Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Everybody's Machiavelli

408 Responses

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kyle MacDonald,

    Stating the obvious:
    Isn’t pastoral care of your sources one of the cornerstones of good ethical journalism?

    It absolutely is.

    Cook, on the other hand, wrote a post this morning basically throwing his source under a bus. Ugh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Steven Peters,

    She wasn't an employee - she was a fellow politician appointed to a board. (The mayor doesn't employ anybody. The council employs only the CEO).

    If you take a view that an elected politician is in a position of authority over anyone not in equal or higher office, then they'll all have to take a vow of chastity, or at least monogamy.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Rik,

    Rather than worrying about how the message got out, are there not more important questions to be asked here, such as does Len command the respect of his fellow council in a way that would be required to perform his duties?

    What? Look, until a week ago no one even knew this affair was happening. If it's been damaging Brown's work performance, no one could tell. Seriously, this isn't an issue about Brown's work performance unless you're already committed to it being an issue.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    How was it anything but inevitable that her past actions would come into when the story kicked off the way it did?

    And how was it anything but inevitable that the past actions of the male protagonists aren't being put on quite such prominent display? I've seen a few reminders of past mayoral and blubberly indiscretions, but nothing like what Chuang has been subject to.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Steven Peters,

    I do not agree they had a ‘legitimate’ working relationship – a married mayor in a sexual relationship with an employee is not a legitimate relationship, working or otherwise. Therefore giving the reference was not legitmate.

    What?

    The affair was secret. To all those around either of them it obviously appeared they had a legitimate working relationship - i.e. they had reason to see each other for work matters, and to work on project together, or whatever they did.

    Therefore, if the sexual relationship had never taken place it wouldn't seem out of place for her to use him as a referee and it wouldn't be unusual for him to recommend her on the basis of the working relationship.

    So, had there never been a sexual relationship, only a professional working relationship, would anything have been different in regard to the reference? I'm assuming probably not.

    Did their relationship affect the reference he gave her? Probably not given that it was passed through his staff, he's hardly likely to have embellished beyond what would have been reasonable based on their professional relationship and work.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    What? Look, until a week ago no one even knew this affair was happening. If it’s been damaging Brown’s work performance, no one could tell. Seriously, this isn’t an issue about Brown’s work performance unless you’re already committed to it being an issue.

    Absolutely. I think Simon Wilson's Metro story made Brown's effectiveness pretty clear. The only councillor to make adverse comment has been Dick Quax, whose hostility towards Brown and half his fellow councillors is pretty much a constant.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Did their relationship affect the reference he gave her? Probably not given that it was passed through his staff, he’s hardly likely to have embellished beyond what would have been reasonable based on their professional relationship and work.

    Nonetheless, it appears that the council is now to conduct a formal investigation into that aspect of the story.

    The thing that strikes me is the counterfactual. If he had refused to provide a reference because of their sexual relationship, and thus hampered her career, that would start to look a bit like sexual harassment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Also: Chuang's a player, not a bystander. Of course she's getting scrutiny. It'd be absurd to think that a C & R candidate going public with an affair (absent any accusations of real impropriety) wouldn't face heavy scrutiny for publicising an essentially consensual and private matter.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Brown had consensual sex with someone other than his wife.

    It's worth noting that if statistics are to be believed half of all marriages involve infidelity at some time. It is apparently an all too human trait. It also does not appear to prevent people from otherwise contributing to society.

    If infidelity were a reason to exclude someone from office I suspect half the govt benches would be empty.

    Yes it was stupid, but I'd wager most folks have been stupid at some time in their life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • steve black,

    edit Oh, it was in the original post by yet another Brown (no relation)

    I may have missed it if somebody else posted it already…

    But I couldn’t wait to point out that Whaleoil has prior form himself. And there’s even a Brown in it:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10813552

    Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle.

    edit anyway, I'll use the space to add my vote to:

    What's this "center" right of which you speak? These are right wing people. Plain and simple.

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Rik,

    Maybe it’s just a part-time job running the city – or maybe Doug McKay runs the place, leaving Len with too much spare time on his hands.

    You don't think someone can hold down a full time job and also find time for sex a dozen times in 2 years? Really Rik?

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rik,

    Sure there has been manipulation and coercion – doesn’t change the fact of what went on for two years.

    What was that Rik, a consensual sexual relationship between two adults you might well find distasteful but which nobody has produced the slightest evidence of legal or even ethical wrong-doing?

    This might also be a good time to remind some of our self-appointed political/media moral arbiters that two people fucking and working in the same organization is not de facto evidence of impropriety. Otherwise, I’d like to know how many media organizations have “non-fraternization” policies, and how well they’d stand up in a court of law.

    Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle.

    Or perhaps we could not expose ourselves to the same cat-call and not go there? I could, but won't, start rattling off the names of media folks whose marriages/relationships have imploded rather spectacularly (some with co-workers involved, others not) without going beyond the confines of a rather gossipy industry. That's not an arseholy thing to do but missing the point. Even if everyone involved in this squalid saga were fresh out of the convent, it's still awful and destructive.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the Herald:

    Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay is this afternoon expected to announce an inquiry into the Len Brown sex scandal.

