This week the VFF team received an email from Stuff’s Andrea Vance requesting an interview for a story she was writing. The email specifically stated that they weren’t prepared to submit questions in writing.
Over the past two years, VFF has conducted almost all of our communication with mainstream media in writing and with good reason. Members of the freedom community, or anyone with an opinion contrary to the mainstream narrative, are regularly misquoted. Their words are spliced, diced, and contorted to fit a pre-determined agenda seeking to present them as a danger to society.
There have been many instances since early 2021 where the email communications between our team and various news reporters tell a different story from what is eventually presented to the public.
Considerable time is taken to respond to such requests for comment, and more often than not, our position is simplified or glossed over within the final story.
In the interests of transparency, we thought we would give our readers an insight into the back-and-forth of one such email exchange.
Two hours later Andrea backs down…
Our final response is below.
Your response suggesting that the request for written questions equates to a desire to “avoid media scrutiny” demonstrates the very issue we are dealing with.
In our considerable prior experience dealing with media, receiving questions in writing has been standard. Contacts in the media have confirmed this experience is not unusual or unreasonable. Furthermore, since VFF was formed, the media requests for comment we have received have been in writing, requesting a response in writing.
VFF has little faith of a verbal interview by Stuff being reported with integrity or context based on historical precedent. There is an absence of trust between VFF and Stuff reporters. This is as a direct consequence of ongoing false reporting by Stuff on VFF’s messaging and intentions. You may or may not be aware that there is currently an active Media Council investigation into a complaint made by VFF about recent Stuff reporting.
The ongoing allegations by Stuff that VFF is deliberately seeking to hide, or have candidates hide, various affiliations is false. Your accusation that we “advise candidates to ask for questions in writing as a way of avoiding media scrutiny” is also false. On the contrary, we have made a very reasonable request – to have questions submitted in writing and to be able to respond in writing – so as to ensure that our comments are reported accurately and within context. Indeed we would welcome media scrutiny of our actual position if ever Stuff would publish it.
Local body elections attract candidates who are everyday Kiwis with little to no media experience. Anyone observing the witch-hunt that has occurred over the past few months towards candidates would be justified in opting to avoid the the media’s hounding and harassment.
VFF would consider participating in a Live broadcast, but otherwise we require that any further requests for comment from Stuff reporters on this topic be submitted in writing. We reserve the right to publish our responses to ensure an accurate public record of our statements.
Our media statement follows.
MEDIA STATEMENT BY VOICES FOR FREEDOM ON STUFF LOCAL BODY ELECTION REPORTING.
Many everyday New Zealanders no longer feel they are being fairly or reasonably represented in their communities and, as a result, have decided to stand for election in local government. Candidates run their campaigns with messaging that reflects their values and passions.
VFF rejects outright the accusation that we asked people to hide their affiliation with our organisation or to act in a way to subvert the democratic process.
On 17 August, VFF published a press release addressing the widely misreported claim that potential candidates in the local body elections had been instructed to hide their affiliation to our organisation.
Stuff has ignored this release and continued to spread disinformation on this story.
Reporters within Stuff have been unrelenting in asserting that VFF poses “a direct threat to democracy.” We believe any concerns academics raise are heavily influenced by widely-circulated Stuff articles and videos containing disinformation and false quotes, or representations repeated so often they have taken on a life of their own.
VFF has yet to be presented with any examples of dis/misinformation allegedly circulated by our organisation.
Presented with evidence, we would be happy to provide a response.
Detailed information to help New Zealanders understand and navigate the election and voting process has been made freely available on our website at https://www.voicesforfreedom.co.nz/who-do-i-vote-for. VFF has urged people to research their local candidates and make informed decisions.
A survey to our subscriber list of over 100,000 people identified that more than 450 Kiwis with views aligned with ours had been nominated around New Zealand. Subsequent to the nomination deadline we have been made aware that several hundred additional candidates are sympathetic to our views.
We believe it is very important that New Zealanders participate in the democratic process. Given the significant number of everyday Kiwis that VFF advocates on behalf of, and our established and growing infrastructure, we are well placed to engage with the general election, should we desire.
VFF has not provided any financial support to candidates or their campaigns.
Alia Bland – Co-Founder, Voices For Freedom
You Be The Judge
The Stuff article was published this morning. While it did not contain much content from our correspondence with Ms. Vance, some accurate representations made it through.
After two months of repeating a false narrative about VFF’s so-called instruction to candidates to “hide” their affiliation, they finally printed the truth. Pity, it was too late to undo the damage caused by the lazy circular reporting from the mainstream media, where one reporter repeated the lies of the last without ever checking the accuracy of the situation.
The fact that VFF poses a threat to the status quo by being creative, organised, professional, capable, and connected shone through as a theme concerning the so-called experts.
People resonate with a message when it is clear the messenger is on the right side of history, advocating for fairness, transparency, discussion, and debate of important issues.
For this reason, we believe the heat will continue to be applied to VFF as we remain dedicated to the essential role VFF holds in New Zealand society.