The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign








As the the final acts  in the smear campaign that was the Donghua Liu Affair are about to unfold, and the curtain soon to fall, it is worthwhile re-assessing what has occurred; what has been learned; and the fall-out for certain individuals.


1. The NZ Herald


TDB Recommends

The NZ Herald does not emerge from this Affair very well.

From 18 June, when Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter was “discovered” and made public; to 21 June, when Donghua Liu’s first “signed statement” was reported by the Herald; to 25 June, when the Herald released a “new statement” from Liu – this has been either a cock-up of colossal proportions, or self-serving connivance,  in a carefully orchestrated smear campaign.

Where does one start to unravel the mess that the Herald and some of it’s staff and editor have created?

  • The sensationalist headlines that were splashed across the paper with damaging allegations, with no evidence, and based purely on one man’s “signed statement” was trash “journalism” at it’s worst.

Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Liu’s $100k wine news to Rick Barker

Labour looks in serious disarray

Labour must cling to the wreckage

Oh David – it’s come down to a question of trust

Cunliffe’s denial has done party no favours

Cunliffe working 9 to 5 to save his job

Poisoned chalice may be leader’s saviour

etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

  • Liu’s “signed statement” was not even in the nature of an affidavit – the latter carrying more legal weight under the Evidence Act 2006. Which means that Liu could make any wild claim he fancied, with minimal repercussions. (Not unless someone with deep pockets, and plenty of time, bothers to take a defamation case against the trouble-prone migrant businessman.)

This should have made the Herald and it’s supposedly professional, experienced staff of journalists and columnists, more cautious.

Instead we read outrageous claims of a “$100,000 bottle of wine” (or “four bottles of wine” depending on which account you read); “$15,000 books”, and “$60,000 dinners on the Yangtze River” – all without a jot of evidence or witnesses. (The Yangtze boat trip/party turned out to be a staff party that then-Labour minister, Rick Barker, had been invited to attend.)

In short, we witnessed  an appalling standard of sloppy “journalism” and “trial by media” based on no evidence, and judged guilty-by-innuendo.

  • This shameful style of media reporting was made worse by the likes of Jared Savage who wrote uncritical pieces on this story, repeating in a parrot-like fashion any fanciful claim that Liu could come up with. When only one of Liu’s claims was substantiated – his $2,000 donation to a boating club – it was trumpeted as “proof” that all of Liu’s claims had been confirmed,

“The confirmation comes after Labour has denied other allegations in the signed statement from Liu, including the claim he paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at fundraising auctions.”

Rick Barker had his own views on the rowing club donation, which seemed a whole lot more credible than Liu’s “$100,000 bottle of wine”. (‘Cold Duck’ anyone?)

  •  Or  Herald Editor, Tim Murphy, on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“  on 23 June, where he was evasive in his answers and gave no explanation as to why Liu’s “signed statement” had not been published verbatim. Murphy said on the interview that he  stood by the Liu story, confidently asserting;

“Well, what’s not to stand by?”

We now know that Liu’s claims were either misleading, fanciful, or over-exaggerated and most likely, defamatory.

That is the most likely reason why the Herald did not publish, verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” It would have made them a party to a defamation lawsuit.

  • But perhaps the worst offender was Herald Columnist, John Armstrong, who on 18 June, penned one of the most scurrilous pieces of “journalistic” rubbish  in recent media  history. Armstrong’s piece was written on the same day that the Herald published Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter to Immigration NZ. Amazingly, as Armstrong vilified Cunliffe for “a lapse of memory”, and demanded his resignation as Labour leader – he omitted to mentioned that the letter had been written some eleven years ago.

Armstrong’s piece was written and published at 1pm on 18 June – one hour twentynine minutes before Jared Savage broke the story detailing Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ, on behalf of Donghua Liu.

Which suggests Armstrong’s haste and eagerness  in putting the journalistic ‘knife’ between Cunliffe’s ribs.

It was not until three days later that the Herald’s other right-leaning columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, attempted to inject some degree of sanity into her colleagues with her more thoughtful, restrained  opinion piece on 21 June,

Memo: David Cunliffe. Don’t let your political enemies (that includes your frenemies) push you out of the Labour leadership ahead of the election.


There is already a media-fuelled expectation that Cunliffe should either step down or be rolled so that Labour’s fourth leader in one parliamentary term can lead the party into the September 20 election.

This would leave precious little time for a replacement – be it Grant Robertson or Andrew Little – to bed their own leadership in place before going head-to-head with Key in the election campaign. It would almost certainly result in electoral defeat.

Similarly, the resignation calls Cunliffe faced after the Herald broke the story that the Labour leader had signed off a letter on behalf of Liu bordered on risible.

