Hard News by Russell Brown

Migraine journalism

Matthew Hooton's Star Times column calling time for Don Brash reads less like newspaper commentary than a post to an internal National Party mailing list. Indeed, that's how it should be read.

Clearly, there is a movement inside the party to edge out the "historic figure" presently in charge within the year. To read the runes it casts, it would seem that Murray McCully has, yet again, contrived to change sides (and according to Hooton "is believed to see himself as a potential deputy leader"). All that unfortunate election campaign stuff about Maori and the "mainstream"? Don's idea, apparently. Um, yeah, right …

What's remarkable about the column is its sheer Soviet pomp. "Generations of National Party families will pass down the story of how [Brash] saved the party from oblivion and brought it to the cusp of power," Hooton declares.

John Key, meanwhile, "is able to articulate a fresh, inclusive, ambitious and bold agenda like no one else in contemporary New Zealand politics," Gerry Brownlee is "intelligent and thoughtful" and even Tau Henare "deserves an early return to Cabinet." In all, he offers, "New Zealand is blessed with the most talented alternative government in its history."

The "increasingly corrupt Labour regime", on the other hand, is home to the "hapless" Steve Maharey and the "loathsome" Pete Hodgson. But still, for some reason, in government and ahead in the polls. I guess there's a place for this sort of partisan cheerleading - in the blogosphere or even as a radio entertainment - but when it masquerades as political commentary, it's migraine-inducing.

Meanwhile, there was more slogan-shouting in the Herald on Sunday, from Deborah Coddington on the topic of local loop unbundling. Debs certainly isn't letting not knowing much about her topic cramp her style. She kicks off by claiming in her first sentence that David Cunliffe is the Minister of Economic Development (no, that would be Trevor Mallard, as you would think a political correspondent might know) and goes on to make a series of ridiculous statements, including linking unbundling to Nazism. Again, fine as a comedy act - migraine-inducing as serious commentary.

Juha Saarinen carried out a fisking, and DPF followed up.

Looks like discussion of the unfortunate political connections of Act Party vice-president Trevor Loudon has started up again, with the publication of David McLoughlin's 1983 New Zealand Herald story about links between Zenith Applied Philosophy and neo-Nazi groups. It's the story I referred to earlier this year.

Talking Points Memo has a mini-roundup on just-departed CIA executive director K. Dusty Foggo (a strange and compromised character appointed to the number three position in the organisation by Porter Goss), whose office and home were raided last week by the FBI as part of a corruption investigation. It's truly a bizarre affair, and one that would seem to have some way to go yet.

And with Keith Richards up and walking again, it's an opportune time to re-read Jimi Kumura's truly excellent Keef anecdotes. You'll have to scroll down, because Jimi doesn't do permalinks.

PS: I've published the open letter from Kiwi FM's Karyn Hay today because I thought she deserved a right of reply - but I have to take issue with her claim about the "holier-than-thou" student stations opposing a youth radio network. It's simply not true. I took part in the youth radio advisory group as the chairman of the 95bFM board, subsequent to a board-level decision to support such a network, and to try and ensure the engagement of b-Net and community stations in any future structure. I thought that was a pretty big call by our board and it's a shame it's been forgotten.