Friday 18 February 2022

Jones Won: Ryan & Morten Nil.

The Man In The Middle: Neale Jones was not “smacked down” by Kathryn Ryan and Brigitte Morten. He was, however, interrupted, talked over, and made extremely difficult to hear. In spite of all these hindrances, he kept on fighting the good fight for close to half-an-hour with admirable clarity and forbearance. Unlike the other two participants in Monday’s RNZ Political Panel, Jones kept his focus on the dangerous realities of the protest taking place in and around Parliament Grounds.

NEALE JONES is to be congratulated. No, no – it’s alright – I haven’t hit my head. It is just that I have always believed in giving credit where credit is due – and Jones deserves a lot of credit. Had I been on the receiving end of Kathryn Ryan’s and Brigitte Morten’s right-wing tag team, as Jones was on RNZ’s Monday-morning Political Panel, I’m damn sure I wouldn’t have kept my cool as impressively as he did.

Ryan is usually a lot more circumspect in revealing her personal opinions than she was on Monday (14/2/22). That’s as it should be. Her role on the Panel is that of moderator – at least, one hopes that’s still her role! She is there to put the questions to the panellists and prevent them from interrupting, talking over one another, and generally attempting to dominate the discussion.

That is not what happened on Monday. Ryan threw herself, boots and all, into the debate over the protest blockade of Parliament. She interrupted, talked over, and – not to put too fine a point upon it – hectored Jones, to a degree that bordered on the unprofessional.

Unsurprisingly, Morten was quick to follow Ryan’s lead. She, too, interrupted and talked over Jones – seemingly with Ryan’s blessing.

Jones, however, remained unfazed by this blatant breech of the Political Panel’s rules of engagement. He stayed resolutely on-message, stoically refusing to let Ryan and Morten rattle him. He didn’t turn nasty. He didn’t lose his temper. He just kept on talking sense.

It would have helped the listeners immensely if his levels had been set to match those of the two women – then we wouldn’t have had to strain our ears to hear him. But on Monday morning everything seemed to be set against him.

The most intriguing aspect of the whole encounter was the political line taken by Ryan and Morten. Both women consistently refused to accept Jones’s argument that the protest was inspired by individuals and groups in the grip of outlandish conspiracy theories imported from the United States. Nor were they willing to accept the well-established Far Right provenance of these conspiracy theories. Throughout the half-hour Ryan and Morten attempted to paint the protest as the anguished cry of stressed-out Kiwi battlers determined to resist Government over-reach.

The fact that the so-called “Freedom Convoy” was always intended to establish a laager of motor vehicles within which a protest encampment in Parliament Grounds could be established and, more importantly, protected, in no way slowed Ryan and Morten down. They simply didn’t appear to be interested in exploring the strategic purpose of the Convoy’s organisers, or what lay behind their radical departure from the norms of New Zealand political protest.

Even more disturbing was the way they seemed to brush aside the unprecedented displays of aggression directed at New Zealand’s Members of Parliament and the Press Gallery. Wellington has witnessed many angry demonstrations in its history, but very few in which the rhetoric of at least some of the participants was explicitly homicidal. What was it that made Ryan and Morten so determined to re-focus the debate away from this deeply disturbing reality?

I couldn’t help being reminded of the Peter Ellis Case, where the most bizarre, outlandish, and obviously impossible accusations of the children interviewed were simply set to one side so as not to “prejudice” the jury. It simply didn’t suit whatever it was that Ryan and Morten were trying to do to have listeners reminded of the murderous fury directed by the protesters against politicians and journalists.

The least damaging explanation of Ryan’s behaviour is that she was overcompensating for what critics from the Far Right and the Far Left described as the Fourth Estate’s sneering, middle-class dismissal of the smelly protesters cluttering up its stately work environment. On-the-spot reports from intrepid Far Right and Far Left observers, reassuring New Zealanders that the overwhelming majority of the protesters were just ordinary Kiwis exercising their right to protest, have, as intended, shamed a number of mainstream journalists into revising their original stance. It’s possible Ryan is one of them.

Morten, however, is more than savvy enough to realise the damaging impact which the bad behaviour of the protesters, and the baffling failure of the Police to move them on, is having on the Government’s reputation. The longer the protest continues, and the longer the Government and the Police are seen to be standing by ineffectually, the better it is for the Opposition parties. Just because it would not be wise for Christopher Luxon to be seen taking the side of the occupiers, doesn’t mean that it is unwise for Morten to do everything she can to make it more difficult – from a PR perspective – for Labour and the Police to resolve the crisis.

