Monday, March 30, 2009

Paul Henry's Views

In case you live in some wonderful, idyllic world where you don't have to hear such ridiculous trash:

Paul Henry angered TVNZ viewers with his antics on Breakfast this week when he insulted a guest speaker and implied that she had a moustache.

Anti-nuclear campaigner Stephanie Mills appeared on the show to speak about the compensation awarded to victims of French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Henry then proceeded to read out several readers' comments despite pleas from co-host Alison Mau and his producers.


Mau tried unsuccessfully to dissuade Henry and bowed her head as he began to read the first letter.

"I have no idea what Stephanie Mills was thinking going on telly with that enormous moustache. Wax is cheap, you know," Henry read out.

Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. Now, I'm all in favour of free speech. I'm also in favour of edgy humour in general. I don't think a woman with slight facial hair is particularly funny - but then I imagine that quite a few people wouldn't agree with my sense of humour either. And you know how I feel about nanny state - it's PC gone mad. So the worst I can say about Paul Henry's comments decontextualised is that, as far as humour goes, they were pretty lame.

But in this case context is quite important. I realise that Breakfast isn't exactly Close Up... erm... Campbell Live... OK, so there's really no mainstream New Zealand television show that will make that comparison work. Suffice to say that Breakfast is considered 'infotainment', and not exactly issues-driven - who wants to deal with issues that early in the morning, am I right? But if you are going to deal with serious issues, such as allegations that French nuclear testing caused cancer in observers - please, I'm eating my bagel! - you may want to treat them seriously. Otherwise, just have a movie review or talk to a cartoon character or sing a song about puppies. And, for the gods' sake, if you're going to invite people on and interview them about these issues, you could treat them with a modicum of respect. I don't really care if you think that a woman with a moustache is the funniest thing you have ever seen; surely, if you have moved on from kindergarten, you might see that it was inappropriate in the context of a serious interview on the state broadcaster.

So, and now I'm getting to the point, I went to "Your Views" to find the opinions of some people who had moved on from kindergarten and poop jokes. I was sorely disappointed.

"Do you think Paul Henry's 'moustache' comments were amusing or offensive?"

Scott Dawson (Mt Eden): I personally found it humorous and greenpeace of all organisations should be able to have a laugh at themselves. The nation has become too PC, and im sure if Stephanie Mills was to comment on Paul Henry looking like one of the chipmunks with glasses, this would be taken in good humour

Greenpeace, of all organisations! They're always having a laugh. But yes, just the other day I called a black guy 'nigger', and he was FURIOUS, even when I said he could call me 'whitey'! Can't we all just get along?

Too_soft_NZ (Greenlane): This is why this world is screwed up, we are not even allowed to insult people we dont like anymore freely.

And I thought it was the global financial crisis or global warming. When a man can't insult a female guest on the television show he is paid many, many tens of thousands of dollars of (essentially) taxpayer money to host, the terrorists have already won.

Precious (Te Atatu Peninsula): I thought he was funny. I mean, she did have a moustache .

"Wait, this is the thread for 'Did the woman have a moustache or not', right?"

Tim (Auckland Central): It was amusing. Like watching Ricky Gervais. Paul is the only reason I ever watch breakfast.

Yeah, it was just like watching Ricky Gervais. He did that kind of thing all the time all the time on his documentary, The Office.

Deal to Crims (Rotorua) It is the growing number of Kiwis who fail to recognise humour that concerns me most.
Hey - my hair is receding and I get my fair share of jibes but who cares. Some are fat, some are hairy, some are bald some are skinny, some have big noses, but lets see the funny side of it and not be so thin skinned.
Maybe thin-skinned is something we should also take jibes at. The reaction there would be guaranteed.

And remember that time that you went on live television to talk about the serious public policy issue of 'dealing to crims', and the presenter talked at the end of the show about how your bald spot was 'the elephant in the room' and wondered why you couldn't at least wear a wig on television. That was hilarious. At home, I thought you were a stupid, lonely, balding, fat, self-important redneck bastard - but I kept my opinion to myself.

OK, that's probably enough. If you are feeling unreasonably positive about the prospects for humanity, have a read. If you can't get the Herald site at work, you'll find that picking up the phone, dialling a number and then bashing yourself over the head repeatedly with the receiver has a similar effect.


  1. Moustache Gate:

  2. I've got to say (having followed the link), Murray from Flight of the Conchords! Brilliant.

  3. Again, you'll note that the New Zealand Herald, unlike its 'sister' paper the Sunday and its competition, had the good sense to ignore this story in its print edition. I may be wrong, but the newspaper has no control over what the website people load onto their servers.

