Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

25 August 2014 5 comments


composite header - donghua Liu Affair

1. Prologue


The Donghua Liu Affair hit  the headlines on 18 June, with allegations that David Cunliffe wrote a letter in 2003,  on  behalf of  business migrant, Donghua Liu.

Four days later, on Sunday 22 June, the Herald ran stories alleging  massive donations to the Labour Party by Liu. Tabloid- style stories of  $100,000 paid for a bottle of wine and $15,000 for a book, along with a $50,000-$60,000 dinner party hosted for then Labour minister, Rick Barker, and a donation to a rowing club, raged for several days.

By Wednesday, on 25 June,  the Herald was forced to retract  Liu’s claims. The “new” story was that Liu’s  “donation” was,

… close to $100,000 and that is my closing comment in my statement…that is how much I believe I have donated in total to Labour and some of their MPs during their last term in Government.”

The so-called Yangtze River boat “dinner for Rick Barker” turned out to be some sort of staff function that Liu had invited the Labour minister to attend.

Only Liu’s donation – of $2,000 – to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, was confirmed.  Considering that any “link” between the NZ Labour Party and Hawkes Bay Rowing Club is tenuous at best (Barker’s daughter was a member of the club), the value of this aspect of the Liu Affair is dubious, to put it mildly.

Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003 letter was far from “avocating on Liu’s behalf”. Instead, the eleven year old letter turned out to be a stock-standard inquiry sent to Immigration NZ with the rather banal request ,

I am aware of the difficulties facing the Business Migration Branch of New Zealand Immigration Services in coping with the overwhelming numbers of applicants that have applied for consideration under these categories and the time taken to verify documents. However it would be very helpful to Mr Liu to be advised of an estimated period of time period [sic] in which he could expect a decision on his case.

Requesting “an estimated period of time period” seems a stretch to describe it as advocating.

Accordingly, this blogger lodged a formal complaint with the Herald’s editor-in-Chief, NZ Press Council; and OIAs lodged with Deputy PM,  Bill English; Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, and the Office of the Prime Minister.

A letter seeking clarification was also emailed to Herald journalist, Jared Savage, which he has responded to.

The responses thus far, and the next steps taken…


2. The NZ Herald – formal complaint to the Press Council


On 28 June, I sent a formal complaint to  Tim Murphy, Editor of the Herald, regarding his paper’s handling of the Donghua Liu story. (See:  The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?)

On 4 July, Mr Murphy responded. I considered his formal response and explanations to be inadequate and in one instance (John Armstrong’s column calling for David Cunliffe’s resignation) no attempt was made to address the issue.

Accordingly, I lodged a formal  complaint to the Press Council  on 5 July.

Two days later, the Press Council referred the complaint to the Herald;

From: Mary Major []
Sent: Monday, 7 July 2014 8:27 a.m.
To: Tim Murphy
Cc: Sarah Lawrence
Subject: FW: Online Complaint

Dear Tim and Sarah,

Please see below for a complaint from Frank MacSkasy.  Could we please have
your response within the next 10 working days.

Kind regards,

On 15 July, the Herald’s editor responded to the Press Council;

From: Sarah Lawrence []
Sent: Tuesday, 15 July 2014 5:00 p.m.
To: Mary Major
Subject: FW: Press Council complaint – Frank Macskasy

Hello Mary

Please find below a response from Tim Murphy to the Frank Macskasy
complaint.  Also enclosed is the full record of Herald stories for the
Council’s information as mentioned by Tim below (I had to split them into
two parts, hope that’s OK), and also our responses to his initial

Thanks so much.

Kind regards

PA to Editor in Chief of Herald Titles
[phones numbers redacted - FM]

—–Original Message—–
From: Tim Murphy
Sent: Thursday, 10 July 2014 10:55 a.m.
To: Sarah Lawrence
Subject: RE: Press Council complaint – Frank Macskasy

Dear Mary
We have corresponded with Fran [sic] Macskasy twice on this issue.  I have
enclosed our two replies, which I believe address his concerns.  The second
reply is to a complaint almost exactly the same as the one below forwarded
to the Press Council.  At this point we believe those responses should stand
as our submission to the Council.  We have included the full record of
Herald stories on the Donghua Liu-Labour donations issue for your reference.
Many thanks

Tim Murphy
Editor-in-chief, New Zealand Herald titles.

A day later, the Press Council contacted me with the Herald’s response;

from: Mary Major <>
to: Frank Macskasy <>
date: Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 9:51 AM
subject: FW: Press Council complaint – Frank Macskasy

Good morning Frank,

Please see below and attached for the response from the NZ Herald.

You now have the opportunity to make a brief final comment (around 150
words). We would be pleased to receive this comment within the next 10
working days. The complaint will be considered by the Press Council at the
next meeting, which is on August 4, and the decision will be released about
two weeks after that.

Kind regards,

My final comment (unfortunately, not so brief, because of the complexities of this issue), was made on 19 July;

from: Frank Macskasy <>
to: Mary Major <>
date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM
subject: Re: FW: Press Council complaint – Frank Macskasy

Kia ora Mary,

I have read Mr Murphy’s response to my complaint and I do not believe they are a satisfactory response to the issues I have raised in my complaint.

1. Many of the Herald stories relating to David Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ, regarding Donghua Liu, did not refer to the actual date of the letter (11 April 2003). In several subsequent stories referring to this letter, the Herald omitted any reference to the date, thereby leaving an unknown number of readers with the impression that the letter was recently written. This is a salient, critical fact of the story and it’s omission may have created a mistaken perception in the minds of many readers.

There was simply no valid reason to with-hold that vital fact from subsequent stories.

2. Tim Murphy wrote on 4 July, ” We stand by our report that a book was purchased and expect further ‘evidence’ of this to be made public shortly”.

As of this date (19 July), over two weeks have passed and no ” further ‘evidence’ of this [has been] made public” to date.

