The Dim-Post

August 13, 2014

Dirty Politics Summary

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:40 pm

Hager’s basic hypothesis is that John Key’s National government uses a ‘two tier’ communications strategy; positive communications, which are focused around John Key, who is presented as ‘relaxed’ and decent, and negative/attack communications, which are conducted covertly by senior staffers in Key’s office and fed to the media mostly – but not exclusively – through Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil blog.

His evidence for all of this consists of a huge quantity of Slater’s Facebook messages many of which are to and from Jason Ede, the longest-serving press officer in the Prime Minister’s office. The primary allegations regarding Ede are:

  • He was involved in accessing the Labour Party’s computers in the lead-up to the 2011 election
  • He tips Slater off when an OIA is about to be released to an opposition party or media outlet, telling Slater to request the OIA, which he is then provided with before the original requestor. Slater then publishes the information on his blog with a pro-National spin
  • He is implicated in advising Slater to request classified SIS documents, which were then declassified and quickly released to Slater to embarrass Labour leader Phil Goff
  • Ede advised Slater on the wording of OIA requests to conduct a smear campaign against MFAT staff protesting Murray McCully’s restructuring of their department.

The book also documents the close friendship between Slater and Justice Minister Judith Collins, alleging:

  • Collins is the source of much of the material for Slater’s ‘tipline’, attacking Labour MPs and her enemies within the National Party.
  • When she was Minister of Corrections Collins appears to have had a prisoner transferred at Slater’s request, because a friend of Slater’s didn’t want her daughter visiting her imprisoned ex-partner and Slater arranged to have the man transferred to a more remote prison. The prisoner later attempted suicide. [Update: Hager has said - and the book does, actually say, that Slater accomplished this through a prison officer, not Collins.]
  • Collins discusses the illegal leaking of police evidence with Slater and publication of the evidence on Slater’s blog (at the time she was Minister of Police)

One of Slater’s primary collaborators is the political strategist Simon Lusk. Allegations:

  • Lusk and Slater charge aspiring National politicians to help them win candidate selection in National safe-seats by running attack campaigns against their opponents. The book documents an extensive smear campaign in the Rodney electorate in 2011, in which Lusk and Slater successfully elected their client Mark Mitchell, who is now the MP for Rodney.
  • Lusk and Slater, and Jordan Williams routinely game the iPredict site, spending small amounts of money to move the prices around and then blogging about the movements.
  • Lusk was hired by Brash to help replace Rodney Hide as leader of the ACT Party. Lusk – evidently without Brash’s knowledge – found out from Jordan Williams that Rodney Hide had been sending ‘dodgy texts’ to a young woman. Slater published hints about this on his blog and Lusk proposed that they approach Hide quietly and ‘tell Hide that someone had the texts and will release them if he doesn’t resign by Friday’. Hide resigned.

Much of the material published by Slater under his name is actually written by Carrick Graham, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Allegations:

  • Graham also comments extensively on WhaleOil, using pseudonyms, often under his own posts. His pseudo-anonymous comments are incredibly racist and misogynistic.
  • Graham pays Slater about $6500 a month for publishing pro tobacco, pro alcohol PR, written by Graham but published under Slater’s byline.
  • Many of the posts are vicious attacks against academics that publish scientific research that upsets Graham’s clients.

Other noteworthy allegations:

  • Slater has a friend who is a former-prostitute, who asks around brothels to find out if his political enemies have been to them. Len Brown, John Boscowan, Labour MPs, the Herald’s editors and Duncan Garner are all named as people Slater has attempted to ‘dig dirt’ on in this manner to ‘apply pressure’.
  • Jordan Williams edits the Wikipedia pages of Labour MPs and writes smears about their sex lives
  • Content on David Farrar’s Kiwiblog is written by National’s communications staffers

That’s not even close to an exhaustive list. Just the things that jumped out at me.

I think the primary focus here should be on Jason Ede. Cameron Slater, Jordan Williams and David Farrar are National Party activists, but Ede is paid a (large) salary by the taxpayer to help John Key run the country but his actual job seems to consist of activity that is highly unethical and – occasionally – almost certainly illegal.

Key has already dismissed Hager’s book (‘left-wing conspiracy theory’) so it looks like he might try to bluff this out. I really, really, really doubt that will work.

About these ads

104 Comments »

  1. Jordan Williams has a blog?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — August 13, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

  2. How much of this is taking what Slater says about his exploits at face value.

    The talks himself up and is a bit of a fantasist. Not the most reliable of sources.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 12:00 am

  3. Not National Party aligned, and former staffer, Neil M? :) From what I’ve heard (but wont read the book until tomorrow) the issue is the back and forth discussing what’s going to happen, then seeing that it appeared on whale oil… hard to pin this on Slater being full of shit when there are more people than him involved, and blog posts that back it up.

    Comment by SimonS — August 14, 2014 @ 12:19 am

  4. Your summary makes clear that Cameron Slater is a cretin, with dubious ethics (at best). However, as far as John Key is concerned it seems to be all an attempt to ping him through guilt by association.

    Comment by Mark — August 14, 2014 @ 12:20 am

  5. Lusk was hired by Brash to help replace Rodney Hide as leader of the ACT Party. Lusk – evidently without Brash’s knowledge – found out from Jordan Williams that Rodney Hide had been sending ‘dodgy texts’ to a young woman. Slater published hints about this on his blog and Lusk proposed that they approach Hide quietly and ‘tell Hide that someone had the texts and will release them if he doesn’t resign by Friday’. Hide resigned.

