Gutter Press

I am reluctant to continue the discussion of matters associated with New Zealand sport’s journalist, Tony Veitch. His conviction for kicking his partner in the back has been widely debated. As justified as continuing the debate might be, the publicity it creates gives a felon like Veitch far too much attention. Veitch built his career by being in the news. For Veitch, it seems, any publicity is good publicity. Besides, just about everybody has had their say. The disgust expressed by most commentators reflects well on New Zealand. The exceptions are Veitch himself, some red-neck residents, Sky Sport and the New Zealand Herald.

This post will consider the position of some red-neck residents and the New Zealand Herald.

My problem is not that the New Zealand Herald has tried to cover up the behaviour of Tony Veitch. The paper certainly has not done that. It accurately reported the Veitch assault on Kristin Dunne-Powell. In fact in May 2009 it went further and published a harrowing description, written by Kristin Dunne-Powell, of the attack. And in May 2016 the Herald published a statement from Kristian’s father that highlighted the multiple attacks included in the police investigation. The paper has not tried to hide Veitch’s amazing personal relationship failures; from the Kristian assault to the sixteen month marriage and divorce of Zoe Halford in 2009, to the eleven month marriage and divorce to Lisa Bryan in 2016. Maintaining a relationship does not appear to be a Veitch strong point. Mind you – whenever I’ve listened to him on the radio, I find it easy to understand why.

Veitch seems to have had more than his fair share of other bizarre events. In 2010 he was sent home from Radio Sport for getting involved in a “heated argument with a female staff member”. In 2013 he was in the Auckland Showgirls strip club when his female companion collapsed and was taken by ambulance to Auckland City Hospital. His life appears to confirm the description given to it by Kristin’s father, “This was no one-off, as you still attempt to mislead the New Zealand public to believe. The other charges were never presented to the court but they remain evidence of your systematic abusive pattern. In those files lies a very inconvenient truth for you.”

The Herald has also reported on Veitch’s professional blunders. For example in 2005 the paper covered a radio outburst in which he compared Serena Williams to an ape. They also published the apology Veitch was ordered to make. Famously, the Veitch idea of remorse begins with this qualification, “During Friday’s show in a banter and exchange with Dean Lonergan.” Wow, New Zealand has its own Donald Trump. It was all just good old locker room talk. Of course it was. Sexual assault and comparing a black American woman to an ape – it’s all good locker room banter. What are you bleeding heart liberals grumpy about?

No, I am not complaining about a Herald cover up. What is disturbing is the willingness the paper has shown to give Veitch a voice. When the accusations of domestic violence were first made public, a Herald editorial demanded that we all settle down and give the broadcaster his day in court. This is what the newspaper said.

“Removing the broadcaster from the airwaves before any of this is concluded would be literally firing first and asking questions later. If charges are laid and a case proceeds, then standard employment procedures would probably see him suspended then until resolution. In the meantime, he could continue in his limited public role of talking sport. It is not as if he is lecturing in morality, integrity, decency and respect for others.”

Well, Veitch has now had his day in court. He was tried, convicted and sentenced for lashing out and kicking his partner in the back, breaking several bones. And at the Herald nothing changed. Veitch is still employed writing opinion pieces. The Herald said we should all wait until justice was served and then “standard employment procedures” would apply. What a joke. The Herald’s “old boys club” gathered around and Veitch continued to write and be published.

And as for the disgusting Herald editorial sentence that says, “It is not as if he is lecturing in morality, integrity, decency and respect for others.” What a joke. Veitch uses his column inches in the Herald to do nothing else.

For example on the Aaron Smith, Christchurch toilet, episode Veitch published this.

“What to do with Aaron Smith? It’s fair to say this one has no easy answer. If you’d asked me two days ago, I would have said there was absolutely no way Aaron Smith should play. His penalty for the toilet indiscretion will likely be one match and a fine.”

In fact Veitch has used his Herald column to tell us that morality, integrity, decency and respect for others is exactly how he sees as his role. Here is what he recently wrote.

“Stick to sport I was told, I have no right to have to say on politics. My response – to continue the debate with even more vigour. This is far and away the biggest sporting story in the world right now. It goes beyond winning and losing, it’s about life, values and beliefs.”

And talking about Team NZ Veitch said this.

“The humility that may have been lacking in previous campaigns has returned. The team have intentionally kept their heads down and headlines out of the newspapers.”   

And so, in case the NZ Herald has not got the point, the last person whose opinions on life, values, beliefs and humility I want to hear from is Tony Veitch. And as for listening to his advice on what Smith’s punishment should be for a sexual indiscretion – has Veitch got no shame? It won’t matter a damn but for what it is worth, drop the Veitch column and I’ll start buying the newspaper again.

One final thought on Veitch: I have noticed some people jumping to defend what, I would have thought, would have been indefensible.  For example on Facebook I saw a comment that said, “But she was wrong as well.” That may well be right. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live with one or two of the parents I’ve had to deal with in swimming clubs around the world. But no matter how wrong she was, no matter how difficult she was to live with, even if she had taken a look at his mobile phone and even if she had caught him out in a bald-faced lie – there is nothing that can justify or diminish or excuse savagely kicking your partner in the back. In fact saying “she was wrong as well” makes you no better that Veitch. Give him a call. You may enjoy an exciting life together.

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