Monday, 31 March 2014

The Internet Party: Mostly Clowns


The magic of German megalomania continues to transform journalists into either sourpusses, sycophants or clowns.

Mostly clowns.

Last week was another political and journalistic circus, with both DotCom and the commentariat turning themselves into clowns.

The circus started with Dotcom’s “confession” he owned a book, and continued with his party “launch.” A “soft” launch, you’d have to say, since virtually the only thing we heard about it was that DotCom owned both a book and an MP.

About the book, a signed copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a breathless herd chased down the “story” as if by their endeavour alone they could apply Godwin’s Law and spike an election campaign.

Possibly the worst two were Colin Espiner and the self-satisfied TV3 muckraker with a face that looks like an arse. Espiner’s drivel on how owning a book makes you a Nazi was reinforced by staunch analysis like this:

Some detailed policy may help protect the party from accusations it is nothing more than a vanity project for an ego maniac concerned only about his reputation and avoiding spending time in a US jail cell.
    So far there's been nothing but meaningless platitudes such as "a party for people who care about a digital future" and the hoary old "breath of fresh air … dose of common sense". The Internet Party promises more jobs, cheaper broadband, more modern schools, and, quite possibly, free apple pie.

Funny as a fight. A shame the alleged journalist overlooked a fairly substantial policy that other parties would do well to pick up: ending the surveillance state.

I find it curious too that Espiner isn’t alone in making up the party’s policy position on this: most other media  also  ignored that fairly substantial policy plank, just as they continue to ignore the rise and rise of the surveillance state itself.

Much easier just to go through a fat man’s rubbish bags.

Fortunately, former Fair Go presenter Brian Edwards did for journalism what he once tried to do for honest commerce, castigating Espiner’s “mindless shit,” and pointing out the irony of journalists “exhibiting the mentality of book-burners”:

They are people who believe that a man’s character may be judged not merely by the contents of his library but, in this particular case, by his ownership of a single book. Their logic, as I argued in my previous post, is that if the contents of a book are evil then the ownership of such a book is itself evidence of evil:
   ‘Kim Dotcom owns and has read a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler was the founder of National
     Socialism and one of history’s most evil men. Ergo: Kim Dotcom must be an evil Nazi.’

    The Dotcom/Mein Kampf story was first given national prominence by TV3 journalists Brook Sabin and Patrick Gower who confidently predicted the end of Dotcom’s political aspirations and, one might assume, of his hopes of remaining in this country, as a result of his owning a priceless historical document, signed by Hitler himself and dedicated to his cellmate Hermann Esser.
    So the first irony lies in journalists, traditional advocates of free speech, if not actually promoting book-burning, at least fanning the embers.
    But then, in the current climate of New Zealand commercial television, sensation mongering is precisely the journalist’s job.

You could even call it “braindead.”

* * * * *

Full disclosure: I once owned a 1941 Wermacht belt buckle, a copy of a Leni Reifenstahl movie, a World War 2 era  British helmet and campaign medals, and a scale model of a T34 Russian Tank. But I am neither a Nazi, an imperialist, or a sympathiser of Stalin. Just so you know.

[UPDATE: This is not to denigrate the entire profession of journalists, some of whom still do excellent work . Like Rebecca MacFie’s thorough summary of the series of events leading to the collapse of the CTV building.
[Hat tip Eric Crampton]


  1. I don't see the point of it all. Having been away from New Zealand for many years I simply cannot get interested in the inane political scene here. Kim Dotcom probably has some good ideas - especially regarding privacy and omnipotent government surveillance, but at the same time is bound to fall into populism of some sort.

    As usual, I will not be voting. Can't see the point.

  2. You make a fair point. What you might have missed in your absence however is that the fall happened well before the launch...

  3. David: I hear you, though I doubt anyone (except the power hungry) actually *want* to be interested in politics. I see it more as a form of self defence.

  4. In view of the enormous majorities Bob Semple and Annette King have piled up for Labour in the Wellington South/Miramar/Rongotai electorate (basically the same boundaries, just occasional name changes) over the last 90 years, it takes some doing - and a very 'special' person as the Labour candidate - to actually lose that electorate! haha!

    Therefore Brian Edwards should know that electors DO care about what a candidate gets up to in his private life - and have been known to vote for his opponent as a result.

    It is not sensationalism for the media to say "We thought you should know what this person is REALLY like".

    It should also be noted that Bill Clinton managed to win despite everyone knowing he was a rooter; sometimes enough of them just don't care, but I think it is a valid job of the media to inform.

  5. Clinton was more than a mere rooter. There were several allegations of rape which were never addressed. there was the abuse of a young intern. Like the mayor though, he never went...



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