Brian Edwards Media

Still Not Time to Go, Paul? Still Not Time, Rick Ellis?

“Is [Anand Satyanand] even a New Zealander? Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time? Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander this time?”

And to add insult to injury:

“The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud.”

 - TVNZ  spokeswoman Andi Brotherston

And if you thought it impossible to make things worse by offering an apology, check out this quite extraordinary performance by Henry on this morning’s Breakfast.

Update: TVNZ has suspended Paul Henry from Breakfast for two weeks without pay. He may also be replaced as frontman for This Is Your Life.

 

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59 Comments:

  1. Having worked in the TVNZ Newsroom many moons ago, (and managing to escape with most of soul still intact) I can take a reasonably well informed stab at what’s been the generally accepted mindset from those sitting on high… and it’s purely and simply a question of ‘ratings’ and further driven an historic bureaucratic ethic that remains from the NZBC days and that still permeates much of that tired old institution.

    A bureaucracy, by its very nature, must exist by continually striving to increase its size… or at the very least maintain its existing one… and TVNZ News and Current Affairs only commands the budgets (and consequently ‘power’) that it does by the number of shows it has has in its stable. ‘Breakfast’ serves many purposes for that company (including a cheap training ground for young journos and reporters but viewing numbers have always been a difficult proposition…. but what they’ve found in Paul Henry is absolute gold as far as the heads of News and CA are concerned… they couldn’t buy this kind of publicity for one of their presenters, especially on that particular show… so they tolerate it… over and over and over again. Be under no illusion, if this was one of their other presenters, the consequences of such actions would be a very very different situation from the ones we’ve had to cringe and indulge over the last few years.

    Why do you think they’ve persisted with Sainsbury on Close-up and PH hasn’t been offered the move to the ‘cool kids’ dressing-room?

    He’s far more valuable where he is and he serves the almost sociopathic needs of an arguably ‘dying’ bureaucratic beast who can’t see that its days are numbered and its relevance has passed.

  2. My complaint to TVNZ:

    I have three complaints about this morning’s broadcast:

    1: From Henry’s mouth: “Is he even a New Zealander?
    “Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time?
    “Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?”

    This is ignorant (the governor general is a New Zealander), racist (the governor general is a New Zealander) and unacceptable.

    2: Later on he attempted an apology: “I sincerely apologise to the Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand for any offence I may have caused.” Of course he didn’t. It’s not up to him to use “sincerely”, and then he tries to duck out from under it by the ending it with “I may have caused”.

    These are weasel words. They are not an apology. They are not acceptable.

    3: Someone from TVNZ [I am unable to name, but I’m sure you know who she is]: “The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud,” she said.

    This last is the worst. TVNZ, through a spokeswoman, is condoning what he has said. This is cynical and the most unacceptable of the lot.

    Laurie Fleming

  3. The GG was born in New Zealand. The idea that he does not meet the threshold to be a real New Zealander is therefore racism pure and simple as it asserts that ethnicity is what qualifies one to be a New Zealander rather than birth or commitment.

    This is especially so when one reflects on the fact that PH was not born in NZ. Therefore presumably his appearance makes him more one of us than someone born here who looks differnt.

    Wrong, wrong wrong. Both because we are past thinking that way and also because the majority of our babies are actually brown.

  4. The last point in Laurie’s post is definitely the worst.

    Not only are Henry’s actions condoned, but the TVNZ spokesman is effectively trying to push it onto “us” (the public). ie. It’s all our fault because Henry is just saying the things “we” all think, but are too scared to say. We’re the bigots, really, and Henry is the brave one for going into bat for us.

    Not in my name, TVNZ.

  5. To be fair, Henry *was* born in New Zealand. In Auckland. Just like the Governor General.

  6. Unfortunately I think Paul was born in NZ .There is no excuse for his behaviour.There is no excuse for TVNZ allowing such behaviour.Its not funny, just ignorant.

