Thursday, October 8, 2020

It's not just the Labour Party that Collins is fighting

First up, a disclaimer. I am not, and never have been, a National Party supporter. While there have been rare occasions in the past 50 years when I’ve voted National, they are outnumbered by the times I’ve supported Labour. National won’t be getting my party vote next week, though I may yet decide to support the party’s Wairarapa candidate. (For the record, I voted for Labour’s Kieran McAnulty last time.)

It’s important that I get that declaration out of the way, because otherwise what I’m about to write will be dismissed by Labour camp followers as sour grapes from a disgruntled Tory. (That’s bound to happen anyway, but I need to spell out my position regardless.)

Now, to the point of this post. In recent weeks I’ve watched with mounting disbelief as the network formerly known as TV3 has conducted what appears to be a sustained offensive against the National Party.

Initially I gave Newshub and its political reporters the benefit of the doubt, thinking perhaps the run of events was against National and over time the playing field would be levelled. But that hasn’t happened, leaving me convinced that Newshub is functioning as Labour’s unofficial propaganda arm.

I shouldn’t be completely surprised, because it’s happened before (I wrote about it here). But nine years on, the bias is even more explicit and infinitely more mischievous.

No one who believes in the importance of fair and impartial news media can accept this is right. Fair, accurate and impartial journalism is never more important than during an election campaign. Some of us can remember when in every newspaper newsroom, someone was assigned to tot up the daily column inches given to each of the major parties to ensure no one was given an unfair advantage. But Newshub doesn’t appear to care about maintaining even a pretence of neutrality.

You could choose virtually any night at random to illustrate this, but let’s examine Tuesday night’s bulletin. It started with political reporter Jenna Lynch – eager-beaver apprentice to chief stirrer Tova O’Brien – asserting that National was in crisis mode following leaks to Newshub by MPs reportedly unhappy with Judith Collins’ leadership.

Taken in isolation this would be unexceptionable, but context is everything – and this story meshed neatly with an ongoing Newshub narrative portraying National as a party in disarray – a “death spiral”, in O’Brien’s words – and not fit to govern. A write-off, in other words, and not worth wasting a vote on.

“The cracks are getting wider and the wisecracks nastier,” opined Lynch – except that the wisecracks she was referring to appeared to relate not to the election campaign or Collins, but to totally unrelated grudges dating from the National leadership takeover by Todd Muller five months ago.

There was also a sneering reference to “fawning MPs” clustering around Collins on the campaign trail. But fawning MPs are a staple on the political circuit, and certainly not confined to National. Why should Collins be singled out for derision when it’s long been a bizarre convention that when party leaders appear on camera, they must be surrounded by sycophantic MPs and ministers furiously nodding in agreement at whatever the boss is saying? Because it fits the Newshub narrative, that’s why.

Lynch went on to make the unsubstantiated claim that Collins was “on the ropes”, then linked this supposed crisis to a bitchy Twitter exchange (is there any other kind?) between Muller’s former PR adviser Matthew Hooton and deposed deputy leader Paula Bennett. But the Twitter sniping appeared to have nothing to do with Collins; it was about the circumstances in which the ill-fated Muller took control back in May.  

It apparently didn’t matter that there was no connection, because it served the purpose of providing a pretext to cross to Winston Peters, who wisecracked that it explained why Collins had been shown praying (which, in turn, served as a cue for Lynch to remind us that Collins was accused of politicising her faith); and then to Ardern on the campaign trail, so that we could observe for ourselves the stark contrast between the National leader – white-anted by disloyal caucus members, according to Lynch, and looking defensive in the face of Lynch’s insistent questioning – and a relaxed and smiling prime minister untroubled by caucus disloyalty or awkward questions from hectoring reporters, surrounded by adoring fans, posing for selfies, accepting gifts from awe-struck children (“Oh, is that for me?”) and patting dogs.

I mean to say, who would you prefer as the country’s leader: Agatha Trunchbull from Roald Dahl’s Matilda or Glinda, the Good Witch of the South from The Wizard of Oz?  No contest.