The Jones boy, every bit as savvy as the Morten gal, knows this. Hence his dogged determination to keep his listeners’ minds focused on the true character of these latter-day “Freedom Riders”.

They are not honest toilers, they are people hell-bent on getting rid of the protections Labour has mandated to keep the real honest toilers safe. They do not have legitimate grievances – unless you reckon thwarting the sociopathic impulses of unvaccinated extremists constitutes a legitimate grievance. They are, however, people acting under the influence of individuals and groups with Far Right affiliations and aims. Scratch them, and you’ll bleed.

In summary, Neale Jones was not “smacked down” by Kathryn Ryan and Brigitte Morten. He was, however, interrupted, talked over, and made extremely difficult to hear. In spite of all these hindrances, he kept on fighting the good fight for close to half-an-hour with admirable clarity and forbearance. Unlike the other two participants in Monday’s Political Panel, Jones kept his focus on the dangerous realities of the protest taking place in and around Parliament Grounds.

For that he deserves our cheers – not our jeers.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 18 February 2022.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I was listening to that on my daily run. And thinking exactly the same thing. If I had been at home, I might have sent a stiff letter. :) I did send one the other day because one of the women insisted on referring to Tame Iti as "Tama" – something I thought they had cured themselves of. Didn't receive the courtesy of a reply.

Odysseus said...

Thanks for the link which I have listened to. I congratulate Ryan and Morten on dealing calmly and rationally with the mind-boggling propaganda a Far Left conspiracy theorist.

Brendan McNeill said...


The recent poll showing 30% of New Zealanders support the protestors would have come as a shock to parliament, as it has no doubt to yourself.

Of greater consequence is the announcement by Sir Russell Coutts that he intends to join the protesters next week, for reasons articulated on his facebook page.

In refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the protest, or engage with the substance of their concerns, parliament, and the Prime Minister in particular, risks loosing their moral authority.

Once that has happened, it may not be over immediately for the government, but it will be over.

Barry said...

Yes - the tone surprised me - mainly because Kathryn Ryan invariably leans towards the "authority" -ie the current expert, the current administration, the particular Ministry etc.
With the media almost exclusively labelling the protest as far right and extremists and white supremists (even maori and pacifica.....) it came as a great surprise that a media person acknowledged reality.
I almost spilt my morning tea cuppa and assumed Ryan was acting devils advocate - but I dont think she was.

Its a pity the goverent and the opposition arent also recognising reality and exercise some leadership.

The Barron said...

Thank you Chris! I was also disturbed by the way that Ryan became an activist journalist, decrying legitimate points made by Jones and deliberately misrepresenting the nature, profile and motives of the protest.

Ryan should be aware, these are people that not only refuse a health measure almost universally recommended by medical science for the protection of the vulnerable in society, but actively and explicitly wish remove all barriers put in place to prevent the most serious health crisis in 100 years from getting worse.

They wish unmasked and unvaccinated people in intimate contact with the elderly so frail they are supported aged homes. They wish for nurses and medical practitioners to be unmasked and unvaccinated over those ill or injured. They want teachers and teacher aides with young children in close proximity while they expel air towards them. They want you to have police and firefighters unmasked and unvaccinated as your first contact in an emergency. They want people that have taken appropriate measures then exposed when they enter cafes and other areas - for elderly or those with health conditions this isolates the vulnerable and disabled from society.

I am aware that quite a large number of those on the Parliament lawn have underlying mental health conditions that have been woefully ignored (I note how quick other protesters are to shut these people down when media exposes). I am aware that a number of them are victim to a dominant family member (usually father / husband) which does not allow independent thought. For those I have sympathy.

The rest? A working class movement? One Australia was presented this way, then you can look at the funding and the movers and groovers. Every Pogrom, every race riot, every where when the 'other' is stigmatized, victimized and oppressed can be seen as a working class movement - if you exclude the 'other' from class definition.

Ryan's attempts to turn the protesters into the victims rather than those to whom the public safety measures protect was irresponsible journalism at its worst. RNZ allowed a senior journalist / presenter to encourage the undermining of health provisions for those most vulnerable without any acknowledgement as to who will be the real victims of the action.

Already we have Covid positive cases amongst the Wellington Police. This will be spread further by political extremists, many of which have stated explicitly their right to spread a deadly virus, it is implicit within the very basis of the protest.

For those who have suggested that now Omicron is in society, it does not matter that measures are lifted, I should remind that our entire health system is set to prolong life. Those who which to knowingly shorten the lives of others I look to with disgust - and I have serious concerns that those morals have developed in this nation.

