The non-naming of the National MP raises media issues

The non-naming of the National MP alleged to have had a several year relationship with Jami-Lee Ross continues, despite probably anyone who wants to know knowing who it is.

It is odd to see the media refraining from naming her, still. Neither National nor Labour want this going public, and there may be some journalists worried about where naming one unfaithful person involved in politics may lead.

The Southland Times should have a special interest in this considering where the MP has her electorate. Today’s editorial: ‘Moving on’ is not acceptable

An editorial published on October 25 raised the point that another issue had arisen from the Jami-Lee Ross saga, in relation to the “You deserve to die” text, said to be from a colleague with whom he acknowledged he had been having an affair.

Was it possible this text could be a breach of the Harmful Digital Communication Act, and could the sender of the text really stay in her role as an MP?

So, on November 8, the following questions were put to the National Party

* The “deserve to die” text reportedly came from a married MP. While National has indicated it is doing a review of its culture, has a separate investigation been launched to speak to the MP who reportedly sent his text?

* What discussions has the party had with the MP who reportedly sent a text like that?

* Has that MP been censured, faced internal discipline, or been stood down from duties? If no action has been taken by the party, why not?

* Does the National Party believe that the text message sent breached the Harmful Digital Communication Act?

* Does the National Party still believe the MP, who reportedly sent the text, is still fit to be an MP and represent the National Party, given they reportedly sent a text saying someone deserved to die?

* Has the MP offered to stand down? Or, are they still carrying out their duties as normal?

And wait for it, here’s the no comment from National.

“The National Party has no comment on these matters. Jami-Lee Ross is no longer a National MP and the party is moving on.”

Moving on … we don’t think so.

National may be “moving on” as it puts it, but in its wake it is leaving a trail of distrust, arrogance, and a big finger to its own party values.

Don’t forget that front and centre of National’s core values for building a society are two important words. Personal Responsibility.

Surely by now the MP in question would front up and take personal responsibility.

Hypocrites.

So the Southland Times slams National and the MP – but doesn’t name the MP.  This is a very strange approach from media.

It’s not just media – both National and Labour seem to want this kept quiet. On the AM show yesterday:

Duncan Garner: I’m not going to name names, ok, because um i don’t really know if it’s true or not, but can you tell me this, we’ll keep it generic.

Was Jami-lee Ross having relationships or affairs with National MPs?

Judith Collins: Well I don’t know. What I do know is that clearly there was something going on, but I always try and keep out of other people’s personal business, and what I do know is that that’s one of the things that I’ve always taken, is a given that you never get involved in other people’s business.

Michael Wood: …look, the Prime Minister from the top down in our Government has said that we don’t want to get involved in this stuff. We’ve got our job to do, going down the personal track with this kind of thing is not a healthy route for our democracy and our politics.

So that’s a clear message that Labour don’t want to get involved in personal relationships.

Given how much the parties attack and criticise each other over all sorts of things this is a curious situation.

More so the media’s reluctance to reveal a name – lest it become names? Jami-lee Ross threatened to ‘lift the bed sheets’ on Parliament, and if that happened it would be likely to name and out more than just MPs.

Graham Adams at Noted has concerns about this apparent pact of silence – The Jami-Lee Ross saga: Questions around cover-ups continue

Cover-ups — or allegations of them — leave a lingering stench that no amount of air-freshener can disguise. Simon Bridges may have tried to clear the air this week by testily telling journalists that he is moving on from Jami-Lee Ross and doesn’t want to talk about him any more but that seems much more like wishful thinking than acknowledging political reality.

But as the messy Jami-Lee Ross saga rolls on, accusations of cover-ups are not being levelled only at Bridges, Paula Bennett and the National Party. The news media — and particularly Parliament’s press gallery — have been accused of their own cover-up regarding the questions they are not asking in relation to the married National MP who apparently had a long-standing affair with Ross.

She was one of the four anonymous Newsroom complainants who made allegations about being bullied by Ross and she was later also reported to have sent Ross an abusive text that included the words, “You deserve to die.”

Richard Harman, who publishes the authoritative Politik newsletter, recently asked on the Kiwi Journalists Association Public Group Facebook page (which can be read by the public “in order to promote transparency, which as journalists we expect from others”) whether his fellow journalists thought he should publish her name.

Harman wrote: “Like most political journalists, I believe I know who that MP is… The inexorable pressure is now moving towards naming the MP. It’s a very difficult ethical issue. I certainly have emails from people on the left making the same allegation as Whaleoil — that the Press Gallery is party to a cover-up. But equally at what point does this simply become prurient gossip?”

