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.
“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.