The Herald has presented an unsubstantiated claim as fact, thereby mis-representing the truth and giving readers an impression that this claim was verified as true.

Promises of “further evidence” have not materialised. There is no indication when “further evidence” will ever materialise.

3. Regarding the Herald’s “clarification” of Donghua Liu’s claims for $100,000 spent on a bottle on wine.

(A) The “clarification” was inadequate because more coverage was given to the initial (false) claims than the clarification. This is bound to create a lasting impression in the minds of many readers that the initial (false) allegation was correct, being unaware of a subsequent “clarification”

(B) No apology was made to Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

The story was therefore false and only a cursory attempt made to rectify it.

4. I wrote in my complaint that “It is manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable that the Herald has not released, in full and verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” as it did with David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.”

Mr Murphy replied, “We do not automatically make public documents which we obtain as part of ongoing journalistic inquiries. There are many reasons for this, including the conditions upon which they were obtained from whatever source and the need for us to pursue further matters contained within. While there seems to be an expectation that journalistic inquiry must be ‘open source’ this ignores these conditions and also the competitive nature of news gathering. The Cunliffe letter was obtained under the Official Information Act and was released to all media, so is thus automatically a public document.”

I maintain that Mr Murphy has not provided solid grounds for with-holding Mr Liu “signed statement” except reference to “the competitive nature of news gathering”. This is wholly inadequate and gives only a one-sided view to this story. The public are unable to determine for themselves precisely what is is that Mr Liu has stated.

Given that he has already been shown to be less than credible with his allegation (see Point 3 above), I maintain this is a salient aspect of the story.

It is also worth noting that the media rails against governments of various hues for restricting the flow of information under the guise of “commercial sensitivity” and it is supremely ironic that the Herald – a news media organisation – is now following suit and employing the same tactic.

5. Mr Murphy fails to respond in any way to my complaint regarding John Armstrong’s column on 18 June.


(A) The Herald’s stories regarding former Labour MP, Rick Barker attending a river boat cruise in 2007 were not based on fact, and instead relied on nothing more than hear-say from Donghua Liu – who has already had to retract his allegations of a $100,000 bottle of wine. Mr Murphy stated, “You seem to have accepted without question MP Rick Barker’s claim he attended only a staff party in China. We do not accept this and expect further details of the hospitality for him and others in China to be revealed in due course.”

As Bervan Hurley wrote these allegations on 22 June, it is now one month later and no “further details of the hospitality for him and others in China [have been] revealed in due course”.

In effect, the Herald has made allegations on one man’s unproven assertions and is now promising to “reveal in due course further details”. Mr Murphy offers no hint of when “due course” will arrive.

(B) Mr Murphy writes on the issue of Liu’s $2,000 donation to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club; “It would be wilfully naïve to assume that the donation to the rowing club associated with an MP, the day after that MP has hosted Liu in the region, is unconnected to that MP. The donation was made and Liu made it with the intent of it being in favour of the MP.”

It is simply astounding that Mr Murphy explains away the story regarding Liu’s donation as “Liu made it with the intent of it being in favour of the MP”. Since when can one man’s intent to “curry favour” be turned into a story implicating Rick Barker and the Labour Party of inappropriate activities? What Mr Liu “intended” cannot be laid at the feet of Mr Barker.


It is obvious that the Herald relied on one man’s (Donghua Liu) unsubstantiated assertions – of which one has been retracted; one remains unproven; whilst others have been mis-represented.

This was a story predicated on very little, and which has caused untold damage to a main political party* in a critical juncture in election year.

As such, I maintain that the Press Council should act accordingly in fairness and to send a strong signal to the media that unfair and unbalanced stories based on hear-say are grossly irresponsible and unacceptable.

-Frank Macskasy

* Note: I am not a Labour Party member or supporter.

Now we wait to 4 August for a decision from the Press Council.


2. NZ Herald journalist Jared Savage – Clarifications sought


On 19 June, I lodged an OIA request with Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse (to be reported in the next chapter of this story; The Donghua Liu Affair: OIA Responses from the PM; Deputy PM; the Immigration Minister, and next steps).

A response from the Minister’s office was received on 17 July.

Within that response were  various pieces of information that required clarification from Herald reporter, Jared Savage, who had been covering much of the Donghua Liu “story”. Accordingly, I wrote to Jared with my questions;


Sent: Thursday, 17 July 2014 8:52 p.m.
To: Jared Savage
Subject: OIA Request; Donghua Liu; clarification on your involvement

This message has been sent via the NZ Herald Website

Frank Macskasy

Kia ora Jared,

I am in receipt of information from Minister Michael Woodhouse’s office released to me under an OIA request.

The information provided requires some clarification on your part.

1. You lodged an OIA request on 16 June 2014 with Minister Woodhouse’s office, seeking, “Any correspondence, including emails, letters or queries, from any Members of Parliament in regards to Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005″.

2. You received a response, with relevant information, two days later on 18 June 2014.

3. Can you explain why you specifically mentioned “Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005″? Why did you mention the specific year of 2005?

4. You received material from Minister Woodhouse’s office within 48 hours – an unusually rapid “turn-a-round” time for an OIA request, which normally take weeks, if not months, to complete. Can you shed any light on why you received the information (including the 11 April 2003 letter from David Cunliffe to Immigration NZ) so quickly?

5. Can you confirm that you received a “tip off” to make the OIA, and, specifically, that you were aware of the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu/Immigration NZ letter prior to receiving a copy of it from Minister Woodhouses’ OIA release?

These questions are part of an on-going story I am writing on the Liu Affair. There appears to be unanswered questions surrounding the Herald’s involvement in this issue and any assistance you can provide to clear up unresolved issues will be appreciated.

-Frank Macskasy


Jared Savage replied later that day;


from: Jared Savage <>
to: “” <>
date: Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM
subject: RE: OIA Request; Donghua Liu; clarification on your involvement

Hi Frank,

Happy to answer questions as I’ve previously answered these on Twitter.

