Brian Edwards Media

Whaleoil dishonestly accuses Helen Clark of dishonesty



I suppose dishonestly reporting that someone else has behaved dishonestly could be regarded as a wonderful example of irony. But if the dishonesty of the reporter is transparent then it’s also a wonderful example of crass stupidity.

Either way, this is precisely what Cameron Slater has recently done. In a post on Whaleoil published a couple of days ago, entitled Manufacturing Clark’s History, Slater refers to a television interview the former New Zealand Prime Minister gave to Australia’s Channel Nine programme The Bottom Line and to a subsequent report on the interview, entitled ‘Helen Clark reflects on life as a leader’, which appeared on Stuff.

The Stuff report of the interview contains numerous quotes of things Clark said. You can tell they’re quotes because they’re all in inverted commas.

At one point in the interview Clark is asked how she pitched for her current job at the United Nations.

She replies: “So my pitch was, ‘This job needs a leader, and I am that leader’”.

That reply is directly followed in the Stuff report by this sentence:

Having led the Labour Party without barely a whisper of a coup for six years in opposition and then nine years as Prime Minister, human resources at the UN could hardly argue that credential.

Note that there are no quotation marks around the sentence. That’s presumably because Clark didn’t say it. Everything else she said in the Channel Nine interview is reported in quotes.    Read the rest of this entry »


Polonius (behind the arras) offers some free advice to David Cunliffe

Hamlet Kills Polonius

I recall a meeting in the Leader of the Opposition’s office some time in 1999. Present were Helen Clark, Heather Simpson, Mike Munro, Michael Hirschfeld (then President of the Labour Party), Judy Callingham, Brian Edwards and possibly some others. Among the topics for debate was whether Labour should enter into a coalition agreement with Jim Anderton’s Alliance Party. The view of those in favour prevailed.

Under MMP, Labour won the election taking 49 seats in parliament, while the Alliance took ten. Fears that the Alliance’s more left-wing policies would damage Labour were proved to be unfounded.

In 2014, Labour Leader David Cunliffe has declined Russel Norman’s invitation  to enter into a pre-election coalition agreement with the Green Party, while conceding that, should Labour win the election, an unspecified number of senior Green Party MPs could expect to be part of his Cabinet.

Though it can be defended – a la Winston – as an appropriate reluctance to enter into coalition agreements before the votes have been counted, it’s hard to see Cunliffe’s rejection of the Green’s marriage, or at least ‘engagement’ proposal, as anything other than a snub. At the very least, the Labour leader is making it perfectly clear to Norman/Turei just who will be running the show, should National lose the election. Read the rest of this entry »


Private medical insurance – the umbrella you can only open when it isn’t raining.

PET scan 2

We had some pretty good news today: the PET scan which Judy had a week ago suggests that her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment has dealt to her oesophageal cancer. I say ‘suggests’ because we can’t be absolutely certain. Judy’s brilliant (and lovely) radiation oncologist is pretty sure that what may look like residual cancer on the scan is in fact inflammation resulting from the dilation treatment she’s having to widen her constricted oesophagus. All good.

Not so good is the fact that Southern Cross, to which we have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years, won’t pay for the PET scan. They only pay out on one PET scan per claim year, from 1 August to 31 July, and this was Judy’s third  in the current year.

I’ll come back to this, but first a little background.

Read the rest of this entry »


Is this journalism or a party political broadcast on behalf of the National Party?










The following report by TV3 political editor Paddy Gower appeared on the channel’s 6pm bulletin last night. Setting aside as best you can your political prejudices, please answer the following question: Is this journalism or a party political broadcast on behalf of the National Party?


Reflections on Kim Dotcom, book-burning and the Nazis

Nazi book burning

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the ongoing Kim Dotcom/Mein Kampf debate is the rank failure of commentators to recognise the sheer irony of their positions.

I’m going to brand as ‘book-burners’ those who have made the leap from Dotcom’s ownership of a signed copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf to his being a Nazi sympathiser. I don’t of course mean that they are actual book-burners, but that they exhibit the mentality of book-burners. They are people who believe that a man’s character may be judged not merely by the contents of his library but, in this particular case, by his ownership of a single book. Their logic, as I argued in my previous post, is that if the contents of a book are evil then the ownership of such a book is itself evidence of evil:

‘Kim Dotcom owns and has read a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler was the founder of National Socialism and one of history’s most evil men. Ergo: Kim Dotcom must be an evil Nazi.’

