Imperator Fish on media bias

March 8th, 2014 at 12:03 pm by David Farrar

Imperator Fish blogs:

Dear 3 News,

I wish to express my dismay and disgust at the tone of your political coverage.

I find it astounding that your political reporters continue to find fault with Labour Party politicians, while almost completely ignoring all of the terrible things being done by National. What exactly has Labour done wrong to justify this negative coverage, apart from make a number of terrible blunders? …

How dare Patrick Gower raise questions about the Labour Party! Who does he think he is? Some sort of investigative journalist or something? This has to stop! If 3 News wishes to avoid allegations of bias, then it needs to stop running anti-Labour stories. Please just focus on the facts, which will be the ones we send to you. On that subject, I am sending to you by post a package containing a number of recent Labour Party press releases. Please republish these word for word. Actually, just hold fire on that request. I seem to have mistakenly sent the package to a National Party cabinet minister.

Heh.

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BBC Bias

July 4th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

The report, commissioned by the BBC Trust, found the broadcaster had been “slow” to catch up with public opinion on immigration and leaving the European Union.

Stuart Prebble, a former ITV television executive, said the BBC had probably been too swayed by the views of politicians, who were also reluctant to discuss immigration for fear of causing offence.

It said Helen Boaden, the former director of BBC News, “accepts that when she came into her role in September 2004 there had been a problem in the BBC’s coverage of immigration. She was aware, she told us, of a ‘deep liberal bias’ in the way that the BBC approached the topic”.

A useful admission. Was it deliberate?

It also said the BBC was “slow to give appropriate prominence to the growing weight of opinion opposing UK membership of the EU, but in more recent times has achieved a better balance”.

The review also identified problems with so many BBC journalists working in a big building and reinforcing each other’s prejudices.

“A large group of people working together are in danger of becoming more homogenous in their thinking, not less, and so less able to see when the output reflects a narrow outlook,” he said.

That is the danger in NZ. Not deliberate bias, but just group-think that is hostile to other views.

I support marriage equality. But I think it is a fair point that if there was a journalist in say the press gallery who didn’t support marriage equality, they’d be very loath to express their view.

I recall a journalist friend whose politics are right-leaning. In their first media job, they were in an office where any view that wasn’t left leaning was met with hostility and even anger.

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Australian journalists four times more likely to be left-wing

May 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Conversation reports:

Conducted between May 2012 and March this year, the University of the Sunshine Coast’s representative survey of 605 journalists around Australia found that more than half (51.0%) describe themselves as holding left-of-centre political views, compared with only 12.9% who consider themselves right-of-centre.

I’m not surprised. Would NZ differ?

When asked about their voting intentions, less than two-thirds of the journalists we surveyed revealed their voting intention. Of those 372 people, 43.0% said they would give their first preference vote to Labor; 30.2% would vote for the Coalition; and 19.4% said they would choose the Greens – about twice the Australian average.

55% of Australians are supporting the Coalition, compared to 30% of journalists.

Yet, among those who arguably matter most – the journalists in senior editorial ranks who have the most power to decide news agendas – a dramatically different picture emerged.

Among the 83 senior editors who took part in the survey, the Coalition was the party of choice on 43.2%, followed by Labor (34.1%) and the Greens (11.4%).

So at a senior level they are more representative.

An interesting finding emerged when we compare journalists from the three biggest news organisations in the country – News LimitedFairfax Media and the ABC.

The national broadcaster has repeatedly been attacked for having a seemingly leftist bias, while others have accused News Limited – and particularly its flagship newspaper The Australian – of being overly conservative in its political views.

At first glance, the findings do not support this assumption, with no significant differences in the way journalists from the ABC and News rate their political views on a scale of 0 (left) to 10 (right).

However, 41.2% of the 34 ABC journalists who declared a voting intention said they would vote for the Greens, followed by 32.4% for Labor and 14.7% for the Coalition.

In contrast, 46.5% of 86 News Limited journalists who answered this question said they would vote for Labor, 26.7% for the Coalition, and only 19.8% for the Greens.

So most journalists support Labor, including those at News Corp. But at ABC they love the Greens, and less than 15% support the Coalition. Would Radio NZ differ?

Hat Tip: Cantabrians Unite

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US media trust

September 23rd, 2012 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

Gallup has released the latest of its annual polls measuring trust or distrust in the US media by Americans.

A record high 60% say they have not very much trust or no trust at all in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.  This has declined 14% over the last decade.

What is interesting is the breakdown by affiliation. 58% of Democrats say they have a fair or great deal of trust in the media and only 26% of Republicans say the same. Now some may say that this is because Republicans are detached from reality, but they also found that Independents have only 31% trust in the media. What this suggests to me is that the majority of the media are seen as Democrat-aligned and too sycophantic to the Democrats – hence the rest of America has little faith in them.

