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Asia-Pacific Network: 22 March 2003


Television New Zealand interviewer Kim Hill has been stunned by a stinging personal attack from independent Australian journalist John Pilger during their television interview about the US-led invasion of Iraq.

By LOUISA CLEAVE, of The New Zealand Herald
via Pacific Media Watch #3992

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PilgerAUCKLAND (NZ Herald/Pacific Media Watch): Television New Zealand interviewer Kim Hill was yesterday at a loss to explain a stinging personal attack by independent Australian journalist John Pilger during their television interview about the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Pilger accused Hill of not being prepared for the interview and labelled their 25-minute session "a disgrace".

Hill told the Weekend Herald she could not make sense of the attack, other than to think Pilger had become "so angry about the world that merely suggesting there might be another way to look at it in order to elicit a view from him felt like some kind of outrage".

The interview for Face to Face with Kim Hill on Thursday night was conducted between Hill in Wellington and Pilger at TVNZ's Sydney studio.

Pilger was critical from the beginning, correcting Hill's lead-in statement and saying he had to "deconstruct" her questions.

Hill: All this time, then, the United Nations and weapons inspectors have been some kind of puppets of the US.

Pilger: Are you saying that?

Hill: I am asking you whether that is what you are implying?

Pilger: That's a leading question, I wouldn't ...

Hill: How would you describe the activities of the United Nations up until this point?

Pilger: Which area of the United Nations? It's a very big organisation.

In the end, the interview dissolved into the journalists talking and shouting over the top of each other.

Pauline TangioraPilger: You waste my time because you have not prepared for this interview, as any journalist does, and I've done many interviews. The one thing is to prepare for them and this interview, frankly, is a disgrace.

Hill: What preparation would you have cared for, Mr Pilger?

Pilger: To read. Read. It takes time.

Hill: It's a pity you wasted a lot of your time tonight, Mr Pilger. I was looking forward to ...

Pilger: No, I haven't. I'm quite pleased with my answers. I hope you broadcast them as I've given them.

Hill: We broadcast you exactly as you are. It's been interesting to speak with you.

Hill and producer Maryanne Ahern both expressed disappointment in the interview, saying they never expected the reaction from Pilger.

"That was not a good thing. It was not what I wanted. I was aghast, really," said Hill.

Hill said she had spoken to the award-winning journalist before the interview.

"He said, 'You ask me anything you like', but he said, 'Don't play media games with me'.

"I don't know [what he meant by that] but clearly he is sensitive to what he would regard as some kind of right-wing domination of the media."

Louisa Cleave is the NZ Herald media writer. Pictures: Top: John Pilger; Middle: Pauline Tangiora speaks at an Auckland peace rally; Above: Al-Jazera images of "collateral damage" in the invasion of Iraq.

Copyright © 2003 David Robie and Asia-Pacific Network. This document is for educational and research use. Please seek permission for publication.
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