Say what?

Reporter slammed for asking prime minister ‘cringeworthy’ questions during TV interview

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (YouTube / 60 Minutes Australia)

Charles Wooley, a reporter for Australia’s 60 Minutes, has come under fire for what many have called a “cringeworthy” interview with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Wooley at one point during the report expressed his appreciation for Ardern’s appearance. “I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time,” he said. “But none so young, not too many so smart, and never one so attractive.”

Promos for the series described Ardern has a world leader “like no other,” who is “young, honest and pregnant.”

But perhaps the most uncomfortable part of the program came when Wooley questioned Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, about the conception of their unborn baby.

“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 she is expecting the baby to be born on June 17.

“It’s interesting how many people have been counting back to the conception … as it were,” Wooley went on. “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?”

Both Ardern and Gayford appeared somewhat taken aback by the line of questioning. Rolling her eyes, Ardern said, “The election was done. Not that we need to get into those details.”

After the interview aired, Wooley was widely mocked and criticized by social media users who were offended by his retrograde focus on Ardern’s looks and childbearing. “I assumed #60mins would have a second half of the Jacinda interview after the break that talked about her policies and political achievements,” one Twitter user wrote. “But… nothing. All we got was sexist comments about her looks and baby talk. Ugh.”

In an interview with Newstalk ZB, Wooley defended his comments against the backlash. “If you say somebody is attractive, my thesaurus defines it as 50 choices from good looking to gorgeous to likeable, there is so many different meanings,” he said.

Ardern has subsequently said that she was not offended by the interview, though she was surprised by the questions concerning the conception of her baby. Gayford, on the other hand, appeared to make a subtle jab at the segment on Twitter, where he posted photos of New Zealand’s Mokohinau Islands on Monday.

“Hey NZ this is you,” he captioned the images. “A perfect place to escape for 60 Minutes or longer where required.” Below, watch the full 60 Minutes segment on Ardern.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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