Key wanted to vomit on the press gallery

September 25th, 2013 at 5:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he wanted to vomit on the press – literally – but managed to keep his stomach down.

John Key is probably not the only Prime Minister who has wanted to do that! :-)

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Gallery to Labour

June 26th, 2012 at 4:40 pm by David Farrar

Am amusing exchange on Twitter:

Patrick Gower ‏@patrickgowernz

Radio NZ reporter Julian Robins has switched sides to become spin doctor for Labour and David Shearer

Ali Ikram (@AliIkram)
26/06/12 11:51 AM
When a Radio NZ journalist moves into PR for the Labour party does that constitute a shift to the Right?

Heh.

Interestingly I think this is the 5th press gallery journalist in the last three years to join the Labour or Greens media teams. By contrast, in the last three years I can only recall one gallery journalist going to work for the Government – despite the fact they have several times more staff.

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Secret snapping

February 1st, 2012 at 8:22 pm by David Farrar

APNZ report at NZ Herald:

A reporter from the website Scoop will resign from Parliament’s press gallery after being caught photographing documents in Labour leader David Shearer’s office.

Lyndon Hood was among a number of journalists waiting in the office for an interview with Mr Shearer yesterday afternoon, and was spotted taking photos of documents on the leader’s desk by a Labour Party press secretary.

That is a real shame – both for Lyndon whose better judgement deserted him, but also for media/politican relations generally.

Just as MPs should be able to have a conversation without worrying if someone has a concealed recorder at their table, MPs should be able to have media come into their office and not worry about if they may photograph any documents on their desk.

I understand Labour have recently removed access for journalists to enter their corridors in Parliament. If this is correct, you can’t criticise them for that.

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Press Gallery to be charged rent

April 1st, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Expects howls of outrage from the press gallery, when they learn that their free rent is going to end in the budget, as part of Government moves to trim the cost of Parliament.

The gallery currently enjoy free office space in the Beehive Annex, totalling around 600 square metres. With wellington office spare exceeding $300/square metre, this could reduce the cost of Parliament by $180,000 a year.

What is unusual, is that the Greens are supporting this move. Russel Norman has pointed out Fairfax made a A$165m profit last year, APN made A$103m and Mediaworks A$50m, and that it is outrageous for struggling Kiwi families to subsidise these Australian corporates.

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The great debate

March 18th, 2011 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

Last night’s debate was hilarious. All six speakers were very funny, and in the best tradition of celebrity debates, many cutting lines were uttered. $3,000 was raised by the press gallery for the Red Cross.

The teams were MPs – Darren Hughes, Annette King and Simon Bridges against Pinky Agnew, Guyon Espiner and David Townsend. Darren Hughes does wonderful impersonations of Jim Bolger and Trevor Mallard – seriously good. Pinky Agnew also produced some wonderful poetry.

Some of the lines from the deabte included:

  • Thanks to Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner for being here in their roles as co-chairs of the John Key Man Crush Association
  • David Townsend is so old his IRD number is 7
  • Annette King had a tryst with Gerry Brownlee and she said it was like having a wardrobe fall on you with the key sticking out
  • Annette and Phil have been in Parliament for 30 years – around the same length of time as Hosni Muburak
  • Barry Soper couldn’t make it tonight as he is at the Justin Bieber concert in Sydney looking for his next wife
  • Kris Faafoi remembers delivering the first Evening Post on Porirua in 1860
  • Is anyone else alarmed that Nick Smith strolls past an all girls school every day in his togs
  • A lot has been said about Hilary Calvert. All I will say is you are what you eat, and she eats fruit and nuts
  • National made Winston Treasurer, and he thought the current account was his electricity bill
  • Darren Hughes is Shane Jones right hand man
  • What would Phil Goff say if he was alive today

As I said, it was a great night, and the debate was superb. I’d encourage the gallery to make them semi-regular – perhaps every six months to raise money for a good cause.

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Outbidded

March 18th, 2011 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

The debate and auction were great fun. I’ll do a seperate post on the debate.

