Paul Holmes destroyed current affairs television in New Zealand. He trivialised it to the point where it meant nothing. He took it from a place where reporters investigated stories to one where it became about “human interest”, feelings over facts, and cats up trees. He was all style and no substance. Worst of all, he made the stories about him, rather than finding out what was really going on. While it has to be said that this formed part of a general worldwide trend in journalism, he was the one that spearheaded it in New Zealand.
The worst aspect of his show was that he had no clue how to interview a subject. Invariably his “questions” would involve him talking at length, explaining the situation to viewers as he saw it, then asking the interviewee if he or she agreed. Most of the time these people would be embarrassed enough to bloviate a little. Occasionally, someone would call Holmes out on his bullshit and simply give a yes or no answer, leaving awkward dead air and a shuffling of desk papers as Holmes ambled back on through the silence in his classic, egotistical style. The end result was that one was normally left knowing less about the interview subject and more about Mr Holmes.
Apparently enough people found this entertaining such that it kept his show on air. Personally, I never understood his appeal.
On the other hand, it has to be said that he was an excellent talkback host, and one of the pioneers of that field in New Zealand. It’s a shame he didn’t stay with what he was good at. He was also one of the few media figures who tended to veer right, at least on some issues. So there were some positive aspects to him. But these do not merit the ridiculous fawning and slobbering over his corpse which has taken place in recent days. The likes of which may be his ultimate legacy – the media are simply following that dreadful blueprint left behind by the departed.