Monday, October 11, 2021

Karl du Fresne: Toxic Tova's weird obsession with Judith Collins

Newshub has ratcheted up its attacks on wounded National leader Judith Collins. These have progressed from being merely pointless to sadistic and even pathological.

Political editor Tova O’Brien, aka “Toxic Tova” (I normally avoid using nicknames, but this one is 100 per cent apposite) seized on the findings of the New Zealand Herald’s latest Mood of the Boardroom survey to aim another kick at the head of a politician who’s already reeling and on the ropes.

This isn’t journalism; it’s blood sport – and a particularly savage form of blood sport at that.

O’Brien could have extracted a number of angles from the Herald’s survey of 150 chief executives. The finding highlighted by the Herald itself was that “Jacinda Ardern’s Covid honeymoon has soured,” in the words of Mood of the Boardroom editor Fran O’Sullivan. Ardern’s rating was down from last year’s 3.91 out of 5 to a far less complimentary 3.03.

That’s significant news, indicating that the business community, which generates New Zealand’s wealth, is losing confidence in the country’s leadership. But what O’Brien considered most newsworthy from the Herald survey was a peripheral and inconsequential finding that business people (the traditional backers of the National Party, as newsreader Mike McRoberts’ gratuitously reminded us) had issued a “brutal report card” on Collins and were calling for her to go.

"This is bad, real bad," said a delighted O'Brien, before proceeding to recite a string of uncomplimentary comments about the National leader.

Not a word was said about the unflattering result for Ardern, which can only reinforce the impression that much of the media – and Newshub especially – functions as the unofficial propaganda arm of the government.

You don’t need to like Collins, or even to be National supporter (I’m certainly not) to regard O’Brien’s constant attacks on her as grotesque, vicious and weirdly obsessive. What journalistic purpose is served by mauling a lame and politically impotent Opposition leader while the politician wielding real power gets away scot-free – in fact avoids situations where she might be asked awkward questions about the government’s multiple failings? (I note that this week Ardern was out in the boondocks smiling for the cameras – anything to avoid having to explain the government’s about-face on its Covid-19 elimination strategy.)

This is the prime minister we’re talking about – the person making decisions that will affect New Zealand for a long time into the future. Aren’t journalists supposed to “speak truth to power”, to quote a pompous phrase much favoured by leftist media academics? Well, let's see some of it. If O’Brien is as tough and merciless as she doubtless wants us to think she is, let's see her apply the blow-torch to the prime minister. I'm not holding my breath.

Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at


DeeM said...

How many people actually watch TV3 news? I don't know but I'd guess it's far less than watch TVOne news. Now both are far from fair and balanced but my own opinion is that Toxic Tova drives viewers away with her mad-dog ranting at anyone on the centre-right.

The fact that TV3 continue to employ her shows that the whole organisation is riddled with the same political bias. This will only be corrected when government funding (the PIJ fund) is removed and the station has to attract real viewers and advertisers to survive.
If National and ACT manage to get in in 2023 can you imagine Collins delight (if she's still leader) at ringing up Newshub personally and telling them their funding has been withdrawn. Priceless!!

Janine said...

Nobody with any intelligence now watches tv1 or TV3. That is because their polical journalists are sub par. They can't seem to ask any relevant questions, or couldn't when I watched a couple of years ago. Therefore, as I have said before, we might as well be watching cartoons for all the news and information they impart.

Anybody who watches Sky News and their follow on political shows can see the difference in the quality of journalism and the professionalism of the presenters. Also, the research that goes into their shows. Honestly, are you seriously comparing this tv3 woman( sorry, I only watched her once and that was enough for me) to Peta Credlin or Chris Kenny? Come on Karl, I think you are having us on even implying she is an investigative journalist.

The sad part is National and Act have both refused to say they will defund the media and make them self-reliant. I think that is absolutely critical in a democracy.

Terry Morrissey said...

Not into sycophantic journalists, but that particular one I would imagine being quite at home at the controls of an armed UAV. Given up watching the TV news on any channel. Once The Chase has finished that's the end of any intelligence and our TV goes off. Used to watch the weather but that fruity muppet Dan trying to talk Menglish screwed that. Rather get the news on line. That way you can skip the propaganda and look for intelligent life.

BJB said...

Definitely a good argument to defund the media and let them stand on there own two feet that would be a wakeup call. Look at the crap on the ABC in Australia and they get a billion dollars a year. We want professional journalism not opinionated mouthpieces

Anonymous said...

Unverified but I heard recently that Tova apparently used to flat with Jacinda when they were at university and Jessica's husband is Jacinda's body-guard...might explain a lot...

R R B said...

People have to see and listen to Fox and Sky news then compare NZ media to realise how biased NZ Media is and the NZ taxpayer is funding most of it! I haven't watched or listened to Government financed media for years and it has made me a happier person, not being lied and misinformed to.
I trust Aljazera TV news based in Doha more than NZ based left wing media.
The government funded Australian ABC and the BBC are equally guilty of lying, deliberately misleading and promoting propaganda at the direction of their various governments.
It's obvious as to the solution, so why haven't previous governments done it? - because the National and Labor parties want to lie and cheat to the voters.

Kiwialan said...

I listen to Hosking on ZB in the morning and Heather in the afternoon so get the basic news. Jamie on the Country Show is good at lunchtime. Totally dismiss the talking heads on TV.

Doug Longmire said...

Yes - T O'Brien is a nasty waspish piece of work.
Like other bloggers here - I see it very clearly that Mainstream media, having been purchased by the transformative (her word) government, is now simply a Pravda propaganda wing.