I am often asked to write something “positive”. I admit to have problems with that. Even if I try I cannot find much positive in New Zealand or the world for that matter to write about other than may be George Clooney marrying an intelligent woman and the Duchess of Cambridge having another baby, which is of course always cause for joy.
So I thought to find something positive I have to put on the rose tinted John Key glasses to see the world through his eyes to find something positive to write about. After the Northland by-election there is none more positive I can see than the pending demise of John Campbell and with him the remaining investigative current affairs journalism on New Zealand television.
Who needs critical journalism in this Anglo-American style free market capitalism where the advertisers decide what we people are going to see and learn or rather not. Nobody needs to hold our rulers to account when the “market” already does that and everything else for us.
This good news has of course been a very long time coming.
One of the starting points was in the 1960-ies the Chicago School of Economics Milton Friedman led ideological revolution, which inspired not only Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher but also General Pinochet in Chile, Boris Yeltsin and the thieving Russian oligarchs and even Nelson Mandela.
To fully understand what happened over the last 40 years you only have to read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. On the other hand this most important book is written by an investigative journalist and we don’t need those anymore. We leave that to the market.
The Chicago boys arrived in New Zealand in the form of Roger Douglas giving his name to our version of disaster capitalism “Rogernomics“. Why let a good disaster like a hurricane, war, criminal overthrow of a legitimate government or earthquake go to waste if you can use it to push an ideological agenda through the people would otherwise resist. Sometimes you have to make up the disaster like in 1984 the incoming Labour government in New Zealand calling it a constitutional crisis having to wait a couple of days till the warrants were issued before implementing the first drastic changes or painting the capital requirement of the then government owned Bank of New Zealand into a major financial crisis.
From then on it was almost plain sailing.
We crashed the opposition ‘intellectually’ by telling lies over and over again like “there is no alternative” or “trickle down effect”
till they became accepted wisdom.
We crashed any opposition by destroying the unions, burden students with debilitating student loans debt and punishing the poor. In the process we created massive inequality, which suits us just fine as we in power are part of the one not the 99 percent. So far so good.
However the hold on wealth and power is always under threat from the people if and when they wake up and realize what is going on. Therefore we must curb education as far as critical enquiry and thinking goes and of course critical journalism.
The former will be achieved on the one hand by privatizing education and let the market find the smallest common denominator. And on the other by strangling real education, which should equip students with creative, inquisitorial critical minds with test, tests and more tests forcing even the best teachers to minimize their teaching to the tests if they want to keep their jobs. In other words our aim must be the dumbing down of education as long as its products can still read manuals and instructions and are able to operate a cash register. And believe me anything else the government tells you about it’s education policy is just spin, wool over your eyes.
The latter (critical journalism) is also a long term project. The first step is to abandon the role of the public in television and radio and privatize the media either by selling them off outright or by opening them up to private competition. The first step was to abandon the broadcasting fee to bring public broadcasting under direct government spending control and political pressure. And it was of course one of the National Party’s first acts after coming back into power in 2008 to get rid of the ‘Charter’ for TVNZ, which gave it up to that point some mandate and responsibility for public broadcasting. This is also all about the dumbing down of content.
When our mates and private media owners were not fast enough to follow the downwards pressure and limit programming for that part of the public that wants more than reality show entertainment at the lowest level we help them along. One way is always to make them financially dependent in the case of TV3 by giving it a helping hand to the tune of 43.3 million dollars, which in itself creates leverage. If that was not enough we made sure that our people were put in charge of TV3.
The good news again was that nobody noticed – at least up till now when it is claimed by the non-mainstream media that the Prime Minister told his mate and TV3 CEO Mark Weldon in regards to John Campbell “I want that left wing bastard gone”: The prime minister had insidiously conspired with Mark Weldon to end John Campbell’s broadcasting career and have Campbell live taken off the air.
Unfortunately even Fran O’Sullivan the very much pro business writer for the NZ Herald who should be in our camp smelled the rat and this cannot be dismissed – as we usually do – as conspiracy theory.
However ‘at the and of the day’ Campbell Live will be gone or if it survives somewhere hidden out of view and severely neutered.
This is important for our neoliberal Chicago School project.
Our present economic model is based on enough people being held down badly educated, uninformed, under financial stress and distracted by cheap entertainment so they unquestioning swallow corporate and government spin and vote against their own interests. How else can we stay in power as our policies benefit only the very few on the top and not the majority 99%.
We claim that Campbell Live played no role in holding the Government to account (John Key on Newstalk ZB). We don’t appear on his program if we possibly can avoid it – so how could they hold us to account. We dismiss the program as just entertainment. Still it has to go. Too many hungry children, victims of the Christchurch earthquake and disgruntled workers on the show.
Of course the people are making fun of us.
But ‘at the end of the day’ we despite Nicky Hager’s revelations in “Dirty Politics” pulled the wool over your eyes at last year’s election and we do as we like and what our pollster tells us we can get away with.
The critics like Phil Wallington and Gavin Ellis on Radio New Zealand National on 14 April 15 think in contrast to the TV3 top brass that there is more to news and current affairs programs than delivering viewers to advertisers. These programs are allegedly part of a far greater public responsibility to the people of New Zealand. They think that Campbell Live is the last meaningful nightly current affairs program that is able to hold the powerful to account in a timely fashion and it’s demise would leave New Zealand intellectually and democratically impoverished (Ellis).
To them we can only say your voices will soon be silenced as well as taxpayer funded public radio has been in our sights for a while to let the “market” do it’s magical thing. We might not even wait for the next crisis real or manufactured to come along.
Anybody for more “positive” news and comment ?