Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Here, prepared for your consumption, is a background to political and media scandals leading up to today:
  • Watergate: President Nixon authorises agents to break into the Democratic National Committee's offices in the Watergate complex and then lies about it - a lot.
  • Bastardgate: UK Prime Minister John Major, thinking the microphone was off, tells an interviewer that a number of his cabinet are 'bastards'. Jaws drop.
  • Dianagate: Prince Philip, after losing a game of 'rock paper scissors' with the Queen, leaps out in front of Princess Diana's car, causing the fatal crash. Gets away with it.
  • Bloggate: An innocent blogger is targeted by a hate campaign from a large corporation, seeking to keep him quiet. The attempt fails and he blogs on, surrounded by beautiful women.
The latest installment, as exclusively revealed on the front page of the Herald today, is Museumgate.

Auckland Museum will not speak further about the Hillary dispute until it can do so "without getting screamed at by the public".

Communications chief Russell Briggs yesterday turned down a Herald request for an interview with director Vanda Vitali, saying the museum was "waiting for some of the emotionally charged aspects of this issue to calm down".

Here's what the Museum's email actually said, so controversial that a Herald journalist has literally torn it out of cyberspace:

A truly embarrassing leak, sure to condemn the museum to... no, I can't do it. I'm all out of sarcasm. I have no real idea what the situation is between the Hillarys and the Museum, which may be a symptom of the Herald's reporting of this issue implying the the museum are meanies who won't let them see their family photos. (And yes, there's a Your Views.) I would, however, caution Russell Briggs that, if he is indeed waiting for the time when he can get across his complex and nuanced points without getting screamed at, he may be waiting a while.


  1. Let's not forget the other controversial topics the Herald will most likely deem worthy of the 'gate' suffix in the near future. I'm talking of course about Swinegate and Poogate.

    I'm waiting for Colgate to slip up, just for the headlines, but I'm not so hopeful about any conspiracies involving toothpaste. Maybe we should get those Ribena-busting science fair kids onto the case?

  2. On a more journalistic note...

    "Peter Hillary did not want to comment last night on the museum's statement"

    So lets take count of which parties are contributing new information to this article.
    Auckland Museum - No
    Hillary Family - No
    Anyone Else - No

    The headline of this story should be "Nobody will talk to me" by Jacqueline Smith

  3. Try working at the museum and explaining to people that the museum can't drop the court case against the Hillarys, because there is no court case.

    Nobody wants to talk to Jacqueline Smith, but everybody wants to shout at me.

  4. As James asked a few days ago, where would headline writers be without the word 'slams'?

    These are all the headlines, just from the last 7 DAYS It reads like the commentary to some kind of bizarre Royal Rumble.

    "Hillary dispute: Museum slams 'screaming' public"

    "Carter slams SAFE as Maf investigates piggery"

    "Defiant Rankin slams 'vicious marriage critics"

    "Kedgley slams 'Rogernomics 2'"

    "Pageant queen Miss California slams topless photo leak"

    My money is on crowd-favourite Miss California to take out the title, with some surprise assitance from bad-boy tag team, the Vicious Marriage Critics who will use their patented finishing move, the "One Night Stand" to eliminate Rogernomics 2.

    Do I have too much free time?

  5. As far as I can tell, the use of the suffix 'gate' has not been used by the Herald in this or any of the other stories mentioned by Brad.

    Fair's fair when there's something to answer. But there is nothing to see here people. Move along, move along...

  6. Lead headline today: 'Ear-flick' father guilty of assault

    In article:But there was a concern that Mason may have been found guilty for only the ear-pull, as the actions of punching, and pulling the ear, were wrapped up in the same police charge.


  7. No, they have not gone so far as to actually put the suffix 'gate' into play, but the point is that they treat some of these issues as if they are worthy of it, when as you say, there is nothing to see here.

  8. Ear-flickgate Father Slams Vicious Swine Critics

  9. Here's the irony then:

    The Herald is regularly criticised here for poor choice of stories, exaggeration and subjective interpretation.

    The accusers, however, decide it's perfectly okay to exaggerate and accuse Herald of something it hasn't even done, justifying this by saying "but it's what we think it's doing".

    If it hasn't done it, you can't accuse it.

    But I wouldn't presume you'd hold yourselves to the same standards.

  10. I will add, however, that publishing an off-the-record missive from a PR proves a lack of journalistic principle. It also destroys all hope the paper has of speaking to one side of a story it considers important.

    "Try working at the museum and explaining to people that the museum can't drop the court case against the Hillarys, because there is no court case."

    Please do tell more!