The Dim-Post

June 27, 2014

The difference

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 7:31 am

The Herald editorial is in defensive mode insisting ‘Cries of bias will not stop reporting.’

It is common in election years for political parties under pressure to attempt to shoot the messenger. In 2005, the Herald was stridently criticised and accused of bias by National supporters for our reportage of Dr Don Brash and the Exclusive Brethren. In 2008 it was the turn of Winston Peters and his New Zealand First people to call for resignations of the editor and political editor for the inconvenient revelation of funding from millionaire Owen Glenn, despite his “No” sign. Last election it was National partisans again, livid at the Herald on Sunday and Herald for John Key and John Banks talking openly before a microphone accidentally left on their “cup of tea” table in a cafe.

This year it is the turn of Labour and its leader, David Cunliffe, incensed at reporting on the donations to the party and its MPs by the controversial Chinese migrant Donghua Liu — and that party’s connections to him.

Mr Cunliffe is considering unspecified legal options against the Herald. Party supporters have weighed in with accusations of political bias and complicated right-wing conspiracies.

The Herald is a large and complicated institution. Editorially its a right-wing newspaper that favors National and the ACT Party, and when you talk to journalists who work there they’ll happily admit that, although some of them say things like ‘We are a pro-business newspaper that you might consider right-wing.’ Whatever. Editorially its a right-wing paper.

But its journalism is usually pretty balanced. Just like it says in the editorial, their reporter Jared Savage broke the story about Donghua Liu’s links with Maurice Williamson. They covered the teapot tapes story, and Don Brash’s links with the Exclusive Brethren. When the story about Liu’s donations to Labour broke I thought most of Labour’s senior party figures were going to have to resign, because I took Savage’s journalism seriously.

But the difference, I think, between the stories about Maurice Williamson and Don Brash and the tea-pot tapes is that those stories turned out to be true. There really was a tea-pot tape. Maurice Williamson did phone the police. Don Brash did collaborate with the Exclusive Brethren. But the Herald’s story that Donghua Liu gave Labour $150,000 and that Labour didn’t declare that donation has turned out to be false. Weirdly its the Herald’s own reporting that proved that, but they tried to fudge it and didn’t issue any kind of apology or correction, and they’re still demanding to know what happened to the other $15,000, or $38,000 or however much they still reckon Liu gave Labour, although they have yet to provide a shred of proof that any donation took place.

And maybe I’m a big, wide-eyed conspiracy theorist, but since we know that person who took the false statement from Liu – a major donor to the National Party – passed the information in it onto the Prime Minister several weeks before they gave that statement to the Herald, I’m pretty confident in saying it came from National. If the Herald wants to rule that out – they have NO obligation to protect a source who fed them false information – then they can do so.

But failing that, the sum total of the Liu story is that we have a newspaper with right-wing editorial sympathies who published a false smear story about a left-wing political party fed to them by the government in the immediate run-up to the election. And it’s still ongoing. Yesterday they published a story about a former Labour Party fundraiser called Steven Ching, linking him with Liu and Labour. Ching issued a statement disputing all of the allegations and adding that the Herald never even bothered to contact him to check their story. At this point in the train-wreck you’d think they’d be a little more cautious.


  1. The fact that they felt the need for that editorial at all is an amazing admission of guilt. Why they don’t just admit they got it wrong, say sorry, and draw a line under the whole sorry affair I don’t know. I guess the media thinks it is bullet proof.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 27, 2014 @ 7:47 am

  2. not to mention the front page pimping of the new “i love john key” book from roughan only days after it turns out they were peddling rumors as fact

    but this editorial, when at the very least they should be apologising for not checking claims before publishing, shows that the herald is either incompetent or complicit

    Comment by framu — June 27, 2014 @ 7:48 am

  3. John Stephenson is not a real journalist, but John Roughan is. That’s the Herald’s worldview.

    In that photo today of Key attending his book launch (a bit of a giveaway, John?), you can totally see Roughan speaking truth to power.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — June 27, 2014 @ 7:59 am

