The Dim-Post

November 26, 2014

The very odd Slightly Left of Centre

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:11 pm

There’s a new voice in the blogosphere. Josh Forman, the author of SlightlyLeftofCentre:

27 years old, from the left, and on a mission to reclaim the centre left from the loopy extremists from the far left who have hijacked the Labour Party.

Josh doesn’t care if Labour survives in its current state, as long as the people it used to represent are given a voice, and as long as there is a strong opposition to the National Government.

If you look through his posts Forman doesn’t seem all that left-wing though. His views seem pretty right-wing. And his targets aren’t the usual left-wing targets. He really dislikes National Party president Peter Goodfellow. And Bomber. And Kim Dotcom. And muslims. And the New Zealand Herald’s investigative editor David Fisher. You might say he happens to hate everyone Cameron Slater hates.

The similarities don’t stop there. Forman’s style seems very familiar. Politicians are troughers. If they lie they tell porkies. There are loads of breathless exclusives, all on issues close to Slater’s heart. Forman is very sympathetic to the Whale, as we see in the cached copy of this post that Forman has deleted. And the Whale loved Forman and promoted him heavily. You might even say it looks like Slater has set up a fake left-wing blog to disseminate his smears from, which is such a typically Slateresque thing to do I can’t believe he’s only just gotten around to it.

Josh Forman is a real guy. I met him for coffee earlier this week. He denied having any relationship with Slater, or that any of the content on his blog came from Slater. Something in his manner made me think that wasn’t quite true though, so I did a little more digging and found Forman’s  completely brilliant press release back from when he launched his blog:

Josh Forman is pleased to announce the creation of a new force on the Left of politics in New Zealand.

“My goal is to create an online environment that provides sane and reasonable views from the left of the spectrum.” Mr Forman said this morning when asked about his motivation to create the site.

“For far too long, the dominant online voices on our side of politics have been the shrill and hysterical ranting on offer at The Daily Blog and The Standard.

Slightly Left of Centre will provide calm and reasoned views that more closely reflect the views of compassionate New Zealanders in the centre. These are the people that have flocked to National under John Key, and those who have abandoned Labour in droves.”

Responding to questions about working with WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to build a voice for the centre left, Mr Forman was blunt. “He is extremely successful at what he does and we need a comparable success story of our own for the sake of decent democratic debate. The time for name calling and identity politics has passed.

And today Forman – the guy who has no relationship with Slater – posted this:

Dirty Politics: John Key – Pork Pie PM

Have you really never spoken to Cameron Slater in your capacity as Prime Minister?

I would like you to consider the following questions before you answer this, because I would suggest you choose your words carefully. Remember John, no-one likes a liar…

1) You told Parliament in late October that that you have never spoken to Cameron Slater in your capacity as Prime Minister. Was this really true?

2) Did you talk to Cameron Slater the night before the release of the IGIS report, and the Justice Chisholm report on Judith Collins?

3) How many times in the last month have you spoken to Slater?

4) Does Cameron Slater records his phone calls, and if he does, how much leverage does he now have over you (whether in your capacity as a private citizen, PM, Minister of Tourism etc, etc)?

5) Are you OK with the possibility of Slater having the calls you have made to him, or received from him released to the public? If any such recordings were to be released, how would they reflect on you? Would your position as PM be tenable if they were?

Forman is – allegedly – the person who leaked the details of recent Key’s text conversation with Slater, forcing Key to return to the House and make a personal statement correcting a question he answered earlier today in which he claimed he hadn’t been in conversation with Slater. And now, this evening, here’s Slater in a post titled ‘LABOUR’S OWN DIRTY POLITICS SCAM BUSTED, JOSH FORMAN AND ANNETTE KING NEED TO EXPLAIN’:

In my conversation with Josh Forman I got suspicious because of his intense interest and so fed him some information that wasn’t strictly true so that it could be easily verified by cellphone records.

I repeat. I never had a text conversation with Judith Collins on Monday night. Cellphone records will clearly show this.

The following day Josh Forman continued along that line of inquiry and was imploring me to out the txt with John Key, I couldn’t work out why.

That is until this afternoon.

Josh Forman is a man who lacks integrity. In good faith I was willing to coach someone from the other side so they could have a better voice in the blogosphere.

I now know that his request for coaching was a subterfuge, at the behest of the Labour party in order to gain my trust.

