In this exposé, the documentary ‘Fire and Fury’ about ‘protagonists’ in the NZ Parliament Occupation, is shown to be a character assassination film. The documentary, and accompanying articles produced by Stuff Circuit, were designed to inoculate its mainstream news audience, who were targetted for emotional hijacking by the film-makers using propaganda treatments, tactics and tools.
Former Māori Television news and current affairs editor, Steve ‘Snoopman’ Edwards, dismantles Stuff Circuit’s attempt to re-assert journalistic ‘cultural authority’, by showing the functions, forms and filters present in ideologically-driven elements of the propaganda film.
The propaganda film was intended as a mass inoculation of mainstream audiences to assist them to keep the faith in the Corona Cult. And to believe that members of their families, friends or folk at the firm who had supposedly fallen down the ‘conspiracy theory rabbit hole’ were being manipulated by a strategically aligned band of far-right protagonists plotting to de-stabilize New Zealand.
He rejects Stuff Circuit’s spin that the Parliament Grounds Occupation failed to achieve any wins. Not only did the Occupiers open the door for the nation to talk about the impacts of the Corona Cult mandates. By meeting in one potent place, the Convoy Occupiers unlocked the door that every regime wishes to keep shut: a society comprised of parallel structures to which everyone is invited.
➼ Casting Protagonists for Character Assassination
A recent New Zealand propaganda film titled, Fire and Fury, profiling some of key players at the three-week long anti-mandate Parliament Grounds Occupation in New Zealand — drew praise, terse criticism and mockery.
In her Fire and Fury ‘documentary’, seasoned reporter Paula Penfold and producer/writer Louisa Cleave, and director/editor Toby Longbottom sought to lay sole blame for the riotous end to the three-week New Zealand Parliament Occupation on some of the leaders, groups and influencers who had sizeable online followings.
Yet, the Police pursued a siege plan to retake the ‘Occupied Zone’, which included the surrounding streets, with the confidence that the media would not accurately report on the Crown’s Constabulary as the primary instigators of the violence on several key days, including the final termination day — as I showed in my eighth Wellington dispatch entitled, NZ Newsrooms Cover-up Police Breaches of Peace at Parliament Occupation.
According to former North&South journalist Graham Adams, the eruption into riot with fires lit on the final afternoon are now widely seen as people who were not part of the Freedom Camp. The riotous behaviour occurred after the Police moved in with riot shields, pepper spray and batons at 6am, making arrests, beating protesters, and wrecking campers property.
Conspicuously, the mainstream media, along with Stuff Circuit, have failed to point out that the occupiers’ main bargaining chip to coerce the NZ Government to end the Corona Cult mandates, were the tents, vehicles and the growing village infrastructure. As a bargaining chip, these objects of spontaneous rebellion were bad optics for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Administration.
The ‘Freedom Village’ was ‘bad optics’ because the camp was depleting the Government’s ‘political capital’, since advancing controversial polices spends a democratic Government’s ‘voters credit’.
As such, the Operation Convoy siege plan sought through low-grade war tactics such as pre-dawn blockade operations, the deployment of riot police and weaponizing the media as a vector for propaganda in the days leading up to termination phase were designed to shift the bad optics onto the Freedom Occupation.
With the media essentially recruited as an auxiliary arm of this far-flung emergent police state, the Crown’s Constabulary could open up a known hot-spot.
In propaganda terms, a hotspot means a place that is known to arouse intolerance in people along fault lines, or cultural divides, such as race, religion and social status. As Wellington-born advertising illustrator, Nick McFarlane, stated in his book, Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual, Hardcore Propaganda Manual, the job of an attack wolf is to:
“identify a hot spot of intolerance and fan the flames of bias to ignite radicalization. Intolerance toward the other group’s differences turns fault lines into open divides. Once divided, the Tax Herd is easily conquered.”
One such attack wolf was Labour MP Michael Woods who described the occupiers at Freedom Village as a “river of filth”. NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern repeatedly admonished the protesters telling them to “go home”, like a petulant paternalistic principle lecturing pesky pupils. And when their Freedom-loving asses were finally kicked out of the capital, Ardern stated the Parliament Grounds looked like a “rubbish tip”.
All of these statements were dog-whistling rituals of animosity.
Dog-whistling is a public relations industry tactic to produce messages that work like a high-pitched whistle that will only be fully-audible to those directly targeted for persuasion, while others will not be offended. The tactic is deployed to amplify peoples’ fears, frustrations, or prejudices, and transform them into anger, as investigative journalist Nicky Hager reported in his 2006 book: The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception.
By framing ‘the protagonists’ as being responsible for the riotous scenes on March 2nd 2022, Stuff Circuit have, in effect, doubled down and deepened the divide, with the intention to snuff out legitimate political dissent.
Therefore, their propaganda film is an ideologically-driven character assassination, because the ‘documentary’ claimed to let New Zealanders hear some players speak in their own words “unfiltered”.
McFarlane defined character assassination as:
“[T]he intentional attempt to portray a particular person in a manner which will cause others to perceive him or her in a negative light. By targeting a person’s reputation and firing misleading innuendoes at their character it is possible to inflict a fatal blow.”
— Nick McFarlane, Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual
Large crisis events provoke searches to attribute responsibility and when the crisis is human-made, public scapegoating comes to the fore, as crisis management theory could predict. The scapegoat is stigmatized, while the dominant “in-group” that society identifies with is framed as noble and guiltless.
Moreover, during crises, the news media drop their routines in order to maintain their position at the centre of the action as a legitimizer of ‘truth’. Kristina Riegart and Eva-Karin Olsson (2007) argued in their 2007 paper, “The importance of ritual in crisis journalism,” that an affectation of ‘neutrality’ masks the news media’s desire to be perceived as producing authoritative accounts of history, particularly in the coverage of crises.
