Home > Media, The Body Politic > Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

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The right wing, it would be fair to say, dislike the media. Or, most of the media. Fox News, religious programming, and Rantback Radio are acceptable.

But nothing that challenges us to think.

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Kark Du Fresne’s recent outpouring of grievance in Fairfax Media’s ‘Manawatu Standard‘ made it plain and obvious to the reader that he has a problem with Radio NZ.

Du Fresne referred to RNZ as “left wing”. And then listed all those people whom he thinks are guilty of being “left”. People like,

Kim Hill

Chris Laidlaw

Jeremy Rose

Kathryn Ryan

Obviously, these people all need to be brought before Parliament’s House Committee for Un-New Zealand Activities. (Which, we don’t have – yet – but I’m sure one of Mr Du Fresne’s right wing colleagues such as Maggie Barry could easily organise one. More on Maggie Barry in a moment.) Then the H.C.U.N.Z.A.  can ensure that Hill, Laidlaw, Rose, and Ryan never work in this town again.

Our American cuzzies did that in the 1950s, during what we now refer to as the “McCarthy Era“,

Senator Joseph McCarthy

So what were Du Fresne’s allegations?

So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.

Which would be interesting to consider – except that Du Fresne doesn’t actually spell out where “the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes” actually lies.

He tells the reader that  “the editorial bias” is there – but not where, precisely. It’s all rather… nebulous.

Du Fresne then claims that,

Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning.”

Really? What “nature” is that, I wonder?

Perhaps Du Fresne is refering to Public broadcasting organisations challenging peoples’ thinking – whereas right-wing media tend to reinforce preconceptions and  prejudices?

He goes on to say,

It’s not hard to understand how this comes about. Journalists distrustful of capitalism naturally gravitate toward state-owned media organisations, seeing them as untainted by the profit motive.”

Now that is an intriguing claim to make.

Especially considering that Maggie Barry (who I referred to above), was the morning presenter on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report” in 1986, and hosted  “Nine To Noon” show in 1990.

Later, in November 2011, Ms Barry stood as a political candidate in the general election, and won the seat of  North Shore.

She stood as a National Party candidate. National being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party,

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And then there’s Richard Griffin, Radio NZ’s one-time political editor, who worked for National Party ex-Prime Minister Jim Bolger, as his  press secretary in the late 1990’s.

National, as I understand it,  being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party.

Then there are the regular guests on Radio NZ – who are well noted for their National or ACT Party affiliations, or who simply express right-wing views;

  • ex-National President, Michelle Boag;
  • National & ACT supporter and anti-MMP campaigner, Jordan Williams
  • rightwing blogger and National Party apparatchik,  David Farrar;
  • ex-ACT MP and Party President,  Rodney Hide;
  • ex-ACT and later, ex-National MP, Stephen Franks;
  • former speech-writer and press secretary for National and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten;
  • and former police officer and front-person for television’s “Police Ten 7“, Graham Bell (who holds right wing views on many issues).

There are probably others I’ve forgotten to list.

So what is the “... ideological mindset that permeates the entire organisation” that Du Fresne refers to?

We don’t know. Again, he doesn’t tell us.

But I wonder what Ms Boag; Mr Farrar; Ms Barry; Mr Williams; Mr Hide; Mr Franks; Mr Hooten; Mr Bell, and Mr Griffin might say about Du Fresne suggesting that,

This becomes self-perpetuating, since the more Left-leaning an organisation becomes, the more it attracts other people of the same persuasion.”

Perhaps Radio NZ might not appear so “left-leaning” if National ministers – especially John Key – actually bothered to take up invitations to front for interviews?

On almost every occassion when government policy is under scrutiny, or when National is being heavily criticised, National ministers almost always refuse to be interviewed, to present their side of things.

The result is that National’s critics often accept invitations to be interviewed – thereby giving an impression of anti-National  bias.

But it’s only an impression of bias because National Ministers refuse most invitations for interviews.

One then has to shake their head when Du Fresne then demands,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour.”

