Thursday 8 April 2021

Mike Hosking "De-Platforms" The PM.

Blowing Hot And Cold: Mike Hosking’s bosses should, perhaps, ask themselves what message Newstalk-ZB (and NZME) is sending to the people of New Zealand if Mike Hosking, their self-appointed “People’s Prosecutor”, is accorded bragging rights for “cancelling” the democratically-elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. Especially when said Prime Minister’s only “crime” was indicating her willingness to be interviewed by their star broadcaster about the decisions which she – not he – had made.

THE STAND-OFF between Newstalk-ZB’s star host, Mike Hosking, and the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, continues. Yesterday morning’s (7/4/21) encounter, the first since the PM discontinued her weekly interview with Newstalk’s morning host, was said to be the usual battle of wills. According to Hosking, it will also be the last.

Clearly exasperated with the Prime Minister, Hosking told his listeners: “We’re involved in this, this discussion at the moment. I don’t want her [Ardern] back on the programme is what it boils down to.” The “we” in this sentence refers, presumably, to the management of Newstalk-ZB and quite possibly of its ultimate proprietor, NZME.

In all likelihood, Hosking will get his way. Newstalk-ZB would be loath to lose their highest rating host, and, let’s face it, Hosking doesn’t need the money. Decades of hefty, six-figure remuneration packages have left the broadcaster in the enviable position of being needed more than needing – and his bosses know it.

The question, therefore, is not whether Hosking will get away with “de-platforming” the nation’s leader from his morning show, but whether or not he should be allowed to get away it? Because, there is a curious political dynamic at work here which, upon examination, is more than a little unsettling.

“So the overarching question I would ask”, said Hosking, following his interview with the PM, “is are we not better on this programme, you and I collectively, not having her on the show? She didn’t want to be here, she doesn’t add anything when she is here so who is the winner and who is the loser?”

Pick that apart, and what we’re left with is a set of assumptions about politics and politicians radically at odds with what is generally understood to be the fundamentals of democracy.

Not the least of these is that the ultimate source of political authority in a democratic society is the people. Their will, manifest in the outcome of the most recent general election, determines the identity of the politicians and parties entrusted with the power of government. To suggest, as Hosking does, that he and his listeners might be better off not having the duly elected leader of the country on his show, insults not only the person who holds that office, but the office itself, and, by implication, the majority of New Zealanders who put Jacinda Ardern where she is.

In justifying this radical proposition, Hosking argues that the PM “didn’t want to be here” and that she “doesn’t add anything when she is here”. Putting to one side the fact that Ardern had made herself available to Newstalk-ZB and the broadcaster had asked her to participate in Hosking’s programme; the most disconcerting aspect of Hosking’s argument is how oddly lacking it is in professional curiosity about why the PM might be reluctant to appear on his show, and why she might find it difficult to contribute anything useful when she does.

It is, after all, the view of more than a few New Zealanders that Mike Hosking’s on-air encounters with Jacinda Ardern have been an unpleasant mixture of lofty condescension, contemptuous disdain and outright aggression. His demeanour has resembled that of a furious “People’s Prosecutor” angrily demanding a guilty verdict from his listener jury. Hosking appears to regard his studio as a People’s Court, from which the show-trial of the criminally inadequate Citizen Ardern can be broadcast live to the nation.

But, is that really the role of a professional broadcaster? Surely Hosking’s listeners would be better served by a radio host who, through a combination of thorough preparation, astute questioning, and palpable on-air charm, was able to elicit from the country’s political leader information from which his large radio audience could draw its own conclusions and form its own judgements?

If the Prime Minister finds herself unable to add anything to Hosking’s show, is that her fault – or his?

Undoubtedly, the network executives behind the scenes, and Hosking himself, would scoff at the capacity of such “old-school” broadcasting to attract and hold an audience of any size. In a media world where everything that bleeds, leads, gentlemanly conduct would appear to be regarded as ratings death.

