The media isn’t anti-Little; it’s anti-Union.

Andrew Little enjoys an ice-cream on his tour of the Wairarapa today.

Andrew Little enjoys an ice-cream on his tour of the Wairarapa today.


Since the day Andrew Little was elected leader of the Labour Party, following the two-candidate preference vote, the media has spent plenty of time covering the fact he is an “angry” unionist.

“Angry” rather than ‘passionate’ or a well-skilled debater.

The media’s obsession with his time spent involved in the unions at a younger age has glossed over the exact details of his involvement with the EPMU where he was a lawyer.

Of course, the media is able to manipulate Little’s $900 debt story by calling him a hypocrite, once again pointing out his background in fighting for workers’ rights.

The tiniest bit of research into this story reveals David Cohen, the man in question over the payments, was not a worker of Little. By definition he was a contractor with no connections to the Labour Party movement or Little’s office. This important detail over the distinguishable difference between the ‘contractor’ and a ‘worker’ forced Patrick Gower to edit his 3 News article last night.

Initially Gower claimed Little has lied over when he notified by Matt McCarten to pay the bill. A matter of hours later he was forced to rename the article “Emails reveal Labour contractor’s attempts to get paid”. A far less juicy title than one claiming to have found Little as a liar, or if in the same category as John Key; an amnesia-stricken Prime Minister.

But Gower’s inaccurate statements were not limited to this misclassification of what exactly David Cohen did.

His mathematics is also terrible. A comment, among many calling him out on his mistakes read:

“Four months? I’ve read the Herald article and the invoice wasn’t sent till late December. Then the holidays. So even counting the holidays it is six weeks. Are you a journalist or a mouthpiece for the National party? Reading your article I have to assume the later. Quite disgusting. Very disappointed. ”

So, what to do? Fire Gower? Make him apologise?

Heavens no. Gower is a gem for TV3. He makes politics, to the disenfranchised somehow interesting. He has the power, does Gower, to manipulate, spin and exaggerate a story beyond recognition.

For example. What was the actual story in regards to Little? He was late in paying a bill (Who isn’t, by the way?).
Gower’s manipulation: Little has turned his back on the workers and is a pathological liar.

Gower’s manipulations are not necessarily bias to one side or the other. He has been heavily critiqued by the Right in the past. And we all recall his reports from earlier in the year claiming “Andrew Little has owned it, John Key has been owned”. Suppose in a hypothetical case the names of Little and Key were reversed. It would be the Left crying foul, pointing out Gower’s bias.

I see Gower as a sensationalist. He milks the story. And he is an asset to TV3. If he continues to pull in the ratings like he can and get both the Left and the Right calling him foul, he’s actually, in his defense, done his job as a journalist hired by a private company (MediaWorks) who hold the one motive of making money.

Then there’s Duncan Garner. Heavens give me strength! His short and bitter, factless, presumptions and totally obscure articles are starting to push me over the edge.

His articles are written for the RadioLive website and, more or less, designed to create outrage from the conservative base that stations like RadioLive and Newstalk ZB rely on to survive as commercial radio stations. One week he’ll be complaining about house prices and how the high rate (particularly Chinese) immigrants are to blame. Some weeks he gets a little strange and complains about a car he saw that wasn’t parked properly.

It is a fair and reasonable argument to suggest high immigration, and immigrant demand of housing is to blame for the housing crisis, I’ll give him that. But his focus on Chinese immigration is plain to see.

And just went I thought he was making sense over housing, which seemed to be his new passionate area, he endorsed National’s sell-off of state homes.

No, he hasn’t become bipolar. He’s just trying to appeal to a certain demographic. That demographic being a somewhat bigoted, always angry individual who complains about Chinese buying New Zealand homes, but simultaneously supports the National government in everything they do.

Garner has written up an article on Little, arguing his “honeymoon” is over. And Garner has particular pleasure in calling out Little on his union past.

“Little stands accused of everything he and his union mates accuse bosses of doing. It’s called hypocrisy.”.

It’s called sensationalism. Note the use of the word “mates” – an emotive word, used to generate a certain feeling. In this case the reader is left with the presumption Little’s affiliation with the unions reeks of cronyism .

Yes, it’s pathetic DailyMail type narrative. But it gets people talking over something the media has spun out of nothing. Garner mentions this in what appears to be a cross-show advertisement stating “3News Political Editor Patrick Gower has made mince meat out of Little this week.”

I know. That one is cringy writing from Gower. Almost reads like an emotive Cameron Slater piece.

And Garner’s write-ups for RadioLive are short, sweet and as unsophisticated as Slater’s.

His piece on Little reaches a pathetically tiny 187 words. Something he might as well have made a Facebook status.

187 words. So, in Garner’s defense, probably a bit more than Slater who, on a god day, probably averages far less words in an article.

And ex-politicians have been quick to respond to this tendency by the media to shrug off unions.

Here’s a final word from Darien Fenton;

“I really do think the journos have gone over the top with this story. When I was at parliament yesterday, Tova O’Brien asked me if I was meeting Matt McCarten – couldn’t figure out why at the time, but got it later when I saw Paddy Gower’s breathless piece. It would have been about me, a unionist meeting with Matt McCarten, a unionist, to talk about Andrew Little, also a unionist, and this unpaid bill. Was an interesting reminder of the level of parliamentary journalism we see sometimes.”
– Darien Fenton, Facebook.

Bennett Morgan, Insiders 2015. 


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