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Played like a fiddle

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, March 4th, 2009 - 93 comments
Categories: ACC, Media, national/act government, spin - Tags: , ,

Yesterday, when the inquiry came back on whether the shortfall in ACC funding should have been disclosed in the PREFU, Bill English quickly tried to implicate Michael Cullen and Maryan Street as being in breach of the Public Finance Act and told media:

“The previous government knew about the funding hole and effectively hid it. There are systems in place to protect us from this, but in this case they did not work”

These accusations were picked up uncritically by newspapers’ websites and ran all evening, even though Treasury had already taken the rap and the report clearly exonerated the ministers concerned. Everyone bought English’s line, with this NZPA piece even quoting the first few pars of English’s press release directly.

It’s only now that the dust has settled and the story’s narrative has been set in National’s favour that media are starting to ask questions and quietly amend their online stories from last night. Honestly guys, you need to do better. The Nats are playing you like a fiddle, and it’s embarrassing.

[For more on how this works, see Irish’s post on National’s ‘hit and run‘ PR tactics. There’s also an intelligent piece by John Armstrong here.]

93 comments on “Played like a fiddle ”

  1. Trevor Mallard 1

    Might be worth having a look at John Armstrong in the Herald. He in this case (mainly) gets it.

    • higherstandard 1.1

      “Labour MPs just laughed. They knew that English knew his case was completely undermined by the report not commenting on the two former Labour ministers’ actions. They were not even interviewed by the inquiry.”

      “The question of whether ministers should be up front about fiscal risks is more than just theoretical. Lack of transparency can potentially have a significant impact on an election campaign – especially when it comes to the affordability of a party’s spending promises.

      Cullen and Street have avoided sanction under the provisions of the Public Finance Act. That still leaves open the question of whether they have abided by the spirit of the act.”

      So Mr Mallard why didn’t your colleagues abide by the spirit of the act ?

      Can you perhaps understand that this is yet another example of why a large portion of the public believe that politicians are among the most mendacious sacks of shite next to failed finance company directors that we have in this country.

      • @ work 1.1.1

        You never have been one to let the truth get in the way of, well any of the shit your spew out here…

        • higherstandard

          @jerk – clearly you believe that the behaviour of those politicians was acceptable, this suggests you are an apologist for any bullshit as long as it’s bullshit that is committed by a member of your team.

          lick spittle git …. ps weren’t you having a week off for abuse ?

          • @ work

            Higherwanker – No, there are certain aspects of what they have done that I dont agree with, how ever I don’t see it as quite the end of the world as you do, and I would ask you to consider the difference between what I say and think, and that you claim I say and think, seems to be quite a disconnect these days. Also of note is how you seem to think that anything Labour did must be wrong, I guess that makes you a lick spittle National\Act apologist git.

            I don’t think I’m ment to be having a week off, though I have been having a busier week than usual, as such I haven’t been going back over old comments much, if you can point out where I’ve been handed a week off i’m quite happy to abide by that

          • Tane

            Guys, stop the personal abuse eh? You’re bringing the standard down.

      • r0b 1.1.2

        So Mr Mallard why didn’t your colleagues abide by the spirit of the act ?

        HS, have you ever asked a Nat MP why they didn’t abide by the spirit of the act in the case of, oh, say, electoral law in the 2005 election? You know the one way where they laundered their donations through anonymous trusts to avoid disclosing the identity of their donors as they were legally required to do? I think you should ask a Nat MP this question HS, I’m sure you’d find the answer most illuminating.

  2. Tane 2

    Cheers Trevor, good point. I’ll link to it at the bottom of the post.

  3. burt 3

    Trevor Mallard

    (mainly) gets it… is that Labour speak for tows the party line and helps protect the self serving pricks who don’t believe they need to follow the law ?

    The problem the self serving Labour party have is that they declared that there would need to be a mini budget after the election IE: We know some sh1t needs to be managed via an emergency budget BUT we are not prepared to tell you about it before the election .

    How stupid do you think we all are Trevor ?

    Oh, one more question when you were closing down schools and ranting about the necessity of zoning why were your own kids not going to your local school ?

