Posted by BE on June 14th, 2014
In an earlier incarnation I had my luxurious dark brown beard shaved off by Kenny Everett to raise money for Telethon. Viewers donated several thousand dollars to see my naked visage, complete with double chins.
I interviewed Basil Brush at the same Telethon and got into terrible trouble for asking Basil his views on sporting contacts with South Africa. The owner of the hand up Basil’s brush, a conscientious objector to apartheid, had earlier privately suggested that I ask Basil the question. And I was happy to oblige.
This was in 1981 when I was still hosting Fair Go. It was of course also the year of the infamous Springbok tour. As I was leaving the building a senior TVNZ executive took me aside to remonstrate with me about the Basil Brush question. ‘Why is it,’ he asked, ‘that you always have to spoil everyone’s fun with these serious political questions?’ Boom boom, Mr Derek!
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Posted by BE on May 29th, 2014
If you are the driver who ran over our lovely Burmese cat Felix around 4pm tonight (Thursday) in Argyle Street, Herne Bay, would you please be kind enough to contact me on 0274754939. No recriminations. Felix is being treated and it’s touch and go whether he will make it. It would be helpful to know exactly what happened.
Felix made it through the night, today’s X-rays show he has a badly fractured leg, but no other life-threatening injuries. Orthopedic vet operating tomorrow afternoon. Max, who raced to his aid when he came in hurt, is fretting. Vet says Felix is coping reasonably well. Looking at horrendous bill and six weeks ‘cage rest’. That will be interesting!
Posted by BE on May 22nd, 2014
If you were to browse through all the posts on this site you’d find a disproportionate number devoted to the author’s intemperate outbursts on the abysmal quality of radio and television interviewing in Godzone today. In particular you’d find him railing against the current fashion for overly aggressive, highly interruptive and plain-bloody-rude cross-examination of public figures by self-important, snotty-nosed journalists whose only regret is that the rack, the bastinado and the iron maiden are no longer considered acceptable methods of getting confessions out of politicians, pilferers of the public purse and other worthless riff-raff. Think Hosking, Espiner, Wilson, Dann, Gower, sadly now joined by the once pleasant and highly professional Lisa Owen. What they all have in common is the belief that it is unacceptable for an interviewee to carry on talking while they are interrupting. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on May 14th, 2014
There was nothing terribly complex about Shane Taurima’s situation with regard to his job as Head of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacifica Department once he had, albeit unsuccessfully, sought the Labour Party nomination for the Rawhiti Ikaroa seat following the death of Parekura Horomia. Taurima had very publicly nailed his political colours to the mast. In doing so he had effectively disbarred himself from any further involvement in News or Current Affairs broadcasting with the state broadcaster. The potential conflict of interest could not have been more clear.
Television New Zealand apparently did not see it that way. Perhaps they thought that Taurima’s failure to actually win the nomination made all the difference. He had been a would-be Labour candidate, not an actual Labour candidate. (And, as it turned out, would be again.) That rationalisation is so facile as to be laughable. Taurima was politically tainted. He should not have been re-employed in his previous role. But he was.
When he took things even further and turned his TVNZ office into a Maori/Pacifica Labour Party branch, Taurima did his employer a favour. Without actually hanging portraits of Savage, Fraser and Kirk on the walls, the conflict of interest in which he and others in his department now found themselves could not have been more patent. To his credit, Taurima had the grace and good sense to resign. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on April 28th, 2014
Posted by BE on April 22nd, 2014
In a remarkable coincidence two Essex district court judges are arrested on the same night for riding their bicycles without lights. On the following morning they turn up at court to answer the charges.
“Well, this is bloody embarrassing,” says Judge Brown. “How are we going to handle it?”
“Oh, I don’t see any problem at all,” says Judge Green. “You can hear my case and I’ll hear yours.”
“Brilliant!” says Judge Brown. “I’ll judge your case first.”
Judge Green takes his place in the dock.
Judge Brown: You are charged with riding a bicycle at night with no lights. How do you plead?
Judge Green: Guilty, your honour.
