We now find such programs too painful to watch — the Stuffers’ Fire and Fury was a permanent turn-off (literally as well as figuratively) for such from the government-paid propagandists, but there are other seasoned and stoic observers around willing to do so and comment.

by Karl du Fresne from his blog:

I forced myself to watch Web of Chaos, Tuesday night’s state-funded TVNZ documentary that promised “a deep dive into the world of disinformation”.

It’s sad that I should regard it as a chore to watch something I helped to pay for, but that’s the way it is. I wanted to satisfy myself that Web of Chaos was exactly what I expected, and so it turned out. There are few things more richly satisfying than having one’s prejudices confirmed.

The first clue was in the name of the director: Justin Pemberton. I vaguely recalled the name from somewhere else, and it soon came to me. Pemberton made Capital in the 21st Century, which I described in 2019 as a masterpiece of the propagandist’s art.

I wrote then that “The film uses every trick in the documentary-maker’s book to dramatise its message, which is that contemporary capitalism is overwhelmingly rigged in favour of the ultra-rich and basically rotten to the core”.

Web of Chaos uses similar techniques – powerful images, slick editing, ominous music – to create a sense of dread and foreboding. It’s a clever piece of work that will have chilled the hearts of anyone open to its message, which is that shadowy, dark forces on the far Right (that term again) are using the internet to promote hatred, division and paranoia.

If the name of the director wasn’t a pointer to the likely tone of the doco, the identities of the participants certainly were. The names were almost comically predictable: self-described “disinformation researcher” Byron C Clark, cultural historian Kate Hannah from the shadowy Disinformation Project, “media literacy expert” and activist Sanjana Hattotuwa (I presume that being an expert on “media literacy” means we can trust him to tell us which sources of information are safe), celebrity TV reporter David Farrier (memorably, if unflatteringly, described by Sean Plunket this week as a gutter-snipe journalist), the achingly woke Marc Daalder, Newsroom’s in-house proselytiser on climate change and right-wing extremism, and University of Otago philosophy professor Lisa Ellis, the one name unfamiliar to me, whose online resumé tells us she writes about “climate adaptation justice”, whatever that may be, and edits a magazine called Political Theory. Enough said.

In other words, the usual suspects: a tight little coterie of mutually supporting (and apparently well-resourced) activists marching in lockstep with a radical leftist government and mainstream media. All are caught up in, and simultaneously promulgate, a moral panic over so-called disinformation, which can loosely be defined as any information or opinion they dislike.

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