    • @ work 3.1

      No burt, I would say it means he’s actually read the report, something which by your second paragraph you make it quite clear you haven’t. 3rd paragraph, I’d guess Trevor like anyone else here thinks your particularly stupid. And to your last paragraph because they like every one else who wants to go to an out of school zone went in the ballot and got selected (or if it is a private school, because he can afford the fee’s and decided to send his children there)

      • burt 3.1.1


        As an example of how dim he is .

        I pointed out to him that his little red “Labour’ van was in breach of the EFA about this time last year and he called me an idiot. Funny thing is @work, a few weeks after that it was reported in the media that his van signage was illegal as it had no authorisation statement. The very point I was making when he called me an idiot and told me I had no idea what I was talking about. The authorisation suddenly appeared soon after that .

        • Chess Player

          Anyone ever seen Trevor Mallard and David Garrett in the same room together??????

        • Tane

          Burt, please show some basic courtesy. Robust debate is good, but we’re not going to have MPs come on here and engage with commenters if it’s going to lead to a list of your own grievances from the last nine years. Stay on topic bro. Same goes for you Chess Player.

          • Chess Player

            Apologies, I didn’t realise MPs were a protected species. Or is it just the Mallard?

            [Tane: They’re not. Robust criticisms are welcome, so long as they’re on-topic. No one else wants to hear a disgruntled righty’s list of grievances.]

      • burt 3.1.2


        I hear what you are saying. However Mallard choose to comment in here on a thread that is about Labour breaching the PFA – surely it’s valid to question the integrity of the man when he is claiming that “nothing illegal occured”. Last time he told me face to face that he had not done anything illegal he was proven wrong – that is relevant to this thread.

        • Matthew Pilott

          What’s this thread got to do with schools, and what appears to be a fairly personal attack? Please don’t answer that, I’m fully aware of the danger of giving you a soap-box to rave further about your wee personal crusades. Can I suggest you email Trevor Mallard if you genuinely want an answer to those questions instead of asking them like you are here – it smacks of childish posturing.

          • burt

            Matthew Pilott

            The school question was out of order. If I could edit that additional question away I would do it now.

            However this still leaves the issue of what Trevor says is not illegal vs what is illegal being two separate thing. I wonder if Trevor can defend calling me an idiot when it was proven I was more knowledge than he was about the laws he voted to pass himself ? (and choose not to follow)

  4. Kevin Welsh 4

    You gotta hand it to National.

    They are playing the perfect propaganda game.

    Because they know the MSM are so bloody ineffective and useless when it comes to asking questions, they know that MP’s can pretty much say whatever they like and the MSM will report it as fact. When the MSM realises they have it wrong, rather than come out with a screaming headline, they brush it under the carpet and quietly amend their websites.

    They are a bloody disgrace.

    Joself Goebbels himself must be laughing his ass off in his grave.

  5. You don’t actually know what reporters do, do you?

    Their job is to REPORT the news. If the government makes an accusation against former cabinet members THAT is news and political reporters are there to communicate the accusation to the public, not pass judgment on it. If (say) Cullen and Street respond then those journalists should publish that response, again without commenting on the merits of the response. It’s not up to the journalist to decide whether or not the accusation (or the response) has merit when they’re writing the story. Some journalists also have opinion pieces in which provide commentary and analysis about the merit’s of MP’s and their actions but in general their job is to REPORT the news, not some highly biased blog-like commentary on it.

    • Kevin Welsh 5.1

      Thank you Josef. I will take that under advisement.

    • Tane 5.2

      Danyl, I’m never quite sure if you’re being satirical, but it’s not the role of journalists to merely report “he said, she said” or print any accusation uncritically, regardless of its merit.

      That’s a certain model of journalism, one driven by cutbacks to staff numbers that makes journalists heavily reliant on PR to put together their stories. When you’re doing ten or more stories a day you don’t have time to do much more than uncriticaly paste a couple of press releases together and call it news.

      And to be fair it’s also got a lot to do with changing technology and the consequent speeding up of the news cycle. Everyone wants to be in first with the story, and if that means banging up someone’s press release in the guise of news then so be it.

      Journalism hasn’t always been like this – it’s a very recent phenomenon. And I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that this model is broken. As it stands I’d rather read Scoop and cut out the middle man.

