EXCLUSIVE – The anatomy of an APN/NZ Herald hit job

For the past couple of days the media has attempted to smear me, Stephen Cook, and blame Bevan Chuang for the ratepayer funded philandering of Auckland’s mayor.

Regardless of what you think about Bevan Chuang, she is a single woman who can do what she likes.  She’s not married, hasn’t campaigned on a religious/family values ticket and importantly she’s not the mayor.

As expected, the media (who either didn’t know about the story or were too cowardly to run it) turned their guns on me.

Apparently talking to sources – getting sworn affidavits – text messages – amounts to some kind of conspiracy.

Well let’s see how the Herald likes it – when their own ‘conspiracy’ is out there for the world to see.  

I’ve been leaked an internal email that gives the Kiwi public an inside look at how the Herald puts together a hit job.

The preparation begins more than a month in advance – and involves colluding with Opposition MPs, Unions and other friendly sources.

This ‘series’ that the Herald plans to run in early November is anything but objective – it involves ‘the worst horror stories’ they can find – with predetermined outcomes.

It involves helping the Greens and Labour publicise their policies while seeking comment from Government MPs appears as an after-thought (though neither reporter doing the story has ‘contact Minister’ in their to do list).

It also specifically singles out John Banks for a negative headline.

As an aside, I’d note that Campbell Live has miraculously started their campaign on this issue early – it’s all far too coincidental.

And they reckon I’m the one cooking up conspiracies – check this out.

How the NZ Herald Plans a Hit Job

Now this really cuts to the heart about whether or not you can now trust the NZ Herald as a source for news.

You ahve to wonder too whether or not their advertisers are actually contributors to content now.

What is certain is that the NZ Herald has been caught pants down colluding with political parties to manufacture news on behalf of those political parties and that they are actually campaigning and agenda setting.


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  • Gaynor

    Jeeez that is bloody shocking. Should be an inquiry into the Herald and its political affiliations.

    • drummerboy

      To quote Russel Norman….”Inquiry!!”

      • Mark

        I wonder if he called for an inquiry into the confiscation of his flag?

        • Sponge

          What a wet little sook he is.

        • TomTom

          Should call for an inquiry for why a man with a micro-dick keeps screaming “INQUIRY” over everything.

  • Andrewj

    Journalism hits new lows, just when you thought that it had hit bottom.

  • Ronnie Chow

    I wonder how many Herald journalists , and lefty sycophants in general ,have dumped their unwanted folks in a rest home , conveniently out of the way and paying just enough visits to keep onside and alleviate the risk of the will being changed ?
    These journalists are rabid enough to run an abuse story involving their own parents while failing too see the irony !

  • BW_Lord

    Surprise, surprise. Another stirling example of the quality of journalism in NZ from none other than Simon “pimping the poor” Collins.

    Why go to the trouble of reporting the news when you can save all that time and effort and just invent it instead?

  • SJ00

    This is just incredible. Well done to the person who leaked this.

    NZ Herald: Inventing the news since 1896 (or whenever, I can’t even be bothered finding out when they first started printing).

  • Nice to see the evidence of what we know was happening.

    This is another reason why newspapers seem so rigid in their support/opposition even as the story unfolds.

    They simply set the narrative months in advance and stick to the playbook.

    That’s hardly reporting – that’s advocacy.

    But then, we know that. It’s what we do here. It’s what we admit to.

    But newspapers still present themselves as fair and balanced.

    As you have suspected, and can now see, that’s utter bollocks *)

    *) doodacky (for Lesley. Sorry Lesly)

    • Rex Widerstrom

      Advocacy journalism is a legitimate practice, provided it is both transparent and fair (i.e. does not hold back facts which don’t support its viewpoint).

      Advocacy journalism has changed the world for the better – exposing human rights abuses, political corruption (Watergate was, once the extent of the underlying corruption became known, advocacy journalism).

      Some of the work I’m proudest of I would call advocacy journalism, but I went out of my way to be transparent about it, and held back nothing I uncovered.

      There is room for both objectivity and advocacy within any medium. And while personally I feel the medium ought to permit advocacy from all perspectives I cannot argue against a proprietor’s right to run whatever “line” they please.

      • While at the same time publicly stating that they aren’t favouring one side of the argument over the other?

