“The literal truth”

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, February 16th, 2008 - 48 comments
Categories: Media, spin - Tags: ,

Fran O’Sullivan’s continuing her ongoing philosophical project of interrogating the notion of truth in her latest repetition of Kiwiblog talking points Herald column. In it she picks up on the Owen Glenn interview and from a few disparate facts weaves a story of intrigue and mystery. Or rather provides us with an insight into the strange life of her mind.

I’m not even going to bother a point by point refutation of this odd piece of fiction because to be honest after a close reading I realised there is very little substance in there to refute. The real gold is in the rhetoric. Here’s one of my favorites:

The Labour Party president’s comments may be literally true.

Did you get that? “literally true”. Apparently the literal truth isn’t good enough anymore. I guess that means we need to look at the figurative truth then Fran? And, after mentioning the fact that Glenn lent the party money for fundraising (money which has been paid back in full), that’s exactly what she goes on to do:

Owen Glenn’s disclosures call into sharp relief how much of the $800,000 Labour paid back into taxpayers’ coffers is the result of similar loans. The public is entitled to know.

Now you’ll note that Fran doesn’t put forward a skerrick of evidence for her allegation but then decides the public is entitled to know. There’s a name for this kind of argument and one of our more vociferous commenters has written about it on his blog before but, as The Standard is a “G” rated blog, I’m not even going to link to it. I will however say this:

The paucity of facts in this column and O’Sullivan’s recent piece on the “above ground option” call into sharp relief how much of her “reporting” is actually done while under the influence of hallucinogenic substances. The reading public is entitled to know.

Now do you see how this kind of rhetoric works Fran? Because, despite what you may think, everyone else does. I can only assume that when the Herald subbed the title of your column “Public deserves better answers” they were referring to your standard of commentary.

48 comments on ““The literal truth””

  1. Hey Irish – I’m assuming you were referring to my Newzblog post:

    http://newzblog.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/pig-fucking/

    ‘Cos I ain’t seen such a blunt example of the pig fucker argument since IP was banned. Shit! Perhaps IP is Fran O’Sullivan!

    IrishBill says: yeah I was and I wanted to link the post but couldn’t you have found a less offensive term?

  2. Hey Bro – Don’t blame me, I didn’t make it up. And anyway surely it’s ok if the 36th Leader of the free world uses it?

  3. Chemist Peter 3

    fighting a lot of fires at present bro, and the mother of all scandals is yet to hit, be prepared!!!

  4. IrishBill 4

    Would that be a literally true scandal or just another figuratively true one? Can you even tell the difference CP?

  5. Speaking literally, why would Owen Glenn lie, and who has more at stake here – Owen Glenn or Helen Clark?

  6. Pacman 6

    It is another Bill Cinton “I did not have sexual relations…”. If you believe a bj is not sexual relations then that could be considered literally true.

    Now Mike Williams says he has not donated anything but there is a repaid 100k loan interest free. I think this is a valid comparison, Owen donated free money to Labour.

    The claim that he got it back has no standing – Go here http://www.ird.govt.nz/fbt/categories/low-interest-loans/ and you can see that the IRD see people lending money for free to be dodgy enough to charge tax on the value of the interest.

  7. Santi 7

    Who is lying here, Clark or Owen? One of these two is telling porkies.

    You guys make a song and dance about political donations. Here it is, in front of you, staring at you, the fact Labour has collected a handsome amount, and all you do is play it down, obeying your political masters.

    Shame on The Standard for its lack of scruples (balls). After all, that is a pre-requisite to be a socialist.

  8. Archon 8

    Pretty much.

    It brings the Shipley dinner back into mind. Fast forward a few years and it is alleged that Helen Clark offers their biggest donor a cabinet post and you want to have a go at the journo’s who want answers?

    Makes me wonder just how far Labour would have to go before the standard would question their ethics.

    IrishBill says: O’Sullivan doesn’t want answers. She wants to be able to use a call for answers to intimate a smear. If she gets answers I will be very surprised if she writes an “I got answers and here they are” column. Mark Twain is quoted as saying “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on”. This appears to be a maxim for the right and its cheerleaders.

  9. IrishBill 9

    IV2, I don’t know and I don’t really care as I don’t think it’s a scandal. What I do know is that Fran doesn’t know either but instead of choosing to admit that she’s disguised politically biased speculation as “fact”.

    PM, “literal”: “true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual”. If Fran had said “this may not be the complete truth” and then discussed the interest on the loan you might have a point but she doesn’t. In fact she makes no substantive points throughout the column. If you can manage a substantive point why can’t a so called “journalist”? Perhaps you should offer to write for the Herald.

