Brian Edwards Media

Dishonest journalism from Campbell Live and why Alasdair Thompson should refer it to the BSA

Photo: Richard Robinson

Here’s a little quiz: Who said this?

“I believe that in life most women are more productive totally than most men. I absolutely believe that. When you take into account the things that women do in their lives compared to most men. They often do all the arranging of the finances for the whole family, they run the household, they care for the children, they do all manner of things and they go to work. Their total productivity in life, in my opinion, is higher than most men.”

The answer? Alasdair Thompson. Where? In an interview with Mihingarangi Forbes for Campbell Live.

How come you didn’t know that? Because that part of the interview wasn’t shown on the programme. In fact only 4’18” of this 27 minute interview was shown.

TV3 is entitled to edit the programme, a fact which Thompson acknowledged and accepted at the start of recording. But what it is not entitled to do is to select a passage which is totally non-representative of the original interview in its entirety.  That is precisely what it did.

As it happens, the piece which it did select constitutes roughly the last five minutes of the original interview. This is because the previous 22 minutes did not suit the programme’s or the interviewer’s agenda which was to cast Thompson in the same role that other branches of the media have already cast him, as a male chauvinist pig.

Annoyingly for Campbell Live and its reporter, Thompson comes across in those first 22 minutes as pleasant, reasonable, a strong advocate of gender equality in the workplace and, in one reply, as  an exponent of values that could almost be called “feminist”. He also says to Forbes that she is probably more productive than most of the men she works with. She agrees, but points out that she has three children, sometimes has to take time off work and suspects that she isn’t being paid as much as her male counterparts – the very point that Thompson has just been making. His reply? That, if that was the case,  she should be taking it up with her employer. It’s all about productivity.

At one point in the interview, Thompson indicates that he doesn’t want what he is about to say on camera. (“Not for this interview, by the way.”) His reason is that he doesn’t want to bring one of his women employees into the debate. It becomes clear that she is the person in the organisation who keeps the employment records and on whose information he has based his comments on some women being less productive than some men.

He later asks Forbes to ask him the question about where he gets his information from again. Forbes does so. He begins but isn’t happy with his reply and says, “Just go off camera for a moment.” Forbes protests. He says, “I’ve just got to get the answer for you correctly, I’m very sensitive at the moment as you can imagine, having been hung, drawn and quartered today. I want to tell you the answer and then I want to frame it for you on camera.” He then gives a reasoned explanation of where he gets his information.

Forbes then asks: “So then if someone is sick here, you ask them why they are sick, and they tell you because they’ve got heavy period pains?”

Thompson hasn’t actually said this and angrily gets out of the chair and walks away. He finally walks back. Both are standing. He is clearly angry. This exchange follows:

Forbes: “Ok, maybe you should resign then because you can’t represent half of the population – women.”

Thompson: “Did you come into this meeting thinking that?”

Forbes: “No, I’m just telling you because you don’t represent me very well as a female, because you believe that I’m less productive a female…”

This is precisely the opposite of what Thompson had said earlier in the interview, not only about women in general but about Forbes herself. He justifiably protests, accusing Forbes of telling lies.  They both sit down again and a further exchange follows.

Thompson then asks: “When do you want to roll again?” Forbes replies, “It’s an interview, we’re rolling the whole time.” Thomson protests that he had stopped the interview. Forbes says, “You didn’t say you were off the record.” It’s correct that Thomson did not use those words. He may well have thought that getting up, walking away and heading for the door was sufficient indication that the interview was over.

It’s our advice to clients that they should never say anything to journalists “off the record”. We frequently add that it’s often not clear when either interviewer or interviewee understands the conversation is “on the record” again. This is very much the case in this interview.

But even if we give Forbes the benefit of the doubt on this, the fact remains that four fifths of the interview, in which Thompson came across in an extremely positive light was not shown to viewers, while the remaining fifth, in which he became animated and angry was.  That is dishonest journalism.

What’s more, and to add insult to injury,  it was on the basis of this dishonest journalism that viewers were invited to take part in a poll on Thompson’s competence to remain in his job and whether he should resign. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of respondents said he should.

I’m a fan of Campbell Live. I regard it as superior in almost every way to Close Up. I also really like Mihingarangi Forbes.  But this item was a journalistic disgrace. I don’t agree with Thompson’s views, but my strong advice to him would be to refer this matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. I would happily support him.

In the meantime, watch the full interview and the broadcast edit for yourself, and see what you think.

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95 Comments:

  1. The Editor has the power to control the balance. The words broadcast do seem to conflict with Mr Thompson’s earlier words but he did say them and must stand on the context that he provided. Are you saying that saying good stuff balances the bad stuff. If I give some food to a starving child it would balance my robbing a bank?
    I had more issues with the terrible 60 Minutes (?) program the other night where they spent their time claiming the damage done by electro-magnetic fields. Without proper science. Disgraceful. Scare-mongering.

    BE: If I give some food to a starving child it would balance my robbing a bank?” ” Ianmac, you’re far too intelligent than to be using nonsene analogies like this.

  2. No way. He knew they would edit it for broadcast – he said as much in both TV3 interviews. TV3 also prominently linked the full interview on the web so viewers could judge for themselves.
    It is unfortunate that he ruined “those first 22 minutes as … reasonable, a strong advocate of gender equality in the workplace” by losing it at the end, but listen to/watch him carefully, as he reveals the underlying chauvinism that got him in trouble in the first place. For example, he refers to employers as “him”, and his body language towards the end is both disgusting and scary.
    Did TV3 send two female reporters hoping for such outbursts? Certainly possible, but that could never excuse his behaviour. They gave him the gun and he shot himself.

    BE: “prominently linked the full interview on the web so viewers could judge for themselves.” I’m afraid that won’t cut the mustard. I haven’t got the figures for the episode but it will be massively larger than the number of people who sought the item out “on demand” at TV3’s site. They also took the broadcast item and the full interview off You Tube. Now whay was that?

  3. Bu surely the point of the interview was to find out, a) if he stood by his earlier remarks, and b) what were the ‘statistics’ he claimed would back those remarks up.

    Th rest of his comments didn’t speak to that at all, they were pure spin. The statistics don’t exist, and the only ‘evidence’ he was prepared to talk about was anecdotes that he didn’t want to to talk about on the record. Forbes was trying to get him to speak to the questions, and didn’t agree to anything being off the record as far as I can tell.

    I’m not a journo. But if the story being told off the record does not match the image being presented for the record, then I can’t for the life of me see why journalistic ethics should protect the reality of what happened from view.

    “Forbes was trying to get him to speak to the questions, and didn’t agree to anything being off the record as far as I can tell.” The position is that if I tell a journalist something is ‘off the record’ and the journalist doesn’t accept this, then they have to express this to the interviewee. At one point Forbes does protest, but an accommodation is then reached between the two and the interview continues. Generally speaking, however, it’s not acceptable to make a statement to a journalist and later or shortly afterwards say that it was off the record. Best advice for telling jouralists things that you don’t want published – Don’t!

  4. I think your wrong, from the start Thompson was combative, bullying the interviewer for asking a question. Note, it was an interview he was having and was not there to make a media statement.
    At the end the whole stand over thing was disgusting and unnecessary. His little story about how his wife took time off work to baby site was sexist as he could have also been the one who took time off from work to look after his grandchild, I think that idea never crossed his sexist mind.
    His apology was composed and he didn’t seem sincere and then to add a few but clauses back up his lack of sincerity.
    When asked to show the figure, he said he couldn’t as it would not be right to question one of his staff. That means there were no records keeped and he was misleading about having keeped private records on his staffs periods that he thinks is ok to use when defining there wage.
    He came across as an old fool and should go back to the 1950’s where his views where respected.

    BE: “from the start Thompson was combative, bullying the interviewer for asking a question.” Well, that’s simply not true. He simply laid out what he regarded to be the rules of the game, that TV3 was entitled to edit the interview but that he should be allowed to express his view without undue interruption. TV3 did heavily edit the item and he was not unduly interrupted. But the vast majorityy of what he said and how he said it was not shown to viewers. Not enough time probably – the 7 o’clock mantra. Most of the rest of what you have to say is abusive and largely inaccurate.

