Tuesday, 27 December 2016 12:32

Our prediction in February 2016

Odds Favour Melania Trump as next United States First Lady
Will bring much needed internationalism to White House

National Press Club/MSCNewsWire, 26 February 2016 -  The permutations in the Republican Party selection process in which some delegates carry more value than others indicate that Donald Trump will be the party’s presidential nominee. The polls indicate too that he has at least a 50-50 chance against a Democratic ticket.

These favourable odds are not reflected by the international media and hardly surprisingly. The Republican front-runner routinely describes his media entourage as being comprised of the “worst people in the world.”

Also by passed is that there is a 50 percent chance now of the next United States First Lady having been born behind the Iron Curtain, and indeed, only the second to be born abroad after Louisa Adams, the English wife of John Quincy Adams.

A former architectural student in Yugoslavia Mrs Trump, 45, (pictured) is expected to bring a much-needed internationalism to the White House and especially so in a mastery of the main European languages.

A failure in the United States’ much-vaunted Arabism capability has meant that its Middle East policy has now spilled over into Europe. This emergency in turn has collided with the United States continuing policies to contain Russia. The two US thrusts have blended into an unmanageable human and economic blend of what is increasingly being viewed in Europe as being insoluble.

With her background of life on both sides of the Iron Curtain who better to explain the US-created imbroglio than Mrs Trump?

 From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk  |  February 26, 2016  |







Tuesday, 27 December 2016 13:59

Donald Trump Ends Watergate Era by Exiling Power of the Press

How National Press Club/MSC Newswire predicted Trump win

A Watergate press rage drove out a president. Now a presidential rage has effectively exiled the press. What happened?

National Press Club president Peter Isaac. It was evident from the primaries when Donald Trump openly taunted his own press entourage. He knew that the power was no longer with them.

In campaign terms what did this do to the press?

It goaded them to the point that Mr Trump wanted them to become inflamed which was the point at which the press lost its objectivity and thus ability to analyse


The press pack became so blindly focussed on savaging Trump, his campaign and anyone connected with it, that it forgot about the Obama legacy and those that might benefit from it such as the Clintons.

What would you rate as the Obama legacy?

The way he kept his head during the financial bust. His bold and successful decision, ultimately his alone, to take out Bin Laden.

Do you have any more back-up for this single focus thesis?

The press was blind also to the seismic rift in the Democratic Party symbolised by the Bernie Sanders challenge. They were determined to see only the divisions among the Republicans.

In your initial story, the one last February, indicating the pending Trump supremacy you focused on Melania Trump?

The scorning of Mrs Trump was part of the syndrome of the total focus. The desire to sink Trump overwhelmed even the East Coast liberal hallmark of ostensible exaggerated politesse toward females, especially to those who are also mothers, and in this case to one who is an immigrant.

For this focus to have been so intense there must have been some common cause, shared bias?

There was and is. It is the community of background. Journalists share the same values and become a community of identical interest

Which is?

Professional elitist.

In regard to the Trump ascendancy is this going to get better or worse?

Worse. The reason is that for quite some time the journalist corps has been drawn exclusively from this collegiate class who share the same views. Thus there has been this accelerating mono-culturalism and draining away of background diversity and this has jelled into this unified agenda to the exclusion of everything outside its focus.

In a nutshell, how does the situation now differ from that of yesteryear?

Let’s look at the New York Times which with the Washington Post remains one of the twin horsemen of this particular ideological apocalypse. For many years one of its mainstays was James Reston whose career started as a golf caddy. Today, Reston would not have got past the front counter at his old employer.

You were at Richard Nixon’s inaugural just prior to the Watergate detonation. What were the visible indications then in Washington of what you describe as the Watergate “era?”

The newsworthy event attendant upon this inauguration was a very public bust-up between Frank Sinatra and the Washington Post gossip reporter Maxine Cheshire during which Sinatra plonked some money into Miss Cheshire’s glass saying that was all she was worth. The anti-Nixon press rage detonated quite some time afterward.

You have sometimes accused the press of endlessly taking in its own laundry?

On the agenda-focus under discussion here, I don’t think this holds any water. The preoccupation we just witnessed was not so much an internal one, but that of the shared external shared purpose one of taking down Mr Trump. This was at the expense of what was going on within the Democrats.

Such as?

Bernie Sanders. A National Press Club speaker was Bill Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich. I recall his wry observations in the context of the Clintons. Anyway, perhaps as a result of this he put me on his newsletter list, and as a result I had this early warning about this influential figure’s misgivings about the Hillary candidacy. Was anyone in the US press reading these same communiques, I wonder.

