It's hardly news that TV1's Paul Henry doesn't like liberals or left wingers. If he was living a bygone age Henry would be the kind of right winger who would be describing his political opponents as 'not being real New Zealanders'.

In 2009 though Henry just gives his political mates cosy rides when he interviews them and makes snide remarks about the appearance of people whose politics he doesn't particularly care for.

So it was some satisfaction that I read that the Broadcasting Standards Authority have upheld a complaint against the Breakfast show which he presently co-hosts with Alison Mau - who is is filling in while the really hopeless Pippa Wetzell is on maternity leave.

On December 18 last year Garth McVicar of the very right wing Sensible Sentencing Trust appeared on Breakfast.

From the BSA ruling we read:

[1] A segment during Breakfast, broadcast on TV One at 7.10am on Thursday 18 December 2008, included an interview with Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust. The interview focused on the previous day’s sentencing of a man to 21 months imprisonment for illegally selling his large gun collection on the black market.

[2] The Breakfast presenter sought the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s view on the man’s sentence. Mr McVicar said it was too lenient, and that the judge had “got it wrong”. During the interview, the presenter and Mr McVicar discussed sentencing laws in general and whether judges in New Zealand were giving criminals appropriate sentences. They also discussed several specific cases and whether the sentences imposed were adequate.

[3]At the end of the interview, the presenter stated:

So what do you think - was [the man’s] 21-month sentence long enough? Was it enough of a deterrent? Let us know what you think.

[4]After inviting viewers to give their opinion on the man’s sentence, the programme’s other presenter said:

Now, he’s a good man that Garth. Are you still there Garth? Happy Christmas to you by the way. You’ve had, I think, a very successful year for the Sensible Sentencing Trust too, and he works so very hard for it. So have a good Christmas and New Year Garth.

The two presenters are, of course, Henry and Wetzell. They are both very chummy with McVicar to the point of sycophancy.

A formal complaint was laid against the item. The complainant, Roger Brooking, said that the item was unbalanced because it allowed McVicar to “repeatedly air his right wing populist views about law and order, generally criticise judges for being lenient on criminals and expound his belief that this fails to send a message of deterrence to other criminals in the community”.

Brooking went on to say that no attempt was made to present the opposing view of the law and order debate.

He added that there was considerable evidence that stiffer prison sentences do not act as a deterrent to offending and that this view should of been presented as well.

Brooking also strongly objected to McVicar being portrayed by Henry and Wetzell as the source of all wisdom when it came to law and order issues.

The conclusion of it all is that the BSA upheld Roger Brooking's complaint that Breakfast had not provided balanced coverage of an important issue.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that TVNZ's PR person is one Andi Brotherson. She used to handle the media affairs for the Sensible Sentencing Trust.


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