Ummm – so we need to talk about Tova O’Brien’s conspiracy allegation the MoH are lying to us about the pandemic


Look, I don’t want to waste any more time talking about Tova O’Brien’s special kind of journalism, I wrote about it last week!

But her jaw dropping accusation yesterday that the Ministry of Health was lying and manipulating the true number of those impacted by the pandemic was so outside even her ‘journalistic’ standards that it requires a specific focus.

Again, let me state clearly that a lot of the criticism that gets thrown at Tova is unfair and the usual garden variety misogyny that any confident woman attracts from shallow men with inferiority complexes.

It is unfair criticism that says more about the person making it than receiving it.

However, as I’ve previously pointed out, Tova’s awful ‘gotcha’ journalism from the Paddy Gower school of reporters is usually so misjudged it comes across as a total mystery to anyone other than Tova what the actual ‘gotcha’ is.

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Yesterdays ‘gotcha’ wasn’t just the usual ego wank however, it was down right dangerous.

Let me be clear, IF and that is a giant IF, IF the Ministry of Health has been purposely lying and manipulating the true extent of the pandemic, then that is the political story of the decade and almost everyone inside the Ministry of Health in a senior position would need to be sacked by the end of the week.

But you would only ever make that allegation IF and only IF you had serious evidence and proof that such a despicable conspiracy had been planned.

So here’s the question, note the look on the face of the Prime Minister…

Let me get this completely fucking straight, Tova O’Brien, the political editor of one of the largest news networks in this country straight up alleged that the Ministry of Health was deliberately misleading to make the data look better!!!!

In the middle of a pandemic where public faith in the Public Health Authorities is sacrosanct, Newshub’s Political Editor alleged the Ministry of Health was deliberately misleading the public????

And what exactly was Tova basing this extraordinary allegation on?

A bullshit nothing story by her own Network…

Coronavirus: Ministry of Health denies it misled Kiwis after COVID-19 hospital case numbers higher than reported

Each day at 1pm, we’re told how many people are in hospital with COVID-19 – but Newshub has discovered that often there are more people in hospital with the virus than we’re told.

…Data Guru Russell Brown was very quick to shoot this claim of conspiracy down…

…now, Russell can be a cantankerous prick at the best of times and as welcoming as late stage cancer, but he’s rarely ever wrong. This ‘evidence’ that the MoH were deliberately misleading the public was foreshadowed weeks ago, this isn’t even a bloody story! The MoH told journalists that they wouldn’t count patients who were hospitalised due to staffing problems at rest homes and yet here is Tova alleging the MoH are deliberately misleading the public at a time when the public desperately need to believe the MoH!

That’s akin to telling the family at Christmas Dinner that Dad molested you!

I mean speak your truth sister, but time and place + actual evidence eh?

This is an appalling mistake by Newhub, there is no conspiracy and there is no deliberate attempt to mislead, the MoH clearly told journalists weeks ago that they wouldn’t count those hospitalised because of rest home staffing issues.

Again, IF there had been evidence at a senior level of a conspiracy to hide the true extent of the pandemic, it would be the investigative news story of the year, but a handful of rest home evacuees does not a conspiracy make!

Look, everyone has been under a lot of stress, it’s been a hard 2 months, but alleging the Ministry of Health is deliberately misleading the public in the middle of a pandemic with no actual fucking evidence of that is bordering on criminal negligence.

I think it’s time someone from head office sat down to a lunch with Tova and very kindly suggested she have a months holiday, because this is Whaleoil level political journalism here, this is Spinoff alleging a sexual assault and defaming senior members inside the Labour Party level political journalism, this is Andrea Vance + Fairfax Feminist Journalists insinuating the Prime Minister not only knew about a sexual assault but covered it up level political journalism!

And journalists wonder why their industry is so maligned.

The only way this could be a worse day at the office for Newshub’s standard of journalism would be if that office was in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

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  1. Gawd strewth! Thing that surprises me is that Morrah appears to have bought into it all.
    Were they simply looking for a conspiracy without bothering to check whether or not there might possibly be a legitimate explanation. If so that says it all. If not, show us the colour of their money.
    Not only lazy, but completely dishonest if the former

    • Yeh Martyn,
      But the smugness of the ‘Golden Boy at MoH’ Dr Ashley Bloomfield who looks and talks like a true ‘bureaucrat’ incenses me and will always do so, as he almost “looks down his nose at the press gallery when he talks.

