A response to Lynn

Lynn Prentice has responded to my post calling for an end to anonymous smears on , by … well mainly calling me some names.

I usually don’t respond to such posts, as the advice which I give to people about responding to Whale Oil, applies equally to The Standard, which is “Remember if you wrestles with pigs in mud, you just get dirty and the pigs enjoy it”.

Having said that, I will break my own advice and respond on this occasion.

he is upset about Eddie pointing out Murray McCully and his mining shares. There wasn’t an value known when the post was written, so Eddie reasonably asked if there was a conflict of interest.

No Eddie did not ask if there was a conflict of interest. He tagged the post corruption, and said McCully had been “caught”.

Eddie could have written a good post on the question. I have no issues that he raised the issue. But Eddie, along with many other Standard authors, have a history of using extreme language against political opponents. They label almost everything corruption (even a post on me). And it is not just that tag – they often attack journalists as being incompetent, corrupt, seeking jobs from National, biased, etc etc. Now I often point out errors in stories also, but try to avoid suggesting ill motives from the journalists involved.

But almost all the authors of The Standard do nothing but slag off and smear people’s motives. You disagree on Maori seats, and you are a racist.

And the reason they do this, is because they are anonymous. Lynn himself tends not to do it often, as he is a known person who can be held accountable for his posts. Rochelle Rees has admirably made herself known, and I think her posts are generally excellent (of course I disagree with them, but she makes her case well). I’m pleased to see Mike Smith join The Standard and that he will blog under his name. I am sure he will not resort to such extreme language as the anonymous authors.

I know many journalists resent the fact the people who do not have the courage to blog under their own name, will smear them and try and damage their professional reputation – while unwilling to expose their own reputation.  They don’t mind fair criticism, but having anonymous posters declare they are lackeys of the Government is tedious.

So getting back to the post in question, I have no problem with the content of the posts, it is the extreme language and rhetoric from anonymous posters.

Now I will admit Whale Oil also uses extreme language against those he disagrees with – which often includes me, and half the Cabinet! But at least Cameron does so effectively under his own name, and he is prepared to take the consequences of what he says.

Anyway back to Lynn:

He seems to think that The Standard has a ‘view’. Now I know that Farrar isn’t particularly technically literate. But surely even a fool would understand that “The Standard” is just some software running on a server. It is the people who write opinions – not a machine. I program the computers for a living and the only thing more stupid in my opinion are some of the trolls that I deal with periodically in this site.

David has read our About he knows that this site runs as a cooperative. Authors write their own opinions and there is no editorial control apart pulling a post after it is put up. I know that he is aware of this because he has written many posts about our site and how it runs in the past. So why is David pretending that the site has an editorial policy? Well the alternative is that he’d have to be upfront about his attacks and direct them at a person. It is easier (and probably safer) to direct it at an abstract concept that can’t defend itself.

I know Lynn gets frustrated that people refer to The Standard collectively, but I don’t think he has considered why people do, so often. First of all Eddie himself declared:

The Standard can now reveal …

So even his own authors talk collectively. But that isn’t even the reason so many refer to the site collectively. The reason is that so many of the authors are anonymous. If a poster is known to be a real person, then their posts ted to be identified with them. But an alias not connected to a real known person doesn’t resonate with people. And to make it even worse, many of the posters have a very similiar style – extreme language and smears against people they disagree with.

If you don’t want people to see you as one entity, then the answer is have your posters reveal themselves. This is in fact Social Media 101 – people relate far better to individuals, as they understand their background, their biases, their interests etc etc. Now if you want to have a policy of anonymity, because all you are about is attacking people you disagree with, then so be it – bt there are consequences – it means the brand of The Standard is far stronger with readers, than those of individual authors. You can’t have it both ways.

I would also mention that the posting style of Eddie has changed dramatically since the election, raising some suspicions that aliases do not relate to unique individuals, but have represented different people at different times. Again, because readers have no way of knowing if an author is a genuine unique individual, one associates things they say more with the site, than them as an individual – because we do not know them as an individual. Again – you can;t have it both ways.

Lynn then gets into the Winston issue. He concludes:

There was no evidence of corruption or even conflicts of interest apart from in your hysterical fantasies.

Now here I just find myself in a different dimension to Lynn. He actually says Winston had no conflicts of interests!!!  He failed to disclose two personal significant donations, and both donors were people whose interests he lobbied Ministerial colleagues on behalf of. And Lynn thinks that is not a conflict, yet McCully was.

I doubt there is a single former Labour Minister who would state on the record that they do not think Winston should have disclosed his donations from racing interests, while he was lobbying them for more money for race prizes.  In fact, I know at least a couple of them are furious that he compromised their collective integrity by not doing so.

But this is not a debate about Winston – it is about always assuming the worst motivations about your opponents. Already today, one author has concluded that as Heatley’s offences were so trivial, that it must mean Key is covering up some bigger scandal.

I’ve several times referred to Phil Goff as essentially a decent bloke, and that if he becomes PM I think he will be a conscientious PM. I regularly swipe at him for stupid things he says, and disagree with many of his policies, but I do not believe he is in any way a bad man, seeking to do bad things. But on The Standard, under the protection of anonymity, that is almost all they do – portray everything as being motivated by vile intentions. It may not be a collective decision, but it is certainly the culture of the site.

David, over the years you have set a very low standard for political blogs in this country.

Oh Lynn, you really can do better than that.

Your wee outburst today appears to simply be because you don’t like a much milder questions of the same sort directed at your friends in your favored party. I’d suggest that you get used to it because asking questions of your friends is part of what this site was setup for.

Questions are good. Go for it. But when you have one to two posts a weeks labelling someone corrupt, then maybe the rhetoric could be less extreme – which it would be if posters had to take responsibility for what they say.

In my opinion, you’re known as being a bit of a hypocrite, frequently a bit of an idiot, and I think that you should also do something about that hysterical streak you have.

I rest my case.

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