We managed to get a total of $10,000 pledged by 5 pm yesterday to buy Winston’s no sign. The bidding started at $1,000 and there were three bidders, and then two bidders and then it hit the $10,000 we had pledged. I kept bidding unti $10,500 but then folded.

The great thing is that by bidding we got the winning amount up to $10,500, which all goes to families of earthquake victims who worked for The Press And CTV.

Congrats to businessman Ted Thomas who won the auction with a very generous donation/pledge.

For me this was mainly about raising money for a good cause. We can always create our own NO sign for 5c, and have it appear during the campaign (and we will). So I would encourage those who pledged money to consider still donating to the relief fund for families of earthquake victims who worked for The Press And CTV. I will be.

If you wish to make a donation, the details are:

‘Press Gallery Quake Fundraiser’
03-1537-0013148-009

And once again thanks to the scores of readers who pledged their support for the auction. You helped make the auction a success.

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Press Gallery fundraiser for Christchurch Earthquake

March 15th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

It will be held on Thursday, March 17, at the Backbencher. Doors will open at 5pm and the debate will start about 7pm.

 Moot: Politics is a grubby business.

 The affirmative: Annette King, MP; Darren Hughes, MP; Simon Bridges, MP.

 The negative: Pinky Agnew, Guyon Espiner, David Townsend

 The chair is Duncan Garner.

Proceeds from ticket sales ($30) will go to the Red Cross (and are available from Brent in the RNZ office) for famiies of earthquake victims.

Afterwards there is an auction, with proceeds also going to the earthquake appeal.

TVNZ’s Guyon Espiner is putting up for auction, the original “no” sign used by Winston Peters. This could go for a fair bit of money – especially as Winston will probably have a secret trust bidding for it.

Whale and I would be keen to buy the sign at the auction. If we win it, we guarantee it will turn up to most of the public meetings that Winston attends during the campaign. E-mail me if you are willing to contribute towards buying it at the auction, and how much you are able to contribute. If we get it for less than the amount pledged, we’ll divide it up pro-rata. And remember it is all for a good cause – money for Christchurch relief.

As well as the  no sign, the gallery will be auctioning off various other items such as the PM’s pinot noir. So. should be a fun night.

UPDATE: The PM has said he’ll bid $5,000 for the sign. Help us outbid the PM as we’ll put it to better use.
So far we have over $1,000 pledged

UPDATE2: I’d say we mow have more than $2,000 pledged. Lots of $20, $50 and $100 pledges all add up quickly. Thanks for e-mails of pledges. We’ll only ask for the money if we actually win the auction.

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Very sad

April 27th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Treasurer of the Parliamentary Press Gallery has stepped down after admitting he used press gallery funds for his own personal use.

A statement from the executive said NZPA reporter Ian Llewellyn made the admission in writing.

I was stunned when I read this last night, and am incredibly saddened by the revelation.

I’ve known Ian for over a decade, and regard him as an excellent journalist and a really good guy. This is so out of character for him that I almost couldn’t believe it.

According to the executive, Mr Llewellyn said he had been in financial difficulty but had made some repayments.

While financial difficulty is no excuse, a thought that crossed my mind was that if Ian had crossed over to the dark side (comms/pr) he would have been better off financially, but NZ has been better served by the fact that not all the experienced journalists do cross over. Again, this is no excuse.

Press Gallery chairwoman Jane Patterson and deputy Vernon Small said they were extremely disappointed at the breach of trust by a longstanding office holder and colleague.

As much as my thoughts are with Ian, I also feel very sorry for Jane and Vernon. Having to deal with this must have been very unpleasant for them. Also Ian’s NZPA colleagues especially will be finding this tough.

The Press Gallery intends to ask an independent auditor to examine the accounts covering the period in question, the statement said.

“Given the watchdog role the Press Gallery plays, it intends to handle this matter as openly as possible, and is intending to seek advice from the police.”

Yeah, there really is no choice but to do it publicly.

The statement said Mr Llewellyn has promised to pay back any missing money.

“The Press Gallery voted today to recommend to the Speaker of the House that Mr Llewellyn’s accreditation be suspended pending the outcome of the audit.”