It should be noted, there is one reasonably effective anti-viral medication the Government has managed to secure limited supply. Hospitals will have to make decision as to who will be allocated these pills. While the elderly and immune vulnerable are seen as a priority group, the unvaccinated are the largest identified group that will be in danger of severe outcomes of infection. They will get the bulk of the expensive and limited medication in order to save their lives and against severe outcomes. The same people who's irresponsibility towards others will benefit from the system they undermine.

aj said...

Thank you Chris for this, I was a bit gob-smacked after that episode. Ryan's mask slid down to her ankles.

If I may copy and paste what I said on The Standard on the 16th Feb:

Neil Jones put up a good defense of the Government's approach but is talked over by the other two. I'd love to see someone study the number of time Ryan interrupts and talks over Neale vs Bridget in these 9-noon segments.

Bridget splits hairs all the time.

Bridget Morton

"She needs to talk to them, these are the citizens she represents as much as anyone else…"


"I am going to push back on the idea that politicians needs to go and negotiate with people who are demanding their execution…"

Neil has interpreted what Bridget's suggested as most people would.


"That's not what Bridget said and it's not what I'm suggesting…no one is suggesting it would be a great idea wandering out necessarily in this febrile environment at the moment…"

Kathryn runs a cover move for Bridget, as she is fond of doing. It is what Bridget said, but she prattles on as she so often does (very annoyingly) and the discussion to wander on.

Adern has 'spoken' to the protesters.

Asked what her message to protesters was, Ardern said: "Go home – and take your children."

oneblokesview said...

Chris dear boy. You really seem to be preaching from the pulpit without talking to the parishioners.

Protest outside the norms you say?

Perhaps because the Government is controlling/mandating Kiwis outside the norms?

I see you still subscribe to the myth that the protestors are not honest toilers (checks mirror-yep honest toiler).

Let history judge you. I certainly will not.

Flaneuse said...

Thanks Chris. I'm so pleased you addressed this. I was gobsmacked enough by Kathryn Ryan's treatment of Neale Jones (and her apparent naivety of who is actually behind the protest) and then Brigitte Morten piling on was unseemly and totally unprofessional, so much so that I've written to RNZ to complain about Kathryn Ryan's behaviour in this interview. I have noticed it previously too - it's not a first by any means in the politics segment. She's generally good at what she does, but she needs to have someone take her aside and remind her of what her role is meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Chris I like your commentary but on this issue (not the interview but the substantive issue) I think you have completely missed the vibe.

All over New Zild there are folks having dinner and chatting about things who are saying "well we have seen any number of protests and occupations over the years and they have all been characterised by abuse, vandalism and law-breaking; the Government's attempt to draw a distinction with this one doesn't work and is simply an attempt to reverse-engineer the event to make it illegitimate and take the focus away from the incompetence that lead to it happening in the first place".

As to the media I am a reasonable kind of guy but I didn't know whether to laugh or vomit watching some of the coverage. Worst was TV1 early in the week when they did their best to turn it into something about them ("stay safe (insert name)" from Mr Dallow). Oh yes those horrible horrible people don't like journalists and you must feel threatened. Give me a break. You wanna make a career of expressing only one view of the world and ramming it down folks throats, don't be surprised if those folks get grumpy.

To me this thing is the equivalent of Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" moment; the time when it becomes clear that the elites have nothing but contempt for those who differ from them.

It also speaks of a complete lack of understanding of the burdens borne by working folk under Covid. No nice 4 bedroom home to shelter in, no ability to work from home, no space and resources to home-school, only reduced income and frustration. Not for nothing that surveys taken some months back showed much higher support for lockdowns in Wellington than Auckland and Wellington. Guess where incomes continue and life goes on as normal.

Yes most of us support vaccination. Yes most of us support mandates. But we also support some understanding for genuine folks however misinformed who have suffered from those mandates, and a clear path out the other side. And some of us also believe it is possible to differ on the balance between protection of the vulnerable from Covid and protection of the rest of us from (deliberately unquantified) other forms of detriment arising from the pandemic without being labelled as granny killers.

David George said...

I understand why this particular example's got you fired up Chris but it's not at all unusual. The last time I listened to RNZ was the Kim Hill interview with Nigel Farage when he visited about three years ago. More ambush than interview, it was appalling. You could sense the supercilious sneering with every sentence. No one should be treated like that, especially so since Farage was a guest in this country and MP to the European Parliament.

