Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Political Lie

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  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    A place could really only be 100% pure if humans had never been there, and even then, what do we mean by “pure”, exactly?

    We mean what Key meant. Nothing.

    I think the dignified response would have been, “We NZers are very proud of our natural heritage, like anywhere else we have some issues trying to keep our country clean and unpolluted and protecting our biodiversity, but we’re working hard at it.” And he could have given an example or two of things the govt is doing. And mentioned something incontrovertibly cute or awesome, like kakapo or Mt Cook.

    End of problem. NZ looks good, he looks good.

    ETA: we could of course still argue about whether the govt is working hard at protecting the environment! But at least we’re back in the realm of facts, and statements that are defensible.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    (deleted as the conversation had moved on :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to recordari,

    Google has taken all the fun out of being a knowitall.

    Reflecting on this further, Google has also made it harder to lie. Certainly in a sustainable sense.

    Google, making lying unsustainable since 1998.*

    * Google tells me they had something called ‘BackRub’ on Stanford servers in 1996. BackRub? For a search engine? They must have been philosophy grads.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lilith __,

    “We NZers are very proud of our natural heritage, like anywhere else we have some issues trying to keep our country clean and unpolluted and protecting our biodiversity, but we’re working hard at it.”

    I vote for Lilith

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis, in reply to Deborah,

    Nice quote Deborah
    I find it interesting reading through the thread that people seem to hear the lies of those they oppose rather than those of the politicians they support
    Sacha and Craig spring to mind although Craig is as always an equal opportunity man when it comes to putting the boot in

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    seem to hear the lies of those they oppose

    For the past 20 years I've listened to politicians say they'll increase growth by supporting research and innovation ... liars every one of them ... red or blue

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Lilith __,

    His smile vanished when he realised where the interviewer was going. And of course NZ isn’t 100% pure.

    I think his smile vanished when he suddenly realised what he had been saying. To him "100% pure" was a label that has been applied to NZ. It's a trademark for NZ. So by definition NZ is "100% pure"TM. That doesn't mean that it is 100% pure.

    That's the problem with marketing. For some reason advertisers are allowed to blatantly lie, if it is deemed to be puffery - "The best beer in the world". And once you've applied a puffery label to something, the marketeers only see it as a label, not as a statement of fact.

    That's why John Key blithely stated "New Zealand is 100% pure" and looked stupid because of it. He was applying a marketing label, not making a statement of fact.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I vote for Lilith

    Thank you Bart. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    That’s why John Key blithely stated “New Zealand is 100% pure” and looked stupid because of it. He was applying a marketing label, not making a statement of fact.

    So he was confirming the brand recognition? Yes, I think you're probably right. And then he couldn't defend the slogan he'd just recited.

    Surely he has people to brief him on how to respond to these sort of things.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    people seem to hear the lies of those they oppose rather than those of the politicians they support

    I reckon we hear them, just not always going to bother commenting on all of it when the likes of Kiwibog or Te Standard are bound to be hammering the point quite adequately.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    He was applying a marketing label, not making a statement of fact.

    If he hadn't uttered the swift bullshit about other scientists offering opposing evidence I might believe you. But this was a calculated, rehearsed, bad faith approach just like climate change deniers use.

    There is nothing innocent about it. The impact is far from an academic matter of wordplay when the discourse is derailed, accountability is diminished and the resulting decisions and actions have very real effects on real people.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Looks like there's one thing the reds and blues agree on, although Hollywood Legal will probably do all the dirty work for us. Personally I'd lean towards something designed by Dr Grordbort himself.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to linger,

    @ Linger - Honour, glory and admiration all yours! Middlemarch is full of pithy observations like this one. It has stuck in my mind ever since I first read it. And yes, JLM - Mary Garth - everyone's favourite.

    Right. Back to lying politicians. Though I think RB should use the quote from Middlemarch on the show.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to recordari,

    Google tells me they had something called ‘BackRub’ on Stanford servers in 1996. BackRub? For a search engine? They must have been philosophy grads.

    I think BackRub was totally internal, but I do remember using Google on Stanford servers soon after it hit the wild. Made AltaVista look like a pig’s arse.

    ETA Potted history here

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I sometimes get the impression from people that they don’t want to be bothered by the details of actually how the country is run. So they don’t much care what the politicians are actually saying. Instead they focus of “how the politician sounds”.

    So here we sit round the high tech campfire driven by who sounds nicest on the ear. Boy are we fucked.
    ETA There are of course categories of "we"

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Baruch ter Wal,

    There's a meme going around that often political statements are outside 'the reality business', and more a symbol of your tribe.

    People are team players but don't like to think that their choice of team might be a bit more arbitrary than one would prefer.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to nzlemming,

    Made AltaVista look like a pig’s arse.

