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Reef piranha

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 pm, December 22nd, 2013 - 42 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, len brown, Media, parliamentary spending - Tags:

Today’s Herald editorial gets one thing right – a media pack has turned on Len Brown. But it’s not gutsy journalism – it comes straight out of the Rupert Murdoch playbook.

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.

42 comments on “Reef piranha”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    A chocolate reef fish for the first person to provide an example of the Fourth Estate in the past week or so, asking another politician:

    “So, have you ever received any free upgrades?”

    It may have happened – of course I can’t follow all media – but I’m afraid I’ve missed it.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Here’s the deal.

    Between 50-60% of all people, of both genders, “cheat’ on a partner at some point in their lives.

    http://www.statisticbrain.com/infidelity-statistics/

    That makes an awful lot of tut-tutting jonolists and dreary, judgmental panty-sniffers something far worse than anything Len has done.

    They’re a pack of sniveling hypocrites. It was Len’s private life and was never any of their prurient little snouts business.

    (Oh and the nonsense about the upgrades and freebies – nothing but a fig-leaf for those who know they’re being hypocrites and snivelers.)

    • Anne 2.1

      +1 Redlogix.

    • Steve 2.3

      “Oh and the nonsense about the upgrades and freebies – nothing but a fig-leaf for those who know they’re being hypocrites and snivelers.”

      So you describe Len Brown taking free rooms from Sky City during the convention centre debate as just nonsense? Surely that action deeply compromises him?

      • RedLogix 2.3.1

        It’s a valid question.

        If you can show that SC offered Len the rooms as a specific gift in order to induce him to change his vote – then yes you are correct, that would indeed deeply compromise him. But no-one has been able to show that.

        On the other hand what we do know is that for perfectly legitimate reasons Len frequently used a number of hotels in Auckland city, and all of them had routine policies of offering high value guests upgrades and the occasional free nights as a form of competitive discounting.

        That’s a perfectly normal and acceptable commercial arrangement – just as Brewers trip to the GC to speak at a Mediaworks event appears to have been. The evidence suggests this is by far the more probable scenario in both cases.

        It is worth recalling that Len was paying for these rooms himself as a private person, just as Cameron was working for Mediaworks on his own private capacity. This is probably where the ambiguity arose – because these matters arose entirely on their own time as private citizens it probably never occurred to them that there was any ‘gifting’ that was required to be registered as an interest with the Council.

        After all if a cafe gives you a tenth cup free on a loyalty card – is that a ‘gift’ or a discount? And would you think that your employer needed to know about it?

        In hindsight declaring both matters to the Council would have prevented any problem for both men – but hindsight is of course prone to counsels of perfection.

        • Steve 2.3.1.1

          I’m not sure anyone is suggesting that he accepted the free rooms as an inducement for support. But it does demonstrate extremely poor judgement, and that is more than concerning for somebody in his position.
          To me, this situation is very similar to the position John Banks finds himself in. Both are examples of poor judgement, and both have handled the situations terribly.

          • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1.1

            John Banks deliberately lied about very large donations handed to him personally, via statutory declaration. Banks is now facing criminal charges. Quite different to business as usual hotel upgrades which any hotel gives out to any frequent customer.

            • Steve 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Upgrades? Don’t you mean free rooms? Have you ever received a free room?

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Right wing nut job has English comprehension problems.

                Free means you don’t have to pay. Brown paid.

      • gobsmacked 2.3.2

        I think *anybody* accepting freebies from Sky City while having a say on the conference centre is compromised. Including Brown.

        But I have no idea who has accepted them, because only one person has been investigated. It beggars belief that nobody in the media is interested in making one single phone call to the MPs who voted for the Sky City deal. Just get them on the record denying or admitting (or “not recalling”).

        Why aren’t they doing this? “Conspiracy”, some will say, but I prefer a more basic – and arguably worse – one. They just don’t care. And if that’s the case, then any talk about “principles” and “corruption” is laughable. Especially from the Herald.

