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“Free speech” – The Rules according to the Right

3 September 2018 1 comment

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The passionate debate  over free speech for two visiting Canadian alt.right Polite Fascists drew (at times near hysterical) comment from everyone who cared sufficiently about the issue to proffer an opinion.

For many, it was a litmus-test determining how far our beliefs extended to preserving the right of free speech. Free speech extended to those whose views we despised.

For many others, free speech was not absolute. Spreading racist, homophobic, sexist, and transphobic vitriol belittled already-marginalised and disempowered people in our society.

For others, their Care Factor was zero. Faced with an empty refrigerator, or sleeping in a garage or car, or choosing whether to pay the power bill or medication for a child with rheumatic fever, was a closer reality for many New Zealanders.

If you were white, male, and straight – you would be right to feel safe from the bigotted chauvinism of two alt-right Polite Fascists .  A White, Male, Straight could countenance violence as a price for “free speech”.

If you were a person of colour, gay, a woman with a career and a baby, or transgender – not so much.  You might feel less inclined to welcome people into our country whose main purpose was to denigrate you; deny you your equality; your inclusivity in society; your very identity.

A Free Speech Coalition quickly sprang up to defend the right of the two Polite Fascists to be allowed to speak freely.  The group consisted of;

Dr. Michael Bassett – Former Labour Party Minister
Dr. Don Brash – Former leader of the National and ACT Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Ashley Church – Business Leader
Dr. David Cumin – Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
Melissa Derby – University of Canterbury Academic
Stephen Franks – Lawyer
Paul Moon – Professor of History Auckland University of Technology
Lindsay Perigo – Broadcaster
Rachel Poulain – Writer
Chris Trotter – Political Commentator
Jordan Williams – Lawyer

The spokesperson the the so-called Free Speech Coalition, Don Brash,  was very, very, very vocal in defending the right of the Polite Fascists to speak freely in New Zealand.

The same  Don Brash  who last year called for Te Reo to be removed from Radio NZ;

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It seems that Free Speech is fine – as long as it’s in The Queen’s English.

The debate raged in every on-line forum  and became – in most instances – a license for some pretty vile racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic slurs to be uttered. It was as if the Free Speech debate suddenly gave every bigot with internet access a free pass to vent their darkest hates.

For the more rational angels on the  side of the Free Speech debate, it was a necessary price to pay for a free society.

Unfortunately, it could be said that ‘price’ was paid mostly by those minorities and women targetted by our Polite Fascist visitors.

Meanwhile right-wing commentators and bloggers rallied to defend the rights of the Polite Fascists to speak unhindered. Which, in the case of Karl du Fresne is rather ironic, as five years ago he criticised Radio NZ as being too “left-leaning” and called for direct political intervention to “to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes“;

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Said du Fresne;

RNZ is a national treasure, but it’s a flawed treasure, and that makes it vulnerable. By correcting the most obvious of those flaws, whoever takes over from Mr Cavanagh could help protect the organisation against political interference.

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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.

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

Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.

Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.

He’s perfectly entitled to believe that, of course, but he has no right to co-opt the resources of RNZ to pursue his fixation.

[…]

An editor-in-chief who was doing his job properly would crack down on such abuses…

None of it was true, of course, as I pointed out at the time.

The National Party – that bastion of personal liberty – chimed in,  staunchly on the side for free speech;

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Said current National Party leader, Simon Bridges;

“I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it’s a dangerous thing to say ‘because we don’t like what you’re saying we won’t let you in’.”

That was on 9 July.

Seven weeks passed.

National’s staunchness for Free Speech is now… well… not quite so staunch;

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National’s immigration spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, demanded Ms Manning be banned from entering New Zealand;

“She was convicted and sentenced to a 35-year prison term and as a consequence has no good reason to be coming to New Zealand.”

When pointed out to Mr Woodhouse  that this bore an uncanny similarity to the debate over the recent visit of two Polite Fascists, he countered with this;

“This is not a question of free speech. [Ms Manning] is free absolutely to say whatever she wants but she’s not free to travel wherever she wants.”

Which, strangely enough, was precisely the same point made by opponants of the two Canadian Polite Fascists.

On pure principle alone, left-wing bloggers like Idiot Savant at ‘No Right Turn’ and  Martyn Bradbury and left-wing commentators such as Chris Trotter have led the charge to preserve free speech.  They supported the right of the two Polite Fascists to vent their bigotry  in New Zealand.

Shamefully, the same – it seems – cannot be said of the Right-wing.

