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Irascible: The Herald and Key duck, scuttle and run as Donghua Liu story loses credibility

Written By: - Date published: 2:19 pm, June 28th, 2014 - 35 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: , , , ,

Reposted from The Irascible Curmudgeon.

John Key - spy vs lieIt looks like the powers that be on the Herald’s editorial board are starting to realise that being a paid shill for the Key owned National Party is not as wise a move as they thought. Particularly as the realisation that the allegations fed from John Key and  those around Donghua Liu are proving to be a quicksand that is sucking the already doubtful credibility of the paper as a crusading, principled record of fact away from it.

The self parodying editorial (27.6.14) was the beginning of the duck strategy and, today, the normally rabid Key adoration puffer, Fran O’Sullivan, began to drop the blame for the fiasco on Key’s desire to extract utu on Cunliffe for daring to reveal the extent to which National Party cabinet ministers have been prepared to go in the quest for largesse from foreign property speculators and “investor immigrants”. Her comments (Irascible’s italics) that:

It was lack of discipline when he recently fuelled the journalistic flames on the so-called Donghua Liu donations scandal from the comfortable distance of the US.

He appeared to have forgotten a basic rule of politics — don’t fan the flames of scandal unless you are sure where it will finish up. It’s understandable that Key was tempted to indulge in some gotcha politics himself after a torrid month where he had to put Judith Collins on Cabinet leave after the Oravida affair and ask for Maurice Williamson’s ministerial resignation after he intervened in a police matter involving the Chinese business investor.

It must have been pure utu to watch while the proverbial was thrown back all over Labour after Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse informed Key there was an 11-year-old pro forma letter in the files that showed Cunliffe wrote to authorities on Liu’s behalf over his residency application.

The Prime Minister wasn’t the direct source of the Liu “revelations” (I use that word advisedly as many of the more hyperbolic Liu claims have since proved to be a mirage).

Herald investigative journalist Jared Savage, who broke the story which led to Williamson’s resignation, had already sought Liu’s immigration file under the Official Information Act. But it isinstructive in that it was sources close to National who shopped the story of Liu’s anonymous donations to Labour elsewhere after Woodhouse had accessed the file.

National has not played a straight bat on this story.

Woodhouse has yet to explain why he initially told porkies by denying he had informed Key about the Cunliffe letter — something that may have been literally true but skated over the fact he had told the prime minister’s staff about the letter (and one from former Labour MP Chris Carter) and his office had provided both letters to Key’s office.

While Cunliffe was obviously stitched up over the Liu letter, the political donor’s subsequent “misstatements” have left thoughtful people wondering whether it was indeed Labour that had proven tricky — as National’s meme invites us to believe — or the governing party.

… reveal some deep disquiet emerging within the party political PR machine behind Key and the National Party.

"Smile, Wave, brain-fade, scuttle and run" The stategists in confrence?

“Smile, Wave, brain-fade, scuttle and run” The stategists in confrence?

The history of the Donghua Liu scandal is revealing, as commented on in earlier postings and by other commentators, because of its obvious links to the scandal spreading blog sites closely connected to the Ninth Floor of the Beehive and the readiness of The Herald to swallow without due diligence the statement given it by, to quote Fran O’Sullivan, those close to National … after Woodhouse had accessed the file.

And, now, as the allegations begin to unravel and there is colder, closer and more focused examination of the apparent deliberate anti-Labour campaign being waged by the opinionista in The Herald the classic Key strategy of “smile, wave, brain fade, scuttle and run” is being followed in an attempt to extricate the news-sheet from the  mess it helped create.


35 comments on “Irascible: The Herald and Key duck, scuttle and run as Donghua Liu story loses credibility”

  1. Gruntie 1

    Last Sunday, by 3 of my close family members, one a Green voter and 2 NActs tried to smear the shit all over Lsbour and David Cunliffe – I asked for their evidence of any wrong doing by DC – haven’t heard from them yet – still waiting for an apology. I will never buy another Herald as long as I live, and I’m looking forward to those arseholes putting up a paywall – hope they burn in the gutter.