  4. Suck it up guys. Suck it up.

    Comment by Nick K — June 27, 2014 @ 8:11 am

  5. Or how about yesterday’s editorial, in which tax rises for the wealthy were deemed ‘unnecessary’.

    Comment by alex — June 27, 2014 @ 8:11 am

  6. This is my comment to the Herald this morning, which probably won’t see the light of day.
    “We make no apology for seeking the truth” …Yeah, right. You’re in deep doo doo because you didn’t seek the truth before gleefully announcing last Sunday: ‘scandalous’ revelations spark calls for a police inquiry as embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe dodges questions.
    Next day when asked on Radio NZ “Do you stand by your story?” your editor said this, and I quote verbatim:
    “Well, what’s not to stand by. Donghua Liu made this claim, he signed it, we have the document, now whether he is correct is yet to be seen.” …. IS YET TO BE SEEN!”
    The RadioNZ interview is very revealing because at that time the editor was cocky and careless.

    Comment by Lisel — June 27, 2014 @ 8:47 am

  7. Meanwhile, they’re allowing another one of their journalists who wrote a political hagiography, to face potential jail by not handing over his sources.

    If they’re going to protect Savage and allow Roughan to pimp his biography/advertisement for the PM, they should back David Fisher.

    Comment by George — June 27, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  8. For once, read the comments. No one is falling for their shit this time.

    Comment by James W — June 27, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  9. Tim Murphy’s response to Riffer on Open Mike :” The Herald on Sunday will publish a clarification of Liu’s claims in its edition this weekend.”
    The rest of his letter seems unapologetic and unconcerned about the lack of justice.

    Comment by xianmac — June 27, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  10. At least this all confirms my bias.

    Comment by Nei — June 27, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

  11. The difference:

    A dinner party in Shanghai.

    A river cruise on the Yangtsze.

    One of these is a scandalous attempt to peddle influence and the other is a false smear.

    Apply bias, shoot messenger.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 27, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

  12. Meanwhile, they’re allowing another one of their journalists who wrote a political hagiography, to face potential jail by not handing over his sources.

    Are you suggesting that some Herald journalists are in the same category as Cameron Slater? You might be onto something there.

    “The judge cites a Law Commission report in support of his conclusion that what bloggers do isn’t news. The Commission pointed out that bloggers were often highly partisan, could be offensive and abusive, and weren’t accountable to anybody.” (

    Sounds a bit like the Herald…

    Comment by Ross — June 27, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

  13. Actually Ross, Mr Slater works for both Mr Key and the Herald. “Digging the Dirt. A conduit between sewer and Print.” Several pairs of dirty hands?

    Comment by xianmac — June 27, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

  14. The difference:

    A dinner party in Shanghai, about which a Minister is caught telling porkies and whether it was private or otherwise, where said Minister’s attempts to have the Public Service involved in fact finding and the local Ambassador to attend, and where said Minister’s husband could be clearly seen to financially or politically benefit from the event, all on the taxpayer dime.

    A river cruise on the Yangtsze that was ostensibly a corporate function, which a former Minister has never denied attending as a guest, hosted and paid for by the corporation’s foreign owner – entire event claimed by the political opposition as a dodgy funding deal.

    One of these is a scandalous attempt to peddle influence and the other is a false smear.

    Apply brain, spot the difference.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 27, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

  15. The most annoying part for me is that the Herald is claiming those applying it of bias are trying to “stop reporting”.

    This is much like the libertarian neckbeard claiming those arguing with him are restricting his freedom of speech.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 27, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  16. Ah media bias. The last refuge of the partisan?

    Comment by Swan — June 27, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

  17. maybe swan – but how about a complete journalistic failure?

    Comment by framu — June 27, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

  18. I wondered what happened to Judith Miller, who a history of neocon falsehoods planted in the NY Times, looks like she has turned up in NZ ?

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 27, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

  19. Closer to home, Robyn Langwell has kept out of sight since the North & South Asian Angst debacle ended her editorial career, and to a certain degree Deborah Coddington had a large slice of humble pie.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — June 27, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  20. On media in general, I heard the Joyce v Parker feat Espiner on RNZ yesterday morning. Joyce seemed uncharacteristically flummoxed.

