Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed an increasing tendency from mainstream media to talk about Key not in terms of being a bold outsider (although there are still a few chumps buying that line) but in terms of a public relations creation.
Today’s HoS for example quotes George Burns before dissecting Key’s bullshit:
As comedian George Burns said of comedy, “the secret … is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made”.
Key’s gee-shucks persona, which eschews calculated media management, can be risky – discussing women he finds hot with a radio presenter would have been ill-advised even if that presenter had not been convicted of injuring his partner with reckless disregard – but it is part of Key’s clever strategy to appear to have no clever strategy.
Similarly Jessica Mutch had a go about Key’s mixing of politics and celebrity in her blog this week:
He seemed to be loving the attention – and courting it. I wonder when John Key’s status moved from Prime Minister to celebrity?
And John Armstrong has an inkling of what’s going on:
Key is seeking to reinforce his popularity by portraying himself as a new breed of politician.
It’s even permeating into sports journalism:
Key has been clever with his Everyman stuff. He seems to have a sense of humour and doesn’t seem to mind putting himself in the way of things like this column. There’s no doubt he has struck a chord with the electorate – but you can get too much of a good thing.
In fact more and more often the media focus on Key is about how he is managing his image rather than how he is doing as Prime Minister. To be fair there’s still a lot of glowing praise heaped upon him for his so-called “PR mastery”, and you’d expect no less from the out of touch political class that provides so much of this analysis.
But as people get worse and worse off, and this year they will, being “good at the game” will seem more like adding insult to injury to many voters. And with a November election confirmed there’s a long time for people to get well sick of being insulted.
Campbell Live’s piece from last week, “John Key’s forgotten Waitangi girl”, is a foretaste of this. It’s the kind of story I haven’t seen since the last days of the Shipley government.