Media an extension of established power

There is an obvious and major current example of media and journalism working with and enabling established power, in the US election.

It’s nothing new that media both had close connections with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and tried to influence the outcome. Or that other media had close connections with the Donald Trump campaign and tried to influence the outcome.

What is unusual and more complicated is that media, including those who promoted Clinton’s interests, also gifted  exposure to Trump, and enabled his rise and his momentum, and ultimately his success.

There was a clear conflict between what the media wanted – their choice of candidate as president, but they also wanted the headlines and clicks that Trump kept giving them.

A lot of the time it was difficult to separate Clinton’s and Trump’s campaigns from the media coverage.


The US presidential election was a big event, but on a smaller scale the New Zealand media also works hand in hand with established power, and actively excludes those who challenge established power.

I’ve experienced this myself, and it was a public broadcaster that was involved. In the 2013 Dunedin mayoral campaign Radio New Zealand profiled just four of the nine candidates – that is. gave exposure and publicity to less than half the candidates.

I complained to RNZ in Dunedin and was told they selected the candidates they thought had the most chance of success. Of course this favouritism reinforces the advantages of established power, and makes it virtually impossible for challengers of that power. Ironically I was campaigning for better democratic processes.

I also complained to RNZ in Wellington. They were very dismissive, when pushed said that more candidates “didn’t fit their format” and effectively told me to get stuffed, they weren’t interested in fair democracy.

Similar things happen in every general election, where big media give big exposure to big power, and exclude others. This is common with leaders’ debates.

And the same thing is happening in the Mt Roskill by-election right now. Fairfax has already run a candidate debate that only includes established power, the Labour and National candidates.

On Wednesday: People’s Party threatens legal action over exclusion from Mt Roskill debate

The newly formed People’s Party is considering taking legal action because it’s been excluded from a Mt Roskill by-election debate on Wednesday night.

It’s being hosted by the Central Leader, which has only invited the candidates from National and Labour. 

People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria says he’s not being petty; he just wants a fair go.

“We were trying to talk to them and convince them that you need to give us equal opportunity,” he says.

Fairfax Media brand and communications manager Phillipa Cameron told Newshub that “Fairfax is comfortable that the Central Leader will provide appropriate coverage of parties involved in the Mt Roskill by-election”.

“This particular event is a one-off live stream involving the two major political parties, which is typical of a debate style event,” she said.

Typical of a debate style event where Fairfax are favouring established power. It is a corruption of fair democratic practice.

There was a follow up – Fairfax apologises for Mt Roskill debate snub

Fairfax has apologised to New Zealand People’s Party candidate Roshan Nauhria for excluding him from a by-election debate it is hosting in Mt Roskill on Wednesday.

But he’s still not invited.

Mr Nauhria says Fairfax told him it made the call to only include the candidates from Labour and National because both had polled above 10 percent at the last election.

A very hollow apology – effectively ‘we are sorry, we set the ten percent bar to favour established power and if you challenge that power and our power you can get stuffed’.

All candidates are equal, but some candidates are made far more equal than others.

Newshub points out:

The People’s Party held its official campaign launch on Saturday night drawing a crowd of around 300 people. In comparison, the National Party candidate’s campaign launch held on the same day, with the Prime Minister in attendance, attracted a crowd of just over 200.

That’s an impressive crowd for the People’s Party, but even that shouldn’t matter. What if a candidate does most of their campaigning online?

On a smaller scale than in the US, but this is exposure of New Zealand media being a corrupt extension of established power.

Leave a comment


  1. artcroft

     /  11th November 2016

    I don’t believe the media created Trump. As soon as he said “lets build a wall and I’ll get Mexico to pay” voters should have ruled him out as a con man. If the media hadn’t reported him saying this that would have been corrupt. But you can’t blame the media for voters falling for obvious bs. Blame the voters.

    And as for debate formats; the Central Leader is privately owned they can call in whoever they want for a debate.

    • Yes the Central Leader can favour established power in debates they organise if they like, but it serves democracy very poorly.

      The point I was making is how media does a lot to entrench established power, and to actively exclude challenges to that power.

      • Gezza

         /  11th November 2016

        The Central Leader is off my list of daily ‘must read’s. 😡

      • duperez

         /  11th November 2016

        In the world of 2016 it is no more or no less important for the Central Leader to serve democracy than in any year. In the world of 2016 though is it the ‘job’ of the Central Leader to serve democracy?

        And is the job of Radio New Zealand to profile say, 16 candidates of a mayoral election or do things they see as attracting and keeping listeners? If the alternative to giving five candidates time and attention and missing 11 for not “fitting their format” is ignoring the whole lot, would they be subject to claims of not being interested in fair democracy?

        Of course media an extension of established power. Those who use it best gain most.

        (I am told that John Key won’t be featuring on the cover of the Rugby News next year wearing an All Black jersey with his arm around Kieran Read. Had our electorate been of the nature of the USA and the need were there, he sure as hell would be on that cover draped around Aaron Smith.)

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  11th November 2016

      They can, but their costs should then be counted as part of their favoured candidates’ campaign expenses.

    • David

       /  11th November 2016

      Why? This is perfectly, and easily achievable. Hell, getting Mexico to pay for it is the easiest bit, and building it is just a construction challenge that has been done plenty of times before.

  2. Ray

     /  11th November 2016

    One of the unspoken things about USA politics in particular but it applies here as well is that most of the eye watering amounts spent on getting elected go straight to the media advertising industry.
    So guess who they are going to favour?

