Pilger salvo leaves Kim Hill reeling

By Louisa Cleave

By LOUISA CLEAVE

Kim Hill was yesterday at a loss to explain a stinging personal attack by journalist John Pilger during their television interview.

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

Pilger: 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, well known as a left-wing journalist.

"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."

Herald Feature: Iraq

Iraq links and resources

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