Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Buy the man a Guinness

By Paul Casserly

Martin Tasker. Photo / TVNZ
Martin Tasker. Photo / TVNZ

If ever there was an illustration that giving the GCSB extended snooping rights is a bad idea it's the case of poor old Martin Tasker and the private banter that became a public snigger.

Not that there's anything wrong with sinking Guinness, jumping on your bike and heading off across the Golden Gate to "do" a woman of the Jewish faith.

That's a boss day in anyone's book.

Of course he was talking about "doing" an interview, but details get lost when there's a juicy gotcha to be had.

Tasker is a journalist of the old school whose reports are infused with a love of the subject that is his beat. He obviously has a deep understanding of not only how it all works but how to translate it to us plebs at home.

His reporting is not flashy but it's rock solid. Comforting even. In an industry that increasingly rewards and promotes youth and looks over journalistic prowess, he feels like one of the last of his breed.

I'd certainly buy him a Guinness if I ran across him in a bar.

Sport has all but disappeared from free-to-air TV so the yacht racing from San Francisco has been a reminder of how effective these events can be as a social lubricant. They can spark conversations with the dairy owner or the cab driver that may not otherwise take place.

A few weeks back there was an audible hum of moaning that included the dreaded words "waste of taxpayers money". Funny how the moaning dies down when we start to win.

Sure it's a rich man's sport, but so is Formula One. You'd be hard pressed to get the country knitting red socks again to raise money for these boys to play on their toys but the viewing pleasure it's given us in recent weeks feels well worth the taxpayers' precious dosh we hear so much about.

Of course if you're rich enough you can find ways not to pay tax which means you can afford to fly to San Fran with your family and fill your face with delicious soft shell crab while discussing the prowess of Dean Barker.

I also picture these lucky folk high-fiving each other to celebrate the rise of David Cunliffe, which surely means at least three more years for the blue team. Or does it?

This was the question that hung in air like an elephant shaped fart as David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones turned up on Native Affairs on Monday night for the first round of the game called "pick me, pick me".

Mihingarangi Forbes, whose relaxed style keeps me watching in the hope that she might actually nod off, had at last found the electric socket and plugged herself in as she gave the prospective leaders a light grilling.

She's great when she's powered up. To Cunliffe she said, by way as an opener: "You've already had a go at this and you failed." Which wiped the grin off his face, for a nano-second.

The first round revealed that even though Jones has no show of winning the nod he's an entertaining fly in an otherwise predictable ointment. Cunliffe looks convinced that he's won already but Robertson has real warmth and a way with words.

He even managed a literally touching moment when he literally reached out and touched the other contenders while describing them as his "elders". But Jones, spouting words like a well-feed owl who has swallowed the entire works of Dickens, somehow steals the show.

Showing good manners but bad tabloid instincts, Mihi didn't bring the sexuality of the prospects into the conversation, although Jones managed to give it a predictable nudge with, "Well, I am a bloke". No doubt he popped out for a Guinness shortly afterwards.

In the old days this political moment would already have taken place earlier that evening on that other taxpayer funded organ, TVNZ. In 2013 you're more likely to catch Greg Boyed talking to Taylor Swift on Seven Sharp than stumble across anything of actual importance.

The entirely unrevealing interview with the pop sensation was as awkward and pointless as these things tend to be.

But to Boyed's credit even he looked aware of the situation he'd found himself in. It was in the eyes. That knowing but regretful expression that you see on the face of the family dog after it's just done something terrible on the Persian rug.

If it could talk it might say, "Well, you bloody well locked me in here".

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