You might recall that prior to writing about Donghua Liu’s links to Labour, I wrote extensively about his links to the Nats.

It all started with queries about his citizenship while the Nats were in power, against advice, specifically after Maurice Williamson writing an email in support in 2010…it eventually led to Mr Williamson’s resignation as a Minister for intervening in a police matter and the discovery that Liu was also lobbying Immigration Minister Woodhouse to change policy.

I’ve also previously written about another citizenship case, Bill Liu (no relation), which was also granted against advice, but this was when Labour was last in Government.

It got me thinking about Donghua Liu’s bid for residency in 2005, which was also granted by Labour against official advice by Damien O’Connor, and whether he was lobbied.

I initially asked for his entire residency file under the OIA on May 8. I note that the next day Minister Woodhouse asked for the file.

I was declined the entire file on privacy grounds on June 16. As I was really only interested in whether MPs were involved in his residency bid, I refined my request to ask for any correspondence from MPs because this is clearly in the public interest.

I specifically mentioned prior to 2005 because this is when Mr Liu was granted residency, against advice. There would not be any correspondence after he gained residency.

Unfortunately, it was clumsily worded because Immigration officials interpreted the word prior to exclude 2005 in the response. I then lodged a further OIA request which revealed Mr O’Connor intervened 3 times in the lead up to residency being granted – including waiving the English language criteria – the day before the 2005 election.

I also wrote that Mr Liu has spent considerable time with Labour Minister Rick Barker in 2007 – the Minister in charge of citizenship under Labour- including hosting him in China and the Hawke’s Bay.

Coming back to the June 16 request, two days later, I received the letters. I have no idea why Immigration released it so quickly. Probably because they had already processed my earlier request of June 16 so the file was available, but you’d have to ask Immigration.

The reason why I asked questions about the potential involvement of MPs in Liu’s residency bid was that I was suspicious in the same way I was suspicious about the involvement of MPs in the citizenship bid.

Does your OIA response focus on Minister Woodhouse’s OIA response to me, solely, or to all media outlets?

Because it was not a Herald reporter asking direct questions of Mr Cunliffe’s potential involvement the day before the release of the letters…

Hope that helps



Awaiting information from several OIA requests and a Press Council complaint, I held off responding to Mr Savage. However, I have since received responses to OIA requests lodged with the offices of John Key, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, and Deputy PM Bill English. A decision from the Press Council is due today (21 August).

Today (21 August), I wrote back to Jared Savage, asking for clarification on certain matters;


from:      Frank Macskasy <>
to:           Jared Savage <>
date:       Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 9:34 AM
subject: Re: OIA Request; Donghua Liu; clarification on your involvement

Kia ora Jared,I am in receipt of your email dated  July 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM, in reply to my email dated earlier the same day. Your prompt response is appreciated. (My own apologies for taking so long to reply.)

I have some follow up questions which, I hope, may clarify the answers you have already provided. (I am still pursuing this story, as I believe there are facts yet to be uncovered, especially in the light of Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics”.)

1. You write; “Coming back to the June 16 request, two days later, I received the letters. I have no idea why Immigration released it so quickly.”

Question A: Have you, or any other NZ Herald staffer asked Immigration NZ why the letter was released so quickly?
Question B: Was this rapid turn-a-round for an OIA request discussed at NZ Herald, and if so, what was the outcome?

Question C: Do your happen to have a copy of the email from Minister Woodhouse/Immigration NZ and specifically,  the date-time on it?

I would appreciate a copy of the covering letter that accompanied the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter. I am assuming that will not break journalistic standards in protecting your sources, as the source of the letter is now public information.
Question D: What other correspondence have you had with Minister Woodhouse, Immigration NZ, or any other Third Party on this matter?

2. You write; “Does your OIA response focus on Minister Woodhouse’s OIA response to me, solely, or to all media outlets?  Because it was not a Herald reporter asking direct questions of Mr Cunliffe’s potential involvement the day before the release of the letters…”

I have searched the internet for prior references to David Cunliffe’s involvement with the  Donghua Liu Affair, and can find only two media reports that *appear* to precede your 18 June Herald story. One is from Interest.Co.Nz (, and the other from TV3 ( However, they both refer to your newspaper as the source of the story.

The TV3 story does not refer to the Cunliffe 2003 letter.

The story by Bernard Hickey referring to  the Cunliffe 2003 letter was published at 1.45pm on 18 June – earlier than your story ( at 2.29 and yet still appears to link to your story, published 44 minutes later.
Question E: Can you suggest how came to have that information?
I understand that TV3 journalists were putting questions to David Cunliffe on 17 June (one day BEFORE you or anyone else had received the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter, via an OIA request)  regarding what contact he had with Mr Liu.Question F: Do you have any idea why they asked those very specific questions, and how they tied in with the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter?
 3. You wrote; “It got me thinking about Donghua Liu’s bid for residency in 2005, which was also granted by Labour against official advice by Damien O’Connor, and whether he was lobbied..”

Question G: Where did you first learn about this?

Question H: Were any of O’Connor’s letters already in the public arena? (I can’t locate any  prior to your Herald story.)

Your Editor, Tim Murphy, has stated that there is much more to come on the Donghua Liu Affair, with new evidence to confirm his allegations.Question I: Will there be follow up stories on this issue? Are any in the pipeline?

5. You wrote, “I also wrote that Mr Liu has spent considerable time with Labour Minister Rick Barker in 2007 – the Minister in charge of citizenship under Labour- including hosting him in China and the Hawke’s Bay.”

Question J: Have you had any contact with Simon Lusk (who also happens to  live in the Hawkes Bay area), or any of his associates with regards to this matter?

Question K: Did you recieve a tip-off on Rick Barker’s association with Mr Liu? (I won’t ask you for your sources, for obvious reasons.)

