One aspect of Ponygate which deserves more analysis is the respective role of the main stream media and the alternative media and the relationship between the two. How this story developed and a comparison to previous situations provides an interesting overview.
Firstly in relation to the story I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it. Unlike Cameron Slater and his attempts to bring down Len Brown with the Bevan Chuang story Bradbury did some important things. He let the story be the story and did not inject himself into the story at all. He let the waitress tell her own story in her own words. And unlike Slater whose grandiose yet ridiculous plan to have Len Brown removed from office and John Palino somehow installed as mayor Bomber had no intention of achieving any particular goal. He just facilitated the telling of a very creepy story.
[Bomber] simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.
Rachel Glucina’s attempt at turning the story around by suggesting there was a political angle in the complaint failed miserably and only succeeded in providing an institutional target and showing that Dirty Politics is alive although not so well. The decision to run the story under her name even though consent was obtained under what appears to be pretty dodgy circumstances was a silly one. And the blowback after the victim’s second story was posted and the Herald blundered from faulty response to faulty response will no doubt be the subject of further investigation and comment.
Other Herald writers have heavily criticised Key’s behaviour. Staff meetings there right now must be very interesting events.
The right had no where to go on this. Every time one of their nodding heads in the media tried to turn the story around there was blow back. And as the story took off and international media ran with it you could sense John Key’s credibility ebb. Crosby Textor will have their work cut out to repair this fiasco.
The response of the right wing bloggers has been interesting. David Farrar obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it and his early post inappropriate if accurate was as realistically as positive as he could go. His commenters tried to kick back and suggest all sorts of conspiracies while at the same time suggesting that a Prime Minister allegedly suffering from trichophilia was nothing to worry about.
Cameron Slater is obviously no longer running pro Key lines and is preparing to support his mate Judith Collins in a leadership battle that when it occurs will be bloody and divisive and will leave National in far worse shape. Let’s be real here. There is no other leader of the quality of John Key in National. The possibility of a leader emerging from the ranks of Collins, Joyce, Bennett, Adams or Bridges is one that fills me with confidence that the the next Government will be a progressive one. Key is their only chance. And he has been significantly damaged.
Slater’s line on the story, that the left had stuffed up the chance of a political hatchet job spoke volumes about his world view. He could not believe obviously (donotlink link) that a left wing blog could publish a story with no intent other than making sure that the story was told. Subsequent posts suggesting that the waitress should toughen up just reveal a shallowness of human understanding that has always been apparent.
Time will tell on what the repercussions of Ponygate are. But I suspect that things will never be the same again. Because every time someone thinks about John Key they will think about ponytail pulling …