Paul Casserly turned on the television to get a full rundown on the Dirty Politics debate. He found all he needed on Russell Brown's Media Take.

On Media Take - the latest iteration of Russell Brown's media commentary franchise - the Dirty Politics story provided a perfect opportunity for Brown to do what he does best.

In what must the most comprehensive recapping of how the story unfolded, Brown included everyone from Hager to Hosking to Jeremy Wells pretending to be Hosking. He also took in radio coverage, something that is often overlooked on TV, but which forms a huge portion of public perception. (BTW If you haven't heard it, Guyon Espiner's Paxmanesque interview with Key is a beauty.)

And he points out an interesting fact via sound bites from the evening news; it was the younger journalists who were getting stuck in and asking the PM the toughest questions.

Hager then turned up for an interview that covered some of the mechanics of handling the leak and launching the book. Naturally there were no coals on hand and Hager wouldn't have been dragged over them if there were.


This is, after all, a fiercely tribal story, and Hager and Brown share the same philosophical Maunga. It was in stark contrast to the treatment Nicky got on Seven Sharp last week, as Hosking channeled Holmes at his frothing worst.

Media Take is co-hosted by Toi Iti, who adds not only the Tangata Whenua bone fides, but a warmth that's not usually part of the media show mix. He took up the "Hager saga" to look at the man behind the story.

After a brief flirtation with canonisation, in which none other than Martin Luther King made an appearance in an introduction to little Nicky, Iti enquired about Hager's personal life. Not his sex life, more personal than that, it was his financial undies that he asked about, after all, how does one get to spend his life as an investigative muckraker? Surely that doesn't pay the bills? He even asked if Hager was, as some had suggested, a "trust fund baby?"

Hager, says he is not, but has freedom to crusade as he has no mortgage, as he built his own home in central Wellington with his own hands. I know, he doesn't look like a builder does he? A self-made, number-eight-wire, kiwi bloke? That was a revelation.

Native Affairs was also dinning out on Slater's dirty gruts, firstly via an interview with anti smoking crusader Tariana Turia, who wasn't surprised at the dirty tricks of tobacco lobbyist Carrick Graham who had paid Whaleoil to run material Graham had prepared on his blog.

A panel was convened. Former journalist, now 'Media Consultant', Scott Campbell, was on hand to add some centre right to proceedings, and reckoned this was still not the "smoking gun". He dealt a, "I'm not sure the average Joe Bloggs cares what's in the book", before conceding that, "The perception of John Key being arrogant or sweeping this under the carpet is the problem."

Morgan Godfrey of the Maui Street Blog leant left and reckoned that "There are two options for Key, he can admit that he knew what was going on in his office, which means he was complicit, or he can keep pushing the line that he didn't know, which means he is incompetent, so it's lose-lose."

Patrick Gower - who seems to be on a permanent high at the moment, like a Retriever who has a possum bailed up in the hedge - was renamed by Mihingarangi as "Patariki" for the night.


"It's not good for Key to keep shrugging his shoulders and doing the running man" Patariki said, before doing a seated version of the 80's dance before delivering the best line of the night, as he described Judith Collins: "She is a whopping great political distraction in an Adrienne Winkelmann jacket."

* Media Take, Tuesdays, 10.10pm, Thursdays 10.30pm Maori TV. Native Affairs, Monday's 8.30pm Maori TV.