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Karl du Fresne on TV3

November 24th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne blogs on TV3:

In a post on this blog site yesterday I mentioned my reluctance to accuse media organisations of political bias. I have seen those allegations hurled about far too often and far too loosely, invariably by politically aligned people frustrated that their side wasn’t the only one getting newspaper space or air time. But in the past couple of weeks I have begun to wonder seriously whether TV3 is running some sort of political agenda.

Karl gives several examples of what he sees as a political agenda:

  • Scare-mongering over the PM meeting the boss of a global oil company
  • Making a meeting with Lord Ashcroft sound sinister
  • Coverage of Labour’s welfare policy
  • General commentary on the election
  • The TV3 debate where every issue chosen was a negative one for National
  • The Inside Child Poverty Documentary, being the last straw

For my 2c I don’t think TV3, or its political staff, are deliberately biased against National.

The criticism I would make is more the tendency to sensationalise stuff such as the Ashcroft meeting. The impact of the tendency to sensationalism tends to end up as more anti-Government stories because most events are about the Government. This applies no matter which party is in Government.

I agree with Karl on the so called documentary that had no balance at all and was propaganda. Showing this in election week was an appalling decision.

On the topics for the TV3 debate, I think that is also a valid point. In fact the TV3 commentators even acknowledged that after the debate. Why was there no topic on the health system? National has a great story to tell there, so naturally not chosen. Why now law & order? Labour is pledging to repeal the three strikes law. Let’s hear Phil Goff explain why someone who rapes for a third time should be eligible for parole after just a few years? But no that wasn’t chosen either. Last night’s TVNZ debate was far better balanced with topics.

Now again this may not be bias. It is probably more that they don’t see any ratings in having the Government able to talk about areas where it has been a real success story. But in terms of balanced coverage and a balanced debate, I don’t think it qualifies.

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How to make good news sound bad

February 2nd, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Not everything that Governments do is controversial. While most of the focus and debate goes on the areas of disagreement, often a Government announces things that most would regard as near universally good news.

The announcement at the weekend that the Government had established three huge marine reserves around the Subantarctic Islands, would be one of those you expect. Announcing the protection of 435,000 hectares of marine territory is not one likely to generate negative coverage.

Most media reported it fairly straight, but as a wonderful example of how a determined media outlet can turn the best of stories negative, look at how it appeared on Tv3 with environmental reporter Sam Hayes. I suggest you view the item yourself – it is 3 minutes 15 secs long.

Here’s how the item goes:

  1. 15 second intro from anchor
  2. 40 seconds on not this announcement, but about a decision taken last year not to make Akaroa Harbour a marine reserve.
  3. Then a mere 25 seconds on this announcment, with the reporter introducing it by saying it was done to save face over the previous Akaroa decision
  4. They give 15 seconds for WWF to complain that the marine reserves should be larger
  5. Not content with that, then they tie into the story a 40 second piece on a change in air pollution standards. They have the Minister defending it, but no mention (for example) of the fact even the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment supports the new standards (as the old ones were unachievable and unfair). A far more balanced take on the new standards comes from Claire Browning at Pundit.
  6. They then give Russel Norman a free swipe to say the Blue Greens are just abut “greenwash”
  7. Then for good measure the reporter adds her views that with National the economy will win out over the environment
  8. And finally just so there is not doubt left with viewers that National are evil planet destorying heatherns, they spend 35 seconds talking about how a few weeks ago the Minister let a farmer continue, against official advice, grazing by a polluted lake – without any balance at all about why (which is the officials fucked up by inviting the farmer to apply when they should have told him he was ineligible)

So the actual announcement got 25 seconds of around 200 seconds, and almost all the rest of it was spent beating up on National. And this was all in relation to a pretty non controversial announcement.

It reminds me of the old saying that if John Key walked on water, then the headline would be “John Key can’t swim”.

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Huge = 3

July 11th, 2010 at 7:08 am by David Farrar

I’m amused that the media predicted a huge crowd would turn out to Auckland Airport to greet Peter Bethune, and i n fact a total of three non-media people turned up.

The question has to be why were the media hyping this up? Did they have any reason to believe there would be a huge crowd, or do they just make it up?

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So much for neutral reporting

July 10th, 2010 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

An article on Stuff gushes:

New Zealand’s anti-whaling war hero Pete Bethune landed in Auckland this morning, shaken and slightly subdued – but with no regrets.

Excuse me while I vomit.

And people wonder why readers are deserting mainstream media. If this is an example of impartial neutral reporting, then I’d hate to see a biased story.

