Monday, 21 February 2011

Fawning Report

There are very few places in the New Zealand media that politicians go to get a grilling. Radio NZ’s Morning Report used to be one of them. Sean Plunket wouldn’t always ask the right questions, but when he did sniff an opening he’d go after it like a dog after a bone—and occasionally that bone would yield up a whole skeleton in a place you didn’t even know there was a closet.

This year, however, Morning Report has failed to come back after the summer—and politicians seem to enjoy showing up to read their latest press releases in front of regular presenter Geoff Robinson and new presenter “seasoned broadcasting journalist” Simon Mercep.

Robinson of course has been there for decades, and it shows. These days being interviewed by Robinson is like being gummed by an old man without his teeth. But it’s with Mercep that the problems really start, since it’s as Plunket’s replacement that this youngster (which is unfortunately how he sounds) has been brought it in.

And frankly, after several weeks of giving him the benefit of the doubt, he’s not up to the job.

Instead of giving politicians a hot seat in which listeners can hear the politicians having their feet held to the fire, Mercep offers them a hot chocolate and a place to toast their own egos.  Where Sean Plunket would pounce like a bulldog on any politician whose answers were beginning to err, his “replacement” is more likely to bounce around them like a puppy dog—and rather than showing his teeth he can be heard instead licking their hand.

As radio, it’s bad drama. As current affairs, it’s bad theatre. As interviewing, it’s just pissweak fawning.

Bring back challenging interviewing.

Our body politic needs it.

And so does Fawning Report.


  1. Moist von Lipwig21 Feb 2011, 12:47:00

    Agreed on Mercep...Just piss-weak.
    Geoff Robinson was once described as...
    "A sonorous parson with a speech impediment"

  2. I was listening to Morning Report today when I started to wonder when the latest Electoral Finance Acts cutoff dates were. Perhaps someone who has kept up with the matter can tell me -
    1) On what date does the cost of producing Morning Report have to be declared as part of the Labour Party's election expenses?
    2) On what date do they have to start broadcasting the obligatory statement about this being a tax-payer paid ad for the Labour Party and that it was approved by the Labout Party Secretary?
    God it is going to be a long year.

  3. I've not listened to Morning Report (or National Radio at all) for a very long time.

    I was thinking of pre-decessors
    Philip Sherry
    Joe Cote
    Murray Forgie
    Lindsay Perigo
    Mike Hosking

    Who've I missed other than Geoff Robinson?


  4. Yes I have to say Mercep struck me as an especially odd choice. Both he and Robinson are introverts. Whereas Plunket/Robinson and presumably Hosking/Robinsom you have the good cop/bad cop, here it's just two good cops, and the crims are getting away with murder (did you like that?)

    Disappointing, really. And with NZ employment law being what it is, Mercep is probably here to stay so long as he wants the job.

  5. Anon at 12:54 - I thought the same thing as I listened to the high cost of milk story for the third time in about 60 minutes get discussed this morning. Geoff Robinson was in danger of applying some actual pressure to David Carter but dropped the ball by not realising that price control and subsidy don't really achieve the same things. At all.

  6. I was pleased to see a reference in your correspondence to an old CHTV3 colleague of mine Joe Cote. I worked with him in Christchurch from 1966 to 1970.

    After returning to the UK and working for the BBC for 23 I had lost all contact with him..I wonder if any9one knows his whereabouts now. Might he be back in Canada ? If so I would dearly like to try and contact him as I am now resident there. from an ancient NZBC-er Paul L White


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