    And that would be blackmail, punishable by 14 years imprisonment. The fact that the target was an MP and it was done specifically to interfere with democracy is surely an aggravating factor.

    Comment by idiotsavant23 — August 14, 2014 @ 12:23 am

  6. Is this a Crosby/Textor strategy is it?

    Comment by Setonend — August 14, 2014 @ 12:31 am

  7. If it’s about what Slater “publishes” on his blog and Facebook then it’s not so much Hager connecting dots but connecting smudges.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 12:32 am

  8. Sounds desperate, neilm. Not on the payroll we hope?

    Comment by KS — August 14, 2014 @ 12:41 am

  9. Great summary Danyl, just finished my copy now.

    The PMs office hacking the Labour computer system, and then lying about it. Wow. That’s some watergate level shit, and needs to be investigated ASAP. I’d expect a police complaint surely?

    It’s speaks to a deeply sick culture of out of control megalomaniacs. Incredible abuse of power and raw ugly contempt for anyone and anything that isn’t part of #TeamKey?p.

    Judith Collins is having a long night I suspect. Moving a prisoner as a favour for a mate is generally considered pretty fucking corrupt.

    Comment by Oh Busby — August 14, 2014 @ 12:47 am

  10. “it looks like he might try to bluff this out. I really, really, really doubt that will work.”

    Danyl, you are more optimistic than I am about the competence and commitment of both the fourth estate and the (official) opposition. Judging by early reactions, from media people who haven’t read the book before responding (Henry, Hosking, TVNZ’s Boyed), the word “Hager” automatically removes any interest in investigating further.

    TVNZ is so shamefully pusillanimous, it has achieved the impossible: making Paul Holmes seem like the king of a golden age.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 14, 2014 @ 12:47 am

  11. Neil, it’s about what the Prime Minister is doing. Slater is just a smear on the landscape, but the PM is the most powerful person in the country. If what the PM is coordinating is illegal and substantiated by strong evidence (emails between his office and others), then things are very different.

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 12:49 am

  12. Moving a prisoner as a favour for a mate is generally considered pretty fucking corrupt.

    Yeah, that’s corruption of the office of a Minister.

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 12:50 am

  13. I find the deliberate naivety of Hagar around this two track communications approach completely staged and, given your connections danyl and interest in politics, it seems odd you are buying into it. It’s like everyone has forgotten the role Trevor mallard and mike Williams played in the last government giving Helen Clark plausible deniability. And of course mike Munro never leaned on anyone or placed stories with friendly media, and labour never used the unions as proxies or provocateurs.

    There have always been government henchmen willing doing dirty work behind the scenes – willing to rid their masters of turbulent priests. Even the saintly greens had young clint masquerading on blogs. If you’re going to claim a new low in politics don’t you have to genuinely compare what has gone before? it’s this lack of context and seeming unwillingness to investigate (based on his muddled response to Paul Henry) that makes this book appear less than the exposé he’s hyping it as.

    Interesting on Paul Henry that Hagar himself couldn’t name one thing that stood out in the bookas a major hit. He doesn’t seem to think the SIS thing is as noteworthy as our host.

    Comment by insider — August 14, 2014 @ 12:52 am

  14. Spot on Insider. The book alludes to the relationship the National Party has with a right wing blogger. Whoop de fucking doo. Do any of you stop and think that EXACTLY the same crap goes on with the left wing blogs which are ridden with vile bile and personal attacks. Presland is best mates with Cunliffe and literally regurgitates his talking points word for word. Bradbury on the other hand, takes cash to write stories for Dot Com. It’s what ethically challenged, partisan bloggers do. There isn’t any actual evidence in the Hager book that will stand up in Court. It’s all hearsay. If guilt by association with Cameron Slater is all Hager has, I seriously doubt this will stop Key from winning a third term.

    Comment by Mark — August 14, 2014 @ 1:00 am

  15. If what the PM is coordinating is illegal…

    I watched the Campbell interview and most of what I saw presented as evidence was social media gossip, Slater mouthing off.

    DPF’s blog written by staffers? Bollocks. He has the occasional guest post but mostly it is very clearly his own voice.

    It’s all a bit slim.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 1:02 am

  16. Wait, I can’t believe this… the “speed reader” that the Henry show got to review the book was Charles Finny of the leading lobbyist firm Saunders Unsworth?

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 1:08 am

  17. I find it hard to imagine any civil servant moving a specific prisoner at the request of a minister. Are you sure these aren’t the fantasies and mutual back slapping of clubmates? That said I can imagine Colins being dumb enough to ask based on her Chinese performance. I just don’t think a CEO would accept such a request even in writing. And Corrections leaks all the time. No doubt a bunch of OIAs will be in corrections’ inbox tomorrow.

    Comment by insider — August 14, 2014 @ 1:11 am

  18. @ George

    Guess who mark unsworth holidays with? Surprising Wayne eagleson’s name hasn’t come up today.

    Comment by insider — August 14, 2014 @ 1:15 am

  19. I’m inclined to think that the recent police apology was a more significant political event than the fantasies of Hager and Slater.

    But that apology has revived very little attention from those wanting to debate the “real” issues.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 1:21 am

  20. Nothing to see here. Everyone knows this already. Other parties do it. Out of context. Fairy story. Work of fiction.

    Bingo.

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 1:30 am

  21. The problem isn’t the proxies or the placement of stories (blah blah bah, yes, everyone knows about it, keep repeating the bingo card line, ad infinitum, whatever).