The Dotcom/Mein Kampf story was first given national prominence by TV3 journalists Brook Sabin and Patrick Gower who confidently predicted the end of Dotcom’s political aspirations and, one might assume, of his hopes of remaining in this country, as a result of his owning a priceless historical document, signed by Hitler himself and dedicated to his cellmate Hermann Esser.

So the first irony lies in journalists, traditional advocates of free speech, if not actually promoting book-burning, at least fanning the embers.

But then, in the current climate of New Zealand commercial television, sensation mongering is precisely the journalist’s job. Read the rest of this entry »


What a dreadful fellow this Kim Dotcom is!

Mein Kampf

What a dreadful fellow this Kim Dotcom is. He owns a signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf. This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the fat German believes in Hitler’s ‘final solution’ to the Jewish problem, that behind that jovial exterior is a closet Nazi. John Key will be wringing his hands in glee. He can tear Dotcom’s credibility to pieces. In the ongoing battle between the two men this revelation will mark the day that Kim Dotcom started to lose and John Key started to win.

We know this is true because it headed last night’s TV3 News. We are indebted to the unctuous Brook Sabin and the occasionally hysterical Patrick Gower for tearing this scab off Dotcom’s reputation.

You can follow the logic, can’t you: If you have bought and have in your possession a book written by an evil person and containing that person’s evil thoughts, then ipso facto you must share that evil person’s evil thoughts and, presumably, be an evil person yourself. Dotcom should count himself lucky that we don’t burn people like him at the stake any more. And the ducking stool has been out of commission for far too long.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us. I can tell you that I’m getting rid of my copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, the collected works of the Marquis De Sade and the Old Testament. I really don’t want people knowing that I’m a Communist pervert willing to gouge out the eyes and (without anaesthetic) pull out the teeth of anyone who crosses me. Half of my library will go out with the next blue bin collection. Read the rest of this entry »


When you’re wrong, you’re wrong – I was wrong

I’ve taken down the post “The (Kiwi) Wolf of Wall Street Strikes Again” because I was factually wrong in my view that while the Gambling Foundation had been highly critical of the Government’s ‘pokies for convention centre’ deal, the Salvation Army had not. That weakens the argument that the Foundation was being punished for its attacks on the Prime Minister and Government. Having advised clients for years how important it is to admit your mistakes, I’m admitting this one. That said, I withdraw nothing that I said in the previous post: “Why I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him – a response”.



Why I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him – A Response



In my previous post I made the unequivocal statement that “I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him.” Several people commented that I really ought to provide some evidence in support of that conclusion. I could perhaps respond that the general theme of the post was that our opinions of other people (and politicians in particular) are often based on feeling or intuition unsupported by demonstrable facts and incapable of empirical proof. Intuition can be a pretty reliable tool for judging others. Nonetheless, I think the question ‘Why would you not trust John Key as far as you could throw him?’ deserves an answer.

You’ll find part of the answer in John Key – ‘There There’ Prime Minister which I posted on March 2. But you have to look to the ‘pokies for payola’ deal which Key negotiated with Sky City to really understand where I’m coming from. What that deal told me was that our Prime Minister is a man devoid of social conscience or a moral compass.

The Hippocratic Oath, sworn by many doctors around the globe, contains the following sentence:

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone.”

It seems to me that this principle of never doing harm to anyone can properly apply to any person whose decision-making power can influence the lives of others. Politicians certainly come into that category and none more so than a president or prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »


“Tricky versus Shifty” – Coming to your TV soon!

Cunliffe and Key

The phrase ‘presidential-style election campaign’ is bandied about a lot these days. Its intended meaning is that voters are as much or perhaps more influenced by the personality and media image of party leaders as by their parties’ policies.

This was clearly not, or at least less the case in the pre-television era when party leaders  were generally seen in the flesh only at public meetings or very occasionally on cinema newsreels. Parliament was first broadcast in New Zealand on the 25th of March 1936 but offered neither the intimacy nor the capacity for exposure of the television close-up. Radio without pictures is sound without sight. It can be hugely informative but the listener is deprived of a large chunk of helpful non-verbal information.

