Dr Greg Treadwell is a senior lecturer in journalism at AUT. Writing this week in the left-wing Newsroom, Treadwell was of the opinion that certain principles of the NZ Media Council’s Code of Ethics did not apply to the Stuff hit-job masquerading as a documentary, ‘Fire & Fury’.

In particular Treadwell believed the time-honoured journalistic principle of ‘right of reply’ should not be afforded to those attacked in the state-funded hitpiece, and that as a consequence the NZ Media Council would be right in finding there had been no breach of the Code of Ethics, despite the fact, according to him, such a finding would appear to be illogical.

Here’s how Treadwell justified the exclusion:

‘It [ie. the right of reply] would allow purveyors of disinformation to cast themselves even further as victims of the “mainstream media” and perhaps even force Stuff to provide a platform for their mistruths and conspiracies.

‘It would open the gate wider to proto-fascist movements seeking to pollute our public sphere and thereby wound our democracy.’

He added:

‘After all, the documentary contains regular and substantial repetitions of the views of the disinformation agents as they attempt to cajole New Zealanders to join their uprising on social media platforms.

Fire and Fury is, as journalist Paula Penfold says, itself a right of reply to the untold hours of video and other content published by disinformation agents to tens of thousands of followers in their campaign to seed lies and discord in our communities.’

What Treadwell is in effect saying is that ‘we have rules, but those I, and/or the government, deem to be ‘proto-fascists’ or otherwise undesirable should not have the benefit of them.’

Treadwell’s arguments are alarming and absurd. He wonders why New Zealand society is fracturing, but has no clue that the actions he, and others of his ilk in academia and politics advocate, are the reason why this is happening. They are the ones seeking to dismantle bastions of democratic society, such as the right of reply.

The obvious question which many fail to grasp in this debate is, ‘Who should decide what is disinformation, misinformation, or conspiracy?’

The short answer is that no one should decide, and certainly, it should not be up to half-wit State officials, dubiously funded ‘fact-checkers’, state-subsidized mainstream journalists, or career academics to decide either.

Such a question is like asking a group of people ‘What is the true religion – is it Judaism, Islam, or Christianity?’ All the Jews will answer ‘Judaism’, all the Muslims will answer ‘Islam’, and all the Christians will answer ‘Christianity.’

There are no right answers to such questions, nor wrong ones. Let individuals decide what it is they want to believe. In a contest for ideas, I trust the vast majority of my fellow kiwis to chose which idea is closest to the truth. If we want the ‘cohesive and tolerant’ society Treadwell and everyone else in this country yearns for, then the answer is simple: The government and the legacy media have to stop lying.

We live in the age of the ‘information super highway.’ To remain competitive in this environment of free-flowing mass information, the mainstream media and the government need to be honest and tell the truth, or at least be objective and present both sides of a story. It’s that simple.

The absurdity of Treadwell’s arguments have been highlighted in a brilliantly entertaining piece on resistance.kiwi (see Resistance Kiwi ‘interviews’ AUT lecturer Greg Treadwell’).

He was also roasted, and rightly so, by Sean Plunket on The Platform.

Treadwell’s arguments are representative of the sorry state of mainstream journalism in New Zealand, but also that of many of the so-called ‘academia’. His lack of intellectual rigour is evidenced in his refusal to understand the aggrieved, or their position (he probably really does believe Counterspin are ‘white supremacists’ despite Hannah Spierer stating publicly that they ‘love people of all colours, creeds and races‘), nor does he bother to explore a satisfactory resolution of the ethical issues raised by ‘Fire & Fury’ within the existing framework of the NZ Media Council Code of Ethics. His only answer is to ban the aggrieved from operation of Code, and if that doesn’t work, change the code so the right of reply doesn’t apply in future cases he and/or the government deem to be unworthy of it. This is pure neo-Nazi facism.

Does Treadwell not understand that in New Zealand we are subject to the ‘rule of law’? Rules are rules, and they apply to everyone – for their benefit equally and regardless of their political views, race, gender, class or sexual orientation. This is what separates us from the apes and monkeys. Rules and ethics cannot be abandoned on a Caligula-like whim, or else people will start to wonder why we need any rules and ethics at all – by that stage our society will be half-way down the slippery slope and irredeemable.

Read the rest on the Daily Telegraph NZ