    The problem is the misuse of power via privileged access to information, strategically timed OIA requests, blackmail, threats and manipulation. That’s actually extremely serious. It goes beyond the information presented in the book, suggesting a general lowering of standards—a willingness to accept blackmail and standover tactics as acceptable ways of doing business. This conflicts with the deep sense of fairness that many people feel is one of New Zealand’s core values. But ideas of fairness will disappear over time if these behaviours become more widespread and accepted. New Zealand’s culture will end up in a similar place to other countries where bribery, blackmail and force are the only way to ever get anything done (I’d like to think that it isn’t there yet, but there are various worrying signs).

    The issues raised by Hager’s book are going to pan out as a bit of a litmus test for the actual state of democracy, accountability and fairness in NZ—whether or not standards actually have been eroded as much as the Key government’s detractors claim.

    Punishing bullies is a fairly universal social code. This is essentially what’s happening with the massive public reaction to Hager’s book, at least at a mythic, or narrative level. At a political level, we’ll just have to wait and see which way the lawsuits blow.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — August 14, 2014 @ 1:53 am

  22. Insider the author’s surname is Hager and you should never put a comma before an and! And (sic) never start a sentence with it. PS You sound like an astroturfer but just not a very good one.

    Comment by flotsy — August 14, 2014 @ 2:01 am

  23. I pity David Cunliffe. I bet he’s sitting up all night trying to decide whether to go on the attack tomorrow. My guess is that he will stay “above the fray”, and deplore negative politics. Leaving Winston to take the lead, and harvest several percent of disgusted National voters.

    Comment by Alistair Connor — August 14, 2014 @ 2:28 am

  24. I see DPF is running his usual defense line when he’s accused of bias.

    “I started this blog because I like to debate” (DPF very rarely engages with commenters on substantive issues – his blog is more of a lecture series than a debate forum, at least for him)

    “I disagree with National sometimes” (Never on anything substantive, and it’s almost always criticism of National’s presentation, never their intent or honesty)

    He also managed to sneak in some bragging about how successful Curia is.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 14, 2014 @ 3:27 am

  25. Yes, blackmail is a crime. It’s also very defamatory if not correct. Did Hager check this with Hide before printing his book like any good “journalist” should?

    Comment by Nick K — August 14, 2014 @ 6:13 am

  26. Cheers for the overview, Danyl. Much appreciated.

    And great to see our resident Tory Spin-meisters, Insider and NeilM, working overtime, each still feverishly regurgitating your list of likely excuses (around 1am)without, apparently, even the remotest sign of intended irony.(Takes me back to the days when NeilM was indulging in the same sort of hyperactive disinformation campaign during the last Mossad scandal, bless his little cotton socks).

    Comment by swordfish — August 14, 2014 @ 6:28 am

  27. Shock… horror… Cameron Slater has ties with the National Party, every one knows this, because his father was a National MP.

    My understanding is that the source of information for Hager’s latest publication was from six years of stolen emails hacked from Slater’s Gmail and Facebook accounts. How did Hager get this information? Isn’t it illegal to hack a personal account? Hager is just another hypocritical left wing conspiracy theorist with a do as I say not as I do mentality. It is OK for him to use dodgy hacked, no stolen, material but others cannot do likewise.

    I will make a prediction that this work is mostly fictional.

    Comment by David Lloyd — August 14, 2014 @ 7:11 am

  28. I agree its unethical, but the only illegality I can see is accessing LP Computers, which some have said contains stuff which is in the public domain. The Judith Collins stuff is right up there, certainly unlawful if proven. But i can’t help but delight in the irony of people getting in a froth about the ethicality of stealing information from a book written using siimilsrly accessed info. The book is compiled from similarly accessed material, but that’s ok because the author is a journalist. I’d respect that mantle if a similar expose TLP and left-leaning blogs were included in the expose.
    Don’t misunderstand if this is true, it is serious stuff, and i would want to know about it, but there’s more smoke thsn fire in Danyl’s list – at this stage I think.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 14, 2014 @ 7:14 am

  29. Wow, the National party shills having been posting long into the night – https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bu6DziXCQAAQqAf.jpg to steal an image from Danyl’s twitter feed.

    And it took the Key sycophants all of about three seconds to blink then go into deep, deep denial.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 7:18 am

  30. who the hell is “David Lloyd”? I guess lots of previously unknown commentators with Beehive IP addresses will pop up all over the blogsphere today. All very Putinesque.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 7:20 am

  31. @David: Slater’s dad was the National Party President, but he was never an MP.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 14, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  32. How did Hager get this information? Isn’t it illegal to hack a personal account?

    Oh, do piss off “David Lloyd”. There’s lots and lots of information about how this information came into Hager’s possession. Do some reading before you type.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 14, 2014 @ 7:27 am

  33. you should never put a comma before an and!

    You’re wrong, and I have to say what a lovely day it is! And remember:

    1.Avoid Alliteration.Always.
    2.Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
    3.Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
    4.Employ the vernacular.
    5.Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
    6.Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
    7.It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
    8.Contractions aren’t necessary.
    9.Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
    10.One should never generalise.

    Comment by Ross — August 14, 2014 @ 7:30 am

  34. just to show how this toxic web of unethical behaviour works amongst the entitled National party elite, people might be interested to know that Carrick Graham is the son of former National Cabinet Minister Sir Douglas Graham, he of Lombard finance fame.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  35. I will make a prediction that this work is mostly fictional.

    David Lloyd’s justice system, in action:

    “Your honour, my client has been accused of ten crimes, but I believe he is only guilty of three of them. Therefore he should be acquitted of them too.”

