As the election campaign heads into full swing, nobody would have predicted the sorts of upheavals that have engulfed both Labour and the Greens.

In Labour's case, it was not hard to detect a degree of bias in some coverage of Jacinda Ardern's sudden elevation.

True, Labour's new leader has not put a foot wrong so far. But my giddy aunt, some of the coverage has been way over the top.

Why did some media people transform Ardern from the leader of a failing party rating at just 23 per cent in the polls, to some sort of Joan of Arc figure?


In my opinion, some media folk began channelling the views of Labour supporters who were excited to see the party back in with a chance. Another factor, I think, was feminism, and some people seeing special significance in the prospect of another woman Prime Minister.

There has been a largely positive reaction to Labour's attempt to improve the party spin machine, by appointing political veteran Mike Munro as a strategic adviser.

After working in the Press Gallery for papers including the Herald, Munro was Helen Clark's chief press secretary for six years, and has a wealth of other PR experience.

I believe he will be a clever choice, who knows the multifaceted demands of election campaigns.

But Munro has been out of journalism for a long time, and I do wonder how important the Gallery is these days when it comes to selling the parties' brands. Over the past nine years, John Key and National ministers have become used to talking to voters over the heads of journalists, who ask difficult and often negative questions.

After all, who wants to deal with Guyon when you can chat to Jay-Jay?

Just the numbersNational Party election organiser and Finance Minister Steven Joyce says the consultancy firm Crosby Textor will have a comparatively small role in the upcoming election.

Partner Sir Lynton Crosby has managed campaigns for right-leaning parties in a variety of countries.


He has been pilloried by some in the UK for the $4 million - $85,000 a day, according to some reports - he was paid for his work on the Conservative Party's election campaign, which ended with Prime Minister Theresa May losing her majority.

Joyce said National had always focused on Crosby Textor's polling, unlike some parties in other countries which had made wider use of its services.

Meanwhile, Joyce says a team of young staff has been building up for the election, including co-ordinator Clark Hennessy.

Hennessy has worked as a press secretary, including for deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

He has also worked further afield. For 12 months he worked for the right-wing US "Daily Caller" website, run by the high-profile conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. Hennessy worked for the popular website as a director of communications.

He was also an intern for Texas Republican congressman Mike Conaway and a communications and research fellow for North Carolina congressman Richard Hudson, also a Republican.

Familiar faces

A story about a lawyer being found guilty of misconduct after a media campaign against her former husband is a reminder of the Dirty Politics scandal that hung over the 2014 election.

While there is nothing political about the latest story, it does involve two people tied up with that earlier saga: PR man Carrick Graham and attack blogger Cameron Slater.

A Herald article this week mentioned the role of Slater's Whale Oil "attack blog" in a campaign that lawyer Jeanne Denham mounted against her former husband, Peter Clague.

The article reported findings from a hearing by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, which found Denham guilty of misconduct. Denham has appealed against the tribunal's decision.

Dirty Politics was based on alleged links between the Prime Minister's office and the Whale Oil blog, and questioned the relationship between the Food and Grocery Council, the blog and Graham.

Denham worked with Graham to provide press releases for publication on the blog, attacking her husband.

The tribunal found she embarked on a campaign to destroy her husband's career as a school headmaster.

Graham declined to comment. Slater did not respond to a request for comment.