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PM still making world headlines

Friday 24th April 2015

Continuing to make headlines around the world, the John Key ponytail saga has been featured in a YouTube animated video.

The clip shows a cartoon version of the Prime Minister tugging on a waitresses hair, complete with sound effects and animated versions of his wife and bodyguard.

The minute and a half long video was posted by TomoNews, a site that publishes popular news stories combining animation with video footage. The company’s clips have over 550 million total views on YouTube. A Taiwan-based company, Next Media Animation, is the digital studio behind TomoNews’ animations.

Meanwhile, on his arrival in Turkey, Mr Key told reporters he “clearly misread the tea leaves” when the incidents occurred. “There were clearly a few hijinks and a bit of horsing around. I think in hindsight and on reflection, I should not have been as casual as that,” he said. “I should have read the situation more accurately. I’ll learn from the experience.”

After yesterday issuing three separate statements about its own coverage of the issue by Rachel Glucina, the New Zealand Herald covers senior National Party MP Judith Collins’ defence of her boss. “He is someone who obviously often has his guard down,” she says “and when he is sitting with his wife in a very comfortable environment, his guard has obviously been down. And this is a story because he is the Prime Minister.”

Radio New Zealand’s Colin Peacock writes that Herald editor Shayne Currie and reporter Rachel Glucina did not respond to requests to be interviewed on Thursday, leaving other questions unanswered. “And - most importantly - if it was not clear to Amanda Bailey that a reporter was on the end of the phone during the meeting with her employers, why?”

Prime Minister John Key delivers a speech in Istanbul on 23 April.


Writing in The Press Martin van Beynen argues that while odd and childish, the repeated incidents were probably just a “bit of fun”. He disagrees with the Green Party co-leader Meteria Turei’s characterisation of “bullying”.

“OK, but was it really bullying? Bullying now covers such a multitude of behaviours that it has completely lost any meaning. Like other terms of victimhood, it’s grossly overused. Any behaviour that someone doesn’t like is bullying, whatever the intention.”

“Bullying is the powerful picking on those whom they think can’t and won’t fight back. It’s repeated and designed to hurt or irritate or diminish the victim. A lot of it is just because we can be pretty cruel monkeys.”

That is the only thing that should interest people when making a judgment whether that is acceptable behaviour for any man, let alone the Prime Minister.

In her original post at the Daily Blog, Amanda Bailey refers to the behaviour by the Prime Minister as occurring over several months, an unavoidable game. “He was like the school yard bully tugging on the little girls’ hair trying to get a reaction, experiencing that feeling of power over her. I would think to myself, even a five year old could tell you that if you pull on a girls’ hair she will not like it, I shouldn’t have to tell THE PRIME MINISTER that I don’t like it when he pulls my hair – talk about stating the obvious!”

Radio New Zealand’s political editor, Brent Edwards, writes that Mr Key is a politician who has previously deftly avoided most of the pitfalls that lurk in the murky world of politics. Now though, he faces Anzac day celebrations and a series of international meetings amid a plethora of mocking headlines.

“Mr Key has not challenged the facts. He has accepted that over several months he repeatedly pulled her ponytail. That is the only thing that should interest people when making a judgment whether that is acceptable behaviour for any man, let alone the Prime Minister.”

Politics in this country just keeps getting weirder and weirder, Edwards writes. “But when Mr Key returns to New Zealand, and almost certainly before, he is likely to face more scrutiny about his ponytail pulling conduct. And he and New Zealand will remain an international laughing stock for some time to come.”

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Mava is an award-winning journalist, formally with The Wireless.
Megan is a former senior producer for The Wireless. She has worked in Radio New Zealand News, Sport, and Radio New Zealand International, has an extensive library of animated gifs, and spends too much time on the internet.
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