Mid-way through the week, Chris Hipkins [i.e. the Covid-19 Response Minister] said this:
“We are still doing this … we are still pursuing elimination, it is still the right thing for New Zealand.
We are of course looking forward to the future – it won’t always be this way. So, my request of people is just hold your nerve, hold on.”
Hold your nerve. Still pursuing Elimination. Still the right thing for New Zealand.
All pretty straight-forward stuff. And stated quite directly, some days aforehand. So why do I find this comment-worthy?
Because even after Hipkins had directly said we were still engaged in Elimination – we had voices in the media proclaiming the exact opposite. In the case of Mike Hosking, actively attempting to celebrate an alleged ‘end’ to Elimination and seemingly suggesting that there’d been some manner of official Government ‘admittance’ of ‘defeat’.
So what’s happening here? Evidently, the same thing that has repeatedly manifested in certain other democracies over the past few years – a moment wherein the media (or at least, certain portions of same) are in their own little ‘bubble’ and have effectively wound up talking right past both the facts and much of their own actual audience.
Some of these guys out there in the commentariat have decided that Elimination’s got to go – and that, in fact, Elimination has somehow already gone. Even despite vocal and repeated statements to the contrary from the Government, and widespread (indeed, I’d suggest actively overwhelming) support for Elimination in the vast majority of the New Zealand public.
So instead of reporting on reality, they’ve chosen to endeavour to quite literally ‘rewrite’ it – proclaiming an Elimination of Elimination as an effort at brow-beating all the rest of us into seeing the premature end to the policy as something of an already-decided-upon fait accompli.
Now I mentioned occurrences in other democracies earlier, because that’s somewhat what this reminds me of. Snooty journalists or self-anointed ‘opinion-shapers’ declaring that there was no way Brexit could win or Hillary Clinton lose – because it didn’t fit into their own personal preferences and as it turned out (mis)perceptions as to reality. They were so used to their incipient words being reality that it came as quite a shock to find out that neither the facts nor the people they proclaimed they spoke for actually shared their view.
To be fair and sure, I have little doubt that it’s not simply a matter of journalists or ‘commentators’ interviewing their own keyboards. There’s a definite enthusiasm out there in certain portions of the business community in particular for Elimination to be itself Suppressed – and a general weakening of our Covid-19 response overall.
There’s also a small but shouty sector of political and talkback opinion (and looking at the current leadership of the National Party, it’s increasingly difficult to meaningfully distinguish the two in practice) which seemingly demands likewise. And never mind what the science (or, for that matter – indeed, especially for that matter – what the Government) says.
Yet I am struggling to think, offhand, of a previous occurrence in our politics and media wherein there’s so much abject and outright ‘denialism’ of clearly visible and easily checkable reality – namely, the insistence that, against all appearances and substances to the contrary, the Government is to have ‘abandoned’ Elimination.
Then again, and with perhaps deference to a compulsion associated with a seeming personality trait of a few of these voices … even a mirror shall not show you your own face if you are determined not to see it.