That letter was clearly a pro forma note written by his staffers. There was no element of special pleading. It’s no wonder he had forgotten it. It should not have sparked a Gotcha call from political journalists.

Well, I’m not so charitable.

The behaviour of the Herald (with some notable exceptions) has been nothing short of disgraceful. It has with-held information from the public. It has published defamatory claims from a vengeful businessman with no evidence to support his claims regarding Labour (rowing boat club aside). It has engaged in tabloid-style, “gotcha” political-journalism. It has demonstrated  a particularly virulent style of biased, partisan reporting.   It has not undertaken the most basic journalistic  requirements of confirming a story before going public. It has not bothered to investigate (as far as anyone can tell) who was behind Liu’s claims and why. It has abused it’s position as a major media organisation, with it’s considerable influence in New Zealand society.

As such, to take a page from John Armstrong’s 18 June opinion piece, I  issue the following;

Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy must apologise to David Cunliffe and to the NZ Labour Party promptly,  fully, and unreservedly. That apology should be placed on the front page of the Herald. It  is the very least that he should do as a matter of justice.

After which, Mr Murphy should re-consider his own position and decide whether  his role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

(See Appendix B)

John Armstrong

There is no question – John Armstrong must resign immediately. His behaviour has been shocking and  inexcusable. Any notion of Armstrong as an impartial  journalist was swept away with his intemperate and openly partisan column on 18 June.

To para-phrase  Mr Armstrong, “he has called for [David Cunliffe’s] head to roll for the equivalent or less. Having set the standard required of others, it is incumbent on him to himself follow suit“.

When a supposedly well-educated person writes such a travesty of journalism, there is only one course of action open.

Go, John.

Just, go.

(See Appendix B)

Jared Savage

Jared was the author of many of the pieces reporting (more like cutting and  re-pasting) Donghua Liu’s claims. There was no evidence to support Donghua Liu’s claims – but they were published and given prominence nevertheless.

Jared does not appear to have given any serious thought to questioning Liu’s claims, nor the motivations for them. This style of reporting is grossly irresponsible and undermines his profession.

Unlike his colleagues, Murphy and Armstrong, Jared is young and still learning his craft. The Liu Affair has not been to Jared’s credit, but hopefully he has learned from the experience. I encourage Jared to under-go a refresher course in journalistic ethics so that future reporting can be more balanced and accurate.


2. A more measured p.o.v.?


With the dust settling on the Liu Affair, and the hysteria from more ‘excitable’  media columnists and commentators dying away, I refer to the reader a more measured, thoughtful p.o.v. from Dominion Post columnist, Vernon Small, who wrote that the Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down.

Small’s column wasn’t just a breath of fresh air, it was a full tank of oxygen in an otherwise murky atmosphere of political muck-raking, innuendo, lies,  and media histrionics.


3. The Labour Party


Legal Action

Without a doubt, Labour – and specifically, David Cunliffe – have no choice. They must take legal action for defamation against the Herald. The kind of shabby, tabloid-style “journalism” shown since June 18 has further undermined the Fourth Estate’s credibility (whether Herald staff and management realise this or not, is irrelevant) and must not be allowed to become the new default standard by which editors and journalists operate in this country.

For these reasons, Labour must sue for three good reasons;

  • It runs the risk that the public ‘memory’ on this incident will be fixed at the point of “revelations” about a “$100,000 bottle of wine” – not that Liu changed his story. Nor that no evidence was forthcoming.
  • If the Liu Affair goes to Court, the process of discovery may reveal who was behind this smear campaign.
  • If the phone tapping/”News of the World” scandal in Britain has shown us anything, it is that the  tabloid journalism road, where irresponsible reporting becomes an  acceptable ‘norm’, leads to unpleasant (and often illegal) consequences.

However, my advice to Cunliffe and the Labour Party is to defer legal action until after 20 September.  The Labour Party cannot afford distractions this close to an election.

Rapid Response Team

Unless Labour already has one, I suggest that they create a media “rapid response group” which can  ‘kick in’ when the next smear campaign rears it’s ugly head. (Mark my words, the next dirty trick is probably already in the works.)

Such a group could comprise of senior party members, MPs, legals, media minders, etc, and could ‘swing into action’ at the first hint of another event like the Liu Affair.

Every Labour candidate should have an easy-to-contact  “rapid response group” team-member on their phone’s speed-dial.

Potential Allies

If the Liu Affair has shown anything, it is the old maxim,

“United we Stand, Divided we Fall”

The smear campaign was notable for one thing; Labour stood alone against the NZ Herald, other media, and various lunatic right-wing bloggers.  It had few allies.

