Hard News by Russell Brown

Very Hairy

And so, a political solution. Not so much the only solution as the only one that wasn't completely horrifying to contemplate. Really, would you rather be savaged by a dead sheep Don Brash, or face the very real possibility of your renegade MP going completely feral, while he is cheered on by the substantial sector of the public that sees him as a loveable straight-shooter no matter what he says or does?

It was Tamihere's pathological inability to let anything lie that got him embroiled in the brawl with his successors at the Waipararera Trust that eventually led to his woeful Investigate interview; and which led him to revive his blog with that insane attack on 3 News. Revenge for John is not so much a dish best served cold as a greasy takeaway to be scarfed down on the footpath outside the chippie.

This is not to suggest that John Tamihere was not entirely contrite when he gatecrashed caucus yesterday. He actually did look like he'd had the bollocking of his life when he emerged: his emotional charge runs both ways. The impression isn't just that no other MP would have got out of this, but that no one else would have got remotely this far into it.

This just in: It seems to be quite the week for the Prime Minister: news of a genuinely serious air incident and emergency landing just after 9am today. She's just confessed to Linda Clark on National Radio that she was wondering "will I live or will I die?" as her small plane plummeted and the door came off. Crikey!

Meanwhile, I distracted myself from more pressing work yesterday by perusing Justice Neazor's report on the Sunday Star Times' hoax SIS story. My initial impression is that while the paper blew past various warning signs in the course of the investigation, the basic mistake was made right up front: in not picking up the fact that the initial source, the so-called Jack Sanders was a known fabulist who had been exposed by the New Zealand Herald more than a year before the SST began "investigating" his claims. A little Googling along the lines of "Sanders", "Nauru" and "Beijing" would have saved many tears later on.

By the way, a wee Google on the name of the alleged SIS operative, Steve Buttell, suggests that perhaps some diplomatic advisories are due on the issue of the New Zealand China Business Club, which seems to be a construction of Buttell himself. A Chinese website translated roughly here mentions a cocktail speech by its "president" Buttell. This 2004 newsletter from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat describes him as the club's "newly appointed chairman". There are no other relevant results for either Buttell or the New Zealand China Business Club. Hmmm.

But the most astonishing thing now that it all lies in ruins is the fact that Star Times editor Cate Brett allowed her response to be managed by a public relations firm and will say nothing beyond a rather surprising press statement (short version: it's our job to toss allegations out into the public domain, somebody else's to find out if they're true). Isn't this someone who was calling for other people to front up? I might be wrong, but I'm still inclined to feel a little sympathy for the journalists here (more so Nicky Hager, who was contracted in after the story started) on the suspicion that Fairfax management pushed the story for competitive reasons even after the journalists had begun to have their doubts.

NBR's Nevil Gibson says he's taking my description of him as "the old warhorse" as a compliment. Which it was, actually.

And finally, allow me to welcome the award-winning Tze Ming Mok and the award-winning Keith Ng into the Public Address whanau. I'm delighted to have them with us, and as you'll see they've already made themselves at home. But I dunno, you invite these people in and they start talking funny in your lounge and everything …

PS: I did like Eating Media Lunch's coverage of the recent Destiny march in Auckland last night; not least because it fairly demonstrated that the anti-Destiny protestors were, if anything, more annoying than the marchers themselves ...