        I just want papers to wear their allegiances on their sleeves.

        That’s all.

        NZ Herald: Pro Union, Pro Labour, Pro Green, Pro Criminal

        • Rex Widerstrom

          I agree with you there, 100%. However it works both ways – they should do so no matter which side they favour.

          When I stood for NZ First in Hamilton East I knew the Waikato Times, and particularly its then editor, loathed Winston Peters and the party. Fair enough. But their reportage of the campaign made the Herald look like a bastion of impartiality.

          I argued with the editor exactly the point you’re making: advocate if you will, but not in the news pages and declare your allegiance beforehand. The editor argued the paper wasn’t biased.

          The day before the election its sandwich boards and banner headline read: “We say: Vote National”.

          To reiterate – I have no problem with that. I did and do have a problem with slanted news reporting and lack of transparency.

          In this particular instance, if I were the editor of the Herald I’d have boxed an editorial in the middle of the first of the series setting out the paper’s point of view on the issue and admitting, proudly, to advocacy journalism.

      • CheesyEarWax

        Sorry Rex, as a reader that can make up his own mind I prefer objective and investigative journalism. We are not living in the cold war era or the era where governments control and manipulate information available to the public. Advocacy is every where I look now days its very vomit-inducing, good journalism shouldn’t be it.

        • Odd thing is that people that come here and agree with what we publish here in a general sense don’t think it is advocacy journalism ;) But the difference is we don’t *claim* to be fair and balanced. It makes it much more simple I think.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          That’s a very Reithian view, and one I share in my heart of hearts. But as I said elsewhere, I think we’ve gone beyond the point where we can ever return to that. Assuming that’s the case, then we need to set boundaries around what’s happening now, or it will only get worse.

          • Nick K

            Jeezus Christ Rex, the audit information hasn’t even been released yet the Horrid has already decided what its articles are based on a report that hasn’t come out! That’s friggin’ appalling and indefensible.

          • Rex Widerstrom

            I agree they’re assuming the audits will be bad, based on some stats (rate of decline amongst those admitted to a rest home versus those not, though given the age of the sample they’d want to make sure it was adjusted for a lot of variables), previous bad publicity about certain rest homes, criticism of the audit process by the Auditor General etc.

            Now I have time to think… you make a good point… on reflection, while I still see nothing wrong with the outline per se, it is alarming there isn’t an alternative strategy should their predictions prove erroneous.

            It’s what psychologists call “focalism”.

            We need to remember that we’re looking at one piece in a chain of communication. I would hope, for the sake of journalism itself, that someone else in that chain would have reviewed the plan and pointed out that flaw.

  • DoomAndGloom

    The Horrid being found out to manufacture news, be in collusion with Lab/Greens, and have planned attacks on any right leaning politician….shocking!!!…..Oh wait, that’s right, its the Horrid…not so surprising after all.

    • The broadsheet of my youth has become a tabloid, with the associated sleazy connotations. Nothing suprising here. Look, the ODT is biased: it is parochial as all hell and fairly left but it also clearly and fairly reports on local council meetings and boards. The ODT is maintaining its circulation: less sure about the Herald.

      • TomTom

        The ODT? Don’t make me laugh. They have a friggin’ column called “Vocal Locals.” – why they didn’t get punny and call it Vocal Local Yokels is beyond me since they do bad puns on everything else…

        • DLNZ

          That and whoever comes up with the corny headlines in the ODT, oh let me just make one up “SkyCity takes gamble on convention centre”. Its painful.

        • Some of the columnists drive me nuts. But the worst of them are imported and shared with the herald. Gwyne Dwyer — and at least we don’t have Minto or anyone from UNITE. Smooth? No. But reporting what the university and hospital are up to… great. I find out about the board minutes in the ODT faster than the management system commuincates with teh staff… when I’ on the staff.

  • jcpry

    Personally I don’t have a problem with actual process that they follow – it is after all “investigative journalism”.
    What I DO have an issue with is the predetermined outcome and bias.

  • conwaycaptain

    You are a marked man now. Hope you have your guns primed and loaded, metaphorically I mean.
    I hope your kids emails and phone contacts are kept secret.

