Brian Edwards Media

Gutter Journalism from the Sunday Star Times

I doubt that Phil Goff and I will ever be close mates. But he has my sympathy today. When I opened my Sunday Star Times this morning, I was confronted by a banner headline: ‘Phil Goff’s daughter busted for drugs’. Two full columns were devoted to the story. Serious stuff, eh.

Well, the facts are that the ‘bust’ took place 6 months ago, at a New Year’s dance party in Sydney; that the drugs were four Ecstacy tablets; and that, following an appeal, no conviction was entered against Goff’s daughter’s name.

This is a nothing more than a piece of grubby newspaper sensationalism, written by Jonathan Marshall a ‘journalist’ flatteringly described in a Listener article as a ‘media pariah’. It is neither current nor relevant.  Its sole purpose is to embarrass the Leader of the Opposition.

And to add insult to injury, it ends with this:

‘News of his daughter’s arrest has come at an unwelcome time for Phil Goff… Polls have had him lagging way behind National’s John Key.’

My guess is that this piece of junk may attract some sympathy from the voting public and I hope it does.

In the meantime, the editor of the Sunday Star Times should hold his head in shame.

As for Jonathan Marshall, he might consider returning to Britain’s most disreputable newspaper, the News of the World, where he belongs.

31 Comments:

  1. The term “when it rains it pours”for me sums up Goffs career lately.If he can calmly walk his way through this Im sure he will be a better man for it.He may even find the prerequisite attributes to become PM.

  2. I know for a fact there are large parts of Auckland that are no-go areas for Jonathan Marshall. Many I know await the chance to demonstrate to Mr. Marshall that their zeal for correcting his errors in the most direct way possible remains undiminished by the passage of time.

    Mr. Edwards – you may wish to hold your nose and take some time to examine the relationship between Cameron Slater, David Farrar and Jonathan Marshall. Marshall is a contemptable individual with no qualms at being used as a conduit into the “reputable” media for National Party smears – his unprofessional role in the recent attacks on Len Brown deserve closer scrutiny by the wider media IMHO.

    The media has a clear double standard towards to Labour and clear pro-National bias. Colin Espiner may try to be professional but his mocking of Russel Norman exposed on RNZ’s media watch this morning and his gloating onlin comments on the credit card expense issue shows that his personal views are that of a National Party toady.

    This general default attitude of Colin Espiner – of a hypocritical political purience towards Labour and a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil excusing of National – is rampant in our media just now.

    • I know for a fact there are large parts of Auckland…

      My only comment would be that the Sunday Star Times is generally pro Labour in its editorial columns at least.

  3. Isn’t he the kid that stalked Mike Hoskings?

  4. And before that was in a drugs and sex scandal with some teacher?

    • And before that was in a drugs and sex scandal with some teacher?

      Sorry, no idea who or what you’re referring to.

  5. I long ago stopped buying the STT since the local supermarket started stocking a superior brand of lavatory paper. I saw the headline and think the term gutter journalism too kind; too elevated; possibly sewer journalism may be more appropriate.

  6. Of course there’s no news value in a white, white collar middle class young woman getting discharged without conviction on a drugs offence in a country where she’d have the book thrown at her with considerable force if she was non-white and working class. It should be a downright scandal — regardless of who her father happens to be — but never will be.

  7. I know for a fact there are large parts of Auckland that are no-go areas for Jonathan Marshall. Many I know await the chance to demonstrate to Mr. Marshall that their zeal for correcting his errors in the most direct way possible remains undiminished by the passage of time.

    If you want to sound off about “gutter journalism”, Brian, you might want to lead by example and not publish threats of physical violence against people you don’t approve of. Just a thought.

    • If you want to sound off about “gutter journalism”, Brian, you might want to lead by example and not publish threats of physical violence against people you don’t approve of. Just a thought.

      Perhaps I’m naive, but I didn’t read it like that. If that was indeed the meaning, I agree with you of course. Violence is abhorrent regardless of how unpleasant the person might be.