If we wait for the likes of Karl du Fresne, David Farrar, and the National Party to defend Ms Mannings’ right to speak unhindered in New Zealand – we will be waiting till the sun goes nova (in roughly five billion years time).

Yes, the Free Speech Coalition has come out in support of Ms Manning’s right to speak unhindered in New Zealand.

The spokesperson issuing the statement was Chris Trotter. Don Brash’s name was nowhere to be seen anywhere in the media release. For someone who loves lots of free speaking, Mr Brash was suddenly not so very, very, very vocal.

The reason was blindingly obvious.

As Danyl Mclauchlan pointed out with crystal clarity;

The upcoming visit of the US intelligence whistleblower appears to have some on the right reassessing their commitment to free speech and open debate. How quickly they forget…

… So Manning is an ideological enemy of the National Party. Two weeks ago it was, we were told, vitally important that we cherish free speech so that New Zealand could hear what Don Brash, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux had to say. Now that they’re faced with the spectre of a high profile speaker with values critical of the defence and intelligence establishment, free speech is suddenly far less important to National. A cynic might say it was never about free speech at all, but the defence of racially charged speech under the guise of free speech.

For the Right-wing, free speech is fine. It just depends on who’s doing the speaking.

Did anyone seriously believe even for a nanosecond that it would be otherwise?

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References

TVNZ: Free speech or hate speech? Both sides of the debate sparked by the appearance of alt-right Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux

Southern Poverty Law Centre: Stefan Molyneux

Fairfax media: Southern and Molyneux good test for our free speech tolerance video

Mediaworks/Newshub: Jacinda Ardern ‘simply can’t’ be both a mum and Prime Minister – Stefan Molyneux

Fairfax media: Oscar Kightley – This free speech victory tastes a little strange

Free Speech Coalition: Home

Facebook: Don Brash – Te Reo – Radio NZ

Karl du Fresne: Let’s hear the Canadians for ourselves and decide then whether it’s dangerous

Kiwiblog: More anti speech fascists

Fairfax Media: RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

NZ Herald: Bridges backs free speech for far-right writers banned from Auckland Council venues

Radio NZ: National wants Chelsea Manning banned from NZ

Change.org: Stop Lauren Southern from entering New Zealand

No Right Turn: The cost of a free and democratic society II

The Daily Blog: How the Woke Left lost the free speech debate and gave Southern and Molyneux a marketing victory

The Daily Blog: Free Speech Denialism Is Fascism In Action

Scoop media: Coalition condemns campaign to bar Chelsea Manning

The Spinoff: Chelsea Manning and the limits of free speech absolutism

Additional

Fairfax media: Why self-proclaimed ‘free speech champions’ aren’t helping the cause video

Newsroom: Emma Espiner – The threat of Te Reo

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  Chelsea Manning in NZ

No Right Turn:  Compare and contrast

The Standard:  Let Chelsea Manning speak

Yournz:  National’s Woodhouse wants to ban Chelsea Manning from visiting NZ

Previous related blogposts

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

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 August 2018.

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Is Karl du Fresne happy now?

19 August 2016 1 comment

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In March 2013, former Dominion editor and right-wing columnist, Karl Du Fresne, spat an almighty dummy when he launched a diatribe of accusations of “bias” against Radio New Zealand;

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled

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I responded shortly thereafter with my own interpretation of Du Fresne’s accusation, writing;

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.

Du Fresne claimed;

“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.

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

Left-leaning“?!

Du Fresne did not hold back in his trenchant criticism of the state broadcaster;

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.”

I responded by listing the right-wing commentators who were regular or semi-regular guests and commentators on Radio NZ;

  • 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).

Not forgetting also;

  • 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, and is on Radio NZ’s Board of Governors
  • 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.

On Wednesday 10 August, another guest featured on Radio NZ;

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The Panel with Jeremy Elwood and Karl du Fresne - radio nz

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Karl du Fresne – his name pointed out with a big, ‘pinko’ arrow.

So, is Radio NZ still biased?

Especially when the only person to be publicly banned from that broadcaster was left-wing commentator Martyn Bradbury;

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State Media Bans Dissident - frankly speaking - frank macskasy

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Not so self-righteous with indignant cries of “Bias!” now are we, Mr Du Fresne?