    I remember the transition too. Webcrawler, Alta Vista and Lycos. Them were the days. Except if you really needed to find something. And then there was Dogpile. Apparently, there still is.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    You mean like promising ultra fast broadband in an election, but not mentioning that many of you outside Auckland might not actually see for at least a decade?

    I'm at a school in Auckland and we have a broadband connection for 2,400 students and 200 staff. Emphasis on "a". That's right. ONE broadband connection for the entire school. And all options have been explored regarding sorting it out and we're stuck with what we've got. Forget trying to stream anything, download anything, hell have a cuppa while you wait for your emails to open or send.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to elsketcho,

    I would very much like to see an interviewer persist with the requirement for a 'yes' or 'no' answer.

    I remember Peters repeatedly being asked "Yes" or "No"? and he would make a great game of choosing neither and merely stating his opinion which was more often than not nothing to do with the question. If he was really stuck he would just have a go at the questioner.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to Deborah,

    @ Linger – Honour, glory and admiration all yours! Middlemarch is full of pithy observations like this one. It has stuck in my mind ever since I first read it. And yes, JLM – Mary Garth – everyone’s favourite.

    True, I had a hostel-mate while we were studying it who claimed that she really identified with MG, which caused the rest of us some amusement, as we thought she was more of a Rosamund.

    My favourite MM quote is the description of Mr Brooke as being of "miscellaneous opinions, acquiescent temper, and uncertain vote". (Along with the squirrel's heartbeat, etc)

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Yamis,

    I remember Peters repeatedly being asked "Yes" or "No"? and he would make a great game of choosing neither and merely stating his opinion which was more often than not nothing to do with the question. If he was really stuck he would just have a go at the questioner.

    Not that I think Winston required any training, but most politicians spend a good deal of money to have quite intelligent people, Clark had somone quite good I hear, train them to turn any question against the intentions of the interviewer if to do otherwise would paint them in a bad light.

    It's not lying, and I think that's a much over-used accusation, it's re-framing.

    But the good news is that actually most people understand what's going on, the public is not really all that gullible. Or they have preconceived opinions that wont be shifted either way.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I have to agree - neither party has made any real effort as regards fostering a growth economy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    I guess there are passive and active political lies - a passive political lie in our democratic political system is a result of the manner by which the government is evaluated in response to questions and problems.

    The role of the opposition and the media is to call the government to account and then measure the government responses and actions or omissions against the “truth of the matter”.

    Where there is a failing to bring the government to account due to a weak opposition or a witless media and there is no calling into account or measure then the truth does not matter and there is no consequence for the lie.

    A prime example of a passive political lie would be the present governments waltz through its first term largely unchallenged by the imploding opposition and the media.

    An active political lie is one promoted directly by the someone or some organization, or group that hold influence and power, they promote the lie or untruth and then it is supported and enabled by other aligned or associated organization or individuals that hold or exercise similar positions of influence – these others are enablers..

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big issue – it may be say Auckland City issuing bus lane fines for the 50 metre limit when there was no actual 50 metre limit at law until several years after the policy had been in force that the law was passed or say a Union boss reaching a deal with an employer without consulting the membership and lining the boats up to see that it goes through and those boats could include the CTU, the union delegates, officials from other union and the media.

    What I find disturbing is that the promoters of political lies and the enablers work hand in hand – the govt’s budget and the growth forecasts from treasury.

    A government’s active political lie is often left to stand and not dismantled or deconstructed as to be shown as bullshit; the interests of providing balance seem to outweigh the relevance of truth – so to recite the political lie and run and opposition response it is considered adequate and providing balance – the lie stands in the interests of balance.

    I would have thought a suitable front-page headline in response to the budget based on the treasury forecasts would have been “THIS IS BULLSHIT”.

    In response to my three year old providing an answer to my questioning her behaviour.

    Me - "That not the right answer"

    Her - "I know, but it's still a good one".

    Her response seems to be good enough in today’s political environment though dishonesty is not good enough for me and in the long run won’t be good for her.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Johnson, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Not that I think Winston required any training, but most politicians spend a good deal of money to have quite intelligent people, Clark had somone quite good I hear, train them to turn any question against the intentions of the interviewer if to do otherwise would paint them in a bad light.

    Right, and it gets to be so common to hear a Pollie never really answer the question. I wonder how the General Public feel about it - I usually just change the station in frustration.

    I recall hearing a 'spoof' this on NatRad some time ago. Can't find the audio, but here is a transcript

    Wellington • Since Oct 2007 • 98 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    Can't remember the study I read but the researchers determined that 6 year olds tell a whopper of a lie on average every 20 minutes talking with each other.

    Wonder if politicians do any better?

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

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