UPDATE: A few minutes after I posted this, the story was changed from “war hero” to “activist”. Good. But how the hell did such a loaded description get through the sub-editor in the first place?

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The most trusted TV news in the US

February 2nd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Public Policy Polling has surveyed Americans on their most trusted television news source. They were asked for each source whether they trusted it or not. Below are the net (yes minus no) responses:

  1. Fox News +12%
  2. CNN -2%
  3. NBC News -9%
  4. CBS News -14%
  5. ABC News -15%

So Fox News is the only TV broadcaster that more Americans trust than distrust.

Now some may say this is only because Republicans men don’t trust the other media sources. But look at the ratings for firstly women

  1. Fox News +11%
  2. CNN +9%
  3. NBC News -1%
  4. CBS News -3%
  5. ABC News -7%

So women only trust Fox and CNN.

But most damning is the ratings of Independents

  1. Fox News -3%
  2. CNN -8%
  3. CBS News -29%
  4. NBC News -30%
  5. ABC News -32%

Fox News is close to even, CNN a bit behind, and the three main networks are absolutely distrusted by Independents.

White Americans are also clear in their views:

  1. Fox News +14%
  2. CNN -14%
  3. NBC News -22%
  4. CBS News -25%
  5. ABC News -25%

And in case people wonder Hispanics give Fox +13% and African-Americans are balanced with 38% trusting and untrusting equally.

The age group most alienated from the other broadcasters are aged 46 to 65. They say:

  1. Fox News +19%
  2. CNN -13%
  3. NBC News -17%
  4. CBS News -22%
  5. ABC News -24%

This shows what a blunder it was for the Obama Administration to declare war on Fox and try to freeze them out. Not only do more Americans trust Fox than any other network, many Americans only trust Fox, and what do you think they think of a Government that tries to freeze out the only new source they trust?

Some on the left will no doubt insult Americans and say they are all dumb. I think it shows that people prefer it when a network is honest about whether it has a conservative or liberal bent.

It is very rare for politicians to win battles with the media.

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Obama vs Fox

October 21st, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Fox News reports on the war against them by the Obama Administration:

The White House is calling on other news organizations to isolate and alienate Fox News as it sends out top advisers to rail against the cable channel as a Republican Party mouthpiece.

This has of course sent ratings at Fox upwards.

The White House stopped providing guests to “Fox News Sunday” after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August.

Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was “something I’ve never seen a Sunday show do.”

“She criticized ‘Fox News Sunday’ last week for fact-checking — fact-checking — an administration official,” Wallace said Sunday. “They didn’t say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check.”

“Let’s fact-check Anita Dunn, because last Sunday she said that Fox ignores Republican scandals, and she specifically mentioned the scandal involving Nevada senator John Ensign,” Wallace added. “A number of Fox News shows have run stories about Senator Ensign. Anita Dunn’s facts were just plain wrong.”

How dare they fact check.

Fox of course does lean to the right. Nut the New York Times (for example) leans heavily to the left, and I don’t recall former Republican Governments refusing to be interviewed by the NYT.

Observers on both sides of the political aisle questioned the White House’s decision to continue waging war on a news organization, saying the move carried significant political risks.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said on CNN: “I don’t always agree with the White House. And on this one here I would disagree.”

David Gergen, who has worked for Democratic and Republican presidents, said: “I totally agree with Donna Brazile.” Gergen added that White House officials have “gotten themselves into a fight they don’t necessarily want to be in. I don’t think it’s in their best interest.”

I’ve never known politicians who take on the press head on, to win. You can make your case on biased coverage when and if it occurs, but to have the actual Government try and freeze a media organisation out if silly and will not help Obama.

Media columnist David Carr of The New York Times warned that the White House war on Fox “may present a genuine problem for Mr. Obama, who took great pains during the campaign to depict himself as being above the fray of over-heated partisan squabbling.”

“While there is undoubtedly a visceral thrill in finally setting out after your antagonists, the history of administrations that have successfully taken on the media and won is shorter than this sentence,” Carr wrote over the weekend. “So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year.”

Carr sums it up perfectly – even though he works for the NYT :-)

He added: “The administration, by deploying official resources against a troublesome media organization, seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight.”

And I think they will regret it.

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UMR on perceptions of NZ’s media

October 7th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

UMR polled 750 New Zealanders from 24 to 27 September on what they think of the NZ media. Very interesting results:

  • Only 35% said the NZ media are accurate in reporting the news, with 25% saying inaccurate, 37% neutral and 3% don’t know.
  • Over 60s have the lowest score for accuracy – 23% compared to 43% for under 30s.
  • 30% say the NZ media are balanced and 30% say they are one-sided.
  • 27% say they are willing to admit mistakes, and 46% say they are not willing.

