A week in patronising plonkers and retrograde reckons

by Diana Wichtel / 05 December, 2017

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It was a rough ride for the Prime Minister, followed by some blisteringly constructive feedback for TVNZ 1 Breakfast’s Jack Tame. At least his co-host Hilary Barry was enjoying herself, all but levitating out of her chair with unholy glee. “’What a disgrace! Get him back on the leash!’” she trilled, thumbing her way through a vast pile of viewer comments as Tame held his head in his hands. “I’ve got one I can lend you,” crowed put-upon weather guy Matty McLean, spotting an opportunity for utu.

This was the more or less nuclear fallout over Tame’s, well, dogged interrogation of Jacinda Ardern on the normally reasonably convivial Monday morning chat. The topic: “Different people say Jacinda Ardern told them that Donald Trump mistook her for the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

This was, Tame assured us, “a trifling matter”. I recall early in his television career a report in which Tame attempted to turn a tour of a visiting cruise ship into a searing indictment of social injustice to rival Les Misérables. He hasn’t met a trifling matter he can’t grab with both hands and throttle the life out of.

Ardern kept repeating her version. “Second-hand”, someone had observed the alleged confusion. “But in all my interactions, certainly President Trump didn’t seem to have confused me.” When she said this for about the ninth time, Tame snapped, “Not interested in that, sorry.” He wanted to know what yarn she told friends backstage at the New Zealand Music Awards. Ardern could have turned to the John Key playbook and said, “Awww, look, I forget.” Instead, she pressed on. Her voice wobbled. It was excruciating.

Undeterred, Tame offered Ardern the benefit of his professional advice: “Now that you are a world leader, all these little things can blow up to be big …” Helen Clark would have lasered the smugness off his face with a look. Still, Barry had a ball. A viewer offered professional advice for Tame: “It’s not your job to be a permanent dickhead.”

A google of “John Key” and “gaffe” reveals how many times he made news for the wrong reasons. His admission on Radio Hauraki of peeing in the shower was hailed by Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver as “the single greatest political interview of all time”. With the possible exception of his unfortunate “100% Pure” encounter with BBC HARDtalk’s patrician Stephen Sackur, I can’t recall Key ever being so roundly patronised. Depressingly, for a young female leader, it seems it still goes with the territory.

In much more heartening news, co-host Kanoa Lloyd gracefully dispatched a brace of cultural dinosaurs on Three’s The Project. She was responding to a week of retrograde reckons from former politician Don Brash, rich person Sir William Gallagher and fisherman Dave Witherow on the use of te reo in the media, particularly on the wireless. It seems a fellow can’t make out what the deuce is being said on RNZ these days.

Lloyd, who has taken flak in the past for daring to use one of the nation’s official languages, had no illusions about changing their views. “The Brashes, Witherows and Gallaghers of the world are not going to wake up tomorrow and go, ‘Oh, I’ve been a bit bigotty’, and then go and sign up for a te reo Maori class,” she said, more in sorrow than in anger.

Never mind. The tide they’re trying to hold back has already swept in. “The world isn’t flat. Climate change is real. The Treaty was signed. We’re speaking Māori. Sorry the world is moving too fast for you, my bros. Until you are ready to catch up with the rest of us, ka kite anō,” said Lloyd.

“I don’t want to still be talking about this,” she sighed. No. Good on her for doing it anyway.

Video: 1News

Breakfast, TVNZ 1, weekdays, 6.00am.

The Project, Three, weekdays, 7.00pm.

This article was first published in the December 9, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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