Newshub invited Ardern to put the boot into her opponents over their internal friction but she declined. After all, why risk being seen as indulging in petty schadenfreude when Lynch was doing the job for her?

But Newshub hadn’t finished with Collins and National. Next we crossed to political editor O’Brien, who pronounced the party was in turmoil (hadn’t we just spent three minutes hearing Lynch say much the same thing?) and that the writing would be on the wall for Collins if National lost the election (as it is for most major party leaders who lose elections, but hey, here’s a radical suggestion: why don’t we just wait and see?).

We then segued into an unrelated item about politicians criticising the media, the main purpose of which seemed to be for Newshub’s political journalists to pat themselves on the back for irritating people like Peters, David Seymour and Gerry Brownlee, as if getting up the noses of politicians is how the efficacy of journalism should be measured.

Since it was stripped of any explanatory context, the item would have made no sense to anyone other than the most obsessive political junkie. In most cases it wasn’t clear what the politicians were talking about, or to whom. This was not about imparting useful information to the public, which is supposedly the purpose of journalism. The purpose seemed to be to satisfy some other agenda known only to those involved.

The item included a brief clip of Brownlee, who in July was the target of repeated Newshub attacks accusing him of indulging in conspiracy theories over the government’s response to Covid-19, delivering an extraordinary rant to someone off-camera in which he said: “Your [presumably meaning Newshub’s] people give me the shits. You’re bloody lazy as buggery.”

Again, there was no explanation of what this was about. It doesn’t matter, apparently, that the audience is left out of the loop; it’s all about point-scoring. But the item did serve as the cue for yet another cross, this time to Greens co-leader James Shaw, who was presented as the voice of moderation and reason. Politicians on the campaign trail get tired, intoned Shaw solemnly, “but that’s no excuse for rudeness”. The take-home message: there are wise and civilised politicians like Shaw, and then there are feral bullies like Brownlee.

Oh, and we shouldn’t forget the long-suffering journalists who bear the brunt of these nasty attacks by politicians when all the heroic hacks are doing is trying to get to the truth of things. “Political journalists get used to it,” said O’Brien (oh, nail me to the cross), before noting with satisfaction that Brownlee had apologised “unreservedly” for swearing at the unnamed Newshub reporter. Vindication, then, and shame on the politicians for getting down in the mud, where high-minded journalists refuse to go.

O’Brien’s patronising advice to the politicians: “Chill, guys, just chill.” Not surprisingly, she said nothing about the endless baiting and provocation politicians have to put up with from scalp-hunting reporters. Politicians are not an easy class of people to feel sorry for, but political journalists sometimes make it possible.

Whatever this is, it’s not journalism as I understand it. It’s a continuation of a long-standing trend whereby journalists see themselves not as mere observers and reporters of the political process, but as active players and agitators.

Duncan Garner pioneered this style of journalism at TV3 when he was political editor and each of his successors – first Paddy Gower, now O’Brien – has taken the approach a step further. O’Brien is the worst, constantly setting out to generate conflict and controversy by catching politicians out, goading them, tripping them up and asking loaded questions that she hopes will generate headlines for the six o’clock bulletin.

There was a good example of her approach recently when Newshub led its bulletin with a story quoting Ardern as promising a crackdown on hate speech. This wasn’t a pre-planned policy statement on the government’s part; rather, O’Brien used Ardern’s unveiling of a memorial plaque at the Al Noor mosque, and an emotive statement from the local imam, to press the prime minister for an impromptu commitment on whether hate speech would be outlawed if Labour won a second term unencumbered by the killjoys of New Zealand First (who previously vetoed it).

On one level, this was an enterprising journalist seizing the moment, but it was also a significant breakthrough for the woke agenda – one that O’Brien immediately took a step further by encouraging Ardern to agree that as well as outlawing hate speech against religious groups, Labour would also apply the law to speech relating to sexual orientation (which could make it illegal to say mean things about trans-gender people), age and disability. It seemed a prime case of journalism intersecting with ideological activism.

Intriguingly, the same Newshub that sanctimoniously took Collins to task this week for supposedly making up policy “on the fly” over a promised review of Auckland Council apparently thought it quite unexceptionable that Ardern did precisely the same on hate speech, despite it being an issue with infinitely graver implications for democracy. Make of that what you will. 