He has used that and disseminated an email that only he was party to and so the media source was easily identifiable as was my plan.

Josh Forman works closely with Annette King, his own emails show that.

Labour’s own willingness to play dirty politics team has now been busted. Their sanctimony in parliament is shown for what is is worth.

What the hell is going on? I don’t know. But based on the premise that everything Slater says is a lie, my guess is that Slater had Forman leak the details of his text conversation with Key, and that this ‘falling out’ is a sham to make Forman look like a slightly less obvious sock-puppet of Slater’s, and to try and smear Labour with the ‘Dirty Politics’, ‘Labour does it too’, brush.

Update: As far as I can tell Forman has never worked for Labour, and their senior staffers have never heard of him.

And another update: Another post from Slater detailing the collaboration between Forman and Slater, but which tries to attack Forman’s job and makes me wonder if their split is real. Maybe?

48 Comments »

  1. This is the fake “proof that The Left *does it too*” guy that we’ve all been waiting for.

    Comment by prgcnt — November 26, 2014 @ 8:26 pm

  2. The lunatics have got hold of the asylum Gestetner machine.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 26, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

  3. I first saw that blog when Andrea Vance tweeted about it a few days ago. As well as the (coincidental? conspiratorial?) alignment of topics and opinions, my immediate impression was that Foreman’s posts were closely modelled on the structure of Whale Oil posts, almost to the point of biting Slater’s style.

    If he’s really doing this on his own, Foreman should understand that it’s one thing to go to Mr Slater for advice about dirty politics and talkback radio bluster. But writing and journalism advice? Nothing good can come from trying to emulate that rats nest of motivated reasoning and cut/paste prose.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — November 26, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

  4. yes well slater does seem to have knifed key today, and you could easily envisage motivation (collins coup). foreman is clearly copying the slater recipe so it fits that they’re in touch. also v believable that slater would use him in a hit job and then knife him too. what a bunch of psychos. .

    Comment by John Small (@smalltorquer) — November 26, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  5. When I was debating about adding him to the feed, the only person I found who knew of him (in the slightly loopy end of the activist world) described him as a pathetic tosser. His site didn’t go on the feed, and I put most left and many centrist sites on it. He smelled like a wannabe interested in personal attention rather than anyone serious..

    And Annette King? You have to be kidding….

    Comment by lprent — November 26, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  6. Priceless.

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 26, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

  7. “Josh Forman works closely with Annette King, his own emails show that.”

    Has Cam seen Josh’s emails? Why would josh tell Andrea Vance he has no relationship with slater, after posting that blog saying cam has had a lot of time for him and helped him?

    El-bizaaro!!

    Comment by kellykelly — November 26, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

  8. In Slater-world, which is increasingly NZ media-world, it doesn’t matter if there are inconsistencies, contradictions, and general horse manure.

    What matters is getting enough of their lies out there to make the public – the voters – say “oh politics, what a mess, they’re all the same”. And it works.

    Today – incredibly – Corin Dann on One News reported [i]Slater’s[/i] response on the whole Key/Ede/SIS story, dismissing it as “a Labour smear campaign”. This got about the same air time as the PM saying A = B, and then having to admit to Parliament that it wasn’t. In the name of “balance”, Dann equates established facts and proven lies. That’s not journalism, that’s craven incompetence.

    If TVNZ’s political editor is unable to distinguish between the relevance of Slater and Gwyn, between a blog and a detailed report by a public office holder, then how can the public?

    Who is Forman? Who cares? “politics, what a mess, they’re all the same” …

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 26, 2014 @ 9:57 pm

  9. I call a gambit pileup straight out of The Big Lebowski or Snatch.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 26, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

  10. Now the blog seems to have been deactivated…

    Comment by Mike — November 26, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  11. My sense was real person, but right-winger posing as a leftie, for the purposes of providing the “dirty politics” of the left example that talkback radio hosts have been scrambling for over the last few weeks. I wrote as much last night.

    However, as someone has pointed out to me tonight, a Joshua Forman was selected as candidate for the Progressives in Rimutaka in 2005, which doesn’t quite disprove the theory, but suggests a non completely fabricated connection with the left.