  6. roger nome 6

    Danyl Mclauchlan:

    Surely you’re not being satirical?

  7. Journalism hasn’t always been like this – it’s a very recent phenomenon. And I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that this model is broken.

    I suggest you take the time to go and look at the archives in the National Library and see what journalism used to be like in New Zealand 20-30 years ago; government annoucements were published uncritically with no opposition response. There was no commentary and analysis. The notion that there was some golden age of journalism from which we have fallen is a fantasy.

    it’s not the role of journalists to merely report “he said, she said’ or print any accusation uncritically, regardless of its merit.

    This is a straw man – in this case, in which the finance minister has made a serious accusation against former cabinet ministers it is most certainly the job of reporters to alert the public to the fact. If the Labour Ministers involved want to reply then they can do so and the media will absolutely cover that reply.

    I realise you’d prefer to live in a world in which the media spent all their time savagely attacking the National Party for everything they do, just as the Nats (who also think the press are horribly biased against them) would quite like the media to spend all their time attacking Labour.

    But this fantasy is limited to people who carry water for a specific party or ideology; the rest of us just want to hear about what’s going on, from a fairly reliable source.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      Danyl. Are you saying journos have no responsibility to ensure the claims they report are factually accurate? If so, why not?

    • Kevin Welsh 7.2

      What a load of bollocks.

      The report had already established that Treasury was at fault in the ACC funding issue and exonerated the Ministers involved (although , no doubt you see this as a conspiracy and Treasury were just the “fall guys”).

      So as a result I would have expected the reporter in question to bring this to Bill English’s attention at the time of the interview and questioned him as to why he thought it was the then Ministers fault.

      You see Danyl, THAT is what reporters do.

    • Tane 7.3

      No Danyl, I’d prefer a media to read the report and say what the report actually said before running a Bill English press release verbatim.

      If I accuse Bill English of stealing iPods from Dick Smith I’d expect the media to either ask for some evidence or at least state very clearly upfront that I had provided no evidence for my accusations and was putting my credibility on the line. If there was already evidence out there that my claims were bollocks I’d expect the media to call me on it.

      This isn’t an argument about partisan bias as you’re trying to frame it. I don’t think your run-of-the-mill journos are biased one way or the other, it’s the commentators and editors who have bias issues.

      This is a criticism of the way the media is structured and the model of journalism used. It just so happens that the National Party is very good at playing this for maximum PR effect. I’ve seen some left-leaning organisations use it effectively too (though not Labour). But regardless of who’s doing it, I think it’s shit, and so do an increasing number of people.

      • If I accuse Bill English of stealing iPods from Dick Smith I’d expect the media to either ask for some evidence or at least state very clearly upfront that I had provided no evidence for my accusations and was putting my credibility on the line. If there was already evidence out there that my claims were bollocks I’d expect the media to call me on it.

        You are not a senior politician, and thus not particularly newsworthy. If Phil Goff accused English of stealing iPods then that’s a story, whether he can prove it or not because if he can’t then the dishonestly of a party leader becomes the angle.

        All this just seems to be proving my original point, which is that you guys lack a very basic understanding of what reporters actually do.

        • Tane

          The “I” was just an example Danyl, I’m aware the news value of a random blogger making accusations isn’t as great as a senior politician.

          I think the problem is you’re taking the current model of journalism and saying that because it’s “what reporters actually do” (a truism) then any criticism of this model is a sign of ignorance of “what reporters actually do”.

  8. @ work 8

    I often wonder if the papers should save the money they spend on having reporters fiddle around with party press releases, and just reprint them as published by the parties, and titled in such a way. Would cut costs and be more informative to the reader (as it would be far easier to judge the direction of the spin)

  9. Danyl. Are you saying journos have no responsibility to ensure the claims they report are factually accurate? If so, why not?

    In political journalism – which is a slightly different breed, and whats under discussion here – no they don’t, because truth in politics is highly subjective. Is there a fundamental truth about, say, the wisdom of suspending payments to the superfund or are there just a whole lot of competing opinions?

    I suspect many Standard authors feel that there is a fundamental ‘truth’, that they possess it and that their political opponents do not. But they feel exactly the same way about you.

