Thursday, January 24, 2019

Who'd have thunk it?

So, it turns out that the New Zealand Taxpayer's Union are simply a paid front for the cancer industry:

A right-wing lobbying group which has railed against cigarette tax increases and plain packaging laws in New Zealand counts a tobacco giant among its corporate funders.

The NZ Taxpayers’ Union has not disclosed its financial support from tobacco companies in its reports or press releases, with one public health academic calling on it to be more transparent about its donors.

The Guardian identified the relationship between the Taxpayers’ Union and British American Tobacco as part of its series on “the huge damage of the tobacco epidemic ... and the industry behind it”.

In an investigation into the ties between “free-market thinktanks” and the tobacco industry, the Taxpayers’ Union was identified as being supported by multinational firm British American Tobacco.

A British American Tobacco spokesman told Newsroom the company had been financially supporting the Taxpayers’ Union for three years, paying “a standard annual corporate membership fee”.

This is a basic conflict of interest, which could have been resolved by simply saying where their money was coming from. But that would have defeated the purpose: what British American Tobacco is paying for is "independence", the illusion that people who aren't paid by them advocate for their interests. And of course if they'd said "we take money from the cancer industry" on the bottom of a piece defending that industry's interests, everyone would have dismissed it for the hackery it is.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering: now that they've been exposed as intellectual mercenaries, will the New Zealand media continue to print the Taxpayer's Onion's PR? It will be an important test of whether they have even basic journalistic standards.