Hard News by Russell Brown

The Pet Name Boys

The Wellington-based website nzpundit.com, a right-wing blog, takes a keen interest in Public Address and Hard News in particular. In principle, this is a good thing: I like being held to account. Ideally, I'd prefer to be held accountable by more original thinkers, but you take what you get, I suppose.

Unfortunately, these people seem far more interested in me than in anything I write. NZPundit (Gordon King to his mother - he and his chums like to refer to themselves and each other by third-person pet names) is quite obsessed with my social life. I feel like I'm supposed to apologise for failing to spend my Friday nights at home jerking off over pictures of Condi Rice. It's a bit weird, but harmless enough, I suppose. Certainly not worth responding to.

But this post - Media Watchdog or Lapdog Bitch - by OtherPundit (the pet name used by Craig Ranapia) is quite nasty. Ranapia emailed me yesterday (under his real name) with the same accusation. In the circumstances, I suspect that he is himself the "extremely cynical reader" he quotes, which is a bit sad.

Leaving aside the question of what kind of dyslexic reading of yesterday's post (below) in which I said that Linda Clark (who I have never met) was under-briefed and consequently overrun by Christopher Hitchens, then furnished a list of questions she could have asked but didn't, could find a "strenuous defence" of Clark, the intimation of conflict of interest is unpleasant and unfair.

Ranapia claimed that I should have declared a potential conflict of interest - I present a show on National Radio called Mediawatch and am therefore presumed to be attempting to curry favour for myself with RNZ management. He appears to be blind. Look to the right of this column. There is a link to the Mediawatch website.

That I present the radio show is hardly a state secret. I have referred to it in Hard News and it has been widely written about. I also write a computer column in The Listener and a column in the business magazine Unlimited - both of which, along with the broadcaster itself, have been scrutinised from time to time on Mediawatch. It's a matter of professional ethics. (According to David Cohen I "grilled" and "interrogated" my editor at Unlimited. Very flattering, but I prefer the word "interviewed".)

Indeed, I have worked for a great many media organisations in New Zealand. Unlike NZPundit, I'm not using my website to beg for work. The market has seen fit to deliver me plenty of that. It might do the same for Mr King if he thought a little more about the consequences of what is said on his website.