Can the press rescue itself from what you describe as this collegiate mono-culture?

The New York Times’ verbatim transcript of its after-the-event meeting with the president-elect certainly represented an attempt to confront the problem. But the only person present who gave anything approaching a mea culpa was the proprietor Arthur Sulzberger. I was shocked incidentally that one of the reporters still closely involved sloped in well after the meeting had begun with a feeble excuse for their dilatory behaviour. It was as if they were all having an after-game chat with a colourful ball player instead of the president elect of the United States.

What about what you describe as the “Westminster sphere?”

One can usually rely on our friends at The Guardian to deliver some unintentional humour and they came through, well, trumps by claiming that they had known, really, really, known all along what was going on. (see illustration in column to the left.)

Monday, 14 November 2016 15:14

Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to Family of
Mike Robson who
Led Rupert Murdoch
Era Interests Here

At a ceremony in Wellington in November the National Press Club presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to the family of the late managing director of the INL Group Mike Robson. The citation read:- In recognition of Mike’s extraordinary contribution in many roles and over many years to journalism.
Mr Robson died suddenly in 2000 at the age of 61 at the height of his powers in guiding New Zealand’s 12th largest company with its interests in daily newspapers, commercial printing, periodicals distribution and retailing along with broadcasting.

Mr Robson’s career began as a sports reporter on the New Zealand Herald. He gravitated to general reporting and it was now that he became a wire service correspondent in the United States and Europe. He then became editor of Wellington’s Evening Post and it was here that Mr Robson’s low-key and thoughtful approach came to the attention of INL managing director Alan Burnet. Mr Burnet appointed him as assistant managing director. Upon the retirement of Mr Burnet it was Mike Robson’s turn to take over as managing director.

The skill of this duo, according to National Press Club president Peter Isaac, was to integrate the diverse media and printing organisation into direct input electronic handling and then to ensure a smooth transition into the internet era. Mr Robson’s death occurred only several months after INL’s internet site Stuff went live.

Their success in bringing about this transition was characterised by Mr Burnet going on to lead the government’s Communications Advisory Council responsible for setting national standards and governance.

Singled out at the gathering for special mention was Mr Robson’s easy relationship with the then proprietor of New Zealand’s INL Group, Rupert Murdoch. The strength of this working relationship, it was noted, played out to the benefit of the group’s journalists of that era.

It was observed that Mr Robson’s era encompassed Wellington’s epoch as Oceania’s media city with its two newspapers which co-existed long after other centres had been forced to shut down their evening daily.

The holding of the presentation ceremony in the heart of Wellington’s entertainment district symbolised Mr Robson’s tenure as editor of the Evening Post which had flourished through exercising a street-level ability to portray Wellington in all its nooks and crannies and diverse ways of life. It was said that Mike Robson never fell into the “trappings trap.”

The plaque was presented to representatives of the family by National Press Club vice president Peter Bush, an early colleague of Mr Robson’s on the New Zealand Herald.

In response, Mr Robson’s widow Marjie recalled how her husband possessed a literary passion as counterweight to his sporting enthusiasms. This had been nurtured by his parents during his years growing up on a Pukekohe dairy farm. His quest to educate himself had accelerated during his tour of duty in the United States where the couple had met. She recalled that when Mike had enrolled at university in the United States the other students stood up for Mike, imagining him to be one of the professors.

In the photograph (above) Master of Ceremonies Bryan Weyburne with Marjie Robson, son Toby and National Press Club vice president Peter Bush.


1.  Media lawyer Graham Holmes with The Dominion’s long time financial editor Terry Hall.
    2.  Pixers pose. INL Photographers Barry Durrant and Peter Bush



Tuesday, 08 November 2016 10:10

Out of Favour
Editor Richard Long

Set up Boss’ Golf
Encounter With
Bill Clinton

Former editor of The Dominion Richard Long,(pictured) a long-time colleague of Mike Robson’s presented the gathering with an insight into his boss’ sense of fair play. As editor of The Dominion, he recounted, he had one day pounced on the fact that his morning newspaper in circulation terms had nudged The Evening Post out of its customary stop-selling slot. Unable to resist the opportunity he had had published in his own newspaper The Dominion a few paragraphs to this effect.

Mike Robson had made it clear to Long that this was not the kind of skiting he welcomed pitting as it did, one group daily against another. He, Robson, was not impressed.

Anxious to get back in his chief’s good books, Long now twisted and turned seeking an opportunity to redeem himself. It was now that salvation appeared in the avuncular form of United States ambassador Josiah Beeman. The ambassador had an approval problem too. He was still looking for a suitable golf partner in New Zealand for his own boss, visiting United States President and golf buff Bill Clinton.

