Pregnant TV presenter 'embarrassing and an eyesore'
A TVNZ critic is standing by his comments that pregnant presenters should be taken off air - but he regrets his choice of words.
John Rook sparked an online backlash after penning a letter to TV Guide that called pregnant TVNZ sports presenter Jenny-May Clarkson "embarrassing and an eyesore".
Clarkson, as well as her pregnant co-host Renee Wright, has been backed by viewers and the network, who said it was their choice how long they stay on-air.
The 69-year-old Lower Hutt resident and father-of-three said Clarkson, who is expecting twins, wasn't in a fit state to be presenting the news.
"Who is responsible for allowing a sports reporter in a very pregnant state to remain on screen?" he wrote.
"I have no problem seeing pregnant women in normal situations or places, but to have them remain on TV in a state which I feel is embarrassing and an eyesore? It's time to replace them.
So please, TVNZ, open your eyes and show some common sense."
"As for the presenters themselves, I wish them all the best for their new arrivals."
The letter was posted on Twitter by The Spinoff's Alex Casey, along with the comment: "Very cool guy of the week."
It sparked outrage, with many backing Clarkson and Wright.
"John A Rook of Lower Hutt I would suggest you hide for a while.... The internet exists now," wrote Twitter user Bayley Kite.
In an interview with NZ Herald, Rook said he had no problem with the pregnant female form - he was simply trying to ask what the cut off point was pregnant TV presenters being on screen.
"I just wanted to know who was responsible for leaving presenters on air and at what stage of their pregnancy? I'm old fashioned ... When a woman gets to that stage of pregnancy (show) a bit of decency - stand her down."
Rook admitted he'd chosen his words badly and regretted writing the letter.
"I shouldn't have said 'it looks embarrassing and it's an eyesore' - I wish her well. We've gone through childbirth and it's the best thing on earth. All I wanted to know was who was responsible at TVNZ and at what stage they should stop presenting on screen?"
A TVNZ spokesperson said it was Clarkson's choice how long she stayed on air.
"We're thrilled for Jenny-May. TVNZ is fully supportive of women working during pregnancy and supports their return to work. Like a lot of Kiwi women, Jenny-May is working during her pregnancy. She's not the first and she won't be the last member of our news team to do so.
"As well as her One News duties, she's currently filming segments, which explore pregnancy for TV One's lifestyle series Whanau Living. Jenny-May's a talented and professional broadcaster. It's her choice to decide at what point she takes a break from her role and we'll support her decision 100 per cent."
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Clarkson posted her own Facebook comment, thanking those that had supported her decision to stay in front of the camera.
"To those who have chosen to write in support of me and my twins, thank you. As a heavily pregnant woman I struggle with my own demons about my body changing shape but I choose to stay in front of the camera to encourage others to be proud of the job that we are doing - creating life," she wrote.
"It is a major privilege to carry and create a human being and in my case two. Just like it is a privilege to enter into your living rooms each weekend. Thank you once again for your show of kindness - nga mihi ki a koutou katoa."
TV Guide said the letter had sparked a "huge response" and backed Clarkson remaining on screen.
"Here at the TV Guide, we believe Jenny-May Clarkson is an excellent sports presenter and the fact that she's pregnant has no impact on her ability to do her job," the magazine posted on Facebook.