‘Denial is guilt’ nonsense

This week Barry Soper stoked speculation about Bill English’s political future – the morning of a major ‘state of the nation’ speech by English. There were the usual denials of any intent by MPs, and the story reach absurd heights when Soper claimed that denials meant ‘proof of guilt’.

NZH: Proof of guilt is denial, and there are denials all around inside National

In politics the proof of guilt is denial and there have been denials all round.

After almost 40 years observing them close up, including 10 Prime Ministers who’ve come and gone bar one, it’s hardly first day journalism. It’s actually getting around the talking to politicians and there’s a common thread that runs through rumbles on leadership, there are denials not just from those who’re involved in leadership but from those who’re close to it.

And the reason for that is simple; they’re the last to know.

This is pathetic.

Politicians get asked many questions, some good questions and some stupid questions.

Soper cannot mean that every denial means guilt. There must be many denials that are genuine and truthful.

That some denials later prove to have been misleading or incorrect doesn’t mean all denials are the same.

Soper is falling into a trap of running a story and trying to justify it by claiming responses mean the opposite of what is said – so that it conveniently fits his story.

There may well be talk of leadership within National – I’d be shocked if there wasn’t, politicians must contemplate future leadership possibilities all the time, especially after elections where a party has failed to remain in government.

Basing a story on ‘denial means guilt’ is very sloppy journalism, regardless of forty years of experience of occasional denials (amongst many) turning into legitimate stories.