There is certainly a difficult issue in how much personal relationship information should be made public. It would be bad if every little pash and bonk made the headlines. But there must be a line somewhere in between minor and major, rather than a comprehensive brick wall.

Although nearly all the opinions in response (including mine) were in favour of naming her, Harman concluded that he would be guided by the aphorism that “What the public is interested in is not necessarily in the public interest” and that she should remain anonymous.

Is ‘public interest’ the overriding factor here? Or is it self interest from media who fear what might come out?

In fact, there are very good reasons in the public interest to name her, and the Facebook discussion canvassed most of them. Obviously, there is the old-fashioned test of hypocrisy. If the married MP is indeed the one who has been widely named on social media, she represents a conservative electorate, is a social conservative herself, and publicly espouses family values. At the very least, you might think, voters might like to be told who she is so they could decide whether to continue supporting her.

It’s likely that many in her electorate will know who it is and may judge her accordingly at the next election, but that doesn’t excuse the media being some sort of moral guardian.

It’s not as if political journalists don’t know who the MP is either if they want to ask questions. All the news organisations to which the abusive text was leaked must know, including RNZ. And Heather du Plessis-Allan and others who work for Newstalk ZB must also know because in an interview with Ross he named her (which was bleeped out).

The hypocrisy test can also be used to judge the media alongside the MP. Certainly, the argument that it is not in the public interest to name her stands in stark contrast to the media feeding frenzy that erupted in 2013 when news of a sexual liaison between Auckland mayor Len Brown and a junior council adviser was made public on the Whale Oil blog.

Once the name is published it may open the floodgates, but not even Whale Oil has gone as far as naming her on this occasion – Slater has all but named her, but not ‘crossed the line’.

The fact that five years later the media is so coy about naming a married National MP who anonymously gave Newsroom highly personal details about her relationship with another married National MP inevitably raises uncomfortable questions — including whether there is one rule for Parliament which has a dedicated press gallery that operates in a symbiotic relationship with politicians and another for councils which don’t.

A casual observer might conclude that when you’re a woman like Chuang who is an ambitious nobody you’re fair game but when you’re a woman like the National MP who is an ambitious somebody the media will protect you.

And that’s hardly a good way to inspire trust in the media’s impartiality or its willingness to upset powerful people.

I suspect that some of the difference between Brown/Chuang and Ross/Dowie is national versus local politics. Local body politics is much more fragmented, both elected representatives and media.

Parliament is not just a grouping of MPs frequently in one place, it is also a media gallery of journalists who work alongside each other and alongside MPs a lot. It’s like some sort of club that has adhered to ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’.

I think that the media should name the MP who is at the centre of this issue, but if the do they should also look at the wider issue of relationships and sex amounts MPs, journalists and staff.

Journalists should disclose personal relationships if it relates to politicians they are reporting on and giving their opinions on. There are issues with journalists straying more and more into political activist roles, so the public has a right to know who may be influencing their opinions and their choice of stories and headlines.

The naming of the MP may be uncomfortable for parties and politicians, but they have long records of keeping things private and secret of they can get way with it.

It is up to journalists and media to investigate and to reveal pertinent political secrets. When they don’t want to go near the sex and relationship thing it suggests they could have secrets of their own they don’t want disclosed.

This is not a good situation for the supposedly without favour fearless fourth estate to be in.

Are NZ media left or right?

An age old argument is whether the media favour or lean left or right. One common claim is that editorially they lean right but most journalists tend to lean left. I think it’s far more complex than that.

The alleged leaning of the media is often stated in relation to the leaning of the person of accusing them of favouring the other lot and not giving enough weight to their preferences.

Last month Justin Hu tried to pigeon\hole New Zeaaland media and political blogs – Subjective New Zealand media objectivity/bias chart\ –  but that seems to be a work in progress, after a lot of online discussion and criticism he adjusted his chart.

It came up on Reddit yesterday: What NZ media are neither leftist nor right and have no political opinion?

I’m truly tired of hearing stories with extreme leftist and politically correct opinion. (News hub is guilty) It seems that so much media in NZ is extreme left with all there political opinions. Does anyone know of any neutral NZ media with no right leaning nor left opinions but just tells the news as it is? Hard facts.

No media can be entirely neutral – especially not from everyone’s perspective. And no media publishes on ‘hard facts’. And if they did they would probably be accused of only publishing selected facts that resulted in bias.

An attempt to judge the media here:

I think you would struggle to call our media extreme left.