      (that’s not a conspiracy) He did say that “as a country we test more per population than most other counties do”

      That is not true. – Dr Elers;
      Steve Elers is a senior lecturer in the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing at Massey University has a convincing case to answer Martyn.

      quote;At the same briefing, the prime minister said: “Our testing has scaled up and we have now tested over 85,000 New Zealanders, one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world.” Wrong. At that time we were 31st in the world for testing rates per capita. I don’t think 31st can be considered “one of the highest” in the world, unless, of course, we have turned into a society where we believe everyone is a winner.

      And did any journalists at the briefing query the prime minister about her claim? Not one. They just took what she said and regurgitated it to the masses – to us. Whatever happened to fact checking?

      The following should have been asked at the time or at least put in writing to the prime minister’s press secretary: “Can you provide us with the source that says New Zealand has one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world?”

      When the prime minister announces New Zealand has “one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world” and it goes through the media unchallenged, we’re inclined to believe it.

      This can lead to a false sense of security regarding infection risk and it unjustifiably lends weight to the Government’s argument to lower alert levels. I am, of course, not advocating here that we should or shouldn’t change alert levels, I am simply pointing out that unchallenged statements that are not factually correct can be used to gather unwarranted support.

      For the health and wellbeing of my TV, I hope the news media will start holding power to account. If journalists can’t find the motivation within themselves to ask critical questions of the prime minister, perhaps they should imagine she is Simon Bridges.

      * Clarification: New Zealand was ranked 31st in the world for testing rates per capita on Monday, April 20, according to Worldometers. This placed New Zealand in the top 15 per cent of all countries. Mr Elers maintains his view that this does not equate to “one of the highest” countries, and media questioning should have drilled down on the data. The Ministry of Health advises comparing test numbers between countries can be troublesome, as testing and metrics used differ between nations. As of Saturday, using Worldometers, New Zealand had the 11th highest per capita testing rate of countries that had performed more than 50,000 tests; 23,851 tests completed per 1 million people.

      • If journalists can’t find the motivation within themselves to ask critical questions of the prime minister, perhaps they should just look at all the data about testing available on line. If they are capable of that.

        I like it when calls for accuracy in numbers and maths end up in weird statements.
        Some university person saying being in the top 15% doesn’t equate to being “one of the highest” is interesting. No doubt Steve Elers in his role as a senior lecturer at Massey will be making a convincing case that all those not in top 15% in their assessments should be failed regardless of how well they’ve done.

        The clarification notes that NZ had the 11th highest per capita testing rate of countries. So 11th out of (say) 150+ countries is not being one of the highest?

        Holding power to account is going to be a long drawn out process if journalists are going to need to be schooled in looking up stats and having them explained to them. And that 11th/150 is actually on of the higher ones.

        Having said that, questions arise in my mind that when a commenter starts with ‘Dr Ashley Bloomfield who looks and talks like a true ‘bureaucrat’ incenses me and will always do so, as he almost “looks down his nose at the press gallery when he talks.’

        From that position facts, reality and rationality are likely to be facing an uphill battle.

        The post is about the standard of work or attitude of Tova O’Brien. Steve Elers mightn’t be a professional journalist but he’s coming from the same moronic place O’Brien does.

        I read that NZME made an offer to buy Stuff for $1. With columnists like Elers there that’s an exorbitant price.

        • Well said Peter….”From that position facts, reality and rationality are likely to be facing an uphill battle” very polite.

          Further to the comment , “Dr Ashley Bloomfield who looks and talks like a true ‘bureaucrat’ incenses me and will always do so, as he almost “looks down his nose at the press gallery when he talks.”
          I believe the press gallery are seated at a lower level so how should he look? Upwards?
          Tova’s inanity today showed she doesn’t understand the difference between social mingling and sitting in spaced out seats at the movies. The difference was patiently explained twice by Adern as one would to a child,or to Donald Trump.
          The best answer though was by Dr Bloomfield when asked if dogs could now interact socially? ‘Yes but not in groups more than ten and wash hands afterwards.’ Not bad for a bureaucrat.

