Helen Clark has called Ian Wishart a "scandal monger" and a "creep." She once called John Campbell, deservedly in my view, a "little creep," so presumably Wishart is less vertically challenged. "Miss Clark went on to say that if you want to meet the Wishart test of public life you had better be one of the vestal virgins."
Is Wishart a scandal monger? No doubt of that. A fundamentalist nutbar? For sure. Conspiracy peddler. Big tick. Creationist and anti-evolutionist? Sure is. Intellectual dwarf? Clearly. A creep? Well, I wouldn't drink with him.
Hard working and energetic for sure, and in New Zealand's lack-lustre (read near non-existent) world of investigative journalism he stands out for both uncovering evidence and, in what I've read, assuming it -- his brain and his magazine remain the toxic dumping ground for everything dreamed up by anyone who ever wore a layer of tin-foil inside their hats. Like many other journalists he is never one to give the whole story when a partial one will sound better, he is Winston Peters with a magazine; Nicky Hager with subscriptions; Dan Brown without the sales; John Grisham with cliches. (This last is irony by the way.) Of Wishart, NBR's Nevil Gibson once said, ""Not one to use a telling phrase where a cliche will do; Mr Wishart's purple prose detracts from an otherwise fascinating account ... a conspiratorial tale of greed and excess ... created in the milieu of the X Files ... "
To call his work yellow journalism would be too kind. The overwhelming majority of what I've read of Wishart's work and of what appears in his magazine takes a breathless join-the-dots approach to a story, but with too few dots to make a full picture -- suggesting what isn't known, and taking denials by protagonists as evidence that they're hiding something. The sad thing is that this muck sells. You lot buy it.
Among some of his gems, if you remember, were the claims that George W Bush was secretly planning to abolish income tax (I wish!); that soy milk causes homosexuality; that condoms don't work and the 'safe-sex' campaign promoting their use is intended only to spread AIDS and increase the power of the "gay lobby"; that Bill Clinton was a cocaine smuggler "in an operation that was turning over billions of dollars a year"; that "ruins" have been found on the moon, "artifacts" on Mars and "lost cities" in Antarctic lakes (and the US Government has presumably been covering up ever since); that the Kyoto Treaty was all the work of "the boys from Enron"; that abortion causes breast cancer; that NZ defence researchers are "helping perfect" US missile systems, nuclear submarines "and even space warfare craft"; that China is about to launch a surprise biological attack on the US...
As proof for most of the stories I've read there is little more than conjecture, imagination, supposition, denials (as proof of veracity) and a demand that you, the reader, prove they're not true. This may be one occasion where I have to agree with the Prime Minister, as I did on her assessment of John Campbell and his 'analysis by ambush. ' Feel free to post below more examples of Wishart's cliche-ridden conspiracy claims over the years.
UPDATE: I'll post more of Investigate's amusing claims over the years as people send them in. These include: African famines caused by "a biotech industry plan to control world food supply"; exposés of "Al Qa'ida's pacific hideaway"; constitutional crises aplenty, including "an income tax revolt by ordinary taxpayers" already under way "with the potential to bring down the current system of government," and a claim that "New Zealand's future as a democracy is in the balance this summer" due to the "uncovering" of a "missing link" Treaty of Waitangi (there's a missing link here allright, but not where Wishart thinks); that the death penalty for treason was dropped so a cabal of political conspirators could "deliberately steal sovereignty from the public"; that people were living in Auckland more than 30,000 years ago...
More to come, I'm sure.
LINKS: PM calls Investigate editor "a creep" - Newstalk ZB
Investigate the editorship - Simon Pound
When partly true is untrue - Not PC