Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: "Evil called: Can you make a meeting at 11?"

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  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Given the current political climate you have to wonder why National are bothering to invest any money on campaign consultants? Why don't the Nats just spend the next four months sitting in their offices playing GTAIV while Cullen and Clark continue to expertly steer Labour's popularity down into single digits?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Stanley Pointen,

    Russell, I fear the dark arts are a feature of all political parties, even the organic Greens, to some extent. However, using Crosby/Textor tactics, the masters of the dog-whistle, is dangerous to our democracy. It is pretty clear to even a casual observer that the National Party's key messages around Clark not having any kids, and the nanny state stuff, and the alleged abundance of bureaucrats, even the 'cheesy' Budget attack line, which run not only in the House and the media but on blogs and talkback, is part of a sophisticated, well co-ordinated and well resourced attack campaign. But what really puzzles me is the lazy, superficial media coverage of a party that has been between 10 and 20 points ahead in the polls for over a year now. This government in waiting, even maybe 4 months out from a general election, is still able to have its attack lines run, especially on One News, and slide off providing any solutions. The recent 'law and order' coverage was appalling. Mr Key was recently shown in the House reciting a purile mantra of 'more police, longer sentences' yet as PM in waiting was never asked how many more police or how longer the sentences and for what offences and will these be manditory sentences beyond judicial discretion, and so on. No, the mantra ran and the audience would have been satisfied with the quick fix sound bite. My hope is that come the actual election campaign, the rules of fairness, accuracy and balance will kick in and the electorate may just get some objective coverage to inform their decision?

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Smith,

    And so we go on...yet another beat up by Nicky Hagar. Is it unusual again that Hagar trys to wow us with the 'secret' theme again. Is it a coincidence that Fairfax put an advert on the same web page as Hagar's piece about his upcoming film 'The Hollow Men'. I'm sorry, but Fairfax is beating this up. The state of their editorials these days is appalling and sometimes mendacious. What about some adverts for Wisharts no 1 book on Fairfax media? But I hear your cries of derision already. And yes, I had a bad weekend.

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    How much would National pay me to tell them: "do nothing. say nothing. promise platitudes when pressed."

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    "Explaining is losing"

    I find it difficult to comprehend the level of contempt for the ordinary person embodied in this statement - which is a campaign strategy repeated by Key and Brownlee.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Russell, I fear the dark arts are a feature of all political parties, even the organic Greens, to some extent.

    Yes -- although the Aussie consultant they used in 2002 didn't do them much good at all in the end.

    My hope is that come the actual election campaign, the rules of fairness, accuracy and balance will kick in and the electorate may just get some objective coverage to inform their decision?

    The actual party of government will, rightly, always be held to a higher standard -- its decisions matter.

    My guess is that, if National forms a government, the end of the honeymoon period may come as a bit of a shock. Clark went into government with a charmed press and still copped it soon enough -- I don't think anyone really feels that way about Key.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I'm sorry, but Fairfax is beating this up.

    I'm surprised to hear this. It was buried on Fairfax's stuff website yesterday...

    It is a pity that there are so few genuine investigative journalists in NZ, so that invariably the messenger is shot at rather than the substance of his research.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Excellent! I think you've gauged my tone better than Graeeme did ...

    Sure, but I think there's going to be plenty of folks out there who don't share our sense of irony. I've long said that if you want to get schooled in bare-knuckle campaigning, just cross the ditch -- and the ALP has its share of street-fighters who can go just as low, hard and dirty as Messers Crosby and Textor. And anyone who think Mike Williams and a number of senior Labour strategists were in Oz for the end of their federal election for the duty free is being wilfully naive. Just as I suspect they've been watching recent campaign in the US and UK very closely indeed, and will be holding meetings in Denver that are NOT for public consumption.

    Now, I'm not say that there's a lot about Aussie and Ango-American political campaigns I'd rather not see here. But please spare me the disingenuous outrage at the very idea that political parties (and not just National by any stretch of the imagination) look at how things play out overseas.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And so we go on...yet another beat up by Nicky Hagar. Is it unusual again that Hagar trys to wow us with the 'secret' theme again.

    As I noted, that the strategic advice is "secret" is hardly news. Strategic advice ain't much use when everyone knows it.