Reporters, camera crews, and news anchors can be observed adopting a neutral bystander posture during moments of heightened conflict, while avoiding any responsibility for stoking the conditions that lead to such crises.
However, if the threat is deemed dire enough the news media will maintain a ‘respectful distance’ from those conferred with authority to deal with the ‘crisis’, as Paul ‘t Hart wrote in his 1993 paper, “Symbols, Rituals and Power: The Lost Dimensions of Crisis Management”.
In the Great Corona Hostage Crisis, a ‘neutral bystander’ posture was adopted to mask the fact that news outlets have dispensed with the ‘business as usual’ role until the ‘crisis’ is perceived to have passed. In other words, the ‘neutral bystander’ posture was a strategy to deflect attention from the Global Media Cartel’s own culpability in over-hyping the emergence of the crisis.
Once the Parliament Grounds Occupation emerged as an event, New Zealand’s media had the opportunity to re-think the way they had framed the Great Corona Hostage Crisis.
Instead of sustaining serious investigations, the news media heightened the sense of drama during the ‘Covid-19 Pandemic’ with a persuasive fear framing that served to obscure the internal inconsistencies of a ‘rescue’ master frame.
Master frames work as over-arching mechanisms to gain support for specific political goals, to undermine opposition and to construct a narrative, as R. D. Benford & D. A. Snow observed in their paper, “Framing processes and social movements”, which was published in the Annual Review of Sociology journal in 2000.
The ‘rescue’ master frame omits, denies or ridicules the idea that the crisis in question is itself a construction of Totalitarian Bandits. To this end, the ‘rescue’ frames are filled with obvious and subtle inconsistencies that require deliberate masking efforts and crisis rituals to obscure the power relations at stake. Therefore, each news story contributes to a ‘crisis’ picture which forms, over time, a narrative arc.
The rescue-themed narrative arc of the ‘Great Corona Hostage Crisis’ sets up the desired strategic solutions — and can been tracked and plotted with the same classic three act story structure used to design the architecture of novels, movies and plays.
This is not to say the Totalitarian Pirates, who engineered this global crisis, can control the entire course of the overarching ‘story’. This epic hybrid war is a conflict over controlling the reset of the world’s structural forces, including the direction that technological innovation takes, as I explained in How the World is Going to Hell in a Corona Hand Basket.
The Parliament Occupation presented a direct challenge to the control that NZ’s authorities had wielded over the course of Great Corona Hostage Crisis, as well as the news media’s vain role as cultural authorities who codify events for the construction of reality.
As an embedded dissident journalist inside the Parliament Grounds Occupation of February 8 to March 2 2022, I can say Aotearoa’s media missionaries proved they preferred the spectacle of state violence than to admit their own Stockholm Syndrome-esque fears, loathings, and prejudices — as I showed in my eighth Wellington dispatch entitled, NZ Newsrooms Cover-up Police Breaches of Peace at Parliament Occupation.
Not surprisingly then, the makers of the propaganda film, produced by Stuff Circuit of the Stuff newspaper chain, framed the accused ‘protagonists’ as driving a violent, misinformed New Zealand with false information in a conspiracy of strategically-aligned players and groups planning an uprising against authority to make New Zealand ungovernable.
Yet, the ‘documentary’ often failed to acknowledge the context of such accusations, while long bows were drawn to fire arrows at the targeted characters, amid the backdrop of the mainstream media’s blanket refusal to investigate critical counter-evidence.
Moreover, Stuff Circuit’s ‘documentary’ crew opted not to interview any of individuals or groups targetted for character assassination. In their article headlined “Pushing Back Against The Monsters”, Penfold and Cleave justified the decision to deny the accused ‘protagonists’ the right of reply, by following “international journalistic guidelines” when reporting on dangerous speech.
In their opinion piece, “Pushing Back Against the Monsters”, Penfold and Cleave wrote that such experts:
“spoke of the value of inoculation: that it’s more effective to prevent disinformation gaining a foothold by showing people the context in which it exists, than to try to counter it with facts once people have fallen for it.”
Inoculation is also a public relations industry propaganda tactic where the weakness of the matter at hand is acknowledged, then quickly brushed aside. The intention is that the news audience will think nothing more of it, satisfied that there is nothing under-handed to see, as the 2008 New Zealand documentary, The Hollow Men, showed in an exposé of the Brash-era National Party’s campaign communications scripted by the political strategist firm, Crosby|Textor.
This inoculation tactic migrated into ‘thought policing’ discourses during the Great Coroner Hostage Crisis. In the years leading up to the Great Coroner Hostage Crisis, the problem of making incursions into free speech was framed as communications issues to assist successful medical countermeasures amid pandemics.
Ironically, the purpose of a fictional futuristic pandemic report — which was produced by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in October 2017 — was about institutionalizing communications countermeasures to inoculate the populations against counter-narratives. This report entitled, “The SPARS Pandemic 2025–2028: A Futuristic Scenario to Facilitate Medical Countermeasure Communication”, was written from the fictional perspective of 2030, following a global pandemic featuring a novel coronavirus.
According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) such inoculation tactics, which can include prebunking, are achieved by anticipating that counter-evidence will surface during a crisis to challenge the dominant narrative, desired measures and hidden agendas — and by deploying memes about the harms of conspiracy theories. According UNICEF’s “Vaccine Misinformation Field Guide”, which was published in December 2020:
“People can be ‘inoculated’ against misinformation by being exposed to a weakened version of the misleading tactics used in misinformation or the hidden motives of the disinformation authors, and a refuted version of the message beforehand. Just as vaccines generate antibodies to resist future viruses, inoculation messages equip people with counter-arguments that potentially convey resistance to future misinformation, even if the misinformation is congruent with pre-existing attitudes.”
