Political mud-slinging criticized
Newsroom.co.nz agency story | Tuesday September 19, 2006
A focus on politicians' personal lives is being condemned by many, who say the latest twists take New Zealand politics in new directions.
The furor over National leader Don Brash's personal life and Prime Minister, Helen Clark's husband's sexuality is being greeted with an overwhelming distaste.
A veteran press gallery journalist, Ian Templeton, says the events of the past week are indicative of global modern politics where personal lives are scrutinised and we can expect to see more of it.
He says the current exchanges here follow trends set by politicians and media during the John Major Government in Britain in the 1990s.
Mr Templeton says the Brash story will be kept alive for some time to come with the reaction from public opinion polls, from the National caucus, and whether Dr Brash can salvage his marriage.
Political scientist, Terese Arseno, says it is apparent an Americanisation of politics is under way, whereby leaders personify their parties and their personal lives are under an unwavering spotlight.
She says Dr Brash's media release last week about the state of his marriage has shown his political naivety yet again.
Political scientist, Barry Gustafson, says Dr Brash has only himself to blame by criticising Helen Clark's view on marriage and then by admitting his marriage is in trouble.
Waikato University's media professor, Geoff Lealand, says both stories would have remained Wellington gossip if it were not for the insatiable need for headlines.
But he wants to see an investigation into why Investigate Magazine's editor, Ian Wishart, chose to publish his story suggesting the Prime Minister's husband, Peter Davis, is gay.
Dr Lealand says investigations should also focus on the motivations of the Exclusive Brethren, who launched a major campaign supporting National last election despite the fact they do not vote.