”, “hell”, and “bugger” is not professional reporting, she’s a millennial with little respect for the talent and professionalism of the REAL journalists of yesteryear abd we all know who they are. Studying media amongst this elite group one thing was made categorically clear…personal opinion and bias HAS NO PLACE WHATSOEVER in the media environment. Tova thinks she’s fantastic at her job…she isnt.

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