I really shouldn’t have brought my laptop to Vietnam. We intended to do the occasional blog on our travels and leave it at that. But the temptation to check out what was happening in Godzone – there’s not much in the Hoi An Times – was too hard to resist, so I took a peep this morning at the Kiwi Sunday rags. Had the government changed? Had Herne Bay been declared a disaster zone in our absence? Had Phil Goff rocketed in the polls? Had Bainimarama invited Helen Clark to act as mediator in the NZ-Fiji standoff? Had Lockwood Smith introduced smacking for naughty MPs? You know – the really big stuff. No, nothing much had changed since we left two weeks ago. According to the Herald on Sunday, the really big news was that John Campbell might be sacked. I like and admire John. He’s a talented broadcaster and a really nice person. That’s the problem really, I can’t be in the same room with John because I’m a diabetic. My sugar levels go off the scale. Anyway, apparently the chances that John will be sacked are pretty small. The new boss of TV3, Ian Audsley, said he could give a “95% guarantee” that the show would survive another year. The reason? Well, apparently the poorish ratings for the show had greatly improved in the last couple of weeks, “on a diet of bare breasts and big American cars” according to the Herald on Sunday. No surprises there then. Naked mud wrestling can only be round the corner. What I found interesting was that, in the same report, the newspaper referred to Campbell Live as “the current affairs show”. This is rather like referring to baked beans as “cordon bleu cuisine”. Only “show” is appropriate in describing either Campbell Live or Close Up.
But wait, there was more.
“Claws Out at Radio New Zealand” the headline screamed. Wow, I never knew the claws had been in. At a management level, RNZ has been a dysfunctional organisation for years. But this really was the big stuff. An email exchange between Noelle McCarthy and Janet Wilson (both, to my personal knowledge, kindly and retiring ladies) in which they dissected the character of former Afternoons producer, Meredith McGrath, had been leaked to the media. And, oh dear, in totally uncharacteristic fashion, they had said hurtful and unkind things. According to Ms Wilson, Ms McGrath’s departure to take up a new job as a publicist for book publisher Hachette was “the best birthday present a girl could hope for. You saw her off, girlfriend.” Ms Wilson was later scathing about Hachette whom she described as “cheap and cheerful publishers of this parish”. She now has a new job herself as media advisor to a cheap and cheerful candidate for the super mayoralty. Ms McCarthy, whose success is due largely to having a lilting Irish brogue – Rob Muldoon once said the same thing about me – thought Ms Wilson had not gone far enough. Ms Meredith’s next stop, she opined, should be hell, ’shovelling cinders with Satan’s minions.” I mistakenly took this to mean that Ms McGrath had gone to work for the Radio Network. But that would have been too kind. I’m reluctant to take sides in this dispute, other than to say that as a regular contributor to Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme, I know Meredith McGrath fairly well. I never found her anything less than professional and absolutely charming. I’ve also met Noelle McCarthy, who has a lilting Irish brogue. RNZ says it is standing behind her, as it did when she was revealed as having engaged in some ***minor plagiarism a couple of years ago.