Jane Clifton on line

Jane Clifton’s column is one of the reasons I buy the Listener. I’m delighted to discover (thanks to No Right Turn) that she’s now on line.

This week she looks at the blurring of the lines betweens politics, journalism and blogging then gets on to Winston Peters:

The other discordant note for voters has been that what investigative resource we do have has lately been trained on Winston Peters, to a degree that risks triggering the trusty Kiwi-underdog hormone. Although he’s probably fish food in his Tauranga seat, there’s a chance the glamour of martyrdom will lure enough voters to float him over the 5% oblivion threshold.

This would be an unspeakable injustice. Even if he’s done no wrong, his refusal to give the public intelligible explanations should be politically unforgiveable. It’s a tricky issue for the media, because, protected as he is by the Prime Minister’s determination to have an out-of-body experience every time New Zealand First Party business is mentioned, Winston is proving bullet-proof.

The allegations are so serious, no other minister could have gone this long without being suspended. No other politician could realistically hope for re-election till the matters were cleared up. But the normal rules don’t apply to Winston – and not just because he holds the balance of power and because we’re all blissfully distracted by the Olympics. By sheer force of personality, he is a sort of Bermuda Triangle for investigative journalists. We have assembled all the firepower and rocket fuel you could wish for to force this issue to speedy disclosure – yet we’re becalmed.

I cheerfully admit that I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the allegations, combined with his hauteur at having to answer them, would finish him off, sooner rather than later. Now, I feel like a fox terrier waiting eternally over a rathole, instinct overriding the clear evidence that the rat has no earthly need to come out.

So, are we now bullying Winston? It could look that way. After so many years of reporting his high-and-mighty pronouncements, and enduring his abuse and his remorseless cigarette-bumming, there is undeniable satisfaction for many journalists in administering to Winston a dose of his own medicine.

But more than that, it’s our job to put under the microscope those who hold themselves up as our exemplars, and to stay on their case even when the going gets tedious. Other people may want to muscle in on this territory these days, and good luck to them.

Please stay on the case Jane, tedious or not there must be answers to the many questions over Peters, his party and their donors and the rat will have to come out of the hole eventually – even if it’s just to bum a cigarette.

(P.S. In case the bean counters and advertisers are concerned, even though I’ve read my favourite part of the magazine on line I’ll still be buying a copy next time I’m in town).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: