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Dom’s political vision a disaster for freedom

November 4, 2011

Editorial’s self-righteous “political lesson” conceals Fairfax’s attacks on democracy –

Following up yesterday’s one-sided election “coverage”, today’s Dominion Post delivers more of the same, and then has the insolence to lecture readers and rival media on “how politics ought to be” in one of the most breathtakingly arrogant editorials I’ve ever read.

Astoundingly, Fairfax have the audacity to claim that their leaders’ debate, hosted by The Christchurch Press, was a lesson on how to organise a political debate.  This may be the case in North Korea or Fiji, but the last time I checked, using a debate to cultivate propaganda for the ruling government, is not consistent with a free and democratic state.

The appalling way Fairfax manipulated the debate in their heavily partisan pro-National reporting was well documented on this page yesterday, but for today’s Dominion Post to come out with such a haughty, high-toned editorial is an absolute disgrace and an insult to anyone who genuinely values the principles of freedom and democracy.  Their claims that they provided New Zealand with “a lesson on how politics ought to be” is simply laughable.

You may recall that the debate was moderated by Fairfax political editor and thinly veiled National Party spin doctor, Tracy Watkins.  Watkins’ writing has been consistently positive to the point of rediculous on all things National, while her hostility towards the Opposition rarely, if ever, allows her to even pretend to be objective.  A quick glance through the analysis on this page of her previous copy, will confirm that Watkins is a master of the art of propaganda , and she has never let fairness, accuracy or balance get in the way of her support for John Key.  If this is what Fairfax mean by “how politics ought to be”, they are at least consistent with the anti-democratic, elitist approach they have brought to their political reporting for as long as I have been paying attention.  Perhaps the deal for this debate was even done between Key and Watkins herself, while she was “escorting” the Prime Minister on his recent tour of the United States.

If Fairfax’s world view – as expressed through recent editorials – is anything to go by, then some of the “lessons” we can learn from their vision of politics are thus: that politics is the preserve of the wealthy, powerful, established elite to which they themselves belong, that individuals have little representation, few workplace rights, no access to employment unions, and employers are free to exploit workers and put the ‘minimum’ back into minimum wage.  “Democracy” can be bought and sold according to whoever has the most resources, rather than the best and fairest ideas.  Views from outside of this rich power elite, or not consistent with the values of the ultra-conservative hard-Right, are marginalised at best, and ignored or maliciously attacked at worst.

So Fairfax, the next time you feel like taking a high-handed approach to espousing the virues of your anti-democratic, anti-freedom, anti-worker, vision for New Zealand, just remember that your readers are watching, and as your credibility dries up, so too will your sales.  Perhaps that’s why recent promotions for the Dominion Post have been quoting readership, rather than circulation.  But, reading your propaganda doesn’t mean we buy into it, and it certainly doesn’t mean we’ll continue to buy it.

As always readers, thank you for supporting this protest.  If you agree, please share our page, and let’s keep the heat on these guys to start providing the fairness, accuracy and balance that we must demand of our media in order to preserve the health of our demoacracy!





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