Willie Jackson hits out at Mike Hosking for 'rude' interview with Jacinda Ardern over COVID-19 response

Labour MP Willie Jackson has hit out at "shock jock" Mike Hosking after the Newstalk ZB radio host was "simply rude" to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an interview on Tuesday.

In a scathing post shared to Facebook, the Minister of Employment castigated Hosking for skewing his questions "towards the most negative possible assessment" of Ardern's handling of COVID-19.

Jackson began the post with a disclaimer, noting that politicians want to be held accountable by professional journalists. He expressed support for Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah, who revealed in an exclusive report that 63.5 percent of workers at Auckland's border and managed isolation facilities had never been tested for COVID-19, one week before the emergence of the current cluster.

Jackson clarified he wasn't angered by Morrah's investigation, claiming the Government welcomes the scrutiny of failures amid the pandemic so the issues can be immediately addressed.

"I wasn't angry at Newshub's Michael Morrah's journalism highlighting failures at the border, in this pandemic WE WANT TO KNOW if things haven't been done so that we can immediately fix those problems," Jackson wrote.

"But that's not what Mike Hosking was doing with Jacinda this morning on ZB.

"His framing of every issue he challenged Jacinda on was skewed towards the most negative possible assessment of her intentions.

"Hosking began by trying to blame the pandemic on the PM and then demand conclusions that the evidence doesn't actually support. We have to make decisions based on the best science, not the assumptions of a radio breakfast host."

During Tuesday's interview, Hosking asked Ardern whether the Government intended to "take over" both Invercargill City Council and Tauranga City Council amid rising tensions, with members of the latter calling for the resignation of Mayor Tenby Powell. The Prime Minister has the power to assist in local authority matters if an intervention is deemed necessary.

"Why on earth are you making such suggestions?" Ardern responded.

Hosking argued that the Department of Internal Affairs had written to both councils, stating they might involve the Prime Minister in their respective matters.

"And you're suddenly making the assumption that we're going to take over two councils... No, I think it's a ridiculous suggestion that we would take over a council," Ardern shot back. 

In his post, Jackson likened Hosking's claim that Ardern was preparing to take over two local councils to a conspiracy by National's deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee.

"This isn't journalism, it's partisan hackery!" Jackson continued.

"Mike Hosking is a right wing breakfast radio shock jock who is an angry mouth with all teeth and no tongue for wisdom."

Mike Hosking is the weekday breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.
Mike Hosking is the weekday breakfast host on Newstalk ZB. Photo credit: File

During the interview, Hosking also asked the Prime Minister if she had been embarrassed when the High Court ruled the country's first lockdown as illegal. When Hosking said the High Court had found the first nine days of the lockdown to be unlawful, Ardern hit back, calling his take "a completely incorrect summation" of the case. 

"No, no, not at all. I don't think that's a fair summary... What it found was that actually we had good grounds in terms of protecting people's health," she answered. "I found it quite a balanced judgment in the end."

Jackson also called out Hosking's reference to the Prime Minister being "caught with her pants down" as "simply rude".

It's not the first time the radio host has been labelled a "shock jock" by a political figure, with former Prime Minister Helen Clark hitting out at Hosking and other conservative commentators earlier this month over their outspoken opposition to legalising recreational cannabis.

Yet Newshub's Michael Morrah has also been the subject of an MP's ire in recent months. In a statement in June, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters labelled Morrah's investigation into the politics behind delays in introducing cameras on fishing boats "the worst form of unethical tabloid journalism", a claim Morrah strongly rejected.

Newstalk ZB has been contacted for comment.