Jacinda Ardern called the smear campaign directed at Clarke Gayford a dirty politics attack. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Toby Manhire: What the shit is going on with those Clarke Gayford rumours?

“Everyone in media and political circles, Steve Braunias notwithstanding, has been gasbagging like mad over the last month about rumours related to Clarke Gayford, the partner of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Most of these conversations have resolved in the consensus that they’re substantially bullshit, with the honourable exception of high level political commentary from pseudonymous Twitter accounts with two followers.

The Spinoff, along with everyone else in the media, has been contacted this morning by the prime minister’s spokesperson, and by lawyers acting for Gayford, to stress that the Heraldhas not included in its report the false and defamatory claims. We’re obviously not going to do that either, although we will simply say this: has anyone ever seen Gayford actually kill a fish?

Here’s what we know so far.”

Madeleine Chapman: I feel for Deborah Hill Cone and Kate Hawkesby

“There’s something about Deborah Hill Cone and Kate Hawkesby that keeps nagging me every time I see their columns. At first I thought it was outrage, then disregard, and now I realise what it really is: empathy.

I feel for them because I feel what they’re feeling. Everyone got mad at Hill Cone for saying mean things about Clarke Gayford. Hill Cone responded by confessing “I lose my inner monologue.” Today, Newstalk ZB host Kate Hawkesby has stated she feels for Hill Cone because she too has been in a similar situation when it comes to her column. “I hadn’t intended for it to be read,” she said, referring to the way her scripted radio editorial was republished in the Herald, “and then boom there it was.” Reading an opinion column in a newspaper or online may lead you believe that there’s an editorial process behind such publications but as these two brave women have testified, that’s not how it works. Opinion pieces are shoehorned directly from the writer’s consciousness – I’m just saying things out loud at my desk and now you’re reading them – and there’s nothing we can do about it.

In fact, it’s happening right now.”

What are the Clarke Gayford rumours? Click here to find out

Danyl Mclauchlan: Breaking news: Clarke Gayford reputation rocked by Herald allegations

Perhaps the most devastating claim in Hill Cone’s piece is that the picture of Gayford posing with his fellow CHOGM spouses was cringey. On the surface – like many of Hill-Cone’s claims – this appears to stack up. But I printed out a copy of the photograph and showed it to two of my workmates. Their responses, “What is this?” “Is it cringey? I don’t know. Why are you even showing me this?” reveal the carefully hidden gaps in Hill-Cone’s version of the truth.

This is not to deny that the Herald’s investigation raises some valid issues which Ardern and her government must urgently move to address. Why were we not told that Gayford came second in the 2001 season of Treasure Island? Are the awfully convenient claims Gayford makes about his earliest memories being pushed onto a surfboard by his dad real, or does he have different early memories which might discredit him, or even cast doubts on Ardern? And, most pressingly: is Clarke Gayford enjoying the political circus too much, and how much is too much, and how will Labour monitor and regulate Clarke’s lovable goofy smiles going forwards?

Stephen Mills: New poll reveals the post-election political battleground

UMR survey shows National largely resistant to the Labour surge, though Jacinda Ardern’s party has made inroads among centre voters, writes Stephen Mills.

Sam Brooks: Dancing with the Stars NZ Power Rankings: all 12, mercilessly graded

We’re two nights into the dance off, and now we’ve seen all the acts. So with a lot of trash talk, but absolutely no back-walking or mascots, we’re going to do a power ranking. Dance off. These are the power rankings for the first week of highly anticipated not-dropping-dancer-celebrity show, Dancing with the Stars NZ.

Sam Brooks: The Dancing with the Stars NZ Power Rankings: The first seven

From its first moments, it was clear Dancing with the Stars NZ came here to play. They knew they had stars, they knew they had new judges, and they knew they had something to prove. These are the power rankings for the first episode of highly anticipated celebrity-moving show, Dancing with the Stars NZ.

Red Nicholson: Writing about disability? Here are five tips to get it right

“Most days on Twitter are spent shouting enlightened reckons into the social media void, desperate for your woke insight to be picked up and amplified by anyone at all. And most days, to the detriment of the world, your insights are routinely ignored.

But very occasionally you’ll tweet an article, caption it with some super obvious commentary on positive disability language, and it goes on to be mashed-up by self-professed “international crouton” Hend Amry, who pushes it to 10,000 retweets and almost 50,000 likes.

Wednesday was one of those days.”

Dave Ward: A voiceover artist on being asked to deliberately mispronounce te reo

“Taika Waititi was right on the money. We have a race issue ​in Aotearoa ​and it’s not going away.

Last week I refused to deliberately mispronounce a Māori place name as requested by a client of a company I contract to as a commercial voice. I’m good at my job. I do it every week and over the years I’ve read thousands of scripts for thousands of satisfied customers. I wasn’t trying to be a diva or deliberately difficult, but I pride myself on the audio product I create. The requested mispronunciation of Waimate (the client wanted ‘WHY MAT EE’) ​was always going to be an aural stone in my shoe. For the first time in my career, I said no. I wasn’t the first person to refuse to do this particular script the way the client wanted it done either. I was just the first to speak out publicly about it.”

Jacinda Ardern called the smear campaign directed at Clarke Gayford a dirty politics attack. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Danyl Mclauchlin: Judith Collins is right: Jacinda Arden is an inveterate virtue-signaller

“We’re only six months into the new government and who knows: maybe it will go down as a chaotic, messy threesome of good intentions and policy disasters: only time will tell, as the old-school columnists like to say.

But in that six months we’ve seen Jacinda Ardern transform from an inexperienced leader and soft-media darling in the John Key mould into a prime minister who is increasingly skilled at finding ways to communicate her values to the public through images and symbolic gestures – spending a week at Waitangi, wearing a Korowai to Buckingham palace, being visibly pregnant while running the country – in other words, through virtue-signalling.”

Rebekah Jaung and Angela Suh: Koreans around the world see through the cartoonish takes from western media

“While the majority of Koreans were cheering and wiping away tears; a small group of hardline conservatives were burning unification flags and waving American ones. The leader of the biggest opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party, accused Moon and Kim of putting on a “collaborative ‘peace show”. There is a reason Kim kept mentioning the lost 11 years” – it correlates with a period of conservative leadership across South Korea and America, and cessation of talks between the North and South.

The extended state of war has led to the loss of sovereignty for Korea.”


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