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datePosted on 16:12, October 21st, 2009 by Lew


The story of Rodney Hide’s ministerial fundraiser is making headway — at present, it’s the splash spot on and is pretty prominent on the Herald site as well.

This image is strong. Close-ups are rarely flattering, and this one has an unctuous, indignant defensiveness which evokes, well, just about every crooked politico in history. The text, leading with the universal refrain of officials on the take and following up hard with that beloved word ‘rort’, gives the audience all the necessary context. This is a position Hide has spent his political career avoiding, and one which he was once merciless in prosecuting. It’s a long way to fall.

It seems that the credit for this should go to Eddie, who drew together its various strands into the narrative we now have. It’s been picked up by a few blogs, including Red Alert, where Phil Twyford published his own clearly-derivative-but-not-attributed riff on the topic earlier today, complete with Goff’s press release which forms the basis for the NZPA story. And it looks like Eddie even chose the photo which Stuff ran with — only one is flipped on the vertical. Well done.

Update: Lyndon in the comments points out that the threads were in fact drawn together by North Shore mayor Andrew Williams in the first instance, and published on – so Frist P0st credits there, although the Labour response seems more derivative of Eddie’s work than that, so my point largely remains.


16 Responses to “Traction”

  1. SPC on October 21st, 2009 at 22:13

    He’s only setting an example for those in local government to follow, how to use public service(s) to make a privatised profit.

    It’s only a matter of time after convincing oneself of what one is peddling to then buy into it personally and act out.

  2. Phil Sage on October 22nd, 2009 at 07:39

    what a pathetic beat up. business breakfasts have been common for years. Hide is not gaining personally.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Inner City Press: the head of UNDP, Helen Clark, gave a speech in Washington at the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and they charged $250 admission. Is there any kind of rule applicable to UN officials speaking in a for-pay environment and who reviews, obviously it was a fund-raiser, but what comment do you have on that?

  3. Eddie Clark on October 22nd, 2009 at 09:34

    Phil – on the core point, you really think this is a pathetic beat-up? A Minister, speaking in his capacity as a Minister is charging a fee which is paid directly to his political party. This is clearly a different situation than, say, one of the ridiculously overpriced LexisNexis seminars, where conference fees go to the organising company, not a political party.

    It’s absolutely repugnant that you should effectively be forced to donate to a political party in order to have access to a Minister.

    As for H Clark – she’s always had a bit of a nasty dictatorial speech which I won’t defend, but this looks like a standard overpriced corporate conference. Happy to be corrected on this point, but in any case I think you’re just trying to deflect attention from Rodney: “they did it too” is the utterly pathetic defence of the desperate. I believe the term is ‘derail’. Also, I thought the right was sposed to have better standards of behaviour than ZanuLiarbour.

    Finally – shame on Twyford/Goff. Plagiarism isn’t good, and how much bloody effort would it have been to h/t the Standard on Red Alert?

  4. Lew on October 22nd, 2009 at 09:37

    Phil, the post isn’t about the substance of the allegations against Hide — which are manifestly a matter of political opinion — but about how the story has arced in the media. The electorate will decide whether it’s a beat-up or not. That’s what they do.

    As to the comparison with Clark — what you’ve done is demonstrated quite aptly how partisans and media actors with an agenda select which information they prioritise in service of that agenda — just as Eddie did when putting the story together. The difference is that you did it as an off-topic distraction rather than as a legitimate contribution to the political media discourse.


  5. Tom Semmens on October 22nd, 2009 at 09:48

    This is interesting. For the first time, The Standard has achieved what Farrar and Slater have done for years – planted a story, had it picked up by the journalists who interview their web browsers, then had Labout pick it up as an attack line on the government. They are still not very good at it – something that should put paid to the right wing line they are “run out of the ninth floor” or wherever else now – as they didn’t follow up today with the trademark Farrar cut-and-paste of the Herald article with skewed commentary, and then tomorrow with 20 questions for Rodney, followed up by another angle on Friday evening…

    Speaking of Kiwiblog, my hasn’t it slipped into shroud waving irrelevance lately? Farrar is faltering badly, with his mask slipping and more and more he his simply playing to his base with sneering commentary being posted up.

