Mixed media: The PM'S slow leak

Prime Minister Helen Clark's role in newspaper stories which attacked Police Commissioner Peter Doone continued to haunt her this week, five years after the fact. But will she sustain long-term damage from the saga?

SHE'S IN THE CLEAR

FROM THE SOUTH: There are few voters who are not familiar by now with Clark's strengths and weaknesses and fewer who are likely to take Doone's side in his battle to relitigate events. Doonegate tells anyone who has been asleep for the past five years that New Zealand has a controlling, clever, manipulating Prime Minister who doesn't let much get in her way. Hold the front page. - Colin Espiner in the Press

The gallery veteran: The Opposition's convoluted quest to find out exactly what she did or did not confirm to a Sunday newspaper about the circumstances that led to the resignation of Peter Doone as Commissioner of Police five years ago has failed utterly to capture the public's imagination. As has the charge that she covertly manipulated the Sunday Star Times to force that resignation when constitutional protocol demanded she keep her mouth shut. - John Armstrong in the New Zealand Herald

The politics tutor: Ultimately, she gave confirmation knowing that it would allow a story to be published that would force Doone's hand.

Whether this constitutes "causation" is best left to the metaphysicists, but the quote itself was immaterial - with or without that quote, she confirmed the story. Can we get over it already? - Keith Ng on www.publicaddress.net

Left-leaning blog: Can someone explain to me why this isn't just a big media beat-up? It looks more likely that the Tories and their ACT friends are just again keen to try and besmirch Helen Clark, presumably on the basis that they know they're going down to an election loss and are beginning to get a bit desperate. - Just Left weblog

WOUNDED CREDIBILITY

Centre-right blogger: Clark was just asked in the House whether she was setting a bad example for others by leaking Cabinet documents. Her reply was staggering in the arrogance. Basically it was that it is up to the PM how all documents are released and "by definition I cannot leak". So even bodies with statutory independence like the Police Complaints Authority, are subject to the PM's whim as to how their reports are made public. - David Farrar on www.kiwiblog.co.nz

 

Business newspaper columnist: There is no suggestion Ms Clark has acted in an unlawful manner ... But a bad odour remains. Ms Clark's apparent role in the affair is potentially much more damaging to her than was "Paintergate," even though this matter involved the possibility of criminal wrongdoing. The morality shown by the Prime Minister in setting up Mr Doone smacks as being little different from that shown by former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon when he dobbed in Labour MP Colin Moyle for alleged homosexual activities in 1976. - Jeff Gamlin in the National Business Review

Wellington insider: The years 1997-99 were certainly a chaotic time for Govt in NZ. A whiff of this chaos has returned to hit the Clark Govt [and] the echoes are eerie. First, the Peter Doone affair. This will probably become an inconclusive he said/she said thing, but the picture of a PM leaking details of a report on the country's top cop, which is odd at best and underhand at worst, leaves a bad impression. - Wellington news-sheet Transtasman

Capital view: One spectacularly successful element of the Tory campaign [was] the effort to brand [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair as untrustworthy. He was openly called a liar by the end of the campaign. The effects on the Government of credibility attacks are being rehearsed here in the Doone episode. While a single attack is unlikely to bring down the city walls, it lays the ground work for more to come. Labour needs a better strategy to deal with the attack. - Molesworth & Featherston newsletter

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