All the public polls (yes except Horizon) tell us that National should win this election, possibly with an absolute majority. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. But whatever the result it’s been a costly election for Key. After the teapot tape fiasco and the subsequent police raids on media, his political capital with the media (except for die-hard fans) is spent. Consider this rather frank opinion piece by Chris Whitworth at 3 News:
From smiling to silent assassin: National’s media stonewall
Media and politicians can make strange bedfellows. It’s an uneasy and at times abusive relationship that comes under strain from past hurts and differing needs. …
So when the Prime Minister meets ACT candidate John Banks for a cup of tea, why was there such a media scrum you ask? Because up until then John Key had given media nothing but double-speak about National’s deal with ACT.
In fact, many in the media feel Key and his Cabinet have completely shut up shop ahead of the election, forcing them to jump on what ever scraps they are given.
Radio New Zealand’s head of news Don Rood says Key refused to front for both of their scheduled election debates with Labour leader Phil Goff on Morning Report – despite requesting the interview at the start of the year. .. Mr Rood says even during the year some National MPs have been “hesitant” to appear on the station and have often pulled out. Labour’s campaign spokesperson Grant Robertson suggests the “cold shoulder” from National is intentional.
A quick look at the RNZ website shows a similar gap in policy information provided by National. … The problem could be excused if Radio New Zealand was alone in this, but National’s reluctance to front appears to be industry wide.
TV3’s The Nation issued a press release earlier this month informing viewers that Key refused to appear on the show. It read: “John Key refuses to talk to The Nation so we’ve gone in search of him … follow[ing] the Key campaign and find[ing] that its endless photo opportunities are carefully planned stage shows”.
And so the list keeps growing.
Key has scarcely appeared on TV3’s Campbell Live or TVNZ’s Close Up – bar the standard leaders’ debates – and refused the New Zealand Herald’s request for a one-on-one between him and Phil Goff. I contacted the press secretary for Steven Joyce – National’s election campaign manager – yesterday for explanation but as of yet have not received a reply. …
So who is to blame? Did the media harass Key into a corner until he felt his best defence was just to keep quiet, or is it arrogance from a party who think the election is already won?
I think it’s more sinister.
Key doesn’t respect the media, and wants to have his cake and to eat it too. He wants the media for all his photo-ops and baby-kissing but then stonewalls when asked – repeatedly – for serious debate.
If the polls prove correct and Key does return for a second-term in Government, he would be wise to repair the burnt bridges with New Zealand’s media, because in the words of former US president Bill Clinton:
“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
Or tapes by the tonne.
Anyone else get the impression that Key’s second term, if he gets one, won’t be the same free ride as the first?