It is a pity UMR did not report party identification, as I would be very interested in if there was any significant differences between National and Labour voters.

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Complaint over TVNZ coverage of Folic Acid debate

August 22nd, 2009 at 5:47 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Organisation for Rare Disorders has filed a complaint over TVNZ’s coverage of the Folic Acid debate. The complaint is here.

While I don’t support the addition of folic acid into bread, they may have a point about some of the coverage. The Q&A show where Paul Holmes was almost accusing Kate Wilkinson of giving people cancer could well have been over the line.

It will be interesting to see TVNZ’s response, and if not upheld the decision of the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

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Holmes on smacking referendum

July 26th, 2009 at 4:38 pm by David Farrar

The Paul Homes interview on Q&A was fascinating. Holmes was at his most hostile. He used every argument and language of those who support the anti-smacking law. He denigrated his guests as supporting violence, yet Cheryl Savil especially just sat there calmly and refused to allow Holmes to misrepresent her.

The video and transcript are here.  I recommend them as good watching:

Cheryl you are a Mum two kids, how old are the kids.

CHERYL Ten and twelve.

PAUL  And do you smack them?

So immediately tries to personalise it, but gets a calm response.

CHERYL SAVILL I have smacked them in the past, and I found it effective when they were younger?

PAUL How often would you have smacked them?

CHERYL  Actually it differed between the two children, they’re quite different little characters, and one of them is quite a strong willed character and it’s interesting to point out that discipline is on the things and correcting a child is when we’ve used smacking, so when it’s you know you’re not to touch something and they’ve gone to touch it, well I have one of them that would actually eyeball me and be quite defiant in her behaviour so smacking was effective, a little light smack on the hand.

Something hundreds and thousands of parents may have done.

PAUL So why are you so passionate about the right to use physical violence against children?

And then we get the loaded language.

CHERYL Well I don’t think it’s a right, the terminology there, the right to use physical violence.  Smacking is one of the things that parents can use as a technique to help discipline their children.

The calm response.

PAUL But why do we want to allow violence against children, I mean if an adult smacks, let’s use the word smack, if an adult smacks another adult it’s considered unacceptable, in fact it’s probably criminal, why should it be acceptable for a big person to assault or to smack a little child?

Here he repeast the pejorative term violence. Appears to concede and call it smacking. And then goes for anothe pejorative word – assault.

It is the equivalent of calling an unwanted kiss on the cheek, a sexual assault or violation.

CHERYL Well it’s quite a different relationship between a parent and their child than between adults.  So a parent’s responsibility is to raise their child to become a responsible loving productive member of society, and that’s what I think is the issue here, the parenting role is very different to the role that we have as adults in relationship to each other.

And another calm rational response.

PAUL What did you use, a wooden spoon or the hearth brush or what?

Another attempt to attack the mother personally. he could have asked if she smacked with a bare hand or with an implement

CHERYL  No I used a smack on the hand like that, or a smack on the bottom.  When you actually show the footage often you’ll see a parent grabbing the child by the arm and whack whack whack whack and I don’t agree with that I think that’s going too far.  So I need to really clarify that.

And another calm response, clearly saying what she finds acceptable and unacceptable.

BOB McCROSKIE 
 Well can I just clarify that, if you smack a child as they’re about to touch that’s preventing bad behaviour, but if they do it, if they do something naughty, and then you say you’re not to do that again I’m going to give you a smack don’t do that again, that is correction, that is illegal, and this is the minefield that parents are going through that you can smack to prevent that behaviour but not to correct.

McCroskie correctly points out the current law.

PAUL Nobody’s going through a minefield Bob.

The response being an unsupported assertion. And he is meant to be the neutral interviewer.

PAUL Parents are very calm, can I suggest to you everyone agrees, the Police, the government, both major parties, Bernardoes, Plunket, everyone agrees….

Paul think the lobby groups and the MPs represent everyone. Did he not wonder about why 300,000 people signed a petition, why it was cited as a factor in Labour’s loss, or why polls show 80%+ oppose the law. And he has the gumption to claim everyone agrees.

CHERYL I actually think it’s quite interesting that there has been this move away from smacking or from actual violence which we don’t agree with, you know anger in action.

PAUL Smacking, hitting, what’s the difference Cheryl?

Back to the language war.

CHERYL  Well a big difference, you know there is a seriously big difference, if a child gets bruised that’s too far.

And a calm response again

BOB  Same with time out Paul, there’s appropriate time out, but locking your kid in a dark room for three hours is child abuse.

I thought this was a very apt analogy. Any disciplinary method can become abusive. There is a difference between a light smack and a violent thrashing just as there is a difference between a time out and imprisonment.

