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Written By: - Date published: 9:12 am, June 21st, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

David Cunliffe forgets an eleven year old pro-forma letter. John Armstrong calls for him to resign.

Then it turns out this was a National Party smear campaign. John Armstrong says he should still have resigned but y’know only to prove the confidence of his caucus.

Two National party ministers, one of them the Deputy Leader, repeatedly change their story about what they and their leader knew about the letter (note: the events they “forgot” were not 11 years ago), and it’s discovered they have manipulated the OIA process as part of their smear. John Armstrong doesn’t write a column about how they should resign.

Armstrong got carried away and has found himself hamstrung by his first absurd position. Now he looks compromised.

My advice John? Front up in your next column, admit you got it wrong, and get on with doing the job properly.


46 comments on “Hamstrung”

  1. Matthew Hooton 1

    Fran O’Sullivan strongly critical of calls for Cunliffe to resign – thinks he should stay until election. See http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11278532

    • geoff 1.1

      Yeah she basically told armstrong to pull his head in.

    • AB 1.2

      Extraordinary – Fran O’Sullivan has got it almost right. Her colleague John Armstrong is indeed ‘risible’.
      But I say ‘almost right’ – because there is an implied false equivalency, i.e. that the Nats are just playing the same sort of gotcha politics as Labour.
      This isn’t the case – there is a real whiff of corruption coming from National and the entrapment of Cunliffe (or more accurately his staff) was designed to neutralise it.
      And that is exactly what O’Sullivan is saying – it’s all even now, don’t be silly boys and girls and get on with the serious stuff. So she is still subtly ‘on message’ for National.

      Also the damage is done now so she can come across as all reasonable-like, just to ‘prove’ the Herald is not really a sewer of deranged old Tories.

      Still not one of her unhinged outbreaks of neo-liberal delusion, or schoolgirlish worshsip of 2nd-rate business ‘leaders’. So well done – 5/10

      • karol 1.2.1

        well said, AB. My thoughts exactly.

      • Ronnie Chow 1.2.2

        Look at these basic mistakes. He started the year not knowing the crucial details of his baby bonus speech, he then foolishly accused Prime Minister John Key of living in a flash pad while he slummed it in a downmarket $2.5 million mansion in Herne Bay.

        He set up a secret trust for his leadership bid and was caught out. He claimed his grandfather won a war medal when it was his great uncle. His CV had mistakes in it. He used Grant Robertson’s leadership statement as his own and this week – the howler – denied he knew Donghua Liu or had ever advocated for him – before a letter emerged to prove otherwise.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Ah, sorry to interrupt your false narrative. He criticised the Prime Minister’s dismissal of a Salvation Army report on poverty by pointing out that it’s authors were better placed to judge the problem. The full exchange is in Hansard, and your attempt to re-write history is clearly the result of mendacity or gullibility.

          Asking that someone be provided with a timetable, likewise, is not “advocacy”. So again, you’re either lying deliberately or you’ve swallowed the lies you’ve been fed.

          The trust wasn’t secret: it was declared. Another (deliberate?) lie from you.

          As for the rest, Blip has a list. Have you read it? It makes you look like a partisan shill.

          So, which one is it? Are you dupe or duplicitous? Better get some personal responsibility or you’ll look like a hypocrite as well as a liar.

    • dave 1.3

      hooton bend over we all know you are John keys bum boy .you can take your opinions and shove it where it belongs

    • Bluey 1.4

      Will the next bout of shrieking drown Collins death throes?
      We shall see.

  2. Clean_power 2

    There is no reason for D. Cunliffe to resign.

  3. dimebag russell 3

    Hooton should resign too.
    what business of his is all this stuff.
    it is hard to tell just what side of the street he is walking on. What these so called journalists think is just a a matter of their own opinions and has nothing to do with truth or fact.
    New Zealand is sinking into irreparable infantilism and childishness when it lets these people do their thinking for them.

  4. Jack 4

    Armstrong is a National Party Cheerleader and Mascot, definitely not an independent professional journalist. Obviously picks up a cheque each week.

    Strange how they released Cunliffe’s letter from 11 years ago for the Cunliffe Smear Campaign but have not released National Party Support Letters for Dong Liu, very strange stuff going on in the background here, the whole show is cooked and orchestrated by someone.

    Why don’t we just get the facts from these journalists rather than their self opinionated dribble depending which side of the fence they are sitting on.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    John Armstrong acted like a wet behind the ears easily manipulated 22 year old grad out of a bad journo school too eager to make his mark. Clearly, Armstrong was given advance notice of what was happening, wrote up a piece ahead of time so it could be published on the designated smear schedule, and in doing so finally definitively revealed himself to be nothing more than a compromised mouthpiece.

