The last couple of days have been interesting. There has been a well orchestrated media onslaught on Labour’s Best Start policy. And when you have a look at what is being said you have to wonder about the independence of the media.
An example of this is the behaviour of TV3 and Paddy Gower.
Yesterday Gower tweeted that “David Cunliffe has just walked off on a press conference refusing to answer questions about the baby bonus”.
Here is the video. Watch it and form your own opinion. Count the number of questions on Best Start that Cunliffe answered. Wonder about the phrase “walked off”. Question also the description of the event as a “press conference”.
Clearly Cunliffe spent over 9 minutes answering questions and then politely excused himself on the basis that he had to attend a caucus meeting.
Later on Gower criticised Cunliffe and the policy because those that were on paid parental leave would not receive best start, that is the policy was not generous enough, and then criticised Cunliffe because theoretically a couple earning just short of $300,000 per annum could qualify, in other words the policy was too generous.
The paid parental leave criticism is particularly weird. Labour and Sue Moroney have advocated for 26 weeks paid parental leave but the suggestion is that it is somehow disingenuous because both paid parental leave AND Best Start will not be paid simultaneously really makes you wonder at the degree of spin being applied. The introduction of either will improve the plight of kiwi families.
The question of coverage always arises when new policies are proposed. If and when the policy is introduced then these details will be worked out. But the unnervingly negative spin that Gower and TV3 applied really makes you wonder.
Compare and contrast this with the treatment of National’s education policy announcement. And note the lack of questioning on how that policy can be afforded. After all it is the thick end of $400 million being spent over four years so if implemented it will have a significant effect on the country’s finances.
Gower has clearly bought into the idea that the practice of media is akin to engaging in a blood sport where success and prestige is measured by the number of scalps that you accumulate.
This year is going to be a long and important year. As a mainstream media organisation TV3 owes it to the country to report the facts and to leave the spin out.