The Demise of Legacy Mainstream Media (MSM)

Recently, a friend told me to write about the bias in the mainstream media (MSM). He was angry. We debated who was worse, TVNZ News or Newshub. In fact, I have been monitoring the bias and demise of the legacy MSM for some time.

The collapse of Newshub and the TVNZ redundancies were no surprise. However, the lack of self-reflection by the journalists involved was interesting. One journalist lamented that it was due to Covid-19 and that the public lashed out at the media after endless lockdowns as a reason for the media’s demise. A total lack of self-reflection and not reading the room.

Karl du Fresne has written extensively on this matter. He provided some insight into how legacy MSM responded to the new coalition. One issue he focused on was the media’s fixation with its plan to change the smokefree legislation and how it seemed the media headlines were virtually identical.

“Not only did the major media outlets agree, as if by consensus, on what should be played up as the big story of the day. Even the wording of the headlines was often virtually identical.”

“And so we got Health experts furious over government’s plan to scrap smokefree measures (Newshub): Government’s smokefree law repeal ‘a massive step back’ – health orgs (1 News); Disbelief as a smokefree generation slips away (The Detail, RNZ); Top Pasifika doctor Collin Tukuitonga slams plans to repeal smokefree laws – says most vulnerable will suffer (NZ Herald); Government defending the indefensible in scrapping smokefree efforts – health leader (RNZ); Experts warn health system will bear burden of government abandoning smokefree regulations (Newshub again).”

There was even concern from MSM as to what overseas media were reporting. That was the dominant tone of the overseas coverage. “To be fair, though, the overseas stories were nuanced, balanced, and contextualised in a way that was generally lacking locally. New Zealanders reading them would have been considerably better informed than by their own domestic media.

Some may have been concerned, but at least their coverage was more balanced.”

Soon after, the media was in sink again, or as du Fresne said, group think. “A selection of headlines: Luxon honeymoon rained on by Peters and cigarettes (Toby Manhire, The Spinoff); Winston Peters killed Christopher Luxon’s honeymoon with anti-media antics (Jenna Lynch, Newshub); Christopher Luxon tries to get his plan and honeymoon back on track without Winston Peters butting in (Claire Trevett, the Herald); Winston Peters making it look like Chris Luxon has lost control (Tova O’Brien, Stuff); Winston Peters’ bad behaviour overshadowing Christopher Luxon, David Seymour (Audrey Young, the Herald); Christopher Luxon refuses to pull Winston Peters into line over anti-media comments, laughs it off (Jenna Lynch again, taking a second swipe).”

While du Fresne asserts his argument, my point is that the media simply did not like the coalition the public had voted in. They felt the public had got it wrong and they must be punished accordingly. Naturally, the public saw it completely differently. “Journalists seem to think that simply by baldly asserting that statements they disagree with are false, they will convince the public. Certainly, some of the public, such as RNZ’s steadily diminishing number of rusted-on devotees, will need little persuading. However, it’s more likely the media will simply get a lot of people’s backs up. What many journalists don’t grasp is that most of the public no longer trust them and wonder, quite reasonably, why they should believe them – a state of affairs made worse by the media’s rush to sign up to the Ardern government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund, which brings us back to Peters’ claims of bribery.”

Then TVNZ went on a campaign to discredit ACT, claiming they had links to the Atlas Group (as well as  Mihingarangi Forbes on RNZ),  what they termed as a far right think tank. ACT do not have strong links to the Atlas Group. Much of what the TVNZ and RNZ programmes propagated was false. For example, the Atlas Group and big business did not fund the No Vote in Australia.

David Farrar and Joshua Drummond wrote on 28 February 2024, “Every major Australian news outlet in the run-up to the referendum publicised the eye-watering amounts of money that major businesses pledged to the “Yes” campaign. Some estimates put the total in the tens of millions of dollars. And, ironically, the biggest donors included the big oil and gas producers.

“BHP and Rio Tinto donated $A2 million each, while resource giants Woodside Energy, Newcrest and Origin Energy, among others, publicly advocated for the “Yes” vote. The Minerals Council of Australia backed it too.

“That Forbes failed to mention these well-established facts about corporate Australia’s enthusiasm for the “Yes” campaign while she pumped the narrative that a sinister and secret conspiracy with links to the oil and gas industries had propelled the “No” side to success is a sorry indictment of the programme’s integrity.

“So, in fact big oil all backed and funded the yes campaign.

“However, New Zealander Debbi Gibbs — who is the chair of the Atlas Network, headquartered in the US — told The Platform that Forbes had not contacted her for comment.

“Asked whether Atlas had put any money into supporting David Seymour’s campaign on the Treaty principles, or whether it intended to, she replied:

“We don’t make donations to campaigns, candidates, or parties. Additionally, none of the partners in our Network are political parties. They are all independent, non-governmental, civil society organisations.”

Consequently, when TVNZ promote such falsehoods, it is no surprise that the public become suspicious of MSM. There are many writers that can dispute, or even discredit such falsehoods. Thus, it is not a surprise that the majority do not trust MSM. Steven Joyce wrote in the NZ Herald that he was at a conference, and he was speaking to approximately 250 people. He asked the audience who watched the 6pm news. No one raised their hand. Naturally, he was astounded, but unfortunately, he failed to ask why. He assumed, as his article promulgated that his audience were time poor or got news from elsewhere. This may be true. However, many in my social network no longer watch TVNZ or Newshub because we simply do not trust them. Hence my debate with my friend. We are a mixture of older people (not necessarily Boomers) who these organisations should be thinking about. Not Gen Z for example, who do not watch the news. We, along with a majority of voters, voted for change, and we could see right through the falsehoods being promoted on television.

