Bat Bean Beam: Dirty journalism

Written By: - Date published: 7:07 am, October 29th, 2014 - 32 comments
Categories: accountability, blogs, journalism - Tags: , , , ,

Giovanni Tiso is the author of the blog Bat Bean Beam, and a tireless leftie activist on Twitter. Last week he tweeted:

On Monday he followed up with a post on his blog – here are some extracts:

Dirty journalism

Cameron Slater posted this [the email pictured above] last week on Whaleoil, a strategic piece of leaking from his own communications. The redaction is his. The intent, less than noble: to remind John Armstrong – author of the latest opinion piece on dirty politics – that at any moment he could release the rest of the email, or other emails like it, and cause embarrassment to a colleague and to his newspaper. ‘Stay away,’ he warns him. And then, sotto voce, to the rest of us: I’m not the only bad guy, you see, and besides everyone is a bad guy. We are all dirty. (These aren’t quite his words.)

However the greater issue is the sheer weight of what hasn’t changed: on the wake of a scandal which engulfed the media, there have been no resignations among executives or reporters, nor to my knowledge has any print, radio or television editor signalled a change in the way things will be done and who will be asked for comment on politics and policy.

In no particular order: Rachel Glucina is still employed by the newspaper she was using as a mouthpiece for the Minister of Justice. Cathy Odgers was approached by the New Zealand Herald to comment on the political campaign, and the column might well have gone ahead if she hadn’t pulled out herself. Matthew Hooton admitted to Kathryn Ryan his role in the ‘chop chop for Nicky’ affair, and has kept his half-dozen jobs as a political commentator and columnist, including on the public airwaves. Jim Mora continues to invite representatives of a Tory front organisation and the likes of Stephen Franks – whose legal firm made use of Whaleoil – on his popular show at Radio New Zealand. Cameron Slater remains a commentator for Newstalk ZB (which led Wendyl Nissen to resign her job at the station), as is Jordan Williams (which led Helen Kelly to resign), as is David Farrar.

They’re all still there.

I asked Jared Savage if he’s the author of the redacted email which may not even be real. He responded courteously that he would not comment pending Justice Chisolm’s inquiry. I asked David Fisher, who said that he wasn’t, and that he never traded information with Slater back when he had dealings with him. I asked Shayne Currie and Tim Murphy separately for comment. None has been forthcoming.

It’s a long and interesting post – go read the whole thing on Bat Bean Beam.

32 comments on “Bat Bean Beam: Dirty journalism”

  1. ianmac 1

    MSM is long and loud on the mis-steps of Opposition MPs.
    There are long and loud echoes of silence from the MSM when their writers mis-step.
    Integrity?
    Trust?
    Authenticity?

  2. karol 2

    An excellent piece of analysis from Giovanni.

    When some rightees, including the PM try to run the line “Labour/the left do it, too”, then this post should be required reading by them.

    The left has never done any of the consistent and long term attempts to threaten the press with attacks on them and their personal lives that the WO-Nat smear machine has done.

    This from the Bat, Bean, Beam post, with respect to the quote from Russell Brown saying that Slater “was both wholesaling and retailing scuttlebutt on behalf of others. Wholesaling it to journalists, retailing it in his blog.” Giovanni then goes on:

    Inside of that relationship, the wholesaling and the retailing, a number of people had their lives dragged. And while Nicky Hager is constantly questioned about the ethics of his working with stolen correspondence, none of the reporters who have collaborated with Slater have had to defend the public interest value of their stories against the danger of exposing others to Whaleoil. Yet that is also where the naivety defence falls apart: for nobody can claim not to have known what that blog was about. There is no excuse.

    There are some MSM journalists doing their best to provide accurate and critical copy, that holds the government (and others in power) to account. But the majority of articles and editorials don’t.

    And John Key showed exactly who he is supporting and/or shielding in his responses yesterday in the House to questions about his communications with Slater. He clearly sided with Slater when highlighting that Slater’s emails, as in Hager’s Dirty Politics book, were “stolen”.

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, as I stated publicly when this matter came up during the election campaign. I would note that I did not use the language paraphrased in Mr Slater’s stolen emails.

    • Tracey 2.1

      It is beyond reason for anyone to think that Slater had anything of the kind shown in dirty politics, against Labour or any oppositon parties and chose NOT to publish it. he coild slam Hhager’s credibility easily by revealing emails which he knows were in possession of Hager and which show labour MPs using two track strategies and smear campaigns but he hasn’t. And it AINT cos he doesnt stoop that low.

      I seem to recall Fisher or someone was working on something from the dirty politics emails… seems to be taking much longer than it takes Fran or Armstrong tot ype “Cunliffe must resign”

      It seems it is left tot he blogosphere to hold the MSM to account, but it is an uphill job. Maybe some bloggers need to seek appointments with the Editor of the ODT, at least on the surface they remain outside the fairfax apn stranglehold.

