What not to say on camera

When talking with media, make sure you’ve got something meaningful to say.

Some uber-cool and hip young politicians may be thinking that this social media chillaxed world means they can be authentically casual about their jobs. They’re wrong.

An interview gleefully reported by TV3 News in New Zealand proves that in politics you have to treat every public moment seriously.

The embarrassing moment occurred when an enthusiastic young MP from the opposition Green Party stopped mid-interview to ask an aide for the right line to answer a question.

Everyone is taking the lesson from this that you don’t ask aides for help in the middle of an interview – that you should know your subject well, and have your lines ready beforehand.

It is an obvious reminder that the camera is always recording, that the media aren’t your mates, and that we all expect professionalism from our politicians.

The much deeper lesson ought to be that MPs should not speak bollocks.

The Greens were desperate for media coverage and desperate to attack the Government’s policy on selling off part of State assets.

In that desperation, they came up with arguments which were self-serving, thinly contrived, and lacking in relevance and meaning to the public. In short, they had nothing decent to add to the subject.

The danger of talking bollocks runs underneath much of what constitutes daily life of democratic politics.

Politicians are enticed into it by media and pundits who are paid to fill the air. In this case TV3 could have decided that Gareth Hughes really had nothing to contribute and either not talk to him, or not include his commentary. In fact, they sort of did decide that when they instead used the clip to poke fun. Media will use a lot of twaddle from MPs to fill space, but they don’t like having their face rubbed in the practice by MPs who can’t even pretend the game is serious.

All that is no excuse for Gareth to have been suckered into such a cavalier approach to his profession.

The lesson for politicians is not to learn your lines better, but to only speak when you’ve got something meaningful to say.

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