“Jacinda Ardern should have been able to recite the Treaty”

I thought this media nonsense over Jacinda Ardern not jumping to a journalist demand about literal knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi was over, but Heather du Plessis-Allan continues it with: Jacinda Ardern should have been able to recite the Treaty

That was embarrassing.

You’d be made of ice not to feel sorry for Jacinda Ardern. Put on the spot like that, asked to recite the articles of the Treaty.

Article One, what does it say? came the question.

“Oh. Article One? On the spot?”

You feel sorry for the PM because you know she’s not that unusual. How many of us can recite the three articles of the Treaty?

I’d guess that most journalists couldn’t recite the Treaty unprepared.

How can you deliver on the promise of the Treaty if you don’t know the promise of the Treaty?

Not being able to recite it has nothing to do with delivering on the Treaty.

David Farrar covered this well last Tuesday: PM fell for the quiz trick

The story here isn’t that the PM didn’t know what Article One says, and needed Willie to help her out.

The story is the media doing a “gotcha” story where they treat politics as a quiz night. You ask an MP a question with the hope they can’t answer it on the spot, and then have a story about how ignorant or out of touch they are.

The classic is how much is a loaf of bread. Others are what is the current inflation rate. Who is the best selling NZ musician etc etc.

MPs should refuse to play these games. If a journalist asks a question along these lines, the best responses are:

  • I’m a Member of Parliament, not a quiz show participant.
  • If you don’t know the answer, go Google it
  • This is silly gotcha politics and I’m not playing along

I think it is petty and irrelevant to what is important.

I wonder how many journalists can recite Article 1 of the  Press Council Principles:

1. Accuracy, Fairness and Balance

Publications should be bound at all times by accuracy, fairness and balance, and should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission. In articles of controversy or disagreement, a fair voice must be given to the opposition view. Exceptions may apply for long-running issues where every side of an issue or argument cannot reasonably be repeated on every occasion and in reportage of proceedings where balance is to be judged on a number of stories, rather than a single report.

Is it fair to demand precise answers to questions that are designed to try to catch politicians out?

I don’t think so. These are cheap shots by journalists, trying to create a story out of nothing of importance. And Allen is still milking it, five days after the non-story ‘broke’.