3 News can reveal state broadcaster TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.
They've even held a meeting in TVNZ's Maori and Pacific Unit aimed at fundraising for Labour.
The unit's manager, Shane Taurima, has held ambitions to become a Labour MP and his staff have been arranging Labour Party business, using TVNZ facilities like email.
Mr Taurima has resigned following the revelation.
How did several experienced journalists miss the headlines they were creating? The use of TVNZ facilities was minor, but it should have created doubts. The stench of a story should have suffocated every journalist in the meeting room.
I stand by the claim that the use was relatively minor. But the political ineptitude isn’t. There’s a story on two levels: principled and practical. Is it ethical to remain party political while maintaining editorial control at a public broadcaster? On a practical level, does the issue speak to poor political judgement?
I think Shane checked his views at the door. His work confirms that. But perceptions demanded he resign. How could he remain objective?
Well, he remained balanced. Objectivity was a red herring. Journalism demands balance. The myth of objectivity was only a self-serving political attack. Shane didn’t sacrifice his professional skills or values. But the perception that he was tainted – a perception that’s given substance in the latest story – ran too deep.
Shane didn’t make the rod for his own back in front of the camera or in the control room - he made it in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti selection. When he revealed his political ambitions – and social democratic inclinations – he drew a target on his head. In hindsight he should have resigned permanently the moment he announced his candidacy. On a practical level he could have and did remain – I don’t think anyone can question his professionalism – but on a political level the decision to remain was stupid. Does this cast doubt on his suitability as a political candidate?
Post script: Shane has released a gracious media statement explaining his resignation.