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Waking up the fourth estate

Written By: - Date published: 7:05 am, August 1st, 2013 - 39 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, john key, news, slippery, Spying, telecommunications, winston peters - Tags: , ,

Is this what it takes to wake up the fourth estate so they truly fulfill their role to speak truth to power.

Andrea Vance is mad as hell that revelations that her phone calls where passed to the Henry inquiry.

 In other circumstances, I could probably find something to laugh about in revelations that the journalist who broke a story about illegal spying was snooped on by Parliament’s bureaucrats.

Let alone, the irony that the reporter in question previously worked for the News of the World, the tabloid at a centre of a privacy violation scandal.

But I am that journalist and I’m mad as hell. Anyone who has had their confidential details hacked and shared around has the right to be angry.

My bold.  Yes, anyone who potentially has their confidential details shared with authorities, should be mad about it, not just journalists.  But with the state surveillance agencies, how would any of us know?

This is why the changes to the GCSB and related legislation should be opposed all the way.

Vance outlines the way the details of the intrusions on her privacy became publicly known.  Then she says:

Now the Speaker and Prime Minister John Key claim cock-up (by a low-level contractor) over conspiracy. Forgive me if those assurances ring hollow. Details of inquiry head David Henry’s intrusive and outrageous behaviour have had to be dragged from all parties. (He, curiously, omitted any reference of the swipe card records from his report.)

Can I, and my sources, be confident the records weren’t viewed? They were held on a Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet server up until Tuesday night. Why – if they had acted so properly – did the Henry inquiry not notify me of this intrusion? It rankles that Key was told days before I was.

I don’t know who had access to my records. And I’m suspicious why on June 5, less than a week after the unauthorised release, NZ First leader Winston Peters was making some startling allegations about phone records in the House. Neither the prime minister’s office, the Speaker or Parliamentary Service have been able to offer a guarantee that there was no leak to Peters.

Yes, the Peters’ question is an important one.  And Vance is not the only one who thinks the Speaker and John key’s claims of “cock-up” ring hollow.

However, all this is not really what’s got me fizzing. What has got my goat is the casting aside of something us journalists hold very precious: press freedom.

Yes press freedom is important.  But forgive me if such claims ring a little hollow for me, after decades of subservience to the powerful corporates and wealthy elites on the part of too many MSM journalists.  Vance is one of the better journalists. But too many just keep re-framing John Key’s spin lines as news.  And too many follow the lead of the US government, as does our PM, especially when it somes to state spying agencies.

Maybe now more of the MSM will wake up and start truly fulfilling their fourth estate role, and justifying the need to have press freedom.

The democratic rights of all of us are at stake.

Stop the GCSB Bill!

39 comments on “Waking up the fourth estate”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Anyone karol?

    There is the problem right there. Most people just don’t care about this because they simply cannot imagine that the surveillance state will somehow apply to them. If you want them to care it has to be re-framed in some fashion that they can relate to. Some fancy-pants journo who fluffs about in Parliament every day doesn’t count. When John Key goes about imposing a feudal corporate agenda on our political system, who cares… it’s what they put up with every day.

    Make it personal. Then they will care.

    • karol 1.1

      So, RL, you think the whole GCSB saga is not impacting very much on the majority of Kiwis because it’s not personal enough to them?

      Making it about journalists is going to make them care much more. However, a shift in journalists’ way of reporting the government on a range of issues may touch on some “personal” stuff.

      The majority of the public have become desensitised to the widespread surveillance capabilities in the 21st century – from Facebook to TV dramas and films where surveillance systems are used by the good guys to catch the bad guys.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        What they will care about is how it will impact them personally. The potential for employers to vet people who are deemed to be an ‘economic’ threat for instance.

        This is a very small country; exploiting an asymmetry of information and power is a commonplace already; legalising it has to be the step too far.

        • North 1.1.1.1

          If Shearer and the Labour Party could establish a “trust” with the people as Norman Kirk did, have people say “he/they are me”, it would be but a small step for people to feel personally engaged and concerned, even about matters which don’t actually touch them personally or immediately. The GCSB for example.