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 14, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  36. Carrick Graham is an expert on crisis management…

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10707509

    Comment by Ross — August 14, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  37. @flotsy apologies I stay up beyond your bedtime. It’s obviously a plot funded by the right wing manufacturers of nodoze. Or I could have been taking kids to activities doing the dishes and watching tv. I know what hager would choose.

    It does seem odd that when a highly political story gets posted on a political blog, people who don’t bow down to hagers wide-eyed act get labelled as astroturfers. Seems a particularly hageresque analysis. You’re not using a pseudonym are you nicky?

    I think Guyon espiner nailed it on morning report. It’s not about ministers and staffers leaking tactically and working to embarrass their opponents (many of whom are inside the party – see slaters attacks on a range of ministers. ) This is purely about distaste for slater because hager has no qualms about dotcom’s hidden funding of a blogger, or taxpayers funding labour and green staffers blogging and attempting to drum up scandals.

    Comment by insider — August 14, 2014 @ 8:10 am

  38. I guess lots of previously unknown commentators with Beehive IP addresses will pop up all over the blogsphere today. All very Putinesque.

    Be a great day to give up on the inclusiveness thing and just ban proven Tories from liberal blogs.

    Comment by richdrich — August 14, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  39. … it seems odd you are buying into it.

    Odd? Are you kidding me? There’s an election to be won and this provides the perfect opportunity for all the favourite left-wing activities of red-faced righteous indignation, finger wagging and getting all outrageously outraged.

    It might work and it certainly did in the US during the eight years of Bush. Following that path I’d look to Key using the Obama playbook: refuse to cooperate, refuse to set up any independent inquiry, claim that there’s not even a smidgen of corruption, attack Hager and others as conspiracy theory nutters (in progress), and laugh the whole thing off as standard partisan politics.

    That’s worked too.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 14, 2014 @ 8:22 am

  40. Dotcom? Dotcom? wow, for the right Mr. Dotcom is assuming the role of a portmanteau satan, to be trundled out and blamed wherever possible. I see Farrar is also wildly lashing about like a cornered mini-me Balrog and also making totally made up accusations about Dotcom by way of diversion. The frantic running backwards and forwards with boxes of squirrels, the desperate pointing skyward and screeching “LOOK AN EAGLE!” and the general stuffing of chubby right wing fingers into the ever-increasingly leaky dike tells me the Nats are desperately worried.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 8:24 am

  41. “for the right Mr. Dotcom is assuming the role of a portmanteau satan, to be trundled out and blamed wherever possible.”

    If only everybody was as pragmatic and realistic about Dotcom as you, huh.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 14, 2014 @ 8:31 am

  42. Is there an acid test for how plausible Hager’s assertions are? If it is, surely how quickly people lose focus and interest and start talking about Dot Com again could be one of them…

    Comment by LeeC — August 14, 2014 @ 8:38 am

  43. refuse to cooperate, refuse to set up any independent inquiry, claim that there’s not even a smidgen of corruption, attack Hager and others as conspiracy theory nutters (in progress), and laugh the whole thing off as standard partisan politics.

    This usually works in NZ, because if it starts to look even possible that the PM (or whoever, Collins or Joyce quite often) will come out the other side, then they get very nervous about losing their access and sources, embarrassed among their peers, being and frozen out in a media wasteland. There are very few who will risk this more than occasionally.

    So we’re seeing (already) journalists drop the stories, and try to look for an angle that makes this about Labour. That’s much safer for them.

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  44. And here’s journalist Sharyl Attkisson casting Watergate into the modern world:

    ATTKISSON: I think that we’ve gone backwards since that time when we really felt empowered as journalists. And I like to think as what would happen today during a Nixon type scandal, Nixon would basically refuse to turn over tapes to congress, his aides would refuse to testify to congress or would take the fifth or would lie to congress with fair amount of impunity. Woodward and Bernstein will be controversialized on social media by special and political interests.

    RADDATZ: Well, this is all very depressing–

    ATTKISSON: — Facebook accounts. And then at the end, Nixon would go on a popular late night comedy show during which time he would humorously refer to his attackers as people that were political witch hunters who believe in Area 51 type conspiracies.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 14, 2014 @ 8:45 am

  45. “…Is there an acid test for how plausible Hager’s assertions are..?”

    Most people commenting haven’t yet read the book, we should all thank Danyl for doing so and providing us with such timely informed views. Most talking heads from the right – Hoskings, Henry, etc – won’t bother reading the book at all. They’ll just parrot the government attack lines. The journalists who have to read it are either still penning their stories or haven’t finished it yet. It is what happens after that that is important.

    If the usual suspects – the Herald editorial writers, the infotainment news providers of the MSM – simply bury the allegations with the same dismissive lines as the government then we can just about call time on even the myth we have a functioning fourth estate, and start moving towards working out how far people who love deomcracy might legitimately go to oppose an authoritarian state.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 8:53 am

  46. Cunliffe saying there’s no left wing blog equivalent to Slater is a bit disingenuous.

    The Standard rates up there in unpleasantness and there’s a level of anonymity that is designed fudge accountability. And it has surfactant links to Cunliffe.

    A real investigative journalist would look at the broader picture of how some blogs demean political discussion.

    Next Hager might surprise us by revealing Russell Brown is partial to the Labour Party.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 8:54 am

  47. who the hell is “David Lloyd”?

    Well, if it’s the David Lloyd I know he’s a thoroughly nice fellow and well regarded project manager.
    Loves motorbikes but doesn’t think much of lefties.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 14, 2014 @ 8:55 am

  48. Apparently Cameron Slater was making threats about exposing well known journalists when interviewed by Mike Hoskings on ZB this morning.

