Whispering campaigns

datePosted on 06:00, January 30th, 2009 by Anita

For the last six years the National and their allies honed their skills at whispering campaigns; the question now is whether Labour will stoop to their level.

We all heard the whispers; the stories of sex, money and corruption. Largely personal they also targeted the partners and children of politicians. 

Of all the things National and its allies have done it the last few years the whispering campaigns sickened me most.

  1. The dishonesty. John Key never actually called Helen Clark a “heartless childless lesbian bitch”, instead he arranged for enough other people to say it so that he only needed to nod slightly and the attack was made but his hands remained clean.
  2. Personal attacks are just plain wrong. We saw them during the Muldoon administration, and we condemn him for them, so why was it ok for the Brash and Key National parties?
  3. Even if politicians could be argued to open themselves up to this, what about their partners, children and extended families? Many of the people smeared were not political actors and were hurt solely to damage others.
  4. The orchestrated whispering campaigns exposed and reinforced an undercurrent on bigotry. If being called a lesbian is a political attack what does that mean for women who actually are lesbians?

I am hoping desperately that Labour will step away from this tactic. They’ve had a few shameful moments of going there, but not to the extent of National. The question for them now is whether they will follow National’s lead and go for opposition gutter politics, or whether they will step back and fight a clean fight over policy.

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80 Responses to “Whispering campaigns”

  1. Carol on January 30th, 2009 at 08:21

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by Key nodding slightly to encourage those attacks on Clark. But I do think he reinforced those \barren lesbian bitch\ kind of attacks in his own self-promotion. From the moment he became leader of the Nats, Key foregrounded his status as husband and father. As I recall his first TV appearance was on Close Up with Susan Woods, in which Mrs Key also appeared.

    Key’s election campaign promos on TV also had this focus on his family status.

    The problem for Key though, is that he has made his family status part of his political persona. Does this open his family to being political targets?

    But I also hope the left doesn’t stoop to such whispering campaigns and poisonous personality politics.

    And it would be a diversion from holding the government to account on the most crucial issues we face – those to do with the severe economic crisis that shows the existing capitalist system is broken and in need of a complete change of direction.

  2. What would Hayek say on January 30th, 2009 at 09:35

    Mr Kettle meet Mr Pot.

    Sorry Anita – but your in VRWC territory here. Is this meant to be satire material for Dim-Post?

    John Key as a young man deliberately choose marriage and children as part of plot to undermine the Labour government in 2008.

    Its friday, and the world is not too bad of place.

  3. Leopold on January 30th, 2009 at 09:48

    To be fair to Mr Key, Carol, every polly with a reasonably presentable family, who don’t look too grumpy at being shown on camera, waves them around on pamphlets and on TV. Par for the course, especially in 20th century.
    Dog-whistling was more of Don Brash’s style (a tyranny tempered by incometence?) to infer things about his oppos’ domestic arrangements and then shoot himself in the foot over his own arrangements

  4. Thomas Beagle on January 30th, 2009 at 09:49

    Hmmm, I can’t help feeling that this post came from deep within the smoke-filled rooms in Wellington.

    In other words, as an outsider interested in NZ politics, I really have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention all these smears going around. The only ones I know of are from Ian Wishart but surely no one takes him seriously.

    Are you sure you’re not confusing gossip and whispering campaigns?

  5. StephenR on January 30th, 2009 at 09:51

    One of the most infamous personal attacks was Clark calling Brash ‘corrosive and cancerous’ – or does that only count as a political point?

  6. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 09:57

    Carol writes,

    The problem for Key though, is that he has made his family status part of his political persona. Does this open his family to being political targets?

    It is an interesting question :) Can Key’s actions make his wife or children “fair game”? My answer is a bit mixed

    1) I reckon personal lives should (almost) always be off limits.
    2) His wife may have actively or passively consented to her involvement in his political campaign. So perhaps she has opened herself up.
    3) His children are too young to genuinely consent, he made that choice for them. I think they should be off limits (and that politicians should be very very careful about involving children).

  7. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 10:00

    StephenR,

    One of the most infamous personal attacks was Clark calling Brash ‘corrosive and cancerous’ – or does that only count as a political point?

    I think it was unacceptable and she should not have done it.

    IMHO it is, however, of a different class of personal attack from attacks on politicians’ families and personal lives. I would put Labour’s attacks on Brash’s fidelity in that class.

  8. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 10:05

    Thomas Beagle writes,

    In other words, as an outsider interested in NZ politics, I really have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention all these smears going around.

    For a while I thought that they were a Wellington phenomena but since 2005 I’ve had jobs which include quite a bit of travel out of Wellington, and I ran across the same stories all over the country in a variety of non-political contexts.

    I once heard the same “absolutely true” unfounded defamatory story about a Labour MP in two small towns plus Auckland and Wellington within two months.

    The only ones I know of are from Ian Wishart but surely no one takes him seriously.

    I have always hoped not, but I’ve seen evidence to the contrary :-/

  9. StephenR on January 30th, 2009 at 10:06

    1) I reckon personal lives should (almost) always be off limits.

    IMHO it is, however, of a different class of personal attack from attacks on politicians’ families and personal lives. I would put Labour’s attacks on Brash’s fidelity in that class.

    Well yes I largely agree, don’t think there was a campaign (above or below board) along the lines of ‘Brash is really a DICK’. I think Brash’s fidelity would have been fair game had he used moralising about family breakdowns,divorce etc as part of his political campaigning. To my knowledge he didn’t…

  10. Graeme Edgeler on January 30th, 2009 at 10:36

    So every day that Nick Smith asked an oral question in the last Parliament he wasn’t told to take his meds?

    If being lambasted for being mentally ill is a political attack, what does this say about people who struggle with mental illness every day?

  11. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 10:40

    Graeme Edgeler writes,

    So every day that Nick Smith asked an oral question in the last Parliament he wasn’t told to take his meds?

    If being lambasted for being mentally ill is a political attack, what does this say about people who struggle with mental illness every day?

    Absolutely!

    Labour’s behaviour over this was absolutely appalling and every member of that caucus should be ashamed of themselves as should every person within the party machine that condoned the tactic.

    If I had ever been a Labour supporter I would have turned my back on them over that.

    (But issues around mental illness are particularly dear to my heart, so my disgust is probably more extreme than most)

  12. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 10:51

    StephenR,

    Well yes I largely agree, don’t think there was a campaign (above or below board) along the lines of ‘Brash is really a DICK’. I think Brash’s fidelity would have been fair game had he used moralising about family breakdowns,divorce etc as part of his political campaigning. To my knowledge he didn’t…

    1) “Gentleman Brash”: his constructed image to the public was of an honourable gentleman whose values came from an earlier gentler time.

    2) He built strong relationships with conservative Christian groups based on traditional values and morals.

    I’m sure there are others, but those two spring to mind.

    (Which is not to say that I think his alleged infidelity should have been brought into play)

  13. StephenR on January 30th, 2009 at 11:05

    1) “Gentleman Brash”: his constructed image to the public was of an honourable gentleman whose values came from an earlier gentler time.

    I really think he was an uncharismatic nerd before, during and after politics.

    2) He built strong relationships with conservative Christian groups based on traditional values and morals.

    He did, but that was more of a private-ish matter for the National party, rather than anything he was openly campaigning on (?). As it was private (or secret) it should have been up to them to call him on his activities.

  14. Jafapete on January 30th, 2009 at 11:33

    Carol asks,

    “The problem for Key though, is that he has made his family status part of his political persona. Does this open his family to being political targets?”

