The TV3 Poll: Journalism or Propaganda?


TV3’s PRESENTATION of the poll results delivered to them by Reid Research Ltd tells us a lot. The most important message to draw from the way it handled this “news” is how rapidly propaganda is replacing journalism in the mainstream news media. The data supplied by the pollsters confirms that there has been no major shift in political opinion since the general election of 17 October 2020. Given the decisiveness of the 2020 result, and the want of any developments of sufficient magnitude to cause Labour voters to change their minds, this stand-steady result should have come as no surprise. “Voters still happy with Jacinda” is not, however, a headline likely to stop viewers in their tracks. “Support for Judith Collins plummets”, on the other hand, just might.

Had TV3 been polling regularly since the election, with five or six sets of results accurately tracking the public’s feelings about the Leader of the Opposition; and had the latest results confirmed or confounded a rising or falling trendline; then such a headline might have been justified. But, TV3 has not been polling regularly. Indeed, the last poll it conducted was back in October 2020. Yes, that’s right, in the middle of last year’s election campaign. Naturally, the Leader of the Opposition was then polling around 18 percent. More than six months after losing the election by an historic margin, she is polling around 6 percent as New Zealand’s preferred prime minister. Well, gosh! What a surprise! Clearly, Collins’ days are numbered.

But wait, there’s more. Tova O’Brien, TV3’s political editor, would have known that Collins’ numbers were bound to drop back over a period of six months. The temptation would have been strong, therefore, to attach her predictably “plummeting” numbers to her recent campaign to elicit a coherent government response to the He Puapua Report, and whether or not it is guiding government policy.

Any failure to reproduce the extraordinary 17 percentage point surge in National’s numbers generated by Collins’ predecessor’s, Don Brash’s, in/famous “Orewa Speech”, would allow O’Brien and her colleagues to paint Collins’ He Puapua campaign as a flop. Even better, it would allow them to present the poll data as proof that New Zealanders have grown up and grown out of racial politics.

Just to be sure, however, O’Brien inserted a couple of questions to drive that message home. Were the Government’s policies separatist? she had Reid Research ask. And: Were the Opposition’s criticisms divisive? Entirely unsurprisingly, between 40 percent and half of respondents thought the government wasn’t being separatist, and that the Opposition was being divisive. For good measure, the viewers were further informed that roughly a quarter of National voters thought their party was being divisive and about the same number of Labour voters saw their party as separatist. All of which added up to? Almost nothing at all that was helpful.

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Of much more use to TV3’s viewers would have been a carefully worded series of questions aimed at discovering just how much people knew about the He Puapua Report, and seeking their reaction to some of its recommendations. Ah, yes, but that would have cost TV3 an arm and a leg. It would also, almost certainly, have shown that most Kiwis know next-to-nothing about He Puapua, or its recommendations; and, when appraised of some of the report’s more radical proposals, their responses tend to be less than favourable.

Of course, the responsibility for the public’s general ignorance about He Puapua, and the general direction of travel favoured by its authors, rests squarely with the likes of Ms O’Brien. Realistically-speaking, however, expecting the mainstream media to acknowledge its own deficiencies as the supposed protector and facilitator of democratic discussion and debate would be foolish. The mainstream media no longer sees its role in such terms. Its responsibility, now, is to impart the truth – as officially defined – to the population, while doing everything within its power to ensure that this official version of reality is not effectively challenged by anyone – up to and including the Leader of the Opposition.

This is how it works now. If a potentially damaging report like He Puapua makes it into the public arena, do not under any circumstances attempt to inform the public accurately and dispassionately about its contents. Instead, brand any publicly voiced misgivings about the report’s recommendations as “racist”. Give maximum coverage to accusations and recriminations arising from politicians’ responses to the report, and highlight the alleged divisiveness of their attempts to question or challenge its findings. Then, commission a poll, the entirely predictable results of which can be used to discredit the report’s critics: most particularly the leader of the political party most heavily invested in challenging its officially sanctioned version of reality.

