Media Council Has Its Cake And Eats It Too

This article was originally published for paying subscribers for The BFD INSIGHT: Politics and is reproduced here for all Right Minds readers on a delayed basis.

Dieuwe de Boer

The Media Council is somewhat of a strange beast. Sometimes it delivers good and interesting verdicts on issues of media balance, but most of the time it seems to share the heavy left-wing bias of the organisations it represents.

I put in a complaint on an article published in The Spinoff as an edited book excerpt titled "Women and the alt-right in New Zealand." The whole thing is blatantly dishonest as none of the women in the article hold any alt-right views whatsoever. The lack of evidence is so strong that none at all was provided in the article or in their defence arguments. Terms like far-right, alt-right, white supremacy, and fascism are used interchangeably to describe the things these women supposedly do and support. As has been documented elsewhere, the author Byron Clark is an open communist who once fundraised for a Palestinian terrorist organisation.

A number of years ago, two people complained about a RNZ piece which labelled me as "far-right" and one of the complainants said that the term was too closely related with an "alt-right white supremacist viewpoint." The Media Council ruled that these are separate things and so did not uphold his complaint. I was fascinated to test if the Media Council has some consistency and integrity (spoiler alert: no). When confronted with a clear-cut case of disinformation, I found that they dodged and weaselled their way out of having to say anything meaningful.

The process started with an email to The Spinoff that I later submitted to the Media Council:

A number of women are listed in its opening paragraph as leaders of alternative right (or alt-right) movements: Hannah Tamaki of Vision NZ, Helen Houghton of New Conservative, and Hannah Spierer of Counterspin Media. Women from Voices for Freedom are referenced, but not mentioned by name. The alternative right categorisation is also applied to Chantelle Baker, without group affiliation, in the final paragraph. The article is presented as a serious investigation and factual piece of journalism, not merely opinion or wild speculation.

As you will be aware, "alt-right" implies a specific set of beliefs, a core one of which is white supremacy or white nationalism—the article alludes to this meaning in detail as it lists other groups that are openly committed to white racial identity. The article itself consults someone who is an expert in white supremacy, and speaks of women being involved in "the maintenance of white supremacy, and fascist nation-building."

Mirian-Webster, Cambridge Dictionary,, and Wikipedia all agree that "white nationalism" is the core belief of the alt-right. includes antisemitism as a core belief. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) defines alt-right as "a repackaging of white supremacy." The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) defines "white identity" as the core belief of the alt-right. That is an overwhelming consensus that, whatever else it might include, the alt-right concerns itself primarily with white racial politics.

However, I do not see any evidence in the article that these women are alt-right (i.e. white supremacists) and the body of the article appears to contradict the bold claim made in its title and introduction, using only innuendo and insinuation. Claiming that someone harbours repackaged white supremacist views is a very serious accusation, and if not adequately backed up could be libellous. At a bare minimum would be in violation of NZ Media Council principles.

Were any of these women and organisations reached out to for comment before you published this article?

Do you have any evidence that these women hold alt-right views or that the groups mentioned form part of alt-right movements? If not, will you issue a correction and retraction?

In response I was told by the author that:

In The chapter published by The Spinoff, the Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness is cited, 'whiteness' when used in this academic context refers to a social identity, which can be understood as the result of social and cultural processes, rooted in a global history of European colonialism and imperialism. This social relationship can be reproduced by people who don't self identify as white supremacists and even people who are not white themselves.

… Rather than making "a very serious accusation" of white supremacy against the woman mentioned in this piece, the chapter is is about how systemic white supremacy can be maintained by the actions of women who advocate for traditional Western gender roles and ideas of femininity, this connects with a recurring theme throughout the book about male anxieties about traditional masculinity being in decline, and how this has contributed to a growth of a reactionary political movement.

The Spinoff staff added:

On the definition of white supremacy, it appears to be a matter of conflicting sources as the term has been described and defined in a variety of ways throughout history. However, I would argue that de Boer believes race and racism are entirely separate from other idealogies, refusing to accept that beliefs around gender, sexuality, immigration, religion and feminism are always entangled with both each other and with race (either overtly or through the refusal of intersectionality). Clark’s excerpt positions these aspects as the tangle that they are, arguing that a strong belief in one often leads to strong beliefs in others, while de Boer argues that they have nothing to do with each other.

All of this completely ignores what these labels are defined by and what an ordinary person would expect these terms to mean. In the various correspondence not a single shred of evidence for racial politics was provided.

In the published "not upheld" ruling, the Media Council embraces this sophistry in what I can only assume was a predetermined conclusion looking for an arguemnt. Take the following:

(9) ... The complainant sees a direct link between ‘alternative right’ and ‘white supremacist’. The author of the article contests this link and says that the definition of alternative right has been, and continues to be, debatable.

(10) The Council does not make a judgement on this matter of opinion. What the situation demonstrates clearly is that it is indeed a matter of opinion, and subject to ongoing public debate.

I provided plenty of evidence as to how these terms are clearly defined by dictionaries and even by mainstream left-wing organisations. It is crystal clear as to how ordinary people understand these words. There is no debate about this anywhere outside of the minds of far-left extremists.

This also contradicts previous decisions by the Media Council where they claim these terms have distinct meanings and are not the same. The rest of the decision is mostly about how the whole thing is just an opinion and expression of free speech, and so not required to be balanced or accurate. This also contradicts how they often rule on opinion pieces.

It was an interesting experience with some illuminating responses about how far-left extremists see the world. The whole thing is very closely related to the recent Disinformation Project video on how women with flowers and braids in their hair are perpetuating white supremacy. I've also written about Paul Hunt's most recent insane rant on white supremacy and how the far-left is seeking to redefine the term into a bucket for any-and-all non-progressive viewpoints.

Far-left extremists seem to be allergic to objectivity even in the very definitions of words, terms, and labels.

Fascism is when normal people can enjoy their traditions, good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people—or so the far-left would have you believe. I'm not entirely sure where they plan on going with that.

About the author

Dieuwe de Boer

Editor of Right Minds NZ, columnist at The BFD, and Secretary General for the New Conservatives. Follow me on Telegram and Twitter. In addition to writing about conservative politics and reactionary thought, I like books, gardening, biking, tech, reformed theology, beauty, and tradition.

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