Yesterday on my twitter feed I read Matthew Hooton’s sort of apology to David Cunliffe.
Then when I checked later it had been chucked behind NBR’s paywall. I guess Matthew may want to make sure that he has a legal fighting fund, just in case.
The article involved a concession that his description of David as a liar was “inaccurate”. David had actually been engaged in work that led to the formation of Fonterra and Hooton begrudgingly accepted this. He also accepted that he was complying with the Cameron Slater maxim that explaining is losing. His explanation was begrudging and rather tedious with the amount of self promotion and the amount of further denigration of Cunliffe that it contained but a backdown it was.
His particular comment (thanks Peter Aranyi) was as follows:
In politics explaining is losing so in writing all this I have just lost the little public contretemps between me and the likely nextPrime Minister. I was wrong to call Mr Cunliffe a liar when he said he had “helped with the formation of Fonterra” and consequently apologise to him for using an inaccurate word”.
This backdown is followed by a further passage which outlines what will be the continuing line of attack on Cunliffe:
Of course, this little kerfuffle is hardly the biggest issue facing the nation, and is relevant only because Mr Cunliffe’s Fonterra comments are the same type of self-aggrandisement that gets him into trouble over other issues. There were his false or exaggerated claims of community work for the Auckland and Wellington City Missions and Forest & Bird, and his claim to have graduated with a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Business School when in fact he earned the degree from the nearly-as-impressive John F. Kennedy School of Government.
These claims can also be disproved but you get the picture. Stand by as the snide public attacks continue.
Having known David Cunliffe for the past 14 years and having been heavily involved in his first campaign can I say that the spin is total bollox. Of all the politicians that I have met, and I have met a few, David is actually one of the most grounded yet dedicated and energetic I have met. And I cannot help but think that these attacks are motivated by fear. Because if John Key is the National leader most likely to reach across and gain the votes of Labour supporters then David is his left wing alter ego, able to persuade National supporters that he is a real and effective alternative to our failing status quo.
The whole episode justifies more analysis of what happened because rest assured it will happen again.
David Cunliffe had stated that he had “helped with the formation of Fonterra”. A very helpful analysis has been provided by Karol and as the formation of Fonterra took place over a number of years and Cunliffe through Boston Consultancy Group had been involved in advising Dairy Group on merger options the statement is clearly true.
The spin involved is frankly extreme. If you listened to Hooton you would think that Cunliffe was claiming that he was solely responsible for Fonterra’s formation. He claimed nothing of the sort. As you can see by what Cunliffe said in Parliament he has only claimed that he was a management consultant tasked with advising on the formation on Fonterra while with BCG and this is clearly true. Hooton has applied the most extreme of spin to what is a quite a vague comment and then stated repeatedly that his extreme spin cannot be true therefore Cunliffe lied.
Yesterday’s Mediawatch had an interesting analysis of the issue complete with the retractions from Radio NZ as well as Radio live. Their description of Hooton being a partisan pundit is very apt.
I suspect that all ears will be on Radio New Zealand’s Politics from the Left and the Right and if Hooton appears then you will have to wonder about the balance shown by the State’s foremost radio broadcaster.
The show has been broadcast and RadioNZ repeated its apology and Hooton apoligised for the use of “that word”. The audio is below:
Hooton also claimed that Lianne Dalziel was a member of ABC. He has to be joking.