Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Graham Adams: Media knives flashing for Luxon’s government

No one is going to die wondering how some of the nation’s most influential journalists personally view the new National-led government. It has become abundantly clear within a few days of the coalition agreements being signed that they both loathe and fear it.

It is often said that the National Party attracts people who imagine they are born to rule. But since the details of the agreements between National, Act and New Zealand First were announced on Friday, it seems it is the left-leaning media who see themselves as the nation’s true aristocrats, endowed with a perpetual mandate to decide which ideas are suitable for public discussion. And which should be allowed to be put to voters in a referendum.

They will, of course — from a deep sense of noblesse oblige — accept a regular change in government from left to right and back again, but only as long as every party follows the broad parameters of the script they have supplied.

How else could anyone explain their outpouring of anger, disbelief and outrage that a new government has gone beyond the remit journalists have granted?

Among the shibboleths the legacy media holds dear is that the Treaty is a “partnership”; everyone must take buses and ride bicycles more often lest we all die in a mass global boiling event; and that men can become women by merely twitching their noses (or stitching their genitals).

It is also an article of faith that New Zealand is hopelessly racist (particularly the health system) and that the rich (including ordinary landlords) are mostly parasites.

That a majority of voters openly defied journalists’ authority in October by voting for parties with different views on many of these

matters is seen by some as nothing less than unforgivable insubordination.

Winston Peters’ jibe at the media on Friday — “You’ve lost! You lost! Right?” — certainly showed he saw the role played by much of the media during the election campaign in exactly that way.

Former Labour Cabinet minister Michael Bassett made a similar point on Sunday about TVNZ, Newshub and RNZ: “All of them played Labour’s games for so long that their political journalists came to believe Labour’s policies were theirs to protect.”

Among the most deeply outraged by the coalition agreements was broadcaster John Campbell. In a long column on TVNZ’s website, he described the coalition as “a sulk made formal”, “deeply regressive”, “dog whistling”, “mean”, “re-colonising”, and “empty of ideas”.

And this last insult came despite the fact the coalition documents are full of ideas — including removing race-based policy everywhere; more funds for Pharmac; shifting the Fees-Free provision for tertiary students from the first year of study to the final, saving $100 million; a comprehensive Covid inquiry; narrowing the Reserve Bank’s remit to a focus on price stability, and so on. They just happen to include ideas that Campbell seems to really dislike.

He appeared completely horrified, for instance, that climate change was not given the prominence he believes it deserves. He could scarcely credit that “National’s coalition agreement with Act contains no reference to climate change at all” and that its agreement with New Zealand First “contains the insistence that climate change policies ‘do not undermine national energy security’.”

It has obviously never crossed his mind that concern about anthropogenic climate change is vitally important to the mainstream media but far less so to much of the population. The claim that human activity is pumping too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and dangerously warming the planet is a belief that is very lightly held by many New Zealanders, including politicians — and quickly abandoned if a trip to Paris or New York on a gas-guzzling jet is imminent.

Campbell’s animus has led him into arrant stupidity. Referring to NZ First’s insistence that the names of government departments should be in English, he wrote: “The idea that a single human life will be improved by demanding that Waka Kotahi be called the New Zealand Transport Agency is the strangest fancy. This is frontier country stuff. The late-night ravings of a man alone in a bar. Except Winston’s not alone. Christopher has agreed to it.”

Actually, anyone who is opposed to the use of Māori (rather than English) names for government departments will find their lives definitely improved in the sense that at least one element of a misguided language revitalisation policy has been corrected. As a journalist, Campbell should know just how deeply many people feel about compelled speech of any kind (including the mandatory use of pronouns on emails and other communications). That he implies such concerns are trivial is a clear sign of his disdain for many voters’ judgment.

On Newshub Nation on Saturday, journalist Mihingarangi Forbes, who hosts RNZ’s Māori affairs programme Mata, showed a similar disdain not only for voters’ interests but also for her interviewer. When Simon Shepherd asked for her opinion on the cancellation of the foreign house-buyer’s tax, Forbes gazed into the middle distance with a look of resolute sadness and said:

“No. I’m just going to talk about what I was coming on [this programme] for… So every single kaupapa Māori initiative looks like it’s gone [under the new government].”

She then recounted how changes to Oranga Tamariki policy were retrograde. In short, she was so determined to move the conversation towards topics she wanted to cover she ignored the question put to her and answered one she hadn’t been asked.

She also asserted Te Tiriti was “under attack”.

When Shepherd suggested it was “under discussion”, she corrected him by curtly repeating, “Attack!”

Forbes also bizarrely recommended anyone, including Seymour, who wanted a “debate about the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi” should go to the Waitangi Tribunal and “sit in that court”.

She seems entirely unaware that many of those wanting to rein in the application of Treaty principles would regard that as similar to an expert in traffic safety taking advice from panel-beaters on how to design an intersection (to adapt a quip by David Lange). For many critics, the Waitangi Tribunal is a huge part of the problem of Treaty overreach.

