OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Sunlight Resistance

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  • CJM, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    But why? Why isn’t it the voters or the people of New Zealand that failed? After all, they were given chapter and verse of the allegations Hager (and Greenwald and Snowden) raised. The media pounded those responsible (well, most of them) for days and days on end and showed the results on TV/in the papers/on the radio. And 48% of those who voted shrugged and said “meh” – with more people voting this time than did 3 years ago. So, just who “failed” here?

    Yes but I continue to meet people who use combinations of the MSM, a little Herald here, a little Hosking there, a smidge of Leighton Smith, a draft of RNZ on the way home and then a splash of TVNZ News. They heard about the book, sure, but nowhere in any of those channels they consumed were the specific cases presented by Hager explicitly reported, i.e. verbatim.
    The MSM framed it all in the model sketched out by Key's team. It's all a 'smear'. So the people who didn't/won't read the book think they know about it because there's old David Farrar popping up on The Panel as usual and here's Katherine Rich doing the icy Hitchcock blonde routine and not being pinned down in a TV studio to be interviewed and ol' Jason Ede was still down the hall from JK so, you know, how bad could it all really be? 'Isn't it just a bunch of naughty boys and girls and don't all the parties do it?'
    It wasn't until fairly late in the piece that some of the specific misogyny and true deviousness was presented in the popular press with the Sunday Star-Times piece by Nippert about Hotchin. When that came out quite a few people I knew were horrified at what had actually happened as reported by Hager.
    Collins was gone, great, but the spin was around 'clearing her name' (wonder how that's going by the way?) and her last chance being up.

    Much the same applied to Greenwald/Snowden. The morning after on RNZ Katherine Ryan hacked away awfully on the phantom 'Cortex' story completely missing the 'Speargun' operation that was EXPLICITLY revealed and stated by Snowden the day before. OK, so maybe 9-noon is an old fashioned show that doesn't want peoples brains rocked by anything too serious but that days Herald, and that days TV news did not do "chapter and verse" reporting on that story. Many people came away more confused, more irritated, more likely to disengage. Much of the "Meh" comes directly from the choices the MSM make in the collation, presentation and dissemination of political news.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    One of the better things from his newly-approved journo status is that he’ll have to declare his sources by name, not ‘a party insider’ or a ‘reliable informant’.

    No, as a "journalist", he is entitled to protect confidentiality if he can show it's in the public interest. The judge further ruled, in Slater/Blomfield, that protection of sources in this matter was not in the public interest, and ordered disclosure in this matter only

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to izogi,

    Why not (I don’t know), the Police, who always seem so reluctant to get involved in anything that involves politics?

    I think there's a bloody good reason for that reluctance, and although I'd agree there's been a few occasions when they've been evidence of criminality and have still been reluctant to investigate, let alone prosecute, I generally think the Police should remain reluctant to involve themselves in such matters.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    I’m not dissing Hager’s book. It had some very valuable material in it and shone some light into some dark places. But a lot of its impact was that it collected events from over a period of five to six years and gathered them in one place. That gave it some real punch. The stories that I, and others, wrote happened individually and were (I suspect) passed over as being a bit beltway and of limited interest.

    Appreciated. Yet at the time Slater appeared to be being groomed for family-friendly prime time - the contrived Canon win, endorsement by Hosking, 'personality' piece in the Herald - any dissenting voices seemed rather muted.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    And remember Slaters ‘Canon’ award was given by the Heralds own Deborah Hill-Cone…

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sara Bee,

    Josie Paganism

    Best. Typo. Ever. Madame, you look most fetching in that Freudian slip. :)

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

  • Kevin McCready, in reply to Felix Marwick,


    Yes but did you report on it or did you report on it. Not accusing, just asking. Draw up the grid. http://pressthink.org/2011/08/why-political-coverage-is-broken/

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    National's landslide victory means that the media's reporting of Dirty Politics has had no effect.

    That's untrue. National dropped a long way in the polls, almost all after Dirty Politics, and there's a bunch of wasted vote too that's given them extra seats.

    The polls weren't wrong this time, a few months back National was really sitting on about 50 to 53% for a long time. That would've been around 66 seats, a long way down that party list.

    Not to mention, despite Labour's "positive" message, the campaign ended up being more negative than almost any we've seen. Personal attacks on credibility and the basic institutions of state, rather than policy. That is, historically, not good for the Left.