In other words, where inoculation as a PR tactic was used to state a weakened version of a highly public project with hidden agendas, the inoculation tactic has also been transformed into a tool to downplay wrong-doing as ‘conspiracy theories’, when opponents catch-on to the systemic political capture of regulatory institutions.
Since memes are to a culture what genes are to an organism, evidently a society can be hacked at scale with military-grade mass propaganda that brainwashes almost an entire population within one month.
Indeed, the subtext of “The SPARS Pandemic 2025–2028” report was aimed at institutionalizing communications lessons so that citizens could be better manipulated in the next pandemic to accept the dominant strategic solution: mass vaccination.
Therefore, the Stuff Circuit crew essentially opted to dose its documentary audience with with an inoculation tactic developed by the public relations industry and was reworked in the cancel culture era and which became fully operational weaponized propaganda tool during the formation of Corona Cult dogma.
In this way, the 63-minute ‘documentary’ attempted to cement the dominant media narrative of sensible Kiwis fooled by an ‘unsavoury cast’ of evangelical Christian Trumpists, crypto-fascist conspiracy theorists, and opportunistic entrepreneurial influencers at the three-week long anti-mandate Parliament Grounds Occupation, which ended with a police siege.
As such, the Fire and Fury propagandists sought to weaken the Freedom Movement’s core communications about how the Government’s vaccine mandates were political blackmail, economic coercion and cultural exclusion that led to impacts such as job losses, relationship break-ups and vaccine injuries.
➼ The ‘Enemy Cast of Characters’
As a propaganda film, Fire and Fury cast its enemy characters in the most unfavorable light that its makers could, with an ideologically-driven narrative.
To this manipulative end, the propaganda merchants of Stuff — which is one of NZ’s two market-dominating newspaper chains — only showed some of the prominent people from the entire NZ Freedom Movement.
The Stuff-accused were Voices for Freedom co-founders Libby Jonson, Alia Bland and Claire Deeks, citizen journalist Chantelle Baker, Counterspin Media presenters Kelvyn Alps and Hannah Spierer, Counterspin regular guest, Damien De Ment, former AUT law lecturer Amy Benjamin, and Save Our Children activist Carlene Hereora, and former National Front president, Kyle Chapman.
Their faces were sourced from video podcasts, while their amplified words were selected as ‘sound-bites’ and depicted on bill-boards hung on bridges, bus-stops and the sides of buildings on desolate city streets at night — to cast them as New Zealand’s new common enemies.
Meanwhile, the authoritative narration told the audience what to think by deploying neurally stored short-circuiting terms such as ‘anti-vaxxers’, ‘QAnon conspiracy theorists’ and ‘fascist white supremacists’, which will have triggered the gullible segments of the documentary’s audience to switch off their critical thinking processes.
The use of foreboding political thriller music will also have cued the näive among the Fire and Fury audience to produce an emotional contagion of fear-programmed neuropeptides via their hypothalamus organ, which is located deep in the human brain above the pituitary gland and links the hormonal endocrine system to the nervous system.
Together with the vision of the ‘antagonists’ cast as at-large fascist anarchists speaking on the sides of buildings in mostly empty streets at night — these elements were crafted to create a sense of doom about a dangerous conspiracy. A sepia toned dusky desert-scape was used as a visual motif to psychologically draw links between Trump supporters in the US — who were cast as far-right white supremacist QAnon conspiracy theorists — and the NZ Freedom Movement.
These desert landscapes depicted various simulated, ruined ‘urban-scapes’ featuring objects such as giant cellphones, up-turned SUVs, a tank and the Twins Towers, the Beehive, and other buildings — partially consumed by sand. These simulated urban desert-scapes appeared to riff off the sand-consumed ruins of Las Vegas depicted in Blade Runner 2049.
Fire and Fury left me with the impression the viewer had been sucked into a parallel universe where Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood and Suzanne Collins are cast as zealous priests and nuns who control the major newsrooms of a very sleepy South Pacific archipelago, in dogmatically tone-deaf service to an unnamed cult: scientism.
The target audience of mainstream news viewers weren’t meant to think about the central irony of the film’s framing elements, such as the characters writ-large in a world that was lifeless, except for the commotion wrought by Kiwis supposedly led astray by fascist white supremacists, anarchist activists and social media grifters.
Former journalist at Metro, North&South, and Noted, Graham Adams, opined on The Platform that Fire and Fury was often unintentionally funny because Penfold’s doco was textbook conspiracy theorist genre ‘journalism’. Adams ventured that perhaps “conscientious objectors” was a more fitting descriptor.
Ironically, the sometimes empty streets resembled the scenes of the ‘lockdowns’, and could be seen from another perspective as the exercise of Medical Martial Law by another name.
The ‘documentary’ lent on less than a handful of expert sources to legitimate its scapegoating bent.
One in particular, Kate Hannah, who is a Victoria University PhD student and who became the Director of The Disinformation Project during the Great Corona Hostage Crisis. The Disinformation Project, which was a sub-project of a Crown-funded Auckland University-based research group called Te Pūnaha Matatini, was in effect a propaganda organ that produced flak against dissenting voices who criticized the Government’s ‘pandemic’ narrative.
Sanctimoniously, Ms Hannah claimed in Fire and Fury that the far-right fascistic ideologues of the ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement justified their violent rhetoric against anyone who disagrees with them. (In part 4 of this series, entitled, “Funding of the Digital Anthropologists in Ivory Towers”, I explore the ironic links between various Crown-funded projects such as the cash from the Public Interest Journalism Fund that bankrolled Fire and Fury, and the Crown-funded Disinformation Project and another of Te Pūnaha Matatini’s sub-projects, called “COVID-19 Modelling Aotearoa”, which was directly funded by the Beehive).
Ms Hannah rhetoric, along with that of Facts and Other Lies author, Ed Coper and AUT Dean of Law, Khylee Quince, were treatments of stigmatization.