  5. I didn’t see the TV programme but did watch the whole interview and I thought he compounded his initial stupidity from the start.

  6. Sorry Brian I disagree; whatever his unscreened views were his threatning body language and his overbearing aggressive attitude to the female reporter spoke volumes about his underlying attitude to women.

    BE: “threatening” body language, “overbearing aggressive” attitude? Rubbish. Mihi Forbes is entirely capable of giving as good as she gets, and she does. She’s quite an aggressive interviewer who from time to time allows her own feelings and views to intrude on her interviewing. Or are you suggesting that because she’s a woman…? The issue here is that you can’t use the only section of an interview that suits your purposes as a broadcaster, that it’s dramatic and shows the interviewee in a bad light, and abandon the bulk of the interview that isn’t dramatic or sensational and that shows the interviewee in a good light. Under the Broadcasting Act, that’s against the law. More importantly, it’s dishonest.

    Had Campbell Live run the whole interview, including Thompson getting angry, I would have had no complaint.

  7. And there can also be no doubt that Ms Forbes was clearly menstruating during this ambush, so we do need to make some allowance for her abysmal performance.

    BE: I’m sure you can do better than heavy-handed irony – possibly by dealing with the issue of balanced reporting which the post was about.

  8. “Take a BSA complaint against TV3″ is the single worst piece of advice Alasdair Thompson — a man in desperate need of good advice — could get right now.

    Perhaps he has a worthwhile case; even so, it just gives the whole scandal another breath of oxygen when he lays the complaint, and again when the result is delivered. No outcome would exonerate him for his poor judgement, and simply taking the complaint would cast doubt on the sincerity of his (repeated, but still not really complete) apologies.

    Moreover, I don’t think he has a worthwhile case. I think your analysis paints an overly rosy picture of the full clips. It elides the defensive hostility with which he approached both interviews — seeking to set terms, threatening to bail in a huff, refusing to permit even reasonable questions, and so on. You also minimise the arrogant and threatening manner with which he engaged with both TV3 journalists, especially Mihingarangi Forbes. You also ignore the utter lack of evidence, and Thompson’s decision to end the interview when challenged on same. You overemphasise the ingratiating flattery and praise of motherhood (literally!) and apple pie through the middle part of each interview, particularly, again, with Forbes in which he sought to persuade her that she was a victim of discrimination. Given the totality of these factors, I don’t think his portrayal was overly unflattering.

    But anyway, I’m sure the EMA will do what they think is right. If they want to go to the BSA for pyrrhic vindication, I and others welcome them exercising their right to do so.

    L

    BE: This is one of the best efforts I’ve seen in recasting reality. The BSA exists to rule on issues of unfairness or lack of balance in broadcasting. If you have a worthwhile point at all is that its functioning is cumbersome and slow. Changing that would be a very good idea.

  9. I also disagree Brian. I think he comes across as entirely disingenuous throughout. His attempt to manage the interview, which I know the importance of from my own training with you, is hamfisted and rude. Forbes entirely reasonably asks the predictable questions and Alisdair throws a hissy fit. If anything, seeing the entire interview only serves to reinforce my view that he is a sexist arse. His comments about his staff in EMA Northern and the veiled threat to disclose personal information were apalling.

    BE: “If anything, seeing the entire interview only serves to reinforce my view that he is a sexist arse.” I don’t have a problem with that, Paul. That’s your judgement on seeing the whole interview. I saw the whole interview and came to an entirely different conclusion. It’s only showing a fifth of the interview, then inviting viewers to make a judgement as the man’s fitness to keep his job, that if regards as journalistically unacceptable and dishonest.

  10. “This is because the previous 22 minutes does not suit the programme’s or the interviewer’s agenda …”

    Yet they had the full interview up on their website almost immediately. Doesn’t seem they were too worried about showing the full context.

    While he was certainly a lot better in the first 22 minutes he still didn’t really retract the statement which got him in most trouble, which may have lead to those further questions.

    He showed the same naïveté about ‘on/off record’ in the Rachel Morten interview, which is also available in full online and seems entirely fair to me. I think the problem was his and not the reporters. Someone in such a position where dealing with the media is part of the role really should know better.

  11. Disappointing that a provocative and intimidating interviewer can get away with this behavior.
    Goad and harass an interviewee for half an hour then show the 10% of the interview that fits your agenda.
    Power without responsibility or likelihood of any sanctions – the megalomaniacs dream.

  12. “BE: I didn’t do this yesterday, because I wasn’t able to see the programme until this afternoon.”

    I wasn’t asking why you didn’t do it yesterday – that was the heading for my post asking why Thompson didn’t apologise yesterday.

    I then linked to this post and the comment you commented on appeared as a track-back.

    BE: Sorry, I misunderstood. I’ll check out your site shortly.

  13. Brian, it’s not recasting reality; it’s acknowledging that the reputations of Thompson and the EMA do not hinge on a BSA decision. Given that, do you seriously think bringing all this up again would be in their best interests?

    I suppose we’ll see.

    L

    BE: I was referring to what I considered your ‘recasting’ of what happened in the interview. You’ll obviously see it differently.

  14. What really bugs me about this is the assumption that any unwise comment not in keeping with the prevailing orthodoxy represents a persons true attitudes, thereby sending society’s self-declared victims into witch hunts based on winkling out such statements. It’s nonsense. For example, I might rage at home about the belligerence of many young Maori. Question me in my quieter moments and I will acknowledge that colonisation, socio-economic status and so on all play a part in what I see.

    Which is the “real” me? To be frank I am not sure. Probably both. But a fair approach would be to take both into account, which I guess is your point Brian. Even better, perhaps when confronted with an individual who presents both negative and positive opinions, why not always assume the positive one is the best indicator of their basic character? But I forgot, that is not good media.

    The alternative approach, which has been turned into an art form, grossly underestimates the comlexity and contradictions of human nature. I know, as do all of you, that if it is the rule then we all would be caught by it were there a perpetual camera on our shoulder.

  15. I believe that Thompson asked for the camera to start rolling again at the point where he wanted to bring up the case of his solo-father employee.

    He never, after that point, asked for the cameras to stop again.

  16. Paul,

    What is sexist about his comments? He praised women and said they were more productive than men! You clearly don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant. It seems that because Thompson is a white, middle aged male, he doesn’t have the right to talk about menstruation. On the contrary, he most definitely does, especially when the debate is about the pay gap between men and women. Menstruation is a factor in that gap and the available research supports that. But I’m guessing those who have vilified Thompson are not interested in reading that research.

  17. When this broke, I was livid at Thompson and his remarks. Maybe they are true in his work place, but I have never worked with any woman who used her period as an excuse for time off work. I am still livid that he would, considering the position he holds with the Employers Association, publicly espouse anything other than what he said to Ms Forbes off camera.

    He needs to go if only because he has been inexcusably indiscrete

  18. What is really, really disturbing about this whole business — more than Alasdair Thompson’s remarks on the Mike Hosking programme the other day — is how New Zealand tends to react when someone says something they don’t like.

    A baying mob mentality develops and takes over and the mob howls for someone’s head, blood (oops…), guts.

    Sack him! Banish him! Shut him up!

    Teach him a lesson so he’ll never have the temerity to even think of such a transgression ever again. And let it be a lesson to others. We must all think the same.

    And some in the media — those paragons of free speech — aid and abet the mob and wave red rags (oops again …) in front of their noses to keep them whipped up.

    I’m indebted to Brian Edwards for posting those comments about the earlier part of the interview with Ms Forbes. I hadn’t known about that.

    If Campbell Live had broadcast those comments would his subsequent panel programme with Wendyl Nissen, Helen Kelly (an Oscar to her for milking this for all its worth), and token male Raybon Kan have proceeded differently?

    Might it have helped me in trying to form some view of the worth of Thompson’s remarks?

  19. Ross: “Menstruation is a factor in that gap and the available research supports that.”

    I don’t recall Thompson citing any “available research”. Do you?

  20. Thompson has been dealing with the media for years in his position representing the employers and manufacturers association. He dug the hole for himself from his radio interview. In agreeing to be interviewed by TV3 yesterday, surely a man of his experience with the media should have sort advice from a media adviser. Most people understand that what is shown in the news is only partly the full story, however, the vast majority of New Zealanders also understood clearly the central focus of this issue and that is, Alistair Thompsons’ view towards women as employees.

