The wrath of social media descends on Mark Richardson

Jacinda Ardern: "It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children." Mark Richardson: "I think this is a ...

Jacinda Ardern: "It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children." Mark Richardson: "I think this is a legitimate question for New Zealand, because she could be the Prime Minister running this country."

OPINION: Was it just my imagination or did Mark Richardson seem slightly muted on The AM Show this morning?

On the surface it was business as usual, but it appeared to me as if the outspoken former cricketer was just a little less 'colourful' than normal.

(That said, when Duncan Garner vainly tried to start a conversation about having "multicultural friends", Richardson did ask if knowing someone from West Auckland counted.)

All smiles for The AM Show team - Amanda Gillies, Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson.

All smiles for The AM Show team - Amanda Gillies, Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson.

Whatever the case, you could hardly blame the guy - or MediaWorks - if he was hanging back somewhat today.

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Richardson sparked a furore on Wednesday after asking new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern about her baby plans and has now become something akin to New Zealand's public enemy number one.

Richardson is currently juggling more than a few balls in the air for MediaWorks.

Richardson is currently juggling more than a few balls in the air for MediaWorks.

He's even garnered (no pun intended) a level of international infamy for his comments, with stories running in The Guardian and The New York Times, among others.

And then of course there's Twitter.

Commentary on The AM Show host via the social networking service has ranged from well thought out and completely justified to downright offensive to absolutely and utterly hilarious.

Mark Richardson in his old role as a presenter on The Crowd Goes Wild. He used to say outrageous crap all the time on ...
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Mark Richardson in his old role as a presenter on The Crowd Goes Wild. He used to say outrageous crap all the time on the Prime sports show.

"Did Mark Richardson just pull his wetsuit pants down and take a [💩] off the side of his jet ski into New Zealand's ocean of equality!?" said Richardson's former The Crowd Goes Wild co-presenter Andrew Mulligan, one of the first to comment. (Referring to a story Richardson told on-air this Monday about having defecated into the ocean off the back of his jet ski.)

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"Mark's just heading home to binge watch The Handmaid's Tale," he later added, this time referencing the dystopic-future TV series in which women's rights have been systematically removed.

I asked Mulligan what he thought of all the flak his old colleague is copping, but he declined to comment on Richardson's current "predicament".

Mulligan wasn't the only fellow broadcaster firing out the jabs either. "I think Mark Richardson forgot what show he was on and asked for a Womb Reveal," punned Newstalk ZB's Marcus Lush.

Others put a bit more thought into their humorous takedowns.

But could it be that Richardson is simply a victim of his own success? (And I use that term very loosely by the way.)

He's been saying outrageous crap like this for years on The Crowd Goes Wild - it's just that that show's smaller audience never gave two hoots about Rigor's often preposterous pontifications.

Whereas his role on The AM Show (and occasionally as fourth host on The Project as well) is clearly to act as a sort of Paul Henry replacement - MediaWorks having substituted one grumpy, opinionated old right-winger for another in the wake of Henry's departure last year.

Whether or not this is a character Richardson plays up to for the purposes of his job, or more likely just an exaggerated version of his actual views and personality, it will be interesting to sit back and observe what MediaWorks will now make of one of their most visible on-screen identities. (Let's not forget he also hosts The Block NZ.)

Richardson has yet to respond after being approached via a publicist for comment on this story, but a reply from MediaWorks simply states: "Duncan said it best this morning," referring to a statement made by Garner on The AM Show shortly after 7am.

"We have become part of this Jacinda Ardern story," said Garner. "It was not our intention, but I want this show to discuss difficult issues - even if some issues are sensitive."

"Opinion and free speech is something we must treasure in New Zealand. We aren't all the same, and we won't all agree."

"Mark Richardson has a different view to me on whether women going for a job should be asked if they're planning to have a baby. I don't think it's anybody's business but their own - it's also against the law as well."

"But what I do support though is Mark's right to have his opinion."

 - Stuff

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