Wednesday 19 August 2015

Heart Of Gold: Why Mike Hosking Is A More Popular Broadcaster Than John Campbell.

All That Glitters: Hosking is not a megaphone for neoliberalism, he is its bright and shining mirror.
WHEN IT COMES TO RATINGS, Mike Hosking is a winner. He knows it, his employers know it, and, if they’re honest with themselves, the Daily Blog’s firebrands know it too. What he says to Newstalk-ZB’s listeners is, for the most part, well received. Which is why Newstalk-ZB’s breakfast show is the most popular product on commercial radio. Seven Sharp’s viewers, likewise, are insufficiently offended by Hosking’s opinions to change channels. And that’s all anyone has to do, FFS – if they don’t like or approve of Hosking’s shtick – change the bloody station or switch channels. Their forbearance, in the case of Seven Sharp, is what made the programme roughly twice as popular as Campbell Live.
Though it pains the Left to admit it, Campbell Live was a vehicle for values shared by fewer and fewer New Zealanders. Thirty years of neoliberal hegemony will do that to a country. The social-democratic culture in which Kiwis over 50 were raised, while very far from being dead, can be accessed now only through the indistinct portals of nostalgia. By contrast, the culture which succeeded it, whatever people choose to call it, is everywhere you look. Love it or hate it, this is the culture we are all required to move and function in: the culture that counts.
Mike Hosking is a perfect fit for this new, market-driven, culture. The social-democratic culture that permeated the old state broadcasting system was never one in which he felt comfortable. It was too sedate, too elevated, too wedded to the Reithian ethic, for a broadcaster of his voluble and quicksilver temperament. [Reithian: Named for John Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC, who held that the role of a public broadcaster was to “inform, educate and entertain” its listeners and viewers – C.T.]
The Hosking personality: self-confident, thrusting and ambitious; scornful of those who cannot reach conclusions quickly and definitively; and unshakeably wedded to the idea that if success is not recognised by, and reflected in, increased material wealth and higher social status, then it isn’t really success; was, however, supremely well-adapted to the new world ushered in by the changes of the fourth Labour Government.
Who could forget the Hosking interview with a Labour Cabinet Minister during which the hapless politician was incautious enough to ask the, by now extremely well-paid, broadcaster how much he earned. “More than you do!”, Hosking snapped back without missing a beat. Seldom has a Cabinet Minister looked so crestfallen. It was vintage Hosking. In the new era, ushered in by Rogernomics, human worth was measured by the quantum of an individual’s income. If he earned more than a Cabinet Minister, that could only mean that he was better than a Cabinet Minister – and Hosking wasn’t the least bit afraid of letting Cabinet Ministers know it.
The Left, of course, rejects Hosking’s world view as utterly repellent, and condemns it as antithetical to everything they believe in and want for the world. From their perspective, it is morally indefensible that such a person should be accorded the privilege of daily addressing hundreds-of-thousands of their fellow citizens. But the corruption they believe his unabashed worship of wealth and status is bound to work in the body politic was already dissolving “Old” New Zealand long before Hosking took possession of Sir Paul Holmes’s prime-time batons.
The sad fact is that Hosking is not the problem, merely its artfully tousled personification. His high ratings among 18-35 year-olds is explicable only if we accept that, in the eyes of those who have grown up under neoliberalism, being rich and famous is the indisputable desideratum of twenty-first century life. These youngsters have no wish to tear Hosking down, on the contrary, they want to be just like him. Wealth and fame have become the markers of a life well lived. By this reckoning, reiterated over and over again in Hosking’s speeches and columns: success is well-earned, by definition; and failure is merely Nature’s way of delivering her pink slip to those unfortunates on the wrong side of the Bell Curve.
If this is “right-wing bias”, then the whole era through which we are living must be adjudged in precisely the same terms. Hosking is not a megaphone for neoliberalism, he is its bright and shining mirror. And those who accuse him of being John Key’s “stooge” simply do not appreciate the chemistry at work between them. Mike Hosking might earn more than the average Cabinet Minister, but all his thrusting ambition has not come close to earning him a fortune of $55 million. To the Hoskings of this world (and there are many more of them than the Left would like to think) Key’s fortune is proof positive that the Prime Minister is a superior human-being.
Mike Hosking’s heart of gold: cold and glittering as any precious metal; goes out to the ubermensch born in a state house. When God and Mammon have become one and the same – where else would it go?
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 19 August 2015.


Anonymous said...

brilliant !!

pat said...

yes , and depressingly accurate.

Unknown said...

From what i have seen of both Hosking and MPS I'm a far superior person. And I don't need a mirror to confirm that.
Go figure...

The Flying Tortoise said...

So true. So incredibly sad...

Anonymous said...

