Hard News by Russell Brown

94

Being Worked

That's three weeks by my count. Three weeks of stories being placed with the Sunday newspapers by persons unknown, but -- at the least in the case of the last lot -- very likely to be playing for Team Tony Veitch. Because, frankly, there aren't many other people it could be.

The senior police officer on the case explained this morning that very few people had legitimate access to the summary of evidence from which all three Sunday stories came: a couple of police officers, and the Team Veitch, which includes, of course, A-list situation manager Glenda Hughes, a private investigator and two senior QCs.

Of the three stories, the Herald on Sunday version is the strangest. If there was indeed a leak from the defence side, the intention, part of a steady drip, was to trivialise the charges faced by Veitch: like how crazy is it that Tony Veitch is being charged with assault for throwing a glass of water?

In the HoS, Carolyne Meng-Yee not only led with the glass-of-water angle, she did so to the exclusion of more serious allegations contained in the same police summary. Did she only get fed the water part? In which case: pwned!

Or did she choose , or agree, to leave out information on the other charges? In which case she's got a bit of a nerve calling herself a journalist. To be fair to Meng-Yee, she did bring the news of former police Special Tactics group officer Brian Sloan working on Veitch's behalf.

In the Sunday News, Jonathan Marshall trumpets a "bizarre new twist" to the case -- yes, it's that glass of water again -- in what the paper's front page claims is an "exclusive".

In the Sunday Star Times, there's another, rather similar, "exclusive". Donna Chisholm either had a much better look at the summary, or simply chose to use more of it, but even she has the water angle in the second paragraph.

Perhaps I'm being unfair to all three reporters. Perhaps they all came up with the same information through their own initiative and contacts. Maybe both sides are working them (and it may well be that the first media outreach in this sorry business came from the Dunne-Powell side). But it looks a lot more like they're now allowing themselves to be used in a methodical public relations campaign by one side: that of the celebrity accused. And they, and their editors, should think about that.

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Meanwhile, do feel free to chip in on our new Stories: The Internet thread. There are prizes for the best stories -- five copies of Keith Newman's new history of the Internet in New Zealand, Connecting the Clouds; five big bags of Eden Coffee and one internet-capable Nokia 6121 mobile phone -- but don't feel your contribution has to be an epic. It's a discussion more than it is a competition.

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