It was now that Long saw his own game opening up. Mike Robson was the obvious partner, he advocated. Diplomatic and tactful in terms of ensuring parity between his own swings and those of the President. A natural partner. And so it was that Mike Robson found himself teeing off at Millbrook with Bill Clinton.

Sometime afterward and by now feeling a certain glow of managing directorial favour re-radiating in his direction, Long delicately took up the matter of how the presidential game had actually gone?

Clinton, responded Robson, had been a predictably tough competitor fighting over every swing and claiming at every opportunity the presidential mulligan or no-count fluffed shot. For his part Robson felt that he had maintained an easy focus in spite of there being as part of the presidential entourage someone with a golf bag that in fact contained an armament designed to disable any low flying and thus threatening light aircraft.

The only unforeseen element came at the conclusion of the 18 holes, explained Robson.

Oh, what was that? Asked Long

Clinton wanted to do the 18 holes again “now.” At that moment .

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 10:45

New Zealand Herald Triumvirate

National Press Club Lifetime Achievement laureate Graham Stewart (pictured at the presentation) was on hand to greet the young Mike Robson when he signed on as cub sports reporter. Mr Stewart’s award was for his constant career in photo-journalism characterised in the second half of his career by his presence as a leading independent book publisher specialising in documentary subjects, notably transport. In this entrepreneurial role Mr Stewart was cited for his effort in generating employment for journalists. Also a presence at the Herald in that era was Sir Terry McLean who Mike Robson always described as one of his enduring mentors. Sir Terry was an inaugural laureate of the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pictures below

1.  Peter Bush, Toby Robson, Marjie Robson
    2.  Krystina Tomaszyk and in background National Press Club          Life Member and INL editor Paul Cavanagh, and Barry              Durrant


Wednesday, 09 November 2016 09:51

Commerce Commission
Tells Newspaper Chains
to Re-Write Their Story

National Press Club/MSCNewsWire

Adjudicator wants new angle on
proposed merger filed by March 2017 deadline

Napier, MSCNewsWire, Wednesday 9 November 2016 - Just as everyone else including the proprietors themselves were giving up on newspapers the Commerce Commission has seized the print cause with a vigour and enthusiasm absent for many years now from the industry itself.

The Commission which arbitrates on New Zealand’s mergers and acquisitions from the competitive point of view has fastened upon newspaper diversity as their reason for vetoing the merger of the nation’s two newspaper publishing chains, the locally owned NZME and the Australian owned Fairfax.

As if mirroring the newspaper editorial quest for a new angle on something familiar, the Commerce Commission instead of fastening upon the mechanical aspect of the consolidation especially in regard to printing instead focused on the loss of editorial independence attendant upon such a merger.

Giving this point a big headline the Commission observed that such a single-owner concentration of publishing would put New Zealand only one place behind China with its single party ownership of the media.

The result of the first round of the merger application by the two chains has thus come as a surprise to the applicants.

The feeling had been that any objections to the fusion would be related to print production economies and thus the loss of jobs ensuing from the telescoping of the two chains comparatively numerous printing works.

One reason for this is that the two applicants in their joint submission outlined a surprisingly small joint saving from centralised mechanical production.

In effect the Commission in the manner of a stern but fair editor has told the two operators to come back to them. Next time with a better story. The deadline for filing is March next year.

The meaning of the Commission’s intent is in fact spelled out in its emphasis on what it describes as the need “for a well-established liberal democracy".

This it made clear was not attainable with “one organisation controlling nearly 90 per cent of the country's print media market.”

The Commission’s confidence in the economic future of print media will in a curious way re-invigorate the two supplicant chains as they seek to define a winning formula to compete with the free model in which social networks of one description or another have taken over the subscriber system once symbolised by print dailies.

It is obvious that neither of the chains foresaw the Commission adopting this editorial content diversity angle. The Commission in a curious way has revealed the emphasis that certain sectors of society still place on news as news.

From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk   -  Tuesday 8 November 2016


Friday, 11 November 2016 09:51

Trump-Brexit Trademarks
Identical on both sides of Atlantic

National Press Club/MSCNewsWire

Why Trump’s Victory Really was Super-Brexit

Napier, MSCNewsWire, Friday 11 November 2016 - Donald Trump’s victory has been described as “super Brexit” most notably by the president-elect himself. We now examine some of the similarities and we begin with the decision which can now be seen as a dangerous one for President Obama’s highly visible pro Hillary campaigning. This was all the more curious since it was then known in the United States that UK Premier David Cameron’s similar campaigning for his cause Remain had represented more of a burden than a blessing. President Obama’s campaigning was compounded by the intervention of Mrs Obama who had hitherto been universally admired just because of her public detachment from partisan party politics. Main points of similarity summarised:-

Presidential – Prime Ministerial Pleading & Campaigning
In both Brexit and Trump the leaders of the in-power establishment parties joined in the fray. British Premier David Cameron actively campaigned to remain in the EU. President Obama actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton and in doing so was joined by Mrs Obama. In both causes and in both countries this frenzied campaigning can now be viewed as having the opposite effect of the one intended.

