Brian Edwards Media

That odious non-journalist, Jonathan Marshall, is up to his old tricks in Australia and it’s not a pretty story.

Over the last couple of weeks Judy and I have  received phone calls and an email from Cathy Barker. Cathy is the wife of former  Spliz Enz  drummer Michael Barker.  Cathy and Michael are the parents of  teenager Tristan Barker who has become infamous in Australia –  where he has just finished school  –  and beyond for his anarchic and generally offensive rants on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Australian media reports, Tristan has ‘hundreds of thousands’ of teenage fans who hang on his every word. His Twitter page reveals that he currently has just under 15,000 followers, so I suspect his fan numbers may be exaggerated. But that’s still a lot of people and his on-line presence is undoubtedly significant.

Tristan’s methodology, by his own telling, is to slaughter as many sacred cows and offend the sensibilities of as many people as possible in order to make us all think. He is clearly highly intelligent and writes well.

But his outpourings are properly unacceptable, I would have thought, to even the most liberal mind. Here in New Zealand, Netsafe Executive Director Martin Cocker has described Tristan’s actions as ‘inciting of acts of hatred’. Whether that is Tristan’s intention or not,  I think Cocker may well be right.

Unsurprisingly, Tristan who is a Kiwi and whose parents live in Rotorua, has attracted the particular attention of the Australian media, most recently for allegedly assaulting Channel Seven’s Today Tonight reporter Dave Eccleston who had travelled to Rotorua to interview him. Eccleston required medical treatment. Tristan appeared in Rotorua District Court this morning, charged with common assault. He was remanded on bail until April 3.   

All of this is enormously distressing for Cathy and Michael whose sole concern is to help their admittedly difficult son.

So why did Cathy get in touch with Judy and me? Because she’d Googled the name Jonathan Marshall and came across my posts on that odious non-journalist’s reporting on his alleged conversation with Amanda Hotchin at the Hotchin’s beach-side property in Hawaii. You may recall that the Sunday Star Times responded to my challenge to them to produce either a recording of Marshall’s ‘interview’ with Mrs Hotchin or his written notes of their ‘conversation’ by sending me a menacing lawyer’s letter requiring me to cease and desist or face the consequences. I published the letter on this site.

So just what has Marshall to do with the Barker family? Well Marshall is currently ‘Investigations Editor’ for the News Limited Network in Australia. I’ll let Jonathan Holmes,  host of the ABC’s excellent Media Watch, tell the story.

Seems Mr Marshall’s journalistic ethics and approach haven’t changed much since he left our fair shores: no point in letting the facts spoil a good story when it’s so easy to change the facts, just a little.

But my real concern here is for Cathy and Michael Barker who find themselves at the heart of a media maelstrom which is not of their making and which they are ill-equipped to deal with.

Earlier today I asked Cathy if she would allow me to publish a short part of her email to Judy and me. She values her own and her family’s privacy and, with understandable reluctance, agreed:

“What has happened over the past two weeks has been unsettling to say the least. I am not used to a boat full of media filming us in front of our home. I really don’t know what to say. What I am interested in is more keeping my son on track with his passion. I am just looking to help my son keep learning and as grounded as possible.”

It would be nice to think that, in dealing with this matter,  the New Zealand media would show more restraint and greater respect for Tristan’s parents’ privacy than some of their Australian counterparts and greater journalistic integrity than Jonathan Marshall.

Is there more to Tristan Barker than meets the eye? Well, I’ll leave the last words and pictures to him. You decide.

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  1. News Ltd – the home ground for a cur who should be well held to account for taking advantage of the vulnerable and for scurrilous fabrication -which I have witnessed first hand.

  2. Great read, Brian.

    Jonathan Marshall’s hatchet job on Tristan’s parents is completely unscrupulous, and I do hope local media picks up on this.

    Tristan is definitely an intelligent young man, and I think he’ll have a bright future if he reigns things in a bit.

    For the record, Tristan has more than 253,000 likes on Facebook, and strangely, the “Facebeef” page, which had more than 63,000 likes, appears to have been taken down. Perhaps there are legal reasons behind that.