    The consensus seems to be that the answer’s much more complicated than would appear at first sight, hence Anita’s “personal lives should (almost) always be off limits.” Certainly, the rumours being retailed by the right—not just in Wellington; remember ACT is strongest in Auckland, sigh—were all out of order, and children are off-limits, whatever they do. But the question of Brash’s fidelity illustrates how difficult it can be to join the line. The manner of raising the issue was deplorable. Worthy of Muldoon, no less. But Brash was frantically dog-whistling, contrasting his “normal” heterosexual marriage with the murky fiction that the right had spent so much time constructing or bringing to people’s attention, depending on what you believe. And misleading the public at the same time about his own behaviour. We cannot have leaders who do that. Full stop.

    “What would” thinks that (s)he’s making a clever point:

    “John Key as a young man deliberately choose marriage and children as part of plot to undermine the Labour government in 2008.”

    Just because you don’t plan something doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of it opportunistically. “I’m not impressed with your logic, WWHS”, is probably what Hayek would say.

  15. Julie Fairey on January 30th, 2009 at 12:17

    I was appalled to see the way John Key’s children featured in his campaign ads. My partner has been a candidate for election a number of times and I would not be ok with our child being used in that manner. At the very least I’d want the child to be totally and utterly ok with it, and understand the repurcussions.

    Didn’t Don Brash sign that letter to Helen Clark against the Civil Union Bill, which was a bit nasty about her marriage? I may be remembering that wrong?

  16. Tim Ellis on January 30th, 2009 at 12:30

    We all heard the whispers; the stories of sex, money and corruption. Largely personal they also targeted the partners and children of politicians.

    Interesting point Anita. While you no doubt didn’t engage in it, I’ve got no doubt at all that some on the Left did engage in some pretty nasty muck-raking.

    Mike Williams even went to Australia and had the Labour Party research dig dirt on John Key’s business career. I was talking to a Labour candidate’s husband (the candidate is now an MP) at a cocktail party a few months before the election (before the Mike Williams-digging-dirt story broke), and he insisted that there was a whole trail of evidence to show that John Key was engaged in a major fraud and had concealed it during his political career.

    Likewise I’ve heard whispers from left wing activists who are quite happy to make claims about the personal lives of National MPs.

    The dishonesty. John Key never actually called Helen Clark a “heartless childless lesbian bitch”, instead he arranged for enough other people to say it so that he only needed to nod slightly and the attack was made but his hands remained clean.

    How do you know he arranged this, Anita? Why would you so readily believe that John Key was behind these personal attacks, yet Helen Clark, mysteriously, was not behind the personal attacks on Don Brash (“speaking of affairs…”), Nick Smith (“take your meds”), John Key (the H-Fee), or even Paula Bennett? I don’t suggest that Helen Clark did have anything to do with those smears, but members of her caucus and party president were actively involved. There’s no such connection with the Clark-lesbian smears and John Key.

    If being called a lesbian is a political attack what does that mean for women who actually are lesbians?

    I don’t know. There had been speculation about Helen Clark’s sexuality for many, many years. It preceded John Key and Don Brash. It seems to be an issue that Ian Wishart was fond of obsessing over, but I very much doubt many New Zealanders do.

  17. BeShakey on January 30th, 2009 at 12:50

    One of the tests should surely be “If [insert rumour] is true, would it have any relevance to their ability as a politician?”.

    For the ‘Clark is a lesbian’ story, the answer is clearly no. On the otherhand if Key had engaged in major corporate fraud the answer would be yes. The problem with the Key story wasn’t whether it was relevant or not, it was that there wasn’t the evidence to support it (and that Labour had built it up beforehand).

    The same applies to the Nick Smith, and Don Brash sagas (although the Brash one was helped along by the fact it was raised in caucus and used by his National opponents to oust him). Neither case was relevant to their political ability and Labour should have steered clear of both issues.

  18. Julie Fairey on January 30th, 2009 at 13:20

    Contrast the frothing about Clark’s sexuality with Iceland’s apathy about getting the world’s first homosexual leader (a lesbian no less).

    Captcha: be vulgar (!)

  19. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 13:46

    I for one have no problem with John Key having his children featured iwth him, he is a down to earth familty guy, ordinary, a bit boring maybe, but that is a good thing, yet the Left seem to quietly sneer at ordinary families. And what about Key being labelled ‘a hollow man’ and a ‘rich prick’ as Garth George would say, absolute balderdash!

  20. Michael on January 30th, 2009 at 14:11

    I think Brash’s adultery was relevant to his political status, as the leader of a right-wing party that campaigned on “family values” and accepted money from right-wing Christian fundamentalist organisations (aka “churches”). IMHO, gross hypocrisy approaching the Capill standard.

  21. Julie Fairey on January 30th, 2009 at 14:59

    Tanya, I know plenty of lefties who are in “ordinary families”, myself included.

  22. Lew on January 30th, 2009 at 18:51

    This is a topic dear to my heart.

    The first thing I’d say is that, for all Labour’s muckraking and nastiness (and I don’t defend it), they are still far more sinned against than sinning. Helen Clark has been (and still is, in ever-decreasing circles) the object of one of the most comprehensive, insidious, cruel, personal and most importantly unfounded character assassination campaigns in recent NZ politics. It’s horrible, almost endlessly complex, and fascinating. That business between Moyle and Muldoon isn’t the tiniest part of this discourse, and comparing it to the feeble attacks on Nick Smith, Don Brash and John Key is like comparing a water pistol to the Huka Falls.

    The main anti-Clark tropes ( I boiled them down to `communist lesbian dictator’) have been so thoroughly and patiently ingrained into NZ’s political discourse that people don’t even hear the words – they don’t think about what they mean, or their implications for society. If half of the things about Clark said in perfect earnest on talkback radio or in the letters which usually (but not always) get the response of `points noted’ or in the pubs or on the building sites or around the water coolers was true, the only rational course of action for people to take would be to take up arms against the evil insane corrupt police state into which we had inadvertently fallen. But people don’t believe these things, they just repeat them, and then complain that they’re lucky they still can repeat them.

    And that’s the key – Helen Clark has been a hook on which NZ can hang a bunch of its prejudices (there are other hooks, but she’s been the most prominent). Nobody believes it really and yet everyone believes the kernel of it. Even when arguing against the allegation that Helen Clark was a lesbian, one is forced to tacitly accept that there’s something wrong with that; when trying to rebut the allegations of communism, one is forced to engage with the absurd notion that the Labour party is somehow anything remotely like any communist movement ever created. The discourse’s influence is in its hydra-like nature – the more you attack it, the more it grows.

    For this reason, we are about to move into interesting times. Nature, and political discourse as well, abhors a vacuum. With Helen Clark gone, who will be the new hook?

    L

  23. Pascal's bookie on January 30th, 2009 at 19:30

    Brash’s marriage became fair game after he sent that letter to the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, turning down an invitation to speak there:

    “You will be aware of my views that it is not appropriate for a cathedral to be used for such purposes, even leaving aside the Prime Minister’s atheism, her abandonment of grace at state functions and her indifference to the institution of marriage.”

    Not so much a dogwhistle as a full blown symphony in the key of canine.

    Tanya, that sneering must be awfully quiet.

    I’d like to see some examples.

    I know that many lefties do tend to sneer at people who think some families are not ‘proper’ though. And the idea that what determines the ‘ordinariness’ of a family is the number and type of genitalia rather than the ties that bind them. And that it is anyone else’s business in the any case.

    Those idea’s, and the people that hold them, do tend to get mocked a bit from the left.

