Dom Post smacks up Feslier

March 14th, 2009 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post’s editorial on Thursday was about and the misleading over Winston’s car:

This newspaper has never found Mr Feslier, a former Radio New Zealand journalist and press secretary to Labour cabinet minister Margaret Wilson, easy to deal with: he dithers, he stalls and he obfuscates. But it is one thing to be unhelpful and another to mislead. No-one could read his email exchanges with journalists and colleagues and conclude that this was not his purpose.

Harsh language, but true it seems.

His sins are not in the same league as those of the former Immigration Service spokesman who was found a few years ago to have “deliberately dissembled” over the existence of the infamous “lie in unison” memo, but they are indicative of an unhealthy culture that has developed within some, but not all, parts of the public service as the number of spin doctors employed by government agencies has mushroomed.

And the lie in unison memo was covered up also in an internal whitewash.

Presumably, Mr Feslier acted as he did because he wanted to spare his bosses embarrassment over the 10 weeks it had taken them to try to reclaim public property from Mr Peters property that might still be unaccounted for if the news media had not asked questions.

But it is not his job to burnish his bosses’ images or to shield them from legitimate public scrutiny. Nor is it his job to deny the public access to information it is entitled to have.

Hopefully OIA requests will also be dealt with in a more timely manner.

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10 Responses to “Dom Post smacks up Feslier”

  1. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    So Colin seems to be the type of PR person who is hired to try and tame the media rather than promote best practice public relations for his organisation. It seems PR people think they are a rung or two higher than journos (from whose ranks they often come) and act accordingly.

    I have news for such PR people and their CEO’s – I am not fooled by this sort of thing and the way an organisation treats the media greatly influences my feelings towards the organisation. Moreover I am not impressed with organizations whose CEO or top staff never front up to the media and instead do it all through PR people.

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  2. calendar girl (1,242 comments) says:

    If Feslier felt comfortable sending a self-congratulatory internal email saying “I have managed, I think, to get TVNZ, TV3 and The DomPost to terminate their interest in this non-story.” then I suspect that that message reflects the culture of DIA established from the top.

    The DomPost might therefore perform a useful public service by sending some relevant questions about this episode in the direction of the largely anonymous Secretary / CEO of the DIA who is not only the person responsible for the Department’s internal culture but is also Feslier’s ultimate employer. And perhaps also to Feslier’s line manager, the so-called “Director, Business Services” (don’t you just love these contrived, business-speak titles?).

    All this talk swirling around about “accountability”, but here we have the indignant DomPost engaged primarily in shooting the messenger. If Feslier’s head rolls over the W R Peters affair, he will have been hung out to dry to exorcise DIA embarrassment. It’s likely, however, that the malfeasance originated at higher levels in the Department.

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  3. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    These DomPost people are so far up themselves they’ve lost the map.

    “property that might still be unaccounted for if the news media had not asked questions.”

    Oh yeah? Pull the other leg.

    The news media would still be asleep if Whaleoil had not broken the story.

    What a pack of unctuous pious pricks..

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  4. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    I dont condone what Feslier has done but for the MSM to say “it is one thing to be unhelpful and another to mislead” is a classic case of pot meets kettle

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  5. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Newsflash to the MSM: where the fuck were you over the last NINE, yes NINE years that Liarbore has been pulling this shit?

    Where the fuck were ya?

    Where?

    Excuse my language, but a belated editorial or two after the horse has bolted doesn’t really compensate for NINE years of it. How bout start doing your job, in future. Don’t let the Nats do it, and DON’T let Liarbore do it when they get back in. FFS.

    Hullo?

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  6. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Yeah I’m with Adolf, the Dompost is getting a taste of the crap sandwich we’ve all been feed for the last decade – often with their help – and they don’t like the taste.

    It aint like they did bugger all to blow this turkeys cover but their happy to take the credit for it just the same.

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Congratulations to those above who’ve resisted the temptation to leap all over Colin Feslier. I worked alongside him at Radio NZ and he was an able journalist. However he was also prone to “dithering” (if looked at unkindly) or “careful decision making” (if viewed differently). Point is, what the Dom Post is trying to portray as obfuscation is most likely just Colin being Colin.

    Which is not to deny that he must have known he was being told to throw the rug over a very large pile of dung and then stand there saying “What smell? I don’t smell anything!”

    Increasingly that’s what’s expected of people who are hired to do public relations, especially for government departments and politicians. The choices are stark: Lie or resign.

    Choose the latter path and, at best, you’re then seen as “difficult” and “a risk” to re-employ because you probably won’t be willing to swallow a cup of cold sick for your next employer. And in this economic environment, indefinite unemployment isn’t a prospect many would face over an abstract principle like truth and the public good.

    So yes, as calendar girl so eloquently argues above, if the Dom Post is going to go after Feslier then it should also be going after the faceless liars who not only conspired to put him in an untenable position by ordering him to lie, but also caused the situation in the first place through their craven toadying to Winston.

    Who are they? Why are they there? Why weren’t they fired? Those are the issues the Dom Post needs to be raising, not attacking the messenger. Would the author of that editorial have acted differently were his livelihood at stake? I suggest not.

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  8. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    I think the SSC needs to formulate a code of conduct for these employees. Their main task is to facilitate information flow to media not to engage in manipulation of the media. Feslier has probably become ineffective in his role and will should now move on. But there have now been several cases where these types have caused problems and it is something the SSC needs to look into.

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  9. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    -

    says it all really “This newspaper has never found Mr Feslier, a former Radio New Zealand journalist and press secretary to Labour cabinet minister Margaret Wilson, easy to deal with: he dithers, he stalls and he obfuscates.”

    a.k.a a tired old idealogically tainted fool with delusions of power.

    Farrar says “Hopefully OIA requests will also be dealt with in a more timely manner.”

    It would make a change from the culture of deliberate blocking that became the hallmark of government under Labour.
    -

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  10. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    To be fair to the DomPost re: their pot kettle angle – they may have finally woken up to the fact that all the sychophantic lickspittles and Sir Humphries that guarded the Labour government and doled out tasty news titbits has been given the arse or have lost their hot line to their Minister.

    But yes, given the DomPost is in WGN you would be forgiven for thinking that they all wore fawn and spent too much time at cafes eating toasted panini’s and drinking bad flat whites.

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