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References

Manawatu Standard: RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

Radio NZ: Board of Governors

NBR: Maggie Barry selected as National’s North Shore candidate

Radio NZ: The Panel with Jeremy Elwood and Karl du Fresne

Additional

TV3: Blogger Bomber banned from RNZ for criticism of Key

Other Blogs

Tumeke: Banned from Radio NZ for criticizing the Government

Previous related blogposts

State Media Bans Dissident!

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

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session – part rua

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled - smells like bullsit

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 August 2016.

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11 June – Issues of Interest

11 June 2013 7 comments

A look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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Hekia Parata – grasping at straws

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National standards pass rates rise

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – National standards pass rates rise

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So let me get this straight. After only one year of National Standards – which is supposedly nothing more than  a means of measurement – Parata is claiming that ” new figures show students are doing better at reading, writing and maths”?!?!

Even die-hard National sycophants would look askance at the claim.

Parata is so desperate for good news that she’s willing to invent it. Some call it “political spin”. In the Real World, we refer to it as bullshitting.

However, the above Radio NZ report is sadly lacking in detail.

The NZ Herald headline was far more realistic and damning;  Parata: Concerning trends in National Standards data.  In the Herald piece, Parata concedes the reason for a slight increase in increased achievement,

We have a range of support in place to help children including Reading Recovery, Reading Together and targeted programmes to accelerate progress in reading, writing and mathematics.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

So it wasn’t ‘National Standards’ that have increased achievement. It’s the hard work of teachers in classrooms slogging their guts out and implementing “Reading Recovery, Reading Together and targeted programmes to accelerate progress in reading, writing and mathematics”.

Well, that’s nice to know.

Even Parata acknowledgment the role of teachers in raising achievement;

It’s a credit to our teaching profession to see progress being made child by child and school by school.”

So, nothing to do with National Standards then, Hekia? As usual, it’s the professional’s quietly working away in the background, while you trot out unworkable policies and spin bullshit to make it look good?

Got it.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Time for some Frankly Speaking Standards Report  Card:

Teachers: A+

Parata’s spin: F – fail

Radio NZ’s reporting: C – can do better

Winston Peters and those emails

Up until the weekend, Winston Peters has been straight-forward in his responses to media questions on the Dunne-Kitteridge Report-Vance Affair. Peters claims to have possession/access of Peter Dunne’s incriminating emails.

Since the weekend, however, his “yes” and “no” answers have given way to evasiveness and obfuscation. No more straight “yes” or “no” answers.

Peters ‘performance’ on Campbell Live yesterday (10 June) was a frustrating exercise in typical Peters evasiveness to straight forward questions. At one point, John Campbell brought up Peters sharply when the wily old politician tried to pull a ‘swiftie’,

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TV3 - Campbell Live 10 June 2013 (at  7.50)

Acknowledgment: TV3 – Campbell Live 10 June 2013 (at  7.50)

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This morning (11 June), Peters was no better on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, giving Simon Mercep the royal runaround. Listen: Radion NZ – Morning Report –  Winston Peters bats away PM’s suggestion of a bluff

Conclusion? Peters does not have the emails in his possession. If he had them;

  1. His answers would be more decisive (you can tell when Peters is bending the truth)
  2. He would be drip-feeding them to the media by now

As our American cuzzies so poetically put it, he ain’t got nuthin‘,

 

Kim Hill on Morning Report

Listening to Kim Hill interviewing political figures on Radio NZ’s Morning Report is simply electrifying. The woman has more  journalistic talent than those on Q+A, The Nation, Third Degree, et al, combined. She holds nothing back.

Check out her interview with John Key on  10 June on Morning ReportJohn Key responds to claims from Winston Peters

Powerful stuff. Excellent interviewing.

John Armstrong; the NZ Herald,Greens, and media voice for the Nats

Ever wondered what a state-sponsored media voice would be like?

Check out John Armstrong’s pro-National spin on the recent Green Party conference and his petty bagging of Russell Norman. More here, on The Daily Blog;  Sparks fly with yet more shocking right wing nuttery

Armstrong hasn’t got a leg to stand on to criticise The Greens, so he focuses on the most trivial, pointless, and childish issues to pick on. This isn’t  media independence – this is being a mouth-piece for the National Party. It’s Soviet-era Pravda and Izveztia, right here in New Zealand.

 

Demeaning rubbish.

John Key, GCSB, Prism, and denials

As reported in the NZ Herald today, Key denied using the “Prism” system to circumvent New  Zealand law to gather information on New Zealanders,

“I can’t tell you how the United States gather all of their information, what techniques they use, I just simply don’t know. But if the question is do we use the United States or one of our other partners to circumvent New Zealand law then the answer is categorically no.”