Such stigmatizing treatments produce scapegoats — whether they are persons, groups or organizations — that become targets on which to project blame, animosity and fear, as P.J. Schackner found while researching his study, “The Archetype of the Scapegoat” at the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco.
In the drama of the telling, stigmatizing treatments tend to be very effective at obscuring the causes of news events.
Indeed, as Jack Z. Bratich wrote in his 2008 book Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture, published by the State University of New York Press, among the competing accounts, the official version is not merely the winner in the ‘game of truth’ — it determines who the players can be.” Bratich observed that the fracturing of dissent — whereby dissent turns against dissent — occurs along the ideological left-right paradigm under conditions where research into particular issues, topics and conflicts are deemed conspiracy theory.
In an interview entitled, “Propaganda in the Covid Era with Mark Crispin Miller”, the former New York University Professor stated that a left-liberal ideological ‘no-go zone’ to call-out U.S. home-grown conspiracies, including terrorism, had been cemented from the JFK Assassination onward.
Moreover, a social norm of conspiracy denialism — wherein news outlets, academia and government law enforcement do not properly investigate the big conspiracies — actually became a global cult phenomenon at the onset of the pandemic.
Ironically, The Disinformation Project is a sub-project of Auckland University’s Te Pūnaha Matatini, whose principal investigators were able to dominate the Corona Cult narrative.
This narrative domination occurred, in part, because the project is Crown-funded, and it is affiliated with every major New Zealand University, and many of its key people are also members of a public health association, One Health Aotearoa, whose members the media turned to as their ‘Go-to Science Experts’. Such experts, in turn, ‘subsidized the news’, since their models, numbers and opinions were presumed to be accurate — as the Propaganda Model predicts.
In their ‘investigation’, Louisa Cleave and Paula Penfold claimed the protagonists featured in Fire and Fury pose a fundamental threat to New Zealand’s democratic institutions and plan to make the nation ungovernable. In part 2, entitled, “But why did a Doco get lost in Freedom Forest?”, I show how the activist network Voices for Freedom, among others, were framed as crypto-fascists.
A crypto-fascist is a person who denies or hides their support for fascist power structures, strategies and ideology, which are broadly the fusion of the market monopolizing cartels with the police state, the subversion of free and open society and the arbitrary persecution of scapegoated groups.
Near the end of Fire and Fury, a brief video clip was played of Voices for Freedom co-founder, Claire Deeks, on a billboard on the side of a building. In the video excerpt, Deeks was seen saying:
“… around New Zealand to strengthen resilience to start looking at what it really takes to become ungovernable, and that way is that when the government says jump, we don’t need to.”
This video excerpt served in the construction of the fear-baked narrative climax of the propaganda film, and was followed by Kelvyn Alps claiming the Government was a creature of legal fiction. And then, the denouement sequence of the expert voices, and the former Dial-a-Conspiracy Theorist commenced.
Because Stuff Circuit failed to identify the repugnant dominant philosophy of oligarchism, that underpins the world’s current age of conflict, they failed to realize that New Zealand’s democracy — as with other Western liberal democracies — is being displaced by technocratic governance systems. A technocracy is governed by scientists, engineers and technicians to manage allocation of resources — including land, dominant institutions and strategic technologies on behalf of unseen super-rich Techno-Feudalist Oligarchs.
As an embedded dissident journalist inside the Parliament Grounds Occupation of February 8 to March 2 2022, I can say there were many conversations about the need for ‘parallel structures’ to ride out the current lurch to totalitarian systems of social control.
Deeks was talking about the need for Voices for Freedom sizeable audience 100,000 followers to build resilience into their lives. The only thing sinister about this video clip of Ms Deeks, was how and why Stuff Circuit portrayed the intent of the message to fix the narrative of a conspiracy of strategically-aligned players and groups planning an uprising against authority to make New Zealand ungovernable.
In the aftermath of the Parliament Occupation, Voices for Freedom launched their Rebuild Free Project, which embraces the idea of transforming society by building resilience among a core of the population who recognize the immediate need to develop food security, and other reserve supplies such as cash, water, and general goods including clothing, and off grid fuel, energy and communications networks.
This idea in no fundamentally different from existing permaculture networks, as well as innovations with traditional Māori village systems, that have reinvigorated communities with self-reliance projects such as community gardens, heritage seed storage exchanges, living community workshops, food cooperatives, and tiny houses, and also the installation of composting toilets, bio-waste systems, water tanks and solar energy.
Ironically, Paula Penfold claimed that the Parliament Grounds Occupation failed to achieve any wins.
In the rest of this exposé, I will show the functions, feats and filters of the ideologically-driven propaganda deployed by the media, and in particular, within the Stuff Circuit ‘documentary’ and their purposes to brainwash the audience in service of strategically aligned vested interests.
➼ Six News Filters, Four Functions of Ideology and One Big Conspiraphobia
The censoring of critical facts, evidence and power relations is predicted by the news filtering mechanisms explained by the Propaganda Model, presented by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in their 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Chomsky and Herman presented five news filtering mechanisms that work as a powerful arbitrator for censorship across so-called Western ‘liberal democracies’.
Chomsky’s and Herman’s Propaganda Model theorizes that news outlets can censor the news without resorting to collusion and conspiracy, because of the pressures of advertising, primary sources and the routines of newsrooms. Herman and Chomsky also argue that ideologically-infused beliefs, including the institutional ‘voice’ or frame of news outlets, influence how reporters, editors and columnists cover or censor news stories.
The Propaganda Model, as developed by Herman and Chomsky, is comprised of five news filters through which news is processed for mass consumption:  size, ownership and profit orientation;  advertising;  expert sources;  flak and the enforcers; and  ideology.