PAUL What is your smacking history Mr McCroskie?

BOB  I was smacked, and it did me the world of good.  There was nothing wrong with it.

And again Holmes tries to personalise it, rather than debate the issues.

PAUL Well it was a simpler world perhaps, but go back to a situation that obtained before we amended section 59, kids in New Zealand were the only kids not protected from physical violence.  They did not have the same protections afforded to adults and animals.

BOB Yes they did, they were protected because the smack had to be reasonable and for the purpose of correction within the parent child relationship, so kids were protected from violence, if a parent went too far they were prosecuted.

PAUL And they got off Bob.

BOB One or two got off, there were a couple of exceptions.

PAUL A couple of very brutal incidents.

BOB And that’s what we wanted to do was to amend the law, we agreed with Chester Burrows amendment, we agree with John Boscawen’s member’s bill, which simply more clearly defined what was reasonable and what was not, it was a win win situation, that’s what parents want, they want certainty in the law.  At the moment we’ve got this mish mash, parents don’t know where they stand.

And this is a key point. As far as I know no-one is arguing to go back to the old law. The Borrows amendment would beyond any doubt take care of those cases where there was public disquiet about verdicts under the old law.

PAUL But isn’t it strange that in this day and age we’re having a debate about whether we should be able to assault children?

BOB  No it’s not about assault.

And for the fourth of fith time Holmes uses the language of the small minority who support the law. It is Holmes at his most biased. He has lost basically every argument, so he resorts back to slogans.

PAUL Come on!

CHERYL  It’s not assault.  Assaulting children – in fact actually the footage that you showed of whacking a child over and over and over again, I don’t agree with that, that’s not what I’m saying, and that’s what – I talk to hundreds of parents, I talk to parents in the school ground all the time, and they say to me this is crazy, what’s going on with the law.

And again a good response.

PAUL Is this driven by adherence to the old biblical saying that to spare the rod is to spoil the child?  Do you believe that?

BOB No I think we be disciplining kids, I think we should be bringing them up, we should be training them and they should have clear boundaries, they should be surrounded in a loving family and the question is should a parent who’s bringing up a loving family, is loving the kid, doing all the things right, and chooses to use a smack, should they be criminalised, I would say no, it’s as simple as that, 85% of New Zealanders are saying that.

This time Holmes tries to paint it as religious fundamentalism. But there are many people like me who support gay marriage, abortion on demand, ending blasphemy laws, minimal censorship, gay adoption, legal prostitution etc etc – yet think this law that criminalises so many parents is wrong and should be amended in line the Borrows/Boscawen bill.

I thought Therese Arseneu summied it up well on the panel discussion:

THERESE        I think what the debate comes down to is that one smack that’s she’s talking about, that she agrees that if it’s multiply smacks it is assault, and I guess what you hear from their side is that they don’t take great comfort in the fact that the Police – you know the compromise that came from National that the Police will have discretion when it comes down to that one smack, it’s highly unlikely that any parent is going to be criminalised for one smack, but the problem is that parents don’t like that that one smack is considered criminal.

No they don’t. They resent it like hell. And the Borrows/Boscawen bill would change it so that it isn’t.

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BBC distorts Obama speech

February 5th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Harmless Sky has details of the BBC almost inventing quotes from Obama. They played this:

We will restore science to its rightful place, [and] roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

Now you listen to that and it sounds very powerful. But they have spliced together three seperate sections:

Two parts come from Para 16:

Paragraph 16

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

So the bit on science was not linked to climate change, but if anything to health care issues such as stem cell research. And where did the warming planet part come from. That was six paragraphs later:

Paragraph 22

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

The impression you get from the actual speech, is totally different from what the BBC manufactured.  It is a classic example of altering the news to fit a viewpoint.

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NBR on the media

November 12th, 2008 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

NBR editor Nevil Gibson scrutinises the recent media:

We have to say it because no one else will: Almost alone among mainstream media, the National Business Review’s call on the election result turned out to be the best one.

Our summary: “National will easily win a mandate while the Greens become a stronger force on the left. Maori will not hold a balance of power and Winston Peters will be history.”

Yep. A very good call.

The left’s wholesale defeat was not reflected in the spread of commentators and pundits employed across the board. The public broadcasters – both radio and TV –can always be relied on to give Labour any doubt.

But it’s more surprising when private equity-owned MediaWorks chooses to lean even heavier to the left, mainly by hiring National Radio and TV One heavies.

Perhaps the reason Radio Live and TV3’s Sunrise have failed to gain much traction is that their personality mixes have too many of the media’s trendy lefties and not enough of those who reflect the country’s anti-socialist mood. (You can see why Newstalk is cleaning up with its strong conservative/populist line up.)

