The most puzzling part of the response to Jon Stephenson's Collateral Damage report last week for Native Affairs was the extent to which it focused on claims that the programme had not made.
Stephenson's story drew on both a paper trail and first-person interviews with Afghan villagers to make the case that official accounts of the mission to prosecute those responsible for the killing of a New Zealand soldier in 2010 were not the truth.
His attention to detail meant it was a story not easily dismissed, and the Prime Minister and his Defence minister were caught giving notably different accounts on the same morning. Key stuck to the old story: nine insurgents were dispatched and no civilians were harmed. Jonathan Coleman granted that it was possible that civilians were killed -- but it certainly wasn't our chaps that did it.
Thing is, the Native Affairs report didn't claim that New Zealand SAS troops were directly responsible for the deaths of innocent villagers. You won't find that in the script. It did say that they were part of the mission in which these people were killed, that the mission was conducted in pursuit of those responsible the death of New Zealander Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell and that our Prime Minister, John Key, was consulted in advance.
And yet it was incorrectly reported that the programme had called the mission a "revenge" attack (Stuff's reporter even attributed those words directly to Stephenson himself) and reports that Stephenson had claimed our own SAS troops were directly responsible were relayed (via AAP) as far afield as the Daily Mail website.
I'll be questioning Jon Stephenson about his report and asking him why he thinks accounts of it went awry on Media Take this week. Also on the show, Toi Iti looks at who we do and don't trust according to Readers Digest and I'm interviewing Antony Royal, the chair of Nga Pu Waea, the Maori Broadband Working Group, ahead of this week's NetHui conference.
We're recording the show tonight at TVNZ (we're hiring Studio 3, the same one we used to use for Media7). You're warmly invited to join us if you have a little time in the Auckland CBD after work.
It's a little complicated, because the building is currently more of a building site. If you can be at the Victoria Street entrance between 5.30 and 5.50pm we will get you through the construction works and into Studio 3.
We record from 6pm and it should all be wrapped up by 6.45 ,when we might adjourn across the road to the Empire Tavern for a convivial glass. We're working on getting the Empire to do us a favour on prices, but I can report that their Monday night $10 steak deal isn't bad. (I'm sure some of our regulars will be keen to socialise beforehand too, and the Empire will also be the place for that.)