Keith Holyoake was the first New Zealand Prime Minister of the television age. In 1971 in my book The Public Eye  I wrote of his on-screen performances:

‘The studio Holyoake was everything that an interviewee should not be – evasive, pompous, patronising, overbearing, long-winded, repetitious, pretentious, boring.’

The trouble in part was that no-one had dared to tell him just how awful he was. That changed in 1970 when the recently knighted Prime Minister accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me on his life and times on the popular current affairs programme Gallery. Much against the wishes of his press secretary Arthur Manning, Gallery producer Des Monaghan and I sat Sir Keith down and told him the unvarnished truth about how he came across on the box. Though he still sounded as though he had a marble in his mouth, the outcome was a frank and in places quite moving interview. Unbeknownst to me, my career as a media trainer had begun. Read the rest of this entry »


TVNZ Introduces ‘Political Arousal Test’ for Journos

New Zealand Politics Today 

Late News:

We understand that, following the Shane Taurima embarrassment, Television New Zealand has employed a psychometric testing company to root out staff working in the news and current affairs areas who may be prone to bias towards a particular political party or party leader.

The test is a refinement of a similar procedure used by psychologists to identify paedophiles where electrodes are attached to the offender’s genitals and he (normally it is a ‘he’) is shown photographs of a range of people of both genders and varying ages. Signs of sexual arousal when shown photographs of children allow the testers to gauge the strength and direction of the subject’s inappropriate desires and, it is hoped, to devise aversive therapies to curb those desires.

Current and prospective TVNZ journalists and interviewers will from now on be required to undergo this ‘political arousal test’. Once the electrodes have been attached to their private parts they will be shown a rapid-fire, random series of photographs of John Key, David Cunliffe, Russell Norman, Meteria Turei, Colin Craig, Tariana Turia, Jamie Whyte and Hone Harawira.

It is understood that preliminary results from the programme (or ‘dry runs’, as they are called) have necessitated recalibration of the testing equipment. On being shown photographs of the party leaders, the libidos of all the TVNZ reporters and interviewers fell to such an extent that no reliable data could be extrapolated.

In an attempt to ‘de-inhibit’ the party leaders, the researchers sought their agreement to undertake the test naked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outrageous suggestion was rejected by all but one of the leaders, Mr Craig stating that he had ‘nothing to hide’.   Read the rest of this entry »


John Key – ‘There There’ Prime Minister

I can understand the public love affair with John Key. People comfortable in their own skin are generally comfortable to be around. And that’s how I’ve felt about the Prime Minister on the one or two occasions I’ve met him.

What is less usual is for politicians to be comfortable, to ‘be themselves’ on television. From time to time I’ve quoted my friend Ian Fraser’s dictum that the key to coming across on the box is to be able to ‘act yourself’. Despite Ian’s enormous experience as a broadcaster and media trainer, I’m not sure I still agree with that particular gem. It’s the ‘acting’ bit I have trouble with. Acting and sincerity really don’t go together.

Critics of Labour leader David Cunliffe regularly accuse him of acting, implying lack of sincerity. I rarely hear the same criticism of John Key. So is John Key more sincere than David Cunliffe? No. John Key is a better actor than David Cunliffe. With endless repetition, the role he is playing – amiable, easy-going, in charge but still just one of us – has become second-nature to him and, in the process, less recognisable for what it is. Actor and real person have merged.   Read the rest of this entry »


It’s time to even the odds for the victims of Fair Go

The television consumer programme Fair Go returns to TV1 tonight. This means work for Judy and me, work which we would ideally prefer not to have at all. Dealing with frightened and distressed people, who have been harassed and intimidated by Fair Go reporters and who see their businesses, reputations and lives being destroyed in the interests of television entertainment and advertising revenue, is both harrowing and frustrating.

The frustration arises from the imbalance of power between Fair Go and its victims. Being in the right is no protection against a programme which, as I have argued before, acts as a court but has none of the protections that would apply to an accused person in the real justice system. Fair Go reporters assume the roles of prosecutor, judge and jury within a mock trial system in which the accused has no representation and no real opportunity to present a proper defence.

