The Dim-Post

February 12, 2014

Labour planning dodgy electoral deal with immortal giant

Filed under: media,satire — danylmc @ 10:53 am

TV3′s political editor has broken another story about a political party rorting the MMP system:

It’s dirty. It’s dodgy. And it’s happening. Yes, the Labour Party who have stuck the knife in and twisted the boot attacking National’s electorate deals have done a dirty dodgy dirty deal themselves.

Yes. You heard right. And it gets dodgier and dirty. The deal is with Ymir, King of the Frost Giants. A being of pure malevolence formed from the frozen rivers of poison that run through hell. Ymir has a real grudge against John Key. And the bad blood flies both ways. It’s a grudge match. Also a perfect storm of grudge.

Behind the scenes Labour is stiching up a dirty deal with Ymir for the electorate of Ginnungagap, a formless void of ice and rime located on Auckland’s North Shore.

Details of this deal are kept tightly under wraps. The Electoral Commission won’t even admit that the Ginnungagap electorate exists. Journalists who vault their reception desk and smash open computers looking for proof of Ginnungagap are led away by security. That shows you just how sensitive these deals are. A week is a long time in politics.

Labour’s spin-doctors say there is no deal and that Ymir doesn’t actually exist. They say I’m locked in a psychotic delusion. Well I’ve heard that before. Hundreds of times. It means they’re scared. They know that hard-working families don’t trust immortal frost giants. And with good reason. Remember, when Odin wounded Ymir in the runup to the 2002 election Ymir’s blood flooded the whole world. Yes, that won’t go down well with hard-working voters.

At the end of the day this last ditch effort might just see Labour in government and a giant made of snake’s venom on the Treasury benches. Only time will tell.

December 31, 2013

In defense of Guyon Espiner

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 1:33 pm

Former TVNZ Political Editor Guyon Espiner has been named as one of the new co-hosts for RNZ’s morning report program, which is a big deal in political circles – Morning Report often sets the news agenda for the entire day. Bomber Bradbury is upset; one of the commentators at The Standard is also critical.

I’ve made fun of Espiner’s somewhat other-worldly political-insider comments in the past. But realistically, writing about politics on the internet is one thing; confronting senior politicians about their own portfolios live on air (after they’ve been briefed and prepped by their very smart, very experienced advisers) is another. The list of people who have the depth of knowledge and quick wit to conduct those kind of interviews and generate news stories out of them is incredibly short, and Espiner is at the top of it.

November 10, 2013

Advertising boycotts and freedom of speech

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 4:41 pm

Karl du Fresne weighs in on the debate around Roastbusters and RadioLive’s Willie and JT show. Loads to take issue with here. He writes:

But the outrage over the Roast Busters has triggered a potentially valuable national conversation about how such attitudes could exist in a supposedly enlightened, civilised society, and everything should be on the table. If we genuinely want to understand what’s been going on in West Auckland, a few awkward questions need to be asked. One of those questions is whether the behaviour of the victims may have been a contributory factor, consciously or otherwise. Asking that question doesn’t excuse the contemptible behaviour of the perpetrators. Neither does it mean blaming the victim.

If we don’t ask those uncomfortable questions, an opportunity will have been lost. And the enemies of free speech and open debate will have triumphed again.

Do these advertising boycotts attack freedom of speech? I don’t think so. No one is saying that Willie and JT should go to prison for what they’ve said. That’s really what ‘free speech’ is. ‘Free speech’ doesn’t entitle anyone to their own radio show where they can say whatever they want and the advertisers who fund the show have to keep paying for it no matter how offensive it is and how strongly they disagree with it That’s, like, not a thing. If companies want to remove their advertising because they don’t think association with a show is advantageous to them, then that’s just good ‘ol capitalism working as designed.

But isn’t this ‘the left’ manipulating the system to police what everyone can say? Maybe, a little bit. But left-wing activists can only use this tactic when they can get marketing managers of commercial businesses to agree that a statement is deeply offensive. The barrier for that is pretty high. You have to offend pretty-much everyone in the country – except the cohort of irritable old men that dominate our punditocracy, who are only offended by gender quotas – to get something like this to work.


