John Drinnan: Kiwi voice of the right takes off in America

Donald Trump has won fans by taking on the media, says Trevor Loudon. Picture, AP
Donald Trump has won fans by taking on the media, says Trevor Loudon. Picture, AP

A New Zealand blogger is riding the conservative wave in the United States, with his claims that some members of Congress have links with communists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Trevor Loudon was Act Party vice-president from 2006 to 2008, and had made a name for himself with his anti-Soviet and anti-Labour campaigns.

Way back in 1986, he launched a campaign to expose what he saw as Soviet-Marxist subversion in New Zealand. In 2005 he started a right-wing blog called New Zeal, which attracted the interest and support of conservative American activist and broadcaster Glenn Beck, who later had a high-profile role at Fox News.

Loudon says that in 2008 he left behind a Kiwi political career to focus on the growing demand in the US.

Nowadays Loudon is working the US conservative media circuit. Based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, he talks to conservative groups around the US, such as the Tea Party.

"I never would have thought in a million years I'd end up doing what I'm doing now," he told me by phone.

"You start with a little blog in New Zealand and you end up doing this."

Loudon says his blog took off when it was promoted by Beck, and that led to his moving to the US in 2008.

It was great timing, says Loudon, because it was the time Barack Obama was moving into the White House.

Loudon's view of the world will have its supporters and critics. He is the author of two self-published books, Barack Obama and the Enemies Within and The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the US Congress. He also made a documentary in 2016 titled The Enemies Within.

As a traditional conservative, Loudon appears to be sceptical about Donald Trump, but Trump's rise has increased demand for speaking engagements, books and CDs that reflect the current debate.

For Loudon, the highlight so far has been a speaking engagement at the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, the traditional conservative group whose annual gathering this year backed Trump.

No shocks

Loudon differentiates himself from explosive right-wing media activists such as shock jock Alex Jones, saying his profile is much lower than that.

"I don't want to be in that category, I want to be credible," he says. "I have a reputation over here for reliability and being able to back up."

Some will disagree with his findings, but Loudon says he has built his name on being calm and sensible about his research into the influence of "Marxists and communists" in the US Government. Loudon says deep distrust of the media is a key issue.

"New Zealand media, I believe, is biased to the left, but New Zealand is culturally to the left as well."

That is not the case in the US, he told me. "Trump has won a whole lot of brownie points by poking it in the eyes of media," says Loudon.

Gutter journalism?

Newshub is standing by its decision to use a video of a defecating woman to lead its 6pm news.

A spokeswoman said the item "resonated with its audience".

The story on Monday was introduced as an "exclusive", and featured CCTV footage of a French tourist relieving herself in the gutter of a Dunedin back street.

Traditionally, network news has taken care with content at mealtime, warning viewers about any violent or offensive footage. In this case, it ran it at the top of the bulletin, with no audience warning. The footage was also available on TV3's 3Now website and a still image was included in updates of the story in other media.

Newshub said: "This was a story about an important issue - the consequences of freedom camping and the visceral impact it is having on communities [around] the country.

"The story resonated strongly with our audience, with good TV ratings and high traffic online where it was the top story of our day," the spokeswoman said.

But in my opinion, there was a problem with placement. This story depicting a woman squatting and using the roadside as a toilet was deemed by TV3 to be the most important thing that happened in New Zealand on March 13, including the aftermath of the New Lynn floods.

Maybe it belonged online, where news consumers are used to shock content. Longer term, I wonder whether TV3's news values will discourage mainstream viewers from backing network news in the future.

More Chinese TV

A fourth Chinese TV channel is starting in Auckland, and aims to expand further. The newcomer, NCTV, is joining Chinese channels CTV8, Channel 33 and TV 29, which also broadcasts outside Auckland.

NCTV is broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Freeview channel 32. The channel is owned by Asia Pacific News Corporation and has programming links with the Chinese Xinhua Television channel. Company president Frank Peng says it will invest more as NCTV grows its audience and advertising revenue.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

John Drinnan has been a business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s.

Read more by John Drinnan

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 29 Mar 2017 15:26:00 Processing Time: 651ms