  8. Lindsey is correct.

    Marshall smoked P with his friends and a high school teacher, then gave the story to the Sunday Star-Times.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3576055

    “There was evidence that the journalist [Amie Richardson] threatened to print the teenagers’ names and to write a false story about sex for drugs if she did not get co-operation.

    The tape, which formed the basis of a front-page story in the Sunday Star-Times, was later handed to the police by the paper.

    Mr Downs said there had been pressure by the journalist, who acted improperly, criminally and dishonestly, but the jury should not let that cloud the issue.

    The jury might have found Mr Marshall a disagreeable, unscrupulous character who used his friends and was less than candid with them about his relationship with the reporter…

    Mr Downs suggested that was because Arthur had provided him with bad P, which put him in hospital.”

  9. It’s a pretty lame story except for Goff turning around and saying that he “knows” his daughter has never used drugs. Hello??? She was arrested with them hidden in her underwear, going into a New Year’s Eve dance party in Sydney. What else was she planning to do but take at least one of the tablets? I sincerely doubt she was going to wander into the women’s toilets and hand them out to strangers…

    Goff’s daughter’s actions are inconsequential (Ecstasy is pretty harmless) – Goff’s bizarre denial is the only thing that’s given this story any oxygen.

    • Goff’s daughter’s actions are inconsequential (Ecstasy is pretty harmless) – Goff’s bizarre denial is the only thing that’s given this story any oxygen

      On the contrary, I think it is a perfectly natural thing for a parent to do.

  10. Lindsey, you are right. Jonathan Marshall was charged by police in relation to a P-smoking incident. A Sunday Star-Times journalist was also charged in relation to the story http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3575297

  11. Unless im voting for Phils daughter I really couldnt careless what shes up too….ditto any politicians kids.

    I think people would be better off looking after their own backyards before poking their noses into others business.

  12. 12

    I’m happily surprised by this post. I’d assumed you’d take the opportunity to criticize Phil or his media advisers for the handling of it, as Danyl has done, and as you seem so keen to do of late!

  13. A non-news issue about a child of a politician, a 25 year old child of a politician.

    Our media is crap. It really is. This puerile rubbish is supposed to be substitute for intellectual comment and insightful analysis, in honest and unbiased fashion

    Weep NZ, we have the media we allow

  14. On the contrary, I think it is a perfectly natural thing for a parent to do.

    What is perhaps perfectly natural for the average parent could appear to be completely naive for someone who wants to be the leader of our country.

    This stuck out for me too. This poor girl decides to try her first ecastasy on the same night as she also plans to try her second, third, fourth and fifth? Or she’s getting some for friends, in which case she’s supplying drugs… either way it’s not pretty, and Goff should’ve chosen his words better. “It’s not a good look and I’m incredibly disappointed in her” for instance?

    What would you have suggested if you were his media trainer Mr Edwards?

    • On the contrary, I think it is a perfectly natural thing for a parent to do.

      What is perhaps perfectly natural for the average parent could appear to be completely naive for someone who wants to be the leader of our country.

      I would have advised him to do precisely what he did: confirm the truth of the report, then refuse to discuss his daughter further. In that way he might at least avoid having to respond to the idiotic conclusion that his daughter might even have been supplying illegal drugs. They were 4 Ecstacy tabs, once a quite legal party drug. No conviction has been recorded against her name. Have some perspective.

  15. Brian
    You and your blog followers may be interested to hear Goff’s full response – it’s on video…
    http://www.murrayreport.com/2010/06/goff-confirms-daughters-drug-problem.html

  16. Brian, your call for perspective is fair. I’m not saying Goff should resign or anything ridiculous. Nor am I tarring Goff with his daughter’s crimes. Likewise I believe it’s people like Marshall who give the rest of our industry a bad name.

    Having said that, and after having watched the video of Goff, I’m with him almost until the end regarding what he says. It’s where he adds “I know she’s never done drugs” that he loses it.

    Brian, when you say “once a quite legal party drug”, are you perhaps confusing ecstasy with the BZP-based ‘party pills’ only recently made illegal in New Zealand?