  3. PDB

     /  11th November 2016

    The media didn’t create Trump but they helped stoke the fire with their anti-Trump rhetoric.

    MSM is one of the most distrusted groups in society today, backing Clinton so heavily only made her look more corrupt further continuing that theme which only grew during the campaign.

    The unbalanced ‘anti-Key’ MSM reporting of the ‘dirty politics’ saga last NZ election (especially around the MSM largely ignoring Hager’s use of stolen emails of a private citizen which most normal people would have reported to the police rather than use to write a book for profit) no doubt persuaded many voters to actually vote for National.

    • Gezza

       /  11th November 2016

      The way things have worked out The Dems would probably have done better if they’d persuaded Charlie Sheen to stand as their candidate.

  4. The Media is complicit and is in a partnership with fringe academics activists in the sociological arts arena. Journalists are educated by Jpurnalism Schools and indoctrinated by those with a socialist agenda. They do not inform in a balanced way, they pick up on what is fashionable out there in the US, UK, and sometimes the EU and focus on those concepts rather than thinking through what is right for New Zealand. The real problem with what happened in the US to the Democrats is that they did not learn any lessons from the primary’s. Such was the arrogance of the Democrats and their media cronies that they did not realise the majority of the US were sick of the self-centered policy approaches of the Washington push who were suffering from the Diplomatic disease of taking counsel incestuously instead of getting out among the real people of the US and really listening and reporting what the people thought.

    I am staggered by the NZ media’s anti-American attitude and their ad hominen attacks on Trump et al instead of analysing why the had misread so badly the mood of the US people where the average Joe has had to fight Clinton and Obama’s wars and their families carry the sacrifice. Also their jobs were being stolen out from under them my the obscenely rich on the grounds of improving profitability, rather than thinking about quality of life.

    We in New Zealand deserve something better than that and need to give the MSM/Academic cabal a very strong message of necessary change. They got it wrong, and it is for them to find out why, and be a bit more introspective rather than putting the blame elsewhere. The world has changed people, hopefully we can see the US, Russia and China leaders developing good relationships and communicating with each other effectively, for Global Peace’s sake.

    • Gezza

       /  11th November 2016

      As far as I know Trump hasn’t yet replied to the letter from the Syrian Opposition congratulating him on his win & seeking his assistance in persuading the Russians to end the war & get rid of Assad.

    • ” … they pick up on what is fashionable out there in the US, UK, and sometimes the EU and focus on those concepts rather than thinking through what is right for New Zealand.”

      Jeez Beejay, a perfect description of post-1984 politics in Aotearoa NZ! We gave up what was right for New Zealand ideologically, politically, socially and economically in about 1984. Why ever would we expect the ‘globalised’ corporate media created by that very neoliberal consensus not to do the same …!? If ever there was good reason to say FFS this is it!

      “We … need to give the MSM/Academic cabal a very strong message of necessary change.”

      Interesting and confusing comment. It’s actually the corporate-banking-treasury-financial elite [military-industrial] cabal who needs a very strong message? People like Jane Kelsey, academics and many in the media are trying to give them that message because ” … jobs were [are] being stolen out from under them [people] by the obscenely rich on the grounds of improving profitability, rather than thinking about quality of life.”

      But then you hate on Jane Kelsey! ….
      How do you feel about the obscenely rich …?
      Donald Trump, incidently, is obscenely rich …

      Your world view, which is fairly symptomatic of the broader ‘isolated individualist’ or narcissistic malaise in our society and planet, reminds me of a vortex spinning counter-clockwise Down Under [vice-versa in the Northern Hemisphere] as things go down the plug-hole …

      Rest assured of this: If global peace ever comes, it won’t be negotiated by Conservative Right Wing politicians and governments … There’s no profit in that …

      More social dissaffection …. more profit for some fat cat …
      More crime … more profit for the ‘security’ industry …
      More pressure on time … more profit for Fast Food [poison] …
      More stress … more profit for medicine and entertainment …
      More stress related illness … more profit for Big Pharma … and surgeons …
      More war …

      • PDB

         /  11th November 2016

        ……..ah, liberalism – the politics of envy & when all else fails hypocritically take the moral high ground and preach to the great unwashed failed policies of the past.

        • That’s ‘Right’ PDB … As you accused all Lefty Liberals of doing just yesterday … If you mention ethnicity you’re a racist … Now I remember … *STOP* …. Stop the grossly distorted polarisation you brainless Lemming Lefties …

          But if a ‘Lefty’ mentions obscene wealth … OHHH, that must be “the politics of envy” … So Beejay is guilty of the politics of envy too … Yes?

          And any effort to even identify, let alone extract ourselves from the ethical and moral open-sewer we’ve arrived at is “taking the moral high ground” … That should stop anyone thinking independently, investigating and comparing … learning from history … Whoops, I mean becoming a radical activist …

          Don’t put your head above the parapet … not even a millimetre … It’s safe down here in our Right Brigade trench stewing gangrenously in our own *shit* …

          • PDB

             /  11th November 2016

            I can sense you are getting a little worked up PZ. Do yourself a favour, make a cup of herbal tea (sounds like you need a ginger one), put your feet up and gaze wistfully upon the portrait above your fireplace of Michael Joseph Savage, or even your Bill Rowling tea towel…..

      • PZ do you feel any better now? Your response actually reinforces my views that are already clear. I know where you are coming from, and I will continue to use the test of what is best for New Zealand, not an ideological approach to decide what is correct. To say that peace could never be decided by a Conservative Right Wing Government flies in the face of history. Do you think Churchill was a left-wing socialist?


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