Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The press gallery hack who tried to have me cancelled

Some readers of this blog will be familiar with Political Roundup, a daily summary of political news and comment compiled by Victoria University political scientist Bryce Edwards. Available free by email, it includes links to the source material and provides a very useful guide to what commentators are saying.

Edwards leans to the left himself but Political Roundup covers a broad ideological spectrum – too broad, it seems, for senior press gallery journalist Ben McKay, the New Zealand correspondent for Australian Associated Press.

I recently learned that in December 2021, McKay emailed Edwards and asked whether he had considered excluding my blog posts from his daily wrap. This wheedling suggestion was apparently provoked by a post in which I criticised the press gallery for being more concerned with the thrill of the political chase than with the substance of politics. (Edwards, to his credit, appears to have disregarded McKay's request.)

McKay, who has never met me, described me in the email as deranged, racist and misogynist. These would be defamatory accusations if I took them seriously, but I prefer to adopt Katharine Hepburn’s maxim: “I don’t care what anyone says about me as long as it’s not true.”

He also implied that I was senile, that I no longer had a place in the mainstream media (probably true, although I relinquished my gigs in the MSM entirely of my own choice) and was reduced to writing a “sad blog” in which I was often hyper-critical of “decent journalists” - that is to say, his gallery colleagues. He concluded: “I think your readers would do well not to be served up this trash.”

I hadn’t heard of McKay until I learned of this and certainly won’t lose any sleep fretting about his opinion of me. But it becomes a matter of public interest when a senior political journalist surreptitiously tries to use his influence to have another commentator cancelled because he doesn’t like what he writes. It reinforces my suspicion that some mainstream journalists are more than merely ignorant of the importance of free speech in a liberal democracy. They are actively hostile to it.

Perhaps even more alarming is the ease with which McKay resorts to crude, simplistic, bumper-sticker stereotypes such as “racist” and “misogynist”.

Three questions:

1.     If McKay resorts to such lazy caricatures in an email to an influential academic, can we assume he does the same in his political reportage and analysis? Remember, McKay is the conduit through which many Australian readers get their information about New Zealand politics. Is his coverage coloured by the same ignorant bias and bigotry?

2.     Does McKay’s intolerance of dissenting opinions reflect the views of others in the press gallery? I don’t know. But the gallery hunts as a pack and I suspect many of its members have been captured by conformist groupthink.  There’s safety in numbers, after all; it saves you from having to think for yourself. (The long-serving Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen was an appalling man in many respects, but he got one thing right when he described press conferences as “feeding the chooks”.)

3.     Does it occur to McKay that the principle of free speech, on which all journalists and political commentators depend, applies regardless of the prevailing ideological currents? These currents may be flowing McKay’s way at the moment, but what would happen if he suddenly found himself trying to operate in a hostile (i.e. non-woke) political environment? I imagine he might then feel very grateful for the right to express himself freely - a right that he apparently resents being granted to others.


Ele Ludemann said...

4. What is it you write that he fears so much you must be silenced and he can't counter by rational argument? Ele Ludemann

R Singers said...

Just a glance at his LinkedIn profile shows you he is a political hack not a journalist.

Doug Longmire said...

Let's get this very clear:-

Karl, you are NOT racist, misogynistic or senile !!
You know that.
I know that.
All your readers over the years know that.

It is simply an out right lie to say that you are !

This McKay person, whom I have no first hand knowledge of, has declared himself totally unfit as a reporter because he has just proven to the whole world that he cannot be trusted to publish a true or accurate report.

EP said...

Well that's got Ben McKay sorted.

pdm said...

Karl I have never heard of this McKay fellow but it seems he is symptomatic of the ills of the Press Gallery over the last few years.That is views that do not reconcile with his and those of the left are not acceptable anywhere or at any time.

Given we last met face to face in April 2012 (I looked it up) you were quite sane then and also given our age differences it is more likely I am the senile one. But I refute that. As far as his other accusations go - I am sure that is far from a fair comment.

Back in 2010 I met Bryce Edwards at some drinks in a pub off The Strand in London that David Farrar arranged. Bryce seemed a nice guy who took a bit of ribbing from some guys who knew him in good spirit. I read his posts and other columns regularly.

Finally Karl hold firm - DLTBGYD (don't let the bastards get you down).

Doug Longmire said...

Well said pdm,

As a pharmacist (me) would say "null bastardos carborundus"

Latin (!?) for DLTBGYD

Ben Thomas said...

I assume the offending article was the piece on Hipkin's press conference. It did make political reporters look rather silly but Mr McKay's response seems equally silly. Racist/misogynist? I cannot recall reading anything on this blog that would come near to justifying such ridiculous assertions. Taking the moral high ground is all very well but I think you should sue the bastard. I do not see why the McKays of this world should be able to spout their bile without consequences.

Michael S said...

Karl, you mentioned "the gallery hunts as a pack and I suspect many of its members have been captured by conformist groupthink". So true. Over here in Australia, our press gallery is the same. They are intolerant and bigoted and don't value the blessings of "freedom of speech". Basic, rational, practical, common sense opinions like yours Karl, are increasingly difficult to find amongst a pool of journalists that are filled with so much ideological hatred and division.

Anonymous said...

Yes, ignore him Karl, we know the truth. But you were right to 'out' him for our benefit and will give him a wide berth - not that I (and I expect I'm fairly typical) read that much of Australian political news, we have just too much 'reality' going on here.

