Craig focusing on 'upside' of media
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he is learning about the relationship between politics and the media the hard way, but is focusing on the "upsides" of recent controversial coverage.
The millionaire businessman hit the headlines again today, when he told a radio talkback host he neither believed nor disbelieved that man had landed on the Moon.
The coverage of that and reports on other "off-the-cuff" comments regarding conspiracy theories had surprised him, and was misplaced, he said.
"I think the media are mischievous because they will ask irrelevant questions and when I say, 'I don't think I'm who you should be talking to' then they take that as a point of view. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert," Craig said.
He is tipped as a potential MP next year, with his party's poll ratings climbing as the fortunes of the ACT party decline.
Owing to this rapid rise in status, he said he thought the media would want to ask him about "serious things", rather than chemtrails and big cat sightings.
"I think I've been really transparent and honest, I think the media like to create a bit of a storm," he said.
"At the end of the day I think there are actually some serious things we should be addressing, like jobs, and housing, and safety of our children, and falling education standards.
"Those are the things that take up my mind and those are what I want to comment about."
The fiasco began when, in the "Ask Colin" section of the Conservatives' website last week, Craig responded to a question about chemtrails.
"Our party has no formal position on chemtrails. I am aware of the theory that chemicals are being released at high altitude for some nefarious purpose, but don't know whether there is any truth in this or not."
He told Fairfax Media today that he had been simply being "honest and transparent" about his lack of expertise in this area.
"I'm genuine and honest, and if someone asks me a question that I don't know the answer to, then to say I don't know."
RadioLive host Sean Plunket last week bombarded Craig with questions about conspiracy theories, which Craig batted away, saying he was no expert in those areas.
Then TV3's Patrick Gower in his blog called Craig "crazy".
Speaking on RadioLive this morning Marcus Lush pressed Craig about his belief in the Moon landing, to which he responded: "I have no idea, mate. That's what we are told. I'm sort of inclined to believe it."
Prime Minister John Key has said he was not surprised by Craig's comments, and suspected "there's a bit of him winding [journalists] up".
Craig said his early experience with the media had not put him off future dealings.
When asked if the recent coverage was good for publicity's sake, he said it was possible.
"Obviously there are upsides to this.
"Most people understand that I do think we landed on the Moon. I do think that!"
He hoped discussion of serious issues did not "get lost" among the "show and games" that was the conspiracy frenzy, he said.
"While I understand the excitement, actually, there is some serious business we need to get done. We've got to remember there are some serious issues to get back to."