A bloke called Dave Armstrong, who seems to fancy himself as a newspaper columnist for the Dom-Post, has done a splendid job of bringing the attention of we politicians to the shortcomings of the news media.
Especially its inclination to seize on a spicy quote then remove the context.
Armstrong has added his voice to the chorus of anguished Kiwis who deplore anything that hints of racism, especially if it happens to involve special arrangements for our indigenous persons.
He devoted his column this week to lauding Susan Devoy, the race Relations Commissioner, for trying to silence ACT leader Jamie Whyte on the matter of special Maori seats and other privileges which special persons of an indigenous persuasion can lay claim to.
This Armstrong feller has tooth-combed his way through Whyte’s speech for an article that, alas, Alf could not find online.
He has identified one sentence which he says is the line that caused so much outrage.
This was Whyte’s assertion that:
“Maori are legally privileged just as the aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.
Armstrong acknowledged that Whyte said more than just that.
Whyte did also say that “It’s absurd to say that Maori are privileged...”
And as Armstrong further acknowledged, the hapless Whyte listed various areas of Maori disadvantage.
But – Armstrong proceeds to argue – “the damage was done.”
“As David Cunliffe learnt with his ‘I’m sorry for being a man”, speech the media rarely quotes the line after a soundbite, even if it puts things in context.”
When you stop to think about this, Armstrong should be blaming the media for not putting things in context.
But no – it’s Whyte’s bloody fault for giving the media a line they took out of context.
Funny old world, eh?
Under these rules we politicians can’t win unless we reduce our speeches to just one sound-bite.