  24. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 19:43

    Well, the Left generally doesn’t like Christianity or the old fashioned mum and dad families. Have you read Ian Wishart’s Eve’s Bite? This was very interesting, I think he is on the money with his Investiage magazine too. The general public have been brainwashed into bieng overly PC and genrally scared to speak out. Normal family to me is mum, dad the kids, and yes, the Left like to snigger and legislate against them (hence the last administration!).

  25. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 20:00

    Also, why does the Left consider Ian Wiahst’s opinions irrevelant? I think he tells it like they are and knows how to get to the bottom of good, gritty stories that the mainstream media would not dare touch. Good on him, we need a few more like him.

  26. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 20:03

    Sorry about the typos, thanks for the interesting topic.

  27. Carol on January 30th, 2009 at 20:11

    When has the nuclear family ever been legisated against? IMO the left has just extended the range of family forms, and forms of union that are acceptable in law and society.

    Snigger? Most lefties are in fairly conventional heterosuxal relationships and/or families in my experience. As a lesbian, Tanya, I still meet people with your kind of attitude, that somehow see I and my relationships are not “normal”. In contrast, I have rarely seen attacks on the traditional forms of relationships and family?

    The claims of attacks on nuclear families from the left, just sounds like a ploy to reclaim the superiority of the heterosexual nuclear family, in the face of some gains for more equality for all kinds of relationships.

    There’s quite a few things I would criticise Clark for, but at least she responded to the lesbian slurs with dignity and without adopting a homophobic stance. She never treated homosexuality as second class, or by trying to foreground her heterosexual marriage.

  28. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 20:58

    Tanya writes,

    Well, the Left generally doesn’t like Christianity …

    I think you have forgotten about me and the rest of the Christian Left.

    I also think many of the non-Christian Left that I know are just fine with Christianity, it’s the moral conservatism that comes with some kinds of Christianity that bothers them.

    Coming back to your point about “old fashioned mum and dad families” I think they’re great. But I also think they’re not the only kind of family on our society, nor do I think they’re the ideal or the best.

    To me the ideal family is one that is loving and creates a safe supportive home for all its members. Some “old fashioned mum and dad” families do that, as do some same sex couple families, some single parent families, some blended families and so on.

  29. Pascal's bookie on January 30th, 2009 at 21:08

    Tanya, without any examples of leftist sniggering at ‘Mum, Dad, and the Kids’ families I can’t really speak to it. For the record, if it matters, that is exactly what my family looks like.

    I can’t speak for the left, but I don’t find Ian Wishart’s opinions to be irrelevant. I haven’t read Eve’s Bite in whole, but I’ve looked through it and read Investigate most months. I find it frustratingly dishonest to be frank. But far from irrelevant.

    As an example, it may have been in Eve’s Bite I think, he had a list of quotes from the Labour party, and a list of quotes from the Nazi party, and made the claim that they were equivalent. Whatever your opinions on the Labour party, to seriously compare them with the Nazi party is simply insane. What left winger of similar influence says anything like this, with such frequency, as Ian Wishart?

    The general public have been brainwashed into being overly PC and generally scared to speak out.

    This interests me. I’ve not noticed that those who like to talk about the ‘oppressiveness of the terrible PC’ find themselves short of a platform. Ian Wishart has made a career out of it for one, and he is far from alone. Karl du fresne, Garth George, Jim Hipkins, the mayor of Wanganui, the mayor of Auckland, numerous parliamentarians, all sorts of people talk about the things you seem to think no one is allowed to talk about. You can’t read a major or regional newspaper for a week without coming across this sort of ‘poor me, the left is not letting me say what I want’ claim in one way or another, usually more than once. It would be hilarious, if not for the tedium.

    Somehow though, when the left laughs, or asks why what they are saying isn’t just plain old bigotry of one form or another, it’s ‘oppression’ and the left are ‘just like Nazi’s’ or they’re ‘shutting down the debate’ and what have you.

  30. Lew on January 30th, 2009 at 21:17

    Tanya:

    Well, the Left generally doesn’t like Christianity or the old fashioned mum and dad families.

    This is pure unadulterated bullshit.

    Have you read Ian Wishart’s Eve’s Bite? This was very interesting, I think he is on the money with his Investiage magazine too.

    That says more about you than it says about Wishart or anything else.

    The general public have been brainwashed into bieng overly PC and genrally scared to speak out.

    A small and gullible segment of the general public have been brainwashed into thinking they are under attack from The Others, even while people not especially different remain in vast numerical majority, controlling the bulk of the power, the wealth, the social institutions, the land, and the history of our country. It’s hilarious, except for the times when it’s frightening.

    Normal family to me is mum, dad the kids,

    Funny, that sounds like my family. And my wife’s family. And the family we’ve made together.

    and yes, the Left like to snigger and legislate against them (hence the last administration!).

    Can you cite one example of legislation passed under the last administration which substantively disadvantages the mum-dad-kids family?

    L

    Captcha: `studying character’. Yes, rather.

  31. Lew on January 30th, 2009 at 21:28

    Tanya:

    Also, why does the Left consider Ian Wiahst’s opinions irrevelant? I think he tells it like they are and knows how to get to the bottom of good, gritty stories that the mainstream media would not dare touch. Good on him, we need a few more like him.

    For a start, I don’t know who this `the left’ is, of whom you speak, but just ignoring that for a moment – Wishart isn’t irrelevant, but he doesn’t adhere to the same standards of evidence as do most journalists, let alone the sorts of people who habitually undertake the in-depth and large scale sorts of research he sometimes does, historians and the like. He has credibility problems because he has a reputation for selectively quoting his sources, correlating things which don’t reasonably correlate, drawing extremely tenuous links across space and time, basing entire lines of argument on discredited or otherwise suspect sources, and the other sorts of Macgyver solutions to which one turns when one’s invention doesn’t quite work out on its own. He is also vulnerable to the motive fallacy almost any time he puts pen to paper, having once been a fairly cynical and highly competent mainstream investigative journalist, who had a road to Damascus experience and now views everything through the lens of the born-again. This wouldn’t be a problem, but he seems to have ditched most of his intellectual toolkit in favour of a single tool – and as they say, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    In addition to this, many of his sources remain anonymous – which is fair enough, but makes verification hard, and when verification is hard we repair to the credibility of the journalist for judgement. In Wishart’s case, this is where the wall comes tumbling down, for all but the most credulous readers. Congratulations. You’re one of the chosen few.

    For what it’s worth, he remains an excellent investigative journalist – just not a credible one. It may be that he can produce credible, valuable work – but while he continues to dilute it with the sort of dreck which alleges a conspiracy against the family on the grounds of the PM’s alleged sexuality – well, he’ll find it hard.

    L

  32. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 21:39

    The left is the left of course, and isn’t if funny how the mere mention of Christianity seems to get some lefties quite angry. What is wrong with Christianity and it’s thoughtful, giving, kindness giving values? Yes, Wishart is a very good journalist, and he is just as credible as Nicky Hagar and the stolen emails he used for his source. If I am one of the chosen few who like Wishart’s work, well and good, but judging by the success of his magazine, I’d say there are lots of us who read him, especially on the so called ‘right.’ Garth George is another one who gets a hard time from the left, and often for his Christian views.