Stuff and Herald probably have centre right editorial stances but both seek leftist commentators. This probably is a result of having a traditional media base.

TVNZ is simply too bland to say it has any political persuasion. news hub is all over the place but O’Brien is clearly a fan of Jacinda. Garner is simply a dick and I have never been able to work him out.

ZB is clearly a right wing mouthpiece. Most probably a result of the fact that it is talk back.

Then you come to the independents. RNZ is largely left these days but morning report is objective and Espinar is great. Campbell clearly sits centre left.

Then you have Newsroom that is edited by Hickey and Murphy both of whom are left wing.

And blogs:

Then you come to the web natives. spinoff, standard and the daily blog (and scoop) that have left wing editorial stances. Although I agree with someone else that the Scoop has largely gone downhill and largely just straight releases press releases but Gordon Campbell is as left as they come.

Then on the right you have kiwiblog and even further Whaleoil.

All four of the above mentioned blogs (not Scoop) have clear political leanings and are to varying extents political activists promoting their preferences, and far more commonly, trying to trash their opponents.

Are any extreme?

Just out of interest what do you consider extreme left and extreme right?

Because those terms are relative to your beliefs, what one person might consider extreme right another might think is more center right.

Relative to one’s political perspective:

A general rule of thumb is that if you are a left-wing person, then all media or right-wing and vice-versa. Interpretations of media bias are a very common way to see the persecution complex in action.

Declining standards?

The reason for journalism’s decline is changing economics. Opinions are cheap, repeating press releases even cheaper. Everything has to generate its own clicks. Advertising is dead, but PR is very much alive to buy articles with.

Consistent editorial lines, a multitude of outlets and more personnel to report did make news higher quality in certain senses.

Many claim that there is a lot more crap published by media, and publishers and broadcasters are certainly under increasing financial pressure.

But we have far more available to see and read.

There was a time when almost all my news came from one newspaper and one TV channel, with a bit of variety from a Sunday newspaper.

I can find a lot more than that now if i look for it.

And I can find balance if i look for that too.

Bias can easily be detected if that’s what you want to find.

I’m only biased towards my own views, but I do try to consider and present other points of views and arguments too. One of the best ways to to this is allow other views to be expressed without restrictions.

Subjective New Zealand media objectivity/bias chart

I made one of those media bias chart thingys. This chart is based off media organisations’ overall coverage of New Zealand politics and policy.

NOTE: see updated chart at the bottom of this post.

Note here that I’m referring to objectivity — not neutrality. Journalism has an obligation to be objective but no obligation to be neutral in editorial decisions.

Note though that is one person’s opinion, so it is a subjective view of objectivity.

Also, this isn’t based off any data. Just my personal experience from being a news junkie.

More from Reddit: I made a New Zealand media objectivity/bias chart

I have to say that my methodology isn’t particularly scientific. It’s absolutely just my touchy-feely assessment from my abnormal news consumption — but then all of these charts are essentially just some person’s opinion.

I am reconsidering the placement of Newshub from all the feedback I’ve gotten.

So it appears to be a work in progress.

Herald’s website and Herald On Sunday have independent editorial teams but with a lot of shared content, therefore somewhat differing editorial standards. It’s not much of a gulf between the two but the latter does do more original reporting.

I’m judging The Guardian based on it’s NZ coverage which I think is obviously tilted if you take a closer look. https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=site%3Atheguardian.com+%22Ardern%22

I think their global reporting as a whole is excellent — far superior to the Herald/Stuff. It’s just that The Guardian’s New Zealand coverage is pretty heavily tilted — you can see for yourself by searching the term “Ardern” on their site

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=site%3Atheguardian.com+%22Ardern%22

Stuff does some excellent in-depth investigations among the clickbait — more so than the Herald’s website at this point.

https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/the-valley/ https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2018/10/drug-deals/https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2017/11/under-fire/ https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2017/06/ctv115/https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/83060745/glorivale-child-death-that-the-community-tried-to-keep-a-secrethttps://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2018/09/southside-rising/

Vice has received NZ On Air funding for some of it’s content, which is partially the reason why I rated it the way I did. Most of it being fairly high quality in nature. I highly recommend checking out their documentary on synthetic cannabis use in New Zealand.

http://stoppress.co.nz/news/vice-nz-syn-city-zealandia

So this is one persons stab at media ‘objectivity’, and is subject to influence and may change.

Interesting that Your NZ is included, this site isn’t generally rated alongside mainstream media, it’s purpose is quite different, and my resources are minute in comparison.

