A rare event: Audrey Young and I agree on something

Audrey calls what Newshub did “clumsy”, which is kind of nice of her.  I call it irresponsible and reckless.

The Sunday night airing of footage of a robot in the Piker River Mine drift along with two Mines Rescue personnel was recklessly misleading.

It has almost certainly led to further distress for Pike River families who may have believed something had happened in the drift that had never happened before.

The sequence of footage and commentary left the clear impression that rescuers had gone deep into the drift safely.

It showed a robot going 1.57km into the tunnel, passing a couple of obstacles at least 800m in, breaking down and then being fixed by Mines Rescue personnel deep inside the mine until it came upon a loader and could go no further.

Was it done on purpose, or was it just one of those mistakes…  

It is possible those running the footage on Newshub didn’t know what they were looking at, and either made assumptions or decided to create an impression.

That worked very well. It left a false impression that Mines Rescue had been far deeper into the mine than anybody had ever known.

But unless the police have lied to Prime Minister Bill English, the devastating truth is that Mines Rescue personnel were only a couple of metres inside the tunnel, working on the robot before setting it off.

As English was able to show at his post-Cabinet press conference, the fact that men had been down the drift before had been widely reported — on November 9, 2012, Newshub (then TV3) along with other media reported experts commissioned by the families had gone down the drift 170m.

But Sunday’s story implied others may have gone as far as 1km down.

That’s where the Green party hit came in.  A gentle massage of available facts and a smidgen of innuendo, and voila!  Fake News!

The police fuelled the cock-up theory by confusing the footage and the robot (there have been five robots and more than 30 hours of video), leaving the impression valuable images had been deliberately withheld from the families and the Royal Commission of inquiry.

For many, the result of the video has been confusion. They don’t know who or what to believe.

The police were slow to react but now advise that the footage in question was from the fourth robot, deployed by the Pike River receivers on or about March 15, 2011, four months after the explosion.

All in all a lot of drama about something that never happened and was then amplified by a Green party spin doctor and, at best, a very willing Newshub.


– NZ Herald

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