Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: We can do better than this

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”. Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this.

    I totally agree with you. But I’ve got to admit while I’ve been very happy the media have been rediscovering their moral compasses, I’d love to see just ONE journalist or senior editor front up and own their wallowing in the dirty politics tallow.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on Edwards, but I’d love it if Media Take or Mediawatch asked him (and a long line of his contemporaries) a couple of very simple question:

    “How many stories have you run where Cameron Slater was used as a source? And on reflection, was that a good idea.”

    Now, let me answer one obvious objection: In my view, that’s NOT burning a source and you media folks lurking out there can’t have it both ways. If he’s such a toxic and destructive blight on civil discourse, and this is (in Duncan Garner’s words) “the dirtiest campaign ever”, you don’t get to pretend you’re above and beyond it all. That’s self-serving bullshit the media in general pulls too often – it’s almost as if transparency and accountability is for everyone except the Fourth Estate. And we all deserve a lot better than that.

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

  • Dan Salmon,

    You are right, the Simon Lusk chapter is one that has been under discussed in the media, but it's one that we can assume has the phones going hot in the National Party.
    Having read all the outrage and anger in commentary and blogs from the left, it would be fascinating to have insight into the internal angst.
    They're not going to wash their laundry in public this close to an election, but with a sense of betrayal by people outside the National Party machine this palpable, I can only imagine how moderate National Party members, and those betrayed in the Party Machine must feel.
    I wouldn't be at all surprised if a large number of stunned party members began demanding a clean up of the National Party.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Gower got his Mein Kampf story on Dotcom from Slater and will hardly be in a position to refuse the much-ballyhooed pre-election hit on Dotcom should it still be on offer.

    Well, I think his manager should spike all and any stories stemming from Slater and his cohorts. Really, if a story is being sourced secondhand from any blogger rather than an original source, that should be declared.

    If 3 News don't do that, I think their fitness to hold a broadcasting license should come into question if a left-wing government is elected.

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

  • Pete George,

    Media are in a very difficult position on this. Some of what Slater does and some of what he posts is genuinely newsworthy. Journalists can't rule out reporting on or using as a source certain people or certain publications, shows or social media because, for example, someone associated openly admits to enjoying practicing dirty politics.

    What I think media has to do is take a more eyes wide open and balanced approach. And not feed the dirt mongering by giving them non-news pulpits.

    The thing is that the nature of Slater was well known to anyone who has taken a decent look at what he does over the years. Sure some of the emails give some specific examples new examples.

    I haven't been shocked about what has been revealed. I'm shocked that media haven't already noticed and covered many other examples, and that they have given him so much of a megaphone to promote his agendas.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2011 • 139 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    One wonders that instead of Dirty Politics inciting an electorate- inspired cull of nasty, "venal" politicians, it will have the effect of causing a backlash against ALL journalists, bloggers and the like.

    How many will Slater take down with him?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    No one could with a straight face have given an award to the actual story Slater used these means to publish. It was a vile, pornographic tract designed principally to hurt, harm and shame. The reports that did subsequently raise real questions about Brown’s conduct as a public official – principally, his acceptance of free and discounted hotel rooms – were delivered by Jared Savage and others at the New Zealand Herald.

    Before we pat The Herald too hard on the back, this is the same Jared Savage who (as far as I'm aware) never retracted or apologized to anyone involved for implying Brown exerted "influence" to get Chuang employed by the Auckland City Art Gallery. Yes? So excuse me if I hold to my position that when you lie down with dogs, you not only get up with fleas but you're not welcome in my house any more.

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

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Dan Salmon,

    if a large number of stunned party members began demanding a clean up of the National Party

    Yes, well the smart move for Key now would be to sack Collins as a minister, deselect her as a candidate and declare a fatwa on party engagement with fringe wingnuts such as Slater.

    I suspect she's already been asked to resign though, and has refused.

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

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    One wonders that instead of Dirty Politics inciting an electorate- inspired cull of nasty, “venal” politicians, it will have the effect of causing a backlash against ALL journalists, bloggers and the like.

    In my less generous moments, I’d say “not before time” because you can’t have dirty politics without dirty media. But if it gives journalists and bloggers who actually have integrity (and aren’t in utter denial) a chance to work some real and meaningful culture change the gain is worth the pain.

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

  • Sacha, in reply to Pete George,

    someone associated

    it's his blog.
    stop trying to minimise things.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Brilliant show, Russell and Toi and Nicky.
    A real privilege to see the recording of it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    a chance to work some real and meaningful culture change the gain is worth the pain.

    Hopefully.

    Funny, isn't it, how some of us Pakeha look to Maori telly for 'decent' investigative journalism....and now, thanks to Media Take, commentary on the media itself.

    I wonder why?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • James W,

    As I read today's Herald piece on Slater using the former prostitute to dig dirt on public figures, I wondered how much power Slater would instantly lose if we all stopped giving a shit who was sleeping with whom. After all, the reason he's been able to wield so much power over people (including, it seems, journalists and politicians) is because the public eats up the gossip and "scandal" he provides. We need to stop providing a market for this crap. Which isn't to downplay the revelations of Dirty Politics or the people involved, who absolutely need to be held accountable.

