• A Propaganda Sheet

    It is hard to credit that those responsible for the Herald’s news coverage – the editors, reporters, and commentators – can feel satisfied at producing what has become just a propaganda sheet – a publication in which each item is assessed and given prominence according to its ability to skew the political debate to one side rather than another.

    It is one thing to allow political prejudice to colour the selection and presentation of every news item – but why must they spew the result out over the rest of us?

  • The Dog-Whistle

    There are moments when one despairs – and those moments have come with increasing frequency over recent weeks.

    They have arisen as Christopher Luxon – with the apparent support of the Herald – has ventured into “dog-whistle” politics, and has sought to play “the race card” in his efforts to win the general election.

    There was, first, his ruling out of a coalition with Te Pati Maori. Then his ambivalence over bi-lingual traffic signs, as well, of course, as his emphasis on the supposed “co-governance” aspects of what one might have thought was the long and obviously overdue reform of our water administration.

    Alert Kiwis will no doubt be quick to recognise other notes on the “dog-whistle.”

    And what are we to make of his urging his supporters to “have more babies”?

    We have to conclude, sadly, that he is assuring voters that, like his predecessor, Don Brash, he has decided that the path to victory lies in cutting those “pesky Maoris” down to size. “Vote National,” he seems to be saying, “and government’s ears will be closed to Maori interests.”

    It is extremely troubling that National has decided to set one group of Kiwis against another in order to win power. We can only hope that voters will recognise it for what it is – a cynical attempt to put a National victory ahead of the national interest.

    We have no future, after all, as a divided country.

  • The “Anti-Woke” Herald

    These days, I make a point of reading the Herald for a particular reason – not, in order to get an accurate account of the day’s news, but to gain some insight into the mentality of those whose guiding principle is not accuracy or rationality but, rather, visceral hatred of those who oppose or differ from them.

    In this quest, I naturally turn to those contributors in the Herald’s pages whose stock-in-trade it is to denigrate and rubbish those with whom they disagree, but I also take note of the efforts of the editorial staff; I like to identify the bias they show in story selection and in their use of various devices, such as repetition, misleading headlines and the positioning of those headlines to amplify that bias.

    But it is not just the output of the Herald itself that engages my attention. Of even more interest is the “Comments”column that usually follows a tendentious item in the Herald’s pages, and to which readers are invited to contribute.

    These ”comments” tell me so much about a particular section of Herald readers and – even more valuably – go a long way to explaining exactly for whom the Herald thinks it is writing. I get a clear idea of who these commenters are and, even more tellingly, exactly who it is that the commenters dislike so much.

    The answer to that inquiry is not particularly surprising. What is guaranteed to fire them up, to new heights (or, perhaps, depths) of anger, hostility and hatred, is anything that – in their invented terminology – can be described as “woke”.

    “Woke” (which, as far as I can gather, was a term first coined and still widely used as a term of abuse by the far right in the United States) apparently means any person, attitude or policy that sees any merit in taking account of other people’s interests, and any attitude that recognises that we are each of us individuals but that we also live in society ; and, further, (and here, I really do risk treading into “woke” territory) that we are all better off if we live in a society that pays regard to the interests of all its members.

    The Herald, perhaps regardless of its own prejudices, presumably finds it necessary, by highlighting what keeps us apart and downplaying what brings us together, to pander to the prejudices of this particular section of its readers. In the long run, however, they risk doing damage not only to their own reputation and claim to independence and impartiality, but also to New Zealand’s cohesion as a society that is happy with itself.

    Encouraging the rise of the “anti-woke” sentiment is a sure recipe for national decline. Sadly, that price would be paid not only by the Herald but by the rest of us as well.

  • Ridiculous Mike

    The Herald is usually keen to promote Mike Hosking. But, in today’s issue, they could hardly have made him look more ridiculous.

  • Matthew Hooton

    Matthew Hooton is that rare commodity – a right-wing commentator who is worth reading.

    His article in today’s Herald is a case in point. Apart from a somewhat tendentious definition of “wokery” – a pejorative term often unthinkingly applied to attitudes best described as “concern for others” – his piece is a triumph of good sense. It is a salutary experience for everyone to read someone they expect to disagree with and to discover that they can find common ground.