    • Vicky32 1.1

      They are deffo putting up a pay wall, I had an online survey about it the other day, asking which perks I would pay for, and what was the lowest price I’d pay for a monthly fee…

  2. tc 2

    Imo you give the herald far too much undeserved credit.

    they played their role as they do not question or fact check any nat minister and especially the pm, business as usual for granny.

    now they will do like key and diffuse, bluster, spin and drop it all together once the published hand wringing is done.

    Granny is a tawdry shill for this nasty corrupt govt caught out playing their game any contrition is another charade.

  3. Paul 3

    I will not buy this rag again.

  4. karol 4

    Herald on Sunday issues an almost and weak apology – buried amidst an article, and under a misleading heading – not good enough. It should be as big front page news as their nasty smear campaign.

    “Labour and Liu: Businessman clarifies spending”

    First the article recaps the smear campaign as though they had no real hand in the smear. Then this:

    We regret reporting the $100,000 was for wine only.

    Labour has said it has no record of any payments from Liu, and that the Yangtze River trip and rowing donation are separate from the party. Labour leader David Cunliffe wishes to make it clear the alleged donations, if they did occur, were six years before his leadership began.

    • veutoviper 4.1

      As you say, an almost and weak apology. lost in the depths of the Politics section, And with no name to the article.

      They also appear to stand by the statement that Liu contributed about $100,000 – including the donations to the HB Rowing Club ($2k) and the Yangtze river trip ($50k) which were not donations to Labour.

      BUT, in today’s ‘clarification’, they make no mention of the claim by Liu that the Herald originally reported, that Liu had made similar payments to National as he had to Labour. The only Liu donation declared by National is $22k in 2012. So were is the rest?

    • Chooky 4.2

      Labour Party has very good grounds for suing imo….and the rest of New Zealand will be behind them!

      ….Labour needs to take a very hard stand on this Chinese Lui corruption in the National Party… or either the mud will stick on Labour where Lui, Key and the Herald have illegitimately tried to smear them

      ….. or Labour will appear weak!…and no one wants to vote for a weak Party…least of all the New Zealand working class male!

  5. NZJester 5

    Strangely one person has not yet ducked for cover as Rodney Hide just put up a story advocating for the Police to be brought in to search for the illusive Liu donations the Herald was unable to find any evidence about.
    He seriously wants the police to search to see if any trace can be found of a Liu donation to Labour.
    What does he expect the police to do if they did happen find a donation? Does he seriously want them to prosecute someone even though no law would have been broken? Lets have the police stop investigating actual crimes and have them search for evidence about something that if proved would not be in any way illegal.

    • veutoviper 5.1

      Haven’t yet read Hide, but this (now somewhat dated) post by Andrew Geddis at Pundit addresses the legal situation and why the Police should noat be involved. In brief, the donations law in place in 2007 had a six month limitation even if any donations were in fact illegal.


      The amended legislation that came into force in late 2008 is much stricter in relation to the amounts and declaration of donations etc, so if there were any improper/non-declared donations by Liu, these could be ones that he has supposedly made to National. According to the earlier reports by the Herald, Liu has said that he has made similar donations to National as he made to Labour – yet the only reported/declared donation to National is $22k in 2012.

      • Grumpy 5.1.1

        As I see it, the call to involve the police is nothing to do with electoral law, it is because if Liu is correct and he has given Labour money, and if Labour is correct in that they have no record of it, then there is a possibility of theft. I would have thought Labour itself would be calling in the police in these circumstances.

        • Chooky

          Liu cant prove it ..or he would have already…he is lying….and the police have better things to do with their time!

          …the onus is on Key and Liu and the Herald to prove their allegations

          …and Labour should sue for defamation and attempted corruption of the New Zealand democratic process and Election by a false smearing campaign

    • Lloyd 5.2

      I suspect Rodney’s article was written several days ago, or Rodney has been asleep for several days, as Rodney did not ask for the Police to look for the missing $78,000 donation to National.

  6. Bob 6

    So now that Granny has to back off the Editorial bias to save the last shred of credibility, they roll out Hide to drag it all up again. Unbelievable!