    QED.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 8:56 am

  49. Given how useless the MSM is in NZ the playbook might be even simpler here; just refuse to front Key or Collins on any radio or TV current affair show and let the 72 hour news cycle run until a cat is stuck up in a tree.

    For those who don’t think that something as simple as this could work you should note the way the whole Collins-glass-of-milk-shock-horror expose died after Key pulled Collins from the media.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 14, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  50. Senior journalist Plunket is already running interference. This exchange is quite stunning.

    Sean Plunket: How close are Hager and Dotcom?

    Russell Brown: What role did your radio producer play in arranging for two cars in anti-Dotcom livery to be at the Helensville debate?

    Comment by George — August 14, 2014 @ 8:58 am

  51. I’d love all NZ political blog post writers to have their political ties transparent to such a high Standard that even the late great Mickey Savage would be proud.

    Comment by rickrowling — August 14, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  52. Who the heck cares? A right wing party communicates/co-ordinates with a right wing blogger….. don’t buy the cretins book, maybe he won’t write one again…

    Comment by GetaLife — August 14, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  53. Still lots to digest, there is some pretty damning material in there (reading back over it today). One of the interesting aspects for me is that there has been whisperings of all of this stuff for a long time (Farrar having (taxpayer funded) party research staff write material, his “list of things the greens want to ban” being a classic example of this), Slater running paid PR, Jason Ede’s role, POAL campaign. Ironically, given the behavior of Slater, people largely didn’t jump into posting these things without solid evidence.

    Congratulations are in order for our host Danyl, identified by Hager as having the nous and hunch to cut though the spin and work out what what going on behind the 11 years old Cunliffe letter-gate debacle.

    Numpty of the year: Carrick Graham, Naylor is probably not the best choice of user name for someone astroturfing the astroturf.

    Where to now for the media, Slater making personal threats against them, and many looking fairly foolish for A: being played by him, and B: taking the easy story.

    Comment by Michael — August 14, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  54. Wow! Just read the valuable summary thanks Danyl. And every post above. Pretty scared pro Key people scrambling to protect his image.
    Judith Collins flaps to Martin Lush. (Nicky is just making money from stolen material says Collins. Dismissive.)

    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/AUDIO-Judith-Collins-on-her-chapter-in-Dirty-Politics/tabid/506/articleID/52123/Default.aspx

    Comment by xianmac — August 14, 2014 @ 10:21 am

  55. Comrades comrades before burning Farrar, Slatter & Keys and the whole National elite in a wicker man:

    Evidence:

    the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

    Comment by Simon — August 14, 2014 @ 10:26 am

  56. Well, I’m no fan of the duplicitous little comme Hager, but I don’t think much of Slater either, (or his lying cringing staffers) but its surprising to me that in all the discussion above there is not one reference to Slater’s acquisition of Matt Bloomfield’s emails via a claimed stolen hard drive and his enthusiastic publishing of those emails while proclaiming “Dont Fuck With A Blogger”.

    Hasn’t Slater been “hoist by his own petard”?

    Comment by Redbaiter — August 14, 2014 @ 10:46 am

  57. If you play in a sewer your going to come out smelling of shit …………. Whale soil being no different.

    Slaters blog deserves to receive a new award for dirty tricks and national party sleaze …………… It should come complete with a ‘ shoe cam ‘ trophy.

    Maybe Key could donate one of his shoes to mount the camera on.

    Comment by reason — August 14, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  58. Given all these revelations about money changing hands for favourable posts, perhaps someone ought to also ask who writes all of Slater’s sycophantically pro-Israeli posts on Whaleoil, is he getting paid for them and why exactly is he going to Israel, and who is paying for his trip there?

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 14, 2014 @ 11:37 am

  59. Things like

    Graham also comments extensively on WhaleOil, using pseudonyms, often under his own posts. His pseudo-anonymous comments are incredibly racist and misogynistic.
    Graham pays Slater about $6500 a month for publishing pro tobacco, pro alcohol PR, written by Graham but published under Slater’s byline.
    Many of the posts are vicious attacks against academics that publish scientific research that upsets Graham’s clients.

    …have me going “yeah, so? Who cares?”

    Comment by SHG — August 14, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  60. It may appear rude of me to visit another’s blog and be picky, but from Danyl’s ‘valuable summary’, ther is is much said, but little that indicates actual corruption as it pertains to criminality: Even the following:

    •He was involved in accessing the Labour Party’s computers in the lead-up to the 2011 election.

    this suggests break-ins and all sorts of skulduggery, when what in fact appears to have happened is that the LP posted stuff that could be accessed by Googling it – the key word being ‘accessing’. .

    •When she was Minister of Corrections Collins appears to have had a prisoner transferred at Slater’s request, because a friend of Slater’s didn’t want her daughter visiting her imprisoned ex-partner and Slater arranged to have the man transferred to a more remote prison. The key word being ‘appears’ of course.

    There is much that is unethical here, even nasty, but for example, did anyone hold a gun to Hide’s head and make him send ‘dodgy’ texts?

    The release of declassified information to embarrass Goff. Can’t recall how many people crowed with delight when Brash’s ‘Gone by lunchtime’ crack was leaked, or who gleefully used the ‘stolen’ emails to topple him later. Who was it who went to Australia to trawl Key’s past in the hope of finding something to smear him with not so long ago?

