It must seem quite extraordinary to anyone outside New Zealand that our Prime Minister called police in to target news media over the "cup of tea" conversation that no one has published.
In virtually the final week of the election, police were yesterday executing search warrants on news organisations at John Key's request.
This simply makes New Zealand look like a banana republic.
Key needs to suck it up - not get over-exercised over an issue which would have quickly disappeared if he and National campaign manager Steven Joyce had not hyped it as some sort of News of the World fiasco.
I have some sympathy - but not too much - with how Key felt when the Herald on Sunday sought permission to run what he really talked about with John Banks during their stage-managed cup of tea.
He would have felt his privacy was violated. But this time round Key's judgment has deserted him.
Unlike most journalists I know exactly what it feels like to have your private conversations bugged and sprayed across the pages of a newspaper.
In March 2000, the National Business Review did just that when it printed transcripts of conversations I was party to with Sir Peter Blake and Team NZ PR Alan Sefton about a column that Bill Koch, a big wheel in US yachting, had been hawking about town to various publishers.
Bizarrely enough, the NBR reporter - somewhat worse for wear - had bailed me up on St Paddy's night at the Muddy Farmer bar the night before - where the St Patrick's Day festival organisers (who I'd been working with on a Herald-related project) were gathering to imbibe some Guinness.
"You're in tomorrow's paper," the journo smirked. Indeed I was.
It was not one of my greatest moments. I had been doing a spell in corporate affairs for then Herald publisher Wilson & Horton and the transcript of the particular phone call that NBR published (which was one of many) made it look as if the company intended to suppress Koch's allegations; rather than what we were doing which was simply soft-soaping Sefton and Blake to get them off the Herald's back while the editorial team decided what, if anything, it was going to publish. It's fair to say life became rather uncomfortable for a few days.
NBR's editor Nevil Gibson told me his reporter had inadvertently taped the conversation. Gibson said the reporter had previously been talking to Sefton on the latter's cellphone and the line must still have been live during subsequent conversations with myself and Sir Peter.
Gibson may have been telling the truth. But the Blake camp was convinced that private investigators working for Team NZ's rivals were spying on them and had shopped tapes of the conversation to NBR to stir Blake up just ahead of the America's Cup final.
There was little point in bleating to the police about it as NBR had already published and in Blake's case it would have been a huge distraction from winning the Cup. The issue quickly faded.
The problem for Key and Banks is they did make their "cup of tea" a public matter.
They should not be surprised that journalists now want to probe any discrepancy between their public and private positions.
Particularly if it is true that they have talked about a kiss-off job for Brash - essentially a plum taxpayer-funded job offshore - if the Act leader leaves Parliament midway through the next term.
My sense is that if Key had fronted up last Sunday and simply said "Yes I did talk with John Banks about Act's leadership. Don Brash went a bit astray with his proposals to legalise dope smoking and I would far rather deal with Catherine Isaac if she becomes leader," there would have been headlines for a few days but the issue would have died.
Intriguingly, when I went on Google yesterday, the original NBR story did not come up. But the Herald story where Blake's PR dissed the newspaper did.
In retrospect the NBR did not come off well. The Kiwi business community regarded Sir Peter as a national hero.
While titillated by the yarn they felt the NBR journalists were scumbags for shafting the Team NZ boss on the eve of the Cup final.
Fast forward another 10 years and I am sure the Google cache will still be bringing up stories on how - on the eve of a general election - police targeted New Zealand media on Key's wishes.
Maybe police should have charged Key for wasting their time.