Last night, I was at a party, where I met a Fundy Post reader, who was lovely. She and her partner live in Waterview, where Transit New Zealand is considering building a motorway tunnel. I say this not only to make you aware that I do have a social life and to reassure you that you are not the only reader of this blog. I say this also as a preamble to my detailed analysis of the free copy of the New Zealand Herald I was given today, in which the building of the motorway tunnel figures large.
One cannot help but think that somewhere in Fran O'Sullivan's contract with the NZ Herald is a clause absolving her from any responsibility to have a relationship with facts. She is free to give any opinion that pleases her, regardless of inconsistency between her views and the truth. Take, for example, this thought from Ms O'Sullivan's opinion piece in today's paper about boring:
But Clark can rest assured. Transit NZ's decision to plunge a 3.2km twin tunnel deep under her Auckland electorate, rather than the much more cost-effective above-surface option, gets her off the hook.Now, compare and contrast, if you will, Ms O'Sullivan's opinion with the news story by Mathew Dearnaley, also in today's paper. Here we find no mention of an "above-surface option," only a choice between a tunnel and a trench, the latter being more expensive and more disruptive than the former. Quite what Ms O'Sullivan means by an "above-surface option" is not something she clarifies, but it is clear that Transit NZ never considered carrying the motorway on majestic arches high above the voters of Mount Albert.
Unless Ms O'Sullivan knows more about the secret life of Transit NZ than she is disclosing, it would appear she has invented an option, one that is far more cost-effective (being entirely imaginary) than the choice made by the road-builders. In doing so, she insinuates that the Prime Minister has made a far more expensive choice because of her fears for her seat in Parliament.
It is important at this stage to take a deep breath and recognise that virtually all of Ms O'Sullivan's essay is conjecture. As a newspaper reader, you are probably accustomed to reading op-ed pieces that are based on facts, so this new adventure in journalism might come as something of a shock. Your emotional discomfort might be intensified further if you can remember the days when Ms O'Sullivan was a very capable business journalist, who probably would not have dreamed of making up stuff about the business folk who were the subject of her writing. But it seems that it now is her job to invent facts and imagine motives.
Such is the lot of a Herald opinion writer. Ms O'Sullivan is not alone. Ever since the paper's ridiculously overwrought campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill, almost all the op-eds in the Herald have been of a similar timbre. The job of a Herald writer is to snarl and attack; her target will be the Government and she will use every weapon at her disposal. The snarling is now unremitting. The Herald no longer has any character, depth or colour. It has a single dimension and a single purpose. It is no more than a National Party hack sheet. No wonder they have to give it away one day every week.
Elsewhere, Mr Brown relates another story: he gets a TV show (yay!) and the Herald writes about it in terms of "Government supporter gets Government-funded show."