      • Now, now – journalists just cut and paste press releases – you can’t expect them to check things out or write them up coherently. If they were capable of that they’d be working in PR.

  2. And how would it be in the MOH’s interests to represent the Covid cases as being lower than they actually were?
    It seems to me the MOH has been quite conservative about easing lockdown restrictions They would be more interested in inflating the numbers if anything

    • francesca – Precisely. Inflated numbers could help Mike Hosking and one or two others to understand the seriousness of what is happening.

      • And that speaks to Tova’s complete lack of judgement. She’s not grounded in the real world and only views issues in terms of their capacity to get her a gotcha moment.
        The question “does any of this make sense?” hasn’t got much to do with what she’s trying to achieve

        • You could say that as there are career politicians, there are career journalists, Tova fits that mold.

          • bert
            Another definition of career is :
            verb -move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way:
            Sounds like Tova’s questions.

          • Nah, she’s not a real journalist, investigative she’s just a biased/slanted opinionist.

    • It would seem in the MoH’s best interest to have very high numbers. Boost authority and control. more jobs, more money, etc. That fact they are alleged to be doing the opposite defies logic. As well as there being absolute clarity on the numbers O’Brien’s writing defies all logic. I think it is all about the election as many in the media are concerned this government is not being held to account for the last three years and is striding to victory on a wave of support for its handling of the virus. You see it in so much media reporting at present in NZ.

    Wuhan orders fresh coronavirus tests for all residents as new cluster fans fears of second wave
    • Roughly 14 million people to be tested for Covid-19 in 10-day campaign
    • Decision follows discovery of six cases at a residential compound on the weekend

    The Labour Coalition Government is now ordering us all to comply with “level two” from 14/5/20 to fight Covid 19 virus.

    • Many academics have warned global Government’s they have not yet tested many in our Global communities for the virus.
    • NZ has now slipped down to being a low 31st on the list of testing our population.
    • This shows not to be what Gov’t and the Director of the Health Dept claims that “they have tested more than most countries have”.
    • Government has said they are using ‘trust in public’ here.

    Public need mass testing firstly before removal of the level
    system’s to contain/elimination of Covid 19.

    Our NZ current daily average testing was around 3000 since April, reaching a total of around ‘100 000’ in total, – and this is approximately only around 2% of the whole population.

    To be clear we need to test everyone now going forward to have the tools we need to have enough data to track and trace to control Covid 19, as China is doing now.

    We must build on the low rate of infection Covid 19 to again have a strong resilient healthy population, for future generations to cope with the increasing pressures of tourism and immigration expected during their time

    • While I agree that more testing would be good, I am seeing different numbers to you.

      The world meter website currently ranks NZ 27th overall for testing rate per capita. If you exclude places that have populations under one million (e.g. Gibraltar), NZ then ranks 15th. Which is still ahead of other countries we like to compare ourselves unfavourably to – Australia, Sweden, Germany, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong…

      Referencing the MOH website, our total tests are likely to break 200,000 today (currently 197,084), with 4% of the population tested. Average daily testing for the last 7-day period is 5,879.

      With the cold and flu season soon to be upon us, and greater public interaction under Covid Level 2, we may soon see an increased uptake of tests.

  4. There is no doubt whatsoever that at least some of the people masquerading as “journalists” in NZ are doing little more than running toxic divisive interference against the Government on behalf of the National Party. It’s them and their vested interest bosses hidden from view who most need to be made accountable.

    Tova O’Brien’s relentless personal crusade against health minister David Clark just the tip of that iceberg.

    Every day we are subjected to yet another series of divisive undermining opinion pieces masquerading as “news headlines”. They have become worse than the repulsive echo chamber that was the farcical Trade Me message board prior to that being shut down. Are they determined to destroy their own credibility or just crave writing misrepresentations of truth in a vomit inducing style?

    Keeping any Government honest is an important journalistic role but what we have here is light years from that. In most cases, it comes from the exact same people who happily turned a blind eye to the skulduggery of John Key and his band of latrine rodents as they dismantled NZ as we knew it.

    We can look forward to even more of this attack on democracy from the usual entitled subjects as we head toward September.

