Hard News by Russell Brown

King of the Zeitgeist

To the unknown graphic artist: congratulations. You are the King of the Zeitgeist. Your clever visual play on the identity of one of those supposedly implicated in the celebrity drug bust coursed through media organisations, private companies and public agencies yesterday. I got six copies yesterday afternoon, from as far afield as Nelson.

As I figured it would, gossip simply exploded yesterday. People compared lists of likely suspects, who appeared to outnumber those said in news reports to actually have been implicated in the case. So, logically, people who actually are not involved have been scooped up in the scuttlebutt. The interim suppression order was fair to those involved (and more especially those named in documents but not certain to be charged); arguably less so to those who aren't.

Meanwhile, PA reader Gordon Paynter queried the initial police comment: "Announcing the arrests, police said the case was one showing that stimulant drugs were widely available and used by educated professionals on good incomes, not just by criminals."

"So if you're a white-collar drug user, you're not actually a criminal?" says Gordon. He's right, of course; assuming they're convicted of a criminal offence, those involved are, by definition, criminals.

But people tend not to think of it that way, because, given that one of those implicated appears to have done no more than obtain cannabis, if they did there would be an awful lot of criminals in New Zealand. More than half the adult population, in fact. So there but for the grace of God go an awful lot of us. The slightly shocking truth is that recreational drug users can actually lead effective and successful lives. Unless, of course, they are actually caught.

There's a Herald story, which notes that Aaron Bhatnagar had to shut down comments on his blog after people kept posting the alleged names.

Nice to see that Don Brash finally has an answer to the question of whether he would have sent New Zealand troops in combat in Iraq without a United Nations mandate. Which is, um, probably. Frankly, I think he's got away quite lightly on this issue, which has seen him look shambolically evasive.

Dog Biting Men in overdrive! Neil Falloon makes a good point about the surprisingly generous media coverage afforded to the wife of one of the men convicted in the historical rape case.

Amusing video of Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff batting back Sean Hannitty's Republican talking points on the Rove issue. Meanwhile, two administration officials say, with remarkable frankness, that the appointment of John Roberts to the Supreme Court was brought forward to distract attention from Rove's public difficulties.

The telecommunications commissioner's promise yesterday of a "big move" on broadband isn't really news - it has been clear enough since the draft determination on the application brought by TelstraClear that TelstraClear, Ihug and others will be able to offer more and better deals on reselling Telecom DSL broadband services when the determination becomes official. But it's nice to hear Douglas Webb say it anyway. Meanwhile, Computerworld has a swag of reader complaints about the rotten deals Telecom is offering on business DSL.

And big ups to the Greens Frogblog for spotting a new PowerPoint presentation on United Future's website, singing the praises of UF leader Peter Dunne. It would be offensive if it weren't so, well, stupid.