Home > Media, The Body Politic > Tracey Watkins on John Key – Surprised?!

Tracey Watkins on John Key – Surprised?!


Media3 host, Russell Brown, talks with Fairfax political reporter, Tracy Watkins



Tracy Watkins is the Dominion Post’s political editor and has been reporting on politics from the parliamentary press gallery for over a decade.  She writes many, if not most, of the political stories for Fairfax Media (the Australian owner of the Dompost and other newspapers).

So she’s no ‘newbie’ and should know what’s going on politically.

Last weekend (18/19 August), Ms Watkins was a guest on Russell Brown’s “Media3“,  and top of the discussion was Fairfax’s new pollster, Ipsos, one of the biggest polling corporations on the planet.

Ipsos delivered it’s first poll-results at the end of July,


Full Story


This blogger wrote an analysis of the Fairfax/Ipsos poll, and concluded that we are still on-track for a change of government in 2014 – if not earlier.

See: On course for a change in government (Part Rua)

One of the most interesting aspects of the poll was the ‘revelation’ that John Key was becoming a polarising figure amongst the public,

A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women…


… Left wing commentator Bryce Edwards said there was a noticeable hardening in attitudes against Key, in line with the perception of a growing ideological divide with the Left, which opposes the sales.

“I sense more hostility towards him than there was, but I get the sense it’s among those who are predisposed to be against him.”

But after a year with the headlines dominated by asset sales, ACC, Nick Smith’s sacking, class sizes and the economy, Key is even losing his gloss among National voters, with one in four saying they hold a worse opinion of him than a year ago. “

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Russell Brown raised this issue with Ms Watkins,  @ 12.40 into programme.

Most interesting was this exchange  between Russell Brown and Tracy Watkins,

Russell Brown:  ” Was there anything in that first round   about how people were feeling  that surprised you?

Tracy Watkins:  ” There was actually and that was as a journalist it was a big call for me.

We had a story in the Sunday Star Time talking about how John Key had become more polarising. And I sort of struggled with that one because as a journalist you would say, ‘Ok well it’s not surprising that, y’know, people who don’t vote for national don’t like John Key’.

But we had the benefit of the open ended questions and the thousand responses from people. And Duncan Stuart , who’s a really amazing pollster who works for Ipsos , he made the call that Key was becoming more polarising on the basis that some of the comments about Key were very strong and very  disparaging and that was something that as a political commentator I hadn’t really come across before.”

(@17.57 into the programme)

It seems unbelievable. Tracy Watkins  who, as one of Fairfax’s most experienced political journalists, viewed  Key’s increasing polarising effect as something she “hadn’t really come across before” ?!?!

Where does Ms Watkins live – the dark side of the Moon?

It seems astounding that a journalist of Ms Watkins’ long service could be so out of touch with public sentiment. Indeed, she went on say,

And about Ipsos, behind it, I might’ve gone out into the street and asked ten  people; what do you think about John Key, but I still wouldn’t have written saying he’s become polarising…”

(@18.40 into the programme)


You wouldn’t have written a story about John Key becoming more polarising, even with public feedback telling you directly how people were feeling?!?!

Little wonder, Ms Watkins;  you seem to be out of touch with public sentiment.

There is no secret here and growing  public dissatisfaction with Key has been blindingly obvious, especially since last years’ elections. A cursory look at blogs;  internet fora; and the proliferation of anti-Key/anti-National pages on social websites should be enough to offer a clue that Dear Leader is no longer quite so beloved by many New Zealanders.

When Key was first elected as Prime Minister, those who had no love for National waited with bated breath as to how he would perform.

As time went by, and with an inept government that seems to be incapable of generating the jobs that they promised us last year, that nonchalence slowly morphed into an irritation; and then  resentment; and now outright anger.  This feeling has been generated by implementation of hardline policies that voters had only a barest understanding. It is a feeling that has been growing for the last nine months, and which was reflected in steadily dropping polls and weakening support for Key as  preferred Prime Minister.

How could Tracy Watkins have missed all this?

It should not take a polling company from overseas to acquaint a seasoned political reporter with over ten years’ experience as to what her own countrymen and women are feeling. When politicians lose touch with the public, we view that with distaste.

When a journalist loses touch, that is cause for grave  concern.

What else is she missing?



