I love 7 Days and enjoy Jesse Mulligan on there. I understand the strategy has been for Seven Sharp to be more chatty and light hearted, and hence why they have gone for someone best known as a comedian. But Mulligan is also a well known left-winger (he has been a panelist for Locally Left) who has taken part in fund-raisers for the Labour Party. It is hard to imagine that his natural sympathy for Labour is not going to colour his comments on air. Can you be seen as neutral on the Leader of the Opposition when you have done fundraisers for him and endorsed him as “brilliant”?
This show is a replacement for Close Up. Would it have been acceptable for Susan Wood or Mark Sainsbury to do fundraisers for the National Party? Would John Campbell do fundraisers for the Greens? And we’re not talking years ago, but just four months ago.
Nothing personal against Jesse, who I am sure will try his best not to let his support for Labour affect his on air comments. I certainly am not advocating that those with political leanings should not be on the air. I’ve sometimes been a panelist on TV and radio. And I try to be fair with my comments when I am on air. However of course my overall worldview influences my comments. And there is a huge difference between being an occasional panelist and being employed by state broadcaster TVNZ as a daily host and journalist.
So it will be very interesting to see how Seven Sharp goes. I hope it succeeds in that I think we need more current affairs on television, and I’m all for a bit of humour mixed in with that. Politics is often best viewed with a sense of humour. But I do hope it is fair and balanced.