CAPTION: John Key is so popular with media he gets to make personal attacks on journalists he does not like.
Journalist Nicky Hager says he has become too big a part of the stories he writes on and he does not like it. He insists that this high profile is due to antagonism from people like the PM. Hager can’t control Key’s comments, but he does not reciprocate, he told Zagzigger.com. In my March 24 NZ Herald media column, I mentioned about the PM personal attacks against Hager. Jon Stephenson and news photographer Bradley Ambrose, that were widely repeated by the media.
“There has been an edge to the PM’s attacks on freelance journalists Bradley Ambrose, Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, and the NZ Council for Civil Liberties sees a trend. “The Government is putting journalists on notice,” said Council for Civil Liberties chairman Thomas Beagle.”If they say the wrong things or follow the wrong stories, the Government will attack them in the courts and in the media to undermine their credibility, attack their character, and damage their livelihood.” A spokesman for Key said: “The Prime Minister deals with media repeatedly and respectfully,
Key is entitled to dispute Hager’s reports but his allegations have to stand up to the criticism. He has numerous bloggers on his side. But Hager has yet to be proven wrong or made false claims. Key recently told a press conference on the Panama Papers that Hager was “a conspiracy theorist.” Asked why, he said “Because I think he is. Draw your own conclusions.”
Asked why he thought Nicky Hager was a conspiracy theorist the Prime Minister said “Because I think he is. Draw your own conclusions.”
Apart from being oddly juvenile for a Prime Minister, it was just a personal swipe. Media reported it anyway. In my opinion the media approach is part of how the PM gets to undermine journalists he does not like.
- Meanwhile there has been a mixed reaction to the collaborative efforts in the TVNZ-RNZ investigation last week. They were heavily promoted but did not come up with major new findings. Hager said the work would lead to Watergate style findings. He thought the collaboration had been successful and unusually positive.