Kumar to replace Dotcom

Yesterday the Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said that the party was going to distance itself from it’s founder Kim Dotcom. Dotcom dominated the party launched and the media interviews.

Also yesterday TV3 tweeted:

Looking forward to appearing live on on Saturday – what difference will make to

This morning Kumar was again reported saying the party would distance itself from Dotcom.

This aftrenoon the Internet Party tweeted:

UPDATE: will instead be appearing on from their Auckland studio tomorrow.

Perhaps the separation is beginning, and the Internet Party is trying to appear as more than a Dotcom vanity project or legal escape route.

The Nation improved

TV3’s The Nation has been back for two weeks this year, and is proving to be an improved version.

The format is simple and effective. It starts with a substantial preview segment – yesterday’s was How can Cunliffe beat Key? by Torben Akel and can also be viewed online, plus the whole program is replayed on Sunday mornings.

This is followed by two good length interviews. Yesterday Patrick Gower interviewed John Key and Simon Shepherd interviewed Colin Craig.

Key not talking about fundraising dinner

Fancy fundraising dinners raising thousands of dollars from undisclosed donors aren’t “tricky”.

Craig undecided on electorate

Colin Craig says he doesn’t yet know which electorate seat he will run for in this year’s election.

Last week’s interviews were:

New ACT leader to front AGM

ACT leader Jamie Whyte will start his new role at the party’s annual conference in Mangere today.

Oil industry hits back over Anadarko drilling

An oil expert has backed the Prime Minister’s slamming of a Greenpeace report as “scaremongering”.

The last segment is a panel discussion of issues that came up.

A big improvement with The Nation is their active use of social media interaction. They promote it right from the start:

The NationWhoever operates their Twitter account tweets quotes from the interviews and genuinely interacts with people who respond – I joined in with this yesterday (but they need to change the programme times on their profile).

People will always quibble about topics and how interviews are done, and who is on the panel, but most of the criticisms are highly flavoured by political preferences.

But I will quibble about one thing. Both weeks in his interview segment Patrick Gower has obviously had a pre-planned story which he asks questions about, and inevitably that will dominate TV3’s news coverage in the evening.

Coverage should have an open mind about what the most important points arising from the interview are. It looks pre-ordained and a bit manufactured.

But generally the format is very good. In depth political programmes have lower numbers of viewers but they have high value, especially in election years.

Interactive inks:

Greens want in on Key-Cunliffe debates

Radio NZ reports that the Greens have asked TV1 and TV3 to include them in the main leaders debates in this year’s leadership debate.

The Green Party wants television networks to include one of its party leaders in the main leaders’ debates in the lead-up to the election – alongside John Key and David Cunliffe.

The Greens have made a formal request to TV One and TV3 for a co-leader to join the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, rather than take part in the minor parties debate – which has been the typical election format.

The Greens say their 12 percent polling position puts them in a different league to the other smaller parties which are polling around 5 percent or less.

The timing isn’t the best for the poll claim, today’s One News/Colmar Brunton poll has greens down from 14 to 8%. That may be a one-off aberration or temporary, although they might not bounce right back up.

But that’s a side issue.

Should Turei or Norman join in with the main leader’s debates? There’s some justification. While Greens are polling about 1/3 of Labour levels they have been as active in opposition, probably more active. And Greens have ambitions of being a major player.

But there are things against this too, including:

  • Media like the presidential two opponent format.
  • If they let the Greens step up to the big time in debates Winston Peters is certain to claim a right as well.

But perhaps the biggest issue that requires some careful thought – it would effectively mean that Key was up against double barrelled opponents of Cunliffe plus either Turei or Norman.

Would two against one be a fair contest?

TV3, ACT, and make believe news

On the night of the ACT Party conference 3 News ran an item by Brook Sabin highlighting Rodney Hide talking about hate, the poor, Maori, and unions.

They think you must have horns, and hate the poor, and hate the Maori, and hate the unions – well, that’s true.

My initial reaction was surprise that Hide would say that, and the conference MC Jim Hopkins was obviously also surprised, as he asked Hide if he would revisit his comments.

3 News showed Hide saying “No!” and then cut. But that wasn’t the whole story.

There were subsequent blog discussions (I saw them at Kiwiblog and The Standard), some condemning Hide based on the 3 News item, some defending him.