    I will cheer the Government being reelected in the same way I cheered Winston Peters choosing Labour in 2017…the icing on the cake will be knowing these Journalists will be forced to swallow that Kielbasa sausage in one go.

    • /agreed
      If Tova hadn’t been so keen to hear the sound of her own voice even if she did think she’d uncovered a conspiracy, she’d simply have politely asked something like
      “Prime Minister – can you explain the apparent discrepancy in the numbers of people held in hospitals with ……… “

    • The “powers that be” sense the shift in public mood. The sort of shift that doesn’t move back. They see a young PM who has phenomenal communication and negotiation skills. They see the likely re-election of a boosted Labour govt that is steadily slipping from their control sphere. They are very very very afraid.

    • You talk like you’re not that bright Jacindafan. Have You not yet worked out that if the Nats were in power these same Reporters, not journalists, would be looking for Nationals Achilles heal as well. Because of your infatuation for JA you can’t see that Nats would get the same treatment. If you have some proof that O’Brien and the like are employed by National please share it And I will happily be proved wrong. otherwise refrain from the endless bullshit you put in your posts. You say the treatment is different but maybe JA comes across as too good to be true. That’s how I see her. JK was also a clever politician and new how to make friends with the press. Maybe he sucked them in. If so good luck to him.

    • Agree that keeping politicians honest and accountable is a function of our self selected (not elected) guardians of the media. But Tova ( where did that name come from anyway?) claiming that Clarke broke the lock-down rules moving house when he hurried and got it out of the way before the deadline, was actually dishonest reporting. Sure the bike ride and taking kids to a deserted beach was a bit dumb but not a hanging, draw and quarter offense. He’s a better minister of Health than Obrien is a journalist.

  5. As I have repeatedly stated, Bloomfield smashed Bridges lie of Bloomfield controlling the narrative, by disecting everyone of Bridges accusations with evidence, which in itself is unprofessional for a former lawyer. If Tova is asking a similar question about mistruths, can she provide evidence to back up said question?

      • Good question. To answer that you need all the evidence. If as they say there were 700,000 vaccines out there, where are they?If a Dr say he has recieved emails from Frs all over the country, show the emails. Or as another mentioned this has been mismanaged. A lot to digest and ascertain before stating ” who is lying”

        A completely different situation to Bridges statement of lies.

        • 70,000 vaccines just vanished hey…pity Jacinda won’t let anyone ask the Minister any questions? Oh that’s right, you have to ask written questions, so she can run it through her 50 PR agents, before emailing back the answer

          What is it? “Simple dismiss any questions” So open, so transparent.

          • I wouldn’t imagin there be a huge demand for black market vaccines in a country where vaccines are freely available, unless you could smuggle them out of New Zealand to a destressed buyer I mean what’s the moral hazard here that Jacinda won’t talk to you?

            • The moral hazard here is the hatred for Labour and Jacinda, otherwise BG would be making comparisons with Key and National and saying “gee this governments pretty good after all”
              Now about open and transparent Mr English, “what were on those 450 texts sent to Mr Barclay at 2.00am in the morning”?

              • Come now. We wouldn’t want to give anyone a mental breakdown by exposing their fragile egos to reality to hard or to early. There poor minds might not take it in one.

  6. ‘Russell can be a cantankerous prick at the best of times and as welcoming as late stage cancer, but he’s rarely ever wrong.’

    That has to be the best backhanded compliment you’ve ever come up with Bomber. Well Done.

    It is a source of my despair over NZ that our journalists are so fucking dumb!

    • Shona
      We should use some caution here; using;
      “you can fool some of the people some of the time bust not all of the people all of the time”.
      This should apply both to politicians and journalists alike.