    IrishBill: I suspect that many standard authors feel that facts such as crime statistics and the contents of a report might have more factual validity than a politically motivated opinion. Of course we might not be as postmodernly informed as you are. If you want to have that kind of discussion then perhaps you need to visit ‘sod’s place.

    • George Darroch 9.1

      The content of a PREFU has no factual verifiability? Wow. That’s news to me.

      All I’m expecting is that journalists ask for some proof when presented with a claim. A claim that has political significance and either side has an interest in being true or false. You know, using that cynicism they’re famous for.

  10. roger nome 10


    You need to go back further. In the 19th century most papers were run by political organisations. In the early 20th century, media outlets became increasingly comercialised, causing them to aim at “objectivity” to capture a larger readership. This didn’t stop them being critically analytical however – and it’s only since the age of the “sound-byte” (i.e. mid 1970s onwards) that analysis has been almost removed (i.e. as you only spend 100 words on the average news story you only have room for quotes).

    The internet now offers a return to the critically analytical model – though sadly, as TV is still dominant most people still get their news in sound-byte quotes.

    BTW i’m still not sure whether you’re being satirical. You seem dead serious, but i thought you were a bit smarter than this.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Danyl, you were wrong from your first sentence: Their job is to REPORT the news.

    The focus there is on the wrong word – it should be Their job is to report the NEWS.

    Not a press release.

    Not a sound byte.

    The NEWS.

    They (should) read a press release, and think
    “this is subjective PR/spin. I wonder what the other side says?”.
    *asks for a comment, looks for opposing PR piece*.
    Thinks “Hmm, this is also subjective PR/spin”.
    *Looks for corroborating evidence, or something to substantiate one side or another. Writes story based upon sum of various parts*.

    That’s what news is – didn’t you notice the PR teams from both major political parties seem to fit your description of “reporting”? They just don’t publish it on paper – but I’m sure some of the top Press Advisors will be offended you basically said they were reporters.

  12. randal 12

    what was all the crap from woger duglas about getting the cops onto the labour mp’s.
    is he senile
    is there nnot a test for senility before entering parliament?

  13. I think the problem is you’re taking the current model of journalism and saying that because it’s “what reporters actually do’ (a truism) then any criticism of this model is a sign of ignorance of “what reporters actually do’.

    I think the current situation in New Zealand, and media coverage of the government has little to do with some dire problem with the ‘current model of journalism’ and everything to do with the fact that National’s PR machine is highly formidable and Labour’s is rubbish, and has been for several years.

    It’s not the fault of the ‘mainstream media’ that Labour can’t seem to hire good people to get their message out there (although I rate Kris pretty highly and hope he can make a real difference).

    Twas not always this – back when Clark had her ‘dream team’ media coverage of the party was overwhelmingly positive and Labour crushed the Bill English led National Party. Labour need to go back, look at where they’ve gone wrong and try and recreate that success, not whine about the big bad biased media.

    • Tane 13.1

      We’ve all discussed how shit Labour’s PR is in the past. But the problem is with a model that priveliges PR – and the organisations that can afford good PR* – over the information we need to participate properly in our democracy. You know, journalism that provides some context and cuts through the spin rather than just regurgitating press releases.

      [* in which I include Labour]

  14. burt 14


    woger must have lost it completely. Imagine thinking that Labour MP’s might be held accountable under the law. He is so out of touch with MP’s in todays parliament.

  15. Matthew Pilott 15

    Burt – first point, fair enough (if a Right MP comes on board I’d better make sure it stays on topic there too huh?). Second point – government makes the law, and then it is interpreted. It seems you may have done a better job with your interpretation in the instance you mention!

    Regarding this topic I suggest it would be an idea here so say how Labour went against the spirit of the PFA, and ask for a defence. HS asserts that Labour did not act within the spirit of the law but did not explain the basis for his asertion.

    I don’t know enough about it to make, or defend, that assertion. Legally they didn’t have to mention that stuff – to do so would they have had to make a specific announcement? If it was legally missed in the pre-election fiscal update thenshould the scope/timing procedure be changed? An easier path opened for amendments?