Ouch. I can’t even recall the last time that happened. I’m not sure if it will ever be feasible for Ian to return to the gallery, but I do hope there is a way he can remain with NZPA. It would be sad to lose Ian from journalism, and he is paying a high price in terms of publicity for what he did.

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And the journalist ratings

December 24th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Following on from the earlier ratings for each media organisation, these are the ratings for each person listed as a full-time member of the gallery.

Now again I want to stress that these are subjective ratings of journalists by MPs and press secretaries. A low rating is not necessarily bad, just as a high rating can mean you never offend anyone. Also for the avoidance of doubt the ratings are not my personal views, which would be considerably different.

2009journostopten

These are the top ten rated journalists. The full list of all 34 is over the break for those who want it, but I prefer to focus on the top ratings.

Colin James tops the ratings, and NZPA has all three of its main staff in the top ten. NZ Herald has two, and Radio NZ’s Jane Patterson and ZB’s Felix Marwick (who sadly is leaving I think) also score highly. Jane Clifton and Marie McNicholas also there. Not that I think it is a factor, but five women and five men each in the top ten.

The range of scores show there is no unanimity with every journalist in the top ten having someone who gave then a two or lower.

The journalist with the lowest standard deviation was Tim Fookes with a 1.8 S.D. and the largest standard deviation was Guyon Espiner on 3.1 followed by Vernon Small on 3.0 – so opinions varied greatly on them. The party breakdowns may be interesting.

nats

The Nats top ten go from Peter Wilson to Jane Clifton. Claire Trevett and Rob Hosking are the only two in the Nats top ten, not in the overall top ten.

You can see in the table the breakdown for each party’s responses, plus the weighted average. The full set of data is over the break also.

lab

Labour respondents have a very different top ten. Colin, Felix and Marie are on it, as with the Nats, but the five Radio NZ reports all are included, as is Scoop’s Gordon Campbell and TVNZ’s Fran Mold.

Those with the biggest difference between National and Labour ratings are Rob Hosking (2.2), Claire Trevett (2.1) and Audrey Young (1.9) in terms of a higher Nat rating. Those with a higher average Labour rating are Gordon Campbell (4.0), Brent Edwards (3.5), Jon Hartezelt (3.1), Marie McNicholas (2.5) and Liz Banas (2.3).

others

These are the top ten by Third Party respondents.

(more…)

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Press Gallery ratings broken down

December 23rd, 2009 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

I blogged on Friday the topline data from the survey of MPs and Press Secretaries on the press gallery. I’ve now got the breakdown by party and by type of respondents.

The question asked about institutions was:

For each media organisation please give them a rating from 0 to 10 for how well you think they do in their parliamentary reporting.

This should take account of all relevant factors – accuracy, fairness, thoroughness etc.

Now again these are highly subjective ratings from the subjects of the stories written. So a low rating may just mean that an MP or press secretary feels that organisation has been too tough on them (and members of the public may feel they are not tough enough).

09gallery

There were 70 responses. 39 from National, 22 from third parties and 8 from Labour. One did not specify. 46 respondents were MPs and 24 were press secretaries or comms staff.

National respondents ranked the Herald highest, followed by NZPA, Newsroom, Radio Live and Newstalk ZB. The five lowest were SST, Scoop, Radio NZ, Fairfax and Prime TV.

Labour respondents ranked the five top as Scoop, Radio NZ, Newsroom, Newstalk ZB and NZPA. The five bottom were NBR, TVNZ, SST, Prime TV and TV3.

Comparing differences between National and Labour respondents, those most ranked higher by National than Labour are NBR (2.2 difference), TVNZ (1.7) and NZ Herald (1.6).  Those ranked higher by Labour than National are Scoop (3.3) and Radio NZ (2.9).

Those ranked evenly by both National and Labour are Fairfax (0.0 difference), SST (0.3), Maori TV (0.4) and TV3 (0.4).

Third Party respondents ranked the top five as Maori TV, Radio NZ, NZPA, Scoop and Newsroom. The bottom five were TVNZ, TV3, Fairfax, SST and NZ Herald.