A sixth filter, ‘buying out’ — that I developed while researching my masters in communications at AUT University in Auckland — is added to model for the potential of corruption, collusion and conspiracy in newsrooms.
The news media’s filtering out of the Disinformation Project’s umbrella organization Te Pūnaha Matatini and its Crown-funding status can be explained by the operation of all five of the news filters described by Chomsky and Herman.
Ironically, then, Kate Hannah also said to Penfold that the anti-vaxxer movement thinks the Stuff journalist had become a mouthpiece for the Government, since Stuff received tax-funded financial support during the pandemic.
This tax-funded support originated from the Public Interest Journalism Fund, which was established in February 2021. No less a figure than the Prime Minister of New Zealand, stated in a Summit for Democracy that the NZ Government established the Public Interest Journalism Fund to combat misinformation on Covid-19, particularly via social media, and to support the mainstream media’s business models.
Naturally, Jacinda Ardern blamed the illnesses caused by the Medical-Industrial Complex’s weaponized SARS-Cov-2 for exacerbating deaths tolls, unemployment, business failures, and distrust in governments — rather than the lockstep pivot to Medical Martial Law taken by governments.
Yet, Stuff was also a recipient of the Government’s Covid-19 wage-subsidy scheme, meaning it had received NZ$6.2 million to December 2020, while its competitor newspaper-owning chain, NZME received $8.6 million in wage subsidies for the same period.
The Government also provided a $50 million crisis package to be spread across NZ’s media outlets, NZME (newspaper chain and radio network), Stuff Ltd (newspapers), TVNZ (1News, Breakfast and Seven Sharp), Three (formerly owned by Mediaworks then bought by Discovery, owner of Newshub), Prime News (owned by Sky), Māori Television (Crown-owned Te Ao Māori News). A further $55 million public interest journalism package was also allocated across four years.
The Propaganda Model’s first filter — size, ownership and profit orientation — explains the influences over ‘the news’ in exchange for capital, credit lines and philanthropic funding.
Three media organizations TVNZ, Radio NZ and Māori Television are Crown-owned. This means their owner is the same entity that entered into a secret contract with pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, to supply of the Cominarty Covid-19 ‘vaccines’.
The top shareholders of the parent companies that own The New Zealand Herald, Newshub and Newstalk ZBand many other news brands are also owned by top shareholders of the parent companies that are Pfizer’s top owners — Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street.
Ironically, because the ownership of the newspaper chain Stuff, which includes The Dominion Post, The Press, Waikato Times and the Sunday Star-Times, is no longer a publicly listed company on the stock market, it is no longer statutorily required to make its financial performance public. After company CEO, Sinead Boucher famously bought Stuff off Nine Entertainment for $1 in 2020, the New Zealand Herald described the bargain appearance of the deal as a misnomer, since Stuff’s liabilities sat at $73.9m in June 2019. Therefore, it is possible that Stuff owes money to financial creditors that may in turn influence editorial decisions over news and current affairs content.
The second news filter — advertising — works as an ever-present influence over media outlets, because they are unique among industries for being reliant on advertising for revenue. Since advertisements exert a powerful psychological pressure, the big spenders on the media — huge firms and governments — exert pressure as the primary ‘news audiences’ by shopping for program and print content that is aligned.
Therefore, the Government’s advertising campaign and other public propaganda spending was also an important financial component. By the end of February, 2022, the total Government spend on its Unite Against Covid-19 advertising and other public propaganda topped $98 million. This amount is not insignificant, given the Government normally spends $110 million annually for all of its campaigns in a nation of five million manipulated mortals.
The third news filtering mechanism, sourcing, anticipates that journalists and newsrooms will conform to a consensus framing of news by maintaining a bureaucratic affinity to expert sources, who essentially “subsidise the news” by providing ready-made copy that is assumed to be true.
Among Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Principal Investigators were Kate Hannah, Siouxsie Wiles, Michael Plank, Shaun Hendy, Alex James, Dion O’Neal and Rachelle Binny. In their roles as expert sources, they subsidised the news and the production of current affairs during the Great Corona Hostage Crisis. Dozens of other science experts from various universities who collaborated on Te Pūnaha Matatini Covid-19 communications effort, also contributed to thousands of articles that essentially subsidized the news.
The fourth news filter — flak and the enforcers — describes the risk of repercussions from powerful interests to a media statement, story or program, and consequently the mass media produces safe programming, and self censors to avoid flak from well resourced élites. Although flak is not a one-way street, the media’s production of flak occurs in limited and fleeting ways within the boundaries of the permissible so that super-rich oligarchs do not sustain any serious threats to their extreme property, privilege and power status.
Moreover, Herman and Chomsky observed that corporate-sponsored institutions, such as think-tanks and foundations are vested interest flak machines that frequently attack activist groups. The authors of Manufacturing Consent also note that the media is respectful to élite flak-makers by not critiquing their links to institutional power. Those enforcers or expert sources that manufacture flak strengthen the news filters and serve to protect political and economic power from serious, sustained investigation.
Ironically, when groups such as Covid Plan B, the NZ Liberty Movement, Voices for Freedom, NZ Doctors Speaking Out with Science (NZDSOS), and Health Forum NZ emerged in 2020 and 2021, the media turned to its ‘Go-to Science Experts’ from Te Pūnaha Matatini — who often doubled as members of a public health association, One Health Aotearoa — to provide the flak.
Similarly, another of New Zealand’s media missionaries’ favorite Dial-a-Scientists, Dr Siouxsie Wiles — an Auckland University microbiologist working as a Principle Investigator with Te Pūnaha Matatini’ — derided the Great Barrington Declaration as the work of “a small number of contrarian or fringe academics”. In her October 2020 opinion piece, “Don’t fall for the Covid contrarians”, for the tribally leftist publication The Spinoff, Wiles compared the Great Barrington Declaration to New Zealand’s Covid Plan B group who were opposed to the NZ Government’s “extreme ‘elimination’ and lockdown strategy”.
