Monday, December 13, 2021

Journalistic prejudice exposed (#149 in a continuing series)

Stuff political columnist Andrea Vance maintains the pretence of objectivity until about halfway through her latest column, in which she analyses Christopher Luxon’s performance in his first couple of weeks as National leader.

Then she loses it, totally.

Turning to Luxon’s views on abortion, she remarks: “He claims to be pro-life, a phrase American conservatives use to cloak the underlying misogyny of anti-abortion legislation.”

Ergo, anyone who opposes abortion must be misogynistic. But hang on a minute. My wife opposes abortion. My sister opposes abortion. The head of Voice for Life, New Zealand’s main anti-abortion organisation, is a woman, as are many - perhaps most - of its members. Ten of the 35 MPs who voted against last year's liberalisation of the abortion laws were women. (My mother also opposed abortion and once exposed herself to howls of denunciation at a so-called United Women’s Convention for insisting on her right to say so.)

Does that make them all women-haters? Really?? How does that work? This is a case of simplistic sloganeering in place of rational argument. Either it’s dishonest or it exposes a limited intellect.

Now let’s go back to Vance’s statement and try reconstructing it. We could just as accurately say of someone who’s pro-abortion: “He claims to be pro-choice, a phrase women’s rights activists use to cloak the fact that abortion involves the extinguishing of a human life”. These arguments can cut both ways.

Vance goes on to say: “… where National has previously dabbled with fundamentalists it has not worked out for the best … just ask Don Brash”.

At first glance she appears to be implying that Brash is a fundamentalist. I’m sure that’s how most readers would interpret it. But although Brash was the son of a high-profile (and liberal, in the classic sense) Presbyterian minister, religion has never been part of his political pitch.

What’s more, Vance perpetuates the canard, popular among left-wing journalists whose memories don’t go back very far, that National crashed and burned under Brash’s leadership. In fact the exact reverse happened: in the 2005 election, he lifted the party’s vote by nearly 20 percent and came within two seats of dislodging Helen Clark.

I’m going to be charitable here and give Vance the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she was referring to Brash’s flirtation with the Exclusive Brethren prior to that election. But the public knew about that and delivered National a 21-seat gain anyway.

If that’s what Vance was talking about, she should have made it clear. If not, then the reference is misleading. Either way, it’s not a good look from a senior political journalist – but who’s surprised?


pdm said...

I read Andrea Vance's diatribe yesterday and could hardly believe it.

Not even an attempt at being objective.

Hiko said...

Very good article Karl keep their feet to the fire

Ricardo said...

Quite so. Read her article and shook my head. Polemicist maybe, journalist no way.

Unknown said...

Did you send it as a letter to the editor? Hardly likely to be published in this intolerant age?

Peter A

LNF said...

I read the article and wished I hadn't. I think NZ will tire of this shallow Christian and pro life rubbish. There are so many important matters. Would she question the homosexual view or woman's rights view of a Muslim if in Luxon's position
I am pro cannabis (don't use it) pro end of life, pro 3 strikes, pro life. So what
Luxon is entitled to his personal views on inconsequential matters that really affects so few
Would this reporter prefer Luxon lied. We are a democracy and Luxon gets just 1 vote

Jim Rose said...

There is a trivial gender gap in opinion poll surveys on abortion law reform.

David McLoughlin said...

The funniest thing about Andrea's column online is that a box flashes at the end of it saying:

Be a friend of facts. What you've just read was written by a fiercely independent reporter and general good human. Our journalists tell it like it is. They're trained to know facts from falsehoods, science from spin, politicking from public interest.


Terry M said...

A habit of hers. Starts an article like a real person and then seems to hear voices from the PJIF and reverts to form.

Doug Longmire said...

Well quoted David.
Here is another even more egregious lie:-

" our 380 journalists are free to report the news across Aotearoa without corporate or government influence."

Andy Espersen said...

David - Absolutely the "funniest thing". Straight from George Orwell's musings - is it not?

CXH said...

I do like this part - 'Luxon, like everyone else, is entitled to their beliefs.'

She then goes on and attacks him for having them. Can she really not see how ridiculous it makes her. Or is her echo chamber more than enough for her. A small person with a huge ego, wallowing in the adulation of closed minds.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricardo said...

I have posted here on this before but again, I regard myself as an abortion survivor. My single natural mother had several children and not from the same father, as I understand it. I am adopted.

There is a very strong possibility that access to easy state-approved abortion would have seen me and my half brothers and sisters consigned to the waste bin in some surgery. I am so grateful this did not happen and that the laws at the time prevented this. I am grateful for the life the laws at that time have allowed me to live. I am grateful for my children and grand children.

I explain this to my children and why they should be grateful. As products of the NZ education system, I am not sure they understand.


Odysseus said...

This appears to be an attempt to smear Luxon by a senior Stuff writer on behalf of their Labour government backers. Perhaps Labour's focus groups have given them cause to worry that Luxon may make inroads into their strong female support base? We can probably look forward to even more strident attempted hatchet jobs in the New Year.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary Taylor said...

Read of it, avoided it. Reasonable people may hold all manner of views on such matters...goodness only knows we're facing this with knobs on right now. As a 64 yr-old woman, yep... that's right, a views on abortion are hardening towards pro-life. Hugely grateful as an elderly primagravida back in the 90s that my ante-natal amnios didn't turn up some info that meant terrible decisions had to be taken.
Vance appears to smugly assume 'right-think' goes on this one.