          Engagement and electoral commitment, including as to GCSB type issues, through the champion. That’s standard human behaviour once we already trust and feel connected to the champion. “Yeah…….well I don’t know about that personally but……nah……this [GCSB] thing is wrong”.

          Development of trust is not a goer of course in a dynamic where the roof painting sickness beneficiary is a major muttering. But that’s not to say the formula’s wrong. ShonKey Python has successfully harnessed the power of trust – very cheaply actually – aspiration, Brighter Future etc etc.

          Drawing on everything he amounts to Cunliffe can harness trust. Unfortunately Shearer cannot. We are living default politics. A significant number seeing no trusted champion default to the illusionary/delusionary glitz of aspirations and Brighter Future. Worse, many, many more default to “no champion – no vote”.

          ShonKey Python being sent packing to his Wall Street/City of London homeland depends on the emergence of a champion able to walk with the hundreds of thousands whose default positions are either of those described above.

      • Phil 1.1.2

        Will even the hacks voice be allowed to be heard?
        Have a gander at today’s online Herald. Lead national story;
        “Labiaplasty: Creating the perfect vagina?”
        Nothing to see here, move along.

        • karol 1.1.2.1

          Sadly that is what the Herald has become. Online they have tabloid stuff at the top of their main page, and the important political stuff requires scrolling down to view – at the bottom of the page.

  2. yeshe 2

    Karol .. and the Guardian this morning explains just how widespread it is ..the NSA is gathering everything .. everything !

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data?CMP=twt_gu

    • karol 2.1

      Yes. Thanks, yeshe. I was just looking at that article. But, as RL asks, what will it take for the general public to be able to relate these unbelievably anti-democratic surveillance systems to their own lives?

  3. vto 3

    so who is confident their census data is held as described ?

    ha ha, fools.

    why the fuck would you trust any government?

    • tc 3.1

      I saw census data being used by an SOE’s technology partner to drive all sort of marketing intelligence overlayed on GIS which they were trying to flog over 12 years ago.

      The SOE hadn’t locked down the IP/confidentiality or explained how they got it in the first place.

  4. slowly 4

    To spy on any “New Zealander” Mr Key said there must be a “warrant
    issued” for such a search and release. The Email presented in Parliament yesterday claiming this started the search is not a Warrant. So this search of information [phone records] must be illegal, according to Mr Key.

  5. Rosetinted 5

    North you were obviously heard by Radionz. I am sure that your critical comments were influential to the way that Geoff Robinson interviewed David Shearer this morning.

    Geoff asked very pertinent questions to learn just what Labour was concerned about and gave David Shearer a great opportunity to make his points. Only thing David seems circumlocutory. It would be really good if he addressed the question in his first few words, and backgrounded it in the rest of the sentence.

    He wasn’t doing this and it will blunt his presentation of Labour’s case up to the election if he doesn’t sound clear – Winston is the man to watch here. He is so hard to keep down because he always has something to say that people can catch onto and is great at sticking to his point, whatever it is.

  6. mickysavage 6

    The form of the tabled email raises as many questions as it answers. It appears that some text in the original email has been replaced by two dots.
    The email from the contractor with the data and in response to the contractor were both sent on May 31, 2013. This is the same day that Winston Peters was calling for the release of phone records to pinpoint the source of the leak of the Kitteridge report and the day he accused United Future leader Peter Dunne being the leaker.

    He said in Parliament that day to Bill English “[a]ll the evidence is in those phone records, and your minister is gone”.

    Mr English was then reported as saying that it was entirely up to Mr Henry whether to seek phone records.

    “If he thinks phone records will tell him something I’m sure he will go and get them. I’m a bit surprised at the detailed knowledge Mr Peters had about the way Mr Henry is doing his job.”

    The information was leaked by someone the day it was sent. Someone must have had a peek at the data.

    The other thing about the email is that it has had the field showing who the contractor sent the email to blanked out. This field is otherwise displayed in the email chain. I wonder why?

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    These threads need to be pulled at, for sure.

  8. mickysavage 8

    The form of the tabled email raises as many questions as it answers. It appears that some text in the original email has been replaced by two dots.