National truly reflects the heartland, yet the media are continuing down their path of denial by giving more coverage, in newspapers and on radio, to the Labour leadership issue rather than accept the broad mandate for a new broom government is much more newsworthy.

Possibly part of the problem is too many media are in Wellington, where the mood for change was dampened. More talking to people in the provinces would get you quite another feel – something the NZ Herald did with their excellent Simon Collins series.

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A story of two tapes

November 5th, 2008 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

Let me tell people of the story of two tapes. We’ll call it Tape A and Tape B.

  • Tape A was secretly taped in a cocktail party, while Tape B was openly taped on a television political programme.
  • The questioner in Tape A was an enemy of the political party’s function he was at, who lied and misrepresented himself, while the questioner in Tape B was a professional journalist.
  • Tape A has had the questions and possibly some of the answers edited out so context is impossible to define, while Tape B shows the full exchange with no editing.
  • Tape A was recorded around four months ago while Tape B was recorded a week or so ago.
  • Tape A has comments about US Presidential Candidate Barack Obama while Tape B has comments about US Presidential Candidate John McCain
  • Tape A has very very mild criticism of Obama being “I am a bit worried about this whole Obama and Europe thing just because there is a limited effectiveness in being moralistic about international relations” while Tape B mocks John McCain for his disability due to torture as a prisoner of war – “But Jim can put his hands up over his head and claim victory, McCain can’t do that”
  • Tape A quotes Bill English, the Deputy Leader of National while Tape B quotes the Deputy Leader of the Progressives, the Government’s coalition partner.

I consider it incredible that Tape A is deemed so newsworthy that TV3 runs it as their lead item – even before the Melbourne Cup, while Tape B continues to be ignored.

One could argue over relative worth as to which is more newsworthy in terms of prominence – but to have one as the lead item, and totally ignore the other is an editorial decision that baffles me.

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Ralston not a rightie

September 10th, 2008 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Bill Ralston blogs:

Trotter takes the view that The Listener has rushed out and deliberately “retained a stable of journalists and columnists whose published material places them firmly on the right of the political spectrum”. He fingers as the key culprits writers Jane Clifton, Joanne Black, David Young, myself and Deborah Hill-Cone.

He notes:

The sad fact is when it comes to the political spectrum I tend to sit somewhere in the wishy washy liberal middle.

I’ve never voted National or Act and throw up at the thought of going Green or, worse, Progressive – so I suspect you can guess where my ballot has usually been cast.

So Bill has never ever voted National (or ACT) yet because he dares to sometimes criticise the current Government, people assume he must be a right winger.

This time I might consider National, mainly because I get that “time for a change” feeling and the Nats really are “Labour-lite” – Labour minus the hand-wringing political correctness that annoys the hell out of me.

I don’t know. Like many New Zealanders, I haven’t made my mind up yet.

Clark is certainly the most effective Prime Minister we’ve had in my lifetime, although she and her government appear to have run out of ideas and now cling to power for the sake of being there.

It’s a government that got sidetracked. Because so many in cabinet are academics or teachers the emphasis went on to process rather than delivery. Huge amounts of money have been thrown at social policy areas to little real effect other than stimulating a huge growth in bureaucracy and providing policy analysts with a mother-load of work.

I also think the government let blind ideology get in the way and it should have bought in tax cuts three years ago.

Does that sound right wing? Maybe.

I am not sure voting National once in thirty years qualifies as right wing, let alone membership of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

In identifying a rabid right wing conspiracy in the media Chris is just following the government’s paranoid lead. The fiercely tribal Left are collectivist in nature, it tolerates no deviation, no independent thought and demands all toe the party line at all times.

Sounds like the Borg!

Chris Trotter and the Ninth Floor need to remember it is the media’s job to be critical, look for fault and expose government blunders. That’s our job.

I can proudly say I have infuriated every Prime Minister from Sir Robert Muldoon through to Helen Clark. I’ll put money on it that, if he takes power in November, I will have thoroughly annoyed John Key by Christmas. That’s not very right wing, is it?

I suspect Bill will prove himself right!

Anyway, I have to go now and polish the portrait of Sir Roger Douglas that hangs over the fireplace and get ready for tonight’s meeting of the cabal.

Welcome to the dark side Bill!

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Watching mediawatch

August 26th, 2008 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne has a look at National Radio’s Mediawatch:

There was never much room for doubt about the politics of Russell Brown, who originally hosted it. Peacock, who took over, seems an affable and intelligent sort of bloke and I couldn’t claim to know what his politics are, other than to repeat the observation that his programme has a tendency to assume ulterior motives for just about everything the privately owned media do. But the recent recruitment of two other contributors to Mediawatch raises some questions.