      • karol 2.1.1

        I understand that Hager did hold back from naming complicit MSM journalists that get named in the emails. Maybe he wanted to give the journos a space to redeem themselves?

  3. Great post – it is so important to keep pulling on these threads.

    “the greater issue is the sheer weight of what hasn’t changed”

    So true.

  4. adam 4

    One word.

    Propaganda.

    If you think the MSM are not the propaganda machine for untether capitalism – take some time to reflect on the past 6 years.

    No wait – take some time and reflect on the last 30 years.

    • Olwyn 4.1

      In the past 6 years it has grown more audacious. In 2008, when it was decided that Peters must not get in the way of plans, the ante went up a rather large notch. An alleged failure to declare funds was suddenly treated as if it was on a level with supplying arms to an enemy state. Suddenly a select committee Soprano’s drama materialised, with a millionaire, a few attractive young women and a little crucifix.

      Well they got their way, Peters was out of parliament, and variations on this “news” method have continued. The pursuit of Brown, who is hardly a Che Guevara, the determination to get rid of Cunliffe and to knock out Harawira are all examples.

      It leaves the left with a very big problem. Some of them think you have to have the media on side, but to have them on side you have to pose no threat whatsoever to the dominant. Think Brown, who did not support the POAL strike and only wants to hang on to a few city assets and get a railway line. It is imperative that the new Labour leader clean up Labour’s relationship with the media, and work out ways of weathering the storms that will no doubt ensue.

      • someone else 4.1.1

        Was called by curia today – that’s the kiwiblog branch of dirty politics. All the questions were about my feelings about the Labour leadership race. Now why would the National Party be polling the public about that?

        The incesant polling is an important part of the two tier strategy. Manipulation requires information about how people are thinking and feeling. It’s about who to hit and where will do the most damage.

        • mickysavage 4.1.1.1

          Thanks SE. Curia rang a friend of mine and asked the same questions. Obviously they are working out the attack lines on who may be the next leader …

        • mac1 4.1.1.2

          it’s about feelings. That’s where I’ve been wrong in my political predictions and activity. It’s about feelings for most voters, not about policy. And feelings are more easily manipulated than thoughts.

          As much as I hate it, it’s about feelings and I have to allow my logical brain to understand that it’s all about feelings.

          Let’s activate our left wing feelings- fairness, justice, anger against manipulation, oppression and want, caring, brotherly/sisterly love, concern, togetherness, community.

          Let’s liberate those feelings in our fellow Kiwis, and let the other side be unfair, unjust, mean, selfish, unloving and alone.

          • Tracey 4.1.1.2.1

            in marketing they call the strategy to play on feelings “hot buttons”.

            you see it Key’s carefully crafted one liners all the time

  5. Tracey 5

    well done sir. well bloody done. this is NOT complicated but it is incredibly important

    • greywarshark 5.1

      @ Tracey
      It isn’t complicated when seeing it in direct terms, but I think it is complicated to get past the labrythine? minds of the political card dealers and the media sucking up their interesting gossip.

      What they hear is possible, half possible and possibly no truth. Who can tell, it’s all grist for the chattering classes and the media will put anyone through the mill if it fills the space and sells.

  6. A free press has a moral obligation to report with fairness and accuracy. But our press isn’t free, it’s owned by multinational corporations. (TVNZ also acts like a sociapathic corporation due to the idiotic SEO model).

    The only consistently decent analysis on the airwaves comes from Radio NZ Mediawatch.

  7. Ad 7

    Dirty Politics as a mode of political management is the unapologetic default of those in power, both parliamentary and media.

    The virtuous have been killed and eaten.

    Isn’t it time to accept this, and for the left to form its own version of dirty politics?
    You can’t beat them, obviously, so join them.

    • Colonial Rawshark 7.1

      Because the Right control all the major media channels you would have to do what Labour in the UK did – cosy up to Murdoch et al. Who will have demands of their own.

      A politics for the oligarchs will result. Where not even the comfortable middle classes get represented any more.

      • Ad 7.1.1

        Well, no.

        Whaleoil is not owned by anyone but himself.

        The Standard the same.

        The alternatives to the MSM work, and done well, they win.

        We need to learn the lessons of Dirty Politics and use them to our own ends.
        The other side know how to do it, and the other side have set the rules for the next several years.

        • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1.1

          95% of Whaleoil’s impact is due to his stories being carried by the MSM. No other reason.

          TV3 news is seen by 300,000-400,000 people a night. TV is also the most persuasive of all media in terms of affecting buying preferences.

          The Standard gets tens of thousands of unique visitors a week IIRC.

          It’s two or three orders of magnitude difference.

          • Ad 7.1.1.1.1

            O ye of little faith!

            Let’s get then to what would make a story on The Standard carry on MSM.
            How to gain the great amplification onto television.