    The email from the contractor with the data and in response to the contractor were both sent on May 31, 2013. This is the same day that Winston Peters was calling for the release of phone records to pinpoint the source of the leak of the Kitteridge report and the day he accused United Future leader Peter Dunne being the leaker.

    He said in Parliament that day to Bill English “[a]ll the evidence is in those phone records, and your minister is gone”.

    Mr English was then reported as saying that it was entirely up to Mr Henry whether to seek phone records.

    “If he thinks phone records will tell him something I’m sure he will go and get them. I’m a bit surprised at the detailed knowledge Mr Peters had about the way Mr Henry is doing his job.”

    The information was leaked by someone the day it was sent. Someone must have had a peek at the data.

    The other thing about the email is that it has had the field showing who the contractor sent the email to blanked out. This field is otherwise displayed in the email chain. I wonder why?

    • Rosetinted 8.1

      This is strange ms with the same dcomment 11 minutes apart. Has the second one been through GCSB scanning and is now released and affirmed as totally clean, safe and without any bugs, worms or clothes moths?

  9. Molly 9

    Audrey Young is already framing the inquiry to be without John Key PM’s chief to face hard questions – naming the players:
    David Henry
    Wayne Eagleson
    Geoff Thorn
    David Carter
    Chris Finlayson QC.

    John Key’s name makes a couple of appearances but mainly to show how uninvolved he is:
    Opposition MPs may well try to get John Key himself to appear as it steps up attacks on the way the inquiry was conducted.

    However, National and two support parties have a majority on the committee and could block such an appearance.

    She’s quick off the block that Audrey Young.

  10. tracey 10

    People might care when they understand people paying cash for a job or receiving cash cld result in ird wanting their money. Or whether their trust is legitimate and if they are declaring all earnings… and so on.

    I dont know why people wld consider themselves better off under this govt to result in such a poll.

  11. pollywog 11

    They can keep passing the buck all they like, but it stops with Key!

  12. alwyn 12

    I thought Andrea Vance summed herself up pretty accurately with her statement, which you quote.
    “I am that journalist, and I’m mad as hell”. Says it all really.

  13. billbrowne 13

    Oh so now it’s about her she’s all “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it any more!”

    Where the fuck was she, and the rest of her cohorts when it was only 88 other people that had been illegally spied on.

    Hollow shill.

    • Hayden 13.1

      I’m not 100% sure, but I think she was publishing details of the report about the 88 other people.

      • gobsmacked 13.1.1

        What Hayden said.

        Vance is not the culprit here. Key and his spinners will try and muddy the waters (just wait for the personal attacks, off the record no doubt – as they did to Ambrose, Stephenson, etc).

        It’s not about a journo we may or may not like, it’s about abuse of power. Simple as that.

  14. Sable 14

    Oh boo hoo. Poor Andrea Vance. Squeals when someone violates her privacy but these newspapers still back Keys to the hilt and support his offensive spy bill. Guess its OK as long as its not happening to you.

  15. tracey 15

    No wonder the nats needdd lockwood gone

  16. Craig Glen viper 16

    The problem for NZers is the current system is working really well for these Journalists ( Vance is upset so what). They will be very unlikely to bite the hand that has been feeding them.
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the like’s of Young actually believes it wouldn’t happen to her because she is one of Key/Nationals favoured few (wine any one).

    The average voter wont care about this stuff because it does nothing to them on a day to day level.

    If you are a truck driver /contractor earning good money you just roll on going about your day.
    In 4 weeks time if he the truck driver gets phone polled he still thinks John Key is the man because….. he was on the radio the other day giving Radio Dj’s coffee as he was just in the neighbourhood so dropped by!He told some demeaning joke about his sister being a slapper, it was a bit of a laugh aye bla bla
    So hey if John Key is relaxed about what ever, Im relaxed about him being PM..

    Game over people.

  17. grumpy 17

    Unfortunately Vance wears her politics on her sleeve and thereby weakens her case.

    She describes her horror at the AP scandal in the US and thought it would never happen here. When something more minor does it’s all the fault of National and John Key. Vance still remains at the head of the Obama cheer squad and pointedly refrained from any criticism of Obama and the Democrats.

    If she wants to be “outraged”, that is fine but at least be consistent.

