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The Panel – how do I love thee?

Written By: - Date published: 1:23 pm, November 17th, 2017 - 44 comments
Categories: Media, Politics, radio - Tags: , ,

I don’t want to jinx things, but it seems to me that there’s been a shift this year at RNZ in the range of commentators and guests they are using.

The latest is unionist, blogger and communications consultant Stephanie Rodgers‘ debut on The Panel recently. She was guesting alongside conservative journalist Jock Anderson.

We’ve all been complaining for a while about the dearth of solid left wing voices in mainstream media commentary positions. There are a few people around, but more often the voices are conservative and/or mainstream to the exclusion of a large number of people and views in New Zealand.

I want an RNZ, and a public broadcaster, that aims for diversity not middle of the road. I stopped listening to The Panel a long time ago because I don’t like yelling at the radio that much. The odd time I hear it now is when I’m in the car. I’m sure I miss some good conversations, but overall for me The Panel has been largely classist white noise. There’s only so much mainstream people talking about things outside their ken that one can take – when you have conversations about people but never hear from the people themselves you risk turning them into objects. This object objects.

So it was delightful and refreshing to hear a left wing, feminist, class-aware voice on the radio the other day.

I’m sure we’re going to hear about how it’s the end of the world now that RNZ is doing and going to do all sorts of interesting things to increase its public broadcaster remit, but it’s not like left wing people have been asking for left wing commentators only. We just want some balance. I’m not talking only about left/right balance by the way, I’m talking about bringing in the relevant perspectives across the different political landscapes and giving them all an airing.

Here’s a snip from Rodgers, when discussing Christchurch City Council’s decision against a by-law to regulate sex workers using a street in Christchurch to find clients.

In terms of the family who was being moved because their daughter was regularly being propositioned, that doesn’t tell me anything about the sex workers nearby. It tells me a lot about the men who are paying them for sex and who are propositioning young women. I don’t know what that family is going to do if their daughter decides to into tech, or the military, or show business, or politics, because you can’t move planets to get away from sexual harassment by men.

Go Stephanie! I was almost cheering for the sheer relief of having a refreshing political voice that is on point and not afraid to be bold in progressive politics. Rodgers also pointed out that in this debate the Panel was missing the voices of sex-workers themselves.

Looking good at the Panel, keep up the good work RNZ.

44 comments on “The Panel – how do I love thee? ”

  1. tc 1

    I’d like to see some of the DP players brought on for a ‘please explain’ about the toxicity they’ve injected into the mixer.

    Seems fair after many years of being allowed to run free unchecked on RNZ.

    • Chris 1.1

      What is a “DP player” and what is “the mixer”?

      • Timbeau 1.1.1

        @Chris – I presume a “DP Player” is an actor in the Dirty Politics drama. I too would like to see action to prevent a repeat of Dirty Politics, especially if it came from Parliament rather than Jim Mora.

        And by the way, Where is Jason Ede?

      • Timbeau 1.1.2

        @Chris – I presume a “DP Player” is an actor in the Dirty Politics drama. I too would like to see action to prevent a repeat of Dirty Politics, especially if it came from Parliament rather than Jim Mora.

        And by the way, Where is Jason Ede?

  2. esoteric pineapples 3

    I see Television New Zealand is loosing advertising to the point where soon it will cost public money to run. It’s time to get rid of TV1 and TV2 which don’t only exist for entertainment and income for the government, and establish one public free to air television channel which will cost money from the tax payer but provide a proper public service role.

  3. tracey 4

    Great comment by Stephanie. I stopped listening to the panel a while ago. Same with the political commentators. When a producer thinks Williams is Left… Franks gets inordinate time to represent the 0.5 and Michelle Boag and Brian Edwards are seen as relevant in 2017.

    • Anne 4.1

      Yes, I occasionally tune in to The Panel and happened to hear the session between Stephanie Rodgers and Jock Anderson. Amusing though it was, I suspect they won’t be putting Jock and Stephanie together again. Talk about chalk and cheese. I had the impression Jim Mora thought it might degenerate into fisticuffs at one point. 😯

      I think they might have been in different studios.

      • tracey 4.1.1

        I think I left the panel to it when they had a woman who investigates if people are cheating on partners expounding on all kinds of things. She”reckoned” lots of things.

      • Pete 4.1.2

        In the way of modern media and what you have to do to gain attention, if they work out that it might degenerate into fisticuffs they’ll be into it – “Bring it on!” will be the call, “Bring it on, boots and all.”

