Media elite turn on the First Leaders debate


The elite media opinions are in about the first leaders debate, and the crowd is not entertained!

Tim Watkins, editor of the dreary Pundit and producer for the rarified air at Radio NZ, was not impressed, “If I had come to the debate as an average voter after a hard day’s work, I would have felt they were both talking at me, past me, but not to me. They were strong on vague values, policy jargon and what Grant Robertson annoyingly keeps calling ‘direction of travel’, but both struggled to answer the “how” questions. Sure, they want things to be better, stronger, faster, but failed to deliver to New Zealanders exactly how they would do that. When they did delve into detail, they waffled their way into generalities. Both policy wonks, they seemed to have all the pieces swirling around in their heads, but couldn’t quite get them out. English wanted to say ‘trust me, I know what I’m doing’. Ardern wanted to say ‘we can do better, so let’s change’. Instead they waffled.” 

For someone who produced the whitewash 9th Floor series, it’s a bit difficult to accept this criticism….

The problem with RNZs 9th floor series are evident.

They are not critical and they are not a critical analysis of the power wielded by these Prime Ministers, they come across more like Simon Wilson reviewing a very expensive restaurant he’s getting a free meal at or the Spin Off reviewing a TV Show that are being paid to promote.

Punches aren’t just pulled, they are amputated at the wrist.

Allowing Geoffrey Palmer to get away with blaming voter apathy after this party did the most to alienate New Zealanders was unbelievable.

Allowing Jenny Shipley to get away with the horror and damage she caused was unforgivable.

Allowing Jim Bolger to wash away his Union sins with a catholic confessional was eye rolling.

And allowing Mike Moore to say anything was insane.

This isn’t journalism, they are gentle puff piece advertorials.

These leaders should have been challenged on their legacy, they should have been pushed on the social damage they created.

But what did we get instead?

Guyon giving piercing looks that go no where paid for by the state broadcaster.

Interviews that don’t promote heat or light simply champion shadows and that’s what this series has disappointingly given us. Leaders white washing their past using the shadows of time isn’t holding them to any account.

…so Tim’s criticism of not asking the hard questions in light of the enormous polished turd that was 9th Floor just aren’t to be taken seriously.

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Then there was Barry Soper complaining about it being vanilla. Seeing as he e was one of the most venomous in the lynching of Metiria, I’m not sure flavour critic is really his thing.

Romeo over at the Herald and Junior Herald felt he had enough insight to write a review of the debate before the debate even played.

And  even Mark Jennings attacked the civility, “As a piece of television, it was dire. Last night’s TVNZ’s leaders debate should have been spectacular” ,  but as his new blog news site ‘Newsroom’ were only last weekend boasting about a ‘mother of all scandals’ that turned out to be nothing of the sort, I’d be keen to dial back the spectacle advise.

It seems to me that the elite media opinion that the first debate’s civility was boring are just more out of touch comments by pundits lost by Jacinda’s rise and frantically flailing around for a narrative their cynicism doesn’t understand.

For those NZers who are desperate for hope, who are not succeeding under National, and for whom politics isn’t a game or spectator sport, they tuned in to the debate in numbers far larger than ever…

…for those NZers, they overwhelmingly gave the win to Jacinda and respected that the debate was civil.

Those NZers are sick of being told by the pundit class that we are all enjoying a rock star economy they can’t hear, they are sick of being told clever ideas and common sense economics, they want to know the person in the room when they aren’t there making the decisions will act in their best interests and for that they need an emotional connection.

These media elites don’t understand the underlying desperation for hope that drives so many to vote Jacinda and resort to complaining that the contest of ideas isn’t deep enough.

They’ll still be squabbling when Labour wins.


  1. Beautiful kaleidoscope of self gratifying vain souls you have lined up there Martyn.

    I am so sick of listening to these idiots beating their gums shouting at us on TV with their ‘Holy than thou’ phony artists, when I have been at that coalface for years sweating my life away just to keep up paying the mortgage!!!!

    So many slimy ones are out there especially the ones that sit and grin at you while they are screwing the hell out of you for our last buck.

    Then came Jacinda who resonated with pure soul and honesty, that re-connected me with humanity again.

    I don’t want to loose that feeling again mate if possible.

  2. Very well said Martin Bradbury.
    The know-it-alls we’re exposed to have long since proved useless for anything beyond chronology. In most cases the highest they can be rated is ‘excessively opinionated and none too bright voyeur’.

  3. NZ, Let them SCRAP _ Give BOTH VOTES to ** NZ First ** __ Give WINSTON and TEAM the POWER to MODERATE ** Moral-LESS-National _&_ jacinda’s helenGrad**

  4. However there is a change of tone Martyn.

    Now she is dangerous Jacinda has to come down to Bill’s level.

    A wounded National Party is a dangerous beast.

    They will drop small repeated mantras to put doubt in the public view.

    Tax. Stardust. Perceived policy gaps.

    They will try to white ant her through a weak link.

    We need to draw attention to Bill’s gaffs and use our knowledge of his weaknesses.

    We need the tide to keep going, in for us out for them. Let’s do this!!!

  5. Speaking of change, it would appear that NZ Herald writers are changing their colours and that red has replaced blue. So far three of their normal ‘National supporters’ have been praising the Labour Party. Even true blue National Party pusher John Roughton spent time saying our supportive he was of Jacinda Ardern: see comments at:
    Earlier Audrey Young, Toby Manhire and Heather du-Plessis-Allan agreed that Jacinda won. Only Liam Dann felt Bill English won [but Liam that is covered his backside by saying only just]
    My feeling is that this ‘mob’ of John Key fans is looking carefully at their future. I think they are convinced there will be a change of government and they want to keep their chances of continued employment with a dying NZ Herald alive, at least for the time being. Seriously New Zealand will need some real journalists if the government changes to one led by Labour and the Greens. Their attitudes regarding Metiria Turei may well come back and bite their collective bums.
    But this change, of course, if it comes true, may well mean that a specific group of MSM bosses who owe their rise to being really close to John Key and Steven Joyce and other neoliberal die-hards. If I was the boss at TV One and Maori TV I would be looking closely at my future prospects in the media field.
    I think many of our so-called presenters now receiving massive salaries will find themselves not acceptable to the new Labour Green administration, some other Departmental Heads may also find themselves out of favour and not have their contracts renewed, here’s hoping…I can see Mike Hosking having to take a huge hit presently he is being paid at three or four times what he is actually worth.

    • Much as I share your frustrations with the gossip rag quality of much of the journalism in both our public broadcasters and the commercial news media, I strongly disagree that an incoming government should have any power whatsoever to influence who gets to keep their jobs in the media. Functioning democracy requires a “free press”, and by definition that means a news media that has the ability to hold government accountable, not vice-versa.

      That said, I think there’s a lot that an incoming Labour-Greens government could do to improve the quality of public broadcasting, and the rigour of journalism generally. Things like de-commercializing TVNZ, creating stricter media ownership and anti-monopoly regulation, and creating targeted funding for investigative journalism, and creative uses of new media (web docos, infographics, interview podcasts etc) to communicate their findings to the public in a variety of ways.

  6. Since when was it a crime for poltical debates to be boring?
    This is an election.
    Entitled voters are entitled to make their own assessments about politicians without egoistic media yap yaps complaining about boredom.

    Oh pardon me. A media practioner needs its ego rubbed so has to say something.

    Actually elections are more important than media egos, IMO.

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