  3. Just another media beat-up about celebs and their stupid social media savvy kids seeking attention they probably didn’t get from their busy self indulgent parents. Can’t help but think of another bit of non-news, like Millie’s tattoo being approved of by her stepfather. Quite frankly, who gives a damn.

    • I’ve got to say, Edward, that your avatar is exactly how I image you look in real life.

      • I never liked it myself, but my friends always remarked, on seeing the large original, that Murray Webb had certainly captured some essential aspect of my personality. The one he did of you looks just like the image of a confused old broadcaster, who claimed to not know anything about P.J. O’Rourke or to have read any of his books, yet had forgotten that he had conducted an interview with the celebrity.

  4. Tristan is an attention-seeking wannabe celeb, who’s carrying on the way he is, with the tacit support of his dad. He needs more than just “reining” in; he needs his albino arse, kicked. Hard.

  5. Tristan needs to hire Bob Jones’ lawyer – though I guess Mike Camp has retired. But he could use Bob’s line: “If I pay twice the fine, can I hit him again?”

  6. Twistin is a sad little snot-nose. Before social media he’d have no survived multiple thrashings behind the school bike shed. Unfortunately, people like him attract dorks like Marshall; his parents are collateral damage in a story that should never have been given sufficient oxygen to blow into a smoulder.

  7. Not a lot of winners in that story- just losers- and mixed messages and contradictions.
    i can’t take any of the kid’s pretensions of being a peace-maker with earnest good intentions seriously, when on the other hand he’s needlessly assaulting and insulting people- with callous disregard for those who may have lost someone in tragic circumstances.
    If you’re surprised by all the negative publicity that Tristran’s ill-conceived rants have generated then you’re as naive as he is.

  8. Well done, Tristan! Your parents and teachers should be very proud of you, and I agree with everything you say here. This Kiwi boy is a genius, give him a good job in advertising or the media – he’s a star on a mission of peace and goodwill.

  9. Is MediaWatch host Jonathan Marshall a Kiwi? What a disappointment – he’s such an annoying smarmy smarta*se. And his smug program failed to investigate or even mention my complaint about his ABC tv series ‘The Slap’ making a racist, sexist claim that “Everyone knows black chicks are sluts”. No doubt, because they don’t give a rats and didn’t want to re-edit the series when international sales were pending. Disgraceful.

    • Regarding The Slap, I do believe you’re conflating the beliefs of one of the characters with the beliefs of the author & series creators. Author Christos Tsiolkas is certainly not racist – he was trying to highlight racism in the community.

  10. I have been through this three times (incuding the inserts) and I cannot for the life of me see what this is supposed to be about. Presumably this is of interest to those who are involved with the media, which I am not although I used to be. I have never heard of this boy Tristan until this item and I don’t know why I should be interested in his views or what happens to him, even if he is a pretty little thing, and it seems quite a lot of his age group are. I saw an entirely unexplained news item with no context or relevance on the television news the other evening in which he apparently clocked someone who I had never heard of either. Huh? Can some one (Brian?) enlighten me as to precisely what the issue is here?

    • I’m bewildered by your bewilderment, Tony. It’s possible my exposition of the issues wasn’t entirely clear, but the ‘Media Watch’ item was a model of clarity. I suggest you ignore the rest and take another look at that. The post’s headline may also assist.

      • 10.1.1

        Brian – I don’t want to seem obtuse and I agree that the Media Watch item was a clear exposition of something. But I’m puzzled as to what that ‘something’ is. So there’s an Australian journalist behaving in a seriously unethical manner and that seems in hand. So some innocent people have got crunched up in the machinary but by next week that will have gone away. So someone got a bunch of fives. As far as the last is concerned the law will take its course. This seems to me to be business as usual and I don’t see why we should care.

        • No problem, Tony – don’t care!


            Good on you for caring, Brian. That’s what friends are for in hard times – when no-one else does.

            I doubt more publicity will help Tristan and his parents though, nor add much to Marshall’s scurrilous career resume. I do think a good lawyer is called for, and may help Tristan to pick his fights and weapons more maturely.