    Ecstasy, or MDMA, has been illegal in the UK since 1977, and in the US since 1985. I don’t know exactly when it was made illegal in New Zealand, but it was certainly illegal when it first started arriving here in the 90s. In 2005 the Government increased its classification from B2 to B1, in the same class as opium.

    I don’t see why my suggestion that some of the four E’s she had in her pocket might end up in the hand of one of her friends is “idiotic” – one person taking four E’s in a night is extreme behaviour (not to mention expensive), particularly if one is supposed to believe she’d never done it before. If that was the intention, then she would theoretically be guilty of supply.

    I’m not saying the judge shouldn’t have chosen the path he did, or that Phil Goff is a bad parent – but it simply irks me that time and again when celebrities (or those related to them) are caught with drugs we are supposed to believe it was their first time and they never did it before.

    If you want to explain how any of that is idiotic, be my guest, but I’d appreciate you dealt with the facts rather than descend into name calling.

    • I don’t see why my suggestion that some of the four E’s she had in her pocket might end up in the hand of one of her friends is “idiotic” – one person taking four E’s in a night is extreme behaviour (not to mention expensive), particularly if one is supposed to believe she’d never done it before. If that was the intention, then she would theoretically be guilty of supply.

      Well, ‘idiotic’ was probably unnecessary. My point is that ‘supply’ is almost invariably associated with selling drugs for profit. I haven’t found the suggestion anywhere that this was the case. If I have 4 Ecstasy tabs and I give 3 to friends, that would not normally be treated as ‘supply’.

  17. I think the real worth of your story versus the one you complain about is that someone thought his was worth publishing whereas you had to post yours on your own website.

    I read the story you are trashing and wondered why someone would be carrying 4 pills for their own use. From my experience anyone who is going to take that many pills in one evening is either an untrustworthy experienced dope fiend or is carrying drugs they intend to distribute to others – which would amount to a charge of possession with intent to supply.

    Which is where the relevance of the item starts. No man in the street would have avoided this more serious charge and he would have been more successful in winning Big Wednesday than having a charge of possession dismissed whilst carrying 4 pills purposely hidden in your underwear. I read the story and felt that there was either direct political interferance or that this young woman was given preferential treatment based on who she was (Goffs daughter). One has to wonder why her ability to travel internationally was considered more important than justice being served. I feel there are others who share this view over your own.

    I liken the result of this case to that of the police officer who was charged with drink driving and got let off. Justice was not served in either case.

    Phil Goffs subsequent denial of his daughters drug habits was farcial. I have to admit to wondering how a man could run around parliament expecting great things of his minions and doing them over for watching a porn movie on the countrys credit card when he seems to be completely out of touch or ignorant when it comes to his own daughter and her dirty little drug habit.

    I dont agree that this story will bring him sympathy at vote time – I think people will just look at him and think less of him for what appears to have gone on behind closed doors.

    • I think the real worth of your story versus the one you complain about is that someone thought his was worth publishing whereas you had to post yours on your own website.

      What a thoroughly nasty piece of work you are, Sean.

  18. Was I correct though, that you were confusing Ecstasy with party pills in suggesting they were recently legal?

    And yes, if it could be proven you had given four ecstasy pills (they’re pills, not ‘tabs’ like acid) to friends, you would be charged with supply.

    However if you were simply caught with four pills, it would be presumed you had them for personal use – I think the point at which the onus of proof switches to assume it is supply (and then it is on the accused to prove otherwise) is a bit higher.

    We have no knowledge what she intended to do with the other pills. She might have been giving them away to her friends, re-selling them without making a profit, or who knows, she might’ve been marking them up a little to cover the cost of her own pill. The latter two are very common practices, the first not so much.

    [I used to manage a number of nightclubs in the 90s/00s before becoming a lawyer. As a journalist my last story for Metro magazine (in the Best Restaurants issue) involved three candid and lengthy interviews with drug dealers. I know my subject here. I also have no issue with ecstasy use – it’s almost completely safe, and certainly far less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes.]

