Life in level 1: Newshub Nation, Q + A, and the end of Todd Muller’s leadership

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Two things happened this weekend that added to the scandal swirling around the leaked list, of eighteen covid19-positive Returnees.

The National Party scandal has claimed the ‘scalps’ of one MP – Hamish Walker – and operative and former President, Michelle Boag. It has also drawn in Todd Muller, who has been shown to be “loose with the truth”, and Michael Woodhouse, who also recieved emails from Ms Boag – and promptly deleted them.

The Walker-Boag whirlpool is slowly dragging others down into it’s swirling, murky maw.

The first thing that should have raised eyebrows was TV3’s “Newshub Nation” on 11 July. If the viewer was expecting wall-to-wall coverage of the Leaked List scandal, they were to be sorely disappointed. The episode, hosted by Simon Shepherd made a brief mention of Hamish Walker resigning, and the panel briefly discussed the issue.

Otherwise, the focus was on Shane Jones and his bid for the Northland electorate; ACT Party leader, David Seymour; the fringe nutter’s “New Conservative Party”; pandemic management discussion with epidemiologist, Michael Baker; and “Back Story” featuring Green MP, Julie-Anne Genter.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

All very interesting, but…

Other than that, there were no interviews with any of the main actors or other political commentators or past National Party apparatchiks… it was a Leaked List-free zone.

Not so TVNZ’s “Q+A” today (12 July).

Though Todd Muller, Michelle Boag, Michael Woodhouse, and Hamish Walker were all invited to attend – none took up the offer.

Instead, it was left up to National’s Deputy Leader, Nikki Kaye, to front. Host, Jack Tame, grilled her mercilessly with rapid-fire questions and naked disbelief to Ms Kaye’s insistence that Michelle Boag did not confide in her about the Leaked List. This despite Ms Kaye acknowledging the closeness between the two – including Ms Boag being (until her recent resignation from the position) Nikki Kaye’s electorate campaign manager.

Ms Kaye was also left to explain and defend not just her conversation with Michelle Boag – but also Michael Woodhouse’s dubious actions and Todd Muller’s inconsistant (outright lies?) responses to what he knew and when did he know it.

She defended to her utmost Michael Woodhouse and Todd Muller. She defended her Party. She stood her ground.

This is what Leaders do.

They defend their team.

At no point did Ms Kaye deflect hard questions relating to two of her colleagues with the oft-repeated mantra, “Oh, you’d have to ask them”.

She took responsibility for answering on their behalf. To defend her Team.

Because that is an essential quality to leadership

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Contrast Ms Kaye’s courage to the disturbing fact that Todd Muller refused to front for the interview.

Think about that for a moment.

The worst scandal to hit the National Party since Nicki Hager’s “Dirty Politics” – and Todd Muller was in hiding leaving his Deputy in the firing line.

Whatever one may think of Nikki Kaye’s responses to Jack Tame’s relentless questioning – she had the courage and determination to front.

Muller was nowhere to be seen.

As we both watched the spectacle, and noted Muller’s absence, my partner turned and pointed out to me;

“She’s doing a fine job as Leader of National.”

The date 12 July is the turning point for Todd Muller’s faux leadership of the National Party. Quite simply, it beggars belief that he failed to front for the interview. It was his responsibility to represent his Party in difficult times. And it doesn’t get any more difficult when one of his MPs is forced to stand down at the next election after admitting to releasing confidential medical details; a past-President was responsible for the leak; another MP wilfully deletes potential evidence; and Muller himself has been caught out being flexible with the truth.

When the so-called Leader of a political party fails to carry out his most basic responsibility and shoves his Deputy into the firing line, it calls into question his fitness to hold that position.

New Zealanders take note. Todd Muller hid away in safety whilst his Deputy took the hits.

There’s a word for that.

Cowardice.

#MullerUnfitToLead

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References

TVNZ: Public can continue to trust National amid Covid-19 patient details leak saga – deputy leader Nikki Kaye

Twitter: Laura Beattie – 8 July 2020

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 1: Cunning Plans, Unanswered Questions

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).

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37 COMMENTS

  1. Well written, Frank, as always.

    But, with the world economic system not far from implosion and no party having any realistic plans for dealing with the economic-financial meltdown, we have to wonder whether any mainstream party has much relevance.