    • blue 4.2

      Exactly! Just had a look at the board of RNZ. Maybe the winds of change at hurricane (new reality climate levels, deniers NOT excepted) strength is due here too.

  4. Morrissey 5

    Stephanie is a welcome improvement, but she can only do so much. Unfortunately, Jim Mora is still there.

    The rot at RNZ National goes deeper than this light chat show: today the 4 o’clock news began by quoting the Sensible Sentencing Trust, complete with the unspeakable Garth “The Knife” McVicar chuntering on for a long, long ten seconds.

    Open mike 12/07/2011

    Open mike 12/08/2013

    • Ed 5.1

      Yes Mora is at the root of the problem.
      Miss your commentaries.

      • rhinocrates 5.1.1

        I don’t. No insult to Morrissey intended, but it can’t be good for his health.

        Never bother with it myself. It seems to describe the peculiar habits of a weird species of penguin on a distant island. I try very hard to imagine that anyway… and try not to remember that they vote.

      • the pigman 5.1.2

        I miss them too!

        As painful as they might have been, rhinocrates, the sarcastic, ribbing humour was an excellent tool for pointing out how absurd some of RNZ’s programming is.

  5. OnceWasTim 6

    ” …….. but overall for me The Panel has been largely classist white noise. There’s only so much mainstream people talking about things outside their ken that one can take – when you have conversations about people but never hear from the people themselves you risk turning them into objects.”

    Exactery! And largely ‘upper muddle class’ white anglosaxon noise at that.

    But as you say, as things seem to be changing – let’s not jinx it or we’ll be back to eating Subway 5 afternoons a week.

  6. Ed 7

    Finlay McDonald was on today
    He is great.

    I switch off if Stephen Franks is on, He is the worst contributor.

    I don’t switch on if Boag features. 2nd worst.

    And when Farrar is on, there is honest description of his role. Again the off switch.

    And when Josie Pagani is described as left, I switch off as well.

    Too many upple middle class voices discussing real estate prices in Point Chevalier with the dull and turgid Jim Mora.

    • Grey Area 7.1


      I dip in only occasionally as I drive home from work but usually switch it back off again as I find it adds little of value to my day.

    • garibaldi 7.2

      That’s exactly what I do Ed. Add Neil Miller to that list.

      • North 7.2.1

        If I’ve got the right person Neil Miller is a shocker. Talks loud and domineering. Knows all about everything and beer.

      • D'Esterre 7.2.2

        Garibaldi: “Add Neil Miller to that list.”

        Some years ago, Miller pontificated about how the unemployed in the big cities such as Auckland should get together and move to the provinces, where housing is cheaper. There, they could set up house together and get jobs….etc, etc. And more such well-meaning nonsense.

        I wrote to Mora, pointing out the flaws in Miller’s roseate views. To Mora’s credit, he read my message out.

        My impression is that Mora used to read out listener feedback much more frequently than he does now. I don’t doubt that management edicts have something to do with that.

    • Sanctuary 7.3

      Pretty much the same list. I switch off because I consider Franks a down right nasty piece of work and Boag and Farrar as plain dishonest. They are there to primarily spin for the National party. And Josie Pagani adds no value to anything, she reliably spouts received establishment opinion with the faintest blush of urban liberal pink.

      I also don’t like listening to Brian Edwards, I find it hard to listen to someone who doesn’t know when it is time to let it go and retire from the public sphere. He is a doddery old man nowadays, browbeaten by Boag and sometimes just confused. I dislike his decline very much and it makes me sad.

      • rhinocrates 7.3.1

        I’m also baffled why anyone would think Edwards is relevant in 2017. Is he still advising the Labour Party? That might help explain the series of interchangeable fifty-something dull men in suits they had as leaders. He probably thought they’d get the youth vote. As for his understanding of postmodern media… bozhe moi. It is very sad, yes. He used to be someone, once upon a time.

        Still, can’t complain too loudly… they might replace him with Russell Brown.

        • Sanctuary

          I think in his early days in the panel – he was the first ever guest, after all – he was fine. Brian Edwards has had a great career as a public figure in this country and we all should be grateful he has graced our land.

          But he’s got worse to the point on one show he seemed confused as to who actually held the America’s Cup and in general his grasp on current affairs and mental agility has declined to the point he just parroted Boag and told stories from his salad days as shaky analogies.

          As personal bugbear though he has an insultingly negative view of the NZ accent, which he regards as inferior, which is a classic anachronistic marker of his passing generation.