Third party respondents rated TVNZ, TV3, Fairfax and the NZ Herald lowest compared to the two big parties. This may reflect a view that the four big media do not give them enough air time?

I have given each outlet a weighted average. This is based on National being 58/122, Labour 43/122 and Third Parties 21/122. When weighted the top five become Newsroom, NZPA, Scoop, Radio NZ and Newstalk ZB. The bottom five are SST, TVNZ, TV3, Fairfax and NBR.

Finally I look at the difference between ratings from MPs and press secretaries. The four outlets significantly rated by MPs than press secretaries are Scoop, Maori TV, Radio NZ and Newstalk ZB. The three outlets rated significantly higher by press secretaries than MPs are NBR, Newsroom and NZ Herald.

Tomorrow (if I have the time) I’ll blog results for individual journalists.

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2009 Press Gallery Survey

December 18th, 2009 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

As I did last year. I conducted a survey of MPs on the press gallery. This year I extended it to press secretaries also, and am very pleased with the 70 responses I got. Many thanks to those who responded.

The first initial data is below. This is the raw data. I will also blog next week results for each party (National, Labour, other) and a weighted average to take account of more National MPs than Labour MPs responding.

Respondents were asked to anonymously rate each media organisation and full-time gallery journalist from 0 to 10. The results for journos will be next week also.

I want to stress that this is not an impartial poll on the gallery. It is a poll of the subjects of the articles the gallery write about. Hence a low rating may indicate a media outlet or journalist has written very good stories that happen to damage that party or MP, and a high rating may indicate they are seen as a soft touch.

There are also some differences by medium, Print media will always tend to rate higher (in my opinion) than TV as they have a greater ability to cover more details in a story.

So basically I am saying don’t regard these ratings as some neutral indicator of who is good or bad. Those judgements can be left to individuals. Also do not assume these ratings are my personal opinions. They certainly are not.

Now the data:

gallery09

The mean is pretty self-evident, and they are ranked in order of highest to lowest. I am not surprised NZPA and Newsroom rate at the top, as they both concentrate more on information, rather than analysis. They are not into selling copies of papers – but into supplying information.

It is interesting that Maori TV rates so highly.

The median is the mid point value. Normally close to the mean.

The mode is the most common score given for that outlet.

The minimum and maximum and range (difference between the two) show how diverse the opinion is petty much every outlet. There is no group-think. Most outlets had some MPs give very low scores and some very high scores.

The S.D. is the standard deviation and again gives some idea as to how varied the ratings were. Radio NZ had the highest standard deviation, or variation.

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Press Gallery Party

December 17th, 2009 at 5:04 pm by David Farrar

Well that was a good one. Everyone in really good humour, and a huge turnout.

I’ll be hit by a US Tomahawk missile if I reveal too much, but let me just say that the new US Ambassador is an absolutely top guy with a great sense of humour, and everyone who met him raved about how genial he was. Almost enough to make me vote Democrat if it means we get to keep him here for eight years :-)

The partying carried on long after the official event closed. People may want to guess which Labour MPs were seen at The Establishment around 5 am!

Also which TV reporter had a very fun night? They know who they are!

I think all the alcohol got drunk, or at least all the beer. The sausages kept flowing all night which helped people keep going.  There was a distinct lack of non alcoholic drinks, but I guess supply was estimated to meet demand (or lack of).

Many thanks to the gallery for their hospitality. They don’t just pay for the party themselves (well their employers do) but most of them spend much of the night serving drinks and cooking on the BBQ.

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Memo from the Press Gallery

December 16th, 2009 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

MEMORANDUM

TO: Parliamentary Staff (especially Labour)

FROM: Press Gallery Executive

SUBJECT: Press Gallery Party tonight

DATE: 16 December 2009

To avoid any of the problems we had last year, parliamentary staff are alerted to the following:

  1. Please do not steal any wine until after the party has finished
  2. If you do steal any wine, please take the cheap stuff that the MPs like, and leave the finer vintages behind for the gallery
  3. Note that we have micro-chipped all the beer
  4. Taking a bottle of wine as you leave, to drink as you stumble your way home, is fine – setting up a trafficking operation to move three dozen bottles to your car is not.
  5. We are placing gallery life member Richard Long on security for the wine. Think of the analogy about getting between a mother bear and her cubs and proceed at your own risk!
  6. Simon Power has agreed to a law change removing legal aid eligibility for anyone caught pinching the wine

We hope you enjoy yourselves tonight.

