Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The perils of political confidence

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    I mean, really, let’s get some perspective here

    Just been having some brief interaction with Henare on Twitter: he’s doubling down on the NOTW comparison and a comparison with Watergate. Doesn’t seem to realise that that journalists were the heroes in Watergate.

    That said, there are real ethical quandries around the incident itself- but that’s a separate issue.

    There are, but it seems to me to be similar to Gordon Brown’s “that woman” moment and the more recent Obama/Sarkozy discussion. In both cases, the subjects didn’t know they were being recorded. Both cases involved conventional mics and transmitting equipment used by journalists.

    I’m also fairly appalled at the response from National. I feel some loyalty to fellow journalists here, and the pursuit of a criminal complaint against an editor who, after all, did not publish the transcript gives me the shits.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Out, out on the street...

    Too many Johns in this story.

    Guess that's what happens when you prostitute political process,
    Party animal, pimp JK touting his old Epsom salt, Banksie Boy...


    The ballad of Banksie & JK...

    Down in my cups
    I read the tea leaves and saw
    one united nation, howling
    under a Banks Key moon.

    Legs 11.11.11,
    all the Ones
    the Right One,
    the Brighter One.
    the Shining Ones.

    12.12.12 Crystal Mg
    hydrated, sulfated
    an ill feted desiccant
    to suck the life out of us

    cupping their infusions
    of obfuscatory confusions
    a hollow chai char charade
    two jonquils reflect...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Clint Fern, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I feel some loyalty to fellow journalists here, and the pursuit of a criminal complaint against an editor who, after all, did not publish the transcript gives me the shits.

    It seems bizarre to pursue this, especially against a paper which hasn't exactly been an enemy. The ridiculous attempt by Key to link this to the NotW hacking is so over the top it does question either a) his judgement b) his assertion that there's nothing to see.

    The recording of a publicity stunt is to my mind a very, very long way from hacking the phones of murder victims and dead soldiers.

    Nelson • Since Jul 2010 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Empire, state building...

    I'm voting for Vespasian...

    ...and we'd have less philosophers and more stadia, too
    8 :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This has been a very active thread and I haven't had time to catch up with all of it but has anyone referred to Joanne Black's story of inadvertently taping Geoffrey Palmer in similar circumstances (after a news conference), playing the subsequent tape to her colleagues, and the resulting mocking from MPs and media eventually leading to his downfall as leader of the Labour Party? Maybe Key has heard this story and that is why he is so worried.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3213 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Clint Fern,

    The recording of a publicity stunt is to my mind a very, very long way from hacking the phones of murder victims and dead soldiers.

    In JK's mind it is much worse, because it is about him.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Good call!

    The story in question is here.

    Absolutely fascinating comparison, although Black's recording was far more clearly of a private communication.

    Interesting to note who used the story to help bring down Geoffrey Palmer: Ruth Richardson.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Interesting! Here’s her 2005 write-up in the listener.
    (snap. always lost that game :))

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Just been having some brief interaction with Henare on Twitter: he’s doubling down on the NOTW comparison and a comparison with Watergate. Doesn’t seem to realise that that journalists were the heroes in Watergate.

    And ironically, journalists were responsible for uncovering the wrongdoing of their contemporaries in the NOTW scandal, which only heightened the sheer explosiveness of it. I think we'll look back at the last year or so as some kind of turning point for journalism- both in terms in what's been covered (from Wikileaks to NOTW and the Arab Spring, and closer to home, Pike River and the ChCh earthquakes), but also how it's been covered. We do live in pretty exciting and potentially dangerous times for the profession.

    Erm, sorry for the tangent! :)

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Interesting to note who used the story to help bring down Geoffrey Palmer: Ruth Richardson.

    And how decent about it (and maybe naive) then PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer was. As opposed to, for example-

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    This election feels like its just been invaded by a bad movie.

    It's all about the "floating" 4% vote as far as I can see. Will they go left, will they go right. The majority of the electorate know their vote.

    If National win an outright that's a brillant political move from the right, crosby-textor earned their money. And they are odds-on to if the polls are to believed. Considering the opportunities mmp gives to fractionise votes away from left and right traditional voting patterns it is a considerable testimony to the call of the National Party flag in this country.

    The 2000's Labour achieved a low 40% vote at their most popular mmp election day and that was a popular Labour Party.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Twin (recording head) Peaks...

    Joanne Black’s story of inadvertently taping Geoffrey Palmer ...

    Now we know - Who killed Geoffrey Palmer...

    Minister of conversation...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Clint Fern,

    ridiculous attempt by Key

    by Joyce, to give credit where it's most likely due

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Clint Fern,

    The recording of a publicity stunt is to my mind a very, very long way from hacking the phones of murder victims and dead soldiers.

    Nobody here is suggesting otherwise – and I’m not the only one who’s said that to Henare on Twitter. As I’ve said right here, there’s plenty of ethically sub-prime/legally dubious media monkey shines that don’t sink to that level. Can we now stipulate that straw man has been reduced to a handful of ash?

    I’m also fairly appalled at the response from National. I feel some loyalty to fellow journalists here, and the pursuit of a criminal complaint against an editor who, after all, did not publish the transcript gives me the shits.

