Media watch – Wednesday

21 February 2018


Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

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    • NOEL

       /  February 21, 2018

      Costs alone, if an apology is to be the only outcome, would diminish the value.

  1. phantom snowflake

     /  February 21, 2018

    Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in response to news of Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy, writes on the motherhood and Prime Ministership of his late mother, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first world leader to give birth while in office. A tale of triumph over military dictatorship, misogyny and religious fascism.

  2. Blazer

     /  February 21, 2018

    NZH quote from Mitchell’s C.V.-‘All up he spent eight years in the Middle East, first working for a British contractor providing security to the Coalition Provisional Authority and training Iraqi security forces.’……the CPA was the biggest mistake made in the occupation in retrospect say the U.S Army and Bush himself.’training Iraqui security forces=training…ISIS.
    Mitchell’s faux modesty,and ‘don’t like to talk about it’ accounts of his time in the Mid East,will come back to haunt him…imo.Certainly no…hero.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  February 21, 2018

      I don’t recall your scathing “he’s a rapist unless he can prove otherwise” assessment of Shearer’s UN past when he went for leadership?
      The UN is responsible for over 60,000 rapes in the last decade apparently. And Shearer works for them!
      Your miserable tainting and aspersions are disgraceful Blazer.
      If you have evidence Mitchell actually did something wrong, then put it forward for judgement. The petty point scoring you are currently doing is simple muck-raking.

      • Blazer

         /  February 21, 2018

        how could you recall that?Was this forum even here then?Mitchell is the least likeable and least qualified candidate imo.Hope like hell he fails.His calling was as a Police dog handler,something…. he was very good at.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 21, 2018

    I see Rachel Stewart has moved to the Entertainment section of the Herald. Reasonable, since she then uses her column to criticise exactly the behaviour she perpetually indulges.

  4. High Flying Duck

     /  February 21, 2018

    Profile on Mark Mitchell From The Dominion Post 17 Mar 2012:

    Mitchell primed for next battle

    As a policeman Mark Mitchell lost the full use of his arm after a samurai sword attack. But his career has since led him to tribal warfare in the Middle East and now into Parliament as National’s MP for Rodney. The corridors of power should be a walk in the park.

    WHEN Mahdi militia surrounded a government compound in southern Iraq in 2004, cutting it off from support for five days, Mark Mitchell thought he was going to die.

    Instead he was instrumental in regaining control of the Italian-run An Nasiriyah compound and ensuring the safety of most of the diplomats, security staff and coalition forces housed there.

    Lives were lost on both sides as Mr Mitchell and his men used AK47S and machine guns to stave off physical attacks by night and mortar fire throughout the day.

    British governor Rory Stewart, now a Conservative MP, headed the diplomatic corps at the compound and has written a book about the siege. United States actor Brad Pitt’s production company has bought the rights, but filming and casting are yet to get under way.

    ‘‘We weren’t even sure if we were going to survive that and come out the other end of it,’’ Mr Mitchell recalls in the comfort of his Bowen House office inside Wellington’s parliamentary complex.

    There are a few congratulations cards on a bookshelf and some papers scattered on the desk. The tomes of legislation and knickknacks from official visits overseas are yet to come.

    It seems a giant leap from the battlefields of Iraq to the law and order select committee. But the former hostage negotiator, security consultant and chief executive of an international threat management company says he is simply taking the latest opportunity to present itself.

    ‘‘Early on I just always took the approach that if a door opened, have a good look at it and step through if you felt like it was the right thing to do.’’

    When he was first approached to go to Iraq, just a year after retiring from the police force, he wondered ‘‘what the hell a Kiwi cop knew’’ about security in the troubled nation.

    ‘‘The guy that approached me said ‘I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t think you could do it’, and I’m glad that I took the challenge on because I learnt a lot.’’

    He began working for a company contracted by the British Government to set up security for Iraq’s interim coalition government.

    Mr Mitchell, now 43, was charged with transporting government officials, protecting their homes and training Iraqi security forces.

    After a couple of years being shot at and targeted in roadside bomb attacks, he decided to return to New Zealand.

    However, doors soon began opening again and it wasn’t long before he was back in the Middle East improving security for a Kuwait-based logistics firm. He founded and ran the firm’s subsidiary, the Threat Management Group.

    ‘‘When I went out to Iraq I never had any intent to develop an international business career.’’

    But he turned the subsidiary into a multimillion-dollar business which won a number of lucrative contracts.

