It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I am no fan of TV3’s Political Editor, Duncan Garner. I have written several posts about him. They include a post on April 7 in which I raised the question: Should TV3 be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job? I headed the post Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign? I believe I now have the answer to that question and it comes from Garner’s own lips. But first a little history. It is no secret around Parliament that, roughly 11 months ago, Garner and Carter had a verbal stoush in the Auckland Koru Club. Following the release of the report detailing the travel expenses of Labour Ministers, Garner had run a TV3 story alleging that Carter was a big-spending Minister whose travel could not be justified in what was essentially a domestic portfolio – Education. The story also referred to Carter’s long-time partner and travelling companion, Peter Kaiser, and included the name of the primary school of which Kaiser is principal.
Not surprisingly, there was bad blood between the two men. Carter and Darren Hughes were in the Koru Club waiting for their flight to Wellington to be called when Garner approached them. He is reported as having said, ‘Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’ Carter told him to ‘fuck off!’ Carter had already taken his seat on the plane when Garner, who had boarded later, stopped next to him, jabbed his finger into Carter’s chest and said loudly, ‘I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’ Sitting directly behind Carter was Dame Margaret Bazley. Appalled by what she had heard, she commented loudly, ‘What a disgraceful man. You don’t have to put up with rubbish like that on a plane, Mr Carter.’ Garner moved on down the plane. Though his Christmas deadline was ambitious, Garner appears to have been as good as his word. Just over 3 months later, in the April 7 post, Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign?, I wrote:
‘Garner has now run four stories on Carter’s overseas travel. All four have featured pictures from the Civil Union, mentioning Kaiser’s name and on at least one occasion the name of the school at which he is Principal. ‘Garner’s coverage of Carter’s international travel has begun to take on the complexion of a personal campaign to discredit the MP. In a different context, it would constitute harassment. ‘If I am wrong, I invite Duncan Garner to respond to this blog and, providing nothing in it is defamatory, I undertake to publish that response unedited. ‘If I’m right, TV3 should be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job.’ Garner did not take up my invitation to deny that he was running a personal campaign to discredit Chris Carter. I do not want to revisit the issue of Carter’s excessive international travel. He has apologised for the second time. Labour leader Phil Goff has declared himself satisfied with that apology. He has his pound of flesh. Instead, I want to direct the following questions to TV3′ Head of News and Current Affairs, Mark Jennings:
*Would you consider it acceptable for a Political Editor to say to a Member of Parliament, ‘I am going to fucking get you. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’?
*Could you continue to have confidence in a the integrity and impartiality of a Political Editor who said these words to a Member of Parliament?
*Will you now make enquiries to establish whether your Political Editor, Duncan Garner, did say these words to Chris Carter?
*If those enquiries reveal that Garner did in fact say these words to Chris Carter, will you continue to employ him?
Oh, and one other silly little enquiry while I’m at it: Why was there a shot of a semi-naked man going into a sauna in last night’s coverage of the Carter apology? Just struck me as a bit queer.