Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealanders have criticised an Australian journalist’s description of Prime Minister Jacinda ArdernÂ as “creepy” and “sexist” after he termed the latter as “attractive” in a 60 minutes show that aired on Sunday night.
Journalist Charles Wooley in the opening segment of the show said: “I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time, but none so young, not too many so smart and never one so attractive.”
Strolling the corridors of Parliament House with the 37-year-old, Wooley went on to say that like the rest of New Zealand, he was “smitten” with their Prime Minister.
The concerned channel described the interview in promos as a behind-the-scenes special with a world leader “like no other”, who is “young, honest and pregnant”.
“Admittedly, although somewhat smitten just like the rest of her country, I do know, that what’s really important in politics has to be what you leave behind,” Wooley said.
The interview faced derision from many New Zealanders, who on social media defended Ardern at having to endure the overly personal line of questioning, and dismissed Wooley as misogynistic and inappropriate.
Many viewers said the interview was “repugnant”, “creepy” and “painful”.
“Commenting on Jacinda Ardern’s level of attractiveness doesn’t seem to be at all relevant to her ability as a nation’s leader,” wrote a Twitterer.
Another user tweeted, “What the fuck is wrong with this Aussie journalist?!?!”
The Journalist in the interview asked Ardern, “How did a nice person like you get into the sordid world of politics?”
“Nice people go into politics,” she replied.
Wooley’s questions about her pregnancy appeared to make her and her partner Clarke Gayford rather uncomfortable.
“One really important political question that I want to ask you,” Wooley said. “And that is, what exactly is the date that the baby’s due?”
Ardern replied that her baby was due on June 17, to which Wooley said, “It’s interesting how many people have been counting back to the conception … as it were,” which made Gayford blush and laugh uncomfortably, responding, “Really?”
“Having produced six children it doesn’t amaze me that people can have children; why shouldn’t a child be conceived during an election campaign?” she asked.
Ardern, appearing to roll her eyes, responded, “The election was done. Not that we need to get into those details.”
Although the overwhelming response to the interview was one of shock, some seemed to have enjoyed the casual style, describing the piece as “complimentary” of Ardern.
Wooley in response to the criticism said he had not questioned Ardern about domestic issues such as housing or tertiary education because those topics would not interest his Australian audience.
“If you say somebody is attractive, my thesaurus defines it as 50 choices from good looking to gorgeous to likeable, there are so many different meanings,” Wooley said, adding the segment rated well, though his wife had accused him of “gushing” over Ardern.
“On 60 Minutes they want to see this wonderful couple. I just loved being with them, I thought they were so much fun, such a breath of fresh air, you know it was just terrific to be with them.”
In her weekly media standup, Ardern said she did not find the interview offensive though she was initially taken aback by the question concerning the conception date of her child