As far as political theatre goes, the select committee appearance of RNZ chair Richard Griffin and CEO Paul Thompson to explain the resignation of Carol Hirschfeld after a meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran had all the elements of a potboiler.

All manner of people went along for a gander – officials, staff, politics trainspotters, and interested members of the public, including National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Matt King.

There was a mystery meeting and a missing person – Curran. Curran had fled the country, finding refuge in Australia after feeling a sudden need to learn about TVNZ's coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

RNZ chair Richard Griffin makes no further comment to the media as he leaves the select committee.

Griffin has dramatic flair and knew how to rise to the occasion. He used phrases such as "the problem was not the meeting, it was the problem of deception." He was "gobsmacked". He was "embarrassed". He proclaimed his contrition and bemusement.


He came out with glorious sentences such as "we couldn't know what we knew on March 24th and I'd rather not know what we knew on March 24 but once we knew it I'd like to see it go away but we couldn't."

He followed that up with "we wouldn't have known about a deception – and it was a deception – until I was advised in Wellington on March 21st that we were on a very rocky road to damnation because essentially we had been victims of political theatre."

He and Thompson spoke of being deceived – not just once but four times over by Hirschfeld about that meeting.

At one stage, both sat with their hands together as if praying.

"We both feel very foolish," Griffin said.

They had been recalled to set the record straight. That was done in terms of the who and the when.

The misleading evidence given at a previous select committee was that a fateful meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld had been a pure coincidence.

It had been in Curran's diary all along, right after an appointment with a man named Clint.


Curran sought to correct matters after the first select committee appearance, but Thompson chose to believe Hirschfeld's version of events: "I trusted her word."

Griffin had defended Hirschfeld in vehement terms and insisted there was nothing inappropriate about the meeting.

Politicians did what politicians do and tried to find the villain that best suited their side.

For National that was Curran and its MPs questioned on and on about contact between Curran and Griffin, voice messages Curran left on Griffin's phone and whether there were attempts at interference.

For Labour the villain was Griffin. He was questioned as to why he had given National MP Melissa Lee a heads-up of Hirschfeld's resignation a few minutes prior to issuing a press release on it.

Griffin had told Curran the day before and Lee three minutes before issuing the press release.

Insinuations were made about his past as a press secretary for former Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

Griffin was not ready to become the punching bag. He was simply being courteous, he said and when the word "collusion" was used he defended himself at length before stopping lest "my blood pressure gets out of control."

The big questions that remained were the why and what.

Neither Griffin nor Thompson could explain why Hirschfeld stuck to her story even after confronted with the conflicting version from Curran's office.

Nor could either say what was discussed at that meeting - only what others had told them.

That meant their initial contention the meeting was not inappropriate remained in question.

In this bid to clear the matter up for once and for all, the only two people who could answer those questions were not there at all.

Those two people were Curran and Hirschfeld. Curran has spoken elsewhere on the matter, including in Parliament. The only way to try to get those answers is for the committee to call Hirschfeld in.