Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Paul Henry'

This is Driving Me Nuts!

Here is the first sentence from an Associated Press report which I’ve just finished reading in the online edition of today’s Herald:

“WikiLeaks has offered to help the likes of Google and Apple identify the software holes used by purported CIA hacking tools – and that puts the tech industry in something of a bend.”

Now I don’t know who penned this story but it wouldn’t surprise me if the author was a Kiwi.

Why? Because “the likes of” has almost entirely replaced “like” , meaning “similar to”, in New Zealand journalism and, I fear, in everyday speech. Read the rest of this entry »


Suicide Note from a Deranged Narcissist

Paul Henry

Paul Henry has given a lengthy interview to the New Zealand Herald‘s Canvas magazine. The paper teases readers in a banner front page headline: ‘POTTY MOUTH PAUL – Has Henry finally gone too far?’ Having read the piece my preferred headline would have been SUICIDE NOTE FROM A DERANGED NARCISSIST.

Been there, done that. Though the interview I gave to a national newspaper in 1970, when I was making my name on the current affairs programme Gallery, was not riddled with expletives as this interview is. I’ve always thought that needing to pepper your language with ‘fucking’ represented a failure in communication. Or perhaps just trying too hard to impress. Read the rest of this entry »


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Footie!

Mark Weldon - MediaWorks CEO      (Photo: Stuff)

Mark Weldon – MediaWorks CEO (Photo: Stuff)

This year I added a second string to my bow of media appearances. In addition to appearing with my good friend and mortal radio enemy Michelle Boag on Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme, I became a regular panellist on Paul Henry’s morning TV/radio show.

The downside to these appearances was that I had to get up at sparrow-fart to be there on time, I didn’t get paid, and people kept bailing me up in the street to talk about it.

Well, “downside” is really not the appropriate word for people taking the time to tell you how much fun the Henry/Edwards exchanges were and how much they enjoyed the badinage between us.

The last of these appearances was on 29 June. During our conversation I revealed to Paul that I’d never in my life been to a rugby game or even bothered to watch one on television. I found the sport utterly tedious. Give me soccer or netball or limited-over cricket any day.

Paul was astonished and offered  on air to take me as his guest to a big rugby match so that I could see how marvellously exciting it was. He’d even arrange a corporate box. I accepted this generous invitation. As I was leaving TV3 a member of Paul’s production team rushed past me and breathlessly called out, “Got to arrange those footie tickets, Brian!”

Well, Paul and I never got to the footie. Not only that, I never heard from the programme or TV3 again. That appearance on 29 June on the Paul Henry Show was my last. Buy why?

Well, that’s a total mystery to me – a conundrum, a puzzle. It just doesn’t make sense. Unless perhaps you have a look at There’s Always More Room At The Bottom Of The Barrel, posted by me on this site on June 18, and Good News From Mediaworks. Story! posted one week later on June 25. That’s four days before my last ever appearance on the Paul Henry Show.

What have these two posts got in common? They’re both highly critical of remarks made by Mediaworks CEO Mark Weldon. TV3 is part of the Mediaworks stable.

Paranoia? Maybe. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Cheers Paul! Still love the show.


Hanging’s too good for them! (I rule on humourless people.)

Paul Henry Mug 2

Over the past three or four months I’ve made several appearances on The Paul Henry Show, theoretically in the role of informed media commentator. If you type ‘Paul Henry’ into the search box at the top of this page, you’ll find a number of seemingly contradictory posts on the controversial Mr Henry. They range from enthusiastic approval of his jbroadcasting skill to a call for his immediate sacking in the aftermath of ‘moustache-gate’, his mirth at the name of New Dehli’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, his description of Susan Boyle as ‘retarded’ and his offensive question to John Key as to whether the next Governor General after Anand Satyanand would look a bit more like a New Zealander.

I was right on both counts. Henry is a brilliant broadcaster who is never far from and occasionally crosses the line of acceptable broadcasting standards. I know I will regret having said this, but he’s also extremely bright.