  33. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 21:44

    I do agree however, that Wishart went too far comparing Labour with the Nazi’s, and I have not read Absolute Power, just doesn’t appeal. As for Christianity from the ‘left’ or the ‘right’, I wonder what God would make of this? There is one book, one set of commandments far as I am aware. (oh, I am just waiting for the abuse…)

  34. Lew on January 30th, 2009 at 21:53

    Tanya:

    The left is the left of course

    Tautology won’t help you sound smart. `The Left’ is a fairly diverse bunch of people. You won’t hear me generalising about `Christians’, because I know good and damn well, being from a Catholic family whose dad (as a boy) used to get told to go and beat up the protestants down the road, how different they can be. Do people the courtesy of not treating them like they’ve rolled off a production line.

    and isn’t if funny how the mere mention of Christianity seems to get some lefties quite angry. What is wrong with Christianity and it’s thoughtful, giving, kindness giving values?

    Who’s angry?

    There’s nothing wrong with those aspects of Christianity; they’re good and righteous. It’s the proscriptive, restrictive, suspicious, divisive, irrational aspects I have a problem with. But they’re not a necessary part of the equation.

    Yes, Wishart is a very good journalist, and he is just as credible as Nicky Hagar and the stolen emails he used for his source.

    Hager claims the emails were leaked to him by someone who had a right to them. That statement rests on his credibility as a journalist and researcher. It’s apparently good enough for the police. I trust the police, by and large.

    If I am one of the chosen few who like Wishart’s work, well and good, but judging by the success of his magazine, I’d say there are lots of us who read him, especially on the so called ‘right.’

    No, I didn’t say `like Wishart’s work’, I said, `are credulous enough to believe his work’. I think Investigate’s audited circulation is about 12,000 per month, and the typical readership calculation for a monthly like that is about 5:1, so perhaps 60,000. But note also that people who read his publication don’t necessarily believe it. PB is the immediate case in point.

    L

  35. Lew on January 30th, 2009 at 21:57

    Tanya:

    As for Christianity from the ‘left’ or the ‘right’, I wonder what God would make of this? There is one book, one set of commandments far as I am aware. (oh, I am just waiting for the abuse…)

    You’re not very aware, then. For one thing there are two testaments made up of a large number of separate books, many of which are disputed (to a greater or lesser degree). They were written in various dialects of various languages and translated by various people throughout the ages. Which version do you have? Which is canon? This is the stuff of schisms and crusades.

    And do you think this is abuse? It’s just fact.

    But I’m done for now. There’s pizza to be ate. Good night.

    L

  36. Anita on January 30th, 2009 at 22:06

    Tanya writes,

    As for Christianity from the ‘left’ or the ‘right’, I wonder what God would make of this? There is one book, one set of commandments far as I am aware.

    (Ignoring for a moment that there are two whole sets of books :)

    I imagine that God knows that we are all different, and we see the world and the people in it in different ways. Those differences lead us to see different things in the Bible, in our churches and in our personal experience of God.

    Some of my ancestors were persecuted (and some of those were killed) for believing that the communion wine is not the literal blood of Christ. What does God think? I imagine that God thinks the killing and persecution was wrong, and that the spirit, love and faith is what matters.

  37. Tanya on January 30th, 2009 at 22:07

    Yes, 66 books in all. I was talking about the Bible has a whole, all sixty six books. Maybe ‘normal family’ was the wrong term, I did not intend offence, but that’s just how I was describing John Key, an ordinary married guy, but I feel my words have been twisted, and nor was I trying to slur same-gender couples, several of my friends are lesbian or gay, I could not care less! Good night to you too, I’m also done. Enjoyed the discourse, time for the popcorn and movie. XXX

  38. Lee - MWT on January 30th, 2009 at 22:17

    I thought that the accepted response to any hurt feelings was ‘Diddums’.

  39. reid on January 30th, 2009 at 22:23

    Interesting I think the way some lefties portray conservatives as Dickensian escapees who’d just love to eat their babies.

    Same as how some conservatives get it wrong as well, via-a-vis the lefties.

    If you look at their tactics, both Clark and Muldoon are cut from the same cloth. They were both polarising figures with high streaks of ruthlessness and they both actively exploited those traits to build the loyalty of their respective support bases.

    Personally, I have always had a great deal of respect for Muldoon. I don’t and never have, seen him the way some others do. While I recognise his abusive tactics I focus instead on what I see as his real humanity. I recall for example he was highly honoured amongst many Maori Kaumatua and he was accorded huge respect from the gangs. You don’t get that if you’re a nasty thug.

    I personally don’t see the same thing in Helen. I just think she’s a complete bitch. But then, I’m a conservative. I’m not surprised lefties see in Helen the same good things that I see in Muldoon.

    There is no right answer in this sort of question because it’s a subjective assessment. At the end of the day, you’ll see what you want to see based on your own prejudice. The only real thing that’s wrong is imagining that you yourself don’t have any.

  40. Pascal's bookie on January 30th, 2009 at 22:38

    Tanya, still no examples of leftist sniggering at ‘mum, dad, and the kids’ families? How about an example of the legislation “against them”?

    You made these claims, but seem to have gone quiet about them when questioned. I’d hate to think that you feel unable to voice your examples due to PC gone mad. Please, feel free to share.

    I’m glad that you agree that Ian’s Nazi comparison was ‘too far’.

    What does it say about someone that they would go ‘too far’ in that particular way?

    How do you square that example of Ian’s work, with his professed Christianity? What would a Christian do if they had said something like that, (as unlikely as that might seem). Take it back? Apologise? Hang their head in shame and take up a profession more suited to their temperament than political writing?

    It seems to me, that a Christian would be very careful about making those sorts of arguments and accusations. Yet Ian is not only not very careful at all about it, he revels in it. Takes pride in it, and uses his reputation as a muck racker to advertise. Saying things like ‘buy my new book now, before it gets banned, most shocking exposé ever’

    And yet you still think that he is a “very good journalist”. In what way?

    Is it just that he says and implies things that you like to believe? Nasty things about your political opponents, things that you have no way of knowing the truth or falsity of? Is this ‘Christian’ Tanya?

    I’m sorry to ask so many questions, and to repeat them, but you said that you feel your views are not allowed to be heard. It saddens me that you feel that way. If being disagreed with offends you though, no apologies.

  41. reid on January 30th, 2009 at 23:02

    Tanya’s half right but she fails to acknowledge that anti-family policies are perpetuated from conservative administrations as well. It’s just when the lefties get into power they ratchet it up a notch and then the conservatives don’t reverse it. Step by step, slicing the elephant.

    This happens the world over. I mean, you’d have to be blind not to acknowledge it.

    Surely you don’t deny it’s happening, Pascal?

  42. Pascal's bookie on January 30th, 2009 at 23:16

    I don’t deny it so much as not have a clue what you’re talking about reid, though I’d imagine step by step would be the way to go; if you needed to slice an elephant.

    Here’s some possible anti family things that societies could do:

    Not allowing same sex marriages to be recoginised by the state.

    Saying that divorce is only acceptable if a church agrees that there was no ‘proper’ marriage in the first place.

    Making it financially difficult for people to leave unsafe families.

    Saying that rape can’t happen inside a marriage arrangement.

    so on, so forth

    Y’see reid, not so much blind as looking from a different place.

  43. SPC on January 30th, 2009 at 23:44

    The “Christian” right calls Labour anti-family … (and yet it was Labour which targeted tax cuts/credits to families and National which opposed it).

    This “PC” of the right is simply not credible – it’s as if it was intelligently designed (in the USA and exported around the world) to be a social conservative front culture war support act to the tax cut for the individualism me greed of the secular right (like Don Brash and John Key who actually lead the political parties).

  44. reid on January 30th, 2009 at 23:48

    To certain people and movements in this fallen world, families need to be destroyed because they are the most fundamental support mechanism for the individual. Religion also needs to be destroyed because it recognises the inherent dignity of the individual and gives spiritual support and offers moral guidance to said individuals.