Ex ACT MP David Garrett was a vigorous defender, he had attended the conference and witnessed all of Hide’s whole speech and the follow-up to Hopkins’ invitation to revisit. Garrett has since reiterated his opinion:

I knew – as did Hopkins – as soon as the quip didn’t go right that that is what would be the soundbite on the the News…as it was. Hopkins invited Rodney back to “have another go at it”..Rodney did so, in considerably more detail, about the media generated perceptions of ACT. None of that of course made the news.

This raised questions and I became further suspicious when I saw that no other

I have also talked in person to John Boscawen and others from ACT who attended the conference who were disappointed with the 3 News item.

I advised 3 News chief political reporter Patrick Gower of Garrett’s version and asked:

Is there any longer recorded versions of what Hide said (before and after what was shown) and after Hide’s “No” to Hopkins asking if he would revisit it?

Can you add anything to your side of the story?

I haven’t had a response yet.

I also asked Rodney Hide to explain what he meant and what actually happened. He has responded:

I spoke off-the-cuff and don’t have a verbatim memory of the context but I do of the controversial sentence because my friend Jim Hopkins who was MC drew my attention to how it could get misconstrued as “gold” by the news media.

The context was how ACT and ACT people get misrepresented in the media.  And I gave examples.

The specific sentence was how we are supposed to hate all these groups which I listed — poor people, maori, unions, I then paused for dramatic effect, and said something to the effect well it was true that we disliked unions and gave the example of the practices of the teacher unions.

I described in particular how teacher unions were holding back maori and poor people. Anyone familiar with my history and recent columns would know that has long been a theme of mine.

After my speech. Jim Hopkins said that the specific sentence could be misconstrued and would I clarify which I immediately did.

I took some time and care in doing so.

Either then — or in the speech — I also gave the specific example of some years back a drunken print journalist and subsequent TV3 political editor accosting me at a party as to why ACT hated Maori so much.

I was nonplussed.  I asked how they could ever think such a thing.  They said because ACT didn’t want Maori Doctors.  I said I wasn’t aware of anyone in ACT making such a statement. 

They then explained ACT is against a Maori quota for medical school.  I hadn’t realised until then that anyone could be so stupid — or indeed so racist — as to think that the only way Maori could succeed was through quotas and that the ACT party in calling for one law for all could be concluded by the news media as not wanting Maori doctors. 

I gave examples where that hadn’t been necessary and pointed out that Sir Peter Tapsell was an ACT supporter! 

I explained that ACT felt the problem was one of lifting educational attainment, rather than dropping the entry bar for ethnicity.  That was all back in about 1997 and was all to little effect.

I explained all that to the audience to give an indication for how tough it is For John Banks with the media in this country.

I didn’t want to be reported because I knew John Banks was to speak in the afternoon.  I prefer now to stay out of the media.   I clearly failed in that because my words could be used to make the exact opposite point to the one that I was making about ACT but precisely the point I was making about the news media.

This all directly contradicts the news item as shown on 3 News, which was also very negative about ACT’s chances of surviving – their online report is titled Act Party struggles to avoid political oblivion. It focussed on Hide’s comments (seemingly misleadingly edited) and made weird references to livestock and artworks.

Hide is no longer an active participant in ACT’s operation or it’s rebuildingt. Over halfway through the item John Banks was given some coverage, but it did not show ACT’s chief rebuilder John Boscawen at all.

Sabin closed the item with:

…today it was hard to tell what was real, and what was make believe.

That could describe Sabin’s news item.

I would be surprised (and very concerned) if this was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what Hide said.

My guess is that Sabin took his own meaning and built a story around it, something that is common in media coverage. In this case Sabin seems to have been totally wrong.

This  deserves an explanation from Sabin and/or 3 News, or at least an acknowledgment that in this item they got it totally wrong.

Otherwise it leaves me wondering what news we should believe.

Breakfast versus Firstline

Fluff versus facts?

TVNZ’s Breakfast and TV3’s Firstline compete for audience from 6 am. There’s overlap, but there’s a clear difference and they are clearly addressing different markets, as these promotional tweets illustrate this morning.

TVNZ’s Breakfast@BreakfastonOne

15 minutes to on air and we are waiting for our lovely Director @shegelouise to return to the Control Room.

Rachel Smalley@Rachel_Smalley

Good morning, and we’re on-air. @FirstlineNZ No fluff, just the facts. 🙂

We each take our pick. Further illustrating the difference – here are their tweets from yesterday during their shows:

TVNZ’s Breakfast@BreakfastonOneToday we are talking ‘The State of the Nation’. @DavidShearerMP lays out his plan then @johnkeypm talks unemployment and apprenticeships.