Okay, sure, the whole spectrum has jumped way to the right. But you still gotta fight. And Hosking is such a parody of a Journalist (as per Jeremy Wells) that he might've gone too far, might be able to be used as an example of what sort of freaks are going to become mainstream if we keep this up.

When no-one under 35 will ever afford a house in AK on their own steam, when McCully and Key are paying off Saudi crooks, when Grosser and Key are negotiating a Trade Deal in secret that they honestly can't list the benefits of for any segment at all in NZ - not even Dairy Farmers - then Hosking might quickly turn from witty success story to string-pulled pawn of the Hunger Games level villain.

Amongst the 22-35's I work with the gloss and the wheels are coming off.

And what really seems healthy to me is calling out Media bias in people like Hosking, Gower, Armstrong and Roughan. Media is a big part of the problem that got us here and now that it has been unmasked we realise we have to take responsibility for sourcing our own media content and evaluating its accuracy and usefulness. Luckily this has never been more possible.

pat said...

Monbiot by another name?

britbunkley said...

The spectrum was equally as far to the right now as it was ten, even twenty years ago. Duncan Gardner and Sean Plunkett to name a few, were appalling in their clear biases towards the right. I actually tried my best to track them for several years, writing down and recording their multiple attacks against the centre left, as well as recording the inane rightwing inaccuracies on media such as the “liberal” Radio NZ by Plunkett which included a heavy bias towards Act linked “think tanks” and atrocious misinformation on electoral finance, a never ending dumb beat on “high taxes” (which turned out to be low for the OECD), and etc. For a short while, I matched these assaults against Anderton, the Greens and Labour against their few pulled punches against the right. I obviously don’t have the time and resources of an organization but it was nevertheless illuminating.

Fifteen to twenty years ago Campbell was an anomaly. His confident articulate intelligence miraculously (occasionally) broke through the neo-liberal fog - particularly during the 1999 election when a left lite managed to handedly win the election (albeit largely due to the lingering Asian crisis). However, when he took over Campbell Live, he lost me… and apparently many others. Too much bland “human interest” entertainment (such as the surfing grannies segment) and very little politics - his strong point. It was also clear that this firebrand confidence was tamed. From then on the ratings progressively declined and he was put on what seemed to be on increasing warning notices. That would dampen the confidence of anyone.

I think it’s the confidence and swagger that people are attracted to with Hoskins, not the content. After all, Hoskins has the entire neo-liberal establishment that own NZ behind him. He is the King’s Hand (along with Gower and others). Whereas Ironbridge Capital, who own Media Works were eventually able to beat it out of the gadfly John Campbell and then “slain” him when he was down. That is the way of institutional media methodology.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

This article explains Hosking. It doesn't excuse him :-).

Anonymous said...

You forget to mention he is also very articulate and is the best interviewer in the country, bar none.

Unknown said...

Our era reminds me of reading the Great Gatsby, you are so right that Key and his ilk are the zeitgeist. That era ended with the Great Crash, the next representatives of the age include hobos, sugar bags, fireside talks from FDR, Uncle Scrim.

Things change fast, in 10 years Hoskings and his dollar driven inanity may be as well regarded as pork at a bar mitzvah.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Just looking at the picture, he looks a little like a young Jeremy Clarkson. Better dressed perhaps. Let's hope he wears as well :-).

jh said...

Maybe Hosking is successful because the left has never had a counter narrative?

Twyford said Key's comments were the most revealing he had made.

"It's a pretty cynical political calculation that there are enough home owners who stand to gain from Auckland's housing crisis and skyrocketing house prices that he's willing to throw under the bus the half of people in Auckland who are renters and a generation of young New Zealanders who are locked out of the housing market," he said.

Michael Reddell has an outstanding OIA request with MBIE. He has been pointing out the our highly skilled migrants aren't really that skilled and we are in danger of trashing the welfare system- but no one is interested? Bloggers and journalists don't represent the people (nor the radicals who populate political parties) yet there is a type of informal elite censorship going on here?

markus said...

"His high ratings among 18-35 year-olds is explicable only if we accept that , in the eyes of those who have grown up under neoliberalism, being rich and famous is the indisputable desideratum of twenty-first century life."

Possibly. But bear in mind that it's the middle-aged and elderly who strongly and disproportionately vote Tory, while the Under-40s (in particular, the Under-30s) prefer the Left. Yes, that may partly be a consequence of their (average) relative poverty (compared to the Over-40s) and maybe as a demographic they'll move further Right as they get older and richer. Just as their elders have done over the last 10 years. But one thing you can't call them at the moment is: "Tory". The majority of young New Zealanders are not, in fact, following Hosking's political lead.

(* Their dismal turnout at elections of course complicates any analysis of their core political position)

jh said...