Judge Brown: Very well. Fined five pounds. Stand down.
They change places.
Judge Green: You are charged with riding a bicycle at night with no lights. How do you plead?
Judge Brown: Guilty, your honour.
Judge Green: Very well. Fined ten pounds. Stand down.
“Hang on,” says Judge Brown. “I just fined you five pounds for the identical crime.”
“I know,” Judge Green replies, “It’s a deterrent sentence. There’s far too much of this going on. This is the second case we’ve had today.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on April 20th, 2014
My name is Brian and I’m a TV addict (not in recovery). I thought it was time to let you in on some of the better flat screen drugs currently available on the market. You’ll note that there are NO cooking programmes on the list. I still have some pride. You’ll also note that there are no movies. This is because movies are unwatchable with commercials and Sky’s movie policy seems to be to recycle the same movies for as long as humanly possible. This at least has the advantage that you don’t need to worry if you miss one. It’ll be back!
So here we go.
Game of Thrones (9.30 Sunday Soho)
I suspect I’m a typical viewer in that I haven’t the slightest idea what’s really going on. Judy has read the book and does understand what’s going on, but has given up trying to explain it to me. Can you enjoy a TV drama whose plot-lines defeat you? Well yes, if it’s essentially a morality play in which the forces of good and evil wage war – big time wrestling against a massive canvas. The baddies are so bad and the goodies so beautiful. What more could you want? Well sex, violence and lots of nudity to name but three. Plenty of that too. From the stunning title-sequence to the cliff-hanger conclusion of each episode it really is unmissable stuff.
[Since posting this my old school friend Ivan Strahan has reminded me that I was remiss in failing to mention that Game of Thrones is filmed largely in our home town of Belfast. His son Jules plays a barbarian guard.]
The Paul Henry Show (10.30 weeknights TV3)
Yes, I know, the guy you loved to hate on Breakfast, got the push here, bombed out in Oz, came crawling back and now has his own late-night show on TV3. Who would watch it? Well, in spite of him saying I’ve been around longer than the Pope, I would. And I do. Henry is all the things he was before – outrageous, disrespectful, rude, iconoclastic, vain, egotistical, potty-mouthed, chauvinistic, a right-wing prick and very, very funny. So what’s made the difference? The time slot. At 10.30 Henry can be all of those things and it’s really enjoyable. His side-kick, the gorgeous Janika Ter Ellen, has grown on me and the duo seem to be working well. Not so entertaining is the uncomfortable ‘9 in 10’ segment where pub patrons are asked to name nine items in a category in 10 seconds in order to win the sponsor’s product, a Kia car. And Paul’s bottom obsession is showing. If he doesn’t like something it’s ‘not a something’ s bottom ‘ or ‘not a something’s bum’ or ‘not a something’s arse’ or ‘not a something’s backside’. Potty training I suspect. But The Paul Henry Show is a pleasant surprise and a good watch.
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Posted by BE on April 18th, 2014
If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know that I have in the past written some pretty scathing posts on Labour’s Shane Jones. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve dismissed him not only as a future leader of the Party, but as a worthwhile Member Of Parliament and a decent human being.
Then, yesterday, I came across this video on the Herald’s website. And I had no choice but to radically change my previous opinion and to do so with a degree of regret that it had ever been expressed. I’d had a preview of Shane Jones’ debating skill and facility with words a week or two back when he was interviewed on The Nation by Paddy Gower. But this was something different. It was an extraordinary display not only of oratory and the art of persuasive communication but of subtlety of thought and intellectual depth, leavened with humour. It was theatre. One need not go far to look for a reason. Jones is equally fluent in Maori and English. But his impact when he combines the two is nothing less than extraordinary. Well, he is also a man who provokes strong feelings of approval and disapproval, a high-risk candidate for the highest office in the land. But as I watched and re-watched this speech, I thought I could perhaps see a future Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister to boot.
Decide for yourself:
Posted by BE on April 15th, 2014
I suppose dishonestly reporting that someone else has behaved dishonestly could be regarded as a wonderful example of irony. But if the dishonesty of the reporter is transparent then it’s also a wonderful example of crass stupidity.