  21. I produce Campbell Live and I would argue Brian, that we were being honest. Yesterday was a huge day for Christchurch and after the good work we have done there for the past two weeks (I would argue a combination of our caravan of complaint, compelling stories consistently night after night and John’s interviews over the past fortnight put some pressure on the Government to bring yesterday’s zoning decision forward.)
    On a day that meant so much not just for Christchurch but for the rest of the country too, were hardly going to run a 27 minute interview with Alasdair Thompson. In fact, if we had you would probably have written a column about it! We had to choose the best part to put to air. That’s our job. When John does an interview with someone in the field, eg John Key on budget day, he might speak to him for 20 minutes. We don’t put the whole interview to air. We put the best bits to air. I had four spare minutes yesterday and now the whole interview is on the internet for people to watch, judge and draw their own conclusion. That’s what good jorunalism is all about (I think you taught me that during my journalism course?)
    If it wasn’t on the internet, you wouldn’t have seen it. You wouldn’t have known what else Alasdair said or the context of the interview so to say we are dishonest I would argue is wrong.
    What didn’t go to air in the TVNZ interview? Would you have watched the first four minutes of Alasdair speaking with Mihi? The middle four minutes? The last four minutes?
    It was pure coincidence that he was interviewed by two TV3 female reporters. I asked Mihi to ring Alasdair and she did. She then went down to his office for an interview. At this point he had already done two other interviews. He had every opportunity to tell her to go away but he didn’t and instead spoke with her for 27 minutes. At no point did he ask for the camera to be turned off or the interview to be stopped.
    Re the poll. The story had been around all day. John promoted the poll at the top of the show but people didn’t see Mihi’s interview until the last segment of the show. People were voting on what they had seen and heard all day and in the news. They must have been because 80 per cent of our votes were in by the time the story went to air. Others rolled in after the show and after the interview but were not included in the result that went to air. Interestingly, the percentages didn’t change.

  22. Steve,

    I recall Thompson saying the research supported his comments. And it does. Are you suggesting that if he’d cited the specific authors and named the journals in which the research was published, there would have been no outcry? Surely you’re not that naive.

  23. Well Pip off subject but some of us think you were doing the devil’s work in Christchurch. What merit in forcing complex issues to be resolved quickly with the potential for the fall-out from that to be more of a problem than a more measured approach?

    Still more nauseating to now watch the media playing up all the anomalies in that solution.

  24. mr edwards, did you miss the bit where mr thompson said “ok you can start rolling now”, which happened after he asked them to stop and before ms forbes asked the question which caused him to walk away?

    and you seem to have missed the fact that, after saying early on that he would answer difficult questions, that he refused to answer her question about research, made her rephrase the question before he would consider answering it to “what information have you seen”, and then was unable to even answer that.

    you missed the bit where he disclosed the marital status of two women who he identified by stating their jobs within the organisation. that was appalling. he did this was before he asked to go off-air, so he knew very well it could be broadcast to the public.

    if you think he has a BSA claim, i’m with lew in saying that you are very much mistaken. he asks to go off camera at 20 minutes exactly. he then makes her rephrase the question. at 21 minutes 45 seconds he says “let’s go on camera”, and basically repeats what he said in the previous 1 minute 45 seconds – again giving personal details of an employee, though the employee is not as identifiable. at no time after that does he say or indicate that he is off the record. if you believe he did say he was off the record after 21 minutes 45 seconds, please give us the exact time where he said so.

    the question asked him by ms forbes that caused his meltdown wasn’t an unfair or difficult one – and he’d already agreed to answer those. she merely asked him if women, when asked why they were taking sick leave, gave their period as a reason. she asked it calmly and quietly, as she asked every question. there was no harranguing, nor interruption during the interview (just as he requested).

    you accuse tv3 of taking a small clip from the interview, but you take one paragraph out of a misogyny-laced interview, and expect us to believe that this man has somehow been treated unfairly? he’s fronting the media, he has set his terms which have been adhered to, he knew very well he was being filmed and was on-record, and he chose to over-react. he has no grounds for complaint.

  25. Having watched the full interview as well as the one with Rachel Morton, I disagree with your judgement.

    Instead of using the opportunity to talk about what the EMA is doing to address the very real issues women face in the workplace regarding assumptions about their role in society and how that affects the pay gap, he chose to defend the status quo by pedestalising women’s stereotypical role as caregivers. Women are not mollified by being patronisingly told how productive they are in the unpaid work they are expected to do while also being told that this makes them ‘less productive’ in paid work and thus deserving of lower pay.

    When pressed to produce evidence for his claims that women are less productive at work, he chose to use anecdata – including another story (in the Morton interview) about how his wife took a sick day to care for their granddaughter. I’m sure this was meant to paint his wife as a saint while illustrating his point about personal choice and therefore absolving him of accusations of sexism, however it also served as an example that demonstrated his view of women as the natural choice to sacrifice paid work to care for children. I note that he did not mention an occasion when he himself had considered sacrificing paid work to care for children – it seemed to me that this thought had not even crossed his mind. And to him, the differences between women and men are, apparently, ‘fortunate’.

    He is right. Women do face a pay gap in part due to societal expectations that they will be caregivers – and this is compounded by the way in which employers assume this role for women in recruitment and promotion opportunities. However for the head of the EMA to be making excuses for this rather than addressing it, to be making the women themselves entirely responsible for this with blatantly sexist statements and then defending them with more of the same, is reprehensible.

    Overall I do not agree that he portrayed himself in a positive light. To me he looked like someone who had been called out on his own words, could not produce evidence to back his claims, and was alternately patronising and defensive. His attempt to take the interview to the personal level by asking Forbes about her own situation (again, to avoid the question of evidence) was unprofessional and could also be seen as goading.

    He hung himself with the entire interview, not just the cut sections.

  26. Pip,

    You have done a disservice to your viewers. You say that you chose “the best part to put to air”. You chose the most sensational bit, not the best. Why didn’t you show Mr Thomspon singing the praises of women, telling viewers that women were more (not less) productive than men?

    By the way, will you be speaking to Mihi Forbes about telling porkies? She said to Thompson “you don’t represent me very well as a female, because you believe that I’m less productive a female”. He had said the opposite a short while earlier. I won’t be able to watch another of her interviews. She might have lied and I (and other viewers) would be none the wiser. If anyone’s credibility has been tarnished by this whole episode, it’s TV3. I wonder, Pip, if TV3 will do the honourable thing and apologise to Mr Thompson. That of course would take courage.

    Tonight’s performance by Wendy, Raybon and Helen was also poor. Three adults behaved like clowns, making no attempt to discuss the issues. Why do women get paid less than men? Isit partly because they take more sick leave? TV3 doesn’t seem to care. The public have been badly let down.

  27. Yes i have watched this. Regardless this man represents people’s rights yet chose to present his facts with fiction. You can not class women as “eggs in 1 basket” for having our period. He chopped and changed his opinion so often, it was ridiculous! At one point he says he has 2 women working for him who are a few of the highest paid under his company & deserve to be, then went on to add that subsequently they don’t have partners or children! How convenient! They are probably having it off with him & getting paid to go out socialising on the business of course, and that is called overtime hence the high output! I think his staff will be shocked he made all the comments he did about them.

    The reason that bit was the only bit shown is quite obvious to me anyway… He is representing NZ business’s and people & stumbled hugely when squeezed on his own statements & really had no evidence what so ever to back up these highly highly sensitive accusations, then thought it was appropriate to use aggressive body language and behavior to gain control (and on a women for goodness sakes) because he couldn’t handle being debated on his chosen subject! No person in that position should ever loose their cool like he did in ANY situation especially in the media!

  28. ALL the media inflaming this story are just as much to blame … BUT …
    TO: Pip (who produces Campbell Live)
    You might want to ask why the link to this article (Brian Edwards Media)was removed from the Campbell Live Facebook page? … Yet the derogatory links toward Alasdair Thompson have been left for all to see – WHY?
    – Link was posted by Lesley Opie –

    (I was NOT at all impressed with this particular report by the Campbell Live team)

  29. Further TO: Pip (producer Campbell Live)
    It seems my own comment – noting to Campbell Live that it was in bad form to remove the Brian Edwards Media article from the Facebook page – has also been REMOVED … I stated that the article was relevant and felt it was one-sided to remove said article – Do you only promote your opinion?
    – comment was posted by Irving La –

    (I usually enjoy Campbell Live but given these recent actions I am left wondering … can I really trust your reporting?)