    Since Jul 2008 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Pete George,

    Journalists can’t rule out reporting on or using as a source certain people or certain publications, shows or social media because, for example, someone associated openly admits to enjoying practicing dirty politics.

    Oh yes they can, Pete. They do every day of the week – a very long time ago, I worked on a tiny provincial paper where I got the local council round. Let’s just say one of my eager sources could barely be heard over the sound of grinding axes. Something I got a brutal reality check on when, naive young noob that I was, I submitted a story that would have gotten my arse sued off for defamation if the editor hadn’t spiked it and (quite rightly) torn me a new arsehole for getting played. Never took a call from that guy on the sound principle of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, put me out of everyone's misery."

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

  • izogi,

    No one could with a straight face have given an award to the actual story Slater used these means to publish.

    The judge who was responsible for that award was apparently Deborah Hill-Cone. It might only be relevant for sensitivity's sake, but she has very recently written a piece about the depression she's been dealing with.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    smart move for Key now would be to sack Collins as a minister, deselect her as a candidate and declare a fatwa on party engagement with fringe wingnuts such as Slater.

    This is never going to happen. The Collins stuff is pretty weak and she has done the hard yards in the party and caucus so that Collins is pretty safe. The only time he would sack her would be if she moved against him

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Can we?

    Really can we actually do better than this?

    Because I'm feeling down today, too many people I know with bad things happening, I guess I'm also feeling particularly cynical.

    But it seems to me that we now have a country that shrugs its collective shoulders when yet another evil piece of shit takes advantage of ordinary people for their own benefit. From the mundane, raising the rent because half the house have been destroyed, to the politically critical abuse of power laid out in Hager's book.

    Is the journalism profession actually better than that? Really? I trust Russell to make honest decent calls but he's not making a real living from doing that. The only money in journalism depends on getting the sensational story whatever the cost - it feels very much like most journalists are protecting their careers before their integrity.

    If we were better than that, surely the MSM would stop interviewing the PM until he actually bothered to read and address the accusations made in the book - instead they all give him air time because they know that will sell even if he never answers the question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Gavin White,

    I couldn't agree more Russell. This 'they all do it' cop out is getting beyond a joke - there just isn't an equivalent to Slater on the left. Any cursory read of the Standard shows that they've attacked Labour plenty of times, and H-Fee (trying to prove that Key had a hand in an action which could have crippled NZ's economy) is clearly different to fishing for evidence of who politicians have been sleeping with.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2014 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to izogi,

    relevant

    Not to her behaviour in being a judge without disclosing a direct conflict of interest by being a friend of one of the candidates. Nobody forces people to lower their ethical standards like that. Depression certainly doesn't.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Is the journalism profession actually better than that? Really? I trust Russell to make honest decent calls but he's not making a real living from doing that. The only money in journalism depends on getting the sensational story whatever the cost - it feels very much like most journalists are protecting their careers before their integrity.

    No. The majority of journalists never get near sensational stories. And the younger Gallery journalists (notably Brook Sabin, the son of a National MP) who weren't letting Key off the hook during that extraordinary press stand-up last Thursday knew their jobs. Goyun Espiner's interview with Key yesterday -- where he simply refused to let Key run through the same lines he'd been reciting for days -- was monumental.

    Also, I regard my TV work as journalism :-)

    If we were better than that, surely the MSM would stop interviewing the PM until he actually bothered to read and address the accusations made in the book - instead they all give him air time because they know that will sell even if he never answers the question.

    I suspect Key would be wishing for that. He sounded angry and a little desperate when he was bailed up by journalists yesterday.

    One observation I would make: the Gallery in particular tends not to move unless it smells blood. In the case of Key, that's hardly ever been the case. It is now. I don't particularly like sensing weakness as a motivation for doing your job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    surely the MSM would stop interviewing the PM until he actually bothered to read and address the accusations made in the book

    that would be grand, yes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I wouldn't act that way, says Bill English. I actually believe him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I don't get why Ede didn't resign early and firewall the whole thing. The whole point of the fall guy is they can do the time to keep the don clean.

    (Also, yes, I can't see English throwing civil servants under the bus.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Sacha,

    Not to her behaviour in being a judge without disclosing a direct conflict of interest by being a friend of one of the candidates.

    Yes, I completely agree.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    However, it's not the fulsome denunciation that some are making it out to be.

    English said it was not his style to leak to Slater and he wouldn't do it.
    "It's not a style I like," English said.

    "I don't participate in it. I wouldn't do it - it's not my style of politics, it's certainly not John Key's style."

    It's just one of many styles of politics, folks.

    Ministers were answerable to Key, just as he was over the accommodation issue, and Key had expressed confidence in Collins, English said. Reporters would be aware of a "variation in behaviour" of politicians.

    Just a variety..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    The Collins stuff is pretty weak

    Compared to what? It's less than murder, I suppose. But this is NZ, not Syria.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

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