    Perhaps the internet is a tool best suited to the opposition?

  6. Phil Sage on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:01

    Lew/Eddie – Yes I really think it is a pathetic beat up. getting worked up over semantics. Part of the grind of politics is fundraising. For the party, not for personal gain.
    The fact that people find it more convenient to pay a premium to go to a breakfast is neither here nor there. It speaks to the apathy of Labour’s position right now and the depth to which the media must dig to pretend to bring some balance to coverage that this makes news.

    For a minister to speak to a local government crowd on his area of responsibility in a public environment is so non wow.

    And Lew – you are repeating the BS. Pretend you are commenting on Eddie getting some traction in the MSM.
    I would have expected better from you.

  7. Phil Sage on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:04

    What is far more interesting is the way Obama has picked up the Clarkism of going after unfriendly media and suggesting the rest of them gang up.

    That man is struggling. And it is going to get much much worse if he blames his problems on one media outlet now.

  8. Lew on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:10


    If you can highlight where I’ve ‘repeated the bs’ I’d appreciate it. I’ve commented on the framing and what aspects the media have emphasised without endorsing or criticising them: just the facts of their publication. If simply looking at the evolution of the story and what aspects of it are most prominent makes me complicit in a ‘beat-up’ then I suppose I’m guilty as charged; but by the same token, it makes you complicit in a ‘cover-up’.

    The appropriate liberal response to bad press isn’t to criticise of the media for undertaking their mandated functions — it’s to use the media and those same functions to generate good press, if you can. By all means, do. If you can’t, well, that’s quite telling.


  9. Lew on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:13


    Crossed comments. I agree entirely about Obama and the War on Fox, etc: it’s both idiotic and counterproductive and whoever is behind the campaign is a fool.

    But here you are, running distraction lines to direct attention away from your own targets and toward what you perceive to be ours, again. Why?


  10. Eddie Clark on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:40

    Phil – stop derailing.

    If you disagree with Eddie (the one who isn’t me)’s views, and/or mine – fine. But I do think its odd you’re saying “This is a pathetic beatup” in the same breath as saying “LOOK OVER THERE INSTEAD”!

  11. Pablo on October 22nd, 2009 at 13:22

    Phil: I am not sure why you are venting this distracting line, nor why you do not accept Lew’s point that he is writing about the coverage, not the substance of the matter (which I thought was obvious from the get-go).

    However, because you usually have something to contribute on track of the post, I shall offer two comments on your deviationist line: On the Obama/Fox “war” please read my comments on the dedicated post on the issue over at DPF’s blog (posted yesterday). There is more than meets the eye going on (Lew might want to check it out as well). My comments are too long to repeat here.

    As for charging for meetings with senior politicians. Actually, a sitting Minister usually goes for free and the covering organisation charges a fee for access in order to defray expenses. In some cases, such as Council on Foreign Relations lecture/seminars, the fee can be quite high and attendance restricted depending on who is the luminary being presented. Helen Clark spoke as the guest of a third party organisation, and the fee would have fallen under the rules I have just described.

    Here the issue is that Hide is charging for access to himself, with the monies going to ACT. That is very different than third party hosting of his presentation. Had the Rotary, U3A, Athene, Aorangi or some university political science club held the event, the fee (or a koha) would be acceptable.

  12. lyndon on October 22nd, 2009 at 15:18

    Andrew Williams on Tuesday, for what it’s worth. Though the only person who seems to notice that was David Thornton.

  13. lyndon on October 22nd, 2009 at 15:24

    … and on the Scoop front page Tuesday too :)

  14. Phil Sage on October 23rd, 2009 at 08:46

    “…It’s a long way to fall.