This gladiatorial approach to news and current affairs broadcasting is, however, also death to the political civility that underpins all properly functioning democracies. Respecting the person in whom a majority of the people have reposed their trust shows that you respect the democratic process itself. By the same token, to disrespect the Prime Minister and dismiss her contributions to the news and current affairs (which are your show’s stock-in-trade) as “nothing”, suggests a not insignificant measure of contempt – not only for Jacinda Ardern’s judgement, but for the judgement of the people themselves.

Mike Hosking’s bosses should, perhaps, ask themselves what message Newstalk-ZB (and NZME) is sending to the people of New Zealand if Mike Hosking, their self-appointed “People’s Prosecutor”, is accorded bragging rights for “cancelling” the democratically-elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. Especially when said Prime Minister’s only “crime” was indicating her willingness to be interviewed by their star broadcaster about the decisions which she – not he – had made.

POSTSCRIPT: Remarkably, within 24 hours of de-platforming the Prime Minister, Mike Hosking, had thought better of his earlier decision. Responding to some pretty trenchant criticism from Newstalk-ZB's political editor, Barry Soper, Hosking declared: "Barry, of course, is right. I can't ban Ardern and leave her to others and then complain others aren't doing their job." - C.T.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 8 April 2021.


petes new write said...

Just sack him. He brings nothing positive to his position anyway.

Brendan McNeill said...

New Zealanders are neither richer nor poorer for the Prime Ministers absence or presence on the airwaves.

AB said...

You can only understand this by recognising what Hosking and ZB are - and more importantly, aren't. Hosking isn't a journalist and ZB isn't a media outlet. They are a paid-for platform that promotes the political and economic ideology of their owners. They are an example of how much 'free' speech you can buy if you have the money.
We only need to look at the Murdoch media turning the UK into a one-party state to see where this ends up.

Phil said...

I am no fan of Hosking but it is quite clear that much of the media seem happy to indulge in a Government propaganda exercise such as fronting major stories around small children writing nice things about Jacinda. It seems we mostly have to read blogs to get any thoughtful analysis of the Government. Reading Muriel Newman's blog in recent weeks provides ample evidence of the great leadership skills of Helen Clark compared to the nature of the current and last Governments framed around the image of the leader with both Key and Ardern pushing the country in a slightly sinister direction away from the eyes of the public.

The Barron said...

Winton Peters leaned slowly on the podium, drawing the required tension level, he announced that the new government will be Labour led. Eventually, TV1 switches back to the studio - Mike Hoskins face revealed a man who had just lost relevance. His voice continues with distain and defiance, but the deflated face...
Yes, he could continue on radio, or write his column, pretending he had anything other than a niche that cared for his views. But, unlike Norma Desmond, he was never again ready for his close up.

Kat said...

Click bait.........desperate times for ZB as it heads into the sunset years. No point commenting any further on the biased opinions of nincompoops such as Mike Hosking, they have already slipped over the horizon behind, like that shonkey fellow.

thesorrow&thepity said...

Mike Hosking throwing a tantrum & needing a change of nappies.... no real surprises there

greywarbler said...

Kat That shonkey fellow might have slipped over the horizon, but he is only just out of plain sight. He may have to do a reprise if Gnashional can't serve a tasty dish at 'The Restaurant at the end of the 'Earth''! Or the punters might just send the meal back as below par and order some near-greens instead.

Philip said...

