Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Act

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  • Scott Chris, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Even if it’s consensual, and the supposed victim is (mostly) aware of the wider context?

    I think that's that point I'm making - I doubt that she is aware of the wider context, or that people are making fun of her. Does her apparent obliviousness make it okay?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Scott Chris,

    I doubt that she is aware of the wider context, or that people are making fun of her. Does her apparent obliviousness make it okay?

    I don't know quite how suss the woman is, but there's certainly a big element of condescension, which sucks. Anyway you mentioned bullying, and I can't see that.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3552 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Sofie:

    Wouldn’t disagree with that at all – plenty of demanding occupations are well beyond my skills and/or temperament. (I’d also prefer to suck ground glass out of an abscess that spend one more day commercial cleaning. I can’t afford any more bad karma.)

    That said, my point was I sure couldn’t conduct a coherent, well-prepared live interview regarding a breaking story with anyone before 8am, but Geoff Robinson (and folks in equivalent slots all over the planet) manage without calling anyone a “confused tub of lard” or prank calling a hospital.

    Scott:

    Even if it’s consensual, and the supposed victim is (mostly) aware of the wider context

    Well, I’ll grant “bullying” is perhaps too strong in this specific context, but is the following idea really that challenging: Just because you can (or at least get away with), it doesn’t mean you should. Frankly, I’m also really over hearing variations on “but it’s what the market demands”. That’s nose to tail bullshit. ‘The market’ doesn’t decide what’s going above the front page fold in tomorrow’s Herald, or leads the prime time TV news.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Scott Chris,

    After they had her make a mock call to Stephen Joyce tonight saying give the teachers their 12 million dollars or she'll give him 12 million f*&ken whacks, I think it's fair to say that she's in some control of the situation and is comfortable with it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 876 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    The best bit of TV this past week was likely the documentary on Maori TV Nga Tamatoa: 40 Years On. Maori TV are IMHO a lot better than TVs1, 2 & 3.

    The “$20 thang” goes to show the level of Asininity (being asinine and a ninny) that exists in mainstream broadcast media –that this saga even registers is a measure of, again IMHO, the flavor of national stupidity just as much as John Key being the PM.

    There is no aspirational high water mark that is for real.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1199 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers, in reply to EJTH,

    Well written, Russell. A Kiwi in London, I've been reading the eulogising from afar and found some of it nauseating to say the least.

    Agreed. It's sometimes hard to keep an accurate picture of New Zealand in your head when you haven't been back for a while. This is especially the case if you're trying to do so using mainstream media. Following the Herald, you could be forgiven for thinking that all that ever happens there is murder, drunk driving, the footie, and whatever the latest moral panic surrounding drinking is. It's a flattened-out, two-dimensional caricature.

    This flattening out -- this insistence on pandering to a mass average, and blindness to anything that doesn't fit in -- is, I think, a large part of Holmes' legacy. There's something not just coarsening but distinctly marginalizing about Holmes's populism. The sense that, if you don't think like "we" do, then you're just invisible: "we" don't want to see or hear from the likes of you. One of my Facebook friends has been going through old Holmes columns in the Herald, posting the most repulsive bits, and this contempt for people who don't think like "us" (which is to say, him) comes across very strongly. Here he is talking about the Pike River Remembrance Service:

    Prime Minister John Key spoke. It was the best speech of his career. I understood from a quick word with him earlier that he had written it himself. His voice was strong and rang out across those tables of tears to the families in the grandstand, assuring them that four million New Zealanders were with them.

    I must say also, Key's speech to the nation on the night of the second explosion - just five days after the first - was one of the highlights of the year. It was not brilliantly written, there was a cliche or two and he looked down at his notes a lot but it was all simple and real. The man was as shocked as the rest of us. He was just the way we wanted our Prime Minister to be at that moment, slightly uncertain, knocked about, just like the rest of us.

    That is, of course, the key to his extraordinary connection with the people. He is just like the rest of us. That's what we think, anyway.

    It's that reductionism that gets to me. The insistence that we are all an equally unthinking "we," united in our opinions, and Holmes speaks for us entirely. It's really a form of narcissism: Holmes looks at us in our lumpen-ness and sees his own reflection grinning back at him. And there's the other unpleasant aspect of Holmes's populism that others have alluded to crystallized there as well: his worship of those in power (as long as they're suitably right-wing, of course). In fact, this is what makes his populism look more like, well, something else, for which there are other (less flattering, and more historically loaded) terms of description. Here's Holmes on the wharfies:

    The row with wharfies is always about entitlement and privilege and the threat thereto. It always is. All wharfies know is obstruction. That's the way it always was. Wharfies are historically programmed to oppose reform.

