Kelvin Davis is a "wounded man walking" who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.
The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.
Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub's suggestion it would be around half.
"I get nervous before interviews," was Mr Davis' explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show.
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Mr Gower, who was Newshub's political editor for several years, told The AM Show he'd never seen anything like it.
"Only in New Zealand would a deputy leader of a governing party come on after a major policy announcement in his or her portfolio and say, 'You know me - I get nervous and I forget things.' I've never seen that before."
He said Mr Davis is "battling and he's lost his confidence".
"Kelvin is not a dead man walking, but he's a wounded man walking. The media are after him, the Opposition are after him, probably people in his own party want the deputy leader job at the very least - they won't want the Corrections job."
Labour railed against double-bunking while in Opposition. Gower said Mr Davis is being forced to sell a "political lie" in claiming Labour is doing things differently to the previous Government.
"He's an incredibly resilient individual and he's a good guy. But where is the Kelvin Davis that called for a Māori-only prison in Ngawha? That was an idea that could change things. Where's that guy gone? He's fed by the bureaucrats, he's fed by the spin doctors.
"What has happened to him is he was made to sell a political lie yesterday. There is no great new prison system or great new idea - it's the same thing. It's double-bunking, it's hell-holes, it's bad. He's put out there to sell a lie, and he's stuffed it up."
Gower suggested former Corrections Minister Judith Collins, known for her tough and uncompromising hardline stance on crime, could have made same announcement.
"You could use those numbers and come out and say 'hey, we've been tough on crime'. You could have put Judith Collins in Kelvin Davis' place today and she would have sold you a different story. All he's been given by Jacinda Ardern's spin doctors one day before she goes away is some lines about American-style prisons."