I have written four posts on Mark Hotchin. The first Reflections on not caring in Hawaii was highly critical of Hotchin’s and his wife Amanda’s seeming inability to comprehend why New Zealanders were offended by the contrast between the Hotchins’ current lifestyles and the current lifestyles of the thousands of Hanover investors who had lost not merely huge sums of money but their happiness and peace of mind as a result of Hotchin’s and Eric Watson’s greed and, by the most generous interpretation, mismanagement of the their investments. My comments had been largely triggered by a front-page report in the Sunday Star Times headlined Inside Hotchin’s Hawaiian Hideaway, in which Amanda was quoted as having said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.” I concluded:
It really is quite an extraordinary statement, exemplifying as it does all the characteristics of Level 1 moral development – absolute selfishness, lack of conscience and indifference to the welfare of others. I don’t doubt for a moment that these people love their children and are kind to animals. But the misery which their actions have brought to thousands of ‘mum and dad’ investors seems for them to fall into the category of ‘long-distance impersonal harm’, all the more distant from a lounger by the pool in Hawaii. I have nothing but contempt for most of the finance company shysters, whether on Wall Street or Queen Street, who have wreaked such havoc in the lives of those who put their trust in them. But really my contempt is wasted. They don’t care. And it is their not caring that is the unforgivable crime. The three more recent posts have all involved criticism of the media coverage of the Hotchins.
The first was a critique of TV3’s Tristram Clalyton ‘stammering and stuttering his way’ through an airport interview with Hotchin and concluded: ‘When Hotchin finally said, “Why do I keep talking to you?”, I thought this was the best question in the interview’. In the remaining two posts I took the Herald to task for two front page non-stories on Hotchin’s wealth from which you would ‘learn absolutely zip, except perhaps that nothing delights journalists so much as the opportunity to climb on a bandwagon, even if that involves flogging the dead horse pulling it’. Reasonable investigation, I felt, and still feel, had given way to little more than hate-mongering. This afternoon I received the following email from Amanda Hotchin. It is here published in full and followed by my comments on what she has said.
I have long enjoyed and respected your work on radio and television. Only recently did I come across your media site, after following a link concerning me from another website. I found the piece you wrote in May 2010 titled “Reflections on not caring in Hawaii”. It upset me greatly to see you repeated the “quote” from the Sunday Star Times “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says”. I can tell you that I never said those words or anything like them. The “quote” is pure fabrication. I have four sworn affidavits from people who were present or nearby when I told the reporter to leave the property. Two of those affidavits are from two Americans working on site at the request of the rental management company (who I do not know personally) who overheard our exchange and confirm I said nothing like what I was “quoted” as saying.
Your media site talks about reporters tape recording meetings/interviews, this is a recording I would like to hear. Also it is recommended on your site honesty is the best policy when dealing with media, should this not be so for both parties. Brian, the point is I do care what people say. The constant media and public comment about my husband, Hanover and myself has become a hate campaign. Over the last year I have learned to my cost that not everything you read, hear or see in the media is true. Indeed it is often pure fantasy. In my sad naive way I was one the many New Zealanders who believed if it was in the national news paper it must be true, media influences the thoughts and feeling of a nation and this is a very powerful position to be in, surely there should be someway to ensure balance. Propaganda is a word that comes to mind when I think of the media we have received.
The terrible thing is those lies, falsehoods and fabrications remain forever on the internet and, as I found by following that link to your blog, they gain life when others repeat them.I know you will say I should have sued the paper if its story was untrue. I began legal proceedings but now find now the cost is prohibitive. I know I could lodge a complaint with the Press Council but, even if it finds in my favour, the small apology or correction would have none of the impact of the original story and those lies will remain on the internet forever. I am not, as you suggest in that blog, absolutely selfish, lacking in conscience and indifferent to the welfare of others. I care very much about what has happened, I do care that investors have lost money, I am concerned for their welfare. This type of inaccurate reporting is causing them even more pain. I am also concerned for the welfare of my family which is being subjected to a tabloid media campaign motivated by hate and the greed of papers and broadcasters that simply want to make money from everyone else’s misery.
I trust you will have the chance to revise your opinion of me once the full story of what happened to Hanover is revealed in the coming months. For the record. We currently rent one and a half floor unit in the residence visited by the Herald which does not include the rooftop pool. I was the female who was outside cleaning the windows and sweeping, but they knew this because it was the same female dressed in exactly the same clothes who took her children to the beach who they later named as me. But this only a dot on the inaccuracy that have been reported in the past three years. Kind regards Amanda Hotchin My Response If you did not say those words, Amanda, ‘or anything like them’ , then this is a disgraceful piece of misreporting by Sunday Star Times journalist Jonathan Marshall. Its effect would undoubtedly have been to prejudice readers against you and to ‘lower you in the eyes of right-thinking people’, a common definition of defamation.
You or your lawyers should demand that Marshall or the Sunday Star Times produce the recording or reporter’s notes on which these direct quotes were based. If they cannot do so and you have sworn affidavits from disinterested witnesses that you never said those words ‘or anything like them’, then I’d be looking to sue both the publication and the journalist. But I’m afraid no-one is going to believe that you can’t afford to do so. Paragraph Two: I agree that media coverage of your husband and yourself now has all the character of ‘a hate campaign’. If what has been written about you is indeed ‘lies, falsehoods and fabrications’, you are correct in saying that those lies, falsehoods and fabrications will nonetheless ‘remain forever on the Internet and, as I found by following that link to your blog, gain life when others repeat them’. There is very little point in writing to the Press Council. It is a toothless tiger.
Further, if you lodge a complaint with it, you have to forfeit your right to subsequently sue the publication or journalist you have complained of. As to my opinion of you, Amanda, I don’t of course know you personally. My criticism of you in the first post was based almost entirely on the comments attributed to you in the Jonathan Marshall piece in the Sunday Star Times. If you did not make those comments, the picture changes dramatically and I would happily revise my opinion. Paragraph Four: This is the risible piece of non-journalism by Andrew Koubaridis in the Weekend Herald, to which you are referring: He spent much of the weekend indoors but walked to the nearby dairy with his children and stopped to watch a surf-lifesaving contest on the beach metres from the back lawn. While Mr Hotchin was invisible for much of the weekend, others were busy at work on the home. A teenage boy cleaned the rooftop pool while a woman cleaned the windows and swept.
Mr Hotchin’s wife Amanda was more visible, sitting with the children at the top of the beach watching the surf lifesaving carnival and looking on while they played backyard cricket in the muggy heat. If Koubaridis failed to see that the woman cleaning the windows and sweeping was you, then he is even more inept at his trade than the rest of his piece suggests. If he knew it was you, then that would be a further piece of disgraceful and prejudicial journalism, since the sole purpose of the reference is to suggest that you have servants at your beck and call. Finally: I find your email very reasonable and compelling, Amanda. But I can no more judge your honesty than I can judge the accuracy of the reports that have been published about you and your husband. Bad journalism is not necessarily dishonest journalism. However, I think there is an obligation on both the Sunday Star Times and the Herald to respond to what you have said. And I invite them to do so.