There is a self-serving anonymously authored editorial in the NZ Herald this morning “Editorial: Cries of bias will not stop reporting“.
Well for a start the problem isn’t with the Herald reporting. The problem is that it’s reporting on this story appears to have been performed by amateur journalists in their investigations team and facilitated by incompetent editors who didn’t check the story. This probably including whoever wrote this pathetic editorial. It appears to have been an abrupt change from their usual competent style of journalism. Of course the question has to be asked about what caused this change?
The anonymous editorial author points back to previous stories in previous elections that the Herald has done to prove that they aren’t biased.
However, these were done competently with considerable checking. This is what showed in their reporting at the time on such things as the Exclusive Brethren and even the recent Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson stories. You could argue over the NZ Herald reporters interpretations. However it was rather difficult to argue over their well checked facts.
That still showed in the uncovering of a 11 year form letter. Admittedly to get that appeared to require considerable help from the National party with its friendly policy of telling the Herald reporters what to ask for in an OIA after their initial failure. Then helpfully putting pressure on public servants to release in a unprecedented two days.
That the Herald reporters were too incompetent to find out what the electorate offices routinely do with immigration cases is perhaps excusable. After all a long time political reporter like John Armstrong appeared to also think that forgetting a 11 year old routine enquiry to the immigration department was abnormal enough to call for a resignation. So maybe they simply lacked astute guidance. Of course that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of ex-electorate office employees around that they could have asked, and clearly didn’t.
That may be merely poor journalism.
However it appears that this week, even that low level of competence and accuracy in the reporting at the NZ Herald is not required.
The Herald on Sunday at the weekend article “reported” from a still unreleased signed statement from Donghua Liu that appears to have been sourced not from its author, but from some unnamed third source – probably the National party or associated sources.
Astonishly on Monday the editor of the Herald on Sunday Tim Murphy on Morning Report appeared to not understand the value of a signed statements. For his benefit, let us reiterate. An affidavit is a sworn statement and stating something in it that is not truthful is equivalent to perjury and treated as such. A signed statement are legally about as worthless as used toilet paper, and this is what Donhua’s signed statement now appears to be.
It is now quite clear that the contents of that statement were never checked by the Herald before “reporting” on Sunday. Not with its author, nor with any sources inside Labour, nor apparently with anyone apart from its source.
That first statement appears to be completely false. To date the none of the substance of that statement about donations to Labour has been proved and many have been repudiated in a slightly less murky follow up statement on Wednesday by Donghua Liu. None the less, every day this week they have ‘reported’ stories from material in that first statement, including after the second statement was released with different details.
To date the only evidence of donations to the Labour party by Donghua Liu consist of nothing that can be verified.
Partially that was due to the required reporting in the pre-december 2007 reporting. But mostly because it appears that most were actually purchases at auctions and because they appear to have been done in small amounts (ie a few thousand dollars) over a period of time – probably many years.
The only real way to track them is for Donghua Liu or the Herald to provide details as to locations and dates. Needless to say the Herald has been continuing to “report” “donations” to Labour all this week when they have no evidence that these ever occurred. For some reason this level of repeated systematic journalistic incompetence in reporting untruths does lead to questions of bias.
So far we have
Meanwhile the statement by Donghua Liu that he gave other parties appears to have never been followed up by the NZ Herald. Again leading to questions of bias.
It would probably help if the NZ Herald released the documents to some competent journalists/editors or even to the crowd sourced checking of the blogs. Clearly the reporters on the investigations team and their supporting editors are not capable of verifying these allegations.
But to date they haven’t released photo image copies of either of the two statements from Donghua Liu that would allow some more competent journalists than Jared Savage and his team to determine the truth. From what I have heard, even the Herald’s parliamentary press gallery haven’t seen them.
So I have to ask the question of the NZ Herald. Given such an abrupt change in the standards of checking that usually characterises your “news” stories, what caused the change? Somehow I don’t expect that we will ever get an answer to that.
Just as I suspect that we will never see a copy of the first statement. It has all of the characteristics of being a smoking gun pointing back into National or one of their associated mouthpieces like Whaleoil or Kiwiblog. Probably from the name of a witness perhaps?