There was more in similar vein in last night’s bulletin. We saw Ardern being mobbed by rapturous fans in Dunedin (O’Brien, without a hint of sarcasm, called it Ardern's people’s princess vibe) and we were again invited to contrast this with scenes of Collins getting a distinctly cool response, other than from obvious National Party plants, in the forlornly empty streets of Ponsonby. (But hang on: what party doesn’t attempt to ensure a few strategically placed sympathetic faces when the leader goes out in public? Ardern’s handlers did it too when she was in the Wairarapa recently.)

It’s impossible to convey in words the striking disparity in this coverage. It’s relentlessly positive toward Ardern – fawning isn’t too strong a word – but strives tirelessly to nobble her main rival with stories of caucus disloyalty and belittling scenes from the campaign trail. On top of all this, O’Brien had the chutzpah last night to make sympathetic noises about the ordeal Collins is being put through. To paraphrase a quotation from Robert Muldoon when talking about his bete noire The Dominion: with friends like O’Brien, who needs enemies?

I detest this style of journalism. It attempts to place journalists at the centre of the action rather than on the periphery, where they belong. They abuse their power by seeking to influence events rather than simply reporting them in a fair and balanced way and allowing the public to make up their own minds. They are every bit as guilty of abuse of power as the most despised press baron. 

And while some journalists insist on seeing themselves as morally superior to politicians, it can be argued that the reverse is true. As devious and self-serving as some politicians may be, they can still claim the moral high ground because ultimately they are accountable to someone: namely, the voters, to whom they must answer every three years. No journalists have to submit to that judgment.

I’ll finish this post by repeating what I said at the start. I’m not a National supporter and it won’t concern me in the slightest if National loses the election. In fact I’d go further and say they’ve done nothing to justify winning it.

It's no help to National that there’s a whiff of desperation in the way Collins is conducting her campaign, as evidenced by the cheesy shots of her praying, presumably in a late play for support from the Christian right. But it’s hardly surprising that she’s looking desperate when she has journalists like O’Brien and Lynch enthusiastically charting every stumble and writing her off before the voters – the only people whose opinions ultimately count for anything – have had their say. Collins isn’t competing with just the Labour Party; she also has to reckon with journalists who are clearly willing her to fail.

39 comments:

Homepaddock said...

The focus is on personality instead of policy, going for headlines and sound bites instead of analysis. This isn't how the fourth estate should play its role in a democracy. Ele Ludemann

David said...

Gosh Karl, do you think TV3 is biased or something?

Seriously, Tova has been running a campaign for the past two years to change National leaders. She campaigned against Bridges month after month, saying everything he did was his last step, till he finally got pushed, despite the Nats being ahead of Labour in most of the polls before Covid (as they were well ahead of Labour at the 2017 election). I think Muller's short reign surprised even Tova. But with Collins, she is back on the same campaign: Collins has to go, she will go, and everything she does proves she's on the way out.

However, I don't see this is anti-National. She long ago convinced herself that National will only win power again after installing then deposing multiple leaders, the way Labour did with Goff, Cunliffe and Little before winning with Jacinda. That seems to be all that she can see and it is her long game and underlying story.

The days of leaders hanging on election after election despite losing multiple times ended with Bill Rowling, who lost three elections before he was finally rolled. Helen Clark lost one (1996) but the media believed she actually won it and was cheated by Winston (it was the first MMP election, remember), so that loss didn't count against her. When she lost in 2008 after three wins, she quit on election night.

I'm damned if I know who National could install to replace Collins. Neither she nor Muller wanted to take over till after this election, which they planned on Bridges losing. But Tova wouldn't let them wait, she wants BLOOD NOW !!!!

Maybe the next National PM isn't even in Parliament yet.

Damien Grover said...

Hi Karl. I don’t think Tova O’Brien limits her attacks to the National Party. In “Border Shambles I & II” she seemed to be calling for apologies and Ministers and Dr Bloomfield to be taking responsibility and (ideally) resigning. I think she, and others, attack vulnerability and weakness when they see it, and right now that’s National.
Regraded, Damien Grover

Unknown said...