I think Mike Hosking's willingness to listen to another point of view (Barry Soper's) and publically change his position is praiseworthy. He is in my opinion one of the better commentators out there willing to criticize Right or Left (more often Left of course) depending on the situation. In this way he mimics the host of this blog Chris Trotter who also admirably is willing to stand up for his view on an issue (usually Left leaning), defend it or change his mind depending on the argument brought against that viewpoint. It is very important to have both sides presented clearly in the media so we can assess the merits of each viewpoint for ourselves.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Hosking.... is arrogant – what New Zealanders used to call "up themselves". Maybe they still do, I'm too old to notice. He puts me in mind a little of Jeremy Clarkson, a bit of a brat. Funnily enough I thought he was okay when he worked for radio New Zealand. I guess for them he had to act with a certain amount of restraint when it came to his sense of entitlement and his politics. He used to ask politicians the difficult questions, which is something that not all journalists will do these days, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. But it's gone to his head, I guess years of six-figure salaries and crashing flash cars.:)
Honestly though, all these people that complain about a few Maori words on national radio – why don't they listen to him instead? :) He'll tell them what they want to hear, and an area Maori word – I was going to say in sight but it doesn't sound quite right somehow.

Mark Simpson said...

With the woke ideology being peddled more and more in the mainstream media, Mike Hosking is practically the only counterpoint - Kerre McIvor and Peter Williams would be the only other two.
At his best, he is pertinent and incisive with his interviews. I enjoyed the way he made politicians squirm when he was at National Radio.
But his professionalism was thrown out the window when "interviewing" Ms. Adern. To me, they were insulting harangue fests. His weekly sessions with John Key on the other hand were like genial, fireside chats.

Jays said...

What utter bullshit Chris.
They are a commercial operation and can do what they want.
Despite Robertson's and Aderns obvious leaning towards the government control over everything we are fortunately not there yet.
Aside from that, he is quite correct that she adds nothing to the mix.
This is because she either lacks the intelligence to answer the questions properly or simply is too lazy to be prepared.
Contrast this with Helen Clark who was incredibly sharp during interviews.
This so called PM is a sick joke on the NZ people.
And now she has the bare faced cheek to claim 200,000 houses in 20 years?

Worst PM since Muldoon and at the current rate she might even surpass him.

David Stone said...

They are just taking their cue from the de platforming of the sitting American President aren't they! If US media and social media can diss their president with total impunity , why can't Hosking do the same to our PM on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

Anonymous said...

She is a coward who simply can't answer tough questions. Why? Because she does not do her homework. Ardern's whole reign has been all about her, even from before she was selected by the great charlatan. She is a socialist charlatan, has bought the media off with our tax dollars (talk about deeply corrupt), and is seriously wrecking the future of this country with top speed. She now thinks she can choose her own Fourth Estate, and would rather talk to children via Facebook than stand up to the adults. Weaker than weak!!


Guerilla Surgeon said...

"They are a commercial operation and can do what they want."

You have to laugh. Conservatives are always bitching about the "deplatforming" – at least of other conservatives. And I'm always reminding them that that's capitalism. You can't have it both ways.

greywarbler said...

Basil. For a politician, getting elected is the first hurdle to jump over. She was elected so she has done her homework on first hurdles. She has fronted a fractious nation filled with many fools who know all the answers, provided it is them asking the questions, second hurdle. Is pondering how to drive the vehicle that has a blockage in the carburettor. Is trying to improve so as not to end up coping as in the Russian engineer video. And with people like you ready to eviscerate her, she knows she can never know enough, do enough to please.

We might end up like this if you have your way, and kill off every positive effort for not being enough.

The Barron said...

It is interesting to see the comments supporting Hoskings. Phillip sees him as "one of the better commentators", Mark Simpson sees him as a "counterpoint", David Stone refers to "platforming". Yet the role of the interviewer is to question the subject and get clear information from them. This may require asking questions that the interviewee would prefer not asked, or push on points washed over.
A commentator, with a platform which is a counterpoint is not an interviewer. That is the problem with Hoskings, he has his set views and tries to establish them over the interview subject. Worse still, is the shifting sand of those views. If Hoskings views on opening NZ up and of lock-downs and other health measures are to be examined, he opposed most measures - then moved on to his next stance when shown to be ignorant, wrong and potentially harmful to the health and wellbeing of NZers.
I am sure many of those that have posted above enjoy his world view, the question for me is always going to be whether that constitutes an interview, or we are simply putting people on air so he can push that view past what should be the subject of the interview.