The fifth news filter — ideology — works as the ‘control mechanism’ that brings internal cohesion to the other news filters. The carrying strength of a dominant ideology is to act simultaneously as a parameter or boundary, and as a tool to impair critical thinking. An ideology is most effective when the dominant class successfully induces consent by manipulating the subordinated classes into internalizing the moral and cultural values, norms and the world-view projected onto them.
The global military grade psychological operation, psy-op, to cement the Corona narrative has been observed by numerous public figures teaching communications, dissident journalists and dissenting doctors. This pys-op occurred in accordance to the work-shopped pandemic scenarios to serve powerfully aligned medical, corporate and imperial interests.
Former New York University professor of communications, Mark Crispin Miller, stated that during the ‘Corona Reset’, a coordinated global policy, propaganda and de-platforming had occurred with a weaponization of institutional resources to marginalize political dissent on an epic unprecedented scale.
There is also an instrumental news filtering mechanism that involves collusion or conspiracy, which was not specifically designed into Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model.
For my study of the Global Financial Crisis entitled, “It’s the Financial Oligarchy, Stupid”, I found it necessary to add a new sixth filter — ‘buying out’ — which had been suggested by Professor Oliver Boyd Barrett in his critique, “Judith Miller, The New York Times, and the propaganda model” following the controversies over reporting of the build-up to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 by The New York Times.
In part 3 of my series, Corona World Games, I showed how Judith Miller, a New York Times journalist and author of Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, was one of at least three players, who took aspects of a John Hopkins’ University pandemic exercise called ‘Dark Winter’ from the tabletop simulation to the real world after the 9/11 Coup D’état of 2001.
The sixth news filter, buying out, is the deliberate concealment of corrupt, collusive or conspiratorial power relations by irregular or routine journalistic practices that result from conscious decisions to go along with the social norms of an élite criminal milieu.
In other words, some journalists may consciously internalize a deep institutional frame that reflects the collusive milieu in which they work, socialize and live. The buying-out filter leaves élite sources free to use the news as a means to manipulate public perceptions in regard to matters of acute public concern.
In this way, the failure to conduct sustained, serious investigations into the root causes of crises, and how élite criminal groups steer crises to achieve strategic solutions, is also indicative of buying-out at the editorial and executive level of market-monopolizing media organizations (especially when widespread wrongdoing becomes obvious).
The Corona Cult dogma formation in New Zealand’s newsrooms reflects a group-think that has set like glue, against a backdrop of hegemonic scientism, rather than a collusion and conspiracy explained by the sixth filter, buying out.
Scientism is the irrational ideology that preys upon populations to trust an alleged scientific consensus in order to lure näive mortals to believe strategic solutions over bona fide ones. The key tenet of scientism requires institutions of corrupted science to practice conspiracy denialism, whereby their own experiments, research, and trials are politicized to match desired results of state, corporate and philanthropic funders.
However, in spite of their adoption of the Corona Cult’s ideological elements, including conspiracy denialism, NZ’s media outlets crossed the line to conspire against the Parliament Occupation when faced with glaring contradictions.
In their case studies of news coverage reporting on American imperialist conflicts, Chomsky and Herman observed the dead and injured US soldiers were worthy victims, while the enemies were treated as unworthy victims, not worth the empathy, attention or concern of Western news audiences.
Similarly, during the Covid Wars, the jab injured, ill and dead, as well as those mandated out their jobs, or suffered relationship break-ups for resisting the measures, or who lost their businesses or homes due to lockdowns have, in essence, been deemed ‘unworthy victims’.
Despite having every opportunity to investigate the stories of the jab-injured, the financially-impoverished and the broader claims about an engineered crisis, Paula Penfold, Louisa Cleave and Toby Longbottom stayed to true to the parameters of crisis journalism, the filters of the propaganda model and the four ideological functions — by scapegoating the Western Elites’ common enemy: political dissenters.
The principle of the right to sustain an occupation as a form of effective protest is a key tenet of so-called liberal democracies. In order to maintain its in-group status with state power, New Zealand’s media missionaries dropped its core principle of freedom of expression, and amplified the framing of a toxic movement said to be comprised of violent, hateful, anti-vaxxer, racist, sexist, trans-phobic, misogynist, bigoted crypto-fascists.
To this end, the Stuff-owned capital city newspaper, The Dominion Post, deepened its complicity in the Crown Constabulary’s chess move to lay siege to the Parliament Occupation when it published Wednesday February 23 an opinion piece headlined, “Peace, order and police powers in demonstrations” penned by former Deputy Prime Minister in the Lange Government (1984-1989), Geoffrey Palmer.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer asserted that New Zealand as a sovereign state holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its territory. He also claimed that the Bill of Rights 1990 does not allow for absolute rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement.
Ironically, Palmer as Attorney General and Justice Minister played a key role in limiting the fall-out with the French Government and the Western Alliance over the French secret service’s bombing of Greenpeace’s Pacific flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, in 1985, as I reported on the 35th anniversary in my investigation, ‘Price of Power’ Themed-Terrorism.
Especially, since ‘Sir Geoffrey’ has yet to fully fess up to his role in limiting the fall-out with the French Government in the aftermath of François Mitterand’s state-sponsored terrorism in 1985. On Palmer’s watch as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, his subordinate, Solicitor-General Paul Neazor, made the logically fallacious presentation to the Auckland High Court on November 4 1985 to justify dropping the charges of conspiracy and murder, because it was alleged there was not enough evidence to gain such convictions. This presentation was made on the basis of omissions of key evidence.
A 1996 NZ Security Intelligence Service (SIS) report, declassified in 2017, shows the head of the Prime Minister’s Department, Gerald Hensley, who was the chairman of New Zealand’s Intelligence Council and who also just happened to be the Chairman of the Beehive’s Officials Terrorism Committee, limited the scope of investigations while the French frogmen — who laid the bombs — skied in the Southern Alps.
