Journalism versus political hit jobs

There has been discussion and questions asked lately  about why some media (Newshub and RNZ in particular) have been publishing conversations that had been secretly recorded by Jami-Lee Ross. It has appeared at times as of they are aiding ongoing attacks on Simon Bridges and National on behalf of Ross and/or Cameron Slater and/or Simon Lusk. They have at least aided and abetted the attacks.

Some of the latest headlines on it from Newshub:

That ‘expert’ was an employment consultant, and the issue being covered had nothing to do with employment.

An indication of how agenda orientated these are is that this sort of article is being repeated at Whale Oil – and most other media are not covering it with anywhere near the same attack style.

The Newshub approach prompted an interesting discussion on Twitter:

Matthew Hooton: People complaining that is campaigning to get rid of Bridges don’t understand current media ethics. etc are doing . They think Bridges is too socially conservative so they think they need to protect NZ from him by getting rid of him

Tim Watkin: Matthew, I’m putting this into your ‘wind-up’ category. Because I assume you do actually know what advocacy journalism is… and know that’s NOT advocacy journalism.

Liam Hehir: Advocacy journalism is more like what John Campbell does – or did – right? What do you call it when you simply go out to wreck politicians and degrade public trust in the institutions of politics?

Time Watkin: Advocacy journalism explicitly advocates for a cause or argument. Sometimes for a group of people/victims. It takes a viewpoint & transparently says it’s not balanced. Saying Tova is not balanced is insulting & undeserved. I don’t like lazy insults.

Lawrence Hakiwai: I think what is saying is that there is a clear and obvious attempt by members of the media to unseat as leader of the National Party by using manufactured and imagined crises. The issues this Government faces are real and far more newsworthy.

Tim Watkin: Well if that is what he’s saying, then I think he’s very wrong. (And I’m sure he knows that’s not true). If any journalist in NZ set out to try to unseat a politician they would be fired. Anyone claiming that has never been in a NZ newsroom. Let’s value our independent media.

Matthew Hooton: Don’t make me laugh. Journalists of a certain kind constantly speak privately in terms of “we’re gonna get her/him” as you very well know. This is exactly what is happening in this case.

Russell Brown: On this one point, I agree with you. I hate hearing journalists brag about “scalps”, as if ending a political career is what they’re there for. But that’s quite different to your original allegation. It just happens to weakened leaders, because that’s safer and easier to do.

And I don’t even know that that’s what’s happening in this case. Maybe it’s more about a supply of newsworthy material for people who are under constant pressure to deliver news. That’s why some journalists used to hold their noses and deal with Slater.

Matthew Hooton: “used to”?

Liam Hehir: The nihilistic approach to covering political news here, with its emphasis on corroding trust in institutions & assuming the worst about everyone, will continue to have purchase since at any one time, half the audience just laps it up with little regard to how they felt earlier.

Matthew Hooton: It’s like the thing. A total colossal fuck up of course. But “gotcha” reporting didn’t start speculating on how it all happened (which would be of huge interest) but on whether he would resign (which is neither here nor there).

Russell Brown: To be fair, the gotcha was the key message of the Opposition party. National doesn’t *actually* think ILG has committed a resigning offence, but must be delighted that the more biddable commentators have bought into the idea.

Whether the sort of journalism being discussed is a result of pressure to produce headlines and clicks with a fast turnover of stories, or whether some journalists get sucked into the thrill of the political kill (there is probably some of both) this is a serious issue facing both journalism and politics in New Zealand.

One symptom is media making virtual demands that politicians resign over embellished stories that can look more like hit jobs than reporting.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 6, 2018

    Hooton nails it.

  2. robertguyton

     /  November 6, 2018

    [deleted – don’t put into comments anything that appears like a bracketed commented by me that I have not done. PG]

  3. Griff.

     /  November 6, 2018

    They think Bridges is too socially conservative

    Do tell Mr Hooten who is the second most visible Nat party member ?
    What thats right its “crusher” Collins.
    Why she would be like.. you know… conservative… even more so than Bridges.
    Any one who doesn’t think she is at lest sitting with the best barrier draw for the race to be new leader must be living in a cave.
    You would have to be mad to think that by rolling bridges you are pushing Nat’s to the left .
    There is a good chance it will result in the Nat’s going further conservative right .

  4. Gezza

     /  November 6, 2018

    Before all this explosion of diarrhoea started emanating at great volume and speed from JLR’s orifices, it was clear to me that the msm was very much attempting to remove Bridges. There were dozens of articles that essentially were telling their readers he was inevitably stepping down because he was so fucking useless and unpopular. There wasn’t much he could do about it.

    Tv and print media were writing him off and bad mouthing him on a regular basis – in contrast to how they handled a succession of notable failures of post-Clark Labour leaders where they would simply give their hapless losers some air time and the odd two second whingeing soundbyte and let the public quietly decide for themselves they were tanking their own party because they were so poor as leaders

    I mean, Christ, – Shearer – Captain Mumblefuck they were calliing him at TS. What an unmitigated disaster that idiot was. And there were STILL idiots over there going “he’ll come right; that interview where nobody know what he was burbling about, even him, eventually people will realise he’s the best thing that ever happened to NZ”.

    • Blazer

       /  November 6, 2018

      whats your point?

      • Gezza

         /  November 6, 2018

        Hooton’s claim some parts of the media are actively campaigning to get rid of Bridges is right. It was evening happening before JLR.

        For comparison – they never campaigned to get rid of all the equally useless tossers who were Labour’s previously failed leaders.

        • Gezza

           /  November 6, 2018

          Fk! *even happening,

        • Gezza

           /  November 6, 2018

          And the thing I found most amusing throughout Mumblefuck’s reign was that while the media left him alone & just reported or showed his blitherings, there were Lefties on TS actively campaigning to rid of him.

        • Blazer

           /  November 6, 2018

          Sorry the MSM most certainly did undermine Shearer,Little name 2.

          • Gezza

             /  November 6, 2018

            They just let them hang themselves from my recollection. Happy to view your links and be corrected if incorrect.

  5. duperez

     /  November 6, 2018

    What’s media? What’s journalist? Why are some media publishing the views of journalist Matthew Hooton?

    Are some parts of the media actively campaigning to not get rid of Bridges?

    We want everything to be black and white when we want everything to be black and white but at other times are quite content to chuck in measures of blue and yellow and red and black and white. And sometimes end up with a sort of crap khaki colour.

    For someone who has it all black and white Hooton puts out a lot of crap.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 7, 2018

      The “Simon Bridges’ handling of Jami-Lee Ross affair a ‘disaster’ – expert” story was an excellent example of trying to shoe-horn a narrative where it didn’t exist.
      The headline was blatantly misleading, and the story was desperately trying to imply a narrative that didn’t exist.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 7, 2018

      Random thoughts, duperez? They don’t seem to have any relevance to Hooton’s accusations which are simply and obviously true.

      • duperez

         /  November 8, 2018

        Observations about the shemozzle that is the media, its place, what it actually is and who it is. We want it to be the bird we see flying in, sitting on the branch and we can walk around and regard. And listen to. It might have been like that at some time.

        Comparatively speaking now its like a fantail on P. Or is it the everywhichway insect? Or the black mamba on synthetics?