    But this is a controversial firm. Do you think that when asked a straightforward question about whether the party and its leader have been using its services, National should just give a straightforward answer?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And so we go on...yet another beat up by Nicky Hagar.

    I don't think so. National have previously tried to keep quiet the involvement of this PR firm in their campaign, and the PR firm has a reputation for some rather low tactics. Advising Howard to lie during the Tampa incident, push-polling, tabloid smears over in London. If there's only relative levels of scum in politics PR, then these guys appear to be at the bottom end of it.

    National using them again is news, absolutely.

    I also find the fact that Nicky is clearly still getting information handed to him from the inside of the National Party rather amusing. I have sieves at home that leak less than this. National Party higher-ups must have had a collective tantrum on Sunday at their inability to stop it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • insider outsider,

    I just heard Hagar on Nat Rad. What a load of hyperventilating nonsense. He was practically claiming that the 'rumours about HC's private' life, are coming from NAts and C/T.

    He said he's hearing more talk and attacks on HC personal life swirling around the country like mad and being fed deliberatley in an attack campaign. Note he flat refused to provide any substance for this smear.

    maybe he needs new friends or to get out more. Didn;t these rumours start within Labour 25 years ago? They are hardly new and dramatic and to use this as evidence of a malign influence is undramatic to say the least.

    He also claimed CT were the blackest of the black political advisers anywhere, yet relies on some old and fairly ordinary examples. Again he can't get out much because he has obviously never heard of Swift boating or other pretty nasty attack campaigns.

    nz • Since May 2007 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It is pretty clear to even a casual observer that the National Party's key messages around Clark not having any kids...

    Wait a mo', Stanley, Hagar tried to run that line on National Radio this morning and even he had to take half a step back and qualify that statement with "not from Key personally"... If you want to hold Key personally responsible for every right wing-nut out there, then let's be a little consistent.

    As Russell pointed out, Labour trying to push the "slippery John" meme (while denying it all the way) is hardly high minded, issues based politics. And what the hell happened to Pete Hodgson's allegations (made under parliamentary privilege, naturally) that Key (in effect) made false declarations to both the Electoral Enrolment Centre and the Companies Office? That's not personal?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    OTOH, Russell, it's not hard to feel that folks are getting pretty damn sick of the slick, punchy and totally content free soundbite that Clark is very, very good at as well.

    I agree, Clark is very adroit at soundbites, especially when that's the timeslice through which she must expound her position. But if you compare her interviews on Bfm with those of Key on the same station, you get a picture of a PM who has a solid grip on the detail,versus an MP who grip on details is remarkably slender.

    IIRC, on a recent interview with Mikie Havoc, Key promised a $45-$50 per week tax cut to the average earner (based on pre-budget rates). Craig, have you got any idea how he can possibly do this ? Or is this yet another example of Key making promises that he knows people want to hear, without any indication how/if he can deliver. It is difficult to conclude anything other than that he is being disingenuous.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Radio NZ interview with Hager is here.

    I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm surprised that he's cited the childless-Clark stuff. I really don't think that's been in play at all.

    The drumbeat has been "Clark/Labour is out of touch", backed up by a run of soft press opportunities emphasising Key's ordinary-chap credentials.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "'rumours about HC's private' life, are coming from NAts and C/T."

    All I know is that my first contact with them was Kiwiblog comments... thank God I gave up reading them about 6 months ago; it's done me the world of good.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Wood,

    This will be interesting. One of the key roles of a good PR company is crisis management... and the Sunday paper leak about it being "them again" will be one of their top three crises to manage. Unless, of course, Crosby Stills Nash and Textor have such a high opinion of themselves that this hasn't occurred to them as being a problem. Or even better, perhaps C/T see this as part of their own PR work...? Getting your firm's name on the front page on a rainy weekend -- nefarious skillz!

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • insider outsider,

    From memory HC was the first person to raise them publicly in her own biography and in regards to internal Labour rivalries.

    And if Hager has to rely on rumours like that, which have been around for so many years, it really shows he has nothing and gives credence to this being a silly beat up.

    nz • Since May 2007 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, have you got any idea how he can possibly do this ? Or is this yet another example of Key making promises that he knows people want to hear, without any indication how/if he can deliver. It is difficult to conclude anything other than that he is being disingenuous.

