We understand that, following the Shane Taurima embarrassment, Television New Zealand has employed a psychometric testing company to root out staff working in the news and current affairs areas who may be prone to bias towards a particular political party or party leader. The test is a refinement of a similar procedure used by psychologists to identify paedophiles where electrodes are attached to the offender’s genitals and he (normally it is a ‘he’) is shown photographs of a range of people of both genders and varying ages. Signs of sexual arousal when shown photographs of children allow the testers to gauge the strength and direction of the subject’s inappropriate desires and, it is hoped, to devise aversive therapies to curb those desires.
Current and prospective TVNZ journalists and interviewers will from now on be required to undergo this ‘political arousal test’. Once the electrodes have been attached to their private parts they will be shown a rapid-fire, random series of photographs of John Key, David Cunliffe, Russell Norman, Meteria Turei, Colin Craig, Tariana Turia, Jamie Whyte and Hone Harawira. It is understood that preliminary results from the programme (or ‘dry runs’, as they are called) have necessitated recalibration of the testing equipment. On being shown photographs of the party leaders, the libidos of all the TVNZ reporters and interviewers fell to such an extent that no reliable data could be extrapolated. In an attempt to ‘de-inhibit’ the party leaders, the researchers sought their agreement to undertake the test naked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outrageous suggestion was rejected by all but one of the leaders, Mr Craig stating that he had ‘nothing to hide’.
In a news release late this afternoon, TVNZ has announced its intention to abandon the political arousal testing programme. This follows the leaking of pages from the testing company’s final report to the broadcaster. Despite the recalibration of the equipment, it transpires that, having taken a vow of journalistic celibacy, political reporters and interviewers are perfectly capable of repressing their personal attraction to a particular party or party leader. They are, in effect, political eunuchs. Professor Hans Gluck, a prominent Freudian psychologist has nonetheless pooh-poohed the abandonment of the research.
Claiming that long-term repression of one’s feelings and desires was impossible and that the journalists’ biases would eventually resurface in even more malign form, he suggested that TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick urgently read Franz Kafka’s short story The Metamorphosis, in which the hero, Gregor Samsa, wakes up one morning to discover that he has been turned into a beetle. Mr Kenrick ‘only had to watch TV3 News to realise that this was already happening’. Media commentator, Dr Brian Edwards, who coincidentally wrote a Ph.D. on Franz Kafka, for once declined to spend an hour offering his views to our reporter. ‘I tried the political arousal test in the privacy of my Herne Bay mansion,’ he said, ‘and was horrified to discover that I am deeply attracted to a senior member of ACT.’ Latest: TV3 political editor Patrick Gower has issued defamation proceedings against Professor Gluck. Gluck had claimed that Gower was repressing a deep-seated attraction to Labour leader David Cunliffe.