Hard News by Russell Brown


The Near Future

I was impressed by both the tone and substance of the New Futures digital broadcasting conference, where I've spent much of the last two days. The turnout was very good and William Cooper's keynote yesterday -- a primer on the current state of, digital, interactve and IPTV -- was excellent.

The big announcement came late yesterday, in the form of NZ On Air's unveiling of the New Zealand Screen Trust, which will build a curated, public-good portal for all New Zealand screen work.

Disclosure: I've agreed to be a trustee, something I wouldn't have done if I didn't like the prop.

Things I like about it: it's not part of NZ On Air or any other government agency, but a stand-alone trust with a dedicated purpose; it will partner with anyone who wants to be partnered with; it will happen quickly (no small mercy when agencies in this domain habitually spend years defining policy about policy); and it will welcome public knowledge via wikis for each entry.

You can hear Clare O'Leary, NZ On Air's strategic advisor, talk about nzscreen, and hear from William Cooper and the excellent Mr Brown, at the Karajoz Great Blend events in Wellington tonight and Auckland on Saturday.

With our larger venues, there is still room for a few more, so check the details here and RSVP to come. It's free. And lovely.

Meanwhile, what exactly was Mike Moore on when he wrote yesterday's Herald column? There is, naturally, no reason why a former Prime Minister, however brief and unelected, should not offer criticism of a current government, or set its performance in a historical context. But it's hard not to scan that juddering prose and wonder how it read before the sub-editors finished with it.

He simply seems to be making up some of it:

The attacks on possible, probable enemies of the state has even gone overseas to attacks on Australian Foreign Minister Downer for speaking at a National Party conference, when Labour regularly has overseas politicians speak to the troops. The media breathlessly talked of a "secret" meeting.

Did they? Where? I'm happy to be corrected, but aren't we talking about a National Party conference that was widely reported by the press?

The Clark-Muldoon comparison is hardly new, but Moore performs the remarkable trick of making it seem completely invalid, by slathering on anything that comes into his head:

I'm expecting a cartoon of Helen Clark to appear, morphing into an angry Robert Muldoon. He used SIS files on opponents, perfected the nasty technique of personally destroying opponents, intimidating the media (not that you have to muzzle sheep), and used the levers of Government to create stunts, diversions, and buy votes in marginal seats.

Mike, perhaps you could call us when Clark does actually use SIS files against opponents, or even when she succeeds in intimidating the news media into not tearing into her government on a pretty much daily basis.

The phrase Moore brandishes -- "the politics of personal destruction" -- was popularised by Bill Clinton (and has been more recently abused by Hilary). Anyone who has seen The Hunting of the President may find a comparison between that saga and Labour's recent lame-o attempts to make John Key look shifty just a bit facile.

Moore's right about one thing: his screed is not be taken seriously, however much the Herald seems to think we should. Even the commenters at Kiwiblog haven't exactly taken up DPF's invitation to pay tribute to Moore's work. This comment from Danyl was quite good.

It’s worth examining Moore’s claims about Clark's impressive record of ‘destroying’ political foes in slightly more detail.

Lange. Clark is unlikely to have played more than a superficial role in Lange’s resignation.
Palmer. Stood down in the face of electoral annihilation.
Moore. Was indeed, rolled by Clark.
Cullen. Punished his attempt to overthrow her by making him deputy PM and Finance Minister.

Shipley - stood down after massive election defeat; rolled by Bill English.
English - stood down after massive election defeat; rolled by Don Brash.
Brash - stood down after narrow election defeat; was about to have a book of his emails published; rolled by John Key.
John Key - has thus far withstood Labours pathetically feeble attacks on him; will possibly win next election in a landslide and be PM by this time next year, thus cannot really be described as ‘destroyed’, whether by Clark or anyone else.

Meanwhile, economist Eban Goodstein gives a withering review to the new book by Bjorn Lomborg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming. Kevin Berger also interviews Lomborg.

From a nice little set of links at The Fundy Post, occasioned by the deparature of Alberto Gonzales, this truly amazing list of the fools and knaves who have failed upwards in the Bush administration. Stuff like this:

William G. Myers III
STARTED AS: Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, 2002-2003

HECKUVA JOB: A former lobbyist for mining and cattle companies, Myers signed a pledge not to deal with his old clients when he went to work for the government. In 2004, Interior's inspector general found that he'd met with his former clients at least nine times while in office; accused of unethical conduct, he resigned.

SOFT LANDING: Bush promptly nominated him to the powerful 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He now has the distinction of being one of the few Bush nominees who has never been confirmed.

Oh right. Bent lobbyist gets a plum public job. Warned not to be bent any more. Stays bent. Resigns. Made an Appeal Court judge.

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