So why did Fairfax change their story?

May 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Earlier today I busted Fairfax with their radical censorship of an article that was published yesterday.

Huge amounts of the original article were expunged and replaced with additions that made no sense. So much was removed that it shows clear manipulation of the story by someone.

WOBH contacted Labour and received an emphatic denial that they were involved in censoring the story. The spokesman for said “We aren’t that powerful”.

Contact was also made with ’s people who as predicted said it wasn’t them.

I stand by my statement earlier that John Key probably laughed out loud when he saw David Cunliffe was calling him a liar.

It is worth following the links to the original story.

The Stuff article, here, originally had as its lead paragraph David Cunliffe saying the Prime Minister is a liar and his word can’t be trusted. They also had a direct quote from him saying “John Key tells lies”.

Now my reaction when I saw the original story was that it just made David Cunliffe look shrill and nasty, and that the more people who saw the article the better.

When changed the story an hour later, I assumed they had got the quote wrong and Cunliffe never said what they reported.

However it seems Cunliffe does think it is a good strategy to go around NZ, and call John Key a liar. That’s fine. But why did Fairfax change the story to hide that? Did they think it was defaming John Key? Or did they think it made Cunliffe look too shrill?

Answers to those questions would be welcome.

It also raises the bigger issue of the practice of some media to significantly amend a story, and not note that have amended it. I think significant changes should always be noted.

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31 Responses to “So why did Fairfax change their story?”

  1. Redbaiter (7,605 comments) says:

    The answer to your question (of the two suggested) is in my mind pretty simple, and I’ll deal with it like this.

    Name one real right winger who works for Fairfax.

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  2. dave53 (85 comments) says:

    There’s probably no conspiracy here. Stuff posts are put up by very junior people. A senior person (like an editor or chief sub) would have seen it on Stuff and had it taken down for fear of attracting a defamtion writ.

    While such a writ would be very unlikely, the media today really can’t afford one.

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  3. altiora (206 comments) says:

    Dave53: That’s nonsense because the original story would, of itself, amount to defamation. I scarcely think that John Key is going to do a Colin Craig and sue Silent T and Herald, do you?

    More credible is that Silent T engaged his nasty tongue before brain, didn’t consider that it would be reported, and then more sage minds on his team went “oh hell, this doesn’t look good, given the PM was exhorting politicians to behave”.

    Voters are turned off by nasty feral behaviour, but I guess a combination of innate propensity and frustration at the polls, means that leftists just can’t help themselves.

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  4. Kimble (4,379 comments) says:

    Reporting what someone actually said does not open you up to a defamation writ.

    It does, however, make it more likely that the person you were quoting would get sued.

    But they said what they said, and you are under no obligations to hide the truth to save their hide.

    So when you do it anyway then it is more than fair for people to assume you CHOSE to protect them.

    Fairfax: all the news that’s useful to print.

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  5. georgedarroch (316 comments) says:

    Complaining about the media? Repeating conspiracies?

    I used to think you were better than this.

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  6. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Fairfax subs are either incompetent, or under strict orders from a chief who is very much to the left. They constantly sub any anti Labour items to an extent it gratifies them.

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  7. Prince (90 comments) says:

    Who cares ? No one is listening to Cunliffe anyway except Labour Party tragics.

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  8. mikenmild (10,686 comments) says:

    How can igm know what Fairfax subs do or don’t do? Does he see the unedited copy?

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  9. Redbaiter (7,605 comments) says:

    Complaining about the media? Repeating conspiracies?

    I used to think you were better than this.

    That you don’t like it George is one of the main reasons it needs to be done much more often.

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  10. Bill Ted (80 comments) says:

    As someone who has worked in the media very recently, I would say it’s an 85% probability that the story was only changed because a member of Cunliffe’s team contacted Stuff and had the offending quotes pulled, probably claiming they were out of context blah blah blah. Stuff, being general pussies, obliged. The journo, in this case, got shafted.

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  11. OneTrack (2,598 comments) says:

    “..contacted Labour and received an emphatic denial that they were involved in censoring the story..”

    And Labour wouldn’t lie about something like that, would they?

    Yeah. Nah.

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  12. peterwn (3,157 comments) says:

    Bill Ted – Pass a Tui, mate. The Fairfax journos in the Press Gallery (eg Tracey Watkins) would be quite capable of mutilating such a story to fit in with their reporting concepts.

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  13. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (786 comments) says:

    Unfortunately I somehow get the very bad feeling that John Key is going to come short in this whole episode.