What is it with these people? I suspect they've fallen in love with the idea that the folk have tuned in to hear them, not what their guests have to say.

Way bigger and far more concerning is Mallard's attempt to pressure the press gallery on who they could talk to and, by inference, what they could say. He should be fired immediately. Failing any apparent sanction from the PM our Free Speech Union has started a public petition aimed at his dismissal.

From the FSU:

The Free Speech Union has launched a petition calling on Parliament to remove Trevor Mallard as Speaker of the House following his unacceptable interferences with press freedom during the Convoy 2022 protest. (Link to the petition:

“Trevor Mallard’s conduct during the protest has degraded the office he occupies. His instruction to journalists not to engage with protestors shows a disdain for fundamental democratic principles,” says Free Speech Union spokesperson, Jonathan Ayling.

“The Press Gallery literally exists to report on parliamentary news and events. Dictating to them how they may report on a story is an unacceptable restriction on press freedom which has a critical role in our democracy, now more than ever. Freedom of the press is founded on free speech, and it protects our basic liberties by giving us access to credible information.”

"It was especially alarming to hear the Speaker made the Press Gallery Chair relay to Barry Soper that there would be ‘consequences’ if he continued to ignore his instruction - that is to say, if he continued to do his job as a member of the free and independent media.”

"Similar comments by a Minister at another time would rightly result in the Prime Minister demanding their resignation. The Speaker’s disdain for democracy is palpable. Only his removal can restore dignity to his office.”

David George said...

Here’s a theory, a possible scenario.
Peters is furious with the way he and the country were lied to over Labour’s He Puapua plans - among other things. He’s out for revenge, I’ve no doubt that he believes that deception cost him a place in government. He has already come out opposing the mandates. What next.
The last thing he wants is new parties stealing his thunder. Perhaps he is ready, or prepared, to step aside as leader but who would replace him. I bet he’s talking to Sir Russell, Matt King and others.

Now that would be certainly put some spice into things don't you think Chris. A re-vitalised NZ First with the mana of (someone like?) Sir Russell as leader and a clear message long the lines that Coutts has already outlined – no racial separatism, freedom of expression, an end to vax mandates and QR tracking etc. A populist right of centre party committed to conservative and classical liberal values.

While I’ve no information that Coutts is planning to get involved at the political level he certainly sounds pretty fired up.
There’s no doubt he’s widely admired plus he would have no problem finding all the funds NZF could need. The wily old fox Peters will have figured all this out of course.

spam said...

You may be right, Chris, that this is an astroturf protest backed by right-wing extremist groups. The problem is that in the New Zealand psyche, in the land of smiling zombies, to believe in "dark American money" (as you put it in another article), is to believe in a conspiracy theory.

I.e. you face an uphill struggle: You need people to believe what they perceive is a conspiracy theory, in order to believe that the protestors are a bunch of conspiracy theorists.

And in the end, even if it is funded by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, polls are suggesting that it has significant mainstream support. i.e. They're just latching on to a growing public sentiment.

When all political parties are apparently poll and focus-group driven, it is remarkable that they have all misread the room.

Frank said...

Pretty well sussed it, Chris...

Both Neale Jones and Brigitte Morten are both commentator guests on her programme. Not elected representatives or captains of industry to be held to account. As such, while discussion can be robust, doing a pile-on is not the way to treat a guest.

Anyone listening to that would probably have a good think before taking up an invite to be a guest commentator. Especially on a contentious issue.

When the listener becomes irritated and distracted by the on-air shenanigans,it becomes hard to focus on just what is being discussed. That episode on Nine to Noon politics can be best summed up in one,hyphenated word: train-wreck.

GQ said...

Norms of protest ? What about Ihumatau ? Springbok tour ? Just because you don't like what they are saying does not mean this one is any different - the whole point of a protest is to be effective, not politely register it's complaint with the relevant authorities !

Anonymous said...

Why not call the protestors the "Deplorables" and be done with it.

Ricardo said...

Chris I sense you are in favour of the government and Police "moving on" the protesters.

Coster is clear this will involve substantial violence. He should know. He is the Commissioner and in deep discussion with his senior officers.

It is not hard to imagine bloodied women and injured children, tear-gassed misery, serious injuries and even possible fatalities. And for what? has there been violence and widespread property damage? No. Have innocent civilians been attacked, beaten up, terrorised? No. Have people been inconvenienced above COVID driven disruption? maybe but so what? Does not any large demonstration or strike do much the same.

Images of bloodied women beaten by baton weilding armoured up riot police will streak around the world.

