Yes indeed. Mike Hosking is for the PM. And now he’s able to do even more as moderator (or should that be immoderator) of TVNZ’s election debates. Here at the Coalition for Better Broadcasting we feel it’s pretty safe to say that this is not good broadcasting, in fact it’s terrible broadcasting.
Choosing a moderator with public links to the ruling party would be expected in Russia or China. But this is New Zealand, a western democracy where journalists are expected to be impartial, and to hold the ruling party to account. Mike Hosking does not hold this government to account, and when he sometimes pretends to, he comes across as being part of National’s communications strategy, invariably helping them dig themselves out of a hole.
Some people have been saying these debates will be Cunliffe’s last chance to claw back some percentage points. He now faces not one but two formidable opponents in the ring. This is David versus Goliath and Goliath’s twin brother Mike! I’m almost starting to feel sorry for Cunliffe these days – everything is conspiring against him: Key befriended by the Queen, Key befriended by Obama, the Royal visit, the economic upturn from the Christchurch earthquakes, Shane Jones leaving, NZHerald and Donghua Liu, uproar for supporting rape crisis, slagged off for taking a brief holiday, and now this – Key’s media mate will be asking the questions in the televised showdown.
Yet despite all the setbacks Cunliffe keeps plugging away – smiling, answering questions and releasing new policy. If it was me, by now I’d have had a very public meltdown, three hissy-fits and strung countless expletives together with the words ‘New Zealand media’. But of course, that would only make things worse.
The CBB doesn’t really care about the fate of David Cunliffe beyond Labour’s broadcasting policy usually being better than National’s. But as New Zealand’s most watched event this election, it is vital to the integrity of our democracy that these political debates are impartial. Mike Hosking is a great television presenter but he is not impartial as his many quotes show:
“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.” Mike on National
He’s a “moron” for giving his state of the nation address on Auckland’s Anniversary Day. Mike on Cunliffe
“Very few people worth $50 million get the real world better than Key.”
“Is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad?”
New Zealanders deserve quality, informative and responsible journalism. Again TVNZ fails to deliver.
Myles Thomas is Chief Executive of the Coalition for Better Broadcasting. Less importantly he is also a television director specialising in reality television and documentaries.