The Nats are obviously worried about public reaction to the recent revelations on the role of the SAS in Afghanistan. And as is usually the case when they feel threatened by a story, the Nats are striking out, trying to discredit or intimidate the source. This time it’s John Key, going after the journalist:
PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims
Prime Minister John Key has attacked the credibility of the journalist who has raised questions about New Zealand’s elite soldiers in Afghanistan and whether they were complicit in torture. …
The article outlined two instances last year where SAS forces allegedly captured suspects and handed them to Afghanistan authorities, including the Afghan secret police, the National Directorate of Security, which has a reputation for torturing prisoners. New Zealand has signed several international conventions outlawing the inhumane detention of prisoners, including torture.
Stephenson last night countered by challenging the Defence Force to face an independent inquiry. “I’m happy to put my information before an inquiry. Any fair or impartial inquiry will show that they are the ones misleading the public. Not me.” …
Stephenson also said the source of his story about the SAS intervention was credible. His translator could confirm the interview took place, he said. “I go to great lengths to ensure that my reporting is accurate, fair, and I regard [this] as an unjustifiable attack on my credibility.”
Key of course, is an old hand at this. Let’s not forget his attempt to shut down the “we would love to see wages drop” story by putting pressure on a journalist and his employers (to the extent of trying to get him sacked?). This led to the unprecedented response of Herald journalists writing a letter of protest over Key’s political interference.
This is part of a consistent pattern of behaviour for the Nats. We had Bill English, bullying journalists who were covering the story of his personal hypocrisy and greed. Nick Smith has tried the same tactics. And so on and so on. The Nats prefer their media coverage sycophantic, thank you very much.