tr.v. fo·ment·ed, fo·ment·ing, fo·ments
To promote the growth of; incite.
To treat (the skin, for example) by fomentation.
I can't say I'd ever heard the word fomenting before, so I had to look it up. But "fomenting happy mischief" is what Helen Clark and Peter Davis have accused the New Zealand Herald of this morning - here's the story: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10494809
I can only assume that the meaning the First Couple is using in making this claim is that of "inciting", although the other word they use - happy mischief - do seem to be something of an oxymoron. The Herald story begins thus:
"The country's First Couple yesterday hit out at the Herald, accusing the paper of showing no charity to the Labour Party and "fomenting happy mischief".
Facing opinion polls putting her Government about 20 points behind National, Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Herald had run a silly campaign against the Electoral Finance Act and was a Tory paper which had shown no charity to Labour in the party's 91 years of existence."
The Herald also reports that Dr Peter Davis has again written to the Herald, this time about Glenngate. Given Clark's outrage when Davis was targetted by the media a couple of years back, I wonder how she feels about him writing unsolicited letters to the editor - by disclosing his identity, he himself has entered the debate.
Meanwhile, the Herald categorically denies the First Couple's allegations - this is how the article closes:
"Helen Clark's claim that commercial issues were a factor in the Herald campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill was rejected emphatically by Herald editor Tim Murphy. The campaign was solely motivated by the law's restriction on free speech and its anti-democratic nature."