  7. There are a few of things it would pay to never forget about our media, our politicians and our, and I emphasise OUR, state owned stuff and things.
    They lie. They’re liars. The media lie, our politicians lie and those who run our stuff-and-things departments lie. They’re paid, professional liars who lie daily in their work related roles. Then they, in turn, lie to the media who in turn pass those lies on to us and the media invent shit to sell to us as logical fallacies, which are really just lies. Then we start lying. Filled in a tax return lately? Entirely truthful where you? Been to WINZ? Been through the emotional WINZ mincing machine? Told nothing but the truth did you?
    The problem with watching on passively as if hypnotised as a cheap and nasty B grade advertising agency in the form of neoliberalism tells us equally cheap little lies is that sooner or later, no one remembers what the actual truth is. Of what it even means? Of who’s actually telling you what?
    tova o’Brian is a bi product of our collective systems. One could argue, she’s a clone from the neoliberal factory and it’s still in business in the sneering face parts of our politicians. Yes, isn’t she adorable? Cleaner than a Catholic’s condom.
    Yeah right.
    Look? Our country’s now a business. It’s no longer a country where some people trade and some people provide services in return for a monetary reward but where the underlying foundations of our very existence is where our humanity comes ahead of all that business stuff.
    That’s done and gone dumbasses.
    It’s now tova o’brien land. AO/NZ Co Ltd.
    And how about this on RNZ…

    Police trialled facial recognition tech without clearance

    “ Has been trial’d and will be used and we don’t give a fuck what you think because what’s been done is done. What are you gonna do about it anyway?
    Smile for the camera? Ba hahaha aha “ trial

  8. Is testing of only two percent (2%) of our whole population consistent with Global “gold standards” as PM and MOH say they are using when WHO warned us to Test, test, test???

    That is the question Journalists must ask PM and MOH.

    We don’t regard ‘testing two percent once only as’ an accurate reflection on scientific credibility.

      • Good for you bert,
        remember ask for your results as I had to go through looks and to the Gisborne Public health officer to get him to write a note confirming that my wife and I had a test and both were negative.

        Make sure to wear a mask and ask if the nurse was also tested please.

    • Perhaps the reason reputable journalists aren’t asking the question is because they have obtained and processed recent data such as The World in Data stats for 9 May. by doing that, they would discovered that NZ is way better internationally than the 21 April data quoted by the click baiter Dr. Elers, whose source data you seem to be using.

  9. I want to know why: the two most advanced countries in the world with the best health systems have the highest covid fatality proportion; why the media and social platforms are trying to control the narrative which includes silencing intellectual debate while amplifying family bubble yoga prayer; and why the medical profession have chosen to focus on this virus and in this way at this time, a type of disease which has been inherently part of the natural world in the distant past and will be in the far future, a disease whose mortality rates are dwarfed by other illnesses and even natural death, a disease hysteria in the global context of the west killing millions of people with weapons of mass destruction as a matter of course (no outrage by the medical profession was heard), and a disease which has revealed methods not of disease control but of manipulating the population to regard itself as unclean, untrustworthy, stupid, unlawful, suspicious, paranoid, murderers, elder haters and in need of a medical miracle.

    • To reinforce your point regarding lethal viral infections, can you provide information about any previous specific virus that has killed in excess of 290,000 people in 3.5 months despite stringent containment strategies having been put in place?

  10. Good for you bert,
    remember ask for your results as I had to go through looks and to the Gisborne Public health officer to get him to write a note confirming that my wife and I had a test and both were negative.

    Make sure to wear a mask and ask if the nurse was also tested please.

  11. This is the same MOH would suggested stopping Kiwi’s from returning to NZ? The one Labour then made copious excuses for when they should have said sorry?

    I have no idea if this piece is correct, I always view the MSM with scepticism but I will say the arrogance coming out of this govt does their cause no favours and adds fuel to the fire.

    By the way if you, like me, are horrified by the proposed COVID19 Bill you let our public servants know here. Sorry if link is not perfect.

  12. Journalist Tova O’Brien is likely lying or dissimulating in her puff pieces. Can the citizens take journalists to Court over their faulty output? Would it have to be just one example, or would a cumulative number be sufficient for them to be deregistered? Is there any registration of these important disseminators of news and events?
    Why not?

      • Was that why the building in Christchurch collapsed in the earthquake? Because we are not a police state! I am talking about responsible people who are skilled in their work and that we can rely on. We have a BSA for complaints but we need better entry level qualifications for the job.

        Incidentally who is Mike Yardley – he is always appearing in the Chch Press grinning like a comfy cat and no advice about why he is there. He is not the Editor, that content is in its own box, but there he is with his seemingly right wing views. On what grounds is he entitled to channel them to the readers – academic, ex-Treasury, ex-butcher, baker, candlestick-maker?

