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Key avoiding Morning Report

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, June 4th, 2010 - 78 comments
Categories: john key, Media - Tags:

A couple of our readers mentioned it in different threads yesterday. Janice:

This morning, once again, our glorious yellow, lily livered chicken PM has refused a request for an interview on NatRad. His 2IC also refused. They don’t want to talk about their plans for Kiwibank because they are still trying to work out how they can convince us it is a good thing and not another broken promise. Also he can’t be seen to smile and wave on radio.

.. and snoozer

for the fifth time this year, Morning Report requested an interview with Key and he turned them down. Anderton took his place [edited link]

Key is avoiding Morning Report, and word is beginning to get around. Is it just lazyness caused by (until recently) stratospheric poll ratings? Or is he scared to front up? Either way it’s not a good look, and it’s an abdication of his responsibility as PM.

78 comments on “Key avoiding Morning Report ”

  1. jcuknz 1

    It is his responsibility as PM to allow himself to be abused and talked over by the front people on Morning Report? Yeah Right. The world has turned up-side-down when people think this should happen.

    • exbrethren 1.1

      Quite right. Why should the trustworthy Key ever be questioned about his actions.

      I think we should let him get on with running the country and not subject him to any scrutiny.

      • Tigger 1.1.1

        Plunkett’s style is combatative. So what? I’ve been grilled by him on radio before. He’s not abusive, he’s tough. And fair. Key’s the PM. Man up.

        • Lew

          Tig, I think you missed the invisible [sarc] tags.


          • Tigger

            Damn, getting all righteous for nothing!

            • prism

              It is the PMs responsibility to explain and if necessary defend with reasons, what he and his government are doing with the New Zealand body and polity. He isn’t a king with absolute rights or a dicatator with the same. He is acting in his position both for his supporters and for and with, the reluctant agreement of others, and PM\’s should explain their decisions.

              • Lew

                … and if he doesn’t, he can be punished. But inasmuch as he’s prepared to risk the wrath of the journalistic establishment, the opposition, other stakeholders and the electorate, he’s perfectly within his rights to refuse to answer questions. Or to go about wearing a cape, for that matter.

                The trick is to make it not worth his while. I expect a few pencils are presently being sharpened with that in mind.


                • Lanthanide

                  Should that say “can’t be punished”?

                  • Lew

                    Sorry. Poorly worded.

                    No, “can” is right. If he doesn’t front, he can be punished — ultimately by the electorate. That’s the difference between democracies and other systems of government. He can avoid being held to account all he likes, btu there are consequences for doing so. But such punishment doesn’t happen automatically: it has to be made to happen.


                    • prism

                      That comment he’s perfectly within his rights to refuse to answer questions is surely rather broad. We do have the right and responsibility to find out what’s going on and why. He should tell us and explain the value of what we might think are lousy decisions.
                      I guess it is easier to talk to arranged groups. I understand there is much testing opinions with focus groups and polling by phone, mo doubt it’s like practising your speech to a favourable audience. The focus groups are like the television series sampling, and that doesn’t result in getting quality programs.

                    • Lew

                      Prism, not at all. There is a moral and a political responsibility to front the media as a matter of good management, but the only strictly enforceable requirement is for a few set-pieces a year. Any other statements he might make are strictly optional. Failing to make any (or being capricious about the topics and outlets to whom he speaks) brings its own reward.


              • jcuknz

                How he does it is up to him. If he declines to use the top radio show around that is his business. It is your right too to whinge about it 🙂

  2. Tigger 2

    He makes time for Breakfast and their soft-ball interviews… Not laziness. He just can’t face Sean Plunkett.

    Of course, Key can’t dodge everyone. Anyone else see Key on the TVNZ news last night? Jessica Mutch asked him Kiwibank questions and his answers were bordering on nonsensical. At the end he just stood there, staring at her with this glassy look in his eyes for at least five seconds in silence (an eternity in TV time, gave a ‘see ya’ exit line (delivered with a smirk) and scuttled off… Seen him do this several times in the past week.

    • exbrethren 2.1

      I reckon the journos are becoming sick of getting no proper answers and are just playing the tape to show what a vacuous grinning buffoon Captain Beaky is.

    • QoT 2.2

      I may still be in shock from that “Do you like my tie?” moment he had on Breakfast.

      • Jim Nald 2.2.1

        Next time, interview the tie for clearer, more upfront answers.

        At least the tie would be seen for what it really is.

      • Irascible 2.2.2

        I presume he got it for a snip? His off the cuff “jokiness” is certainly the stuff for the international media laugh at hicksville NZ reporting. Hardly, as the Herald reports, a boost in his reputation as a leader of a country.

    • vto 2.3

      Yes mr and mrs tigger, it was not a good look. Seems the teflon has been rubbed so much it has worn away to expose the shiny slippery surface below.

      • Zak Creedo 2.3.1

        nice one.. frypans with this teflon loss prob give you spotty omelets.. right!

    • Kevin Welsh 2.4

      “At the end he just stood there, staring at her with this glassy look in his eyes for at least five seconds in silence (an eternity in TV time, gave a ‘see ya’ exit line (delivered with a smirk) and scuttled off Seen him do this several times in the past week.”

      It was at that moment that I realised we had David Brent as a Prime Minister.

    • insider 2.5

      The staring in silence thing is a technique. Journalists (and job interviewers) try and get you to fill sound voids, almost guilt you into saying more than you might – Jessica might have been nodding solicitously encouraging him to say more – and the counter is don’t say anything else once you’ve said your key points. It’s jsut part of the game

      • Kevin Welsh 2.5.1

        I’m a big believer in the saying… “Sometimes it’s better to say nothing and look like an idiot, than open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

        This is the first time I have seen someone do both.

      • Bright Red 2.5.2

        It’s telling in itself when journos cut an article like that. usually they edit out pauses or let the interviewee reword their reply if it comes out funny. it’s a kindness but it maintains good relationships for the future.

        I hear the journos are getting really pissed off with Kevin Taylor’s stage management and Key’s unwillingness to front, so this is biting back. the message is: you need us, we can make you look good or bad.

        reminds me of when they turned against melissa lee, i think garner showed her full interview that time.

  3. really 3

    Whats the big deal, no-one listens to LabourFM anyway (except a rag tag of champagne socialists, civil servants, unionists and Labour party employees)

    • Half a million Kiwis listen in the average week, really. That’s a lot more than listen to you.

      • insider 3.1.1

        Is that cumulative or distinct listeners? ie is that 100k people listen five times a week or 500k listen at least once a week?

        • Lanthanide

          It’s daily. So 500k people listen 7 times a week.

          It is the most widely listened radio station in the country, I believe they have over 50% of all radio listeners at any one time, which leaves rather meagre pickings for the rest of the commercial operators.

          • really

            Glad you are so well informed about labourfm listener numbers when labourfm themselves won’t publish ratings data.

            Liar liar pants on fire.

    • Billy Fish 3.2


    • Sam 3.3

      Tories don’t need research or to back anything up with actual figures. Back of the envelope bullshit is all that is required.

      Do us a favour and grow a brain before spouting your non-sensical shit. RNZ has the highest listenership of all radio stations, hence why your fuckbot mates in power are trying to shaft it. Can’t have people listening to ACTUAL news that has no advertisements, after all, what about the profit!?!

  4. captcha : crashing (and burning)

    says it all really.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Rodney Hide should have standing orders with RadioNZ that any time Key declines an interview, they should ask him to front instead. Obviously not all topics would be appropriate for him, and others may be better (like Jim Anderton a few days ago), but it’d really help one-up Key.

  6. RedFred 6

    Typical neo-conservative media control tactic;

    1) underfund & ignore state broadcasting to decrease quality and ratings to increase public apathy.
    2) Sell off state broadcasting to “mum & dad” investors
    3) Share holding is then concentrated in larger private hands
    4) End of 4th estate and any serious media opposition to government agenda or activity.

    • Jim Nald 6.1

      Frankly, I say to you guys – you go out and create your 5th estate.
      44ukk the 4th.

  7. Zaphod Beeblebrox 7

    What’s the point of interviewing him anyway- he’s totally unintelligible most of the time. All you get is a mish-mash of ‘maybes’, ‘in the fullness of time’, ‘at the end of the day’, ‘we’ll be looking at that in due course’ and that’s on a good day. That’s when he’s not trying to discuss the Afganistanian situation or being totally incomprehensible which he seems to be most of the time.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      So the point is to indicate the New Zealand public that that is what he is like, all of the time.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1.1

        I don’t know what he is like when he is not giving the cryptic pollie-speak. I just wish he would be more clear about what he means sometimes.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Actually, he already does front a lot on the media. He appears regularly on The Breakfast Show, 3ZB, and Radio Live with Willy and JT. On Radio Live he tends to get a bit of a grilling from Willy who is definitely not a National Party hack.

    It is quite common for Key to be accused of being a “do nothing” MP. If you also want him to be appearing with every media outlet that makes a request, then he definitely won’t have much time to do anything else.

    • Bill 8.1

      And I do a lot of reading to keep myself informed. I read cornflake packets, shampoo bottles, and the ‘Womans Weekly’. The Womans Weekly has pictures and lots of words that are sometimes a little challenging.

      If you want me to read everything then I definitely won’t have much time to do anything else.

    • Galeandra 8.2


  9. Zak Creedo 9

    Key avoiding.. YOU WISH !!

    the spread here between combative redfred and laid-out really kind of gives this thing away.

    When the issue is why should anybody duck the national radio station..?

  10. Anne 10

    He’s been on the back foot for some time now and his spin meisters don’t trust him to handle substantive interviews without mucking up. He’s been advised to avoid interviewers like Plunkett and Robinson and to stick with TV sound-bites and the awful Paul Henry.

    Lanthanide has the right idea. Every time he declines to be interviewed, they should invite an appropriate opposition member to fill the slot.

    • True Blue 10.1

      There lies the problem we do not have an appropriate opposition member to fill the spot.

    • Jim Nald 10.2

      That’s true. The msm should invite the appropriate opp member to comment, whether there is a cabinet minister to speak up and especially if there isn’t such a cabinet minister fronting up. I’ll email the particular radio/tv (and newspaper) to ask why there isn’t an approp opp member’s comment or participation next time I notice the omission.

      • Anne 10.2.1

        @ Jim Nald.
        Good on you. I will do it too if I catch up with it. By opposition I mean ALL the left leaning parties including the Maori Party- sans Tariana of course. It just needs to be someone who has a high profile in the subject matter to be discussed. Eg. Phil Twyford re- Auckland Super City.

        • Jim Nald

          Just occurred to me … and this is for anyone who can help who is reading this …

          Can someone post a list of email addresses for the editors, editorial room, producers, what-not of various tv & radio stations?

          Say, compile in an Excel sheet?

          That way, each of us can have a ready list ready at hand to consult for a specific email address to send a message (eg asking whether or why a particular MP or a certain relevant person has not been interviewed).

  11. Sanctuary 11

    A lot of the media were furious over the level of manipulation that went on over Key’s trip to Afghanistan. The media love to have their ego stroked and to be flattered, but they hate having their collective noses rubbed in it by a media comms team playing favourites.

    Since then I have noticed a move away from the fawning sycophancy he was getting in all media to a distinctly cooler reception in some. The crazy thing is Sean Plunkett usually behaved like an over-awed schoolgirl editor of a high school paper when he interviewed Key. By continually turning down interviews with Plunkett, when the awful day finally dawns when Key has to appear (which he will, sooner or later) Plunkett will make a point of giving him a hard time.

  12. Blue 12

    I strongly suspect the reason Key doesn’t go on Morning Report is that he doesn’t need to.

    There’s more risk than benefit for him at this stage of the game. The media honeymoon has actually started to wear off, and most interviewers are now more interested in tripping him up than gushing adoringly over him. Plus, radio plays to his weaknesses (sloppy diction, gratingly irritating voice) whereas on TV he can smile and wave.

    The worst that can happen is that Plunket makes mincemeat out of him on air and he comes off looking stupid, arrogant and untrustworthy. Just what he needs when the poll ratings are starting to fall.

    Best to avoid the whole thing. After all, if he doesn’t go on Morning Report, what consequences will there be for him? None.

    • Lew 12.1

      I guess you figure that becoming known as the PM who can’t stand the heat is a chance he’s willing to take. I’m not so sure. Hell hath no fury like a journo scorned. Behold how they turned on Clark, and Peters, and Brash, and tremble.


      • Blue 12.1.1

        The honeymoon hasn’t worn off *that* much.

        At this point the media probably don’t give a rat’s if Key doesn’t talk to Morning Report, just as long as he’s still talking to them.

        • Lew

          Not yet, no. And the point is to prevent it doing so.

          I don’t really agree that not talking to MR would be ok as long as he’s talking to other media. MR (and Checkpoint) is the country’s news of record, accorded more credibility than any of the paper or TV bulletins, and attracts a larger audience than any of those — except for One News, which is about the same or slightly more.

          And FTFA, it was a One News political reporter whose questions Key brushed off last night, as well, so he’s not even talking to the rest of the media.

          Not to say that he’s in dire straits — just that this is not asustainable strategy. He needs to be able to front the bad and the indifferent as as well as the good.


          • Blue

            After all the times Key’s avoided giving a straight answer, said he couldn’t remember, or directly contradicted himself without even blinking and the media has just rolled over and accepted it every time, I can’t share your faith in their supposed ability to hold him to account.

            • Lew

              Don’t you remember the early oughties, Blue?


            • uke

              All that Sean needs to do is ask (if he ever gets to interview Key again):

              Why have you turned down so many MR requests for interviews – while continuing to give other media the opportunity?

  13. kriswgtn 13

    Nzers can smirk as they tick the box in 2011 to vote him and his clowns out of office

    He doesnt like being asked tough questions and when he remarked re Andy Haden I just about choked– there wasnt NO diff between what Haden said and donkeys remark over Tuhoe

    but then racism appears to be okay in this country– as long as it hasnt anything to do with jews and Nazis uniforms


    See a pattern???

  14. randal 14

    maybe if he offers them all a bottle of jaykay whine before the show perhaps?

  15. For better or worse, Key’s professional formation
    has included trading currency on a computer screen and managing a trading floor. He has not developed social confidence or intellectual breadth through interacting with a broad range of people and information sources. He is, if you like, a product of our times.

    I don’t like his politics, but neither do I like personal attacks. He strikes me as a guy who is aware of his limitations and is happy to be guided by National Party media strategists. He is growing in the role and doing things he would not have done when he won the election.

    But who is pulling the strings ? Rogue billionaires trying to fashion us in their image as a bolt-hole during prolonged economic contraction in the northern hemisphere ?

  16. Craig Glen Eden 16

    Key is weak he has always been the great pretender. Voters cant say that they were not warned by Helen concerning just what John was all about (your nose is growing John).
    It will be interesting to have an election fought on policy and not on presidential smile and wave journalism. I live in hope!
    If National was smart they would leave Kiwi bank alone but I suspect Keys mates really want it to go to make their existing operations even more profitable.
    Time will tell but I suspect rank and file Nats would be happy for it to stay, but sadly thats not the hollow mens agenda, sell sell sell.

  17. kriswgtn 17

    And kiwirail getting a major upgrade , this after Nacts had lambasted labour for buying it– why why why

    I bet they gonna sell it down the line– if they get in 2011- within 6 months of the upgrade

    They have a lot of gall to even think theyre going to get in next year..

    The thing that pisses me off is that THEY the govt doesnt own kiwirail==

    WE the taxpayers do

  18. Savant 18

    Why would he expose himself to a professional like Plunkett when he can get a soft spot on TV from the lazy Henry.

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