The left just needs to eat it for a while and tone down the hysteria. Any direct action will prompt many more "ordinary" New Zealanders, pro-vax and rational, to regard the Government with increasing distaste. For a few, radicalisation is a possibility.

john hurley said...


I think I hear you saying that:

" Both women consistently refused to accept Jones’s argument that the protest was inspired by individuals and groups in the grip of outlandish conspiracy theories imported from the United States. Nor were they willing to accept the well-established Far Right provenance of these conspiracy theories. Throughout the half-hour Ryan and Morten attempted to paint the protest as the anguished cry of stressed-out Kiwi battlers determined to resist Government over-reach."

Outlandish conspiracy theories are like the mold on cheese (as I see it).

It could be that the processive vision is wrong. What you might see as [insert adjective - fascist] others might see as social and environmental harmony.

As Gluckman said "that protest at parliament the other day: they may have only been 5% but there was nothing to tie that lot together. We've seen what has happened overseas"

He meant Brexit and Trump.

‘I know that violations of human rights occur in many countries other than SA. And I share the concerns of New Zealanders of goodwill at that fact. But only SA, and no other country, has entrenched racism in its constitution and in the law of the land. Apartheid is a special challenge to NZ where we are trying to build a genuine multi-racial society’. - David Lange

Is it just possible that comes with costs to some and benefits to others or do we make the observation that this is (simply) the right thing to do?

From whose perspective is it the right thing to do?

If we are citizens of the world, how is that (meaningfully) experienced by ethnic majorities? What makes a successful post-ethnic cosmopolitan. Is it psychological makeup and/or status?

At what point is the normal human a pathological individual?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" No one should be treated like that, especially so since Farage was a guest in this country and MP to the European Parliament."
1.There is no such thing as a "guest in this country". I certainly didn't invite him.
2.Farage didn't even pretend to do his job as a Euro MP. He hardly ever turned up, he hardly ever voted. He was on the commission for fisheries which could have done something about the problems of the British fishing industry, but never bothered because they were useful as a stick to beat the EU with. His interviews in Britain with the press are almost all softball. It was about time somebody asked him some hard questions.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I wouldn't be too worried about the supposed 30% support for the protesters. I guarantee many of the people polled – 520, hardly a big figure so hardly an accurate poll only had a vague idea of what those eejits are protesting about. Half of the protesters don't seem to know what the other half are protesting about.
And it's interesting that those who support them don't seem to have any empathy for the small businesses that have had to close because of the disruption and the threats, the people who have been harassed and abused for wearing masks, and don't seem to care about the possible consequences for overloading hospitals when these clowns catch Covid – and all the people who will have to have their medical procedures delayed because of it. Actually I would be quite happy if people who refused the vaccine and then catch the disease had to pay for their medical treatment. A nice example of user pays.

Kat said...

Neale 'won' again this morning, butter would not have melted in Ryan's mouth. Who is this Ben chap, he struggles at the best of times to put a coherent sentence together.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Been mowing the lawn having a quiet think - Electric mower.:) I was just wondering why on earth conservatives - well extreme conservatives anyway, seem to worship Nigel Farage. There is a man who got a gummint job – strike one, a huge pay packet for it – strike two, but essentially did no work – strike three. And lied about the £350 million that was supposed to be spent on the NHS after brexit, in case you need a strike four.
So he is essentially a bludger, a lazy shite hawk, and a well-known liar second only to Trump. Or rather I should say bullshitter, because he doesn't care if what he says is the truth or a lie as long as it gets him some advantage. Are these values that you people adhere to? Admittedly extreme right governments all seem to be corrupt to some extent or other but surely you should at least pay lip service to the private sector, truth, hard work and the American way or whatever?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I notice the police Commissioner is saying they don't want a reprise of the Springbok tour protests which is why they are treating these characters with kid gloves. Pity that wasn't the attitude before the Springbok tour protests. And I guarantee that many people who are here insisting that the government meet with the covidiots either were or would have been screaming for the blood of the Springbok and anti-Vietnam war protesters back in the day. :)

sumsuch said...

Unlike the Springbok Tour and other protests they don't have reason on their side. Vasty majority of their specific 'facts' are crap. They are dissatisfied, rightly or wrongly, and the internet weaponizes them nevertheless. Of course, for the short term self interested rich.

Put up a public horn debunking the idiocies and persuading for the non-idiots. Reason is on our side. They have suckled at their own particular source. Reason is worse than Celine Dionne. Talk truth til the fucks go home.

Entirely unsurprised a Labour Party with no heart can't see talking truth is a thing.