Posts Tagged ‘NZ Herald’

Are you Shawn about that, Herald?

August 29, 2008

The Herald’s attack on the EPMU over its handling of Shawn Tan’s contractual breach is instructive in the construction of propaganda.

After a fair summary of the facts as they stand, the Herald enters the realm of the right-wing blogger, always ready to paint its opponent with the worst possible spin, and then build on that as if on fact:

“That version of events avoids, as it must, any hint of the suspension being politically motivated. It falls a long way short of traversing this whole episode, however. It is reasonable to ask how the EPMU would have responded to a staff member who had agreed to stand for the Labour Party but had not told the union of his candidacy. Certainly, there would be no talk of suspension. Any breach of the collective agreement would be quickly and conveniently overlooked.”

It is a reasonable question to ask, and the Herald may indeed be correct in its suspicion that things might have been different had a Labour supporter breached the collective employment agreement in this way.

But it cannot say, “Certainly, there would be no talk of suspension.” (Emphasis added.) Especially if, as the EPMU alleges, Tan was reminded of this contractual obligation, the EPMU would be foolish to ignore it, regardless of the political affinity of the offender. Sets a precedent, you see.

Classic stuff. Make some unfounded assumptions for which you have no proof, and then you’re away. Later, more unfounded assertions:

“Mr Tan’s case suggests, in fact, that any fostering of candidacy is extremely selective. Indeed, the contractual condition requiring permission to stand in elections could be seen as enabling a scrutiny of candidate suitability as much as it allows the union to juggle workloads while a person is campaigning.”

Actually, it does not “in fact” suggest anything of the sort. The Herald seems to have missed the original report that states, “Earlier this year an employee’s request to stand for the Labour Party in local government was turned down.” That’s what is widely regarded as a “fact”, Mr/Ms Herald editorial writer, not your easy assumption made for the purpose of a cheap slur.

The people of Auckland deserve better than right-wing blogger invective dressed up as considered comment. The Herald is by far the largest circulation daily in NZ after all.



August 28, 2008

The Herald’s editorial this morning goes to some length to ignore logic in a desperate bid to parrot today’s National Party talking points.

Echoing Farrar’s “who has the most to gain by not telling the truth?” line, it begins with its conclusion:

“If Winston Peters had the decency his position deserves, he would now resign.”

Problem is, it doesn’t come down to “who has the most to gain by not telling the truth.” If it did, I’d be 99% inclined to go with Peters having the greater motivation, but would still be mindful of Glenn’s estrangement from Labour that Farrar and co want us to overlook.

But it doesn’t. Having decided that Peters has the greater motivation to lie and is therefore guilty of doing so, and should resign in consequence, it notes:

If neither is honestly mistaken in his recall, then one of them is not telling the truth.”

I’ve added the emphasis, because this is the point at which the analysis should have started. Belatedly the Herald admits that its reasoning is based on overlooking the point that the conflict of evidence may not result from one (or both) lying.

The problem is that the Herald does not demonstrate that “neither of them is honestly mistaken in his recall”. I wish it could.

This sort of stuff puts the Herald in the same league as Farrar, who begins his post, “Owen Glenn has told the truth in his letter to the Privileges Committee.” I’m now strongly of the opinion that right-wing bloggers should be exempted from all jury service, because of the way they rush to judgement!

One thing the Herald gets right:

“Even National, ever tentative, has now cast him aside.”

Key held off as long as he could before taking a stand. Courageous? What a joke.

Perhaps it pays not to snub billionaires, Helen?

Perhaps it pays not to snub billionaires, Helen?

Shawn the pawn

August 26, 2008

Seems yesterday’s mediation attempt in the Shawn Tan case didn’t resolve matters. Given that ACT seemed to be wringing all it could out of the affair, this is hardly surprising. I mean, just look at the cast.

Shawn Tan, whose comments to date reveal a lack of maturity and love of the limelight.

