The government’s propaganda machine this weekend discussed the problem of social media platforms hamstringing government propaganda, or more specifically how to inject government messaging about the COVID-19 vaccine into social media reports of community resistance generally and from Brian and Hannah Tamaki specifically who say they won’t take it.

The Tamakis embarked on a planned pilgrimage to visit the faithful down country just before Auckland’s latest lockdown kicked in. Not showing faith in the COVID queen rarked up her media army.

Maori Profit. Cartoon credit BoomSlang. The BFD.

Newshub Nation’s Simon Shepherd addressed the difficulty government has with social media information sharing. Public narrative commentator Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw described it as “a busy, mixed and manipulated information environment” but equally she could have been describing the government!

Their track record over the last week was mixed and manipulative procedures related to self isolation. When quizzed, her minister Peeni Henare responded using the PM’s favourite word “clear” as in “we made it clear” and “clearly” even when the COVID self isolating instructions were far from clear.

Why should we trust the government, or its media arm, as our “one source of COVID truth” when the PM didn’t live up to her promised transparency? A government lagging behind the rest of the world in COVID treatments can’t be trusted any more than their strategies or not-yet-fully-tested vaccine roll out well behind the promised schedule.

This trio of government mouthpieces created a nice little echo chamber on Newshub Nation without a single reference to the government’s reliability. They simply took it as read that the government has the latest COVID information, indicating that the real problem is people losing confidence in the government’s COVID strategies.

The vaccine the PM touted last year would end lockdowns emerged with no assurance it will prevent lockdowns or reopen borders, and it’s now likely that annual vaccinations will be required. It is simply too early to plan decisively on what the vaccine will or won’t do.

The media trio pushed on regardless, asking questions that can’t be answered and not one question was directed at government reliability. “What are you going to do to make sure you don’t get a whole lot of laundering of really extreme false information?” Berentson-Shaw asked.

Journalist David Farrier found it alarming that people are “going down that rabbit hole of utter disinformation” saying “there’s a base of people out there that do have a distrust of the government for various reasons, and that can be fine, but when that’s preyed upon to be distrustful during the messaging around a pandemic that’s when it can get really dangerous.”

BFD readers could enlighten Farrier about what is really dangerous about our government and COVID but Berentson-Shaw helpfully diverted with her false information theory.

“…false information is spread by people who want to manipulate the situation, who want to benefit from it personally, or grab power, and that, the research says, is actually one quite effective technique that we can use before people get exposed to false information is talking about the kind of strategies and motivations of people.

I would say that one kind of error often big institutions like government will make is strategies around things like vaccines are what I would call a kind of correcting strategy, so their whole communications strategy is built around just correcting the false information.

What you actually need is a strategy which is around building up quite a strong story around what are the benefits around, say, a COVID vaccination will actually bring in the current environment and then what options does it offer us.”

Newshub Nation Encore Sunday 7 March.

It’s a pity Berentson-Shaw didn’t consider passing that same rule over the PM and her ministers whose motivation for spreading COVID disinformation reveals more skin in the game than any individual or group. Hello, hello, hello.

Farrier inadvertently speaks the truth saying “Never get involved in Facebook threats – trying to beat anyone there with science – because that’s just not going to happen.” Darn tooting that is not going to happen.

It would help if our government were up to speed on the science developing overseas but no, we are stuck in lockdown, lockdown, lockdown and vaccine, vaccine, vaccine…

The BFD. Cartoon credit SonovaMin

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Government’s COVID Echo Chamber

Suze is an avid reader and writer after a career in accounting starting in the farming industry. 10 years working in the NZ mining industry made her passionate about accessing our resource potential whilst...