    Well, that's all right then. Let's just bulldoze them like any other, outdated, non-human obstruction. Progress, innit?

    And then there's the contempt for the sick and the weak that was another part of his bullying narcissism, a character flaw that appears bitterly ironic considering the way he went out:

    Too many people on welfare in New Zealand, said the WWG. Thirteen per cent of working age New Zealanders. Meaning the other 87 per cent of us are paying their way. And it's been like this for a long time.

    I'm sure there are a lot of bludgers among them. You know it. We all meet them, people about whom we sense that if they put in a bit more effort, exerted themselves a little harder, got round the place a bit more aggressively, they'd be able to find and do some work.

    I've been gifted with good health over the years, on the whole, so I have real difficulty understanding, for example, chronic sickness and ill health. I don't understand how someone can continue to be sick year in year out.

    I realise for some readers this will sound ridiculous. But I just don't understand chronic sickness that drags itself out over years. And I certainly don't understand bone-idleness.

    Lionising this man seems weird. And a bit jarring, considering that two things New Zealanders pride themselves on are fair-mindedness and a commitment to egalitarianism. But you can see why he's being lionised, and by whom. His career reflects (uncannily, really) the triumph of neoliberalism, the reduction of the mainstream news media to a simple mouth-piece for power, and the consignment of people who don't think like "us" to the margins. (Places, indeed, like PAS.) But quotes like the ones above underline the sheer curdled, corrupt nastiness of the neoliberal agenda. To my mind, Holmes's career as a newspaper pundit wasn't just a "low point" in a career that had its highs, it was the essence of the man and the masters he served. And I think we should hold onto that and remember it.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 432 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If you can’t do the job without being a bully or an arse then you shouldn’t be doing the job.

    +1

    It’s not quite that simple.

    Nothing ever is. But you seem to be suggesting that the job, by it’s nature, cannot be done by a person that does not devolve into being a bullying arse, at least some of the time. I’m pretty sure you don’t think all successful broadcasters behave that way which suggests that it is possible to do the job and retain some measure of decency.

    I’m not specifically targetting Holmes or anyone in particular and I really do appreciate the job is unusual by its nature and stressfull. But equally managers of those people should be aware of that fact and if someone goes beyond reasonable behaviour then the solution is to talk with them educate them and if necessary give them a rest or another job. It is not appropriate to say “it’s OK mate just par for the course”.

    Society doesn’t and shouldn’t have to accept that kind of behaviour.

    But if it is simply not possible to do that job without being a bullying arse then the job should not exist. We should not create jobs that lead to people behaving like that, and good managers recognise that. Or another way of putting it, if the manager recognises that a person is being put under too much strain by working mornings and nights then they simply shouldn’t employ them to do that. But I strongly suspect that Holmes’ managers were vastly more concerned with the ratings then Holmes himself.

    ETA oh and yeah bullying is pretty much a trigger for me I know, sorry :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Hee hee. Let’s make fun of a stupid person.

    That’s how it comes across to me. Bullying.

    I hate the Borat movies for that very reason.

    This didn't strike me as that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6201 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    I'm not sure where I heard it, but is it true that Holmes asked for his knighthood?? Anyone know where this might ahve come from?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    A fine analysis, Caleb, thanks for that. And Bart, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one uncomfortable about Holmes.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3466 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    His career reflects (uncannily, really) the triumph of neoliberalism, the reduction of the mainstream news media to a simple mouth-piece for power, and the consignment of people who don’t think like “us” to the margins.

    Ouch. Also maps the erosion of public service broadcasting on radio, and its demise in television.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • David Ritchie, in reply to BlairMacca,

    "He did a straight pitch for a knighthood," a source said.

    Clark pitched in for Holmes' early honour, NZ Herald, 27 Jan 2013

    Wellingtron • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to David Ritchie,

    Hmm yes, that lines up with my thoughts for the man.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to David Ritchie,

    “He did a straight pitch for a knighthood,” a source said.

