Saturday, March 12, 2022

Henry Armstrong: Does Our Government Engage In Mis- And Disinformation?

In an interesting piece by Mitch McCann in Newshub (8th March), our neo-Marxist Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (you know, she who has a degree in Communication) commenting on the Parliamentary sit-in, is quoted as saying: “One day it will be our job to try and understand how a group of people could succumb to such dangerous and wild mis- and disinformation”. 

But, does her government itself deliberately engage in using mis-and disinformation to promote itself and it’s policies, which it accuses others of doing?

McCann is one of those journalists invited to attend the daily 1pm TV Pantomime Covid briefings, sometimes being mistaken for Zane Small by Deputy PM Robertson when addressing journalists by their first names.

According to Kate McNamara, NZ Herald (10 March), in a series on the use of spin doctors by our New Zealand government (Ardern’s office has several), it  now transpires that the government “selected” a group of 21  Covid19  “commentators ”for “special briefings” earlier in the pandemic to ensure they could help get the “right message” out. I wonder who, how, and why they selected the gifted “21”?

Did you know that?

Sociologist Paul Spoonley worries that the legacy of the Parliamentary sit-in for many will be a “message of anger and a feeling of being ignored”. I think he is seriously underestimating the extent of outcomes of the Parliamentary sit-in and the way it was handled by the government - “Rivers of Filth”, sprinklers, banal blaring music- such things are not easily forgotten by those involved, nor by the wider public. Spoonley, Ardern and the “mainstream” media - radio, TV and newspapers - blame social media platforms for perpetrating Trump-like messages which they claim accentuate much mis- and disinformation. There is no doubt that the rise and rise of social media has vastly increased the ability to express one’s views, rightly or wrongly, truth or fiction, across a huge digital spectrum. It is therefore even more paramount today that we “the great unwashed”, the people, are able to have confidence in the validity and reliability of those sources of information we currently access. So, why do ordinarily intelligent and presumably educated people depend upon social media for their information? Because it’s easy?  Because they have lost all respect for, and confidence in, mainstream government-dominated media? Just not interested? Don’t care? An uncensored way of promoting one’s views?

To attempt to answer these questions, a range of other questions need to be asked first. For instance, why are huge numbers of subscribers to mainstream media (like myself) exiting in droves?  Could it be that people now realise more fully that they cannot rely upon the validity and truthfulness of the more traditional sources of information? Why are our newspapers full of “opinion pieces” by a host of so-called “journalists”, rather than the full, unbiased factual reporting of evolving news? Could it be that most major news organisations have bought into or have been bought off by, the government’s $51 million Public Interest Journalism Fund? And might that just result in editors being influenced to ensure highly-critical government pieces are censored or not published? And how much power do editorial managers now exercise in what eventually gets published? How can we judge the honesty and reliability of the news we do get? And, most important of all, what information is our government and its various agencies, including mainstream editors, NOT providing us?

There are three approaches to consider. Just what constitutes “information”? What constitutes the dis- and misinformation claimed by Ardern (she with that degree in Communication)? And what techniques are commonly used by the Ardern Government and other agencies in the manipulation of information?

Firstly then, what is information? One sensible approach is that information comprises four types-factual, analytical (interpretation of facts), objective (one basic viewpoint) and subjective (facts affected by bias). We can reduce this down to two simple terms - facts and opinions.

Secondly, the terms used by Ardern are described by McCann: disinformation is false information that is intended to cause harm, whereas misinformation is false claims not intended to cause harm. Examples of both, used by the Ardern government and other agencies, are provided below.