Henry and I are of course politically poles apart. I stood as a Labour candidate in Miramar in 1972; he stood for National in the Wairarapa in 1999. And Judy and I were media advisors to Helen Clark for well over a decade. So there’s a bit of generally good-natured sparring between us on the morning show. A month ago, after he had described something I’d said about him as ‘vile’, I responded, ‘I like you Paul – when I am world dictator your death will be swift and painless.’  (I stole the line from one of my stepson’s T-shirts!)

This morning I told Paul that my appearances on his show were costing me my friends and cited an entirely fictional email from Helen Clark in New York warning me against any continued association with him. This gave Paul a wonderful opening to get stuck into the bullying, humourless bloody left. In response I felt obliged to withdraw my compliment of the previous month and inform him that I’d never actually liked him, though I very much liked his mother. Was he sure that this lovely woman really was his mother? It’s  quite a fun exchange.    Read the rest of this entry »


Some acting experience an advantage but not required.


If David Cunliffe were an actor, his preferred acting style might best be described as Shakespearean – declamatory, expansive, grand in tone and gesture, rich in soliloquy.

It is a style suited to the stage but unfortunately totally unsuited to the more intimate vehicle of television and in particular to the television interview or debate in which small groups of people in their living rooms at home eavesdrop on an equally small group of people in a studio talking and debating.

Cunliffe’s failure, and the failure of his advisors to draw this distinction between what is appropriate to the stage and what is appropriate to television was in my view a significant factor in Labour’s defeat. He was too big, too loud, too OTT. You could see that he was acting.    Read the rest of this entry »


Seven Sharp Week One – Was the weather or Waitangi Day to blame?

index (8)

The best comment I’ve heard about Seven Sharp came from Canterbury University senior journalism lecturer Tara Ross who said: We were invited to tweet and we were invited to vote, but what were we invited to think about?”

My answer would be: little of any consequence. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – the utterly brilliant QI deals almost exclusively in ‘quite interesting’ ephemera. I can watch, and have watched half a dozen episodes on the trot and could happily have watched half a dozen more. Informative, irreverent, rude, challenging, side-splittingly funny. All the things Seven Sharp isn’t.

Given the quality of talent available to the BBC, the comparison is of course unfair. And QI makes no claim to be anything other than an (admittedly somewhat intellectual) entertainment.

Television New Zealand’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, on the other hand, does a disservice to the producers and presenters on Seven Sharp, not to mention its viewers, by continuing to insist that Close Up’s replacement is still a ‘prime-time current affairs’ programme. It isn’t, at least not in the common usage of the term.  Collins English Dictionary defines ‘current affairs’ as ‘relating to events and developments taking place in the world now, or the way in which these are covered or presented by the media’. The only prime-time network programme that currently comes close to that definition is Campbell Live.

Had Seven Sharp been billed as a ‘magazine programme offering a light-hearted and occasionally serious look at the events of the day’, its producers and presenters would have been spared the tsunami of criticism and viewer disappointment that has all but swept the programme away.   Read the rest of this entry »


Snickering with Paul Henry


I read that Paul Henry is to be the New Zealand face for Snickers. My initial response was that this was not surprising since Paul has been snickering at his fellow man and woman for years. He’s mean. And that is apparently the very quality that the makers of Snickers want in their ads.

I say ‘apparently’ because, thanks to MySky, I don’t have to watch commercials and have never seen a Snickers ad. But I gather they feature some of the behavioural ill-effects that hunger for chocolate can have on human beings. Meanness, it seems, is one.

So Paul is going to play himself in the commercial. And he’s delighted:

“I’m excited to be involved in something which essentially just allows me to be myself. I’m glad to be able to show that meanness can be fun and celebratory, and despite the old adage that it’s difficult to do, meanness really does come easy.”

We never thought otherwise, Paul.