In other words, Palmer’s Dominion Post opinion piece was an ‘Official of Crisis-Past’ media ritual signalling the state was moving to stamp out the rebellion before it snowballed into a crisis. Palmers’ piece was also ‘Morse Code’ that communicated any subsequent official investigations would be part of the cover-up. This ‘Official of Crisis-Past’ ritual lent legitimacy to the police siege plan without the risk of fielding a current official to spin the propaganda.
In this way, Stuff’s Dom Post was abetting in the justification for the state’s appetite for domestic violence, which would be inflicted under the watch of Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, aided by the Ardern Government’s complicity.
In essence, NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern, the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster et al were saying protest must not only be peaceful, it must also be polite, convenient and of fleeting duration. In short, any protest must evidently be politically palatable and therefore ineffective for it to be politically correct.
In the communications literature on protests, such events that crash the news are one of the few ways open to citizens in the so-called liberal democracies to get their viewpoints noticed by mass news audiences.
The mainstream media also failed to call-out the NZ Government, House Speaker Trevor Mallard, and Andrew Coster, when Justice Francis Cooke ruled February 24 2022 in the Wellington High Court that the vaccine mandates for NZ police and military were unlawful. As I argued in my fifth Wellington dispatch February 24th, “Major Chink in NZ Govt’s Armor as Police and Military Mandates Ruled Unlawful”:
“the NZ Police, the Ardern Government and the Wellington Political Elite have lost their sanctimonious legal, political and moral high ground to claim the Freedom Occupiers have no legal right to camp at Parliament Grounds and the surrounding streets.”
Justice Cooke stopped short of calling the coercion blackmail, which would have positioned the Ardern Cabinet as being in breach of section 237 of the Crimes Act, when he stated the vaccine mandates presented “an element of pressure”, that infringed upon the right to retain employment and the right to refuse medical treatment.
In spite of being faced with these contradictions, the news media doubled-down in their complicity with the Government, the House Speaker and the Police to continue to avoid confronting them over their legitimacy to pursue the obvious siege plan taking place.
The Government was initially intending to fight Justice Cooke’s in the Court of Appeal. However, on May 24, TVNZ’s flagship news platform, 1News, reported that the NZ Government dropped their appeal against the Police and NZ Defence staff who refused to submit the unlawful orders.
Ironically, lawyer Matthew Hague — who represented unvaccinated police and NZDF officers — told 1News:
“[This morning] the Government gave notice they were abandoning their appeal against the High Court decision. We don’t know why the Government decided to abandon its appeal now — but it never should have been made. The appeal prolonged the division and hurt caused by the Government’s unlawful vaccine mandate.”
For their part, it would appear that Stuff doubled-down in the wake of Parliament Occupation, to produce, Fire and Fury, without any honest circumspection in their role as a vector for Corona Cult propaganda, Police brutality, and the state’s unnecessary, unlawful and unsound incursions in the lives of Kiwis.
Moreover, four functions of ideology — that are essential for a successful propaganda campaign to brainwash a population — were packaged into Fire and Fury.
Indeed, the work of French philosopher Paul Riceouer (1913–2005) — who identified the functions of ideology — is invaluable to recognizing the presence of propaganda in the media, advertising and communications during the over-hyped pandemic by the New Zealand Government.
The propaganda film’s framing of its targeted subjects as “key drivers of false information and dangerous conspiracy” was an application of the first ideological function of distortion, which creates a warped copy of reality. The distortion function was served by maintaining the creed of the Corona Cult, amplifying views of “the main protagonists” while dismissing them as far-right conspiracies theorists and sampling language deemed violent, while failing to acknowledge the mainstream media’s bountiful shortcomings.
The recruitment of the one-eyed expert voices fulfils the second ideological function, legitimation, to support the power of authority by masking over the cracks in the narrative myth-making. The expert voices of Facts and Other Lies author, Ed Coper; NZ Security Intelligence Service Director-General, Rebecca Kitteridge; AUT Dean of Law, Khylee Quince, and Director of the Disinformation Project, Kate Hannah, were essentially cast as authoritative objective ‘witnesses’ to a public trial by media.
The third ideological function of social integration was served by sit-down interviews with two protestors, Ali Evans and Valerie (family name withheld), and one former conspiracy theorist, ‘Josie’. Ali Evans and Valerie were set-up for a humiliation ritual. By showing footage of the two elderly white women doing an extraordinary action of protesting at the Parliament Occupation, Penfold & Associates framed them as women who had been sucked into the orbit of a rarefied extreme fringe group. And, then, through the humiliation ritual masquerading as an interview, they were made to seem that they had come to their senses. With this tactic, the propaganda film emotionally hijacked its audience to think Ali and Valerie were semi-integrated back into status quo society.
The recruitment of ‘Josie’, was essentially a Dial-a-Former Conspiracy Theorist formulaic element that also served the third ideological social integration function.
Since structures of élite power need an enemy to justify their entitlement as rulers, the first three ideological functions support the objective an identifying the threat of a common enemy, which serves the application of the fourth ideological function: activation.
The objective behind the character assassinations was to identify the threat of a common enemy, to serve the activation ideological function.
Instead of interviewing those that Stuff accused, the protagonists were cast as strategically-aligned players and groups planning a violent uprising against authority to make New Zealand ungovernable.
Moreover, many who had dissented from the clarion call to fight humanity’s novel common enemy, ‘Covid-19’, which was a brazen propaganda campaign promoted for the good of the nation and against their own personal freedoms, rights, and conscience — were either camped at the parliament grounds, or visited, or who had supported the occupation.
Furthermore, there were numerous people who were there because their health had suffered due to vaccine adverse reactions, or who knew of people who had died after the jabs.