Financial Sector Backed Lost Causes – Remain and Hillary
Hilary Clinton’s campaign and the Remain campaign were both openly backed by the financial sector

Non university voters backed the winners
In both causes in both countries Brexit supporters and Trump supporters were solidly drawn from those who had not attended university

Opinion polls were wrong on both sides of the Atlantic
Polling organisations were continuously wrong in both countries and in both outcomes

Movement leaders both emerged from outside established political parties
Brexit leader Nigel Farage had his own party. Donald Trump had had no previous political experience

Both victorious leaders ignored and talked over mainstream media
In the United States Donald Trump actively expressed his contempt for his media entourage describing members as “the worst people in the world.”

Mainstream media was wrong footed
A characteristic of the mainstream media in both countries and from the outset was an inability to concede that either Donald Trump or Brexit had a chance of success

Project Fear aftermaths on both sides of the Atlantic
Following Brexit the communication organisations responsible for monitoring and then making known shifts in public opinion started a diversionary campaign. This took the form of the generation of an atmosphere of public fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the effects of the events which they had failed to predict. This development is now evident too in the United States following Trump.

From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk  - Thursday 10 November 2016 

Monday, 15 August 2016 14:44

The Guardian
Letter Affair

In which the president of the National Press Club seeks to explain the mystery of why he was the recipient, among many others, of an email soliciting donations from the British publishing organisation which owns The Guardian and which has cash reserves of around $1 billion.  

At first glance you believed that the begging letter from The Guardian was counterfeit?

It seemed to be a too perfect pastiche of The Guardian style. Also it seemed improbable to imagine that a newspaper that called it so utterly wrong for Brexit would then brazenly send out a letter soliciting donations so soon after. So I hedged by reporting that it was probably phony.

You then realised that it was genuine.

In hindsight the donation solicitation would have been set up prior to the referendum. It was beyond The Guardian to have imagined that the vote would have gone against Europe.

Why was that?

They live in a bubble in which they only talk to each other or people with a similar outlook. In their mind the wish had become the fact. The pervasive nature of this was demonstrated when the staff of their sister paper The Observer in the immediate aftermath of Brexit still touted the Boris Johnson/ Michael Gove leadership axis.

So they sent it out anyway?

You have to credit them for such semi divine self-belief. They are a secular priesthood. A democracy of the select.

A few hours after the referendum vote you came out on the MSC Newswire- National Press Club-EIN Presswire proclaiming that the Brexit result also very much represented a protest vote against what you described as The Guardian-BBC “syndrome?”

I should have added University to this. These are the three pillars that sustained the old pre-Brexit Britain. The BBC chieftains managed to keep a lid on their internal pro Europe sentiment until the actual vote. But then the lid blew off and became Project Fear.

Why are they all so excited by Europe?

When you use the term “Europe” here think France. Think just Paris. From their point of view it is so much more exciting politically than anything we have in the Westminster sphere. You have running around still between government and academia such characters as Che Guevara’s sidekick Regis Debray. You have the lightning rod of the Paris 1968 Maoist riots Daniel Cohn Bendit firmly installed as a Member of the European Parliament. And so on.

In regard to the soliciting letter from The Guardian and your original scepticism what was the element that made you particularly so wary?

The use of the word “interrogating” as a substitute for reporting, covering, or just writing about events. It was so deliciously strangulated in The Guardian manner in order to convey the impression of a higher calling. Of their dwelling on a superior plane to that of ordinary mortals, certainly mere reporters. I also thought it was odd that the imploring email came so temptingly my own way. I flattered myself that I was being fitted.

You subsequently discussed the curious situation in which an organisation with one billion NZD equivalent in reserves could send out a donation canvassing letter. Then do so over the name of a person with an annual income approaching one million NZD. Then send it out to people with a tiny fraction of these savings and this income.

The readership of their weekly edition in New Zealand has a strong public sector following notably among teachers of all varieties and those in the social sphere. In other words public servants. Some public servants in New Zealand do have an annual remuneration approaching the one million NZD mark, and I should have mentioned this.

Still, this is by New Zealand standards a favoured income group. Are there any lessons here for the two merging local newspaper chains?