John Campbell interviews John Key
What do you want to be remembered for?”
“Going back to that main point I think it was Muldoon who famously said “I want to leave the country in no worse condition than I found it”.
“Isn’t that a low ambition?”
“Yes I want to leave the country in better condition than I found it and if theres something (I genuinely beleive) It would be lifting our confidence to a certain degree about how we see our selves in the world and what we think we are capable of achieving. Now I think individually there is masses of ambition that sits out there there but can we actually take that and convert that to take the opportunity .
And I always thought what was happening in the opposition of politics (of course they would oppose National, that’s their job actually apart from everything else) but it was a bit negative about out place in the world. So we played a bit about whether people coming here was a good or bad thing whether people should invest here was a good or bad thing, or whether we have a trade agreement with parts of Asia was a good or bad thing, but actually in my mind, the reason that I want to say yes to those things is because they are the opportunities that reflect our opportunities to both get wealthier (which is all about what you can do with that money) and then ultimately the oppurtunities for Kiwis. I’d like New Zealanders to feel (after my time as Prime Minister) they have become more confident outward looking nation more multicultural.

John Campbell says "thank you". Perhaps he doesn't have time? But would the PC John Campbell pursue a tacky line of enquiry?

Peggy Klimenko said...

I note that Hosking's now 50. That silly spiky hair bespeaks the time when he was in his prime; without doubt, he'll be getting sensitive about his age, and won't like Peters' attribution to him of jowls! No matter where he's putting them... And of course his employer - with an eye on its target "yoof" market - will also be aware of his advancing years. Nothing so undignified as an ageing shock jock trying to appeal to the young: they'll see right through him and out the other side.

I remember when he joined RNZ: he was a terrific interviewer, an ace at holding the government of the time to account. When he left, somebody remarked to me that it was a wrong move on his part: he'd sink without trace. What they meant was, he'd sink without trace as a serious journalist with interviewing chops.

And so it has turned out. He's ended up in candyfloss land, where Kim Kardashian's tuchas is of more moment than the current account deficit. I'd put money on John Campbell having more staying power at RNZ, while if he doesn't do a bit of personal rejigging, Hosking's likely to be the one on the park bench begging for a dime.

Pinky said...

Chris, great column. I'd like a follow on column though: as one of the other respondents touches on, confronted with the material reality, can people really be said to be still sold, captive to this culture? Doesn't it break down if enough young indebted graduates etc can't afford a house? It's not invulnerable propaganda. It's sustainable so long as enough get by or prosper, when that doesn't work, surely the emperor has no clothes and all can see, whatever the Hoskings of this world say each night. I guess that begs the question, is it happening, or does this system still work for enough people to keep it going?

Anonymous said...

As Stalin said: 'The kulaks were always the problem'.

Robert said...

Paul Henry presents a genuine right wing view and some news content in his show. With Hoskings there is no content, just endless ra ra support for the Government, endless nonsene that everything is jake with the economy, crap that Auckland's high house prices reflect that Auckland is one of the most desirable ane exciting cities in the world which is risible, provincial view and arrent nonsense.
Nevertheless, Radio News and the Carolyn Ryan Socialist diatribe from 9 to 12 is an even worse attrocity. Every half educated communist medical practioner is presented as the impartial saint of all truth. This morning a couple of left wing harpie doctors, one a psychiatrist, were interviewed on 7-9 or Ryan and expressed outrage and amazement that Key had admitted that the US pharmacutical companies and and posssibly the TTP trade treaty desires the extension of medicine patents from 10 to 15/18 years. The truth is this has been well known since the start of TPP negotations and will have minor impact as most pharmac medicine and the drugs used by NZ Psychatrists were introduced 20 or more years and Pharmac has an old fashioned view of society and medicine and is very conservative almost reactionary in its drug choices, which are based on prioritising medicines for what are considered productive people. The US Pharmacutical companies have been far ahead of doctors in desiring and developing drugs that would liberate people and allow them to live advanced lives in a pleasure leisure society.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Paul Henry makes stupid juvenile jokes at other people's names. His predecessor, if you want to call it that, Paul Holmes made the 'cheeky darky' comment. To be honest, I don't think there's a great deal of content in most right wing radio. There are a lot of silly nasty jokes at people less fortunate than themselves. 'Carolyn' Ryan is not particularly left-wing and does have serious content a lot of the time, though radio New Zealand seems to be doing more of the less serious "human interest" rubbish that Holmes used to do all the time. As it is, we now have a comedian doing the afternoons searching for a younger audience no doubt. I doubt that's working out for them. And if Ryan was left-wing, she would be a necessary counterweight to the torrent of right wing crap we get from private radio.

greywarbler said...

This is a great peroration Chris.
Mike Hosking’s heart of gold: cold and glittering as any precious metal; goes out to the ubermensch born in a state house. When God and Mammon have become one and the same – where else would it go?