6. Question L: Are there any facts that I may have over-looked in this issue  that may have a bearing on clarifying the story?

Hopefully, you can assist me to clarify these outstanding questions – especially if you can supply me with a copy of  the covering email/letter from Immigration NZ/Michael Woodhouse, including email headers,  which pertains to receipt of the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter. I would be interested in receiving a copy of that, in conjunction with an OIA request I have lodged on the matter with relevant Ministeries.


-Frank Macskasy


3. Immigration NZ and NZ Herald – more questions and a suggestion of collusion


Now, here’s the thing.

In Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“, the author’s remarks on the rapid turnaround of OIA requests made by extremist right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater, to various government departments including the secretive SIS;

Documents like the SIS briefing notes are not usually released to the public, under the official information law [OIA]  or otherwise. Someone had overruled the usual practice and then fast-tracked  the release. The released documents were stamped as being declassified on 26 July 2011, the same day that Slater sent off his request.  Where was the time for decision-making and consultations?” – “Dirty Politics”, p40


“[Jason] Ede recommended the wording that Slater use in his official information request: ‘Written and email communications within, to and from, Paula Bennett’s Ministerial office and its staff in relation to Ira Bailey from the beginning of last week til today’ and Slater sent the request that day, using exactly the same words, apart from inserting a bracketed date, ‘Mon 8 October 2012′, after ‘last week’. Slater received the information from Bennett by the following day and was able to publicise it with a government-friendly spin – “Bennett’s office in the clear’ less than two days after Ede wrote to him.” – “Dirty Politics”, p41/42

This blogger can testify to one immutable fact-of-life: OIA requests to Minister’s offices and governments departments can take several weeks, if not more than a month, to fulfill.

Case in point: I asked for a copy of the covering letter from Immigration NZ to NZ Herald’s journalist, Jared Savage, on 21 July this year,


Kia ora Ms Hames/Minister Michael Woodhouse,

Thank you for providing the information I was requesting under the OIA.

I require some further items of information, which I am lodging as an OIA request;

1. The covering email/letter to Jared Savage, of the NZ Herald, pertaining to the release of David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003 (pertaining to Donghua Liu, to Immigration NZ) letter  to that reporter (or any other person(s) at the NZ Herald or any other media outlet, on or about 18 June of this year.


It took one month (20 August) for that simple response to be filled. A copy of the letter, from Immigration NZ to Jared Savage, is presented;


Immigration NZ - letter to jarerd savage - nz herald - donghua liu - 18  June 2014


Note the date that Mr Savage lodged the OIA request: 18 June 2014.

Note the date that Immigration NZ responded, supplying a copy of the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter: 20 June 2014.

Two days.

Yet it took Immigration NZ a month to send the covering Immigration NZ-Savage letter to me.

One cannot escape the conclusion that some form of collusion has taken place between Immigration NZ/Minister Woodhouse and the NZ Herald. Nicky Hager has uncovered how that sort of collusion has taken place between right-wing blogger and National Party-mouthpiece, Cameron Slater and the Prime Minister’s office.

The question now is – has the same collusion been occurring between the NZ Herald and the PM’s office?

Two days for an OIA request to be completed? The Herald has some questions to answer.


To be continued: The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

To be continued: The Donghua Liu Affair: OIA Responses from the PM; Deputy PM; the Immigration Minister, and next steps




NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?




20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 August 2014



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State propaganda on TVNZ – pssst, just don’t mention the war! Er, Election!

16 August 2014 2 comments




TVNZ’s Breakfast on 12 August, went from it’s scurrilous mis-reporting of the effigy burning, to sheer, naked propaganda. This time, Key put on a performance as a typical all-blokey cook-in-the-kitchen.

The programme host, Jeanette Thomas, opened with this statement – in-between eye-lash fluttering and schoolgirl giggling;

“We’re cooking with the Prime Minister, John Key. And this is alllll about getting to know yooou, and all the stuff that you do kinda behind the scenes, ’cause we’re not allowed to talk politics today…*giggle, giggle*”



TVNZ - Breakfast - cooking


Yeah, yeah, giggle, giggle, flirt…

However, one sharp-eyed viewer made this comment on his facebook page soon after the show was over;


TVNZ - Breakfast - cooking- facebook - hugh fletcher


Not quite the ordinary, blokey “man-of-the-people” after all, eh?

Question is, will TVNZ’s ‘apolitical’ Breakfast show allow equal time to Labour leader David Cunliffe? And will it be hosted by ‘impartial’ host, Rawdon Christie…?

Which brings us back to this slightly-more-serious-matter…

11 August – TVNZ Breakfast Show:

Note the  Breakfast host’s chatty “interview” between Rawdon Christie and Dear Leader John Key. Rawdon is all smiles and let’s Key speak without interuption;


TVNZ - Breakfast - kim dotcom - video - effigy - john key - burning - 2014 elections


12 August – TVNZ Breakfast Show:

The following day, TVNZ allowed Internet Party, Laila Harré, to respond. Note the combative/defensive stance  by host, Rawdon Christie;


TVNZ - Breakfast - laila harre


Laila’s “right of reply” included at least thirteen interruptions as Christie spoke over his guest within a five minute period.

It was left to the State broadcaster’s competitor, TV3, to publish a ‘retraction’ by John Key,


John Key admits effigy video not linked to Internet Mana


No apology from  Key, of course. Dear Leader does not ‘do’ apologies – unless it is “serious”.

It appears that media can broadcast or publish any old garbage with minimal recourse. Even when the target of a deliberate smear is given an opportunity to correct misinformation, the broadcaster’s representative will fight tooth and nail to justify their own misconduct.

We’ve seen it with the NZ Herald and the Donghua Liu Affair.

