Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards have now both responded to Armstrong’s comments, in far more mature tones than I managed, but if anything that just illustrates how ridiculous it was for Armstrong to rant about “bloggers” and “parasites” while attacking well-respected real-name columnists.
Between the lines in Armstrong’s column, a morality play is being presented. It is a pageant in which he, the humble scribe from the mainstream media, is heroically doing the hard yards under deadline and dutifully observing the rules of good journalism – while Bryce Edwards and I are being cast as the Flash Harrys from the blogosphere who allegedly (a) reek of bias (b) feed parasitically on the fruits of his honest graft and (c) pay scant heed to the facts and to the truth. What a pair of arrant bounders we are!
I believe I have given Armstrong’s political commentary the prominence it is due since my daily roundup began. No doubt our interpretation and view of politics differs at times, but the reference to ‘bile and invective’ leaves me at a loss to explain.
More posts on the topic have been from Russell Brown and Bomber (yes they’re up front because they linked to me, deal), Damian Christie, and Zetetic at The Standard. In a wonderfully ironic way it’s kind of proving Armstrong’s point, buried beneath all his self-pity, but what kind of parasites would we be if we weren’t talking about this?
Everyone on Twitter’s been savaging poor innocent John Armstrong enough already, but … well, I had nothing else to sharpen my claws on, so here goes.
John Armstrong’s complaint, basically, is that the “blog-a-tariat” (spot the person who is seriously not comfortable with 21st century netspeak) are mean about him, and don’t understand just how difficult it is having to travel overseas, hob-nob with international hob-nobs, and get to come back to throw your toys out of the cot on a major media website for pay.
I mean, have you pathetic wastrels ever tried to write insightful analysis of what Bronagh Key wore to meet the First Lady when you can’t charge your BlackBerry? It’s a fucking hard-knock life, that one.
But it’s all just a little ridiculous, for one key reason: John Armstrong is not having a go at bloggers. He’s having a go at Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards, two well-regarded real-name-using also-doing-it-for-pay (one assumes) major-media-published writers, who happen to kinda blog, if only because Scoop is an online-only publication and all Edwards’ Politics Daily columns get reprinted at Liberation.
John, basically, has jumped on the Josie Pagani/Fran O’Sullivan bandwagon of having a whinge about the evil online commentariat who hate your freedoms … but not quite figured out that that line works a hell of a lot better when you can snark about our silly pseudonyms than when you’re attacking a well-regarded columnist and a politics lecturer.
He compounds the whole thing by doing that absolutely classic mainstream-media-trying-to-work-interwebs thing: attacking “bloggers” for “not letting the facts get in the way” at the same time as not linking to the posts he is responding to. Sure, this column was likely originally intended for the print version of the Herald (clearly where its largest audience is … wat?) but it’s just common internet sense to include links – if only to reassure your readers that your whinging has a basis in fact.
Of course, this might lead people to read Gordon Campbell’s post which has so incited John’s ire by saying:
BTW, the informed critical analysis of APEC and its bearing on the TPP process provided by the Canadian media was noticeably absent from the New Zealand coverage.
Then John’s readers might think, “Hmm. Maybe I’ll look at John’s own reporting from APEC.” And then they might find this article, which I’m almost tempted to copy-paste in its entirety for humour value. I won’t, because I’m not Bob McCoskrie, so here’s the piercing, engaged-with-the-big-issues-of-the-day opener:
A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs official locked in her room for 45 minutes; a posse of Kiwi journalists stuck in a lift at the International Press Centre … it must be the Curse of Russky Island.
Wait, now, let’s give John his due, he’s probably just trying to get in an interesting hook to keep the reader’s interest through some dry, in-depth coverage of global political discussions. Like this:
Strangely, borscht – Russia’s national dish – is off the menu. Authorities were worried visitors would take exception to one of the ingredients, beets, because they are only fed to animals in some countries.
Oh, okay, I’m being mean, clearly this is just a light-hearted wrap-up of events. Earlier in the scene, John was far more informative. In his first report, he talked about how Russia doesn’t really give a shit about APEC, or at least I think that’s what he got on to after rambling on about how cool it was that Jenny Shipley totes met Vladimir Putin before he was cool. In his second, he brings us cutting-edge news about the infrastructural development of Vladivostok.