Either way, this is precisely what Cameron Slater has recently done. In a post on Whaleoil published a couple of days ago, entitled Manufacturing Clark’s History, Slater refers to a television interview the former New Zealand Prime Minister gave to Australia’s Channel Nine programme The Bottom Line and to a subsequent report on the interview, entitled ‘Helen Clark reflects on life as a leader’, which appeared on Stuff.
The Stuff report of the interview contains numerous quotes of things Clark said. You can tell they’re quotes because they’re all in inverted commas.
At one point in the interview Clark is asked how she pitched for her current job at the United Nations.
She replies: “So my pitch was, ‘This job needs a leader, and I am that leader’”.
That reply is directly followed in the Stuff report by this sentence:
Having led the Labour Party without barely a whisper of a coup for six years in opposition and then nine years as Prime Minister, human resources at the UN could hardly argue that credential.
Note that there are no quotation marks around the sentence. That’s presumably because Clark didn’t say it. Everything else she said in the Channel Nine interview is reported in quotes. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on April 11th, 2014
I recall a meeting in the Leader of the Opposition’s office some time in 1999. Present were Helen Clark, Heather Simpson, Mike Munro, Michael Hirschfeld (then President of the Labour Party), Judy Callingham, Brian Edwards and possibly some others. Among the topics for debate was whether Labour should enter into a coalition agreement with Jim Anderton’s Alliance Party. The view of those in favour prevailed.
Under MMP, Labour won the election taking 49 seats in parliament, while the Alliance took ten. Fears that the Alliance’s more left-wing policies would damage Labour were proved to be unfounded.
In 2014, Labour Leader David Cunliffe has declined Russel Norman’s invitation to enter into a pre-election coalition agreement with the Green Party, while conceding that, should Labour win the election, an unspecified number of senior Green Party MPs could expect to be part of his Cabinet.
Though it can be defended – a la Winston – as an appropriate reluctance to enter into coalition agreements before the votes have been counted, it’s hard to see Cunliffe’s rejection of the Green’s marriage, or at least ‘engagement’ proposal, as anything other than a snub. At the very least, the Labour leader is making it perfectly clear to Norman/Turei just who will be running the show, should National lose the election. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on April 3rd, 2014
We had some pretty good news today: the PET scan which Judy had a week ago suggests that her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment has dealt to her oesophageal cancer. I say ‘suggests’ because we can’t be absolutely certain. Judy’s brilliant (and lovely) radiation oncologist is pretty sure that what may look like residual cancer on the scan is in fact inflammation resulting from the dilation treatment she’s having to widen her constricted oesophagus. All good.
Not so good is the fact that Southern Cross, to which we have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years, won’t pay for the PET scan. They only pay out on one PET scan per claim year, from 1 August to 31 July, and this was Judy’s third in the current year.
I’ll come back to this, but first a little background.
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Posted by BE on April 1st, 2014
The following report by TV3 political editor Paddy Gower appeared on the channel’s 6pm bulletin last night. Setting aside as best you can your political prejudices, please answer the following question: Is this journalism or a party political broadcast on behalf of the National Party?
Posted by BE on March 30th, 2014
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the ongoing Kim Dotcom/Mein Kampf debate is the rank failure of commentators to recognise the sheer irony of their positions.
I’m going to brand as ‘book-burners’ those who have made the leap from Dotcom’s ownership of a signed copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf to his being a Nazi sympathiser. I don’t of course mean that they are actual book-burners, but that they exhibit the mentality of book-burners. They are people who believe that a man’s character may be judged not merely by the contents of his library but, in this particular case, by his ownership of a single book. Their logic, as I argued in my previous post, is that if the contents of a book are evil then the ownership of such a book is itself evidence of evil:
‘Kim Dotcom owns and has read a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler was the founder of National Socialism and one of history’s most evil men. Ergo: Kim Dotcom must be an evil Nazi.’
