What will they think?

November 16th, 2011 at 1:28 pm by David Farrar

I’ve just been asked to meet a group of civil society leaders from who are coming to NZ to observe the election.

I hate to think what impressions they will go away with, based on the coverage of the election. They will think New Zealand is such a perfect country with no crime, no poverty, no unemployment, no trade issues, no defence issues, no economic challenges, no debt as the major focus of the has been on whether the Prime Minister said that NZ First support is dying off – something that has been said hundreds of times before by political reporters and commentators.

How will I explain to them that this gets more coverage than any other issue of the campaign?

When they refer to the debt crisis in Europe, and ask what did the party leaders say about the fact that France is hovering on the brink of a credit downgrade also, and what impact could this have on NZ, I’ll have to say I’m sorry but that wasn’t deemed worth talking about.

Thanks to TV3 everyone knows more or less what was said in the chat. There was obviously a reference to it being hard work to manage Don Brash at times, and to NZ First support base dying off. Neither of these statements are remarkable. The language used was not as delicate as one would use in public, but that is the difference between a private conversation, and a private chat. when you are chatting to someone one on one with no (known) recording devices in front of you, you don’t carefully consider every vowel you utter. This is not hypocrisy or inconsistency – it is human behaviour.

I do heaps of media work now. How I talk on air is quite different to how I talk one on one to people. I never say anything I don’t believe, but I carefully weigh up my words on air. The same goes for every journalist in the land, except maybe Colin James whose columns and conversations are near identical :-)

So yes John Key said the NZ First support base is dying off. Wow wee. Does this mean he hates pensioners and wants them all to drop dead so they can’t vote for Winston? Of course not. He simply told John Banks why he didn’t think NZ First were likely to make it back.

UPDATE: For my 2c worth, if I was the PM I would go on Close Up tonight and give Sainsbury permission to quote from the transcript and have PM answer questions on it. Then everyone sees what a beat up it is, and the election can focus on the important issues.

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40 Responses to “What will they think?”

  1. kowtow (6,684 comments) says:

    I hope the NZ taxpayer isn’t wasting his money on this.
    Afghan civil society leaders observing elections. Are you kidding?
    Once the coalition withdraws these leaders will all be off to London, New York or Sydney,or the Taliban will have their heads off.

    They stone people there for adultery or non conformance to the religion of peace. Very civil.

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  2. jaba (2,068 comments) says:

    have been out of the news loop since 7am .. battling the traffic on the Sthn Motorway .. so, who is unaware that Peters support is mainly from old people then .. who is unaware that older people tend to die quicker than younger people and who hasn’t joked about Winnie’s voter base in the past???
    move on people, we are borrowing millions a day, lets vote for someone who will help the country get back to the good times

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  3. jaba (2,068 comments) says:

    David .. is Chris Carter one of the visitors then?

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  4. Nick R (443 comments) says:

    Here’s some things you could say to the Afghans. You could say that the National Government has had 3 years of unprecedented popularity, and that the personal popularity of the PM has been particularly strong. This has resulted in a very dull election campaign. Most people take the re-election of the Government for granted. There has therefore been realtively little focus on policy. This has suited the Government in particular, as it has chosen to focus its campaign on the popularity of the PM rather than policy.

    This approach is logical and reasonable, but it has consequences. It leaves the media desparate for stories which are not managed, scripted and well-rehearsed. The teapot tapes have met that need. Further, the story has raised questions about the PM’s judgement and character. This is highly newsworthy because the Government has based its election campaign on the PM’s popularity.

    This is therefore, as they say, a teachable moment. But how you explain that to someone from Afghanistan, I have no idea…

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  5. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Thanks to TV3 everyone knows more or less what was said in the chat.

    The media won’t let this go will they? Especially TV3 and the NZ Herald.

    Personally, now, I think JK should call a press conference this afternoon to take questions and answers on the “tea cup recording”.