In my earlier critique of Fair Go I listed the numerous ways in which the programme is not merely unfair, but utterly unscrupulous in dealing with complainees. I invited TVNZ or the programme’s producer to deny any of the claims I had made in the post. The silence was deafening. Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections on a 50:50 male:female quota for Labour Members of Parliament

 male and female

This post originally appeared on 13 December 1987 in the Dominion Sunday Times where I had a weekly column. For no good reason I can think of today the two people in the dialogue were named ‘Straight’ and ‘Narrow’ and the piece itself titled ‘Alas Straight and Narrow’.

The column was a spoof on the concept of quota-based, as distinct from merit-based candidate selection in the Public Service. It has relevance today to the Labour  Party’s policy of an eventual 50:50 gender-based quota for its MPs by 2017. Such a policy is in my view undemocratic and unworkable other than in a party like the Greens which has no electorate MPs and can manipulate its party lists to ensure gender equality.

When Labour reaches its 50:50 gender split, every retiring or defeated MP will, in principle,  have to be replaced by a member of the same sex. This will be highly problematic in electorates where the local party organisation strongly favours a candidate of ‘the wrong gender’. The retirement of a male list MP will also be problematic if the next person on the list is a woman who will have to be passed over to retain the strict 50:50 split.  The only way to resolve this problem would seem to be to have separate male and female lists.

My view on all this is quite simple: the sole criterion for selection as a Parliamentary candidate should be merit. To favour women over men in candidate selection  in order to ensure equality in numbers strikes me as paternalistic and demeaning to the sex.    Read the rest of this entry »


On Len Brown And The Problem With Haloes


It’s a fact of life that there are some people we just don’t like. There may be no persuasive reason for not liking them. It’s the gut rather than the brain talking. But the gut operates at a deeper level than the brain and may often be the better judge of character.

In my own case, the best example of “gut judgement” is my reaction to Owen Glenn. The man almost literally turns my stomach. I can guess at some of the reasons, but I really have no hard evidence to convict him of anything. Recent events may suggest I am not alone in my reaction.

I feel less strongly about Len Brown. But I don’t like him either. It’s the gut again.   Read the rest of this entry »


Is New Zealand TV suffering from thelephobia*?

WitchHere are two breast cancer awareness ads – one from New Zealand, one from Scotland.

Which one do you find more compelling?



There have been some rather strange explanations as to why nipples are inappropriate for NZ television viewers. It seems to boil down to time-of-broadcast restrictions, which are in place for several categories of advertisement in New Zealand, including alcohol. This would hardly be a hindrance to the message getting out there, since the target audience for these ads is allowed to stay up past 8:30 or 9:00pm. Thus our children would be protected from being permanently damaged by the sight of an adult female nipple – the only sort of nipple that appears to be a problem.

My question is: are we thelephobic? Or just ridiculously prudish?

*thelephobia: fear of nipples


Won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff.

It’s been interesting following the great Auckland berm debate. To mow or not to mow. The argument seems to come down to this:

*The council owns the berms, so they should mow them. Isn’t that one of the things we’re paying rates for?


*It’s a small patch of grass outside everyone’s house that  makes the street look good. Show some civic pride, stop whining and mow the thing.

But this summary fails to convey the vehemence bordering on outrage that seems to characterise most of the letters to the papers. Proponents on both sides of the berm are incensed!

Our daily walk suggests that most of the berms in posh Herne Bay – as one might expect – are being mowed by the householders. One must, at all cost, keep up appearances. But a few stout souls have resolutely refused to conform. I’m with them. But I’m also with house-proud Judy who refuses to see us shamed in the district and mows the berm herself while I mow the large lawn at the back of our property and trim the hedges.

My objection is not to the berms per se, but to grass itself. Grass, in my philosophy,  is good for feeding animals but nothing  else. That was of course its original purpose – grazing livestock. But then some smart aleck in the middle ages noticed that when the animals had cropped the pasture it looked quite nice and a primitive version of the lawn was born. ‘How many times do I have to ask you to go and scythe that pasture?’ wives would complain to their husbands before the lawnmower was invented in 1840.  It was the beginning of the grass scourge that would plague mankind (meaning men) from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.