    1. Yes, there were two meetings, but Kim Dotcom was not discussed

    2. There were discussions about a potential raid on a German businessman, but I didn’t know at that time it was Kim Dotcom

    3. I vaguely recall the name Dotcom was mentioned in the context of the raid….

    4. I hereby submit my resignation….

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  14. Bill Ted (80 comments) says:

    I forgot to add, there’s a 15% chance Cunliffe is telling the truth, and Fairfax self-censored. Though given his record 15% is probably generous.

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  15. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    The big issue is that we know the story was changed. We can only wonder as to why but the narrative seems to have been changed to make the criticism of Key more palatable and Cunliffe appear less ranting. The staggering thing is that the PM being openly called a liar in a public forum by the leader of the Opposition is actually newsworthy and one must ask why a news agency has decided not to report the news?

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  16. Bill Ted (80 comments) says:

    @peterwn you’re not wrong. But from experience the online crew of both APN and Fairfax only amend stories when a complaint is received. Could be a complaint from inhouse. Entirely possible. I just think in this instance it’s improbable.

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  17. questions (168 comments) says:

    Article was probably written by someone young with a proper head, when an older right leaning editor saw it (probably tipped off by National party mates), he would have half shat himself about the truth being told, and had it pulled to protect his precious access.

    Bottom line is: if the article was pulled as a result of political interference, it is a lot more credible that that interference came from National.

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  18. Kimble (4,379 comments) says:

    Bottom line is: it made Cunliffe look worse than it did Key.

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  19. double d (225 comments) says:

    how does mikenmild know what igm knows and doesnt know about fairfax subs? (see, that is an easy game to play)

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  20. G152 (147 comments) says:

    MSM nowadays wants to be the news rather than report it

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  21. ross001 (115 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  22. UglyTruth (3,984 comments) says:

    The staggering thing is that the PM being openly called a liar in a public forum by the leader of the Opposition is actually newsworthy and one must ask why a news agency has decided not to report the news?

    Because lying suggests a coverup and a coverup suggests a conspiracy, and talking about active conspiracies – i.e. conspiracy theory – on MSM means that someone has gone seriously off the reservation.

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  23. Redbaiter (7,605 comments) says:

    Try just a little harder there Ugly you drone, and I’m sure you can come up with some way to connect this thread to the twin towers.

    After all, you do it on almost eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevery other thread.

    Moron.

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  24. itstricky (1,558 comments) says:

    DPF

    It also raises the bigger issue of the practice of some media to significantly amend a story, and not note that have amended it. I think significant changes should always be noted.

    It does note that it was changed. At the bottom of the page it says:

    * This story has been edited to provide background and balance. An earlier version was published before these steps were taken.

    You don’t believe everything you read on WO, do you?

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  25. mikenmild (10,686 comments) says:

    itstricky
    Whaleoil and DPF are a bit of a double act, don’t ya know?

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  26. itstricky (1,558 comments) says:

    Sorry didn’t see that was added later, supposedly. Or he just was wetting himself so much he didn’t see it the first time round, of course…

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  27. kiwi in america (2,436 comments) says:

    The MSM engage in message shaping in favour of left leaning parties all the time – the trouble is that the internet has greatly enlarged the scope for the said media getting caught in the act of doing this. It was excellent of Whale to spot this – his ongoing campaign against particularly NZ Herald pratfalls should’ve alerted Fairfax to the likely outcome of any rush to publish an inflammatory speech. The reporter in question is not a senior political writer or editor and likely dashed off his piece and naively posted it before his more experienced colleagues could apply the time honoured ‘polish’ in favour of the left. Once in Whale’s sights he was able to screen shot the entire messy editing attempts and laid bare a process that normally goes on behind closed doors.

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  28. itstricky (1,558 comments) says:

    Itstricky
    Whaleoil and DPF are a bit of a double act, don’t ya know?

    Well I won’t disagree with that regardless of whatever Stuff did to stuff. It’s lucky we have them to feed us “the truth”.

    * Portions of this post have been edited after publication

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  29. lolitasbrother (478 comments) says:

    I can not follow up every story, but its going to be a landslide NZ Nat Government victory,
    and I expect 2017 as well

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  30. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    ross69: Eff off back to “The Standard” that is the place for arseholes, this thread is for decent taxpaying people that keep bludgers such as you!

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  31. lazza (358 comments) says:

    Be warned,. You deal with Fairfax (if you do at all) on “their” terms. They have little or no sense of the ethical. Read their “Stuff” with a proverbial grain of salt.

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