Hold me the fuck back.
What did APEC achieve? What were they even meant to talk about? For the kiddies forced at gunpoint to read the Herald for social studies, what the fuck IS APEC? John does not tell us. He was probably too busy being stuck in the awful traffic of Tokyo and trying to find a compatible cellphone charger.
Anyway, it’s not John’s fault that he had nothing of depth to report on (even though he’s just spent half his column saying he totally has reported on issues of depth) because after all:
Adding to journalists’ problems is that Apec meetings are closed. Discovering what really happens requires talking to more than one delegation as every delegation has motives for saying what it is saying to its media contingent,
Which can only make me wonder why the fuck the Herald bothers to send John on these terrible paid overseas trips. Surely he can copy-paste governmental press releases from NZ?
(Yes, the original does end with a comma. I don’t know either.)
And if Armstrong had linked to Bryce Edwards’ post on the subject, they might have read this line:
There was a lot build-up and reporting from the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, but nothing much actually seemed to happen. There are only so many ways you can work ‘Pussy Riot’ into a story about trade negotiations
And then they might find this article by John Armstrong, curiously not published on the helpful APEC page, which manages to mention the band’s name twice without actually addressing why John Key would even be discussing an all-girl punk band with the President of Russia. Oh, context. You’re delicious but so fattening, we can’t have any or it’ll go straight to our hips.
But the ultimate punchline has to go to some smart cookie on the Herald’s web team. They filed John’s little cryfest under “Best of Political Analysis.”
The TL;DR version? John Armstrong basically tries to denigrate Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards by referring to them as mere bloggers, throws his toys out of the cot and demands we tell him he’s a good little journalist. He’s not. He has the immense privilege of getting his opinion published for money in one of the major newspapers of our country, he gets paid to hang out with our elected leaders, and for all that he can’t fucking hack a little statement-of-the-obvious about how NZ media in general report on international politics.
Boo fucking hoo.
H/T Jackal for id’ing and linking to the two key posts by Campbell and Edwards
ETA: For more commentary, rather more sympathetic to Armstrong, see Dim Post
I’ve revamped the place! Fame, in the form of being linked to from The Herald (and not in the context of Deborah Coddington airing her martyrdom) does that to people, or so I’m told.
Fear not, there will be a real post later tonight in the form of a SlutWalk Aotearoa 2012 roundup. It still doesn’t involve me doing much writing, but you can cope.
I’m going to give the award for Most Contemptible Headline on this story to the Herald, with:
Extremely obese mothers “a scary problem” – expert
with an honorable mention for Stuff’s
Greater risk for obese mums-to-be
I know there are plenty of people out there who are going to say I’m just defensive ’cause I’m fat, or Everyone Knows* being fat is basically a death sentence which is unjustifiably not being carried out this very second.
I merely ask those people to look at statements like:
the survey showed 38 per cent [of “extremely morbidly obese” women] had their labour induced, compared with 21 per cent in the general population, and more than half (52 per cent) had a caesarean delivery, compared with 32 per cent of other pregnant women.
And consider that
a) “Extremely morbidly obese” is apparently determined by a BMI of over 50 – and BMI is bullshit;
b) There is a growing awareness of the fact that lots of the time, women don’t get the hugest amount of choice in having their labour induced, or caesarean deliveries. Are you honestly going to sit there and tell me that none of this group of 370 women was told, by their supposed medical adviser, that “you should induce because you’re at risk because you’re fat” or “we need to do a C-section because your baby is too fat“?**
Well, you probably are.
But the fact remains that only one of the stories linked above – the Herald one – stated that labour “had” to be induced, and the pregnant people “needed” C-sections. The fact that language isn’t matched in the Stuff story? Yeah, colour me suspicious.
c) Anyway, any article which says “Anecdotally, however, the problem of extremely obese mothers was growing” is probably not one I want to base healthcare decisions on.
It’s sad, you know. Professor Lesley McCowan of the University of Auckland has gotten all the way to the top in academia without figuring out that the plural of anecdote is not data. And correlation isn’t causation.