In fact, NZ First’s coalition agreement with National includes the proviso — supported by Act — that the new government will amend the Waitangi Tribunal Act 1975 to “refocus” its inquiries to the “original intent of that legislation”.

1News made its position on Māori issues crystal clear on Friday evening too. Not least, Māori affairs reporter Te Aniwa Hurihanganui obviously disapproved of Paul Goldsmith being awarded the role of Treaty Negotiations Minister, given he commented in 2021 that colonisation “on balance” was a good thing for Māori.

The legacy media’s biggest fear seems to be that Seymour’s proposed Treaty Principles Bill will go to a referendum to be ratified (or rejected) by the public.

On Saturday, RNZ’s Kim Hill quizzed Māori journalist Annabelle Lee-Mather on the bill and the idea of a referendum. Hill began the interview by admitting she wasn’t “sure what this means” and neither seemed to even know what a referendum would likely ask, with Mather claiming its details hadn’t been “specifically spelled out”.

The pair were stupendously ill informed about information that has been in the public domain for more than a year. In March last year, Seymour announced that Act was intending for the next government to “pass legislation defining the Principles of the Treaty, in particularly their effect on democratic institutions. Then ask the people to vote on it becoming law.”

In October 2022, Act announced the referendum would ask whether voters approved of the Treaty Principles Act becoming law. Its three suggested clauses would state:

1) The New Zealand government has the right to govern New Zealand.

2) The New Zealand government will protect all New Zealanders’ authority over their land and other property

3) All New Zealanders are equal under the law, with the same rights and duties.

Unfortunately, Lee-Mather had no better grasp on the mounting concern over how the Treaty is interpreted and applied in law and policy. She passed off the call for a referendum as a product of current pessimism about economic uncertainty.

It’s “just a populist issue”, she opined, “where the current resentment New Zealanders are feeling about the state of our economy… inflation… all of those things are being weaponised against Māori, with this idea that somehow Māori are getting better deals than the rest of New Zealanders or rights that other people don’t have. So, I think it’s more about capturing the negativity people are feeling with their lot at the moment.”

Mainstream journalists are going to have to come up to speed pretty fast or be left in the dust as the debate over the role of the Treaty heats up. As it surely will — not least because in the weekend the Taxpayers’ Union hinted at a “well-organised grassroots campaign” to ensure a referendum is held.

The independent media — including The Platform, NZCPR, Point of Order, BFD, Karl du Fresne, and Bassett, Brash and Hide — have been closely analysing He Puapua and the Treaty debate for years. If Hill and Mather had bothered to search out their columns and interviews, they wouldn’t have been so obviously left stumbling around in the dark and looking quite so foolish on a national radio programme.

In particular, they might have understood better exactly why New Zealand has arrived at the point where a referendum on the Treaty principles is a distinct possibility

Graham Adams is an Auckland-based freelance editor, journalist and columnist. This article was originally published by and is published here with kind permission.


DeeM said...

I really hope our new government has a strategy to deal effectively with our MSM.
That will go a long way to ensuring their re-election in 3 years time, as well as effective government, of course

There is nothing in the new coalition agreements about the media I can see and I'm not aware what official policy is on the PIJF.
But they had better sort it out and implement it pronto to cut the blood supply to the large cancerous growth which has taken root in NZ.

Hopefully, we'll see many more interviews on independent media and a slow starvation of the MSM, both financially and airtime wise.

John Campbell really is a pathetic specimen. So much for journalistic impartiality. There is a solution to bleating, biased, self-obsessed types like him though. Cut state funding to One News etc and watch them axe the fat cats on the big salaries.

Anonymous said...

When I read the NZ HEARLD these days there is so much whining that I feel quite drunk. I certainly could not legal drive a car without fear of prosecution after reading some articles. Maybe the Hearld could adopt the philosophy of “Less wine more thinking”!

Anonymous said...

Essential to urgently lobby all government MPs to give regular interviews etc to the independent media - to counter the ongoing attack from the biased msm (until the latter are shut down).

PS Mr Campbell needs urgent medical help.

greg d said...

Why aren't the CEO's of these reporters not being named or called out for the behavior of these cretons?

Tom L said...

The left wing bias of Radio New Zealand is clearly displayed in their interview today with Willie Jackson the former Labour Government's Minister for Broadcasting. This interview has featured in their news bulletins since 7am this morning.

He was allowed free reign to detail the virtues of the Public Interest Journalism Fund and of the continued independence and neutrality of the media organisations that benefited from the $55 million cash to them.

Not once did he offer that in turn for the cash they had to sign a contract to support all Labour Government policy concerning The Treaty of Waitangi.

Nor did the interviewer Ingrid Hipkins once ask him about this contractual obligation
which she full well knows about.

Shame on both of them.

That's what the rest of us all recognise as a bribe.

orowhana said...