It’s a game played out every day in Moscow and Beijing. The only serious distinction between the players there, and the players here, being that ‘there’ they know the name of the game is “Propaganda”; while ‘here’ they still think it’s called “Journalism”.



  1. Maori have the opportunity to run there own affairs. There future is now our future. There’s been to many Tova headlines running around way before Tova was born and in a liberal democratic society they should have been stopped a hundred years ago.

  2. I have to agree with Chris although going by Martyn’s article of May 16 he wouldn’t. There’s no doubt the result of the pole for Judith was poor but I found the reasoning bewildering. Judith has a job to do. If she doesn’t like a policy it’s her job to convey her opinion. She did and does. We all have the right to our opinion and for any media to call an opinion divisive is in itself divisive. Thinking in that way you could call those who are accusing Judith of playing the “race card” of playing the race card themselves. In my Opinion having a replication of Government in any department would be wasteful, expensive and could lead down the road to separatism which I hope is not what this country would want I don’t see myself as racist but are trying to think in a practical way. Those who think it could work maybe right. but for the media to put their two pennies worth in for the sake of a headline isn’t right.

  3. “News Influencers” is the gig now. All you need to be ‘qualified’ is a smartphone, laptop and an internet connection! That’s it! Your a qualified “News Influencer!”

    • Unfortunately Denny, I think you’re on the money. “News influencers” is an apt term.

  4. The other thing that can go wrong with polling is that political parties feel complacent that they will win, start implementing unpopular policy and then lose! AKA Brexit, Trump, Morrison victories. It has become a bit about who has the most unpopular polices and then even if the other has huge issues, people vote against the policy of the party that was supposed to win, as a protest.

  5. TV3 political editors over the years: Duncan Garner, Paddy Gower and Tova O’Brien. All have the same ‘gotcha’ MO and moralising editorial shtick so not surprised with how the poll was presented. Out of the 3, I’d consider Tova as the most professional, with her equal opportunity stance on putting the knife in whether deserved or not. Just business as usual from TV3 who consider the News Dept as part of their Entertainment division. The recent public polling on trust in News showed TV3 is the ‘3rd most trusted’ in NZ, not something I would run as a byline. However, a poll of 5.6% for any leader is news worthy despite Chris’s annoyance at how it was ‘explained’. There are other polls from other news organisations that mirror this trend of Judith’s decrease in popularity. The expectation that 5.6% should be explained away as ‘normal’ just doesn’t pass muster IMO and TV3 has done me the service of confirming that NZers no longer respond to dog whistle politics or at the very least, will keep racist shit talking to a minimum.

    • SFF. Where is the dog whistling. If you think running parallel policies doesn’t require thorough analysis you are ignorant to the massive change in the way our country is run that could eventuate. You may agree with the proposed changes but they offer as much risk and expense as benefits. Don’t let your opinion drown out the inclusive discussion about these policies that is required.

      • Where is the dog whistling? First and second concerns (according to media) for Kiwis are Housing and Health. Last speech by Collins mentioned health once, housing once and Maori 41 times (and not in a positive way). Have a look at her facebook feed comments and tell me there is no dog whistling going on. I’m ignorant? What parallel policies are you talking about? I love discussion about govt policies (pros and cons) but this crap is about shit the govt ‘might do’ according to the gospel of Judith. If you want, I could have a ‘conversation’ about what you ‘might do’ too, but that would be dishonest and deceptive. Separatism, segregation and apartheid are now Govt policy? Says who? The Nats/ACT? Give me a break. If you want real inclusive discussion, lets open the door to avowed racists, white power, QAnon and the conspiracy theorists (which Judith seems to be now promoting) and lets see where honest conversation takes us.

        • SFF. I meant to say parallel service’s. You are talking of separatism and segregation not me. I don’t read or use Facebook in any way and if you dislike JC so much don’t read her feeds. I’m going on what I’ve heard on mainstream media. JC is questioning the wisdom of running parallel services and where does that stop and it could lead to separatism. I don’t call that dog whistling. I see it as a massive change that requires scrutiny. Maybe instead of barking at me you should ask JA to be completely transparent and explain exactly what changes might be made.

