It's a generally accepted truth that the internet is a terrible place, and Twitter is the worst thing on it. But all generalities need to be drilled down for specificities, and research shows that left-wing Twitter is the worst of the worst.
So tribal, so right-on, so rigid! God. It makes you want to lose the will to think for yourself. This may well be its purpose.
Two political interviews recently lit up left-wing Twitter. It celebrated Kim Hill for her interview with Judith Collins on Morning Report, and condemned Mike Hosking for his interview with Jacinda Ardern on his breakfast show at Newstalk ZB.
Well, the groupthink on left-wing Twitter is always in favour of Kim Hill and Jacinda Ardern, and always against Mike Hosking and Judith Collins, so no considerable surprise there.
But did Hill really get the better of Collins, and did Hosking really make an ass of himself with Ardern? At the end of the day, which broadcaster did a better and more professional job at interviewing the two politicians at the start of the day?
I have listened to their broadcasts carefully and scientifically, dividing them into 10 categories to determine the truth of who owned who the most.
1. Who gave a more polite welcome?
"Morena," Hill said to Collins, with the heavy sigh of someone who opens the door on a Sunday afternoon to a Jehovah's Witness and knows they're about to slam it in their face. "A very good morning to you!" Hosking announced to the Prime Minister with something resembling sincerity.
Hosking 1 Hill 0.
2. Who got in the more breathtaking opening question?
Collins appeared on Morning Report the day after the National leader stood beside her deputy, Gerry Brownlee, as he implied there was some kind of dastardly Covid-19 cover-up between Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Hill asked, "Would you like to clarify what you are accusing Jacinda Ardern and Dr Bloomfield of?" The question was at once reasonable and boring. Hosking quizzed the Prime Minister about putting New Zealand into various states of lockdown by asking, "Is it fair to suggest we shouldn't be here and this is all on you?" The balls on that guy!
Hosking 2 Hill 0.
3. Who flogged the dead horse of their opening question as hard as they could?
Hill, to Collins: "Do you take any responsibility for the mood of fear and panic?" Hosking, to Ardern: "So all of this is on you?" Hill's flogging was more imaginative — what mood of fear and panic? — whereas Hosking merely repeated himself.
Hosking 2 Hill 1.
4. Who was more economic in their use of a ridiculing question?
With the election only weeks away, Ardern continues to hold the public's attention thanks to her regular appearances at the daily 1pm Covid-19 press conference. Hill asked, "Would you rather Jacinda Ardern not take the podium? Would that make it better for you?" The old double-zinger! But Hosking is the master of economy, and asked, apropos of various states of lockdown: "Do you not think about things before you announce them?"
Hosking 3 Hill 1.
5. Who asked their ridiculing question with a richer, more commanding voice?
Hill is New Zealand's greatest and most thrilling vocalist. She could ask you to pass the salt and make it sound like a threat. Her question of Collins managed to snap the word "better" in two like a twig, slowly, almost pleasurably, to emphasise her mockery. Hosking's question was asked in a strange high-pitched squeal.
Hosking 3 Hill 2.
6. Whose name was said back to them with more rage?
The way politicians say the name of their interviewer is a good indication of how deeply the interviewer has got under their skin. Ardern said "Mike" nine times in their 10-minute interview, very often biting down hard on the "k", as though her nostrils were flared and her eyes were dilated; Collins said "Kim" 17 times in their 13-minute interview, now and then with loathing, but mostly with an air of supreme indifference, for who matters in Collins' world more than Collins?
Hosking 4 Hill 2.
7. Who let who finish?
Hill constantly interrupted Collins, cut her off, laughed loudly over her questions, groaned, shrieked, tuttted ("No, no, no, no"); Hosking gave Ardern time and space to do what she does best — say not very interesting things in a sing-song voice at length.
A surprise result but Hosking 5 Hill 2.
8. Who got who to gabble?
"I've been in government, Kim," Collins gabbled to Hill, and then further gabbled, "I'm actually a lawyer! I was the Minister of Justice!" Ardern gabbled not.
Hosking 5 Hill 3.
9. Who ended their interview as strongly and as focussed as they
Hill continued to badger Collins about National's crazy talk of a Covid cover-up: "Do you think you misplayed your cards as leader of the National Party when you allowed Gerry Brownlee to dog whistle conspiracy theory?" Beautifully put! You try forming a question as articulate as that in a live interview! Hosking went rogue, and peppered Ardern with random questions about whether the Government was buying "a chunk of Auckland port" (no) and whether the Government was taking over the control of the Tauranga or Invercargill city councils "in any shape or form" (no). Hosking then began to gabble. Ardern's silence was the silence of someone who feels embarrassed in the company of a lunatic. When he finished gabbling, he asked, "So — neither council?" Ardern left a long pause. It was the silence of someone who wants the lunatic to think about what they're saying. And then she said, "No, Mike." The poor devil was still in the grip of some inexplicable mania, and he asked, almost in a whimper, "Are you sure?" She was sure.
Hosking 5 Hill 4.
10. Who gave a more polite farewell?
"Thank you for that information," Hill said, with one last mocking flourish, as she slammed the door in Collins' face. "Appreciate your time," Hosking said, and sounded as though he was about to be violently sick.
Hosking 5 Hill 5.
And there you have it. You have to give left-wing Twitter its due. They get it right, half the time.