    Comment by Giovanni Tiso — November 26, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

  12. Joshua Forman is not on the electoral roll

    Comment by Aotea ian — November 26, 2014 @ 11:22 pm

  13. Yep, the blog has been taken private. If it was indeed a ruse, then the cover’s been blown.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 26, 2014 @ 11:42 pm

  14. And he’s also taken his Twitter account private too.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 27, 2014 @ 12:01 am

  15. Hah. That guy’s brother called me some homophobic slur or other after I supported a CGT in principle. Not that that proves anything in particular about Josh’s views on anything one way or other, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a little more right wing than he wanted to portray himself as being.

    Comment by steve — November 27, 2014 @ 1:35 am

  16. I believe the term ‘Fox News liberal’ or ‘Democrat In Name Only’ comes to mind.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 27, 2014 @ 2:10 am

  17. What the fuck is Key doing having long text conversations with that madman Slater? It is obvious to everyone that Slater is a dangerous sociopath. Why is key continuing to enable the guy? Has Key finally taken leave of all his senses? Slater is absolutely toxic to National now. All I can assume is the Collin’s gang is back and looking to double down and Key is hoping that by pandering to Slater’s vanity he can keep Slater inside the tent pissing out.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2014 @ 7:28 am

  18. “Labour tried to kill me”. Remember, folks, this guy has a firearms license.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  19. Yes but Sanc, can you *prove* Labour didn’t try to kill Slater? Can you? Eh?

    Play Key Bingo today: “Attempted murder? At the end of the day, I don’t have a view on that …”

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 27, 2014 @ 7:35 am

  20. What the fuck is Key doing having long text conversations with that madman Slater? It is obvious to everyone that Slater is a dangerous sociopath.

    I thought the answer was obvious. They’re two sides of the same coin.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2014 @ 7:38 am

  21. Slater is absolutely toxic to National now.

    The election result didn’t bear that out.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2014 @ 7:39 am

  22. But what is weird is Labour attacking Roger Sutton over allegedly breaching a confidentiality agreement, then Phil Goff goes and breaches a confidentiality agreement!

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2014 @ 7:47 am

  23. Oh you had to go and say it didn’t you, Ross. Don’t you understand these are two totally different situations?

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 27, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  24. Any way that is off-topic Ross so three demerits and a warning.

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 27, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  25. SLOC: Great blog. But why has it gone into hiding?

    Comment by Chris C — November 27, 2014 @ 8:36 am

  26. Besides (and this is on-topic) been there had the t-shirt did a blog, and can categorically say from such experiences that anyone setting up a blog to try and alter peoples’ perceptions about issues or political views, is seriously deluding him or herself. As far as I can see, one only has to look here and elsewhere to see that blogs are essentially echo-chambers, in which dissenting ideas for each forum, are rapidly declaimed or ridiculed and in which those who reinforce existing bias within that forum are praised and celebrated.

    Sadly, some of us as so starved for attention, we take to ‘trolling’ in other blogs, but that’s another story, because I’ve noticed that ‘trolling’ has become an intellectually lazy label applied to any idea which challenges peoples’ preconceptions, and has taken on various additional adjectives such as ‘concern trolling’ etc.. It’s all about growing up, I suppose.

    This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to set up a blog, or that everyone who does so has ‘pure’ motives, but i think that the nature of this post, and the rather giddy responses to it indicate quite a lot of hubris. fact is, no one will read the new blog anyway, apart from a very limited number of ‘big fish in a little pond’ who delude themselves that their opinions and views are making a difference or consumed by ‘ordinary’ members of the public, or (worst case scenario) that blogging somehow makes them ‘important’, or ‘serious’.

    Majority of people don’t give a flying one about ‘blogs’. This is a classic example of people getting their knickers in a knot about nothing.

    signed: ‘a concerned troll’

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 27, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  27. It’s not about blogs, Lee. Do you really not get that?

    Let’s try this: Astrology is bollocks. An astrologer talks crap. So we can ignore it. But when an astrologer is in the White House, influencing decisions, then clearly that matters to all of us.

    A ranting blogger with obvious “issues” is irrelevant. The Prime Minister and (ex) Minister of Justice having such a blogger in their inner circle is very relevant. You can casually dismiss the blogger as “deluded”, but our leaders don’t – far from it. That’s the problem.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 27, 2014 @ 8:59 am

  28. As far as I can see, one only has to look here and elsewhere to see that blogs are essentially echo-chambers, in which dissenting ideas for each forum, are rapidly declaimed or ridiculed and in which those who reinforce existing bias within that forum are praised and celebrated.