The Guardian weekly edition has taken over from what remains of Time magazine and the vacuum of the defunct Newsweek. It has become New Zealand’s news magazine of reference. Until some 30 years ago these same chains used the Guardian re-print/ agency service. In recent years the local chains have swerved away from this serious feature approach toward the current celebrity contemporary culture version.

Have you had any personal encounters with The Guardian?

One recalls Patrick Ensor toiling away at the centre of the Wellington-based chain. I have to say that I wondered what he was doing here. Then he reappeared back at The Guardian as editor of the weekly international edition. It occurred to me then that he was in New Zealand to experience a reality check. I have a notion also that but for his untimely death The Guardian might have sidestepped its foppish eternal protestor aura characterised so vividly and so recently by its bizarre post Brexit appeal for funds.

Is there any particular observation of Ensor at work in Wellington that leads you to this conclusion?

He would use a term to describe this or that person or collective of them. It was that they were “self-regarding.” If you look at the begging letter wheeze you would have to describe it as such. One can be assured that all who had anything to do with its authorship and distribution remain quite in the dark of all its irony and unintentional humour

Anyone else?

Going back a bit I spent time with Malcolm and Kitty Muggeridge at Robertsbridge. It was the first time I ever encountered yoghurt, I recall. Malcolm, and I use his own words, described The Guardian for which he had worked pre-war as being “essentially fraudulent.” The Guardian had successfully blocked a book that Muggeridge (pictured) wrote about his experiences while working there, and continued to do so even after Muggeridge turned it onto a novel. So his view was necessarily jaundiced. Curiously, both Muggeridge and Ensor were National Press Club speakers. Muggeridge a foundation one.









Wednesday, 08 June 2016 14:45

Encounter with  Muhammad Ali in  New Zealand’s  Hutt Valley

The night I nearly dropped into Ali’s lap.

Napier, MSCNewsWire, Wednesday 8 June 2016 - The death of Muhammad Ali brings back the time in 1979 when Hutt Valley boxing enthusiasts brought to New Zealand the most recognisable persona on the planet –Ali. The centrepiece of the club fund-raising scheme was a dinner at the Trentham Race Course.

Tickets were $100 each. There were no free ones. I duly stumped up, anticipating that I would not be disappointed. And, I wasn’t. Though not in quite the way I had expected, writes National Press Club president Peter Isaac.

Curiously, the price of the tickets, rather than the opportunity to rub shoulders with the pre-eminent global celebrity of the era who as world heavyweight champion was also the pre-eminent athlete, determined the theme of the evening.

The throng was now in the upstairs bar of the race course members stand and everyone was obviously determined to redeem their investment in their ticket. The focus was on the bar tenders. It was now that Ali demonstrated his first trick. There was no fanfare. Suddenly he was among us. Though not of course drinking.

Nobody seemed particularly surprised. The business at the bar accelerated. Ali seemed happy enough chatting with the Hutt Valley boxing officials who had arranged his visit. The hubbub increased in volume.

Presently, the compere of the evening Bill McCarthy called the meeting to order. Or tried to. Ali chimed in now announcing that this was the moment we were to see his biographical film The Greatest, the one with the enchanting score.

Nobody wanted to put too much distance between they and the bars. Ali and his wife of that era Veronica Porsche now sat down on the front row of the seats laid out before the screen. Helpfully, as I imagined it, I thought I would lead the way, and plopped myself down beside Veronica.

Eventually the film began. A problem now was that a particularly resolute imbiber kept insisting on silhouetting himself on the screen, several jugs in each hand, and walking front of Ali, his wife, and of course, me.

On the third iteration, I thought I had better do something about this intrusion as the man took the same route in search of re-fills.

My course of action took the form of my standing up and seeking to stall the man’s progress, and directing him to a less-intrusive path.

His course of action was to shove me aside with his fistful of empty jugs.

Off-balance, I gyrated over Ali’s lap. There was just enough time to conjure up the form that his instinctive reflexes might take, before recovering my balance while bestowing a sheepish smile on Veronica, as equally impassive as her husband.

Later we went down to the dinner itself. Ali amiably delivered some old jokes, notably the one to the effect that Larry Holmes was so ugly that when he cried his tears ran upward to avoid coursing down his face.

There were some catcalls, notably from someone who was quite an important businessman in Wellington at that time.

“I know you,” said Ali pointing to the man. “You follow me from place to place. Same person. Different form.”

Later we adjourned upstairs. The busy bar trade resumed. Ali looked at his watch. Grasped Veronica by the hand – and melted out into the night. He had done what he said he would do and in the time he had allocated to do it.


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