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.