Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Isn't everyone biased?

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How neutral are our broadcasters when it comes to politics? Paul Casserly shares his theory.
Linda Clark has recently made headlines herself.
Linda Clark has recently made headlines herself.

So, Linda Clark finds herself at the centre of a political bias kerfuffle. Must be election year.

Does she, or does she not, give Labour leader David Cunliffe media advice? Did she suggest he get the bees he and Karen paraded on the recent Campbell Live show? Bees, eh? Good move. Bees are the new chickens, so if Linda was behind the hive, then top marks to her. Who doesn't like bees? Worms would have sent the wrong message, an ant farm would have made Cunliffe unelectable. It's a shame that Kim Dotcom didn't have Clark on hand for advice. "No Kim, I don't think you should buy an investment copy of Mein Kampf, maybe buy a nice Hanly or McCahon instead," she would have wisely said.

Still the question hangs in the air, like an eggy fluff with a hint of sulphur. Is Linda now ruled out as a media commentator on election night? God, I hope not, she's one of the smartest talking heads we have and one of the few that makes sense.

There are some right royal twats who call themselves political commentators, let's keep the good ones for Christ's sake. Also, isn't everyone biased?

Some bias is obvious to see, you'd have to be blind not to detect that the National Party has avid cheerleaders in the form of Mike Hosking and Paul Henry. Their broadcasts should probably be considered donations to the party just like the ones from Oravida. I'm also guessing that John Campbell would be more liked by Labour and especially the Greens, than he is by the Tories.

Political journalists are naturally harder to pick. You get the feeling they actively try to suppress any actual human feelings as a survival technique. A cursory observer would surmise that TV3's Patrick Gower would probably have a go at anything that moves, regardless of political stripes. Like a crazed mongrel, chasing cars. Which of course makes for great viewing. The trick employed here seems to be treating politics like sport. So much of which is about how the politicos play the game, not so much about the game itself. Did they "drop the ball" or receive a "hospital pass". It's entertaining but you suspect that informed debate is not "the winner on the day".

TV One's Corin Dann looks and acts more conservatively, but is also pretty careful to appear unbiased. Some complain he's pro-Labour while others see him as the Government's lap dog. He could be a closet conservative or a raving greenie for all I know, or one of the few people in the country who hasn't been asked to stand for The Internet Party.

Just don't think that the most important part of the nightly news, namely the weather, is immune from all the bias. Jim Hickey's optimistic spin on the awful winter pain he dishes out is very much in the relaxed John Key style, all very "optimistic for New Zealand".

TV3's Ingrid Hipkiss is a tougher nut to crack. I can't tell whether she's projecting a Nikki Kaye-like mantra of "a hand up, not a hand out" or if she's exuding Jacinda Ardern's "equality for all New Zealanders" vibe.

Easier to spot are the talk radio stars. This has something to do with the same effect that allows blind people to tune pianos and spot f******* easier than sighted people. With vision it is easier to be misdirected, to be tricked by hair gel or a Kate Sylvester frock.

Common wisdom has it that Radio Live's Sean Plunket is just to the right of Genghis Khan, while Newstalk ZB's Leighton Smith is just too the right of that.

Although, I'm wondering if the famous Mongol (Khan that is) has been unfairly labelled. Can his politics really be placed firmly on the right? Is he even on the spectrum? In my opinion he would not be offering a "handout" or even a "hand-up", but would likely chop off your hand as soon as ride his horse over your berm, screaming "Bias, Schmias" at the top of his voice. Hosking to the right of us, Campbell to the left, or stuck in the middle with ... who?

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

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