Bridges did well with one notable mistake

19 October 2018

It might be a different view from most commentators, but I think Simon Bridges has done well over the whole Jami-Lee Ross saga and has strengthened his leadership.

Firstly, just about everyone thought it was a mistake for him to even have an inquiry into the leak. I disagree. He had to find out who it was so that leaks didn’t keep happening. Imagine if this all came out a few weeks before the next election? It was good leadership to continue on with the enquiry despite what most people were saying.

Secondly, most commentators said he shouldn’t have had a press conference to announce that Ross was taking leave. Again, I disagree. He needed to get that story out of the way. If he hadn’t, the media would have kept bugging him about it. It’s best to get bad news out so the way is clearer for you to focus on more positive issues without the media bugging you about the bad news. Obviously at that point, we didn’t know what was to come.

Thirdly, he has fronted up well throughout with a clear message. That message has been “I’ve done nothing wrong” and “Jami-Lee should take any concerns to the Police.” While he still answered questions, he kept coming back to that. Lots of leaders shy away from media in these situations, but that only encourages speculation and leads to one-sided coverage.

So what’s the one mistake?

That first point shouldn’t have been “I’ve done nothing wrong.” It should have been, “I’ve done everything by the book.” It’s the same thing, but the second way of saying it comes across as a positive message, while the first one is negative.

A politician should never use the language of denial. Two that come to mind are, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” and “I’m not a crook.” The Bridges one is obviously nowhere near as bad as the others, but denying something always comes across as a bit suspicious.

If you or your team need a media training session, contact

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

Leave a comment

Fields marked * are required

My Latest Blog Posts

26 October 2023
Labour's costly campaign message mistake
12 October 2023
David Seymour's big mistakes
20 September 2023
Why Luxon won last night's debate

Subscribe to our newsletter and get our FREE ebook '5 Steps to Pain Free Media Interviews'

Get your copy now

Media Training NZ Limited
PO Box 105721
Auckland 1070
PO Box 36-251
Christchurch 8011
Email: Pete Burdon
Phone: 029 200 8555
Website by
Limelight Online