Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

WTF: Beating up on Goff

May 21st, 2008

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Whenever the media whines in future about politicians refusing to answer their questions, Phil Goff’s interview on Alt TV is a perfect example of what can happen when they do : a beat-up of monumental proportions, not even remotely supported by what was said.

Short of flatly dismissing the question about his likely role in the wake of a Labour election loss, Goff hedged his reply with every possible caution : that he wasn’t being defeatist to consider the possibility of a Labour loss ( realistic, given that National is 27 points ahead in latest polling) that Helen Clark stands head and shoulders above John Key in leadership ability , that no forced leadership change would subsequently occur and that the choice of any new leader in such circumstances would not be his call.

Media verdict – a leadership split in Labour’s ranks ! A gaffe, an unwelcome distraction ! And when Goff denied the beat-up…. Goff Turns Clobbering Machine On, screamed the Herald.

And the media wonders why it is held in contempt. If this incident is a signal the mainstream media has suddenly developed an appetite for parsing the subtexts of political statements, and rooting out possible contradictory signals they would have been better employed parsing John Key.

In just the last week, Key had been talking up tax cuts for middle income earners north of $50 a week, then claiming to have been misquoted. He then told RNZ this morning ( after the IMF warned about the inflationary impact of tax cuts) that he’d always said tax cuts should be ‘phased in.” So which is it? Massive tax cuts affordable this year ? Or tax cuts phased in, which leaves us none the wiser about the level of tax cuts this year that National thinks is compatible with sound economic management. If Key knows, he wasn’t saying, and no one was asking.


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    1. 8 Responses to “WTF: Beating up on Goff”

    2. By Jan Farr on May 21, 2008 | Reply

      Thank you for your first paragraph. That is exactly what happened last night! Even Public Address seems slightly mesmerised by the beat-up.
      The real story is that it’s surely time to for someone with principles to replace Duncan Garner and his team at TV3.

    3. By S.Kidd on May 21, 2008 | Reply

      Media beat-up,get off the grass.When will labour(and supporters) stop shooting the messenger.The media is not at fault here but the man himself.

    4. By Katie Small on May 21, 2008 | Reply

      Nice post. Herald and TV News reactions were out of all proportion to Goff’s comments – Breakfast showed a clip of the interview this morning and I really couldn’t see their point.

    5. By Giggle on May 21, 2008 | Reply

      Guyon Espiner’s lead item on TV1 was utterly embarrassing. He spent the first 2 minutes trying to justify the story and explain why it was newsworthy, and then at the end said he turned around and said he didnt actually think there was any serious thought of a leadership challenge after all (ie there isnt a story after all). Truly awful.

      This is the worst example of the press gallery’s pack mentality. “If we all say run with it and all say its a story then it will be, and at the same time we satisfy our egos and demonstrate who really sets the political agenda in this country.”

    6. By Jan Farr on May 22, 2008 | Reply

      I suggest that S Kidd might like to look at the video instead of blindly believing the media. You can find it here:

    7. By bomber on May 22, 2008 | Reply

      Orrrrrrrrr with a 27 point lead in the Polls (however manipulated they are being) might suggest that Labour are about to lose and that perhaps all options including Goff as Leader should be looked at, not sure if anyone has noticed but with National wanting to hold referendums on MMP and sleepwalking to a victory where they haven’t had to display any policy, my concern is that we could be saddled with a far right agenda defended as ‘mandate’. There is more to lose here than Labours 4th term

    8. By Peter Ellis on May 26, 2008 | Reply

      About time someone pinned the hypocrisy of this atrocious media behaviour. I’ve always cringed when seeing politicians avoiding questions, but now I see how rational they are when they do so. This pile of rubbish from the media is an example of what is setting back democracy and stopping real discussion of issues. I never again want to hear the media whining about pollies evading questions; at least not without admitting the role their journo colleagues play in setting up this cycle.

    9. By Dan on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

      In a perfect world we could just watch the interview & make up our own minds without the mainstream media trying to form our opinions for us. I don’t watch TV or read the political dribble in pathetic publications like the NZ Herald.

      The questions asked during an interview are manipulation enough without adding further opinions. Down with mainstream media, especially NZ Herald.

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