  • conwaycaptain

    I bet the Hortons are absolutely PISSED OFF to see what has happened to their paper.

  • patrickstarr

    1st stop would be a Press Council complaint

    • blokeintakapuna

      2nd stop… Wake up the BSA too…

      • patrickstarr

        Far out – Contrast the Herald to the NBR – who just fired its chief reporter for not reporting Len Browns affair in an impartial and unbiased manner.

  • Col

    I see Metiria is ripping into John Banks in the House., and she is wearing another new jacket, how many does she have?

    • Bruce S

      …doesn’t matter how many she has; she only needs one; a straitjacket!

    • Patrick

      Cause we are living in a Metiria world

      And I am a Metiria girl

      You know that we are living in a Metiria world

      And I am a Metiria girl

      • Col

        Clever, like that.

    • DLNZ

      That was a dismail fail. And then the speaker ripped into HER and quite rightly kicked her out.

      • Col

        She was asked back too the House.

        • DLNZ

          I must have missed that part… good thing Len wasn’t there or she might have got asked back to his office :P haha

          • Col

            But only for 2 minutes, ah sorry could take a little longer.

          • DLNZ

            With all those jackets the drycleaning bills must add up.

    • Time For Accountability

      Give her a break as she keeps expanding she needs another one.

      Remember she stood for the McGillicuddy serious party. Refer her wiki.

  • StacyMcNaught

    Looks like i better replenish the popcorn stocks…

  • JeffDaRef

    Like John Campbell, any doubt as to political allegiance is now completely removed.
    And for the second time in 48hrs, Whaleoil breaking the kind of story that the MSM long since gave up on…

  • steve and monique

    Well that makes for a good read. more then the Herald does. Looks like the place to get the unbiased truth is here. Keep up the good work Cam and co.

  • GregM

    Why am I not surprised one little bit ? Well done the leaker, and thank you for confirming what we all thought.

    • Whafe

      Agree totally, am not surprised int he slightest. Great to see it confirmed, awesome work Cam & Team…
      May someone in the media appeal to their own morals and get investigating

  • Mr Sackunkrak

    Ah, so that’s how our “news” is manufactured. Always wondered about that.

    • CheesyEarWax

      Nah, its more involved than that.
      1. Googling subject matter
      2. Copy and paste
      3. Run spell check
      4. Run gramma check
      5. Peer reviewed by other churnalists whom repeat steps 1-4.
      6. Send to sub-editors in Philippine

      • jcpry

        Except that the sub-editors are actually in ENZED and the Aussies plan on using them as well as they are cheaper.

      • Bunswalla

        Steps 3 – 5 were cancelled some time ago, and replaced by “Interview your typewriter”

  • cows4me

    And still the dopey pricks struggle to understand why they continue to lose readership. They think the people are sheep and will be happy to take any fodder fed to them. The people have other choices now clowns. Perhaps if you just printed the news rather then manufacturing it you might find a return in readership.

  • Jdogg

    Not surprised at all, certainly seems this is how stories are gathered!
    I’ve had a personal story twisted a few years back to suit the Herald’s purposes including a political campaign.
    At that point trust was lost for all media since, I’ve never read their paper or affiliates news, again.
    I simply cannot trust that what’s printed or relayed is actual truth and fact anymore.
    Well done on getting this out.

    • Jdogg

      OH to add insult to injury when I asked for a retraction and apology, they instead gave me 200 words to explain my position in the “readers opinions” section and gave it a rotten headline, unforgivable!

  • Gulfing

    Excuse my naivity but when did the MSM become so Labour/Greens aligned, or have I just not noticed before how left they had/have become???

    • blokeintakapuna

      Welcome to reality. The MSM have been biased ever since National won the 1st election.

      With those “new” revelations about their modus operandi… Go back and review the MSM overage of the election. Perhaps the respective media authorities might also like to investigate too?

  • John Drinnan

    So many comments on whaleoil mread exactly the same way – wonder if commenters are – by chance – related

    • blokeintakapuna

      John – when using solvents in enclosed spaces, always ensure adequate ventilation.

      • John Drinnan

        exactly what I mean

    • Patrick

      Or perhaps there is a large percentage of the population that think similarly – i.e. we are sick to death with the bullshit served up by the MSM.