        If it matters, seek the truth. If it doesn’t matter, then let’s tell the truth – it’s not about principles at all, and never was.

        • RedLogix 2.3.2.1

          I agree that it was unwise of anyone to be accepting freebies from Sky City at that point in time – but given that it was most likely a perfectly routine discounting arrangement I would argue it’s not a hanging offense.

          And as you say – if we went on a fishing expedition through the affairs of all politicians we’d most certainly find similar.

          • Macro 2.3.2.1.1

            It is interesting to note that National regularly hold their conference at Sky City – one wonders just what sort of “Inducements” are being offered then.

            But then that sort of thing is ok /sarc

        • Colonial Viper 2.3.2.2

          Also SkyCity was giving Brown exactly the same treatment before negotiations, and after negotiations. No change, no special treatment, business as usual.

  3. fambo 3

    Well said. As just one example of many, John Banks would have gotten away with corruption sans any media outrage if it wasn’t for one private individual who used a still independent judiciary. The way the media treats John Key, even after he got the police to raid their offices suggests they are blind to his transgressions in a similar way to the US media and George Bush. They simply refuse to hold him to account.

    • Grumpy 3.1

      You hope….Banks hasn’t admitted or been convicted of anything yet.

      • felix 3.1.1

        Yeah right. He admitted receiving the money. He admitted making the declaration.

      • Macro 3.1.2

        No.. he is in denial…

        He cannot admit anything, because if he did, he would have to be asked to leave his comfortable position. And we can’t have that…

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Such behaviour is common to authoritarian followers. They will always defend their leaders no matter what the facts say and they’ll do it either through not mentioning the crime to outright denial that it happened.

      • RedLogix 3.2.1

        Exactly.

        Personally I was not too fussed about Brewer accepting a trip to the GC. I’m still a little curious as to exactly why MediaWorks decided to shower this beneficence on him, but if it’s a straightforward commercial arrangement then it’s justified.

        The point is; if you go on fishing trips into anyone’s private life you will find something to make game of. There are no perfect people.

        What gets me is that the left falls for this game every time. None of the screamers and howlers after Len Brown’s scalp actually cared the slightest about who he was fucking (other than his family – and it to them and them only that he is accountable for that) nor the puffed up nonsense around the hotels.

        It was just a game and distraction to them. Called “Get Len”. So as we stop paying attention to what’s important.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1

          The Left has lost most of the muscle, cohesion and will needed to make a difference on shit which matters, so it gets distracted by everything else.

        • karol 3.2.1.2

          The whole Brown thing is a big distraction from the real shortcomings of the Auckland Council undemocratic structure: personality politics rather than the stuff that really matters.

  4. Grumpy 4

    Gob, try Brewer, accusations that proved false.
    Contrast this post with Worth etc. nice that the left is so absolving of their own but the howls of outrage at the drop of a hat over any perceived indiscretion by a right politician just make you look hypocritical.

    • gobsmacked 4.1

      Brewer was asked about free upgrades? Cite? (no, because he wasn’t).

      Richard Worth? Another case of the memory hole. Does this ring a bell? -

      “I gave him a bollocking,”

      “If he hadn’t resigned, I would have sacked him.”

      “I’ve washed my hands of him.”

      “I can’t sack him twice.”

      All said by the same person, the one who was responsible for ending Worth’s career. Hint: not a leftie.

  5. RedbaronCV 5

    I’ve posted in open mike but the report is shabby to put it mildly. Quax and Cameron should be called to account, the report plus other staff time etc must now be rising towards quarter of a mill of ratepayer money for a $400 return. Time those two stopped wasting rates.

  6. clifford wright 6

    That’s just it! Because you happen to agree with the professed politics of someone in public life can NEVER be allowed to blind you to failings that they may have.
    Otherwise you really are a country of the “one eyed”.
    Always the problem is that the “protector of the downtrodden” as Len wants to be portrayed leaves himself more open to criticism than the self proclaimed monetarist “Jackist”.
    We all know the monetarist is a selfish Bastard!
    But it looks worse when one’s expectations are higher.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Oh for fucks sake try and make some sense instead of taping some random moral outrage together.