    He doesn’t have to sanction the release of the recording, but seeing as TV3 and the Herald know the recordings’ contents, he simply needs to answer their questions which will confirm what was said etc.

    [This way then, it is "out" because some media (TV3 and Herald) won't let this go (and the media spin is unhelpful - fancy them talking to Milly Dowler's lawyer and spinning the headlines that it was a "cheap shot". JK's inference was that such recordings are on the slippy-slope to News of the World tactics, not that they are of the same ilk, but the media like spinning and like a bunch of pack-rapists the media will tightly stick together on this right up to the election)].

    So TV3′s lead story will off course be the press conference, rather than Duncan Garner spinning that the PM “stormed out”. (Just heard RNZ news use the same angle).

    The Court of Public Opinion will then hear what the fuss was really about (Brash/Peters/his voters etc), and contrast it to the over the top media spin that has been in the headlines over these last few days. As the polls have been showing the people of NZ aren’t stupid.

    [The other good news about a press conference is, it keeps Phil Goof and Labour out of the news again for another couple of days]!!!

    So get onto it National, get this sorted once and for all otherwise the likes of Garner, Soper and co, will continue to push the boundaries (in their battles of the media egos)!!

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  6. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    The visitors from Afghanistan will be rather more impressed by the fact that nobody is being shot while queuing to vote, that everybody accepts the legitimacy of the result, and handover to a new government, as regularly happens, is peaceful.

    I’d have thought what gets discussed in media is of almost no interest to them. They will want to know about the practical development and maintenance of legitimacy: the voting procedure, what independent oversight looks like, and the establishment and maintaining of electoral rules. They must be serious problems to overcome in Afghanistan at the moment.

    Having a PM spend so much time talking about taped gossip in the middle of a financial crisis is surely a problem they would like to have!

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  7. Black with a Vengeance (1,552 comments) says:

    Show them the National party campaign ads.

    Brighter future, 170 000 jobs created in the next 4 years yadda yadda yadda…

    …just don’t mention selling state assets to foreign investors.

    Might be a bit touchy on that one.

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  8. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    Could Key give permission to broadcast the secret recording, but only if they are played in their entirety?

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  9. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    As others have said the visitors will be astounded that I and others can say what we say about our political leaders without being dragged off to a cell and water boarded.

    That the Greens can deface the Governments bill boards and not be herded in to Eden Park and machine gunned down.

    This is all you need to point out to them. That a cup of tea between to pollies is worth a week of media attention.

    Proof positive that conpared to them and most other countries we live in a paradise that most of us dont appreciate.

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  10. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    This isn’t about the tapes any more. It is about John Key, if you haven’t worked out what the likely contents of the tapes is you are probably more than a bit dim. The media are trying to force Key to release the content and they are unlikely to release it themselves as that hands the moral high ground back to Key and lets him off the hook. They have Key on the back foot and they have discovered that it quite good fun to throw shit at him.

    The challenge for Goff will be to follow your advice and stay on message and not join in the shit throwing. Key’s challenge is to shut it down fast, I would hope he is talking with Banks as that is probably the avenue I would be looking at for getting the stuff out in the open and shutting it down. Banks taking one for John Key probably will do him a lot of good in Epsom.

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  11. scooby bits (3 comments) says:

    “When will this campaign stop?”

    To be honest, this “media campaign” is small beer compared to the campaign journalism that the NZ Herald carried out against the Labour Party last election.

    Come on David! You’re meant to be fomenting happy mischief, not wringing your hands as a little pre-election push and shove takes place.

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  12. Other_Andy (2,079 comments) says:

    My 2 cents…..

    Dear Duncan Garner,

    I am sorry I cannot discuss the contents of the tape with you as the matter is currently under police investigation.
    I cannot approve or condone the release of the tapes, be it the audio or a transcript of the audio as it has been made clear that doing so is a criminal act.
    However, as you are sure that this tape contains such vital information and it is in the interest of all New Zealanders to hear it, you will for sure not be constrained by these trivial legalities and release it one way or another.
    The nation depends on your journalistic integrity and moral superiority Duncan.

