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Finlay MacDonald: The Audacity of Hype

Written By: - Date published: 10:23 am, April 8th, 2008 - 14 comments
Categories: articles, john key - Tags: ,


A reader wrote to us to say that they’d recently seen Finlay MacDonald speak at Otago University as part of the Distinguished Communicator Lecture Series for the Centre of Science Communication.

The talk is now online: The Audacity of Hype: John Key and the new National Socialism.

In case you hadn’t picked up on this already, the title of my speech tonight is firmly tongue in cheek. The title of Barack Obama’s first volume of memoirs is The Audacity of Hope. My facetious suggestion is that our own Great Pretender should call his memoirs The Audacity of Hype. Call me a cynic if you must, but it strikes me that John Key’s reputation and rise to political prominence has been enabled by fairly shameless marketing and spin.

Click here for the full text.

14 comments on “Finlay MacDonald: The Audacity of Hype ”

  1. the sprout 1

    “Key’s reputation and rise to political prominence has been enabled by fairly shameless marketing and spin”

    hardly surprising when you can’t reveal your policies without hemorrhaging votes

  2. r0b 2

    There’s lots of perceptive, funny, and quotable stuff in that speech!

    One conclusion near the end seemed a bit bleak to me: “But politics has long ceased to be about anything much more than a poll driven popularity contest and right now the audience likes the contestant in blue.”

    Is it really that bad?

  3. Lampie 3

    yes r0b, that bad. Like little sheep we take note of polls to form an opinion.

  4. Billy 4

    “Key’s reputation and rise to political prominence has been enabled by fairly shameless marketing and spin”

    Thank God the Labour Party would never sink so low. Oh, hang on…


    Still, at least we’ve got fair and balanced old Finlay McDonald to point these things out to us.

  5. r0b 5

    Billy, Finlay doesn’t make any secret of his political leanings. He’s also a great writer. The Listener hasn’t been the same since he left.

  6. Billy 6

    “Finlay doesn’t make any secret of his political leanings.”

    Like Farrar I suppose. Doesn’t stop all you lefties insiting that he start every sentence with a disclaimer.

  7. r0b 7

    Finlay was editor of The Listener for what – 5 years? I’d say he’s roughly 100x better known in NZ than Farrar (who is pretty much invisible outside of the odd little world of blogs).

  8. randal 8

    just read the full text and it looks like Ken Key equals Kinkey lite…and I find it hard to believe he never did a line?

  9. Hillary 9

    Billy, thank goodness the Listener is now in the safe hands of Murray McCully’s partner and the wife of John Key’s chief political advisor.

    I wonder if the National Party is declaring this weeks Listener cover as a campaign expense?

  10. r0b 10

    Aye Hillary! Shall we start a campaign to being back Finlay?

  11. Phil 11

    http://www.transtasman.co.nz – this was in their premium content, which is well worth signing up to if you can get these paid for by your employer/institution…

    “A speech by former Listener Editor Finlay McDonald, originally to the Centre for Science Communication, did the rounds early this week. The speech, which appeared on a number of Labour-leaning blogs and other internet sites, laid out why McDonald thinks John Key should not be PM.

    Key never smoked dope, couldn’t recall what he thought about the ’81 Tour, and had used the word “groove’ were the main complaints. Wrapped up together, the thrust was simply Key is just too much of a nerdy square to be PM. One wonders what McDonald thinks of Helen Clark, using this criteria. ”

    [If they can’t even spell MacDonald’s surname right, I guess we can’t expect much better of their analysis. The speech is not about Key being too nerdy, it’s about him being disingenious and a media creation. SP]

  12. Weather Eye Of The North 12

    I laughed and laughed.

    “MacMansion….” and “aspirations going forward”……

    Brilliant……the essence !

  13. Lew 13

    Finlay’s use of the term `National Socialism’ here is an ugly and unwarranted cheap shot, facetious or not.

    But yeah, the guy sure can write, and if he can speak half as well as he can write, I’d love to have been there.

    Runs a pretty thoughtful show on Radio Live of a weekend, too. Or used to, at least.


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