          RNZ & Mora are to blame for having to listen to his sad decline, they should have retired him years but he came free and they are/were too afraid of bringing on younger voices like Stephanie Rogers.

      • Jilly Bee 7.3.2

        I’m pretty sure Sanctuary that Brian Edwards has decided to retire from The Panel, as from a month or so ago. I can’t recall at present who has been up against Michelle Boag since B E’s departure, but the day I listened to them ‘he’ was totally up to it and gave Michelle Boag as good as she gave, with medals on it. I don’t listen to The Panel every day due to some of the panellists, yes, Stephen Franks and David Farrar in particular. I haven’t heard Dita De Boni on for some time now – I recall the first time I heard her on was a couple of years ago when I lived in West Auckland and I probably nearly caused a nose to tail crash on Lincoln Road – she was like a breath of fresh air and I think she caused Jim Mora to have a wee panic attack. I was just shouting to Dita in the car and had to get my act together very quickly.

        • D'Esterre

          Jilly Bee: “I’m pretty sure Sanctuary that Brian Edwards has decided to retire from The Panel, as from a month or so ago.”

          That wouldn’t surprise me. At Edwards’ last appearance, I wrote to Mora suggesting that Edwards was now too old to be on the Panel. This was in the context of his apparently having completely forgotten about the dirty politics scandal at the 2014 election. I’ll bet I wasn’t alone!

    • Sumsuch 7.4

      I’d like to see Franks and MacDonald put together, somehow, according to a BBC ethos.

    • D'Esterre 7.5

      Ed: “Finlay McDonald was on today. He is great.”

      McDonald is ok, mostly.

      Franks proffers opinions that usually draw on logic rather than emotion. I enjoy listening to him, even when I don’t agree. But he often asserts anecdote as if it were evidence; when he does that, I contact Mora and point it out.

      Farrar is curate’s egg-ish: sometimes I agree with him, sometimes not. When he’s spouting Nat propaganda, I tend to zone out.

      Pagani isn’t worth the effort of listening to her, so I don’t. I feel the same about Boag.

      “Too many upple middle class voices…”

      There’s nothing wrong with upper middle class voices, if that’s what reflects the programme’s audience.

      The Panel isn’t intended to be a hard-hitting news show; it’s light entertainment, or so it seems to me. And I’d expect it to have a range of panellists. It’s not going to be a bastion of either left- or right-wing views.

  7. J 8

    Please, RNZ, just get rid of the ‘national’ from the title. It’s so wrong for country-wide radio. RNZ has been owned and controlled by national the party for so long and it has begun to become just another politic-speak for greed. It needs to be refreshed. Perhaps the people that were jettisoned were more valuable than the expensive numpty we have as ceo. Is he as valuable as the cleaner that protects us from health issues? Doubt it.

    Jim Mora continues, just like Guyon Espiner ghosting on checkpoint this week, to pretend to voice objectivity but forever channelling the conversation towards attacking the left. Does anyone else see that? It’s so obvious. When do their contracts run out? If they can’t give us rounded points of view they’re not doing the job the taxpayer pays them for. Why keep them on? We need honest commentators that give us all the info so we can make informed decisions. Otherwise, it’s just nazi-land all over again.

    I’d love to see Campbell and Hill on the 5 o’clock checkpoint.

    And what happened to Mary Wilson? Was she shoved upstairs against her will or was she happy to change career ladders?

    Until the front panels are checked for bias we will continue to get greed-commentary. There’s nothing worse than propaganda being allowed to spread its poison when all we plead for is fair reportage. Propaganda by the national party is being allowed to blanket objectivity on screen and on audio. It needs to be questioned.

    • Grey Area 8.1

      Jim Mora continues, just like Guyon Espiner ghosting on checkpoint this week, to pretend to voice objectivity but forever channelling the conversation towards attacking the left. Does anyone else see that? It’s so obvious.

      I haven’t noticed the channelling towards, so much as a channelling away from. Whenever anyone, either panel member or interviewee, says anything confronting, critical of the former government, even vaguely left wing, alternative to neoliberalism etc there is a slight pause and Mora, sounding uncomfortable, heads in another direction or returns to an earlier point.

      A decent host would acknowledge the point made and develop the conversation further but not Mora. We deserve better.

      • AB 8.1.1

        “there is a slight pause and Mora, sounding uncomfortable, heads in another direction”
        Yes – that’s a very good description, thank-you.
        Jim Mora is clearly terrified that someone will be rude at his Wadestown dinner party and just wants to keep it jollying along with amused laughter mixed with speculative middle-class ‘reckons’. That way, everyone can remain blissfully unaware of their own privilege.