    May 22, 1968, in Auckland and raised on the North Shore.
    Family: His father was a flight lieutenant and his mother was the daughter of Air Commodore Frank Gill, who was also a member of Muldoon’s Cabinet. Mr Mitchell’s younger brother, Sean, who suffered from manic depression, committed suicide in 2000. In November last year, Mr Mitchell married Peggy Bourne, Possum Bourne’s widow, and became stepfather to her three children – Taylor, Spencer and Jazlin. He has a daughter, Sylvie, and son Nathan. He has been divorced twice.
    Education: Attended high school at Rosmini College in Auckland and later studied through an executive education programme at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
    Work experience: 1988-1989: Shepherd on Weiti Station in Rodney. 1989-2002: Patrol dog handler and armed offenders squad member with police. 2002-2003: Trained and bred horses in Taupo. 2003-2011: Worked in Iraq and the Middle East, originally for a firm contracted to set up security for the coalition government. He was then asked to establish the Provincial Joint Operations Centre in southern Iraq before forming an international security consulting firm. He was also part of a team that helped establish emergency logistics systems for the World Economic Forum. 2010: Began making return trips to New Zealand with the aim of standing for the National Party. 2011: Elected Rodney MP with a winning majority of 12,222.
    Awards: Police Commissioner’s Gold Merit Award for bravery and dedication to duty after the arrest of a samurai swordwielding offender. Police long service and good conduct medal. British Iraq service medal. Letter of commendation from the Italian Government following the five-day siege at An Nasiriyah in Iraq.

    It’s also what drew him home last year. ‘‘[It] started to pull me back and point me in the direction of coming home and running for Parliament because I felt that maybe I had developed some real skills and knowledge that could really be used to help the country.’’

    MR MITCHELL and his wife Peggy – widow of rally driver Possum Bourne – moved their blended family to Orewa. ‘‘In some ways it was very easy to come back because our children were getting older and I wanted them to experience the Kiwi lifestyle.’’

    The kids, aged 9-17, have adjusted to life back in New Zealand despite having spent the past few years dining with presidents and entertaining ambassadors.

    Mr Mitchell says adapting has been easier for him than the family as he was focused on settling into the political world. It was probably hardest on Mrs Bourne-mitchell, who was born in Africa to missionary parents and was accustomed to an international lifestyle, he says.

    Mr Mitchell’s daughter from a previous marriage lives with them fulltime, his youngest son does not. He is very proud of his children and holds his family dear.

    The death of his grandfather, Frank Gill, when he was 15 had a profound impact on Mr Mitchell.

    Mr Gill was minister of health and defence under former prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon and was the ambassador in Washington DC when he died of cancer.

    ‘‘I went really wobbly there. He was a big influence in my life and he was suddenly gone.’’

    Likewise, his brother Sean’s suicide in 2000 had a major impact on him and has driven him to champion improvements in mental health services and awareness.

    Mr Mitchell’s friend and former police colleague, Senior Sergeant John Edmonds, says that drive is a major part of Mr Mitchell’s character.

    ‘‘No-one was ever going to better him. Once he started a job he was never ever going to give it up until there was no other path to go down.

    ‘‘He’s the sort of guy that if he fell into a toilet bowl he’d find a gold bar.’’

    When Mr Edmonds’ old dog had to be put down, Mr Mitchell took a colleague round to his house and dug a grave. That was Mr Mitchell – generous to a fault, stubborn and empathetic, Mr Edmonds says.

    After Mangakino cop Murray Stretch was killed in 1999, Mr Mitchell, who was on call, ‘‘ran off’’ determined to catch the killer.

    ‘‘Our first priority was to find Mark, in those days comms [communications] wasn’t that sharp over there, either,’’ Mr Edmonds says.

    Carlos Namana was later jailed for life for Mr Stretch’s murder.

    As a police dog handler, Mr Mitchell’s partner was Czar, a black german shepherd.

    Czar was stabbed in the chest, and Mr Mitchell in the right arm, early in their career during a confrontation with a samurai-wielding offender who was trying to attack medical staff at Rotorua hospital.

    He never regained the full use of his arm, but does not blame the man.

    ‘‘He didn’t wake up one morning saying ‘I want to be paranoid schizophrenic’. He was ill with a sickness he didn’t want.’’

    His time with police left Mr Mitchell with a contempt for criminal gangs, which he describes as ‘‘parasites living off the backs of our communities and a bunch of low-life cowards’’.

    Organised crime syndicates turn up anywhere there’s money to be made and police do a good job of tackling them with the resources they have, he says.

    That said, more resources were always welcome.

    Mr Mitchell says work was satisfying.

    But asked what he is most proud of, he can’t get past his work alongside humanitarian agencies in the Middle East, Africa and southeast Asia.

    He helped scientists from The Hague safely take evidence from mass graves for the case against Saddam Hussein, delivered food and medical supplies to areas of Pakistan ravaged by floods and moved refugees out of Lebanon when they were trapped in the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

    ‘‘That was extremely satisfying. When we could actually get on the ground, we could move quickly, we could get relief and aid and sometimes protection in place for people that had no hope, kids that were hungry.’’

    His experiences have served him well in his short time in Parliament.

    The Iraqi Ambassador met him earlier this year while visiting from Canberra and he has been using his own networks to open up markets for New Zealand exporters. Trade is a passion. He wants to see local companies tapping into the extensive demand


    policing in Iraq, Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf countries and other Middle Eastern nations.

