OPINION: The Keith Lynch ‘hitpiece’ on Dr. Guy Hatchard, published on Stuff.co.nz this week is a prime example of why trust and faith in legacy mainstream media is in decline.
Dr. Hatchard is a prominent voice in the national COVID vaccine conversation. In the four months since DTNZ was first launched, we have published 50 of his articles. They have been read by nearly two million readers on DTNZ alone. His substantial output of work includes writings on science, ethics, philosophy, history and law. His articles are lucid, well-referenced, often citing influential journals, data and studies.
Lynch claims this important body of work is ‘demonstrably flawed’ and ‘misinformation’ but cites no actual examples of this. The only time he quoted an article was a reference to a question Dr. Hatchard raised about Shane Warne’s death – a question many people around the world asked when they heard news of the maestro’s passing.
The term ‘misinformation’ is always used by legacy media to belittle opinions or views which do not coincide with the narrative they wish to foist onto the public. If Lynch was around during the Renaissance he would have accused Galileo and Copernicus of being misinformation ‘super-spreaders’.
To publicly label an important body of work, such as that of Dr. Hatchard’s, as ‘misinformation’ and ‘demonstrably flawed’ is a sweeping accusation requiring serious evidence to back it up.
Instead of a scholarly critique with concrete examples, Lynch embarked on an appalling character assassination which derided Hatchard’s experience, qualifications and spiritual beliefs. None of these factors are remotely relevant to the question of whether or not Dr. Hatchard’s writings during COVID, published on this website and many others, are ‘demonstrably flawed’.
Here’s how Lynch justifies his ad hominem attack:
‘Reporting on men like Guy Hatchard is fraught. I’m well aware of the risks of amplifying the views of those who make demonstrably flawed claims about the Covid vaccine. Even reporting and fact-checking his claims gives them some mana.’
I’m sorry but that is a spineless cop-out.
If one attempts to destroy a man’s reputation and undermine the credibility of his work in public, it is incumbent on the attacker to justify and prove exactly where and how he is wrong or in error. That is a duty owed not to Dr. Hatchard, but to Lynch’s own readers and his profession.
Failure to do so lessens your mana, Mr. Lynch. Copping out like that shows you have no answer to Hatchard’s arguments. Then, to write in a derisive tone about his employment history, tertiary education, spiritual beliefs, ‘hard lentils’ and what-not, backed up with cliche quotes about ‘cults’ and ‘rabbit holes’ destroys what little is left of that mana.
Simply put, people are sick of the legacy media engaging in what amounts to glorified petty gossip and bullying. It’s also a sign of desperation – ad hominem attacks always are. As the author and journalist Christopher Hitchens once said, ‘I always think it’s a sign of victory when they move onto the ad hominem.’
Sentiments like these were reflected in comments made by a number of Lynch’s Twitter followers, some of which read:
In contemplating Lynch’s hitpiece my overriding thought was ‘what motivates or pre-disposes a person to engage in this type of malicious, pointless character assassination?’
I have a few theories, but to detail them publicly would make me no better than Lynch.
Lynch also made a big deal of Dr. Hatchard’s apparent change in views from that of strong support for the government to vocal critic of it. This is in fact a common phenomenon. Between 30% and 40% of those who attended the Parliament Protest voted Labour at the last election. I was a lifelong Labour voter, and a committed believer in Ardern, until they imposed vax mandates and vax passports. From that point I rapidly developed a contempt for the party and the leader. I would rather eat poisoned lentils than vote Labour again.
‘Little or no relevant background’
What I also found astounding about Lynch’s article was this example of barefaced hypocrisy contained in the first paragraph:
Keith Lynch looks at how an alternative online ecosystem allows someone with seemingly little or no relevant background in vaccination to position themselves as an expert.
Without possessing even a basic science or medical degree, nor any credible expertise in the fields of disease, epidemioloy or vaccination, Lynch was appointed ‘Chief COVID Science Explainer’ for Stuff.co.nz at the start of the vaccination roll-out. Dr. Hatchard quite rightly asked Lynch in an email, ‘How did you [ie. Lynch] get such an appointment without a science background?’
Compaint about misleading information
Lynch also made a comment about DTNZ which I considered misleading:
‘His [ie. Hatchard’s] content also regularly appears on websites such as dailytelegraph.co.nz and dailyexaminer.co.nz. At first glance both appear to be typical news websites, but they are not. Both position themselves as ‘alternative’ sources of news and are popular with those opposed to vaccines and vaccine mandates.
They have not agreed to abide by the Media Council principles and are therefore subject to little or no oversight.’
As far as this statement applies to DTNZ it is misleading. The following day I sent an email of complaint direct to Lynch, which read:
Please take this email as a ‘Letter of Complaint’, as per the process for media complaints set out on the Media Council’s website.
I am the owner and editor of Daily Telegraph NZ (dailytelegraph.co.nz) – (‘DTNZ’).
In your opinion piece of 15 March 2022 entitled ‘Covid 19 NZ: The strange story of a man who has found fame in the anti-vaccination ecosystem’ you said, in relation to DTNZ:
‘They have not agreed to abide by the Media Council principles and are therefore subject to little or no oversight.’
This is completely false.
Please produce evidence of such ‘agreement’. Please produce evidence of a refusal by DTNZ to abide by Media Council principles.
If you had made contact with me prior to publication, I would have told you the following in regards to the Media Council:
DTNZ is a new player on the NZ news scene, having first launched in late October 2021. From day one I have planned to seek Media Council membership for DTNZ, but knew that the website had to first build up at least a year’s history before seeking membership. Given the growth and profile of the website was well beyond what I initially anticipated, I brought forward planning for the membership application for July 2022.
So, far from ‘refusing’ to abide by Media Council rules, DTNZ is actively in the process of preparing for an application for membership.
What you should have written was something like:
‘Daily Telegraph is not currently a member of the Media Council but is in the process of preparing to apply for it. Until such time as it is a member, it is subject to little or no oversight.’
I think this is important because the way you have written the article is misleading – it is implying an active refusal on the part of DTNZ to abide by Media Council rules, when (1) there has been no such active refusal and (2) DTNZ wishes to join the Media Council in July 2022.
Accordingly, I request you correct your article to reflect the above.
I received a response from Stuff.co.nz’s Acting Chief Editor a short time later. She agreed to put a correction of sorts at the end of the article. While I was not 100% satisfied with the wording, I accepted it in the interests of getting the issue addressed quickly.
Playing the man and not the ball
The Lynch hitpiece is the latest installment in a long line of such articles published by legacy media against individuals and groups whose only ‘crime’ is to disagree with the COVID narrative.
Their obsession with ‘playing the man and not the ball’ is distasteful, and short-sighted. Throughout the COVID crisis, the public have become more aware of the dangers posed by an unholy alliance of the state, big tech and legacy media to cherished freedoms and privacy rights. These ad hominem hitpieces are a key weapon the legacy media use to stifle freedom of thought and expression. They write them to intimidate those who speak out and to discourage others from voicing a difference of opinion. In discouraging public discourse, they undermine democracy and it must stop.