Jeremy Rose, like Peacock, is a likeable fellow (well, he’d have to be – he’s a mountain biker), but I’m sure he’d be the first to acknowledge that his politics are more pink than blue. He was closely associated with City Voice, a markedly left-leaning free paper founded by Simon Collins (now of the New Zealand Herald) which struggled heroically but unsuccessfully to find a niche in Wellington during the 1990s.

I remember City Voice fondly. It was indeed markedly left-wing, but was a good read all the same as a newspaper focused on Wellington City. And while talking matters media, I should praise the work Simon Collins does on the Herald. Simon is I am sure, still left wing. However the reporting he does for the Herald I have found to be very balance, and if one didn’t know Simon from his City Voice days, you might struggle to guess his leanings – which is how it should be

More recently, Mediawatch has started carrying contributions from Adelia Hallett. Hallett has a respectable background in journalism but also happens to be a former media officer for the EPMU, the union that covers journalists (or at least those journalists who have chosen to remain unionised). It strikes me as slightly odd that of all the people who might work for Mediawatch, Radio New Zealand happens to have chosen two with leftist associations.

Others might say it is not odd at all!

Today’s programme featured an item in which Hallett editorialised disapprovingly on an arrangement whereby a reporter for The Radio Network sits in on the daily editorial conferences of the Northern Advocate, which is owned by the same media conglomerate (APN) – the implication being that by sharing news, the two arms of APN are reducing competition (and ultimately threatening jobs). The item included critical comment from Tony Wilton, whom Hallett described as an “industry veteran”, but who is far better known these days as a long-standing official of … why, the EPMU.

In the “interests of full disclosure”, Mediawatch revealed at the end of the item that Hallett was a former deputy chief reporter of the Northern Advocate. But it evidently thought it not worth mentioning that she was also a former employee of the EPMU, a fact some listeners might have found just as interesting.

This is not to say that the arrangement between The Radio Network and the Northern Advocate was not a legitimate issue for Mediawatch to investigate. But when a programme consistently plays up stories that reflect badly on privately owned media while appearing to treat its host broadcaster as immune from criticism, when it appoints reporters with leftist political connections and doesn’t make all relevant disclosures, you have to suspect there is an unbalanced agenda at work.

A programme that sets itself up as a media watchdog – and a taxpayer-funded one at that – has to be squeaky clean. It has to ensure that it meets all the standards it demands of other media outlets in terms of fairness, balance, consistency and integrity, and then some. Can this be said of Mediawatch? Sadly, I don’t think so.

I think it is a fair call, that Mediawatch, of all programmes, has to be cleaner than clean.

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Shock horror: SST turns on PM

August 25th, 2008 at 8:18 am by David Farrar

The Beehive must be in crisis mode. The Sunday Star-Times launched a savage attack on the Prime Minister in yesterday’s editorial.

Their editorial was full of praise for the Prime Minister and her handling of Foreign Affairs. It was an editorial worthy of a nobel peace prize nomination. But they ruined it towards the end, with just two words. They conceded the Prime Minister was “not perfect”.

Such savage press criticism can not be tolerated. I am sure the PM’s Office will be complaining to the Press Council and asking the Sunday Star-Times to justify its editorial position that the Prime Minister is “not perfect”.

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The SST re-election campaign continues

August 17th, 2008 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

The Sunday Star-Times best efforts to re-elect the Government continue. They try a double header today.

First a story on National’s Benefits Policy. They only talk to two people oppossed to the policy, and no-one in support. They talk to a senior lecturer in political science and a mother who has been on the DPB for 10 years.

Meanwhile they gush over Labour:

Early childhood worker Jemima Newcombe and her partner Jason Steel are ready to raise the roof. The aspiring homeowners from Glendene, Auckland, are among the first to be accepted into Labour’s pilot shared equity scheme.

And the entire story is about how wonderful they feel to have got this support.

So for the story on National’s policy they choose to only interviwe people who are critical of it, and for the story on Labour’s policy, only people who have benefited from it.

Maybe it is just coincidence. But wouldn’t it have been more balanced to have a contrary view in each article? It would not have been hard – probably take 30 minutes work.

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Media bias in the US

August 13th, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

JafaPete points me to a Rasmussen survey which finds 55% of Americans find media bias is a bigger problem than big campaign contributions. Not surprising in light of the current presidential campaign.

So does this mean NZ should have a media version of the Electoral Finance Act? :-)

Well Rasmussen also found:

22% believe it would be a good idea to ban all campaign commercials so that voters could receive information on the campaign only from the news media and the internet.

This is the ultimate endpoint for the EFA – leave it all to the media, and stop all spending. Nicky Hager advocated spending controls should be in place every day of every week or every year.

