The precise moment the penny dropped that Radio New Zealand is first and foremost a government department and not a legitimate news service – not journalism and not independent – came at a point in my trial for sedition (oh yes, we all lol now) where I’m in the lawyer’s office looking through the discovery.
Ham-fisted press release distribution being my forte the decolonisation efforts of the Grey Lynn Martyr’s Brigade came adrift following the axion and long story short – Bubba reckons these are his shoes now.
So I’m carefully examining the timeline and statements the NZ Police have assembled to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a) I don’t like the government, and b) I had telephoned news media on where to find a press release about not liking the government. The statements from those media contacted all said the same thing: this guy called, we went straight down there and picked up the press release and then reported on the scene and the press release. NZ Herald, ZB, TVNZ, Scoop, Stuff (or whatever it was in 2004) etc. Everyone… everyone except RNZ. The news media took the tip off and just did their job, went down there and got the news out. What did RNZ do?
The very first thing RNZ did was call the NZ Police. Before they did anything else, before they dispatched a reporter. Of couse. Of course. Of course they did. It’s so obvious now that that is what would happen.
The real news media did news whilst RNZ did nark, they did Big Brother, did Govt, did the Man. RNZ reported it to the cops before it reported it to the public. The instinct, the natural reflex of RNZ is to be the State, because it is the State – first, last and always. No other media did this, thought to do this, or would ever do this. RNZ failed the real life independence test and of course they would.
There is no tension, no competition: RNZ does not balance between delivering a government information service and independent journalism – the government line is an automatic, self-evident fact, that vetoes all considerations (including the actual facts). The government funds it, as it has done for 98 years, and it squats there across from the Beehive. That is reality. Populated by conceited, conformist, mediocre, lazy, bourgeois, white Wellingtonians – that too is reality. Temples and rituals and fat, haughty priests that’s what capitols do and that’s all the colonial institutions in Wellington are essentially.
So when the furor over the pro-Russian edits to RNZ’s online world news section broke out last week I had a sense of underwhelming perplexion. A handful of edits – most of them to correct an apalling bias RNZ shows in regurgitating unthinking pro-Western pieces as it does – and the precious dears at RNZ are off interviewing themselves huffing and puffing about journalistic integrity and neutral reporting.
RNZ’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief Paul Thompson gave the game away by saying it was pro-Kremlin garbage. Really? The usual pro-Kiev garbage was changed to make it neutral and that’s pro-Kremlin garbage now is it? Lisa Owen’s gleeful pissing upon Thompson and the on-air introspection is performative, ritualised. The purpose?
The hyperventalation of relevance fuelled by other media. But no substance. Never any substance. No real questions. Inquiries and reports designed to go in circles, the entropic death spiral of Hellington. Blame underfunding, underresoucing, outsourcing, communications, professional development, processes, blame everything but anyone. No one is to blame. No accountability. None of those overpaid, underworked cretins at RNZ could be wrong. Even the least deserving is deserving of protection from reality. The government and therefore RNZ by necessary extension cannot be wrong by definition. They are embarrassed, but not contrite, and certainly not aware. So woke and yet so comatose.
If the question is neutrality, let’s answer it.
They aren’t fucking neutral.
That’s the answer. They follow strictly the government line, closely followed by the prevailing liberal dogma. The evidence is all around. They attack and pull back according to political and social orthodoxy and expediency which is removed from journalistic values resulting in biased coverage. So generally if the NZ Police say it – that’s a fact in RNZ reporting not just a claim like with non-government agencies. The trust of government is automatic no matter how illegitimately based and misconceived it is.
Here’s a few fun examples to illustrate.
RNZs coverage of Stuff documentary Fire and Fury. The bias is so overt when they keep listing all the police stats and not the protester stats, the sanitising of the police brutality. The worst was they had a victim of a rubber bullet live on air at the time and for quite some time (it was incredible when I heard it) but that never made it into the doco and for that alone I must conclude those involved in that joke of a documentary are disgraceful, pathetic shitheels. They aren’t talking truth to power they are power talking lies.
Kathryn Ryan once interviewed a guy who fought with the Free Syrian Army. He was from Israel. Was in the IDF. And he’s running around the Arab Republic of Syria with this militia and the white helmets etc. And the obvious questions arise as to their status and what he was reporting back to the Mossad. But no questions about any of that. He got to spout on without being checked, the illusion of neutrality undinted. What a pathetic joke and there are so many more.
A favourite awkward moment was Kim Hill on her Saturday morning show talking to an old lesbian about her lesbian book and they got onto how she got into lesbianism and she said her teacher was a lesbian. And then she said (I’m paraphrasing) yeah, come to think of it quite a few of my lesbian friends and lesbians I know had their first lesbian experience with their teachers. And she says this and the hand grenade is on the table. We wait for the great Kim Hill to pull the pin out and blow this unholy predatory covern of groomers and abusers to smithereens. We wait. Seething, searing silence. She just said the female teachers are predating on schoolgirls, that is the pattern of offending. We await the Hill smash. And there’s the awkward void where we listen to Hill’s brain wrestle with going there when it conflicts with the homosexual overide protocol. The same type of protected group concept that allowed Polansky to get awards. And after letting it hang there Hill just moved onto her favourite fucking ice cream flavour or whatever. Some groups get a free pass for sure – a total abdication. What a risible flake out.
How different is that from the BBC cutting out prerecorded comments that referred to Jimmy Saville’s offending? It’s the same illness. Protect the powerful. Play happy families, or else. Spare us from any real moments on radio. Keep it a sanitised projection. Middle class sanctimony.
More recently, maybe last year – and to my experience of the loving arms of government and how they treat sources – RNZ had an interview with a vigilante who had defaced anti-vaxx signs across Northland. She was given anonimity, protected as a source, given air time to boast about all the signs she had damaged and how she got away with it. And seemingly getting away with it with RNZ’s help. So, it’s OK to aid in the propaganda of people wrecking signs about vaccination, cause, like, you know, the Toby thingo cartoons from the Ministry of Truth have the pitiful eyes so we should all line up to be pin cushions and anyone who questions that is Hitler? Do we think an anti-vaxx vandal would receive this same protected treatment – ha! Neutrality schmutality. They would be narked out faster than you can say podium of truth. Yes, RNZ takes sides – the government side every time.
Neither management or staff of RNZ have cause for confidence in the other – they both have no credibility.
Tim Selwyn was one of the last people in NZ to be charged with sedition. He now blogs for TDB.