Funny to see Your NZ rated so close to Kiwiblog. David Farrar is openly and closely aligned to National, while I have no political affiliation or preference. At least we are out of the ‘partisan’ zone.

YNZ really leans further ‘right’ than NBR, and is similar to Newstalk ZB? I’m hardly a Mike Hosking-like mouthpiece.

Obviously quality is mixed here, but that must be true to varying degrees of any media.

objective: (of a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Everyone who publishes anything must to some extent be influenced “by personal feelings or opinions”.

UPDATE:  

NZH: Trump shakes core principles in attacks on media

Donald Trump attacks the US media a lot. He attacks a lot – he attacks his own Justice agencies, he attacks his Attorney General, he still attacks Hillary Clinton as if she is still a serious opponent, and he attacks a procession of people who write books about him and reveal recordings about him.

All of this is fairly unbecoming of a US president, especially when he repeatedly and unashamedly lies in his attacks.

Image result for trump nixon lincoln lie

I don’t know if that’s accurate – I don’t know if Trump knows he is persistently lying or if be believes his own bull.

But the most insidious attacks are directed at the media, trying to trash the credibility of newspapers and TV channels that don’t lavish praise on him (most of them).

NZH Editorial: Trump’s shots at media shake core principle

Over the next 24 hours, newspapers across the United States will run editorials decrying President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the media. The Boston Globe has organised the campaign in response to what it calls a “dirty war against the free press”.

Today, the Herald stands with our US colleagues. The campaign is not about politics, Republican or Democrat, but a warning against increasingly dangerous rhetoric designed to undermine the media’s credibility and to fan hostility towards it.

At a rally in Pennsylvania this month, Trump told his audience the media was “fake, fake disgusting news”. He has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people”.

He is in the company of some of the world’s worst tyrants in vilifying the media as “the enemy of the people”.

An ongoing concern is Trump’s use of the term “fake news”. The phrase was introduced into the political debate in 2016 not by Trump but his rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton. It described the use of completely fabricated “news” stories to influence potential voters on social media.

Trump quickly weaponised the term to target stories that reflected badly on him, rather than those that were factually inaccurate.

Unfortunately, the term has been adopted by some politicians and business leaders in New Zealand to discredit views that are unwelcome, dismissing stories outright without discussion.

‘Fake news’ has become a euphemism for ‘disagree and discredit’, or like Trump they want to intimidate media into not being critical of him.

The fear is that Trump’s broadsides are designed to shatter all public trust in the media, so the results of important reporting and investigations fall on deaf ears.

That’s exactly why Trump and others do this.

The process of journalism is not perfect and errors of fact and judgment do occur.

However, if we acknowledge that the information in our reporting and investigations is important, then we should not want it obscured by a pervasive mistrust in the media, promoted by the world’s most powerful politician.

There’s quite a lot of people who defend Trump’s attacks, but as time goes on more will see the harm that he is trying too do on the media, and therefore on a core function in an open and free democracy.

Image result for cartoon fake news

Trump escalates ‘enemy of the people’ to ‘war’

Donald Trump’s ongoing attacks on media as ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’ has been widely criticised, for good reason. See Trump’s “enemy of the people’ attacks teetering on tyranny.

 

But as is typical of Trump when he is criticised, he has escalated his rhetoric.

So he emphases his tyrant talk of ‘enemy of the people’ and then ups the ante to ‘War’! One could question whether he is becoming unhinged under pressure – which is a dangerous thing for someone who can easily start wars.

Will Trump use a war to try to justify his claims, and then blame it on the media?

One thing that is apparent about Trump – he projects.

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.

It Trump’s case it may not be unwanted feelings, it looks more like a propensity to blame others for one’s own problems or aims.

Purposely cause great division and distrust? That’s exactly what Trump is doing, more and more.

Can also cause war? That’s much more likely to be a president than a newspaper.

Very dangerous and sick? That could be a very worrying projection.

Trump frequently tells lies. Sometimes he may simply make things up to suit his line of attack, but he repeats many of his lies, suggesting in part at least it is a deliberate strategy.

He tries to sound truthful (and blame others for lying when they report and criticise him).

He is also known for his contradictions.

It wouldn’t seem out of character for him to start a war (like starting a war with the media or a trade war), and try to make murder respectable, and at the same time blame others.

The Trump attacks are not limited to crazy tweets. He seems to be increasing the number of campaign style meetings where he stirs up crowd emotions, promoting division with attacks on opponents, critics and the media with lies and manipulation – much like tyrants of the past have done.

For a long time the US has been able to avoid war on it’s own soil, but a Trump provoked or inspired civil war is effectively under way already. If that turns violent it could get very messy.

