Readers of Stuff’s increasingly dreadful journalism will likely have seen the article on its website from 3 March headed “Covid-19: Destiny Church leaders fleeing Auckland lockdown ‘completely irresponsible‘.”
That headline came from a question one of their hacks asked of cabinet minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday about what he thought of Destiny Church leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki leaving Auckland before the alert level 3 lockdown took effect at 6 am last Sunday morning.
According to Stuff the couple left Auckland when the move was announced and arrived in Rotorua about midnight – just six hours before the country moved to level 3.
Ah, well, weren’t they perfectly entitled to do that? So why was taking advantage of the 9-hour window provided “completely irresponsible”? And Level 3 only applied to the Auckland area and not the whole country. However, as we’ve now seen on several occasions, Stuff has scant regard for facts.
The Tamaki’s weren’t the only ones to get out of Auckland that night. Says Stuff: “Figures from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency shows there was a surge in traffic heading out of Auckland when the lockdown was announced at 9pm on Saturday. By 11pm, there were four times as many cars as normal heading south on State Highway 1, near the State Highway 2 interchange before Pokeno.” So why pick on this couple?
But Stuff’s inappropriate behaviour didn’t stop there: on Thursday came this headline: “Covid-19: Hannah Tamaki says she will refuse vaccine despite assurances it will help curb spread of virus.” According to the article. “In a post to her official Facebook page Tamaki said: “I’m not taking the vaccine … that’s my choice.”
Stuff then repeats the government line: “The Government has always said the vaccine is not compulsory but has urged as many people as possible to get it to help protect them and others against the virus.” So if the Cv-19 vaccine isn’t compulsory, why the Stuff attack on those who say they decline to have it, when as we have reported, there is very good reason for declining?
The answer is given by our own headline above: Stuff desperately needs government handout money.
But rival NZME (NZ Herald) is little better: it has also indulged in grovelling to the Jacinda government. The Northland Age put on its website Michael Bassett’s article about NZ’s cultural cringe and the government’s embracing racism on a grand scale. But then the article was pulled with the announcement “Dr Michael Bassett’s column referred to below has been removed from the Northland Age website. Upon review, its unacceptable views did not meet our standards. We apologise for its publication” — and in its place it put a vitriolic attack on Bassett by a Jacindanista, using the name of Kelly Jensen. See this article on the BFD
Unlike government media, private enterprise should be allowed to side with whichever political party and espouse whatever ideological views it likes, but the big problem with both media organisations is that they are now getting public money, and thus should meet exceptionally high standards of fairness, accuracy and balance to justify it. But they are simply not adhering to those standards; instead they have become propaganda arms for the Jacinda government. Will any National Party supporting media company similarly get any public money? Don’t count on it.
Former professional journalist Karl du Fresne looks at this very troubling subject in his usual astute and erudite style on his blog here.