Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lengate Part 1: When Media fails, with Propaganda Model

Lengate Part 1: When Media fails, with Propaganda Model

Thakur Ranjit Singh

When the dust settles down over the antics of a Matador adulterous Mayor, when the soiled City Hall and Ngati Whatua rooms are mopped clean and when mayoral couch are sanitised, standing wounded and bleeding will be a partisan and questionable mainstream New Zealand media. And standing honoured and elevated to a higher echelon of respectability would be powers of that alternative (and some believe, more trusting) media - Blogsites in general and Whale Oil in particular.

Herman and Chomsky's book that speaks of PROPAGANDA MODEL where watchdog media becomes lapdogs of the elite and influential in the society. This is quite evident in the Lengate case. It is hoped media schools of Universities in NZ will use Lengate as a case study in media studies.
As a media scholar, I studied Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky’s media model called Propaganda Model. The Wikipedia explains   propaganda model as a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Herman and Chomsky in their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. The model states how propaganda, including systemic biases, function in mass media. The model seeks to explain how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social and political policies is "manufactured" in the public mind due to this propaganda. It creates an inherent conflict of interest which acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces.

From left, Luigi Wewege,, Bevan Chuang and John Palino. The mainstream media is barking up the wrong tree by apportioning blame away from the main player-Len Brown. (NZ Herald Photo)
In laymen’s language, it says that media is not a free agent that the public have been made to believe. While dependent on the elite, media remains uncritical of their interest and participates in propaganda campaigns helpful to the elite interests. Media defends the economic, social and political agendas of the privileged elite groups that dominate domestic society, the government, the corporate sector and the wider international order. Media freedom belongs to those who own the media or controls and finances them. In other words, business which provides advertising dollar controls the media.

That is what exactly ensued in this Lengate saga. Apart from the ratepayer paid spin doctors at Auckland Council, the mainstream media in general and NZ Herald in particular discarded their watchdog role, and degenerated into a lapdog of the elite interests, the all powerful and influential Mayor and Auckland Council. Day in and day out, you tend to read media commentaries, and biased propaganda, favouring the mayor of Auckland, masquerading as independent neutral commentary by respective respectable authors. Most were trying to shoot the messenger or blaming others for the Mayor’s adultery and indiscretion, and some comparing him to Clinton. Under oath, Clinton denied having had "a sexual affair", "sexual relations", or "a sexual relationship" with Lewinsky, who did not have sexual intercourse. 

Some commentators are using Clinton and Monica Lewensky as red herring in Lengate. Clinton, under oath, denied having had "a sexual affair", "sexual relations", or "a sexual relationship" with Lewinsky, who did not have sexual intercourse. Same is not true of Len Brown.
However, in case of Brown, he was not only literally caught with his pants down, but reportedly had unprotected sexual relations with a woman over whom he had a relationship of power. Most commentators were and still are barking up the wrong tree: Palino, Wewege, character of Chuang, Cook and Slater, and “team of piranhas currently targeting Mr Brown.” They acted as apologist for Brown, and deflected blame from where it belonged - Len Brown.

I will largely quote what others have said to support this.
The editorial of NZ Herald on Saturday 26 October propagandised the matter as such:

“Our elections are decided by voters, not by underhand threats and warnings. Brown upset this plan by standing his ground. Neither side emerges from the affair with much credit but the mayor is facing up to it. The spivs have scuttled away and should not come back”

The following, among others, were response received:

“I am shocked that this paper (NZ Herald) is not trying to hold Len Brown to account rather it is focusing on bit part players like Wewege while Brown gets off scot free.”
Irrespective of how it is portrayed by various left wing publications, Brown used his position to chase a vulnerable woman who was intoxicated by positions of power….. Brown chased Bevan – not the other way round. Clearly this shows intent from Brown; Not exactly the honey trap the Herald is trying to portray it as…..  Brown used his position as mayor to further his carnal interests in a vulnerable woman...”

The main players of LENGATE: Mayor Len Brown and Bevan Chuang- Brown chased Bevan-not the other way round- Brown showed intent-NOT THE HONEY TRAP NZ HERALD IS TRYING TO PORTRAY.
This mayoral mess has certainly highlighted what IS the New Zealand way though. It is to accept that a white male who is mayor of Auckland can do what he wants while in office and get away with it….shown that his failings will be justified, accounted for by the spin doctors and media, so that he can continue in his job. It allows him to blame everyone except for himself…...

“The hypocrisy of attacking the messenger in this case whilst ignoring the fact that the mayor has misled thousands of voters on his morality is simply breathtaking. A simple test would be how many people who voted for Len still would have, had they known the truth about him?”
Indeed, voters had been misled. If it was Dirty Harry, he would say: ‘Go ahead adulterer punk, make my day. Resign and get re-elected if you are so confident of your mandate and popularity.”

MEDIA'S INCONSISTENCY-Former Minister Richard Worth who was hounded by media to resign for "making a nuisance of himself toward women"- a far lesser sin than Auckland Mayor admitted and reported to have committed.
Inconsistency of the media also comes to light. Their bias is blatantly evident, understandably because Auckland Council and Council’s (Un) Controlled Organisations account for substantial economic influence and might for media. When similar situation arose for some politicians, the media went on a warpath to hound them into resigning for far lesser “crimes”, sins, immoralities or questionable actions Len Brown is alleged to have committed. Richard Worth was hounded to resign for  ...” making a nuisance of himself toward womenwhile Nick Smith had to go forfailing to avoid a conflict of interest.” Their actions were akin to Sunday school picnic when compared to what Len Brown allegedly did for two years. But of course, the lapdog media were conforming to Propaganda Model of media-safeguarding elite interest.

Nick Smith- some are more equal than others. He had to go through media hounding him for"failing to avoid a conflict of interest". Compared to what Smith and Worth  had to go for, Mayor Brown is still staying for doing far greater wrongs than them.
And can somebody inform Auckland Council’s Head of Communications and Media section and its Human Resource Manager to review their recruitment procedure if their supposedly top class media people are ignorant of various media models. For somebody whom they refused to recruit because they could nor pronounce his Indian name, I volunteer to run free training session for their media and communications department to teach various models of media. Indeed, ratepayers hope the highly paid CEO knows what is going on in recruitment section, and is rightfully earning his salary by meeting all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 


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