Have you stopped beating your wife Mr. Armstrong ?

John Armstrong,


this is not just about you or even the New Zealand Herald but about all mainstream media, which are engaged in just uncritically defending the status quo of economic and political power. And this is not just about the Green Party but attacks on any critical voice questioning the recent neoliberal orthodoxy of the “market” being the answer to everything. If the “market” is always the answer why bother with any questions.

John Armstrong’s piece in the NZ Herald  on 30 May is just a classic with it’s headline

Mad or toxic … Greens’ image newbie’s challenge”

The assumption of this headline – and I have to stress that it is just an example for all mainstream media – is that the image of the Greens is “mad or toxic”. And we are not talking about just the image “mad or toxic” but policies as he writes that in order to change the image and get traction with voters it requires the Greens to be tighter and more orthodox (reading: neoliberal) in their economic policies.
Policies seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions do not have a strong market in places like West Auckland.
Here again pops up the “market” as the answer. What was the question again ?

This is all part of an concerted effort by the 1 % at the top to defend their wealth, power and privilege against any questioning by the 99 % who are increasingly left behind. The privileged rich who mostly exercise their power through corporations have as their most powerful tool the media in their portfolios. The media’s role is to defend the privileges of their owners.


They either do it by ignoring any different points of view and if that is not possible to attack any dissent firstly by name calling (mad or toxic) or ridiculing dissenters.

An example of the later is the TV coverage of Green Party conferences going back over 20 years. Way back it was the inevitable shot of some barn dancing at the recreational part of the weekend. Then it was the vegetarian or vegan and – god forbid – organic food on the lunch smorgasbord. Then it was Kiwifruit- or organic low alcohol wine. As those clips have gone stale and the Greens have elected an urban businessman as their male co-leader what is left are shots of the female co-leader together with other women knitting. The camera operators know exactly what is expected of them and the editors put these shots in for one purpose and one purpose only to ridicule the Greens by creating an image of some kind of weirdo dreamers. To top it all off comes the sanctimonious question what the party is doing about the perception that the Greens are not living in the real world.
If the media would not be so immersed in their hypocrisy they would instead marvel at the Greens having been ahead of the time with organic food, fruit wines and even low alcohol wines, which all have become very profitable parts of the economy.

This is hard to swallow for anybody actually living in the real world who can figure out that it is only the Green Party, which is prepared to talk about and tackle the problems we are all facing politically, economically, environmentally, climatically while all other parties fiddle around the edges or put the heads firmly in the sand.


The people being called names like mad, toxic, dreamer and the list goes on must of course be insane being told for over 30 years that there is no alternative and still don’t get it and are bitching about a better world.


The irony is that even if the alternative is all around us the media put on the blinkers and still call dissenters lunatics. Remember the relentless media campaign against Russel Norman when he dared to suggest quantitative easing i.e. printing money as a better way to tackle the financial crisis. The media pack regurgitating the dismissal by our great currency trader helmsman was all over poor Russel like a pack of hounds ripping apart a hapless fox at the end of the hunt. All the while the rest of the world like the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, even the Swiss and all other who needed to were doing the exact same thing, quantitative easing. The media pack did not tell their readers or listeners that nor explain why the rest of the financial world are all lunatics and little New Zealand the only sane stand out.

You also won’t hear from these media that New Zealand could have dealt with the crisis differently and we would actually be much better off if this government would not have followed the neoliberal mantra of austerity. Instead we are right on election time fed the picture of a rock star economy. You don’t have to be a cynic to connect the dots to see in whose interest we were fed that bullshit.


Back to the other parts of the ‘symphony’ of Green Party policies the mainstream media want changed for more votes. It reminds me of Mozart after the premiere of one of his symphonies meeting his Emperor who somehow was not very impressed. When asked about his dislike the Emperor said : Too many notes. When Mozart asked which one he suggested to take out there was silence.

We really should insist that the media calling the Green’s policies mad, toxic or at minimum unrealistic should actually name them. We will find that all are successful realities in other countries like energy policies in Germany, social policies in Scandinavia, housing policies all over the world and even minimum wage policies in the US where studies have shown that states with higher minimum wages do better economically than the ones with low or no minimum wage. Instead the media continue not to question the lie that higher minimum wages mean jobs losses when then opposite is true.

After the media have driven Russel Norman to despair only to cry crocodile tears when he chucked in the towel they now have set their sights on James Shaw. Mark my words, they will do everything to destroy his economic credibility despite or you may say because of his business background. You already saw a taste of it in Rodney Hide‘s I can’t help falling out of love (with James Shaw) again.  John Key will not properly debate him on the merit of different ideas but just pooh pooh him in Parliament or any other opportunity to the jeers of his neoliberal coterie in the media. We cannot have an insane leader of a political party who has not learned his lesson of the last 30 plus years that there is no alternative.

Asking a green politician if they will stop promoting “mad or toxic” policies is equivalent to asking someone if he will stop beating his wife. However you answer the implication is that there is something wrong with the Greens and their policies, which needs to stop.

I would love to see the look on the face of any journalist trying it on and been asked back if he will stop beating his wife.

Have you stopped beating your wife, Mr Armstrong ?

And when considering this question you have to remember that the Greens had to put up with this nonsense for 25 years.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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