David Lange famously compared media in his time to reef fish – darting hither and yon in some kind of genetic “follow the leader” pattern. It’s probably not fair to call all the journalists and commentators reef piranha, although some certainly are. But reef fish behaviour it certainly is, as they shift the sins of the Mayor from target to target without it seems any of the examination one expects from the journalistic profession.
No matter that Brown was exonerated of any misuse of office. Now the sin for which some think he must pay with his life is not to have declared complimentary room upgrades, for rooms he has booked and paid for himself. According to the Eeyores of EY, they total over $32,000 for 64 occasions. That’s $500 an upgrade, which seems quite a lot on top of what Len paid himself. The report is not particularly detailed as to how this total was arrived at, and I cannot find any example of any journalist asking questions about it.
I look forward without much expectation to the journalistic crusade to expose any and every public official who has ever received an upgrade for room or flight and who has not declared it as either conflict of interest or in their gift register. It would certainly involve rivers of ink.
The most disappointing thing for me is how many of Auckland’s so-called “left” such as Trotter, Manning, and McCarten have joined the shoal fish, even if swimming in the rear. These petty picadors have stuck the lance into Len, all the while protesting they are doing it more in sorrow than in anger or for his own good. That’s not gutsy journalism either and does little credit to either their analysis or their courage.