Thank you Karl. It seems to me that mainstream media is in a terminal decline, in terms of relevancy, and to remain in the spotlight has reverted to personal attacks, story making and political fawning. If you can stomach it listen to Suzy Ferguson on national Radio. She looks for scalps, not information, and doesn't care who she hurts. It is now a media game to hurt and ridicule. And like a hungry lioness is hunting those that they identify as in a weakened position. It is quite nasty and I now finding myself turning off media as a source of balanced news. Stuff is right up there as a compromised media outlet.

Ricardo said...

NZ Politics Daily email from Bryce Edwards is another example.

Today, all references to National were negative. A selection of adjectives, nouns and verbs from today's 25 referenced sources

"jettisoned..terrible day..reject accusations..staged walkabout..cheeky and clumsy..nightmare..low point..indignity..fends off..scrambles..pre-planted..turned away..doesn't win..can't afford ill-discipline..agitating MPs..outburst..poor form..made up policy..denies division..blames the left..mistakenly features.."

In contrast, check out these words in the 12 referenced sources under the Labour heading

"cut it on climate..battle lines sharpen...campaign hits Dunedin..Labour unveils..promises funding..Labour promises..emissions-free..Labour pledges..decarbonise..Ardern hails..underlines policy..students brave rain..swarm Jacinda..show love..shares photo..pillowcase..miss Jacinda 'too much'

A story about Clarke Gayford sharing a photo of the pillowcase helping him bear up and not miss Jacinda too much! Really! All we need is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Hosanna as Jacinda throws pineapple lumps to starving and pay equity suffering service workers.

Andy Espersen said...

Karl. while you were employed as an editor in the 4th estate you must at times have been irritated and exasperated by being taken to your Media Council by some litigious, officious individual complaining about a breach of media ethics. Now you are retired, I suggest you take TV3 to the council. They are very obviously in breach of paragraph 1. of their ethical code which demands accuracy, fairness and balance.

You have the gift of the pen – you have all the facts there - it would be child’s play for you to write a serious complaint to TV3. The editor is obliged to write a serious reply to you, answering each of your concerns (and, be honest, wouldn’t you enjoy seeing him/her forced to do what you yourself reluctantly had to do in your editor days?).

And whatever their response is, if you do not agree you can demand that the Council adjudicate!! Three times I have taken editors to the Council for breaches of ethics. I always enjoyed it (even if they never agreed with me!). And I am not wholly confident their judging committee are always able to act without bias these days. Group think and political correctness rule the world.

Be a sport!

Trev1 said...

No surprises here Karl, the Coalition Government bought the media for $50 million back in April: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12326983. The media are now delivering the dividend. The "relief" package included a major subsidy for transmission fees which appears to run out a few days after the election. Self- interest anyone?

Like you our household is appalled by the bias. It is redolent of "news" reporting in the Soviet bloc, with which I am familiar from a long career, especially East Germany. We can no longer physically bear to turn on the TV "news" and have relinquished our subscription to the Dompost. I fear greatly for this country's future.

Ross said...

Great piece Karl.

Just one significant "error" when you say "I detest this style of journalism". The simple fact is it is not journalism. To refer to it as journalism is a discredit to all the good and great real journalists of your era in the profession.

Karl du Fresne said...

Andy,
Thanks for the suggestion, but the Media Council doesn't have jurisdiction over free-to-air broadcasters such as Newshub (well it does, but apparently in relation to online content only). The appropriate tribunal would be the Broadcasting Standards Authority, but I have misgivings about government-backed quasi-judicial bodies telling media operators what they may or may not do. In any case I doubt that a complaint would succeed, because while the BSA has similar principles relating to editorial balance, it also states that freedom of expression is the starting point in the consideration of complaints. Newshub could argue that in a free society, it's entitled to cover the election campaign however it wants - and though it may sound perverse, I wouldn't disagree. But that doesn't stop me from asserting that their coverage is shameful, unethical and an abuse of power.
Another factor is that any complaint would relate to matters of tone, perception and emphasis - and while I (and readers of this blog, evidently) have no trouble deciding that Newshub's election coverage is flagrantly biased, the BSA might be reluctant to rule on such a subjective basis.

