On The Impending Media Push To Present Parliamentary Protesters As Ordinary

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The excerpt in the image below comes from part of the lead story in the weekend’s Sunday Star Times.

It paints a picture of the protesters currently occupying Parliament’s lawn in decidedly more nuanced terms than the protestors often seem to believe the media interested in doing.

Now, the reason that I find this interesting is because of the context of this presentation. Both in terms of where it was in that day’s newspaper, but also how it represents a bit of a ‘crystalization’ of a trend for media portrayal of the protest.

What do I mean by this?

Well, we’ll start with the second point first. Over the past few days there’s been a definite emphasis on the part of some commentators to push the line that the protesters, while they might appear to be a rambunctious rabble of general conspiracy-theory toting ne’er-do-wells … “actually have a point”.

Just what that “point” is may vary somewhat from mouthpiece to mouthpiece, but effectively seems to boil down to “the Government’s done the wrong thing”, with a specific flavouring of “vaccine mandates, Traffic Light Settings, and other Omicron-era control measures are too restrictive / actively harmful”, and a side-order of “time to start Learning To Live With The Virus”.

Except, of course, not ‘learning to live with the virus’ in the way that we’d been intending to, nor in the way that Singapore et co are attempting to manage it. You get the idea.

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Now how much of said ‘flavouring’ depends quite strongly upon the individual columnist or commentator. Some basically just want to go for the ‘lightly seasoned’ option of presenting it as being a Government comms issue that’s ‘legitimate’ to voice opposition to – others want to go rather further.

This brings us to my second point – the first one I’d mentioned, around where this charming excerpt was to be found within the context of Sunday’s Star Times.

Elsewhere on the page was a story about how, surprise surprise, the Government’s Covid-control measures had allegedly ‘gone too far’ and were now actively ‘counterproductive’.

The ‘meat’ of this piece was provided via perspectives from two people representing rather different groups: somebody from the hospitality sector, lamenting the manner in which ‘fear’ was contributing to people not patronizing restaurants and the like; and a doctor, talking about how understandable caution from people about going out into the community with Omicron circulating had lead to a rather significant reduction in the number of people making appointments to see their GP.

Predictably, the front page highlight talking about the article lead with the picture and soundbite from the doctor – a public health perspective, and a not unwarranted one. And then spent only a smaller portion toward the end of the actual article itself on what he had to say – instead giving over its mainstay to the unrelated commentary around the retail sector suffering due to people not wanting to go out and socialize in the midst of a pandemic. A classic bait-and-switch – and attempt to conflate a commercial issue with a public health one (because yes, people not engaging with primary healthcare providers can contribute to rather more important problems than a bar being underpatronized).

Now, we’ve been down these styles of cycleway many, many times before over the course of the pandemic.

This is partially why we so frequently find heads of business associations, and prominent figures of the hospitality industry given such prominence in media pieces talking about the pandemic response. Because it’s one of the areas where you can actually point to and say “see all this saving lives? It’s got a Cost Attached.”

Various media have also been very keen to try and present the situation in more ‘popular’ terms – not as something between small and sectorally interested groups against the dominant public will, but rather as the general public being divided in amidst itself.

You can see this in the reporting in the Herald from 2020, for example, discussing our then second lockdown. They’d declared Auckland to be seriously “divided” over the decision to extend the Level 3 phase.

Except when you looked closer at it …, and as I said about the time –

“You might be forgiven for thinking that this meant somewhere around a fifty fifty split of opinion on the matter.

Here’s the actual split:

75% of Aucklanders thought that the extension of lockdown was “appropriate”. This was made up of 56% who were simply fine with the extension – and a further 19% who wanted the lockdown to go longer.

Meanwhile, that 25% of opponents was made up of 14% for a shorter lockdown, and 9% for the lockdown shouldn’t have been initiated at all.

That’s three-to-one support for the lockdown. And yet somehow this is a serious degree of “division”.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders overall supported the most recent Lockdown by a ratio of more than four to one – 62% in favour of the lockdown we had, 19% in favour of an even further extended lockdown, 10% for a shorter lockdown, and only 6% for no lockdown at all.