From another perspective, many New Zealanders were worried about the direction of the country, especially regarding what co-governance and the “Maorification” of New Zealand meant, and how this was being prompted with some falsehoods thrown in for good measure. A recent article by Graham Adams titled “The Tohunga Suppression Myth that won’t Die,” (7 March 2024), highlights again how this was happening and we were being misled by MSM. He wrote about the misinformation surrounding the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907. That Labour, Te Pati Māori and the Greens openly stated this act was an attack on Māori health at the time. This ascertain was prompted by Stuff, who published a column by treaty lawyer Roimata Smail that stated: “In the English version of the Treaty, the Crown asserted sovereignty — power to make laws affecting everyone, including Māori. [This] had swift and severe consequences, as the Crown enacted laws intruding into every aspect of Māori lives. The Tohunga Suppression Act criminalised Māori healthcare and science…”

Even a lawyer, and a Māori advocate at that, was prepared to prompt a falsehood. However, not only is Smail’s ascertain incorrect, “Few commentators seem to feel the need to actually read the four short clauses of the Act, or examine the circumstances in which it arose, or acknowledge that the legislation was presented to Parliament by Sir James Carroll — one of Māoridom’s most-eminent statesmen, who was the first Māori to win a general electorate seat and who served as Acting Prime Minister in 1909 and 1911.

“Furthermore, the four MPs holding the Māori seats — Apirana Ngata, Hōne Heke Ngāpua, Tame Parata and Henare Kaihau — supported the bill.

“It was also strongly backed by Māui Pōmare, who became New Zealand’s first Māori doctor in 1899 — and Minister of Health in 1923.

“Appointed Māori Health Officer in 1901, Pōmare was a fierce critic of the practices of some tohunga. These included treating feverish patients by putting them in cold water and plying them with alcohol, as well as exorcising devils. Much to his outrage, the ministrations of tohunga had led to the deaths of 17 children in one pā alone.” (Graham Adams “The Tohunga Suppression Myth that won’t Die” (7 March 2024).

It is not surprising that a broad section of the community has become suspicious and mistrusting of MSM when you start to put examples as those quoted above, together. They clearly demonstrate how MSM has been at the forefront of attempting to mislead and deceive, to keep and prompt an intellectual managerial and political class in power.

Chris Trotter states succinctly in his article, “Manufacturing the Truth,” when it came to how MSM was dealing with the internet, as did the church with the invention of the printing press.

“The solution they hit upon came in two parts. Firstly, it would be necessary for the emerging mass media to devote itself to “manufacturing” the consent of the governed. Secondly, the new science of public relations was charged with redirecting the desires of the masses away from dangerous participation, and towards harmless consumption.

“These are still the prime objectives of elite socio-political policy. Achieving those objectives, however, has been made increasingly problematic by the manner in which the Internet has developed. Just as happened with that other great regulator of the masses, the Medieval Church, the advent of a new and hard-to-control technology is weakening the ties that bind. Then, and now, those who enjoy a monopoly on the entrenchment of lies, cannot and will not tolerate competition. The elites and their defenders in the mainstream media talk nobly of defending the truth, but what they really mean to re-establish are the key, system-protecting lies which ordinary people will then be denied the information to challenge.”

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mike Howard

    Absolutely bang on David.
    These “ activist” journalists are the new scum of society but as you say- they just don’t get it – or refuse to get it.
    Heading them, the wailing clowns from TVNZ in past week .
    To them, Stuff, Grannie Herald , RNZ and any other source of duplicitous, self righteous journalism – learn the old lesson – “ reap what you sow”.
    You despicable cretins of society lost the eyes and ears of those you need most – your audience.
    Then you have the Princess of all Prats ( capitals for a purpose) , Mariama Kamo from TVNZ having the audacity to say how much she values the principles of 4th Estate as do other journo’s.
    Well Stuff me – she was front and centre of the TVNZ dopey’s who flagrantly supported the “Arch Bitch Ardern” with the required outcomes from her journalism bribe fund.
    So where the is the integrity and balance in what Kamo and her wailing disciples of Ardern and Chippie presented day after day, week after week and month after month to their audiences.
    Does anyone wonder why the historic powerhouse One News at 6pm can hardly pay its way – just think average 3-5 rating v 15-20 not so many years ago.
    Sorry I am totally sick ( almost) to death of the destruction these clowns who have so much influence have created. I said earlier they should understand the meaning of “ reap what you sow”.
    Actually that’s not enough – that might only be a deserved job loss but unless management also learn from this duplicitous phase,the collective of self important pricks in the realm of media ( with few exception – but they are obvious) will cause the denigration of a once proud industry and eliminate to vocation from the minds and opportunity of many in the future.
    If ever there was a justified call to “ fall on swords” the MSM leadership and sheep like ( so called ) journalist should find as much ease to do the deed as they did to take Ardern’s dirty and ultimately destructive “ bribe money”. And when they all re-find the meaning of integrity and fall on their swords – please ensure you do the decent and take Ardern with you.

    Mike Howard

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