Eighteen months ago, following sob stories from the Main Stream Media (MSM), ministers devised a scheme for handing over $55 million of taxpayers’ funds to them so long as they signed up to the government’s bullswool version of the Treaty and didn’t bite the hand that feeds them. The money is payable until the next election. Editors, including Murray Kirkness and Shayne Currie of the New Zealand Herald, couldn’t get their noses into the taxpayer trough quickly enough. Same with Radio New Zealand, and the TV stations, all of them crying poverty because Covid had reduced their advertising revenue.
As the polls here at home turn sour for Jacinda Ardern’s ministry, one suspects that the government and the MSM wanted to make sure that the Prime Minister’s tiny role at the funeral was given special coverage for New Zealand viewers; they didn’t trust the BBC to give Jacinda pride of place. Getting a whole lot of Kiwi journalists to the other side of the world also increased the likelihood that some would follow Princess Jacinda to New York to report on her speech at the United Nations. These days Jacinda’s minders are never happier than when the Prime Minister is off-shore, getting scraps of adulation from those who like her platitudes and toothy smiles, and haven’t had to suffer her appalling governance. And the journalists will get home just in time to celebrate the long-delayed day of commemoration for the Queen next Monday, a week after the official funeral ended. They will be here to eulogize Jacinda who bestowed an extra holiday upon us.
It’s high time this cynical manipulation of the media with taxpayers’ money used for Labour’s political purposes came to an end. When the PIJF was first introduced, the Herald assured us that the paper, founded in 1863, would stick to its historical principles. But it quickly became clear that lots of things were changing. Debate about Maori matters and the government’s policies virtually ceased. Critics were banned from papers. Analytical debate about what Jacinda, Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson mean by co-governance went off limits. Anything said by Opposition spokespeople was to be rubbished. TV1 has been slightly more tolerant, RNZ less so. Force-feeding of the population with Maori words has become imperative, but ability to use a word or phrase does NOT equate to speaking a language.
What seems to be clear is that the MSM is terrified by the prospect that a change of government could mean the end of the PIJF. Already, Jacinda’s $55 million has almost gone, and I wouldn’t put it past this ministry to increase the sum to ensure she gets an easy ride to the 2023 election. There will be a lot of journalists grateful for their completely unnecessary jaunt to London to see the Queen.
Historian Dr Michael Bassett, a Minister in the Fourth Labour Government, blogs HERE.