  7. Paul Henry is an intelligent and frequently hilariously funny man. So why the hell does he demean himself, and the rest of New Zealand, with this crap? Does he honestly believe we think this? Does he honestly believe we are all so bigoted? Is he not as intelligent as I give him credit for? Or just out of control with a sense of invincibility? Most of his “outrages” until now I’ve not been offended by – I’ve just thought they were the usual shock jock, controversy-seeking stuff. But this one is truly outrageous and offensive. He owes all of New Zealand an apology.

  8. I made a formal complaint to TVNZ. I’m just disgusted by what Paul Henry said.

  9. And John Key can fudge it all he likes. He was taken aback indeed. I don’t think so.

    He didn’t react and pull Henry up because he is used to hearing similar comments time and time again around the barbies and drinkies he has been to … with the blokes.

    It is not hard to imagine what the reactions of Muldoon or Lange or Clark would have been in such a situation.

  10. P. Henry is a juvenile, sniggering dolt – no doubt about that! A real embarrassment, almost on a daily basis now. However, it’s the indefensible comments by TVNZ’s ‘spokeswoman’ which offend me – and I refuse to believe it was Megan Richards who uttered them, as she is usually a sensible person who tries to defuse issues, not inflame them!

  11. I am so upset by this. So upset by Henry’s knowing and cynical pandering to bigotry. So upset by TVNZ’s complicity in it. So upset by the barking support of Henry from people who repeat the lazy and meaningless mantra “pc gone mad”. So upset by the fact it is our State broadcaster aiming this low. It is appalling. Rick Ellis, you should be ashamed of yourself for condoning it – even if only with your silence. What a disgrace.

  12. He’s just eye-rollingly pathetic, with his “ooh, aren’t I shocking!” comments coming at ever decreasing intervals – now they just bore me. Increasingly they strike me as being pre-planned, rather than genuine off-the-cuff remarks.

    It seems to have escaped his notice that in NZ we have *lots* of people of Indian and Fijian Indian heritage – while they are not the majority ethnic group here, neither are they a rarity.

    TVNZ however is the real culprit, not just for putting up with his increasingly offensive behaviour, but, I’m sure, encouraging it, all in the name of ratings and publicity. I like the headline in the NZ Herald article online: “Don’t blame the monkey, blame the organ grinder”. Too true!

  13. “The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud,”

    How many New Zealand Asians, Indians, Somalians, Pacific Islanders, etc are really quietly thinking these things, but are scared to say them out loud? Really?

    Paul Henry crossed a line. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The thing is, are we prepared to accept this sort of shock-jock stuff on Breakfast TV, or is it time to hit up the network about it?

    BSA will be interested in hearing complaints, I’m sure.

    Rob

  14. Wonder why a clever chap like John Key didn’t respond quickly and decisively since he was there at the utterances? “Just plain wrong” some hours later is at least disappointing if not suspicious.

  15. J Key is showing himself up as the “dumb” poster
    boy He is unable to think on his feet when
    real issues are raised. He never allowed too
    much interaction with people like Plunket or at
    least his minders at CT don’t!

  16. It is not hard to imagine what the reactions of Muldoon or Lange or Clark would have been in such a situation.

    Well, let’s call bullshit on that for a start. Clark had no problems doing her weekly slot on Breakfast no matter what offensive bullshit was coming out of Henry’s mouth, and Mike Munro would have had a stroke if she’d every boycotted a certain cheeky whitey’s top-rating radio show.

    And Muldoon? W would our host like to proffer a little history lesson on Muldoon’s relationship with the media?

  17. Two slow-motion train-wrecks: The ACT Party and Paul Henry.

    No, make that three: TVNZ, too.

  18. @C R 00:15 Watch your language mate…

    No history lessons on Muldoon needed. What we do know is that he had the sharpness of mind, along with Lange and Clark to assimilate what was being said and react accordingly. Clark terminated at least two interviews (ABC and Campbell) from memory.

