Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien has called out Mark Richardson for leaping to the defence of Gerry Brownlee after the National MP took a swipe at a Newshub reporter in an on-camera blow-up.
Brownlee flew off the handle this week when a young reporter, interviewing the deputy leader on behalf of political journalist Anna Bracewell-Worrall, questioned him about health policy.
"Who's it, Anna Bracewell-Warren?" Brownlee responded, incorrectly pronouncing the journalist's surname.
"She should know better than to be asking this. Your people give me the shits. They're bloody lazy as buggery. They could've gone to Shane [Reti] today."
Discussing the attack on Wednesday morning, The AM Show sports reader Mark Richardson saw the funny side of Brownlee's response.
"I don't think there's anything in it. I mean, he's obviously annoyed and he's expressed he's annoyed, and he probably has a right to be annoyed," he said.
"It sounds like you every five minutes in the ad breaks," host Duncan Garner quipped, also branding the attack as "very unfair".
Newsreader Amanda Gillies called Brownlee's blow-up "a bit stink", particularly as the young reporter working on behalf of Bracewell-Worrall bore the brunt of his ire.
"Come on, Gerry, you've been around the block, you know what this is. You're not a new MP, you're not new to this game," she said.
Speaking on The AM Show, Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien bristled at Richardson's response to the attack, suggesting he apologise to Bracewell-Worrall for implying Brownlee's swipe was warranted.
It appeared Brownlee hadn't been briefed on the matters he would be discussing, O'Brien said, noting that National's health spokesperson, Dr Shane Reti, had been unable to provide comment on the policy earlier in the day.
"Speaking of lazy as buggery, get Anna Bracewell-Worrall's name right," she hit back.
"He wasn't right to say any of this. [Brownlee] had been put up by his team to talk on health matters because we couldn't get to Dr Shane Reti to ask about the Labour healthcare plan, because he was in a debate.
"His team must've forgotten to tell Gerry he was being put up on health issues. He absolutely spun out of control, all of it is caught on tape... and then he lashes out at one of our junior, absolute stars of our newsroom, an 18-year-old reporter... I'm sorry Gerry, but no dice."
However, she acknowledged the Ilam MP has since apologised.
"I should say Brownlee has unreservedly apologised, which you too Mark can do to Anna Bracewell-Worrall for saying it was warranted."
Richardson clarified he "wasn't having a crack" at the journalist, but was "having a crack" at the media in general.
"It shows he's human, it shows how humans actually act when they're under pressure, tired and haven't been given all the information," Richardson said. "You know what Gerry, I'm sort of with you - even if you're wrong."