I’m not saying we should stop all research into pregnancy complications or maternal health. But taking 370 women, based on a stupid, unscientific “measurement”, and then basically saying “see! Their fatness kills their babies!” without saying “and we controlled for socio-economic status, and we controlled for race, and we controlled for illnesses or medications which might cause weight gain, and we controlled for potential health issues caused by years of socially-encouraged disordered eating” …
It basically makes you a judgemental wank who should stop pretending to do science.
I’m always open to the idea that the media have, as usually happens, completely misrepresented an otherwise balanced, well-designed study. But when you’re dealing with fat issues? Odds are against it.
If you yourself feel like a nice cold shower of scepticism when it comes to medical professionals and the plus-size, take some time to read the heartwarming stories at First Do No Harm. If you find incandescent rage heartwarming.
*To paraphrase a Tamora Pierce novel of my adolescence, “I must meet this scholar Everyone. He seems to be wrong about a lot of things.”
**For more related, outraging reading, the “Birth” tag at Hoyden About Town should see you right.
[TW for bullying and abuse apologism by authority figures]
Ian McKinnon, principal of Pukekohe High School, has a bit of an integrity problem.*
See, several of his students attacked another of his students, possibly in a sexual manner.
And Ian McKinnon seems to think that there’s a magical line between assault-which-is-just-boys-being-boys and assault-which-is-actually-something-he-actually-has-to-give-a-fuck-about.
“The incident involved a male student who was held by others and who was then assaulted.
“Whilst what took place may well have started out as a joke among a group who knew each other, its outcome was far from that. It was very upsetting for the victim and for a number of students in the area, many of them friends of the victim.”**
Here’s your problem, Ian: you think just ganging up on a guy and pinning him to the ground for the purpose of giving him shit for transferring schools is just a joke amongst a group who knew each other***.
Presumably once possible sexual assault with a weapon is involved, it’s “gone too far”.
And here’s the thing: Ian McKinnon thinks he’s showing no tolerance for this shit. I mean, the boys involved have been excluded, parents have been informed, what else has a guy got to do?
“Nobody condones this sort of behaviour or any type of physical assaults and it’s hugely upsetting when people have to witness it, and they were upset about it.
“Kids just don’t know when to stop with some of their behaviours.”
Oh, that’s right. We could take one fucking minute to wonder why some kids “just don’t know when to stop”. Or, hang on, we could look at the fact that their principal is explicitly saying that the beginning of this assault was just a joke, that the problem was that things like cornering another kid behind the gym and pinning him to the ground went too far.
And then we could pinpoint pretty clearly that the problem is that Ian McKinnon, right there, shows he condone bullying and violence against other students. Until the police get involved, and then it’s totes bad, mmkay.
*The Granny Herald also has an integrity problem for giving that article a headline analogous to “Bluebeard’s wife killed for being a nosy bitch”
**Bonus dickpoints for focusing on how upsetting it is for the witnesses, not the victim, Ian.
***Of course they fucking know each other, Ian, they go to school together.
John Key has stated he’ll quit politics if National loses this year’s election.* Boo fucking hoo. In any kind of just world this would be reported by our media as a clear sign of where his real commitment lies – and that’s certainly not to effecting important changes or making New Zealand a better place or anything.
But it’s not a just world, which is also why Audrey Young’s journalism gland is so atrophied it allowed this to go without the most basic comment:
He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.
“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.“
Hey Audrey, do you think a real journo might have dug a little deeper into the fact that our own Prime Minister apparently doesn’t understand what the Opposition is for?**
Yes, Smile&Wave, it’s pretty negative. Because Opposition is [meant to be] a vital check on governmental power. It’s the devil’s advocate that views all government policy through an essentially negative lens in order to make sure that it’s not fucked up.
Now I can expect a complete egomaniacal flake like Key to not get that. It would just be a really awesome late Christmas present if our political journos could figure it out.
*And doesn’t even have the fucking nous to spin that as “respecting the nation’s decision” or “taking personal responsibility for any backlash against National”
**I mean, I get you’re determined to ignore the fact that Key is unrelentingly negative on a constant basis in the House, Audrey, with his constant infantile “LOL UR DUM” responses to serious questions. But maybe some actual constitutional engagement could help cover that up?
