'So crass': TV channel apologizes for filming N.Z. PM Jacinda Ardern breastfeeding

Jacinda Ardern, pictured with partner Clarke Gayford and baby Neve, appeared to nurse her infant after a government press conference. (Photo: Derek Henderson/Jacinda Ardern via AP)

Maternity leave may be over for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, but she’s still juggling her responsibilities as a first-time mom with leading her country. And while she is not opposed to addressing her constituents while cradling her infant daughter in her arms, many say a state broadcaster crossed the line when it filmed, and then posted, footage of the 38-year-old politician breastfeeding the baby.

As News.com.au reports, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) was accused of violating Ardern’s privacy following a press conference where she announced a ban on plastic bags. After her address, the new mother took her 8-week-old baby, Neve, to the back of the hall and appeared to begin nursing. A cameraperson for the broadcaster’s 1News channel captured the mother-daughter moment, and the footage was shared online — with the infant highlighted in a circle.

The video was taken down, however, following viewer outcry. Actor Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame was among those who thought the video was inappropriate.

TVNZ later issued an apology.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing the issue of single-use plastic bags, and that should have been our focus,” a TVNZ spokeswoman said in a statement to media outlets. “We accept the criticism. We got it wrong.”

Kristina Paterson, founder of the Mothers Helpers support group, told the New Zealand Herald that the footage amounted to a “violation of privacy.”

“Any filming of the prime minister with her baby should be only at the prime minister’s expressed consent,” Paterson said.

Ardern made history when she and partner Clarke Gayford welcomed Neve on June 21. She is the first world leader to give birth in office since 1990 and the first world leader to take maternity leave.

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