    Incidentally, that I’m asking you (not because it’s you specifically, Burt, but that I’m asking any blog commentor) this instead of being informed by the media seems to support the original blog post, though…

    • burt 15.1


      It’s not just an “oh well” situation when an “uneducated” member of the public like myself understands the law better than an MP who voted to enact it. This is a serious issue in itself.

      Secondly, it’s almost inconceivable that Mallard didn’t understand his legal obligation with his little red van. He choose to flick me off by denigration as he boldly ignored a law he personally voted to enact.

      This arrogance of “do as I say not as I do” is a bigger issue and undermines the “nothing illegal occurred” inference of Mallard’s post in this very thread.

      • vto 15.1.1

        I’m with you Burt.

        Mallard exemplifies here the exact reason voters turned away from the last labour lot.

        I think they think nobody notices..

        • Matthew Pilott

          Mallard exemplifies here the exact reason voters turned away from the last labour lot.

          What, by suggesting an article with some analysis and research in it is better than a reprint of an NP PR piece? That’s what cost Labour the election? Sheesh, you coulda told us a few weeks ago.

          • higherstandard

            Mat you know that’s not what they’re getting at – my response to Mallard’s comment goes to the heart of the issue and IMO is why a large section of the public distrust politicians – more often than not they are motivated by self service rather than serving the public.

            The public shouldn’t be scared to call them (whichever side of the house they sit on) on their bs.

  16. grumpy 16

    Don’t remember seeing anything like this thread when Labour were in power.

    • Matthew Pilott 16.1

      I think there was one when Labour said they were implementing the EFA and The Herald uncritically ran with it…

  17. vinsin 17

    Danyl, although the opinion you offer of ‘what journos actually do’ is correct at a surface level it’s not actually the problem the post is actually alluding to, which is that the level of journalism in the MSM is particularly shabby these days.
    John Armstrong is a good journalist and that’s why you’ll find his articles have more insight then a lot of others. I don’t particularly like his opinions on a lot of ideas but when reading his articles you at least get the feeling that he has not only checked his facts, found counter balancing views and found more than just one source for a story, you find that he’s actually boiled down the story into it’s most important facts whilst offering some comment.
    This is the quality of journalism journos should aspire to, with the immense amount of sources and information available online these days it’s embarrassing and downright amazing that this doesn’t happen. If i can find the correct information on a story in ten minutes why can’t someone who has actually studied and works as a journalist do it?
    Furthermore, the story in this case isn’t ‘Bill English said this’ – that’s the prologue – the story is ‘Bill English said this. And it happens to not be true. So what does this mean?’ Any journo worth their salt would’ve at least got to the fact that it wasn’t true.

  18. Tom Semmens 18

    So, Danyl, whither the fourth estate then? If the job of journalists is to do no more than report press releases (the word you use – “news” – is so open to interpretation as to be hopeless) like some sort of encounter at Wimbledon then no wonder it is a job now largely for new entrants to the work force with a B-team degree and happy to get paid peanuts in the hope they can use the job as a springboard to something of some actual value to themselves. According to you, we might as well close the journalism schools and simply rely on scoop.co.nz, which is exactly what you seem to think journalism should be.

    But of course we won’t. We won’t because the public has an expectation that the media will do the job it is charged with – bringing context and meaning to the stream of information they receive, and using their skills and experience to collate it, distill it, give it context and meaning and report it to their readers. Otherwise why bother with specialist or experienced reporters, men and women with knowledge and wisdom to see through the bullshit and report in the interest of the public?

    To me, to be able to report the “news’ you have to have in the first place some idea what the ‘news” actually is. You need journalists with the experience and the skill and judgment to actually do the job they are charged with doing. The alternative is an Orwellian state of permanent amnesia, where context and interpretation is replaced by the megaphone and manipulation, and where objective truth is replaced by whatever you can pay for it to be.

  19. Ianmac 19

    Tom: Well said
    Danyl: If that is all that the Journalist are expected to do, why not just have the Chinese form. “Just print what we say mate!”

  20. IrishBill: I suspect that many standard authors feel that facts such as crime statistics and the contents of a report might have more factual validity than a politically motivated opinion. Of course we might not be as postmodernly informed as you are. If you want to have that kind of discussion then perhaps you need to visit ‘sod’s place.

