What kind of political activists incite fear and alarm, set a goal to make their country “ungovernable”, milk their followers for funds, then encourage them to stand for local government posts – but tell them to conceal their affiliations for the sake of attracting votes from the ignorant?
The sleazy, in my view dangerous, certainly banned-from-Facebook ‘Voices for Freedom’ group, — headed up by disinformation entrepreneurs Libby Johnson, Alia Bland and Claire Deeks — features in this essential viewing. Stuff Circuit’s latest documentary is about the radicalisation of New Zealand via disinformation: ‘Fire and Fury’ Who’s driving a violent and misinformed New Zealand – and why.
Hats off the the Stuff Circuit team for their diligence and courage bringing this important documentary to us, and their follow up articles: www.stuff.co.nz/national/stuff-circuit.
It’s dangerous work, reporting on the wing nuts, racists, neo-Nazis, and violent misogynists who inhabit that dark world – along with the hungry-for-celebrity info-entrepreneurs, wannabe ‘influencers’, merchandisers and grifters using their platforms to (cough) raise funds.
Meet ‘News personality’ Chantelle Baker, who features in the Fire and Fury documentary. Chantelle Baker earned her appearance by a parade of inflammatory, misinformation-laden live streams from the protest at Parliament (sometimes ‘interviewing’ her father Leighton, the failed leader of New Zealand’s New Conservative political party). She’s now spun those activities into an earner, with more planned.
It’a worth noting that Chantelle Baker is apparently now doing this agitprop “full-time travelling around New Zealand” she says, like a wailing minstrel or busker by the sounds of it – presumably ‘raising funds’ by putting the hat out for donations at her shows? Oh well.
As she told Sean Plunket on his weird Wright Family Foundation (that’s Chloe and Wayne Wright)-funded internet radio show yesterday, Chantelle’s “job has always been more in Sales and Marketing” (that figures) … but now she and her team “have a lot of plans in place” – launching, wait for it, ‘a platform’.
They’re aiming to be bigger, oh yes, …. and they “will be looking for funding shortly when we release our new platform” — which, as you’ll hear below, absolutely excited Sean Plunket.
Grifters gotta grift, I guess, and conservative Christians like Chantelle and her father Leighton Baker are probably pretty comfortable gathering tithes and offerings from the flock by taking them down the rabbit hole. Or perhaps fleecing the flock, like like-minded rabble-rousers Brian and Hannah Tamaki? The Tamakis’ long con, Destiny Church, is also on the frontlines of this culture war, rabbiting on (see what I did there?) with imported and transplanted made-in-USA conspiracy theories to loosen the gullible’s wallets. Sad.
Courage under fire
I’m very grateful to the journos behind this important documentary.
Let me also commend the courage – and willingness to stand up and share insights – of the academics, researchers (and some government officeholders) doing the hard work documenting, analysing and answering the hateful dreck in the ‘hellscape’ of the Telegram channels of these extremists.
Such work is beyond the call of duty. And it’s hazardous: We know how fixated and enraged some of the sickos and lowlifes of social media can become, faced with any criticism or comment – particularly from a woman – and how violent and alarming their language, threats and rhetoric can become.
Here we are in 2022 and that nasty Gamergate-style shit is still going down. Dirty PR knuckle-draggers like Cameron Slater and his vacuous, fortunately diminished rabble of half-wits are still pushing out the same fetid, sexist bile. Arseholes.
It’s sad and alarming to see how many of my fellow Kiwis have been sucked down the rabbit hole by these calculating, energetic, ‘agenda surfers’, and in my view, con artists. These spruikers prey on the fears of people feeling the strain of living in a pandemic. It’s disquieting that their messages are amplified by alt-media enablers like attention-famished Sean Plunket and Martyn Bradbury.
Anyway, the point of this brief post is to highly recommend the Stuff Circuit documentary Fire and Fury. It’s important work. If you haven’t watched it yet, let me say: it’s really worth your time.
Facts are stated to the best of my knowledge and commentary is my honest opinion. Corrections or clarifications are always welcome by email. Comments are open, but may be moderated.
– Best wishes, Peter Aranyi