Gower’s Dirty Deal

Patrick Gower seems to be obsessed by electorate “dirty deals”. He has been campaigning strongly against them in Epsom and Ohariu.

His statements have been contrary to the Electoral Act as they don’t include promoter statements – he doesn’t even reveal what party he is representing. TV3 is not a registered party.

His latest campaign strategy has been retweeting anyone who will promote his policy.

This doesn’t seem to be impartial or balanced journalism, more like targeted extended political campaigning.

There’s no denyying quite a bit of voter disatisfaction the way parties make arrangements in electorates. Some of these arrangements are open, some of them less obvious, but they happen to varying degrees all over the place. Labour are complicit in Epsom and Ohariu, and Greens are openly complicit in Ohariu – Gareth Hughes wears two faces there, one that says it’s up to the voters to decide, the other promoting Chauvel as much as he can while he smears Dunne.

And Hughes is standing for a seat he doesn’t want to win, it’s presumably for his campaigning convenience. He doesn’t even live in the electorate, so he is using the system for his own ambitions as much as anyone.

Notably in a recent item on TV3 Gower gave Hughes an extended opportunity to promote a party other than his own.

The media are complicit in the Epsom arrangements in particular, they hassled and harried until Key and Banks had their cup of tea. It’s impossible to know if the cafe rendevous would have happened at all without media pressure, but it certainly wouldn’t have happened as an election event without media attention.

Obviously the media have a right to highlight issues that may be of interest to voters, but surely it is then up to the voters to make their own judgement at the ballot box.

Why is Gower obsessed with just the one type of electorate arrangement? There are a number of practices that could be questioned, like

  • parties standing candidates in electorates with no intention of contesting the electorates (eg Greens)
  • candidates standing for electorates knowing they have much greater priorities than the electorate (eg Key, English, Goff)
  • party head offices installing their own choice of candidate overriding local candidate choices

Karl du Fresne writes on this in today’s Dominion:

Claiming political scalps for sport

Comment: Media scavenging is bad news

The election campaign has brought to the fore a new style of television journalism.

It is aggressive, confrontational, highly opinionated and designed to provoke a reaction. Its chief practitioners are Patrick Gower and Duncan Garner of 3 News.

… there’s something disconcerting about Gower’s approach. You get the feeling that its purpose is to claim political scalps for the sheer sport of it.

He is a journalistic picker of scabs, a scavenger who swoops on the wounded. He scans the political landscape looking for any story that, with judicious editing and sneering voice-over, can be manipulated for maximum effect.

The Gower approach illustrates two trends in modern political journalism. One is to strive at all costs for what former British prime minister Tony Blair called “impact”  something to excite the public’s blood lust.

The other is to put the journalist at the centre of the story.

The modern political reporter is no longer content to be a passive observer, but wants to be a player  a maker and breaker of careers.

Gower made an interesting comment on Radio Live last night – he didn’t watch the closing statements of the debate last night because he feels uncomfortable looking into politician’s eyes.

I wonder why.


  1. Mark

     /  22nd November 2011

    I saw your post on Kiwiblog about making an online watchdog to call out scumbags like Gower. I could be quite keen to help…

  2. Good, email me on petedgeorge@gmail.com

    I have thoughts on how to do this but any ideas or assistance would be great. Journalists have a lot of power in our democracy, they need to be held accountable if they abuse that power which some are doing.

    I’d like it to be a reasoned and reasonable approach rathyer than just having a rogues gallery, don’t want to stoop to their level of agendas, witch hunts and harrassment, and I think right of response is important.

    They know that the official complaints system is too slow to stop them, I complained by phone and email on one thing last week and it’s been ignored. So rapid reasoned reaction is the aim.

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