Paul Henry back and still brash
Paul Henry has controversial views on immigration, supports disgraced RadioLIVE hosts Willie and JT and claims he is spreading "the voice of God".
The television personality visited Nelson yesterday to give a talk at Club Waimea in promotion of his new book, Outraged. The book was touted as being "unleashed on to an unsuspecting public" by publisher Random House.
"That's not true. They shouldn't be unsuspecting," Mr Henry said. "If they're unsuspecting, where have they been?"
Mr Henry, 53, resigned under pressure from TVNZ in 2010 after a number of controversies, including ridiculing Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit and questioning whether then New Zealand governor-general Sir Anand Satyanand was "even a New Zealander".
He moved to Australia last year when he was signed to co-host a breakfast show, but returned to New Zealand after the show was canned in November due to low ratings.
Mr Henry said he did not take any of his prior brushes with controversy into account when writing the book. He was "really positive" about the situation in which he left New Zealand, saying he had never considered altering his public persona.
"I didn't see any reason to change anything about myself. I consider myself to be damn near perfect. Certainly better than everybody else."
Broadcaster MediaWorks announced in October that he would front new programme The Paul Henry Show screening on weeknights next year. He said he knew there had been speculation that the show may "dumb the news down" but claimed it would fully cover the day's events.
"Essentially, contained within it will be a news bulletin."
He said he would comment on and critique the news, querying what it meant to people like himself. He said he would unpack the relevance of stories if they deserved such treatment, saying serious news often did not deserve to be treated seriously.
"You've listened to this story all day . . . but, actually, weren't you just rolling your eyes to the back of your head thinking this doesn't affect me."
Asked about his thoughts on broadcasters Willie Jackson and John Tamihere, who were stood down from their programme following a public backlash against their handling of an interview with a friend of a girl who claimed to have been raped by the Roast Busters sex gang, Mr Henry said he did not understand why the public was upset.
"Why don't people just not listen if they don't like it?"
He said that complaining about the radio hosts would only "victimise" them, and would not help the woman or "advance New Zealand".
Although he said he did not enjoy Mr Jackson and Mr Tamihere's programme, he described those attacking the hosts as "vanguards for outrage". He used the same term to refer to people who had criticised his own outbursts, criticising them for becoming upset over events that did not affect their own lives.
Mr Henry said he was not concerned at being targeted by the "vanguard" now that he was returning to New Zealand screens.
"If other people don't like my opinions, then they can counter them with their own opinions, or they can just pay no attention to what I say."
He said he hoped his example would encourage other people to air their opinions, citing his right to free speech.
Part-way through this interview, he was interrupted by a real-life fan. "I really miss you from the television," she said.
Mr Henry said he tried not to take himself too seriously, saying other people often took him and his career more seriously than he did. He had never strived to make people like him, saying those who tried to please others were "entirely bland" and would be criticised regardless.
He was pleased to be back in New Zealand, saying he addressed his fondness for the country in the book: "We need to fight to keep it precious . . . I talk about bludgers, and immigration and things like that."
Mr Henry said his book was "almost the word of God".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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