    Santi, I think you have mistaken an analysis of O’Sullivan’s extremely poor rightwing spin for an analysis of the issue she’s talking about. It’s good to see you’re trying though, you almost had a rational argument going there until you broke off into that kiwiblog right spiel in your last para.

  10. mike 10

    This is a real doozy in Election year. The Nats are going ride this puppy until its legs fall off. Helen or Owen is talking shite and the Nats can’t wait to prove it is Helen. Literal or not.

    IrishBill says: so by “Literal or not” are you are implying you don’t care if it’s true or not but it’s a good chance to smear the government? I’m assuming you are a Herald subscriber?

  11. and with “analysis” like you get from the Herald, the truth is clearly completely irrelevant.

  12. “IrishBill says: so by “Literal or not’ are you are implying you don’t care if it’s true or not but it’s a good chance to smear the government? I’m assuming you are a Herald subscriber?”

    Bill – that’s pretty rich coming from one of the authors of a blog whose sole purpose seems to be to smear the National Party and its leadership. To use one of Robinsod’s favourite words, that’s – ironic – don’t you think

    IrishBill says: let’s see you provide an example of a Standard post that states something that is not fact or is otherwise not clearly marked as rumour or genuinely held opinion before you go quoting the ‘Sod on this one IV2.

  13. Chemist Peter 13

    Yeah, and Helen Clark has the biggest balls of the lot.
    The lying people at the below standard here are fighting a lot of fires at present, but these are only scrub fires compared to the massive blaze that will ignite shortly.

    IrishBill says: yawn.

  14. Billy 14

    Big money buying favours with a political party. Surely this is something you guys should be concerned about.

    I do not remember the criticism you are now levelling against O’Sullivan being applied to Steve Maharey’s fanciful and wholly unsupported claims that National Party policy was written in the United States.

    IrishBill says: Aside from the fact that the standard didn’t exist then I’d say there is a difference between a remark from a partisan politician and a media commentator with no stated affiliations.

  15. This is irony for sure as it was Clark herself who milked an after dinner conversation with Kevin Roberts and Jenny Shipley for all it was worth.

    Suck it up Clark, suck it up

  16. Billy 16

    How about a more recent example. Is it the “literal truth” that Katherine Rich reesigned for personal reasons? Any “skerrick of evidence” that she was forced out so that the fat old white men can pursue their agenda of far-right payback for their paymasters? No? Shall we run the line anyway?

  17. what is this, the Wayne Idour Hour?

  18. Draco TB 18

    Big money buying favours with a political party. Surely this is something you guys should be concerned about.

    It would be – if that was what happened. There’s no evidence that Owen Glen got anything or was offered anything for his money though.

  19. r0b 19

    Fran: Owen Glenn’s disclosures call into sharp relief how much of the $800,000 Labour paid back into taxpayers’ coffers is the result of similar loans. The public is entitled to know.

    Nicky Hager’s disclosures call into sharp relief how much of the $1.5 Million National laundered through supposedly anonymous trusts for the 2005 election was an attempt to subvert the intent of the electoral law and purchase National policy. The public is entitled to know.

  20. IrishBill 20

    Billy, how about you re-read that post. It is made entirely clear that is is the honest opinion of the author that Rich jumped for more than personal reasons. When an writer starts a paragraph with the phrase “I can’t help but think” it’s pretty obvious they’re stating opinion.

    Draco TB, good point, unlike the leaked email that showed the Insurance Council were advising National on what parts of their ACC policy to release in 2005.

  21. IrishBill 21

    Rob, I missed that O’Sullivan column. Can you post a link?

  22. Clearly you guys have to immediately shout down anything O’sullivan writes about your party. Fair enough too, it is the reason for this blog existing.
    However Fran was quoting an article in the previous days dom where Oowen Glenn has been directly quoted claiming he donated because of the EB’s and that Clark had offered him Transport if he would agree to jump on board.
    Williams and some nameless face in Clark’s office have denied both claims. Which leaves us in a simple choice situation. Either Glenn is a liar or Williams and Clark are liars. Either option is embarrassing for the govt.
    The points she made about use of money interest were not covered in the quoted article but are valid. Avoiding use of money interest payments is fraud. No doubt one of the less lazy member of the right leaning blogging community will call IRD about this. Me, I can’t be bothered.
    The way you guys immediately start screeching “but they did it too” is no longer working for you.

  23. r0b 23

    IrishBill, I don’t have the link handy, but I think it was the same column where she took John Key to task for the hopeless failure of “bootcamps” at preventing youth offending, and admonished the Kiwiblog Right for the kind of rabid abuse that spawns violent brick chuckers.

  24. Billy 24

    “There’s no evidence that Owen Glen got anything or was offered anything for his money though.”

    http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/list.asp?id=40

    Mr Owen George GLENN, of Monaco.
    For services to business and the community.