  30. Ross,

    Loath as I am to debate the merits, you’re wrong on this. Thompson did not refer to research-based evidence; in fact his whole argument was based on anecdata from his own experience as an employer, and in discussion with EMA members, which he expressly argued was superior to ‘stististics’, though he didn’t specify in what way.

    After the fact — earlier today, that is — he produced a single paper based on Italian research which found that ‘monthly sick problems’, as inferred by researchers (crucially, not as reported in absence surveys) accounted for 12% of the pay differential between men and women.

    Assuming the same findings hold here — which is, methodologically speaking, a big call — in the NZ context, where the pay gap is 12%, the problems he cited account for 12% of 12%, or about 1.5 percentage points of pay difference.

    What about the other 10.5 percentage points? No answer. Research also released by the PSA today found a marginally higher rate of suck leave taken by women than men — 8.4 days as opposed to
    days per year, or slightly more than an hour per monthly period. Trivial.

    His case doesn’t measure up on the evidence he has provided. It may do on other evidence; in which case, let’s see it.

    L

  31. Pip (Producer : Campbell Live)says “We had to choose the best part to put to air. That’s our job.”…” We put the best bits to air.”
    This is an extraordinary assertion. Since when has reportage been about the ‘best bits’?
    I’m an editor myself and cut interviews on a daily basis. My job is to select grabs that best capture what the subject is communicating. That process has nothing to do with ‘best bits’ in the way Pip uses the phrase and I know for a fact that you did not teach her that at journalism school as she suggests.
    Until I read Pip’s post I had been somewhat ambivalent about your post Brian. Pip proved your point. The item as broadcast on ‘Campbell Live’ had nothing to do with fairness, balance or providing insight. It was about presenting drama and conflict. ‘The best bits.’

  32. Ross, I’m waiting for Mr Thompson to offer an apology to Mihi for the standover tactics and intimidation he used in the interview. She was a guest in his office. She was invited in and he had no right to invade her personal space. He also has is out of depth on all his comments about productivity as he has no figures to back up his claims.
    My personal concern in all of this, is how the poor woman in his office who rings in sick because of her period is feeling right now.She’s effectivelty been outed.

    I had a new reporter start this week. What would have happened if Alasdair had behaved in the same way and she didn’t have the confidence and experience of Mihi. I have real concerns about that.

    Ross, Dame Jenny Shipley wrote to Alasdair yesterday and asked for his statistics around productivity.

    Here it is:
    The chair-designate of New Zealand Global Women, the Rt Hon Dame Jenny Shipley, has called on the leaders of Employers and Manufacturers Association to clarify their position on the value that women bring to companies, the labour market and the broader New Zealand economy.
    Dame Jenny says it is a matter for the EMA’s leadership to decide what action is required.
    She expects them to act decisively.
    Her call follows comments by EMA (Northern) Chief Executive Alasdair Thompson that menstruation affects women’s productivity.
    Dame Jenny wrote to Mr Thompson yesterday (Thursday) expressing her concern at the comments and asking for the statistics he referred to when making his claims.
    She wrote: “With the investment that employers make in women and men in this day and age, surely the issue is how to retain that talent by salary recognition and workplace flexibility, not your absurd explanation as to why wage differences linger.
    “It is not only socialists who think that people of equal talent deserve to be paid for equal effort! While it is a matter of debate as to whether we need law to define this, I would have thought that the proposition was not only reasonable but a ‘no brainer’!
    “I hope your views are not those of the EMA.
    “This small economy needs all the talent it can attract and all the effort it can deploy. Remuneration should be blind to gender and focussed entirely on talent, productivity and the ability to assist companies to gain momentum.
    “That talent deserves to be rewarded equally.
    “We need leaders not apologists in this matter.
    “I hope you will reconsider your position.”
    Dame Jenny says Global Women strongly promote increased numbers of women effectively advancing through the workforce and being rewarded with equal pay for equal effort.

    “In particular we actively promote more qualified women being appointed at senior levels of management and on boards as the research now clearly proves that the companies who take such action outperform others on average,” she says.
    “Women fulfil a vital role in New Zealand business and the New Zealand economy.
    “It is these issues EMA should be championing not the absurd and demeaning arguments expressed yesterday.”

  33. For someone who is usually perceptive and astute in media issues, you are really out to pasture on this one Brian. I simply can’t believe that someone who holds them self out as a media trainer you think his attitude and body language were acceptable (let alone media savvy) simply shows you are suffering from the same generational disconnect that Alasdair is.

    I have always expected nothing but the highest intellectual rigour from your commentary, but this time you have lost all my (previously considerable) respect. I came to this blog expecting some lucid comment and have been sorely disappointed.

    I hope that your comments about his overbearing attitude and aggressive body language being rubbish is just a manifestation of some personal beef you have with Mihi Forbes rather than a sign that you are no longer compos mentis.

  34. Hi Irving,
    I’m sorry, a separate team manages our facebook page. I can ask them to put it back up. We don’t usually putt links to blogs on our website but we’re happy to accept all comments, good and bad.
    And Tony, “devils work in Christchurch’. Are you from there? Or here? You are welcome to come in and I can show you all the emails of thanks from Christchurch people and understand why we have been doing what we’ve been doing. It may take you a few days to get through them.

  35. Brian: “This is because the previous 22 minutes did not suit the programme’s or the interviewer’s agenda …”

    Yet, they were happy to almost immediately put the entire, unedited interview up on their website and actively promote it ahead of the edited version. Whatever your assessment of the full interview, I can’t see that they are concerned about showing it.
    I think the edited version was less than ideal and somewhat unfair to Thompson. I don’t think this was down to an attempt to make him look bad despite anything he said, but rather an excessive focus on the ‘dramatic’ aspects in the short space of time they had on the live show.

    – “His reason is that he doesn’t want to bring one of his women employees into the debate. It becomes clear that she is the person in the organisation who keeps the employment records and on whose information he has based his comments on some women being less productive than some men.”

    That some women are less productive than some men is a banal observation. If he didn’t want to bring one of his woman employees into the debate he could have achieved this quite easily by not mentioning her in the first place.

    – ‘“Forbes then asks him the question: “So then if someone is sick here, you ask them why they are sick, and they tell you because they’ve got heavy period pains?”

    Thompson hasn’t actually said this and angrily gets out of the chair and walks away.’

    He hadn’t said that, but it was a question put to him, not a statement. Forbes was trying to get to the bottom of why he was standing by his statement about “monthly sickness” despite apologising. Without evidence, or some king of admission he was wrong, his apology seemed of the hollow “I’m sorry you have taken offence” variety. This is why she was persisting, I think. Even if you thought the question leading or goading, his reaction was very inappropriate.

    As for the “off/on record” matter, Thompson showed the same naivete in the earlier interview with Rachel Morton (in which the edited version was very fair to him). Given his position, I’m surprised he didn’t have more of a clue how media interviews work. His capricious, sometimes seemingly retroactive demands that he be off the record was just odd. I put no blame on the reporters in either case for any confusion in this regard.

  36. “This is one of the best efforts I’ve seen in recasting reality.”

    Exactly my thoughts when I read your article, Brian. You couldn’t have summarised more neatly. One would think, reading this, that there was no blunt contradiction in Thompson simultaneously trying to claim that women are more productive AND less productive.

    Clumsy as she was, I saw what you read as a misquote to be Forbes trying to get around some pretty blatant doublespeak. She said nothing that Thompson hadn’t clearly implied. In fact, she said nothing that Thompson hadn’t said in so many words.

    Thompson tried to have it both ways. My only question is why you’re letting him.

  37. Talking about Facebook pages,I notice that Brian has changed settings so that the list of people he has chosen to have as Facebook friends is no longer in the Public Domain.

    JC: Nonsense! They’re there for all to admire -I just checked.

