"I just don't see it as newsworthy. You guys might, but I don't. I mean, they have to fly through somewhere. That's the base they use going into Baghdad, so pffft."
"Pffft" long being the international symbol of being in charge.
Key's political opponents rushed to call him "thoughtless and sloppy". They called him "careless" over security issues. At best, they said, he was "inconsistent".
But pffft, what they foolishly have not realised is that Key is a rare genius. An expert in all fields.
There is nothing Key does not know better than industry insiders themselves.
For instance, you might think that reporters and editors know what is newsworthy but that would be silly.
Here are some other areas in which the Pffft Minister is better than you.
1. Three-way handshakes
Please recall the time All Black captain Richie McCaw and Bernard Lapasset thought a standard one-on-one handshake during the 2011 Rugby World Cup would mark official celebrations. No! Key knew it would be better if he shoved his mitt in there too. That's actually what made it newsworthy.
2. Areas in which author Eleanor Catton is allowed to have opinions.
Catton gave her opinion on politics in her home country. No! Key said: "She has no particular great insights into politics, she is a fictional writer."
3. Television scheduling and programming.
In 2011, some fumblebums from TVNZ decided to put MasterChef on at 7.30pm on weeknights, bumping Coronation Street back to 5:30pm. No! Key stepped in. Saying it was "worth saving".
"Who's home at 5:30?" Key asked.
"It's got to be moved. I'll talk to someone important enough to see whether that can happen".
More recently, when asked if it was important for democracy to have in-depth news shows such as Campbell Live, he said: "Its role in life isn't to hold the Government to account, it is to entertain its viewers and follow news stories. A great many of those don't involve the Government, some do." So Key will decide what shows it is important for New Zealanders to see. Key will decide what is and is not newsworthy on those shows.
So, please, have some respect for the man. As if it's not enough leading and running a nation, Key has to do your job for you and if he can't physically do it, after all he doesn't have time to read books he will be questioned on, such as Dirty Politics, or the whole of The Luminaries, he can simply advise you how to do it.
A couple of weeks ago Australian commentator Miranda Devine nailed Leader Key's secret to success. She wrote: "He holds a daily press conference and does hours of talkback radio a week because he decided early on that he needed to dominate the news cycle. Often the TV nightly news features him in four or five stories, espousing common sense opinions on everything from spanking children to the performance of the All Blacks. It's his way of keeping his base on side."
However, Bryan Gould, a former vice-chancellor of Waikato University and former member of the UK House of Commons has a different opinion.
He says Key "serves the roles, variously, of national leader, moral guide, social commentator, sports journalist, pub drinking companion, comedian - and even politician.
"There is scarcely a television news bulletin which does not feature his appearance at some point in one or other of these roles."
But Gould probably nails exactly why the PM is an expert in everything. It is because media treat the Prime Minister as "virtually their sole determinant of what is news".
Although I did hear Key mention on Thursday that he "wasn't a travel agent" so I'm afraid the tourism industry will have to muddle its way through without prime ministerial guidance. If it can. Pffft.
Originally published in The Press