Perhaps this incident should serve as a wake-up call to Labour that it needs allies – potential coalition partners who can come to the aid of an embattled Labour Party. And vice versa.

God knows the Left has many enemies in the media, political sphere, business world, rant-back radio, and rabid-right blogs.

A more collegial and co-operative relationship between Labour, the Greens, Mana-Internet, trade unions, and other progressive organisations will be needed if future dirty tricks and smear campaigns are to be successfully resisted.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is not just a catchy catch-phrase. It actually means something.


Last year, John Key and the National government, with support from ACT and Peter Dunne, changed legislation to allow the GCSB to carry out domestic surveillance and spy on New Zealanders.

Of course, this does not mean that I am suggesting that when Labour becomes government, that they should use the GCSB to spy on the Herald, Donghua Liu, his lawyers, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, David Farrar, and anyone else who might be connected with this Affair, to find out who was responsible.

I am not suggesting that at all.

That would be morally wrong.

But quite legal.


4. John Key


It was clear from Day One, that John Key  had been fully briefed on David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ. On 19 June, John Key said he had previously known about the  letter;

“Can’t exactly recall, I think it was a few weeks ago.”

But far more interesting is that Key seems to have been aware of Liu’s “signed statement” prior to  the Herald aquiring a copy of it.

Note the following article from the Herald, written by Audrey Young, when she was in New York, covering Key’s visit to the United States . Specifically, note the date; Thursday 19 June;



NZ Herald - Key on Liu-Labour link - More to come - $15 000 book


Note the opening paragraph;

Prime Minister John Key believes the Labour [sic] has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

Key is quoted in Young’s article,

“I’ve heard the rumours and we’ll see what actually comes out but I’d be very, very amazed if the amount is $15,000,” he told New Zealand reporters.

But according to Herald on Sunday editor, Miriyana Alexander, revelations of Donghua Liu’s claims for other donations did not come to their attention until Saturday, 21 June;

But Herald on Sunday editor Miriyana Alexander said it only got a copy of the statement on Saturday and called the party within an hour of receiving it.

The date of when the NZ Herald came into possession of   Liu’s   “signed statement” was  also confirmed as  “on Saturday” [21 June], by Herald editor,  Tim Murphy, who was  interviewed on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“, two days later (Monday  23 June). In the same interview, Murphy refused to say how the Herald acquired the statement.

When asked by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, why a copy of Liu’s statement had not been supplied to Labour, Murphy’s response was,

“There’s still more to be done. And there’s issues of sensitivities around it, for us. All these these things don’t get passed over […] I imagine it’ll come out but it just a matter of us working through some things first.”


19 June (Thursday): Key  stated that he  believed  Labour had a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

21 June (Saturday): NZ Herald came into possession of Liu’s “signed statement”. The Herald does not publish the “statement” verbatim, nor does it pass a copy on to the Labour Party. (A point raised by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson in her interview with Tim Murphy.)

23 June (Monday): NZ Herald editor, Tim Murphy confirms that his paper did not acquire a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” until two days ago (21 June).

So John Key knew the contents of Liu’s “signed statement”  two days in advance of the Herald.

In my previous blogpost (The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?) I posed these questions;

  1. Who had access to the Prime Minister in such a way that he could be briefed, with such detail,  in advance, on Cunliffe’s letter and Liu’s “signed statement”?
  2. Who was involved in encouraging Donghua Liu to make his statement?
  3. How did a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” get to the NZ Herald?
  4. What was the motivation in briefing the Prime Minister?
  5. Who else in the PM’s office was involved? Was it Jason Ede?

Without much doubt, Key, his  ministers,  and some of his closest advisors, were fully aware of Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and Donghua Liu’s “signed statement”.


5. Conclusions



The Herald’s editor, Tim Murphy and  political columnist John Armstrong behaved disgracefully throughout this entire event. Either through ineptitude or complicity, they allowed the NZ Herald to become a tool for a carefully planned and executed smear campaign against David Cunliffe.

In an email to Tim Murphy (see Appendix B), I call for a full-page apology to be published in the Herald.

I also call for Tim Murphy’s and John Armstrong’s resignations.

As such, after my email to Tim Murphy, and depending on his response, I will be considering a complaint to the NZ Press Council on the matter.

I may also look at other avenues such as contacting the Herald’s main advertisers.


David Liu was not the instigator or author of his “signed statement”.  Without doubt, it was a dirty trick of the sort that Nicky Hager warned us about in his brilliant exposé on corruption in the National Party, “The Hollow Men”. 

The date on Liu’s “signed statement” – 3 May – was only two days after Maurice Williamson’s enforced resignation after being found out attempting to influence a police investigation into Liu’s assault on two women.