  7. freedom 7

    ‘All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. Boy. we really stuffed up on that Liu fiasco didn’t we?. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks. All Blacks All Blacks All Blacks ‘
    -NZ Herald

  8. cogito 8

    Has anyone else experienced excessive “moderation” while commenting on this story – and others – on 3News? Seems that pointed comments (as opposed to wordy ramblings) against Key get removed and the poster gets banned. Has now happened to me twice. This sort of gestapo behaviour does 3News no credit at all and does absolutely nothing for free speech.

  9. lurgee 9

    It’s pretty sad how desperately some on the left are clinging on to this. It’s stupid, as it is just keeping the story in the news and people will be wondering if there is fire where the smoke is. After all, in the public’s mind, Labour haven’t disproven the allegations. It’s our party and our leader that are hurting the more this story is discussed, not Key and National. It also makes us look small, whiney and constantly reactive.

    The media, as I recall, reported the story of the alleged GCSB tape Shearer made, which turned out to be false, or at least unproven, Stop complaining constantly about media bias. It’s reality. It happens all around the world. Look at what the British Labour Party has to put up with – only ejected in 2010, associated with the economic collapse of 2008, Iraq, 1000% more media bias, Ed Milliband – but they’re comfortably ahead in opinion polls. It only seems to be crippling the NZ Labour party. Why not just admit that it isn’t media bias that has us languishing at 28%. It’s because we’re weak, constantly out-foxed, paranoid and failing to talk up positive reasons for voting for us.

    Look at the number of posts and comments about this story, compared to the recent (positive) policy announcements by Labour. This place is clutterred with dross making Labour look shamefully weak, confused and childishly upset about everything.

    Why would anyone vote for such a party?

    • freedom 9.1

      The Liu story is about influence on our democratic process and Labour is getting many pats on the back for standing up to the Herald’s smear campaign. The public comments that filled the stands plainly show how the public saw through the pre show amateurism and the mexican waves of admonition proves those who think they make the rules have a fight on their hands. Labour’s story has not changed. They have not rewritten answers, twisted statements or trotted out dolled up sycophants to juggle facts like sideshow clowns.

      They have not fabricated flimsy fences to reign in roaming realities. They have stood proudly, they have stood together, they are obviously united when stating what the facts show. If you think they could do more to show how firm a line they currently hold, I am at a loss as to what that might be.
      They cannot control what the media do any more than we can. I am not even a Labour voter but have been impressed by the way they have handled this smear.

      The campaign proper soon begins and the strength shown by Labour this past week was more than just a warm up as they head out onto the pitch.

      The opposition is unsettled to say the least. It is time to see what Labour’s haka has in store.

      • lurgee 9.1.1

        My point was not so much the Labour response as the constant wailing and gnashing on here about it.

        I don’t think the opposition are all that bothered. They are sitting at 45% in the polls and Labour are praying Winston gets back. Labour, you will recall, are the party of the working class, and on a slightly broader definition, the party that (in theory) represents the interests of about 90% of New Zealanders. But they are only getting 30% of the vote. Something is very utterly stupendously wrong, and it isn’t ll down to the obsession hereabouts with ‘media bias.’

        • Chooky


          …you dont think corruption, lying and subversion of our democratic system is important?
          ….you dont think corruption in the National Party is important…grovelling for money from a disreputable Chinese business immigrant who buys influence and lies?
          ….you dont think a smear campaign against Labour by the Herald is important?

          …you think it should be dropped ?!…this is a sad reflection on yourself…because many New Zealanders are disgusted!

          • lurgee

            This is not about corruption, influence or what-have-you. It is about the glaring hole where Labour’s vision, passion and policies are meant to be, and the continual wailing here about the ‘media bias’ as if that was the reason Labour were so dismally behind in the polls. Still, feel free to carry on missing the point.

            I notice ANOTHER post has been made on this topic since I checked this morning.

            Just. Get. Over. It.

            • Clemgeopin

              But Labour simply can not afford not to react and respond, can they?

              True, we need to focus on our policies too at the same time and more actively from now on.

  10. jaymam 10

    Since you like the picture above (that I supplied) of Key, DPF and Slater so much, I am prepared to divulge how these pictures can be obtained. I do have a valid email address now, but it’s not getting any replies.

