Hard News by Russell Brown


Weekend Warriors

In her Herald on Sunday column, Deborah Coddington essentially apologises for the hurt her notorious Asian Angst story caused: and then completely blows it by describing herself as having been subject to "the media equivalent of gang rape" by "sadists".

I was appalled when Chris Trotter hauled out the "gang rape" phrase to describe the news media's pursuit of Winston Peters, and I'm no more impressed at Coddington using it in this way.

I'm also unconvinced by her wish, expressed to Keith Ng and Charles Mabbett, that the Press Council could only be more like a group therapy session that would "gather all protagonists together to discuss the problem, rationally" so that "I might understand more about you being offended, and you might understand a little about the decision to commission and publish the story."

She might want to re-read the column she wrote at the time, in which she responded to reasonable and well-referenced criticism by railing against "insane bloggers", insulting Tze Ming Mok and needlessly conjuring a false and defamatory statistic about Asian women and abortion. The woman who wrote that column wasn't up for a rational discussion.

But I do agree with her point in one, important sense. Coddington had to pretty much gatecrash the event she describes in the column, where, under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Development, public servants gathered to discuss the media's reporting of "diversity issues" -- without the bother of journalists actually being present to put their view. I can't see the merit of the Press Council turning into a counselling service -- its job is to hear complaints -- but if the public service is going to stage a talking shop about journalists' work, it should bloody well invite some journalists along.

I wasn't there, but Simon Pound was, and he'll be preparing a report for Media7.


Oddly enough, I have a gig with Deborah Coddington coming up fairly soon, and the same is true of the other person I'm minded to criticise today: Fran O'Sullivan.

In her Weekend Herald column, Fran introduced us to "the Palin doctrine" on US foreign policy. And no, she wasn't being ironic.

For a start, "America must be strong in a dangerous world" isn't a doctrine, it's an empty truism. And isn't it customary for the subject to have uttered at least one coherent public thought on an issue before being accorded doctrinal status?

Last week, Sarah Palin capably read a speech largely crafted (by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully) before she was even chosen as a candidate -- it was and is a party speech. Clearly, it went down quite well, but it would seem extremely unwise to credit her personally for much of its content.

But that's not stopping Fran …

While Obama indulges in breast-beating about the international opprobrium President George W. Bush courted by authorising the Iraq invasion in the first place, Palin prepares to farewell her own son to join the troops.

This telling family story underlines, in a way that Obama cannot, that Palin is a heartland American, one of the many small-town parents who have farewelled loved ones to fight our wars, following in the tracks of her running mate John McCain in Vietnam.

Well, "telling" as all this is, I guess if Obama wanted to know how it felt to have a son being deployed to Iraq, he could always ask his own running mate, Joe Biden.

Republicans, speeches to the contrary, do not own the concept of American military service. Indeed, US troops abroad have reportedly donated more to Obama than McCain by a ratio of 6:1.

Anyway, Fran continues:

New Zealand elites tend to scoff at this syndrome.

Palin's messages are refracted through a liberal but horrendously politically correct lens that views the US as a war criminal for invading Iraq and would rather the next administration packs its tents ASAP and dog tails it back to Washington.

Crikey. That passage labours under a syntax that would stop the heart of a horse, it offers an idiom previously unknown to the english language and it is wholly a straw man argument. Fran has done great work: this isn't it.

I could go on, and I've actually cranked out an analysis of the two campaigns' different approaches to disability policy -- relevant given the way that everyone's name-checking autism and waving around Down's babies -- but I think that's enough for now.

I'll leave the last word to the plain-spoken folks at the Anchorage Daily News in 2006:

"Ms. Palin has undeniable charisma and outsider appeal, but she has little statewide experience and a weak command of the issues she would need to master as governor -- a flaw she conceals by routinely skipping campaign forums with her opponents." Another story from the same paper reported, "Palin missed a few scheduled events and, at others, came off as unprepared or over her head. After an education forum last week, she was mocked by her opponents for submitting a folksy three-year-old essay about her schoolteacher father instead of a plan for improving schools."

She appears to be exactly the kind of person the world doesn't need in the White House: a religious zealot prone to abuse of executive power, and in the pocket of extraction industries. We should dread to think how that "doctrine" might read.


Well, the Brian Jonestown Massacre was as you'd expect. I didn't think they were genius, but it's certainly very enjoyable, and sometimes beautiful, music to hear. Early on in an epic set, Anton Newcombe would casually rehearse an opening chord and the fanboys would squeal in recognition. Later, he took to raconteuring, but his pitch-perfect story about staggering into an Islington pub in the morning to see the first test in the Lions vs All Blacks series ("And it was like boom! Nine seconds! And their captain was just crocked. Game on.") was lost on an indie crowd. As the evening (well, actually, the morning) drew on, breaks between songs drew longer as he abused various members of his band, and invited them to leave for their musical crimes. It was both what-you-pay-your-money-for theatre and genuinely tense. Earlier, I thought Dimmer were fantastic, especially in the 15 minutes they spent in a fully rocking but intensely musical version of 'Seed'. Yah.

PS: Speaking of the rock 'n' roll, we have a music special on Media7 this week. Our panel is: Peter Jenner (the legendary former manager of Pink Floyd and The Clash and a bracing voice on the future of the music biz in the internet age); Vodafone's Morgan Donoghue (who has some very interesting things in the wings); and Amplifier owner and entertainment lawyer Chris Hocquard. Space is very limited, but if you'd like to come to the recording at The Classic tomorrow evening, drop me a line asap.

311 responses to this post

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 13 Newer→ Last