Monday, July 12, 2021

Updates on propaganda, Piney and the Pravda Project

Three postscripts to recent blogs:

■ Political scientist Bryce Edwards, who runs The Democracy Project out of Victoria University, has stitched together a very useful summary of media comment on the Three Waters project, opposition to which is rapidly mounting as its implications – mainly relating to centralisation of control and the consequent erosion of local accountability – become more obvious.

As already noted in an addendum to my post last Friday on the subject, the government has committed $3.5 million to an advertising blitz intended to soften us up for this massive power grab. The egregiously patronising tone of the campaign indicates that neither the government nor its advertising agency think much of the public’s intelligence.

But Edwards’ wrap-up reveals something equally disturbing. He cites an article by Stuff local democracy reporter Chloe Ranford which suggests that the boundaries of the four proposed water authorities, which some perplexed commentators have called illogical, were drawn to align with iwi boundaries.

Coming on top of the He Puapua report, with its vision of 50-50 co-governance with Maori, this will stoke suspicions that the Three Waters project is as much about power-sharing with iwi as it is about reducing costs and ensuring consistency of water quality and administrative efficiency.

Does anyone remember Labour being up-front about this in last year’s election campaign? I don’t, but of course that could be incipient dementia.

■ One of the regrettable things about sports radio station SENZ’s sacking of producer Sam Casey for saying what he thought (always a risk in the mainstream media these days, unless you’re a certified, card-carrying wokester) was that Jason Pine got caught up in the controversy.

For those who don’t know him, "Piney" is a veteran NewstalkZB sports broadcaster who was head-hunted by the new Australian-owned outfit to host its night-time show and help put the station’s team together.

Pine, a close colleague and friend of my late brother Justin at Newstalk, is well-liked and respected. I imagine he would have felt acutely uncomfortable at being required to issue a media statement on behalf of his new employers confirming Casey’s dismissal. It wasn’t the type of start he would have anticipated.

Well, waddya know? The digital news service BusinessDesk reports today that Pine has handed in his resignation and is believed to be heading back to Newstalk, where I imagine he’ll be welcomed home with open arms.

Sources told BusinessDesk there had been no falling-out between Pine and SENZ and that he’d simply decided the new job wasn’t the “right fit”. But that sounds to me like HR-speak designed to gloss over an embarrassing situation for the company. More likely he formed the opinion, after the Casey episode, that SENZ wasn’t the type of outfit he wanted to work for.  

So I’m pleased to report that Pine’s honour is intact. But as BusinessDesk says, it’s hardly an auspicious start for SENZ, which doesn’t launch till July 19. The immortal words of Sergeant-Major Williams from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum come to mind: “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

■ Further to my previous references to the government’s $55 million media bribe (sorry, I meant to say its heroic attempt to save journalism, which you can read about here and here), Graham Adams on Muriel Newman’s Breaking Views website reports an exchange in Parliament last week that I haven’t seen covered elsewhere.

Judith Collins and David Seymour were putting the heat on Jacinda Ardern over Labour’s so-called Public Interest Journalism Fund. Collins wanted to know whether the fund – applicants for which must commit to Treaty principles and support for te reo, among other things – was influencing the editorial decisions of media outlets. Seymour more pointedly asked what would happen to a media outlet that had accepted money from the fund but wanted to report something deemed inconsistent with Treaty principles.

Ardern brushed off the questions as if they weren’t worthy of an answer, but that’s by the bye. What interests me is whether the exchange in the House was reported by any media outlet that has accepted, or has its hand out for, money from the fund.

This highlights another potentially disturbing and insidious aspect of the media slush fund. Can we expect mainstream media outlets to report criticism of the fund or possible revelations and concerns about its misuse, or will that be left to independent journalists such as Adams?  

You see what's happening here? I'm already wondering whether the media are choosing to ignore stories about the fund that might not reflect favourably on it or them. The mere fact that it’s necessary to ask this question shows how media companies compromise their credibility by accepting money from a highly politicised government agency.  

Incidentally, “Public Interest Journalism Fund” strikes me as a bit of a mouthful, and time-consuming to type, besides. So I’m giving it a shorter, punchier name: the Pravda Project, after the old Soviet Union’s esteemed official press organ, on the assumption that the PIJF will exhibit the same fearless independence and unstinting commitment to the truth.


Max Ritchie said...

“The team of 55 million” has been used elsewhere. Pravda Project is apt.

hughvane said...

Karl - please remove/edit your text about "incipient dementia".

The Believers will use any excuse under the sun or moon to discredit the worthiness of what you have to say. [Feel free to remove this response should you decide to change your original post.]

Andy Espersen said...

Ha – I like the name “Pravda Fund” much better. I do hope it will catch on. I will do my best to spread it.

Alexandra Corbett Dekanova said...