    In anticipation,

    John Key

    Duncan on the backfoot.

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  13. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    On David’s 2c: if TV1 can’t get the audio or transcript and Key can’t remember what he said, what is there to discuss? Surely neither HoS or TV3 will hand them over before they’re ready to go out with their scoops?

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  14. Elaycee (4,057 comments) says:

    “To be honest, this “media campaign” is small beer compared to the campaign journalism that the NZ Herald carried out against the Labour Party last election.”

    Were you on another planet in 2008? The Herald fawned over anything and everything opined by dear leader and salivated at the prospect that Mike Williams would return from his trip to Melbourne with some terrible ‘evidence’ against John Key. And, as we know, Williams returned home empty handed. And dear leader was also left stranded at the altar of public opinion.

    So to suggest that the Herald was somehow ‘against’ Labour in 2008, is fanciful.

    The support that the Herald gave then / and still gives today to anything or anybody associated with the left, is absolute. And totally predictable from a hack rag that sits alongside TV3 as the bottom dwellers of NZ media.

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  15. Australis (99 comments) says:

    The over-whelming impression is that the media feel sure the teacup tape is vitally important because the whole story is about the media. Their narcissim takes precedence to our election!

    But the direction is gradually turming. Now, it is perceived as a masochistic contest between the PM and the media pack. He has thrown down a challenge by reporting a media man to the Police. He will learn to regret this hubris! And the whole world will witness what happens to people who think they can get away with challenging the fourth estate. This principle is much more fundamental than any common-or-garden election campaign.

    Vive McLuhan

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  16. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “So yes John Key said the NZ First support base is dying off. Wow wee. Does this mean he hates pensioners and wants them all to drop dead so they can’t vote for Winston? Of course not. He simply told John Banks why he didn’t think NZ First were likely to make it back.”

    Have you heard the tape, sounds as if you have. But if what you say is true, it is quite surprising that Key cannot remeber what he said. It’s also surprising he’s making a big meal of this. If there’s nothing of consequence, why not release the tape and call off the police? He’s behaving like there is something of consequence on the tape.

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  17. tvb (3,937 comments) says:

    NZF support base is not dying off. More and more people are getting older and may see NZF as their party. It may be difficult for the PM to reveal what is on the tape. For one thing he does not have it so cannot quote from it. And it is the subject of a police inquiry. Into this vacuum there will be lots and lots of speculation. Goff is clearly getting frustrated but he keeps stirring the pot. I predict there is one more news cycle in this but this second week has been largely lost on the issue. There is only so many days you can keep asking the question. That is why I predict one more news cycle. Winston has had his today, The PM has left a Press conference. What is left to hash and rehash.

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  18. Scott Chris (5,672 comments) says:

    They will think that we are a very lucky country to be quibbling over such relatively inconsequential matters.

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  19. Ernie (2 comments) says:

    David, you are right – Key/his advisors have handled this poorly, and his best response at this stage it to get it out in the open without delay.

    But don’t beat up on the media – they have a job to do, and have done it well. Putting candidates under pressure, exposing slips, and siezing control of the agenda is part of their legitimate role.

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  20. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > And it is the subject of a police inquiry.

    Yeah at Key’s insistence. He could insist that police drop their inquiry. Either way, there’s nothing to prevent the media from disclosing the tapes most incriminating details…threats of 2 years imprisonment are just that – threats. When you consider that most of those charged over the Urewera raids were probably looking at no more than a fine, police are getting ahead of themselves here.

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  21. Paul Marsden (935 comments) says:

    Sadly, Key is lying through his teeth again when he says he can’t remember what he said. That’s complete and utter BS and an insult to the intelligence of all NZ’rs, and that claim is what is pissing everybody off. Key deserves all the opprobrium he gets for lying.

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  22. insider (990 comments) says:

    Given the way Afghanis run their politics they probably think our ones are a bunch of limp wristed nancy boys. I’m sure their politics is as inbred as ours, and given they’ve been at it a lot longer, don’t expect them to be naive.