    I’m not sure what ‘Sod’s place’ is (Kiwiblog?) I don’t think I want to google it from a work computer . . .

    I’m not sure how you can claim that crime statistics have ‘factual validity’ – every time they get released there’s a huge political shit fight about what the statistics mean, whether there’s been a rise in real crime or reported crime, what caused the statistical changes ect. Both sides spin crime stats like crazy.

    I have no doubt you guys feel you have the ‘real’ truth on any given political issue and the right are just spinning a bunch of lies, but in my experience the folk on the right are also intelligent, well intentioned people who are convinced that their perspective is ‘true’ and the left are being deceitful, dishonest ect.

    Political dialog is more about how good intelligent people are at picking facts to justify their own pre-existing ideology than any kind of objective ‘truth’.

    • Tane 20.1

      Danyl, no one’s claiming to have the real, absolute truth here. You’re running that argument on your own. The criticism is simply of the “he said, she said” model of journalism and how uncritically it lends itself to spin.

  21. The ‘he said, she said’ model (also known as the fact based model) isn’t perfect and it does lend itself to spin. But it’s better than any of the alternatives that I’m aware of.

    The US media moved away from fact based journalism to the kind of editorializing, opinion based model you guys seem to favor between the years 2001-2005, when they stopped telling people what was going on in the world and turned themselves into cheerleaders for the Bush Administration with disasterous consequences (not least for the long term future of right-wing politics in the US, which became totally divorced from reality.)

    I realise you guys want the media to cheerlead for left-wing politicians instead of right-wing ones, but I suspect the outcome would be pretty similar.

    I’ll stick to the model in which reporters tell me what happened and I get to make up my own mind about events instead of having a media that makes its mind up for me.

  22. IrishBill 22

    I’ll stick to the model in which reporters tell me what happened and I get to make up my own mind about events

    You’re talking about a model in which reporters tell you what was said. Not what happened. In fact just recently the Herald reported a speech as it was given by Roger Douglas. Except it wasn’t given. They just assumed it was because that’s what the media release said would happen.

    That’s the result of the kind of journalism you are talking about. Have you actually worked as a journalist or spent any amount of time in a newsroom?

  23. George Darroch 23

    I’ll stick to the model in which reporters tell me what happened and I get to make up my own mind

    But we don’t get that. We get a model in which reporters tell us what Person/Organisation says happened. About things which have actual factual content – like whether longer sentences reduce crime rates. Huge difference.

    I get what you’re saying, but I think you totally misunderstand this post. The media quoted National press releases as if they were statements of fact, rather than opinion. And they’ve got to the point where that’s all they do – and the side with the best, most compelling spin wins. It’s bullshit if you ask me, and harmful to democracy. As people realise, less and less papers will be sold, but in the meantime we all suffer, because the press still has a privileged role in our society.

  24. In fact just recently the Herald reported a speech as it was given by Roger Douglas. Except it wasn’t given. They just assumed it was because that’s what the media release said would happen.

    Oh, you want a new model of journalism in which mistakes don’t happen. Good luck with that.

    • vinsin 24.1

      How about a model where journalists actually do their job! It’s now abundantly clear that you really don’t understand the point of this post – try reading it again, maybe that’ll help.

    • IrishBill 24.2

      So you have never worked as a journalist. That explains a lot.

      • Have you ever worked as Finance Minister? If not then I don’t see how you can have a valid opinion on how the job should be performed.

        I’m not a journalist – my wife is, and so are many of my friends. I think I have a pretty good insight into the profession, certainly more so than any on display here.

        • IrishBill

          There’s no need to be so shrill, Danyl. Nobody is saying your opinion isn’t valid, they are just disagreeing with it. If anything it seems you are having difficulty with the fact people with experience in the industry might disagree with you.

          Take a deep breath and ask yourself if you really think that there is no subjectivity in play when a journo decides what facts and/or opinions to put in a story or in what order.

          Now take an even deeper breath and ask yourself whether, when reporting on something like the ACC inquiry, it is “objective” to quote remarks that claim the report says one thing without mentioning the report says something different.

