Media bullsh*t vs the Bovine variety





A case in point where the media can misrepresent what an elected representative  has stated occurred immediately after Corin Dann interviewed Environment Minister, David Parker, on 6 May, on TVNZ’s Q+A;


David Parker and Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A, 6 May 2018


The interview itself was professional, with Dann asking pertinent questions and drilling down into Minister Parker’s stated objective to reduce agricultural pollution of our waterways.

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Corin Dann asked;

“So an admirable goal, but the question is — how will you do it? Now, you have a— you’ve talked about beefing up the current guidelines, the national policy statement on water. How far will you go? And I guess the key question is here — will you cap the number of cows that can be in a certain paddock, depending on nutrient levels? In other words, potentially force farmers to destock?”

To which Minister Parker replied;

“Well, cow numbers have already peaked and are going down, but yes, in some areas, the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.”

Note the Minister’s carefully chosen words;

“…the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.”

Minister Parker flatly rejected “ a raw cap on cow numbers” – explaining “it will be done on nutrient limits“.

For a politician, it was a remarkable moment, providing a clear-cut answer to a crucial question. (How many National Ministers have ever given such an unambiguous response?)

How did the rest of the mainstream media report Minister Parker’s comments?


TVNZ – Q+A’s broadcaster – presented Minister Parker’s position on the same day as the programme was aired, with this stunningly inaccurate headline and lead-paragraph;



Despite Minister Parker’s categorical statement that reducing effluent-pollution “won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits” – TVNZ chose to misreport the Minister’s position. Anyone who had not watched/listened to Minister Parker’s original interview would inevitably have concluded that cow-reduction  was  on Minister Parker’s main agenda.

Later that same day – 6 May – Radio NZ also misrepresented Minister Parker in an online article headline and lead-paragraph;



However, the author of the Radio NZ write-up could not have been ignorant of Minister Parker’s stated position, because the second paragraph read;

Environment Minister David Parker said there wouldn’t be a direct cap on the number of cattle, but instead work was being done on restricting the amount of nutrients being lost from farm to waterway.

Two day later, the Otago Daily Times followed suit;



– though in a stunning exercise in double-think, the un-named Editorial-writer presented two conflicting statements of Minister Parker’s position;

At the weekend, Mr Parker indicated he wants fewer cows per hectare because the number now is higher than the environment can sustain.

This will not be done through a raw cap on cow numbers. Instead, it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrients that can be lost from a farm to a waterway.

It was clear from on-line stories that the mainstream media were finding difficulty in reporting Minister Parker’s statements. After all, how could effluent be reduced with reducing cow numbers?

Despite the Minister stating without ambiguity that he was targetting “the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue” – the msm couldn’t seem to get their heads around that concept.

How could effluent be reduced without cutting cow numbers?

Canterbury dairy farmer, Willy Leferink, offered one solution;

Mr Leferink said he had built a large hangar-like barn on his land to house his cows at certain times during winter which would collect and treat their waste instead of it dropping straight onto paddocks.

It’s bad enough when a politician misrepresents a situation. Former Dear Leader John Key built quite a reputation around misrepresentation; omission; bending the truth; and some outright lies.

But we expect more from our media.

If an elected representative expresses a clear direction, the correct response of the media is to report it fairly to the public. Question; probe; and doubt, by all means. Look behind the facade. Follow-up. Do the stuff we expect from the Fourth Estate.

But do not misreport.

Misquoting or misreporting adds nothing to the sum total of informed discourse.  It only reaffirms suspicion that the media cannot be trusted.

For when the media that has exhausted its trust with the public, the road to political corruption and the rise of demagoguery becomes easier to travel.

Aesop’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a fable about loss of credibility that is as valid now as it was 2,600 years ago.





Scoop media: TVNZ Q+A – Minister David Parker interviewed by Corin Dann (transcript)

TVNZ: Environment Minister admits some dairy farmers may have to reduce cow numbers under tough new waterway pollution rules

Radio NZ: Farmers may be forced to reduce cattle numbers

Otago Daily Times: Fewer cows no easy task

Radio NZ: Moves made to reduce runoff already – farmers

Wikipedia: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

When the mainstream media go feral

Only four years too late – TVNZ-Colmar Brunton catch up with The Daily Blog

Worse than “fake news” – sloppy news!

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part tahi)

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part rua)






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  1. Yes Frank,

    Bullshit was the right statement for the dishonest way they reported what minister David Parker said as he only said cows numbers would be controlled by “Nutrient Limits”.

    So how simple is that to understand? – but the media got it so fucking wrong and resorted to “fake media”, it was so discussing, it is times like now when Labour urgently need to get their own TV channel up and running they promised us but the lack-lustre Minister of Broadcasting Clare Curran has been dragging her feet for seven long months now since in November 2017 she promised us this new ‘commercial free Public investigative reporters media to give some media balance’ but we still have no balance in the media.