    All I can say is people would be mad to vote National, as National have repeatedly demonstrated total unfitness to govern (over a period of decades), whereas only half the Labour team have demonstrated total unfitness to govern.

    That said, there are a lot of mad people in NZ who will vote National, not because National offer better policies or better leadership but because they have always voted National and don’t know how to do anything else.

    • And the ‘total spectrum’ media propaganda control on behalf of the Natz.
      I noticed the news invariably finishes an item with a positive note from Natz (if it’s about yet another ‘caught out lying’ Natz moment) BUT if it’s a good news Labour item, it ends with a negative remark from Natz.
      NZ’s 4th media make a dodgy alcoholic bankrupt secondhand car salesman look like an angel.
      I can’t believe how many absolute idiots vote for Natz. Probably (?) because a lot of their voters have been affected by mass propaganda and brainwashing via TV, radio and ‘newspapers’.

      RIP NZ’s 4th estate and democracy.

    • Afewknowthetruth, it’s certainly not National’s “time” to govern.

      Their Leader is spineless.

      His so-called “team” is all over the place.

      The National ship is rudderless.

      They are a conservative party that many voters may have thought appropriate post-GFC because of the usual nonsensical belief that the Nats are “sound fiscal managers” during the GFC/Recession economic storm.

      But a global pandemic is a different kettle of piscine chordata (sorry, me being show-offey). The response had to be other than safe-guarding The Economy – as the mess in the United States and Brazil have clearly illustrated. The virus abides by no human-made laws, economic dictates, or social niceties.

      The priority had to make safety of the populace number one. The Economy was a distant ways down the list.

      For that, New Zealanders realised – whether consciously or sub-consciously that “sound economic management” was the last thing we needed to save lives. We needed science-based action, not doctrinaire economics.

      Which is why Labour was (and still is) trusted to do the right thing. And why Simon Bridges’ and then Todd Muller’s agitation to “open up our borders” met with such great alarm from most people. (Even Rob Fyfe had to “walk back” his call to open up our borders on 12 July on Q&A, saying “I’d be nervous to open to any country yet”.)

      Countries where the virus is rampant are a clear lesson to us what happens if we let our guard down for even a moment.

  2. “…Michael Woodhouse, who also recieved emails from Ms Boag – and promptly deleted them.”
    I understand he deleted them ‘promptly’ when he heard Hipkins announce QC Heron’s investigation. Quickly getting rid of evidence? just saying.

    • Yes the moment the investigation was announced, people started ” fessing up”.
      In other words without an investigation National would have carried on unfettered.
      As much as Kaye showed some spine Frank, one answer bemused me. When Tame asked, then stated that Muller had lied to a straight forward question by a reporter, Kaye replied ” it was the media’s perception that he had. Twice she stated this. So in essence, Kaye created an alternative truth.

      • And she was ALLOWED to get a way with it. The benefit of a media that is in the pocket of the Natz. Limiting the fall out !

      • Indeed, Bert.

        Some of her answers to Jack Tame’s questions raised eyebrows with me. As I pointed out;

        Instead, it was left up to National’s Deputy Leader, Nikki Kaye, to front. Host, Jack Tame, grilled her mercilessly with rapid-fire questions and naked disbelief to Ms Kaye’s insistence that Michelle Boag did not confide in her about the Leaked List.

        […]

        Ms Kaye was also left to explain and defend not just her conversation with Michelle Boag – but also Michael Woodhouse’s dubious actions and Todd Muller’s inconsistant (outright lies?) responses to what he knew and when did he know it.

        Not for one moment do I believe Ms Kaye’s assertion that Michelle Boag did not confide to her on the Tuesday evening. Two people who are as close as she admitted, will share such details.

        Whatever our perceptions, she at least fronted up and took the heat. Something her boss may rue the day he failed to do.

    • Rodel,

      Not only is Woodhouse neck deep in skulduggery, he also clearly believes everyone in NZ is a far king moron.

      Straightforward questions with only one credible answer.

      Why did Boag allegedly send the sensitive details to only two National Party MP’s?

      Answer is obviously she knew both would be happy use them in the underhanded crusade against the Government.

      Why did Boag believe Woodhouse should be one of the recipients?

      Answer is they have a long standing relationship with sound knowledge of each other and a track record with similar “communications” previously.

      Is the “very reliable source” to Woodhouse with details of the mystery man living it up in quarantine, none other than Boag?