    The decision was made following inquiries from the New Zealand Herald about whether Mr Brown's affair breached the council's code of conduct and conflict of interest policies.

    Probably makes sense if only to shut people up for a while.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Otherwise, I’d like to know how many media organizations have “non-fraternization” policies, and how well they’d stand up in a court of law.

    Let me answer that: none of them do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And perfectly common outside of NZ for power brokers to have "bits on the side," particularly Asia. So Len is a cosmopolitan player in some ways. He could use his influence to crush those who mess with him.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to Rik,

    Good point about the council continuing to respect Len, because, correct me if I am wrong, it is only they who have the power or ability to make him take responsibility for his actions in this particular matter.

    “The married man issue is irrelevant, firstly. Secondly, clearly you can have a sexual relationship with people who you share a workplace with, and clearly you can provide a reference for them. This stuff is just weasly attempts to bring private morality into the public sphere”.

    I would have thought the ‘married man thing’ would be relevant to a great deal to his voters, otherwise he would not use his family status as electioneering material. Indeed, had they known of this ‘irrelevancy’ before the election , he may not be the mayor. And no, you cannot have a sexual relationship with someone who is subordinate in power in the workplace, unless it is open and declared, so that any conflicts of interest that may arise can be dealt with in the interests of the workplace and its purpose, and not in the interests of one or both of the trystee’s, whose motives are usually a lot more narcissistic, complex and unmanageable, than those of a workplace.

    “I think he’s made it pretty clear he regrets that. But we should be clear that most of this does seem to have occurred in private places”

    I am sure he regrets using public offices for these 'private' and 'personal' activities ' , but that doesnt make amends to those who believe those places not be used for salacious purposes by those who temporarily hold the permanent public office of Mayor.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And how was it anything but inevitable that the past actions of the male protagonists aren’t being put on quite such prominent display? I’ve seen a few reminders of past mayoral and blubberly indiscretions, but nothing like what Chuang has been subject to.

    I think much of that is because it's not news - his past indiscretions have been covered previously. His actions and motivations in this case are all too commonplace and therefore uninteresting. But she is unknown and her motivation in revealing the affair has been unclear and at times self-contradictory. Naturally that's where attention has focused.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The thing that strikes me is the counterfactual. If he had refused to provide a reference because of their sexual relationship, and thus hampered her career, that would start to look a bit like sexual harassment.

    Yeah, once he decided to have an illicit sexual relationship with someone he also had a professional relationship with, regardless of his being married, it was almost certain to work out badly in one way or another.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steven Peters,

    And no, you cannot have a sexual relationship with somone who is subordinate in power in the workplace, unless it is open and declared, so that any conflicts of interest that may arise can be dealt with in the interests of the workplace and its purpose, and not in the interests of one or both of the trystee’s, whose motives are usually a lot more narcissistic, complex and unmanageable, than those of a workplace.

    1. This rule will doubtless come as a great surprise to many people, not least employment lawyers.

    2. She wasn’t an employee. She was another politician.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Steven Peters,

    it is only they who have the power or ability to make him take responsibility for his actions

    Have you *read* the code of conduct? Even if he's been conducting all-in jelly wrestling in the mayoral chamber with his fellow councillors partners and selected EGGS seventh formers, all they can do is censure him. The mayor gets elected personally for three years. Absent a serious criminal conviction, end of story.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Let me answer that: none of them do.

    Exactly -- it wouldn't only be legally and practically impossible, but given the highly mobile and limited labour pool in the media industry (including public sector spin doctors/press secretaries) what the grown-ups do is have mechanisms in place to manage actual or potential conflicts of interest, *cough* interpersonal drama and workplace sexual harassment/abuse. I hope every employer and industry does.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to SteveH,

    Naturally that’s where attention has focused.

    Naturally? Sure, question her motives, but if Slater and the Herald are so keen to get rid of Brown, then why not focus on his record? I would've thought that reminding everybody of that credit card thing and weaving that into a narrative of "Brown the untrustworthy abuser of mayoral privilege", with a seasoning of "crazy bugger slaps himself live on TV" (or whatever it was that happened) would be a much better strategy for getting him out of office than focussing on Chuang.

    And yes, as others have pointed out, she is a player in this saga, and yes, there are legitimate questions about her motives to be asked, but I just don't get the difference in degree of scrutiny the various players are being subject to.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Anyway, I have to go to the supermarket, so I’ll leave you with this:

    I have been told Stephen Cook is launching a “sex website”.

    Righto.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tim Michie,

    responded by email to say he highly recommended her.

    Has there been any suggestion she was not able to do the job she got and do it well?

    Unless she turned out not to be worthy of a recommendation I can't see that the mayor would have any other choice but to give her a positive recommendation.

    There seems to be this idea that you can't be having sex with someone and still be able to recognise their actual skills and talents. That idea is demonstrably bollocks. It is also blind to the possibility of favouritism between people who don't happen to be having sex.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • High Tory, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    [Couldn't be bothered editing for sexism and racism, deleted entire comment.]

    North Island • Since Oct 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

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