    David Parker QUOTE; “Instead, it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrients that can be lost from a farm to a waterway.”

  2. Yes Martyn agree too much bull by our mainstream media and its not just some of our farms have too much shit our media are up to their eyeballs in shit.
    ps. they did the same thing to Taika Waititi misquoting him to stir up more shit.

  3. The Girls and Boys who do Journalism and Interviews for the Media are not selected for their intelligence or their knowledge.

    They would not have any idea of the the properties of Phosphate or Nitrates let alone the vital impotance of H20.

    They are selected by their loyalty to the corporate low level manager who “likes their attitude – and smile”.

    Corin, by the way, goes all nice to National Girls – but rams his points into Labour Ministers; cuts across them they speak; twist their answers; changes the topic rapidly. On top of that he selects his Panels with Wealthy rather unintelligent capabilities.

    • Correction

      Corin, by the way, goes all nice to National girls- but rams his points at full speed into Labour Ministers; cuts across them as they speaks their answers; and changes topics rapidly. His technique reminds me of Herr Herr Herman SS.

      On top of that he selects panels of limited intelligence and political bias.

    • I heartily agree with you there OT.

      I have seen this many times from most ‘fake news reporters’ here now.
      NZ media is dead.

      • Thanks CleanGreen

        I believe that each Minister and spokesperson for Labour should be given thorough training in how to deal with Journalists and Interviewers.

        You see, a Person like Corin Dan has all day to mull over his few lines – then throw them at the Minister at 90 MPH hour – and then cut across the Minister. All techniques to wrong foot the Interviewee.

        Corin, in perfect Herr Herman SS style then presents, not the Ministers words, but his own – to a panel who has no familiarity with the content or the scope of the topics that Herr Herman has lobbed at the minister.

        Herr Herman SS – then draws out the flaws of the Minster with the panel, and not the strengths

        Each Minister must rattle Corin by the simple use of SLOWING him down. “What did you mean by that Mr Dan?”. What have you written in your notes Mr Dan. How did you manage to get that wrong Corin.” “What did your Editor tell you to say Mr Dan ?”

        In short – turn the interview upside down politely until he drops his wealthy bias and his anti Labour jackboots.

        As For the DOM Post- Simply advise all of New Zealand at every opportunity that the DOM Post is unreliable and The Government will not be releasing any matters whatever through its Offices.

        Nor will it invite DOM staff to Government premises.

  4. I’m not in the least surprised the Dompost didn’t publish your letter, Frank. They’re not keen to have us plebes correct their “expert political columnists”.

    Freedom of the press and free speech only seems to count when paid trolls like Deborah Hill-Cone-with-an-E have their spiteful rubbish published.

  5. Well said Frank.

    The MSM will never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The news, and MSM , have become a clickbait reality show. It’s about entertainment, not about accurate information. Our media is following the same sorry path as the USA.

  6. But then whether based on stock numbers or nutrient level the result will be the same, fewer dairy cows. So the headlines are not inaccurate.

    In practice, those farmers who best manage nutrient levels will have the smaller reduction in stock numbers.

  7. To be fair, the media reports are not about any caps and so, they are merely about the need to reduce dairy cow numbers, which the Minister admitted can be achieved by limited nutrient levels permitted in waterways, meaning those exceeding them, may have to reduce numbers.

  8. Both Corin and David if he was given the opportunity should have made a bit more Ag Sci background I think.
    Some soils are naturally fertile, have different particle sizes , and are thus much more and less able to hold extra nutrient that is applied. Some sandy and pumas soils have the capacity to trap and hold fertiliser , Phosphate or Nitrates , poorly. So if it rains too much too soon after application it all finishes up in the creek along with the nitrates etc. excreted. So some soils can physically carry a heavy stocking rate, cope with the physical effects of being walked over and over by very heavy animals without pugging and produce a lot of grass if the fertiliser is pored on constantly . But loose much of that fertiliser if it rains too much. Others need less added because it stays trapped until picked up by plant roots , and almost none escapes. So an arbitrary across the board limit to the number of cows per hector would not be appropriate. Some soils would carry twice the number that others would without nutrient loss to water ways.
    D J S

  9. The first casualty of war is truth.
    But we are not at war or are we ?
    Once again the government must act and just not accept the status quo with our media and expecting them to act honestly and publish information in the public interest that is factual and not with a certain agenda to suit its corporate interests.
    Good points as usual Frank and thank you for highlighting this issue.
    These platforms like Q+A are only exist to promote sitting National governments and destroy Labour -led coalitions with lies and misrepresenting what the victim has said during the interrogation and using it as a convenient sound bite for the six pm news.

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