Interesting though that when Rawdon Christie first interviewed Key on this issue, on 11 August, he said,

“Another stunt, which may cause you slightly more concern, and that is on Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil site, recently…”

It should come as no surprise that Key and Christie were more than willing to take the blogger’s story at face value;


PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater


As Claire Trevett wrote in February this year,

[Key]...would not confirm it was Mr Slater, but said he did speak to Mr Slater “every so often,” and had called him earlier this week during which they briefly discussed Kim Dotcom. He said that did not mean he agreed with everything Mr Slater wrote on his blog. “I speak to lots of blogsters [sic].”

Such is the unholy relationship between the National Party and far-right, sleaze merchant, Cameron Slater – along with media connivance for an “easy story”.

Though this time I suspect Key and TVNZ may have ended up with some egg on their faces.

Anyone for some fried eggs’n’effigies?




TVNZ: Good Morning –  John Key in the kitchen

TV3: John Key admits effigy video not linked to Internet Mana

Facebook: Hugh Fletcher‎ – Good Morning

TVNZ: Internet-Mana denies involvement in PM burning effigy video

Fairfax media: Internet Mana anger over Key effigy claims

TVNZ: Good Morning – Laila Harre attacks PM for effigy video ‘slur’

NZ Herald: PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #6: When apologising to a victim of violence is not considered “serious”

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: Just spoke to Electoral Commission – there’s been a complaint re the Planet Key satire song, they will declare if it’s banned this afternoon





john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 August 2014



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Letter to the Editor: Lies, damn lies, and media sensationalising

12 August 2014 3 comments




from:          Frank Macskasy
to:               Dominion Post <>
date:          Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM
subject:     Letter to the editor


The editor
Dominion Post


Tracy Watkins  recently wrote; “Recent displays of crowds chanting “f… John Key” and his effigy being burnt could either be put down to youthful hijinks or something more sinister”.  (12 Aug)

Watkins has missed the point.

Discontent and anger against the current government has been rising steadily for years with,

* Cuts to education whilst giving massive tax-breaks and subsidies to corporations.

* we became aware that the wealth of the top 1% has doubled since 2004, whilst wages have stagnated.

* young people can no longer afford to buy their own homes, whilst speculators/investors make huge tax-free gains.

* tax-cuts for the rich, whilst GST and prescription charges were increased for the rest of us.

* Christchurch’s housing shortage crisis worsened – and Gerry Brownlee’s response is that the “free market will sort it out”.

* rising child poverty and inequality, whilst National passes punitive policies to attack the poor; the unemployed; solo-mothers; low-paid workers, etc.

This is why people are burning effigies and telling our dearly beloved PM to get f—-d.

Their anger has finally boiled over.

The media –  comfortably esconced in their middle-class bubble – have been caught utterly by surprise.

Which shows just how far out of touch the media have been.
-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]






Dominion Post:  New lows hit from the outset

Other blogs

The Daily Blog:  Oh now John Armstrong and Vernon Small want to talk about policy?

The Daily Blog:  Bullet holes in Hone’s electorate office vs bonfires and drunk chants

The Daily Blog:  What’s worse than Key lying about Internet MANA effigy burning on Breakfast TV?




Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes



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Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation…





Key has made his call; deals with ACT and Peter Dunne are in – a deal with the CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party), is out;


Deals show contempt, says Labour


Now we can look forward to TV3’s political commentator, Patrick Gower, posting tweets of outrage at Key’s machinations – just as he did two months ago. On 29  May, Gower was scathing at the alliance between Mana and the Internet Party;


Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance


Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)


Will Gower make the same expressions of outrage at National?

What are the odds?


It seems obvious that Gower has a personal thing against Mana and Kim Dotcom.

His most recent utterances on 29 July made that perfectly clear, when he has again stated,

“And David Cunliffe has repeatedly and pointedly refused to rule out working with Internet-Mana to form a Government.”

At every opportunity, Gower has repeatedly demanded Cunliffe rule out working with Mana-Internet.


When a journalist demands that a political party make a definitive policy statement to rule out a potential coalition partner is not reporting the news – it is a naked attempt to influence it.

It is one thing to ask a party leader who they will/won’t deal with, post-election. That is a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

But to pressure a party leader to rule out a potential coalition partner?

Gower has stepped beyond the bounds of what is acceptable journalism. It is not his job to dictate to any party leader who they should/shouldn’t coalesce with. His job is simply to report their decisions.

The rest is up to us, the people to evaluate that information.

Pull your head in, Paddy.





Radio NZ:  Deals show contempt, says Labour

TV3: Opinion – Dotcom does Key a Winston favour

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot




david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2014.



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When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

30 July 2014 4 comments


Tova O'Brien - foot in mouth award


It had to happen, I guess… The media pack-campaign against Labour Leader David Cunliffe has managed to  plumb new depths of absurdity.

On TV3, on 24 July,  TV3/Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;


tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe


The print-version on the TV3 website had this to say on the story;


Key nestles in with the All Blacks


Tova O'Brien 3 News Political Reporter

Political Reporter – Thursday 24 Jul 2014 6:32p.m.


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has labelled the Prime Minister a poser and an imposter after yet another photo opportunity coup.

First it was tea with the Queen, then golf with United States President Barack Obama – now he’s managed to nestle in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine.

“Some people will love it and some people will hate it,” says Mr Key.

With the All Blacks almost like royalty in New Zealand it could be seen as an endorsement, and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not impressed.

“I was surprised to see it,” he says. “It’s not often you see a major sporting body getting involved in politics.”

The New Zealand Rugby Union was forewarned by the magazine.

It did nothing but request a small disclaimer that Mr Key leading the pack wearing an All Blacks jersey was not an endorsement – it was photoshopped.

“I think I need to accept that I’d more than likely make it as a mascot than a player,” says Mr Key.

“It’s posing and impostering,” says Mr Peters. “You wouldn’t put an All Black jersey on unless you’re an All Black. He looks like an imposter.”

He did not request the cover, the magazine approached him and it does not breach any electoral laws.