    IrishBill says: That’s a real smoking gun you’ve got there, Billy. I suggest you take this evidence to the media ASAP.

  25. “immediately shout down anything O’sullivan writes”

    just having her name and photo at the top of her pieces is usually enough to discredit the content for any sentient reader.

  26. sdm 26

    This line that the left seem to run ‘oh we ignore the herald because of its right wing stance’ I find more than a little odd. Consider the other day, for instance, when Hezbollah leader Imad Moughniyah was killed in a car bomb. Who wrote the lead article on the matter in the World section? ROBERT FISK. He is as far left as they come.

    I absolutley guarentee you that if this was the other way round, and John Key was offering a donor a cabinet position, you would be screaming for his head. No doubt in my mind

    But no, if its critical of the government, shoot the messenger. Nicki Hager has no agenda but O’Sullivan does? Right….

    IrishBill says: Hager based his book on facts and evidence. O’Sullivan bases her columns on conjecture and fabrication.

  27. Billy 27

    That was a bit snide, Irishbill. I was just countering the absurd contention by one of your commenters that there was no evidence that Glenn got anything for his contribution. Your sarcasm shows just how ridiculous his comment was.

  28. IrishBill 28

    Billy, I note Marilyn Waring is also on the honours list. I’m assuming you think this is pay-off for crossing the floor in 1984?

  29. Billy 29

    You’re right, Bill. I’m sure Owen Glenn of Monaco would have received an honour whether or not he’d funded the Labour Party.

  30. IrishBill 30

    Billy, considering he gave $7.5m to Auckland university for a new business school, I’m pretty sure he would’ve too. I’m glad you are finally seeing sense.

  31. r0b 31

    Oh for goodness sake Billy. This has been gone over so often you can only be playing deliberately ignorant. “For services to business and the community” – such as…

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4401616a6479.html

    He is still a New Zealand citizen and returned this week to open Auckland University’s business school.

    He has given $7.5 million toward the $50 million cost and $600,000 a year in scholarships. The school has been named after him and the study hall after his late mother.

    To try and spread the meme that an honour is some kind of payback for a political donation is a pathetic insult to Glenn and to other philanthropists like him.

  32. Santi 32

    Irish, are you losing the plot?

    Your barrage of denial cannot hide the fact Owen’s donation (and its consequences) are real. If, as you affirm, O’Sullivan’s article is false and full of lies then it deserves to be publicly scrutinised and clarified by the participants.

    Your faith in Helen Clark appears to know no bounds. You’d do a good impersonation of a Pretorian Guard (Al Capone’s bodyguard also comes to mind).

    IrishBill says: Directing baseless insults at one of the blog owners is a good way to get banned. You’re on warning.

  33. r0b 33

    Billy, Santi and co. desperately tries to get some milage out of this storm in a teacup.

    Hello Santi – HC cannot appoint random millionaires into cabinet. What she can do is encourage well qualified people to to join the party and put themselves up for selection through the normal mechanisms. If selected as an MP and they perform well they may even advance rapidly.

    For a similar example consider John Key. No political experience, relevant background gives him a high place on the National list, he advances rapidly. What a Scandal!

    FFS get a life.

  34. Santi 34

    rob, in your impeccable logic it’s a “storm in a teacup” when involves Labour but NEVER with your political opponents. Very flexible principles, uh?

    I don’t give a toss about Key or the Nats, I’m pointing out the lack of scruples of your socialist mob, always prepared to do whatever it takes to cling to power.

    You are helping by supporting the Labour Party and its corrupt practices. Feel free to do it but do not expect a free ride.

  35. r0b 35

    I don’t give a toss about Key or the Nats, I’m pointing out the lack of scruples of your socialist mob, always prepared to do whatever it takes to cling to power.

    Since when is trying to attract talented and successful people to join a party and make a contribution to political life a bad thing to do? Only in your head, Santi, could that constitute a lack of scruples.

    You are helping by supporting the Labour Party and its corrupt practices.

    You believe that calling the Labour Party corrupt often enough will make it true. It won’t. You want a corrupt party? Try National. Have you read The Hollow Men Santi?

    Feel free to do it

    Don’t need your permission Santi.

  36. dave 36

    When an writer starts a paragraph with the phrase “I can’t help but think’ it’s pretty obvious they’re stating opinion
    Except of couse if it is a Labour Cabinet minister or Findlay MacDonald – in which case they are lying.

    By definition they cannot think.

  37. burt 37

    rOb

    From above.

    “The literal truth”

    Nicky Hager’s disclosures call into sharp relief how much of the $1.5 Million National laundered through supposedly anonymous trusts for the 2005 election was an attempt to subvert the intent of the electoral law and purchase National policy. The public is entitled to know.

