New Zealand PM ‘Infuriated’ by Media Comparison to Trump

During an otherwise glowing profile on Tuesday’s NBC Today show of New Zealand’s newly-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, correspondent Cynthia McFadden pressed the pregnant 37-year-old socialist leader on whether she was the “Donald Trump of New Zealand” on the issue of immigration. Ardern angrily denied the charge.

“Ardern, former head of the young socialists, teamed up with the very conservative New Zealand First party. It would be a little like Bernie Sanders teaming up with Ted Cruz,” McFadden explained. Turning to Ardern, she fretted: “You know that The Wall Street Journal tweeted that you were ‘Donald Trump of New Zealand’ when it came to immigration. Respond to that.”

 

 

The Labour Party head blasted the comparison:

That infuriated me. It infuriated me. We are a party who, at the same time we’re campaigning to double our refugee quota. We are a nation built on immigration. I’m only a third generation New Zealander. The suggestion in any way that New Zealand wasn’t an open, outward-facing country, the suggestion that I was leading something that was counter to that value, made me extremely angry.

McFadden quipped to the leader of the island nation: “So you’re not building a wall?” Ardern assured her: “Absolutely not.”

Moving on from the contentious issue, McFadden gushed: “Make no mistake, there are deep political divisions in New Zealand, but all the people we talked to, even the ones who didn’t vote for her, are rooting for her. Some call it ‘Jacindamania.’”

Despite Ardern’s denials of the Trump label, The Wall Street Journal article published in September of 2017, just before New Zealand’s election, accurately described her immigration policy:

Annual net migration is at a record high. It hit 72,400 in the year to July, fanning criticism that the center-right National government, which has held power since 2008, has fueled economic growth with this influx. While GDP accelerated at 3% in the year through March, GDP per capita grew by less than 1% and had even contracted late last year.

Ms. Ardern wants to cut the annual net migration figure by up to 30,000 people a year to help more New Zealanders find work and own homes, as well as to take the pressure off infrastructure – especially in the commercial capital Auckland, which is often clogged with traffic.    

In the media and on the political left around the world, being compared to Donald Trump in any way is considered the ultimate insult.

Here is a transcript of April 17 exchange:

8:15 AM ET

(...)

JACINDA ARDERN: I joined a political party at 17. That meant I stood out to my peers, because that wasn’t normal.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Neither was how she became prime minister.

ARDERN: Are you with me?! [Cheers]

MCFADDEN: Ardern, former head of the young socialists, teamed up with the very conservative New Zealand First party. It would be a little like Bernie Sanders teaming up with Ted Cruz.

You know that The Wall Street Journal tweeted that you were “Donald Trump of New Zealand” when it came to immigration. Respond to that.  

ARDERN: That infuriated me. It infuriated me. We are a party who, at the same time we’re campaigning to double our refugee quota. We are a nation built on immigration. I’m only a third generation New Zealander. The suggestion in any way that New Zealand wasn’t an open, outward-facing country, the suggestion that I was leading something that was counter to that value, made me extremely angry.

MCFADDEN: So you’re not building a wall?

ARDERN: Absolutely not.

MCFADDEN: Make no mistake, there are deep political divisions in New Zealand, but all the people we talked to, even the ones who didn’t vote for her, are rooting for her. Some call it “Jacindamania.”

(...)

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