Other Snickers front-people have included Betty White, Joe Pesci, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli and Joan Collins, and Paul regards his inclusion in this Hollywood  A-list as “something of an honour”. I assume he means for him.  Read the rest of this entry »


TV3 provides a great debate. Goff wins. Pity about the panel!

OK, I’m one of a number of people advising Phil Goff and you’re entitled to think I’m incapable of being objective. So I’ll stick to the demonstrable facts.

I was worried about ‘the worm’. TV3 had made the indefensible decision to allow viewers at home who could afford a particular type of phone to vote on who was winning at any particular time in the debate. ‘Indefensible’ because the owners of those phones would come from a social group much more likely to support National than Labour. They then decided to combine the indefensible with the defensible – an audience of 65 uncommitted voters who would be given meters to record their preference for what each leader was saying during the debate.

Here’s the outcome: for three quarters of the debate, Phil Goff registered approval and John Key disapproval. For one part of the debate, where Goff spoke of the possibility of an arrangement with Peters, the worm favoured Key.

More significantly, the economically-biased ‘rich folks’ worm produced virtually the same result.

Those are the facts.   Read the rest of this entry »


I suffer insult on the radio, but am defended in the supermarket – a true story.


I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m the supermarket shopper in our family. It struck me as a rather nice example of serendipity, when Judy and I got together some 29 years ago, that she hated supermarket shopping and I loved it. It’s always been my view, you see, that women don’t understand the purpose of going to the supermarket, which is not to buy one of each item you need, but to stock up in anticipation of your future needs. What is the earthly point of buying one small can of baked beans when, within a month or less, you will certainly need another can, or quite possibly two? I rest my case.

Anyway, the regularity of my visits to the local supermarket have produced the result that I am reasonably well known there and, I think I can say without  exaggeration,  know and like several of the staff who know and (seem to) like me.

This accounts for an experience I had about half an hour ago in the aforementioned supermarket. I was approached by a member of the staff who was quite clearly in high dudgeon. This is how the conversation went:  Read the rest of this entry »


A Final Tribute to (and positively the last word on) Paul Henry


I Indulge in a Bit of Amateur Psychobabble about Paul Henry

Herald on Sunday

Many years ago Ian Fraser and I had a conversation about the qualities needed to be a successful television interviewer. Of course you needed to be reasonably intelligent, reasonably well informed, reasonably articulate, have a reasonably pleasant voice, be reasonably OK to look at and an extremely good listener.

And then Ian added one further talent: ‘To succeed on television you have  to be able to act yourself.’

The concept is also relevant to people being interviewed on television and we sometimes pass on Ian’s theory to our clients. The problem is partly that the nerves which affect most people, including the professionals, when appearing on television before an unseen audience of possibly hundreds of thousands of people, can strip you of many of the qualities you normally have in everyday life – confidence, fluency, animation, the ability to think on your feet, express yourself clearly, even, in extremis, to express yourself at all.

The successful television performer recognises this problem and makes a conscious and concentrated effort to restore those everyday qualities. To achieve this, he  becomes an observer of the ‘actor’ playing himself, simultaneously monitoring and fine-tuning his performance on a second by second basis. There is an almost schizophrenic quality to the host/interviewer’s job in which one person – the actor – is totally engaged with his guest or audience while the other is ‘reading’ the guest’s response, thinking about the direction of the next question, calculating how much time he has left, preparing to  introduce the next item and a host of other details that are essential to a successful performance.

So I agree with Ian that, in order to succeed on television, you have to be able to ‘act yourself’, that every appearance is ‘a performance’.  ‘Being’, as distinct from ‘acting’ oneself on television, is extremely difficult.    Read the rest of this entry »


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.



The Canterbury Earthquake – A Bouquet and (Oh Dear!) a Brickbat


Herald/Simon Baker

A bouquet to the New Zealand Media – television, radio, the press – who have done such a superb job in bringing us coverage of the Canterbury earthquake and its aftermath. Informative, responsible, humane and never sensationalised.

