Rachel Smalley thinks white privilege causes journalists to commit crimes

Rachel Smalley is consumed by guilt. She writes a cri de coeur about how white privilege is causing journalists to commit crimes.

But first she thinks it is the audience’s fault for daring to watch what they serve up. She thinks it is the viewers’ fault, not the networks.

You may have heard over the weekend the Australian 60 Minutes crew gave an interview after arriving home from Lebanon.

Journalist Tara Brown spoke about the botched attempt to snatch two children from their Lebanese father so they could return to Australia with their mother.

And judging by the interview, the 60 Minutes crew and broadcaster Channel 9 believe they were in the right. Still. They still believe that.

What happened in Lebanon – in part – is the result of a contracting media.

Budgets have been slashed, current affairs programmes are doing what they can to survive, but inevitably corners are cut. Decisions are made in lieu of comprehensive risk assessments because the push is on to make top-rating TV, and make no mistake, this was a story that would have made great TV.  

The image of children being snatched off a street, and bundled into a car so they can be reunited with their mother, while it’s distressing, that’s what also makes it compelling TV. And that is the world we live in today. Don’t blame the media. That’s what the ratings tell us that you – as viewers – want to watch.

But in pursuing that compelling story, 60 Minutes crossed the ethical line in so many ways.

By far, the greatest breach occurred when Channel 9 paid thousands and thousands of dollars to a child abduction team. That means Channel 9 facilitated this story. They made it happen. And that makes them complicit in the crime of child abduction. The story would never have happened unless they stumped up the cash and if you have to pay to make a story happen, that’s not current affairs – that’s cheque-book journalism.

Cheque-book journalism is something any NZME. staffer knows all about.

But there is another issue that sits uncomfortably with me too, and that is the issue of white privilege.

The 60 Minutes crew believed they could ride rough-shod into Lebanon – a country that is not party to The Hague Convention – abduct two children off the street using retired special forces soldiers, bundle them into a car, quickly get them on a boat to Cyprus, and then fly them home to Australia. And why did they believe they could do that? Because they clearly felt they could fund and film a criminal act in the Middle East and get away with it because in the court of public opinion, they are smart, white westerners. They would be seen as heroes in their own story.

And at the weekend, Tara Brown said as much. She said she always thought the Lebanese authorities would understand what they were trying to do. “We’re journalists,” she said. “We’re doing our job – and they will see reason. They will understand that.”

Well they didn’t. The Lebanese authorities saw it for what it was – child abduction.

It is extraordinarily audacious and naive of the Australians to think they knew what was best for the children.

The only thing we should agree with is that it’s a very, very sorry time for current affairs, and for journalism too.

Where was Smalley when Heather du Plessis-Allan was buying a gun illegally in NZ? Was that something to do with race also? Why have the cultural Marxists usurped so much of our media space  Can they think critically instead of bilging forth critical theory and identity politics?

This is not the first emotional column from Smalley and it will not be the last so long as NewstalkZB and NZME. continue down the path of medicority.

The problem is more deep-seated though. Rachel Smalley loves to tell anyone who will listen, which is usually the newsroom staff who have to because they have work to do, that she is the only “serious” journalist at NewstalkZB.

Where that falls down is that she is desperately and utterly stupid…and doesn’t know it. Any journalist who thinks it is terrible that NASA named a spacecraft after an astronomer called Kepler and her reasoning is because it is named after the material used for bullet-proof vests, and says so on radio, is really thick. She even forgot that Kevlar is an important component in many products, including our America’s Cup boats.

It is this stupidity that blames the audience and then blames ‘white privilege’ for the failings of the media.

For compelling TV and good ratings. It’s a very, very sorry time for current affairs, for the strong globally-recognised brand that is 60 Minutes, and for journalism too. No-one wins from this.

But oh you did try to win by writing this piece Rachel…oh you did try.

 

– NewstalkZB


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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