“The Nation” – a review





First off the block for the ‘Battle of the Current Affairs Shows’ is TV3’s The Nation.

The current affairs show has been revamped with a different format and new hosts, Patrick Gower and Simon Shepherd. There is also a political panel, with familiar faces Bill Ralston, Josie Pagani, and Jordan Williams, frontperson for the latest right-winger ‘ginger’ group, The so-called Taxpayer’s Union.

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So, how was the first episode?

Not the best, really. It is as if all the experience built up over the last few years have gone out the window, and there were a few irritating “clunkers”.

The main discordance – Patrick Gower. The man is talented, knowledgeable, and (should) know his craft.

But he needs to learn to Shut The F**k Up. Posing question to his guest also means waiting for an answer – not leaping in before the interviewee has even has a chance to complete his/her first sentence. Gower’s non-stop interuption of Cunliffe meant the viewer couldn’t get any idea of what the Labour Leader was trying to get at.

Message to Gower: do you want to know why David Cunliffe shouldn’t be outlining his coalition preferences on your programme?

Answer: Because he wouldn’t be able to articulate it properly without you over-talking him. We’d never get an answer because we’d be hearing your voice instead of his, and any message he’d  try to express would be lost in your strident voice continually interupting him.

Next week, Gower will be interviewing John Key. Now, as much as I’m no fan of Dear Leader, I think I’d rather hear him speak than Gower. So learn to pose the question and draw breath whilst your guest responds.

On a vastly more positive note, contrast Simon Shepherd’s interview with Jamie Whyte. This was a measured, professional, almost laid-back style of interview reminiscent of past, by-gone years where the guest’s responses were the central theme of  an interview – not the interviewer’s ego.

Simon’s strength lay in his soft-spoken, unexcited style of questioning Whyte (who, I think benefited from Simon’s style). There was definite ‘steel’ reinforcing his  laid-back approach. The ‘softly, softly’ approach – and it worked.  I was reminded of the BBC’s Hard Talk host, Stephen Sackur.

More of Simon, please.

The panel was a direct rip from TV1’s Q+A, with practically the same characters re-cycycled.

If TV3 is going to pinch another channel’s idea – can we at least have some fresh commentators? There must be more than half a dozen political pundits that TV3 can call on?

Next, the whole “Next Week’s News” seemed a bit of a farce. Not content with a TV current affairs programme being “across” a story (god, I hate that term) – now they’re going one step further and trying to predict stories? It is almost as if  The Nation is trying to set the news/current affairs agenda – an uncomfortable step for a news/current affairs programme to take.

Oh well, at least they’re not making up Tweets.

Lastly; what gives with the near all-male line-up of hosts, reporter, and panellists?!  Does TV3 have no talented women journalists? And what happened to Rachel Smalley, who really grew into the role?

All up, I rate this 6/10.

Can do – should do – much better.



= fs =


  1. The second paragraph names all the reasons why I wouldn’t bother tuning-in. Better off saving precious power by keeping the television off. If anything noteworthy happens, can rely on the blogs to recap.

  2. That really was a shameful amateurish display by Gower.He is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is.Look no further than Sky Australias’ political editor/interviewer David Speers if you want to see a true professional at work.There is an absolute dearth of talent in this country and we will all be the poorer for it.The best we have here is Michael Wilson on tv3s Fiirstline. It will be interesting to see if Key is afforded the same treatment next week.If not,why not?

    • Michael Wilson? He’s their economic speculator, not a political commentator, and probably for good reason.

  3. I watched the programme this morning and couldn’t agree more. I cannot stand Patrick Gower anyway, I don’t think he is a particularly good reporter and he looks incredibly awkward in this role and I think Cunliffe got the better of him. Why on earth have they got that silly twit on the panel who runs the new so called union. The panel alround is pathetic, clearly showing their bias everytime.

    • Too right. I was friends with Jordan Williams briefly when we went to the same Primary school and lived on the same street in Hastings, now I couldn’t have more differing political views if I tried. Strange that. But my parents were struggling through that time, his mother seemed to be doing slightly better and was a member of the local Council, even back then he had an inflated sense of self worth, which I think had something to do with his mother’s job.

  4. Yes agree. Didn’t see Simon’s interview.

    Gower mistakes good interviewing as repeating the same (irrelevant) question over and over again.

    David Cunliffe was outstanding.

    • @ Anker – actually, I kept thinking that if I’d been Cunliffe I probably would’ve taken the tack of starting a sentence and the moment Gower interupted, I would’ve shut up and let him talk. Then repeat. And the moment he said I wasn’t answering his questions, said slowly;

      “That’s because you’re more interested in your own voice than anything I might have to say.”

      Then I would have asked him,

      “Why is that Patrick?”

      And the moment he tried to reply, I would interupted Gower, and talked over him.

      Ok, maybe a bit smartypants of me – but how else does one deal with such a situation?

  5. You are right Curtis.Samantha Hayes is good.Rachael Smalley left The Nation soon after David Cunliffe did a demolition job on her in his first interview as leader.He also demolished Gower yesterday .At least with both Hayes and Wilson you get the impression of impartiality and a willingness to tease out answers to the real issues.Gower had the wiggley smile on by the time Cunliffe had finished with him and will have to lift his game substantially or be replaced.However I don’t think he’s capable,the ego is just too big!

  6. What’s Gower’s obsession with ruling things out?
    Every fucken interview, ‘can you rule this out’, ‘can you rule that out’. He’s an absolute bore. He’s not a journalist. He spends his whole life trying to get people to say something dumb on camera.
    As much as I hate the fact he’s always got Key’s cock in his bum-chin, I hate his brand of journalism more.
    I honestly have no idea why he exists. What’s his purpose in life? And that Tova O’Brien is following in his footsteps. She comes out with some moronic statements; if someone didn’t say they would do something, then we can guess they will do this instead. She’s a burden on humanity too.
    Do they ever take a step back and look at the journalism they are producing? The way they treat that new ACT moron…sure Jamie Whyte puts his foot in his mouth and talks about his personal views which have nothing to do with ACT’s policy, but who gives a shit? What about ACT’s policies? Surely their policies are twice as sick as shagging your cousin.
    If I had to decide what is more damaging to society – shagging your cousin or Gower & O’Brien’s idiocracy, I’d say go fuck your uncle’s offspring.

  7. Frank, it’s quite clear that the pairing of Gower and Shepard have been chosen for a reason. That reason being, Shepard does the interviews with the likes of Whyte, and possibly in future National MP’s of less significance, while Gower attempts to grill all Left wing leaders they invite on, and then, having freedom to do so due to having a reputation garnered from such interviews, goes easy on the likes of Key. Then all he has to do his throw in one or two SEEMINGLY hard line questions and, even though he doesn’t try to talk over Key like he does with others, convinces the more ignorant among the public that Key is great and that he actually tried to trip Key up. They’re pretty crafty over there at TV3.

    • Yes crafty enough they have a left leaning presenter in their prime time current affairs show at 7 am.

      I’d suggest it is only clear to hard core lefties like you. The rest of the population isn’t so paranoid.

  8. I would have thought the most obvious and offensive thing about “The Nation” was its blatant right wing bias which pretty much disqualifies it as a current affairs show. Gowers relentless attack on the left, the featuring for about the 4th time in 2 weeks of the zero percent non entity Act, and the obviously stacked panel, hosted by right wing Gower, featuring the very right wing Ruth Richardson devotee Bill Ralston, a right wing stooge from the so called Tax payers Union, and the sanitised pseudo left Pagani. This is not current affairs. It is propaganda.

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