Wayne Brown and his topic of this weekend’s conversation (Photos: Supplied, Getty Images)
Wayne Brown and his topic of this weekend’s conversation (Photos: Supplied, Getty Images)

OPINIONPoliticsOctober 3, 2022

How to avoid threatening to stick photos of journalists to urinals in mayoral interviews

Wayne Brown and his topic of this weekend’s conversation (Photos: Supplied, Getty Images)
Wayne Brown and his topic of this weekend’s conversation (Photos: Supplied, Getty Images)

Auckland mayoral candidate Wayne Brown is receiving criticism for saying he will stick pictures of a journalist to the urinals once he’s mayor. Hayden Donnell has put together a quick cheat sheet on how to avoid a similar controversy. 

Following an interview with Newshub last week, Auckland mayoral race frontrunner Wayne Brown was making chit chat about how much he doesn’t like Simon Wilson. The Herald journalist had posed tough questions about Brown’s policy positions and suitability for office. In response, Brown initially refused to attend a debate moderated by Wilson, offering an explanation about neutrality which could unkindly be paraphrased as “wah wah wah, wah wah”.

While expanding on his animosity toward Wilson, Brown called him a prick, then issued a highly unusual policy promise, telling the Newshub employee: “The first thing I’ll do when I get to be the mayor is they’ll be glueing little pictures of him on all the urinals so people can pee on him.”

We didn’t expect to do this, especially after having to put together a cheat sheet on how to not say Nazi stuff during a mayoral debate in the last local body election, but in light of these recent developments, The Spinoff has put together a cheat sheet on how not to say you’re going to stick pictures of a journalist on the work urinals during a media encounter. Following these guidelines will help you improve your performance when talking to the media, whether in low or high stakes settings. Crucially, it will assist you in not threatening to urinate on any journalists, pictures of journalists, or indeed anyone at all while campaigning to become Auckland’s mayor.

First off, if a worker for any media organisation mentions someone you don’t like, check to see whether there’s a camera trained on your face or a microphone attached to your clothing. If either of those pieces of recording equipment are present, it’s best to exercise a degree of caution before threatening to put pictures of the person you don’t like on the council toilets.

This is an area where Wayne Brown arguably slipped up. Despite wearing a microphone and having a camera in close proximity, he thought it would be safe to say he would adhere pictures of Simon Wilson to some urinals. “I didn’t know that was being done,” he said, after being shown the resulting footage. “We were doing an interview, the cameras were rolling, you were mic’d up, and that was very obvious at the time,” Newshub host Rebecca Wright countered, convincingly. Wright is right. If you are being filmed and recorded, it’s best to assume you’re on the record.

Following this advice should help you avoid the situations where you’re most at risk of it being reported that you want to put pictures of what you call a “prick” journalist on the work loos. However, it won’t eliminate the risk entirely. The only thing that will make it impossible for anyone to report that you’ve made such a strange threat is to not level it in the first place. As such, you should strongly consider never saying you will stick pictures of someone to the toilet.

It’s possible though that Wayne Brown thought this is a joke or this is funny. If you ever have similar thoughts, don’t listen to them. Telling people you’re going to stick pictures of someone to a urinal is an intense thing to do, even if done in jest. You may think this is just an off-colour mock threat in a day of mock threats, but it’s worth remembering many people have their insult-o-meter calibrated to a different setting. In fact, some of them will go their whole lives without calling for Simon Wilson, or anyone else for that matter, to have their likeness used as toilet target practice. It may shock them to hear someone suggest that course of action.


But these are matters of strategy, and arguably don’t address the fundamental issue at hand. The reason many people don’t joke about sticking pictures of their enemies to the toilet is because they don’t have thoughts like I would like to stick a picture of my enemy to the toilet. If you find yourself having those thoughts, it’s likely a good idea to talk to someone about what’s going on. If you’re just joking about urinating on the visages of the people who upset you, it’s still a good idea to seek advice just in case. There may be some intense emotions at play.

If applied correctly, the principles in this column will help you to get through a media interview and its immediate aftermath without threatening to stick pictures of someone you dislike to a toilet. Even if someone brings up the name of a person whose image you’d really like to stick to the staff urinals, you’ll be able to either stay silent or say “we’ve had our differences, but it would be inappropriate for me to make a deeply weird and relatively threatening joke at this juncture!”.

Hope this is helpful. Thanks for reading.

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