    This particular incident of Henry’s is simply the most appalling of a recent sequence. And Key didn’t have the nouse to realise it.

  19. “He’s a very distinguished man. I am a Gypo television presenter.”

    This from Stuff this morning. I really don’t think he has a clue…

  20. @ Markus. Two slow-motion train-wrecks: The ACT Party and Paul Henry.

    No, make that three: TVNZ, too.

    Train-wrecks! More like laissez-faire capitalism and vulgar, crass, commercialism devouring itself along with its children with the help of Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut and KFC etc. Why on earth start your day with such junk telly?

  21. Andi Brotherston’s comment has been the most revealing in this affair so far.

    ““The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud…”

    Firstly, it tells us who TVNZ thinks their audience is. Secondly, by using “we” she tells us what the management of TVNZ “quietly think”. Add to that the fact that Paul Henry has already said he enjoys the strong support of Rick Ellis.

    One can only conclude TVNZ is a racist organisation, headed by a racist, that uses a racist presenter to actively further an agenda of fermenting race hate.

    Now, unless Rick Ellis is a secret white supremacist, the only possible motive for turning morning TV on the state broadcaster into a racist shop front for red necks can be ratings.

    The irresponsibility and cynicism of that is so mind bogglingly breathtaking that I think you can only conclude that it requires government intervention to fire the entire board of TVNZ.

  22. Quite apart from Paul Henry’s distasteful comments during that interview, when will John Key ever learn to correctly pronounce the name of our country? It ain’t ‘n-zild’. Does he take an interpreter with him when he travels overseas?

  23. I think we should at least acknowledge the unpalatable truth; there is a sizeable chunk of the population that agrees with Henry’s views.

    I am not sure that his apology this morning helped much. The term ‘gypo’ is inevitably used in a pejorative sense and iis about as insensitive as using the term ‘cheeky darkie’.

    It is all very well condemning TVNZ as a racist organisation but it sadly reflects what is still largely a racist NZ society. Unless TVNZ were reasonably certain of the support of a large part of the population it would not dare make such inflammatory excuses for Henry.

    There used to be a NZ overseas newspaper specifically for ex paats and thoose thining of emigrating. I remember buying this before moving to NZ. One article has stuck in my mind and that was about Indians in NZ and Indians taking over the corner dairies. It was an extraordinary, patronising and offensive article that made me wonder what I was coming to. now I know and things have not changed a great deal.

    • There used to be a NZ overseas newspaper specifically for ex paats and thoose thining of emigrating. I remember buying this before moving to NZ. One article has stuck in my mind and that was about Indians in NZ and Indians taking over the corner dairies. It was an extraordinary, patronising and offensive article that made me wonder what I was coming to. now I know and things have not changed a great deal.

      To my eternal shame, I think I wrote the article you’re talking about. The publication was New Zealand News Today and it reprinted stuff I’d written for the Dominion Sunday Times. I think I was writing about ‘commercial imperialism’. It’s more than 30 years ago. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  24. Blooming heck, Blossom; are there not more important things to worry about. Get a life.

  25. Blossom its one of Keys many failings.I would expect our Prime Minister to defend our Governer General from the ignorant ramblings of Paul Henry.

  26. I just made a complaint using this form: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/816462/823787. It is quick and easy. Why not pass on your thoughts.

  27. Whoops; sorry to arouse unpleasant memories; the name of the author was long forgotten.

    It is to your eternal credit that you acknowledge authorship.

  28. Just because JK did not immediately slap Henry down does not make me think any the less of Key. Confronted with such an extraordinary statement during what is a generally anodyne interview it must be a bit difficult suddenly to adjust one’s thoughts. The first instinct would be to giggle with the sheer embarrassment.

  29. What if the Governor-General had been born overseas?! Look at the fine examples shown by governors-general Adrienne Clarkson and Michaelle Jean in Canada, born in Hong Kong and Haiti respectively.
    Then Mr Henry just goes on to insult the Romani. The man just doesn’t get it at the most fundamental level.

