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PM’s dodgy diction blamed for “conflicts”

September 4, 2012

Revised transcript kinder to Key, but public reaction points to a widespread lack of faith.

So, apparently it was all a misunderstanding.  What Key actually said, according to the audio record, was “we welcome the opportunities to cooperate further. In that context”, not “we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts”, as was reported here yesterday.

While I have been heavily critical of John Key in the past, it is not my intention to deliberatly misquote him.  I believe that an argument based on facts is stronger, and if the updated transcript is accurate, then the Prime Minister is exonerated of the accusations made on this page yesterday, as are the journalists I mentioned, on this occasion.

What has been interesting though, is the discussion the whole incident has generated on social media and the comment forums of news websites such as    Mr Key can take no comfort from the number of New Zealanders who genuinely believed that this was his intention, and assumed the record to be accurate.  Similarly, Fairfax Media must question their failing credibilitry as a reliable news provider, when many New Zealanders are questioning their willingness to protect the Prime Minister from criticism.  As I pointed out to one journalist today, you’d have to acnkowledge that if much of our mainstream media weren’t so lacking in credibility, this wouldn’t even have come up. There is something of the boy who cried wolf, or perhaps the boy who didn’t, about the whole incident.  There is clearly a real concern among many informed New Zealanders that some media corporations – most notably Fairfax – have become so partisan towards John Key and the National Party, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to rely on them for news. If this wasn’t the case, no one would even be asking the question.   I would also point out that this has come in a week when Fairfax avoided reporting yet another Roy Morgan poll pointing to a change of government.  I don’t need to tell regular readers of this page how generously polls showing positive news for the National Party are treated by Fairfax.

I stand by the argument that this was a great story regardless.  If Helen Clark had spoken so poorly in a formal setting with top U.S. officials, I have no doubt that the story would have been splashed across the front page of the Dominion Post with one of those unflattering pictures.  John Key is a former Wall Street trader, and millions of dollars would have been exchanged on the basis of what he was understood to have said.  The transcript, even after being updated, notes that much of what he said was often inaudable.  This is something that Mr Key needs to take some ownership for, and journalists might have found a solid news angle in investigating some of the implications of a New Zealand Prime Minister being misunderstood at such a level.

Ultimately, it seems that the slurring John Key was not overtly war-mongering on this ocassion, just drunk in charge of a country, perhaps.  Which is a relief, as I honestly thought our military independence would be gone by lunchtime.  Can’t imagine why U.S. officials would expect the New Zealand Prime Minister to be so warmly enthusiastic about supporting aggressive American interests…




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