October 26, 2013

Two dumb things

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 2:41 pm

The Herald interviews David Lewis, ex-press secretary to Helen Clark and current press sec for Len Brown and wonders if he is as amazing at his job as Malcolm Tucker, the terrifying spin doctor from The Thick of It. Which is something you hear a bit around political circles: ‘He’s a real Malcolm Tucker’, said of various powerful staffers, and its always annoyed me because one of the running gags of The Thick of It is that Malcolm Tucker is terrible at his job. The plot of almost every episode involves Tucker bullying and screaming at Ministers and their staff, which causes them to do something  stupid which turns into a public relations catastrophe for the government. It’s a bit weird that people in politics might watch that show, see Tucker screaming and swearing himself into disaster after disaster and think he’s someone to be emulated. Most successful press secretaries seem to work by building relationships. Lewis does seem to have done a fine job advising Brown through his sex-scandal, although outwitting John Palino, Luigi Wewege and the Slaters doesn’t seem like a very high bar to clear.

Anyway, also related to the Len Brown scandal is this article on Stuff:

Employment relations experts have weighed in on the Len Brown case, with some saying if he was employed as a chief executive on one of New Zealand’s major listed companies he would be fired.

Susan Hornsby-Geluk, partner at Dundas Street Employment Law said there would be a “strong likelihood” that Brown would be asked to stand down by the board of directors if the same behaviour occurred in a private company, more so if he led a public department.

It’s unlikely Brown would be fired if he was a CEO, relationships between executives and staff being a routine feature of corporate life. But certainly in the case of some equivalent-sized scandal his board would have offered him a huge sum of money to step down, and he’d probably have taken it. Likewise, if Brown was a Minister he’d have offered his resignation as a Minister and he’d be spending a year or so on the back bench before being reinstated. If the scandal was a little bit worse he might even resign as an MP for the good of his party. The point being that in any of those scenarios the person stepping down gets something: either some money or their old job back, or even just the goodwill of the party for doing the right thing. If Brown steps down from the mayoralty he gets nothing. Instead he just hands a huge political victory to his enemies. And the other huge difference between CEOs, Ministers and Mayors is that you can simply replace a CEO or a Minister. The new Mayor only happens through another election, and the public really don’t seem to want to go there.

October 14, 2013

Compare and contrast

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 9:32 pm

My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges,
And sweet’s the air with curly smoke
From all my burning bridges.

Dorothy Parker. Sanctuary

A couple months ago John Key went on Campbell Live to defend his GCSB legislation. The issue was getting huge traction, John Campbell was fronting it, and Key gave such a comprehensive performance that the issue all but died as a topic of debate in the mainstream media.

And today one of the up-and-coming superstars of the National Party, Energy Minister Simon Bridges tried to do the same thing, and failed about as badly as I’ve ever seen a Minister fail on national TV. So I went back and watched Key’s interview again to try and spot the difference.

Both Key and Bridges were well prepped with lines and talking points. But Key’s success and Bridges’ failure are, I think, due to them addressing different audiences. Key didn’t go on Campbell Live to talk to John Campbell. Key didn’t care about John Campbell. Key was talking past him, to Campbell’s audience. Bridges, on-the-other-hand, is pissed. He’s there to talk to John Fucking Campbell and put him in his fucking place.

So all the lines are completely different. Key’s comms team has sat down, watched previous episodes of Campbell Live and said, ‘Here’s what John Campbell will say. How do we neutralise that?’ And then they work out responses and then go through the lines with their boss. Bridges has, I suspect, watched the episodes in his office with his comms adviser, stalking around in a rage and shouting at the screen, ‘What about your fucking car John? That flash Mazda at the start of your show? How are you going to drive THAT without oil mined from the Pegasus basin? Make a note of that – I’m gonna ask him that. And now he’s on about Anadarko owning shares in BP. How many shares does John Fucking Campbell own in various companies? What’s his answer to that? Put that down too.’

The result is a Minister who looks like he’s close to tears and about to start throwing punches because someone is talking trash about a Texas-based oil company that was involved in an environmental catastrophe in the US and is about to start drilling down here. Which is hilarious, but not great for the government. I bet political advisers will use these two interviews as comparison studies for years.

September 6, 2013

Labour leadership punditry, 2011 edition

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 7:34 am

For the last few years Bryce Edwards has been aggregating media and blog writing about New Zealand politics into his NZ Politics Daily column. Turns out a lot of these are online at his blog, and if you get out of bed early enough you can read through the entries relevant to the 2011 Labour leadership race and see who predicted what.