    This is why the commies in the 20′s took overt measures to destroy both mechanisms. If you don’t know what those were, do some research, you may be surprised. Feminism was one.

    Communism was a movement intended to change social mores so that the individual turned to the state for help rather than to the family or to religion. That’s a fact. That’s why they did what they did.

    If you choose to believe that the degradation of the family unit and the degradation of religion that we see all around us is just something that happened, then that’s fine, you go right on believing that.

    Personally I prefer to believe that nothing is accidental in human affairs and there are always drivers, even when those drivers cross over continents, generations and whole societies.

    I don’t see global society today as being particularly civilised, despite our modern opportunities to improve ourselves. Instead I see widespread almost universal selfishness, violence and degradation of the human condition in all its nasty facets.

    This is not the natural state of humankind – that’s why goodness is also known as ‘humanity.’ Yet today, even people who think of themselves as ‘good’ people will still walk right on by street people as if they didn’t exist, for example.

    We are very sick puppies. Look around. How did this happen? Most ‘social movements’ that promote the above effects are wrapped in the guise of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights.’ Many of these so-called advances deny the essence of the human experience and the meaning of a God-centric existence (which is not something that any religion on Earth can ever teach you – it comes only from spiritual awareness).

    As I say, you won’t see this unless you first seek it and one example of this blindness is if you imagine that through my mention of the fact that feminism was a communist invention, that I am denigrating women in any way whatsoever.

  45. SPC on January 31st, 2009 at 00:01

    Yeah it’s all so obvious in right wing PC think-speak -Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin “invented” feminism in the 1920′s.

    Hear of something written by Thomas Paine (Rights of Man) which a woman (she also bore the author of Frankenstein?) responded to pre 1800.

    And anyone who thinks that before the state got involved in providing for the poor – “humanity” truly cared, only needs to read Dickens to know they are wrong.

  46. Pascal's bookie on January 31st, 2009 at 00:08

    If you choose to believe that the degradation of the family unit and the degradation of religion that we see all around us is just something that happened, then that’s fine, you go right on believing that.

    If it’s all the same to you, I’ll just reject the premiss thanks.

    g’night.

  47. reid on January 31st, 2009 at 00:33

    Heard of Kate Weigand, SPC?

    http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2004/0120roberts.html

    BTW, you seem distracted by a side issue. I’ve given you a lead, I don’t really care about it, it wasn’t central to my point, and I’m not going to get into the details of the debate.

    There’s a very good video on the internet about a think-tank that insinuated this into the American 60′s campuses. Some mis-informed people appear to think that feminism originated from there. Far from it.

    Surprising also that you think the state is a caring sharing sort of entity, which I infer from your Dickens comment. Very surprising.

  48. felix on January 31st, 2009 at 01:08

    … Muldoon … was accorded huge respect from the gangs. You don’t get that if you’re a nasty thug.

    What a bizarre thing to say.

    Tanya, if you’re single I know this guy called Brett Dale. I think you two could really hit it off. Srsly.

  49. SPC on January 31st, 2009 at 01:08

    reid

    Feminism was not invented by the Soviet Union and as for the 1960′s, its novelty was in its organised societal response to the post WW2 one income/husband provider family (formerly only well to do middle class women were homemakers) – the idea that there was some left wing plot to this is the real side issue.

    Middle class women simply noted that they could not enjoy real political/societal equality unless they had careers.

    The irony is that today the one income family ideal is only sustainable for most with tax credits for families (something the right opposes most strongly).

    The state is simply the (re-distribution) vehicle by which people can enable provision for those in need – you referred to people passing by the poor on the street (something much more common in Dickens age before there was state provision).

    Of course you will not see the world the way it is, if you believe that some left wing conspiracy is behind modern societal change. And some will not agree with you because, as you alluded, it would be an act of faith to do so. I do not see the world as falling away from God in its evolution to a more fully democratic and equal secular society, but moving away from a false god.

  50. reid on January 31st, 2009 at 09:00

    Of course you will not see the world the way it is, if you believe that some left wing conspiracy is behind modern societal change.

    Anti-family social dynamics arise from all sides of the political spectrum, SPC, sorry if what I said obfuscated that and I understand how a reader might take that interpretation from my words above.

    As I said above, you can observe and trace empirically the sociological changes in our attitudes, and therefore you’re left with concluding they either came about spontaneously with no direction or they had guiding hands. I believe they had and still have, the latter.

    It’s important to recognise that left-right political dynamics are largely irrelevant here. I see politics today as a punch and judy show designed to distract the masses. As some know, I’ve called Bush 43 the worst President in history since 2003. I’ve also called Clinton an extremely destructive President and I’ve explained why in both cases but now’s not the time to get into that. I have observed however that people who analyse politics using only the 4-legs good, 2-legs bad approach, tend to either misinterpret or completely miss dynamics that become perfectly obvious once you eschew that approach in your thinking.

    I’ll give you an example from the right if you like. This is not anti-family since the right tend to focus their efforts on other areas, but it’s socially destructive nevertheless. This is the rise of consumerism.

    Is it healthy for any of us to adopt the attitudes we do toward buying a new fridge or car every 5 minutes and call it living? Was this accidental? No. Look into a guy called Edward Berneys – Freud’s nephew. There’s an excellent BBC video on google video called ‘The century of the self’ about what he did in the 20′s to deliberately promote consumerism and which was also converted to use later on, as a political control mechanism.

    All of these movements serve to bring about one common purpose: the alienation of the individual both from their own spirituality, and from their fellow travellers in life. It’s undeniable to me that this actually, in fact, happens, the question is, is it accidental or by design?

  51. Lew on January 31st, 2009 at 09:43

    reid: you don’t have the commies to blame for feminism and the so-called degradation of the family – you have secular humanism dating back to a bloke called Plato (but not really getting going until the 19th century) to blame for it. And, most recently, the second world war, when people realised they could produce nearly twice as much if all their able-bodied folk were put to work, not just the men. That the communists figured this out and aimed to put it into practice a couple of decades earlier (not that they did, in reality) doesn’t mean it was a communist invention.

    The whole argument about the `degradation of the family’ begs the following question: “when was the family?” The entire argument only makes sense in light of a particularly revisionist idea that the mum-dad-kids-on-their-own family has always been the bedrock of all societies – not just western societies, mind, when people talk about the `natural’ family they’re talking about all humanity. The nuclear family as we now understand it became fixed as the norm in Europe during the 17th century – prior to that, more extensive kinship networks were the norm. Elsewhere, and earlier, many other sorts of other familial structures and relationships have been commonplace. This is fundamentally why it’s a bogus argument. It assumes a quite specific cultural background and socio-historical bottom line which, frankly, is based on a value judgement more than anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with value judgements – it’s just that those arguing this line like to pretend it has the weight of divine law.

    However my main objection to the `degradation of the family’ argument is its implication that the worst, most dysfunctional mum-dad-kids family is necessarily superior to the best mum-mum-kids family, or any other variation, simply on the grounds of its composition. That’s what really sticks in my craw. It’s so patently false that I’m frankly amazed people get away with claiming it. Not to say that these other sorts of families are necessarily any better, of course – there’s dysfunction all across the spectrum.

    L

  52. Lew on January 31st, 2009 at 10:04

    reid: Cross-posting :)

    Anti-family social dynamics arise from all sides of the political spectrum, SPC, sorry if what I said obfuscated that and I understand how a reader might take that interpretation from my words above.

    Ok, that’s a relief.

