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Authenticity

Written By: - Date published: 7:39 am, September 13th, 2014 - 34 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, john key, Media - Tags: , ,

For my sins I watched the Paul Henry analysis of the TV3 leaders debate.

It was unsurprising to see the pundits question Cunliffe’s authenticity and whether he really means what he says again.  It’s a meme repeated often enough that it is now ‘a thing’ with the public.  But I doubt anyone truly believes he doesn’t care about child poverty and our housing crisis – if he didn’t he could be making a lot more for a lot less stress as a Business Consultant as he used to – or be doing profitably in the National Party.

So why is it inauthentic to sound like he does?  My guess is that it’s because Cunliffe is – like most of our pundits – a wealthier than average, middle-class white male.  But he doesn’t act like them, he speaks Maori and he talks in an ‘evangelical’ way – so they assume that that is put on.

But Cunliffe doesn’t come from comfortable roots.  He comes from a family that was struggling to make ends meet, with a sick father.  A Reverend father that was full of proselytising zeal for God and Socialism.  One doesn’t need to look too far to see where Cunliffe would have got his manner from.

And it was interesting to see that the pundits hated him going on with his sermon on child poverty – but their panel of 100 undecided voters (who they surprisingly didn’t poll afterwards) saw that as by far the most positive moment of the night.

So his ‘evangelism’ connects – not with the hardened cynical pundits or those on the right – but no doubt with a lot more than 25% of voters.  It can be an asset, no matter what the pundits may think.

I thought Josie Pagani did well within her constraints.  Weirdly, post-Dirty Politics, they didn’t mention her affiliations – but then I guess she was there to ‘balance’ Paul Henry (inasmuch as a guest can balance a host!), and they didn’t want to mention his former National candidacy to balance mentioning hers.

Near the end Josie tried to analyse Key like they’d been analysing Cunliffe, but Paul Henry rapidly shut that down.  At the level of micro-analysis of the ‘fight’ that our pundits do, it always ends up being critical, so keeping from examining every breath for fault saves Key’s skin.  There was not the poring over each statement, and in doing so I think they missed analysing the biggest gaffe of the night.

Key claimed that only 11% of children in poverty were in working households rather than Cunliffe’s 40% – and continued to insist even when John Campbell pulled out the document showing the government’s own advice from the Ministry of Social Development said it was 2 in 5 children.  Now Cunliffe probably should have hit with a blow of:

You get to have your own opinions John, but you don’t get to have your own facts

– because without that, it wasn’t worth mentioning by Henry, Edwards or Garner.

Because that is how our analysis goes these days.  Josie tried a couple of times (and you could see she was working out how much she could get away with), but other than her 2 interventions we don’t get any analysis of the actual policy statements mentioned – in any of the punditry, Paul Henry Show or elsewhere.  Hell, we don’t even get any analysis of whether they’re telling the truth.  No, it’s entirely a Prize Fight, and it’s who landed the best rhetorical blow (and according to John Armstrong, it’s not even the balance of the fight, it’s only the best blow…).

So after being told how Dirty Politics distracted from policy, when we had the leaders talking policy, we had the pundits saying how that will have all gone over the heads of the viewers.  And being patronisingly surprised that their ‘ordinary people’ they’d rounded up were actually interested in that.  Before getting back to their Prize Fight commentary.

Of course now we’re back onto polls and Horse Races rather than the Prize Fight, but when will our pundits give us the actual analysis we need, rather than just game commentary?  I optimistically presume it’s because they aren’t given the resources to study to that depth (in which case the editors need to give that to them), and hope it’s not because they’re scared of being declared partisan because of their results (reality having a left-wing bias and all).

Because without that policy analysis our democracy is more poorly informed, and the worse for it.

34 comments on “Authenticity ”

  1. dv 1

    I am still stunned that there has been no comment about about the cost of the pretend tax cuts

    1.3 mill households x $1500 = 1.95 billion NOT 500m

    More attention that Cunilife got his nos wrong rather that Key – whose policy it is.

    • lprent 1.1

      That is probably because people rather expect that John Key will screw up on his own details?

      He has been notable for it in the past.

      But the post’s point is quite important. The rather stupid way that the commentators and TV jonolists manage to drop everything down to some kind of silly game really pisses me off. You get the impression that talking about policy would cause their own deficiencies in knowledge to be shown up.

      Superficial and shallow. Mind you that really does describe Paul Henry from what I have seen of him.

      However I rather suspect that voters aren’t nearly as shallow as the commertariat.

      • meconism 1.1.1

        I agree, the television media want a political version of X Factor, Idol or god forbid, The Block.