The boundaries of future water authorities coincide with iwi boundaries as everybody can check online. The commentary to the proposed boundaries on says they can be adapted according to iwi opinion: "taking into account ki uta ki tai, whakapapa connection and econommic geography/community of interest." The whole proposal is dangerous as it plans to apply Maori tikanga like respect of mauri of water etc. So we can expect more rivers with legal personalities and similar nonsense.
The Pravda Project and Hate Speech bill are even more dangerous. I grew up in socialist Czechoslovakia and remember very well the omnipresent fear that govern the society, the hunger for the truth, as we were secretly listening to Free Europe or Voice of America radio stations in spite of terrible noise as the Government tried to black out the broadcasting, as we were secretly copying underground materials etc. Today, when I am reading NZCPR, Hobbson Pledge, Your blog etc. and listen to Leighton Smith' s podcast, I feel a bit like in my past. The question is, when the proposed Hate Speech bill has passed, what radio stations are we going to listen to? Who will be brave enough to speak the truth, to fight for freedom?
Alexandra Corbett Dekanova

Graham Adams said...

Having written about the exchange in Parliament over the $55 million media fund, I have kept a close watch on whether it was reported elsewhere. I could only find a two-word reference to it in the MSM.
Newshub reported: "Collins used Question Time on Tuesday to pepper the Prime Minister with questions on all sorts of issues, from children living in emergency motels, to hate speech law, the He Puapua report, the Human Rights Commissioner's gang donation, and journalism fund."
Like you, Karl, I believe anyone in the media in line for a cash handout won't report any such exchanges or criticism of the fund.
I wrote an earlier article for the Democracy Project on the topic ("The danger of putting media on the govt payroll") and a few days later the editor in chief of Stuff, Patrick Crewdson, wrote an op-ed proclaiming Stuff's incorruptibility. It was undoubtedly written in response to my column although that wasn't acknowledged.
The good news is that the second column has had over 7000 views on the Democracy Project, so there is clearly public interest in the topic.

Russell Parkinson said...

Another example of what $55M buys you might be the recently released but largely unreported Roy Morgan Poll. You can google it. Hosking and Heather D-A on ZB reported it but I have seen nothing in the other MSM or in print. I wonder if the fact it showed Labour dropping to 38% had anything to do with it.

Yet funnily enough a leaked URM poll showing Seymour a couple of points ahead of Collins in the preferred PM stakes was widely reported in the Herald etc.

The Agenda is now so obvious as to be laughable but our media sits there quietly.
This morning we have an opinion piece on Collins by "Far Left" journo Simon Wilson. Its like the MSM are going out of their way to hobble the opposition.

Doug Longmire said...

I really am surprised that the Govt was so blatantly open about their biassed and racist funding demands.
"We are paying you $55 million, so here is how you have to report the news. you MUST swear allegiance to this particular interpretation, or else no money !!"

David George said...

Thanks for writing that essay Graham, very revealing and well written.
I have linked it (as have others) on several blogs I follow. A positive response, even from the left leaning types on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road.

There's a mighty big hole in "our" media where the truth used to live so thank God for folk such as you and Karl.

Bari weiss from her resignation letter to the NY Times:

"But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them."

David George said...

Doug: "I really am surprised that the Govt was so blatantly open......'

Yes Doug, surprising and concerning. I think I would have been less disgusted if they had done it deceptively, at least that would indicate some sort of acknowledgment of it's hideous implications. Do they have any understanding of what they're doing; undermining a cornerstone of democracy, virtually the entire media under state control?

Once we choose to ignore this what other bedrock principles are to be so casually ignored?

"On that same day, observing one working on the Sabbath Jesus said to him: "O Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blest; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law."

Jordan Peterson explains: "If you understand the rules - their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the communities that follow them and the price paid for their establishment and the danger of breaking them - but you are willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception, because you see it serving a higher good (and if you are a person of sufficient moral character to manage that distinction), then you have served the spirit, rather than the mere law and that is an elevated moral act. But, if you refuse to realise the importance of the rule you are appropriately and inevitably damned."

Yet another indication that they "knowest not".

Unknown said...

All such great info and comments. Particularly that of Alexandra. Anyone who has LIVED the communist life knows and understands the signals as totalitarianism shows itself. Have read/seen similar, but rare, postings by ex Nth Korea folk now residing on the USA who liken whats happening in so-called democratic societies to what it was they escaped from.

transpress nz said...

It needs to be remembered that "commitment to Treaty of Waitangi principles" means commitment to the Jacinda & Co. version which is based on the 1989 Hugh Kawharu translation of the Maori version from 1840 and not what the 1840 version actually said.

hughvane said...

@ transpress - I have very recently read a thorough analysis of the deception being touted as the ToW. To report dismay would be doing my reaction a major disservice. HTH does genuine historical information get swept under a massive centralised bureaucracy? Not under just this present - ahem - bunch of Adern puppets, but dating back decades?!

Odysseus said...

Who's going to the Groundswell NZ Howl of Protest tomorrow? Do we have to drive a ute? I'm a townie but I fully support our farmers and tradies. Masterton seems the closest to us. Will you be going Karl?

Karl du Fresne said...

I thought of it, being a ute owner myself, but I would feel like an impostor. Besides, my Mitsubishi Triton is far too clean to pass for a farm vehicle. I'd immediately be branded as a poseur.