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  • rmacculloch

Why I'm blogging less: government spin & "neutralizing" propaganda have left me exasperated

When I last sent an article to the Herald critiquing the RBNZ, the editors changed this line, "So what has been driving the RBNZ? Populism. Incompetence" to read, "So what has been driving the RBNZ? Populism", censoring the word "incompetence". It's funny when a former prominent RBNZ board member used exactly that word, "incompetent", to describe the present-day Bank to me (in writing). I don't choose words lightly, and usually have "deep throat" sources to back them up. What's more, I'm neither a politician nor in business, so have no private political or commercial (vested interest) reasons for making such comments.

At the same time, how come our national press let other commentators, like Shamubeel Eaqub, freely call the Leader of a Party (David Seymour)"economically illiterate" who "just tells lies about what is going on in the economy" ? I wrote to Newshub's Standards Committee to find out their "logic". They said, "Eaqub’s comments about Seymour are clearly identifiable as his opinion, Newshub did not make the claim that Seymour is a liar, it quotes Eaqub .. On the basis that the Article does not breach the Media Council Principles, Newshub will not be issuing an apology or retracting the Article". A fellow academic economist told me how the Herald turned down his opinion pieces relating to Covid as they didn't fit the government's preferred narrative. He's one of NZ's highest ranked academics.

How come the Media Council "principles" are applied to some people & not others? After all, my Herald article had the capital letters "OPINION" at the top. Seems some folks have the freedom to express opinions with words like "liar" and "illiterate" whereas other folks who use the word "incompetent" are censored.

Further, after my RBNZ article was published, I noticed a tsunami of media articles defending the Bank. There were so many, I was suspicious. Then this news broke, “The Reserve Bank has more than tripled the number of communications staff, up from six in 2013 to 20 today".

Whenever I've written an article which the government doesn't like, swathes of spin doctors, Comms and PR staff who are employed full-time to protect the "brand" jump into action. One staffer told me how their job is often to ensure the story doesn't "get legs" and goes away quickly. The Comms staff regularly ring up their former work colleagues & friends in the media to insert counter stories. At present, they're desperately trying to get headlines saying the RBNZ is "hawkish" on inflation. The idea our RBNZ has been hawkish on inflation this past year is ridiculous.

All in all, it makes the job of holding to account big organizations like the RBNZ, Treasury & Productivity Commission (where no serious economist wants to work anymore), let alone our major political parties, next to impossible, since the Comms machinery that has been put in place to neutralize the truth and "change the narrative" has become so huge.



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