- Labour was unique in their extraordinary efforts to control media narratives.
- The incoming National led Government is accused of refusing to engage with the media after a contentious campaign.
- NZ First wants a Royal Commission into media bias.
- Much of the media is described as elitist, out of touch and fanatical in their left-wing views.
The Sixth Labour Government and the New Zealand media
The recently defeated Sixth Labour Government’s unique fixation with controlling media narratives included (but wasn’t limited to) the following:
Record spending on media ads, funding The Disinformation Project, the $55m Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF), the Christchurch Call (not to mention the aborted TVNZ/RNZ merger), and conspiring against social media users.
Dr Muriel Newman says that, during the 2023 election campaign, Labour’s “relentless assault” on National and their coalition partners was possible because “they had the media on their side”.
In any event, trust in the media is low.
How will the new National-led coalition government deal with the partisan left-wing media establishment who were openly hostile towards them during the campaign?
The media are accusing leaders of being evasive
Prime Minister-elect Chris Luxon avoided some media outlets sympathetic to Labour while campaigning. He’s also been accused of skipping leaders’ debates.
Newsroom’s Mark Jennings said of Luxon, “If he continues to act like ‘I don’t want to talk to Newshub, I don’t want to talk to this’, that’s not going to work.”
Meanwhile, 1News ran the headline: Winston Peters refuses to answer 27 questions in media scrum.
NZ First calls for a Royal Commission
The NZ First leader has been arguably the most outspoken of the 3 right-leaning party leaders about media bias. RNZ described Peters as “combative and cranky”.
Peters has referred to NZ media players as “dirt merchants” and accused Newshub and Stuff of undermining democracy. He’s also campaigned on defunding The Disinformation Project. “We’ll cut their water off,” he told a packed house in the lead up to the election.
His party, which may be the third partner in a coalition government, once special votes are counted, is calling for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry into Media Bias and Manipulation. On NZ First’s website they say:
“We have clearly biased media in New Zealand conditioned now to publish what they believe is true – not what is fact.”
Journalist Gavin Ellis says:
“This looks like vindictiveness. Such an enquiry would be no more than a witch-hunt, an opportunity for New Zealand First to address perceived slights and settle scores against journalists and their employers.”
Is the media dominated by liberal elitists?
Liberal elite journalists dominate the media and are out of touch, says Batya Ungar-Sargon of Newsweek magazine, in Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.
Ungar-Sargon observes that Americans in the US (where she lives) are unified over issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation, but left-wing progressive media inflame division. The journalists themselves have become fanatical in their constantly metastasizing views, she says.
Does her analysis of US media apply to NZ? We think so.