#1536 Paul Henry had to go

Photo: stuff

He had a good run, did our Paul Henry, with seven years in the hot seat at Breakfast, one of TVNZ’s best shows – and certainly the best early morning show New Zealand has to offer. I reckon it’s pretty safe to say that he made Breakfast what it was. Prime Minister John Key was quoted recently (in the wake of the Sir Anand Satyanand scandal), saying, “It’s not the Paul Henry show. It’s the TVNZ Breakfast show, and it’s important to remember that.” But that’s simply not true. A rolling current events show of Breakfast‘s type is all about the personality of its presenters, and between Paul Henry, Pippa Wetzell and Tamati Coffey, Henry’s screamed the loudest.

He was known as a brash, controversial, hilarious but unforgiving interviewer, and it had long been his schtick to simply say what the rest of us were all thinking. But he was bloody lucky to keep his job – there were some seriously dicey moments over the past couple of years. Remember Moustachegate?

But the one I have the most averse reaction to is this interview he did with Pamela Anderson when she was in New Zealand for Fashion Week last year. It’s a seven minute long leer-fest, it’s embarrassing, and it shouldn’t have been aired on TV.

As a broadcaster – especially one with so much power and popularity – Paul Henry had a responsibility to rise above the silly (and often immature) jokes that obviously came so naturally to him. But he got a little too comfortable in his position – and nobody is invincible.

His greatest mistake was an error of judgement – or the lack of an internal monologue. Maybe he’s New Zealand’s answer to Kanye West. But his remarks about the Governor General were unforgivable. TVNZ, as a state owned and funded TV network, could not possibly keep him on board. He had to go. There must be zero-tolerance on racial insensitivity.

The most disappointing aspect of the whole episode was TVNZ’s lukewarm apology immediately after the incident. It was only after the huge public outcry that they started to look into it seriously – and even then it seemed like the biggest worry was a possible drop in advertising revenue as a result of Henry’s remarks. It’s all about the bottom line.

Maybe he resigned of his own accord, maybe he was given the option to walk or be fired. Either way, Paul Henry had to go.

He said it best himself:

“I have apologised twice, and have meant every word. I again apologise to all those who were genuinely hurt by what I said.

However, it is clear that things have now reached a point where my actions will have to speak louder than my words.”

It’s the end of an era.


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  1. suresure says

    “…it had long been his schtick to simply say what the rest of us were all thinking”

    You’re as bad as the TVNZ spokesperson!

  2. Rebeccah Hhm says

    He had to go. How could TVNZ support his position? He had no ground to stand on in regards to the Governor-General comment. Or the intention behind it, actually. I don’t know why he ever thought that was ok, let alone funny.
    Didn’t a TVNZ guy quit over this, too? I wonder what the internal process around that would have been, if the public outcry hadn’t been so swift and loud?

  3. says

    Finally!! I agree Isaac, I can recognise that Paul Henry made Breakfast more entertaining for many with his jokes, laughter (mostly at his own jokes that weren’t really that hysterical) and slightly controversial nature, BUT it was not his show, and I cannot condone that we should accept any sort of racism from someone held up as a mentor in the public arena. It’s just not on. I also thought TVNZ’s response trivialised a very uncool insult. At 31 years old, I have lived in NZ since I was a year and a half years old and consider myself a Kiwi. I was not born here. I do not consider that my white skin and the fact that I have updopted a Kiwi twang to my accent makes me any more of a Kiwi than Sir Anand Satyanand. Many people are saying that this is PC BS gone mad, I disagree… I’m proud to live in a melting pot of cultures and I don’t believe we need to foster any racial negativity in the public arena. I have not seen the Pam video, will watch it now and thanks for the post.

  4. Spicoli says

    What about that time you used a pic of some black kids getting hosed into a gutter to promote yr lame club night?

  5. isaaclikes says

    Like I just said to the dude from The Corner, my only excuse is ignorance.

    p.s. It wasn’t my club night, and I’m not the promoter. I was just playing at the party.

  6. Guest says

    and spicoli should do some research before writing BS. It was actually The Roots album cover used as the poster. Not anything to do with isaac.

  7. oldgirl says

    It was like watching a 15 year old schoolboy in the morning ,and he made me laugh. Remember Alan,AlanAlan. it is still so funny to watch on youtube.I wonder what Billy.T.James would have made of all this fuss?

  8. steve says

    I personally dont think it was that racist.. I think someone called Sheila dikshit is genuinely funny as ****!! I am not racist..it is funny people we all need to laugh at ourselves a little more… Life is funny people have funny names!!
    I like Paul he stirred some ****, I want someone in the morning that is going to entertain me rather than some boring P.C prick that is too scared to offend someone!!

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