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Sludge Report #3 – The Linda And Helen Show

IN THIS ISSUE: Face The Nation Begins With Wet Bus-ticket Slapping Show - Radio New Zealand Miffed - FBI Spin Reversal On Love Bug - Hillary Looks A Sitter For New York Seat In Senate - South Asian Spin - New Internationalism In Sierra Leone

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available.
C.D. Sludge can be contacted at The Sludge Report will shortly also be available as a free email service….WATCH THIS SPACE>>>>>

Photos by David Scull, White House Photo
Has Hillary Been Getting Some Help?

The Sludge Report #3

Face The Nation Begins With Wet Bus-ticket Slapping Show - Radio New Zealand Miffed

C.D. Sludge admits to being a fan of former TVNZ political editor, now Grace magazine editor and part time TV presenter Linda Clark. Sludge doubts anyone else in the Press Gallery would have had the gumption to go live and tell the nation that the former PM Jenny Shipley had remarked, post show, that she had "made up" the million dollar figure she had used as the likely quantum of the John Hawkesby settlement. Sludge wonders if Linda Clark knew then how much he was really in line to receive. Give her Holme's show, Sludge reckons.

Last night however in her debut performance on the new TVNZ weekly serious politics show - Face The Nation - she hosted the interview equivalent of a Sunday tea party.

Police chief Rob Robinson kicked it off with a mea-culpa - we know we are racist - then PM Helen Clark and Race Relations Conciliator Rajen Prasad did a sort of double Act - promoting reconciliation through dialogue and an end to all racism.

The message was summed up at the end by Prasad and Clark who both said the key was to first identify and admit that "the nation" has a problem, and then do something about it. Though it was not stated, the clear implication of the show was that Helen had succeeded doing this consciousness raising when she raised the matter last week in her otherwise roundly criticised remarks. Helen Clark looked tense. Prasad looked delighted, and Robinson looked nervous.

Now, while Sludge is a great fan of getting rid of police and other racism, it is still very hard to look past the jack-up.

Helen Clark was probably nervous because she knows that Linda Clark might just turn on her, whatever assurances she has given. But in fact not once was she asked whether she thought her early comments on the issue of the Waitara shooting were unwise. Phew!

This morning we see what is perhaps the explanation. A great piece of media management.

On Kim Hill's weekly interview slot Radio New Zealand's Political Editor Alastair Morrison was perturbed that, while RNZ had an Official Information Request in for an extremely frank report on police racism, TVNZ and the Herald were given the report first and exclusively. Given the Scoop so to speak.

And here perhaps is an explanation for the wet bus ticket treatment from the normally cutting Linda Clark. Linda and TVNZ get the report, the police commissioner and the confession, the "Scoop", and the PM is let off the hook.

Sludge agrees entirely with Morrison.

It is just as easy, and far more effective probably, for a government to "manage" media through preferment as it is by denying access. Unfortunately for the public the use of such techniques are not usually acknowledged in the media and they are therefore far more insidious.

This would not in normal circumstances be much of a big deal as complicity - to a point - is part of the media's bag of tricks. But when launching a new era of openness in the police force it is not a good way to start.


FBI Spin Reversal On Love Bug

Sludge reckons the spin doctors at feds HQ have made a u-turn in media policy on the Love Bug. They spent the first 48 hours talking about how they would track down the vandals and punish them, and then made much show of doing so in the Philippines. Now the arrestee has been released and the dogs appear to have been called off. The latest "official" explanation is that it is a childish prank gone wrong. The work of a student in a college which maybe accidentally got released and did as much damage as it did. It looks almost as if the whole affair is about to be swept under the carpet.

Sludge's view is that the latest explanation looks like yet another attempt to deflect any attention away from the question of motive. In the minds of those who are fearful of the lovebugs creators it is - above all else - critical that the perpetrators of this vandalism do not appear to have any purpose behind their actions.

Perhaps understandably the feds find it difficult to acknowledge that they will find it almost impossible to find the people who did this - and that even if they can, they probably can't prove anything or do anything about it. Most significantly they are concerned at what little they can do to lessen the risk of further attack.


Hillary Looks A Sitter For New York Seat In Senate

It appears First Lady Hillary Clinton is about to be given the New York state seat in the US Senate on a plate. Republican candidate and mayor Juliani has just given his Christian name new meaning and has publicly admitted a Manhattan divorcee is a "close friend". He is also accused by his wife of having a close relationship with at least one more woman - from the office! - a public relations official. In addition Juliani has prostrate cancer and says in light of all this that he may even retire from the race altogether. If he does so Hillary will have a huge advantage and lead on any new candidate - assuming a new candidate can be selected swiftly.

Sexual politics sell papers and in Sludge's view Hillary's campaign in the New York race will quickly become far more entertaining than the campaign between Bush and Gore. Calls for Hillary for President will inevitably follow.

See… for Hillary’s view of herself.


South Asian Spin

The horrific drought in North Western India and Pakistan appears to have quieted cross border sabre rattling in Kashmir for the time being as both nations concentrate on what to do about the catastrophe of having close to 50-60 million people starving. Further to the south the recurring war for the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka is back on again. Meanwhile the 1,000,000,000th Indian baby has been named the Hindi word for "hope". The hopeful will be hoping perhaps that she will herald an onset of the monsoon. A bit of rain would seem in order.


New Internationalism In Sierra Leone

Sludge cannot help but be a little fearful over the UK involvement in Sierra Leone. The UN faces its most serious military challenge ever probably in Freetown and certainly its most precarious moments since East Timor. It must try to tread the thin blue line between taking sides in the civil conflict in Sierra Leone and at the same side defend itself and noncombatants.

Sludge's concern is that the UK forces, presumably under orders from Sir Robin Cook and Tony Blair, are not in the same position. In the past UK special forces have a history of becoming involved in regional conflicts operating to their own agenda. In this case any decision by the UK to back the government forces against the rebels could spark a civil war with peacekeepers from all over the world caught in the middle. The worst possible outcome is potentially possible if not likely.

At the same time because UK armed forces are involved there is a risk the BBC's blinkers will be quickly put on. Already the 800 SAS troops from the UK are being credited with raising the morale of the besieged 8500 blue beret corps, BBC reporters have also found no difficulty tracking down local Freetownians who are delighted the British are there and would like them to stay forever. Sludge is not saying this isn't true. It is just that Sludge thinks the story line is a little to predictable - stage managed.

Sludge Report # 3 - Compiled by - C.D. Sludge – Friday, May 12, 2000

Earlier Sludge:
Sludge Report #2 – What Have You Done
Sludge Report #1 -Is The Love Bug The Real

© Sludge 2000

© Scoop Media

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