- I agree with some of what Eleanor Catton said. I’m not particularly outraged by Key’s response because if you accuse the Prime Minister of being a ‘neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, shallow and money hungry politician’ while speaking on the international stage he’s going to hit back.
- I do disagree with pretty much everything Sean Plunket said when he called Catton a traitor and an ‘ungrateful whore’ for criticising the government, partly because Plunket is a horrible clown, but also because almost everything he says about her is partly or completely wrong.
- EG. Catton wrote the bulk of The Luminaries in Iowa when she was an adjunct lecturer there, not ‘moonlighting on a government salary’ as Plunket claims.
- But yes, Catton is currently ‘paid by the government’. She teaches creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology where she is, I suspect, the lowest paid Booker Prize Winner in the world. It’s a bit like having Mark Zuckerberg teaching programming down at the local polytech. The employer/taxpayer isn’t really in a position to demand people like that keep their heads down and their mouths shut if they want to keep their jobs.
- Besides which you don’t really employ people at universities to buy their silence and political consent. That’s not how it works. Or, actually, unfortunately that is mostly how it works, but universities are supposed to be bastions for free speech and criticism.
- Plunket himself was ‘paid by the government’ for a very long time when he worked at TVNZ and Radio New Zealand, and he was extremely critical of the government (at least while the government was a Labour government.) Why was that okay for him but not for Catton?
- At about three minutes in Plunket calls Catton ‘an ungrateful whore’, for which he should, I think, apologise or be suspended or sacked, because really?
- Since Plunket is so outraged about this issue of conflicts of interests, it would be a good time to clear up the question of whether he himself has done media training for, or provides communications advice to the National MPs or Ministers he interviews or reports on, and on whose behalf he is so wroth with Catton today – a question he’s always dodged in the past.
Update: It’s been bugging me all day. Plunket’s ‘hua’ pronunciation is Ralphie from The Sopranos!