    This thread is not about National, if National did it too is that making it OK for Labour or should Labour be challenged to the same standards as you think National should be?

    The thing I find most interesting is a billionaire who appears to structure his affairs to avoid tax completely donating to a party that is increasing taxation and has implemented very low ‘wealth’ thresholds.

  38. very low ‘wealth’ thresholds.

    Oh my god it can think for itself (well kinda). “Low wealth thresholds”? Did you come up with that all by yourself burty boy? Good boy burty-boy, good boy, who’s a good boy, eh who is? you are burty-boy yous a good boy, that deserves an extra special treat…

  39. Mwahahahaha 39

    Labour – gone by 2009…if not before.

  40. Spam 40

    Since when is trying to attract talented and successful people to join a party and make a contribution to political life a bad thing to do? Only in your head, Santi, could that constitute a lack of scruples.

    “Inviting him to join a party”? The allegation is that he was ‘invited’ to a position as a minister of the crown. Remember people squealing that Don Brash shouldn’t be allowed to be Prime Minister because he was a list MP and not an electoral MP? Could it be the same people for whom it is alleged wanted to appoint someone to a ministerial position?

  41. Spam, i think you may have missed that OG’s isn’t actually a minister of the crown.

  42. AncientGeek 42

    The Fran O’Sullivan scandal… a spoof of the rabid right’s debating techniques

    Lets summarize what we know so far….

    1. The herald doesn’t like having the left in government. This has manifested in a number of concerted campaigns. They have argued in an editorial that this is not the case, pointing to a count of editorials. They omitted to point out their campaigns on things like the EFA, and their habit of largely having opinion-editorials from the right.

    2. Fran O’Sullivan has been one of these attack poodles. She has consistently never had a much of a good word to say about the left in government. Where there has been a topic to offer opinion on the right, for instance with the hollow men revelations, she is curiously silent. Indeed one could say suspiciously silent.

    3. In the past she has written editorials about Owen Glenn. She suggested that other people, who have never been philanthropic in NZ and who are not even Kiwi’s would be better suited to get a gong than Owen Glenn. Mr Glenn has made major contributions to Auckland University.

    4. Fran has been known to print editorials that look suspiciously like releases or comments from the tory party, especially from McCully, add her spin and claim that they were hers. A clear case of plagiarism.

    5. Recently she has taken to making up topics to attack the left on. Last week it was a mythical over-head option for the state highway extension at Waterview.

    6. This week she has taken some comments from Owen Glenn to a journalist, that have not been confirmed by him, and directly refuted by the other party. She has spun this into a conspiracy theory with absolutely no supporting evidence and published it in the herald.

    Now it seems to me that at best this means that Fran has departed from her once proud reporting standards.

    At worst there may be a conspiracy between her and the tories.

    Perhaps she is being paid to say this.

    This may be a case under the EFA.

    The rabid right swallows this whole because they prefer to not think.

    I think this can probably be extended……..

    And now a breathless “wait but there is more”…

  43. Silent Laughing 43

    So meanwhile National bluster on about matters of no consequence
    In the real world Owen Who?
    And slowly election time approaches,
    people start to stir,
    take an interest,
    National start to look hollow,
    polls narrow,
    the race card is played ,
    its counter productive,
    So the KBR squeal ever louder
    but no one is listening,
    only laughing
    The inevitable happens,
    National disintegrates.
    Shame really

  44. AncientGeek 44

    Hell I’m starting to sound like Fran or Michele.

  45. AncientGeek 45

    Or even worse – that reads like something off the Fox network “news”

  46. AncientGeek 46

    SL: very good…

    They do look a bit hollow. With all this effort on attempting to smear their opposition, you have to wonder if the tories are expending any effort on their own policies. At present you could probably sum up their existing known policy in a couple of paragraphs.

    cap: happy 120
    one could wish

  47. AncientGeek 47

    There are a couple of posts “Press Council ducks interesting issue” and “More grumbling about the Press Council” in the Media Law Journal.

    They are extremely interesting when you consider how inaccurate the main stream media are getting. Possibly it has something to do with the ‘whiffy’ level of industry self-regulation

  48. Draco TB 48

    It seems that drawing unsubstantiated conclusions is normal for NZHerald writers.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10493145

    I don’t think it is a federal case that he did not – but Labour deserves to squirm over its relationship with Glenn and the way it tailored the Electoral Finance Bill to suit its own self-serving circumstances. The original cabinet paper on electoral reform banned all donations from overseas sources. The final product banned donations from overseas unless it was from an ex-pat donor.

    Never seemed to consider that there are ~1 million NZers living overseas, most of them adults, and that more than one of them may want to donate to political parties in their home country (some of them may even want to donate to National). Also never seemed to consider that preventing them from donating would have been completely against their right to take part in their democracy.

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