= fs =

  1. Clayton N
    21 August 2012 at 5:55 pm
  2. Mark
    21 August 2012 at 5:57 pm

    She’s been a cheerleader for Key since forever. She went on his recent tour of Europe with him. She was one of the main people trumpeting “National’s got it in the bag!” at the last election (and the 3 years before that) which caused so many voters not to bother. I really object to her, can you tell?

  3. 21 August 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Great work Frank!
    To be fair to our Trace, it must be extremely difficult to hold an objective view of dear leader when he’s taking you along on his overseas trips. If she wasn’t clouded before her jolly jaunts with Key to the United States and Europe, she certainly was by the time she got back.
    Hey, were she and Paula Bennett separated at birth?!

    • Priss
      21 August 2012 at 8:32 pm

      Separated and birth but with Bennet dropped on her head.

  4. 21 August 2012 at 6:14 pm


     “Noting that her latest outpouring of John Key adoration was filed from Brussels, I called Fairfax’s press gallery number this afternoon, and spoke to senior political reporter Vernon Small, who confirmed that Watkins was indeed with the Prime Minister, before noting cheerfully that “When Key travels, we travel too”.”

    • Theodore
      21 August 2012 at 7:26 pm

      You write some good stuff (excuse the pun) Neil. I stopped reading the DumbPost when I couldn’t stand them sucking up to Key and his mates.

      At least the Herald gives better coverage.

      • 21 August 2012 at 7:41 pm

        Cheers Theadore.
        It’s a labour of loathe. 😉

      • 21 August 2012 at 7:43 pm

        * Theodore. Apologies. Bloody iPads!

  5. Ralph
    21 August 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I’d just be happy that she has finally twigged and is willing to say it….slow but not stupid.

  6. 21 August 2012 at 6:30 pm

    She hasn’t come across this kind of polarisation before?? Huh indeed Frank, Don Brash was soo polarising, particularly in his Orewa speach where he managed to offend Maori and women in one fell swoop. Incidently I’m sure you haven’t forgetten, but that election was John Key’s first forray into politics and he was Brash’s right hand man at the time….

  7. Matthew
    21 August 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Lesson Number 1. Journalists are easily (and cheaply) bought. No sooner than you can spell the word sycophancy then they’ve racked up another stamp on their passport. It’s all a bit too bloody cosy.

  8. fury12
    21 August 2012 at 6:32 pm

    No wonder my comments in her damn articles don’t get published…She’s on John Key’s payroll…Buggar her!

  9. 21 August 2012 at 6:32 pm

    methinks perhaps Tracey has become another Nactzi lapdog…

  10. Wai
    21 August 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Quite frankly..If you did an honest poll on the people she is talking about..it would be safe to say the majority of them have only lived in NZ for the past !0 years or so and do not know the history of asset sales..The rest are still DRUGGED AND HAVE NOT WOKEN UP…A BIT LIKE THE TRACY AND THE PERSON INTERVIEWING HER…STILL ROBOTIC..SAME QUESTION SAME ANSWERS…

  11. Jenny
    21 August 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I think when a political journo can’t write objectively, they should toss it in. Tracey’s relationship with the PM has clouded her judgement as plain for all to see. She is embarrasing to read.

  12. Theodore
    21 August 2012 at 11:25 pm

    neilwatts :

    * Theodore. Apologies. Bloody iPads!

    No, you were right first time. Labour of loathing describes it perfectly.

    • 22 August 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Haha, no man, I totally meant “LOATHE”.
      I was apologising for spelling your name wrong. Journalistic pride. Some writers still have it… 😉

  13. SpaceMonkey
    22 August 2012 at 8:53 am

    Calling Tracey Watkins a journalist is too kind. She is a JK minion – by definition: a servile or slavish follower of somebody generally regarded as important. At best she could be called a reporter. If it’s dark in her world it’s because she’s too far up her leader’s sphing-sphing.

  14. Denny Weisz
    22 August 2012 at 11:07 am

    Yeah Frank .. probably worn out a few sets of knee pads.

  15. Neil
    22 August 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Not surprising at all this from Tracey – she’s totally in love with Key – she’s even gone as far as to try and look as much like Paula Beneficiary Basher as she can ‘cos she knows John loves Paula…..LOL!!!

  1. 19 September 2012 at 8:32 pm

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