  25. The media quoted National press releases as if they were statements of fact, rather than opinion

    This simply isn’t true – although that’s what Tane rather dishonestly implied. Let’s look at the opening paragraph of the NZPA article linked above:

    A ministerial inquiry into why a $1.5 billion four-year shortfall forecast in ACC’s non-earners account was not revealed before the election has concluded the previous government hid it, Finance Minister Bill English said today.

    They’re not claiming that English’s statement is a fact, merely reporting that he said it. Which is true, he did say it.

  26. Tane 26

    Danyl, you seem to have a naive faith in the “he said, she said” model’s objectivity. This model is just as open to framing, editorialising and privileging certain discourses as any other, the veneer of objectivity is just that.

    Besides, I’m not arguing we want our media to mimic The Economist or Fox News. Just do a bit of research and provide some context. Write your own articles, interview your subjects and inject some facts. Don’t just cut and paste press releases. That’s all I’m asking.

    Your attempts to turn this into some kind of Labour vs National thing is just baffling.

  27. Danyl, you seem to have a naive faith in the “he said, she said’ model’s objectivity.

    Maybe I do. I just think a model in which reporters tell us what is actually happening is going to be more informative than a model in which political reporters rant about how much they hate politician X but love politician Y. I guess I’m just a starry-eyed dreamer.

  28. Danyl. – re: the ‘sod’s place.

    My friend, you are missing out.

    Robinsod is a regular commentor here, banned at present after yet another over-heated exchange. The man’s mad as a hatter but if you want a post-modern debate on the nature of truth, it’s the place to go. http://robinsod.wordpress.com/

  29. That guy! He showed up at my blog out of the blue a week or so ago and abused me. I ignored him and he went away.

    One final point about the peril’s of a shift from ‘he said, she said’ is that it often won’t work in favor of the left. What if the person writing the NZPA article decided that the report did, in so many words, condemn Street and Cullen and wrote an opinion piece instead of an article stating as such? If you don’t think this could happen then you need to pay closer attention to the US media in which blatantly false allegations masquerade as serious news on a daily basis.

    The current model isn’t perfect but it does (by and large) prevent journalists from simply making shit up and passing it off as news.

    [lprent: Feel honoured. I think that he is trying to see how many blogs he can get banned from at present…]

    • Graeme 29.1

      I think some here may be after a news piece about the report, rather than (or in addition to) a news piece about what people said about the report.

      One story about how “A report was released today into blah blah blah … here are some quotes from the report.”

      And they could also have “Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said a report released today into blah blah blah (see story on page 6) proved Michael Cullen blah blah blah.”

      Why is the second better than the first, to the point where we need the exclusion of news reporting like the first?

    • IrishBill 29.2

      The current model isn’t perfect but it does (by and large) prevent journalists from simply making shit up and passing it off as new

      I’ll think you’ll find that’s the role of the press council and the BSA. There’s also a journalist code of ethics. I thought you knew all about the industry.

    • Felix 29.3

      You’re laying it on a bit thick aren’t you? ‘Sod “abused” you?

      Are you sure he didn’t just accuse you of making redundant arguments?

  30. Billy 30

    ‘sod is not here, so I’ll do it.

    Danyl, there is no apostrophe in “perils” as you have used it there.

    It’s what he would have wanted. (But then, of course, he’d have made some inappropriate joke about Danyl’s Mum or something).

    • Felix 30.1

      You should do it. It’s what he would’ve wanted.

      • Billy 30.1.1

        There might be a copyright problem.

        • IrishBill

          I think ‘sod would probably sue. I have to confess on days like this I do regret banning him for this long but he’ll have served his five weeks by next Monday.

          • Felix

            As Billy says below (he hasn’t figured out how to reply yet) the ‘sod has been muttering about not coming back.

            Maybe he deserves a shot at parole – he’s served most of his time.

        • Felix

          He would’ve wanted you to take a cavalier attitude to copyright problems.

          • Billy


            He’s talking about not returning.

          • Tane

            Maybe he deserves a shot at parole – he’s served most of his time.

            But the Sod’s a recidivist. Folk hero or not, you know he’ll only reoffend if you let him back into the community.

