Journalists are, no doubt, a crucial component in a functional democracy. There have been numerous examples of truly heroic exposes, such as Watergate or the work by Anna Politkovskaya.
But in a highly-transparent, safe and stable democracy such as New Zealand, frankly it’s hard sometimes not to find journalists a bit, well, underwhelming.
John Hartevelt evidently thought he had a scoop today, when he reported breathlessly that the Prime Minister went on radio and studiously obeyed election law by not talking politics, a mere two days after a soldier was killed in a war zone, and (god forbid) news continued to happen in the hour that Key was on air.
If Phil Goff had spent an hour on the radio without breaking the law, then I accept that that would be newsworthy, but Hartevelt must have been having a seriously slow day.
“It’s hard to recall when John Key looked this bad”, he enthuses. After acknowledging that it was really a perception issue, he then exclaims, “and this sounded awful.” He even found time to tweet about it, calling it an “Epic Fail”.
Perhaps it wasn’t such a good look, but as failures go it’s about as epic as a Hairy Maclary story with half the pages missing.
You would think a serious political journalist might be more interested in Labour’s persistent breaches of election rules than the Prime Minister’s strict observance of them.
This on the same day that Hartevelt (or perhaps his colleague) categorised a proposal to save $100 million by decriminalising marijuana as a shameless political stunt, on the basis that, although it wasn’t “a million miles away from ACT’s principles”, it was “a little wacky coming from the party that gave us three strikes”. This demonstrates a depth of understanding that could be plumbed with one of Uri Geller’s teaspoons. I should know better, but I still find this profoundly disappointing in someone employed to produce political analysis by a major media outlet.