          • Happy to see honest discussion but that is not what judith is doing. She is now at the ‘homeless man in isolation hotel’ stage of trolling for votes. You asked where the dog whistle is and I provided an example of the response from her supporters which you have dismissed coz you choose not to read it. That’s ok by me. It’s your life, Separatism and segregation are Judiths catch phrases, not mine, at least, that’s what MSM are telling me (and you). Quite happy for a Maori Health Authority as long as it isn’t set up to fail. Status quo obviously not working.

            • A lot of people are interested in revitalising the maori culture. It’s very late after the cultural genocide that took place but finally there is recognition of these atrocities through out mainstream.

              It takes centuries of indoctrination for a kid like me growing up in the 80’s to say just run aborigines over. Now that is unexceptible and many maori are doing these maori authority arrangements with very little educational background besides degrees often in maori culture so that is the start of maori cultural and education centres and they’re growing not only the language but the whole cultural tradition. So that kind of goes against the perception that goes against maori that they’re one dimensional, that they’re angry and we’re the warrior but representation is what I’m getting at. There’s work to be done in maori authorities to defeat that.

  6. It is very sad that Chris Trotter has been reduced to red pilling himself by accusing the media of an organised attempt to discredit what has become the NZ rights very own attempted Benghazi conspiracy theory moment. If the general public was interested in this wild conspiracy theory put about by Chris Trotter, Judith Collins and all the other fretting Pakeha over a certain age you can be assured that the media would be assiduously cultivating the clicks for controversy.

    There is no interest because people see this for what it is – the frantic flailings of an artless politician trying to save her own skin, with the sum of those concerned being fretful pensioners who think the apogee of NZ white culture was Annie Crummer belting out “For Today” in a crowded Oriental tavern.

    Don Brash achieved some notoriety (although he lost the election) because his speech coincided with the foreshore and seabed issue being so clumsily handled by the Clark government – leading to a time of considerable wider tumult in race relations. Collins is just trying to whip up a mad conspiracy theory from nothing because she is malevolent politician who only cannot imagine anything except getting off on surges of psychokinetic energy. Chris Trotter, it would seem, is a happier bedfellow these days with the wild Trumpist politics of Collins than coping with the realities of life in NZ in 2021.

    • I thought your call on The Standard to cancel Trotters link from there was a better summation of your thinking Sanctuary.

      We need more cancel culture like we need more leprosy.

      • KCCO: “….your call on The Standard to cancel Trotters link from there….”

        No! Really? That tells us everything we need to know about Sanctuary’s perspective, doesn’t it.

        “We need more cancel culture like we need more leprosy.”

        Hahaha…. nicely put.

    • You are better than this, Sanctuary.

      He Puapua is a real document, containing a host of genuinely radical recommendations, some of which are already being acted upon. As such, it is an entirely reasonable target for both political and journalistic inquiry and/or comment.

      It is not a figment of some conspiracist’s imagination, and to suggest otherwise is to confirm that the level of left-wing sensitivity around this whole issue is now acute.

      Someone of your political experience should be putting the case for the content of He Puapua – not castigating those who have dared to question the people who wrote the report and the politicians who commissioned it.

      If the ideas contained in He Puapua are good ones, then why are so few people involved in left-wing politics and the news media prepared to debate them.

      The aggression directed at the Report’s critics speaks volumes.

      Certainly, it will not silence them.

  7. Chris, Are you suggesting Labour are not being transparent with us? Can’t be! Jacinda said they would be the most transparent govt ever.

          • “That is your willingness to create national icons like Air New Zealand, but, for maori.”

            I rest my case. What does it mean?

            • That you have a severe lack of understanding of the English language. Can’t help you there, sorry 🙂

        • Jaspinda: “What, to be transparent? You lost me there Sam…?”

          It’s not just you: it doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, Sam has Form for posting cryptic comments. An old friend of ours characterised it as “speaking in parables”.