Technically a 3-1 majority for Lockdown means “divided” , sure – as does a 4-1 majority.

But it sure does sound rather different when you phrase it like that, frame it like that, rather than OVERWHELMING MAJORITY SUPPORTS THE GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 MANAGEMENT”.

So how does all of that pertain to this description of the protestors on Parliament’s front lawn?

Simple.

At the moment, the protestors are a very vocal ‘battering ram’. They won’t, by themselves, force the Government to abandon sensible Covid-19 control measures. What they can be ‘weaponized’ to do is exactly the same thing that the Brian Tamaki MC’d ‘freedom rally’ shenanigans of a few months ago can be co-opted for – attempting to make very strident opposition to said “let’s actually live like we’re in a pandemic” measures seem like something that’s an ordinary person perspective. Not one that’s effectively relegated to a few hundred people on a patch of grass who are outnumbered by an order of magnitude every day by the number of Kiwis choosing to get a Booster.

Why?

Because, as the Sunday Star itself  told you on the very same page – New Zealanders continuing to take the virus seriously is imposing an economic cost on some business owners.

It’s also continuing to considerably buoy the Labour party’s popularity – and keep National down in the low 30% range. People remember.

So, if you want to ‘circuit-break’ Labour seeming a champion of ordinary New Zealanders, our health and welfare … presenting some very ordinary New Zealanders in amidst the very-hard-to-ignore decidedly abnormal ones at the Parliament protest is an ideal way to do this.

The mind extrapolates on its own, and places things in their own kind of order – conveying a sense that there’s some broad ‘consensus’ of both ordinary people and ordinary business-owners gradually coalescing in unity against the Ardern-led Government, mask requirements and vaccination mandates and a ‘climate of fear’ about going out for dinner etc.

It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to look like it might be plausible. And then the hope is that events start taking on the characteristics plotted out for them all of their own accord.

Because the previous approach, of media and media-platformed talking heads, basically shrilly scolding the general public for taking the pandemic too seriously and being too keen on Labour in significant consequence of that, has not worked.

And in the absence of a genuine mass movement to overturn the Government or its Covid-control measures … you make do with what you’ve got instead.

A few hundred people who’ve managed to ‘Annoy Wellington’, most definitely … and suitably ‘airbrushed’ to highlight the less odious elements within the general protestor milieu.

Will it work?

That remains to be seen.

However, even though it is situated in amidst nearly half a dozen more ‘actively empathizable’ vox-pops, the guy claiming that Covid-19 was some sort of “worldwide scam directed by the United Nations” does somewhat undercut the notion that “we’re not crazies”, as another protestor tearfully sought to emphasize.

But I would cautiously suspect that over the next few weeks, and one hopes that won’t be how long the occupation of Parliament’s lawn drags on for, we’ll see an escalating tide of media and commentariat ‘contributions’ which seek to equivocate the other side of the protest (you know, the ones intimidating and even egging schoolgirls in masks and spitting at bus-drivers) in favour of claiming it’s ‘ordinary New Zealanders’ just seeking to do entirely ordinary things. And who have a ‘right to be heard’.

A right to eat out at hospitality venues, too, one presumes.

Or maybe that’s going to become presented as more of a ‘duty’ – something mandatory for the rest of us, whether we feel particularly comfortable going out at this time or not.

82 COMMENTS

  1. Wrong. 7 out of 9 polls say labour suck.
    All of those polls carry 8-12 percent of people who’re undecided.

    That’s how this bs will be measured. At the poll held at the next election.

  2. 75% of Aucklanders thought that the extension of lockdown was “appropriate”. This was made up of 56% who were simply fine with the extension – and a further 19% who wanted the lockdown to go longer.

    I’d like to see that poll run again now, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the exact opposite of the numbers above.

      • Did the Non Male Leader of Country state that in these terms? Because what they said was : I am not expecting more lockdowns.
        This person will lock the country down in no time if they believe that it will be to their betterment.