3 News

However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, is this incredible parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team.Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

Geddit? “Cringey”. “Whingey”. They rhyme!!

Oh how very witty, Ms O’Brien!

Ho, ho, ho! Tova, you certainly earned your salary with that piece. There must have been several children who laughed their heads of at the ‘funny’ you made!

Not so funny is that despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe. This is what we are being served up as “news”;




This is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

So what should be the response of the Left? To work our arses off in the next two months and score a decisive victory on 20 September. That will be our “FUCK YOU!” to the media in this country.





TV3:  Key nestles in with the All Blacks

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays





david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2014.



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When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

29 July 2014 1 comment


The people will believe what the media tells them to believe


The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

When you look at the Tale of Two Holidays, it is glaringly obvious how differently the media – and certain ego-driven political commentators who shall remain nameless – reported both events. The public must have been scratching their heads, wondering, What-The-F**k?!

Even right-wing political commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton, remarked on the apparent contradiction on 21 July, on Radio NZ’s political panel;

 “The Prime Minister was away for ten days at his bach or his holiday home. As you say, it seems terribly unfair and Labour people are very angry with the media because they say ‘here’s the Prime Minister goes away for ten days and our leader get’s sick for two days and goes skiing for three days and then get’s criticised’


… to be completely crass about about this, if the CEO of Coca Cola and there’s the CEO of Pepsi Cola, and one of them’s sale’s are increasing making great profits, and the other one’s got a whole lot of product recalls underway and sales are down and they’re in a shambles, then the first CEO get’s to go on holiday and the other one doesn’t.”

The media’s unhealthy fixation on Cunliffe left me wondering…




from:      Frank Macskasy
to:          Dominion Post <>
date:     Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 11:16 PM
subject: Letter to the editor


The editor
Dominion Post

There has been public disquiet that the mainstream media appears to be unfairly treating the leader of the Labour party, David Cunliffe.

This disquiet appears to have been confirmed by the recent attention and disparaging remarks by political reporters and commentators on Cunliffe’s three day holiday in Queenstown.

The same disparaging remarks were not directed at Prime Minister John Key, who himself took a ten day holiday – three times as long! – in Hawaii, at the same time.

Or the recent Donghua Liu “story”, where Mr Liu claimed he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine to Labour – and then had to retract his allegations. No apology to Cunliffe was forthcoming, I noticed.

It appears to be different rules of reporting by the media when it comes to both men.

Of course, the media will respond that Labour is low in the polls and criticism by political commentators reflects that.

The irony is that constant negative stories by the media, including focusing on trivia (Cunliffe’s red scarf!!) and smear campaigns, feeds into Labour’s low poll rating. It is a ever-descending vicious circle.

Wouldn’t it be a fine idea if the media simply reported the news, instead of making it up and generating sensationalistic headlines, just to sell advertising space?

Far be it for me to tell the media how to do their job. I’m just an ordinary citizen who has to hear this kind of garbage day after day.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]


There is another reason why it seems bizarre that the media made such a fuss over Cunliffe’s three day break.

It’s common knowledge that Key takes his holidays in Hawaii. Which is an odd way for a Minister of Tourism to show his endorsement of the local tourism industry, and is something I’ve blogged about in the past. As usual, the mainstream media never considered it worthy of consideration.

But it seems to have been a different story  when David Cunliffe dared take three days off – supporting local businesses in the process – and all hell broke loose.

The campaign against Cunliffe was no better highlighted than the Herald’s recent Doinghua Liu Affair*, when an immigrant businessman made several allegations against David Cunliffe. Of those allegations, one (about a $100,000 bottle of wine) was retracted; one (about a supposed $15,000 book) remains unproven by any evidence; and the other two appear to have been overt attempts by Mr Liu to “curry favour” with a previous Labour minister.

Yet, the allegations were given wide prominence, even though,

  • there was very little (if any) actual evidence presented – it was all hear-say based on one man’s claims,
  • the Herald has pointedly refused to make public Mr Liu’s written statements, despite making public a copy of a letter signed by Cunliffe in 2003,
  • no apology, for the mis-reporting of the now-discredited $100,000 bottle of wine, has been forthcoming.

Then again, perhaps the purpose of the Donghua Liu Affair was not to report the news – but to manufacture it,  and in the process unfairly damage a reputation and undermine a party’s  election campaign…



from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Sunday Star Times <>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM
subject: Letter to the editor

The editor
Sunday Star Times


John Key takes a ten day holiday in Hawaii and David Cunliffe takes a three day break in Queenstown – and the media go nuts over Cunliffe. All because of one unattributed “letter” from an anonymous individual claiming to be a “senior Labour party official”.

For all we know, the letter could have originated from the National Party’s dirty tricks team and hyped by certain TV3 and Herald commentators.

The Donghua Liu Affair was another sensationalised story based on one man’s unsubstantiated allegations – one of which has been retracted through lack of evidence.

Cunliffe addressed a family violence conference in Auckland and one tiny portion of his speech was taken utterly out of context by a headline-seeking media desperate for a sensational story. His full statement – which is rarely reported – “I’m sorry for being a man right now because family and sexual violence perpetrated overwhelmingly by men”

The true meaning of Cunliffe’s speech was lost in the subsequent media-generated hysteria.

Meanwhile, John Key refuses to apologise to crime-victim, Tania Billingsley for the shocking way in which the government botched the apprehension of the alleged perpetrator. Key says, “I don’t make apologies unless there’s a serious reason for me to do that.”

Evidently sexual violence is not a “serious” matter for the PM?

Key feels he can get away with such an outrageous comment because he knows full well that the media is fixated, with pack-like mentality, on David Cunliffe.

The public are not well-served by such poor “news” manufacturing.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]


The  concerted attacks on Cunliffe do indeed reek of a “pack mentality”; the kind of schoolyard or workplace bullying that takes place when a group recognises someone who, for whatever reason, is constrained in hitting back.

