Wednesday 22 April 2015

Upbraided, But Not Undone: John Key Will Survive "Tailgate".

Child's Play: Tugging a girl’s pony-tail – what male hasn’t? Not many, it’s true, but most of them were under twelve years-of-age – and almost none were their country's prime minister!
IN AMERICAN JOURNALISM there’s an expression: “The story was too good to check!” And every journalist knows what it means. A story so compelling; so freighted with significance; so certain to sell newspapers (or generate page-views) that you don’t want to go through the usual processes of verification – in case it turns out to be untrue.
You can imagine, then, how Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury felt when he heard the story about the Prime Minister and the pony-tail. A journalist can work in the industry for forty years and stumble onto something like this maybe once or twice – if he or she is lucky.
There’s a temptation to rush such a story into print, or post it immediately on the web, but in the age of Dirty Politics that is the last thing you should do. A story as big as this one could be a VRWC set-up: a complete fabrication designed to entrap the unwary blogger and explode his credibility forever. The watchword in such circumstances is always: caution.
And Bomber was as good as his watchword. He checked and double-checked. He sought advice. He pondered the consequences of getting it wrong. But in the end, he did what all journalists do. Having checked the story, he checked his gut. Did he trust his informant? Did her story ring true? If the answer to both of those questions was “Yes.”, then he had to publish. And publish he did.
No one now can say that Bomber’s trust was misplaced. Barely an hour up on The Daily Blog and the pony-tailed waitress’s story was being read by thousands. Twitter thrummed with comments and questions. Other blogs linked to it. And by mid-day the mainstream news media’s reporters had forced a clearly spooked Prime Minister to get off his plane at LA International Airport and deliver a public admission and apology to the young woman he’d repeatedly pestered in a Parnell café.
Even before his admission and apology, however, John Key’s friends and allies were leaping to his defence. The PM was only being playful, they insisted. It wasn’t as if he’d touched her breasts or backside. Tugging a girl’s pony-tail – what male hasn’t? (Not many, it’s true, but most of them were under twelve years-of-age!) There was nothing sexual in it. For God’s sake – the man’s wife was present! Seriously, who could object to a little friendly fun?
Well, the young woman did – as was her right – and she let him know by shooting him a filthy look. Did he stop? No he didn’t. She tried to avoid him. He crept up behind her. She told her boss, who told the PM. He kept on tugging. Finally, exasperated, the waitress summoned up all her courage (and if you are a young woman, and the man pulling your pony-tail is the Prime Minister, a great deal of courage is required) and told him to his face to cut it out. Even then, the prime-ministerial banter and teasing continued. Finally, someone – his wife Bronagh, one of his security detail, a neighbour who dines at the same café – managed to convince him that his behaviour was unwanted, unacceptable and must cease. He returned to the café, bearing two bottles of his own wine as a peace-offering. Turns out it was too little, too late.
Too Little, Too Late: John Key's peace offering - two bottles of "JK" wine.
Will the PM’s prompt admission and apology put this story to bed as swiftly as his spin-doctors are clearly hoping? Probably. By chance, the story broke when the PM was out of the country, en route to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. That sombre event will, in all likelihood banish “tailgate” from the nation’s front-pages.
But, it makes you wonder.
According to Bomber’s informant, the hair-pulling antics of the PM began in September of 2014, during the election campaign. So let me leave you with this little thought experiment. Had the man doing the pony-tail pulling not been John Key, but the Leader of the Opposition, David Cunliffe, and the story had broken before election day (let us say, for the sake of argument, on the Whale Oil blog) how do you think the mainstream news media would have responded? Would David Cunliffe have been permitted to get away with an admission and an apology? Would his political opponents have conceded that he was guilty only of a little playfulness, a little friendly fun?
Of course not! Every honest New Zealander knows that if it had been David Cunliffe who’d repeatedly pulled a waitress's pony-tail, and been found out, then the story could only have ended one way – with his resignation.
What does it say about John Key and his relationship with both the news media and the wider New Zealand electorate that, public admission and apology delivered, he will almost certainly walk away from this scot free?
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road of Wednesday, 22 April 2015.


aberfoyle said...

For sure he will.My power its control,can do whatever.Bronagh was their sometimes others not,just her ponytail my fetish yank im the Prime Minester.She said so what,to afraid to speak but knowing,stop doing this you abuser,stop this intrusion of my space.How many months now you are coming here with your power control pulling my hair,not a word spoken just pulling my hair.

|Weird sexual pleasure from our call him John now our Prime Minister,dont deserve that respect anymore Prime Minister.John your wealth!s abuse has caught its human arrogant abuse.