      Absolutely. It fits perfectly.

      Is the “very reliable source” to Woodhouse regarding two UK sisters released from quarantine on compassionate grounds, “allegedly kissing and cuddling on the side of the motorway” none other than Boag?

      Absolutely. It fits perfectly.

      If a trusted colleague emailed you more details to use as your only strategy against the Government in an election campaign, would you delete those emails?

      Absolutely not. Woodhouse has repeatedly proven he’s very comfortable to scrape the bottom of the barrel politically. He clearly has no moral compass with politics.

      Why then would he delete the emails?

      Only one possible answer given all the circumstances. He was trying to remove evidence.

      Does the high level investigation that’s underway regarding these communications, allow for computer hard drives to be forensically examined so deleted emails can be recovered?

      Yes.

      What would happen if Woodhouse believed that was going to occur?

      He would quickly come up with a bullshit story about being burgled and his computer stolen.

      Should the investigators insist on the examination anyway?

      Absolutely YES!. The integrity of our democracy is at stake.

      What will result from said forensic hard drive investigation? Multiple high level resignations in the National Party.

      • Jacindafan, I think it can be summed up that their (National’s) desperation to win has clouded their judgement.

        Re your question, What will result from said forensic hard drive investigation?

        Perhaps the answer to the last question: who/what prompted Hamish Walker to make full disclosures of his mis-use of private medical details? What forced his hand to come clean?

        Not only has that question not be answered – it hasn’t even been asked by anyone in the MSM!!

    • Who other than a utterly corrupt media would accept such bogus claims. Absolutely amazing.
      When it’s ‘an other than Natz F’up’ story, NZ media will travel the world, hound someone (who’s not at home) to get the ‘gotcha moment. But when it comes to Natz, they get a 99% free ride. Shameful 4th estate. Press prostitutes the vast majority of them.

  3. If Newshub themselves cannot investigate the facts fully then they too are complicit in National’s lies, deceit, manipulation and illegality. Other broadcasters are using softly softly euphemisms such as “they fell on their sword” to describe Boag and Walker’s banishment while most are in denial about this historic National Party implosion. There are also many attempts to deflect the narrative to other issues – when their sacred ideology is at risk and when truth, facts, logic and reason won’t work in their journalistic favour. Then there are those attempting to minimise this scandal as one commentator did this morning, by suggesting the problem of privacy breaches by elected officials for personal gain, and dirty politics in general, are typical and that “Both parties do it”.

    • If Newshub themselves cannot investigate the facts fully then they too are complicit in National’s lies, deceit, manipulation and illegality.

      Indeed, Jody.

      Even my partner (who is not as fixated on politics as I am) noted the other lack of any investigative stories on “The Nation”. Aside from a brief mention during the intro, and a short discussion by The Panel (Neale Jones and Brigette Morton), it was a Scandal-Free Zone episode. Unbelievable.

  4. TV3 a huuuuge disappointment on Saturday. Simon always comes across as a little to the right in my opinion. Shame that Tova is on holiday as I’m sure she would have plenty to contribute. Simon’s guest that stated that Todd had been decisive was just spouting National rhetoric that went unchallenged. Big ‘ups’ to Jake Tame on TV1 for getting Nikki to front and answer some questions. I thought she came across like a school kid with her line ‘that’s not fair’. Perhaps a new motto for National as they have been saying just that since the last election. Saying ‘that’s not fair’ and ‘She was upset’ and ‘people have lost their jobs’ doesn’t quite cut it for me. Compassion is not national party mantra. ‘Harden up’ is. As deputy leader and a personal friend of the main players, perhaps she should ask herself ‘with friends like these….’. One statement from Todd this morning on RNZ bitching about not being told where Aussie/kiwi deportees are going to stay. Big woop. No sign of him or Woodhouse since. How long can they stay out of the spotlight? Until the election? More Nikki and Amy for the rest of the week? What a bloody shambles.

  5. They should all be given medals Frank, what a wonderful job they are doing. Couldn’t be better. Let them be.
    HaHaHaHaHa………

  6. Great article Frank as usual Great article again Frank,

    This recalls my thoughts when in the 1960’s I was a young tradesman working on the two large power projects Tongariro and Manapouri power schemes we had a national Government then and I was quite impressed by their care for our future in those days for building those massive power systems so we would have cheap power down the road later.