  13. Tova’s ok. Now and then she comes up with a good one. A 1 in 85 kinda ratio. And she is a women, so she’s allowed to ask questions ay?

  14. You know when you see Trump’s gurning visage soiling a perfectly good television screen, and you just groan and change the channel. That’s basically what happens when I see Tova O’Brien these days. I’m just waiting for her to claim Jacinda’s a malevolent doppelganger from space sent to eat my firstborn.

  15. DX5 You have now updated the testing results thank you for this.

    But we have concerns still here; around the issue from MOH who have not supplied us all with figures on “retesting again” the same patient.

    As you will recall that back when the first Covid 19 case patient presented; “we were given an assurance by Ashley Bloomfield that this virus “was no treat to us..”

    That Middlemore patient that was our first patient had to be tested three times to find she was positive do you recall this?

    We recall the first patient we had at Auckland’s Middlemore hospital when this happened; – they are not even testing for lung depositions of built up sputum as that is where the virus is found as we remember from our first case here when the first sick patient went to Auckland Middlemore hospital on February 26th 2020.

    • After two sputum mouth tests were found to be negative.
    • The Hospital staff saw how sick the patient was that they did a lung test of samples of deposited sputum.
    • There they found positive levels of the virus there.
    quote; Dr Bloomfield said the clinicians had suspicions this was coronavirus which is why they took further samples after two negative tests from throat samples.
    Symptoms of a lung infection were present though so a third test was done.
    The chance of a community outbreak was low, he said. unquote;

    Note their was no questioning from the journalist then for “fact checking” was there?

  16. Police are a law unto themselves now it seems as they are now trailing mass surveillance face recognition tech without any clearance?
    So now we know why the Director of health Ashley Bloomfield is railing against mandatory use of face marks that WHO recommended we use? It is because the police obviously strongly requested we not wear any type of coverings over our faces when mass surveillance comes into force.

  17. You don’t get ‘clicks’ by saying everything is fine. Most media in NZ (and overseas) are angry and confused on purpose (see cnn or fox for how to do it to excess). It’s fair game, these days, to head hunt or play gotcha. TV One made a statement, early in the response, that as it was a National emergency, they would be concentrating on getting information out rather than playing the game. Kudos to them. I imagine they will be back to gotcha questions tomorrow. When the line is overstepped we can complain to the BSA or Press Council. Nothing worse than a journo or Network having to issue a grovelling apology. That is why most questions are framed in an ambiguous manner. Same old, same old. I’d have thought we would be used to this by now. Most of our power lies in switching channels. Ratings is the real arbitrator here.

  18. Media Works is desperately trying too remain relevant and has not moved on since John Key was running things with Crosby Textor and giving them money for favours.

    The C.E.O needs too leave his life of luxury behind for a few days and focus on what the hell they are doing.

    This is dangerous mud raking which will come back too haunt them sooner rather than later.

    The boss did not look impressed at that news conference

    Not quite the Helen Clark death stare but she is working on it.

    Caption competition next installment.

  19. Her mislaid feeling of superiority certainly has gone to Tova Obriens’ head.

    Interesting to note the coincidence between Simon Bridges attacking Ashley and the Ministry of Health and Tova’s attacks.

    Which gives me the impression all Bridges needs to do is whisper sweet nothings into her ear and she is willing to listen to him. In fact I bet Tova giggles like a shy little schoolgirl when she is in Bridges’ presence.

    I only listen to what is said at the 1.00pm News reports and switch off the sound as soon as the journalists like Tova start asking questions. Her most recent stupid question about bleach really took the cake in the “Stupid Question Realm”.

  20. Won’t matter whether it’s factually correct or not. Sad Mike will manage to make a meal out of it in his made up in a minute with Mike. Mike doesn’t do facts anyway. Except what’s rattling round in his own mind.

  21. A stat breakdown would be nice ie; How many died from CCP virus with Co Morbidity’s
    Died from the virus instead of with the virus, percentage of false positives (tests)
    Where where the tests sourced
    Data Data Data cant make decisions without accurate Data, but thanks for the hols comrade

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