  11. Both Parties need to be censured by their
    Parents or Employers(perhaps the employers may need censuring as well)Your right Brian ,Tristans behaviour is unacceptable, as is Jonathan’s.In Tristans case perhaps a harder line from his perhaps too liberal parents may help.In Jonathan Marshalls case I think his employers need to take some of the responsibilty for his shoddy work.As for Tristans popularity ,its a poor reflection on our society that his actions are accepted as likeable.Not sure about his last video as it seems to lack sincerity to me.

  12. I’d be wary of Cathy Barker’s hand-wringing, Deep down, both parents are probably not too unhappy about the attention their “little boy” is garnering for himself. They could have put a stop to their boy’s anti-social behaviour when it first reared its ugly head.

    What this kid is engaged in, isn’t thought-provoking by way of his social and political nihilistic rantings; it’s a repugnant conceit of an emotionally-stilted youth. Because, the Barkers haven’t publicly condemned their boy, outright, they can’t be seen as “collateral damage”. However, they better soon take stock of the consequences that their son is bringing upon his warped head.

    First up, is a court appearance for assault. Their darling boy better get to learn to love his home in Rotorua, because a conviction will seriously curtail the wanderlust of this malignant messiah.

    Given the choice, I’d rather bathe in the “odium” of the likes of Jonathan Marshall than being within sniffing distance of this self-destructive twisted troll.

    • You must be pleased to have got all that bile out of your system. But it sits rather uncomfortably with your attack on Tristan’s bile and on his parents. I agree that much of what he has said is shocking and, more importantly, cruel, in particular to people who have suffered internet bullying and their relatives. I condemn it. But I stop short of condemning his parents for his behaviour. As a parent of 5 children, step-parent to two and grandfather of 11, I’m very conscious of the difficulties parents can face in bringing up ‘problem’ children who may be wilful, hyperactive or have any of a whole list of behavioural issues. Your suggestion that Michael and Cathy are enjoying the attention their son is getting is nothing less than repugnant. Take a look at the picture you’re painting of yourself – it isn’t pretty.

  13. 13

    Thank you once again for drawing our attention to the self-serving actions of another disturbing NZ export, Jonathan Marshall.
    It seems he has not changed his tactics in Australia – in fact he appears to be thriving in their media jungle.
    Exposed cameras, secret recordings, sub-edits, voice-evers – all Marshall tactics to fuel his self-imposeed celebrity nature.
    I wonder how his complaint to the Australian Press Council against the Sydney Morning Herald who exposed his failings as a “journalist” is progressing?

  14. Im no fan of Jonathon Marshall…but the Tristian child obviously needs to spend a few months in prison… attention seeking idiot…and frankly his parents dont come out of this smelling of roses with there pathetic attempts to justify his disgusting behaviour!

  15. Someone doesn’t go to prison to learn skills. You go to prison because you are being punished for doing something illegal. If you want to learn skills go to Polytech or do an apprenticeship.

    • 15.1

      A lot of people go to school to learn good skills but don’t learn them then go to prison for punishment and learn bad skills. The last thing a community needs is clever young people with bad skills. Be careful what you wish for.

    • It really is hard to comprehend such a short-sighted and utterly inane view of the function and purpose of imprisonment. What you want to do is send the offender back into the community with no new skills other than the law-breaking skills he/she has learnt from other prisoners, so that they come out and re-offend and we send them back to prison but for a longer term. Very productive. Get a brain!

  16. No, the parents don’t deserve this nonsense. Yes, Jonathan Marshall is a prize pillock. But so is Tristan Barker. Both deserve public loathing for their actions but at least Barker can claim that he’s only 18 and still a bit naive. What’s Marshall’s excuse this time? Bring back public flogging I say. ;-)

  17. I had never heard of Tristan Barker and having read somthing of him I shall do my best to forget about him.

    I would just say he appears to be an obnoxious brat; possibly even more obnoxious than many of his age. I imagine Mr Marshall was much the same at that age, but has never grwon up.

    It is unfortunate that his parents have to suffer but it is the cross that parents bear. To reverse the biblical phrase, “the sins of the children shall be visited upon the father”. I see in one online bio of Micheal Barker there is the comment, “Barker continues to support his son in the controversial material he posts”. I am not sure the context of this support but taken at face value it diminishes any sympathy I might feel for Michel Barker.

