"I can report, after a couple of days off, that I've had plenty of sleep," the reporter later shared. "Thanks for your concern Prime Minister"
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Credit: Hagen Hopkins/Getty

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is making a kinder, gentler kind of headline this week after going viral on social media for playfully worrying at a press conference whether one of the reporters was getting enough sleep during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ardern had called on The New Zealand Herald‘s Jason Walls when he forgot his question and she replied that she was worried he wasn’t getting enough sleep.

The moment spread more quickly online because of the contrast it provided: President Donald Trump, whose success is built in part on confrontational style, has regularly been criticizing reporters during his own coronavirus briefings. (Trump defends himself as pushing back against unfavorable coverage he calls “fake news.”)

“We’ll come back to you, no problem,” Ardern, 39, told Walls. “I do worry about your sleep at the moment though, Jason.”

As the Herald noted, he had been “multi-tasking by covering Ardern’s responses live” when he “briefly forget his initial question.”

Earlier this week, Arden announced she and other New Zealand officials — similar to leaders in other countries — would take a 20-percent pay cut in a show of solidarity with workers stranded by the social distancing required to slow the virus.

“If there were ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” Ardern said Wednesday.

Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking to reporters earlier this month.
| Credit: Hagen Hopkins/Getty

Ardern was at one time the world’s youngest woman world leader having taken office at age 37. In June 2018, she also became the second world leader to ever have a baby while holding office.

Arden’s exchange with the Herald reporter this week was tweeted out by Joyce Karam with United Arab Emirates media outlet The National. That post has since been seen tens of thousands of times.

“At at time when journalists are under attack by US President, expelled by China, Egypt and censored by many authoritarian states, it’s heartening to see civility in leadership,” Karam wrote.

Walls, the reporter in the video, also had some good news to share afterwards.

“I can report, after a couple of days off, that I’ve had plenty of sleep,” he tweeted. “Thanks for your concern Prime Minister.”

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