          • Felix

            …he’ll only reoffend if you let him back into the community.

            But he will be back in the community someday – we can’t just pretend he doesn’t exist. And the longer he’s away the lower the chance of successful integration.

  31. Felix 31

    But Danyl, you’re pretty much arguing that there’s no need for journalists at all.

    If all you require or expect of them is that they put “Bill English said today” at the end, then why not just run the press release and credit it to Bill English?

    • George Darroch 31.1

      Read Scoop, cut out the middlemen. Because, in this age, the job of a journalist is simply to decide which parts of press releases to publish. Apparently.

  32. roger nome 32

    Danyl – if you think sound-bytes serve the democratic process better than rigorous analysis (from multiple points of view) then you truly are lost to the post-modern world of re-presentation. I would prefer to think that you’re actually having a shit day and have come here to wind people up with disingenuous shite (as is your MO at Kiwiblog).

  33. Billy 33

    Another thread that’s all over the place like a mad woman’s shit because of the reply thing. Lyn, can something be done?

  34. roger nome 34

    No Billy – parade your misogyny with pride – don’t let those PC gits curtail your freedom of speech with talk of “human rights” blah blah blah. NZ needs to harden up!

  35. roger nome 35

    Now you’re getting it billy. There’s hope for the allblacks yet!

  36. roger nome 36

    Dad – billy’s misogyny is grand, but sexual harassment is NEVER ok. Get it?

  37. Graeme 37

    Danyl – I guess my question can be put…

    Why is this acceptable:

    After the election, the new government accused the previous government of hiding an ACC shortfall, in breach of its legal obligations. The previous government has denied hiding an ACC shortfall and states that it abided by its legal obligations. A review was ordered, and its report was publicly released today: the new government says that the report has determined that the previous government did hide an ACC shortfall in breach of its legal obligations; the previous government says the report determined that it did not hide an ACC shortfall in breach of its legal obligations.

    While this would be laughable:

    An opposition MP has accused a government minister of punching him on the floor of the House of Representatives. The minister denies punching the MP who made the allegation. A copy of the video tape of Parliament’s proceedings was made public today: the opposition MP says it shows a government minister punching him on the floor of the House of Representatives; the minister says that the video does not show him punching the MP.

    • Greame: Yes, your second example is laughable, but I’d add that similar stories were actually published many times last year, all involving Winston Peters (remember the thing with the helicopters?).

      In cases of outright and demonstrable falsehood I think its appropriate for journalists to state any facts that disprove the lie (for example, just before Obama passed his budget the Republican Party started referring to a budget office document critiqing the policies – no such document existed and (some) media outlets said so.

      But politicians are rarely as crazy as Winston or the Republicans; they deal in nuance and ambivilence. If we look at English’s press release, it says:

      The report found the shortfall in the Non-Earner’s Account was known to ACC, the Department of Labour, Treasury, ACC Minister Maryan Street and Finance Minister Michael Cullen in time for it to be disclosed as a fiscal risk in the Pre-election Fiscal Update.

      All of which is completely true – what they’ve done is leave out Treasury’s responsibility for the disclosure (which the PA story does not).

      And if you talked to English and his PR staff I have no doubt that they believe that ‘the truth’ of this matter is that Labour did hide the shortfall but set Treasury up to take the blame and that the inquiry confirms this and it was thus appropriate for them to issue their press release, and that they would be able to argue ‘the truth’ of their viewpoint very persuasively. (I’m not saying I endorse such views, just that it’s easy to guess what they are).

  38. Snail 38

    DM — Labour need to go back, look at where they’ve gone wrong and try and recreate that success, not whine about the big bad biased media

    Looks very prescriptive to me. Opinion yes, a non-journo yes(by admission above) yet somewhat damning of your goodself insofar as it relates the likelihood of success (for Labour) to the past as model for its future.

    Now I’d like put it to you (and via your partner and many journo friends) that reporting something or other on the face of selected facts(which may be read as available facts on occasion) is not what good journalism is about. Whereas SALIENT facts is/are the material of good reporting.

    And that salience requires a journalistic value-system. Of great merit to readers and the public at large..

    PR releases are, after all, PR.. or more unkindly, spin.

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