  4. Although I work off the print edition mostly, I never said - and it would be foolish to do so - that the internet wasn't (increasingly) important for newspapers.

    The Herald *does* have control over what gets put up for discussion, and they have run at least three pieces (in print or otherwise) about this. Printed or not, it's still some journalist's time wasted when they could be dealing with actual issues.

  5. Actually I agree. For far too long, the online version of the Herald has been publishing stories that damage the good name of The New Zealand Herald (print version).

    Despite the fact that these stories are by the same people and are (often) plagiarised directly from the print copy, the Herald (print) seems powerless to halt this damaging attack on their credibility.

    As anon points out, the newspaper must have no control over what the website people load onto their servers. Bet they are kicking themselves for allowing such shoddy treatment of a once great name.

  6. "Despite the fact that these stories are by the same people and are (often) plagiarised directly from the print copy"

    The purpose of the website is so people can view the print versions of stories online. There's no crime there!

    "the newspaper must have no control over what the website people load onto their servers."

    The newspaper has all the control. Who do you did you think controls it? Honestly, how paranoid can you get.

    The reason the reporting has gone to shit is because nobody cares about good journalism anymore. That stuff doesn't sell. People want tabloid fodder, death, and misleading headlines.

  7. Damn, my bad. I now understand that sarcasm is indeed the lowest form of wit, and I will avoid it in future.

    I thought that using words like "plagerised" (when its written by the same jurno)and suggesting that the same articals published online would somehow make them less credible than the print version (less credible??!?)would be a dead givaway. I was wrong.

    I would have used the term "Hard working journalist" but I hate obvious humour.

  8. Hi, this is a different anon to the others above.

    As far as I know the website is a separate company (within APN) which buys the Herald's copy, augmenting it with wire copy from AP and the like, and there is no synergy between the web and newspaper newsdesk.

    This is all I know. Anon one has a point when they say the newspaper staff have little control over what goes on the web, and that AP story on triathlons appears to be a good example. The left arm does not know what the right one is doing.

    What the Herald writers produce and what its editors commission is another issue.

    Anon two - I'd say that people do care about good journalism (as evinced by blogs like this, although what they actually contribute to the debate is another matter).

    The real problem is that newspaper conglomerates no longer care about good journalism. They have destroyed the architecture and engine of good journalism to keep profits unreasonably high, and what you see now is the result.

  9. "As far as I know the website is a separate company (within APN) which buys the Herald's copy, augmenting it with wire copy from AP and the like, and there is no synergy between the web and newspaper newsdesk."

    The Herald Online department is in the same building and on the same floor as the Herald Editorial department. There is direct communication between the two. The Herald subscribes to certain syndicators such as AP, Independent, etc, and both departments benefit from this. The Herald Online is not a separate company.

    And yeah, sorry for not picking up on your sarcasm but after reading Your Views all day, my humour detector is badly damaged...

    (Anon 2!)

  10. Thanks anon2 (the real anon has stood up). But to be honest (after re-reading my effort) it was dry, even for me.

  11. "Like watching Ricky Gervais"
    I really don't see the similarity in their sense of humor. I highly doubt Gervais would read out comments such as those as a joke, especially when it's so irrelevant to the issue. If anything, Paul Henry reminds me of a less patriotic Bill Oreilly. And that is not a compliment.
    That comment irritated me more than the entire 'issue' actually (Being a fan of Gervais).

  12. It would be pretty retarded if the Herald couldn't/didn't control what went on it's own website.

  13. Maybe we should bombard Paul Henry's PA with this message: Paul Henry is obviously a cunt.

    Get him to read that on TV.

  14. "I'd say that people do care about good journalism ... The real problem is that newspaper conglomerates no longer care about good journalism. They have destroyed the architecture and engine of good journalism to keep profits unreasonably high, and what you see now is the result."

    But surely the profits are high because people want to read the product (and therefore don't care about good journalism)? When Rupert Murdoch was asked in a US congressional hearing why it was that such a disproportionate amount of time was given to conservative commentators on talk-back radio, he said "apparently conservative is more popular. If we could find a popular ... liberal ... we would have him on in a shot".

    Newspapers aren't making oversized profits in general anyway, they are all fighting for ever decreasing market share. Arguably the "best" British newspaper, in that it is the least likely to resort to sensationalism (excepting the ft, in my opinion), is the Guardian, which runs at a loss, subsidised by other papers in the group.

    I think in general it is a case of the public getting what they want.

    What is unreasonably high? Surely

  15. last line above was a typo, please ignore. I'm quite bad at making my posts coherent, it seems

  16. "start a group. really." - tears to the eyes. I hate paul henry but that was one out of the box.

