Whaddya Reckon? With everything that's going on in politics at the moment, you might think that the NZ Herald's deputy-political editor would be extremely cautious about rushing into print with a year-old story, based on nothing more than speculation, posted on an obscure Napier website, that turned out to be completely wrong. No such luck.
IS JOHN KEY really in the running for Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)? Well, yes, according to the NZ Herald’s Deputy-Political Editor, Claire Trevett, he is. Upon closer examination, however, Trevett’s story looks a lot more like fake news than real news.
Let’s take a look at her source – a speculative opinion piece posted on the Manufacturers Success Connection (MSC) website under the dateline Monday, 21 December 2015 08:38. That’s right – 2015 – just short of one year ago.
A year ago the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, was embroiled in yet another of the financial-cum-political scandals that have wracked the French Republic over recent years.
The anonymous author of the MSC NewsWire story is clearly of the view that since Lagarde had just been told by the French courts that she must stand trial for her role in the so-called “Tapie Affair”, she will soon be standing down from her job at the IMF.
The writer further speculates that since there is a “move to place a non-European official at the helm of the IMF”, a “door of opportunity has unexpectedly opened to enable New Zealand prime minister, John Key, to maintain his upward trajectory in the form of becoming managing director of the International Monetary Fund.”
Except that the “door of opportunity” was closed, and has remained firmly shut.
Christine Lagarde is still the Managing Director of the IMF. Her Board of Directors were in no mood to lose the services of their high-flying employee. Citing the legal doctrine of the presumption of innocence, they were happy to keep Madame Lagarde exactly where she was.
The other problem with the MSC NewsWire story is that if there ever was a “move” to place a non-European in the Managing Director’s chair, then it did not get very far. Nor was such a “move” remotely likely to succeed. Ever since the appointment of the first IMF Managing Director, the Belgian Camille Gutt, in 1946, the position has been filled exclusively by Europeans. There has been one each from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain; two from Sweden; and five from France. The chances of John Key sashaying his way down the that particular catwalk are pretty close to nil.
The more important question, however, is how did Claire Trevett ever come into possession of a speculative news release issued by a very obscure website – Manufacturers Success Connection – just shy of one year ago? The MSC NewsWire was set up by Napier entrepreneur, Max Farndale, in 2012, and while it’s a lively and a perfectly respectable website, it is not really on a par with Reuters or Associated Press!
It would only be speculation, of course, but, in the current political environment, isn’t it highly likely that the dissemination of a story such as this, to a person occupying a critical media post (such as deputy-political editor of the country’s largest newspaper) is going to be the work of the out-going prime minister’s political opponents?
All the more reason, you would think, to be extremely cautious about rushing into print with a year-old story, based on nothing more than speculation, posted on an obscure Napier website, that turned out to be completely wrong.
The sort of fake news item that you might expect to find on Breitbart News? Certainly. But on the NZ Herald website?
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 7 December 2016.