In Cunliffe’s case, he can’t “hit” back at the media. Not without adding fuel to the hysterics from the likes of Garner, Gower, Henry, Armstrong, et al.

In John Armstrong’s case, the man is simply so wedded to his mates in the  National Party  that, on the same day Donghua Liu made his allegations, the Herald columnist called for David Cunliffe to step down as leader of the Labour Party;


John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order


The fact that there was little actual evidence of wrong-doing was not a matter Armstrong considered.  Indeed, if one carefully reads Armstrong’s diatribe, one curious truth becomes apparent; at no point does he mention that Cunliffe’s letter to Immigration NZ was written in 2003 – eleven years ago;


cunliffe - 2003 dated letter - partial


Unless one had an eidetic memory, no human being on Earth could possibly recall signing a letter written over a decade ago.

Of course, it suited Armstrong’s purpose to omit the date. To any reader unfamiliar with the full details of the story, taking the letter out of it’s historical context gave Armstrong’s column validity that it barely deserved. It suited the Herald’s agenda to undermine the Labour leader. And it fitted like a hand-in-glove the collective media pack-attack on Cunliffe.

The entire issue became a Monty Pythonesque-style farce when,  on 22 July, when Patrick Gower reported on David Cunliffe’s exasperation with a media obsessed with finding fault with him;


David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong


Patrick Gower 3 News Political Editor

By Patrick Gower


Political Editor


Labour leader David Cunliffe has done what politicians hate to do: he has admitted to getting it wrong.

And it is a long list – there is his apology for being a man and his apology for taking a holiday. There is even an apology for the scarf he has been wearing.

“I am being straight up – things I could have done better, things that I will do better.”

The Labour Party is in a crisis at just 26.7 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll.

Mr Cunliffe took three days off to go skiing in Queenstown last week and he says he got that wrong too.

 “I’m happy to say, with the information I now have about movement in the polls, when I made that decision I would have made a different decision.”

The poll shows since Mr Cunliffe took over as the Labour leader last year, voters who say he’s performing poorly have doubled, to 53 percent.

After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key takes 10 days off in Hawaii, and refuses to personally apologise to Tania Billingsley – the woman at the centre of the botched Malaysian diplomat case – but instead, it is Mr Cunliffe forced into making multiple apologies.

The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind.


So there you have it, even the colour of Cunliffe’s scarf had attracted media attention and criticism.

Gower does admit one thing; “The scrutiny on his leadership is amplified – because Labour is so far behind“. So the scrutiny on Cunliffe’s leadership was not based on policies nor his  pronouncement on policy matters – it was predicated  on “Labour [...] so far behind”.

 In other others; kicking someone when they’re down. Because to bullies, when someone is down, it’s easier to put the boot in. And make no mistake, this is a form of public bullying. When a person is attacked because of the style of their clothing, what else does one call it?

However, it get’s ‘better’. Listen to Gower’s commentary at the end of this TV3 report, on the same day;

"So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple 'mea culpas' about what can only be described as  pretty minor issues..."
“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”

“So David Cunliffe Cunliffe voluntarily makes multiple ‘mea culpas’ about what can only be described as pretty minor issues…”

Pretty. Minor. Issues.

Those “pretty minor issues” are the “issues” which TV3, NZ Herald, and other media outlets have been fixated upon for the last few months – and now Gower is criticising Cunliffe for raising those very same issues?!

This is what I call manufactured news. Manufactured news made worse when a political figure is boxed into a corner to address them, thereby validating the synthetic nature of said “news”.

No wonder that Cunliffe said in the same video;

“I am determined that I will be extremely careful about the way I put things going forward…”

Just what the public needs; politicians fearful of  saying plainly and clearly what’s on their minds because they are wary of their remarks being taken out of context; twisted; and  hyper-sensationalised, by an increasingly tabloid-style media in this country.

We have been poorly served by the media which is more interested in ratings and selling advertising rather than reporting events. As matters stand, we may see politicians self-censoring, thereby pressuring political journalists/commentators to generate even more of their own asinine, manufactured ‘stories’, with ever-more lurid headlines.

Fifteen months ago, John Key expressed his frustration at what he perceived as media hounding. He retaliated;

“What I should have done, and what I will be doing in the future, is saying, well, the member needs to put that down to me in writing, and I’ll be doing that to the journalists as well.

‘Cos if you want perfection of everything I have done, two, three, four, five years ago, I will get you all that information for you, but I’ll get you the whole lot and give it to you.”

Perhaps the Labour leader might consider that mainstream media are no longer merely news-gathering and reporting organisations. They are selling advertising to earn revenue to return a dividend to shareholders.

As such, the mainstream media has it’s own agenda and reporting the news is no longer as profitable as it once was. “News” now has to be “packaged” and delivered to “consumers”. The “packaging” is now more important than the content.

Bear that in mind, Mr Cunliffe; you are being “packaged” for media consumers in whatever manner will sell the product (advertising).

My advice to David Cunliffe; refuse to be “packaged”. Develop a strategy for ignoring “pretty minor issues“. Treat the  next smear campaign that rises in the same way that Key treats such matters; with casual disdain.

And give the Gowers and Garners and Henrys of the media circus a simple message; “if you want to talk with me, fine. But if it’s about “holidays” or “scarves” or non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine – don’t expect any co-operation from me when you’re vying for information.  Because I’m just as likely to give it to your competitors instead.”

So stay aloof and don’t buy into being “packaged” by the media.

It seems to work for Key.

Meanwhile, lest we forget this shameful episode…

. old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879



from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           NZ Herald <>
date:      Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM
subject: Letter to the editor


The editor*
NZ Herald


It is now nearly one month since your editorial, “Cries of bias will not stop reporting”, where the NZ Herald tried – to no avail – to justify it’s campaign of lurid allegations and sensationalised headlines against Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

So where are we now with the Donghua Liu Affair?