    Look, I’m understandably going to get a slap for this but I think it’s also fair to ask whether Bryce Johns played it all a little too cute. Before you put your chain-mail gauntlets on, Russell, Johns could have decided any of the following:

    1. The tape was legitimately obtained and the contents meet a public interest/news value test for publication. Check the spelling and let everyone else go to the devil.

    2. The tape was legitimately obtained but ethically didn’t meet a public interest/news value test for publication. (Before the conspiracy theorists get a hard-on, happens all the time folks. You really don’t want the Press Gallery shoveling into circulation every bit of gossip, speculation and shonky agenda-pushing that comes their way. Really.)

    3 (a) It was legally questionable whether the tape was legitimately obtained, but the content was of such overwhelming public interest it was worth the calculated risk of publication. Take a deep breath and hope your lawyers are better than everyone else’s.

    3 (b) It was legally questionable whether the tape was legitimately obtained, but the content was of such overwhelming public interest it will be worth the calculated risk of publication. Mitigate that risk by attempting to independently corroborate the material, so you can run the story without using the tape. STFU, and pray the story is fit for print next week.

    4. Neither legally obtained nor of any news value. Oh, well. Something else that happen all the times in newsrooms: Stories don’t pan out. Shit happens. Move on and fill that hole.

    Instead, I really don’t know WTF Johns was thinking. If he was trying to hype up interest in a "gone by lunchtime"-style gotcha! for the last HoS of the campaign, I think he's succeeded brilliantly. Just probably not in the way he'd prefer.

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

  • George Darroch,

    Perhaps the Watergate reference is apposite. It's not the crime, it's the cover up.

    I'm also fairly appalled at the response from National. I feel some loyalty to fellow journalists here, and the pursuit of a criminal complaint against an editor who, after all, did not publish the transcript gives me the shits

    And I.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    What were those crazy men saying? It's bizarre , what a gift story.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Mitigate that risk by attempting to independently corroborate the material, so you can run the story without using the tape.

    Pretty much what TV3 did with their coverage, knowing they weren't allowed to broadcast the recording.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Nobody here is suggesting otherwise – and I’m not the only one who’s said that to Henare on Twitter. As I’ve said right here, there’s plenty of ethically sub-prime/legally dubious media monkey shines that don’t sink to that level. Can we now stipulate that straw man has been reduced to a handful of ash?

    Perhaps when Steven Joyce, National’s campaign chair, withdraws his statement directly and aggressively making the same comparison?

    Mitigate that risk by attempting to independently corroborate the material, so you can run the story without using the tape. STFU, and pray the story is fit for print next week.

    I think that won’t be possible now, at least for the HoS. The criminal charge will make it very difficult to pursue a story based on the contents of the tape.

    4. Neither legally obtained nor of any news value. Oh, well. Something else that happen all the times in newsrooms: Stories don’t pan out. Shit happens. Move on and fill that hole.

    If the story was what it appears now to be – a discussion about rolling Brash after the election – then it’s absolutely of news value. No question whatsoever. Any media outlet in the country would lead with that story.

    Did it carry enough public interest to justify a decision to publish and face the possibly severe consequences? Clearly not, especially given what seems to have been a very heavy response from the party.

    My loyalty remains strongly with the journalists here. Had National made a Press Council complaint, fine. But seeking criminal charges against an editor who didn’t actually publish the transcript is rotten.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    HoS could have recorded a Pratner

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to merc,

    To cry fowl that your security

    we're back to chooks or Sabian geese??!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    Pretty much what TV3 did with their coverage, knowing they weren't allowed to broadcast the recording.

    Leadership speculation around a man who is spectacularly failing to meet his own performance benchmarks? Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein, especially when you're talking about a party whose appetite for intrigue makes the Borgias look like slackers. :)

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Leadership speculation around a man who is spectacularly failing to meet his own performance benchmarks? Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein, especially when you're talking about a party whose appetite for intrigue makes the Borgias look like slackers. :)

    It's rather more of a story if the Prime MInister and senior coalition party leader has, to a greater or less extent, a discussion about rolling Brash with a member of Brash's own party. Especially in the context of a high-profile meeting in public during an election campaign.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Islander,

    I'll take it ;-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I doubt there is anything on the tape. But the reaction of Key and his head campaign honcho Joyce is par for the course for their behaviour in government. The paranoia of hollow men like Joyce and Farrar cuts deep, and it demands they absolutely own and control the narrative at all times. Anyone who gets off message on cultivating a cult of personality around John Key is to be ostracised, bullied, threatened, and made an example of. It is as simple as that.

    The results of pursuing this policy are there for all to see in the tame sycophancy of those journalists who have been cowed/trained to play by the rules and, most importantly, in John Key’s high ratings as leader despite the objective failure of his government to do anything constructive over the past three years beyond a round of tax cuts that most benefited the rich.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I doubt there is anything on the tape.

    That may be true of course and absolutely agree with the bully boy tactic analogy but that is also why they are dangerous. Everyone is being played the fool,just like the last election. but we knew that.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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