Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nobble-Angelo and the media

Nobble-Angelo and the Media

Let me begin by saying that I have the greatest respect and admiration for our local press. Both the Gulf News and the Waiheke Marketplace are well run, splendidly written and superbly edited. Under normal circumstances I would never dream of trying to create a forum for discussion outside their usual sphere of influence. Nor would I wish to invoke the ire of their respective Editors for whom I have all the time in the world.

But these are NOT normal times. Like the Chinese curse, they are ‘INTERESTING’ and since I believe that both papers have failed, thus far, to mirror the public concerns over the Thames-Coromandel proposal it seems only fair to create a forum in which the issues can be discussed without the usual strict ‘You-Can’t-Criticise-Nobble-Angelo-Publicly-‘cos-He’ll-Shout-At-Us’ guidelines.

Naturally it would be grossly unfair not to mention The Waiheke Week at this point. Whatever it’s other inadequacies, (And let’s face it, there were usually more inadequacies than newspaper) the poor old ‘Weak Link’ did at least spot Nobble-Angelo for what he is and reacted accordingly. When the full saga of the Thames-Coromandel has played out for better or for worse then publisher Merv Bennett can be justifiably proud of his stand on the issue at a time when his competitors refused to do likewise.

Of course it could be said that he rather overplayed his hand at times and possibly generated sufficient sympathy for Nobble-Angelo to collect his seven hundred petition signatures with greater ease than he might otherwise have managed. But that’s all history now.

These days it appears that the only way to guarantee any kind of freedom when addressing the issue in public is to do as the splendid Bill Carrig did and actually PAY for it.
You can see the full text of Bill’s open letter on here as soon as he gives me permission to reproduce it.

Well I for one was in complete agreement with the basics of his letter. Some might have found its tone to be too pro-Auckland, which I’m certainly not, but overall it was a good start and a fine way of opening up at least some form of debate.

So I wrote in support. And that’s where we suddenly see the ‘Nobble-Angelo’ effect in action. For while I took great care not to say anything actionable or offensive my letter was trimmed anyway.

Here’s the full text with the censored bits in bold.

To The Editor

Oh well said Bill Carrig! That full page must have cost a tidy sum. Remind me to kick in a small donation towards it next time we meet. I’m sure this week’s papers will be groaning under the weight of your target’s indignant reply though….

Now let’s see. Doesn’t he have one of those BLOG things? Oh dear. Yes he does. And sure enough the reply is there. Lengthy, turgid and entirely free (As usual) of any self doubt whatsoever. He is right and you are wrong apparently. And ‘Defamatory’ too you naughty fellow!

Well I for one agree with what you said and all I’ve heard all week is that others feel the same way. It all needed saying and I’m glad you have forced the issue out into the open. Now we just need to build on what you have started.

As for our latest addition to the Community Board, get over it! You got elected and have therefore set yourself up for criticism. It’s a free country (despite some folk’s best efforts to change all that) and if you don’t like taking flak for your proposals and pronouncements then you are in the wrong job. You set up the stall and it’s no good complaining when the customers don’t like the merchandise.

The doubtless laudable efforts of both Grey Power and the local press to avoid any controversy or unpleasantness at the last local body elections meant that a lot of tricky questions never got asked. Nobody running for Parliament would be so lucky. At that level we all get to read the fine print on the label before consuming whatever dubious concoction is being offered to us just as we would with a garish looking tin of new foodstuffs at the shop.

How long before ballot papers carry such useful caveats as ‘May Contain Nuts’?

Alan Knight,

See the problem? First there’s my mention of his letter being described by Nobble-Angelo as ‘Defamatory’.
Which it wasn’t. (Defamatory that is.)
But why cut that line when Nobble-Angelo’s own blog clearly states at the time of writing; “Why Carrig’s letter was defamatory.”

He said it! I just quoted it!

Then there’s my punch line about ‘May contain nuts’. Again, what’s the problem exactly? Anyone fishing about for a classic example of food labeling is going to think of that one first. If I’d said our Community Board actually featured a member in the throes of genuine mental illness then I could see their point. That would be wrong. So I didn’t.

As far as I’m aware it’s not illegal to be disrespectful of an elected official. And since I don’t respect Nobble-Angelo in any way at all then the comment was pitched just about right. Look at the letters page in a major newspaper for examples of this. It’s a rare day when at least one politician isn’t described as ‘Mad’, ‘Criminal’, ‘Deranged’, or ‘Cowardly’. But these are the opinions of the general public, not editorial statements! Once you’ve put the disclaimer in then let free speech rule.

However, to be fair, Nobble-Angelo can glower in as baleful a fashion as anyone can stand and maybe the editors of the papers are simply keen on living the quiet life without being yelled at down the phone and held responsible every time someone disagrees with him.

Which leaves us with the question, how litigious IS Nobble-Angelo? Would his inflated sense of self belief actually extend to putting his money where his mouth is and instructing some legal fellow to commence libel proceedings over some slight in the papers?

Or is he, as we said back in Blighty, “All mouth and trousers”?

Well, time will tell…………

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