Claims of a $100,000 bottle of wine – retracted.

Claims of a $15,000 book – still not proven.

Claims of a Yangtze River boat-trip and $2000 donation to a rowing club – shown to be one businessman’s ineffectual efforts to ‘curry favour’ with then-Minister, Rick Barker. (One doubts that a free feed and two grand donated to a rowing club would “buy” much in the way of favours from a Backbencher, much less a Crown Minister.)

Where does that leave your paper which has promised “further revelations”? Where is the “evidence” promised by the Herald?

And why have Donghua Liu’s “signed statements” still not been made public so we may judge for ourselves as to the value of his claims?

This has been a shameful, sordid episode from the Herald and will be long remembered by many as an example why journalists rank low on surveys of trusted professions – just marginally above used-car salesmen, politicians, telemarketers, and prostitutes (no offence intended to the latter two).

Indeed, the public will have every justification in treating with total scepticism any future story involving David Cunliffe (or any other senior Labour politician).

This has not been the Herald’s finest moment.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]



* Note: the matter of the Herald’s reporting of the Donghua Liu Affair is now a subject of a Press Council complaint, laid by this blogger, as well as OIA lodgements with the offices of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Immigration.




Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Radio  NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Fairfax media: John Key changes tack over questioning

NZ Herald: Cries of bias will not stop reporting

Previous related blogposts

John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

The Donghua Liu Affair – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?



david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 July 2014.



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Another media gaffe – this time it’s TV3’s Brook Sabin

26 July 2014 2 comments


Foot In Mouth Award - Brook Sabin


Every so often (quite regularly, in fact), a media personality will say something outrageously offensive, or just plain gormless, that results in an uncontrollable  *facepalm* reaction. On 19 July, on TV3’s “The Nation“, it was Brook Sabin’s turn.

Brook was one of three panellists on “The Nation“;


(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson

(L-R) 3News political reporter Brook Sabin, RadioLIVE political editor Jessica Williams, and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson


The discussion centered around coalitions and pre-election deal-making. Colin Craig from the Conservative Party and Jamie Whyte from near-defunct ACT Party, had just been interviewed by a very competant Lisa Owen (unlike the uber differential performance between a very chummy Patrick Gower and NZ First Leader, Winston Peters).

At  1.42 into the panel discussion , there was this extraordinary exchange between Sabin and Wilson;

Sabin: And if John Key says ‘no’ to Colin Craig, he can say why is Labour not saying ‘no’ to doing a deal with Kim Dotcom, and I think that’s quite powerful as well-“

Wilson: Actually, I think that’s, that’s unreasonable. Now, Labour hasn’t done a deal with Kim Dotcom. They are saying maybe they will do some kind of deal after the election, in the same way that National would do a deal with the Conservatives. But right now, Labour’s made it very clear they’re going to do their best to win Te Tai Tokerau. They’re going to do their best to win all the Maori seats. They’re not doing a deal to give Internet-Mana a seat. On the contrary they’re going to fight them. They may need to do a deal later, but it is very different from the Epsom-Ohariu scenario.

Sabin: Yeah, absolutely. But David Cunliffe is leaving that door open…

Wilson: I think… I think they’ve said very clearly Kelvin Davis…[interuption]…

Sabin: …And I think he needs to try to close that door a little bit more…

Wilson: …Kelvin Davis has the party support to win that electorate and they’re going to do that.

Where has Brook Sabin been? Holidaying on Pluto?

The last few weeks have been rife with Labour MPs excoriating Mana-Internet. Simon Wilson  was 100% correct that  David Cunliffe has made it abundantly clear that Labour is not prepared to do Epsom-Ohario style deals – as the Labour leader pointedly made explicit on “The Nation“, just the previous week;

Patrick Gower: If Internet-Mana get there and you need their numbers will you use them to form a government or will you rule them out?

David Cunliffe: We’re not doing any pre-election deals with anybody.

Patrick Gower: But you would perform-

David Cunliffe: Paddy, with this team to win the election, campaigning for the Labour party vote. After the election we will work with whoever we need to work with to change the Government…

Seems fairly clear to me.
Is it clear to you, the reader?

Evidently it was not clear to Brook Sabin.

Does Sabin not watch his own current affairs show?

The media appears full of political journalists and reporters who simply don’t seem to know what they are talking about and put a ‘spin’ on things that is misleading and damaging to the process of democratic debate. (Note the irony here; even whilst Cunliffe and Labour bend over backwards not to engage in any pre-election deal-making – the media will still portray them as doing precisely that! Labour might as well nut out a full-scale deal with the Greens and Mana-Internet, as media commentators have already convicted them on the charge. All the while, the same media commentators look on in awe at Key’s deft handling of deals with ACT, Peter Dunne, and possibly Colin Craig. My poor little Hypocrisy Meter, which goes *DING!*, has melted down from over-excitement at the double standards of mainstream media commentators.)

If the media cannot be trusted to report what a party leader has said, unequivocally, in black-and-white terms that a five year old can understand – then we are not well served for information.

Brook Sabin tried to ‘lump’ David Cunliffe with John Key when it came to pre-election deal-making. He failed because luckily Simon Wilson was onboard “The Nation’s” panel to correct Sabin’s patently untrue assertions.

Either Sabin was truly ignorant of Labour’s position, or he was indulging in sloppy, lazy “they’re-all-the-same” style of political commentary. If it is the latter, Sabin needs to find a new job.

Are they looking for bar-staff on Pluto?




The Daily Blog: Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

TV3 The Nation:  Interview – Jamie Whyte & Colin Craig (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – NZ First Leader Winston Peters (video)

TV3 The Nation:  Panel – Brook Sabin, Jessica Williams & Simon Wilson (video)

TV3 The Nation: Interview – David Cunliffe (transcript)

Previous related blogposts

Labour’s collapse in the polls – why?

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!



Lorde wants you to vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.



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