    I’ll give you an example from the right if you like. This is not anti-family since the right tend to focus their efforts on other areas, but it’s socially destructive nevertheless. This is the rise of consumerism.

    Interesting. It’s this very rise of consumerism which is touted as the most liberating thing which can be, by most of the economic-liberal right. But I guess you’re not one of those.

    Look into a guy called Edward Berneys – Freud’s nephew. There’s an excellent BBC video on google video called ‘The century of the self’ about what he did in the 20’s to deliberately promote consumerism and which was also converted to use later on, as a political control mechanism.

    Yes, The Century of the Self is a cracking show – I have a few concerns about Adam Curtis’ simplifications in this and in The Power of Nightmares, but they’re very interesting works on propaganda and information control. It helps that they, themselves, are part of the propaganda battle Curtis alleges is going on (after Chomsky and others), and I often wish he would draw more attention to this fact.

    All of these movements serve to bring about one common purpose: the alienation of the individual both from their own spirituality, and from their fellow travellers in life. It’s undeniable to me that this actually, in fact, happens, the question is, is it accidental or by design?

    Marketing is about creating demand, then supplying a good to meet that demand. Political marketing – often called propaganda, and I would argue it’s the same for much religion as well – are about isolating the individual to create a need; for security, for freedom, for prosperity, for belonging, whatever; and then supplying an ideological product to meet that need. Fundamentally the principles at work in both are about defining a person in terms of what they lack, rather than in terms of what they have. This appeals to the competitive nature of humankind to want to be free from lack, a fundamentally important imperative which has served us very well, evolutionarily speaking. But it has its down side.

    That doesn’t really answer the question of whether it’s purposive or not. I think politicians and religious leaders and marketers take the view that this sort of isolation and alienation are just collateral damage in the competition to have people attach their identity to your product (be it material, political, religious, or whatever), and – hey, we’re giving them what they want, and in some cases what they need, how can that be a bad thing?

    I also don’t think it is a necessarily bad thing – but I think it would be a less-bad thing if more people were aware of it.

    L

  53. Tom Semmens on January 31st, 2009 at 12:05

    LOL!

    Ian Wishart’s journalism is of the Pastafarian variety – you know, graphing the number of pirates vs. global warming and concluding global warming is due to the decline in pirate numbers since the 17th century.

    It is funny though, one mention “right wing smear campaign” and all the usual paranoid fundies with a chip on their shoulder scurry out from under the bed to deny it. Q.E.D. Really.

  54. reid on January 31st, 2009 at 12:09

    I also don’t think it is a necessarily bad thing – but I think it would be a less-bad thing if more people were aware of it.

    Quite agree Lew, at least then, people could make a conscious choice instead of, as at present, being led around by forces they neither see nor understand.

  55. SPC on January 31st, 2009 at 14:26

    I’ll give you an example from the right if you like. This is not anti-family since the right tend to focus their efforts on other areas, but it’s socially destructive nevertheless. This is the rise of consumerism.

    I think the right is innocent on this one, consumerism is generally simply the desire to market the specialist products of choice (consumer convenience) resulting from the wealth created by industrialisation. Specifially, it reflects the development of a retail services sector selling the production. The right is less innocent in the matter of bribing voters with tax cuts to buy buy buy such individual goods when this diminishes the capability of government to provide public goods available to all.

    This is all of a development out of subsistence economy with the payment of wages (rather than peasants having small plots of land while working on their “lords” estate) and ultimately to the point of tax redistribution. The criticism of capitalism is of course that it requires continuing growth to satisfy the profit motive engine of the economic system.

  56. SPC on January 31st, 2009 at 14:36

    I should add that the modern global village “urbanisation” occured to a more localised degree whenever a city civilisation developed in times past – the wealthy have always been looking for the “good” they could buy. And the matter of private and public good has been the issue of politics (and morality) across human history.

  57. Tanya on January 31st, 2009 at 14:55

    The anti-smacking law is a prime example of legislaton against families, as well as Labour’s refusal to income split for married couuples (Hope National look at it), I do agree with it being un-Christian to write a book like Absolute Power where you are having a go at someone, and this is why I did not buy or read it, but I still think that Wishart puts out a thoughtful, interesting and often very funny magazine, with some good writers contributing to it, especially Chris Carter and Miranda Devine. I hardly ever fork out for magazines, but $8.00 is a bargain for Investigate, it is a brave magazine, that often looks for the truth! Interesting to see that Ian Wishart used to be a Labour man in his earlier days.

  58. Anita on January 31st, 2009 at 16:30

    Tanya writes,

    The anti-smacking law is a prime example of legislaton against families

    How do you see the change as being anti-family?

    Incidentally, in case you’re not aware of this, it was supported by the Catholic and Anglican churches, and I’m pretty sure by the Presbyterians and Methodists. I doubt they would have supported it if they saw it as anti-family.

  59. Lew on January 31st, 2009 at 17:16

    Tanya:

    The anti-smacking law is a prime example of legislaton against families

    I asked you for an example of legislation which discriminated against `the mum-dad-kids family’ which you initially claimed was being legislated against. The s59 repeal is a crystal clear case of legislation which doesn’t – it affects all families equally.

    Labour’s refusal to income split for married couuples (Hope National look at it)

    Hang on. This is the absence of legislation. Like it or not, the fundamental economic unit of capitalism as currently implemented is the individual – allowing income-splitting for tax purposes has a whole raft of social and relational complications. If you search for `splitting’ on http://www.tvhe.co.nz, you’ll find some of Matt Nolan’s thoughts about Dunne’s campaign for income-splitting, which are worth reading.

    In any case, NZ being the relatively egalitarian country that it is, with strong human rights law and civic bodies which enforce it pretty well, you can be good and damned sure that income-splitting would be extended to same-sex and de-facto couples as well.

    [...] I hardly ever fork out for magazines, but $8.00 is a bargain for Investigate [...]

    It’s a fine line between earnest endorsement and just plain shilling, Tanya.

    L

  60. Fisking Anita | Keeping Stock on January 31st, 2009 at 23:19

    Fisking Anita…

    Kiwipolitico has been the “new blog on the block” for a few weeks, and from what we have observed, it’s a step up from the quality of debate at that other left-leaning bastion of free speecch (cough, splutter./create-trackback.pl ), The Standard. Un…

  61. Tanya on February 1st, 2009 at 02:30

    Well, 80 per cent of Kiwis seemed to think of the anit smacking bill as ‘anti-family’ as well as arrogant law making, which is why there is going to be a referendum on it, as initiated by the general public. And by the ‘left’ I meant liberals, non-conservative, anything goes, soft on crime, believes in bigger government, higher taxes, a non belief in personal responsibility, nil rewards for hard work, benefits for all and sundry, no questions asked, general chaos, belief in global warmikng scam…(how that sums up NZ of the last nine years)! So glad we’re now lurching to the right.

  62. [...] the tenor was negative all the way. This is true of political parties, the media, the net and the whispering campaigns. There has always been some negativity from the two main political parties, but volumes seems to [...]

  63. Anita on February 1st, 2009 at 12:52

    Tanya writes,

    Well, 80 per cent of Kiwis seemed to think of the anit smacking bill as ‘anti-family’ as well as arrogant law making, which is why there is going to be a referendum on it, as initiated by the general public.

    I don’t remember a single survey which tested whether people thought the bill was anti-family. Even this press release from Family First doesn’t list a poll which discussed the effect on family.

    The referendum question doesn’t mention family at al, it reads “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

  64. SPC on February 1st, 2009 at 13:03

    It’s always a laugh observing the self deception of the right.