    • gobsmacked 17.1

      Unfortunately Vance wears her politics on her sleeve

      So you’ve never read her reporting before then? There’s been plenty of barbs at the left, no evidence at all that she brings partisan politics to her reporting (care to cite some?).

      Her job is to hold the powerful to account. Above all, to hold abuse of power to account.

      Do you, Grumpy, believe that this whole episode is an abuse of power, or not?

      • grumpy 17.1.1

        No, the USA case was an abuse of power (along with the IRS scandal) but no criticism of Saint Obama and the Democrats allowed.
        The NZL case is just incompetence by employees. I find it incredible to see these crocodile tears from a News Of The World journalist.
        Of course journalist’s sources need protecting but it was Greens and Labour who asked for this enquiry in the first place. Don’t complain when it goes wrong!

        • gobsmacked 17.1.1.1

          just incompetence by employees

          Also, “this conversation never happened” actually means it never happened.

          I’d call you naive, but I doubt you are.

    • North 17.2

      Yeah yeah yeah Grumpy……..the substance of the overall issue(s) – illegality, unconstitutionalism, the threat of overwhelming state and NSA surveillance of journalists and public at large – the substance pales then does it ? The case becomes weak does it ? All because Vance is (rightly) outraged ???

      You better hurry along and tell the Law Society, Dame Anne Salmond, Rodney Harrison QC , Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, Internet Society, Geoffrey Palmer and all the other know-nothings …….”Listen, Vance is outraged……..your case is weak……..there’s nothing in it”.

      I can’t think this is ShonKey Python Kool-Aid down your chin Grumpy.

  18. Everyone aware of the difference between the role of the OFFICE of the PRIME MINISTER and the DEPARTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET (DPMC)?

    UPON WHAT LAWFUL BASIS WAS THE ‘CHIEF OF STAFF’ OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER (WAYNE EAGLESON) INVOLVED IN ACCESSING ANDREA VANCE’S RECORDS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10906314

    PM’s chief to face hard questions
    By Audrey Young , Rebecca Quilliam
    1 August 2013

    After the Parliamentary Service originally questioned whether it should provide information to the inquiry, Mr Eagleson sent an email on May 9 telling it that “the Prime Minister would like [the] Parliamentary Service to make available to the inquiry team records from ministerial office photocopiers and any other relevant material requested. I note that this may relate both to ministers and their staff.”

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Upon what LAWFUL basis was the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, involved in this process in the first place?

    http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/dpmc

    “Administrative support to the Prime Minister

    This includes preparation of replies to Parliamentary questions, and dealing with Official Information Act requests and other correspondence.

    A totally separate body, the Office of the Prime Minister, also advises the Prime Minister: it is the primary point of responsibility for managing political issues and relationships with other political parties and for providing administrative and media support.”

    “STRUCTURE

    DPMC formally came into existence on 1 January 1990, as a result of a report which recommended establishing structures to provide two separate streams of advice to the Prime Minister; one, a new government department to supply impartial, high quality advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), and another, a Prime Minister’s Private Office (which is not part of DPMC), to provide personal support and media services, and advice of a party political nature.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10543177

    Been there, done that … new PM gets experienced help
    By Paula Oliver
    4:00 AM Saturday Nov 15, 2008

    …. As chief of staff he will be a fulcrum between National and other parties, acting as a chief executive of the Prime Minister’s Office with hiring and firing responsibilities.

    Mr Eagleson was deeply involved in National’s successful election campaign and knows the party’s strategies and inner workings. ….

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption/anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

    [lprent: Less SHOUTING Penny… If I wanted you to use a megaphone then I’d have gotten one of rockys back from the police. 😈 ]

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    There is a revolution brewing, along way off.

    The USA is keen to have NZ , Aus, the SW pacific nations as de facto states (after all Howard ran as Sheriff for the US during the Bush Iraq débâcle).

    Key is fundamentally a USA Wall Street trader, resident in the USA, he does not give a stuff about NZ.

    The changes he seeks in the GCSB legislation he is promoting suggests that he has something to hide.

    The recently revealed info about nz al quada training connections were obviously discovered under existing legislation. Why change the legislation?

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  • Funding boost for Community Law Centres
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