He was so keen on shooting harmless animals that he went out one night and killed a harmless human being. And don’t forget that shooting from a public road at night on DOC land is dangerous and illegal.
And even other hunting enthusiasts think you’re a fucking tosser if you do it.
Where I get steamed over the Meng-Yee “article” is where apparently, we are meant to somehow overlook the completely predictable, negligent killing of another human because the tool who did it ticks all the right boxes in the eyes of patriarchy / NZ bloke culture.
Andrew Mears is a caring and thoughtful man, and a great father to their 15-month-old son
This is especially admirable because of course men don’t ever care about their offspring, especially at the gross pukey bobble-headed stage. And a son! SURELY, JUSTICE SYSTEM, YOU WOULD NOT DEPRIVE A SACRED BOY-CHILD OF HIS STRONG MALE ROLE MODEL (who likes hunting and shooting
people, like a Real Man). DON’T TURN THIS SACRED BOY-CHILD INTO A GAY, JUSTICE SYSTEM!!!
If you are a friend of Andrew’s you are a friend forever.
HE IS A GOOD MATE TO HIS MATES LIKE A PROPER MATE.
He loves getting out with our son, loves the outdoors. He has always been keen on camping and tramping .
HE IS A PROPER BLOKE. Also, PLEASE DON’T TURN THIS SACRED BOYCHILD GAY.
We love spending time with our son, we love taking the dog for a walk, we love seeing family at the beach.
Family man! They go to the beach! He’s totally normal, and it’s totally normal to be a bloke and a bit of a tool and
kill people make mistakes!!!
You know from the day I met Andrew I knew he was going to be an amazing father.
Fortunately she’d read that month’s Cosmo and knew how to Not Frighten Men Off By Mentioning Babies On A First Date. But he was totally her Mr Right. Don’t destroy their perfect romantic true love!
And he has really supported me. … I recently went through post-natal depression
He’s a bloke who was even supportive during weird girly hormonal shit! And you know, I would totally praise Andrew Mears for that, if Brooke Mears didn’t go on:
but something like this puts your problems into perspective you know.
You KNOW? I TOTALLY know, right, I mean, sure I was depressed but at least some fucking tool didn’t kill me while I was at a conservation campsite because he and his mates had no fucking impulse control.
the hardest part for me is knowing my darling husband has caused so much pain
Not that HE KILLED SOMEONE. BY BEING A TOOL.
This is the flip side of the coin to articles which will wax lyrical about what a rape victim wore, how much she had drunk, where she was and how she was Clearly No Lady. And just like those things don’t actually matter because another person had to make a decision to rape someone, it does not actually matter that Andrew Mears is a Good Lad from a Good Family who Has A Wife And Child To Support.
He was a fucking tool and he fucking killed someone. End of. I am sorry for Brooke Mears, because it cannot be easy being married to a fucking tool who has killed someone and Goddesses know it’s got to be shitty facing your partner going to prison when you’ve got an infant to take care of.
But I have to raise a cynical eyebrow at shit like this:
He is the last person ever you could imagine going anywhere near prison.
Why’s that, Ms Mears? Because he’s white, middle-class, heterosexual? Because he’s a Nice Young Man from a Good Family? He shot someone. While, to re-quote the Fundy Post, shooting from a public road on DoC land. Um, in our society we have these things called “laws”, and when you break them, and someone dies, you’re a criminal. But I’m sure the Nonsensical Sentencing Trust would totally agree with you.
And, you know, at least Ms Mears is focusing on the real tragedies.
What has been on my mind is that Rose will never have the opportunity to get married and have children.
And thus basically her life was probably a complete waste of time and the Patriarchy Directorate will be erasing her name from the Book of Worthy Females directly.
We are not seeking pity.
… Yes, yes you are. I’m sorry, Ms Mears, but I haven’t seen a pity-grab so disingenuous since Tony Veitch’s “I make no excuse, except to say” fuckwittery.
Douchebag “hunter” kills innocent human by ignoring all basic safety and legal considerations. And somehow, Granny Herald turns it into the perfect storm of patriarchy fail. Gold star!