For how long will Trump be allowed to follow such a high risk path before someone steps in and tries to restore relative sanity?

Or will the Madness of King Trump be allowed to continue unabated? That looks like an increasingly risky option.

Trump’s “enemy of the people’ attacks teetering on tyranny

Donald Trump has frequently attacked ‘the media’, interchanging ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’. The latter puts him in quite bad company. Lenin Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, and Hitler, and more recently in Venezuela, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

Trump has been doing it since the start of his presidency.

NY Times (17 February 2017): Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People’

President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.”

Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks.

USA Today (24 February 2017): Trump again calls media ‘enemy of the people’

President Trump turned his speech before a conservative convention into a full-throated attack on journalism Friday, saying some reporters make up unnamed sources for “fake news” and again describing them as “the enemy” of the American people.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” Trump told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

While praising some reporters as honest, and pledging fealty to the First Amendment, Trump claimed that “the fake news media doesn’t tell the truth.” He said reporters should not be allowed to use anonymous sources, and “we’re going to do something about it.”

And on Friday (2 August 2018):

So Trump has hept portraying ‘a large percentage of the media’ (media that doesn’t say what he wants) as “the enemy of the people”.  This is an insidious assault on an imperfect and essential part of a free and open democracy.

And it is a tactic that has been done by tyrants and dictators in the past.

Brookings: Enemy of the People

In Enemy of the People, Marvin Kalb, an award-winning American journalist with more than six decades of experience both as a journalist and media observer, writes with passion about why we should fear for the future of American democracy because of the unrelenting attacks by the Trump administration on the press.

Shortly after assuming office in January 2017, President Donald Trump accused the press of being an “enemy of the American people.” Attacks on the media had been a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, but this charge marked a dramatic turning point: language like this ventured into dangerous territory.

Twentieth-century dictators—notably, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—had all denounced their critics, especially the press, as “enemies of the people.” Their goal was to delegitimize the work of the press as “fake news” and create confusion in the public mind about what’s real and what isn’t; what can be trusted and what can’t be.

Image result for cartoon enemy of the people

@BriaanKlaas:

Trump continues to call the press “the enemy of the people,” which is both disgusting and dangerous. To understand why, let’s look at the history of that sinister phrase, who has used it in the past, why, and how it fosters a higher likelihood of violence against journalists.

The modern origins of the phrase are from the French Revolution’s “reign of terror,” when people were beheaded en masse. But it resurged during the Nazi era, when Hitler referred to the “lying press” and called Jews “the enemy of the people.” But, it keeps getting worse.

It’s a Soviet phrase too, something Lenin started and Stalin continued. For Stalin, labeling someone an “enemy of the people,” meant internment at a forced labor camp and sometimes death. The term was *too extreme* for Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced it *in the 1950s.*

Mao used the phrase regularly too to label anyone who opposed his rule as an “enemy of the people.” The consequences of that label were also dire and often led to death. Mao was a murderous dictator who killed nearly 40 million people.

In modern times, other dictators have used the phrase too. Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez labeled critical media outlets as “enemies of the homeland,” in the same vein. Are you beginning to see a pattern in what type of regime calls its critics the “enemy of the people?”

The phrase has also been deployed against the press in places as diverse as Myanmar (when it was ruled purely by a military junta) and Zimbabwe (when it was ruled by longtime dictator Robert Mugabe)

There is a reason that the phrase “enemy of the people” has been almost exclusively deployed by murderous dictators. To use it to describe the free press, which is a pillar of every democracy, is particularly sinister. Trump is borrowing a phrase from the worst of the worst.

In my field research, I’ve interviewed several authoritarian leaders who admit that they do *what they can get away with* when it comes to destroying the press. The White House used to be the deterrent, threatening consequences to regimes that harassed or attacked journalists.

Calling the press “the enemy of the people” encourages violence against journalists in the US. Keep in mind that he has also called the free press “a stain on America,” and “scum.” People listen to him. And a lot of crazy people with guns listen to him too.

Trump’s anti-press rhetoric puts him in a category with Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, Hitler & Chavez. This isn’t partisan. Democracy can’t survive without a free press. Authoritarianism requires the press to be crushed or cowed. Trump’s rhetoric is disgusting, dangerous, and must end.

I doubt it will end. Trump plays by his own rules as much as he can.

And it isn’t just Trump. He has his lackeys supporting his attacks on media – see Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to dispute claim that media is ‘enemy’ of the people.

