Brian Edwards on The Cunliffe – Bad reviews and a short season

My good friend Brian Edwards is not impressed with David Cunliffe and his latest performances.

To be absolutely fair to David  Cunliffe, I should perhaps add that, like all senior politicians, he has on his team people whose job it is to advise him on media issues, to analyse and comment on his radio and television appearances and to prepare him for upcoming interviews and debates, possibly by workshopping those exchanges. Their job is not to ra-ra their employer’s efforts but to be brutally frank in critically analysing his performance.

The blame for Cunliffe’s misguided and vote-losing approach to his exchanges with the Prime Minister during the last election and particularly his final televised debate with John Key on TV One, must be proportionally shared with those advisers.

I feel sorry for the advisors, because I suspect that David Cunliffe doesn’t take coaching at all well, and when he consults his mirror he gets conflicting advice.

The best television interviews look like chats. The tone is relaxed, the language informal, the posture forward, demonstrating interest and keenness. In last night’s interview with Campbell, Cunliffe’s tone is defensive and overbearing, his language formal and high-flown, his posture rigidly erect. His replies are repetitive and little more than a series of mini-speeches. He is talking at rather than to Campbell and the interviewer’s impatience and frustration become increasingly evident during the discussion. At one point Campbell accuses the former Labour Leader of being disingenuous.  

I have from time to time quoted my old friend Ian Fraser’s adage that to be successful in television interviews you have to learn to “act yourself”. I think the rationale behind this advice was that the nerves that affect most people appearing on television make it virtually impossible for them to “be themselves”. But on the whole I incline to the view that the real you, however nervous, will make a better impression on your audience than some unreal you looking confident and in control.

The real David Cunliffe might well succeed. The actor David Cunliffe can expect only bad reviews and a short season.

I don;t think David Cunliffe knows what is real any longer.

I mean he claimed yesterday he always intended resigning but just last week was insisting that he wouldn’t resign, there was no need and was trying to force the hand of the caucus into dumping him so he could play the wounded but valiant leader.

Even his photographs of him alone on the beach seem contrived.

The man is a flake and a fake, and it shows. Voters can see right through him….he is now the invisible man of NZ politics, it’s just that he doesn’t realise it.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.