What would be on your ultimate bucket list? A new comps been launched to find the best list so shortly @Lacey_Wilson dreams about hers!

Here’s the link to our chat with a TVNZ Current Affairs Producer who worked with @paul_holmes in the early days.

Firstline@FirstlineNZ232 die in panicky stampede in Brazil club fireBorrow more money, Govt toldTriple-dip recession looms for UK

No ‘super city’ for Wellington – mayor

Arts and music key to waterfront’s success

Shearer defends policy-free speech

Trotter: Good start to the year for Shearer

Mega: Service improves as visitors drop off

Pilgrams gather at the Ganges

I prefer facts without the fluff so usually have Firstline on (if there’s no live sport to watch), but most of my attention is on the Internet, looking for a range of news and commentary sources, and of course compiling blog posts.

And I keep an eye on Twitter so am influenced by the tweets announcing upcoming items.

TV3 Think Tank Sunday 9.30 am – Euthanasia

On TV3’s Think Tank, Sunday 8 July, 9.30am

Are there dangers we need to be aware of, or is it time we legalised Euthanasia?
John Tamihere and guests:

  • Barrister Charl Hirschfeld
  •  Anglican Priest- Hirini Kaa
  • Labour MP -Maryann Street
  • Euthanasia Advocate -Dr Jack Havill

National slipping up, sliding down

National should be starting to get worried about the poll trends.

Before the election National was consistently in the 50s in the polls. This eased back to a 47.31% election result, showing an expected reluctance of the electorate to give one party all the power. National was quite happy with this, it was a record high vote and a record high percent.

Now we have settled in to the new term the poll results are starting to confirm a trend that will be a concern for National. The last three poll results:

  • Tv3/Reid Research 45.8% (2-7 June)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 47% (26-30 May)
  • Roy Morgan 44% (14-27 May)

All those results are down on previous polls. The TV3/Reid result released yesterday was down 4% from it’s previous poll. On it’s own it’s possible to be not too worried about that (if you’re a National supporter). The poll was taken after the budget, in the middle of the Parata/class size debacle and before the retraction of the policy.

David Farrar illustrated this:

Being just 2% down from the election night result, for a poll taken during the week of non stop headlines about class sizes is not that bad a result. Imagine what they could do, if they get their game together!

The problem is National is not getting their game together. They are dropping the ball, throwing forward passes, offending in the ruck and missing goal. National are looking like the party of Blues.

One of the most important perceptions that won National a second term was one of competence. Voters thought National were the party most likley to manage the economy competently and safely.

Now it’s hard to avoid seeing an aura of incompetence. And arrogance of power.

Last term John Key was cut some slack on some surprising stances, superannuation being a notable one. His categorical “no change” position could have been seen as decisive leadership.

This term a reiteration of that same stance is starting to look like pigheaded and blind to reality intransigence. Signs of losing his touch and looking out of touch.

And that’s not the only instance of instant refusal to listen to many voices. He seems to have some sympathy towards marriage equality but he doesn’t think it’s important. It may not be important to him, but it’s a very important human rights principle.

And it’s not just the Key that is unlocking. Parata is another obvious example, and at the same time her policy unraveled Paula Bennett raised some oddly extreme suggestions on trying to control who could become a parent.

Last term National got away with being busy doing their job of running the country.

This term they are starting to look remote and out of touch. if they want to stop their slide they need to stop slipping up, but they also need to get onside with the people, they need to be seen to listen and take notice. Not just when forced to by an uprising against an embarrassingly poorly thought through bit of education policy.

National have been careless with knives and scratched last term’s teflon. Egg is starting to stick to the pan – and to the face of National.

Steady as she goes won’t cut it any more. National have to win back the confidence of the electorate.

And the first place to start must surely be an inquiry into the management, culture, privacy and direction of ACC.

Dotcom case “totally off the rails”

It’s looking more and more like the Dotcom case is a disgrace.

I was surprised by the manner of the initial Dotcom raid and arrest, and I was concerned about the emerging story.

I’ve just seen coverage of a day on court today (Campbell Live), where it showed a performance by Kim Dotcom’s representative, Paul Davison, that seemed to be restrained but forecful incredulousness – and very disturbing.

Davison suggested, I think with good cause, “the whole process is totally off the rails”.