A Horizon Research poll published 18 February 2022, showed that 30% of New Zealanders supported the Parliament Occupation.
Yet, the overall propaganda of political lawmakers, health officials, and the science experts were, essentially, continuing to not only rally the ‘team of five million’ against 30% of New Zealanders. The media also acted as a vector for this continued propaganda of political lawmakers, health officials, and science experts, to ‘rally the troops’ — in accordance with the ideological activation function.
A social norm of conspiracy denialism — wherein news outlets, academia and government law enforcement do not properly investigate the big conspiracies — became a global cult phenomenon at the onset of the pandemic. This conspiracy denialism had taken hold since the aftermath of the JFK Assassination, as I argued in my article, Frame My Freedom.
In an interview entitled “Propaganda in the Covid Era with Mark Crispin Miller”, New York University Professor Mark Crispin Miller stated the genius of the conspiracy planners behind the JFK hit was that they cleverly cast Lee Harvey Oswald as a deranged communist killer acting alone. This scapegoating casting was designed to scare the political left away from investigating the flimsy cover-story at a time when liberal public intellectuals were still traumatized by the McCarthy-era hunt for communists in Cold War America.
Furthermore, in his documentary, The American Media and the Second Assassination of John F. Kennedy, John Barbour shows how the CIA assets in the media covered-up the hit on the US president in the immediate aftermath, as well as after the corrupt Warren Commission, and in the sabotaged trial of one of the conspirators, Clay Shaw.
In her 1990 study Barbie Zelizer “Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination and the Establishment of Journalistic Authority” argued that the slaying of JFK became the defining crime by which American journalists established themselves as ‘cultural authorities’. By creating ‘archives of memory’ of this critical ‘real world’ event, Zelizer found that in the retelling of the JFK hit as a tale:
“Journalists … perpetuated a tightly-knit cycle of self-determination through narrative, suggesting the central role of discourse in determining the boundaries of community. Journalists themselves perpetuate the sense that their version of reality is a preferred one. By codifying their versions of life in repetitive and systematized mediated narratives, they place themselves ahead of other potential retellers. They turn contests for the construction of reality into a one-horse race, by narratively attending to critical events that uphold their authority.”
— Barbie Zelizer, “Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination and the Establishment of Journalistic Authority” 1990, University of Pennsylvania
As the world misses the lessons wrapped up with the swelling head-screwery of mass Corona Cult ideological formation — that sucked the planet deeper into the parallel universe of scientism — former North&South reporter Graham Adams fired a journalistic arrow that hit the conspiranoia genre bulls-eye.
“In a textbook example of a conspiracy theorist at work, senior Stuff journalist Paula Penfold promotes the idea that the anti-mandate protests at Parliament and suspicion toward Covid vaccines generally were being driven and harnessed by a small group of conspirators.”
The framing of alleged conspirators — who were all evidently seeking to tilt New Zealand into violent anarchy — could only work by omissions of key evidence. The ‘conspiracy theorists’ accusation works as a short circuiting mechanism to discredit people, shut-down discussion and ridicule entire topics, as James Rankin wrote in his 2017 paper, “Conspiracy Theory Meme as a Tool of Cultural Hegemony”.
In her opening narration, Paula Penfold claimed the audience would hear the protagonists unfiltered. This claim was untrue.
All five filters of the Propaganda Model were in operation. Moreover, Stuff Circuit and Stuff newspapers corrupted their own journalism standards to drop the right of reply, in spite of the fact that they knew they were constructing a skewed, ideologically driven propaganda piece. This was not done out of public interest, but rather as a vindictive character assassination hit piece, to serve the vested interests of major media cartel player faced with the threat of new market entrants who are serving the public interest.
In other words, the selection, framing and treatment of the quoted individuals, groups and Freedom Movement as a whole, was to cement the narrative constructed during the Parliament Occupation and in its immediate aftermath.
The individuals and groups targeted for character assassination were only allowed to speak through the fourth filter of the Propaganda Model: Flak.
The ideological filter provided the internal cohesion to uphold the Corona Cult dogma, which became a multi-season global bandwagon psy-op, The Corona Cult dogma belongs to the clade of communicable emotional contagions that is transmissible through the global news-chain as fear-porn. Such emotionally hijacking news elevates constructed crises that serves the hegemonic imperial projects such as scientism.
Meanwhile, the four functions of ideology which were also detectable in the propaganda film served to distort reality, legitimate the official narrative, integrate the wayward and activate the target audience to fight the identified common enemy.
Therefore, the producers of Fire and Fury set out to make a documentary warning Kiwis about a dangerous conspiracy to make New Zealand ungovernable and wound up delivering a propaganda film, whose production crew credits read like a casting list for the New Aotearoan Thought Police.
Stuff Circuit’s claim that the Parliament Grounds Occupation failed to achieve any wins shows the downside of corrupting best journalism practices. Had Penfold and Cleave opted to interview the accused protagonists, or observers who weren’t blinded by conspiraphobia, they might’ve found that the Occupiers had not only opened the door for the nation to talk about the impacts of the Corona Cult mandates.
But also, by meeting in one potent place, the Convoy Occupiers had unlocked the door that every regime wishes to keep shut: a society comprised of parallel structures to which everyone is invited.
Steve ‘Snoopman’ Edwards is a dissident journalist, who worked at indigenous broadcaster, Māori Television, for 14 years as an editor of news, current affairs and general programs. He graduated with First Class Honours in a Master in Communication Studies at AUT University after writing his ground-breaking thesis on the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), titled — “It’s the financial oligarchy, stupid” — to figure out the means, modus operandi and motives of the Anglo-American Oligarchy.
This is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. Any mention of drugs, dosages, or doctors is for informational purposes only and not for medical use. Consult a medical professional.