  7. Nick K 7

    I look forward to your stinging criticism of the media the next time a right wing politician is harassed into oblivion, like David Garrett was.

    • chris73 7.1

      Or Richard Worth or Aaron Gilmore…

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Richard Worth – fell on his own sword (details hushed up not splashed out).

        Aaron Gilmore – fell on his own sword (but not before taking swipes at his Leader and his party).

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      What, the baby thief? Were you all ready to forgive that were you?

  8. philj 8

    xox.
    This lil’ Orkland melodrama, is boring as for the rest of country. It becomes petty, with point scoring being the name of the game. Is this really as ‘good’ as it gets? Seems that when a lot of TVNZ production moved from Lower Hutt to Orkland, the standard went down the toilet. I’m thinking breakfast and morning TV, which is appalling. Orkland is a disaster (in the making) , with housing, transport, Democratic(?) Super City, issues. Collectively, we have degenerated into a mean spirited, undemocratic idiocracy, aided by a stupefied MSM. Game , set and Match. Don’t tell me hard Labour is the answer. Lookin forward to next year’s fiasco’s. Keep smilin’.

  9. captain hook 9

    the standard of journalism in New Zealand is extremely poor.
    basically most of them are kids who have never done anything excpept school, j-school and then the job.
    their biggest ambition is not to report the news or investigate the ramifications but to get someone in their sights and do them down so they can put it in their cv’s.
    the other side of the coin is that they think they are inviolate and beyond reproach when they are just creeps hanging around.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      the standard of journalism in New Zealand is extremely poor.

      Not helped by the fact that a huge portion of the articles which are not direct local content – have actually been written in Australia.

      I don’t think many kiwis realise exactly how much of the content found in our media can also be seen every day in all the Australian papers. This sort of writing which used to be bread and butter for our local journos has been outsourced to head office.

      No-one – apart from the Press Gallery ‘reef-fish’ – makes a decent career from the business these days. The days of your local, ‘hard-bitten, probably alcoholic, but knew exactly where all the bodies were buried’ hack, who could be depended on to dig up a decent story if given half a lead – is long gone.

      It takes maturity and experience to be a good journalist. Apart from a few like Gordon Campbell, who are remnants of an earlier age – none of today’s kiddies who churn out the bulk of the local content have much of a clue about how the world really works.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Journalism is a trade and it takes at least 5-10 years on the job with solid mentoring to get good at it. A good story will take a month or two to put together, fact check, edit and publish. And as you say, it just doesn’t happen nowadays.

        As for the Press Gallery – it’s that rare day when they are purposefully challenging the narrative given to them by those in the halls of power, rather than just repeating it.

  10. TightyRighty 10

    Can you please point out the bit where Len brown was completely cleared of misusing the power of the office of the mayor in the EY report?

    • RedLogix 10.1

      How about you tell us exactly what you think he did wrong? Then we can have a meaningful discussion about whether or not Len was exonerated or not.

  11. Foreign Waka 11

    The witch hunt has begun and the fight for the position too. Mark my words, this will be “allocated” to a National party member or at least supporting person.
    Yep, politics – who needs it.

    • Ian 11.1

      No political party needs Len Brown. Give him up and move on. He is yesterdays shit.

      • Foreign Waka 11.1.1

        I have no preference either way as I am not familiar with the men and his personality. It puts me in a almost perfect spot to be an independent observer.
        Upgrades of flights and Hotel stays for free are very common to a lot of VIPS if that is the gripe. If it is Mr Browns personal life, its no ones business really. To make it different is almost like a case of an obsessive Presbyterian view that is being portrait.
        The whole time line of the reporting, revealing and reactions are almost cinematic and compelling to predict what the next snippet will be.

  12. tricledrown 12

    grunpy grinches galore.

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