Is Stacey Kirk NZ’s nastiest journalist? The Fairfax hack has just been forced to admit that she published an unsubstantiated smear against a group of women dying of cancer.
Yes, you read that right.
The target of her vile attack were the women who went to Parliament last week to try and convince the Health Minister Jonathan Colman to fund the cancer drug Keytruda. At least Coleman had the grace and common sense to acknowledge the petitioners. Stacey Kirk apparently isn’t all that interested in the hard truths these women represent.
Fairfax has posted a ‘clarification’ of Stacey Kirk’s vicious article. The original story repeated a false smear against the women, which alleged their flights to Wellington were paid for by drug company Merck Sharp and Dohme.
Further, Kirk outrageously claimed that some of the cancer sufferers had been given free treatments as an inducement to launch the campaign for Pharmac to fund the life saving drug.
The truth is straightforward. No inducements had been offered by MS&D. These brave women (and their families) paid for their own flights to Wellington. Some of them even chipped in to help fund the flights of others, because paying thousands of dollars a month to stay alive has left little in the bank for many of them.
These slurs against the women were not Kirk’s invention. The lies had been going around for a few days, presumably to back the Governments position at the time that they would not meet the petitioners. However, Stacey Kirk was the only NZ journalist stupid enough to run a story based on the smear without checking whether or not it was true. I’m told that the many of the women concerned were left distraught by Kirk’s bullshit claims.
Back in the day, when our media had standards around truth and objectivity, the golden rule was to get two sources that verified a story. Stacey Kirk has, instead, been caught peddling dirty politics as fact.
I don’t think Kirk should be sacked for this, but a warning is due. But given that making shit up, or at least reporting on made up shit as if it were genuine news, is pretty much the de facto position in the modern mainstream media, I won’t hold my breath. At the very least Stacey Kirk’s next article should be a humble, heart felt apology to the women she has harmed.
As well as slagging off cancer sufferers, Kirk also made up a story about internal divisions in the Labour caucus over the Keytruda issue.
“It’s understood there is deep disquiet within Labour, over the issue. It’s believed some MPs and wider party members are privately unhappy with the moves to interfere with Pharmac’s purchasing model.”
“It’s understood…”. “It’s believed …”.
These weasel words are also bullshit. Kirk and her employer may have decided to attack Labour as a diversion from the more obvious hypocrisy of the National Party. In opposition, National bellowed long and hard about the need for Pharmac to fund Herceptin. In Government, they’re happy to watch women die.
Shame on you, Stacey Kirk. Shame on you, Fairfax.
We deserve a free, fearless media, with stories anchored to the verifiable truth.
What we’ve got is Stuff all.
Here’s the acknowledgement that Kirk had Stuffed up, as quietly added to the amended story:
Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that Ms Renwick had been forced to pay for most of the cost of the expensive drug out of her own pocket, but confirmed Merck Sharp and Dohme had paid for the cost of two of the treatments. Ms Renwick has since clarified that all melanoma patients paying for Pembrolizumab in New Zealand are offered the third and fourth treatments, as well as the seventh and eighth treatments free under the drug company’s cost share programme.
The programme is advertised on the Merck Sharp and Dohme web site and offered to private cancer clinics. Ms Renwick also confirmed she made her payments for her treatment to her oncologist and clinic, not the drug company.
The earlier version of the story also indicated that flights down to Wellington for some patients who attended the presentation of the petition had also been covered by the drug company. This was not correct. The flights were covered by the patients themselves. The error is regretted.