        • I see it differently. The capital gains tax cop out, and arguably the Marcel Marceau impersonation on the weed referendum was for betterment.
          I would argue on the COVID front the PM has taken a number decisions that were probably detrimental to her standing but she took them nonetheless.

          It was stated quite recently that “we don’t use lockdowns anymore” and regardless of whether that is believed, or not, it’s pretty obvious from last December onwards that the lockdown ship has sailed.

  3. This article reads like a barely disguised attempt to un-person those who the author dislikes or disagrees with.

    Also, is it not true that lockdowns have a cost? The inference seems to be that this doesn’t matter.

  4. Here’s an interesting tidbit:

    Yesterday, a NZ Herald survey was stopped when it reached 49% supporting protestors and 51% against. Just stopped there. I suspect so it wouldn’t show a majority support for them.

    Self-selection bias on NZ Herald you say? Yes, somewhat I would agree. But it had 17,000 responses – a huge selection for a survey when voting polls often have only 2,000 or less people.

    Even discounting say, 9%, for self-section bias, it would still reveal enormous latent support for protestors, despite your weak attempts to link 95% vaxxed to only 5% support.

    I’m completely vaxxed and 100% against mandates and in favour of the protests. How many vaxxed only only vaxxed because of social and professional ostracism and threats of losing jobs – and hated that approach.

    The other key point is – human rights aren’t actually subject to a popularity contest. Nor is Liberal democracy only applicable when the times are good.

    But now, Might to right for the Left. The Left slide towards soft Authoritarianism for ‘the greater good’ – just like they did throughout the 20th Century. Gone are the days of siding with the dispossessed, the marginalised, free speech, and human rights generally.

    There has been sweet nothing in arrests for misbehaviour of the protests (except the stupid Thursday attempt to shut down it all by police invasion). Instead, we find the salivating Wellingtonian laptop class who are so eager to find offence and a sympathetic journalist to parade their inconvenience. Poor babies can’t stand having to hear a different opinion in THEIR city – how dare the rabble not leave! Forget about the last two years decimating businesses, relationships, finances, and democracy.

    Try again, Curwen. The bloated, myopic desire to gloss the most extreme Covid-19 response in a Western country as wonderful is failing.

    • how about discarding 90 percent for ‘selection bias’ just as arbitrary as your 9percent….all this proves is like other polls it’s apropros of nothing.

      the person who commissions and pays for the poll gets the result they desire, that’s why so called polling companies exist….it’s NOT a neutral fact finding process but a branch of PR/comms

  5. I can’t hep but wonder how many of the critics of the anti mandate movement have actually gone down and talked to the protesters and heard their stories?

    • What stories? A bunch of leaderless morons with nothing better to do. They’ve had the eyes and ears of all MSM for about a week and have said jack shit. Nothing, nada, zilch. Move along…

    • Haaa straightedge…I’m pretty sure if
      half a dozen people were spoken to an 5 had legitimate reasons for opposing mandates (job loss etc) and the 6th was ‘its all a conspiracy by aliens’, we can all be rest assured which viewpoint would be posted/spoken about only.
      Seems the left love a good march and protest but only if the reason aligns with their politics.
      If not….’arrest them all, force if neccesary!’
      Distruption of traffic/people going about their Daily business with a protest…extinction rebellion/schools for climate change…no problem, suck it up!

    • Well if you went there and wore a mask so that you didn’t catch covid from what might just be a super spreader event you would likely be abused or assaulted…. Anyone who uses their kids to push an objective the kids don’t really understand and have no way of resisting, being forced into the front of protest lines as a shield or made to live in a mud puddle for days on end, deserve nothing but contempt.

      • if you went masked you’d be covered in more gob than sid vicious, in terms of ‘intolerence of others views’ they’re right up there with any lycra clad woke urban bourgeois liberal…but being blinkered they don’t see that….cuz meeeeee.

