Jacinda Ardern pulls out of weekly interview slot with Mike Hosking

Rebecca Moore
Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will no longer face Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking on her usual weekly media interview round.

Jacinda Ardern says the race is "neck and neck" despite tonight's nine point lead to National in latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll.

In a statement to Newstalk ZB, the Prime Minister's office said the move comes after her schedule was reviewed.

However, Hosking came out swinging, saying Ardern's Government was "over being held to account".

"She no longer wants to be on this programme each week," he wrote on Facebook.

"The somewhat tragic conclusion that is drawn is the questions she gets, the demand for a level of accountability, is a little bit tough."

At today's post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern explained her reasons for the move.

“While there are issues of national significance, I will still be on Mike’s show - on the ZB show,” Ardern said.

“But no one can do everything. No one could do every single slot that’s available. What I have tried to do is make sure that I get as much spread as I can.

“People get their news from multiple sources, and when I look around at whether or not I am trying to reach people where they are, I think I could do a better job. And so that’s factored into some of my thinking,” Ardern said.

She said listeners of the ZB show “will still hear me and they will still see me in for instance, in the Herald or any other place that is reported from the multiple stand-ups that I do in any given week”.

“For instance, if we look at the last two weeks, I’ve done 21 interviews, I’ve done eight press conferences and stand-ups. I don’t think any of you would say you’ve misseen me, you see me frequently, I am definately available,” Ardern told media.

She said she would be exploring different media outlets that she “had not done before”.

Meanwhile, Judith Collins criticised the bail out.

"Shame the PM doesn't have time for Newstalk ZB on Monday morning. All those tough questions..." she wrote on Twitter.

ACT leader David Seymour also issued a statement on the matter, saying the Government is becoming "arrogant".

“Jacinda Ardern will ultimately regret this escalating arrogance, the latest example being cancelling her weekly discussion with NewstalkZB’s Mike Hosking.

“It joins a long list of increasingly hubristic moves from the Prime Minister and her Government.

However, media commentator Gavin Ellis told 1 NEWS it's only a problem if Hosking is singled out.

"The habit of politicians appearing on weekly slots seems to have got to the point where it is regarded as an obligation. It is not," said Ellis, a former editor-in-chief for The New Zealand Herald. 

"It is the Prime Minister’s choice over whether she devotes her early Monday morning to speaking with radio hosts, and it would be understandable if she is finding it difficult during the pandemic to devote that time to media engagements."

The move comes after more than 30 years of the segment with the sitting Prime Minister, who in its inception was Prime Minister David Lange with Newstalk ZB's Paul Holmes.

However, Ellis said Ardern would be "making a mistake" if she singles out Hosking.

"His show is the highest rating commercial radio and, as such, should also rank highly on a list of media appointments.

"Hosking is a robust interviewer and his personal views certainly couldn’t be called left-wing. However, Jacinda Arden is more than a match for him in their debates.

"If he is alone in being struck off the Monday diary, it is an error of judgement that will be read as an unwillingness to be subjected to scrutiny."

However, University of Auckland political scientist Jennifer Lees-Marshment had a different view.

When asked if there should be public concern over the Prime Minister, or ministers in general, pulling back to fronting media questions, Lees-Marshment said if it was all media yes, but just one, no.

"This is something to watch but there is no crime committed as yet," she told 1 NEWS.

"The logic for Ardern’s team doing this may simply be strategic. All PMs are busy so advisers have to decide where to allocate their time.

"Hosking’s audience is unlikely to be key target market, and Ardern has a large market share already, so the goal is to defend that,  not expand it."

Lees-Marshment said weekly shows are good for helping politicians to build a reputation, but are less valuable in maintaining it once they are well known – which Ardern is.

"As long as politicians continue to front for a range of media, dropping out of a regular slot on one show isn’t an issue. The question is whether she will drop out of others.

"Another side of the coin is: Do we want our PM doing weekly media shows or focusing on governing? There is a balance to strike between communicating about doing the job and actually doing the job."

The Prime Minister's office has been contacted for comment.