Thirdly, the Ardern government, the mainstream media, government departments, local authorities, in fact almost every agency producing information uses a variety of manipulative techniques to either restrict the information we do receive, or to disguise or change its factual content to produce outcomes they want to achieve. Here are just some examples this author has experienced in recent times:

- not answering emails sent to ministers (the no response/ignore it option)

- acknowledging receipt of emails but declining to answer

- passing an enquiry on to a different minister or agency, resulting in no response (sidestepping)

- referring an OIA request to the ombudsman or Media Council (fobbing off option)

- invite feedback, then ignore it (“but we did consult you” excuse)

- do not invite feedback or any public input (see my recent post on Breaking Views “Democracy? What Democracy?’ for a huge list of examples)

- invite feedback from only some members of the public, not others (He Puapua)

- invoke the “cancel culture” and/or destroy individuals’ reputations (the seven Auckland University Professors, Charlotte Bellis)

- like Putin, concentrate primarily on a distraction (what will Ardern do when Covid19 is no longer a headline?)

- keep repeating an untruth until people come to accept it (Treaty “Partnership”, Colonisation and Maori)

- just tell lies (no, we didn’t intercept RAT kits at the border already purchased by businesses)

- keep the people in fear (Covid19, climate change, Ukraine war effects, economic crisis, surveillance)

- simply deny something is happening (spiralling cost of living)

- withhold hugely important information from the public (He Puapua and Matike Mai Reports)

- be “economical” with the truth (only tell part of the story)

- keep providing heaps of meaningless information, (daily Covid test numbers) - looks good eh?

- vilify and condemn the unvaccinated (but not Maori, who are the least vaccinated NZ group)

- subject anyone on social media who posts anti-government articles, to police surveillance

So, why did Donald Trump resort to social media to get his messages across, and to whom? One answer is that the majority of mainstream media in the US (other than FOX NEWS) was/is totally opposed to anything Trump said or did; did not provide him with an opportunity to expand upon his views (presumably because some might start believing him); and allowed him to exhibit viewpoints with which many people agreed.

Let us return to the initial thrust of this article then, which asks “Does the Ardern government engage in deliberately promoting dis- or misinformation, by withholding or otherwise manipulating information, which it hypocritically accuses others of doing?”

I will let YOU be the judge of that.

Henry Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.


Denis McCarthy said...

AS Henry outlines those politicians and vested interest groups with an agenda want us to accept their version of the truth with no questioning, discussion or debate.
They label contrary views, no matter how reasonably and rationally presented as mis-information or outright lies.
These days the citizen cannot rely on New Zealand mass media to provide fair and balanced coverage on decisions and policies which greatly affect our lives.
Wait until the Climate Change mantra revs up again and see if the contrary voices get an airing.
For the citizens who wants to be better informed the internet is both a saviour and an essential tool.
Citizens without access to the internet (or just not interested) will be left with the current mob telling them about the problems of the nation and the world and how they (the rulers and the experts) are wisely going to solve them. All the citizen needs to do is to comply with the various directions which will be arriving shortly.

Terry Morrissey said...

I find it very hard to find anything which originates from the Ardern cult resembling even vaguely honest and truthful. It all appears as propaganda, personal slurs and just downright lies.

5th generation Kiwi said...

Having worked in NZ media, (radio and newspapers) it was very apparent even 10 to 15 years ago that in my experience without exception all the journalists I had to work with were left or Labour , Greens in their political persuasions. This happened because all our tertiary institutions were stocked with Marxist left leaning tutors and the woke brigrade. It makes me very sad and disgusted at the quality and obviously very poorly trained mainly young and naive Jurno's who grace our Television screens and write for our newspapers.
Important probing questions are not asked, or probably not even thought of. Speaking of, has anyone asked " where is Aderns partner Clark Gayford", the underground is awash with rumors as to his whereabouts and what he may have done?.

Peter van der Stam, Napier said...

Climate change ??
Does this or any government know how much CO2 the Tongan volcano did bring into the air in just a few days!!!
The figure was such, that WE the Sheeple of the earth need most probably some 100 years to do the same.
Energy crises??
Why close oil and gas winning in the Taranaki region.??? Putin is not as stupid as politicians want us to believe.

Unknown said...

If we know the destination (agenda 30) we know more accurately how to assess each step of the way. It ceases to be opinion and becomes part of a predictable pathway