Media continue pressure on National but they are scrutinised as well

Media continue to pile pressure on the National Party over their handling of emails leaked by Michelle Boag.

Boag has already resigned from the party and withdrawn from being involved in Nikki Kaye’s electorate campaign, and MP Hamish Walker has pulled the plug on his political career after admitting forwarding private information about Covid cases to media.

But the weekend is full on trying to find something else to dump on National.

Kaye fronted up on Q+A – 1 News chose an uncomplimentary photo.

This is a common way media try to convey something about politicians.

Jack Tame also said that while Kaye looked genuine in denying knowing about the leaks from Boag ‘it still looked very suspicious she didn’t know’.  Why? Either they take her word for it, or find evidence she wasn’t being truthful. Politicians have enough problems when they don’t look genuine, but saying ‘she looked genuine but…’ is bordering on dirty politics.

In contrast, the Spinoff was more kind with it’s photo selection:

Political leaks are frequently used by media. In this case they are distancing themselves, but questions are also being asked about the media involvement.

Mediawatch (RNZ): Walkergate revives Dirty Politics vibes (audio):

A universally-condemned leak of Covid-19 patients’ personal data for political purposes prompted the media to ask if ‘Dirty Politics’ was back – or had ever gone away in the first place.  But just like Nicky Hager’s book in 2014, this episode also raised questions about the media’s handling of the leak itself.

Dirty politics worked and works because the media amplified political attacks, often from leaks.

Paul Ryan: Assange a ‘sycophant for Russia’

The Republicans will dominate all of the presidency, the Senate and Congress in the new term, but the way the year has started suggests it may not be unbridled power – the horses seem to be hitched and pulling in different directions.

There was an attempt to slash oversight of Congress, followed by a Trump frowning via Twitter a rapid u-turn – see The Swamp fights back.

Now Paul Ryan calls Julian Assange a ‘sycophant for Russia’.

Mr. Assange reiterated this week in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Russia was not the source behind the internal communications from Democratic officials that WikiLeaks released during the campaign.

In a series of Wednesday morning tweets, President-elect Donald Trump touted Mr. Assange’s recent testimony and questioned why Democratic officials were so “careless” with their communications.


House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he really has no opinion on Mr. Assange, “other than I think the guy is a sycophant for Russia.”


.@SpeakerRyan on Julian Assange: “He leaks. He steals data and compromises national security.”

All Press Corps eyes will probably be atwitter and atrump.


Winston’s lips less loose outside Parliament

Winston Peters has made a number of accusations against Peter Dunne under parliamentary privilege. He hasn’t provided any evidence to back up his claims.

In a RadioLive column Peters repeats much of the same except he doesn’t name anyone without the legal protection of Parliament. He knows that making an accusation of criminal wrongdoing would expose him to potential defamation proceedings.

His column:

Loose lips sink ships (and politicians)

By Winston Peters

In Western democracies, we take our freedom for granted. We are free to speak our minds on talkback shows, yell insults at the referee during rugby games and write all sorts of idiotic nonsense on social media.

This freedom has come at a high price so governments guard it carefully and the cost is the price of the military and security arrangements through intelligence agencies. The Government Communications Security Bureau is one of those agencies.

In Parliament there is an Intelligence and Security Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. It has a statutory role to examine a wide range of security and intelligence issues. The material it handles is sensitive and classified and it can also involve the security of our allies.

It is therefore unacceptable that classified information before the committee has been leaking its way into the Fairfax media group by way of the Dominion Post newspaper in Wellington. To add to our concern, the Prime Minister himself admitted during Question Time on Wednesday that following a “leak” from the committee “…the committee clerk wrote to all members after that leak emerged and reminded them of their obligations and to be careful.”

This is serious stuff. It is actually a crime (Section 78 – Crimes Act) to release classified material yet an individual has seen fit to show these papers to a journalist on several occasions. The Dominion Post itself has said the material was leaked and it is obvious that the recent “Kitteridge” report on the GCSB was sighted by a journalist who could quote the number of pages it contained! Other leaks included morale at the GCSB and matters relating to the Kim Dotcom case.

No Parliament can afford to have “leakers” on intelligence and security matters. These leaks should be treated seriously by the Prime Minister and all those associated with this committee. In our view this is the job of the Police and they should be called in to investigate.

During the Second World War in Britain, thousands of ordinary people had access to Top Secret material during the course of their work. There were signs posted everywhere “Loose Lips Sink Ships”.

Very few of those people sank ships. Some politicians today could learn to follow their example.

Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First

I don’t expect Peters to follow the example he is imploring others to follow – that would break from a political lifetime of bad habits.

This columb omits the very explicit accusations Peters has made in the house. As he knows, loose lips outside Parliament could sink him.

In general I agree with what Peters says here, there shouldn’t be leaks, especially of classified information. I agree that leakers should be held to account, whoever they are.

But it is more than a little hypocritical of Peters to be so critical of leaking.

If Peters’ accusations have any basis in fact it would mean he has been leaked information about the ongoing David Henry invesitgation (into leaking).

And it would mean he has been leaked confidential phone records of Peter Dunne.

Peters is either the recipeint of leaked confidential information or he is making things up (some would call that lying).

And still Peters can prove nothing regarding criminal behaviour. It would appear that he is trying to initiate a vindictive police investigation through assumptive bluster. Or lies.

Winstons has proven his lips can’t be trusted. Yes, or no?