TVNZ plans to have Mike Hosking as its moderator for the network’s televised leaders’ debates. To my mind, it’s a stupid choice, but then I’m someone who can’t stand Mr Hosking’s brand of ageing hipster, Paul Henry-esque, elitist minority bashing “broadcasting”. Nonetheless, to my never-ceasing bemusement, many people seem to think he’s TVNZs shining beacon of light. The same people generally also think Paul Henry is amusing, which always adds to my sense of befuddlement.
Labour has spat the dummy. Andrea Vance reports that Labour has compiled a dossier of examples of Mr Hosking being too close to National, and are trying to get Hosking shunted in favour of someone else, anyone else.
Certainly, Mike Hosking has created the impression of bias, having been MC at John Key’s State of the Nation speech in January last year. As MC, he gave National his endorsement, stating:
“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”
Calling David Cunliffe a moron also won’t have helped Hosking’s sudden pretence of impartiality.
It’s an ongoing debate – should journalists and broadcasters be fastidiously impartial, keeping their personal views hermetically sealed from the public, or should they let their political colours be known, in order that we as viewers may judge their work in the light of that knowledge?
We know John Campbell is sympathetic to the left. We know Mike Hosking is sympathetic to the right. Both broadcasters wear their hearts on their sleeves. Therein lies the problem for Labour – it’s a little hypocritical to object to Hosking, when Campbell will be running TV3’s debates.
National has taken the moral high ground, with Stephen Joyce saying:
“We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”
Which is what Labour should have said, from the opposite perspective of course. At the end of the day, if Hosking presents bias in his role of moderator, the public will pick up on it and factor it into their views on who won or lost.
Making Labour’s spat with Hosking public may ensure that Hosking goes out of his way to be impartial, but the party comes across as a pack of whingers, just as it did with its carping about John Key’s time with the Royals, and its whining about National playing politics on Key’s Pacific Mission.
David Cunliffe, at his last apology session on Monday, was clear that Labour needed to focus on its policies and not get sidetracked. This is very much a side track. Mike Hosking is not a Thing That Matters.