‘Trustworthy, accurate and reliable news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsrooms by making a contribution.’How wonderfully ironic, this claim of the uninspiringly named Stuff media chain. Together with NZME, it controls what is fed to the public, soliciting contributions by positing that ‘Trusted journalism has never been so important’ with ‘independent, reliable news that you can trust’. This when, justifiably, public trust in accurate media reporting has reached rock bottom. For example, Stuff newspaper’s editor-in-chief in 2018 gave notice it now intended ‘to publish a wide range of views about the impact of climate change and how we should react’, but that ‘we won’t include climate change “scepticism”. Including denialism wouldn’t be balanced: it’d be a dangerous waste of time.’
Such critically flawed reasoning – the determination to prevent genuine debate – is part of the flight from reality now winging worldwide with regard to vital issues on which our now blithely biased newspapers assume their ‘right thinking’ needs to prevail.
The takeover of both our major chains has been not overnight, but part of the white-anting of all our institutions, that long internal attack by well-placed ideologues programmed in the best possible tactics to undermine Western democracies. The contrast in this country is marked from the 1980s and early 90s, when I was fortunate enough to write under editors of fierce integrity. A columnist for seven years for our capital city newspaper, I was free from editorial interference – adhering to ‘facts are sacred, comment free’ – until the arrival of a new editor. Then, by refusing to remove a deserved tribute to two other writers (one of whom had previously beaten the present editor to the position he now held) I was sacked from the Dominion – subsequently finding that writers asking where my columns had gone had their correspondence suppressed.
A pointer to the way the weathervane was swinging was the subservience now shown to radical activists. It’s significant that until the Sixties, New Zealand had an enviable record of racial harmony. So much were intermarriage and mutual respect taken for granted that there are no longer any full-blooded Maori. Many today claiming discrimination and disadvantage are well-heeled agitators with minimal Maori genetic inheritance. But with the Marxist Trojan Horse now embraced by our all-important media, with its enormous influence on public opinion, everything has changed.
In 1986, I was sufficiently perturbed about the radicalisation of young Maori, and the promotion of the cult of victimisation, to enter a competition in the Christchurch Press. Uneasy at the constant provocative headlines almost daily flaunted in the media, I accompanied my article ‘A Question of Perspective’, with an A3 page collage of headlines: ‘Home loans denied Maori’, ‘Maori disadvantage highlighted’ and other disturbing claims – having also approached the then Department of Maori Affairs to check facts and statistics. It was a revelation to find how many provisions had been put in place decades previously to try to address every single area of possible Maori disadvantage, whether in special apprenticeships; trades promotions; priority offered throughout many institutions – including preferential places in our universities; admission to medical and law schools and other disciplines – as well as financial and social welfare help targeted towards so many areas of possible need.
However, the prominent lawyer Geoffrey Palmer had returned from the US apparently convinced that we needed a civil rights revolution comparable to what he had seen there and was now running with the bit between his teeth as a Labour party MP, then Minister of Justice and briefly Prime Minister. It seemed more than time to debate both sides of this issue, past the inflammatory headlines. But it was already too late. What is now regarded widely as Palmer’s folly saw legislation enabling all Maori land claims to be re-litigated back to the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The consequences of opening this can of worms are still with us.
Although my well-researched article was guaranteed publication, it failed to appear. A puzzled enquiry met with the explanation that it would offend the hierarchical descendants of the local tribe, the small but powerful Ngai Tahu – who subsequently creamed off compensation for treaty claims which historical evidence points to being more than dubious. The venality of vote-buying politicians is not new.
However, it is now matched by the lack of integrity in our mass media. Worried about the directions in which this country was going, and subsequently a long-time researcher on treaty issues, I would later write to our local, now Stuff-owned newspaper, to correct wrong ‘facts’ advanced by activists, to find it not only difficult to get letters to the editor actually published, but encountering actual aggression from relevant staff.
However, what was simply unacceptable was the treatment given to the brilliant historian and researcher, Bruce Moon. Holding an MSc (Hons) degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Otago, and an MSc with distinction from the University of London, he is a Fellow of the University of Physics (UK). A rocket scientist in England and Australia, Bruce installed the first university computer at Canterbury University. Having volunteered and taught widely among refugees; a well-respected historian and consummate treaty authority; he was just the person for this same Stuff newspaper to refuse to publish – even, or especially? – when pointing out that its published facts were actually wrong.
The sheer unfairness, let alone prejudice he kept encountering led to my taking up this issue on his behalf – elderly as he now is – with a degree of success for a short time. But things got worse. An excellent address he was invited to give to the Nelson Literary and Scientific Institute was cancelled by the Nelson Library and city council staff when two individuals stated that his talk should not go ahead, hinting at possible violence as a result.
Bruce no longer gets published at all in our local newspaper.
Plus ça change… and so much for Stuff’s ‘trusted journalism’.
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