    Do you get my point? Criminal activity and financial skulduggery is one thing but to try and infer that ‘Dirty Politics’ is a one-sided act and that the other side is whiter than white is just naive.

    Comment by LeeC — August 14, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

  61. In other words then LeeC ‘every other party does it’. I can’t see how this makes it any better. I hope that any dirty, American style politics comes out whether they be liberal or conservative.

    Comment by Rick — August 14, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

  62. “There is much that is unethical here, even nasty, but for example, did anyone hold a gun to Hide’s head and make him send ‘dodgy’ texts?”

    LOL. You are saying it’s his own fault he was blackmailed?

    FYI, sending “dodgy” texts isn’t illegal but blackmail is.

    Comment by wtl — August 14, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

  63. “but little that indicates actual corruption as it pertains to criminality”

    criminality isnt really the issue though is it – where as if you identified the issue as – “tax payer funded staff in john keys office feeding a well connected blogger info in order to run smears at arms length from the pm” – then you might be a bit closer

    Comment by framu — August 14, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  64. ” but to try and infer that ‘Dirty Politics’ is a one-sided act and that the other side is whiter than white is just naive.”

    good thing that this isnt the case – not even close.

    Hagar freely admits that all parties feed info to the media and friendly public voices. The issue here is the level it has gotten to under key and the way that this is a highly developed, secretive and co-ordinated part of the nats campaigning – to the point where pushing dirt instead of engaging openly is the default method for every single thing

    Comment by framu — August 14, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

  65. That list of things the Greens want to ban was all my own work. It took me ages going through all their policy documents. I hate it when other people get credit for my work!!

    Comment by dpf — August 14, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

  66. That list of things the Greens want to ban was all my own work. It took me ages going through all their policy documents. I hate it when other people get credit for my work!!

    Wouldn’t the easiest way to avoid that be to clearly label all the material that the National Party research unit passes on to you, which you then independently decide to publish? If you did this, then you wouldn’t be open to allegations that the stuff you really did work up on your own was done by someone else.

    Absent this, you’ve made a rod for your own back. Don’t complain when it gets used.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 14, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

  67. Handy list of the spin tactics we’ve already started seeing in response:

    http://shinbonestar.org/2014/08/13/hooked/

    Comment by Sacha — August 14, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

  68. @leeC “Is there an acid test for how plausible Hager’s assertions are?”

    Yes.

    And everytime they try to turn away and deny them, Slenderman will hop one step closer.

    Comment by KS — August 14, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

  69. +1 Mr Flashing Light.
    dpf gets hoist on his petard then snivels about the pain.
    I think your independence claims are hopelessly compromised Mr Farrar.

    Comment by Rob Seaman — August 14, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  70. For what it’s worth, it’s damn dubious for anyone to publish information that has been stolen. Here are the relevant sections from the Media Law Journal (http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?page_id=276):

    What is a breach of confidence?

    This law is surprisingly wide. To bring a lawsuit for breach of confidence, a plaintiff has only to show:
    1.the information is not in the public domain; and
    2.it is confidential – that is, it was passed on in circumstances that made it clear it was to be treated confidentially; and
    3.it was disclosed (or is about to be disclosed) without authorisation.

    There is a defence of public interest.

    What about stolen information?

    Information that is stolen, or obtained by deceptive, surreptitious or unconscionable methods, will probably be held to be confidential. This might include footage taken during a trespass, confidential information extracted by a bribe, a stolen diary, an illegally intercepted communication, or material obtained by eavesdropping.

    For his sake, I hope Hager got very good legal advice before publishing.

    As for the book, I consider it a starting point for journalists to examine what happened and by whom. Until that occurs, all we have are allegations.

    Comment by Ataahua — August 14, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

  71. Per the acknowledgments of Dirty Politics Hager received legal advice from one Steven Price, so yes, I think he did quite good legal advice.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 14, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  72. @Ataahua,

    Yes. He did. Guess who his legal advisor is (hint: not me, but you linked to his blogsite in your own post … so I suspect he’s thought about the “breach of confidence” angle).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 14, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  73. Andrew, those are the kind of hints that I like. :)

    Well, it’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out.

    Comment by Ataahua — August 14, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

  74. Nothing anything is passed on to me get published as my own work. Sometimes (around once every three months maybe) I ask for some info. But I just incorporate that into my post.

    Take the example in the book of promises Labour leadership candidates made. Off memory all I got sent was a list of links to stories. I then read the stories, extracted the info and wrote the post. And I really don’t see how there is anything improper in pointing out promises made by leadership contenders. That’s nor dirty.

    Comment by dpf — August 14, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

  75. FWIIW, i suspect that the “public interest” defence would stack up, given that Hager has only used the information relevant to how Slater et al have tried to influence public discourse. That seems an important and worthy topic to me.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 14, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  76. DPF: Odgers and Slater seem to think you post material written for you by Ede and other staffers. Why do you think that is?

    The other thing that struck me, reading this book, is that while you obviously consider Slater a friend and consistently defend him, the content of his emails to other people about you suggests that he holds you in contempt.

    Comment by danylmc — August 14, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

  77. …the content of his emails to other people about you suggests that he holds you in contempt.

    I think we need to be a bit careful here. Email famously lacks “tone” – so if you read the words on the page without knowing what lies behind them, you’re going to misunderstand the intent. So, I not infrequently make reference to my friends in emails to other friends using language that if you didn’t know we all liked each other and were taking the piss, you’d think “what a prick!”.

    Or Slater might just be an asshole. Either way.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 14, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

  78. DPF: Odgers and Slater seem to think you post material written for you by Ede and other staffers. Why do you think that is?