Jenny Kirk said...

You left out the fact there are photos around showing Mr PM pulling the hair of young girls,Chris. This incident with the waitress wasn't a "one off" - this is what he does habitually with young women (and girls) who cannot retaliate back. And what does it tell us about our PM - other than he's creepy and a Bully - and that he has a hair fetish .... and whatever else ?

pat said...

I dont know that i agree the media will let him away with this.....many of his supporters ,yes but I have noticed a willingness recently to press the issues with government Ministers of late that was definitely lacking previously...perhaps the inner circle have upset a few of those who previously thought they were part of the team and have now found that the "I" missing from team was themselves.

ewan mcdougall said...

Brillisnt post Chris thank you

Brendon Harre said...

The danger for Key is the laughing stock effect. I certainly will be repeating hair jokes wherever possible. I think it was a really arrogant yet dorky weird thing to do and the correct way to put him in his place is to mock him relentlessly.

I don't think it is the last straw, there is still more water to flow under the bridge. Maybe the beginning of the end. Like the painting with Helen Clark this may change how public perceive him.

Listen to Matthew Hooten here. He thinks it is serious.

aberfoyle said...

Its power and control abuse,even our Prime Ministers wife,saying according to the victim saying his wife said stop this abuse.
Should we say John,should we call you John,not Prime Minister,your actions of abuse of this girl is not worthy of our respect of calling you our Prime Minister .

jh said...

While I'm deeply, deeply shock (ashamed of being a man) at least he didn't (eg) come up behind her and grab a good handful of tit)?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Mostly you have to search high and low for stories about New Zealand and the foreign press. And you usually get nothing of substance. I was in Asia when that idiot homes made the "cheeky darkie" comment. It was the only story about New Zealand you could find in any of the major dailies. Pretty much similar here, even Fox news has got onto it apparently. And the PM has probably made it worse by making light of it. Obviously not trained by Brian Edwards :-). It's not a particularly substantial story, but it might put a few dings in his Teflon – and I will take anything I can get in that direction :-).

Nick J said...

Spot on Jenny. I think about other indications of Keys attitude to women. Remember his slack response to the young lady sexually assaulted by the diplomat.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This speaks volumes about John Key, in my opinion. He just thinks he can do whatever he pleases, that he is untouchable. I think this behaviour is worse than Aaron Gilmore's, who got sacked for it. Also, it's just common sense not to invade a worker's private space, who does he think he is, ffs? He should know better without being told.
Creepy to the end. I loathe the way he acts like a super star. Talk about no substance whatsoever, but I always thought that. A PM obsessed with the limelight, while our country is sold piece by piece to China, without a thought to the homegrown citizens and the consequences to future generations.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit that shoulda been:

"at least he didn't (eg) come up behind her and grab a good handful of tit)?"

Oh..... That makes it all right then.

JohnS said...

If only this could be the hair that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Davo Stevens said...

Made it onto al Jazeera too. That's where I heard about it.

Childish but we have more important things to worry about.

vortexx said...

Hair today, gone tomorrow? No. Clearly the response from the Key apologists is "Our hairo."

The absolute blindness of the support from them shows that he can do anything.

And the longer it goes on the more who suffer battered person syndrome.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Just waiting for someone to say "oh my goodness all this fuss about a bit of innocent horseplay – this is political correctness gone mad." – Yet no one has. Either the blimps have died off, or they realise that this is sheer poison. Lucky for Key he's not in the country.

JanM said...

I'm not at all sure it will go away, you know, not because he's been outed as a bully so much - there's plenty of evidence that lots of our citizens actually condone that, quite happily. But what gets a bit wriggly for 'right-thinking New Zealanders' is the sexual deviancy angle that is emerging. They don't do 'weirdos', and when a certain Northland matter eventually enters the mix, then things could unravel quite rapidly, I think

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't know why they don't just bring the Northland thing out of the closet. It's going to come out eventually, and it'd probably be more controllable if they brought it out themselves rather than let it just come out in the wash. They're certainly going to have to take a hit on, and I would have thought that the further away from the next election the better. But I guess that's the Mike Sabin's call.

aberfoyle said...

Possible outcome regarding Sabin,name suppression for the protection of the innocent.

But it is amazing how Sabin,has fallen on his feet and is now the manager for a Chinese owned up market holiday resort up the far north with its own private beach.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

It doesn't seem to matter what they do, they're "our sort of people" – so somebody fronts up and gives them a cushy number. Just think, there are any number of examples of this :-).