  38. Ross,
    – “I recall Thompson saying the research supported his comments. And it does.”

    Funny that he has such trouble giving any indication whatsoever of this research then.

    That he didn’t have anything at hand to back up his claim when he made his initial comments is perhaps understandable, but in the later interviews? Morton said what he was referring to was basically anecdotal. He was certainly rather stumped when questioned specifically on the data supporting his claim in both interviews I saw. As stargazer mentioned, he asked Forbes to rephrase the question about what research he had to back up his claims to “Where do you get your information from”, and then still stumbled.

    If the research supports his claims, Thompson seems unaware of it.

    – “Are you suggesting that if he’d cited the specific authors and named the journals in which the research was published, there would have been no outcry? Surely you’re not that naive.”

    So he knew that no matter how he broached this there would have been an outcry, and yet he did so anyway? I don’t think you’re doing Thompson any favours in your defence.

    Anyway, as above, I’m suggesting Thompson knows of no such research, if there is any, and made the claim based on personal prejudice at worst and anecdote at best. Given his position, he should have known better.

  39. Ross,
    – “I recall Thompson saying the research supported his comments. And it does.”

    Funny that he has such trouble giving any indication whatsoever of this research then.

    That he didn’t have anything at hand to back up his claim when he made his initial comments is perhaps understandable, but in the later interviews? Morton said what he was referring to was basically anecdotal. He was certainly rather stumped when questioned specifically on the data supporting his claim in both interviews I saw. As stargazer mentioned, he asked Forbes to rephrase the question about what research he had to back up his claims to “where do you get your information from” and then still stumbled.

    If the research supports his claims, Thompson seems unaware of it.

    – “Are you suggesting that if he’d cited the specific authors and named the journals in which the research was published, there would have been no outcry? Surely you’re not that naive.”

    So he knew that no matter how he broached this matter there would have been an outcry, and yet he did so anyway? I don’t think you’re doing Thompson any favours in your defence.

    Anyway, as above, I’m suggesting Thompson knows of no such research, if there is any, and made the claim based on personal prejudice at worst and anecdote at best. Given his position, he should have known better.

  40. Pip re Christchurch. Entirely irrelevant, see Armstrong in the Herald this morning. I see absolutely no merit in what you have done. This is complex stuff that needs to be dealt with carefully not hyped by irresponsible journalism.

  41. Matty, you say that “there was no blunt contradiction in Thompson simultaneously trying to claim that women are more productive AND less productive.”

    There’s no contradiction there at all. I am sure if you think about, you will understand why women might be more productive and less productive.

  42. Pip,

    You’re being evasive and are missing the point. Mihi Forbes told porkies. I will not be watching another of her interviews because she cannot be trusted. And neither can you be. The fact is that Thompson sang the prasies of women and said they were more productive than men. But that didn’t fit well with your vilifying of the man, so it got cut. The fact that you’re prepared to defend sloppy and dishonest journalism speaks volumes. You can apologise to Ken Ring but you can’t apologise to Alisdair Thompson. Rign was easier to apologise to because he’s a charlatan.

    Steve,

    So you agree that whatever research that he might have cited would have made no difference – he still would’ve been attacked for talking about menstruation? Should a person be attacked for telling the truth, if the truth makes people uncomfortable? If so, it’s a sign of immaturity. Women will continue to get paid less than men, which doesn’t seem to concern you or Pip. How about dicsussing that issue rather than attacking the messenger.

    Lew,

    It’s good that you want to discuss women’s lower pay (notwithstanding that you don’t appear to know what Thompson actually said). “What about the other 10.5 percentage points?” That’s a good question. In Thompson’s interview with Forbes, he made it clear that there were many and varied reasons for the pay gap, women’s greater sick leave being just one factor. I suspect that women will always be paid less than men for those same reasons, ie, leaving and then re-entering the workforce, working for shorter periods of time, discrimination (though it can work for them and against them), concentration in the service industry (which is typically low paid), concentration in feminised jobs, taking time off to have and raise kids, and their greater use of sick leave. Women may also have lower expectations than men when it comes to pay. Whatever the reasons for the pay gap, it’s clearly a complex issue.

    http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/534684–women-s-low-pay-expectations-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy

  43. Lew,

    It’s good that you want to discuss the issue of women’s lower pay (notwithstanding that you don’t appear to know what Thompson actually said). “What about the other 10.5 percentage points?” That’s a good question. In Thompson’s interview with Forbes, he made it clear that there were many and varied reasons for the pay gap, women’s greater sick leave being just one factor. I suspect that women will always be paid less than men for those same reasons, ie, leaving and then re-entering the workforce, working for shorter periods of time, discrimination (though it can work for them and against them), concentration in the service industry (which is typically low paid), concentration in feminised jobs, taking time off to have and raise kids, and their greater use of sick leave. Women may also have lower expectations than men when it comes to pay. Whatever the reasons for the pay gap, it’s clearly a complex issue.

    http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/534684–women-s-low-pay-expectations-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy

  44. Wow. “Old man waves fist at cloud” stuff from you here Mr. Edwards.

  45. Sanctuary, keep attacking the messenger and ignore the message!

  46. Good work. This blog might divert a little focus off Mr Thompson’ comments and onto Mr Edwards’. And this should be a lesson to Thompson. Clearly he had no media handling help. This was clear from the poor decision to give long interview with exactly the same amount of preparation given to the first – none. An off-the cuff early morning interview went awry, largely because it appeared to be opinion given as fact. With the chance for a longer interview, actually being in command of the facts would have been useful. This should not, for An EMA spokesperson, be limited to the anecdotal experience of his own payroll person and (later and quite unfortunately) his own family. So whilst the discussion here has been usefully skewed, it does not detract from the fact that Mr Thompson’s comments revealed a lack of professionalism, both in engaging with the issues and as a spokesperson. A dinosaur indeed.

  47. Having now seen the full interview my opinion hasn’t changed. When Mr Thompson speaks the corporate line when not being asked questions he comes across as a reasonable broad thinker. However, as soon as he is asked a difficult question he flounders and the real person comes through: he came across to me as a sexist bully and the manner in which he stood in the female reporters space was aggressive, and I would imagine scary to the reporter, who backed away. I really don’t feel that he can continue to be the spokesman for employers.

  48. I saw the whole interview and then the Campbell Live edited version and I also agree that it wasn’t a true representation of the whole interview. However, I think Alasdair Thompson’s apology is lacking something very important – he didn’t actually take back his words. While he argues that it is just a small facet of women who’s productivity is affected by having monthly sickness (aka periods) and taking maternity leave he contradicts himself by mentioning it in the first place. Why mention something that is so minor in a 6min radio interview if there are bigger issues that could be addressed?? Obviously he has an underlying belief that women having periods and having babies is a significant contributor to their lesser worth as employees. And maybe it is from first hand experience in his workplace with one particular colleague and therefore his ‘facts’ are founded, in HIS own workplace… but who’s to say that is representative of the workforce in its entirety? If he wants to redeem himself he doesn’t just need to apologise for people taking offense to his words, he needs to take them back.

  49. TO: Pip (producer Campbell Live)
    No thanks – your team should not have removed it in the first instance. As I said it was not my post, and the Campbell Live team chose to leave all the derogatory posts directed to Alisdair Thompson on the wall – rather selective on their part. They also chose to remove my seperate post about the removal from the wall. It is well known that Campbell Live page is set up to accept any posts – to have relevant information removed was certainly an eye-opener for me! Opinion rather than fact – Is this fair reporting?
    (The intent is already obvious – just as it was with the interview)

  50. JC: Nonsense! They’re there for all to admire -I just checked.

    Only 278 friends of BE can see them now and you are on that list.

    JC: But the person who checked isn’t on it. And if Brian didn’t want his list of friends published, that would be his prerogative. He has no idea who half of them are anyway!

  51. TV3 is a joke and so is the reporting I simply can’t believe how Thompson has been attacked it’s obvious that Forbes is a bottom feeder of a reporter and Pip lets her. Get to the real issues and earn your money your just making John look like a fool, this is why as Ross says “keep attacking the messenger and ignore the message” very unprofessional!