    That’s just crazy talk, you utter moron! Why can’t you write sensible and reasonable things like sammy 3.0 does?

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 27, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  29. Oh you had to go and say it didn’t you, Ross. Don’t you understand these are two totally different situations.

    You’re right. Sutton had the benefit of an implied waiver with prior reports that he was the subject of an allegation of a sexual nature. What is Goff’s excuse?

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2014 @ 9:46 am

  30. @Sammy 3.0
    Or they know perfectly well he’s “deluded” and has some serious mental health issues, but are happy to exploit him anyway.

    Comment by northshoreguynz — November 27, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  31. “Besides (and this is on-topic) been there had the t-shirt did a blog, and can categorically say from such experiences that anyone setting up a blog to try and alter peoples’ perceptions about issues or political views, is seriously deluding him or herself. ”

    Maybe, Lee Clark, your blog simply wasn’t very good.

    Comment by miked999 — November 27, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  32. >Or they know perfectly well he’s “deluded” and has some serious mental health issues, but are happy to exploit him anyway.

    They could actually be that foolish.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 27, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

  33. They could actually be that foolish.

    He is very popular. He is prolific. He is successful at motivating the right wing and well connected enough to engage the centre. He might be a right wing whack job, but that doesn’t actually matter.

    The Nats could only be foolish if they did not connect with him.

    Slater is right wing, but everyone already knows the Nats are a right wing party. We expect the Nats to be in contact with leading lights amongst their base.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 27, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

  34. So why is Key trying so hard to pretend he isn’t?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 27, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  35. Thanks for that miked999 oooh, how snippy! I fear you were correct thought- – it wasn’t very good. In my defense, it did qualify as an ‘echo-chamber’ because I was the only one in it. sammy I hear what you are saying,’ You can casually dismiss the blogger as “deluded”, but our leaders don’t – far from it.’ That goes for both sides of the political spectrum, though, doesn’t it? For example I recall not so long ago epmu staffers (was it ‘Tane’? – whatever happened to ‘Tane?’) were (allegedly) taking an active part in The Standard, asking John Key to apologise to the babies of Afghanistan and such, when they could have been organising some kind of organised action to you know – doing their bit to stop thecapitalists and state-sanctioned erosion of health and safety processes for workers at Pike River. .. Will they still be there, should Andrew Little become PM, or will he cross them off his Christmas card list? Would it be wrong for them to be there, would it really matter?

    It raises three questions for me. Did the existence of Cameron Slater’s blog, or anything he’s done, change anyone’s votes at the election? At the same time, has Nicky Hager’s recent book, or has ‘Micky Savage’ and The Standard?

    Or are they collective ‘echo-chambers’ all sound and fury, while the ‘real’ world yawns, and simply votes as it would anyway? If you consider a contrary argument, and argue that these entities do make a difference, those differences may equally be negative ones. It might also be claimed that Hager’s book achieved two major results one it made him loads of cash, and it persuaded more people to go out and vote National than might have before. While Slater’s alleged actions with (recently exonerated) Judith Collins ‘took out’ a Government Minister who was so unpopular anyway, it may have also assisted the incumbents. You might also argue that The Standard has scared off a small number of possible Labour voters, while Kiwiblog has been an incredible marketing resource for National. But this would not make it true or relevant to most people.

    So I guess, there is more than one side to the story, and I’m content to consider them, but is there a league-table of credibility anymore, is it becoming submerged under the blog-froth? One thing is for sure, many people who should be doing their paid-jobs, are blogging instead (me included).

    I’m reminded that not so long ago, Danyl (all praise be his name) engaged in a ‘hiatus’, apparently disgusted that Nicky Hager was not the second coming and that National, Slater and their ilk hadn’t been put to the sword by a righteously angry electorate. He’s back now, with a breakdown on the latest ‘evidence’ of a (possible) right-wing conspiracy, telling us there’s a new blog, which might or might not be important, but all the same, he’s wise to their wily ways, and is here to expose it before it topples democracy like Slater, Farrar and Key did the last time, etc. Fear not though! Lyn Prentice has had them investigated, and others have looked up their names and addresses, and don’t worry folks, they are either charlatans that don’t exist, or else just attention-seekers, with brothers who may have expressed ‘homophobic sentiments’.