      • John Drinnan

        just ignore msm – read only whale oil

        • Patrick

          If you want a balanced view then you need to source information from a number of organisations. At least WOBH allows commentary from those with differing views, unlike those of a lefty bent such as the standard.
          There is a lot to be said for being able to listen & accept others with differing opinions, something that is frowned upon by the Left in most cases.

          • Rex Widerstrom

            If I could give your comment more than one upvote, I would. Perfectly put.

          • John Drinnan

            works both ways

          • Patrick

            Well it should John & the sooner the left accepts this the better for them. A more robust & mature debate would be helpful without the rigorous censorship that currently exists at places like The Standard.But don’t hold your breath expecting the leftie blogs & commentators will allow dissenting commentary or opinions.

    • Tom

      What, with words consisting of three or more syllables? Sheeesh

    • CheesyEarWax

      John don’t you have gossip articles to write? Stop wasting time on WO site and get back to earning your coins.

    • GazzW

      The sun’s well and truly over the yardarm then John?

    • patrickstarr

      whats this – the Heralds attempt at market research?
      judging by your publication dropping to 162,000 it may be a bit late

  • blokeintakapuna

    For too long now NZ’s has been subjected to coordinated, orchestrated agendas by the MSM. They’ve provided the proof now with enough rope…

    Let’s hope the respective authorities charged with keeping ours democratic freedoms free are not philosophically sympathetic to biased, slanted propaganda.

    Journalists and media everywhere in The 1st world should be completely ashamed of the Herald’s approach and professionally hound and shame them for bringing the 4th Estate into ill repute. Perhaps they could ask some NoTW reporters about this… Just to help the Herald get some credibility back.

    The Herald doesn’t even deserve to wrap someone’s takeaways.

    Russell definitely needs to call for an Enquiry.

  • Patrick

    “cuts to the heart about whether or not you can now trust the NZ Herald”

    I suggest it cuts to the heart of democracy when media organisations jump into bed with the socialist unions & other organisations & use them to attack the Government – which after all is the target here, not raising the standard of aged healthcare. Otherwise they would be publishing now & not waiting for some time in the future to try to maximise the damage.

    Easy answer, stop buying the rag & start pressuring the advertisers, I will not buy your product until such time as you stop supporting the biased media.

  • Tom

    That is outrageous! I’m so fucking angry right now it’s not healthy

  • Rex Widerstrom

    Okay, I see a predisposition to generate a bad impression of rest homes.
    But I also see considerable evidence to support that – a poor audit process, previous “horror stories”, a housing shortage etc.

    I think calling this a “hit job” is as much hyperbole as some in the media taking about this blog’s revelations about Brown in the same terms.

    You’ve formed a view – a correct one, I feel – that Brown’s hypocrisy and nepotism render him unfit for office. And that’s understandably influenced the way you’ve presented the facts.

    But you have the facts to back up the way in which you’ve opted to present the story, and that’s the important thing. The reader can then sift those facts and reach the same conclusion as you, or a different one.

    I would agree the MSM ought not to present stories in a sensationalist way but APN are hardly the first or the only outlet to do so. The “red tops” in the UK have done it for decades; television programs for at least the past ten years, and so on.

    Like politicians, we get the media we deserve. If we objected more frequently and vociferously and not just stopped purchasing their product but told them why, it may change. But I think we’ve gone too far down that path to turn back, more’s the pity.

    • Patrick

      I think the point to keep in mind Rex is the obvious scheming going on about the timing of the Herald’s campaign. If they had a story of residents/patients being mistreated or poorly treated why would they not be publishing at the soonest opportunity – after all there are (supposedly) people being poorly served by these corporations?

      The obvious conclusion from the leaked email is there is some political collusion going on – particularly where SFWU are concerned. They are one of the biggest contributors to Labour in terms of previous Union officials who are now Labour Party MPs, foot soldiers & no doubt there is a fair amount of Union members subscriptions disappearing into the Labour Party machine.

      Now granny Herald is revealed as an agent of the Left for all to see.

      • Rex Widerstrom

        The memo says the series is to coincide with the Ministry’s release of the first round of audits. As an ex-newspaper editor, that’s the time I’d have chosen to run the series too.