    We all expected that the government would do what’s best for our public interests and the media of the day would cover these events with a balanced portrayal of those projects.

    Todays media is a shambles and so biased towards their perceptions that it is sad to see them indulging in petty politics.

    All media platforms are now so bad I have extreme difficulty finding any balanced views on current affairs any more and often drink too much tea for my ability to sleep I am restoring to turning off the TV and taking some natural “melatonin: capsules to get a night’s sleep.

    Government needs to curtail all media naked bias; – especially RNZ and TV one, who are ‘public networks we public own’ and begin to tell ‘the whole story’ in a much more balanced way leading to this election.

  7. Maybe with some luck the investigative committee will permanently revoke Michelle’s self administered “007 License to Kill”. Tho it’s unlikely to stop her and her Cult followers. She’ll most likely become a private Contractor and Adviser as her reward. She’ll be busy finding a new park bench to sit on waiting for her bagged lunch to arrive. Rat’s don’t change spots they don’t have, but Snakes shed their skins annually…

  8. Smart cookie, that one and very capable of thinking on her feed. It’s my pick that she has had an extensive one on one with Matthew Hooton with a lot of role playing. The “let me just say this” is a clue that there is a script there. Also how many times did she say that Bogeylady was crying and it was the end of long career in politics for her (although Bogey was quite lucid in statements and admitted that politics had distorted her view. Nik said she was gutted a lot also. But how we can possibly believe that she didn’t get the dirty stuff. No it had been rehearsed very well. Let’s see.

  9. Well done Nik! Star performnce! But don’t get fooled, folks. She is showing the benefit of a serious few hours tutoring and rehearsal with the National spinners -Matthew Hooton and team. How many times did she say “I was gutted”? How many times did she say that Bogey was crying on the phone and saying that her career was finished. Bogey seemed quite resigned to it and actually admitted that politics had distorted her vision. Nik said “Let me say just this” which is a let in to a rehearsed set piece but Jack didn’t let her use it. Nik is the only in the National leadership that could have done such a good performance and been credible.

  10. Good work Frank – as always. Enjoy your writings.
    Yep,bang on, Muller is burnt toast, National is fucked. I’m saying this as a right leaner, but fair is fair. The election is gone. Maybe I’ll support Seymour, as he has done more good than anyone at National. They won’t get my vote.
    But, I have to say this Frank, somehow I can’t help notice what Muller did is that is EXACTLY what Jacinda does when the heat is on…she pushes the hapless pawns out in front of her to take the heat. We’ve seen it many many many times.
    So let’s not hail her as this AMAAAAZING GREEEEAAATTTT leader. Yes, no arguments, she’s brilliant in delivering reassuring messages that are carefully scripted, complete with pre-organised questions from the press gallery….but that’s about it. She’s been totally terrible at keeping any of Labopur’s promises, and keeping her ‘squeaky clean’ ministers in line. Took four months still not to fire Clark…still has Fool Twyford in charge of way too many big things…if it hadn’t been for angry mother nature and the virus, she’d be in deep political shit.
    Saddest thing of all, NZ doesn’t care for performance any more. Failure is part of the job requirement these days. As long as you can bullshit your way out of it. Or a crisis comes along to save your butt.
    Sad.
    PS: Jack Tame gets on my nerves with is rapid fire questions…doesn’t matter who he interviews. I wish sometime the politicians had the guts to say: SHUT THE FUCK UP JACK SO I CAN ANSWER!

    What say?

  11. I’d say that she’s had a lot of intensive ups killing from Matthew Hooton and the National spinners. They’ve practiced grilling her from all angles for some hours. She did well but not great. She said she “was gutted” so many times. She said that Bogue was crying on the phone so many times we’d believe it. Bogue said that politics distorted her vision and I’d agree. And when they say “Let me just say this…” you know it’s rehearsed. She’s in it up to her neck and the only one that could have fronted this one. The rest of them are cannon fodder.

    • Yes Kaye struggled because she used the line…”Let me just say this…” and what I will say is this, two things”.
      This gives her thought time to reply whilst trying to find an answer rather than it being a natural answer.

    • Matthew Hooton…

      A name that prompts a few questions in this affair.

