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Espiner on the right-wing smear machine

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 31st, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: spin - Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s great to see that Colin Espiner is keeping up with blog despite leaving the press gallery.

His post yesterday is on the orchestrated smear campaign against Andrew Williams that has been building over the past year. He points out that the latest ‘story’ is clearly a set up and the smear version of events is contradicted by what others who were present say. But it’s this observation that I find particularly interesting:

“This is an interesting trend. First someone finks on Labour’s Charles Chauvel for muttering under his breath about noisy kids. Now this. What’s next? Politician crosses road on “Don’t Walk” sign? MP caught littering?”

It’s been going on longer than the Chauvel ‘story’. The Right has a full-blown smear operation running that has been targeting Labour’s gay MPs in particular.

The National research unit, along with a staffer in Key’s office, work with Cameron Slater, David Farrar and a couple of friendly journos. They dig up these little stories that have no political relevance but appeal to the increasingly tabloid nature of the New Zealand media, then quietly pass them on to a blogger or a journo. Once the story is out, they create an echo chamber to hype up these non-stories.

It works because the media seems increasingly to not care about the news value of ‘stories’, and the journos keep quiet about the political motivations of their sources and the bloggers’ close ties to National.

A similar game is played with the weekly beneficiary-bashing story we’re seeing. The source material is obviously Paula Bennett’s office, it couldn’t be anywhere else. But the Nats are confident that their tame journos will keep quiet about the fact that the Minister of Social Development is secretly coordinating a beneficiary smear campaign through the media.

National doesn’t want to and can’t engage in real political debate on the issues. So it is reduced to mud throwing.

Some brave journo needs to shine a light on what is going on here. It is not good enough for the government to get away with using its proxies to wage secret smear campaigns.

16 comments on “Espiner on the right-wing smear machine”

  1. Zaphod Beeblebrox 1

    This sort of stuff is a two edged sword often however. I would think all Super City candidates would love to start a slanging match with Rodney Hide.

  2. peter 2

    Would any sane person be influenced by what Farrar or Slater put up on their blogshites ??

  3. JD 3

    So Eddie, doesn’t your role in [deleted] actually place you in the same category?

    [lprent: You know that trying to guess who is behind the pseudonyms is frowned upon..

    Stating that you know directly or indirectly who they are (when you’re simply guessing) gets you a four week ban (because you’ve tried this shit before). The inability to offer any substantive proof of your guess means that I could as easily state you have genital herpes, a split palette, and suffer from cognitive dissonance, which also cannot be proved one way or another (although I can give some powerful ‘evidence’ looking at your comments). I can’t be sure myself who Eddie is, and I run the site.

    Ummm JD is an idiot, he seems to think that sysops can’t modify comments… Extended to a 2 month ban for stupidity. ]

  4. randal 4

    its not aimed at sane people but the crazies who bleive all this muck and keep repeating it.
    and its not only the the biggies who are under attack but any small fry who dares speak out.
    we are becoming a cyber fascist state.

  5. Eddie

    I have no doubt that there are attempts to dig up dirt on opposing politicians, altho I must admit that if I was a Mayor of any town or city, I would not assume that taking a leak in public wouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps he was once an NRL player?

    So I’m not going to be stupid enough to challenge that part of your post.

    However, you also state: “They dig up these little stories that have no political relevance but appeal to the increasingly tabloid nature of the New Zealand media, then quietly pass them on to a blogger or a journo.”

    Apart from the posisbility that Worthless was using his role to further his financial interests, what part of the sordid Worth saga does not reflect your comments above? Goff didn’t resort to mud slinging by any chance?

    • felix 5.1

      You’re not even really trying any more Dave.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Worthless was using his role to further his financial interests – there’s no real doubt there. He promoted his company while abroad as the minister. Everything else he was accused of doing was also of a highly suspect nature that was very definitely political as it showed that he had a mentality of entitlement.

      Pissing against a tree? meh, It’s not the best look and politicians should be above that sort of thing but it’s not a play for power or an abuse of power.

  6. JonL 6

    “we are becoming a cyber fascist state.”
    Sadly, this appears to be a valid point. Observations comparing NZ sites and members reactions with similar sites in Aus, I frequent, seem to show the NZ’ers far more likely to veer off from lucid intelligent discussion, into rabid, ideological shit slinging!

  7. Your theory falls over in several places

    a) the National party are that organised. They are not.
    b) that Cameron Slater works well with others in a team. He doesn’t.
    c) that David Farrar is right wing. I have known him for the best part of 15 years. He is not.

  8. Anne 8

    @ Cactus Kate
    The National party are that well organised – or at least some of their behind the scenes supporters are. I’ve been observing the political scene for 36 years and it has been going on since the 1970s. The only thing that has changed is the modus operandi.
    Example:
    In 1976, Colin Moyle was set up via a phone call one night and went to meet a person who claimed he had evidence of a scam inside the Defence Service. The Wellington street corner designated for the meeting was in an area known for ‘homosexual’ activity which was still illegal at that time. The person never turned up but the police did. (Tip-off maybe?) Moyle was taken to the police station and questioned but later released. Someone apprised Muldoon of the incident and – to cut the story short – Moyle was hounded out of office.

  9. Anne 9

    an addition:

    Colin Moyle was being tipped as a future Labour leader and prime minister.

    • Bill 9.1

      Aside from the smearing of individuals, there is the difference in the way that the National and Labour might appear to approach matters when in opposition.

      The link below became more interesting for me when I reflected that National had used the F&S issue (among others) as a opportunity to stir shit and besmirch Labour when they were in opposition whereas Labour are signalling a willingness to work with National in drawing up an alternative.

      Although the US system is way more open to the type of abuse discussed in the article, it seems to me that the underlying mentality that drives the abuse from the right ( and the spinelessness from the left) is present in both systems; that it merely manifests differently according to the environment and is more or less virulent for the same environmental reason.

  10. Bill 10

    Aside from the smearing of individuals, there is the difference in the way that the National and Labour seem to approach matters when in opposition.

    The link below gets more interesting when it’s remembered that National had used the F&S issue (among others) as a opportunity to stir shit and besmirch Labour when they were in opposition whereas Labour are signalling a willingness to work with National in drawing up an alternative.

    Although the US system is way more open to the type of abuse and power play discussed in the article, it seems to me that the underlying mentality that drives the abuse from the right ( and the spinelessness from the left) is present in both systems; that it merely manifests differently according to the environment and is more or less virulent for the same environmental reason.

    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/033110.html

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