Mike Hosking 's Opinion

Mike Hosking is a breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.

Mike Hosking: Bias? Not me - I just call it as I see it

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Political neutrality isn't part of my job description, but I'm a professional so David Cunliffe will get a fair go.

Shane Taurima's actions were far from presenting news and having an opinion, says Mike Hosking.
Shane Taurima's actions were far from presenting news and having an opinion, says Mike Hosking.

Right, where to start?

Last time I wrote in this esteemed organ, I proffered an idea or two as to why Labour wasn't exactly breathing down National's neck.

This drew a fair amount of feedback which is good, because if it didn't, I'd be wondering why I'm even bothering to write these given I've got quite a bit of work on my plate these days and don't really need extra.

One of the bits of feedback came from a Dr Michael Cullen, who for a period had his finger in the pie of running this place.

He made a good point, but I believe he also made a mistake in his reply.

The good point was the acceptance that people like me have opinions and should offer them, and when it comes to political debate this is no bad thing.

He is among an increasingly large number of people these days, if in fact not the majority, who have moved with the times and realise people who present the news often do so with accompanying commentary.

His mistake, in my view, was to then compare my role or job to that of Shane Taurima, and wonder what the difference was.

It's important to point out here that I think Mr Cullen was suggesting I might have a certain established stance on various political matters, therefore assumptions are made on where I'm coming from.

Others have gone on in recent weeks to call that bias, but more on that in a moment.

In Cullen comparing what I do and its ensuing transparency to what Taurima did, is to shoot yourself in the foot.

What Taurima did was belong to a political party, stand for that party, raise money for that party and use taxpayer-funded facilities to do that fundraising, knowing it was explicitly against the rules and all the while running a journalistic unit that claimed neutrality.

In my opinion, Taurima was a moron.

Presenting news and having an opinion are not even close to being in the same league.

Which brings us nicely to David Cunliffe's desire to drag me into the election campaign and the political debate in general.

I don't blame him entirely, he was very poorly advised. But the buck stops at the top, and part of being a good leader is being able to recognise shabby advice.

And how he couldn't see it is beyond me.

On a Tuesday, you don't say sorry for the grab-bag of strange stuff you've got yourself in trouble for and then promise to focus on the issues, by making the first issue me.

He was never going to win that one.

No one cares about me, I am not an issue, and the moderator of a debate is not the star of the show.

If he looked bothered by me, by inference he made himself look plain scared of the Prime Minister, in my view.


National Party leader John Key / Labour Party leader David Cunliffe

A man who knows and believes in what he's selling, relishes all opportunities to peddle the message.

For the record, he'll get a fair go, because I'm a professional.

I've always been a professional, it's something I take very seriously and in the 30-plus years in this industry I've yet to face a single person who even remotely mounted a case that I wasn't.

Not liking my views or style is a whole different subject to whether I do my job well.

Which then brings us to what drove his upset.

Bias.

I am not biased.

I call it as I see it.

Can you find comments that would seem pro National or conservative or centre right?

Of course you can.

Can you find them that would favour Labour?

Indeed you can as well.

Last week I backed its regional economic policy.

I am not against its capital gains tax on non-family homes.

I like Peter Dunne's tax policy of making couple incomes one package, as opposed to two.

A good idea is a good idea, and anyone in the centre of New Zealand politics often comes up with half-decent, middle-of-the-road ideas, many of which I like.

But liking an idea doesn't mean you love a party or would vote for it or join it or raise money for it or advocate for it.

When you write a couple of editorials a day, end your TV show with something similar, that's a lot of ideas and comments and thoughts in any week, far less a month or a year.

And being the person who wrote and thought up every single one of them, I know them better than anyone who is calling me biased.

Bias is the result of pulling a few comments out you didn't like, that didn't suit your agenda and using them as a case study.

I like John Key, I like Helen Clark, I like Mike Moore and I loved David Lange.

I like good people and I like good ideas.

It's more a celebration of cleverness and success than it is a political statement.

Finally to all those who get exercised about this stuff, much of it seems based on the fact that "journalists" are supposed to be neutral.

Well, top tip for you, I am not a journalist, and any claimed neutrality from others is most often a myth.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Mike Hosking

Mike Hosking is a breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.

Mike has been Newstalk ZB’s breakfast host since taking over from Sir Paul Holmes in 2008. He also hosts TVNZ’s nightly current affairs show, Seven Sharp. Mike's insightfulness and knowledge makes him one of New Zealand’s most successful broadcasters.

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