    I no nothing if Odgers but Slater is a bragging self-promoter.

    This is all starting to sound like court gossip.

    Comment by NeilM — August 14, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  79. all dpf seems to be saying here is that he still get pointed in the right direction – but is so far in the inner circle he doesnt need to be told what to say

    thats not very surprising is it

    “And I really don’t see how there is anything improper in pointing out promises made by leadership contenders.” – aww look – hes minimising by attempting to steer the focus to the more run of the mill stuff – aint he cute

    Comment by framu — August 14, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

  80. Many people think I just take stuff written by others. I recall Keith Ng once challenged me that I did a rebuttal so quickly of a Labour policy, it must have been written by Bill English’s office or something. I posted screenshots of my browser history showing all the sites I had access in the last 60 minutes to write the blog post.

    I worked for eight years in Parliament and at the risk of sounding immodest I was good at my job, which included research and comms. So when an issue comes up I can often research and respond to it quickly as I have a 20 year memory or so of data on that issue, or know which sites to go to. It is no surprise that a number of people, including Cam and Cathy, think I don’t do it all myself.

    As for how Cam talks about me in e-mail, that seems fairly mild, compared to in person. Cam sledges me on his blog a fair bit, but there’s not many he doesn’t.

    Comment by dpf — August 14, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

  81. Some of these post are clearly from National party people motivated by self interest I’d be very careful if I had direct connections to this government or financial connections there’s a good chance a royal commission may be launched after the election one wouldn’t want the wrong IP to pop up now would one. Perverting the course of justice is a criminal offence some may find themselves becoming criminally entangled on a secondary basis. But buy all means implicate thyself if you’ve that much confidence this could never happen.

    Comment by John — August 14, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  82. If we in Labour believe New Zealand deserves better, it is up to us to be part of the answer. In that context it’s important to prioritize making ourselves worthy of New Zealand’s vote over beating the other guys. Cunliffe’s directive against sledging is certainly a step in the right direction. Politics is an exacting enterprise and it is probably impossible to remain decent all the time. We just need to focus on our vision for New Zealand and the gruntwork of good policy formation, and trust that it will carry us through.

    Comment by Vaughan Little — August 14, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

  83. @dpf: You don’t get it, do you? It doesn’t really matter whether you’re doing your own research to come up with attack lines suggested by the National Party leadership, or they’re providing complete posts and you just hit “publish”. Either way – or anywhere in between – you’re still running attack lines suggested to you by the National Party leadership. Which makes you a National Party mouthpiece, regardless of how many token “Oh I think National made a slight tactical error” posts you slide in to promote your “independence”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 14, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

  84. My thinking is the main outcome of this is – Judith Collins is definitely not going to be leader of the Nats and it’s all very good for Joyce. No one really cares about anyone else in the book.

    Comment by Swan — August 14, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

  85. kalvarnsen I think it is you who is not getting it. Bloggers are biased and opinionated and often are politically connected. That’s a given. If people are reading blogs to get some unbiased view of the world they are deluded. I think blogs have made clear the reality that “unbiased opinion” is a nonsensical idea. Even unbiased reporting is a fairly dubious idea.

    The thing about blogs is they have no appeal to authority or impartiality, so they rise or fall on the quality of the debate. I certainly read blogs because every so often I’ll come across a genuinely compelling argument that will actually make me think and change my mind on things.

    So who cares why, in David Farrar’s heart of hearts, he chooses to spend inordinate amounts of time and effort slapping together blog posts? The question is – are they saying something of note?

    Comment by Swan — August 14, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  86. Wow. Dumbfounded. Nasty pieces of work. . .

    Comment by Nick Chave — August 14, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

  87. The worst single thing in the book for me is Slater, Hooton and Cathy Odgers passing on Hager’s home address to billionaire offshore tax evaders he’d investigated with the line ‘Chop chop for Nicky.’

    Comment by xy — August 15, 2014 @ 12:05 am

  88. @Swan: You have also missed the point – there is a big difference between a blogger who generally agrees with a party and knows some of its leaders socially, and a blogger who writes stories that are suggested to him by party insiders. It’s the difference between being an independent advocate, and being a mouthpiece. DPF is a mouthpiece, but he believes it’s OK because the phraseology and formatting is his own work.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 15, 2014 @ 1:51 am

  89. swan – your also forgetting the way hotly discussed blog gossip then gets turned into news by an MSM desperate for an easy headline.

    You can say any ol inflamatory thing you want on a blog – but the media cant run those stories of their own back – they need the “so and so is saying x about y” in order to run the stuff that doesnt hold up to scrutiny or is heavily rumor laden

    thats the whole point of running these things through a blog instead of giving the ol nudge wink to a journo

    And its not about feeding info to a blog – its about whale oil and dpf being integral cogs in a well developed machine that has spreading as much muck around as possible as it sole function. Thats the actual accusation no matter how often people try and frame it as something more benign than this

    Comment by framu — August 15, 2014 @ 7:43 am

  90. I think that vastly overstates the influence blogs have.

    It’s only a very few people that engage obsessively with political blogs and the only times blogs become news is when something unpleasant in the blogosphere happens.

    By far the majority of political stories, including scandals, are brought to the publics attention via the MSM.

    It’s only within the insular world of blogosphere that there’s this belief of importance. None of my friend, family or colleagues know or want to know about blogs and they all think I waste my time engaging in it.

