The world is in the throes of two major international conflicts. I do not need to name them. I am writing about a third one: it is domestic. It is between the mainstream media and the Government. The fundamental question is this: are the mainstream media going to destroy the government or is the government going to deal to the mainstream media. In terms of how the three leaders have handled the media, so far, I would rate them as 1. Winston Peters 2. David Seymour 3. Christopher Luxon.
Winston does not suffer fools gladly and the news media are fools. They are playing a fool’s game and Winston is awake to it. His message to them recently was ‘We’re not going to let you get away with it’. David, while perhaps not as forthright as Winston, is still very firm when it comes to getting his point across. He does not allow the media mob to distract from his message. Christopher does handle the media well in terms of answering the questions, but (sigh of exasperation) there is a lack of a ‘no nonsense’ sound to his voice. It lacks an ‘I’m in charge’ firmness.
The news media themselves are becoming more of a disgrace by the day. While not knowing what the ratings actually are, the ‘news’ can only result in a turnoff of the channel. The media are very up front about what their strategy is; there’s absolutely no hiding their aim. They don’t believe in democracy and six o’clock is the time to let everyone know, It’s most likely the ‘oink oink’ coming from the little piggies wallowing in the Public Interest Journalism Fund trough won’t be to your liking.
A government was elected last October that they don’t like. They made their dislike of it quite apparent in their coverage of the lead up to the election. They appeared to harbour the idea that they would be able to sway the voters and give their comrades on the left an unexpected win. Understandably, it must have been galling for them on the night to realise they had not been listened to. It might be news to them, but in a democracy we are free to make up our own minds. New Zealand is not China or North Korea.
Both six o’clock news bulletins are obsessed with promoting racism and that game was fully on show, courtesy of Newshub, last Thursday night. Apart from the fact that they would do it anyway, it’s their bread and butter, they do it because they see an opportunity to drive a wedge between the coalition partners, which Newshub was desperately trying to do. Again, they think they have the power when the power, of course, rests with the people. Seymour’s bill is going to a select committee. There is a chance for submissions.
I suggest the record for the number of submissions will be broken. This will be the people speaking, not Jenna Lynch, Amelia Wade or any other little jumped up journo spouting their idiotic views: it will be the public. Like we the people, the government doesn’t have to listen to maniacal mouthpieces on the news, they have to (or are supposed to) listen to the public for whom they have been elected to serve. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the reaction will be such that a referendum will be the likely outcome.
The public has control over the news media through either the on/off switch, the remote or by not buying a subscription to a Newspaper. The government does not. It has to take what the media throws at them, and treating them with kid gloves is not the answer. We, the voters, expect the government to exercise a degree of ‘you’re not going to get away with that’ approach. In my view Winston and David are showing more punch in this regard than Christopher – who needs to show something of a harder edge when talking to the media.
I’m sure he is fully aware of the media antics, but he needs to project this more in his voice when the media adopt their aggressive approach. The media, by getting offside with the public prior to the election and ensuring a Labour loss, are continuing down the same path. Intelligence doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite to becoming a journalist these days. The government must not let the media get the upper hand; there is nothing wrong in a government showing a dislike for the media. They have earned it, they deserve it and the public would applaud such a move.
Apart from Newshub, over which the government has little control, the two worst offenders are TV One and Radio New Zealand – both government owned. In other words we the taxpayers own them. Is the government in a position to do anything as a result? Well, yes it is. While I don’t agree with government interfering in any media editorial independence, government owned or not, they are entitled to ask for unbiased and objective reporting of the facts.
Then there is the option most of you no doubt are already thinking in regard to TV One. Sell it. What is the point of owning a business that is supposed to pay a dividend to us the shareholders but these days rarely does. If the government is serious about balancing the books it should start there. It is nothing more than a pit of rabid left-wing thought that does not reflect the current mood of the country. TV2 should go the same way. These two channels provide programming aimed largely at the lowest common denominator and we are paying for them.
As an aside, seniors are very poorly served for entertainment and information and that is something the government should be looking at. We are the age group that predominantly watches the news but are finding it increasingly difficult when it is no more than a ‘go after the government’ carry on. It needs to stop.
What business the government has in owning television channels is beyond me. It cannot be justified as a core part of its business and therefore should be dispensed with. Radio New Zealand is a slightly different case but still should be beholden to certain government directives. Unless the government-owned media are given guidelines to work to, the government will find itself akin to water going uphill when forced. The media needs to be taken head-on early on; otherwise the government is making a rod for its own back.