Round Two: Peters Versus Soper 'n' TVNZ
Round Two: Peters Versus Soper 'n'
If the Prime Minister had announced at her post cabinet press-conference the imminent dissolution of her government it seems likely senior reporters from Newstalk ZB and TVNZ would still have decided to harangue her over a spat they were involved in with Foreign Minister Winston Peters, last week, in Washington DC.
After the PM pointed out to the press gallery that New Zealand was supporting the Secretary General to bring about an immediate ceasefire to the conflict in the Middle East - a conflict that has killed hundreds of civilians, has destroyed Lebanon and threatens world stability - Newstalk ZB's Barry Soper decided it was essential that he ask question after question about a spat between himself and Mr Peters.
The only time that Mr Soper was interrupted from asking questions about a news story that directly involved himself was when TVNZ's political editor Guyon Espiner butted in to get the PM's take on Mr Peters media contretemps - a contretemps that also directly involved Mr Espiner.
Fortunately for the Prime Minister Mr Peters had called a press conference on the same afternoon and so Mr Soper and Mr Espiner were able to leave out the middle-person (the PM) and keep their battle going with Mr Peters in front of their peers and colleagues.
Mr Soper struck up a handy position in front of the cameras and kicked proceedings off by accusing Mr Peters of untruths in a press statement. Mr Peters countered by accusing the media of spreading a tissue of lies. The general theme of untruths, the media's hidden agenda and 'tissues of lies' then ran for the next quarter of hour.
Mr Peters was particularly upset that TVNZ may have manipulated the tape that showed him cutting short a press conference with Senator McCain. It was uncertain wether Mr Peters was alluding to a Weta Digital FX type attempt to deceive the public or a practice occasionally used by news organisations known as 'editing'.
Much like Sid Vicious singing Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' Winston Peters was a man with few regrets. In fact the only regret Mr Peters seemed to have was that the NZ media was infested with alleged "arrogance". Early on in Mr Peters conference the proceedings resembled a wrestling match (WWF style) however while the media were able to tag team their peers, colleagues and friends, Mr Peters fought alone, like a Bulgarian bear surrounded by news hounds.
After TVNZ and Newstalk ZB had caught their barbs from the irascible but also oddly jovial Mr Peters representatives from the Dominion Post, Radio NZ and NZ Herald lined up for their own personal insults. Of these three organisations only the NZ Herald representative was able to achieve anything like the ructions initially enjoyed by Newstalk ZB and TVNZ.
Midway through the press conference Mr Peters did make mention of the crisis in Lebanon which he referred to as the "Lebanon thing". Scoop understands that this was in relation to organising a meeting with Condoleezza Rice while he was in Washington DC. Thankfully for the media, and no doubt Mr Peters, this was the only tangential mention of what Mr Peters is employed to do and pretty soon it was back to hearty insult trading.
Listen to (initially) Newstalk ZB's Barry Soper and TVNZ's Guyon Espiner duking it out verbally with Winston Peters - following initial skirmishes other media representatives pile into the media melee/scrum/maul