        That it coincides, as Keeping Stock points out, with events where the bad publicity on rest homes may be favourable to the left, ought perhaps to be raising questions about the impartiality of the public service, not APN.

        Then again, it may also prove that we have an impartial public service, not scared to release what may turn out to be damaging data at an inconvenient time for the government.

        Whichever is the case, all I really see here is a media outlet planning a feature (which is where advocacy journalism rightly belongs).

        • Patrick

          Possibly Rex but the collusion with SFWU is disturbing.

          At least there is now proof for all to see.of the Herald’s nefarious dealings with the Left

          • Rex Widerstrom

            Are they “colluding” also with the CAB, Age Concern, and the other groups (many of whom are also politically active, broadly speaking) on the list?

            I’m not saying there’s no such thing as media bias. I think we just have to be careful not to grow too paranoid about it. I don’t aim that at you specifically (I wouldn’t call your reasoned arguments paranoia, for a start) but there are certainly some who see an MSM conspiracy in every lost dog story.

          • Patrick

            Accepted Rex, but knowing just how intertwined SFWU are with Labour perhaps the Herald would be better served keeping them at arms length. At least if they want their readership to believe they are impartial. The Herald try to portray that as being the case but orchestrating media campaigns with SFWU suggests otherwise.
            Perhaps they would be better served laying their cards on the table ala Rupert Murdoch using his rags to support a political party of his choosing around each election time. At least the public is left with no doubt. The Sun’s “It was we wot won it” headline after Blair was elected in 97 springs to mind.

            The Lefties have no problems throwing up the spectre of the “evil big business backers” supposedly supporting National – remember Mallard’s accusations about “American bagmen?”

            Where is the difference with the big backers, both financial & foot soldiers that Labour are happy to use?

    • andrew carrot

      Rex, there is a substantial difference between the newspaper market in England and that here: In Auckland there is one daily; in London alone there’s the Daily Mail, Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, etc – none of which have comparable editorial policies or target markets. The Herald enjoys a unique, although shrinking, position in Auckland publishing because it is the only provider of substantial, daily advertising space and is the sole newspaper of record. It enjoys the luxury of not having to endure detailed scrutiny from competing broadsheets – as they don’t exist! That scrutiny would provide the public with balance, arising from contrasting viewpoints.

      • Rex Widerstrom

        [Apologies for the food of comments but this is a topic close to my heart]

        That’s a thorny point, Andrew. You are right in that a monopoly media outlet is different to one facing competition. Of course it could be argued that the Herald does face competition – there’s radio, TV, the internet, social media… but at this time in history the printed newspaper still carries an authority none of those have (though it seems to be doing its damnedest to erode that authority).

        To some extent, the right’s complaints about this annoy me. There has been one attempt to establish a right-leaning electronic media outlet in NZ, Radio Liberty. I used to host a spot on weekends (for free, as it happened). Where was the support it needed to keep going? Where’s an alternative TV channel? (do-able now we’re digital). A newspaper probably isn’t worth investing in, but with digital printing, maybe…

        Come to that, when Cam took over Truth where was the flood of support that might have kept it going, got the trashy ads and titty pics out, and turned it into a decent investigative newspaper, albeit with a right-ish flavour?

        Sorry, I’m getting wound up… but seriously, righties on the media sound like Greenies on… everything… sometimes (and again I’m not aiming that at you specifically Andrew).

        • Patrick

          An online subscription might have helped the readership numbers – especially for those of us based offshore.

  • James

    At least there is one news organisation for whom neutrality is important:

    • blokeintakapuna

      That’s what a proper, respected media entity would and should do.

    • Bafacu

      Upvote = lots

  • CheesyEarWax

    BEWARE TROLL! Goes by the name of John Drinnan, but could be Brian Rudman or David Fisher in disguise.

  • GregM

    The real pity with this is that this topic of rest homes does need to be investigated. Just do it properly and impartially is all.

  • The only thing surprising about this tactic from the NZ Herald is that anyone would be surprised by it. Colluding with the Left is nothing new.

    Bear in mind too that November is when:

    a) There is a by-election in Christchurch East, and
    b) Voting papers for the asset sales referendum will be going out.

    Naturally, the Left will want positive headlines, which the media will happily provide. But this is simply scaremongering. Well done for blowing the whistle Cam; I daresay there will be some angst in the Herald editorial suite as to the source of the leak.