    Such as benefits for all – Super paid out of tax was a National idea (Muldoon), so was reducing the amount paid below 65% of the net average wage. This was unpopular with the people so they now accept Labour increasing it back to 65% or more.

    National now supports WFF – because it is popular with the people and they once accepted universal family benefit for decades.

    They oppose WFF at the higher levels of income – which is why they oppose income splitting (this only benefits the few on one high income) – so it is not that popular an idea with most of the public.

    Nil rewards for hard work – we have the lowest minimum wage in thew OECD and many other workers work long hours for the lowest wages in the OECD. Does National really support higher wages for them or for doctors/nurses/scientists/police/military or do they want to hold public sector wages down.

    National proposes no changes in benefits.

    Denial of climate change is of course the ultimate in head in the sand denial of personal responsibility.

    You sound like someone programmed to react/think in sound-bites as instructed – like Pavlovs dog?

  65. Tanya on February 1st, 2009 at 23:05

    I don’t deny ‘climate change’, I just plain don’t believe it. Climate change is nothing but a red herring, so that the reaL issues are ignored, classic scare tactics turned to ‘green taxes.’

    If I was Ian Wishart I’d be very proud of Investigate magazine, which has a bigger readership than all the left blogs combined. Over and out frome me, woof, woof.

  66. One Nat who got it « g.blog on February 2nd, 2009 at 22:27

    [...] Anita over at kiwipolitico hopes that Labour will not resort to whispering campaigns I hope that Labour do not regain control by the divisive tactics reminiscent of the national [...]

  67. Those rumours about our “heartless childless lesbian bitch”…

    Kiwipolitico is a welcome addition to the left-wing blogosphere, but Anita is way off tune with her piece on ‘whispering campaigns’ accusing Key and National of calling Uncle Helen a “heartless childless lesbian bitch.”…

  68. Ian Wishart on February 8th, 2009 at 13:16

    Sigh…so much misinformation from the Left, so little time.

    The Nazi/Labour comparison was not to draw moral equivalence between both administrations, which you have correctly identified as “ridiculous” – it was to illustrate how Nazi divide and rule propaganda tricks are used by politicians today. You could simply take out the word “Jews” and chuck in “Exclusive Brethren”, and the hate-filled intent to marginalise a small group was exactly the same.

    But then again, Eve’s Bite’s reading level might have been a little too high for some to pick up the point.

    As to Clark’s sexuality, I couldn’t care less at a personal level. Doesn’t bug me, doesn’t directly affect me. However, in Absolute Power I laid out solid, sourced evidence that it was Labour and Clark herself who first put that ball in play, not National.

    Don’t believe me Anita? Check Absolute Power, read the quotes, check the chronology.

    And Lew, my books are heavily footnoted with references throughout. I don’t rely on “anonymous sources”, unless absolutely necessary and I have an affidavit and willingness to stand up in court.

    Some of the rubbish you spouted is actually defamatory, which is a problem many of my critics risk because its easy to shoot your mouth off, much harder to actually do the hard work.

    Easy to make sweeping generalisations about the quality of my fact-checking, hard to actually name specific examples…

    I remain what I always have been, a cynical investigative journalist. My beliefs colour the quality of that work no more than a non-Christian leftie’s colour the quality of their work.

    I have published thousands of articles in my career and more than a dozen books. Perhaps, in context, you can illustrate where the vast bulk of those are faulty and why, and you can also compare my accuracy rate to that of other media.

    Then, maybe, I’ll take you seriously

  69. Anita on February 8th, 2009 at 13:34

    Ian Wishart writes,

    Some of the rubbish you spouted is actually defamatory, which is a problem many of my critics risk because its easy to shoot your mouth off, much harder to actually do the hard work.

    If you are concerned about the legality of material here in posts or comments please get in touch directly (there’s a contact address in the About page).

    Otherwise claims that unspecified stuff is defamatory looks like a particularly unpleasant form of bullying which seems to be becoming endemic from the right against the left.

  70. Quoth the Raven on February 8th, 2009 at 13:34

    And I thought they only came out at night. What a laugh, Ian Wishart. No one takes you seriously man and no one ought to. We’ll read Absolute Power as soon as you read On the Origin of Species.

  71. Ian Wishart on February 8th, 2009 at 14:09

    Raven, Origin of Species dates back to a time when medics recommended leeches for all ailments. Having said that, I’ve read it. Some good, some bad, mostly out of date.

    Anita…I don’t get overly sensitive about defamation issues, but for the sake of pointing out vulnerabilities:

    In other words, as an outsider interested in NZ politics, I really have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention all these smears going around. The only ones I know of are from Ian Wishart but surely no one takes him seriously.

    “all these Smears” about Clark’s sexuality? I wrote one story in 2003 based on information from close confidantes to Clark, which raised the sexuality issue she herself had just raised in Brian Edwards book, and expanded on it slightly.

    Absolute Power clarified those, and set the chronology straight, and revealed Clark was the first to raise sexuality issues and she did it for political points. So as an issue of fact, blaming me for “smears” is defamatory.

    I don’t know. There had been speculation about Helen Clark’s sexuality for many, many years. It preceded John Key and Don Brash. It seems to be an issue that Ian Wishart was fond of obsessing over, but I very much doubt many New Zealanders do.

    Obsessing? Out of the huge volume of materal I’ve written, I don’ think it quite falls into that category.

    I can’t speak for the left, but I don’t find Ian Wishart’s opinions to be irrelevant. I haven’t read Eve’s Bite in whole, but I’ve looked through it and read Investigate most months. I find it frustratingly dishonest to be frank. But far from irrelevant.

    Dishonest? Allegation that I’m making things up.

    As an example, it may have been in Eve’s Bite I think, he had a list of quotes from the Labour party, and a list of quotes from the Nazi party, and made the claim that they were equivalent. Whatever your opinions on the Labour party, to seriously compare them with the Nazi party is simply insane. What left winger of similar influence says anything like this, with such frequency, as Ian Wishart?

    If that’s your best example, it doesn’t actually get you off the hook. From memory I did one editorial piece in the magazine and a couple of pages in Eve’s Bite drawing the link to the propaganda technique of marginalisation. I’m uncertain as to how this becomes “frequency” in any real sense, nor has it ever formed the dominant part of Investigate, Eve’s Bite or other publications I’ve written. And of course, PB misunderstood the point of the link anyway.

    For a start, I don’t know who this `the left’ is, of whom you speak, but just ignoring that for a moment – Wishart isn’t irrelevant, but he doesn’t adhere to the same standards of evidence as do most journalists, let alone the sorts of people who habitually undertake the in-depth and large scale sorts of research he sometimes does, historians and the like.

    Defamatory, alleging my work and research are substantially inferior. Given that every contentious story I do is written with a view to defending it in court on the basis of truth, that’s a pretty big allegation for Lew to make. Has Lew written a 150,000 word book alleging criminal offending by some of the country’s richest people? Does he know the research i actually do?

    “He has credibility problems because he has a reputation for selectively quoting his sources,

    Really? Name some, and provide context (how many times?, is this common? Is it usual? What proportion of his stories quote people out of context?).

    All journalists can make mistakes, and I don’t claim perfection. But I have not knowingly quoted anyone out of context so I’ll be interested to see how this stacks up.

    And then, establish the truth of this “reputation”. Where? From ill-informed bloggers, disgruntled Labour supporters or the occasional media hack? You don’t just have to prove that people have created the reputation, you have to prove it is deserved in order to defend the claim you’ve made.

    correlating things which don’t reasonably correlate, drawing extremely tenuous links across space and time, basing entire lines of argument on discredited or otherwise suspect sources, and the other sorts of Macgyver solutions to which one turns when one’s invention doesn’t quite work out on its own.

