I’m wary of calling common sense scepticism a revolution in the media. But TV interviews with John Key on the weekend politics suggest the media management tide may have turned for National. On the face of it, the most significant sign was an interview by TVNZ political editor Corin Dann, a journalist who always plays politics with a straight bat. His interview with John Key on Q & A showed persistence and assertiveness and challenged a line of principled politics that has kept media at bay for many years – that Key could be trusted and that he knew what he was doing. Dann raised the valid, but splendidly perverse question, whether government policy on migration was being used to keep property values and economic indicators high to boost National in the election. Key said it was not, of course, but it was good that the question was asked.
The day before, The Nation’s Paddy Gower, who is not known for his criticism of the PM, questioned Key’s commitment to dealing with the underclass. Admittedly Gower’s tone was more sorrowful than angry, possibly reflecting the rapport he has with the PM’s office. In some ways that it made it more significant, Clearly John Key has been brilliant at selling his message and at distracting and diverting the media. National has been clumsy and sloppy this year, and its not clear whether its the media machine that is broken or National itself.