J'Accuse: Waikato Times 'Vicious Liars'
The Waikato Times have been condemned as "vicious liars" by Libertarianz leader Peter Cresswell following what he calls "disgusting and baseless accusations of racism" on the front pages of the Times that will undoubtedly impact on the immigration application of the man they target.
On Friday last week, the Waikato Times published a front-page story claiming that a 'race row' was brewing at a Hamilton Anti-Apartheid convention organised by Libertarian Tim Wikiriwhi and ACT councillor Gary Mallet, and addressed by them and others including Cresswell and keynote speaker Jim Peron - a South African libertarian whom the Times claimed was a vicious racist.
"It appears from the utterly appalling journalism on display in the Times regarding the conference," says Cresswell, "that the Waikato Times would rather make up the news from whole cloth than report it. If this is the standard of New Zealand's fourth estate then we are all in trouble."
Cresswell provided information to rebut the Waikato Times outrageous claims, information he says was "always available for the asking." As Peron himself sees it he was not the intended target, but Cresswell points out that if his immigration application to New Zealand fails "he may very well become the victim."
Says Peron: "I was the means by which the Times would attack their real target: Council member Gary Mallett of ACT. There is really no reason for them to take concern about me nor did they even mention the Libertarians in their attack at all. Surely," he says, "they don't see me as a threat since I doubt they had even heard of me until they were invited to the conference!"
What was the so-called 'evidence' used to attack Peron? They had a quote where Peron said "African culture is reasserting itself though the ANC government and that bodes ill for the nation's future." Says Peron: "This being not quite inflammatory enough for a front page, they had to paint this into a context where it really didn't fit. The way they manipulated the facts was to delete from the quote the remarks which preceded this statement where I specifically said that I was not talking about "race" but about "cultural values". It was important to delete that since the quote they used is the closest they could come to finding a "racist" comment by me in volumes of writings."
Then the Times wrote: "A racist web site that carried his work call (sic) New Nation News contains" a poll about establishing a white homeland in America and instituting racial cleansing. This is written after they said Peron's "controversial writings have appeared on racist web sites".
"Now to my knowledge," says Peron, "nothing I have written has been published on a racist web site. And in fact the New Nation News site has not published anything I wrote either. They intentionally have distorted the facts again. This NNN site, which I have never seen before and don't know, didn't print my article. They merely linked to it. The article was on Laissez Faire City Times, a site for which I do write. The NNN site, when I checked it out earlier today, actually also linked to articles from the BBC and from other journalistic sources such as the Christian Science Monitor. Now the only "racist web site" they are associating me with is the NNN site. If I am a racist because they linked to my article (something I can't control) then the BBC and the Christian Science Monitor are racists as well."
The Times also quote a Mere Balzer of Hamilton as saying Peron's views "are racist in origin" but that again is linked to Gary Mallett.
So all the evidence they accumulated was distorted or spurious. They in fact have no evidence at all that Peron is a racist - "which he is not" says Cresswell, pointing out it would be rather odd for a 'racist' like him to join the Institute of Race Relations in South Africa for the last couple of years.
Peron tried to call the newspaper Saturday and Sunday and left messages for the editor at the office and on her cell phone. She never returned his calls, nor those of conference organisers Gary Mallet or Tim Wikiriwhi. And neither did they bother to interview the men they accused before they wrote the article.
"If they wanted the truth they would have contacted me but they didn't," says Peron. "And neither did they send a reporter to cover the actual conference. They want to paint Gary Mallett as a racist and to do that they want the conference to be racist and to show him associating with racists. And the easiest way to find racists is to invent one and I was their target so they could attack Gary. After all the article carried his picture not mine."
After they refused to interview Peron, respond to his calls, or actually attend the conference they editorialised it against on Monday. Again they claimed he was now appearing to be a racist trying to set himself up as the equivalent of Pauline Hanson in Australia. This time they said the conference was racist and that Peron was an "alleged racist". "But," points out Cresswell, "they themselves were the ones doing the alleging on Friday, and they simply refused to hear any evidence to the contrary in the meantime."
"For them to spend this much time on the conference, without actually attending it, implies they really weren't interested in the conference," says Cresswell. "Their target was Gary Mallet, ACT, libertarians, and anyone else who might challenge the comfortable politically correct bromides smothering debate in this country. Now were they dishonest? Yes, I think they were since they refused to speak to Peron or to respond to him in any way."
Jim Peron is currently applying to emigrate to New Zealand with his partner. "What is particularly shameful here," says Jim, "is that they don't care what effect their attack has on us in regards to immigration. They even called the immigration department themselves to 'alert' them to me being a racist (as they invented the accusation) and asked for a comment. Immigration did not comment but no doubt took notice. I don't think the paper expected a comment but I do think they wanted to try and blow this up by getting immigration into an investigation of whether or not I am a racist -- something that does negatively impact on one's ability to immigrate. In the guise of seeking information they were actually trying to create a bigger story."
This allows them to hide behind the claim of "reporting the news" when in fact they are inventing it out of whole cloth.
Jim Peron points out that this vicious front page beat up may well have serious implications for him and his partner: "As many of you know Sean and I were victims of a violent, brutal assault a year ago and that inspired us to seek permission to move to New Zealand. There is no doubt that remaining here puts our lives in danger. But the Waikato Times doesn't really care if they sacrifice us as long as they can take a few digs at Gary Mallett and ACT in the process. So they are not only distorting the truth but they are harming others without giving the matter a second thought. To me this means they are not only dishonest but cruel and uncaring … It's one thing to invent things about someone you are actually attacking but another thing to harm third parties to achieve your goal. That is particularly callous on their part.."
"Material this bad should not get past a copy editor for a school newspaper," says Cresswell. "But in this case not only did the editor approve it but she compounded it by the editorial on Monday. This really is a violation of the most basic concepts of journalistic ethics and should be exposed."