Crosbie Walsh said...

Right or wrong about TV#, would you care to do a similar analysis of the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB? My view is that they tip the other way.

Karl du Fresne said...

What commentary I've heard on NewstalkZB certainly tends to be pro-National, but I'm not talking about expressions of opinion which by definition favour one side or the other. My concern is with what purports to be impartial news coverage - a very different thing.

Trev1 said...

And now we have the news that the Electoral Commission advised Ardern it could not run an election properly before 21 November: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/10/nz-election-2020-electoral-commission-wanted-november-election-not-october-17.html. Add to this the fact that our largest city was in lockdown until the Wednesday just past and election gatherings were severely restricted. The election process currently underway is clearly seriously compromised; it cannot be considered "free and fair" by any stretch of the imagination. An injunction needs to be obtained and the process stopped, with votes already cast voided. A new date must be set which will give adequate time for preparations to be made by the Electoral Commission and for parties to conduct their campaigning without hindrance. We cannot have any confidence in the outcome of the present deeply flawed process. It will not have legitimacy.

Digmen1 said...

The Electoral Commision told me that it is not their area to comment on Ardern's 1pm electioneering with Covid-19
Yet their role IS to check on electioneering

They are corrupt hypocrites

Milly M said...

Loved reading your post until I got to this part " I’ll finish this post by repeating what I said at the start. I’m not a National supporter and it won’t concern me in the slightest if National loses the election. In fact I’d go further and say they’ve done nothing to justify winning it. It's no help to National that there’s a whiff of desperation in the way Collins is conducting her campaign, as evidenced by the cheesy shots of her praying, presumably in a late play for support from the Christian right." - It's ironic that you blame the media for showing bias yet you refer to one of those very tactics they use to justify why you won't vote for her. ..'a whiff of desperation....cheesy shots of her praying' - Just who do you think took those photos? Yeah the very idiots you're criticising! All that writing you did, only to contradict yourself right at the end. You've been fooled by the media just as much as anyone else! *sigh

Grant McLachlan said...

You either fell for a diversion or you are the diversion. Which is it?

Robert said...

I wholeheartedly agree that many journalists delight in making themselves part of the story and this is a longstanding problem.

About bias, though --- when Tova O'Brien was tearing into Ardern/Bloomfield day after day in the daily COVID19 press conferences earlier this year, often in gratuitously offensive ways, she sure didn't look like a Labour Party hack. I think it's more that many journalists are like sharks; when there's blood in the water they go after it relentlessly and the carnage feeds on itself. And right now, National is doing all the bleeding.

Smithie said...

Its clear National is banking on Luxton

Unknown said...

I have been pondering this too, out of desperation, and to try imagine some Democracy in this election and for the party I support. But I suspect the same bias could easily be in any governement funded office, as the BSA. And as their own inflated job numbers, may be hinging on this current governement. There needs to be independent bodies. Tax payers union conducted a good poll on twitter the other day re similar.

Karl du Fresne said...

Milly M,
So because you disagree with one thing I said, that negates everything else? That doesn't make sense.
As it happens, I share your contempt for the media pack's action in following Collins into church to film her praying. But she allowed it to happen; that makes her complicit.
Incidentally, I never cited that incident as a reason why I wouldn't vote National.

Pauline said...

In the USA it is legal to propagandise the population with the 2012 repeal of the Smith Mundt law. What is the law on Newshub pretending their lying by omission, cherry picking and all the other tricks is actual news when it's simply propaganda? We have dreadfully scant information, there is little substance parading as news. Huge stories overseas completely omitted in favour the leftist agenda.

New Conservative took them to court last Wednesday as they were polling above some of the parties included in the TV debate. Turns out the rules are opaque and artibrary on which party can be included. Such a shame, Leighton Baker is a really refreshing voice and would have sparked things up and imparted information about NC that Newshub is doing their best to bury.

Karl du Fresne said...

