Over two days, our Change.org petition to have Mike Hosking removed as the moderator for the upcoming 2017 Election debates received 50,000 signatures, highlighting the issue New Zealanders have with arguably the country’s most biased presenter moderating the debates. We thought now would be a perfect time to explain our reasonings.
TVNZ on Thursday confirmed Mike Hosking will be hosting all three debates which struck a nerve not only with us, but apparently also the general public because of Mike’s blatant bias to National and against Labour. Friday’s poll results on this Stuff article found 71% of the 35,000 respondents believe he is biased or would rather see someone else hosting. These figures are at clear odds with Mike’s own claim “to be fair, I don’t think people are up in arms.”
Another strong petition has also been launched by Erica Finnie on the community campaign site OurActionStation reaching 20,000 signatures over the same period. Considering only 5,000 people signed a similar petition in 2014, it appears Mike’s bias attacking the left at any giving chance has not gone unnoticed by the general public.
Last election on top of calling Cunliffe a ‘moron’, he asked his audience “is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad? Is he out to lunch or out of touch? Is David Cunliffe deluded or living in a parallel universe?”
More recently he openly attacked current Labour MPs on ‘Mike’s Minutes’: “Here in 2017, can Labour in all honesty look at Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern and go, ‘There are our saviours, they’ll make all the difference?’. No, they cannot. And I think the cold hard reality is that Little is not actually the issue. The entire Labour movement, the PC takeover, the blancmange veneer that is modern Labour is the real issue.”
Compare this to his emotional farewell to John Key where he claimed “he’s not just our best Prime Minister of modern times but the best by some margin.”
We could spend all day highlighting what the general public already know, Mike Hosking is incredibly biased to the National Party.
While admitting to a natural bias is completely fine, to have National’s biggest public cheerleader hosting yet another round of claimed unbiased state funded Election Debates is an insult to the intelligence of the New Zealand population. Having neutral arenas for political debates is essential for a well functioning democracy.
Winston Peters was the only politician to publicly agree with the petition, saying “there’s no way that Mike Hosking can possibly be described as neutral. He’s spent most of his time attacking one line of political thought and that means he should rule himself out”
Last year UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to take part in debates hosted by The New Statesman, The Guardian and The Mirror due to concerns he would not receive a fair go. His campaign director at the time said “We are deeply concerned that some of those media organisations or their leading presenters have taken partisan positions against Jeremy’s leadership or campaign, and therefore can’t be regarded as impartial hosts or moderators.”
Debates are expected to have neutral hosts so all parties can publicly debate ideas without natural influence affecting proceedings. Considering these debates will help shape the votes of thousands of people around the country, we must ensure moderators are not heavily biased to one side.
Following the delivery of our petition alongside Erica’s, if Mike Hosking is not swapped with a much less biased moderator such as Corin Dann, John Campbell, Kim Hill, Hilary Barry or Nigel Latta, we will be encouraging signatories to boycott the debates and hit TVNZ where it hurts most; their bottom line through loss of advertising revenue.
Our goal is to combine the two and remove any double ups, using these results on public billboards to highlight the poor condition New Zealand’s state funded journalism is now in.
For those who haven’t signed already, we’re aiming for as many signatures as possible before presenting. The two petitions can be found here and here.