The close timing of Williamson’s resignation and the date on Liu’s “signed statement” was a critical mistake on the part of those responsible for this smear campaign. It ties the two events together. I believe Key’s senior media strategist, Jason Ede, and right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater were probably involved.

The motive for the smear campaign was an act of utu, in retaliation for Labour prosecuting revelations against Maurice Williamson.


Labour must sue the NZ Herald for defamation. Whilst smear campaigns are, unfortunately part-and-parcel of politics (because partisan voters seem not to care, as long as it is done to the “other side”), complicit or incompetant actions by media reporting such stories cannot – must not – be allowed to stand.

Unless we want to see this country’s media  become a South Pacific mirror of “News of the World“, with associated phone hacking, bribery, police corruption, and god knows what else, the kind of sensationalist, headline-driven, misleading “journalism” shown by the Herald from June 18 cannot be allowed to become the new standard of media behaviour.

Even media companies have responsibilities and obligations to behave in a responsible manner.

If not, we must look to legal remedies to ensure responsible behaviour.



Appendix A


from:     Frank Macskasy <>
to:          John Key <>
date:      Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM
subject: OIA Request – Reminder!

Kia ora Mr Key,

On 19 June – now one week ago – I lodged an OIA request with you and your office.

My request was as follows,

Kia ora Mr Key.

This is a request lodged under the Official Information Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording, relating to any and all activities surrounding the procurement; storage; and planned circumstances of the release of the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003.

This includes a request for all communications relating to the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003, which may have occurred between yourself; any and all staffmembers in your office; any member of the National Party; any blogger; any media person; and any other group or individual who was contacted on this issue.

Information may be emailed to me, or, if the file is too large, I can supply a postal address for hard copies.


-Frank Macskasy


Since then, I have not received any acknowledgement to my lodged application and require you to do so, under the Act.

If I do not receive acknowledgement to my request, I will have no option but to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.


-Frank Macskasy

An hour later, I received an emailed acknowledgement to my OIA request.


Appendix B


from:         Frank Macskasy <>
to:              Tim Murphy <>
date:         Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 10:34 PM
subject:    The Donghua Liu Affair & Consequence


Tim Murphy
The New Zealand Herald


Kia ora Mr Murphy,

After recent revelations, it has become patently obvious and apparent to all that Mr Donghua Liu is no longer a credible witness to any alleged wrong-doing or alleged inappropriate behaviour by David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, or the NZ Labour Party.

Mr Liu has;

1. Failed to provide evidence for his allegations of hefty donations to the Labour Party. The closest he has come has been  a $2,000 cheque he gave to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club, on his own volition.

2. Mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation and  attendance at a staff party, on a river-boat,  in China.

3. Made no verifiable Affidavit, and provided only a “signed statement”.

4. Issued a second statement on 25 June, changing his initial allegations.

5. Offered no evidence for his second, 25 June, “signed statement”.

Since 18 June, when your reporter, Jared Savage, broke this story in a piece entitled “David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“, the Herald has;

* published unsubstantiated allegations;

* failed to provide subsequent evidence to back up those allegations;

* published stories damaging to the reputations of David Cunliffe and Rick Barker;

* published allegations damaging to the Labour Party (during an election year!);

* published a column calling for David Cunliffe to resign (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“), based on incomplete information, and omitting a crititical fact, namely  that Cunliffe’s letter to NZ Immigration had been written  in 2003, and was a legitimate reason why the MP may have forgotten the letter;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, thereby acting as a gate-keeper/censor of information that the public had a right to see;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, despite having no hesitation in publishing David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to NZ Immigration (“David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“)

* made little or no discernible attempt to investigate the background to Liu’s allegations; his motives; and who else might have been involved.

Under your watch, the tenor of stories relating to the Cunliffe-Liu issue has been one-sided and predicated on baseless allegations.

This has been a tabloid-style, highly-emotive, unjustified witch-hunt which collapsed only because Donghua Liu’s story changed and it became apparent he was no longer a credible witness.

The Liu Affair has seriously damaged your paper’s reputation and also further eroded public confidence in the ability of the Fourth Estate to report fairly, accurately, and without bias.

Accordingly, I submit that  it behoves you to put this matter right. I therefore call upon you;

1. The NZ Herald should immediately publish a full page apology on the front page of your paper.

2. It may also be appropriate for you to  re-consider your  position and decide whether your role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

3. On 18 June, in a highly biased, unreasonable column, John Armstrong called for David Cullen’s resignation,  (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“). I submit that Mr Armstrong’s own position as a senior Herald staffer is no longer tenable and must take his own advice and resign.