And Trump has recruited an army of supporters who make excuses and defend his assaults on the media, and attack ‘the media’, and denigrate and try to discredit those who condemn his insidious attacks.

So does he see media that holds him to account is an enemy of his ambitions? Or an enemy of his ego?

I think it’s both. His presidency is teetering on tyranny.

Fake president, fake news and ‘enemy of the people’

There’s no doubt that US media has dug itself into a big credibility hole. They have records of inaccuracies and bias, with major media like CNN and Fox News clearly promoting leaning heavily in different political directions. And they are in large part responsible for the Trump phenomenon,

But equally responsible for the Trump phenomenon is Trump, but for his successes and excesses.

Trump has used the media, but also battled against the media. He has popularised the term ‘fake news’, which is ironic given the frequency with which he blatantly lies.

He is more of a fake than the news. At least there is a wide variety of news sources, of varying quality. There is only one fake president.

‘Fake news’ has become Trumpian for news he doesn’t want published or broadcast. His continued attacks on media are a major concern in what is supposed to be a free world democracy. He is at risk of becoming a tyrant as well as, being an egotistical boofhead.

He was attacking again yesterday, but trying to qualify his attack after criticism of his labelling the media as ‘enemy of the people’, and encouraging anti-media crowd attacks at his bizarre public rallies.

The Hill: Trump takes us-versus-them media war to new heights

When CNN’s Jim Acosta was booed and cursed at a campaign rally for President Trump this week, many political observers said it exemplified how much the media environment has changed under the current administration — and that it is a sign of what’s to come.

On Thursday, tensions reached new heights when Acosta walked out of the White House briefing room after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to answer a pointed question about whether she agreed with Trump that the press was the “enemy of the people.”

Acosta noted that Ivanka Trump, earlier on Thursday, had said she did not agree with that sentiment.

Trump has been a president like no other, bending the truth as he sees fit and talking to supporters and bypassing the media with his Twitter account.

Still, he’s been a boon to the media, raising ratings for cable networks that are both supportive and critical of his actions.

It has been an escalation in mutual destruction of credibility. Trump feeds off and feeds the media. The media feast on the beast they have created.

“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would say it’s a bad strategy and he’s not going to win because in previous times it wouldn’t work,” Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said of Trump’s media strategy. “But we’re consistently seeing more and more people for whom that message is working.”

The rising anger has fed worries in some quarters about the possibility of attacks on the press or violence between Trump critics and supporters.

“We can’t shrug off Trump’s attacks on the press. Ever,” Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor, wrote Thursday on Twitter. “They’re undemocratic and invite, even incite, violence. This bears repeating. It demands repeating.”

There’s a high chance of it resulting in something terrible.  While not directly linked to Trump’s ongoing promotion of dislike and distrust in the media, something that should be of concern has already happened – 5 killed in shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland

And it looks like attacking media and lying is part of a deliberate Trump strategy.

An important job for the media is to hold politicians to accou8nt for what they say.

Washington Post: President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days

It turns out that’s when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Put another way: In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

So Trump is continuing what has been a successful campaign against media. That is, successful for his purposes – it is a failure for US democracy.

New Yorker – It’s True: Trump Is Lying More, and He’s Doing It on Purpose.

…the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to.

At this point, the falsehoods are as much a part of his political identity as his floppy orange hair and the “Make America Great Again” slogan. The untruths, Kessler told me, are Trump’s political “secret sauce.”

That appears to be the case for others on Trump’s team as well. As Kessler and I talked, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, presided at one of her increasingly rare press briefings. (Another metric to consider: Sanders gave three briefings in all of July, while previous Administrations conducted them daily.)

In the briefing, Sanders repeated a number of false claims, including one that Kessler had previously debunked, that reporters put out “leaked” information that caused Osama bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone and slowed the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader before the 9/11 attacks.

Kessler heard about Sanders’s false claim as we were leaving and retweeted his old article. “Kind of amazed but not surprised,” he wrote on Twitter, that the White House press secretary “would cite uninformed reporting that appeared BEFORE I debunked this fable in 2005.”

To me, the striking thing was that Sanders’s false claim was part of her prepared remarks; she read them from a piece of paper in the midst of a press-bashing jeremiad about the evils of what Trump calls “fake news.”

Asked repeatedly Thursday whether she endorses Trump’s oft-stated line that the media are the “enemies of the people,” Sanders refused to reject Trump’s characterization. “I’m here to speak on behalf of the President. He’s made his comments clear.”

The White House assault on the truth is not an accident—it is intentional.