Robert,
I agree that O'Brien will go after whoever presents the juiciest and most vulnerable target. And I tried to avoid any suggestion that she was a Labour Party hack. But the fact remains that during this campaign, which is what I was writing about, O'Brien and Lynch have mercilessly pursued Collins while cooing with approval over Ardern. That doesn't mean O'Brien won't turn on Ardern when it suits her to do so. Either way, I regard it as a disgraceful misuse of media power.

Phil said...

The problem for me is that we have an incumbent Labour Government and barely a word written or discussed about their policy platform for the next 3 years. They have some fairly radical stuff in their manifesto. Wide ranging industrial reforms including legislated fair pay agreements, hate speech, promotion of Maoro Soverignty, extensive environmental regulations etc. There is barely any attempt to have a discussion on the implications of this policy for New Zealand but it is coming.

Marg said...

Tova O'Brien will certainly get Karma, she is extremely rude, increasing friends have stopped listening and watching TV3 and The AM show. Many folk can see through her also a lot of people believe what they hear,happy to say we did not need to listen to this rubbish before we voted, done and dusted. Enjoy your weekend away from the Political biases.

Doug Longmire said...

Thank You Karl for a well written, and very timely and accurate article.
The gross Left bias of the TV "News" is so pronounced that it does indeed look for all intents and purposes like the Labour party promotion programme. The constant snide attacks and twisted quotes are very clearly biassed by design.
I have long since given up watching TV3 news.
Newstalk ZB gives a much more intelligent report of political issues. Heather Du Plessis Allen is excellent - probes all politicians, but fairly.

Mrs Anderson 'Ben's Mormor' Dannevirke said...

My thoughts exactly. For the reasons you suggest the television media appears biased, I have refused to listen to any of the radio talk back shows who continue fuel angst against the government. Their negative, damming rants would have us all taking depression medications. Their hosts are extremely biased the other way and it is where many folk get their ‘ slanted information’ from. Many more listen to radio than watch television nowadays.

EwenR said...

I totally agree with you Karl. O'Brien and NewsHub has demonstrated a concerted love Labour, hate National campaign. Hardly a fair and balanced presentation of the facts that we expect from our journalists. It seems to me there is a wider issue here also of journalists believing they are not there to deliver news, rather the news is a a vehicle for them to demonstrate how wonderful they are.
I also agree strongly with another writer's post, that it is appalling that Cindy totally ignored the advice of the Electoral Commission in re-setting the date of the election, instead choosing a date that coincided with maximum covid attention and restricted the ability of other parties to fairly campaign. Now comes out with a $100m handout to renovate Marae's 1 week before the election.

Odysseus said...

This is surely the most corrupt election in modern New Zealand history. It has been bought with taxpayers' money and money borrowed against future generations. There are good grounds for having the outcome declared invalid by the High Court. The Electoral Commission has made clear in cannot provide a satisfactory election process at this time; the Government has prevented the Opposition from campaigning by capricious manipulation of the pandemic lockdowns. It has also turned daily pandemic briefings into political broadcasts. Some of its recent disbursements to favoured groups verge on treating. A total disgrace and abuse of the democratic process.

Unknown said...

I totally agree with what you say. Tova just loves digging at the National Party.

Julian Batchelor said...

The same is happening in the US. Media outlets choose sides, and go into bat for the political party they favour. But they don't stop there. They also pull out all the stops to destroy the party they want to don't want to see govern. Really, it's shameful. They out to be neutral, just reporting the facts, letting the public be the jury as they read and listen. Donald Trump was so right to have birthed the phrase "fake news". It's everywhere now, entrenched. The Herald, in my opinion, are leading the charge.

rouppe said...

I for one prefer that our election is held before the USA election.

If - and it is looking like a distant if - Trump won, the explosion of wokeness would cement Ardern's win.

Brendan McNeill said...

Karl

Television 'news' and most 'news websites' have been reduced to expressing emotive opinion for years. You cannot take any of it seriously. Consequently most sensible people don't watch it, or if they do, they balance the 'opinions proffered' with information from other sources.

We are living in days where all institutions, the media included, have lost almost all their authority. Few people trust what they see or read. This is a tragedy for democracy, and diminishes the public good. It promotes tribalism and the 'politicization of everything' that we see taking place in the USA. The media is engaging in a form of 'othering' that will not end well. They are blind to it of course, smugly content with their success.