      At least three come to mind;

      1. Was he aware of Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker’s actions?

      2. If not, when did he find out? Was it prior to Mr Walker’s revelations on Tuesday evening?

      3. What did he do when he found out?

      I hope QC Heron conducts a wide ranging forensics of the actors’ devices. We might learn some surprising things. (And perhaps a suspicion in my mind may be confirmed.)

    • ‘Bogue said that politics distorted her vision’ reminds me of the US evangelist Ted Haggart in charge of 40 million god fearing adherents when caught out with a rent-boy who also supplied him with drugs, said ,
      “The devil made me do it”. Sorry Michele I don’t buy that excuse.Look in a mirror for the cause.

  12. Only a one-eyed, right-whinge fool would take NewsHub and its associated Media – TV and radio- as fair and objective media when it comes to NZ politics. From smart-arse Garner and forever-scowling Richardson in the mornings, to Williams and Plunkett and etc etc., talk-back and then their so-called current affairs programmes, all are invariably biased and thier front-persons often just plain offensive in their comments against the government and/or government personnel .
    I gave up listening with any regularity a while ago and just drop in occasionally to see/hear if anything has changed. It hasn’t, it’s got worse!
    I cannot believe the slagging-off Plunkett and Williams (and I thought the latter was a decent, fair sort of guy, but there’s something in the water where he now works) give to their former employers, TVNZ and Radio NZ. Both have benefited enormously in experience, profile and financially from those SOE’s but do they ‘bite the hand that fed them’! More like a constant ‘savaging the hand’. Two-faced hypocrites that they are. Sad people at that company. The sooner it goes broke completely and disappears from our lives, the better. Good riddance.

    • ” Only a one-eyed, right-whinge fool would take NewsHub and its associated Media – TV and radio- as fair and objective media when it comes to NZ politics ”
      Totally agree and came to that conclusion finally during dirty politics phase 1 and the events surrounding Kim. com but it had been heading that way since 2003 and Brash’s leadership and the involvement of those fine folk at Crosby Textor.
      Neo liberalisim thrives in the current media landscape in any country that does not have a strong public funded service that report and delivers news and current affairs without the paid opinions of biased unofficial spokespeople who uphold the interests of a section of the community but everyone who wants to be informed is subject to this form of propaganda.
      There are currently to my knowledge no strong counter opinion or argument to what we have now which is a dangerous unlevel playing field.
      The other problem is there is no public watchdog with teeth backed up by strong legislation to ensure we have unbiased , credible news platforms in the public arena.
      We used to have an exceptional public broadcasting service in New Zealand which was trusted and respected.
      I and many others mourn the loss of that service.

  13. and now mark Mitchell sticks his head up and demands ‘transparency’ over deportees. Is this a play for the leadership or just trying to fill the vacuum? or both? Crazy times at National 2020.

    • Sixfootfour (cool pseudonym, by the way); demands by Mr Mitchell and Muller for “transparency” is utterly risable.

      Considering what two of their number did with sensitive information, I think many (most?) New Zealanders would not think National fit to hold even more sensitive information. They’ve already shown themselves to be untrustworthy in this respect.

  14. Looking at your headline Frank…Damn, how did you know about Muller when you wrote that. Do you drink beer with him?

  15. Well, no, Herman. I don’t drink beer (more of a whiskey/bourbon man)…

    Secondly, I *could* say I recieved a tip-off from one of my sources (and I have a few of those folk) – but I’d be fibbing. Nah, it was more of a case of scrutinising Mr Muller’s face during interviews; voice tone; eye movements; and hesitation during key questions. His failure to appear on Q&A on Sunday and instead putting Ms Kaye in Jack Tame’s firing line was the final jigsaw piece I needed to solidify my suspicion he wasn’t coping.

    Say what we will about his predecessor, Simon Bridges, but he always fronted for interviews. Even with the humiliation of dire polls signalling the termination of his career, Mr Bridges never shied from his responsibility as a Leader.

    The truth is that politics has changed radically with the advent of a global pandemic. It can’t be “business as usual” because the virus – an implacable, unrelenting, impersonal enemy – will not allow it. More than ever, the State is required to navigate societies through these stormy pandemic waters. The “free market” is not only incapable of dealing with a deadly virus – it actually aids and abets the spread of contagion.

    This is why National will lose in September. And most likely in 2023 if the pandemic has not been defeated. Their laissez faire approach to government and economics is utterly inappropriate for the Age of the Virus.

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