Bollicks. Anyone can read between the lines and understand what he is really saying. Let me “fix” the above statement so we clearly understand what Du Fresne is actually demanding of Radio NZ,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests that I’m comfortable with – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour for the rest of New Zealand who are a bunch of leftie, pinko, mung-bean eating, hippies.”

And this bit really takes the proverbial cake,

This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”

Really, Mr Du Fresne?

Du Fresne’s demand that Radio NZ fulfill it’s Charter requirements (though he yet again omits to tell us how Radio NZ has been derelict in it’s duty) is in contrast with his views on TVNZ’s  (now defunct) charter,

The Clark government saw where things were going and tried to arrest the decline by imposing on TVNZ a public service charter, which was largely ignored. Today, the unremitting diet of banal, so-called reality shows and American crime dramas on the two publicly-owned channels is indistinguishable from the offerings on their privately-owned rivals, and disillusioned viewers have been driven into the welcoming arms of Sky TV. ” – 16 October 2010

Acknowledgement: The Spectator – Time to sell off TVNZ

The notion of the public service broadcaster survives in the form of Radio New Zealand, but otherwise it’s in peril. TVNZ is in the process of being released from its obligations under the public service charter introduced under Labour. Its sole objective in future will be to return a dividend to the government (not that viewers will notice much difference, since the charter was largely ineffectual).” – 23 July 2011

Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – The changing TV landscape (sorry, media ecology)

No demand anywhere amongst his writings that TVNZ abide by it’s Charter. Just a resigned acceptance. And usually  followed by none-to-subtle hints to privatise TVNZ.

Perhaps the most pertinent point of Du Fresne’s whinge-session is this remark,

Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to. But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”

Bingo!

There we have it; “Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to”.

And then, “But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists”.

And then states that   “Kim Hill is the worst offender“.

To put it bluntly – Du Fresne seems utterly confused in what he is demanding. On the one hand he states,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community

[…]

This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”

But he also admits that,

Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to…”

Whilst then stating,

“But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”

What Du Fresne has omitted to say is,

“But on OTHER programmes, a RIGHT WING bias IS PRESENTED.”

Because, my fellow New Zealanders, when people like Stephen Franks, Rodney Hide, Michelle Boag, or David Farrar are guesting on Radio NZ and expressing their right wing views – that is when Radio NZ is meeting it’s Charter obligations and presenting the Right Wing point of view.

For example, listen to Stephen Franks (if your stomach can bear it) on Jim Mora’s 4pm Panel on 8 April. Franks is ranting some right-wing rubbish, as usual, on people’s “reliance” on insurance,

The Panel with Stephen Franks and Tino Pereira (Part 1)

The Panel with Stephen Franks and Tino Pereira (Part 2)

I think we all know what is going on here. Du Fresne isn’t interested in  “balance” at all. He is demanding unquestioning, Stalinist-style, fealty to the current National government.

He even let’s it slip, near the end of his diatribe against Radio NZ,

“The second, more pragmatic, reason is that the Left-wing bias apparent in some of RNZ’s programmes is hardly likely to endear the organisation to the politicians who control its fate.”

Why would a supposedly independent public broadcaster need to “endear” itself to the government-of-the-day?

And does that logically mean that when Labour is in power, that Radio NZ must “endear [itself] to the politicians who control its fate”?

Du Fresne does add this caveat, though,

“In saying this, I’m not suggesting for a moment that RNZ should become a tame government puppet. That would be far worse than the status quo.”

Bullshit. That is precisely what Du Fresne is calling for; becoming a tame government puppet.

Ironically, four years ago, Du Fresne had this to say about Radio NZ,

Another commenter sneered at my statement that the news media functioned as a marketplace of ideas, claiming this was a meaningless slogan typical of “faded old neoliberal ideology”. Really? Perhaps I’m imagining all those lively and informed expressions of opinion and exchanges of ideas – exchanges that help shape public opinion on the issues of the day – that I see every day in newspaper stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, or hear on talkback programmes and interviews on Morning Report. Priggish leftists hate this stuff because it permits the dissemination of views they disapprove of.” – 30 May  2009

Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – Why leftist academics hate the media

So back in May 2009, Du Fresne was positively gushing with adoration at Radio NZ?!

