There is a certain amount of rubbish being pedalled by the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union about the Herald's involvement in the saga over whether or not John Key told the Bay Report in Northland he wanted wages to drop.
National secretary Andrew Little is entitled to ask questions but they should be based on facts.
Amid many questions in a press statement today headed "Has National muzzled the press?" he asks why the Herald is publishing a "correction" ahead of a Bay Report "correction" on the story.
That is false.
A story appeared in today's Herald under the joint byline of Claire Trevett and myself. It is not a correction but a legitimate follow-up on a running story.
It was the result of me having observed in the House two things: John Key on Tuesday, and Bill English yesterday, saying that the paper in question, the Bay Report, would be retracting, and Michael Cullen saying that Key had tried to bully the newspaper into sacking the reporter.
Those comments were worthy of further inquiry and I asked Claire to make them. She did and wrote that part of the story that appeared in a joint story on Key cock-ups this week.
The Herald was actually first to cover the claims about the John Key and lower wages story after Labour had been on the case for a few days, and that was at the suggestion of the Herald editor.
Something else to keep a little perspective on this saga - what was run today in the Bay Report itself was a "clarification",not a correction or a retraction.
It would suit National, Labour and the EPMU if it were a correction, but any fair reading of the "Point of clarification" would see that the paper is not disowning the reporter's transcript. It is is saying that if what Key had said left the impression he wanted to lower wages, that would be incorrect.
There is quite a difference.
"From an examination of the interview, and the context of the comments made by Mr Key in relaitons to the loss of skilled workers from New Zealand to Australia, the Bay Report now accepts that was not intended and that impression would be incorrect."
No correction. No apology.
There wouldn't be a journalist or news outlet in the country that has not been lobbied by politicians about a story they have taken exception to. Labour does it too.
I have it on very good authority that Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey rang the chief executive of Radio New Zealand (yes, management) last year because he was so pissed off at an interview conducted by Sean Plunket.
The problem with this Key wages story from the start is that the transcript of what Key said appears to be contradictory. Key does say he wants to see wages drop but in the next breath he says he wants to see them rise.
Key was recorded by the Bay Report reporter in a Kerikeri cafe last year as he was talking to the Kerikeri District Business Association President, Carolyne Brooks-Quan. Key knew he was being recorded by a reporter. The political backdrop is that Key has repeatedly said he wants New Zealand wages to rise.
What the transcript says it this (the tape has been wiped):
Brooks-Quan: There's been a lot surrounding the exodus of people to Australia that are lured by higher wages. There are some calls here for employers to pay more. What's your take on that?
Key: We would love to see wages drop. The way we want to see wages increase is because productivity is greater. So people can afford more. Not just inflationary reasons, otherwise it's a bit of a viscous circle as it come back to you in higher interest rates. We really want to drive that out.
Not what you would call and open and shut case, is it?