    Basing entire lines of argument on discredited or suspect sources? Give me some specifics or it’s defamatory.

    In addition to this, many of his sources remain anonymous – which is fair enough, but makes verification hard, and when verification is hard we repair to the credibility of the journalist for judgement. In Wishart’s case, this is where the wall comes tumbling down, for all but the most credulous readers. Congratulations. You’re one of the chosen few.

    The credibility of the journalist argument would be fair comment, provided it is based on true facts. But if in fact your arguments above turn out to be based on weaker evidence than you thought, your opinion based on those facts fails as a defence as well.

    I’m not, for the record, suing anyone here, but this is a process I have to go through for every single article.

    Like I said, very easy to mouth off on a blog with sweeping generalisations…

  72. roger nome on February 8th, 2009 at 17:25

    Ian – for it to be defamatory you would have to have a reputation to protect wouldn’t you?

    I mean, when you write a book about a government which administers one of the freest and most democratic countries in the world, and call it “absolute power” you abrogate any claim to credibility anyway.

    oh, and could you please try to limit the length of your comments? They become difficult to read when they’re several screen-lengths long.

  73. Ian Wishart on February 8th, 2009 at 19:49

    Rogernome writes:

    Ian – for it to be defamatory you would have to have a reputation to protect wouldn’t you?

    Have you considered changing your (play)pen name to ‘Metronome’? A dull monotonous tick kind of sums up your contributions old chap. I appreciate that as you don’t have a reputation except in virtual reality world, that the issue would whizz over your head. Those of us with real names do, however, have reputations to protect.

    oh, and could you please try to limit the length of your comments? They become difficult to read when they’re several screen-lengths long.

    I’m sorry, if you are wanting posts with pictures and small fluffy animals, try NickJr.

  74. rodgeredgnome on February 8th, 2009 at 23:20

    Oh dear it appears the young lads Nome, Lew and PB from Wellington have been given and absolute pantsing from Mr Wishart.

  75. Lew on February 9th, 2009 at 00:07

    Hi Ian,

    I expected you to turn up on this thread, and it’s good that you have. Welcome.

    I’m a media analyst – it’s what I do for a living – and I haven’t analysed your work, so all of this has the weight of “I reckon”. I’m not really taking issue with you personally or professionally, just enumerating some of the factors which impact on your reputation as a journalist, and for that purpose my assertion was that you have a reputation for the things I mentioned remains valid. That reputation may be unfounded, but it exists; whether or not it’s well-founded is a matter for debate, and I’m happy to let that question speak for itself in the media market. As someone whose professional life is the media, I have to say it rings some truth to me. If at some point I do end up analysing a significant body of your work you’ll be (among) the first to know.

    Nevertheless I wish you all the very best – it’s hard as an independent investigative journalist, and largely thankless work at that. I await your next big story with interest.

    But, I must also say, when you wave the cudgel of `defamation’ (“for the record” not against anyone here now); or when you require the burden of proof for criticism to be “the vast bulk of [an author's published works] are faulty” as if it’s all right for some reasonable amount (less than a vast bulk) of an author’s works to be faulty; and talk about things like “accuracy rates” in journalism; you do yourself little credit.

    L

  76. Lew on February 9th, 2009 at 00:13

    rodgeredgnome,

    Hi, some of us have been away for the weekend.

    To what is the absolute pantsing in addition? I assume that’s the significance of the `and’. Curious to know, since I apparently have received one (in addition to an absolute pantsing, whatever that is, and which I didn’t notice either).

    L

  77. Ian Wishart on February 9th, 2009 at 00:51

    Lew

    I wasn’t taking wild offence at your comments, but I was trying to point out that unlike bloggers, particularly anonymous ones, I am a target for potential lawsuits and I actually have to work extremely hard to make sure stories stack up.

    But, I must also say, when you wave the cudgel of `defamation’ (”for the record” not against anyone here now); or when you require the burden of proof for criticism to be “the vast bulk of [an author's published works] are faulty” as if it’s all right for some reasonable amount (less than a vast bulk) of an author’s works to be faulty; and talk about things like “accuracy rates” in journalism; you do yourself little credit.

    Disagree.

    Mistakes at my end are extremely rare. Have been known, nothing serious. However, I am so used to this tired old canard such as the one you fairly glibly raised about my standards etc, that I wanted to point out the difference in standard of proof that I work to, compared to what you repeated (basically hearsay).

    I put in the rider about context because it is relevant. If one is making an allegation that someone has a reputation for shoddy work, which is the allegation you made, it implies a portfolio of shoddy work, not one example. Unless, in fact, the allegator could prove it was a routine occurrence rather than a one-off error, the allegator would be handing over the keys to his house.

    And for the record, this is the risk that I take every time I run a contentious story. That’s why my research has to be good – for my own protection as much as anything else.

    Frankly, if I ran a story as badly checked as your claims against me earlier, I’d have been nailed to the wall a long time ago.

    Doesn’t that illustrate my point? You’re right, I don’t operate to the same standards as other journos – my standards are higher.

    Do you know, I haven’t done one major interview with another journalist that hasn’t contained a number of errors on their part, some quite significant. Many of them can’t get facts straight, even with the aid of tape recorders.

    Now, as to “reputation”.

    From the moment I first crossed swords with the establishment of the day (Winebox investigation, early 1990s, I was deliberately painted as a “conspiracy theorist” in media comment. This was an attempt (and quite a successful one) to marginalise.

    It was PR spin, and as a former practitioner of the dark arts I knew exactly what it was when it arose.

    The problem with the internet is that there is one of me and thousands of potential bloggers and commentators. I could spend the rest of my working life trying to put out false information fires and they would pop up as quickly as I stamped on them.

    The downside to letting things ride is that people like yourself assume they must be true, so every once in a while I jump up and down about it.

  78. James on February 9th, 2009 at 04:48

    Hmmmmmm…..have to back Ian on this one…whilst his religious bent is dodgy and grasping at best ( and yes Ian I can have you on about that) he is right that you lefties are impotent when it comes to having him on about his research…..I heard stories about Clarks Lesbianism when I was a member of Labour in the late 80′s….it was a common subject amoungst the blue collar heroes…

  79. Lew on February 9th, 2009 at 09:02

    Ian:

    Frankly, if I ran a story as badly checked as your claims against me earlier, I’d have been nailed to the wall a long time ago.

    Doesn’t that illustrate my point? You’re right, I don’t operate to the same standards as other journos – my standards are higher.

    Well, the point you’ve illustrated is that your published work is researched to a higher standard than my back-of-a-napkin summary of your reputation, with which I would readily agree.

    The problem with the internet is that there is one of me and thousands of potential bloggers and commentators. I could spend the rest of my working life trying to put out false information fires and they would pop up as quickly as I stamped on them.

    And fair enough, too. The reason I won’t engage on the matter is similar – this reputation management stuff is a big chunk of your job, but not of mine. I suppose could spend part of my life trying to substantiate my statements above, and others like them, but frankly I’m not obsessed enough to do so off my own bat (and my employer’s hardly going to pay me to do it). Research is hard, and often thankless work.

    As I said; I’m not trying to prove this argument, I’m happy to let the media market decide its validity. My comments, semi-anonymous and unsubstantiated as they are, seem unlikely to have much impact upon that.

    L

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    I have grave concerns about the way the term “lesbian” was mobilized within overt and whispered right wing attacks on Helen Clark’s leadership of the NZ government. This is indicative of ways in which senior women politicians continued to be undermi…

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