    I was rather surprised to find Helen Clark pushing for an honour for this guy after the remarkable arrogance shown to Kofi Annan a well respected and much honoured colleague of hers.
    Russell had a thing or two to say at the time.
    The Clark thing aside I would have thought insulting such a respected international figure should have precluded the man from any form of official honour, this fact alone reflects badly on us as a country and we should feel ashamed that our Prime Minister and former Prime Minister feel that this man deserved any honour whatsoever.
    I, for one, shall remember Mr Paul Holmes as that cheeky dead guy.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Holmes was apologetic afterwards and said it was an attempt to be funny that didn't work.

    For somebody that has a mic in their face hours a day, going out live you've gotta give them a bit of slack.

    God knows what I'd come up with :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 876 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Yamis,

    it was an attempt to be funny

    doubt it

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    a-Paul-ing pundits

    Holmes as that cheeky dead guy

    forming with Henry, Lhaws, and their ilk
    the fraternity of uppity nigglers.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 915 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Sacha,

    His excuse.

    Personally I could barely stand to watch or listen to him at all, right from the get go when I was in my early teens up until the end. But that's probably a bit mean of me to come out and say that now :(

    Since Nov 2006 • 876 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Yamis,

    His excuse

    Exactly. 'It was just a joke' is a bully's favourite when caught out.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    The Clark thing aside I would have thought insulting such a respected international figure should have precluded the man from any form of official honour, this fact alone reflects badly on us as a country and we should feel ashamed that our Prime Minister and former Prime Minister feel that this man deserved any honour whatsoever.

    Agree totally with this.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    To be honest, the Clark angle is affecting my estimation of Clark more than of Holmes. I'd be interested to know how that friendship started.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I was rather surprised to find Helen Clark pushing for an honour for this guy after the remarkable arrogance shown to Kofi Annan a well respected and much honoured colleague of hers.

    Surprised? I’m rather shocked Clark would pick up the phone and call the Prime Minister to lobby for an honour full stop and end of line. I don’t want to go over the top here, but it doesn’t strike me as a terribly good look for a senior UN official who is supposed to be above and beyond any nation’s domestic politics (and seen to be so) getting involved in something so petty.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Yamis,

    Holmes was apologetic afterwards and said it was an attempt to be funny that didn't work.

    As I noted in The Listener story linked in the original post, he was mortified by it.

    For somebody that has a mic in their face hours a day, going out live you've gotta give them a bit of slack.

    You still need to hold people to account for what they say, but talk radio is a fucking weird environment. You have to fill time, say something, grab attention, no matter what state you're in that particular morning. My impression at the time was and still is that Holmes was probably in a bit of a state that morning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    To my mind, Holmes's career as a newspaper pundit wasn't just a "low point" in a career that had its highs, it was the essence of the man and the masters he served. And I think we should hold onto that and remember it.

    And yet, how would you explain Matt McCarten's fulsome tribute to Holmes last week?

    I don't agree with European feudal titles in our country but Holmes is among the very few who actually deserve our highest honour. He became a national icon on the basis of his hard work and developed talent.

    Retired politicians, business tycoons and judges who've lived the high life on everyone else's dime aren't in the same league as true champions like sportspeople, community volunteers, scientists and artists like Holmes.

    This guy came into our homes every night, becoming part of our family. We should have knighted Holmes years ago and made him Governor-General. I'd become a monarchist for that.

    You've quite effectively damned him with his own words from his generally terrible newspaper column. But it would also have been possible to construct an entirely different picture with quotes like that with which Chris Trotter concluded his farewell to Holmes last week:

    It would be remiss of me, however, to close without recalling his extraordinary response to the 2004 hikoi opposing Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Bill. A lesser man, and a more convinced Right-winger, might have used the day's tumultuous events to further inflame New Zealand's already tender race relations.

    Instead, Holmes ended the programme's coverage with these words: "No New Zealander, frankly, could have watched proceedings today without a sense of pride, without being gripped by the heart, could have watched it - without love."

    Requiescat in pace, Sir Paul Holmes.

    Holmes was blind to many things, including, quite often, himself. But neatly portraying him as a neoliberal icon, I think, misses the mark.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to linger,

    a-Paul-ing pundits

    Holmes as that cheeky dead guy

    forming with Henry, Lhaws, and their ilk
    the fraternity of uppity nigglers.

    Much as I appreciate the humour here - I feel we are stepping into the arena of those we are condeming for their failed humour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

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