Media Ethics. Or, when to disclose when someone’s sleeping with the enemy

Over the last 48 hours, the news that an MP’s marriage is on the rocks has been picked up by social media and the press. ? ?I decided it wasn’t relevant because who an MP sleeps with on their off-time is between them and their partner… or partners.

What is more interesting is the way that the media are dealing with it, and also their continued manipulation and silence about matters that are actually of public interest.

First, it seems Audrey Young has decided to move in on Rachel Glucina’s territory by writing about marriage difficulties of people in the public eye instead of politics.

Second, the NZ Herald are nothing but childish about this specific issue.


Critics will say that Whaleoil does the same thing; that we were very busy highlighting Cunliffe’s shortcomings as man. ?That’s only half true.

It was relevant when the man wanted to be Prime Minister. ?His ethics, his morals and his fidelity were very much relevant as he apologised for being man to a group of women who, frankly, had the wrong end of men in some way. ?That was just dishonest.

But this isn’t about Cunliffe any longer. ?He’s a nobody now, and this story, like many others of its ilk, should have been a bit of newsroom gossip at best.

Where these relationships do still warrant further scrutiny is where they provide the potential for hidden influence.

For example, if high profile lawyer?is having a relationship outside of her marriage with someone that can influence what sort of government contracts she may be awarded, that would be something to highlight. ?Not that the lawyer?and an MP?sleep together, but the fact that there is a huge problem with conflict of interest.

Similarly, if an MP is sleeping with a gallery journalist, surely this needs to be disclosed? ?It seems the media are forever demanding transparency on politician’s relationships with people outside of parliament, and that’s not even when they are sleeping together – that might just involve an email, or a TXT.

So when an MP and a journalist start having a relationship, this provides huge potential for conflicts of interest. ? The public may see the relationship as gossip, but the underlying public interest is in how this can colour the MP and the journalist’s decisions.

You would be surprised, or perhaps not, how many journalists are prepared to put their bodies on the line to get a story. ?I know of quite a few. ?I use this ?knowledge to understand their motivation when I see the pitch of their work change over time.

But should you know it too?

Remember this?

Katie Bradford NZ

Katie Bradford

That was a blatant piece of bias for the world to see.

What if it was in the context of a journalist also being in an undisclosed relationship with a sitting MP at the same time?

Do you think it’s any of our business who a journalist sleeps with? ? Or an MP? ? ?Does there come a tipping point where salacious gossip turns to something that needs to be put into the public so they too can from that point onward weigh the words of the people involved for bias and integrity?

Of course the media don’t destroy their own. ? Even between competing companies. ?It’s a sort of Mutually Assured Destruction scenario… nobody wants to start a bun fight because too much goes on and is going on all over the ?place.

And to be honest, who cares… until we have people on TV pushing very hard for a specific political outcome. ?Should we not know that they are sharing a pillow and soiling the sheets with someone from a political party who coincidentally shares the very same objectives?

The fact that Price and Cunliffe have split is not a surprise. ?Cunliffe is the author of his own misfortune, and not because of a single night of wild passion either. ?He’s been a dirty dog sampling forbidden fruit in total denial of being a good husband and a good father while at the same time telling a room full of abused women he was a sorry excuse for a man. ?It’s cringe-worthy and the man never deserved to be a leader of a party, let alone a nation.

Cunliffe’s just reaping what he’s sown, and there is neither sympathy nor?prurient interest in the way he’s chosen to live his life.

But where these clandestine relationships do start to matter is when they aren’t just pleasure – they’re are also business. ? At what point should the public know?

A gallery journalist and an MP are in a secret relationship. This is...

  • ...should be publicly disclosed where a clear conflict of interest exists (59%, 1,048 Votes)
  • ...should be publicly disclosed in any and all cases (36%, 638 Votes)
  • ...between them only and none our business (4%, 77 Votes)
  • ... (something else. see my comment below) (1%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,783

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