And a brickbat – well, you might have guessed it – to Paul Henry.  Judy and I are speaking at a conference in Queenstown. We rarely watch breakfast television on any channel, but today we caught Paul Henry talking to Christchurch mayor Bob Parker. This, it turned out, was a case of the gracious meeting the crass. 

Parker’s concern is the human plight of the people he represents. Henry wants to know what will happen to those people who have not been ‘responsible’ enough to have insured their properties. The tone of the question quite clearly suggests that such people are undeserving of support. Parker replies to the effect that this is a community which will help everyone who has suffered. It’s not a matter of money.

Henry than wants to know whether Parker has been doing ‘a Rudy Giuliani’, whether he thinks this will improve his chances of retaining the mayoraly against Jim Anderton. Parker quite proplerly dismisses the question as inappropriate. But Henry can’t leave it alone. He tells Parker that he’s sounding like Giuliani [after the bombing of the World Trade Centre].

It’s hard to find anything strong enough to say about the crassness of wanting to talk about whether uninsured people deserve to be helped or a public figure’s chances of re-election have been improved two days after an earthquake when you’re standing in the middle of a devastated city.

My god, Paul, what else have you got in your compendium of horrors?


I Return Reluctantly to the Topic of Paul Henry

Herald On Sunday

I am reluctant to return to the topic of Paul Henry. In talking about him at all one pays him a degree of attention which he almost certainly does not deserve. But he is employed by the state broadcaster as an entertainer and is well rewarded for his efforts. And it is this aspect of the debate that I wish to address.

The central question concerning Henry, it seems to me, ought to be: Does Television New Zealand accept responsibility for Henry’s regular abuses of his privileged position as a broadcaster on national television? Or does it take the view that his ratings – and potential ratings if he is given his own prime-time show – more than compensate for the insult that he so cheerfully pays to so many groups and so many viewers? And is the censure of the generally weak-kneed Broadcasting Standards Authority, with its totally inadequate penalties, actually a convenient way for TVNZ to absolve itself of responsibility for Henry’s uncivilised opinions?

It might be thought that none of this matters since Henry is the co-host of a breakfast show which, by definition, has a very small audience. But common sense dictates that the only reason for TVNZ to put up with the regular fallout from their host’s disagreeable utterances is the substantial future revenue which it might expect to generate from the high viewing figures which any show designed to offend public sentiment will be guaranteed to attract. For the simple fact of the matter is that if the mooted prime-time Henry programme proves to be inoffensive, it will disappoint and fail.   Read the rest of this entry »


Time for Paul Henry to Go



Someone recently accused me of being judgmental and cruel in comments I had made about some of the leading lights in the recent ‘march for democracy’. I took the criticism  to heart. I abhor cruelty to anyone or anything. If I make an exception it is to be strident in my criticism of those whom I see as advocating or practising cruelty themselves. I can appreciate that there’s a contradiction in that, but I’ve not yet reached that Christian or Buddhist state of consciousness where I can readily  extend compassion to those lacking in compassion.

I’m about to criticise Paul Henry whom I defended in the very first blog which I published on this site. My thesis was that, despite his occasional gratuitous, offensive and personally hurtful comments about other people, his exceptional talents as a broadcaster justified his continued employment by Television New Zealand. That is no longer my view. Henry is a bully who is abusing his position as a public broadcaster. He should be sacked. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s To Be Done With Paul?

Is Paul Henry really an obnoxious prat or is this just an act to keep him in the papers? If it’s the latter, then he’s succeeding admirably.  There is no better way to raise your profile than to polarise your audience. In general, the most successful broadcasters – Judy Bailey being the glorious exception – have been simultaneously loved and loathed.

It’s the same for newspaper columnists. People with considered views, who can see both sides of an issue, need not apply. A columnist’s success is judged by the number of irate letters his or her editor receives. Essential characteristics –  one-eyed, dogmatic, over-the-top, contemptuous of other views. Best current New Zealand examples – Michael Laws and Garth George. Read the rest of this entry »