Grass is now everywhere – on berms, lawns, village greens, playing fields. And wherever grass is, it must be mowed. And it must be mowed regularly. And there will be no end to its mowing. Grass is forever and ever, amen.

Some people have built a hugely expensive house in a street near us. But what is an expensive house without an expensive lawn? So they got the ‘ready-lawn’ people to roll out a lawn at the front, side and rear of their new home. I don’t think they watered the lawn enough, because it looks brown now and is full of weeds. They must be very upset. Grass can be vengeful when it feels neglected.

A friend of ours discovered a firm that sows grass on a bed of wool. He complained to us that the grass, which was admittedly very green, looked patchy and was pulling away at the edges. Since I know nothing about grass, I thought I should give him some advice. He shouldn’t cut the grass so low until it was well established. It was probably an American invention and the Americans let their lawns grow very high.

He took my advice and the lawn looks great, but he’s still not happy. He keeps pulling at bits of the grass to see if it will come away.

I heard a story that some years ago The Warehouse imported some lawnmowers from the States. Customers almost immediately started bringing them back. Their lowest height setting was apparently 3 inches. You might still be able to get one second-hand on Trade Me. Ideal for berms, I would have thought.

I realise that I’m rambling now. The real purpose of this post was to curse the inventor of grass as a decoration. You have been responsible for untold human suffering which, until this post, has remained untold. Your invention has spawned the push mower, which makes a pretty summer sound, but wrecks the backs of men, and the motor-mower which pollutes the air with fumes and noise, and the weed-eater which pollutes the air with fumes and noise and never works for more than 30 seconds before the line jams, and the leaf blower which blows the mown grass from here to there and destroys the peace and leads to madness.

Lay concrete and, if you must, paint it green. The world will be a happier place.


Reflections on a disturbing story in the Herald on Sunday

Borjan Dzarliev

Borjan Dzarliev

First read this story from today’s Herald on Sunday.

So how might we categorise Borjan Dzarliev, his mate‘Charlie’, the anonymous third party who filmed this outrage and their thousands of on-line accomplices?  Well, you might take your pick from: Abusers, Bullies, Misogynists, Sadists, Pornographers, Psychopaths, Cowards…

I was particularly interested in the personality of Borjan Dzarliev, ‘a student from Browns Bay’,  who, the Herald on Sunday reports: ‘… in the video throws in her face a dress he claims she left at his house, then launches a foul-mouthed verbal attack’. ‘Coward’ seems to fit him to a T. It’s two on one, after all. Two men, one woman. And a cameraman or woman to record the fun. Rapists in all but the precise technical meaning of the word.   Read the rest of this entry »


Total Arsehole!


This unelected bludger on the taxpayer has a basic salary of $160,000 a year (plus a raft of expenses) but thinks the woman who cleans his toilet shouldn’t complain about the pittance she’s paid or the prospect of losing her job.  “If she doesn’t want the job she should give it to someone else,” he says. What a total arsehole.

[1. Since this post was published Tau Henare has publicly apologised to the cleaners concerned. His apology should be accepted and taken into account in future comments on this matter.]

[2. I've just come across a comment by 'my good friend' Cameron Slater in which he accuses me of expressing 'fake outrage' on this matter. I'm not sure which psychic Cameron is employing to read my mind, but I can assure him that my outrage was, and is absolutely genuine. Maybe stick to the facts, Cameron, and abandon the pseudo psychology.]


Ghost of BE returns to speak for too-humble Brian

Ghost of BE

Now as every devotee of this site knows, BE’s defining characteristics are humility, modesty and self-effacement. He keeps his light hidden, it is said, not under one bushel but under several. His idols are Gandhi, Mother Theresa and the New Zealand All Blacks. The words ‘brag, crow, vaunt, bluster’ and ‘skite’ are not in his lexicon.

I rebuke him from time to time for this lack of ego, but he merely looks down at his feet and quotes Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’.

Frankly he can be a pain in the arse.

‘You’re a pain in the arse!’ I sometimes say to him, but he invariably replies, ‘How true. How very true.’

A bloody great pain in the arse!   Read the rest of this entry »


Real Yachting!