Rodney Hide, putting on a great show of outraged indignation for the uncritical press. He was probably just in the neighbourhood to pose for the cameras, I guess. Look what Granny prints with a straight face:

“They made a prejudiced decision because they thought that because he was Asian, because he was Chinese, he would do the meek and mild thing and not stand up for himself.”

No evidence. No plausiblility even. Does he really think that the EPMU hires people because they’re “meek and mild”? They’re a union FFS! My experience of recent immigrants from China is that they are a varied group, of course, but just as assertive on the whole as any other group in NZ society. Does Hide’s outburst reveal more about his own prejudices than anything else? Still, Rodney, never mind the weirdness, it’s the publicity that counts, eh?

Max Whitehead, of the Whitehead Group (looks like there’s only him in the group, though) who seems to sport an oversized ego and unrealistic assessment of his own “professionalism.” Max, professional employment advocates don’t say things like this when there are in the middle of the mediation process:

“Max Whitehead, Mr Tan’s advocate, argued that he should be free to do what he liked in his spare time and it was shocking his role with the EPMU had become a political issue.”

Whitehead is virulently opposed to workers’ rights and seems to have a view of employment relations that borders on the paranoid. For example, employers who train their staff later discover “that far from creating a major asset for their business they have created a major competitor.” Also, “it is common knowledge among workers that many small to medium business fail to comply with the employment laws. This has opened the legal floodgates to employees disgruntled with their working conditions or pay.” And so on.

For Max, it’s employers good and workers bad… unless, of course, the employer is a union.

So, by Tan’s account:

“… the EPMU bosses “skirted around” the issue of whether his new role put him at odds with its core beliefs, choosing to focus on other employment issues.”

No kidding. In an employment issues mediation meeting the union representatives wanted to talk about employment issues.

Come on Granny, you can do better than this! Hide didn’t go “into bat for sacked union worker” and you know it. Tan’s not even sacked yet, idiots. An honest headline would be, “Hide milks affair for all it’s worth with weird racial outburst.”

Veitch leaks: who dunnit?

August 25, 2008

Yesterday the Sunday papers were full of details about the Veitch affair, and the alleged assaults in particular (here and here). It’s got to the point where the carefully orchestrated media campaign by Veitch and the leaking of detials to the media — and their publication — is the more impotant story.

The police deny giving details to the media. Said Detective Inspector Scott Beard:

“The only people who have access to the police caption of summary are myself, the officer in charge of the case, the Crown and Mr Veitch and his team.” (Audio here.)

The Criminal Bar Association has criticised police for releasing information about the case. It points out that:

“any information that gives potential jurors one side of the case is prejudicial, and could lead to a judge dismissing it.”

Absolutely right, but it appears to have rushed to judgement here. Not only do the police say that they haven’t given the details to the media, why would they jeopardise their own case?

Veitch’s spin meister Glenda Hughes also denies leaking the information. She’s the one who was so forhtcoming to the news media the previous Sunday.

There should be an inquiry into these attempts to pervert the course of justice.

As for the news media… Shame, Granny, shame!

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that we have the old media going all out for the tabloid headlines with narry a thought for the wider implications of their actions, and the bloggers pondering the significance of the affair while avoiding anything that might be sub judice?

How can Granny actively undermine the integrity of the justice system possibly imagine that it has the moral authority to lecture us about the EFA? It doesn’t. It’s morally bankrupt.

Veitch affair: TVNZ lets itself off the hook

August 22, 2008

John Drinnan reports in this morning’s media column that TVNZ is keeping its report into its handling of the Veitch affair secret. A spokesperson says it is an “internal report” and will be considered by the TVNZ board of directors and TVNZ shareholding minister Trevor Mallard. And no-one else.

So there you are. How much did TVNZ execs know about the events that saw Veitch’s former partner hospitalised and seven charges laid against Veitch?

We’re expected to accept TVNZ’s assurances that, “it had already been found that staff at a TVNZ meeting with Veitch acted properly.” Russell McVeigh  completed the report for TVNZ.

But that may not be it. Drinnan tells us that, “The Herald has also made applications under the [Official Information Act], which were rejected by TVNZ.” Don’t stop there Granny. There’s clearly a story here.