These three steps are the basis upon which the New Zealand Herald can regain it’s reputation that has been severely dented since 18 June.


– Frank Macskasy


Note: this letter will be made public on “The Daily Blog”, and subsequently, on “Frankly Speaking” (my own personal blog). Any response you care to make will also be disclosed and made public.





NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

Legislation:  Evidence Act 2006

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald:  Liu donation to rowing club confirmed

Radio NZ: Morning Report – New Zealand Herald stands by its story

NZ Herald/Hawkes Bay Today: Saga returns to bite Rick Barker

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Fran O’Sullivan: Unfounded resignation calls should be far from Cunliffe’s mind

Auckland University of Technology: Journalism Major – Bachelor of Communication Studies

Dominion Post:  Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down

Wilson Harle: Overhaul of New Zealand’s Discovery Rules

Radio NZ: Cunliffe accuses Govt of smear campaign

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

Fairfax media: Labour fights new Liu donation claims

TV3: Maurice Williamson resigns as minister


Twitter: Jared Savage

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

NZ Herald: Liu: $100k not just for wine

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu timeline – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?





malcomx newspapers



= fs =


  1. Well done, Frank, you’re rapidly becoming the Kiwi version of a Greg Palast and the Medialen crew. That’s a huge compliment in my book.

    • Yeah, but have a look at the comments underneath it – 100% critical of the Herald when I looked. Made my day.

      • yep, just had a look at quite a few of the 303 comments… can’t see a single pro-national/right/Herald one in there. I hope this represents a turning point in the public’s toleration of mainstream, blatantly right-wing-spun news, not just through the papers but TV and radio too. However I’m not holding my breath.

        • There are a handful, but they are well and truly in the minority. Tellingly, one of them went under the moniker of “Grumpy.”

    • Jordanjames – Read the editorial.

      Kinda tragic, really. It was like the pleading cry of a spoiled brat who has been found out telling fibs and is desperately trying to worm his way out of the consequences…

      Reading the comments left by so many people has been… fascinating.

  2. Stunning genuine journalism from Frank Macskasy here. No further comment required imo.

    Distribute everywhere is all I can say.

    Critics of Bomber–sod off–The Daily Blog is now a major part of new media.

  3. The Daily Blog is definitely a major part of new media, and posts like this put the Herald and the other 4th estate hacks to shame.
    Thanks for your hard work Frank

    • Agreed AKLDNUT. Frank’s work puts everything into some understandable context and shows up the crap that NZ Herald serves up as “news”. Murphy et al should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!!

  4. I only disagree with one point you make…..Labour MUST SUE BEFORE the election, otherwise National will in all probability win.
    Forget the fears of ‘it’ll get in the way of the election’. THIS IS the point that matters. National are gaining more and more control of democracy, probably with the help of JK’s mate in the GCSB or similar.
    NZ is showing all the signs (see the ’10 steps to Fascism’) of heading towards a fascist style state where the PM CONTROLS everything, through mates or people he controls……favours-cronism etc etc
    i.e. The ends justify the means for National and Labour let them get away with it, if they don’t sue NOW and effect the election.
    A bit like a third world country where everyone else knows the new PM cheated, but he’s in charge and NOTHING can now be done about it !!!!
    National have most (if not all) the MSM ‘in their pocket’ and the MSM aren’t (REALLY) reporting useful political news.
    So unless Labour go after the MSM for their obvious immoral (and probably when investigated fully, illegal, e.g. How the UK phone hacking saga unveiled new info on illegal activity) Labour become the nice-guy-loser.
    If Labour DON”T act soon, National have utterly WON the dirty battle and Labour will be the honest poor guy that came second and every one ‘tut tut’s’ about the dirty election and then forgets about it.
    NZ, you’ve been warned.

      • Well #1 for sure
        ……Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

        Wasn’t this the justification for the ex-judicary murder of an NZ citizen overseas, because he was part of a terrorist organisation.

        Thus this terrifying enemy is so bad, we no longer need to trial NZ citizens before we ‘happily’ put them to death.

        PLus we MUST agree with whatever the USA says, even if the UN doesn’t agree, because of this fearful enemy.

        #2….maybe 25-50% of it……………Create a gulag

        Private prisons that make money the longer a prisoner stays. ….creates an obvious conflict of interest !!!
        Plus union rules-labour (and thus how obvious any abuse would be highlighted) are purposely limited-removed.

        #3…Develop a thug caste………..I’ve not seen an equivalent in NZ……..thank God

        #4……….Set up an internal surveillance system system………DEFINITELY……..NZ’s even gone one step better…….the head of this-these organisations is a personal friend of the guy he’s supposed to be the ‘checks and balance’ for………….and the NZ shepple happily let it happen………..

