Friday, June 5, 2009

Pond and beyond

Yawn. Sigh. This blaring front-page headline in today’s
New Zealand Herald has the one virtue of inducing instant
drowsiness in the reader, and let’s face it, there’s nothing
like a nice nap now and then. After I woke up I looked again
at the headline and the taut phrase ‘Who cares?’ rose
unbidden to my lips. When stories like this float to the
surface of the politico-media pond, around which many
frogs croak, they feed an unpleasant strain of salacious
faux-prudery that, apparently, has the great Kiwi public
thirsting for every last detail. I wonder. Sure, there’s a story
here, of sorts, but it’s hardly the kind deserving of giant
headlines and finger-wagging columns and editorials.
Actually, it’s the kind of story journalists seize on in lieu of
revelations that would really matter about the government
of the day. Unable, except rarely, and then only if you’re
Nicky Hager, does anyone break through the public-
relations defences surrounding any government and dig up
real political dirt. Not in this country anyway. So by way of
overcompensation far too much is usually made of the
misdemeanours and peccadilloes of individual MPs and
ministers. Researching my Helen Clark biography, going
back through old newspapers, I became aware of how often
the media fasten triumphantly on minister A’s drunk-
driving, MP B’s slipshod accounting or whatever. Such
stories are invariably nine-day wonders with little relevance
to the real business of politics and governing, except insofar
as the media can convince people that they are somehow
symbolic of endemic moral squalor. Well, okay, but the
home life of Richard Worth is not my idea of compelling
investigative journalism, nor could it ever be a yardstick by
which to even remotely judge the current government.
We here at Thumbcorp say to the media: get a grip, guys.

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