    • what you mean crap like getting vaxxed is like rape, that kinda shite. or my kid looked at a bogus paper on measles vax and now he’s autistic. my earth mother crystals say vaxes are the work of the horned one. or I heard about this fella who had the vaxx and his balls exploded…or the good old, ‘I was told I’d lose my job if I didn’t get vaxxed, I didn’t get vaxxed and now I’m outraged to have no job…..those kinda ‘stories’ heard it all before and it’s just as pathetic as when yanks reel ’em off…the sad thing is I really believed Kiwis were smarter than US mouthbreathing knuckle draggers….I was wrong.

    • You’re on to something here Straight Edge. The trouble with surveys of the Yes/No/Not Sure kind is that they don’t capture the nuances, the rationale, the lived experiences, whatever the term. A simple tick box doesn’t cut the mustard. Much better to get inside the heads of these folk, interpret what they say and document that. All takes time and asking the ‘right’ questions however. And it rests on the asumption folk will tell the ‘truth’ and not just something they want you to believe.

    • Exactly zero.
      Curwen certainly hasn’t.

      I’m double stabbed and like Gordon above 100% against the vax mandates, even more so against the vax passes, which I refuse to get. To date I have been excluded from 1, one singular, sports club. No bars, no restaurants, no cafes, no nothing. That says to me the Govt is very much on the wrong side of public opinion….either that or I have a spectacularly cunning ability to only pick, in a totally random manner, only places willing to ignore the vaxx pass directive.

      The numbers at the protest would be considerably higher if so many weren’t having to work so much extra to pay for the sky rocketing costs of living this govt has driven into everything.

      • You live in a different reality to me Peter. The places I have been to in Auckland that ask to see my pass (that should) number more than those that do not. The golf club I play at had a members vote and 98% chose ‘ no passport no play or use of indoor facilities . This is in the west of the city and has a diverse member base. May be that cunning ability is an underrated talent.

    • I have seen them on TV and I would rather poke my eyes out than talk to them . Most are a feral bunch of non workers living off the state.
      If I had any say I would take the rego numbers of the illegally parked vehicles tract the owners and if they are on the dole stop it because they are not out looking for work. The children should be removed from this shit fest

  6. People who blindly put their faith in big Pharma are being extremely naive. The track record of these big companies is appalling and ,no doubt, continues to be so.

    • so you deny yourself all pharmaceuticals do you….even ibruprophen… all from big pharma, all have side effects…in fact the vax probably has less side effects than many over the counter meds…

      and yes it’s right to be skeptical about the industry that brought us thalidomide and fentanyl but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,,huh?

      andy how are pfizer ‘particularly bad’ details please….they’re not the sacklers or ‘pharmabro’ after all…

      • I don’t take ibuprofen. And Pfizer has the worst track record for legal action over the past decade or two, with the largest settlement from a Pharma company at 2.3 billion dollars.

  7. Omicron cases double every 3 or 4 days, in a 95% vaccinated population. But we’re supposed to remove the labour rights of the unvaccinated because they represent a public health threat?
    Give me a break.
    The mandates are the focus of 90% of those protestors.

      • For Omicron?
        Similar. The media are currently running stories with headlines like “Why the majority of hospitalizations are of vaccinated people”.

        When you look at the numbers, sure, the vaccines do reduce severity. They don’t reduce transmission of Omicron in any meaningful way (“but but but if there were less vaccinated people we might double our cases every 2.5 days instead of every 3!”).

        If vaccines won’t prevent the spread in any meaningful way, then they should be purely a matter of personal choice,like a flu shot.

  8. I think the majority of New Zealanders have had enough of the protest. The infantile signs, the threats, the spitting, damage to businesses etc etc. Time to tow their cars and enforce the laws the majority of people respect.

  9. XXX
    I would suggest few if any.
    I think the piece reeks of bias.
    Mallard to me is the biggest villain in the piece hosing young children,blaring music to keep them awake.Isn’t that a torture tactic it’s certainly not kindness.
    Now our kind Prime Minister is trying to turn New Zealanders against the protesters going so far as to say it’s promoted from abroad.