    • At least one person at the NZ Herald can no longer stomach the duplicity.

      • cows4me

        I bet the big wigs at the Herald are not amused. A couple of good months plotting exposed. The gin will taste bitter tonight.

        • longjohn

          I was told by on old aunty that Gin gives you a dry fanny..

          • What sort of conversation leads to that sort of gem popping out?

  • Monito

    I am not even surprised to be honest, newspapers are forced to PLAN the news around what happening. The Press was blatant and offensive in their preliminary appointment of Lianne Dalziel as the new Mayor. I fully expected them to come up with a nasty revealing scoop on one of the stronger candidates. They painted Dalziel as the leader of truth, integrity and honesty – well we all know the background – and even photographed her sitting on a virtually empty bus reading the Press, about herself – what a hideously blatant promotion of Dalziel and their own paper. What really stunned me was the number of people who thought it so great she was riding the to work and happy to chat with other passengers – yeah pigs will fly too!.

    • Rex Widerstrom

      What, the same Lianne Dalziel who told me I shouldn’t ride in the lift with her because she was an MP and I was merely a senior staffer and the division bells were ringing?

      Never mind I was on a higher floor, so she got in after me, and the bells started ringing when I was already in the lift.

      Yeah, she’d be communing with the common folk for sure.

  • blokeintakapuna

    This would also explain why and how the Horrid have union tax cheat McCarten offering “opinion pieces” in their rag…
    It’s like Senior management have no shame what so ever and they’re deliberately trying to undermine APN shareholder value for some reason?

    • Patrick

      Apparently David Bain is coming on board shortly – he will be doing a weekly piece on family values.

      • patrickstarr

        ….or was that a weekly value on family pieces?.

      • longjohn

        …Lundy on street racing maybe?

        • Patrick

          Philip Field is doing a piece on home renovation “how to get your tiling done on the cheap”

          • longjohn

            Crack up..(no pun intended)

    • GazzW

      Ditto Bernard Hickey and his socialist economic dogma.

      • longjohn

        Ditto Rattue on sport….negative anything positive!

        • Patrick

          Rattue is trying to be our own local version of Stephen Jones, they both use the approach of writing something controversial to improve the pageview / website hits statistics. Both of those journalists do not believe what they write, they write with a view of attempting to cause a controversy only. Just follow Rattue’s utterances over a period of time, one day a sportsman is the greatest thing since sliced bread, within a period of time they are the worst thing to going around. From memory he did similar with Henry & Hansen.
          Think it is called “hunting with the hounds and running with the hare” – or similar.

  • LesleyNZ

    So the Royal NZ Herald is actively working against the government. Shame on them. What say they don’t find a bad rest home – are they going to make one up? What a crafty lot. They structure this plan to look like they care about old people and retirement but peel away the wrapping paper on the surface and you find it is politically motivated. How low journalism has sunk in NZ.

    • “What say they don’t find a bad rest home – are they going to make one up?”

      After such an investment?

      I imagine they would make sure they had a story, somehow.

  • Kimbo

    It was only a year ago that The Herald put staples in its Daily, up until then it was still handy to wipe your arse with.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Kimbo – that’ll explain the pain I have been experiencing “down there” of late.

      • Kimbo

        Same, Discovered it far too late myself, had me in stitches.

  • longjohn

    I have cancelled my subscription..

    • This_comment_was_deleted

      Did you ever have one?

  • slade52

    Sounds like the herald’s operating costs should be counted towards grabour’s campaign budget.

  • 1951

    Maybe it is time the Silent Majority stood-up to be heard!!!

    • This_comment_was_deleted

      They did.


      • 1951


  • lou

    Manufacturing the news – I can guess there is an email trail on a Political level that sprouted this. And one of the lines there in is use the leaked report on old agr and the herald. Our news are manufactured way in advance or am I giving Labour too much credit?

  • This_comment_was_deleted
  • James

    Great one-two hit Cam……up the readership with the Brown scandal …then drop the bomb on the Herald in front of a vastly expanded audience….like a boss. Hat off to you Sir….;-)

  • Daniel Stratton

    No wonder the left always claim the herald is biased!