            Some clues from Whaleoil are:
            – Gain profile through controversy
            – Entice politicians to visit you and comment, and hint at stories, often
            – Become a commenter on MSM radio
            – (hate to say it) Clickbait
            – Actively groom rising stars within parties

          • Tracey 7.1.1.1.2

            agree and this is what many miss and enable them to sat “but it’s just a blog, who reads a blog”… cos they dont connect his filthy smearing with the stories that then run in MSM

  8. coaster 8

    Maybe icf the left stopped talking to and leaking to the media for 12 months things would get better. If journos had to do work and not simply get handed storys we would get better journalism.

  9. Chooky 9

    needs to be Left controlled and operated media eg radio stations, tv, newspapers… we have the Left blogs…thank goodness

    ….i see rt is establishing in Britain…although this will be controversial in some quarters…however rt is already relevant and popular there with shows like the Keiser Report

    http://rt.com/shows/keiser-report/

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/28/kremlin-rt-uk-news-channel-russia-today

  10. emergency mike 10

    I thought Megan Woods did not too bad today:

    Woods: “If he is the prime minister and confirms information using tax payer resources, which he then refers to in the house as prime minister, how is that not in his ministerial capacity?”

    Key: “Mr speaker the member should email Helen Clark at undp.com.” Sits down.

    Key is happy to use this childish “Oh I wuzn’t being prime minister when I did dat,” defence, but when pressed about when exactly he can be expected to be held account as prime minister he gives an answer which to me looks much like an extended middle finger. He does so because he simply doesn’t have an answer to this question.

    And before some RW trool starts repeating Key with a “But Laaaabour….” comment, please take a moment to reflect that the “But so-and-so did it too!” line doesn’t work for naughty schoolkids.

    Also, during that question I noticed that David Carter was quickly on his feet to strongly object and deny Woods’ attempt to table a photo of Key at a press conference, but said nothing about Key’s above fu flipant response to a fair question.

    http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/34627

    • Tracey 10.1

      and cos the speaker lets him.

      I keep wondering how this would be panning out with lockwood in the speakers chair

  11. Bill 11

    A solution is to have a publicly funded major newspaper that has editorial independence for each section it contains (notionally a right leaning section and a left leaning section contained in the same publication with similar column inches to each side). The sections wouldn’t need to be distinct. Both editorial lines could run on the same page, enjoy the same prominence and legally protected editorial independence could be afforded to each ‘camp’.

    Such a publication could easily undercut the cover price of corporate backed publications by the simple application of more public funds to cover production/distribution costs.

  12. karol 12

    Giovanni Tiso talking on BFM on the topic of his blog post.

    Giovanni Tiso talking on BFM on the topic of his blog post.

    I only have the direct link to the mp3 audio.

  13. DH 13

    If David Cunliffe wants to do some real good I’d like to see him give serious thought to launching defamation proceedings against the NZ Herald. I’ve been reading the post mortems over the election and I have no doubt in my mind who won the election; the corporate media.

    People can only make decisions from the information available to us and the media controlled what we were receiving. We were fed bullshit so we, collectively, voted bullshit.

    The Herald was the most blatant at rigging the election and I’d think them very vulnerable to a well prepared lawsuit. I think they wilfully created a narrative that Mr Cunliffe was untrustworthy and that is serious defamation if proven. I’m aware the barrier for defaming politicians is much migher than for a private person but it doesn’t reach that high. Trust is akin to honesty aka intregrity and Mr Cunliffe’s personal and professional reputation has been seriously sullied IMO.

    The attacks on Mr Cunliffe, by the media, would follow him into the private sector if he were to rejoin the workforce and I am of the view he would suffer serious longterm financial losses from the damage done to his reputation by the media smears.

    I’d be interested in others views on it.

  14. Anne 14

    I doubt he would be prepared to do it while he is still a politician DH. The downside would be further negative commenting from the media. But if, sometime in the not too distant future, he chose to get out of politics then that could be a different story.

    • DH 14.1

      You’re probably right Anne but I think it would do Mr Cunliffe, and Labour, more good than harm if he was to do it early rather than later. He’s out of the running so what harm would it really do to his political career now?

      It’s also an opportunity that may not come again. The media went into a feeding frenzy with their attacks on David Cunliffe and, frankly, they got carried away to the extent I think a defamation suit would have a very high chance of succeeding. That’s unusual, the media bigwigs are usually more savvy than that, and the opportunity to put them back in their place may not arise again.

      Maybe he could do it just before the next election, with the implied threat he’ll persevere with it if they don’t stop meddling in our democracy. They need their wings clipped else they’ll just choose our next Govt for us again.

      • Anne 14.1.1

        The media went into a feeding frenzy with their attacks on David Cunliffe and, frankly, they got carried away to the extent I think a defamation suit would have a very high chance of succeeding.

        Did they ever. They reminded me of a bunch of sharks threshing and tearing at a piece of meat – David Cunliffe. A horrible sight. I’d love him to sue sections of the MSM and even individual journalists, but he would need to choose the timing very carefully.

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