    • dv 1.2

      ‘That is probably because people rather expect that John Key will screw up on his own details?

      But by a factor of 4 times!!!

      AND i dont understand how Key can screw up these money details. He is a money man and very used to dealing with numbers.

  2. sockpuppet 2

    Is Cunliffe inauthentic?
    Yes

    Does Key get to have his own facts?
    No

    When will we get proper (ie not game) analysis from our pundits?
    Once in a blue moon

    • lprent 2.1

      I don’t think that cunliffe is inauthentic. I know quite a lot of people like him amongst the pretty affluent.

      They are a generation or two out of abject poverty. But unlike a klutz like key, they listened to their grandparents and parents and thought that it was in a large part pure luck that they got to where they are.

      My maternal grandfather had a gimpy leg and was pretty damn sick throughout the depression in the 1930 and 40s. Consequently the whole family scraped a bare living and they did really manage to make any headway until they got a state house and penicillin. My paternal grandparents were better off, but not that much better off.

      My parents were a lot more affluent. But as kids, the making of us was that my mother was determined to get the education that she’d missed because she was poor and female. The university degree she got after taking night classes caused all of us kids (including most of our cousins) to get education higher than the school cert my parents left school with.

      But we remember where we came from and how damn lucky we were. So does David Cunliffe. We aren’t interested in pulling the ladder of opportunities that were provided by our society up behind us.

      John Key of course is a bit more selfishly self-centered.

    • Tom Gould 2.2

      Sadly, because I think he is a good man who genuinely cares about his country, Cunliffe is indeed inauthentic. Tracy Watkins posed the blunt question a few months back, way before the Herald launched the Donghua Liu smear campaign, and the truth is that the question resonated with people. There is something intangible about him that grates with people.

      Some will recall the analysis of the famous Kennedy versus Nixon campaign debate in 1960, which found that those who listened on the radio gave it to Nixon, whereas those who watched it on TV gave it to Kennedy. That was about style over substance. And so it is with Key versus Cunliffe. It’s not about personal looks. It’s just that Cunliffe just hasn’t got “it” and much as the political elite of the left might hate the fact, Key does.

      Anyone who has seen Key work a crowd, like the gallery media pack has many times, for example, know it.

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        Except “it” doesn’t actually help the country unless “it” is used for good, not evil.

      • meconism 2.2.2

        Bullshit, Nixon lost the TV debate because everybody could finally see he was a deeply corrupt, venal arsehole. It had nothing to do with Kennedy, that is all PR spin and the argument you continue to espouse tells me that it worked. HST describes the shock of realisation of what a hideous creature Nixon really was.

        • Tom Gould 2.2.2.1

          Not so. Nixon very nearly won in 1960. He did win in 1968 and again in 1972. I accept it is difficult for some people to see past the prejudice.

  3. karol 3

    I agree with you, Bunji, on the way the MSM journalists and commentators dominantly focus on The Game.

    That does not serve democracy at all.

    I am also frustrated that they put so much focus on Cunliffe’s (alleged) inauthenticity, while failing to provide a critique of John Key’s barrow boy salesman pitch. It is at least worthy of some consideration because of the exposure in Dirty Politics of The Nat-Lusk-Slater two-track strategy: smiley front man Key; covert dirty, disgusting, sleazy attack politics.

    John Key is not the front he tries to present.

    • Paul 3.1

      Read this brilliant article about the media’s role in manufacturing consent in NZ and share with your friends and family who believe the story about John Key.

      http://boonman.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/a-manufactured-consent/

    • Coffee Connoisseur 3.2

      cunliffe has no passion or lacks the ability to deliver passion when he talks. he seems very staged and yes inauthentic in my view, but I think it has more to do with his delivery than anything else. I don’t see him as being able to capture the imagination and the passion of the voting public.

      • karol 3.2.1

        Actually, I think the Reactor was run during the debate – latest version of the worm, – and most viewers responded very positively to Cunliffe, especially when he was talking on poverty.

  4. Ant 4

    People like to believe that because if Cunliffe doesn’t “really” care and is inauthentic they feel less like hypocrites for ignoring poverty.

    When faced with the actual choice to erase poverty, they question the motives of the person offering them that choice, so that they can defer making a decision and preserve the idealistic vision of themselves.

  5. Scott1 5

    Right from the start the media has labelled him a certain way and John Key another way and it is pretty hard change it.