FBI may have Dotcom’s PC data

Today Kim Dotcom appeared to learn that the police have given the FBI copies of data from his hard drives.

There were extraordinary scenes at the Auckland High Court today, as Kim Dotcom and his legal team appeared to learn that the New Zealand police have provided the FBI with copies, or clones, of material on the hard drives taken from his home during the police raid in January.

The police have repeatedly refused to provided the same copies, or clones, to Dotcom himself.

The Crown asserted it was always clear the FBI’s intention was to take the documents back to America.

But whoever has the documents has a decided advantage, as prosecution and defence teams prepare their cases.

The Dotcom team had sought assurances that the material would not be provided to the FBI before them.

Crown lawyers had written back saying “that has not happened and will not happen without prior warning”.

But it appears it has happened.

The Dotcom legal team started in a fairly restrained fashion, but as the afternoon went on, they couldn’t disguise their surprise and even anger.

(full report video link)

The more that emerges on this case the more disquieting, disconcerting it gets. If what is already known is confirmed it indicates disgraceful policing and legal process.

Seems like shameful Kiwi policing and justice (or lack thereof).

Edit: A fairly uncomplementary comment has been posted by a lawyer on Kiwiblog:

F E Smith  Says:
May 24th, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Re the latest Dotcom stuff-up:

The biggest mistake made by Dotcom’s counsel was accepting anything said by Anne Toohey as being trustworthy. That prosecutor exemplifies the high-handed, condescending, self-righteous attitude of so many Crown prosecutors these days. Plus, you just cannot trust her. If Toohey was a part of the evidence handover, then she has really landed her colleague in the soup, poor bloke. I bet the Chief High Court Judge was furious!

The problem is, and the Crown knows this, what’s done is done and there ain’t too much that can be done to fix it. Especially given the very wide latitude US investigators are allowed by their Courts when it comes to obtaining evidence.

TV3’s Garner explains Parker no show

Duncan Garner has clarified why David Parker didn’t replace Cunliffe on The Nation in blog a comment:

duncan garner May 15th, 2012 at 08:54


The invite wasn’t for David Parker – it was for Cunliffe. Parker is coming on next week’s 3 News Budget Special and also on The Nation’s Budget Special two days later. That’s why we invited Cunliffe on. Parker is already booked to come in. Twice. In the end Tony Ryall was on our show and Peters and Norman on Q n A. Where was the Labour representative? They need to do better than this. In my view Cunliffe wanted to come on. He was gagged.


That clarifies it quite a bit.

But the answer to “Where was the Labour representative?” was still a dual responsibility, Labour chose not to put Cunliffe there, and TV3 chose not to put anyone else from Labour there.

Why didn’t TV3 interview David Parker?

The TV3 “Labour muzzles Cunliffe” story from the weekend continues. That’s now four days of coverage of a story about Cunliffe not being interviewd. It’s hard to imagine what coverage it would have generated if Cunliffe had fronted up. It has included:

  • an opening to The Nation on Saturday morning talking about Cunliffe being muzzled
  • the same story, and expanded, on Sunday morning’s repeat
  • prominent coverage on TV3 news on Sunday night
  • a repeat story on TV3 news on Monday night
  • an interview with Chris Trotter on Firstline on Tuesday morning

Last nights “news” did clarify one very odd aspect of the story – why didn’t The Nation interview someone else from Labour?

Row over Cunliffe’s absence on TV show

(Monday night, TV3 news)

On Wednesday Mr Cunliffe says he is interested but says it must stay on economic issues.

The Nation agrees in writing to that deal.

But Mr Cunliffe says he has to run it by the “Labour’s media and top team”.

He did and by Thursday last week – they stopped him appearing, saying David Parker was the man to speak to about Budget and economic issues.

But Mr Cunliffe says it was a team decision and Mr Shearer says it was Cunliffe’s.

“I consulted – we reached a team decision we offered our finance spokesman to talk about Budget issues it appeared to be a broader interview than economic development,” Mr Cunliffe says.

“I didn’t stop David Cunliffe appearing it was his own decision,” Mr Shearer says.

This sheds new light on what happened – it is now apparent that Labour wanted David Parker to do the interview.

Why didn’t TV3 interview Parker on The Nation?

Why did TV3 instead make it sound like Labour’s doing that no one from the party appeared.

Did Tv3 muzzle David Parker because he didn’t fit their story? Or do they have a better explanation?

I’ve attempted to get an explanatyion from TV3 but so far nothing.