    All of this is of course speculation. She has no conviction. End of story. But my point was that it seemed naive and unnecessary for Mr Goff to say “she’s never done drugs” when the very fact she was caught with four pills either shows she’s so very incredibly unlucky to have been caught on her first time trying ecstasy, or he’s wrong.

  19. I don’t believe that the SST’s headline was an example of “Gutter Journalism”. Which has more to do with salacious reputation-damaging scandal; more often than not, based on fanciful innuendo and unfounded heresay. The SST was only reporting substantiated fact. You could complain, that the editor gave undue weight to the story by front-paging it. Though, ZB News had the story as the lead-in news item. So, on a reduced scale, they gave the story prominence, as well.

    Reading what DC wrote: I’m inclined to go with her: in believing, Goff shed some of his political stocks — as a Leader — by how he responded to it. He gave the appearance of rushing to implement damage control by way of “disavowal”. The efficacy of such a tactic is not only questionable but also lacks credibility, for the public to buy into it. He would’ve been better off to “pack a sad’, and make some statement as to how ordinary parents can’t be afford to be impervious as to what their kids get up to. Adults or not.

    Rarely, will a politician suffer taint by having the sins of their offspring being visited upon them. Unless, of course, they were aware of the behaviour and were complicit in a media cover-up. Under normal circumstances, Goff’s personal embarrassment and discomfiture — over his daughter’s unwelcome revelations — might not have assumed the prominence, it did. But it’s been compounded by context. The debacle over the Carter apology, where Goff was made to look ineffective and weak, by the recalcitrant Carter. Somehow, it leeches into the domain of his personal life, where his parenting skills are called into question. If Goff can’t control what’s happening with his own family matters — how is he to be expected to lead the Party, yet alone, run a Government? Maybe, that’s why the SST made a meal of his daughter’s drug case.

    I’m also with DC with regard to Goff’s denial:
    “I know she’s never done drugs”. That’s more than just suspension of disbelief; it’s delusion, or dishonest. I’m inclined to err towards the latter.

    Every crisis, whether it’s in your public or private life, requires effective management, so it doesn’t become worse. I think, you’re the expert to give advice, here.

    The Carter Affair is as revealing about Goff as it is about the man at the centre, himself. And it’s showing up in the polls, where Labour seems to be in disarray; diverging away from the necessary “sense of reality” as to how it is being perceived.

    As for the explanation: “If I have 4 Ecstasy tabs and I give 3 to friends, that would not normally be treated as ’supply’.”
    Well, to be giving away tabs at $60–$80 a pop, it’s very magnanimous.

  20. If justice is blind, as it should be, it makes no difference whether you happen to be the daughter of Phil Goff, John Key or Fred smith. If Fred Smith’s daughter attracts no publicity for possessing drugs, which on the evidence presented would not have been newsworthy even in the Taihape Gazette, then Phil Goff’s daughter should be treated the same way as should her father.

    People are very fond of saying that celebrities receive better treatment than member of the public in the courts; eg name suppression. Here however we have the case of someone with ‘celebrity’ status receiving far worse treatment all to satisfy the prurient curiosity of people like Sean.

    Goff reacted in a way that most fathers would react; in defence of his child. I think none the less of him for that. While bigots like Sean may remember this incident unfavourably, most people have more charity in them.

  21. I’d like to point out, I’m not the same Sean as the one above.

    I have been commenting here for some months. Generally about Atheism, soccer, and I remember taking part in a active exchange about libraries.

  22. To comment actually on thread, Goff statement rings true to me.

    “…People do make mistakes in their lives. Kids make mistakes in their lives.”

    A father either backs his kid or not. In the cases I have observed of a father not backing his kid, it has been after a long period of trying to save the unredeemable. Eventually, the heartbreak gets to the parents and it is with great sadness that they give up.

    This does not seem to be a case of this. If anything, by coming out for his daughter, Goff has shown a credible side to his character.