  10. i would like to know how many of those that are against these protests are PJ class that can work from home with full pay, and non of that’ wage subsidy’ crap for them. No siree. Mind the academic left is quite happy for the rabble to be trashed, so as long as they do the trashing. Never mind, the academic left has no benefit to he larger public. They/Thembe’s the lot of them, full of idiocy that they paid a lot of money for from Universities that long ago stopped preparing people for the world. How offended can the left be? We will see i guess. lol

  11. The slightly left now call the more left right? Jacinda really has messed up NZ politics and minds. The slightly left (but really right) are angry at everyone and its all started will the passive aggressive, smile on, smile off cult leader.

  12. Gordon you are obviously not a Wellingtonian and having read your very one sided opinion there is no need to run us all down either. We are the ones putting up with these idiots and clowns on our street spitting, swearing, abusing people and illegally parking their vehicles to cause maximum disruption. Its time our Police got some balls and arrested these clowns instead of giving them free parking what a bloody joke. It seems a new precedence has been set where protestors who choose to protest for a long time can get free parking, they can spit, swear and abuse people with no or little repercussions and this is bad. I am surprised no one has lashed out yet but there is still time. And I have heard many tradies aren’t happy with the protestors saying if they get in there way they will run them over.

    • Keep on trucking, Covid is Pa.

      Lived in Wellington for about 7 years total. I even work for the Govenment myself as a professional. Almost everybody at my work reeks of middle-class entitlement and snobbery about anything non-Government and “diversity” approved, especially if it involves having to deal face to face with the hoi polli. My colleagues are vaxxed and masked up to the gills but ran to their “safety” of working from home at the first hint of Omicron. “Health and well-being” now means ideological safety and whatever subjective, neurotic feeling of fear someone employee has. Me, me, all fucking me.

      I take the faux “I’m being harmed” by the Wellington laptop class with a massive dollop of salt, even without two years of state control and entire unending of society. If people are misbehaving – arrest then. But it appears very far and in between. And unless you live on Kate Shepperd Place, it’s a pretty limited impact, especially when Lambton end has been a virtual ghost town lately.

      Instead, all the Authoritarian Left can resort to now is smearing everyone as neo-Nazi and Stuff-Govt-Funded articles towing the line.

      What a joke.

  13. What was once mildly amusing is now starting to irritate the majority of people. The infantile signs, the spitting, harassment of locals, blocking of streets. Surely its time to move them on, tow their cars, and apply the appropriate penalties for those that break the law. It can only be a matter of time before a counter protest movement gets organised and from what we’ve seen it will only get uglier from there.

  14. It’s just ordinary people. Which means nice people nasty people, tall people short people, old people, young people, uneducated people, educated people, clever people dumb people.

    All with the same rights, all with a view of the importance of their own perspective.

    The difficulty I have is with dumb people trying to tell me stuff like, on a bright clear sunny day, that the sky is green, or 3+4=2.

    • Chris Luxon doesn’t think its worth engaging either Jeremy. Probably something to do with the verbal abuse, talk of hangings etc. I don’t think you would consider Luxon to be left

      • not my problem as so far i have never voted for N. so really what are you saying? That the left can’t vote for the right either. Lol. we know that dude.

        • My point was Jeremy has made a number of comments that would have National being a far better choice to form the government (or bulk of it). That’s great that Jeremy has a clear choice. I struggle to see the difference between the two main parties on a number of issues to be honest. All this left v right seems like a distraction

      • Being politically expedient?
        Wasn’t aware of hangings.
        Do remember the guillotine that featured in a New Zealand protest some time ago.

  15. Best group of comments I have ever seen on this blog and show mood of country. never thought i woild see the day when lefties have gone full circle and people with a genuine cause are maligned to protect a corrupt gubbermint

  16. I have read Curwens article for interest but it’s not telling us anything we don’t know. The news of the day will be presented from a different angle by every commentator. It will reflect that persons opinion and is often written to highlight that opinion. I don’t read the newspaper, and like ten’s of thousands of people get the daily news from other sources except social media. Those sources will reflect the readers opinions because the general public do have opinions, and are not always gullible enough to believe everything they read. Figures, percentages and stats can be skewed any way you like so quoting them is only a guide unless of course you want to push your particular opinion. I think picking apart the way this protest at parliament is being portrayed is interesting but not important because all our news is served up to us in the same biased way depending on who writes it. It will always be up to the individual to either believe what he reads or not. Commentators tell us their truth and would like us believe its the only truth, but in the end we have our own truth. Ask the anti vaxxers..