So what’s changed?

Plenty.

In 2009, the msm* were in love with Dear Leader and the six month old National government could do no wrong. The Media-Key “honeymoon” was just beginning. Media reports critical of Key were minimal. Everyone loved Key and National.

Now, four years on, as the “honeymoon” has ended and a bitter “divorce” is in progress, the media is reporting one scandal after another. National policies are drawing heated criticism from all sectors of society. National poll ratings are gradually falling. And Dear Leader is no longer as popular as he once was.

That is the nub of the issue here. The  Right are beginning to feel defensive and threatened.  Like a cornered wild beast, they are  lashing out at their critics – especially the media,

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Herald - John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads

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And people like Karl Du Fresne –  an unrepentant  Right Wing political commentator – is bitter. He’s not feeling the love anymore, folks.

On a final note; Du Fresne complains that Radio NZ is biased and left wing.

Perhaps we might take him more seriously if his own columns were less biased and right wing.

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References

Wikipedia: McCarthyism

Wikipedia: Kim Hill

The Listener: Karl du Fresne

Notes

* msm = mainstream media(newspapers, radio, televison broadcasters – as opposed to “New Media” such as bloggers, websites, youtube, etc)

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= fs =

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  1. 12 April 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Bammm!! Thanks you – you’ve succinctly put it all together – maybe Karl will read this and take a deep breath. I wonder of Whaleoil would admit to the same. Bias claims are always the last bastion of the biased.

  2. mcclairy
    12 April 2013 at 4:28 pm

    du Fresne just has to bide his time, I am sure they will be replacing RNZ present CEO with an obliging Right Wing Monetarist just as they have done at Treasury, Reserve Bank, GCSB and no doubt other places not yet discovered. As for calling National a centre right party, are you kidding ? Key is the ultimate extreme right winger and like ‘Bliar’ I am sure the recently departed “wicked witch” would also call him “my greatest success”, but that honour goes to Merrill Lynch. If I had Karl’s email I would send this off to him, just to let him know “WE” are on to him 🙂 Apart from Campbell live, I have given up on TV and the remainder MSM…..RNZ is the last frontier of balanced journalism…..although was a tad upset when ‘they’ bannned Bomber Bradbury from ever again being on the Jim Mora show, nor any other RNZ show forthat matter. Put that down to Key’s chap on RNZ Board who was somebody of import in his electorate…….name ? They are all so forgettable.

    • 14 April 2013 at 4:06 pm

      I concur, McClairy; the Tories will probably replace the current CEO of Radio NZ, Peter Cavanagh, with someone more “flexible” and willing to adopt National policies to commercialise the broadcaster.

      This would be an assault on the last professional, public, non-commercial broadcaster in NZ.

      We can only hope that an incoming Labour-Green coalition will undo any damage that National causes to Radio NZ.

      I was being generous when I referred to National as “center-right”. 😉

      The National Party apparatchik appointed to NZ ON AIR was Stephen McElrea. McElrea is John Key’s Electorate Secretary and a Regional Deputy Chair for the National Party,

      More here; https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/a-very-national-coup/

      I wonder what Du Fresne’s reaction was to McElrea’s appointment.

      Outrage?

      Or quiet nodding approval?

      The latter, I suspect.

  3. Deborah Kean
    12 April 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Kathryn Ryan, left wing? Not a bit of it… the opposite, I would say, and Laidlaw, ditto… He’s galloping right-ward in his old age.

    • 14 April 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Debbie, I wonder if Karl thinks anyone/everyone is “left wing” if they happen to question this government.

      I wonder if Karl think that Steven Sackur is “left wing”?

  4. samwise
    16 April 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Du Fresne is a waste of space. He’d be satisfied with nothing less than readings from Mein Kampf and the KKK’s manual on white supremacy.

  1. 29 April 2013 at 12:42 pm
  2. 15 June 2013 at 10:40 pm
  3. 15 June 2013 at 10:59 pm
  4. 19 August 2016 at 8:03 am
  5. 29 August 2018 at 5:48 am
  6. 3 September 2018 at 8:00 am

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