    National party stalwarts, they turned out big time. They're never going to hear that National is creepy and corrupt, they love them, and the media attention on revelations of impropriety meant they couldn't hear anyone else's ideas for government either. National's campaign worked with that nicely.

    You know, the "reckless spending commitments" that are less than the holiday highways and also fully costed and budgeted for, and also with notes about which would be dropped if conditions deteriorated. And then three days of news on Dotcom having a, ... meh, so no one heard that.

    Face it, the middle class majority are never going to give a fuck about state spying. Even the Nazis didn't send their middle class to the camps (or even the Russian Front), it's just not a real threat to them. Attacking Judith Collins because you don't like her for attacking people she didn't like, that's not a vote winner either. It's just not. When Key says everyone does it, it's a dog whistle, "look, they're doing it now, poor Judith".

    National nailed it. Perfect campaign, beautiful responses, glib brush-offs because their voters didn't want to hear excuses and explanations (if you're explaining, you're losing, they know that). Dirty Politics still cost them a bunch of seats.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sara Bee,

    Off topic. Just spotted Stuart Nash, Josie Paganism lunching together.

    What a superb typo!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to nzlemming,

    auto-correct knows us better than we know ourselves.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    3. It also fails because NZ electorate seats are far from being decided democratically. Counting them under a preferential system

    A preferential electoral system that has specific flaws you’d like to share, or is it the entire idea of MMP you find objectionable? ( ETA: And on reflection, under MMP electorate votes aren't counted preferentially. Was your point that you think STV would be fairer or something?)

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

  • Josie McNaught,

    Well done Keith - but your list of 'bads' on the part of Collins et al had me wondering and can anyone confirm/deny - didn't the story about Gareth Hughes and the 18 year old student (no charges laid btw) break on Whaleoil???

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Josie McNaught, in reply to nzlemming,

    Just spotted Stuart Nash, Josie Paganism lunching together.

    Job interview???

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    Before you accidentally defame someone Josie, it was Darren Hughes not Gareth Hughes.

    And the story was broken by the media, not Slater.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Williams, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    The media in general was pretty selective in what it highlighted about Dirty Politics e.g. loads of attention on Collins and the SIS briefing but not much on the influence of Lusk and Slater on National Party candidate selection and the implications of that for the election, and not much about the smearing of critics of big business and what that means for NZ - especially in light of the secretive negotiations around the TPPA.

    Large sections of the media - especially commercial radio - were openly dismissive and repeated key claims over and over like so many stir crazy parrots:

    1. politics is a dirty business, everyone uses dirty tricks;
    2. look at what Labour did (Mike Williams, Helen Clark etc etc), this is no different, in fact, when you think about it, it's not nearly as bad;
    3.. the timing of the publication of the book is itself an example of dirty politics;
    4. the author is a left wing activist/conspiracy theorist and therefore inherently biassed;
    5. don't bother reading it because it's all lies and you're helping someone make money from crime;
    6. the material it's based on was stolen which means the hacker and the author are no better/way worse than those they're pointing the finger at;
    7. the left have attack blogs too;
    8. Cameron Slater was acting on his own and what he did wasn't nice but given how awful the left is who can blame him for being a bit over-zealous;
    9. even if Judith Collins, Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham, Jordan Williams, Jason Ede, Cathy Odgers et al did do all of this that doesn't mean John Key orchestrated it or condoned it or even knew about it;
    10. Key is such a good bloke and Cunliffe is so tricky who do you believe folks, the one who gets a text from Ritchie McCaw saying 'yes you can' or the one who's got mates like Hager and Dotcom?

    It was such a stunningly wrong-headed outcome that - IF the media did in fact do all it could to present the issues in a full, accurate, impartial and balanced manner, and IF it did all it could to identify and investigate further those issues that were of critical national importance - a high proportion of NZers must be verging on brain dead.

    I don't think that is the case. Sections of the populace may have been bought off, dumbed down, turned off, diverted away but - without the constant drip feeding of misinformation and outright lies from the populist media - combined with the failure of the quality media to get its teeth into the critical issues - the outcome would have been very different.

    Just as it would have been if the true state of the rock star economy's health had been known last week.

    To suggest that the fault lies with a complacent / compliant / conservative majority who just didn't want to hear the truth is post hoc rationalisation of a what was a big fat fail. And that's why a lot of people are so very, very pissed off. Well, this person any way.

