Why did our lame-stream media ignore the Key-Trump meeting?
Our Prime Minister has arrived in Washington DC ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit. But en route, he kept an appointment that sparked a politically radioactive controversy. Or at least it would have done, had our mainstream media deemed it worthy of reporting.
For some reason, outlets across New Zealand were quieter than an Eden Park rugby crowd on this astonishing encounter. Unless you read deep into the news briefs, the Timaru Herald Police Notebook or the bowels of the blogosphere, you would remain blissfully ignorant of John Key's extraordinary golf date with Donald J Trump.
Before examining the media's deplorable dereliction of reportorial duty, let us recap what we know. Thanks to a conscientious team of interns conversant in social media networks such as Instagram, SnapChat and MySpace, a vivid picture of the scene emerges.
Mr Key, it transpires, has paused in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where presidential hopefuls are swanning about ahead of state primaries.
With his entourage he travels 38 floors aboard a gold-trimmed glass elevator to the roof garden on the city's famous Trump Tower Hotel. Several hours later, the hotel's eponymous owner arrives, greets him with a mesmerising mix of effusiveness and indifference, and throws him a club.
The PM appears beaming, resplendent in a short-sleeved Hawaiian-style shirt festooned with silver ferns and stars; Mr Trump, his eyes and mouth squinting together like agitated molluscs, wears a white polo shirt and a cap, emblazoned with "Make America Great Again". He is sporting a Trump-branded tie, soaked through in Success by Trump cologne, and gripping a bottle of Trump Spring Water in his tiny paw.
The men are shown revelling in the nine-hole rooftop Super Trump Mixed Grill and Mini Golf Experience. Mr Trump roars as he knocks his tangelo-coloured ball into the third hole, the famous "Great American Windmill"; Mr Key grimaces as his opponent jabs him in the ribs with a putter at the seventh, the famous "All American AK47".
Our best source, however, is the American Eagle blog, published by graduate students at Trump University's Trump Golf Academy ("Majoring in the Majors"). A post attributed to "GolfWarrr2013", recounts, "Mr Trump greeted Jeff Key like an old friend. He told him he thought his country was 'wonderful, just wonderful', saying, 'by the way, I love Mad Max, I love Kylie Minogue, I really do'." GolfWarrr2013 continues: "President Key spoke indecipherably about a flag, but soon changed the subject to the TPP, whereupon Mr Trump produced yet another zinger, saying, 'believe me, I have to tell you, the only TPP that gets me going is emptying my bladder at the start of a golf round.' Mr Key and his staff laughed uncontrollably for several minutes."
What was the true purpose of Mr Key's Milwaukee detour? There has been some speculation among Wall St analysts on dark web talkboards that the NZ Prime Minister, given his reputation as one of the greatest market traders that ever lived, is being considered as a Federal Reserve Chairman under a Trump presidency. This seems a stretch; not just because Mr Trump seemed more interested in discussing pissing than trade policy, but because Sarah Palin is runaway favourite for the position. Others have hypothesised that a Trump aide thought he was arranging a meeting with the Financial Times columnist John Kay.
In such matters one is obliged to reach, however gingerly, for Occam's razor. The most likely explanation is simply that Mr Key was performing a necessary foreign policy task - why should we be alarmed at our PM meeting a man who could be president-elect of the most powerful country in the world by Christmas? Surely a greater scandal would be to pass up such an opportunity.
While the media might be forgiven some jitters at appearing to give the impression Mr Key was taking sides in the presidential election, that would be easily forestalled: by covering, in equal measure, the PM's dance-off with Senator Bernie Sanders later that night at a Janesville brewery bar, as documented online by the guest DJ for the night, Max Key. That, too, has been ignored by our lame-stream media.
While you can confidently expect the NZ media to salivate over Mr Key's meeting with Obama, his guest hosting of the John Oliver Show and, on his return, a rumoured appearance on The Bachelor final in which he will auction off the maidens to the highest bidder, the slavish reprobates had almost nothing to say about his remarkable stopover.
Will the so-called "Big Beasts" of political commentary - Roughan and O'Sullivan and the like - have the cojones to tackle this in their columns? Don't hold your breath. Where are our investigative journalists today? Jared Savage? Jared Delicate Pussycat, more like. Will Nicky "Hager" Hagar cover the mini-golf tryst?
Are we witnessing the so-called "chilling out effect" from government dealings with the likes of Jon Stephenson and Bradley Ambrose? Or are the political press corps so obsessed with the Punch and Judy show of "Parliament" that they completely missed the story unfolding on an American golf blog? All I know is the vast part of the mainstream media really are putting the "urn", as in like an urn with ashes in it, into "journalism".
The Opposition parties are no better, mind you. Labour seems more focused on the extermination of beach houses and ethnic chefs. The Greens do little but take selfies at film premieres. NZ First is clearly distracted by the issues faced by ordinary people in Northland. And Act? If you examine carefully the photograph of the leaders, together with their wives and Helen Clark, relaxing in the Milwaukee hotel's infinity jacuzzi - not the pic in which Mr Trump is doing pretend atomic bomb explosions with his barely perceptible hands, but the one where he's reading aloud passages from his influential 1987 book The Art of the Deal - David Seymour is visible in the background, dressed as a Mexican caddy and carrying a tray of tequila laybacks.
Whether or not the Key-Trump intercourse has any lasting geopolitical impact remains to be seen. Only time will tell. Watch this space. The abnegation of duty by the fourth estate surely presents a watershed moment, however: Parliament must act and act now. While any legislative intervention in the media is, on the whole, to be resisted, the disruptive power of technology offers a solution.
The Prime Minister should be required by law to wear a GoPro-style camera on his head, beaming live images of his visual field, along with audio, to all New Zealand passport holders. The footage would be broadcast on the under-utilised Parliament Channel, as well as on websites located on the internet.
There would inevitably be issues raised by the usual privacy moaners, but this is easily solved: the PM is already very clear that he wears many hats. The camera would be attached solely to the Prime Ministerial Hat, and not to the National Party Leader Hat, let alone the Relaxing With Some Pals Hat or the Putting Out Moonbeam Hat.
Every cloud has its silver fern, just like every rose has its thorn, every night has a dawn, and every cowboy sings a sad, sad song. We can only hope, in the spirit of democratic accountability and Te Tiriti O Waitangi, that by the time the clock strikes noon on this Friday in early April, we will already have begun forging a new tomorrow. Let us make New Zealand great again.
Debate on this article is now closed.