Political bullshit amplified in social media by opponents

Political strategists are using social media is being used like a dirty jungle.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff): In the attention economy, bullshit wins, and you’re helping shovel it along

Twenty years ago access to media coverage was controlled via the notorious gatekeepers: editors and senior journalists who decided what the news was and who got included or excluded from it. And this system had plenty of downsides but did make it harder for transparently bad actors like Cummings to swing crucial elections in advanced democracies.

As the world keeps reminding us, that media model no longer exists: the news value of a story is no longer defined by its palatability to gatekeepers, or anyone else. Instead, in a world of basically infinite content, news value is created by the ability of a story to maximise audience attention as it competes against rival forms of content: every political story vies for attention against stories about wildfires, Trump, celebrity feuds, evil Daenerys, the relentless white noise of coups, protests, riots, counterrevolutions, along with video games, streaming content, group chats, infinite cats, infinite sports, infinite porn.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this decade, I think, it’s that social media activism is not activism. Liking and sharing stuff; telling people with different value systems that they’re morons and you hate them is not politics. The endless torrents of call outs and sneering are not emotional labour. All you’re doing is producing free content for global tech companies. There’s an exception to that, though: if what you’re doing is amplifying your opponent’s worst messages, elevating them to the mainstream media where persuadable voters can see them, then congratulations. You’re an activist. For them.

So what do you do when you see your political adversaries telling lies?

I think you have to speak up and stand up against bullshit and deceit and attempts to stoke division, but it’s a challenge to work out how to do this effectively without playing into PR hands.

A full of bull election

This election campaign has been full of bullshit – there has been a lot of deliberate misinformation, and many false and misleading claims. All the larger parties have been guilty of this.

Some of the biggest bluster has come from National, and it continues. Newshub:  Steven Joyce still backing Labour’s alleged $11.7b fiscal hole

Steven Joyce is still backing his claim of a gaping fiscal hole in Labour’s budget, despite numerous economists saying his $11.7 billion calculation is wrong.

The National finance spokesman told Three’s The Project on Tuesday evening that nobody disagrees the opposition’s numbers don’t add up.

“Everybody’s agreed there’s a hole… the only debate is about how big it is and Labour are trying to fill it with their seven taxes,” he said during a bickering match with Labour deputy finance spokesman David Clark.

But Mr Clark called that “rubbish”.

“[Mr Joyce] has dug a big hole and he’s thrown his credibility into it.”


Mr Clark says Labour is being nothing but transparent.

“So we’re more transparent than they are and the big challenge to Steven is to lay out his account because Labour has been ridiculously transparent.”

That’s ridiculous nonsense. What will Labour do with tax?

Stuff:  Jacinda Ardern tells Kelvin Davis off over capital gains tax comments

Ardern said she was “absolutely clear” on the fact Labour would hold a working group, but refused to answer how far Labour was intending to go with its conclusions and suggested tax changes were more likely to occur in the first term.

“I’ve absolutely maintained our right, and my right as leader, to make sure when that tax working group reports back that I am able to act in Government in the best interests of New Zealand to try and address the housing crisis.”

Yes Labour were ‘transparent’ about their intention to form a tax working group, but absolutely unclear on what would eventuate.

So unclear Ardern changed her mind about when anything coming out of the working group would be implemented, deferring any changes until 2021.

Muddying this even more was James Shaw’s elevation on Sunday of Capital Gains Tax to a priority in Green negotiations.

Patrick Gower raises the bullshitometer:  National guilty of biggest campaign lie

It has been deliberately spreading misinformation that “Labour is raising income tax”.

This is not true.

The reality is that Labour has actually ruled out raising income tax.

What Labour has done is say that it will cancel National’s tax cuts that are due to come into force next year.

Yes, National has over-egged ‘Labour will raise tax’, but Labour (and Gower) are bordering on bullshitting here too. It depends on semantics.

Many income earners will pay more tax under a Labour government than under a National government – tax cuts of up to $1000 a year from next April are in the statute books, and Labour say they will change the law, effectively raising tax from what is currently legislated for.

Greens have put themselves on an honesty and integrity pedestal, but desperate to save themselves from falling below the threshold they have been promoting some major bullshit too.

They have added a banner to their billboard that I drive past each morning. It says something like:

‘The only way to get a progressive Labour+Green government is to vote Green’.

And of course there is the veteran bullshitter.

From The Spinoff:  Tinkerbell the pretty communist and other things the dairy farmers said

Peters harangued the crowd in that stabby way of his, telling them the National Party had “secret deals with the Māori Party” and a “secret deal with iwi around the country”, and that straight after the election we were going to learn that National, like Labour, was going to introduce a water tax.”

Peters later told media he had “a letter in my briefcase over there” (though he didn’t ask anyone to go and get it).

Several others tried simple straight questions, and Peters ducked and dived on every one of them. He didn’t seem to mind. He wasn’t there to win the crowd, he was there to use the event to dominate the news that evening.

Scott Smyth, a dairy farmer from Karapiro, asked Peters whether, if he was in government with Labour, he would stop the water tax. Peters wouldn’t say.

Peters claims he knows of a ‘secret deal’, implied he had evidence, but as he often does he didn’t produce any. and he woukldn’t commit to stopping a water tax either.

Peters may or may not be king maker after the election but before it he wears the bullshit crown.

The dishonesty of all parties in this campaign has made it an election full of bull. Voters are poorly served by these levels of dishonesty.

Weka and naming bullshit

One of the most irrelevant and stupidest references I’ve seen to me, seeming to imply I have ‘set up’ an abrasive thread on Open Mike at The Standard (I haven’t commented there for nine months).


FFS you lot, is it going to be like this all day? Really?


I called out abusive language directed at another member.

Public service innit?


Looks like you want to fight RWNJ and/or trolls rather than discuss politics. I think there are better ways to do that if you want it to also be a public service.

Perhaps Weka has changed her approach, she has been involved in a quite a bit of fighting over the years. Good on her if she has decided to try and promote less vitriolic discussions.

But her references to Right Wing Nut Jobs and trolls (typical tactic at The Standard to try and shut unwelcome visitors out of discussions) suggests she hasn’t changed much.

b waghorn:

I seem to remember it getting like this last year at about the same time, its caused by the lack of fresh meat to feed them.


It did seem like a bit of a feeding frenzy this morning.

Plus I suspect the sexual offending one is a set up. Cue post from Pete George saying that the standard supports child pornography watchers.

Having just frowned on the quality of discussion Weka suggests it was caused by a set up and implies it could have been me , and then makes a stupid suggestion, even by her standards.

I note that anyone deemed a RWNJ or troll by Standard vigilantes who  posted ‘the standard supports’ there risks being attacked, abused and threatened with a ban, but Weka seems exempt from moderation.

Later Weka said:

I don’t have a problem with calling out bullshit. It was more just that I came onto OM this morning and it was full of bickering. Naming bullshit is one thing, arguing about it endlessly is another. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that, do it myself, but it was just a bit much and I thought it might be good to name it and see if it changed.

At least she acknowledges “I know how easy it is to get sucked into that, do it myself”.

But things haven’t changed much when she tries to blame it on RWNJs and trolls and then dumps on me.

So I’m calling out her bullshit.

If she really wants a better way of doing things she could try apologising for making a shitty insinuation about me knowing that I have no right of reply at The Standard – I’m banned from naming their bullshit there.