    His parents say they are not used to having the media camped outside their door. They are lucky they have not been on Fair Go. I would have thought the best thing one could do would be to move out for a while or alternatively draw the curtains and if one happens to own a pit bull turn it outside to feed.

    Overall I think there are more important things in life to get hot under the collar about.

    • 17.1

      Apparently Tristan was a substitute for the pit bull.

    • ‘I am not sure the context of this support but taken at face value it diminishes any sympathy I might feel for Michel Barker.’

      I think that’s more a comment on you than on Michael Barker. If one of my kids was found guilty of murder, I would abhor what they had done, but I’d still support them.

      As for getting hot under the collar, I’m inclined to think that a journalist making up what someone said and actually replacing that person’s voice on tape with their own is just mildly concerning and perhaps even worth getting hot under the collar about.

      • 17.2.1

        It does help if you actually read what was written before you get all holier than thou.

        As I said it depends on the context of the word ‘support’. If it means as you suggest supporting your child whilst disapproving of their actions; yes, you are right. I agree with you totally.

        However the phrase actually says; “continues to support his son in the controversial material he posts”. Taken at face value that suggests that MB supports the material his son writes, which to use your analogy that you would support your kid for having committed a murder. If that is the case I have not the slightest sympathy for him.

        Now perhaps someone can tell me whether MB supports and is in agreement with his sons views or whether it means he supports his son whilst disapproving of his actions. I would like to know.

        Paul Holmes publicly supported his daughter, Millie, whilst making his views on her drug habits very clear. I admired him for that

        Perhaps Mr Barker would care to repudiate his sons views publicly if he has not already done so.

          • I’ve taken your comment about Paul Holmes down, Edward, since it’s based on rumour and conjecture. It may also be hurtful to Paul’s family. And of course he can’t respond.

        • It does help if you actually check your sources, Ben Thomas. Your quote comes from the Wikipedia bio of Michael’s father and was sourced from the same article critiqued in the Media Watch item and written by – Jonathan Marshall. It simply wasn’t true. That was really the whole point of the post which you appear to have missed.

  18. There is something seriously wrong this young guy; check out the part of the vid where he delivers a knuckle sandwich to the reporter. Totally unprovoked.

    About time some of the pain and hurt this thug has caused others, be visited upon him. Totally appropriate, he, be sentenced to do time in jail.

    • Actually, it wasn’t totally unprovoked. What you don’t see or hear is one of the camera men goading Tristan with slurs regarding his parents and taunts about how his parents must be so proud. This was incessant, albeit quietly in the background, as Tristan was being interviewed. They were out to get the kid riled up and provoke a “newsworthy” reaction from him.

  19. I wish we had a programme the quality of ABC’s Media Watch on our (free) TV.

    • Indeed. We once had a programme called “Fourth Estate” hosted by Brian Priestley and others,, including myself. And another called “Column Comment” which I think was hosted by Ian Cross. Both looked at media issues and were very valuable programmes.

      • Fortunately we have Media Watch on National Radio and their Media Watch Extra to take the place of the once young and sharp broadcasters of yesteryear. Unfortunatley age seems to weary them

  20. The boy seems harmless enough.

    Yes, he is provocative, and might be unwise, but it would have been a lot better for the media simply to have ignored him.

  21. Wendy and I can barely remember Column Comment but we both harbour nostalgic memories of Fourth Estate. While addressing my anecdotage, I’ll just definitely confirm my entry into grumpy old man territory by mentioning how sad I am to see that the Listener (which I have been reading for forty years) has recently completed it’s slide into the ranks of “lifestyle magazines” after gradually losing the line-up of intelligent and challenging columnists who made it the “must read” publication of the seventies, eighties and nineties. At least I can still read Gordon Campbell on Stuff. Off topic sorry….

  22. Internet troll vs panty-drawer rummager. A bit like a gang war: no one’s gunning for them, but it’s fun to watch them gun down each other.


    Hope that this dude gets his comeuppance.