    Instead of building up his own credibility as an experienced political journalist able to explain the mechanations and implications of the game being played, he decided to take on the role of a sacrificial pawn within the game itself. Stupid to let himself get used and sold out by the National spin machine like that. They don’t give a fuck that he now looks like a cheap partisan hack.

    And don’t think the editors of the paper didn’t green light his bullshit as well.

    Looking forward to Armstrong losing his access to PM Cunliffe’s office.

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    I have no faith in the reporters in NZ. They have very little chance to change jobs when they want and so effectively have no freedom of opinion. How can anyone expect a true and unbiased word from that profession? Unfortunately, they rank now right after Car sales person being as trustworthy. There is the odd exception but they are either a novelty that wears off or they have to go overseas.

  7. Jrobin 7

    Yes disappointing to see Armstrong so hysterical. I acknowledge he s a conservative but he is usually intelligent and circumspect. Goodness did he succumb to bribery, I doubt it, just got overwhelmed with his own importance. The end of an era perhaps. O Sullivan was very fair on The Nation too. She’s far too smart to burn bridges she may need if the Election goes the way of the Left. She also came out in support of a range of policies from Labour in Herald. Liu now backing off affidavit oh dear so it was all smoke and mirrors. Yes Armstong needs to apologise and fast.

  8. wyndham 8

    I have some sympathy for John Armstrong in that I understand he has severe and unpleasant health problems as well as being elderly. The former can often affect one’s capability to perceive matters dispassionately and the latter often produces grumpy and intolerant views of the world and of one’s fellow beings.
    The really sad thing is that he is allowed to continue venting his spleen per medium of an oft-read political column.

  9. redfred 9

    Ive consigned Amstrongs tripe to the same pile as Whale Oil, Kiwi Blog and Trevett and shall never bother reading it again; pointless, thoughtless, partisan, dribble.

    I think Ill tune into Radio NZ more, I’m sure the Nats will have their knife out for them shortly.

    • Will@Welly 9.1

      Radio NZ are already undergoing a round re-organisation.
      As with any media outlet, you have to be selective over whose articles you read/listen too/watch.
      Fran O’Sullivan is having a ‘big change’ of heart over David Cunliffe. What does she know?

      • redfred 9.1.1

        Your right about the O’Sullivan article reads a bit like ohhh may be we pushed that too far and better back the bus up on the partisan stuff from the editorial staff…. damage done anyway! But yes more thoughtful, perhaps some internal jockeying and position among the political journos at the Herald.. Fran picked up on the general disbelief among most fair minded NZers and its blown up in Amstrongs face… time for some shameless I’m the voice of political reason at the Herald and some self promotion article writing.

      • Lanthanide 9.1.2

        “As with any media outlet, you have to be selective over whose articles you read/listen too/watch.”

        Which is a good way to end up only reading articles / commentators you agree with, giving you a very one-sided view of reality.

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          Reading the Herald is a good way of figuring out what the National Party doesn’t want to talk about.

          • framu

            i often use your views as a social barometer

            edit – “your views” – ie: the comments section @ the herald

  10. weka 10

    From the original article in the Herald,

    But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

    The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.


    Why can no-one produce evidence of this donation?

    If the money was donated but counted as part of a pool for the whole auction, what’s the problem?

    See http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-21062014/#comment-835622

    Why is Cunliffe responsible for a previous govt’s actions/mistakes from seven years ago (assuming there even is a mistake)?

    • karol 10.1

      Plus, “Show me the book!”

      • weka 10.1.1

        Good point!

        The whole thing is so short on detail that it’s highly suspicious. What’s the name of the book? When was the auction? Where was the auction? These shouldn’t be hard questions to ask, unless someone has an agenda.

        • William

          “What’s the name of the book?”

          I’m surprised the sewers haven’t yet suggested it was a copy of Mein Kampf /sarc

          Additionally, all the stories I’ve seen have stated as above “according to a party source”. They’ve never specified which party!

          • cardassian

            ““What’s the name of the book?”

            I’m surprised the sewers haven’t yet suggested it was a copy of Mein Kampf /sarc”

            We all know it was Chairman Mao’s little red book /sarc

  11. Jrobin 11

    As Blueleoard stated on other post the point is influence not money. If the party are not aware that Liu donated then he has not influenced them. It is the corrupting influence of knowing the donors eg Cabint Club that is problematic. Polling of Nat voters showed that many of them even, disapprove of Cabinet Club. Conservative voters should be challenging this trend towards American style corporate control of Government. They are going to live here too. Or is it win at any cost, forget about democratic process?

