Rachel MacGregor is under intense scrutiny as a witness for Jordan Williams in his defamation claim against former Conservative leader Colin Craig. Looking at media coverage you get the impression she has become stuck in the middle of legal battle between the two men. I can understand the way that media have handled this defamation case. Media are limited by the way that evidence is played out in court and the commercial realities. The audience loves the salacious allegations about relationships. MacGregor has a central role in whether the comments by Craig were or were not defamatory. That said it seems like the media coverage of the court case her name has been through the mud.
She has only been on the periphery of being a public face due to her decision to stand down from her job as Conservative party press secretary near to the 2014 election. But lets not forget that these people were getting a lot of media coverage in 2014, with the chance that the Conservative party would hold some power.
The two men in defamation action are hardly A List celebrities. Williams is executive director of the New Zealand Taxpayers Union, uncovering malfeasance and incompetence in politics. and is on the fringes of Right wing politics. Craig has promoted the idea he stands for “family values.”
Here they are slugging it out in an expensive court case. For media allocating limited resources there is a good case for giving extensive coverage and committing to a long haul.
So far it seems like the coverage of the case has revolved around MacGregor and Craig and who liked or disliked who the most.
It’s inevitable that the coverage focuses on salacious elements that focus relationship between the two, and Craig the court has heard claims that her in a a negative light. The court had also heard that Williams had passed on claims about the relationship to the board of the Conservative Party, against MacGregor’s wishes. What has been lost so far is what the case is about. Williams’ defamation action is about statements that Craig made about him and his actions in a mail drop. No doubt these substantive matters will be bought to the attention of the court and in the media as the case proceeds. Media have become caught up in the game of two men spending large amounts of money and tearing one another apart. The media consumer might get the impression that as a witness, MacGregor has become collateral damage.