The three mouseketeers sought Key out and worshipped him. (I presume there would have been at least three. I read recently that one was Michelle Boag who sought him in a money temple in New York.) Some of us feel he should be horsewhipped. He has done a great job for National and all who sail in her. Minor prophets like Hosking acknowledge and affirm him. So how do we shift him? The divine leader only had three years to accomplish his miracles. This one has had nine years, and I feel myself sliding towards hell.

Charles E said...

Chris you are right about how superficial all this stuff is but then I think you go too deep. It means nothing much I reckon.
Hosking is good at his job, which is audience holding. That is entirely all there is to it. He amuses more than he repels currently.
It could change and so could he but that is just fashion not the end of civilisation. It's like pop music: It means precisely nothing, whether it sells or not.

He is funny, cheeky, even rude at times and quick as a flash. Very Kiwi, blokey, not too bright sounding which goes down well. Cocky but prepared to be made fun of at times and just shrug it off. Popular, but not due to politics, due to his positive, upbeat character. Almost like Key is.

The fact that he likes the current government is irrelevant but certainly pleasing for them and people like me. But he could be left of centre or to put it another way: There could be a left version of him I think but the humour aspect is tricky since the left's practice in humour tends to be just taking the piss out of the right which will always come off as negative: sour or spiteful or envious. We see that in cartoons here constantly this year. Boring. Like a groan joke.

I wonder what Campbell was paid at TV3 btw? Probably more than a Minister too. But it does not mean a lot as there are only a few of these guys but loads of pollies, and they are tax funded which means we care.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Charles. Name a right wing comedian. For everyone you can name, I can name a dozen who are left-wing. As I believe I have mentioned before, right wing humour consists of mostly taking the mick out of people less fortunate than themselves. Evil sick stuff :-).Indeed, didn't somebody just resign the job over exactly that thing?

pat said...

@Charles E (15.51)..there is much to agree with in your assessment, however i have one question...does all the aforementioned equate to voting influence?

jh said...

TED talk here on astroturfing

You are in the minority.

Unsurprisingly, 84 percent of NZ First voters want immigration restricted. Sixty-eight percent of Labour voters agree, along with 58 percent of Green Party voters.

Despite Mr Key being on the wrong side of public opinion, he won't budge.

Professor Spoonley says: "overwhelmingly people are pro immigration". I suspect the media are well and truly part of the 38%. Consider also the one-sided coverage in that poll result?

Koro Neil said...

"But the corruption they believe his unabashed worship of wealth and status is bound to work in the body politic was already dissolving 'Old' New Zealand long before Hosking took possession of Sir Paul Holmes’s prime-time batons."

I think I may have sussed this baffling sentence out. If I understand "work" in its somewhat uncommon sense of "bring about", with an understood "which" or "that" (before "they") as its direct object, referring to "corruption", then I think I've got it.

Breaking it into two sentences, I think I get:
They believe his unabashed worship of wealth and status is bound to work corruption in the body politic. This corruption was already dissolving 'Old' New Zealand long before Hosking took possession of Sir Paul Holmes’s prime-time batons.

Is that it?

Otherwise, great article. Sad one, but great.

Anonymous said...

Your objection to neo liberalism seems to be that it lacks compassion..It would be interesting therefore to see where you think this is apparent in Mr Hoskings.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Neoliberals sometimes have compassion, but only on an individual basis usually. Neoliberalism is a philosophy lacks compassion completely it seems to me.

pat said...

neoliberalism's founding tenet is the role of winners and losers, some supporters console themselves that the position of loser is either temporary or deserved when in reality the system cannot function without creating an ever increasing underclass.

Charles E said...

I'm not very convinced media 'stars' do influence the swamp people, as Chris calls them, without malice I'm sure. More likely they watch and listen to the ones that entertain them best. So currently Hosking is a star because he is funny, outspoken but not outrageous and comes across as a nice guy. He may well really be nice too.
Henry on the other hand can be similar but he is not nice. Humiliating innocent people is low and shows him up as irredeemably shallow.

pat said...

it was interesting to note the poll asking if Hosking was biased returned a 74% affirmative (the last time I looked) but as an impact on voting outcome that could be interpreted in contradictory ways...there is however no doubt that the tone and agenda set by the MSM can and does impact who, how and whether votes....Hoskings and Henrys part in that mix may be overstated but part of it they undoubtably are.

Anonymous said...

This is no longer a talkative post , disappearing behind the exhaust pipe of time. But I remember him , Mike Hosking, answering and answering the exhaustive pain of 90s NZ on talk radio. As per Ralston and Richard , the 'left wing ' guy on the Ralston Group (now head of RNZ}.

Hosking is only a year older than me so I can't account for him. But the older generation wanted freedom like a necessity. And they got it , for the 10 % (the 10 who mattered). They, our rulers still feel it, that lack of freedom. I, a minority, feel the lack of democracy, for which my namesake uncle died in WW II.