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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  • shykiwibloke

    So if a media organisation hired a hit man and filmed it for a documentary on death 100 ways – it is the audiences fault? Yeah right. Any group that can find no fault with their own actions is already on the scrap heap of history and don’t know it.
    Edit – typos

    • Old Dig

      Your last sentence perfectly sums up the Labour party too.

  • Left Right Out

    “Budgets have been slashed, current affairs programmes are doing what they can to survive, but inevitably corners are cut.”……… interesting that Smalley hasn’t cottoned on to why budgets are being slashed…… what they produce is rubbish and their audience has become smarter than them so therefore switch off.

    Time for the media to address the real issue to their demise, but they won’t because they fell they are right and we are wrong…..

  • Observer

    Smalley seems a classic example of a guilt ridden white liberal. Whenever I think of her I think of that picture of her wearing a head-scarf while reporting on refugees trying to enter Europe. Would she wear a head-scarf if a white male told her to? Of course not, but she bows down to misogynistic practices when they come from a non-European culture.

  • Boondecker

    The funny thing for me was that when first I read Smalley’s article this morning, I initially thought she was having an incredulous go at herself with respect to her own relatively recent actions in the Middle East and Greece hanging out with refugees, sorry, migrants, and got away with it because in the court of public opinion, she was just another one of those smart, white westerners.

    I have no doubt afterwards, she was hoping to be seen as a hero in her own story too.

  • oldmanNZ

    so its the viewers fault for wanting to watch what they produce?

    so its like Coca cola fault for making sugary drinks that fat kids want to drink?

    well we can always put a stupid tax on journalist for making us stupid?

    trying to find her logic…

  • lyall

    ahh white privilege…but isnt it racism to judge and stereotype based solely on skin colour you ask? Maybe…unless you let African American racists change the definition of the word racism so that only white people can be racist – this brings us back to white privilege – the privilege of being accused of racism for existing!

    • Miguel

      It’s the new Original Sin, don’t you know?

      • lyall

        maybe the media could do a ‘story’ on how white privilege got us all kicked out of the garden of eden, surely only a white person would have the audacity to steal gods apples!

    • Kevin

      “only white people can be racist”

      Been done. The argument is that because racism requires power and only white people have power only white people can be racist.

      I kid you not.

  • PersonOfColor:WHITE

    I agree with Rachel that paying the ‘rescuers’ and the assumption that the Lebanese would see it the same way the journos did was uber stupid. But when did it become a racial issue? Jump on a cultural marxist bandwagon, even if one is not cruising by at the time, why don’t you.

    The kevlar comment was a LOL moment…..oops.

    • Seriously?

      I think there was a racial element to the 60 Minutes thing.

      There seems to be a belief that the outcome the Australian legal system produced (they they should be returned to Aussie) was right and proper, and the outcome that the Lebanese legal system had produced (that they remain there) was unfair and wrong.

      That always seemed a bit on the racist side to me. Do you think the presumption would have been the same if the other country was the US, UK, or even here?

      • PersonOfColor:WHITE

        Seriously, it does seem to be an assumption…but then that would be about legal system differences…there is NO race card being played. But Rachel does jump on the cultural marxist bandwagon and scream racist! Par for course. As a white, heterosexual, middle-aged, christian conservative, I see the bigotry and the irony.

  • Hill16

    Surprised Mr Cunliffe wasn’t sorry for being white at the same time as apologising for being a man.
    I don’t see how we should be apologising for being born with a certain skin colour … just cos it’s the fashionable thing to do …it’s not as if we could choose it!

  • CheesyEarWax

    Kevlar is quick to blame the TV executives and viewers but the not the journalists. On Rachel’s planet Kepler journalists are never wrong.

  • Seriously?

    In part she is right – journalism as we might have thought of it 50 years ago is a dying species, and in no small part that is because the public demand infotainment.

    Be it 60 Mintues kidnapping kids, HDPA buying guns, or Nick Harger’s books from stolen emails, all are reprehensible abuses of an institution that once served an important role in a democracy.

    But if we are to shrug out shoulders and say, well that is just the way it is, then we ought to revisit some of the privileges that we once attached to journalism due to its importance to society – a function it now seldom serves. Don’t let them hide behind uncertain assertions of public good, or source protection to hide criminal actions. They gave up being real journalists a long time ago.

  • Graham Pilgrim

    Rachel Smalley, Heather du Plessis-Allan, Jane Kelsey, Tara Brown, Kirsty Johnston, Lianne Dalziel. Just six names taken from some of today’s posts.

    Apart from the fact that they are all white, is there another common factor which should worry us?

    • willtin

      Come on Graham, you must know they know better than you and me.

  • Gazza

    …still searching for the ‘white privilege’ admission or was that just a euphemism for stupidity. OMG the stupid is strong in this one and by definition therefore racist. Roll out Ben Shapiro and Paul Joseph Watson.