Nats’ list: when diversity isn’t

August 21, 2008

National’s house organ the Herald gives its party list a great big sloppy kiss this morning (hat-tip: kiwiblog). The editorial opens with great fanfare:

“When the National Party published its candidate list on Sunday a greater ethnic diversity was immediately apparent. Six Maori, three Asians and a Pacific Islander have been placed high enough on the list to get into Parliament if National polls as well as it expects.”

Note that last little qualification.

But the saddest bit of the editorial is where the continuing exclusion of women is swept under the carpet with a single sentence:

“National’s list, incidentally, still looks light on women; only four rank in the top 24, from which a cabinet would be likely to be drawn.”

Farrar’s apologia is instructive:

“There is still some way to go. It looks like women will comprise 26% to 28% of National’s caucus, much the same as is currently the case. This is more than double the international average for female parliamentary representation. The problem is not so much where women are placed on the list, but that not enough stand to be a candidate.”

Farrar also says that it’s “very foolish to assume that the top 24 are automatically the Ministerial pool.” True, but it would be very foolish to assume that the vast majority of Cabinet don’t come from that almost exclusively male pool. And only two of the top ten, all guaranteed to be in Cabinet, are women (and they’re at 7th and 10th).

One wonders whether National’s problem recruiting (and retaining — remember Katherine Rich — women is in some way related to the way they treat their women.

So, it’s “incidental” that there are hardly any women in the top 24. Sorry, but in gender terms, National’s list is about where Labour was in 1984. Come on Granny, even Blind Freddy can see that the Nats have a woman problem!

[Edit: 1980 changed to 1984 after DPF pointed out the paucity of women in Labour’s caucus in that year. For which thanks.

Stargazer posts on National’s women candidates at the Handmirror.]

Clod plod goads cad

August 18, 2008

As if yesterday’s efforts in the rehabilitate Veitch campaign weren’t enough, there’s even more hugely sympathetic reportage this morning.

Turns out that a cop accidentally left a tactless and none too sympathetic remark on Veitch’s answerphone. As Bomber at TUMEKE! points out, it was probably accidental — certainly sounded like it.

Cue another blatant attempt to manipulate public opinion:

“Veitch’s wife, Zoe Halford, … claims the remark left her wanting “to vomit”, and worried about possible police bias against her husband. It made me feel as if there was unprofessionalism and bias.”

Yes, that poor man Veitch, victim of his obssessed and grasping ex, the incompetent and biased police, the ‘trial by media’, and so on. Not his own brutish and violent behaviour. Never.


Seven charges have been laid against Veitch, spanning 2002 to 2006.

Paul at The Fundy Post posts to great effect on this.]

Veitch spin ramped up

August 17, 2008

How remarkable! Both major Sunday papers carrying major stories based on interviews with Tony Veitch’s wife on the same day. All this only a week after the HoS carried the story about a former Veitch girlfriend sticking by the “shamed broadcaster”. Oh, and the SST carried the revelations of a “former flatmate and close female friend”.

Some might suggest that it would take a well-connected (and expensive) PR team to achieve that — and they’d be absolutely right.

Such touching stories. You’d almost think all this copy was written by the PR team, but I guess they just suggested the story lines when they set them up. You think I’m being a little cynical here? Here’s the “former girlfriend” in the last week’s HoS:

“This whole thing has blown me away, but I guess in a way it has given me a chance to set the record straight and talk about what sort of person Tony really is.”

And here’s the unnamed “close female friend” courtesy of the SST:

“What I want to say,” she told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday, “is enough is enough. I believe Tony was a victim of her behaviour.”

As Ethical Martini points out, the HoS story is the darker of today’s crop:

“… the curious issue of Kristin Dunne-Powell’s motive bubbles close to the surface of the text, but without ever being made explicit… the HoS stops short of suggesting anything really sinister, but a picture emerges of a young woman obsessed with a failed relationship and driven by something unhealthy.”

Martin goes a little further and puts a name to what is being implied with the detailed account in the HoS of the escalating demands made by the injured ex-girlfriend. But it’s pretty obvious. And it is a cause for concern.

