For the mainstream media, today was even a better day than yesterday. More Sex. More Politics. More Sex AND Politics.
Yesterday, the msm dealt with Andrew Falloon. The obscure backbench MP had been found to have sent pornographic images to at least four women.
Judith Collins was advised by the Prime Minister and three days later, Mr Falloon resigned.
It was a straight forward case, reminiscent of Anthony Weiner, a former US congressman outed for sending explicit images of himself to women – one of whom was under-age.
Unfortunately for the msm, the story of Andrew Falloon ran it’s cycle to it’s natural conclusion: he resigned from Parliament and would not stand for re-election.
It was a Sex and Politics story that no doubt generated umpteen million clicks, generating advertising revenue along the way.
Today (22 July), cue: Judith Collins and her revelation that government minister Iain Lees-Galloway had being engaged in a long-term affair with another woman.The story appeared on RNZ’s Morning Report at around 7.26AM;
An hour earlier, at 6.31AM, Ms Collins had appeared on Mediaworks/TV3’s “AM Show“ with Duncan Garner;
It was at this point that Ms Collins disclosed the “bombshell” that a Labour politician was also under investigation for misconduct;
Duncan Garner: “Have you received anything about Labour ministers or Labour MPs?”
Judith Collins: “I have actually, and I have advised the Prime Minister and I’ve asked for anybody who has that information to send it directly to her.”
Garner: “When did this happen?”
Collins: “Oh actually just yesterday but I passed it on …”
Remarkable difference in style. PM Ardern passes complaint on to Ms Collins (after gaining consent) but does not capitalise on it by going to the media.
Judith Collins passes the complaint on to PM Ardern – then announces it to both The AM Show on TV3 and an hour later to RNZ’s Morning Report. But according to her, she denied exploiting the issue and engaging in politicking. In fact, she was busy with the media all day denying she wasn’t politicking.
When a journo asked if it wasn’t Ms Collins who had disclosed and made public the issue to the media (bless! there’s at least one who asks an obvious question), she took pains to deny it;
“No I haven’t actually put it in the public domain, I’ve been asked a direct question this morning on another news media about whether I have received anything like that and the answer is yes I have.”
But throughout the entire unsavoury spectacle of the media gorging on another Sex & Politics story, there are three questions that not only remain unanswered – they have not even been asked.
1. Who is the person who disclosed Iain Lees-Galloways affair to Judith Collins? Is this person a National Party member/staffer/operative?
2. Did the woman, with whom Mr Lees-Galloway have the affair with, have prior knowledge, or give consent, to this issue being disclosed to other people and eventually made public?
3. Why did Duncan Garner put the question – “Have you received anything about Labour ministers or Labour MPs?” – to Ms Collins? Was he ‘primed’ beforehand? Why did he not ask if any other National MPs were engaged in similar behaviour? If he was ‘primed’ with fore knowledge, who advised him?
These three questions would seem to be at the very core of how this story unfolded and why. Because it doesn’t take much of a sleuth to understand that the timing of Ms Collin’s disclosures and early morning media appearances has taken the blow torch of public attention off National and firmly onto Labour.
Secondly, it ‘dilutes’ the perception that National’s bloated sense of entitlement is at the core of it’s problems. With the humiliating despatching of Mr Lees-Galloway, the perception is now that sleazy behaviour is rampant throughout all politicians, not just the Nats.
And thirdly/lastly, let’s not forget that most enduring quote from Nicky Hager’s expose, Dirty Politics;
“Personally I would be out for total destruction… But then I’ve learned to give is better than to receive.” She called it the “double” rule: “always reward with Double”; and said “If you can’t be loved, then best to be feared.”
If Judith Collins wanted revenge for Hamish Walker and Andrew Falloon’s political demise, she certainly “gave back double”: a minister’s ‘scalp’.
At Raybon Kan hinted at earlier today;
The questions above remain unasked and unanswered.
Until we gain greater clarity, the story surrounding Mr Lees-Galloway will remain fixated on titillating Sex & Politics. Meanwhile, the bigger story remains untold.
It would be nice – for a change – if some hard questions were asked. But only if the media have a spare moment or two
Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson
This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).
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