  • localnews

    We should count how many times white privilege is used in the media. Another new phrase that can be used to attack in the absence of reasoned argument. Its like the leftys get together and agree on new forms of subtle abuse to use in their articles.
    I guess if they do it enough some of us will feel a little bit hurty

  • Isherman

    “That’s what the ratings tell us that you – as viewers – want to watch”.
    Couple of things with that statement Rachel. First, you checked your ratings lately?
    Second, how thoroughly condescending of you to presume to know what viewers want to watch. That’s probably got something to do with why you and your fellow air-headed travelers are as untrusted as you are.

  • cows4me

    What a sad delusional woman. What, no mention of the fathers actions in all of this Rachel, I guess he’s not white so is excused. “The 60 minutes grew believed they could ride rough-shod into Lebanon”. Oh yes the noble and pure as driven snow Lebanese, these wouldn’t be the same Lebanese that love the colour of Australian money Rachel ? These wouldn’t be the paragons of virtue and justice Rachel, this surely isn’t a justice system that can be brought off Rachel ? Of course I’m forgetting aren’t I only us scumbag white privileged lowlifes would pull a stunt like that.

  • Frank N Further

    Returning home from the RSA around midday yesterday I had the radio on ZB. Smelly was the host, talking all things ANZAC. She really wouldn’t have a clue – one of her themes was how NZ should follow the Australian way of commemorating ANZAC Day, whatever that meant. She then had an interview with a soldier currently deployed training Iraqi’s in Taji. One of her questions was how was the shopping in Taji! But the kicker for me was when she discussed the SAS. After praising their abilities, quite correctly, she then raised the point of why she wasn’t allowed to know their whereabouts, missions, etc. In her words, she was a journalist and had the right to know. I had to turn her off at that point.

    • rexabus

      I couldn’t care less mostly but it’s her erratic, idiotic, all over the show “opinions “that disturb me. The nz public is not being well served. Not a huge fan of many of the high profile journalists we’ve had over the years but she’s bottom of the barrel stuff. Was the talent pool really that slender from the last decade or so of journalism school?

  • willtin

    I would love to hear Smalley’s commentary if the reverse had occurred and a Lebanese TV crew, employing mercenaries, tried to kidnap a couple of kids off an Aussie street.

  • JEL51

    Both the article and the (60 minutes) actions show the incredible immaturity of many in the media. For Rachel to throw that ‘in’ word around like it was justified to begin with, says she has a long long way to actually ‘earn’ the right to front the microphone. Many of the early morning listeners would really appreciate it if she were to take time out to learn to see life as it really is and not be limited by the narrow view/perspective (thanks George) that her tertiary education closeted her in.
    The fools across the Tasman who chose to action what was obvious short on wisdom as well as integrity, indicates how little many of that generation both here & there understands about the rest of the World.
    There is need for ‘Old Heads’ in many an organisation and this week demonstrates most certainly they are lacking in all aspects of the media .

  • Oh Please

    I’d suggest journalistic arrogance rather than white privilege.

  • waldopepper

    rachel who ?

  • benniedawg

    From what has come to light today the channel 9 story was bought news. Nothing new here. For Smalley to run an in-depth on HDPA, what would be the point? A good degree of tonights ‘Story’ was based on her evaluating burgers from 3 outlets. OMG where will this end? Absorbency/lack of break-through of toilet paper? Probably need to to always assume that any news/current affairs programme should immediately result in a reach for the remote. How have we allowed us the consumer to be so betrayed by the media. Smalley, like any good socialist might like to try and blame the problems on someone else’s doorstep but looks like it might be all their own doing. Begs the question. Is mainstream media heading towards extinction like their enablers the labour party? Or vice versa.

  • rexabus

    The worrying thought for me is that a simplistic thinking lefty nut like this may move up through the system to be in a position of power and oversee a channel like an Ian Fraser or Bill Ralston. They can’t have ever been as silly as her though.

    • WaveAtTheBridge

      Unfortunately simplistic thinking lefty nuts like Smalley are in charge of much of Europe that is why the continent is now doomed.

  • Mark

    Smalley also wrote a moronic article laying the blame of the would be Australian terrorist on his ‘youth’. “Why are Australian youths turning to terrorism”. However I think she may have removed it since the public shock at the revalation of the boys religion

  • Miss Phit

    Just when I think this “journalist” has hit rock bottom she somehow continues to dig.

    I am sick of hearing her crazy opinons based on what can only be considered a childlike mentality. Her opinons are based on nothing but the air between her ears and what ever cat video she watched recently. PLEASE ZB get rid of her and her inane mutterings. Put her on the midnight to 4 slot where her drivel is more in line with the drunken slurs of the old dears who have been cuddling a sherry bottle.

    Really, is she the best that is out there in the journo field? Lock the doors and turn out the lights, I think ZB is done.

  • Eddie

    Perhaps NewsTalk ZB could get rid of Smalley and replace her with a black host who has some sense. If race is so important, Smalley should step down and take her white privilege somewhere else, like Saudi Arabia maybe. I’ll chip in for the one-way ticket.