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  23. corner-shop...not (16 comments) says:

    DPF agree with you, Key should only deal with TVNZ and sainsbury, and snub the dickheads at TV3 esp Gower and Garner and snub NZH. say on Close Up what he said and why he said it. And at the same time ask the question why all of a sudden the anybody gives that liar Winston any airtime after all the dirty shanangins he’s played with the media and public in the past!!!
    Close it down, get on with the bloody real issues to shut all the bloody dickheads up. Man Gower and Garner are such muck rakers that it’s actually them who have brought this election down to this level of patheticness.
    YES I AM DISCOMBOBULATED WITH THIS STUPID TAPE !!!

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  24. V (660 comments) says:

    @tvb
    Of course more and more people are getting older and will vote for Winston, it’s called the onset on senile dementia.

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  25. scooby bits (3 comments) says:

    Elaycee,

    No, I not on another planet. I was observing (with distaste) the media dissection of the Electoral Finance Act.

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  26. emmess (1,331 comments) says:

    except maybe Colin James whose columns and conversations are near identical :-)

    So is Colin James the only person in the country fit to be PM?

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  27. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Key is laughing all the way home.

    I havent heard the word “labour” for 2 days now.

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  28. niggly (779 comments) says:

    JK appearing on Close Up sounds good except tonight at 7pm on TNVZ it’s the minor leaders debate ie no Close Up.

    So rather than Close Up, JK talk to Guyon Espiner in an exclusive recorded interview for TVNZ news.

    Now on the minor leaders debate, you betcha Winnie Peters will be milking this for all it is worth, so why not pre-empt Winnie’s spin on the subject with a chat with Guyon prior?

    Today Winnie has been on radio and tv milking this, he seems to have implied on Morning Report he’s heard the transcript. Whether that is true or not, who knows but Winnie has no fear of implying something that isn’t so!

    (Incidentally even if JK doesn’t talk tonight and despite Winnie milking this situtaion, I doubt he will suddenly attract 100k voters to get NZF over 5%)!!

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  29. s.russell (1,486 comments) says:

    How about this:
    Key refuses to say what was said or allow the tape to be released.
    He then says “By the way, Winston’s supporters are dying of old age, and Don is failing to attract votes for Act.”
    Cue outrage horror, condemnation and yawning.
    And we all move on.

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  30. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    They will think New Zealand is such a perfect country with no crime, no poverty, no unemployment, no trade issues, no defence issues, no economic challenges, no debt…

    Hang on – New Zealand probably IS all that, to an Afghani…? ;-)

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  31. cubit (356 comments) says:

    Afghanis understand deals being cooked up over cups of tea. that’s how their culture operates. They will feel right at home and would be taken aback that the other politicians of Labour and Green persuasion are not conducting tea deals on the sort of deals that they know take place in ant political systems. Perhaps the parties except Nats and ACT are conducting their little tea deals in private.

    The Afghanis would understand that too.

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  32. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    This game has now become a bit dangerous for Key and National. Winnie is at 4%+ and Banks is struggling in Epsom. Key is looking anything but the assured populist he was a week ago. Shooting the media over this issue is simply stupid. Key did not start the teapot tape recording fiasco but he has surely given it a life of its own with a series of poor decisions.

    Media statements comparing it to NOTW hacking was a nonsense.
    Referring it to the police also demonstrated a serious lack of olitical judgement.
    Saying he can’t remember what he said. Not credible
    Walking away from media questions just gives the whole thing more oxygen.

    This could turn into the biggest political “choke” we have seen.

    The hideous consequence could be a labour/green/NZF/Dunne coalition government.

    So I am not defending key here, I am sorely pissed off at him for giving these clowns even a sniff of a chance. If it does happen the blame will lie directly at the feet of key and his unbelievably poor handling of this sideshow.

    He needs to get this tape content released, answer any media questions resulting from its contents and get back on track.