  30. “The first instinct would be to giggle with the sheer embarrassment.”

    The first instinct would surely have been, as prime minister, to defend the country’s head of state. If he can’t bring himself to defend the man, then surely the office should be held in some regard. I would expect any politician to defend this country’s head of state from baseless and unwarranted smears. Perhaps John key really is just playing at politics while he waits for his pension to kick in.

  31. I don’t agree Ben. When you really loathe something, let’s say Racism, you react immediately you’re exposed to it. Instinctively, you find yourself standing up and leaving the room or expressing your disgust verbally. I know because I’ve ‘left the room’ twice in the past month. The first instinct of an anti-racist is not giggling nervously. That’s the first instinct of someone who finds it funny but doesn’t want to admit it.

  32. “When you really loathe something, let’s say Racism, you react immediately”

    So are you suggesting that Mr Key is a racist and secretly agreed with Paul Henry because of his muted response at the time? I hope not; people react in different way when confronted with something thaat shocks them.

    By all means criticise Henry but I think you are being less than fair to JK. He did immediately say to Henry that the GG was a New Zealander and had performmed considerable service for the country.

  33. I apologise for monopolising the discussion but I have just noted a Stuff poll in which 35% of respondents believe Henry has done nothing wrong. Rather proves my earlier point, depressing though that point was.

  34. I see TVNZ has just suspended PH. I can’t help thinking they only did this once they realised the wide extent of public outrage – prior to now, they were right behind him and his offensive comments. Talk about a flip-flop!

  35. @ Ben: “…a Stuff poll in which 35 % of respondents believe Henry has done nothing wrong. Rather proves my earlier point, depressing though that point was.”

    Your earlier point, Ben, was:
    “…sadly reflects what is still largely a racist NZ society.” / “(Henry probably has)…support of a large part of the population.”

    35 % is a minority, you know, Ben. Sounds like almost two-thirds of New Zealanders have a problem with Henry’s comments. Though, admittedly, probably not the most scientific poll in the World.

  36. Stuff have a poll on TVNZ’s decision to suspend Henry. What is disturbing is that of 8000+ votes 37% think he has done nothing wrong!

  37. Just noticed a similar post further above.

  38. Although perhaps worth noting in the 44 minutes between Ben’s & My posts that % has increased from 35 to 37!

  39. Regular contributors to this blog will be aware of my comments regarding Paul Henry – post August 22nd. The rope around his neck seems to have been tightened but not yet yanked (TVNZ suspends Paul Henry). @ Ben – Your guestimate of the support Paul Henry has for his latest comments seem to be entirely incorrect “I think we should at least acknowledge the unpalatable truth; there is a sizeable chunk of the population that agrees with Henry’s views”. The circle of people you walk in may agree with Paul Henry, but I would argue that TVNZ has suspended him over his latest remarks because a significant portion of the New Zealand public has given TVNZ the message, “do something about your lapdog” I also believe this issue will get bigger and that John key will come out with an even stronger response, following his pathetic intial response.

  40. Alex, suggest you remove your rose tinted glasses, be a little less self righteous and take a look at the poll on the Stuff website.

  41. I have since watched the original Breakfast item. Key was not “taken aback”. He carried on his blokes-barbecue-RSA type banter with Henry. Later at his press conference, when he’d seen the lie of the land and potential embarrassment, he tried a few weasel words to try to get off the hook.

    Me thinks the public might have seen yet another instance of the flakey-opinion-poll-driven Mr Key. Not a lot of substance in him.

    I expect he is banking on a gold medal in the Rugby Sevens to get him past this one.

  42. @ Ben – the said opinion poll reflects the opinions of 14354 New Zealanders when I looked. Question – Is there a way of knowing whether people have voted more than once in this poll? If people have, then the results are irrelevant. Question – Do 14354 people reflect a significant number of people in the country – answer – no. You cannot base your argument that 34% of respondents support Paul Henry on these skewed statistics.

