It was not a hard task to pick my inaugural 'Media Clown of the Year'.

There were some strong contenders. Leighton Smith put in a strong bid with another solid year of right wing raving on NewstalkZB. In particular his denial of climate change put him ahead of some of the other right wing loonies- including his colleague Bruce Russell who spent the year, as he does every year, bashing beneficiaries, immigrants, John Minto, the Green Party, etc.

Unfortunately he has never managed to reach that peak which saw him claim that Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction and Osama Bin Linden had training camps in Northern Iraq. Never mind Bruce - there's always next year.

There were a couple of one-off performances that irritated me a lot. Carly Flynn from TV3 did a particularly nauseating interview with Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker that had me wondering if Sideshow wrote the questions and Ms Flynn just read them out.

But Carly Flynn could not be classified as right wing - just bland and pedestrian.

The same can also be said for another TV3 presenter - Samantha Hayes. She has mostly been confined to reading the autocue on Nightline but now she's taken over as TV3s environmental reporter. I'm not sure how she qualified for this job - clearly it wasn't because her extensive knowledge of environmental issues. Her reporting from Copenhagen has been superficial offering nothing in the way of fresh insight.

But well ahead of the pack has been Paul Henry.

The former National Party candidate has trawled the bottom of the barrel throughout 2009.

He managed to go most of the year without asking any hard questions of the Prime Minister. Even though he thinks Key is too 'centrist' Henry gave his leader an armchair ride throughout most of the year.

If Henry ever gets sacked by TVNZ there surely must be a job waiting for him in the PM's office.

In between crawling up Key's backside , Henry has carried on attacking and insulting people and organisations he doesn't like - which is basically the entire left of the political spectrum.

Stephanie Mills from Greenpeace was treated with derision by Henry who thought it would just dandy to make insulting remarks about her personal appearance.

A proper public broadcaster would of sacked Henry but this is TVNZ - the same 'public broadcaster' that knew that its top sports broadcaster had been beating up his partner but did nothing about it until the whole sordid affair was splashed across the newspapers.

Henry received little more than a slap on the hand for his behaviour so it came as no surprise that an unrepentant Henry delivered more of the same rubbish later in the year. This time he thought it would be fun to refer to British singing star Susan Boyle as a 'retard'.

This gratuitous attack on Boyle was enough to make his newsreader colleague Peter Williams publicly chastise Henry and its been noticeable that the 'bonhomie' between Henry and Williams has faded somewhat since Williams resigned from the Paul Henry Appreciation Society.

I've criticised Williams in the past but he deserves our thanks for publicly speaking out against Henry - the only TVNZ staffer who has, as far as I'm aware.

TVNZ has adopted its usual tactic which is to keep quiet and hope the issue will fade away. It says its following 'due process' which means its hoping that the incident will have been forgotten by the time Henry comes back from his summer holidays.

The bad news is that TVNZ are thinking about scheduling an afternoon show for Henry - which is one the reasons it axed the soaps from the afternoon programming.

Let's hope this is just a particularly unpleasant rumour.

Paul Henry is my Media Clown of the Year. He wins a box of unused copies of TVNZ's Public Charter - and a copy of Susan Boyle's debut album.


  1. The good news is that Henry is moving from the home of morons and infomercials in breakfast to...well...the home of morons and infommercials in the afternoon. No credibility, no brains no respect.


Comments are moderated.