COMMENTARY: By Martyn Bradbury
Last month The Daily Blog offered its New Year infamous news media gongs — and blasts — for 2022. In this extract, editor and publisher Martyn Bradbury names the mainstream media “blind spots”.
Graham Adams over at The Platform made the argument this year that the failure of mainstream media to engage with the debates occurring online is a threat to democracy.
With trust in New Zealand media at an all time low, I wondered what is the list of topics that you simply are NOT allowed to discuss on NZ mainstream media.
Here is my list of 17 topics over 30 years in New Zealand media:
- Palestine: You cannot talk about the brutal occupation of Palestine by Israel in NZ media. It’s just not allowed, any discussion has to be framed as “Poor Israelis being terrorised by evil angry Muslims”. There is never focus on the brutal occupation and when it ever does emerge in the media it’s always insinuated that any criticism is anti-Semitism.
- Child Poverty NEVER adult poverty: We only talk about child poverty because they deserve our pity. Adults in poverty can go screw themselves. Despite numbering around 800,000, adults in poverty are there because they “choose” to be there. The most important myth of neoliberalism is that your success is all your own, as is your failure. If an adult is in poverty, neoliberal cultural mythology states that is all on them and we have no obligation to help. That’s why we only ever talk endlessly about children in poverty because the vast majority of hard-hearted New Zealanders want to blame adults in poverty on them so we can pretend to be egalitarian without actually having to implement any policy.
- The Neoliberal NZ experiment: You are never allowed to question the de-unionised work force that amputated wages, you can never question selling off our assets, you can never criticise the growth über alles mentality, you are never allowed to attack the free market outcomes and you can’t step back and evaluate the 35-year neoliberal experiment in New Zealand because you remind the wage slaves of the horror of it all.
- Class: You cannot point out that the demarcation line in a capitalist democracy like New Zealand is the 1 percent richest plus their 9 percent enablers vs the 90 percent rest of us. Oh, you can wank on and on about your identity and your feelings about your identity in a never ending intersectionist diversity pronoun word salad, but you can’t point out that it’s really the 90 percent us vs the 10 percent them class break down because that would be effective and we can’t have effective on mainstream media when feelings are the currency to audience solidarity in an ever diminishing pie of attention.
- Immigration: It must always be framed as positive. It can never be argued that it is a cheap and lazy growth model that pushes down wages and places domestic poor in competition with International student language school scams and exploited migrant workers. Any criticism of Immigration makes you a xenophobe and because the Middle Classes like travelling and have global skills for sale, they see any criticism of migrants as an attack on their economic privileges.
- Hypertourism: We are never allowed to ask “how many is too many, you greedies”. The tourism industry that doesn’t give a shit about us locals, live for the 4 million tourists who visit annually. We are not allowed to ask why that amount of air travel is sustainable, we are not allowed to ask why selling Red Bull and V at tourist stops is somehow an economic miracle and we are certainly not allowed to question why these tourists aren’t directly being taxed meaningfully for the infrastructure they clog.
- Dairy as a Sunset Industry: We are never allowed to point out that the millisecond the manufactured food industry can make synthetic milk powder, they will dump us as a base ingredient and the entire dairy industry overnight will collapse. With synthetic milks and meats here within a decade, it is time to radically cull herds, focus on only organic and free range sustainable herds and move away from mass production dairy forever. No one is allowed to mention the iceberg that is looming up in front of the Fonteera Titanic.
- B-E-L-I-E-V-E victims: It’s like How to Kill a MockingBird was never written. People making serious allegations should be taken seriously, not B-E-L-I-E-V-E-D. That’s a tad fanatical Christian for me. It’s led to a change in our sexual assault laws where the Greens and Labour removed the only defence to rape so as to get more convictions, which when you think about it, is cult like and terrifying. Gerrymandering the law to ensure conviction isn’t justice, but in the current B-E-L-I-E-V-E victims culture it sure is and anyone saying otherwise is probably a rape apologist who should be put in prison immediately.
- The Trans debate: This debate is so toxic and anyone asking any question gets immediately decried as transphobic. I’ve seen nuclear reactor meltdowns that are less radioactive than this debate. I’m so terrified I’m not going to say anything other than “please don’t hurt my family” for even mentioning it.
- It’s never climate change for this catastrophic weather event: Catastrophic weather event after catastrophic weather event but it’s never connected to global warming! It’s like the weather is changing cataclysmically around us but because it’s not 100 percent sure that that cigarette you are smoking right now is the one that causes that lump inside you to become cancer, so we can’t connect this catastrophic weather event with a climate warming model that states clearly that we will see more and more catastrophic weather events.
- Scoops: No New Zealand media will never acknowledge another media’s scoop in spite of a united front being able to generate more exposure and better journalism.
- Te Reo fanaticism: You are not allowed to point out that barely 5 percent of the population speak Te Reo and that everyone who militantly fires up about it being an “official language” never seem that antagonistic about the lack of sign language use. Look, my daughter goes to a Māori immersion class and when she speaks Te Reo it makes me cry joyfully and I feel more connected to NZ than any other single moment. But endlessly ramming it down people’s throats seems woke language policing rather than a shared cultural treasure. You can still be an OK human being and not speak Te Reo.
- Māori land confiscation: Māori suffered losing 95 percent of their land in less than a century, they were almost decimated by disease and technology brought via colonisation, they endured the 1863 Settlements Act, they survived blatant lies and falsehoods devised to create the pretext for confiscation, and saw violence in the Waikato. Māori have lived throughout that entire experience and still get told to be grateful because Pākehā brought blankets, tobacco and “technology”.
- The Disabled: Almost 25 percent of New Zealand is disabled, yet for such a staggeringly huge number of people, their interests get little mention in the mainstream media.
- Corporate Iwi: You can’t bring up that that the corporate model used for Iwi to negotiate settlements is outrageous and has created a Māori capitalist elite who are as venal as Pākehā capitalists.
- Police worship: One of the most embarrassing parts about living in New Zealand is the disgusting manner in which so many acquiesce to the police. It’s never the cop’s fault when they shoot someone, it’s never the cop’s fault when they chase people to their death, it’s never the cop’s fault for planting evidence, it’s never the cops fault for using interrogation methods that bully false confessions out of vulnerable people. I think there is a settler cultural chip on our shoulders that always asks the mounted constabulary to bash those scary Māori at the edge of town because we are frightened of what goes bump in the night. We willingly give police total desecration to kill and maim and frame as long as long as they keep us safe. It’s sickening.
- House prices will increase FOREVER! Too many middle class folk are now property speculators and they must see their values climb to afford the extra credit cards the bank sends them. We can never talk about house prices coming down. They must never fall. Screw the homeless, scre the generations locked out of home ownership and screw the working poor. Buying a house is only for the children of the middle classes now. Screw everyone else. Boomer cradle to the grave subsidisations that didn’t extend to any other generation. Free Ben and Jerry Ice Cream for every Boomer forever! ME! ME! ME!
You’ll also note that because so many media are dependent on real estate advertising, there’s never been a better time to buy!
- Pacific Media Watch notes that the the brutal Indonesian military occupation of West Papua, a half century of colonisation, and violations of human rights ought to be cited on this list too.
Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury is a New Zealand media commentator, former radio and TV host, and former executive producer of Alt TV — a now-defunct alternative music and culture channel. He is publisher of The Daily Blog and writes blogs at Tumeke! and TDB. Republished with permission.