Anyway back to media bias. I don’t think we have a huge problem in NZ, but there are some problems. It is natural that some editors and journalists have worldviews that influence their reporting. The problem is when they are not open about it. NBR for example is unashamedly a newspaper of the centre-right. I would say that the Sunday Star-Times is very much a centre-left publication – but they don’t acknowldge that explicitly.

The Herald on Sunday is whatever it takes to sell more copies :-)

It would be very interesting for someone to do some quality research on media bias in NZ. I recall a decade or so ago a survey of all major media outlets, where each was asked to self-rate their editorial and reporting position. One could redo that,and then do a survey of journalists on how they rate each media outlet on the same scale.

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More faked Middle East coverage

May 29th, 2008 at 10:02 pm by David Farrar

There is a vibrant industry in the Middle East. It consists of faking photo opportunities to make Israel look bad. I’ve covered some in the past such as the so called bombed ambulance.

One of the biggest hoaxes has just been confirmed in a French court, as detailed by this excellent article by Piers Akerman.

THE death of 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Durra by “gunfire from the direction of the Israeli” forces, as reported by French TV reporter Charles Enderlin, was huge world news eight years ago.

But it now seems that what we saw was not what actually happened. The dramatic footage of the youngster crouched beside his father as “Israeli” bullets whizzed by him, the scenes of his death and his father’s wounding were ghastly but compelling viewing.

Invocations of the young al-Durra’s death became a regular ritual on Palestinian television, songs encouraging children to join him in martyrdom were written, streets were named after him, mothers were exhorted to encourage their infants to be like him, his image was even used on stamps.

The al-Durra imagery truly became, in the words of one Canadian journalist, “the farce that launched a thousand suicide bombers”.

Okay so this is not some minor footage. This is an iconic video.

Doubts arose about the footage shot by a Palestinian cameraman for the network France 2 when it was revealed the same person had been responsible for faking other news footage.

People need to know that almost all the international media use Palestinian stringers, with little checking for accuracy. Associated Press has been one of the worst offenders.

The independent investigators led by Philippe Karsenty, a director of the Media-Ratings watchdog, went further and said the scenes had been staged and that report was a “hoax”.

He was sued for defamation and lost in the initial court, but has just won in the Court of Appeal. Now wait to see what was revealed in court:

The inflammatory report was essentially destroyed when he ordered the government-owned broadcaster to produce all the raw footage shot of the incident and instead of a few seconds of film, an 18-minute excerpt, still not the complete sequence, was shown to the court.

It revealed staged battle scenes, rehearsed ambulance evacuations – but nothing to substantiate the toxic television report.

No shots were seen coming from the Israeli position, no bullets were shown striking the boy, no blood was seen on the father’s shirt, though he was said to have cradled his eviscerated son in his arms, and the boy is seen to move, even to look conspiratorially at the television camera, when he is supposed to have been dead.

Yes, he looked at the camera *after( he was shot dead. And French TV had this footage but never showed it – they just showed the hand picked segments which supported the story.

More damning evidence is on the Wall Street Journal.

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Coverage of Tibet

March 27th, 2008 at 10:51 am by David Farrar

Some members of the local Chinese community are protesting about what they see as biased coverage of what is happening in Tibet.

They may have a point.  Indeed there are a number of reports which have not been well publicised about sole violence from ethnic Tibetans.

But at the end of the day, the blame for the faults in any coverage lies with the Chinese Government for banning media from being able to be in Tibet and report first hand what is happening.

If a Government does not allow journalists to verify first hand the claims of that Government about who did what, then it should be no surprise that their claims are not given much weight.  Plus let us be brutally frank – the Chinese Government has a history of lying. Now in this case they may actually be telling the truth, but unless one can verify it, then it is like the little boy who cried wolf.

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US journalism political leanings

March 25th, 2008 at 6:59 pm by David Farrar

The Pew State of the Media annual report has an interesting section on how journalists descibe their political leanings compared to the population.

  • Conservatives – 8% of journalists vs 36% of US population
  • Liberals – 32% of journalists vs 19% of US population

This explains the New York Times et al.

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Now that’s a fisking

February 25th, 2008 at 8:07 pm by David Farrar

Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald does the mother of all fiskings on the New York Times’ story on John McCain.

I won’t even quote from it, because you need to read the whole thing. But it really is a template for all future fiskings.

It is also an important lesson in how subtle bias can be. They find the article:

  • had 13 negative and anonymous attributions
  • undermined a positive fact seven times with “but”
  • repeatedly turns ethical actions of McCain into innuendo of hypocrisy

It is a classic case of twisting the facts to fit the story.

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