TVNZ hits back after David Seymour blasts 'grinning' reporter, accuses journalists of 'enormous self-pity' as dozens face redundancy

ACT leader David Seymour has accused journalists of having a "delightful lack of self-awareness" and "enormous self-pity" and hit out at a TVNZ journalist amid hundreds of jobs facing the axe in the media industry.   

The comments come on the same day the state broadcaster confirmed up to 68 jobs were set to be slashed, raising questions about whether the comments were appropriate.     

Seymour told Stuff on Thursday there had been "enormous self-pity" from the media sector and some journalists had directed "anger at politicians for not giving them enough sympathy".    

Seymour also lashed out at the media on Newstalk ZB earlier on Thursday morning, where he was asked whether the downfall of some media organisations was their own fault.    

"That's not quite true," Seymour responded. "I think that the media landscape is changing and it's getting harder for them."     

Seymour then talked about advertisers shifting away from TV before having a go at 1News political reporter Benedict Collins for his alleged facial expressions.     

"I saw a report on 1News, Benedict Collins grinning down the camera about Chris Luxon's apartment costs," Seymour said.     

"These are the people that cry, 'Oh you've got to give us sympathy, and you're inhumane and you should be kinder to us". But they have spent years celebrating and dancing at every slip a politician makes, competing to get scalps as they call them and all of a sudden they say, 'Oh but when we have a bad day you've got to be kind to us'.     

Seymour is referring to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon facing scrutiny for claiming a $52,000-a-year allowance to live in his own mortgage-free apartment in Wellington instead of Premier House.    

Seymour believed it showed the media had a "delightful lack of self-awareness and immaturity".  

"Yes, I do think that is a big part of the problem. Yes, the technology is changing but there is also the problem of the product they're delivering through that technology," Seymour told Newstalk ZB.      

A TVNZ spokesperson told Newshub Seymour singled out Collins for doing his job.     

"That is, challenging politicians and policies across the political spectrum on behalf of New Zealanders," the spokesperson said.     

"We are not asking for sympathy, but are asking for our politicians to respect the independence of our media so they can get on with their work."     

But questions have now been raised about whether Seymour's comments were appropriate given he is one of two shareholding ministers of TVNZ, as Associate Minister for Finance.    

Newshub asked Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Thursday whether Seymour's comments were appropriate.     

Luxon said he hadn't heard Seymour's comments but added it was a "tough day for people at TVNZ".    

"What I want to say on TVNZ is it's incredibly unsettling and I do genuinely feel for the staff, and all media companies here and around the world are wrestling with a changing media environment. Importantly, we recognise it's a tough day for people at TVNZ," Luxon told media at a press conference at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.    

When questioned again about Seymour's comments by Newshub, the Prime Minister said he believes politicians of all parties "probably think they get unfair treatment from the media but the bottom line is you play a very important role in our democracy".    

It's not the first time Seymour and the ACT Party have lashed out at the media recently.     

ACT released a damning newsletter on Tuesday with similar comments to what Seymour made to Newstalk ZB.     

The newsletter, which doesn't disclose its author, says journalists "grin down the camera" at politicians' failures and have competed for decades for scalps.    

"They piled in on politicians who said Newshub's closure was the market in action, media are changing, and it's sad for the people involved but them's the breaks and other true and reasonable things," the newsletter said.