More on the negative credibility of bloggers ‘seeding’ controversy in the mainstream media …

David Farrar and Cameron Slater seem unreliable sources.

Unreliable sources. Some political bloggers' claims are about as 'factual' as a Punch & Judy show. (image: Lonopan - click)

Following my brief mention of bloggers who make sh*t up (Negative credibility sux, eh @whaleoil? eh @dpfdpf?) I was interested last night to read NZ First leader Winston Peters’ speech notes for a Wintec media lunch yesterday where he pinged the very same two ‘artistes’ I mentioned in my post: David Farrar and Cameron Slater.


A mischievous blogger known as Kiwiblog [David Farrar] made up a story the Thursday before the election that New Zealand First was an incorporated society and that Winston Peters was an illegal candidate.
That story running as it did immediately before the Election Day is a corrupt practice under our election law.
By sheer coincidence, this blogger is the paid pollster of the National Party.
The foreign owned newspaper Dominion Post felt compelled to also publish this garbage and the story appeared to be taking off until some spoilsport presented the true facts.
That story could have been the difference between eight and nine MPs for New Zealand First.
With one more we could have stopped the sale of state assets – and the National Party knew it.
My point is that media outlets – whether radio, newspapers, television or the Internet – are full of opinions masquerading as facts.

Here’s how it looked at the time. Note the faux journalistic language: ‘EXCLUSIVE’, and ‘An investigation … has found’ and stated in conclusive terms:candidacy is illegal‘. What a piece of work.

David Farrar posing as a reporter, November 25th, 2011 — an 'exclusive' 'story' resulting from an 'investigation'. Is it just me? This looks like an untrustworthy inadequately researched political hit job/smear campaign by a partisan virtually on the eve of the election. Is there another explanation? Note that a journalistic code of conduct would have required a right of reply be offered to Peters prior to publication. Do you think that happened? Pfft. Silly question.

In response to his misinformation being exposed as, let’s be kind, nebulous BS (the facts speak for themselves: Peters is still an MP, isn’t he?), David Farrar is now fudging the issue and playfully suggests the National Party owes him a knighthood(!) for his pre-election ‘hit’ on Peters.

Peters said in his speech the fake controversy planted by National’s poodle on the eve of the General Election may have prevented even more NZ First MPs being elected. I’m not so sure. But the intent seems obvious.

This shonky apparatchik seems shameless. To paraphrase John Key: I’m not moaning about it or feeling bent out of shape. It’s just a statement of fact.

Farrar makes no secret of his antipathy towards Peters:

So, David Farrar is plainly NOT a Winston Peters fan. Perhaps we should we remember that when Farrar makes ANY claim whatsoever about the NZ First leader? Yes we probably should.

David Farrar’s apparently FALSE ALLEGATION that Winston Peters was an ‘illegal candidate’ just before the election, seems a striking coincidence … in line with the National Business Review choosing just before the election as the time to publish a front page story alleging murky dealings to do with payments from a Trust set up by NZ first for the surviving victim of the RSA robbery. ‘Character assassination‘, Peters called it at the time. I think he was right.

It is possible (or incontrovertible?) that National’s supporters were alarmed at polls (Farrar is a pollster, remember) indicating a come-back-from-the-dead performance by the widely-written-off NZ First Party, and some set out to smear Winston Peters any way they could. (Looks that way to me.)

Stalker Cameron Slater’s seething hatred of Winston Peters is rivalled only by his quixotic fixation and incessant nasty abuse of Labour’s Trevor Mallard.

From Peters’ speech, yesterday:

No sooner had the Banks/Dotcom story hit the headlines than Newstalk ZB decided to interview a bewildered blogger called Whaleoil [Cameron Slater].
Without a fact to fan his considerable self with Mr Whaleoil explained to ZB listeners that New Zealand First had been a beneficiary of the giant German.
The ZB people did not bother to check with Dotcom or New Zealand First.
After all why spoil a good story with the facts?

‘News’ and ‘programmes’

An important distinction about talkback radio: there’s a not-always-apparent-but-crucial difference between programmes and news. When the radio host ‘interviews’ (cough) someone like Messrs Farrar and Slater for programmes, the journalistic turkey timer is OFF, or locked in a cupboard.

Such ‘interviews’ (harrumph) are deemed to be ‘opinion’ — in some cases, ‘opinions masquerading as facts’ just as Peters says. BS is spun, spurious claims are made, fetid speculation is squeezed out and disinformation floated (ew!) with the hope that ‘real media’ will occasionally amplify and repeat the message.

News bulletins or voice reports by the station’s news reporters or political editor, are judged by a different standard. They are, theoretically (and in my experience) generally more accurate, paying attention to fairness and balance, with greater regard for verifiable facts — unlike Messrs Farrar and Slater, who sometimes, it seems to me, merely  look for a way to smear their targets with little regard for the veracity (or otherwise) of their statements.

Because of that, as I noted, I’ve now assumed an ultra-low-trust attitude to both of them. Which is a shame in David Farrar’s case, because I had rated him better than that. I’ve enjoyed him in the past, especially on radio, and appreciated hearing about his wider, non-political interests.

Sure, politics is a ‘game’, but it seems to me that telling porkies for your political mates is a step too far. ‘Spin doctor’ is such a euphemism. Like ‘stranger to the truth’. Call a spade a spade I say. In my opinion, these guys don’t tell the truth. (Which I think was Winston Peters’ point, too.)

That might be OK if taken purely as entertainment, but as ‘citizen journalists’ or news sources?
Nope. They are just too unreliable.

– P