Firstly, the conventional wisdom of the left-wing blogosphere has it that Shearer was the right’s candidate. But a lot of left-wing people supported Shearer. Here’s Matt McCarten, here’s Chris Trotter:

In David Shearer Labour has already found its Kevin Costner. If the caucus will only let him build Kiwi voters a new “field of dreams” – they will come.

Bahahahahaha. Here’s Keith Ng, who, to be fair, seemed more anti-Cunliffe than pro-Shearer. Here’s Lew. And I wrote:

I think both of the contenders in the Labour leadership will (probably) be strong leaders, so while I’m tepidly pro-Shearer, I’m not staunchly anti-Cunliffe. (I do think his choice of Deputy is daft – although obviously it makes tactical sense within the hermetically sealed world of the Labour caucus.)

Anyway, one of the criticisms leveled against Shearer is that he isn’t – or won’t be – ‘strong in the House’, meaning Question Time in Parliament. That may be true, but it ain’t a drawback. The Prime Minister is reliably awful in the House and he’s our most popular politician ever. The House doesn’t matter. Lack of experience or presence in it is not a deal-breaker.


It’s also entered into left-wing, online mythology that Shearer was endorsed by Matthew Hooton, Cathy Odgers and David Farrar. But Odgers actually endorsed Cunliffe. David Farrar vigorously promoted Shearer, and wrote in his December Herald column:

I think a David Shearer led Labour Party will pose more of a threat to National, than any alternative leader.

Wow, that sounds really familiar! I can’t find Hooton’s endorsement – I’m pretty sure there was one – but in a bonus ‘Matthew Hooton is wrong about everything’ link, here he is predicting that the Greens would be a ‘crucial’ component of the post 2011 National government, and that Key would entice Russel Norman with ‘policy sweeteners’ to sideline the ACT Party.

The worst prediction of all goes to Patrick Gower, who endorsed Shearer as the savior of the Labour party – he described Shearer as a fighter who had the common touch which, again, sounds really familiar – but confidently predicted Labour would never make him leader because he’d shake up the party too much.  Second best prediction goes to Dr Brian Edwards who (famously) wrote:

Shearer has had nearly three years to demonstrate his skill as a debater and about a fortnight to provide some evidence of competence in handling the media. He has done neither. His television appearances have bordered on the embarrassing. He lacks fluency and fails to project confidence or authority. Watching him makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable – a fatal flaw.

My instinct is that the Labour Party is about to make a huge mistake. Their logic, I suspect, is that they must replace an unpopular leader with a popular leader. But it is shallow thinking. What the next Leader of the Opposition must be able to do is best and bring down John Key. That really isn’t a job for ‘a nice guy’.

Best prediction/commentary goes to someone called Jadis, who was writing stuff on DPF’s blog while he was on holiday in Africa:

My learned Labour contacts suggested to me before the vote even took place that it didn’t really matter all that much who was elected Leader of Labour.  Their view was that the victor would never be the next Labour Prime Minister.  We are seeing Labour lurch from Phil ‘fill-in’ Goff to another fill-in guy.  Shearer’s going to find it tough.  He’s backed more by Labour’s old guard but without the real depth of relationships (or indeed institutional knowledge of the Party) while needing to reach out to the more progressive members of the Party.  Shearer has a timeline worse than English ever had.  Shearer may not even see an election.

Let’s hear more from her.

August 16, 2013

All glory to the hypnotoad

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 11:00 am

Russell Brown attributes John Key’s triumph debating the GCSB bill on Campbell Live as ‘a study in media training’. The sentiment seems to be widespread among the left, including with John Campbell.

I thought the PM addressed Campbell’s questions very directly. His success wasn’t about any kind of media training Jedi mind trick, so much as it was about the PM enjoying a huge strategic advantage over John Campbell. Campbell Live had done clips on the GCSB bill all week. Key’s team knew exactly what their objections to it were. All they had to do was have a couple of people from their comms team watch each episode, break down each issue and craft a rebuttal.

Unfortunately (for the PM) they don’t seem to have run their rebuttal past anyone with legal knowledge of the bill, which means that while the PM was wiping the floor with Campbell he was also incorrect/lying on a pivotal point. Via the Herald:

In the course of the interview [Key] said incorrectly that under the bill, the GCSB would not be allowed to look at the content of communications when conducting their cyber-security functions.