          • if you have two assertions to start, then an outlier of a third assertion, you will have non-binarity. Either assertion can be false or true and a straightforward counter-example can be given, but this modification you’ve offered just lacks an understanding of the English language. Hope that helps 🙂

        • Dester does this a lot. First she’d say I don’t understand Sam, then she was like your uneducated, now it’s back to it doesn’t make sense. Change like this happens very slowly. Maori on the other hand has moved on.

          You can’t ask people like dester. You can ask historiabs like Chris. The maori population went to 50,000 so it was like a broken toy that dester wants to keep hidden in the trash which is a hideous movement to cover up indigenous extermination.

          Yknow when it comes to Indians or Asians wanting into to NZ you don’t hear much white push back from the likes of Dester but as soon as its a maori oh they’re the worse, all lives matters and maori interest must be drowned out by settler interests.

          By now it should have been understood that he pua pua is to be implemented because the crown imposed restrictions on maori. And the claim is by dester and jaspinda is that is not transparent. And of course the settlers want maori interests to be settler interests. 🙂

  8. Excellent article Chris. I might add that the Reid Research poll is dodgy as I found out listening to Hosking this morning. Half the poll is online which I believe Colmar Brunton is as well. However, the difference is that on the online part that asked the prefered PM, John Key was one of the options given. That is why he polled 6.7%. The highest Key ever polling before was 1% in Nov – Dec 2020 by Colmar Brunton. This is because Comar Brunton do not name people, not in Parliament but allow participants to name them.

    If Reid Research had not named Key he would not have got 6.7% and Judith would have got a lot higher thatn 5.6%. It is hard to say if the polling method was aimed at what resulted or just negligent polling.

    • This research was what people was thinking and doing weeks ago, this type of research is expensive and isn’t really helpful in the final result.

    • “…the Reid Research poll is dodgy as I found out listening to Hosking this morning.”


  9. We should be fair to our media. After all, the companies and so many of their employers spend their lives in perpetual search for someone who’s got a grizzle because something isn’t right.
    The hope of coming up with some disenchanted citizen must wear at one.
    The praying all week that some rugby player will get drunk at do something dumb or a team after their weekend match will destroy their accomodation? What a life.

    Political polls are manna.

  10. Mr. Trotter,
    I find myself yet again agreeing with you absolutely.
    Tova O’Brien is not a journalist she’s an opinion piece writer.Propaganda pieces that fit the current Governments style.
    We need only look at past employment of our most senior Labour ministers.
    Policy writers or trade union affiliates both of which lean heavily/depend on propaganda programmes.

    If the public knew more about He PuaPua and its incredible they don’t then I think the poll results would be quite different.

  11. The result of the Labour Gov’t giving $105M to the MSMedia is definitely self interested propaganda, quality journalism left the room a long time ago (probably it’s last gasp was back in Clarks/Keys early days).

    • So how.much did Joyce give media works to promote National party propaganda and cancel Campbell Live?

      • I don’t know. You tell us Bert.

        Campbell Live was canned because it was rating poorly. That’s what happens in the real world.

        I do note that he hasn’t gone out to South Auckland looking for people living in cars, since Labour has been in charge, and we’re spending 1000% more on emergency housing.

        • A caring government have gone from cars and the streets to emergency housing I suppose you think youll save millions by putting them back there and Campbell was cancelled because he asked National ministers the hard questions, just ask your boy Bridges. 3

  12. Spun bloody gold from Chris, especially the penultimate paragraph.
    What a sombre place NZ is likely to become once Chris is too old to write and the narrative-over-fact MSM’s manufactured worldview goes unchallenged – because I don’t see much talent coming through to take his place.

  13. Well done Chris. I am a 30 year Labour voter and I agree with you entirely.

    Who knows what the politician’s motivations are but as someone who has read about 50% of the long version He Pua Pua document, I would challenge those who say it’s all about race and dirty politics to go and take a look at it. Although I think there are questions that could be debated about Maori and their future role in government, I think the main issue with He Pua Pua is a constitutional one. It should be out and being discussed firstly by the PM who is enacting it Does the document suggest separate treatment or merely co -governance? How does it sit with the differing views of the Crown and Maori on the principals of Te Tiriti? What are the legal status of any changes made by the government and what path are we taking. Does it enshrine Te Tiriti into our constitution?. There’s a lot to look at there and we really do need to be offered a good understanding of it by a balanced, intelligent and respectful media. So there’s that.

