If you’ve been reading Bill Ralston’s columns in the Herald on Sunday over the last few months you’ll have noticed how they’ve started to read more and more like long-form National Party press releases. To date I’d put it down to pure laziness – after all, why would you bother coming up with an original argument when you can repeat pre-written talking points and get paid your $1500 anyway?
John Drinnan’s column in the Herald today suggests an alternative theory, with speculation Bill Ralston may be behind John Key’s recent media training:
One source suggested it was Deadline Ltd, a company whose directors are high-profile freelance journalists Bill Ralston and his partner Janet Wilson, a sometimes contractor to TV3 and TVNZ shows like Eye to Eye.
Ralston told the Business Herald he wasn’t working with Key or the Nats before suddenly hanging up.
“I’m not a public figure, I don’t have to answer your f****** questions,” said the former head of TVNZ news and current affairs. Janet Wilson called soon after and took a similar “none of your business” approach, though she was calmer.
As a contractor she did various work including media training. She was not prepared to discuss whether her clients included politicians. “Why would I?” she asked. Why not, we wondered.
Drinnan says the Herald on Sunday has provided an assurance from Bill Ralston that he is not personally involved in training John Key, but as yet there is no denial that Ralston’s company is in the pay of the Nats, whose chief of staff has refused to discuss any link.
To use a word the Nats are very fond of using these days, this is all looking very murky, and brings to mind the revelations in the Hollow Men about media personalities providing training and advice to Don Brash while simultaneously bigging him up in their ‘independent’ columns. We’ll be watching this story with interest.