In fact, there is nothing that prevents it from doing so. But what Mr Key is now saying is that in exercising his power to impose any conditions he wants on a warrant, he will use his discretion to set the default position not looking at content in the cyber-security function.

Which is just stupid. The PM can’t grant himself the power to secretly spy on people and simply promise not to use it, if only because he isn’t going to be Prime Minister in perpetuity. Key keeps warning us that Labour and the Greens are ‘the devil-beast’. Well if Winston Peters walks in front of a bus the devil-beast will probably in government in about fourteen months, and able to intercept the emails of New Zealanders with impunity.

July 31, 2013

It’s the worst abuse of government power imaginable – the kind that affects the press gallery.

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 9:20 am

The gallery are in high dudgeon mode:

Speaker David Carter’s admission that Parliament supplied a ministerial inquiry with Fairfax Media journalist Andrea Vance’s phone records is a bombshell.

It comes on the back of Parliament’s admission that Vance’s movements were also tracked as part of the Government’s efforts to find the “mole” who leaked her a report on the Government Communications Security Bureau.

Fair enough, I guess. Personally I’m struck by the very high incidence of illegal activity, lies and cover-ups that seem to have occurred around the work the security services and the government have carried out regarding Andrea Vance and Kim Dotcom, and the fact that we only know about all this incompetence and law-breaking because both Vance and Dotcom are highly privileged individuals. Dotcom is a lawyered up multi-millionaire, Vance is a respected senior reporter for a multinational media company. So if their rights are violated they get to find out about it – but that’s not the case for the overwhelming majority of people who interact with these agencies. It’d be nice to know if this behavior is out of the ordinary, or if these agencies break the law and lie about it on a routine basis.

June 19, 2013

Harder than it looks

Filed under: blogging,media — danylmc @ 10:18 am

Via the NBR:

Editor Cameron Slater has confirmed speculation Truth will not publish this week.

In October last year, the Whaleoil blogger was drafted to rescue the struggling tabloid.

Tonight he told NBR ONLINE, “The paper was just too far gone … I’m proud of the editorial and production staff and the changes we made, but ultimately the hole it found itself in was just too deep.”

Mr Slater blames previous management and owners for the paper’s plight.

I picked up a few copies of Truth after Slater became editor, and I always meant to write about them but never got around to it. ‘Strange’, is probably the best word: there was extensive racing coverage, extensive prostitution advertising (I would have expected this industry to move online years ago, I wonder why it hasn’t?), there was a column giving advice on how to have a threesome, and extensive political coverage in the form of attack stories about obscure back-bench opposition MPs. But the stories didn’t actually explain who the MPs were: just that Gareth Hughes – to use one example – was a hypocrite because he flew on a plane somewhere.

Maybe Slater is right and he inherited a dying paper, but I can’t imagine the Venn diagram of paying readers who are interested in sex tips, horse-racing and Gareth Hughes overlaps a whole lot, or that many of the paper’s stories made the slightest sense to anyone who wasn’t already plugged into the world of right-wing political blogs.

It’s also an interesting insight into the whole ‘bloggers will replace journalists’ meme. One of the advantages of blogging is that you never have to explain anything – you can just link to a news story in the mainstream media containing all the relevant background  about the issue at hand, assume they’ve got all their facts straight and then go on to complain about how rubbish the mainstream media are. That doesn’t really work if you replace the mainstream media, or try to.

June 6, 2013

Hello darkness my old friend

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 12:55 pm

Via The Herald:

Journalist Rachel Smalley, the host of TV3′s political programme The Nation, has been called on to apologise to Education Minister Hekia Parata over questions she asked during an interview.

In an interview on May 25, Ms Smalley asked Ms Parata, “How Maori are you?” and, “Are you a bitch to work for?” – the latter in relation to the resignation of staff in Ms Parata’s ministerial office.

There’s a nebulous, shifting zone around Hekia Parata, in which she is (a) not a very good Minister, (b) trying to implement poor policy in her portfolio that she might not necessarily agree with, charter schools, say, and (c) a Maori Woman who is very self-confident and successful. Smalley’s questions here seem more like she’s being held accountable for point (c), instead of points (a) or (b). The high staff turn-over in Parata’s office is a legitimate question: it’s a cost to the taxpayer; but you don’t hear interviewers asking, say, Murray McCully if he’s a dickhead, or a cock. He is, but he’s still a senior Minister – just like Parata – and you have to respect that.

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