The most confounding moments from that Jacinda Ardern interview

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the star of a segment on Australian television last night.

When I say star, I mean it. She was not a Prime Minister being interviewed. She was not there to be grilled. I don't think there was one question about policy. I've never seen an interview with a politician quite like it.

That, despite the great access to our Prime Minister the creators of 60 Minutes had. Their crew flew to Waitangi, where they interviewed Ms Ardern and her partner outside the Copthorne Hotel and again as she cooked sausages. They were at the pregnancy announcement, they went fishing with Mr Gayford, then they were in Wellington, where Ms Ardern showed them around Parliament and the Australians got another one-on-one interview.

Somehow, despite all that, this happened…

The slow zoom intro

Like any good intro, the first 10 seconds of this 13 minute piece tells it all.

The in-studio camera veeeeery slowly zooms in on presenter Charles Wooley, who stands in front of a title that reads (brace yourself): 'The Kiwi that soared.'

Because kiwis can't fly! Pun!

The slow zoom.
The slow zoom. Photo credit: 60 Minutes/Screengrab

"Not only is she good at her job," Mr Wooley says (citation needed, IMO) "...She's also taking nation-building to the next level by combining politics with pregnancy," he finished.

"Nation building" - did they just claim Ms Ardern is building a national identity by having a baby?

Strange over-familiarity

The strange level of familiarity eminating from the presenter starts with Mr Wooley referring to Ms Ardern by only her first name, and it leads to a moment that will leave you physically squirming.  

It's a convention in media that in formal news and current affairs, subjects, especially public figures in power, are addressed using their last name.

Sometimes, with female politicians, media unconsciously refer to them by their first name. New Zealand's media's been careful not to do that with Ms Ardern.

When a woman who is the head of state is referred to by their first name in a news report, it can come across as overly familiar and irreverent.

In this story, it's 'Jacinda' instead of 'Ardern.'

That was the beginning of a weird familiarity that culminated in, hands down, the worst moment of the whole thing.

Before the question.
Before the question. Photo credit: 60 Minutes/Screengrab

"There is one really important political question I want to ask you, and that's what date the baby's due," Mr Wooley said. Seems like a fair enough question.

Mid-that-question. Photo credit: 60 Minutes/Screengrab

But then...

"It's interesting how much people have been counting back to the conception, as it were."


After that question.
After that question. Photo credit: 60 Minutes/Screengrab

Stop mentioning her looks!

A voiceover claims the "stylish makeover of New Zealand politics is completed by Jacinda's partner, TV star Clarke Gayford".



But it gets more full on.

"I've met a lot of Prime Ministers in my time, but none so young, not too many so smart and never one so attractive" is one slither of analysis.

And then came the most elaborately set up pun ever seen in the history of political interviews.

While fishing with Mr Gayford, the presenter takes the opportunity to say, "Jacinda - what a catch".

Mr Gayford's response is edited out. One presumes that's because it was something along the lines of "uhhhh?"

Weird surprise about a man doing the laundry

"Are you doing the laundry?!" is the surprised response to Clarke Gayford saying he shares the chores around the house.

In the promotion for this segment, the pair were described as "unconventional". I dunno - it's not that unconventional for men to do laundry. I don't even get how this fact made the cut.

Bu there's much more to be made of the gender roles here, folks.

Mr Gayford is asked what it's like "playing second fiddle" to his powerful partner.

"I don't have a problem with that. I've never had a problem with that. Her star is a lot brighter than mine," is his response, the only response you could really give to that line of questioning.

"So you're not just the messiah?"

Our Prime Minister was seriously asked whether she's a messiah.

She'd just been saying while personality is important for the public to understand political leaders, she wouldn't want personality to replace policy.

"So you're not just the messiah?" the presenter asks.

Maybe this was a confused attempt at reverse psychology or maybe we just slipped into the upsidedown. 

All the qualifiers in this statement

Much is made of Ms Ardern being the "first elected female Western leader to have a child in office" - but there are at least four qualifiers in that statement: elected, female, Western and in office.

There's Benazir Bhutto, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan through two terms.

Then there are all the male politicians who have newborn babies - they barely get a mention. Simon Bridges became a father to a third child during the election campaign that just concluded.

Then there are the countless female monarchs have led countries - western and otherwise - through pregnancies.

There are lots of babies in politics so maybe it's not worth the big deal.