Posted by BE on April 7th, 2013
[Update: Susan Wood was admirably restrained in her interviews on Q & A a week after this post appeared.]
In the check-out line at Victoria Park New World this morning I bumped into my regular co-panellist on the media review segment of TV3’s The Nation, Bill Ralston. After comparing notes about why men enjoy supermarket shopping and women generally don’t, Bill asked me if I’d watched Q & A which follows the Sunday edition of The Nation on TV1 and is, I suppose, our competitor. No, I hadn’t watched it, but I’d be looking at it later on MySky. Bill thought I shouldn’t miss it. Susan Wood was ‘terrific’, she’d demolished David Shearer and given much the same treatment to National’s Nikki Kaye.
By coincidence, Bill and I had earlier been talking on The Nation to freelance journalist Karl Du Fresne who’d penned an article entitled ‘RNZ must right its lean to the left.’ Karl’s position was that there was strong evidence of endemic left wing bias by Radio New Zealand interviewers and he cited Kim Hill, Kathryn Ryan and Mary Wilson as examples.
I don’t agree with Karl’s thesis any more than I agreed with those who claimed right-wing bias on the part of the media when Helen Clark was running the country. Journalists have, in my view, an obligation to call to account whichever political party or coalition holds the reins of power, to be, if you like, an informal opposition.
Anyway, when I got home, I watched Susan Wood interviewing David Shearer and Nikki Kaye.
So did I think Susan Wood was ‘terrific’? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on May 26th, 2012
Duncan Garner and I haven’t always been on the best of terms. We had a very public spat a couple of years ago about whether or not Garner was running a personal campaign to discredit Chris Carter. It included my asking whether TV3 ‘should be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job’ and stating unequivocally elsewhere that, ‘Duncan Garner can’t interview.’
I’m somewhat embarrassed today by those earlier comments. My embarrassment has in part been occasioned by getting to know Garner better over the last year or so, when we have both been appearing on TV3’s The Nation. Not only did he seem to hold no malice against me for my earlier disparaging comments, he was positively welcoming of his new colleague.
More importantly, I was drawn to the conclusion that, far from being unable to interview, Garner had become the best political interviewer in New Zealand by a country mile. I’ve found no reason to change that view. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on May 14th, 2012
If you got out of bed early enough on Saturday or Sunday to watch TV3’s The Nation
or its counterpart on TV1 Q & A
, you might have noticed something interesting: No Labour Party spokesperson appeared on either of television’s principal forums for political analysis and debate. The Nation
had SOE Minister Tony Ryall being cross-examined on asset sales by Duncan Garner; Q & A’s
Paul Holmes looked at where the economy is or should be heading with the Greens’ Russel Norman and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters. The two are increasingly filling the media space left by Labour as the official Opposition.
The absence of anyone from Labour on The Nation was explained by Garner at the very start of the show. The programme had invited Labour’s Spokesperson for Economic Development and Associate Finance Spokesperson, David Cunliffe, to discuss more or less the same things that Norman and Peters were discussing on Q & A – the future direction of the economy. Cunliffe was happy to appear but, conscious of the current sensitivities in the parliamentary party over Labour’s leadership, sought an assurance that that topic would not be canvassed in the interview. He received that assurance in writing from Executive Producer Richard Harman and Garner himself. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on August 23rd, 2011
Is John Key such an inspirational leader that he deserves to enjoy the support of 57% of New Zealand voters? Is Phil Goff such a hopeless leader that he deserves the support of only 8% of New Zealand voters? Has the National Party’s record in office been so impressive that it deserves to enjoy the support of 56% of New Zealand voters, including one might surmise, a significant number of Labour defectors? And has the Labour opposition been so feeble that it deserves the support of only 30% of New Zealand voters?
Well, if the polls are right – and there is no great difference between one and another – then the answer to all of these questions would seem to be Yes. But are they right? The extremity of their findings – the adulation of John Key and the seeming invisibility of Phil Goff; National having twice as much support as Labour – seems curious, given the parlous state of the economy, the high level of unemployment and the near-Third-World conditions in which so many of our citizens, both adults and children, are currently living.
As a nation we seem to have closed our eyes to these realities, so dazzled are we by the luminance of the Prime Minister. The mirror image of ourselves as a people which the polls present seems to me less than flattering. Are we really a nation more impressed by style than substance? Are we really that shallow? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on July 12th, 2011
Now here’s a novel idea. Let’s have a television current affairs programme on which people of diametrically opposed viewpoints can debate the issues that divide them, forcefully but without undue rancour. Such a programme would require a chairperson who could control the debate, ensuring that each side was given a fair opportunity to state their case and that the principal areas of disagreement were afforded an airing. This would of course not be possible with a programme duration of less than 30 commercial-free minutes.
You won’t find a programme like that on TV1 or TV3. If you feel like watching political chat on Saturday or Sunday morning, there are Q & A and The Nation, but these are essentially interview programmes, and the interviews rarely run to more than 10 or 12 minutes. With the possible exception of Paul Holmes, the interviewers also seem to prefer the sound of their own voices to the sound of their subjects’ replies. And anyway, it’s the weekend and you’d rather be lying in bed reading the paper or heading out for brunch with the family.
TVNZ7 has Media7, but its focus is by definition restricted to media matters and it rarely, if ever, devotes an entire programme to the sort of debate I’ve described above.
And, as far as I know, there’s nothing like that on Prime either. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on May 27th, 2011
Tony Blair giving evidence at the Iraq War Inquiry
Made an appearance on Russell Brown’s Media 7 programme last night
with fellow commentators David Slack and Sean Plunket. We were there to discuss whether politicians are by nature incorrigible liars.
The public seem to think so. Polls asking people which occupations they trust, and which they don’t, have our elected representatives languishing near the bottom of the rankings with those other devious and dissembling rogues – journalists and used-car dealers.
But the media consultant, the speech writer and the interviewer last night tended to the view that, in New Zealand at least, Members of Parliament were not generally given to telling porkies.
That is certainly my experience. In almost half a century of living in this country I can count on two hands (and with a finger or two to spare) the number of MPs found guilty of lying to Parliament. And if we’re talking about premeditated, shamefaced lying to us, the voters, the number probably isn’t much higher. Read the rest of this entry »