Hewitson on Shearer

Michele Hewitson has done a column on David Shearer and I get the impression that she isn’t impressed. I suspect that Michele simply had nothing to work with, so bland is David Shearer.

He said, seriously: “I am what I am.”

I’m afraid that made me laugh my head off, because who says that? And what the hell does it mean? But, later, after spending an hour and a half with him, and after having transcribed that hour and a half, I concluded that he’s probably absolutely right. It’s one way of saying what you see is what you get, whatever that means. But I still think he should never say it again; it’s seriously awful.

That is Michele’s way of saying “I’ve got nothing”.

Shearer though has manged to kill off the carefully crafted back-story created by campaign supremo Conor Roberts:

He knows the value of a good back story. He says the PM has a good one: “rags to riches.” His might be even better: did he really save 50 million lives? That Key went overseas and made 50 million dollars and he went overseas and saved 50 million lives was a line doing the rounds during the leadership battle with David Cunliffe (they get on terribly well, of course, and of course there is no animosity – I should have known better than to have asked.)

The answer is “no”. Well, where did it come from then? “I don’t know! You’re the journo!” All right, how many lives did he save? Any? “Um. Not personally!” That made the journo laugh immoderately, which made him just the tiniest bit defensive, the journo thought.

He told me a longish story about working for Save the Children in Somalia and heading a team feeding 30,000 starving children. “So when you look back on your life and you think these people who would now be in their 20s are alive because of the work we did … Which is pretty neat.” That’s a nice story, of course it is. I was sorry to have to be a journo but I had a not-so nice follow-up question: is that better than going overseas and making $50 million, did he think? He gave me a look which was more Helen than Phil. He said: “I don’t know. Now, that’s not right. That’s not a fair comparison.”

I guess we won’t be hearing much more about that back-story.

Is he nice, or nicer than Phil? “He’s a very nice man.” But is he nicer than him? He said I’d have to ask Phil, which obviously I’m not going to do. So I’ll answer my own question like this: after an interview with Goff I got a sweet little peck on the cheek; from his successor I got another of his handshakes.

Comparisons, if not odious, are not terribly helpful, and I hadn’t set out to make quite so many. But he’s hard to fix in your mind. I can’t quite work out why.

Again Michele is teling us that after an hour and half she got nothing except her hands crushed. And then we find out that Michele is an avid reader of Cactus Kate:

Everyone used to bang on about how good-looking Key was, which I never understood. I’ll stick my neck out and say that Shearer is better looking (if it matters and it may), although not in any flashy way, and certainly not in any way that translates to the telly. And I bet he doesn’t turn up at another event with his shirt unbuttoned as he did at the Big Gay Out.

He said, slightly snippily, that it was a hot day and that he does get around on hot days with his shirt unbuttoned. That just made it worse, I said. He said he probably wouldn’t do it again: “Now that you’ve told me.”

Michele Hewitson will be disappointed with that article, but given the clay she was given to mould it was the best she could do.



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  • fifibelle

    Yes, reading that I was left to conclude he has no real opinions of his own – something of an empty vessel. I know a few people Michele Hewitson has interviewed in the past, and I think she portrayed them pretty accurately – no reason to think she’s got it wrong this time…. 

  • Jimmie

    Very modest is our Mr Shearer. Considering that the original reference for the saying ‘I am that I am’ was a reference from the Bible where Moses asked God what his name was.

    (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_that_I_Am)

    Perhaps Mr Shearer sees himself as the coming Messiah?

    Very modest and humble – I wonder if they need to widen doorways to fit his head through?

    •  i thought kermit said it…

      [email protected]

      • Mully

         I thought Popeye said it.

        Does Dave eat a lot of spinach??

      • Pharmachick

        kermit said “its not easy being green” … whole ‘nother political party.

  • pdm

    It seems Shearer is trying really hard to be `Casper’.

    • Troy

      Yes, and he did say he never wanted to be a politician but perhaps he is confused about what that actually means.  If he is the kind of polly which people can’t identify with nor discover what he is thinking (because he is so quiet) why would anyone want to vote for him in the future?

  • titanuranus

    i yam what i yam, Popeye ,if I remember  correctly.

    I`m sure Mr Shearer is a nice fellow,my lefty relatives used to assure me that Phil Goff was a nice fellow too ,thats why they voted for him overlooking the fact that he was a useless cunt and oblivious that he was employed by Labour and the taxpayer to present an effective opposition in parliament

  • AnonWgtn

    Having read the article of “nothingness” I wondered who Shearer actually is. Seems a nice decent man, so FFS what is he doing trying to lead the New Zealand Labour party, which is a nasty fractionated left wing political movement. He appears to have none of the skills or nastiness required.

  • Shearer had more ambition than he had political savvy, and the Labour caucus elected him as a Leader hoping the public would fall in love with him. Shearer should have kept his powder dry, and challenged for the leadership another day. Cunliffe would have been a perfectly good opposition leader for the next two years at least. He would have known how to attack National. Shearer continues to talk up the Spirit of Cooperation, but continues to be diametrically opposed to all of National’s plans – they do not acknowledge the need to get government spending down, etc.

    Meanwhile, Shearer has hardly fronted media (perhaps he doesn’t want his stutter to be broadcast too often). I stated on a different blog that I had seen Iain Lees-Galloway in the news more than Shearer this month, which is true. ILG fronted TV news on the Manawatu Gorge, on Defense cuts, etc, and all I remember of Shearer is one stuttery interview in the lobby of Parliament about asset sales. Shearer may be pleasant, but he’s totally forgettable.

  • Hakim of phut

    Hewittson seems to do it yet again – shows  she has no journalistic/writing talent at all. Shes merely a repeater who seems like she hates her job. You get it with food critics who hate food or car critics who hate cars.
    There is no real research of her own , other than a chat about nothing….. the only thing that can be said is that all the stories/interviews she does are the same. Ennui.!
    For gods sake woman get your life together and move on …to something else

    • Euan Rt

      phut, the water is rising….

      • Greg M

         Yep, close the water tight doors, call the coastguard.

    • @BoJangles

       All the NZH journos are lite-weight fleas.    Research?  why leave your desk when Wikipedia stares them in the face. Most of them think their own opinions are the news.

  • jay cee

    i reckoned she summed it all up nicely with her last couple of sentences.

  • Vlad

    I must say that I don’t think I’ve ever picked up an insight into anyone’s personality from the meandering Hewitson interviews.  That said, Shearer does come across in all his leadership performances as weak as gnat’s piss, and iPredict (personally) that he will exit decorated with daggers as soon as T2, H3 and others can get him into a dark corner.  

  • kevin

    shearer would make a nice enough neighbour…

    • Greg M

       Disagree, his visitors would piss me right off. : )

  • parorchestia

    For those in the previous post who suffer from interrupted sleep, playing a recording of Shearer giving a speech might induce sleep.
    Sending 50,000,000 to sleep might be added to his CV.