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Pack it in, Paul Holmes

By Willie Jackson

I've usually got along okay with Paul Holmes.

Like the rest of us, I've heard and seen enough of him as a radio and TV broadcaster to know what a talent he has.

At his best, he's been as lively and entertaining as anyone in the business. Quick-witted, articulate, good-humoured, gutsy and generally good-natured too.

But like too many of our prominent broadcasters, he also has a dark side, especially when it comes to Maori issues.

The same goes for Michael Laws, Paul Henry and Leighton Smith. They're all talented operators but they all share a toxic mixture of arrogance and ignorance about New Zealand and its history.

No doubt they'd deny that but they've all shown prejudices and stupidity too often for us to pay much attention to their smug, self-assured pronouncements about what's right and wrong with our society.

Perhaps Paul Holmes would be especially offended by the criticism because he's occasionally made a great show, through the years, of his connections with and his understanding of the Maori world.

There was even a time when he made a regular place on his TV show for Maori reporter Maramena Roderick.

But there have been other times, too many of them, when the show pony in him has taken over – and he's performed for the rednecks in his audience. That's what he's done once again in the Herald story he wrote the other day. If you haven't seen it, I wouldn't bother chasing it up now.

It was a rave about how unpleasant Waitangi Day has become – so he says, – thanks to the rude, ungrateful, grasping behaviour of Maori protesters. He called it a "bullshit" day and reckoned it should be abandoned.

I've no doubt that his message went down well with those thousands of Kiwis, like Don Brash for example, who can somehow ignore the facts and are stuck on the idea that Maori are already over-privileged – and that Pakeha are the ones being wronged. In fact, the other day I had a Radio Live caller who made the point that Holmes was reflecting a widespread view. The caller seemed to be suggesting that, therefore, the loony column was justified.

I don't see it that way at all. Those of us who have a platform in the media aren't there just to entertain. Nor is it our role to fuel prejudices.

We need to be entertaining but we also have a responsibility to pursue and present the truth.

If Paul Holmes now can't be bothered to do that job, he should pack it in.

Manukau Courier, 17th February 2012

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