And part of the war is a battle between media. CNN’s Jim Acosta calls out Sean Hannity for ‘injecting poison into the nation’s political bloodstream’

Jim Acosta, the chief White House corespondent for CNN, attacked Sean Hannity Wednesday night after the Fox News host voiced his support for an angry mob that heckled members of the media covering President Trump’s rally in Florida earlier this week.

Acosta was responding to a monologue Hannity delivered to open his show Wednesday night, where he referred to the White House correspondent as a “professional Trump-hater over at ‘fake news’ CNN.” Hannity did call out anyone who would act violently towards reporters as “no friend of mine,” but later in the show he turned to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who suggested Acosta deserved the angry reaction.

“If Jim Acosta has a problem with some of the ability of people to express themselves he should look at his own unprofessional and disrespectful behavior,” Spicer said. “Look in the mirror and wonder whether he’s part of the problem.”

Ex White House spokesperson and trump apologist Spicer should know what it’s like being a part of the problem.’

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

Trump’s success is based on attack, which in turn is often based on brazen bullshit. He has come after Republican opponents seeking Republican presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, the FBI, NAFTA, North Korea, China, Mexico, immigrants, Iran, the European Union, and of course any media that criticises him and doesn’t praise him.

This is an insidious assault on democracy.

It isn’t ‘draining the swamp’ as Trump promised, and some probably still believe.

Trump is creating his own cesspit of bullying and lies.

He has had some successes, both because of this approach and despite this approach. But the chances of failures are high and rising.

Like any political leader Trump should be challenged and held to account by the media.

The media in general has a responsibility to be accurate and reasonably balanced. But the same should apply to the president.

When both the president and the media focus too much on fake sideshows then US democracy is the poorer for it, and they are setting an awful example to the world. And an increasing risk to the world.

Trump is winning some battles, and is keeping an army of unquestioning supporters. But the war on democracy looks like a race to the bottom, and it’s unlikely to end well.

Six week present for Ardern – time out

A fairly ironic opinion from an unnamed person at Stuff that seems to lack self awareness: Labour’s baby present? Let Jacinda be a mum for six weeks

The champagne corks were popping at the Beehive when news broke that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had delivered a baby girl. The path to the Sandringham home of Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford will be worn thin with cards and presents from her MPs.

Ardern’s new baby already has enough booties and onesies from well wishers across the country to have a choice of outfits every day of the week.

So the best present Labour MPs can give Ardern is time out. Which means they’re going to have to step up.

Ardern’s Government certainly has plenty of problems to deal with, and a number of Ministers seem to be struggling to cope with their jobs.

Notably, Ardern’s and Labour’s deputy Kelvin Davis seems very uncomfortable and unsuitable for that position.

But probably the biggest threat to Ardern getting reasonable quality of time as a new Mum for the next six weeks is the media.

Can the media give Ardern time out? there’s less chance of that than Government Ministers having a trouble free time in Ardern’s absence.

Of course this will in part depend on whether Ardern wants time out from the media for siz weeks.

We can expect a big flurry of coverage when Ardern leaves the hospital with her baby. That’s unavoidable – it has already been anticipated by Ardern.’

But if Ardern chooses then to make the most of quiet family time for six weeks, will her home be out of bounds to media? It should be unless specifically invited by Ardern.

Can the media give Ardern time out if she wants it?

Media pat themselves on the back

I guess there’s no other way of heaping praise on the media other than via the media, but self praise seems more like self promotion rather than earned plaudits.

There have been two media ward shows this week, and Twitter has been buzzing with self congratulations. As usually the awards have been spread across the few major media players in New Zealand.

Last night:

Is the NZH website really the best? perhaps it’s the best of a mediocre lot, smattered with click bait trivia (much of it sourced intternationally) attempts at attention grabbing advertising that deter more than attract – often when I get annoyed too much I dump the site and look somewhere else.

NZH may be one of the less worse sites. I really don’t like 1 News much at all. Newshub is hardly better, and has a very annoying trait – if you click to a news item and don’t read it straight away (as I commonly don’t) it jumps to other news items, so by the time I get to it the story is something random and not what I want. So I close it and go somewhere else.

Back to NZH, who pat themselves on the back – Editorial: New Zealand media earns pat on the back

It has been a big two days for the New Zealand media industry. Last night winners of the Voyager Media Awards were announced, and on Thursday the NZ Radio Awards were presented. The award categories reflected the scope of modern media and showed how the industry has adapted to commercial pressures and cultural demands.

Many categories, many awards, many happy people in media. No doubt deserved, but of little interest to the general public.