  17. Agree with Curwen, and in the process of normalisation, those who do so are normalising name-specific death threats and calls for assassination of specific MPs. …Those calls often being made in graphic terms.

    How is that helpful for democracy or for freedom in any sense of the word?
    The slowness of the ‘Left’ (or what remains of it) in calling out such, is disheartening.

    Luxon now saying “enough” to their antics, or at least backing the PM in her general response, is a win for him.

    • calls for murder and executions are actually terroristic threats..trying to change politics by the use of violence.

      where’s the SIS in this, we unwillingly pay shitloads for THEIR ineffective ‘surveillence state’ that can’t detect terrorists, stop fraud or money laundering..and certainly our cyber warfare assets could shut down all the IT used these numpties, oh I dunno a nice virus to fuck their phones can’t be beyond the vaunted ‘5 blind eyes’
      seems the surveillence state is only for surveilling certain people.

  18. I have seen them on TV and I would rather poke my eyes out than talk to them . Most are a feral bunch of non workers living off the state.
    If I had any say I would take the rego numbers of the illegally parked vehicles tract the owners and if they are on the dole stop it because they are not out looking for work. The children should be removed from this shit fest

  19. It seems to me you are all emotional fannies, all against or all for. There’s not much capable understanding the situation, the protesters, and what their ‘cycology’ is. They often haven’t got much and the little pleasures or helps they had are being diminished and they can’t cope with the greyness in their world and just bearable by watching tv, using the internet and finding others the same on Facebook or wherever. Unfortunately if you find similar-minded people you don’t get a different viewpoint, you reinforce each other. They need something to look forward to so they don’t go away empty-handed. I know the minimum wage has gone up a tad, but that’s just a nasic and should happen every year. They are starting off on a deficit very likely.

    If the protesters met with others from set areas and were faced with doing something that their area needed which would help most of them, a sort of small regional development grant for a worthy project, if they couldn’t come up with amything iof value which might have spin-offs for employment,etc t would reflect on them, not the government. Coming down hard on people who already feel aggrieved won’t take us forward.

  20. they were offered safe parking at the stadium, what happens to their vehicles from now on is down to them and them alone.

  21. no one is saying they don’t have good grounds for being pissed off at our society, just that their disgruntlement is being directed ultimately against their own interests by outside forces.

    • Yeah, who are these outside forces? How powerful are they? Who exactly have they affected how?
      And only fair to then flip the coin: If we’re talking power, funding, and imported ideology “disrupting” civil society and causing pain and suffering,, we have to look at everythign feeding into Arden’s office from the globalists who have designed our covid response nd left the marketing to JA.

      • you won’t get an argument from me on the fuck-up that is neo-liberalism…I suggest you ask the canadians who is funding the protests there, and shipping arms across the border….clue 3 letters U–

      • e-mail banon and ask him, or phone rev bri and ask how much in the way of evangelical funds is he spending at the harley dealership.

        • The difference between Koch and Soros is two zeros and eight years, don’t ever try to compare left wing political funding to right wing. Right wing political funding pales in comparison.

    • You are talking about process. I am wanting results from this that can be set up as a challenge to them about their sincerity about caring for freedom and being NZ oriented, for good outcomes for all. Otherwise it is just like children poking their tongue out at authority figures or taking their teachers to task on the internet.

    • Gosh that’s insulting you are saying they are only doing this because of outside forces?
      I give them credit for doing this on their own because they have good grounds to be pissed off.

  22. The obvious problem with seeing this as a problem is: who believes everything the media says, or the government come to that. Faith in those institutions is at rock bottom.
    “We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  23. it’s worth mentioning that Solzhenitsyn was a russian nationalist anti-semite before you sanctify him..

    .though it must be admitted that Ivan Denesovich is THE work on ‘the camps’

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