    Because it’s all just so important….

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 27, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

  36. Maybe, Lee Clark, your blog simply wasn’t very good.

    If I’m right about which blog was Lee Clark’s, it was good, it just wasn’t widely read (the two are not synonymous, for which I table as evidence the widely-read-but-not-good http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ and http://thedailyblog.co.nz/).

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 27, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

  37. you are a gentleman and a scholar psycho, i fear you may not think the same of me after my latest outpouring…

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 27, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

  38. Linda, sorry Lee Clark if blogs are only echo chambers then why do you seem so angry about this post? Seems to have hit a nerve? Shouldn’t you go back to yawning?

    Comment by Nick — November 27, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

  39. Apologies if I sound angry Nick.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — November 27, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

  40. “It might also be claimed that Hager’s book achieved two major results one it made him loads of cash,”

    That claim would have no substance, given the paltry royalties on what in absolute terms are very small numbers of sales (the SOLD OUT 1st edition was only 9000 copies). Remember Hager doesn’t get the amount you pay at retail, he gets a small chunk of that. Considering the work that goes into any book, the hourly rate is likely rather less than minimum wage.

    Comment by Stephen J — November 27, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  41. Fair point – that intelligence might support another claim – that Hager’s book didn’t make much difference to the man in the street, Stephen J.

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 28, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  42. >that Hager’s book didn’t make much difference to the man in the street, Stephen J.

    Not yet anyway. Hager wasn’t writing a book for a mass market, otherwise he’d have put more saucy gypsies in there. But while it may not have had high DPS, it seems to have excellent DoT.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 28, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  43. Nobody read the Drudge Report in the Clinton years. Nobody had the internet – except journalists and politicians, who told the rest of us.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 28, 2014 @ 9:33 am

  44. Woodward & Bernstein’s investigation of Watergate was also brushed off as a ‘Beltway issue’ at first. The rest as they say is history.

    And a sizeable number of Americans stuck by Nixon even after he resigned, because they really did think MLK and Abbie Hoffman were more dangerous to America than the Soviets. Roger Ailes, the future founder of Fox News, and smear-meisters Karl Rove and Lee Atwater would likely have been among the die-hard Nixonites.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 28, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

  45. “Dirty Politics” is already having a second life, and I predict many more lives to come

    Comment by Maisie — November 30, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  46. “Hager’s book didn’t make much difference to the man in the street, Stephen J.”

    Not directly, no, I agree. And even indirectly, as word gets around, it’s slow. But I think the difference is mostly the attitude of the news media, and handicapping the Slater/Kiwiblog rumour laundering machine. That will make a difference even to the person in the street, over time.

    Comment by Stephen J — December 1, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

  47. … and don’t worry folks, they are either charlatans that don’t exist, or else just attention-seekers, with brothers who may have expressed ‘homophobic sentiments’.

    Because it’s all just so important….

    I wasn’t suggesting that it was terribly important. Josh seems to be out of his depth, and has gone into blog lockdown just as he gained some notoriety. So much for his new force on the Left of politics!

    Not sure why you used quotation marks when you didn’t actually quote what was written.

    Comment by steve — December 1, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  48. steve – “Not sure why you used quotation marks when you didn’t actually quote what was written.”

    Because “It’s the convention in certain disciplines such as philosophy, theology, and linguistics to highlight words with special meaning by using single quotation marks instead of double quotation marks.” (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/single-quotation-marks-versus-double-quotation-marks?page=all#sthash.HNSg30bZ.dpuf.)

    I (perhaps cheekily) gave what I assumed was a “special meaning” to the suggestion that this geyser may have a homophobic relative in this context – a left-leaning political blog thing populated by slightly nervous types – by employing single quotes.

    OK, that’s the official reason, but the fact is, I was on a tablet with dodgy reception, and it made it problematic for me to scroll up, find, and employ an exact quotation without hazarding the loss of my comment, so I went for the “special meaning” thing. It was an ass-covering exercise really, because experience has taught me it important to never underestimate the ability of pedants to relish any opportunity to claim what they imagine to be ‘the last word’. Just look at the frisson caused over ‘laconic’ (see General Idiocy, below).

    Comment by Lee Clark — December 2, 2014 @ 3:48 pm


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