Jane, Vernon & Ian.

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Fran on the Accidential Empire of Political Blogging

September 29th, 2009 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan addressed several dozen people at breakfast this morning on the topic of the Accidental Empire of Political Blogging. Rural Women NZ hosted the breakfast.

Fran was mainly positive about the impact political blogging has had in NZ, saying the diversity is useful, as is the competition for the media to some degree.

She did have some criticisms, such as accuracy and fact checking, and most of all political bloggers who blog anonymously. Her big call was for more political bloggers to post under their names so there is some accountability for what they say – as journalists have.

She was full of praise for Red Alert and said it has obviously replaced The Standard as the most influential and useful blog on the left.

Whale Oil got a mention with praise for his willingness to savage members of his own party (she joked that his father must be glad he has a life membership that can’t be revoked) but said she thought the pre-election scuttlebutt on Damien O’Connor was a serious error of judgement.

Lots of questions and discussion ranging from has a blogger been sued yet, to press gallery membership. Fran nicely refers to the gallery as a cartel :-)

Was a very good breakfast and even better drinks afterwards, finally escaping around 10.30 am!

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Goff on alcohol theft

December 19th, 2008 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

I’m reluctant to politicise the alcohol theft issue, because while it is Labour this time which has the stupid staff members, there have been plenty of stupidities done over the years by staff from all parties – including myself! Of course theft is at the more serious end of the scale.

But I find myself slightly annoyed by Phil Goff’s response. Now generally I think Goff is making good judgement and calls, but Stuff quote him:

Labour leader Phil Goff said the staffers’ actions were “totally unacceptable”.

“I deeply regret that that action was taken. It is perhaps a message for young people at Christmas functions – watch how much you drink and remember you will be accountable for your actions afterwards.”

Umm, I hope Phil is not suggesting all young people steal things when they have had a few drinks.

And I am not even sure blaming what happened on alcohol is a good idea. They were loading the wine into a car. So either one of them were sober enough to drive, or they were also going to be drink driving.

Phil also said:

Mr Goff said he did not know the individuals personally.

But the Herald reports:

Aidan Smith was arrested after allegedly being caught taking the wine to a car outside Wednesday night’s party, which was attended by Prime Minister John Key and a collection of other ministers and senior MPs.

Smith was still working as Labour MP Pete Hodgson’s assistant yesterday. He is due to leave that role soon to work for the party’s finance spokesman, David Cunliffe. He has previously worked in the party’s research unit.

He is listed as working in the Research Unit, which is part of Phil Goff’s leader’s office. Now one must take Mr Goff at his word that he has never met Smith, but all I can say is that in my experience it would be very very rare for an Opposition Leader not to know all of his office staff. In fact often they will know most of the MPs secretaries also. Its unclear whether he was Hodgson’s secretary, or a researcher working for Hodgson (which makes him part of the Leader’s Office).

As to the four involved, I had a degree of sympathy initally based on an assumption it was an opportunistic fit if stupidity. You’re the last people at a party and there is a box of wine, and you think hey it is paid for anyway, we could have drink it anyway, and hate it to go to waste. Now don’t get me wrong – that is still wrong, but I can understand with some empathy how that may happen. But according to the Herald it was very calculated:

A group of up to four people, also believed to be Labour staffers, were seen acting suspiciously as they came in and out of the party, which was held in Parliament’s Doidge room and spilled into the area outside.

Press Gallery chair Vernon Small of the Dominion-Post and deputy chair Jane Patterson say they tracked Smith to the carpark.

It is believed that the group of four were taking full bottles of wine from the bar then smuggling them individually out the gate and up to the car.

A partygoer claims to have seen one making fake phone calls as an excuse to go in and out of the party.

