A failed New Zealand politician whose party downplayed the severity of COVID-19 has gained international notoriety, thanks to a truly brutal post-election interview on Kiwi television.
Advance NZ candidate Jami-Lee Ross, whose party secured just 1% of the preliminary vote on Saturday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern‘s Labour Party cruised to victory, was further demolished by Newshub journalist Tova O’Brien on Sunday.
It wasn’t for nothing, either: O’Brien took issue with Ross’ decision to partner with Billy Te Kahika Jr at the election, a man who opposed New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdowns, falsely claims 5G signals cause cancer, and alleges the UN is linked to straight-up Satanism.
“Your political career is in tatters,” O’Brien asked. “Do you have any regrets?”
Ross admitted Advance NZ’s effort “clearly wasn’t enough” to win over voters, but O’Brien didn’t let go, again asking the former Nationals MP if he regretted “peddling misinformation during the election campaign.”
On the decision to team up with Te Kahika, Ross admitted he was inspired by “growth on social media”, an apparent reference to the reach of Te Kahika’s conspiratorial posting (Advance NZ’s Facebook page was scrapped two days out from the election, with the company claiming it had shared COVID-19 misinformation).
“So it was purely political ambition,” O’Brien said. “You sold your soul for political ambition.”
It didn’t get much rosier for him from there, with O’Brien shushing him when he rattled off some talking points about the virus’ mortality rate and admitting the interview was “probably the last time we’ll invite you on” the program.
The interview has been watched nearly six million times on Twitter, where it has received a positive reaction from folks abroad who may not be used to the sight of journalists windmill dunking on a politician who teamed up with a conspiracy theorist.
O’Brien herself was surprised at the response to the interview, letting this one loose a short time ago:
Whoa! That’s quite something to wake up to
— Tova O’Brien (@TovaOBrien) October 18, 2020
If you want to be crushed like a little bug on television, all you need to do is blow up your career with one party, team up with a guy who refused to wear a face mask, and eat shit at an election. Simple.