    Canterbury • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    Judith Collins and Oravida – wrote (lots) about it

    Not aimed at you specifically, but at the media generally (so including you):

    Yeah, you wrote about it. Late. And with many questions left unanswered.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Keith Ng,

    I don’t see it as an issue of agency or responsibility in a philosophical sense. Even if it’s voters who refused to be persuaded, I think the media still ought to worry that they were powerless to persuade; and if they don’t have that power, then they have no leverage to hold those in power accountable – and we ought to worry about that.

    But this assumes we should want the media "to persuade" their audience about news stories. I don't know how comfortable I am with that idea. And (some in) the media did hold those in power "to account" ... see Felix's comment above. It's just that those to whom they must account - the people of New Zealand - didn't follow through on their end of the bargain.

    But nobody is saying that dirty politics is anything but dirty. It’s nearly universally decried as unethical behaviour – the only response has been “that’s the way politics is”. That’s a fundamentally toxic and corrosive idea which we ought to fight – even if the election proved it’s a popularly held opinion.

    I agree! But you're not simple saying "we should keep on at the bastards and not let them get away with it". You're saying (or, I take you to be saying) "we need to reinvent the entire enterprise of journalism". And I'd like a bit more guidance of what it'll become instead before I sign up to that vision ... because how do I know that the campaigning, crusading, judgmental institution you're wanting to unleash is only going to do things that I like?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to CJM,

    Much of the "Meh" comes directly from the choices the MSM make in the collation, presentation and dissemination of political news.

    They're not experts. In anything. Journalists. Other than journalism. They don't know how spying works. If some guy who saw something a while back gives them one story and the Prime Minister who is in charge of the actual spies gives them a different one, we're lucky they even ran both.

    Expecting them to figure out that the PM is talking a bunch of crap is actually asking a lot. Because they're not experts in that. All those people you saw who it just confused, the journalists are just like that too. High court judges, senior science researchers, they get a little outside their special field of knowledge and they're not smarter than anyone else.

    Neither am I. I've just been suspicious long enough, and read enough history of governments going back centuries, to bet on the random guy who saw something once ahead of the Prime Minister and his spies every time. You can tell the Mr. Random is right, there's so many governments want him taken out because of what he is saying. It's dangerous. It harms relationships. Treasonous. All that. Those guys always turn out to be right, usually post-mortem.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I generally think the Police should remain reluctant to involve themselves in such matters.

    If that’s the case, here’s something to put on the “to do” list for the 51st Parliament. If the Police aren’t interested in enforcing electoral law, amend the relevant sections of the Electoral Act requiring electoral officials to report breeches to the Police for further investigation and prosecution and give the responsibility to someone who will. Though in my more cynical moments, I suspect there's a multi-party consensus that the status quo works just fine.

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

  • BenWilson,

    Bingo, Keith. All of it.

    That the combination of sophisticated polling and focus-grouping (Hi David!)

    What's the left wing version of Curia? If there is none, does anyone want to start one? I'm keen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    Of course, when you define “its job” in terms of “produced the particular outcome I would like to see happen”, then it hasn’t. But is that the correct definition?

    Think I've been pretty clear I'm not talking about an electoral outcome. How would you define the role of journalism in a modern democracy?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Read the rest of my comment. And what I was responding to. I don't disagree that the Police should investigate and prosecute where there is evidence of the law being broken. I do agree that the Police should be reluctant to get involved in politics.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Ianmac,

    What can we actually do about it though?

    I'm gonna give these folks another plug;


    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    But this assumes we should want the media “to persuade” their audience about news stories. I don’t know how comfortable I am with that idea.

    But neither do you want the media to simply pass on the media releases from whichever party. Media releases are effectively party political advertising. If the party concerned wants their statement verbatim then they should pay for the advertising and it should have the appropriate riders.

    What happened all too often in this campaign was the media quoting Key or worse asking Key to submit his very own opinion pieces - with no analysis whatsoever.

    For me, especially at election time, I want the media to use their resources to analyse. To use access to experts when needed to examine the things that come out of politicians mouths critically.

    What we had was far from that critical, informative media.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Lynn Williams,

    1. politics is a dirty business, everyone uses dirty tricks;

    It was a bad call on the naming of Hager's book: it practically demanded the response "Yes, politics is dirty - ALL politics, ALL parties". Should have called it "Dirty National Party Scumbags", so voters would have kept hearing the media banging on about the National Scumbags revelations, and whether National Scumbags would reduce voter turnout, and what the post- National Scumbags polls are saying and whether a formal inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the National Scumbags issues.

    Damn Hager and his ethics...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

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