    Comment by NeilM — August 15, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  91. Bill Ralston on Morning Report was pretty open about what blogs are used for. If something is leaked to one media organisation (TV3, etc), then the competitors usually won’t touch it … and if you try to shop a story around multiple news outlets at once, they’ll demand exclusivity before running with it. But if that same story is leaked to a blog, it is treated as a “source” everyone can report on (without pumping up your competition). That’s why they are so “influential”, not because they get hit by a few thousand politics tragics.

    Plus, if you’ve got an individual who is as ethically empty as Slater, you can get into the public discourse stuff that real journalists will balk at breaking. Once it is then “public”, those same journalists can salve their conscience by saying “well, if it’s being talked about already, I guess I can, too.” This phenomena goes back to Clinton and Lewinsky – remember how none of the “real media” would discuss the affair until it was published by Drudge?

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 15, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  92. I think that vastly overstates the influence blogs have.

    A statement that would have a bit more credibility if we hadn’t spent the last few years watching journalists get stories from Whaleoil and Kiwiblog. You’re right in that blogs, per se, have little, if any, influence. However, journos are well aware that Whaleoil and Kiwiblog are dishing dirt directly from the government, which makes them not so much ‘blogs’ as ‘sources,’

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 15, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  93. Well to prove that either way would require a breakdown of stories originating from the MSM vs blogs.

    Comment by NeilM — August 15, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  94. Well to prove that either way would require a breakdown of stories originating from the MSM vs blogs.

    What do you think this would “prove”? Has anyone said “the blogs are more important than the MSM?” Or, “the blogs are more influential than the MSM?” No, they haven’t. What has been said is that blogs provide an alternative means of entry into the MSM, particularly for stories that the MSM wouldn’t touch if offered them “fresh”. If you think this is an unfair/false representation of reality … well, I guess everyone can wear whatever blinkers get them through life without too much upset.

    Furthermore, a purely quantitative analysis won’t tell you much. Even if such a comparison showed that … what … only 2% of the “political” stories that appear in the MSM originate from material that was first posted on blogs, that would tell us little unless we also look at what those 2% of stories are.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 15, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  95. that would tell us little unless we also look at what those 2% of stories are.

    This raises another point that I tried to post on yesterday but it got swallowed by WordPress.

    On RNZ yesterday, DPF claimed that while he is open about Curia’s working relationship with the National Party, he also does a whole bunch of polling and research for other, sometimes contrary to the NP line. Which is great!
    However, he used this to suggest that he is not deeply embedded in the NP machinery, without being challenged to articulate what proportion of non-NP or NP proxy (Lusk, Williams) activity makes up Curia’s effort and revenue stream.

    He may have 100 clients but if 1 of them accounts for 90% of his revenue, then his position of deflection seems a bit weak.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 15, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  96. slater runs a sewer ……. we all know that.

    At kiwi blog the effluent gets treated a bit more.

    Living by the motto that life’s to short to pick through shit I have not visited whale soil or kiwi blog for a long long time ( 7-8 years ).

    The thing that used to piss me off about kiwi blog was its name ………… overseas people might read it and then think what the fucks the matter with those people ( kiwis ) .

    Anyway Farrar reminds me of the court eunuch from the game of thrones ……….. real fucken slippery.

    And if you want to know what the official national party song sheet is on any issue he will be singing it.

    Comment by reason — August 15, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  97. LOL – this almost reminds me of that time when LABOUR PARTY PRESIDENT MIKE WILLIAMS and several of his taxpayer-funded assistants went to Melbourne in a failed attempt to find some sort of H-FEE dirt on John Key before he was even elected.

    This is weak sauce, and it all looks a bit sad and desperate. The only people screaming “Dirty politics!” are the sort of people who didn’t like John Key already, this will have little effect on the election.

    Comment by RRM — August 15, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  98. Roadracemanagement, this post is about a book and it’s contents.

    Elections have not been discussed.

    Please go back to racing cars and leave us alone.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — August 15, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

  99. Roadracemanagement, I apologise, please do not come back until you have read the book (twice).

    It is possible that you have something sensible to contribute after that experience.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — August 15, 2014 @ 10:45 pm

  100. What I’m taking away from reading the comments is that on the Right…..ethical awareness is dead. The people defending what these emails reveal are apparently just as ethically void as the people concerned in those emails.

    Comment by Steve W — August 15, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

  101. I can remember, back in the early days of blogging, when what DPF describes as standard practice would have been seen as horseshit behaviour that went against the spirit of blogging. I”m sure DPF remembers too.

    Remember ‘hat tips’. That was what good respected bloggers did when they had received a tip to a link that they posted.

    I think DPF should pit a ‘hat tip National party staffers’, or whoever, at the bottom of the posts that he has been tipped towards.

    Who knows what sort of posts of DPF’s are the ones National wants him to seed.

    I’m assumming, just for the hell of it, that it is the posts that feed the mouth breathing racists in ihis comment section.

    Why the hell else would DPF link to a poorly sourced Ansell blogpost, frinstance? I’m assuming that’s the Nats. Even if he now denies it.

    Because why should I believe him?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — August 15, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

  102. Great book.

    Comment by teka — August 16, 2014 @ 8:32 am

  103. Stephen Price? go to their office and look on their wall!! You would be amazed. I have a photo! they have no scruples.

    Comment by stanace — August 16, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

  104. […] unfortunate, at least for Prime Minister Key and his incumbent National Party. Here’s a brisk summary of the very numerous allegations, and a […]

    Pingback by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the Whale Oil Blog, and International Organized Crime | naked capitalism — August 22, 2014 @ 10:15 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 417 other followers

%d bloggers like this: