Key moves to shut down hard questions

Written By: - Date published: 10:07 am, July 18th, 2008 - 31 comments
Categories: election 2008, john key, Media, slippery, spin - Tags:

Part of the Crosby/Textor MO is to avoid any hard questioning or real investigative journalism from the media. Step one in this process is be matey with journos. They’re people too and they can fall for charm.

When that fails and something embarrassing comes out, attack the journo. Key did this over the “we would love to see wages drop” quote, the Kiwisaver leak, and when he said NZ has never experienced internal conflict. English did after he said he would borrow for tax cuts.

When an interview goes wrong and hard questions get asked, either threaten the interviewer with no more interviews or just cut them off. Sources say Key routinely turns down interviews with National Radio. 

Two weeks ago, both Wammo and Havoc grilled Key on his use of Crosby/Textor. Key wasn’t on either show the following week. This week, he was back on Wammo’s show, where, in a bizarre event, a chastened sounding Wammo said â€˜it’s like we’re at a BBQ and two weeks ago we went into the kitchen and exchanged some hard words but now we’re back out by the Barbie and all mates again, eh, John?’. Clearly, words were had by Key’s PR people with Wammo: ‘play nice or Johnny won’t be back’.

It’s not good enough for a politician to start attacking journos for doing their jobs well. The question now: how long will journos put up with it?

[Update: Wammo advises us that no words were had, he just wanted to unruffle any feathers after the tense Crosby/Textor interview. Wammo has some experience with Crosby/Textor in the past though, they pulled Don Brash from his show. SP]

31 comments on “Key moves to shut down hard questions”

  1. insider 1

    I agree the process is insidious and journos have to have the bollox to stand up to it.

    This is not a CT m/o – saying so just displays your ignorance or partisanship. It is basic power politics that predates them – remember HC’s charm offensive with media? What about Thatcher’s use of briefing sessions to friendly media? The presidential entourage on Air Force 1. It does raise the question of the parasitic relationship between news and politics.

    Why for instance does Clark never get asked any questions of substance on her weekly Paul Holmes Interviews and why does he never follow up the questions in any penetrating way? It’s clear they are patsy pre-agreed question lines and he is working through a script, not conducting a real issues based interview. Breakfast TV does the same for all of them.

    Has Helen been back on little creep John Campbell’s show? Wonder how long it took after corngate? Is she still calling media for off the record chats and not leaking information? When is her next interview with Ian Wishart?

  2. Joe Blogger 2

    “Clearly, words were had by Key’s PR people with Wammo: ‘play nice or Johnny won’t be back’.”

    That’s a pretty big accusation Steve, what real evidence do you have that this has occurred or are you simply assuming that this has what has occurred?

  3. insider 3

    Actually weren’t KEy and English criticised by HC for going on holiday with their families that week? Perhaps that is the mundane explanation for the no show? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that two people have had different views of the difficulty of an interview. Are you sure your views are shared by National on the difficulty of the interviews?

  4. Joe. great name, btw. But listen to the Wammo interview. If you know his style, it’s a pretty stunning comment to make.

  5. every politician has fallings out with individual journos. the difference is that National uses these tactics every single time something goes wrong – it’s not the occassional falling out, it’s a concerted policy to stifle independent critique.

  6. lukas 6

    where as calling journo’s creeps/little creeps and wishing death upon them is ok? http://www.scoopit.co.nz/story.php?title=Helen-Clark-on-Ian-Wishart-DEATH-TO-HIM

  7. randal 7

    yeah well wishart is a creep and he is not standing for office. he just slithers around on the margins. John Key should and must be able to answer any question put to him by the media otherwise he is said to be fudging.

  8. Nick C 8

    [Tane: Nick, you’re still banned.]

  9. Quoth the Raven 9

    If Ian Wishart continually made insuations about my sexuality I’d call him a creep too. Ian Wishart is a man who believes abortions cause breast cancer, man never landed on the moon and condoms aren’t safe. Lukas if you think Wishart is worth listening to then so be it but I’m not going take this backward fool seriously.

    Captcha: passed vicious – Ian Wishart?

  10. mike 10

    “Clearly, words were had by Key’s PR people with Wammo: ‘play nice or Johnny won’t be back'”

    Is this an assumption steve or do you have proof?

    More likely he was told by his employers to take a more neutral stance.

  11. mike. have you listened to the interview? No because you’re too lazy to get informed before spouting off. So how can you judge whether the stance was nuetral or not.

    Asking hard questions is not tha same as being biased any more than asking soft quesiton is being neutral.

  12. Bethany Mark 12

    Yeah Barry Soper had a go at National’s new approach yesterday too. He discusses it in his daily politics bulletin (http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/newsdetail1.asp?storyID=140903), saying

    “…and that is hardly surprising considering the State Homie no longer puts himself out there at press conferences.

    The last time he held one was almost a year ago when he was derailed over the Tory’s health policy. He was defending doctors’ charges saying if people didn’t like them they could go out and find another one which, when you’re living in a small town with just one quack, is a little difficult.

    Tory policy releases aren’t presented at press conferences anymore, they’re usually emailed to the press gallery. The ACC policy was a classic example.

    The email arrives just as the State Homie’s off to catch a plane.”

    Or hear Barry have a go at Key on his phone-in to ZB’s Drive show.(this link is from ZB’s week-on-demand function on their website, and the comments on ACC are from about 33 mins, 20 seconds into the hour:
    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/thisweek/hourrecs/Thu,%20Jul%2017%2016.00%20trn-newstalk-zb-akl.asf)

  13. mike 13

    So you don’t have proof and you are making an assumption that keys minders have put the hard word on a journo.

  14. mike – Of course he’s making an assumption. That’s what the “clearly” in the phrase “Clearly, words were had by Key’s PR people with Wammo: ‘play nice or Johnny won’t be back’.” indicates. Given National’s propensity to bully journos that’s a fair assumption.

    Now when you say: More likely he was told by his employers to take a more neutral stance. you are indicating you hold a contrary opinion with the use of the phrase “more likely” – do you have proof to back that assumption up or are you lying?

    Oh and get back to work and stop stealing from your boss.

  15. polaris 15

    Funny that the word “Clearly” which is meant to indicate firmness and accuracy, actually indicates “maybe”.

    You really are an idiot.

  16. Tane 16

    Something’s got your back up today polaris.

    [Oh and bro, language is contextual and also very fluid. If you think meaning is carved in stone then it’s you who’s the idiot.]

  17. insider 17

    Sorry Tane in that context clearly is as polaris described. I can’t see how you can honestly argue otherwise. BTW not disputing the use of clearly, it fits the post and the conclusions.

  18. Quoth the Raven 18

    I think what he is saying is that clearly words must have been had for Wammo to make a comment such as that. Not that he knows words were had in actuality. It’s the use of the word were not clearly that blurs it a little.

  19. Wammo 19

    Jeez did I really sound chastened? I was actually just having a bit of a laugh. If I was John I might have also felt it was a little condescending, though that was not my intention. I guess I was acknowledging that the tone of our last chat was somewhat tense and if anything was out of character when compared to most of our other interviews. I’d rather our weeklies stayed informal because its with a relaxed style that I am able to wander to topics and questions that may not be explored otherwise. The crosby/textor issue however left me little choice but to take a harder approach. The reason this issue has slipped from recent media coverage isn’t because the media aren’t keen to pursue it, but because it is a ‘brick wall topic’. With the same answer repeated back.

    Under no circumstances were we approached by anyone to be nice! I don’t stand for politicians trying to direct the content of my show – and I would certainly let listeners know if that was the case. Just as I did when Don Brash was pulled from my RDU show by his advisors after months of answering “agony aunt” letters. (Oddly enough the side effect of Don’s appearances on the show had the effect of making him more endearing to listeners – but was deemed too risky by his Crosby/Textor advisors.)

    So to make it clear once again – I have complete freedom to ask all political leaders any question (but won’t attempt a second time to ask Helen if she kissed the Pope’s ring).

  20. Tane 20

    insider, I’m not arguing over any particular usage (I haven’t followed the thread), just on the principle that language is fluid, contextual and frequently ironic – not at all rigid like your mate polaris seems to believe.

  21. Wammo. Fair enough, I’ll update the post. I heard that and I just thought ‘that’s odd’ and others I asked about thought it was odd too. Given Key’s record on these matters, put two and two together – seems I got the wrong answer.

    Incidentally, does anyone know why we say ‘put two and two together?’. In Finnish, they say ‘do one and one’ – which seems a much more sensible description of the logic taking place.

  22. Be interesting to hear Havoc’s interview with Key when it’s finally online.. that interview two weeks ago was brutal by the end.

  23. insider 23

    Steve

    Given you have graciously admitted you were wrong, the better place for your clarification would be at the top of the post so that people can read it before their opinions on the issue are shaped.

  24. lukas

    where as calling journo’s creeps/little creeps and wishing death upon them is ok?

    Wishart isn’t a journalist, though it would be bloody funny watching him try and interview Clark.

    “So, how many babies have you eaten today?”

    Steve Pierson

    Be interesting to hear Havoc’s interview with Key when it’s finally online.. that interview two weeks ago was brutal by the end.

    Whats the bet that lawyers letters start flying, or English has a wee chat to someone high up again?

  25. Razorlight 25

    SP, please don’t take this personally and no offence intended but your credibility took a huge hit today.

    You have always been blindly partisan to a degree not seen in blogosphere with some strange hatred for the right. But when you make up a story like this and it is blown out of the water like it was any hint of persuaion you held in your blogs has now gone.

    Do not use the word ‘clearly’ when it is anything but clear, and in reality, you don’t have a clue.

  26. infused 26

    I agree with Razorlight. This isn’t the first time you have done this. At least now you look like an idiot.

  27. number six 27

    Wow, what a to-do over a word. For what it’s worth, when I read the post, I assumed SP was having a punt about what went on between Wammo and Key. I didn’t see any facts to back up his statement, so I took it as an assumption.

    If people took it as gospel, perhaps they should learn to read blogs more critically.

    Just a thought.

    But now the OP has been ammended to include Wammo’s response, it might be interesting to talk about the main issues – as I understand them – the relationship between journos and politicians, and the absence of Key and the National Party from hard questions.

    I think I just want the Government to set a date, and then we could perhaps negate the whole ‘it’s too soon to release policy’ crap. Of course it’s not too soon. John Key is someone most of us know zip about, and he could be the next PM and his party could be our next government. Why wouldn’t we want to know as much as possible?

    So, please, give us a date and let’s just get on with it.

  28. gobsmacked 28

    Wammo

    The politicians (all of them) are there to spin. Please don’t make it easier for them. Cheers.

  29. Lew 29

    KITNO: “Wishart isn’t a journalist”

    This is what they call the No True Scotsman fallacy. Just because you don’t rate his work doesn’t mean he’s not a journalist. He runs a current affairs magazine. If not a journalist, what is he?

    Snarky answers like `conspiracy theorist’, `raving lunatic’, etc, while I might agree with them, don’t prove your case.

    L

  30. I think hes puts pushing an agenda above informing the public. I don’t consider that journalism.

  31. Matt 31

    It’s not a Croxby Textor thing. It’s a classic politician thing. Watch Helen Clark and you’ll see the true master of avoiding the question.

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    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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