    Then there is also the issue of what happens when the 85% multicultural ‘other’ realise that we are not equal in ways that really count. Education, Health, Justice, Business etc etc. Does the idea of deepening divisions not worry anyone else on either side of this debate?

  14. Chris you are a national treasure – never stop fighting for your ideals and that of democracy.

  15. Have the new owners of TV3, Disney taken over yet?
    That might convince viewers more about the accuracy and credibility of the story telling news broadcasts?
    Donald Duck presenting popular news stories at 6 every-night would be far more entertaining!

  16. I’m not aware of how much Joyce gave to the media but if he was responsible for getting rid of Campbell Live then he deserves a medal.

    • Oh so you closed your mind off to Nationals propaganda and to Campbell’s critical analysis.
      It figures.

  17. Someone who crippled our country and found mythical 11 billion dollar hole gets a medal?

    And so the truth will set you free John.

  18. Gosh Bert calm down.
    Joyce didn’t cripple our country.
    The 11 billion hole proves to be an under estimate.
    Campbell mounted an onslaught of criticism on National but is quiet on Labour’s total mismanagement of everything they promised. All of which in fact has got worse.
    BG thanks for your considered comment.

    • Settle down John your bias is shining through again. If you think things are worse you can always join Hosking and move to Australia, the IQ of both countries would be raised then.

  19. Chris Trotter: “It’s a game played out every day in Moscow and Beijing.”

    With the exception of the above, I agree with everything you say here.

    In truth, neither Moscow nor Beijing has any special place in the propaganda game nowadays. Russia has been a democracy for many years, and for both that country and China, the rise of the internet has rendered largely pointless, attempts at propagandising their citizens.

    A more apt comparison would be both the US and UK media, which have been broadcasting propaganda-as-news for all of my longish life. Their output is still rebroadcast uncritically in this country.

    It wasn’t until the rise of the internet in the 1990s that we came to understand how comprehensively we’d been lied to.

    Even now, US and UK media are still attempting to shape how we think about situations overseas. Right now it’s the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but most recently, it’s been China, Burma and just about every country in the ME with which the US has a beef of one sort or another.

    Unfortunately for them, we now have access to countervailing evidence and perspectives.

      • Sam: “Russia has been a democracy for many years has it???”

        Of course it has. Do you not pay attention to what’s going on – or has gone on – in the world? Looks as if you don’t. We have family there: democracy, right enough. Possibly since before you were born, if you’re young enough.

        Oh but that’s right: you’re in Australia, aren’t you, as you’ve told us. We have family there, and they’re also very poorly-informed about international events.

        Remember that the news your msm broadcasts comes from those great propagandists, UK and US. And I’ll take a punt that it’s rebroadcast uncritically there, as it is here, judging by your misapprehensions about Russia.

        • First of all I don’t pay much attention to Media Works. By now it’s a joke. It’s just state media. All the rest of the 3rd estate are just low IQ on much more serious issues that are being sidelined and I think you’ll find the same with Russia – so fucken what??? Criticising Trotter, NZ State Media and social and democratic change by taking a look at Russia is totally the wrong place to look little girl.

          • Sam, Chris Trotter was the one who used Moscow and Beijing in the same breath, so to speak.

            I was responding to him, not to you.

            It’s important to correct any misapprehensions which anyone may entertain about Russia’s democratic status. In this regard, US and UK Russophobia has been very influential worldwide.

            I’ve said before that I like commenting on Chris’s posts, because he clearly values free speech. No doubt this is why he allows your comments through.

            Moreover, in his responses, he plays the ball, not the man, a skill which you – along with a number of other commenters on this blogsite – all too evidently lack.

  20. Thank you for this article Chris. Colin Peacock on Mediawatch also was appropriately skeptical of this poll, and of O’Brien’s spin on it. A rare voice of sobriety in the MSM.

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