Golriz Ghahraman and Post Truth

Golriz Ghahraman is another potential casualty of the 'Post Truth' era of mainstream media reporting and the dirty, ignorant politics behind it.

Chris Trotter and Bryce Edwards have accused the Greens of being politically naive and being caught misrepresenting the facts. Similar accusations occurred after Metiria Turei's speech where she admitted minor benefit fraud to expose the realities of being a beneficiary. I feel the real issues and problems are being ignored and there is a good deal of hypocrisy at play.

The political environment is a rough one and any politician needs a thick skin to survive, however, it is not a level playing field and Brian Gould was able to explain this well when he compared the difference in treatment of the previous Prime Minister and Turei. Surely we should be more concerned about unethical, ill-informed reporting and deliberate misinformation coming from our mainstream news outlets. When comparing the treatment of Ghahraman to that of John Key when he was campaigning to be Prime Minister, his inaccuracy regarding his Transrail shares should have been career ending. The fact that Chris Bishop worked for a company producing a product that kills people also only got passing mention as a new MP, so clearly dodgy financial dealings and immoral profits don't deserve the same negative scrutiny.

Ghahraman has ended up dealing with a media storm based on an incredibly ill-informed opinion piece and a willingness to amplify what has clearly become a campaign to take out junior politician with strong human justice credentials. What this really shows isn't the naivety of the Greens and Ghahraman but the naivety of many journalists who are are displaying their ignorance and lack of integrity by amplifying what is essentially a dirty, deliberate campaign.

The attacks on Golriz Ghahraman are not just a random discovery of an inaccuracy (which is debatable anyway) in her CV, but a carefully constructed attempt to discredit her. Phil Quin's damning opinion piece started it all off and one has to conclude that he was either extremely ignorant of legal process or he deliberately wanted to do damage. The photo that has now been widely circulated (of Ghahraman standing with the accused) is very grainy and its actual context is surmised and emotionalised. Some effort was clearly needed to find it in the first place and Ghahraman obviously had no memory of it when first questioned about it. Quin's article and Twitter comment are actually libellous and his later apology demonstrates some awareness of this, however, the original baseless revelation has developed a life of its own and the backtrack has been lost in the noise.

New Zealand actually has a poor record regarding refugees and their human rights. We are ranked 90th in the world per capita for accommodating refugees (116th when our relative wealth is included) and rarely make strong stands on human rights abuses that occur around us. We ignore the atrocities in West Papua (even though our pacific neighbours have voiced concerns), were prepared to ignore the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia to further a trade deal and the previous government felt compelled to apologise to Israel for New Zealand's part in an international condemnation of its illegal occupations.

When it comes to New Zealand's position regarding external conflicts and the status of refugees it seems that we follow the lead of the US and conservative western diplomacy.  This approach resulted in genuine refugee Ahmed Zaoui suffering imprisonment in New Zealand before human rights advocacy and the support of Green MP Keith Locke saw robust scrutiny of his case and eventual freedom. Keith Locke himself suffered a high level of persecution for promoting human rights issues and the release of his SIS file revealed that he had been spied on for most of his life, including when he was an MP.

It stands to reason that there are many powerful groups who do not want to see an MP within the current government who could challenge the status quo around our refugee numbers and our approach to international abuses. To discredit Ghahraman and destroy her credibility early in her career would serve their interests well.

We should be able to rely on our news media to take a considered and informed approach to reporting opinions that may be defamatory and that some attempt would be made to research the basis of the original accusations. The Criminal Bar Association strongly defended Ghahraman and other journalists have provided evidence that there was no attempt to hide her defence work as claimed. However, we find the same high profile journalists and primetime media personalities who attacked Turei, enthusiastically repeating similar misinformation to attack Ghahraman. Mike Hosking flaunted his untucked ignorance with his usual ideological bias and Duncan Garner again promotes his simplistic views of the world.

Chris Bishop has never hidden the fact that he once worked for a tobacco company but he would hardly be going around promoting the fact (as it does question his morality) and Ghahraman has also been open about her defence work in Rwanda. However, unlike Bishop, the fact that she doesn't always refer to it isn't because of the moral questions it would raise, but because of the general ignorance regarding the importance of the work, which has been clearly demonstrated since.

Post truth reporting has become commonplace in our mainstream news media, if honest and decent politicians are going to survive the inevitable dirty politics (from an opposition supported by the powerful neoliberal forces) then we need a strong, independent public broadcaster. The loudest voices are currently fuelled by ideology and ignorance, we need a stronger voice in our Fourth Estate driven by ethics and evidence.