The Dotcom/Mein Kampf story was first given national prominence by TV3 journalists Brook Sabin and Patrick Gower who confidently predicted the end of Dotcom’s political aspirations and, one might assume, of his hopes of remaining in this country, as a result of his owning a priceless historical document, signed by Hitler himself and dedicated to his cellmate Hermann Esser.
So the first irony lies in journalists, traditional advocates of free speech, if not actually promoting book-burning, at least fanning the embers.
But then, in the current climate of New Zealand commercial television, sensation mongering is precisely the journalist’s job. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 27th, 2014
What a dreadful fellow this Kim Dotcom is. He owns a signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf. This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the fat German believes in Hitler’s ‘final solution’ to the Jewish problem, that behind that jovial exterior is a closet Nazi. John Key will be wringing his hands in glee. He can tear Dotcom’s credibility to pieces. In the ongoing battle between the two men this revelation will mark the day that Kim Dotcom started to lose and John Key started to win.
We know this is true because it headed last night’s TV3 News. We are indebted to the unctuous Brook Sabin and the occasionally hysterical Patrick Gower for tearing this scab off Dotcom’s reputation.
You can follow the logic, can’t you: If you have bought and have in your possession a book written by an evil person and containing that person’s evil thoughts, then ipso facto you must share that evil person’s evil thoughts and, presumably, be an evil person yourself. Dotcom should count himself lucky that we don’t burn people like him at the stake any more. And the ducking stool has been out of commission for far too long.
There’s a lesson in this for all of us. I can tell you that I’m getting rid of my copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, the collected works of the Marquis De Sade and the Old Testament. I really don’t want people knowing that I’m a Communist pervert willing to gouge out the eyes and (without anaesthetic) pull out the teeth of anyone who crosses me. Half of my library will go out with the next blue bin collection. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 26th, 2014
I’ve taken down the post “The (Kiwi) Wolf of Wall Street Strikes Again” because I was factually wrong in my view that while the Gambling Foundation had been highly critical of the Government’s ‘pokies for convention centre’ deal, the Salvation Army had not. That weakens the argument that the Foundation was being punished for its attacks on the Prime Minister and Government. Having advised clients for years how important it is to admit your mistakes, I’m admitting this one. That said, I withdraw nothing that I said in the previous post: “Why I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him – a response”.
Posted by BE on March 25th, 2014
In my previous post I made the unequivocal statement that “I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him.” Several people commented that I really ought to provide some evidence in support of that conclusion. I could perhaps respond that the general theme of the post was that our opinions of other people (and politicians in particular) are often based on feeling or intuition unsupported by demonstrable facts and incapable of empirical proof. Intuition can be a pretty reliable tool for judging others. Nonetheless, I think the question ‘Why would you not trust John Key as far as you could throw him?’ deserves an answer.
You’ll find part of the answer in John Key – ‘There There’ Prime Minister which I posted on March 2. But you have to look to the ‘pokies for payola’ deal which Key negotiated with Sky City to really understand where I’m coming from. What that deal told me was that our Prime Minister is a man devoid of social conscience or a moral compass.
The Hippocratic Oath, sworn by many doctors around the globe, contains the following sentence:
“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone.”
It seems to me that this principle of never doing harm to anyone can properly apply to any person whose decision-making power can influence the lives of others. Politicians certainly come into that category and none more so than a president or prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 24th, 2014
The phrase ‘presidential-style election campaign’ is bandied about a lot these days. Its intended meaning is that voters are as much or perhaps more influenced by the personality and media image of party leaders as by their parties’ policies.
This was clearly not, or at least less the case in the pre-television era when party leaders were generally seen in the flesh only at public meetings or very occasionally on cinema newsreels. Parliament was first broadcast in New Zealand on the 25th of March 1936 but offered neither the intimacy nor the capacity for exposure of the television close-up. Radio without pictures is sound without sight. It can be hugely informative but the listener is deprived of a large chunk of helpful non-verbal information.
