No-one wishes a stroke on anyone, and I was sorry to hear that he-who-had-a-right-wing-website-that-shall-not-be-named had two last year and has now declared bankruptcy. I wish him a speedy recovery. A friend of mine wondered how the big fish website was going now it was no longer owned by ‘he-who-had’.
He pitched this to me as a worthwhile blog one bored Sunday, and, not wanting to report his findings under his own name, asked me to report back.
My friend went undercover as an “unashamedly European New Zealand white male”. He looked around for an ordinary name, one that sounded… errr … white. Tommy Robinson was taken, so he chose Mike Garner.
After a few hours of work under deep cover, Mike came back to me looking pale. “Quick”, he said, “I need a dictionary, or Google or something”. It seems that them thar fish bloggers are somewhat keen on acronyms and abbreviations.
“So how is it out there in the deep blue sea?”, I asked impatiently.
Mike G (alias) thought about it for a minute. “It is pretty sad” he said. “There are three things that should set alarm bells ringing for any fish. Not enough food, too much ocean rubbish (plastics getting into tummies and so on) and a change in habitat. The stinky sea site is facing all three”.
“So what sort of thing are they doing?” I pressed.
“Take Jacinda, for whom there has been a wave of love and respect around the world. Everywhere, that is, except among the fish bloggers, who burble on about how useless she is and what a lightweight and so on.
“So do they oppose the gun legislation, then?”.
“Well, if they do you wouldn’t know, because they launched a scathing attack on Mike Loder ( I believe this is not a pseudonym), the firearms guy who shot himself in the foot (not literally – that would be unseemly) at the Select Committee. ‘With friend like this, who needs enemies’, the fishies complained”.
“You have to drill down a bit to get their current views on Muslins in Aotearoa. There is a little bit of “everyone knows that mosque radicalised people”, or not, and that parliament has chucked out the Christian prayer and now mandated the Muslim call to prayer (same old supremacist ‘replacement’ nonsense) and lots of white men affirming their right to be white men. But they no longer seem to say ‘Muslims go home’.”
Hmm. Anything else?
“Not anything, everything. The website is now a diverse fish caucus blowing bubbles in all directions, noshing up all sorts of useless plastic from the sea floor. Against the increase in the minimum wage, but wants the pension increased further, AOC, JAG, climate change denial and goodness knows what else. They speak a language that is barely English and seem to do a lot of code-speak”.
“I don’t understand”.
“Me neither. What I get from all this is that they are desperate for anything to get publicity. So there are so many adverts, secret bits, subscription options and so on that the news is lost in a welter of online begging. There is still quite a lot of paid advertising on the site, so it is making money (it is now owned, I believe, by the whale’s partner)”.
Thanks to Mike for the bit of online trolling (or in this case perhaps we should say trawling?). My take from this brief review is that the fish blog, now more desperate to turn a penny than make the news, is a shadow of its former stinky self.
The fish blog’s previous business model was something like this: get people’s dirty secrets (this was apparently not hard, or sometimes they just made them up); tell these secrets online in their full glory, whether true or not, in order to elicit (reader numbers) (advertising) (an outraged response); have a few defamation cases on the go at any one time and make your money through corporate fees, advertising and donations for legal costs.
Sort of like the Truth in the old days, when people of my parents’ generation bought it to read the salacious details published in divorce cases (I am not making this up). Only updated to the now.
This is not the end, of course, for right-wing blogging in NZ. Nor even the end of the beginning. But in the hiatus caused by the currently diminished voice of the right wing online (I don’t get paid to write this blog, and anyway there would not be enough money in the world to bribe me to listen to talkback radio, so someone else will have to report on whether that model is still fizzing along), there might be an opportunity to alter the political voice in Aotearoa for a generation to come. Do yer think?
Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research. Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).