  52. John, I said ‘best part”. I didn’t come here to justify myself or my show to you. I came here to defend my programme in light of Brian’s blog which I have a right to do. The four minutes we aired on Thursday was unedited. Mihi’s entire unedited interview is online for people to watch and draw their own conclusion.
    You can go on and on complaining but I am not going to enter into a debate with you or anyone else here.
    If you don’t like our programme, it’s your choice whether or not to watch.

  53. omg sanctuary- are you suggesting tv3 is heaven- with your cloud reference?
    the tv could understandably think themselves as being heaven- cos they may so wholly empower the anonymous mouths(whose moral worth, by proof of deed, is unidentified) who may,from the comfort of their couches and in their collective outrage, take out the poor sod tv chooses to trap in the fast moving, erratic tv interviewers’ headlights.
    it’s hardly sport to put the sods in a cage before running them down though, is it?- but i guess if no-one notices ….

  54. Ross – “I suspect that women will always be paid less than men for those same reasons, ie… their greater use of sick leave.”

    In fact official government figures show just 1.6 days difference between that taken by men and women working in the public service.

  55. Pip wrote: “Mihi’s entire unedited interview is online for people to watch and draw their own conclusion.”

    I think it’s worth repeating: the full version was up very quickly on TV’s site, and it seems to me promoted over the edited version. Online, about 3 times as many people have viewed the full version over the edited. The notion that CL didn’t want people to see the full version isn’t tenable.

  56. Ross,

    “So you agree that whatever research that he might have cited would have made no difference ”

    If he had had some evidence to point to we could have examined that evidence. He still would have caused a fuss, but this wasn’t what I was commenting on. I’m saying even if there is such evidence he was unaware of it, so his comments weren’t based on any supposed research.

    You claimed “to recall Thompson saying the research supported his comments.” Yet, he asked one reporter to remove the word ‘research’ from the question to him about what support he had for his claims. (To make matters worse, he apologised for the comment, then said it was still true. So what was he apologising for?) It was an utterly unconvincing performance.

    “Should a person be attacked for telling the truth, if the truth makes people uncomfortable?”

    No, but you’re begging the question. Whether what he said was true was the point of contention. He didn’t supply evidence for his view initially or in the subsequent interviews. We aren’t exempt from scrutiny if we say something contentious and then can’t back it up.

    “How about dicsussing that issue rather than attacking the messenger.”

    That’s meaningless rhetoric. I’m not attacking the messenger ad hominem, I’m attacking some aspects of his message. If his message is on the issue under discussion (which it is) then in disagreeing with it I am by definition discussing the issue.

  57. I agree with you Bryan. I am fairly unhappy with Alasdair Thompson, but much of my disappointment with him is now targetted at Forbes. I didn’t think that the interview was conducted very professionally. In particular, I did not like how she told him what he thought and did so indicating that it was established fact (and his own words indicated that he thought no such thing), especially with regard to his opinion of her (why personalise it? Why not speak about general views rather than herself personally? And he clearly did not think that she was less productive than her male counterparts).

    Overall fairly annoyed. But as you say, still much better than Close Up, so I will not change channel in protest over this. (sighs).

  58. As usual the protesters get it wrong.
    see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8534796/Women-take-more-sick-days-than-men.html or
    http://www.balpreetkaur.com/women-take-more-sick-days-than-men/
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/96616.php

  59. Oh for the dear,dead,innocent time when a chap could say something ever-so-foolishly,withdraw and apologise,and be hauled away,normally by his partner,to reappear the next day,and BE FORGIVEN?
    “Tired and Emotional”? Not even that..I saw no evidence of either.
    No,I’m sorry -Forgiveness is not Possible! -the Faggots are stacked for the bonfire, the Tumbril Awaits! -drag the traitor through the streets to his ignoble doom! Having made a statement which,essentially, illustrates the bemusement many,possibly heterosexual,men demonstrate towards the unavoidable other,he has thrown himself into the Maelstrom.
    I would put it down to the Male Menopause…
    Would that earn him a break?

  60. As usual the protesters get it wrong.
    Yup,looks like women take just over a day more sick leave a year throughout their working lives. And there was I thinking periods were monthly.

  61. Brian, do you still stand by “Dishonest journalism from Campbell Live and why Alasdair Thompson should refer it to the BSA “?????

  62. Mike

    It was dishonest journalism. Pip has almost admitted as much with her comment: “If you don’t like our programme, it’s your choice whether or not to watch.”

    She hasn’t even attemtped to defend it on the grounds of accuracy and fairness.

  63. Fox, you might be getting ahead of yourself. I suggest you read the Ichino and Moretti (2006) paper. The authors say:

    In most Western countries absenteeism is higher among female workers than among male workers…in Europe, women take approximately 6.7 more sick-days per year than men. This number includes only illness-related absences, and therefore excludes maternity leave. In the US and Canada, the corresponding figures are 3 and 5.2 days. If we control for age, education and occupation, these di erences do not decline. Furthermore, family-related commitments can explain only part of this gender gap in illness-related absenteeism. For instance, when we restrict the comparison to unmarried workers with no children, we see that in Europe women still take almost 3 more sick-days than men. The corresponding figures for the US and Canada are 2 and 1.1 days….However the direct cost of absenteeism is only part of the total effect of the 28-day cycle on the earnings gap. First, and most importantly, the calculation above does not reflect the signaling value of avoiding absences. As the model indicates, absences may be used by employers to distinguish between shirkers and non-shirkers. If employers cannot distinguish well between general illnesses and menstrual-related sick leaves, the earnings cost is therefore larger than the simple cost of lost time. Second, this estimate does not reflect the fixed costs (capital, insurance, etc.) paid by the firm, irrespective of whether the worker is on the job or absent. Third, this estimate does not reflect the lost productivity due to menstrual symptoms when the worker does not choose to stay home. It is possible that there are instances when a female worker experiences menstrual symptoms that lower her productivity, but in which the pain is just below her threshold to trigger an absence. If workers who often experience pain above the threshold are also more likely to experience pain just below it, then our measure of cyclical absenteeism captures, at least in part, the lost productivity caused by menstrual symptoms experienced on the job. Medical studies confirm that women’s on-the-job productivity declines substantially as a consequence of menstrual symptoms. For example, in a clinical study, Chawla et al. (2002) estimate that women with severe PMS symptoms experience decreases in productivity of 48.2% – 64.4% for women with the more severe PMDD – relative to the women with minimal symptoms.

  64. But Brian re the quote that women are more productive… This is consistent with his view that we are less productive at work and should be paid less. Sure by the time we look after the kids, change our tampons and the like we are more productive overall but when it comes to work, all this is the reason, why, by the hour we are paid on average 12% less. Wouldn’t have changed a thing about his view. Pure spin and mixing the message. Looks like equality but on closer exam, more of the same message.

  65. Helen,

    You haven’t attempted to refute what Thompson said. I presume it’s because you can’t. But you’re quite happy to criticise him. More substance would be great.

  66. Ross I was commenting on the blog. The CTU website has a lot of info on the factors that cause the pay gap.

  67. I guess it depends on your definition of ‘interview’ Mr Edwards. As someone deeply involved in the comms industry, you seem to view the interview as a ‘platform’ from which to launch a ‘message’. Most of the 27 minutes is just that – Mr Thompson delivering some rehearsed public relations material, albeit in a shockingly incompetent fashion.

    I like to take the more romantic view. I still see the current affairs interview as a rare opportunity to attempt to lead the interviewee off script in the hopes of bringing to light new information which might deepen our understanding of an issue.

    In this sense, Forbes performed admirably. From the interview we learnt that Thompson un-ironically blames his own appalling media performance to his late night lifestyle, that his arguments are based on personal anecdote and prejudice, and that he is quick tempered and not afraid to use his physical presence when his limited verbal communication skills break down.

    While the 4 minutes finally selected actually added something, the EMA’s press release covered the other 23 minutes’ material far more succinctly and comprehensibly than Thompson’s bizarre didactic rambling.

  68. Brian

    Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of your readers. I only saw the broadcast edit and came to the conclusion that Alasdair Thompson was sexist.

    Thanks to you Brian I will be able to watch the full interview and make up my own mind.