Paranormal said…
That commentators from both the left and right have all criticised her actions should give some clue that it is not acceptable. However well done BS, move the story away from a politician that was less than 100% accurate in their CV to one of refugees or tobacco or Key Derangement Syndrome.

The issue is and remains, GG has been caught out gilding the lilly. That she/the Greens can't come clean and say "yup, sorry", shows them to be hypocrites in the public's eyes. Your KDS means you are blind to the masterclass he delivered on how to handle these situations. All voters want is a bit of up front and honesty from politicians.

That this matters in any way is irrelevant. Voters will have forgotten about it by the next poll, let alone next election. Mores the pity.
bsprout said…
Paranormal, you obviously hadn't read my links. It was beat up, and there has already been an apology for misrepresentation. There was no attempt to hide her work as she openly mentioned it in many interviews and it was listed on her Linkedin CV.

Nothing was inaccurate in Golriz's CV statement and similar things could be said about any other MP. This issue is actually ignorance about what her work involves. She has received strong support from the rest of her profession and there have been a number of commentators who have also stated that she has come out of this well and her critics just look petty. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/99428911/week-in-review-the-filth-and-the-fury

I agree voters generally have short memories, that is an essential factor for the election of any National Government. In the 90's they caused a huge increase in child poverty and a $12 billion leaky building crisis. This last time they have created a huge housing crisis, more child poverty and a rapid decline in our educational achievement. This government has got a lot of work to do to sort it all out.

Paranormal said…
Short voter memories are actually required to bring in a coalition that not so long ago wrecked the economy, education, and set in motion the housing crisis. I wonder who that could have been?

Next thing we'll get regulation restricting lightbulbs and shower heads....
bsprout said…
Chuckle...your comment will be read with some amusement, Paranormal, it totally reveals your susceptibility to National's spin and your blinkered views.

National also claims that it is the safe hands for financial management, surely this link reveals the truth of this fabricated myth: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/befu2013/017.htm

Paranormal said…
Have the Greens ever considered starting up their own power generation company? The spin you're putting out could possibly be the first example of perpetual motion. If it could be harnessed it might do some good for a change and power the homes throughout New Zealand.

You're right BS that National increased debt. Purely because they chose to retain the policy settings brought in during the best trade and economic conditions in a generation. Coincidently those policy settings were brought in by the coalition currently running the dog and pony show. National could have instead used their political capital to achieve long term prosperity for all and achieved something more than a failed flag referendum.

So to cut a long story short, your graph only proves how inept your lot are at managing the economy. Lets face it they led us into the GFC almost a year before the rest of the world. http://www.treasury.govt.nz/economy/overview/2010/04.htm

And now, to get back to the thread, your party has shown it has another MP that spins like a top (another candidate for power generation perhaps?). That makes two Green MP's in a row that are less than fulsome with the truth.
bsprout said…
Paranormal, I agree that the previous National Government missed economic opportunities to lift the living standards of all New Zealanders and focussed instead on favouring the already wealthy and privileged at the expense of the rest. Consequently we have a low wage economy and falling per capita productivity. The big spending items like motorways did not pass basic cost benefit analysis and the areas that should be key priorities for govt expenditure (health, education and welfare of our most vulnerable) have all experienced underfunding and declining outcomes. Where we once led the world a decade ago, we now languish at the bottom (of the developed world). http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2016/04/national-fails-with-important-stuff.html

You are also right in saying that although Labour had a stronger economic performance than National, it also missed opportunities.

Thank goodness the Greens are now part of the current government to ensure some wise heads and good policy will be able to support improved performance. It would have passed your notice that one of the most successful policies (as regards a return on investment) was the Greens home insulation scheme that was established in an MOU. This was one of the few initiatives from the previous National Government that didn't end in a screaming heap of failure (like Solid Energy, Novopay, housing and Auckland transport...).
Paranormal said…
Sooooo - is that thank goodness the Greens are now in government so they can sell out their principles and support the Winston Loyalty or Else Bill? Seems Keith Locke and I have another rare moment and agree on something.
bsprout said…
Allowing the bill to go to a select committee to progress important changes does not signify total support ;-)
Paranormal said…
Good on you for towing the party line BS.

The proof will be on the third reading when you have to vote for Winston's dead rat to allow the Greens (and Winston) to stay in government.

I know you'll try to spin that "significant improvements have been made" to allow the Greens to vote for it without breaking their principles.

But we'll know won't we. Either the Greens have stuck to their principles OR the coalition is over (if you can believe Winston will break his opportunity for baubles because his back covering legislation didn't make it through).

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