Health Minister David Clark has effectively thrown Ashley Bloomfield under the bus while the crestfallen health chief stood next to him - and it was all caught on camera.
Speaking about quarantine bungles at a media stand-up yesterday, Clark said: "The director-general has accepted that the protocol wasn't being followed. He has accepted responsibility for that and has set about putting it right."
In the background, Dr Bloomfield looks down briefly, appearing dejected at the comment - a moment captured by a MediaWorks camera operator and described as 'brutal' by MediaWorks political editor Tova O'Brien.
The clip - which follows controversy over New Zealand's lax quarantine rules - has gone viral on social media.
Many people have been quick to defend Dr Bloomfield while also heavily criticising Clark, who broke lockdown rules on two occasions himself, and was demoted in the Cabinet by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
"Bloomfield was fronting every day doing what the Health Minister should be doing. Meanwhile, Clark was swanning around mountain biking," one Twitter user wrote.
"He didn't even follow lockdown himself," another said.
A week into the country's full-scale alert level 4 lockdown in April, a photo of Clark's van - complete with his face plastered on the side of it - was spotted at a Dunedin mountain bike park.
He admitted going for a bike ride and later revealed he had also taken a 20km trip to the beach, also during lockdown.
'Bloomfield has more class than that'
Reacting to the footage, other members of the public labelled Clark's move and failure to take any responsibility for the botch-ups as "spineless and cruel" and called for his resignation - again.
"Dr Bloomfield, the professional that he is, has been front and centre for months speaking for whole response while Clark has been (missing in action). Clark should be fired."
"Ashley Bloomfield fronted up nearly every day of the lockdown - probably didn't even rest on his rare days off," another tweeted.
"He kept us informed, didn't dramatise, just gave us the facts. He could have made mince meat of David Clark over mountain bike-gate, but the man has more class than that."
As of yesterday, New Zealand has 11 active Covid-19 cases all connected to recently arrived overseas passengers.
None of those people are in hospital and all are being quarantined.