I was a devoted fan of Kim Hill for many years. She interviewed many of my favourite authors over the years and introduced me to many more.A lifeline when you are stuck at home with small children. She is a very intelligent woman who has been well and truly hog tied and gaslit by the Wellington wokeocracy. Her interview with Posey Parker was a disgrace. I had gone off her some years before that tho. Why ??? Just another condescending effing immigrant to this country who has never bothered to read our History because she patronisingly believes we don't have any! !I listened to Saturday's interview as it was her last show and felt I should show her that respect. I was gobsmacked at her utter inexcusable ignorance and that of her interviewee . We have this race issue because we do not know our History. And our History has been wantonly twisted and warped by avaricious fraudsters and idiot guilt ridden hand wringing pakeha who believe all manner of BS. Korero korero korero . Te Reo for yarda yarda yarda. It's all just that a bunch of lies!

Anonymous said...

Nailed it. Kiddie journos very put out that the 'deplorable' voters didn't listen to them. Go for the Treaty referendum quickly - look at Oz with the Voice referendum. Overwhelmingly voters said No to that dangerous proposal despite all the money, media and corporations supporting it.

Robert Arthur said...

From my observation Mahingarangi Forbes is quite the most depressing one eyed interviewer of many now fronted by RNZ. Because she is primarily on the slots for maori most rational listeners are spared the insult of hearing her. My personal nightmare is that she or Mani Dunlop may attempt to replace Kim Hill thus completing the ruination of Saturday listening already advanced by julian Wilcoxad his Billy T laughter.

Phil said...

I have been thinking that the last Government has probably promoted a culture of corruption. I would to see an investigation into corrupt practices including identifying every cent and every communication related to the media. The media should be audited and public disclosure of funding, as is expected for political parties.

Anonymous said...

The media are certainly spitting tacks over the lose of their team. Go Winston, remind them of their bias. Cut spending for those organisation's including advertising.

Anonymous said...

A timely piece Graham and I couldn't agree more with you and DeeM. The MSM are as tone deaf as Labour (and the other 'lefties') and have no appreciation of what the average (informed) Kiwi thinks or what really is truly racist nonsense - just listen to the now (fortunately) departed PM.

We damned well should all be 'equal', but the likes of Campbell & Forbes, et al, are clearly at a disadvantage on the 'thinking beyond self' front. Campbell drops his voice a few octaves to make him sound important and discerning, while Forbes can only do her best as a waka blonde - present like a European film star with only half a working brain. Both are as shallow as Chloe Swarbrick in their beliefs and the things that they mouth off about. If any of them could be transported back in both time and place to what they claim to support, they would all have a very short, or very unpleasant remaining life on this planet. As the saying goes, "be careful what you wish for" but (in their cases), for the sake of humanity, I do hope their transport awaits them.

Anonymous said...

Quote from 1984 by george orwell: "The media, such as they still are, are totally under the control of the Party and used as conduits for propaganda or to keep the Proles distracted with trivia"
The nz media can't understand that normal people haven't listened to them and have voted for a sane govt again. The picture nz herald published of the 3 leaders as a male apendage shows just how damaged they are.

EP said...

None of these people are journalists worthy of the term - least of all John Campbell. Pity, because we - the public - and the politicians, deserve an analysis of their policies and plans, a chance to explain them to the electorate, and consolidate their thinking. They have no understanding that their role has nothing to do with their own political beliefs, but their task to become thoroughly familiar with the issues, and probe them for efficacy.

Anonymous said...

"The idea that a single human life will be improved by demanding that Waka Kotahi be called the NZTA is the strangest fancy"


"The idea that a single human life will be improved by demanding that the NZQA be called Waka Kotahi is the strangest fancy"

Philip said...

I'm loving it.

Margaret said...

I used to feel a bit threatened when in Pak'Save thinking about fellow shoppers indoctrinated by MSM. Now I realise the majority are people who are not easily taken in by MSM . Now I feel like embracing them- thank God for the average decent Kiwi bloke who doesn't lie or manipulate you into believing completely destructive garbage. The media are right out of touch.

Anonymous said...

What about Andrew Shaw?

Anonymous said...

This government does not get a honeymoon period. Jacinda got 5 years, and media were shocked when she bailed.

Media were on this Governments policies before they were even sworn in.

I am pleased we have independent media in NZ, RNZ, TV1, TV3 news are shockingly biased. I want to hear the news, not a persons interpretation and opinions of the few stories they want to present. Let me make up my own mind.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I haven't seen, read or heard much of what the MSM has published and broadcast for so long, now, and it's wonderful. Ignorance is bliss? Ignorance of what? Agendas? Opinions? Half-truths? Lies? They don't affect me when I have the power of the 'off switch' :)

Richard said...

One of the best things about the courageous independent media team is just that - they are so courageous - they don't hesitate to go after anyone who sees things differently to them. They sail in boots and all and just cuts such people down to size, making them so ashamed they often withdraw from public life.

The only time these heroes seem a little less than heroic, is when anyone offers even the mildest criticism of them, or something they have written. At such times suggestions that they could try being a bit thick skinned and able to take what you dish out really don't apply. Instead they tend to shrivel up into little balls, hide whatever has been said about them, and sulk for a few days before once again carrying on with the good fight.