If this is correct, that is pretty inexcusable. Now it is possible the accussed denies the events, so I won’t comment further than this for reasons of natural justice. But if the above account is accurate, that makes it very serious.

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Very stupid

December 18th, 2008 at 5:13 pm by David Farrar

Stealing is stupid. Stealing from journalists is even more stupid. Stealing alcohol from journalists is terminally stupid.

NZPA report:

Wellington, Dec 18 NZPA – Up to four Labour Party staffers face the sack after they were allegedly caught stealing alcohol from a parliamentary Christmas function.

Police were called to Parliament in the early hours of today after the four people were seen loading surplus alcohol from the Press Gallery Christmas party into a car on the precinct.

One of the men was detained and arrested at the scene, allegedly with over $400 worth of wine in his car. He has been charged with theft.

The man’s accomplices escaped, but NZPA understands security footage shows four people were involved in the alleged theft — all of them junior Labour Party staffers.

$400 worth of wine is probably around three dozen bottles or so. Apart from the fact it is wrong, and also an abuse of the hospitality of the galley – it is also stupid considering the number of security cameras and guards around the place.

I left around 1 am and it was still going strong. I’m curious as to what time the alleged theft took occurred.

Goff will be ropeable. They will either be MPs secretaries or members of Goff’s personal office.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the staffers’ actions were “totally unacceptable”.

“I deeply regret that that action was taken. It is perhaps a message for young people at Christmas functions — watch how much you drink and remember you will be accountable for your actions afterwards.”

Mr Goff said he did not know the individuals personally.

In which case my assumption is they are secretaries/EAs – probably for new MPs. Their MPs will be very upset that their first staffing decision has blown up in their face.

UPDATE: Despite Goff saying he does not know any of them, they may actually be from his office, not MPs Secretaries. Not that I met everyone there last night, but there were not a lot of secretaries there.

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The 2008 Press Gallery Party

December 18th, 2008 at 9:34 am by David Farrar

Last night was one of their better ones. It was held mainly outside which is far more fun then in a sterile room such as the Grand Hall. And the journos spent many hours behind the bbq and the bar as cordial hosts.

Every year the gallery have a photo taken, and they all hang up proudly in their corridor. This year some wag added this photo to the corridor. You can’t see all the names, but they are of all the well known members of the gallery. Very, very amusing.

And as double proof Winston is gone but not forgotten!

Now the gallery party is of course off the record, so all the fascinating conversations remain private. But I did enjoy chatting to MPs and staff from all parties – it was a very relaxed do.

I can report on a couple of media movements though, as they are about to be made public:

  • A TVNZ reporter is moving to Phil Goff’s office, so it is not just the Government that has picked up the odd gallery member.
  • A high profile Maori Party candidate has been hired as Tariana’s press secretary

I hear whispers the House may rise today, so the party was well timed!

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Cactus Kate on hot male journalists

September 5th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sure all the media will be reading Cactus Kate’s comments on what she calls the Soper Syndrome – hot aging male journalists.

Kate proclaims the following as hot:

  • “Baron” Barry Soper
  • “Gorgeous” Sean Plunkett
  • “Pitt-Clooney” Stephen Parker
  • “Chess Champion” Vernon Small
  • Richard Long
  • Richard Griffin

The only one she marks down is Duncan Garner who gets “not hot yet”.

I think Kate is protesting too loudly here. Those of us who knew Kate before she was a blogger recall a small period of time when she had a small crush on Mr Garner. And when I say small crush, I mean raging stalker like obsession. Luckily Duncan got married, and Kate got distracted!

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Gallery soft on Winston

February 25th, 2008 at 8:31 am by David Farrar

I am somewhat amazed that the press gallery have deemed it acceptable to allow Winston Peters to not provide any more details of his denial of what his own party president has claimed, until Wednesday.  This gives him six days to shall we say align what everyone says.

What other politician would be let off so lightly?  He in in Seoul tomorrow for the swearing in of the new President.  I hope one of the media outlets at least has a reporter there to ask him to explain exactly how Dail Jones is wrong, and who the money actually came from.

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