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  33. Manolo (12,607 comments) says:

    Afghanistan belongs to the 11th century. Period.

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  34. Bob (442 comments) says:

    Last Sunday Tony Ryall had several street corner meetings in my area. I went to the nearest. While the media were on about a stupid tea meeting Ryall was talking to 30 or so people on a serious level about policies and answering questions. I got more out of that meeting than I did out of a week’s media reporting. The small audience weren’t interested in what was said at a stupid tea meeting. The questions were about health and education etc. with Ryall giving good detailed answers. Why can’t we get that from the national media?

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  35. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    There are some good people trying to bring Afghanistan out of the 11th century.
    Unfortunately most have been murdered by the scum Teleban. So what you have left are less noble people who have known nothing but corruption all their lives.
    With shit neighborus like Iran and Pakistan it’s one hell of an uphill battle.

    I guess a country has to start somewhere

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  36. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    There is no question we have average journo’s but the reality is key has fueled the fire and needs to get back in control of the agenda.

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  37. JamesS (352 comments) says:

    David, you should tell them that in New Zealand we differ considerably from Afganistan; over here women get stoned first – then commit adultery

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  38. Paulus (2,289 comments) says:

    Remember not a lot of people in New Zealand read a newspaper.. The Herald may be the largest circulation, they say, but its really minor nationwide. Its local versions are crap too. Otherwise – don’t listen to Radio NZ – similar pervasive crap.

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  39. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    Well the Police are to search TVNZ and RNZ over the teapot tape. Key surely must regret up scaling this now.

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  40. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Well Mark the likes of Chris Trotter would fully agree with you.

    I’ve just had to turn him off 3/4 way thru a discussion with John Armstrong (from the NZHerald of course) plus some kinda lawyer guy on Radio NZ’s Panel Show just now. As an aside Jim Mora was exemplary – he asked reasonable questions of the panelists (a kinda devils advocate style to the MSM media beat-up) and played it straight (in fact sounded exactly like DPF or many reasonable KB-er’s here etc).

    Every forkin’ time Mora raised sensible aspects of this situation Chris Trotter hissed back to shout Mora’s mainstream views down and then mounted a full-on attack on the PM.

    He stated quite readily he was putting aside the “legal” aspects of the situation and considering only the “political”!

    Soooo …. make no mistakes folks, Trotter is leading a (Left type) political counter attack on JK’s credibility i.e. character assasination!

    Hmm I wonder if Trotter thinks he is leading some sort of pincer movement attack (to back up the MSM journos’s “assault”), Trotter must be thinking he’s somesortakoolcounter revolutionary, re-living out his younger day again, which he is prone to do from time to time …. but anyway.

    Trotter basically demanded (and was chest thumping angrily) that eg Key should stop the Police “raids” on the 4 media organisations – that’s why he is Prime Minister (and can do that etc)!!! (Pssst Trotter calm down mate, last I heard Police were going to pop around today or tomorrow for a vist, anyway with digital copies on the file servers can be sent anywhere well good luck with that NZP when they pop around for a cupa. Anyway remember Trotter stated he was not considering the legal aspects, he would ignore them and only talk the political. I could go on but take a listen when the podcast is out ;-)

    So, ramp up the popcorn we’re in for the political rough ride now of the Left of Left going on attack mode. So remember these last fews and what and how it developed and don’t let these Left of Left Bastard’s attempt’s to rewrite history, such as the Police State angle that Trotter is persuing.

    What’s happenening now is the result of the law. National knows it, the MSM know, they have to follow due process.

    The PM cannot intervene in stopping the Police (sure perhaps he could drop the complaint – any legal beagles can say for sure?), like Trotter demands. Does Trotter want a Police State or something? Hope not, good thing his mate H1 isn’t in charge …

    Trotter fail, it’s the law duh head, nice spin not! Be reasonable like a good chap and insist instead the PM maybe withdraw the complaint not go feral and political :-)

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