  11. Saarbo 11

    “the normally rabid Key adoration puffer, Fran O’Sullivan, …”

    Im not sure if Fran O is a rabid Key adoration puffer, but she is free market adoration puffer, anything that might resemble government intervention she will attack.

    When it comes to the leaders she understands David Cunliffes economic/business skills and provides him with positive coverage…it sticks out in the NZH. I think she also understands that Labour has the economic policies that are more responsible and will leave the nation better off in the long term.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    It seems people here have missed reading this article.

    Note that despite the public comments from Labour that seemed to imply Liu was either lying or wrong, Labour seems to have stepped back from its previous rhetoric. From the article:

    Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett confirmed that a lawyer for the party had contacted Liu’s legal counsel but was yet to receive a substantive reply.

    “The Labour Party has no dispute with Mr Liu because we have seen no evidence that he has published false information about us.”

    Also, it looks to me that Labour’s attempts to discredit Liu have motivated him to prove his own position in a manner that could prove highly embarrassing for Labour.

    Aucklander Paul Davison, QC, is heading a team of advisers for Liu reviewing the property developer’s records following the comments of David Cunliffe this week.

    The Weekend Herald understands this includes more than 30 photographs taken over 18 months linking Liu to Labour, including a fundraiser at an Auckland restaurant and a trip to China, where he hosted a Cabinet minister in 2007.

    Also a couple of teasing posts from Whaleoil suggest more revelations just around the corner.



    Could be an interesting week this week. Perhaps Labour are going to get what they have been asking Liu to provide.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.1


    • framu 12.2

      “we have seen no evidence that he has published false information about us.”

      maybe because no-ones shown them any evidence and it was the herald who published it?

      usually the first step in bringing in the lawyers is a standard “weve heard you said this – can you send us the evidence so we can decide if further steps are required?”

      and the article linked to is by jared savage – who is neck deep in the creation of the whole bucket of bullshit in the first place. I wont even bother mocking you for using a whale oil link – its too easy

      jebus TS – your argument was rather full of holes

  13. Tom Bradford 13

    “The Key owned National Party”?

    Given that Key is himself likely still owned by Merrill Lynch, that makes the National Party what?

    And the Government of New Zealand what?

  14. Tautoko Viper 14

    The Herald has a chance to salvage something out of this fiasco if it

    1. Reveals WHO gave the Herald the 3 May Liu “statement”
    2. Finds out and reveals WHO actually wrote the 3 May statement

    because this statement was printed by the Herald in good faith that it was true and accurate.
    The Herald should be directing its venom towards those who wrote and gave this misinformation to them. Both the Herald and Labour are the victims here. The Herald should have checked before publishing so any loss of reputation is not the fault of the Labour Party and needs to be taken on board by the Herald. There is little evidence that this has happened to date.

  15. Clemgeopin 15

    Regarding this Immigration minister, Woodhouse, apart from him dishing out ‘dirt’ on Cunliffe to Key, by way of the 13 year old 2005 letter, another aspect of his behaviour is very shameful and unbecoming: That is that this cabinet minister personally went and met this Liu fellow at Liu’s place in order to take his suggestions regarding immigration rules.

    The more propriety thing would have been to ask Liu to write a submission or at best to invite him to the minister’s office to discuss the issue. How cheap and improper for a cabinet minister to go and meet this party donor instead!

    The following report says this:
    “He even made a special visit, meeting Mr Liu at his hotel — the Boulevard Hotel in New Market, Auckland, the hotel where Mr Liu assaulted his de-facto partner and Mr Williamson interfered in the police case”

    In my opinion, this act alone should be grounds enough to sack this disgraceful minister.
    Don’t you agree?

    Here is the full report of this shameful National episode:


  16. Tom Gould 16

    There is something sinister and a bit frightening about the new National Party that Key and his cronies have created. We have not seen its like here in New Zealand before, a massively well funded permanent campaign at every level, including character assassination and personal attack, all carefully coordinated using the resources of government, party, business and media. It could be so easily dismissed as a crazy left-wing conspiracy, but the Herald’s over-reaching has cracked the façade. Could this be the beginning of the end for the myth of that nice man John Key?

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