Very sensible. Gives readers fair warning … and choice.
More on the issue of the public perception (reputation) of the NZ prime minister and his veracity, here’s Otago University’s Bryce Edwards’ take on it, from TV3′s Frontline this morning:
“As usual with these scandals, it’s not the so-called ‘crime’ in the first place… it’s the cover-up. It’s how the politician handles things, and he’s handled it appallingly, and the consensus seems to be that he’s lied in Parliament and he’s lied to the media – at least, he hasn’t told the truth.
“The public don’t like that. The public don’t like their Prime Minister to be a liar.” [emphasis added]
Pretty bracing stuff. But is Bryce right that ‘the honeymoon is over’? He could be. Dunno.
Mr Key’s charm (not meant as a pejorative term) has held him high for a long time. Persistently high. As I’ve said many times before, John Key does a hell of a lot right as a politician. The temptation for those of the left wing persuasion is to urgently, feverishly read the tea leaves (ha) for any sign of a cooling of the warm public support the National Party leader has enjoyed for so long.
The seductive urge to see the world as you want it to be, not as it is, has led to people for years asking various forms of the question ‘Has John Key reached his use-by date?’ — while his opinion poll support remains rusted to the dial.
I still remember the opening of an excellent Toby Manhire column (for the removal of doubt: by excellent, I mean I agreed with him) Perma-relaxed PM starting to come unstuck:
Liar, liar, pants on fire. That’s the sound of the Labour Party – or several of its MPs at least – taking on John Key and co over the latest eruption of scandal from the giant Kim Dotcom pinata.
The Prime Minister’s claim not to have heard of Dotcom until the day before the testosterone-splattered Coatesville raid in January may look puzzling. His claim to have learned only the other day of GCSB surveillance activity is eyebrow-raising, too.
But does that make him a liar? I don’t see that it does. If you have evidence for mendacity, let’s see it, and – bingo – Key will be gravely politically wounded, perhaps mortally. Otherwise, shut up with the liar wolf cries. It just leaves you looking like a bunch of schoolyard mud-slingers.
“The problem is that they can’t join the dots enough,” said Key in the House this week. He was swatting away questions on the John Banks donations controversy (another gift from the Dotcom pinata), but he might easily have been analysing his opponents’ strategic shortcomings.
Because the dots are pretty joinable, if you think about it. A large part of the appeal of National and its jocular leader, Barbecue John, has been the contrast with what came before. … [emphasis added]
Now, have things moved on for ‘Barbecue John’ and his Labour Opposition from there? Well, yes, that seems indisputable. Continue reading →
I enjoy the rough and tumble of Radio LIVE’s duo Willie & JT. I’ve said before their ‘political hour’ is a highlight with its irreverent argy-bargy. Who can forget Willie Jackson’s rejoinder to Matthew Hooton “right wing fascist mongrels like you”?
They’re an oasis. The show offers a refreshing, robust counterpoint to the earnest, often tightly-coiffured and terribly time-constrained approach many other ‘media’ are forced to engage. Also, by not being glued to ‘the beltway’ scene nor in the Press Gallery, the pressure on them to ‘be nice’ to retain ‘access’ isn’t as powerful and overwhelming. (It’s still there, but not as strong.)
Yesterday, they had the NZ prime minister John Key on their show, and for half of the very worthwhile, extended, news-making interview, Mr Key engaged in aggressive spin and damage control over the issue of his … incomplete explanations — ‘dance of a thousand veils’ I called it — of his role (and the probity thereof) in appointing a childhood friend to the role of Director of the Government Security Communications Bureau, GCSB or ‘the country’s top spy’ as people are calling him.
Among others things, Mr Key announced that henceforth he would be less ‘accommodating’ with politicians and the media in answering questions on the spot, demanding some questions in writing so that his office could research the answers. See Hamish Rutherford’s John Key changes tack over questioning
You can listen to to the whole interview at Radio LIVE’s excellent website here: John Key defiant Ian Fletcher’s GCSB hiring appropriate – Audio. I listened yesterday, took some notes (old habit) and reviewed it this morning.
So, what do you think? From my point of view, it’s certainly another step in Mr Key’s evolution — his transformation from media darling to politician-under-pressure-lashing-out-at-reporters-and-news-channels. Remember his far more scripted appearance on Leighton Smith’s more coiffured NewsTalkZB show?: Setting a narrative: ‘aggressive’ ‘hostile’ ‘antagonistic’ ‘tabloid’ media and John Key’s media whack-a-mole ‘tactical’ — Gavin Ellis.
Aggressively going after various reporters and media, some of them (TV3, Mediaworks, and Duncan Garner) by name may play very well to his partisan supporters — “Stick to to ‘em Johnny boy!” But as a former press gallery journalist and radio news producer myself, I see such tactics (yes, tactics) as a poor response to pressure.
This, from Emmerson in the NZ Herald today is pretty sharp:
The euphemisms — ‘economical with the truth’, ‘not forthcoming’, ‘selective’, ‘evasive’, ’spin’, ‘telling porkies’ — continue to fly (like pigs?) but how long will it be before the media and others in the mainstream start to describe the New Zealand prime minister’s performance by shorter, sharper terms like the cartoon above?
Has John Key ridden his ‘I didn’t lie, I just forgot’ donkey as far as it can go? Time will tell. He and his supporters have no doubt been emboldened by persistently favourable opinion poll ratings and I don’t predict a swift turnaround, if any.
