The Jack-Jacinda interview was the silliest ever done on TV – believe me

by Bill Ralston / 29 November, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Jacinda Ardern Jack Tame interview

There were lessons for both interviewer and interviewee in an absurd Breakfast TV encounter.

It was the silliest interview ever done on television and, believe me, I should know because I did some very silly TV interviews back in the day. Clean-cut TVNZ Breakfast co-host Jack Tame had the temerity to cross-examine a grinning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over whether US President Donald Trump had confused her with Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau’s wife at an international summit. I know, it sounds like the plot of some high-school melodrama.

Still, according to the New Zealand Herald, a paper always keen to put the boot into its TV rivals, there were many complaints about the interview on social media, although, to be fair, social media is always bulging at the seams with outrage over a multitude of issues. I recently saw one Twitter user bitterly protesting that on TV news Labour Cabinet ministers’ comments were then followed by comments from National politicians. How dare they do that?

For her part, Jacinda seemed unfazed by young Jack’s attempt at a grilling. Beaming widely, she repeatedly explained that, although she was unaware of it, someone at the conference gathering thought Trump had mistaken her for Mrs Trudeau and she now regretted telling this story to a comedian backstage at the New Zealand Music Awards. The interview went in ever-decreasing “he said, she said” circles, with Jack and Jacinda sounding like a pair of bickering teenagers.

Of course, the Prime Minister is still on a steep learning curve. Repeating what may have been said in a closed session at a conference of world leaders is not a good idea. Taking the proverbial out of the leader of the free world is definitely a bad move, especially when that person is as barking mad as Trump. Regaling a comedian “mate” with the story backstage at an awards ceremony is certainly a mistake. Spending six minutes of a live TV interview endlessly reprising the mistake is a diplomatic boo-boo.

The tale quickly found its way to the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Independent, the Australian, the BBC, Bangladesh’s Dhaka Tribune and possibly everywhere in between. Thankfully, Trump doesn’t believe anything he reads in the “fake news” media, but if his dumped strategist, Steve Bannon, blogs about it, we should prepare to be nuked.

Jacinda (note how quickly we’ve all become on first-name terms with our Prime Minister) needs to look to her predecessors for lessons in how to shut down a persistent questioner.

Helen Clark, John Key and Bill English all knew how to freeze an interviewer into silence. Tortuously responding to a repeated line of enquiry, all the while adding more juicy gossip to the story, is not how it’s done.

I think most people will agree that Jacinda is “nice”. The only interviewer I can recall her being even slightly rude to was Three’s AM Show co-host Mark Richardson, who questioned the newly appointed Labour leader about her baby plans, but everyone is justifiably rude to him.

I am afraid you cannot be a nice world leader. None of them are. Jacinda needs to take lessons from Winston Peters, who for decades has been superbly, scathingly rude to journalists. If she ever ventures back into the minefield of morning television, she should take Peters’ famous black and white “NO” sign and brandish it at any interviewer impertinent enough to ask her something.

One thing for sure is that Tame’s interview will have boosted TVNZ 1’s Breakfast’s ratings. The only worry is what that will provoke from his AM Show rivals Richardson and offsider Duncan Garner.

Video: 1News

This article was first published in the December 2, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

Knight star: Sir Hec Busby on his extraordinary life
102328 2019-02-17 00:00:00Z Profiles

Knight star: Sir Hec Busby on his extraordinary li…

by Clare de Lore

Northland kaumātua, master carver, navigator and bridge builder Hec Busby was hoping for “no fuss” when he accepted a knighthood.

Read more
Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period drama Colette
102397 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period dr…

by James Robins

The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a heroine of French literature, focuses on her early struggles.

Read more
Is barbecued meat bad for your health?
102255 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is barbecued meat bad for your health?

by Jennifer Bowden

Sizzling meat on the barbecue is the sound and smell of summer, but proceed with caution.

Read more
March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the age of the machine?
102434 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the…

by Jenny Nicholls

Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.

Read more
IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computing
102458 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computin…

by Peter Griffin

The Q System One, as IBM calls it, doesn’t look like any conventional computer and it certainly doesn’t act like one.

Read more
James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth gap
102456 2019-02-15 14:54:45Z Politics

James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth…

by RNZ

The week before a major tax report is released, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has again challenged his government partners to back the tax.

Read more
Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma Chand
102448 2019-02-15 10:28:12Z Crime

Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma…

by Anneke Smith

Arishma Chand was just 24 when she was murdered.

Read more
Top wine picks from Central Otago
102233 2019-02-15 00:00:00Z Wine

Top wine picks from Central Otago

by Michael Cooper

Tucked into small corners, Central Otago vineyards offer nuggets worth digging for. Wine critic Michael Coopers offers his top picks.

Read more