    David

  69. Even with the context of the whole interview, I would feel the same about Alasdair Thompson.

    You have to remember Mihi wasn’t interviewing a blank canvas. It was a man trying to defend comments he had made on the basis of either anecdotal evidence or no evidence at all. In that environment, of course he’s going to try to placate people and say things that contradict the growing view he is a sexist dinosaur. The ‘best bit’ about the interview is that he couldn’t even do that without resorting first to intimidation and overbearing control tactics and then to an outright tantrum when confronted with his most controversial comments.

    Those first 22 minutes are Alasdair trying to get out of a situation he put himself in. That’s not that revealing. It’s revealing he never took back or apologised for what he said, even while spouting the ‘feminist’ statement you quoted in the opening to your article, Brian. It’s revealing he went off the handle when Mihi even mentioned the word ‘period’. It’s most of all revealing that when challenged on his facts, he resorted to bullying, stand over tactics to get his way. Those last five minutes say more about Alasdair Thompson than the 22 preceding them.

  70. Well said Brian – Only right that someone pointed this out. I work alongside the Employers Assn most days, and a more dedicated and professional bunch would be darned hard to find.
    The organisation I work in hosted a meeting ealy this year with a well known and successful local businessman as speaker – in the opening part of his address he described 1 operation that had failed – as having been raped (by shareholders etc) That word was used in it’s purest form and what did the local Fairfax rag publish the next day? Yep, you’d think the man was the Yorkshire Ripper. Not a word of the real & useful content of his address.

    TV3 seem to think they are NZ’s answer to FOX News – the reporters are too young to have any real world experience of much of what they report and an overinflated view of their own “rights” in constructing their 3 minute piece for that evening’s broadcast.
    To steal a new word from 3’s under educated frontman Alistair Wilkinson .. Their skills are the “epitome” (Ep-ee-toam : is how he pronounces it) of average…

  71. Brian – your post hardly reflects the very basis of the media training you provide.

    Thompson is a significant lobbyist and media spokeperson/commentator. Talking to the media is a key part of his responsibilities and one that he has presumably received training for.

    He therefore should know the reality of preparing in advance of any media interviews; of the need to provide media “bites”; of the dangers of very lengthy responses to questions and of the journalist’s right to interrupt such length, especially when it is not directly responding to the question; that he can expect to be challenged over the grounds/evidence for his assertions; that you can only go off-record if it is agreed with the journlist in advance; that he doesn’t have a right to do an answer again; that he cannot instruct a camera to stop recording; that if he refuses to answer a question, the public have a right to know that he has done so.

    You train people to deal specifically with these situations. In the position he holds, Alisdair Thompson should already know everything above and know how to deal with it (regardless of consecutive late nights etc). I suggest that you provide further training for Alisdair rather than act as an apologist for how badly he has responded to the media over the issue he created. In fact I’m sure your training also includes how to ensure issues aren’t created in the first place in the way Alisdair achieved.

    You know that there are not any extended interview programmes on television anymore. I’ve seen the full interview on the internet and found myself confused by Alisdair’s long-winded, meandering initial response. And even by the end of it, I’m still not sure what substance there really is to his claims or whether in fact he just made a silly off the cuff remark that he shouldn’t have.

    And the real issue for me re TV3 is why the reporter allowed herself to get personally involved in the interview, rather than get clarity over the issue and its substance. Frankly I thought she was far too soft with him in this regard. Imagine if it had been you or Ian Fraser interviewing Alisdair?

    But in the end, perhaps Alisdair’s emloyers should be looking beyond simply the issue he created and examine whether or not he is able to perform adequately the key part of his responsibilities that relate to dealing with the media and acting as a spokeperson for his organisation.

  72. > The CTU website has a lot of info on the factors that cause the pay gap.

    Helen, I’ve had a good look on the site and can’t say I’ve seen the info that you refer to. At various times, discrimination is referred to but that seems about all. Please provide a link to the info that you refer to. By the way, do you believe that there will always be a gender pay gap, bearing in mind that such a gap appears to exist throughout the world and is not unique to NZ?

  73. David wrote: “Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of your readers. I only saw the broadcast edit and came to the conclusion that Alasdair Thompson was sexist.
    Thanks to you Brian I will be able to watch the full interview and make up my own mind.”

    Ross wrote: “Well said … Only right that someone pointed this out.”

    Good on Brian for posting this exposé on his website, but it should be noted that he wasn’t the first. Another online source actually broke the shameful cover-up: TV3.

    TV3 quickly hacked the Campbell Live footage and put up the full interview online almost immediately after the broadcast. So people surfing the net like David were not reliant on Edwards. Thanks to TV3’s brave actions, the truth was always going to come out.

  74. Thanks for the laugh, Steve. We’ll see how brave TV3 are when they’re called to account for their failure to adhere to even the most basic of journalistic standards. No doubt they’ll be as quick to apologise as AT was.

  75. The Italian study was refuted by Herrman and Rockoff in October last year.

    Abstract:

    Ichino and Moretti (2009) find that menstruation may contribute to gender gaps in
    absenteeism and earnings, based on evidence that absences of young female Italian bank
    employees follow a 28-day cycle. We analyze absenteeism of teachers and find no
    evidence of increased female absenteeism on a 28-day cycle. We also show that the
    evidence of 28-day cycles in the Italian data is not robust to the correction of coding
    errors or small changes in specification. We show that five day workweeks can cause
    misleading group differences in absence hazards at multiples of 7, including 28 days.

    http://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jrockoff/papers/rockoff_herrmann_absence_cycles_oct2010.pdf

  76. 76

    Just watched the full interview and have not changed the opinion I formed from the edited interview on TV3.

    Alisdair Thompson’s comments about women and menstruation are just ridiculous and he made a fool of himself by using this as an argument.

    What is more disturbing to me, however, is the aggressiveness with which he stood over the female interviewer and raised his voice in anger.
    This is a classic example of how some men use their strength and voice to intimidate women and told me more about Thompson than his silly comments about menstruation.

    I also suggest that Thompson take some media instruction from you Brian. I would have thought he would have been far more media savvy than this, considering how long he has been in the job. Another example of his arrogance.

    JPC

  77. http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/166305/gender-row-exec-has-point-expert

    From the article in the ODT:

    Deborah Bush, who is a member of the Pelvic Pain Steering Committee Australia, said while she agreed Mr Thompson’s comments were discriminatory, he had a point.

    He had unwittingly highlighted the fact that millions of women around the world suffer from debilitating pelvic conditions such as endometriosis, which can force them to take time off work.

    “If we addressed this as a highly prevalent health issue requiring major attention, instead of scooting around the periphery of what was being said, we would be able to come out and see he has a point,” Ms Bush told AAP.

    “There is a real problem with these conditions affecting women and girls “We can all get on a kneejerk reaction and slam dunk Alasdair Thompson, who has unfortunately articulated in a poor way.

    “He has struck a nerve. But the problem is a huge burden on women, families and society and sadly goes under the radar.”

  78. > Alisdair Thompson’s comments about women and menstruation are just ridiculous.

    Joan, AT’s comments are not ridiculous at all and in fact seem to have the backing of an Australian expert. Of course she is a woman, which means she is unlikely to come in for any criticism. As Deborah Bush says: “He has a struck a raw nerve”. Indeed he has, and the immaturity of those vilifying him is appalling.

  79. I have never had children, by choice, and never took a sick day owing to my periods. I did however recognise Mr Thompson’s kind because several experiences of bullying and intimidation always behind closed doors, by men in positions of power in this country. Has any one asked, if all of these statistics flying around about higher rates of absenteeism form work by women, may be due to the the fact that women are far more often targeted by bullies? These stats can be backed up, along with the fact that NZ has one of the highest rates of workplace bulling in the world. It is not this sad man’s comments that upset me, but his intimidatory behaviour during this interview. Bought back memories… A professional could keep his cool even if he was baited. You make him sound like a victim rather than a mature, professional man in a position of power who uses bullying as a coping strategy. Well done Cambell live for exposing him-I have never had any luck fighting this expression of misogyny. The balance of power is not in my favour. Hopefully the next generation of women will fare better.

  80. To Ross: I don’t get your logic at all. I think you need to take two steps back and ask WHY on earth we would choose to adopt an argument about productivity and pay that is based solely on anatomy. Such an approach makes it impossible to meaningfully analyse the contribution of people in a workplace. It is your perceptions limiting your understanding of work; and it is those types of perceptions that are holding NZ back.