But truthfulness is valued in NZ society, or should be, and Mr Key’s well-worn counter-factual defence of ‘There’s a range of views, but I don’t see it that way’ or his use of blatant political top spin (e.g. claiming to be ‘vindicated’ by an Auditor-General’s report that does no such thing) will, eventually, fail him — or fail to convince. Unless he gets bored in the meantime, I guess.
Here’s a partial list of the NZ Prime Minister’s ‘memory lapses’ courtesy of the NZ Herald’s Adam Bennett:
What role did he have in Mr Fletcher’s appointment?
“Only that the State Services Commissioner came to me with a recommendation.”
“I rang him and said look I think you might be interested, if you are interested in finding out about the job you should go and speak to Maarten Wevers who is the head of DPMC and see if that job is of interest to you.”
Key’s memory lapses
* Forgot how many Tranz Rail shares he owned.
* Unsure if and when he was briefed by GCSB on Kim Dotcom.
* Forgot how he voted on drinking age.
* Could not recall whether he was for or against the 1981 Springbok Tour.
* Could not remember who was aboard mystery CIA jet parked at Wellington airport.
* Forgot he phoned future director of GCSB urging him to apply for the job.
Mr Key’s voluble partisan supporters won’t acknowledge it (nor admit it to themselves, probably) but ‘Brand Key’ — the ‘non-politician politician’ — is getting tarnished. In my view that’s not a result of dishonesty or arrogance or even hubris. I think we’re just seeing the outworking of a slippery ‘business ethics’ I-can’t-believe-how-much-the-punters-will-let-us-get-away-with approach to government. Continue reading →
From Andrew Sullivan …
Yep. Makes perfect sense.
You might be interested in reading this: Tribalism.
Some of the most-viewed posts, in order, at ThePaepae.com in March …
The New Zealand government is looking for ways to upskill its spies and those who supervise them.
A recently-advertised pre-tender document calls for an innovative supplier of training services (which is how it got to me) to equip ‘senior officials’ and ‘executives’ within ‘the security sector’.
According to a Notice of Information published by the Government Electronic Tenders Service, the focus of the proposed professional development courses will be to give senior officials, officials, and whatever an ‘executive’ is (in this context) the skills and knowledge ‘to deal with the myriad of security challenges that threaten New Zealand’s wellbeing and prosperity.’ Sounds great.
Given the exquisite agony of New Zealand’s spies and their bosses being thrust into the spotlight by some of their actions and those of the NZ Police and others (‘the security sector’, presumably) which were found to be unlawful or in contravention of the laws relating to NZ residents — in the Kim Dotcom case, for example, illegal surveillance, improper search warrants, improper seizure of assets, improper export of Dotcom’s data (cloned hard drives) to US investigators — it seems only right that some professional development be undertaken.
Perhaps the courses could start with some training in reading and comprehension?
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is looking for an innovative supplier to provide a professional development programme for executives and senior officials within the security sector. The focus of the programme is to equip officials with the knowledge and skills required to deal with the myriad of security challenges that threaten New Zealand’s wellbeing and prosperity.
Three courses are to be delivered within the programme: an executive level course; a senior official’s course; and an official’s course. Course Members, by dint of experience, will have varying degrees of knowledge concerning national security. Courses will need to reflect these different perspectives and skill levels. Accordingly, each course’s duration should reflect the difference in management levels and be no longer than five days duration. The programme will be conducted in Wellington with course members coming from the public service and comprising at least 15 officials on each course.
I took off to the beach for a break over Easter, and got back tonight. Hawkes Bay still looks pretty damn dry to me with the drought, but a friend who is a local farmer told me things are greener — then mentioned he had gotten rid of all his stock to reduce his stress (and wait it out, I guess).
“Single core, dual core” did it for me.
Someone asked me this week why I chose Howick as a place to live. Mainly because we had friends in the area, I explained, and being from Wellington, we needed to be close to the coast.
This is the view from my kitchen yesterday morning and last night with the full moon.
I find it helps me breathe.
PS: I remember celebrating a dawn out that same window with Time Lapse.
As a publisher, I’m lucky enough to remain on pretty good terms with my authors. (I mean it.)
Indeed, we continue to work together on an ongoing basis, revising and updating their books and also taking other opportunities to get their ‘message’ and information out there.
Last week three of my authors, Olly Newland, Mark Withers and Tony Steindle were the speakers at an Auckland event for property investors: MARKET UPDATE 2013.
I’ve written a review of the event, and [shameless plug] an Audio recording — CDs or MP3s — along with Course Notes from the seminar is available.
You can read the review here at the Empower Education website. For those interested.
There’s a slightly scrappy but nonetheless interesting discussion about new media regulations suggested by the Law Commission’s report The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age coming up on Russell Brown’s Media3 tonight on TV3 (or online later). I wandered along to the taping of the show yesterday evening. Time constraints and competing egos made for quite good TV but a once-over-lightly approach. Still, definitely worth a watch if you’re interested in media.
The Law Commission’s report hardly seems like the shot heard around the world (although The Guardian‘s sometimes stringer Toby Manhire reported it for the NZ Listener online thus: NZ moves towards “one-stop shop” news media super-regulator
It would be a non-state body, with membership voluntary and available to all including bloggers, but privileges accorded to media, including many by law, would only be available to those who signed up. And if you’re not a member, no NZ on Air funding for you.
Carrot and stick? It’s a bigger topic than I propose to traverse in detail here at ThePaepae.com just now (let’s see how committed the government actually is — and how urgently — to implement the recommendations as law … and the final shape of that).
But a couple of aspects struck me … Continue reading →