    Mikaere: I'm the kind of fiscal conservative who believes you can't honestly reduce government income without meaningful cuts in government spending. I'd say both National and Labour are being spectacularly disingenuous (if not outright intellectually and politically fraudulent) on that front -- and a brain-dead MSM aren't holding anyone to account. I don't think that's partisan bias (no matter hyper-partisans of either stripe would care to argue) but a combination of under-resourcing, experienced hacks finding 'the dark side' of PR and spin doctoring a damn sight more attractive, and plain laziness. There's a lot in the world that just doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Facinating politics session on NatRad just now. Matthew Hooten clearly hates Hagar personally, but then Hooten is fuckwit - whereas most of us think Crosby/Textor are base, Hooten IS their base - but its also fairly clear to me that Hooten had come onto Kathryn Ryan's show with a pre-determined plan of attack to shout down Laile Harre and hose down the debate. And that is quite interesting.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Wood,

    ...and in a completely separate comment, I recall how I watched the last election results from Singapore with extraordinary nervousness. Two specific points:

    1. For once, could we have a vote FOR a freaking government, rather than a vote for anyone-but-the-incumbent?

    I guess all it would require is for the incumbent or the challenger to develop a comprehensive, clearly articulated, positive vision, showing the way for many many years to come. Result = understanding of the reasons for government, and a vote for them, rather than vote against incumbent. Snort. As if. Instead it's non-stop personality cults. I mean, as if John Key is going to run the show!

    Which leads me to:

    2. Once again I fear a seemingly friendly/approachable figurehead shadowing a complex and aggressive right-wing business plot. If that's the plan, then just tell us and tell us why, and if it's a good idea and the results take a country from 3rd world to 1st inside a generation - like Singapore - then you'll get your votes.

    Might take a bit of state policing to see it all through, though.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Matthew Hooten clearly hates Hagar personally, but then Hooten is fuckwit

    And, once more Tom, thanks for your dispassionate and thoughtful analysis. I'll admit to holding Ian Wishart is utter and unbridled personal comtempt, but my defence is that he's a fundamentally contemptible person.

    but its also fairly clear to me that Hooten had come onto Kathryn Ryan's show with a pre-determined plan of attack to shout down Laile Harre and hose down the debate. And that is quite interesting.

    OMG... You mean that Hooten and Hare actually DISAGREE WITH EACH OTHER, and have been known to raise their voices? Scandalous! Two people bellowing down a microphone simultaneously is just a load of white noise, but if you think either Street or Haare are that easily brow-beaten you need to sit on the naughty step and stop being quite so patronising.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I find Hooten very annoying, he can get quite vile at times - his tendency to play the man rather than the ball really offends me (sort of like bits of kiwiblog spewing over onto the radio)

    To be fair he used to be a lot worse, he's either mellowed or been told to tone it down

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I find Hooten very annoying, he can get quite vile at times - his tendency to play the man rather than the ball really offends me (sort of like bits of kiwiblog spewing over onto the radio)

    Paul: I feel like that about both Hooten and Haare. I still remember when she accused (without any challenge from Street) the Auditor-General of "colluding with National to bring down the government". She's far from the only person whose passion sometimes overcame rational thought where that issue was concerned. But you'd think a former MP would know better than most how very serious laying that kind of charge on an officer of Parliament is.

    To be fair, I think both of them can be quite insightful and lively in the best sense. But there's also occasions when they both need to be kept away from the coffee machine.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I'm not so worried about their politics - the whole premise of the spot is that there's supposed to be a left vs. right confrontational thing going on - but it's national radio, it's also supposed to be a little more civilised

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    OMG... You mean that Hooten and Hare actually DISAGREE WITH EACH OTHER, and have been known to raise their voices?

    Craig: Not so much the shouting as to why Hooten might feel compelled to shout, or for that matter for you to accent the shouting instead of wondering about the reasons. I wonder why he was so incensed? Does it reflect possible panic? Shouldn't the issue be about the population being aware that some political parties are manipulating us in sneaky ways? Does it matter if they are?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

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