23 Apr 2015

Bulletin: #tailgate

9:20 am on 23 April 2015

The woman who went public about the Prime Minister repeatedly pulling her ponytail has been named by the New Zealand Herald but has taken issue with the newspaper's reporting tactics.

In a post at the Daily Blog, she writes that the Herald obtained her “exclusive interview” under false pretences. She thanks people for their support, and says coming forward was a “moral decision”.

Ms Bailey said a Herald reporter posed as a public relations person offering to help her, and her employers, draft a press release to send to the media. She said when she realised the person was a journalist, she revoked her permission for the Herald to use her photo or any comments. [Update: the Herald has responded to the claim, saying columnist Rachel Glucina wanted to follow-up The Daily Blog post. She spoke to the couple and the waitress over the telephone. Regardless of any confusion over the initial approach, all three agreed they wanted to make a public statement.

They also agreed to pose for a photograph and a Herald photographer was dispatched. They were told by the photographer that the photo would be appearing in the Herald. Herald editor Shayne Currie also spoke to the owners of the Hip Group yesterday afternoon following a call from a PR firm that had already been helping them. “When I spoke to the owners, they told me they had initially thought Rachel was working on a statement to go to all media, along with the photograph. Given the situation, I wanted to absolutely ensure they knew this interview and photograph were for the Herald. To further ease any concerns, we took the very rare step of agreeing Rachel should run the quotes past the parties before publication.”

The story has made headlines around the world, from Fox News to The Guardian to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Opposition politicians have condemned the behaviour, but the Prime Minister has said he was just “horsing around”.

He told a TV One reporter: “Looks it’s a cafe I go to regularly, I’ve been going there for years, we have a fun relationship, there’s always lots of horsing around and sort of practical jokes and you know, look, that's really all there is to it.”

Senior National Party MP Judith Collins says many women would find having their hair pulled inappropriate. “It hasn't happened to me, but I guess some people just have their quirky little mannerisms and what they might see as a joke, sometimes can fall flat in that the recipient doesn't find it funny.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne said having your hair pulled was no laughing matter. “I had the occasion last year of being at a function when someone grabbed a full handful of my hair and yanked it because they were convinced I was wearing a wig,” he said.

Some members of the public spoken to by Radio New Zealand did not think Mr Key had done anything wrong, but former women’s rights’ campaigner and former National Party MP Marilyn Waring says she believes it was unlawful behaviour. “I’m getting tired of it being called anything but illegal.”

The National Council of Women has written an open letter to the Prime Minister, saying they are disappointed in his behaviour, but appreciate his apology to the waitress. “We don’t see this as an isolated case and the real story is not about you,” the Council says.

“Rather, the fact that our Prime Minister has joined the list of people outed for sexism highlights how much sexism is a part of our culture. And it starts at the top. Up and down this country, day after day, people are touched without giving their consent. At one end of the scale, it is an unwelcome pull on a pony-tail. At the other end, it’s our shocking levels of violence against women.”

The Human Rights Commissioner Jackie Blue lent her support to that letter, and said it is never OK to touch people without their permission. “She said talking about what was – and was not – acceptable was a conversation worth having,” says the Herald “and one every New Zealander needs to be a part of.”

“Not everyone was giving the story credence, however,” writes Toby Manhire on The Guardian. “RadioLive talkback host Sean Plunket said he would not be discussing the hair-pulling controversy because it appeared to him “absolutely propaganda hate speech rubbish” and a “cheap little scummy political set-up”. (Also in The Guardian, former Wireless producer Elle Hunt on John key’s weirdest moments.)


Prime Minister or not, we can all agree that ponytail-pulling is odd. Do you think John Key's apology was enough? #MikesMinute

Posted by Mike Hosking Breakfast on Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Writing in the Herald, political editor Audrey Young says she’s embarrassed by John Key as Prime Minister. “It is one of those stories that denigrates him and his office. But to learn about it just as he is about to represent New Zealand at the Gallipoli commemorations makes it utterly mortifying.”

Mr Key will be hoping he can straighten the highly embarrassing matter out before attending the Anzac centenary commemorations in Gallipoli.