        #5……..Harass citizens’ groups……..probably like #2…..a little bit of it, but not too much, yet

        #6……Engage in arbitrary detention and release…….again like #2 …….Ahmed Zaoui but that was under Labour. But the precedent is there.

        #7…..Target key individuals…….DEFINITELY………Kim DotCom, David Cunliffe, John Minto, Bomber Bradbury,…..etc etc etc

        #8….. Control the press………..DEFINITELY

        #9…….Dissent equals treason………I’ve not seen that

        #10…..Suspend the rule of law………MAYBE 20%….re; changing rules of Habius-corpus, trial by video camera, can’t use silence as a reasonable defense……

        So what’s that………4/10 Definitely
        4/10 partially
        2/10 NO

  5. Well done Frank. You have certainly been doing your homework on this one. You deserve a medal for your commitment and dedication in getting to the truth.

    Labour and David Cunliffe are the victims/accused in all this. Yet like the rest of us, the party and its leader, having been denied the opportunity to view Donghua Liu’s statements, are still in the dark as to the true contents of these documents. This point alone, indicates dirty play, very likely from Key, National, Slater, NZH et al, knowing full well if Labour and Cunliffe come into possession of any signed documented statements from Liu, they will be released in the public domain, evidence of a grubby smear campaign from the finger pointers of the right!

    Hopefully, the final outcome will be positive towards Labour and Cunliffe. All the best.

  6. As a former journalist (in my younger days) I venture this opinion; Putting aside the allegations of smear tactics, lies and right-wing bias for one moment there is a terrible deficiency in the way that journalists went about this story. I was trained the old fashioned way: research your story, check your facts, check the credibility of your sources and invite a response BEFORE publication. Seems these old fashioned values have gone down the tubes. Is it progress? or is it more the long-term desire of the right to saturate public opinion with lies, spin and propaganda until people no longer have the will to think for themselves or challenge the manipulators? Up until a few years ago I thought it was the former, now I believe it is the latter.

    • ” I was trained the old fashioned way: research your story, check your facts, check the credibility of your sources and invite a response BEFORE publication. ”

      Mike, that pretty well sums it up for me, as well.

      Indeed, that was a large part of what has been motivating me on this issue – the old fashioned, traditional journalism does not seem to be much in evidence in the way this “story” wsas presented to us…

  7. Although, I remember that David Lange successfully sued for libel some 20-30 years ago, it was extremely difficult, costly and time consuming for him. How many of us think that Labour would have a ghost of a chance of successfully suing the Herald for libel in this political climate? When the police didn’t even prosecute John Banks and lined up beside John Key over the cup of tea with Banks saga, what chance would Labour have if they pursued such a case against the National Party’s chief Auckland propaganda rag? Zero! Anti-National government cases will not be judged fairly in this country. John Banks was only found guilty because the National government no longer had any practical use for him, if they had you can bet he would have been found not guilty. Am I alleging corruption and pro-National government bias in the judiciary and legal system – absolutely!

  8. Excellent work Frank – thank goodness the Daily Blog is available to all – I suggest we BOYCOTT everything advertised in the NZ Herald until an apology is printed Front Page.

  9. Great article, thank you!

    Wish I had your editorial skills, your tenacity, and above all, your bravery!

  10. Great article & viewpoint….
    I did chuckle when you said..
    “I encourage Jared to under-go a refresher course in journalistic ethics so that future reporting can be more balanced and accurate. – See more at:

    Jared Savage is a dreadful piece of excrement, and no amount of refresher courses will change that. It doesnt help that NZH management encourage his drug fueled interviewing his own typewriter style……

  11. Without the left wing bloggers this entire cauldron of conspiracy would have become a last supper for NZ. Thank you to every single author and commenter and contributor of research who did what they could to allow reality to drop some roots of truth into the stone soup being thrown at our begging bowls.

    TDB, The Standard, No Right Turn, Imperatorfish, Polity, Andrew Geddis, Frankly Speaking, (and apologies to all those I missed) but you all, piece by piece, motivated the authors and their readers to speak up.

    Let’s keep that voice shouting loud and proud for the next few months shall we!

    • Amazing. They will reprint and clarify what he claims, as if restating it will somehow make it true. Somewhere in the NZH administrative offices, someone is clicking their red shoes together and whispering to themselves “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

    • And a commenter on The Standard posted this about an hour ago:

      Herald editor has just tweeted the following:

      “Donghua Liu – seems like some premature claims of the story ‘unravelling’ have been going on….”

      *sigh – Getting ready for the next fizzing pile of poo.”