  43. Henry and his bosses thrive on the controversy that these 45 comments (plus mine!) help fuel. He’s not important; what he says is not important. Let’s just ignore him and his advertorial-laden show.

  44. I apologise for monopolising the discussion but I have just noted a Stuff poll in which 35% of respondents believe Henry has done nothing wrong.

    You mean one of those on-line polls which are amusing enough, but statistically meaningless because of the self-selecting sample? Wouldn’t draw any grand conclusions from that.

  45. Firstly, it tells us who TVNZ thinks their audience is.

    To be honest, I honestly think it’s unfair to attribute Brotherston’s bizarre statement to all of TVNZ. She’s a former Maxim Institute intern, and PR for the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Her thoughts would seem to be her own.

    Although there’s certainly some sort of failure in not hauling her in sooner.

  46. Speaking of offensive comments.

    Has anyone else noticed the Deborah Hill Cone column in today’s herald?

    The picture of Brown and Banks is captioned “Douche and Turd”.

    The same phrase headlines their Twitter post.

    That is as offensive as Paul Henry’s comments.

  47. I wonder when TVNZ is going to get a Breakfast presenter who looks and sounds like a journalist?

    . . . great line filched from Steven Price.

  48. Further, to Ben, somewhat late… no I’m not saying JK is a racist and secretly agrees with Henry’s racism. I have no idea what he stands for or against. I am saying he may have no idea either. Nor how he should react to in-his-face racism, as a man, a mate or as the PM. He is ‘taken aback’ and, perhaps it is fair to suggest, tries to divert the issue by pretending it was just a joke and joking along with it. Leading from behind as it were. Nowhere near good enough from a man, a mate or a PM. IMO.

  49. arandar. There is little evidence of John Key having a general philosophy. (Pragmatism?) If he did he would be able to respond to issues quickly. Helen Clark lived by her philosophy which gave her the ability to know almost before the question was finished, just where she stood.
    Therefore the direction of Henry’s words suggest a rather murky philosophy don’t you think?

  50. Sorry but if Henry or anyone said anything like that to me my natural reaction would be to immediately challenge them on any right to make such statements. But our Prime Minister chuckled and let him do it, with the Governor General as a target?

    Smile and wave John. Thinking? not so much

    TVNZ you have plemmeted to new sub-basement depths. You do not represent me in any way.

    BSA compplaint flicked to TVNZ and TVNZ complaint likely ignored, because they know what “we” like….

  51. As a brown-skinned New Zealander, I have absorbed a lifetime of bigoted comments and questions. So has my 82-year-old mother, whose father migrated from India in the early 1900s and married a New Zealand woman. I see how such comments affect my mother especially. While I am offended by Henry’s demeaning spiel, and the TVNZ spokeswoman’s worse defense, I am heartened by the many New Zealanders stating clearly that this unacceptable in our multiethnic community in 2010. Thank you, and let’s open the dialogue with the 37% (nicely works better.)

  52. I saw the comment elsewhere that suggested that Henry was quite correct when he said the GG did not sound like a New Zelander; he (GG) sounds educated and articulate. He also does not need to resort to expletives to make his point.

    One could also say he does not look like a New Zealander; he does not have designer stubble, his clothes do not look as though they have been slept in, he is sober and he appears to have rather good manners.

    Could these be the subtle messages behind PH’s comments that we have all been missing

  53. One could also say he does not look like a New Zealander; he does not have designer stubble, his clothes do not look as though they have been slept in, he is sober and he appears to have rather good manners.

    Interesting how these shock jocks like wearing suits and an unbuttoned shirt that looks like it wants a tie. Reminds you of an unmuzzled dog off its leash.

  54. I have long considered Paul Henry an idiot and nothing about his recent behavior has done anything to change this. What does really concern me is the direction that TVNZ has taken that accommodates such bizarre and offensive behavior. The focus should be on changing the culture at TVNZ and removing those at the helm who have led it into such an unsatisfactory state.