    It seems that the credit for this should go … Well done.”

    Lew is just independently pointing out a left blog scoop that has made msm without passing judgement or supporting the intent.
    Just the facts m’lord.

    Yes Lew, black is white lew, whatever you say lew.

    And the right blogs repeating stories about Clark and her husband were just analysing the message, not repeating the beatup.
    Bush, Clinton any number of politicians hold fundraisers. People pay to hear the opinion of someone close to the heart of power and these politicians are going through the grubby business of raising funds from people who are voluntarily prepared to pay. In this case aimed at local government in Canterbury wanting to listen to the future from the minister
    It is mere semantics and a pathetic beat up. If Hide had advertised the subject as something more subtle he would not have been pinged.

    My comment on Clark was not to distract, merely to point out the hypocrisy.

    But crack on. It just indicates how desperate the left is in New Zealand at present if this leads the news.

    Interesting series of comments at kiwiblog pablo. I feel your premise is weak though. The White house is bullying. It would do better to mock Fox than martyr them. But I guess when one of obamas tight circle of communicators professes her undiminished support for Mao and the regime that killed 70m he may have problems with advice grounded in reality.

  15. Lew on October 23rd, 2009 at 09:53


    It’s a long way to fall from being renowned as the perk-buster to being implicated in a ‘rort’.

    The credit for breaking the story into the media should go to Eddie who (or so it seemed; it seems others scooped him) did the research and argument that journalists otherwise should be doing — they at least seem to think it has merit, else they wouldn’t have run it. Well done because it’s not easy to gain such cut-through as someone operating outside the system (or on its fringes).

    For the record, I never claimed to be independent in this — in fact, I’ve repeatedly stated that you can’t separate your own politics from what you choose to examine, and that the best you can do is declare them and be scrupulous in arguing the issues. I drew attention to this situation for the reasons Tom identified: right-wing bloggers (two in particular) frequently break stories into the wider media and consequently have a significant impact on public discourse about politics. The left does so only much more rarely, and it is thus much more remarkable when they do. Right blogs reporting stories about Helen Clark’s personal life, her personal characteristics and qualities, and engaging in the sustained sort of character assassination that they did is a different matter entirely — there’s no indication of personal or private malfeasance in Eddie’s claim; onyl a matter of public interest which the electorate can decide to care about, or not. You will not find me calling for personal or private attacks against politicians of any sort, nor will you find me criticising those who raise legitimate (or debateable) matters opf public probity for discussion in the media, regardless of their affiliation or the targets of their criticism.

    For what it’s worth I think (as someone who’s not a lawyer) that there’s no legal merit in the allegations against Hide (or Roy, although that case seems more serious), but however much you might like it to not be so, it is most definitely a matter of legitimate political dispute, just as many previous non-legally-significant-but-morally-or-ethically-suspect topics have been for prior governments. The moral and ethical tests are not fundamentally assessed by the Cabinet Manual or Parliament; they are the purview of the electorate.

    So, Phil, you can complain about a VLWC if you like, but all you’ve really done here is highlight your own reflexive defensiveness of your ideological corner. If you’d wanted to contribute to the discussion in some meaningful fashion, you might have remarked on why such an apparently baseless topic is treated seriously by the media. If there’s really truly nothing in it, why does anyone care? That’s the matter I’m really interested in: why this story, and not any other?


  16. Phil Sage on October 23rd, 2009 at 16:09

    Ah Lew – Your next post is more balanced so I forgive you now. ;^)

    “If you’d wanted to contribute to the discussion in some meaningful fashion, you might have remarked on why such an apparently baseless topic is treated seriously by the media.” – I did. ” It speaks to the apathy of Labour’s position right now and the depth to which the media must dig to pretend to bring some balance to coverage that this makes news.”

    I love captcha – Westminster bedpan – Which is about right really

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