        • D'Esterre

          AB: “Jim Mora is clearly terrified that someone will be rude at his Wadestown dinner party….”

          I doubt it: he doesn’t live in Wadestown. You do know where Wadestown is, right?

    • Grantoc 8.2


      “Theres nothing worse than propaganda being allowed to spread its poison when all we plead for is fair reportage”……I presume you are referring to left wing propaganda as well as right ing propaganda?

      I get the distinct feeling that you want to close down right wing commentary on RNZ and to leave the field open to left wing views only.

      You realise I presume that one of the core tenets of democracy is free speech. You appear to advocating the opposite – which to be clear is absolutely anti democratic.

      • Grey Area 8.2.1

        I’d take a look at your own filters if you truly infer all that from what J wrote because that’s not what they are saying at all. But I suspect you know that.

  8. anker 9

    At the risk of being shot down in flames, I wouldn’t like it at all if my daughter or a young woman was being propositioned for sex by men seeking to engage a sex worker in my neighbourhood. Yes I hold the men in contempt, but I just wouldn’t like it to happen and I don’t think this families daughter experiencing that is going to equip her to deal with the sexual harassment out there.

    In my mind all part of the same thing, the objectification of woman and that’s what we need to attack, not the family who were disturbed that their daughter had been approached by these men. I would feel the same way.

  9. anker 10

    I realize I run the risk of being shot down in flames, but here goes.

    If I had a daughter who was regularly being approach by men seeking to engage the services of a sex worker in my neighbourhood, I would want to move too. I hold these men in contempt and we know that sex work especially on the street is high risk occupation with assaults, rapes etc not being a rare event. I would do everything I could to move my family away from such a neighbourhood. I think Stephanie’s comments trivialize this families situation.

    I wouldn’t see that my daughter being approached by these men would help her to deal with the harassment that is rife in most walks of life. I think there are other ways to help my daughter address that, like self defence, self esteem and assertiveness classes.

    • D'Esterre 10.1

      Anker: “If I had a daughter who was regularly being approach by men seeking to engage the services of a sex worker in my neighbourhood, I would want to move too.”

      I agree with you. Years ago, we used to live nearby that part of Christchurch. Although so close to the central city, ours was unequivocally a residential area. Back then, we had no issues with sex workers; had that been the case, we’d have been seriously pissed off, and wanting Council to take action.

      I heard that interview: my sympathies are with the residents. Sex workers on the street and their clients have no place in residential parts of the city.



    100% couldn’t agree more here.

    Also; – why cant we have the voice of truth on the RNZ panel also, that of Nicky Hager?

    His contrabution to our society is legendary.

    “I want an RNZ, and a public broadcaster, that aims for diversity not middle of the road. I stopped listening to The Panel a long time ago because I don’t like yelling at the radio that much.”

  11. Shona 12

    Haven’t listened to RNZ since they banned Bomber Bradbury. My other half listens to Campbell occasionally.Election night coverage was intelligent and worth tuning into as well. We get all our info from the net and have done so for years. I was a dedicated fan of RNZ for more than 30 years . I had a gutsful of their muddle class pakeha Wellington witterers POV long ago. I live in the Far North those twats down there have no understanding of how we live in rural NZ. They are so disconnected and out of touch . My intelligence is worth protecting from their bullshit.

  12. Philg 13

    2 Ply Panel. Shallow and wooden.
    I’ve stopped trying to advise Jim Mora about improving his programme. To his credit, he did reply saying he works really hard trying to improve. As a long lifelong listener, and supporter.. RNZ needs an enema.

  13. D'Esterre 14

    Shona: “I had a gutsful of their muddle class pakeha Wellington witterers POV long ago.”

    As opposed to your own middle class, doubtless also pakeha, POV up there, huh?

    “I live in the Far North those twats down there have no understanding of how we live in rural NZ.”

    Er….yes: we do. That’s why we don’t live there! Wellington rules ok….

    For the most part, I like the Panel. Mora and his guests often make me laugh, sometimes uproariously.

    Some panellists are better than others: I do tend to zone out or switch off the more irritating ones. Besides those adduced above by various commenters, I avoid the awful Mai Chen. All that super-diversity crap: she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Ethnic chauvinism, more like!

  14. I am a truck driver who listens to the panel all the time.I find most of the panels made up of right wing world travelers.Its good to here them pontificate on whats wrong with the poor and how they would cure it.

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