Wednesday, June 18, 2014

That Letter

On 13 August 2002 Donghui Liu put in an application to the Business Migration Branch and eight months later was yet to have a reply back as to whether it was successful or not. Cunliffe was contacted in April 2003 (in-person, by email, was this the first/only contact?), presumably because he was a constituent of his (that's unknown), and Cunliffe wrote a letter on his behalf outlining the facts of the case and asking for Liu 'to be advised of an estimated period of time in which he could expect a decision on the case'.

Eleven years later and a staff member failed to find a copy of this letter on their files, but the NZ Herald using the Official Information Act was able to do so - how did they find it, we don't know because we haven't been told. They currently have two sources, one of which handed over a physical photo (it's not available on-line) of Liu's former partner accepting a bottle of wine at a fundraiser from a Labour MP who hasn't been in office since 2006. This suggests that one, or more of the sources were in Labour during that time. Shane Jones would have to considered suspect No.1, the time frame fits perfectly and John Key has now said that he's known for weeks. The second suspect could possibly be one of the Anyone But Cunliffe group, or National may have hired investigators, which if they had half a brain they would.

Other than what we now know of Liu, the letter is innocuous, a virtual form letter. So what would Cunliffe have to gain from lying? What in the letter is actually incriminating? Nothing. But 'staff member fails to find form letter' doesn't have the same hysterical ring as 'Caught: Tricky Liar Cunlifee Falls from Moral High Ground!' And people have fallen for the heavy breathing hysteria of it all.

So you can have this exchange but then this column gets put up afterwards: and you realise that the truth can be boring but spin sells. That's why reporters will sit on information, not so they have time to go out and interview the main players to get to the bottom of the truth, but because spinning it out into something bigger than it is creates an unfolding story that people will want to follow which means people will buy your product because they want to see how it ends.

Two days later the photo went up. Because this was about creating hype and teasing readers and selling a story. And people are falling for a narrative that contains very little substance concerning events that took place over a decade ago. The stupid of all of this is simply staggering.

All in all, this is what happens when a democracy descends into personality politics instead of policy, we vote for our perceptions of people and not the ideas that they present. And commercial media have to have something sexy to sell that people will buy. Honestly, I'm completely disillusioned and I think we deserve better. Meh.