There was recognition for the bedrock tasks of journalism — reporting, feature writing, photography, subbing, editing and publishing. But there were awards, too, for websites and apps, campaigns and projects, videography and digital storytelling. What the finalists all shared was a commitment to the essential role of providing credible and trustworthy news, analysis and imagery.

Obviously awards will highlight the best, but that ignores the mediocre and the bad, and there is a lot of both of those categories.

The past two decades have not been comfortable for the industry. Its fortunes have been hit by digital disruption and the collapse of traditional advertising.

The discomfort remains, and media have struggled to deal with it successfully.

The New Zealand media remains a reliable and dependable source of news.

To an extent, yes. They are more reliable and dependable than the alternative, nothing, but it is very debatable how much standards have deteriorated – because to an extent they have.

The awards bestowed this week confirm that the fourth estate in New Zealand is doing the job demanded of it.

They wish.

Shareholders are likely to demand quite a bit more, and in trying to achieve that it is highly questionable that the media are doing what the public demand.

Actually the public don’t demand, they expect (and often not much), and they browse to find what they want. That’s something our media have not learnt to deal with.

Hang on, I just notices this:

So both the Herald and stuff won slightly different website prizes. Something for everyone.

 

Media frenzy that feeds and feeds off Trump attention seeking

The US media in part made it possible for Donald Trump to win an unlikely nomination and then win the US presidency. They continue to feed, and feed off the frenzy of trump coverage, something the Trump keeps stoking – he is a supreme attention seeker. This works to his advantage sometimes, but it also works against him, distracting from important issues in the US.

Howard Kurtz at Fox News – Lack of substance: Media liberals say ‘Trump Porn’ is hurting them too

In the hyperpartisan media climate surrounding President Trump, I’ve detected a rare spot of agreement.

It’s certainly not in the way the president is being covered.

But if journalists are “obsessed” with the president, as Reince Priebus told me in a “Media Buzz” interview—”Trump is money for the media,” he said—there is a fallout that affects both the right and the left.

Kellyanne Conway and other White House officials have repeatedly told me in interviews that the media focus on Russia, Stormy, Twitter feuds and the like have drained attention from the serious issues facing the country.

Trump is responsible for stoking diversions that continue to dominate the headlines and mainstream news coverage – Fox News is as obsessed as anyone in their largely pro-Trump coverage.

In this view, the news business gives short shrift to taxes, immigration, health care and other matters important to everyday Americans because it’s easier to get clicks for scandal and sensationalism.

Leaving aside the question of whether Trump in part fuels these distractions—were we supposed to ignore Rudy Giuliani’s media blitz?—similar complaints are now being heard on the left. They make the parallel argument that their causes are being overshadowed by the “all Trump all the time” culture.

Liberal New York Times columnist Nick Kristof says…

…the media are “collectively addicted” to Trump and “locked in a symbiotic relationship” because “he is part of our business model in 2018,” with the result that “other issues don’t get adequate attention …

“The nonstop scandals and outrages suck us in; they amount to Trump porn,” he writes. And while the president is “enormously important … there’s so much else happening as well.

  • Some 65,000 Americans will die this year of drug overdoses,
  • American life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row,
  • guns claim a life every 15 minutes
  • and the number of uninsured is rising again even as a child in the U.S. is 70 percent more likely to die before adulthood than one in other advanced nations.

Those issues are rather more important than the question of whether Stormy Daniels slept with Trump.”

Trump has stoked the gun controversy – he spoke to an NRA convention last week – but the other issues mentioned don’t rate much of a mention.

Kristof, who also mentions suffering in Myanmar and Syria, makes this confession:

“Progressive snobs like me bemoan Trump’s inattention to these global issues, but the truth is that we don’t pay attention, either. At cocktail parties, on cable television, at the dinner table, at the water cooler, all we talk about these days is Trump. So we complain about Trump being insular and parochial — but we’ve become insular and parochial as well. We’ve caught the contagion that we mock.”

Phenomenons like Trump don’t happen on their own. It has become a self perpetuating circus train, with both Trump and the media stoking the boiler.

Obviously, this president—any president—plays an important role in every foreign and domestic issue. But so much of today’s coverage is driven by palace intrigue and soap-opera plots. So Kristof is agreeing with many conservatives and White House aides who say the level of reporting and commentary in the Trump era is pretty bad, and the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

The media is certainly at fault, big time, but Trump’s behaviour can also be pretty bad, his attention seeking and his actions are a major contributor to the sideshows, as are the White House people that work with him (and against him).

Trump and the media feed and feed off each other.

It has become like surreality TV.