Complaints about Mike Hosking’s ponytail rant upheld

Fallout from "ponytailgate" continues.   Campbell Gibson and Nick Grant talk about the week's big media news on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

See also: Mike Hosking deserves harsher punishment – Brian Edwards

Mike Hosking’s rant against a café waitress who complained her ponytail was pulled by Prime Minister John Key has been deemed unfair by a broadcasting watchdog but no costs have been ordered.

At the end of an episode of Seven Sharp in April, the divisive host offered his views on the incident, saying the waitress, Amanda Bailey, was “selfish” and “a puffed up self-involved pile of political bollocks.”

Four complaints were made to the Broadcasting Standards Authority and they were all upheld.

Mr Hosking’s comments were said to be unfair to Ms Bailey because she wasn’t able to defend herself, the watchdog ruled.

The BSA said while public figures can expect to be the subject of robust scrutiny or criticism, it did not find Ms Bailey to be one, despite her story being made public.

The BSA has the ability to order broadcasters pay costs for breaches but it did not on this occasion, saying the publication of the decision would be sufficient.

Mr Hosking’s opinion piece in full:

You know who the big losers out of this ponytail shambles are? The café owners are. They are the victims in an agenda-driven circus which has unfolded as these things always do when you involve the angry under-grounders on social media.

To quote the waitress concerned today, 'I felt New Zealand should know'. What a puffed up, self-involved pile of political bollocks. She had a problem at work. The owners were the people to consult, not a blogger.

The owners, one of whom I have run into a couple of times given that we frequent a number of their cafés, are good hard-working people, who in their own way have revolutionised the food scene with an outstanding series of outlets throughout Auckland. They deserve none of this.

Yes, what Key did was bizarre, but it never warranted this. This is what it is because as always there is more at play than the singular incident. Even if the waitress concerned wandered into this naïvely, she wandered into a snakes-pit frequented by those driven by political self-interest and nothing more. And if it wasn't naïve – which makes it worse – and she was looking to hang the Prime Minister out to dry, her selfishness caused needless upset and attention to a couple who have done nothing but go about their business.

Mr Hosking isn’t alone in having his coverage of “ponytailgate” ruled as unfair. Following her front-page article in the New Zealand Herald, gossip columnist Rachel Glucina had numerous complaints upheld against her by the Press Council, which said the Herald’s coverage “had elements of subterfuge.”

Read the full BSA decision here.

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