The NZ Herald – and in particular Savage, Armstrong and Roughan – have been such willing conduits of the National Party’s re-election campaign that old Granny Herald risks being taken to court for failing to be declared as a political advertisement. It is well inside the 90 day limit counting down to the general election and any reasonable person reading this publication would deduce from the ideological stance and the pro-National partisan rhetoric combined with using news content to spin discredited and unfounded rumours against the opposition – and in particular its leader – that the NZ Herald was nothing less than a political advertisement for the NZ National Party.
The NZ Herald is many things: profit-making corporation, a vehicle for commercial advertising, a vehicle for anti-Maori European supremacy since it was founded by pro-war/pro-confiscation/pro-land sales settler merchants in 1863; and it is also a propaganda tool of the settler and merchant class and their conservative, materialism. Always has been. Roughan’s official biography of the National Party leader, John Key, demonstrates the deep, simbiotic relationship between Tory party and Tory rag. It would be very difficult to have one without the other – indeed, one would have invented the other had they not existed (and much the same case could be made with the Dominion). The NZ Herald is many things, one of which is still propaganda for the right. That means doing the bidding of the National Party, running their lines, running to their timetable, taking their shots on cue. Sometimes – like the last week or so – it isn’t very subtle, it gets rather obvious, it all gets rather embarrassing.
The Cunliffe – Liu kerfuffle was most embarrassing to the Herald. It went something like this: Savage was going to drop a letter on Day X that showed that Cunliffe was a liar (but actually mistaken over understandably forgetting an 11 year old form letter he had signed), Trevett was going to drop a Labour Party rule technicality on Day Y that would put David Cunliffe’s leadership in play, and then on Day Z Savage was going to drop some signed statement from Liu that would destroy Cunliffe. The coup de grace would be delivered by the veteran political columnist – the Munchesquely hollowed John Armstrong – who would advocate for Cunliffe’s resignation on the basis of this concocted roll-out of innuendo and trivia mascarading as news.
Armstrong had never suggested the National leader resign despite the many instances of mistruths, renegs and mistakes for which he was responsible. Armstrong had never suggested resignation of Ministers overseeing police-protected teen rape gangs, suppression of investigating deaths in custody, divulging sensitive client information from WINZ, and so on. The media further down the food chain were to take his direction and complete the task. A Herald/National king hit was a fait accompli. If only people were as gullible as they hoped. They were not and Granny Herald has been burnt.
To press on as the Herald does in an extraordinary editorial is self-immolation. To continue to maintain – as they do – that this Liu saga leaves questions for Labour, but that National have nothing to answer, is patently absurd. It is obviously partisan and very far from neutral. To maintain that the articles they have published about Liu – done via intermediaries, interpreters and letters without any verification, interview or evidence – is somehow of a journalistic standard is just not credible. What they are doing is rumour-mongering and political campaigning. It should be declared as an expense.
Cunliffe dodged a bullet and it appears Granny Herald has shot herself in the foot.
In a redemptive display of uncharacteristic evenhandedness the usually frothing Fran O’Sullivan, absolutely demolished her colleague and questioned the paper’s crusade. Armstrong’s position, O’Sullivan declared, was “bordering on risible”. What then would she make of the Herald’s Friday editorial leader? The defensive title, “Cries of bias will not stop reporting“, was sheer idiocy. It was in part apologetic, illogical, disingenuous and incredulous. The editorial spat back at O’Sullivan, using her word:
Liu’s mis-statement, however, has been grasped as proof of Herald complicity in a plot against Labour. The claim is risible, across the range of political coverage but also explicitly over the Herald’s investigation of National and Labour and their damaging cosiness with Donghua Liu.
We regret having reported inflated and conflated dollar figures.
The figures are purely made up. They keep changing. It is a joke. The Herald’s editorials and opinions are geriatric chorus line of conservative caterwauling. This one was internally contradictory and whatever committee it was from should be disbanded.