There are serious issues to be addressed in New Zealand, yet we appear incapable of meaningful conversations about any of them in the pubic domain.

As an aside, I didn't pick you as a Labour supporter - Well, at least it's not the Greens!

Karl du Fresne said...

Brendan,
I said there have been occasions when I voted Labour. That doesn't make me a Labour supporter. I'm not a "supporter" of any party. You may think that voting for Kieran McNulty in 2017 made me a Labour supporter, but I voted for him only because I thought he could be an effective electorate MP.

David George said...

Someone re-named TV One CNN - Cindy News Network. Sad but true - even worse, an objective analysis shows the same bias throughout almost the entire news media. It's, perhaps, not so much what is said but what is chosen to be reported.
Saw a cartoon of a chap reading the paper, "this paper is half the size it used to be" he complains. His wife replies "that's because they only print one side's half of the story"

MarkJ said...

I often wonder if the public would be better served, if anyone writing a political article for the media, had to clearly divulge their voting habits at the beginning of their articles, as you just did. A scathing editorial on National's campaign from a 'right leaning' journalist would carry much more weight than an article penned by someone who was already opposed to the parties view. To suggest journalists do not insert their beliefs into their OP's is folly - If they want to preach to the public they should also have the intestinal fortitude to show their true colours at the same time.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Karl

I would have thought voting for a Labour candidate was also an expression of support for the Labour party, so your clarification is really a 'definition without a difference'. That said, I have no problem with you voting for a Labour candidate, nor do I think less of you for having done so. I appreciate your articles and look forward to reading them.

Karl du Fresne said...

To me the word "supporter", as in Labour Party supporter, National Party supporter, Hurricanes supporter or whatever, denotes continuing allegiance (which is often blind and tribal) rather than a considered one-off decision.

Frederick Williscroft said...

I don't think it correct to say that Tova O'Brien constantly harassed Adern/Bloomfield at the Covid briefings. She did ask the odd tricky question but it was hardly a full on onslaught. Given the lack of PPE for hospital staff, shortage of promised flu vaccine, border cock ups she could and should have been far more aggressive. Given David Clarks indiscretions I don't recall insistent questions to the PM asking for his resignation. Contrast that with Hamish Walker/ Todd Muller where she was at fever pitch in demanding his resignation.

Newshub is awful but One News is also very partisan. Both seem to have an agenda of adoring sycophantic coverage of PM. Derisory negative coverage of Collins. One News headline last week was of Collins walkabout in Ponsonby. You just know it's going to be a hit job.

Newshub seem hell bent on doing every thing to ensure the return of a Labour government. Their bias is a disgrace. They make Fox News seem balanced.

Hilary Taylor said...

Yep. Great forensic analysis Karl! Good god, I can't watch that reptilian woman, The TV1 one not much better. Practically all ( I don't listen to ZB) media are biased toward Labour...someone said other day...'NZ media...holding the opposition to account'. You're right about the hostility to anyone they think they monster, while sanctimoniously lamenting poor mental health & bullying. It's all a massively unfunny joke and I can't recall anything like it. Given up on many opinion writers in my daily, the Press. Only continue to subscribe for the local news & have said as much to Hayman. Sheesh, she's a tough row to hoe getting solidly non-partisan current affairs with heft these days. I mean, everyone has views, but they should be difficult to discern in the media, no? Now the 'correct' views are force-fed, with the associated dumbing-down of coverage and smug dismissal of 'incorrect' ones.

Garryb said...

You are a good writer and frequently make valid pertinent points. However this article is conflicted . I don’t watch TV 3 so cannot comment on them specifically but I do I read the Herald regularly and sometimes listen to NewstalkZB. These two outlets have the biggest reach in New Zealand and are unerring in their support of National and criticism of Labour and the Greens. Simon Wilson alone is the Herald waiter who gives a balanced view. I know you will argue some of the others are commentators not journalists but the fact remains it is from them that many, perhaps the majority, get their political information.
Garry Bond.