Back in 2007/8, I was still heavily involved as a volunteer with the analysis of canvassing data for the NZ Labour Party. This meant that I was around a lot of the campaigners in various parts of the country, either physically or virtually. Less so around the people raising money.
But it also meant that I heard a hell of a lot of gossip. Invariably this involved the gossip about fundraisers run by various Labour Electoral Committees (LECs) trying to get their campaign limit of $20,000 and their levies to head office. But if I read the Herald on Sunday today, somehow I missed out on hearing about a $15k purchase of a book, and about a $100k purchase of a bottle of wine at what were presumably LEC auctions. Sure it is possible. However so is time travel in physics under some very special circumstances.
Frankly, at present I don’t really believe either of those claims. There is no detail on either of them in the coverage given in the Herald on Sunday or previous articles by the Herald. Certainly not enough to pin down amongst the large numbers of fundraisers around the country where and when these payments were made. I even went up the road to buy the hard-copy version of the Herald on Sunday, but there was no more detail in that. There doesn’t even appear to be the mythic “party source” in this latest allegations, merely a single letter that isn’t even an affidavit.
To date the Herald has not even given the detail about when the famous photo of the bottle of wine was taken being passed over by Rick Barker. FFS it could have been for the rowing club, or even taken in China, and had nothing to do with the NZLP. But nonetheless the Herald uses that photo on most of its stories. It looks to me like they have no idea when or where that photo was taken.
So far the only thing that the Herald has managed to substantiate was a proforma letter to the Immigration department 11 years ago. It now appears that they had substantial help from the National party to do even that.
Sure this could be a developing story that is being drip-fed to increase revenues to the Herald. But it certainly doesn’t look like that. What it looks like is some journos and editors trying to spin a story out hoping it will get traction by people coming forward with corroborating details. The Herald appears to be running a smear on the behalf of the National party.
Does the NZ Herald have journalists? Ones who check sources responsibly and informing the public. Of are they partisan hacks like Cameron Slater, working for the National party and smearing their opposition. He doesn’t publish details of his smears either. That is because then the stories can be checked. In the case of fundraisers for the NZLP, I could certainly allow find people who were there and who’d be able to say if some event did or did not happen. Perhaps that is why there have been no details?
Certainly the NZ Herald’s journalists and editors aren’t performing to the levels that the public expects journalists to operate in. Their job is to inform, not smear. So far they seem to be doing the latter and not the former.
I rather think that they have moved into Whaleoil territory. I hadn’t realised that the newspaper business was quite that badly off…