      Doesn’t sound like Mr Tim Murphy is the slightest bit remorseful.

      David Cunliffe has already called for an apology. If its not forthcoming with the next two days then I believe Labour should immediately lay a compliant with the Press Council. I would go further and suggest they hire a law firm to handle all aspects of the complaint. Plenty of people would be more than happy to contribute to the legal costs involved.

      A defamation case will surely have to wait for a bit further down the track now.

  12. Quite frightening how MSM are manipulating the truth and changing the course of politics in this country, makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. There is no professional reporting being done about what is happening in politics it appears to be “Teen Idol” and “Gotcha Politics” unfortunately a majority of the population do not have the time to read between the lines.

  13. Thank you Frank. I am a big fan of your work, and I really appreciate what you do. Your blogs always resonate with me and are well researched and referenced. I think you are great. Thank you.

  14. Excellent summary of this rotten saga, Frank.

    Right from the beginning, this episode had the SMELL of “Hollow Man” to it. Everything happened in such a coordinated manner, as you have described…. the work of Savage, Armstrong, and the Herald editorial writers, along with Gower also SCREAMING incoherently every night on TV3 News, that was NOT all ‘coincidence’…. that was a “black ops” campaign, carefully coordinated by somebody. Crosby Textor would be pround of that ‘operation’, executed in the manner reminiscent of the old TV series “Mission Impossible”.

    Hollow Man, 2014 version, part one, with more to follow. A LOT more still to come, as you also warn.

    However, we cannot just leave it at that. We need to mount our own investigation of this! We need to find out WHO it was who organised this “black ops” campaign, and NAME and SHAME them, not just the Herald, but whoever the brains was behind this. They need to be tracked down, and held publically accountable. The right has (more or less) gotten away with this kind of crap far too many times… it is time for us to put a stop to that…. to shine the searchlight of public disclosure on the gutter dwellers who are the brains behind this kind of operation.

  15. This comment on this June 18th post on Homepaddock

    JC says:
    June 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm
    3 0 Rate This
    More to come about very large undeclared donations as I understand. If so then it goes much wider than Cunliffe..

    It certainly suggests there were people who knew about the Liu statement before the Herald got it.

    Then on the Friday:

    JC says:
    June 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm
    4 0 Rate This
    “and rumors of hundred of thousands of dollars?”

    Maybe its the “H-Fee”

    Tic toc.


    “Tic Toc”- JC is in the loop.
    I understand there were hints like this on Kiwiblog and Whaleoil, but I care for my mental health and never go there.

  16. Don’t forget that DongHua Liu has been drafted in as part of all this National smear campaign.

    This Asian wife-beater, liar and corrupter of politicans should be sent back to China. If they had a Gulag-Archipelgo-Siberia-equivelant in China he should go there.

    On September 23rd, when the dust has settled Labour and its left-wing allies should start proceedings to have Dong deported to China….and Key deported to Hawaii.

    • Whoever wins, I don’t expect the dust will settle anytime soon after the election. This is going to be an unusually contentious one that will stir a lot of debate, even long after the results come in. NZ, I feel, is at a vey important crossroads, and whatever happens, we should all keep it in our minds, whether we are on the winning side, or the losing.

  17. Interesting to note that under Mirriam-Webster’s definitions of the word “herald” comes the following entry:

    “One who actively promotes or advocates.”

    How fitting.

  18. I have to praise your advice to sue. Remember, when its a defamation matter the Law Firm instructed will require an appropriate deposit up-front. I suggest $250,000 as a good starter for this one. Still interested ? No, I thought not …

  19. I am furious at the Herald on Sunday and NZ Herald editors to have run this smear campaign, without any facts, and some reports in the Herald had led me to start believing some of the allegations, given Labour’s past questionable record in following a more “moderate” neoliberal political direction for too long.

    Thanks for this great post, Frank, as it reminds us of how the mainstream media is at it again, to mislead and misinform the public, with the intention to ensure the political, economic and social status quo is maintained in this country. They influenced the last two general elections, let us not allow them to do it this time.

    The opposition parties and members should hammer back, resolutely, at the responsible journalists in the NZ Herald, and also prepared well to deal with future smear and misinformation attempts by other media.

    I feel they could have dealt better with it all, and hopefully they learn out of all this.

    Sadly much damage has been done, as too few out there will bother reading the truth about it all – here on TDB.

  20. Quote

    “Rapid Response Team
    Unless Labour already has one, I suggest that they create a media “rapid response group” which can ‘kick in’ when the next smear campaign rears it’s ugly head. (Mark my words, the next dirty trick is probably already in the works.) Such a group could comprise of senior party members, MPs, legals, media minders, etc, and could ‘swing into action’ at the first hint of another event like the Liu Affair.”

