In this small pond, TV and radio reporters imagine themselves to be celebrities and their behaviour suffers

There's nothing like family and colleagues to stretch out a public embarrassment for longer than is absolutely necessary.

Mind you TV3 is helping - giving my "puffed up little shit" chart-read to one of its reporters yet another airing this week.

In a misleading juxtaposition of footage I was part of a promo for the first big Campbell Live interview with the Prime Minister after his weekend victory.

Courtesy of the repeat, I got gentle tune-ups again from workmates.


My eldest daughter first saw the footage online at her home outside London. "Dear God, you crazy woman, you're not in an episode of Veep." All said with love, some admiration, but with an unmistakable aftertaste of finger-wagging. Press secretaries are supposed to be ninjas.

There is of course a back story to the high rotate of a press secretary's spit at a reporter, in this case at TV3's Brook Sabin.

It's all about context - a big casualty of Election 2014 political coverage.

As an aside, I have wondered if a bloke press secretary would have drawn the same outrage.

Good point. Would a man have been that eloquent under pressure? Years ago, Bob Jones was similarly annoyed and resorted to punching reporter Rod Vaughan. A nation cheered.

On with the background. I have never before called anyone a "puffed up little shit". Where the hell did that come from? Likewise "Cameron Slater's glove-puppets", which I am happier with because it included TV One's Michael Parkin.

Parkin was furious when I arrived at the Internet-Mana official launch. He had already been told there would be no interview with Kim Dotcom.

"If Kim Dotcom isn't giving interviews today, why the f*** is he here?" Parkin gently asked.


I explained slowly that Kim had been invited by the party to give a short address. He had also been asked not to speak because media always chose clips of Kim rather than coverage of policies. And, in all candour, he paid for the event.

I'm not making excuses here. I'm not David Cunliffe.

Parkin's attitude wasn't out of the ordinary for telly's political reporters. Earlier pearlers had come from Tova O'Brien from TV3 who would phone to ask if my boss Laila Harre was available.

I would say yes, I could sort it, and ask what the topic was. Tova often didn't have a topic. She hadn't "thought one up yet". Later on I would watch the dramatic-sounding declaration that Laila was available that day but not to TV3.

Another Tova trick was to ask for an interview and if declined she would land on Laila's doorstep with cameras blazing just to get footage of the door being closed on her.

She was aiming for investigative reporter but I was forced to treat her as more of a scary stalker.


There were calls from radio reporters wanting reaction to a rumour. Ooooh, a rumour. Has that rumour been broadcast? No, it wouldn't make sense until there was an official reaction.

Press huddles if conducted in the civilian world would now constitute an assault. Last Saturday night, a radio reporter ripped Laila's phone off her mid-interview with another radio network, shoving her own phone into Laila's ear.

That was the end of my third election campaign - the first two as a candidate, then as a press secretary.

Since my 1996 effort, manners have slipped and an aggressive sense of entitlement has reared its unacceptable head.

Newspaper people are fine. There are the normal social niceties. Often laughs.

Not putting the bite on the great psychologists here, I reckon it's because print reporters aren't publicly recognisable whereas telly and some radio reporters increasingly imagine themselves as celebrities.


Here's the thing. This is New Zealand. It is small. A large slice of the nation has been in one of the Hobbit-LOTR's yawn fests.

The words 'big fish' and 'small pond' shout out.

My colleagues and family took me aside over my lack of professionalism.

The same reasonable call can be made to media bosses and the family of these egomaniacs before 2017. Puffed up little shits that they are.

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