  12. freedom 12

    Makes one wonder, where does it lead if NZ can’t retain ownership of our own democracy ? http://thesuperjesus.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/shiny-object.jpg?w=510

  13. The time/date stamp of Armstrong’s earlier online article calling for Cunliffe’s resignation proves he is hopelessly compromised. Who tipped him off ahead of the release of the OIA to The Herald? But good on the other journos now onto the corrupt Immigration officials who withheld the letters of National MPs. That public service corruption needs to be investigated urgently by the Ombudsman….it can’t be allowed to drag till after the election. Relatively simple investigation: what legal grounds are there to distinguish National and Labour letters on the Liu file?

    • AB 13.1

      Should John Armstrong instead be calling for Michael Woodhouse’s resignation?

      • ianmac 13.1.1

        My guess is that Woodhouse was told by the PM to say nothing about the letter. If anyone asks say you did not give the PM the letter. Sadly for Woodhouse the security broke down and he had to “confess”. To Mr Key, Mr Woodhouse is expendable. Deflect heat away from Key at all costs.

  14. infused 14

    It’s best he does stay there.

  15. appleboy 15

    Armstrong is a lousy, politically biased hack. Known it for years and we have now seen it crystal clear . How on earth does the man sleep. Not well I hope.

  16. Hami Shearlie 16

    John Armstrong, the Victor Meldrew (spitting image actually) of the Press Cabal! I can just imagine him realising he’s been had, holding his head and saying “Oh, GODDD!”

  17. finbar 17

    This issue now is dead in the water,and the only one to come out of it with any dignity is Cunliffe,for he has handled it brilliantly,fronting the issue with steadfast resolve and no evasion.I see O!Sullivan,on The Nation this morning, saying along the line of, i beleive Cunliffe,in regard to this issue.

  18. meconism 18

    Armstrong doesn’t sound very well when interviewed. His emphysema seems to be getting worse, how sick is he?

  19. Morrissey 19

    John Armstrong has been exposed as a crybaby and a drip on many occasions, but none more devastatingly than when he foolishly got into a fight with the superior Gordon Campbell….

    This writer (i.e., moi) has also seen fit to pass comment on Armstrong in the past….

  20. Jenny 20

    One thing that Armstrong got right, was his reporting that David Cunliffe identified those acting against him within the Labour Caucus as “Strikebreakers”.

    I think that David Cunliffe’s gut feeling is right, when it comes to these scabs David needs to get in touch with his viscera more often.

    Maybe even to go as far as outing these scabs and ditching any accommodation with them.

    To help him I thought I would name my top two.

    Scab number 1 David Parker

    This neoliberal dry and leader of the ABCs is an open supporter of the plutocrats and polluters condemning New Zealand under a Labour led administration to Deep Sea Oil Drilling, Fracking and New Coal Mines. David Parker says Labour’s policies are “close” to the government’s.

    Scab number 2 Phil Goff

    This wealthy representative of working class seat of Roskill who resides with all the other millionaires in Cleveland, comes in at number 2 for his open support for the TPP which will sell out out democracy to the foreign multinationals, preventing New Zealand ever again taking a world leading role in social policy. (Not to mention Phil Goff’s history of neoliberal crimes, student fees and debt, selling out over National’s GST rise, and a whole back catalogue of support for Rogernomics.)

    If Cunliffe dropped these sea anchors and started speaking from his gut more often then he might start gaining some traction with the average New Zealand voter.

    After all 80% of New Zealanders unlike fanatic David Parker are opposed to deep sea oil drilling. If Cunliffe dropped this scab and started to come out openly against deep sea oil drilling not just on safety but climate change grounds he could mop up all this support.

    We need more of THIS, rather than the suffocating silence that he has been sentenced to as leader of a divided caucus.

    Time for David Cunliffe to show some leadership steel and lay down the law to these scabs and for him to start leading from the front.

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      Parker shouldnt be high up your list. Many other far more worthy suspects.

    • dave 20.2

      2011 mt roskill was the only labour electorate to increase there majority by 2000 votes
      not only that mt roskill had the highest stop the asset sale count of any electorate a staggering 14200 signatures collected by goff and his team .

  21. dave 21

    if its any consolation the heralds days are numbered there sales are in terminal decline there online strategy is hopeless and just like Armstrong there a dinosaur

  22. upandcomer 22

    Why are you turning on your lefty rag the Herald? Everyone else is just amazed that Labour is getting even treatment after months of Labour smears and dirt

  23. North 23

    Armstrong has let himself down very badly. Any bets that the passive-aggressive conceit long resident in his heart of hearts has not been replaced by a riveting sense of humiliation ? Or is he too far gone and no ?

    Given his juxtaposition to Fran O’Sullivan it must be excruciating to be ticked off so dissmissively, even if not by name and even if she does entertain an agenda to have the Right monologue seem to retain a modicum of respectable, mature, impartial analysis. The word “risible” ? My goodness.

    Supid, stupid boy/man. Just too, too eager aye ? Very much more stupid for the fact that ‘you read it here first…..’

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