    My two cents:

    I am a Kiwi woman living overseas, and the type of person NZ needs to attract back (forgive my arogance – but it seems a fair enough call) since I care about the place, know about the place, have a good education, and can bring both ideas and money back. You need to realise that Kiwis overseas watch home all the time, intently, and compare the ideas we hear with the current thinking overseas. I assure you that AT’s arguments through the full interview are nothing to be proud of; and certainly nothing to defend with the passion you have here.

    The arguments reveal an unimaginative, contradictory, and out of date view of productivity – a view that doesn’t serve NZ interests now or at any stage in the future. Not least because you are already eating the dust of other countries with these ideas.

    Why would a woman in her right mind choose to come home to degrade herself in a market that pays her less because of this type of fuzzy logic? I want to know to what extent this fog is clouding decision-making across the country. It want to be assured it isn’t, and I want to see concretely the proof that it isn’t.

    These kind of comments show a New Zealand in a turbulent adolescent mind-set. And yet there are so many bright people there. My message is: Grow up fast in your public thinking and discourse, and back the people you care about with meaningful laws, or lose the chance of attracting adult New Zealanders back.

    Why go back to this little-mindedness when overseas you are treated with respect, as an interesting and bright adult with alot to contribute? In developed nations overseas, the thinking is enlightened enough to allow people to adapt and be productive by working with and around the anatomy they’ve got by birth. I mean, how oppressive to take any other approach.

    I would forget trying to stick up for the logic of a person who hasn’t got it right this time and focus genuine energy on trying to understand why it’s such a simplistic and immature view of productivity, and why it has no place in a capitalist and developed country like ours.

  81. Last night I listened to the chairman of the EMA on Checkpoint trying to explain why no decision had been made on Thompson’s future. He was reduced to a series of ‘no comments’ and ended up appearing evasive.

    It amazes me that these guys, including Thompson, who are suppposed to be ‘media savvy’ get themselves trapped so often. Is it ego on their part that makes them think they can handle media interviews? Before any interview they should say to themselves: “loose lips, cost jobs”. The guy last night should just have declined to be interviewed because he had nothing worth saying.

    Thompson on being interviewed by Campbell should have known the traps that awaited him.

    These people are either stupid or arrogant; probably both.

  82. NZ person,

    What country do you live in overseas? You give the impression that NZ is the only country in the world where there is a gender pay gap. In fact, gender pay gaps exist throughout the western world. I suspect your comments are based on what you think Thompson said rather than what he actually said.

  83. NZ person I have been in a similar position to you, working overseas for leading corporations in my field. After reentering the workforce here, when I had to return for family reasons, the culture shock and workplace shock was so bad and I haven’t been able to settle well. Nor am I motivated find more work here becuaseof this bully boy culture. The violence towards women (and one of 25 countries I have been in is muslim) is some of the worst I have witnessed or experienced. Mr Thompson I say again has done us ‘bloody feminists’ a favour. I do hope Campbell live cointinues to use whatever tactics it has at its disposal to expose what is already there. Mr Thompson, ironically, is now absent from work. I hope he has adequate sick leave which is after all a basic employee and human right (unless you are a woman?)

  84. NZ person I have been in a similar position to you, working overseas for leading corporations in my field. After reentering the workforce here, when I had to return for family reasons, the culture shock and workplace shock was so bad and I haven’t been able to settle well. Nor am I motivated find more work here becuaseof this bully boy culture. The violence towards women (and one of 25 countries I have been in is muslim) is some of the worst I have witnessed or experienced. Mr Thompson I say again has done us ‘bloody feminists’ a favour. I do hope Campbell live continues to use whatever tactics it has at its disposal to expose what is already there. Mr Thompson, ironically, is now absent from work. I hope he has adequate sick leave which is after all a basic employee and human right (unless you are a woman?)

  85. Pip:”I had a new reporter start this week. What would have happened if Alasdair had behaved in the same way and she didn’t have the confidence and experience of Mihi. I have real concerns about that.”

    And herein lies the Achilles of journalistic integrity – Either that you have ‘real’ concerns about a hypothesis of your own imagination – or that you don’t understand the meaning of the term ‘real’, or that you do understand, yet you still choose to do so…

    Personally Pip I don’t don’t believe you have any concerns that your ‘new’ reporter would be threatened by AT in a meeting that never took place – but you are dramatising something in your head by using the term ‘real concerns’.

    It’s called ‘hype’, journalism is something different.

    On the matter of the ‘real’ interview – I think Ms Forbes did a good job at facilitating AT’s career implosion.

  86. Great to see that half of the comments on this page are from ignorant self proclaimed know it alls.

    The article is spot on, the reporter needs to step down from her position as she is unprofessional and clearly trolled this individual with inappropriate questions in order to elicit a response.

    Get off the feminist bandwagon please New Zealand, anyone with half a brain can see the facts for what they are.

  87. On her website, New Zealand doctor Frances Pistilis has written about the effects of premenstrual syndrome. It makes for interesting reading.

    http://www.drfrances.co.nz/premenstrual-syndrome.html:

    “…women have committed crimes, lost their jobs, had accidents, and made serious mistakes when they were premenstrual. Husbands and families usually know it’s ‘that time of the month’. When you consider that around 75% (in some studies higher) of women in the child bearing age group get symptoms of PMS, this is a condition that has a major effect on quality of life and productivity.”

    I seem to recall AT saying something similar. I am therefore surprised that the doctor hasn’t been denigrated and humiliated. Surely it’s not because she’s a woman?

  88. Dr Pistilis has also appeared on TV talking about premenstrual syndrome, with Pippa Wetzell. It’s quite a different interview from the Mihi Forbes interview. Wetzell doesn’t shout or point her finger at her subject. She doesn’t seem to have any agenda. Instead it’s a genuine and honest discussion about something that can be debilitating to some women.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_flash_skin/2049684

  89. The article is spot on, the reporter needs to step down from her position

    Umm, Brian Edwards doesn’t seem to be saying that, Matt.

    …as she is unprofessional and clearly trolled this individual with inappropriate questions in order to elicit a response.

    I know, right! I mean, what’s a journalist doing asking a person in a position of authority to back up his claims with evidence? Madness.

  90. Except, Steve, when AT provided Forbes with details about the source of his information, she kept asking the same question over and over again. Do you seriously think that Forbes would have been happy if AT had provided her with the names of studies supporting his agument? No, she came with an agenda. Any mention of studies by AT would have been cut from the broadcast interview. I’m surprised you’re so naive that you don’t realise that nothing AT said was going to get in the way of a biased interview.

    Steve, is it okay for a doctor to say that some women have committed crimes, lost their jobs, had accidents, and made serious mistakes when they were premenstrual? That they are less productive when they are premenstrual? Presuming it’s all true of course…

  91. To Ross.

    AT’s cited source was one employee in his office, apparently advising him on the reasons employees in that office take sick leave. Do you consider that an acceptable source of information in reasoning about national employment policy? If not, what approach should a journalist adopt in clarifying reasoning and ascertaining whether there were other sources?

    I followed your link and you had cut the first word of what Dr Francis had written. I assume you did that because the sentence is not as clear when you read it in its entirety. Your most recent posting shows the same lack of clarity – ‘less productive’ – less productive than what? What are you trying to say about this? What does all of this add up to in terms of a productivity argument?

  92. My response to Ross’ last post will be included on the newer “Campbell Live producer responds” topic by Edwards on this matter.

  93. NZ person,

    You ignored the fact that the gender pay gap is not unique to New Zealand.

    There are plenty of studies which support or are consistent with Thompson’s comments, but I doubt you’re really interested in research. You’ve made up your mind about him and nothing will sway you that he’s a bad man.

    You say: ‘less productive’ – less productive than what? Some women are less productive when they have their period. Again, there’s plenty of research around that.

  94. Interestingly, TV3 has been fined $16,000 for a Campbell Live story last year which was neither fair nor accurate. This comes on top of the Waiouru medal thief debacle in which Campbell Live used an actor but pretended he was the thief. Something is seriously amiss with the show.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/5286309/Campbell-Live-fined-for-wriggling-masses-of-rats