    (to the anons above, geesuz, chill out you two. controlled by each other or not (and its pretty clear neither of you know for certain (as far as i, they parade under the same name and should be tarred with the same shit-journalism brush)

  17. Wise words Mr Mallet.

    @Wasnbone: I'd say double-digit percentage profits from a shrinking market is unreasonable. The only way this has been sustained is through cutbacks.

    This may have coincided with a significant drop in the average IQ, but I very much doubt it. It's not the case that the public get the newspaper they deserve, to coin a phrase. It's that they have no other option.

  18. Wonz... you know what I'm thinking... tut tut. I'll tell you all the same though.

    Surely you can't still believe that market forces are always right. The fact is that each (an old statistic I know but ...) NZ Herald has $2 worth of paper, how can anyone else possibly turn a profit in such a market let alone compete.

    With all major print media owners following the same business model there is no way anyone could even try and present proper news in Auckland. You will note from your comment that the Gardian is a more socialist paper.

    Basically the internet and the instant access news of the last decade has killed investigative journalism, which is possibly part cause and part symptom of the current situation re journalism.

  19. I don't think its about being PC or un-PC. Its about being respectful of another human being. Don't hide behind people being overly PC to cover up uncalled for bad humour, bad taste and shitty journalism.

  20. Anonymous (the one right above me!), that's pretty much exactly how I feel about the issue.

  21. Okay, so that's really the way you think, and you believe that the Herald is in some way refusing to print the 'real news' of Auckland.

    Why not go out and find the 'real news', report it here and become a journalist, rather than the bitter baiter you so obviously are, who turns his ire on the place he canvases for a job on this very website?

    You've got a following. If you really did get some good news stories that no one else had, you may even get a job in the business, should you want one.

    But no one is going to employ someone who bitches about the profession.

  22. Why not go out and find the 'real news', report it here and become a journalist

    Yeah Coe, why don't you? I'm sure you have plenty of spare time and enough cash to be able to quit your job and travel around the country interviewin', researchin' and filin' stories. It'd be fun!

    But no one is going to employ someone who bitches about the profession.

    That's some nice satire. It's funny because everyone bitches about their profession! Including every journalist I've ever met! Hahahahaha!

    While you're at it, stop criticising the Black Caps, unless you're gonna step up and play. Oh and no-one without a current affairs show is allowed to call Campbell Live shit. And if your apple from the supermarket has a worm in it, don't even think about taking it back unless you've got your own tree. Invading Iraq? Unless you've got a Marine Corps you can't complain. And... oh well you get the point.

    Good Soviets don't complain about news quality.

  23. Anonymous (right above me), the problem is that the question of "what is news?" has not properly been answered. Its alright to say "go out and find the 'real news' but what the hell is that? Sorry but i dont care if bailey K is back in court. i dont care if vietch hit his girlfriend. i dont care if bain is found guilty or not. You go to other places to find interesting shit. Virtually no news is relevant anymore. if you want to find something out, you look it up yourself. having read editing the herald for a couple of weeks now, it appears all thats really in the herald is thinly disguised adverts for expensive houses, how-to guides for rich housewives, opinions from bigots and regurgitated foreign news. thanks but i'll stick to wikipedia.

  24. the difference, gazza j, is that James so obviously does want to be a journalist. What he is doing shows he has the right idea, but is not using it to positive effect.

  25. Anonymous: (One several above)

    My point was that in places like the US and Britian, where you have significant market 'space' for more than one newspaper/media outlet, even then conservative/sensationalist type reporting dominates to the point of virtual exclusion of more nuanced journalism. So whereas one might argue that in NZ it is a case of the Herald monopoly reporting as it pleases, I think you will find it is not massively different (in the main) from elsewhere.

    Ron, I dont think you got my point. I wasn't trying to defend unadulterated market forces, merely cite them as a cause of the current situation (in the media). I was mainly trying to argue against the idea of conglomerate overlords telling us what to think.

    A question - Is 'Your views' representative of the wider public or not?

    Another question - There is a stable majority in European countries with regard to support for capital punishment*. Is this a result of media manipulation?

    *In case someone misinterprets this statement as me supporting capital punishment, it doesn't.

  26. The NZ Herald should be a newspaper of record. It is not doing any better than it was with graphics, pushing stories as 'talking points' and pandering to the base line.

    Journalists seem to think they need to lace their products with opinion masquerading as fact and do something 'different' because someone else has already done the same.

    Honestly, who would prefer an organ that told you what happened, when, where, why and how to one that told you what it thinks should have happened, with a stupid cartoon tacked on?

    It would be a good starting point, for me.

  27. Gees, Coe. What have you started?

  28. He is merely a conduit. The Herald needs to change.

  29. Haha...Mo!