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – Key: No GCSB legal loophole

Whut?

And remind us all, Mr Key, why we should believe you?

Especially when we already know that the GCSB has spied on 88 New Zealanders, despite  Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 distinctly prohibiting such activities on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. (See related blogpost: The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!)

As well, John Key’s reputation for  brain-fades, mis-representing facts, and outright lying,  is now legendary.

I wouldn’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

And finishing on a positive note…

Bryan Bruce on his Facebook page, Inside Child Poverty New Zealand, today wrote,

I don’t know about you but I ‘m getting really tired of people who say “Yes … but.” They agree something is a good idea … but find a reason for justifying their inactivity.

Yes.. paid parental leave is a good idea… but we can’t afford it.

Yes feeding our kids healthy meals at school is a good idea … but.. it’s too expensive….

No it’s not. It’s about priorities.

Do you want mothers to be able to look after their babies or force them to earn a few dollars so that strangers can look after them?

Do you want Roads of National Significance or Children of National significance?

No more Yes… buts.

If it’s YES..if it’s morally right… if it’s sensible… then let’s just do it.

And Yes we can find the money for these things … we could put Company tax back up to 30%, we could make more effort catching tax cheats who rob us of up to 5 Billion dollars a year ( any idea how that happened Mr Dunne?) we could put a tax on all non-personal Bank transactions and get companies run by Charitable Trusts to pay tax on their profits and apply for rebates on the good works the ACTUALLY do.

Just say Yes… no more buts please.

Acknowledgment: Inside Child Poverty New Zealand

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10 June – Issues of Interest

10 June 2013 1 comment

A look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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Beware of Think Tanks bearing “solutions”

Ex-politician and right wing ‘pundit’ Michael Bassett appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A on 9 June 2013, promoting something called the ” Priced Out” study (see: TVNZ – Q+A –  Dr Michael Bassett on housing affordability)

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New Zealand Initiative - Business Roundtable

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The report blamed local government bodies for being part of something called  the “compact cities cult” and supposedly being unduly restrictive in zoning policies that would free up land for development to build more housing.

Having compact, dense inner cities is fine but often that is prioritised at the expense of urban development. Most people want to live in suburbs.”

Sourse: New Zealand Initiative – Priced Out

One of the report authors, Luke Malpass, stated,

Malpass also notes that the peak of new homes in the 1970s was fuelled by government welfare policies after World War II that subsidised and promoted house construction.

“The New Zealand Government basically printed money for about 50 years to pay for those policies, which is why no-one is really considering them now.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media –  Cult of compact living blamed for high prices

Interesting comments… And they sounded strangely familiar. The ‘tut-tutting’ of State investment in housing; criticism of local body regulation;  the promotion of free market “solutions”…

Who/what is the “New Zealand Initiative” I wondered?

Why, it’s no less than a reincarnation of the right-wing NZ Business Roundtable, merged with the right-wing ‘think tank’, the  New Zealand Institute. (see:  Roundtable and NZ Institute morph into new libertarian think tank)

Well that explains where Bassett and Malpass are coming from – a far-right “think tank” that advocates more lunatic “reforms” that would benefit the top 1% in this country.

Yes, we have a housing shortage in this country.

But as per usual, right-wing fanatics find others to blame for the failure of the marketplace to meet social needs. The New Right steadfastly  refuse to take any responsibility for the failure of their screwy policies – the ones that have been in place since 1984.

It’s funny how the Q+A programme and Fairfax report both neglected to inform the viewer/reader that this was a product of the Business Roundtable.

And by the way, why did the BRT change it’s name?

Perhaps because the “Business Roundtable  brand” is somewhat tarnished?!

See also:

Evening Post: Poor better off than before: Kerr (7 Nov 1996)

Otago Daily Times:  Poor not poorer, Kerr (12 June 1999)

NZPA – Kiwis urged to take responsibility – 12 August 1999

National cares? Whodathunk it???

From the Dominion Post on 28 May, 2013,

Mr Key told the National Party’s northern conference  at the weekend that it was a “myth” that the party did not care about the less-well-off.

Acknowledgment: Dominion Post – Scheme may see kids clothed as well as fed

Also not myths, according to Dear Leader,  are  the Loch Ness monster, flying saucers, and Sasquatch.

Of course, it’s only a sheer coincidence that the Nats have been  engaged in wide-spread beneficiary-bashing at a time of high unemployment caused by the Global Financial Crisis.