Keith Holyoake was the first New Zealand Prime Minister of the television age. In 1971 in my book The Public Eye I wrote of his on-screen performances:
‘The studio Holyoake was everything that an interviewee should not be – evasive, pompous, patronising, overbearing, long-winded, repetitious, pretentious, boring.’
The trouble in part was that no-one had dared to tell him just how awful he was. That changed in 1970 when the recently knighted Prime Minister accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me on his life and times on the popular current affairs programme Gallery. Much against the wishes of his press secretary Arthur Manning, Gallery producer Des Monaghan and I sat Sir Keith down and told him the unvarnished truth about how he came across on the box. Though he still sounded as though he had a marble in his mouth, the outcome was a frank and in places quite moving interview. Unbeknownst to me, my career as a media trainer had begun. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 7th, 2014
New Zealand Politics Today
We understand that, following the Shane Taurima embarrassment, Television New Zealand has employed a psychometric testing company to root out staff working in the news and current affairs areas who may be prone to bias towards a particular political party or party leader.
The test is a refinement of a similar procedure used by psychologists to identify paedophiles where electrodes are attached to the offender’s genitals and he (normally it is a ‘he’) is shown photographs of a range of people of both genders and varying ages. Signs of sexual arousal when shown photographs of children allow the testers to gauge the strength and direction of the subject’s inappropriate desires and, it is hoped, to devise aversive therapies to curb those desires.
Current and prospective TVNZ journalists and interviewers will from now on be required to undergo this ‘political arousal test’. Once the electrodes have been attached to their private parts they will be shown a rapid-fire, random series of photographs of John Key, David Cunliffe, Russell Norman, Meteria Turei, Colin Craig, Tariana Turia, Jamie Whyte and Hone Harawira.
It is understood that preliminary results from the programme (or ‘dry runs’, as they are called) have necessitated recalibration of the testing equipment. On being shown photographs of the party leaders, the libidos of all the TVNZ reporters and interviewers fell to such an extent that no reliable data could be extrapolated.
In an attempt to ‘de-inhibit’ the party leaders, the researchers sought their agreement to undertake the test naked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outrageous suggestion was rejected by all but one of the leaders, Mr Craig stating that he had ‘nothing to hide’. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 2nd, 2014
I can understand the public love affair with John Key. People comfortable in their own skin are generally comfortable to be around. And that’s how I’ve felt about the Prime Minister on the one or two occasions I’ve met him.
What is less usual is for politicians to be comfortable, to ‘be themselves’ on television. From time to time I’ve quoted my friend Ian Fraser’s dictum that the key to coming across on the box is to be able to ‘act yourself’. Despite Ian’s enormous experience as a broadcaster and media trainer, I’m not sure I still agree with that particular gem. It’s the ‘acting’ bit I have trouble with. Acting and sincerity really don’t go together.
Critics of Labour leader David Cunliffe regularly accuse him of acting, implying lack of sincerity. I rarely hear the same criticism of John Key. So is John Key more sincere than David Cunliffe? No. John Key is a better actor than David Cunliffe. With endless repetition, the role he is playing – amiable, easy-going, in charge but still just one of us – has become second-nature to him and, in the process, less recognisable for what it is. Actor and real person have merged. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on February 26th, 2014
The television consumer programme Fair Go returns to TV1 tonight. This means work for Judy and me, work which we would ideally prefer not to have at all. Dealing with frightened and distressed people, who have been harassed and intimidated by Fair Go reporters and who see their businesses, reputations and lives being destroyed in the interests of television entertainment and advertising revenue, is both harrowing and frustrating.
The frustration arises from the imbalance of power between Fair Go and its victims. Being in the right is no protection against a programme which, as I have argued before, acts as a court but has none of the protections that would apply to an accused person in the real justice system. Fair Go reporters assume the roles of prosecutor, judge and jury within a mock trial system in which the accused has no representation and no real opportunity to present a proper defence.
In my earlier critique of Fair Go I listed the numerous ways in which the programme is not merely unfair, but utterly unscrupulous in dealing with complainees. I invited TVNZ or the programme’s producer to deny any of the claims I had made in the post. The silence was deafening. Read the rest of this entry »