    AND –

    “Potential Allies
    A more collegial and co-operative relationship between Labour, the Greens, Mana-Internet, trade unions, and other progressive organisations will be needed if future dirty tricks and smear campaigns are to be successfully resisted. “United we stand, divided we fall” is not just a catchy catch-phrase. It actually means something.”

    Yes, I agree, Labour needs to have a special media team, that is able to rapidly respond to media attacks, criticism and potentially biased reporting. They must immediately issue statements presenting Labour’s position, and do all to do the necessary analysis and double checking of information, to ensure such attempts by media are not allowed to drag on for days or even weeks. This should have been something they should have done much earlier, well before the start of the election campaign.

    As for the potential allies, it was Labour’s over assertive statements, that they will lead a campaign solely focusing on getting votes for Labour, and that they would not make an agreement on a level of cooperation with the Greens. So in a sense, Labour can only blame themselves for the Greens and others not jumping up and standing by their sides, I fear. It seem to have been the ABCers again, not wanting to get too close to the Greens, for fear of losing “middle voters”. So they cannot have it both ways, I think.

    As for the NZ Herald, yes, they must apologise to Labour and David Cunliffe, and while Armstrong may perhaps have made a major miscalculation, or worse, I think making him stand down goes a bit too far. He should also be expected though, to apologise and write a correcting statement.

    And yes, the elephant in the room seems to be John Key and his past knowledge of details about the mentioned allegations, before they were even made public. I am sure he does not only know all that is behind this scandal, he or some of his colleagues, staff and operators must be behind a lot of what happened.

    So I will await what his office will respond to Frank’s OIA requests. I fear though, they will find a back-door option to refuse information, or to only deliver bits that mean nothing much. OIA requests are often not that successful, I am afraid, given the various rights of refusal the law offers.

    Best of luck with that, Frank!

    • What we should do is show out displeasure with The Herald by choosing a day to actively not buy it. Or else return it, if you subscribe.

      In the end, they have to please their advertisers and if their advertisers aren’t getting eyeballs then they will withdraw their dollars.

      Next Wednesday sounds like a good day. It’s a big advertising day.

      So what do people think?

  21. Nat’s or gnats?

    At last the Herald and Nat sycophants have overstepped the line which has been driving me mad for ages. Lets hope your truth or trews as Russell Brand calls it prevails. Change this culture of bullying bullshit and propaganda, and banish into the darkness of political oblivion, these Lui endorsed dead-eyed money vampire Nat’s and remove their fangs from New Zealand’s money stream once and for all!

  22. I must confess to being baffled by this whole hooha.

    That’s probably because I spent most of my life in the UK, where you expect your newspaper to wear its favours clearly on its sleeve. Indeed the ‘Daily Telegraph’ is generally and affectionately known as the Torygraff while the Daily Mirror is unashamedly aimed at the ‘working man’ and hence assumes it needs to cheer for Labour. Hence when reading any newspaper – something fewer and fewer people are doing, fortunately – you take what you’re given with more than a pinch of cynical salt.

    As I ditched the ‘Dominion’ as unreadable years ago while it was still just the Dominion, and have never even seen a copy of the Herald in my neck of the woods – forunately far from Auckland – I had assumed the NZ Press was just as obvious and can’t imagine that the NZ adult population is so naive as to accept anything they read in the press at face value – unless it agrees with their existing preconceptions, in which case you need to educate them rather than change the Press.

    That said, from what I’ve seen the Herald does seem to have been particularly inept and unprofessional in this instance. It’s one thing to be partisan when everyone knows about it and makes allowances, but in this case even their die-hard right-wing readers who would initially have leapt on this matter like a duck on a beetle as confirming all their beliefs and prejudices, will now be feeling betrayed and manipulated. In that regard the Herald will only have done itself tremendous harm, for it will now have made its core and loyal readership suspicious and wary of it and its motives.

  23. You seem admirably confident that the curtain is poised to fall.

    Me thinks you have only suffered the overture.

    Political hell hath no fury like the smoldering vengeance of a donor thrown under a bus.

  24. Unreal conversation. Frank – hat’s off. Brilliant. Politics and the media are intertwined with big business – it’s nothing short of mind control, and the scary thing is that it works.

    The people report the news – not and never the politicians or ‘media’. Look at the phone hacking and Murdoch in the UK. Here in Brazil – wildfire. No-one trusts the media or the politicians – it’s a given. We can’t – you cannot trust a politician.

    Shared ownership of decision making is the answer in my mind. Socialist first, capitalist second, not arse about face.

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