    Unusual that a National party Minister agrees to be interviewed on RNZ let alone the under prepared Joyce.

    A no show for a match-fit Parker who until now I thought lacked mongrel.

    Comment by Te Ua — June 27, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

  21. I can’t say much, but I’ve worked with Jared on a few things in the past and always found him a well-connected, switched on, and decent guy
    In this case he f**ed up and I’d guess not due to malice but rather due to the desire to get yet more scalps on his belt after his recent successes.


    Comment by The Dimmest Poster — June 27, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

  22. My impression was of journalist overreach rather than any campaign against Labour.

    The reportage on Collins and Wllismson isn’t a defence against getting it wrong but it is a defense against conspiracy.

    And anyway if the standard is to never report accusations that may turn out to be false then all of what KDC says and a lot of what politicians say wouldn’t get reported.

    But out of this we did egg to learn that Labour’s advocation with Liu went further than they have liked to make public and that they charged $1000 for a private meeting with then PM Helen Clark.

    Do much for all the fulmination against the Cabinet Club.

    Comment by Neil — June 27, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

  23. Association, not advocation. Not sure about the egg bit.

    Comment by Neil — June 27, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

  24. The Dimmest Poster: In that case, it’s really his higher-ups who are in the gun for a issue that collapsed under its own weight of unreliable evidence.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — June 28, 2014 @ 1:15 am

  25. As a matter of interest, when does cooperation between a political party and a news media outlet reach the level that the “authorized by Jon Il Key Great Leader of the National Peoples Liberation Party” style disclosure is legally required?

    Comment by Ralph — June 28, 2014 @ 9:09 am

  26. The damage was done when Cunliffes letter to Liu was put out there. It will probably be the defining story of the year. Suck it up.

    Comment by Grant — June 28, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

  27. So reading the various viewpoints on this and looking at it in an over arcing manner I think all political parties will probably now wish this issue of donations and favour’s was left in its box.

    It almost brought down Judith Collins, and I still think she was very, very unwise in what she did.

    Its forced Maurice WIlliamson from cabinet – on balance fair enough he probably over stepped in his inquiries to the Poilice and the assault on female charge should have flagged he should have stay well, well away

    And Labour for all their denials have dug a hole.

    Cunliffe: I don’t know that man, we have no record of advocacy for his residence. Labour hierarchy- we have no record of donations.

    And now the Labour Party leadership is beating a retreat now Liu has lawyered up.

    I think QC v Conveyance Lawyer maybe an unfair fight but Mr Cunliffe has access to a top boutique legal firm if he needs it I suppose.

    The Standard and Dim Post and TDB all mounting defences, all claiming smear, all blaming National.

    But methinks there is no smoke without fire. National have declared 22K in donations from Mr Liu directly [think that is the value], and Liu has said he has donated a similar amount to both parties.

    So for Labour that means where are the circa 22k of donations/gifts that aren’t recorded. And how can they with any credibility claim not to know who he is, as many have done, and not know he was handing out big chunks of money?

    And for National – are there any unrecorded gifts a la the cruise on the Yangtze?

    It all stinks, its not a smear, its the light being shined under the covers and both major parties don’t look good out of it.

    Hope National have all their ducks lined up and in order.

    Comment by dave1924 — June 29, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

  28. So for Labour that means where are the circa 22k of donations/gifts that aren’t recorded.

    Well, it would mean that, if there was any evidence these donations were even made, let alone not recorded. If I claim to have bunged National a quarter mil for a lock of John Key’s nasal hair, that doesn’t mean the Nats are suddenly under some obligation to prove that I didn’t. This is the bit the Herald’s editor, and every other right-winger in the country, seems to have trouble grasping.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 29, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

  29. Thing is, look at it from Liu’s perspective. He was busy feeding two greedy sharks and they both bit his hand. He gave one a bit of a biff on the nose.
    If I was the other shark, I might be a bit worried about there might be a bigger clue-bat being wound up for a good solid whack where it reall hurts, closer to election time.

    Comment by Ralph — June 30, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: