At the risk of creating a terrible circularity that could collapse the interwebs, let me suggest you read Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup today (available here at The NZ Herald.)
Bryce introduces his political topic du jour thus:
New Zealand politics is ‘a dirty, disgusting, despicable game. And it involves dirty, disgusting despicable people at all levels’. That’s the view of National Party-aligned blogger Cameron Slater. Is he right? Some areas are obviously cleaner and more principled than others. The blogosphere – although a particularly valuable part of the ‘public sphere’ – is often also one of the dirtiest and more deceptive. This reputation will be further cemented by revelations yesterday that one of John Key’s spin-doctors, Jason Ede, has supplied content to Cameron Slater’s Whaleoil blog. For the best coverage of this, see Michael Fox’s Senior Key staffer’s rubbish pic duty.
This story may seem frivolous or ‘beltway’, but it actually raises important questions about how political parties and politicians operate in New Zealand. For example, there are often allegations swirling around the blogosphere about who really funds the various partisan blogs, and whether they’re essentially written from within the taxpayer-funded parliamentary offices of the political parties.
Yes, I think he’s absolutely right about the importance of asking these questions … and so we reach that risk of circularity I mentioned, because he links to this blog, The Paepae, saying:
Questions about deception and integrity in the PR and blogging world have arisen in other recent items. Last week’s Listener editorial complains that both corporate and government public relations is now all about deceiving and obscuring information and not helping improve accountability and transparency – see: The truth is out. Blogger and journalist Peter Aranyi asks questions about the role of the institutions he is part of – see: Part of the news media? or a “PR blog” dedicated to “destroying” reputations?. And media academic Merja Myllylahti says the New Zealand’s blogosphere is thriving, but will the party last?.
Anyway, go and read it. See what you think.
It seems pretty clear there’s a whole lot of pretence and deception going on out there in the wild west of the web. The business model of ’running certain lines for PR companies‘ seems increasingly to be something real, denials notwithstanding.
And as for Cameron Slater labelling anyone or a group, such as, in this case, Press Gallery reporters ‘sanctimonious hypocrites’ … Well! There’s another example of his comically anaemic level of self-awareness.