The Last Article from Capital Thinking – The Media

After nine years, I have decided to retire from writing articles. I am soon taking an extended vacation and will be unable to write, so now is a good time to move on and begin another chapter in my life after my holiday.

My articles have covered many issues, mainly our dysfunctional Wellington City Council, the Let’s Get Wellington Moving debacle, and the implementation of cycleways regardless of their suitability (ala, we hate cars), to the controversial Three Waters legislation, and the rise of Critical Theory (its subsets being Critical Race Theory, de-colonization – especially in education, queer theory and Marxist feminism, and its influence on the mainstream media).

I will finish with a short piece on the media. Returning to my previous article, “The Facts Behind the Demise of the Legacy Mainstream Media,” I noticed an error in Bryce Edwards’ commentary regarding journalists self-declared political ideology. I reviewed my article after having a conversation with someone at an office function who stated that 85% of journalists see themselves as left leaning. I corrected him by referring to my article, stating it was 65%. This got me thinking.  On reviewing the graph and Bryce Edwards’ comments there is a glaring difference between the facts and the statement.  Bryce Edwards said in his article  “What’s to blame for the public’s plummeting trust in the media?” (9 April 2024), “In terms of bias, there’s some interesting evidence about the self-declared ideological leanings of journalists in Massey University’s Worlds of Journalism survey in 2022. It found that about two-thirds (65 per cent) of journalists identify as being leftwing, 23 per cent call themselves centrists, and 12 per cent say that are right wing.” However, closely studying the graph shows that 87% of journalists identify as left leaning.

Bryce Edwards has shifted the middle leftist into the centre to right block, increasing that number to 23%, instead of it being 13% of journalists identifying as right wing. Is this a case of misinterpreting the graph, or carefully manipulating the facts? In Bryce’s case, I would like to think it is a simple mistake.

Regardless of whether this is a genuine mistake, mainstream media (MSM) has become an outlet for critical theory and its relentless attack on free speech, providing disinformation, and their refusal to write or publish dissenting views. One example is the Cass report into the UK’s use of puberty blockers. Following this report, the NHS have moved to reduce use or ban puberty blockers for young children, except in extreme medical circumstances, due to the risk of future medical issues (e.g. medical harm and sexual dysfunction). In New Zealand, very little discussion has occurred in MSM on this matter, and a need to discuss the implication for our children, even though we apply puberty blockers 10x higher than the UK, and 50% of these are young girls. The argument is that the Cass report does not apply here.

There is also the relentless attack on the coalition government by MSM, as many have observed this government received no honeymoon period. To me, the main culprit has been TVNZ, which has partly shifted from being a news presenter, to an opinion outlet. A case in point is John Campbell’s appointment as TVNZ chief correspondent. A bleeding-heart journalist with an axe to grind if ever there was one. TVNZ also appointed Maki Sherman as the 1News political editor, a self-styled critic of the coalition government and one to hold very strong views on Treaty of Waitangi issues, with very strong liberal leftist opinions. Not one to hold back and become excited about a TVNZ poll that showed the coalition government dropping in the polls six months after the election. It was a 12-15-minute rant. When she became the news and not the poll itself, it showed how wrong she got it, and how gleeful she was at the poll result (the Roy Morgan poll had a different result that was far more positive for the coalition).

Bryce Edwards (1 May 2024) quoted the following when he wrote “Reporting on the 1News poll result, TVNZ political editor Maiki Sherman summarised the result like this: “The public has delivered a resounding boo from the bleachers as voters indicate they are slowly losing the faith. For a coalition that’s only been in government for five months, such a hiss from the electorate is nothing short of devastating.”

One should note the loaded adjectives here; “boo,” “bleachers,” “hiss,” and “devasting.” Not exactly balanced journalism.

David Farrar put it differently, when he quoted the NZ Herald on 2 May, 2024.

TVNZ says it is dealing with about 50 formal complaints over its coverage of the latest 1News-Verian political poll, with some viewers – as well as the Prime Minister and a former senior Labour MP – critical of the tone of the 6pm report.

“TVNZ political editor Maiki Sherman’s reporting of the poll results – all three parties that make up the coalition Government have lost support – was described by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon earlier today as “a little frothy and sensationalist”.

“Among various adjectives, metaphors and analysis, Sherman variously described a “nightmare” poll for the coalition that would “absolutely rock the entire Parliament.”

“Former Labour MP Stuart Nash told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan today: “I thought the TV One reporting on it was absolutely shocking, if I’m honest with you.

“I thought the tone that they portrayed was the sort of tone you do three weeks out from an election, not two and a half years,” Nash said.”

Farrar went on to write about how TVNZ has subtly distorted some facts on polling. (Note, David Farrar runs the Curia Poll, which is well respected, so he should know when facts get deliberately distorted).

For example, regarding the Fast Track Legislation, TVNZ said only 40% supported the bill and 60% opposed the bill. “The actual result is 40% in favour and 41% against. To add together those against, those unsure and those who didn’t answer as 60% not in support is very misleading.”

“They do it again in the 1News Verian Poll, voters were also asked: “Which of the party leaders do you think has the most influence on Government decisions?”

“Around 51% responded with the prime minister, while about 49% did not.

“That 49% is once again got to by including those who name another leader with those who were unsure.”

Then TVNZ were at it again when people were polled regarding public sector cuts where they combined the don’t know or don’t want to say into those opposed, to bring those opposed to 60%. “So, in this case you actually have 52% who say the public sector cuts they support (agree or are too little) and only 35% say they are too much. That is actually a 17% difference but once again TVNZ adds in the 13% unsure to the anti-Government option.”

“So, in all three reports, TVNZ has added unsure and refused to say, to try and make it look like there is greater opposition to the Government than there is.

“One poor framing could be bad luck. To do it three times, is a very, very bad look.”

The sad fact is this. Not only are we being denied an opportunity to debate matters covering the wide range of issues I have mentioned above, thus resulting in the decline of free speech, but to the distortion of facts by MSM to support and frame their own argument that is deeply misleading, to say the least. This only leads to a breakdown of free speech, democracy, trust, and the right to hold honest and open discourse. It is sobering to think we are going down a dangerous path when our main news outlet does not tell us the truth.

As I leave for a different journey, please check the facts, and question what you hear and read. We all need to challenge the establishment and social media alike, whether they are on the right or left of politics. Discuss and debate and have an open mind to someone else’s opinion. You just might learn something.

Finally, thank you for your support and added comments to my articles. I sincerely hope that you have found them informative, enlightening, and enjoyable. Whilst this may be the end of my blog, it will not be the end of my writing or my determination to advocate for a brighter future for us all.

Best wishes,