    ‘‘There’s everything from food and services, construction, oil and gas. There’s all sorts of different opportunities up there.’’

    Promoting trade and working for his Rodney electorate are Mr Mitchell’s main focus for now. Despite a history of leadership roles, he will not be drawn on aspirations. Prime Minister Mark Mitchell? ‘‘If being prime minister was going to get me out of doing the lawns then I’d have to dust off my CV. I’ve been trying to get out of the lawns since I was 15,’’ he says.

    ‘‘I’m back learning again, because this is a very different job.

    ‘‘You do bring over a lot of your life experience and a lot of your past experience with you but this is all about learning again now. I find it challenging. I’m not bored at all with what I’m doing.’’

    FELLOW Rodney candidate and Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says Mr Mitchell will have to show some backbone and stand up for what he really believes in, after sticking to the party line throughout the election campaign.

    ‘‘That made it difficult for him on some of the key issues.

    ‘‘He did make a promise that he would put the electorate ahead of the party, now that’s going to be a big promise to have to keep. So we will see.’’

    Mr Craig says Mr Mitchell had great support from his family and put a lot of effort into his campaign.

    Mr Mitchell says he would do whatever he was asked to do for the Government, but planned to spend the first term focused on his electorate.

    ‘‘I haven’t struck anything that has completely surprised me or shocked me or I hadn’t been prepared for. It’s all been pretty plain sailing up till now.’’

    • Blazer

       /  February 21, 2018

      sounds like a charming character…Hager DP…’Mitchell, their selection candidate, was paying big money for this dirty campaigning, and was well aware of what he was buying. Slater wrote to Lusk, ‘I hope Mark is up with the play on these posts.’ Lusk said, ‘Yes am talking to him a lot. He is telling me that it is having a massive effect.’ Slater replied, ‘Hehe.’

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 21, 2018

        If you believe in the cult of Slater then that was big news…if you think Slater is a legend in his own lunchtime, you can disregard the Hager spin fairly easily.

        As an aside, Journo’s seem to universally describe Mitchell as “a nice guy” “genial” and “affable”.

        Where has your impression of him come from?

        • Blazer

           /  February 21, 2018

          from a cross section,his puff media profile,DP,radio interview ,and C.V.Appears to be the ‘hang em high’ redneck type to me.Just the type we don’t need anywhere near…power in NZ.Prefer all the other candidates,but I guess he’s playing a …long game.Be interesting to assess the records of former Police members in Parliament.The ones I can think of….do not impress.

          • Blazer

             /  February 21, 2018

            these questions were put to him(spinoff)…he did not answer them…
            ‘ significant issues raised by the UN on the use of PMSCs are 1) the undermining of democratic accountability and control on the use of armed force, and 2) the perpetuation of violent conflict due to allocation of public funds to the private sector, and subsequent influence of private interest in national politics. Given your experience, what comment do you have on these two concerns?

            How do you see the role of PMSCs in relation to NZDF expenditure and priorities?

            How can conflicts of interest be mitigated for a party leader (and potential Prime Minister) to operate in the best interest of peace, who has clear private business interests in war?

  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  February 21, 2018

    Who has been donkey deep in having a spin-doctor lobbyist as her Chief-of-staff?

    • Blazer

       /  February 21, 2018

      the big story is in the last part of your link….(John Key..deep)
      ‘”Whatever the sector, a Cabinet minister who legislates/regulates in ways which are welcomed by the regulated industry are much more likely to find the post-politics doors open than one who regulates in a way the industry finds costly or inconvenient. It isn’t just an issue in banking – it could be telecoms, or electricity, or transport, export education or whatever. I’m no great fan of most business regulation, but it exists – and the community as a whole has made a decision that such regulation is necessary or desirable. If so, it is easy to envisage cases of a conflict between the public interest and the private interests of the regulated entities.”

      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  February 21, 2018

        I think the big story lurks in the middle.. Our current PM has been cozying up to a lobbyist who has installed his folks in the Big House.

        Thompson, who has been a lobbyist and PR professional for many years, worked with Jacinda Ardern last year, helping prepare her for the TV leaders debates. And then when she formed the new government she invited Thompson to be Labour’s Chief of Staff, despite the fact that he would remain a lobbyist and director of his Thompson Lewis firm……

        Plenty of questions remain about the situation. It is highly unusual to have a lobbyist become the Chief of Staff for a government, in the full knowledge and declaration that they will then swap immediately sides after the appointment. It certainly puts Thompson and his business in an extremely strong position. After all, Thompson had the role of recruiting a number of the new people staffing the Beehive. He will know the ins and outs of the staff he hired, as well as everything about the new administration generally.

        As Laura Walters puts it in her article, “Thompson left his lobbying job to help set up the new government, before returning to his life in Auckland, meaning he has up-to-date knowledge of and contacts within government.”
        I think the end stuff is a distractor.