The same GFC that Dear Leader automically falls back on to excuse National’s poor performace with the economy;

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. We have had three terrible earthquakes in Christchurch. We have had the collapse of finance companies. We have had to bail out what is, in terms of the earthquakes, the single biggest economic impact on a developed economy as the result of a disaster. The public don’t agree with every decision… but I think they believe on balance it’s been a tough three years and we’ve handled most things well. The second thing is it’s all relative. Yes, our unemployment went to 7 per cent and now it’s 6.5, but in America it’s 9 per cent officially and 14 per cent unofficially and in Spain it’s 20 per cent... ”  – John Key, 11 September 2011

National using the GFC as an excuse for poor economic performance: ok.

Unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries doing likewise: not ok.

Abusing animals for drug-heads

Green Party MP, Mojo Mathers sez,

A pack of gorgeous beagles and their human companions helped deliver to me a 60,000 strong petition calling for the ruling out of animal testing in legal high regulations. I’m sure many of you signed this petition so thank you.

Some of these beagles were rescued from an animal testing facility and I have been working hard to make sure their voices are heard by MPs who are making decisions on the safety testing regulations for legal highs.

If we don’t specifically rule it out, animals will be used to test the safety of legal highs, even though those tests are cruel and unnecessary. I have been meeting with other parties to gather support for my amendment to the Bill to rule out animal testing. “

As demanded by law, if retailers of synthetic cannabis want to peddle their ‘wares’, like this crap,

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k2_synthetic_marijuana_legal_high__N2

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– they need to test their products on animals like these,

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beagles

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– to prove their safety.

Now, I have difficulty at the best of times with the knowledge that we already test products like shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and other stuff we humans “need” to hide our natural body odours.

But causing harm, pain and eventual death to animals to test “herbal highs” so that a bunch of hedonistic party-goers can turn on, tune out, and  trip Up is a step too far.

There is something terribly wrong with out humanity and so-called compassion when we can even contemplate such an atrocity.  This is evil.

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Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session – part rua

29 April 2013 8 comments

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Continued from: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

On 27 march, Karl Du Fresne had a bit of a public melt-down over Radio NZ, complaining,

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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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He accused Radio NZ on being a left wing organisation;

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

Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.

Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Part of the problem is that National Ministers regularly refuse to front on Radio NZ to explain government policy.  An example this morning was typical of National ministers ducking for cover whenever negative stories hit the media.

The Salvation Army will be closing services and making staff redundant, as government funding is cut for critical  social services;

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Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services

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Cuts to services – such as provided by the Salvation Army – will hit the poorest; most down-trodden; people and their families, in our society. It would be like stealing coins from a blind beggar on the footpath.

All the while, National spends-up large on Tim Groser’s job-hunt at the WTO;

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NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs

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And National’s colossal spend-up on consultants and witch-hunts is now legendary;

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Consultancy culture' cost $525m last year - Labour

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – ‘Consultancy culture’ cost $525m last year – Labour

PM defends money spent on MFAT leak

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – PM defends money spent on MFAT leak

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The above stories all reflect badly on National. But is it the fault of state-owned, Radio NZ? Is the broadcaster “left-leaning”, as Du Fresne charges?

Or, is the reason somewhat more prosaic?

So, Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, was invited to appear on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” this morning (29 April) to explain why funding for social services for organisations such as the Salvation Army, will be cut.

When Bennett was invited to front on “Checkpoint” – she refused. Instead she provided a written statement. (Well, wasn’t that ‘big’ of her?)

Hear: Radio NZ – Checkpoint – Labour speaks out against recession funding cuts

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Paula Bennett - not prepared to front on RNZ.

Paula Bennett – too un-nerved to front on Radio NZ?

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This is not the first (nor last) time that National Ministers have refused to front on Radio NZ. It happens with annoying regularity (with Dear Leader John Key being the worst offender).

On the other hand, Labour’s spokesperson on social issues, Jacinda Ardern, accepted an invitation to take part in the story.

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Jacinda Ardern - accepted RNZ's invitation to take part in interview.

Jacinda Ardern – accepted Radio NZ’s invitation to take part in interview.

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If Ministers like Bennett, Ket, et al, – whose salaries are paid by taxpayers – do not have the courage of their convictions to appear on TV, radio, or other media to explain their policies – then they are not worthy of our electoral support nor attention. They are a waste of space.

And right wing munters like Karl Du Fresne should have nothing to whinge about.

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

11 April 2013 13 comments

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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 =