  6. tc 6

    My hope is that this is a cescendo of media inadequacy and bias that a new govt will address and monitor via a complaints mechanism that dishes out hefty fines and bans. Nothing hurts those righteous over inflated egos quite like soapbox removal.

    its a great time to kick start a public broadcaster by handpicking talent from oz as tony and mal take theirs apart piece by piece. Mal just announced the end of community tv, no consultation or warning just dropped it in a speech as is their style.

  7. Cunliffe is OK, but the damage of a year long campaign to portray him negatively has been successful, and will probably decide the election. Even before the publication of Dirty Politics, it’s been obvious what has been going on and the extent of media collusion with it. An endless array of hit pieces orchestrated out of the PM’s office with the collusion of bloggers and the news media.

    Nevertheless, I’ll be ticking Labour for the first time ever this time.

    • Ant 7.1

      Yeah no one said dirty politics didn’t work.

      I’ve got a number of relatives who are staunch Labour, politically engaged, but their conduit of information is the NZ Herald and broadcast TV news and political programmes. All had considered Cunliffe in a negative light because that was what they were constantly fed. They reconsidered with Dirty Politics but it takes a certain level of engagement to even reflect upon your beliefs. A lot of voters will never get to that point.

  8. Rodel 8

    Inauthentic Never!
    At the risk of repeating myself, consider and disseminate these David Cunliffe facts.
    As a teenager his intellect was recognized by a scholarship to study the International Baccalaureate in Wales. He then went on to gain a BA with first class honours at Otago University.Then he worked as a diplomat for some seven years gaining a diploma in Social Sciences with distinction.

    As a Fulbright Scholar he attended Harvard University (John. F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School) gaining a Master of Public Administration.
    In his younger days he played rugby and while in Wales he helped build a sea rescue boat in which he with others patrolled the coast.

    He has worked various jobs: in a chip shop after school to help his family, later as a student planting bushes, and then in a shearing gang, and after graduating from Harvard he worked for 4-5 years as a business consultant with Boston Consulting group in Boston and Auckland.In 2008 he was conferred as an Honorary Fellow of New Zealand Computer Society for his significant contribution to the ICT sector.

    David Cunliffe has been an Associate minister of Finance, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, and Minister of Health.
    I suggest that with Cunliffe’s range of experiences in occupations, qualifications and academic achievements,he is far more authentic than a Merrill Lynch money trader and as a family person and genuine New Zealander he is a lot more authentic.

    • ianmac 8.1

      Well said Rodel. The difference between Key and David are so profound but barely hinted at in the public forum. Must send your summary at least to a nephew who has been tainted by the smears against David.

  9. Jo 9

    No one doubts he cares, but he always seems to be trying to say what he thinks people want to hear, eg I don’t think he is sorry for being a man, but he thought it would sound good.

    Even when he should be relaxed he comes across as trying to impress, that or he is just like this all the time!!!!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10491356/Key-and-Cunliffe-pop-quiz

  10. Blue 10

    I was totally disgusted that after an hour’s debate chock full of policy, that the panel afterwards weren’t even the slightest bit interested in it.

    They were all about trivial and superficial bullshit, and I had to laugh when the ordinary people they had collected to give opinions thought totally differently to them on pretty much everything.

    All the panel showed was that they are idiots in a media bubble who don’t have a clue what ordinary people think or want. Ordinary people don’t give a shit about The Game. They are interested in policy. They like to see a politician displaying passion and emotion.

    The media’s steady diet of opinion polls, over-hyped trivia and cynicism is probably responsible for their industry’s steady decline.

  11. saarbo 11

    Part of Nationals Attack Politics is to attack the strengths of an opponent. Ask DC’s constituents whether he is authentic. .. Authenticity is his strength hence why the Nats attack it.

  12. ghostwhowalksnz 12

    Ive just recollected that Paul Henry had a ‘speed reader’ on Hagers book the night it was launched.

    Didnt know the guy, but remember well his comments that it was ‘nothing new’ and wasnt worth reading.

    It was of course Charles Finny from Wellington PR outfit Saunders Unsworth. No context given that he is Beltway with a capital B, and as such is party to or aware of all the high jinks that Slater is up to.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/paulhenryshow/dirty-politics-wont-take-down-the-government–charles-finney-2014081322

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      It was of course Charles Finny from Wellington PR outfit Saunders Unsworth.

      And is so biased in favour of Key his opinion isn’t worth anything even if he had read the book which I doubt.

  13. Sable 13

    Its a shame the Australian media didn’t keep Henry because I for one sure don’t want him here in NZ.

  14. infused 14

    Because we’ve seen for the last, god knows how many years in parliament. If you have been watching him then, and seeing him now, you’d say the same thing.

    It’s a facade.

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