It was clearly too much to expect the media to butt out of the story after Veitch resigned somewhat belatedly from his jobs with TVNZ and radio. After all, how can you rehabilitate this important media asset without the media?

That our two major Sunday papers should feature such one-sided, tendentious stories, bereft of any real news value, and so obviously part of a well-planned and brilliantly executed (it has to be admitted) PR campaign is  sickening nonetheless.

They’ll probably be vying for Qantas Media Awards on the basis of this tosh come next year. However, the sad fact is that NZers have been badly let down by the fourth estate. Again.

More importantly, what chance of a fair trial now? I guess Veitch won’t be complaining about this deluge of flattering “news”. Perfectly timed too. When’s he due to be charged?

(For those who have been out of the country and not following events here closely, background on sportscaster Tony Veitch’s assault of his former girlfriend more than 2 years ago and its aftermath is here, here and here.)

Granny comes to Nats’ rescue, again

August 7, 2008

I’m starting to wonder whether the Herald shouldn’t carry an authorisation statement at the bottom of page 1. From the National Party.

Let’s look at how it’s spun reported Cocktail-gate. After a few days of defensive denials and retractions — does he really need Crosby-Textor to tell him his every move? — Key sought to divert attention from the revealing recordings by pointing the finger at Labour.

That was all Granny needed. Quick as a flash, Granny was running Key’s accusations:

“Mr Key blamed Labour activists for infiltrating the cocktail party, saying some were ejected later in the conference weekend.”

No need for any evidence — and it could have been a disillusioned Nat, anachist, Green, whatever. Even that old troglodyte Garth George froths about politics in NZ reaching a “new low” (would Colin Moyle agree with that, I wonder?) and the “scumbag” who perpetrated this heinous crime. Funny, I don’t remember George denouncing the person who taped Mike Williams at Labour’s conference.

Oh, and now we’re asked to believe that Key’s Electorate Office rubbish has been tampered with on the basis that a rubbish bag disappeared. Given that a botched burglary of the Democratic Party’s offices in the Watergate complex brought about the downfall of a US President, the idea that any politicians would engage in that sort of activity in the era of cell-phone cameras and the like is risable.

All too predictably there’s Granny’s editorial, pronouncing that “Dirty tricks benefit no one”:

“As revelations go, these are rather less remarkable than the method by which they were obtained. Discreet recording is done but not commonly published by ethical news organisations …”

It’s not fair, says Granny, unless there is a denial or the public interest outweighs partisan politics.

What Granny’s trying to sell here is the idea that we didn’t learn anything from the tapes. But we did. In the policy vacuum that we’ve been treated to by National, these candid conversations have revealed much more about National’s real intentions once it’s safely installed in power (having not frightened the horses).

So, what of the ethics of the whole affair? Gordon Campbell argues that:

“A defining aspect of 21st century politics is the pervasiveness of political spin, and the tactics of media manipulation by political parties. Frankly, if a lone activist with a $200 dictaphone can defeat the massed phalanxes of p.r. bullshit, and thereby give the public a clearer idea of what the next government may actually do when elected, then surely that’s all to the good – isn’t it?”

Campbell also points out that it is less ethical to hide your intentions until in power and then do, “what you REALLY had in mind all along, but didn’t dare risk saying out loud because people wouldn’t have voted for you in the first place.”

Well put, Gordon.

One minute Key

July 27, 2008

The Herald’s unauthorised hagiography Pt2 came out yesterday. As a service to those who can’t get the paper, here’s what “The Man Who Would be PM” reveals:

Key: Alpha male, wants to be PM; no, true. Not much competition on his side. Knows something about finance. Is nice to girls in trouble (hmm) and wants to save world. No, true. Pretty pragmatic and will do whatever it takes.

In short, nice graphics, pity about the article. Almost nothing new or of any serious interest. Unless you think that a high-flying investment banking mate of Key’s coming back to help out is news.

Whatever Crosby-Textor are getting paid, they’ve earned it. Shame on you Herald.