To segue (just) a little, you will have seen Sean Plunket's latest. Here's hoping some serious in-roads are made that will give all those at the trough a serious shake up (including bringing attention to other resets going down), but I won't be holding my breath given how the Mahuta nepotism scandal just seemed to be quietly 'accepted', thanks to a lack of real coverage and a tame press.

R Arlidge

Odysseus said...

Sorry to hear of this smear against you Karl. It appears these days there are no depths to which the "mainstream" media will not sink. Most of them seem to me to be intellectually challenged, which is one of the reasons they so readily regurgitate for public consumption whatever the Ardern regime feeds them. The other reason is that are bribed to do so by the government's media funding arm. Check out Sean Plunket's latest video on NZ on Air's "Te Tiriti" funding criteria, which basically suggest New Zealand is an illegal, racist creation. They are pathetic and an insult to a once noble profession.

Odysseus said...

My preceding comment refers. Here's the link to Sean Plunkett's video on NZ on Air's "Te Tiriti" criteria:

Steve said...

Hi Karl. We all know that you're one of the best article writers in New Zealand so relax & don’t let this twat ruffle your feathers. He will never come anywhere near your intelligent postings. However as another poster has already mentioned, I’d love to see the bastard squirm when he reads a defamation letter from your lawyer……

There is also reference to the Sean Plunket video. I have read the entire 29 page “document” Sean is referring to. Its an outrage & I’d urge your readers to have a look at this completely unbelievable off-the-planet-racist document here:

Karl du Fresne said...

I appreciate the expressions of support, but I need to correct the misapprehension that I'm concerned by McKay's opinion of me. As I said in my post, it won't cause me any lost sleep. I've been savaged by chihuahuas before; I can deal with it. The important point is McKay's intolerance of dissenting voices, which is an extraordinary position for a journalist to take.

Regarding the suggestion that I sue for defamation: while I believe it's defamatory to accuse someone of racism and misogygny (that is, unless the defamer can prove it's true - good luck with that), I also believe in freedom of speech. That's the whole point here.

transpress nz said...

The two defences to defamation are 1. truth, 2. honest opinion. The latter is obviously the far easier defence, and probably the one that that Leftist nutters like Mr MacKay would use if challenged even when there is no supporting evidence. The problem generally is that defamation cases are lengthy and very expensive. The better approach is to publicly hit back, provided of course you can be sure of your counter-attack getting equal coverage. That is hard when the Media is dominated by government paid shills for Wokeism and (neo-) Marxism.

Karl du Fresne said...

Before we get too far down this defamation track, I should point out that it would be hard to make a defamation case stick when the alleged libel took place in a private email.

Hilary Taylor said...

Well, a name I now notice. It's all about cred...he's a journalist who expects to be taken seriously and this is how he handles himself? Another calmly rational 'take' Karl.

Hiko said...

My apologies for being pedantic but Null Bastardos carborundum
means Dont let the bastards GRIND you down [The carborundum part ]
Thanks for calling out that idiot McKay Karl

Gary Peters said...

If you need to find motivation have a look at the vitriol spewed towards you on Bradbury's blog.

You must be making sense when the loonies need to attack you personally.

Karl du Fresne said...

I have no interest whatsoever in reading what people say about me on Bradbury's blog, or anyone else's for that matter. But I do take it as a compliment that I obviously get under the skin of so many people on the left.

Gary Peters said...

As I have said before, look carefully at the person delivering the abuse, often it is merely a testament to your own character and evidence of their lack of one.

Mark Hubbard said...

I've nothing to say about the hack, we have no fourth estate left. But you would never have to fear unfair treatment with Bryce Edwards: I still don't understand his Left Libertarianism :) but I do know from my dealings with him he is always fair, and ethical. And he wouldn't be bullied.

Tom Hunter said...

I have no interest whatsoever in reading what people say about me on Bradbury's blog,

Fair enough, but I think you would be amused at "Bomber" Bradbury's bi-polar defense of your free speech in this matter.

Oh yes, he does defend your right...:

... censor him and have him blacklisted for crimes against Woke dogma? WTF? Deplatforming a Blogger using secret blacklists is so Soviet. The woke would eat their own offspring if they weren’t all vegans.

All good but it was Bradbury's throat-clearing exercise at the start of that post that cracked me up as he desperately signals his lefty audience about how awful you are.... before defending your right to speak:

No one should like Karl du Fresne. He’s a right wing head kicker from way back. He has sailed close to some pretty disturbing comments and is a first class arsehole. He’s unlikable at the best of times, has all the intellectual appeal of a fire on a school bus and half the sex appeal of your average autopsy. I don’t count myself as a fan of his work.
How generous of him. Voltaire reborn.

God it's painful - but still very funny.

B DeL said...

You know you've won when others resort to ad hominems.

Karl du Fresne said...

To Randominanity: sorry, but I'm not prepared to give credence to your supposition by publishing it.

another man said...

I concur
We have no 4th estate, since they took the bribe from Labour, with the conditions to not interfere with her enabling of Maori Apartheid.

Barry B said...

A doctor told me of comments that they often write on referral notes that are going to a specialist for further analysis of the patients problem.
The Docs have two options. Theyre both handwritten at the bottom of the note.

1. FITH - fucked in the head
2. OOHT - out of his (or her) tree.

I guess both could apply to McKays mental state...........

Owen said...

Nothing new but interesting: