Khandallaviper asked today in Open Mike “What is characterising and feeding the ongoing divide?” commenting on my statement that our aim in setting up the Standard was not to “join Farrar in making the prospect of a Labour government the principal target for attack.”
A good example showed up in the same Open Mike, where Karol referred us to Chris Trotter’s latest post on Bowalley Road, titled “Who is David Shearer?”, promising a post of his/her own on the matter.
Trotter’s post reprises an old canard, obviously a product of the National Party opposition research team. that was first put up by David Farrar on Kiwiblog in 2009 when Shearer first emerged as a candidate for Mt Albert.
Shearer had written a couple of articles in 1998 discussing the possibility of using private military forces to support aid initiatives. He thought the Red Cross would be a suitable agency to monitor and regulate them. John Pagani who worked with Shearer in the by-election reports his response when National plants brought it up during the campaign:
During the by-election his opponents tried to say a paper he wrote in the 90s supported replacing the army with mercenaries. They used to plant questions about it at public meetings, and Shearer would answer by telling how he was running an emergency relief operation in Rwanda at the time. Women and children were having their limbs hacked off by genocidal maniacs while the world refused to act. He wanted anyone to get involved if states couldn’t.
The story was so compelling that it backfired and his opponents had to stop repeating it.
Unsurprisingly, Whaleoil has now linked up to Trotter’s post as well to try and push it back into the media. Typically, he takes it further and goes right over the top:
Could Shearer have done some work for Britain’s spies?
So we have Chris Trotter from the non-Labour left dredging up an old story originally planted on National’s behalf by Farrar’s Kiwiblog, and recently linked to by National’s Whaleoil. Now Karol, also from the non-Labour left, is apparently going to join them in another futile attempt to discredit Labour’s leader.
None of them have the interests of Labour at heart. It is an old problem for Labour, when the outside left links with the far right to drag Labour down. The right at least know that their only real opposition as a government is Labour; who would know what the others’ motive is.
There’s another canard in Trotter’s piece – he speaks of Shearer “parachuting in”, not working his way up through the Party’s committees. But after losing a very close vote to Lynn Pillay in Waitakere Shearer stood in Whangarei because he was asked to by the Party. He did the the hard yards in a safe National electorate and did a very good job. Trotter’s insinuation is unfair.
Under the heading “Conspiracy theory”, the New Statesman’s Peter Wilby describes what he calls “link journalism” in a recent article, speaking about the Daily Mail’s approach to the Leveson enquiry.
The Daily Mail has published, over an awesome 12 pages, an exposé of ten-foot lizards (sorry, I mean normal-sized human beings) who are conspiring to destroy our free press. It is a masterpiece of what I call “link” journalism. Show that X sits on the same committee as W who is married to Y whose cousin Z once spent a night at the house of the mass murderer V and, hey presto, X is “linked” to V and therefore to mass murder. Moreover, X probably conspired with W, Y and Z to cover up V’s crimes.
Trotter, Farrar and Slater’s story is link journalism at its worst. In political terms, it’s an old-fashioned smear.
In my view the Standard should have no part of it.