Both TVNZ and TV3's six o'clock news bulletins are usually devoid of any meaningful news content . So it came as no surprise that both channels decided that the important news story on Sunday was Dean Barker and co narrowly avoiding being thrown in the water off the coast of San Francisco.
This was, apparently, of more importance than the unfolding events in Syria and the election of a new Labour leader. Of course, except for Mike McRobert's reporting on Syria from Lebanon (work that one out), many of New Zealand's 'top' journalists can now all be found in the bars and restaurants of San Francisco - hence the load of banal America's Cup news items they keep on boring us with.
It will be an alien concept to the likes of Mike Hosking and Hilary Barry, but there are more pressing issues to be covering than the boys' own adventures of wealthy white males.
In fact they haven't even bothered to move from the bars and restaurants to report on local dissatisfaction with the America's Cup.
In July an inflatable 14-foot-tall fat cat was erected by the local carpenter’s union in the middle of regatta real estate to protest that members have been given fewer jobs than promised.
The big grey rubbery animal held a blow-up construction worker by the neck and stood next to a sign that read: “America’s Cup hurts workers, family and community. Shame of them.”
A spokesperson for the carpenters union said: “Their promise to put local carpenters to work is completely a sham. They’ve made the San Francisco waterfront a playground for the rich and famous.'
This doesn't seem to be of interest to the swelling New Zealand media contingent. Nor is the fact that over ten percent of San Franciscans live in poverty and homelessness is a growing problem. In the Bay Area, where the media groupies are based, one in five people live in poverty. Wages have risen only two percent since 2008 while unemployment has risen a staggering 72 percent,
Are we surprised that the New Zealand mainstream media aren't interested in any of this ? After all, they show little interest in these issues back in New Zealand either, other than to bash the poor and dispossessed.
New Zealand is in crisis and it is ordinary people who are paying for the crisis. There are few jobs and even people in jobs can't make ends meet, over a quarter of a million children are living in poverty and essential welfare services are dying the death of a thousand cuts while the wealthy get increasingly wealthier. But while pleading poverty on everything else, the government still found $36 million for this latest America's Cup bid. But, as John Minto has observed, you won't find a logo for the New Zealand taxpayer anywhere on the catamaran. That would upset market ideology that slams state assistance for ordinary folk.
New Zealand is an exhausted nation that has been trampled underfoot by the iron heel of neoliberalism. Communities have been ripped apart.
But the media are trying to foist a distorted sense of community on us via the corporate sponsored chauvinistic nationalism of the America's Cup. We haven't moved on much from the days when Michael Fay, taking a break from pillaging the country, decided he'd like to acquire the 'The Old Mug'.
Many liberals are getting conned by the hype. They think if they don't display some enthusiasm they will regarded as 'unpatriotic' and 'elitist'. I say they are being unpatriotic and elitist by supporting it.
The America's Cup isn't our country. It is the country of the wealthy and the corporations and a sycophantic media. An honourable exception though being Maori Television which has kept the America's Cup at a suitably restrained arms length. The fact that so many Maori are living in poverty may have something to do with that.