Monday 25 August 2014

Media sluts

Cameron Slater's media sluts and Dirty Politics

'Cameron Slater's media sluts' is what I said last night in response to TV3 coverage of Internet-MANA's campaign launch.

That is EXACTLY what they are.

In response to Nicky Hager's book 'Dirty Politics" the response of the media scrum has been to take a few chapters of the book and run with that while ignoring the rest of the book.

The fact is that what Nicky Hager said in his book did not make the political Establishment - including very significantly, the Fourth Estate - look at all good.

Hager, in his book, apart from outing John Key and Judith Collins, paints an accurate picture of corruption, so vile that in the words of one academic, you "feel like taking a shower afterwards."

The broad picture that is painted is one where the right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater of Whale Oil was able to sell his services - 'cash-for comment' - (with the help and connivance of his friends, who include some well--known pundits)

In return for a considerable financial consideration $6,500 a month  from the tobacco industry), Slater attacked people that stood in the way of corporate interests . 

Examples of this are:

  • Attacks on a respected academic, Douglas Sellman of the National Addiction Centre speaking out on alcohol issues -( "every ounce of credibility this guy once had has evaporated");
  • Experts on public health groups (and other "health jihadists") trying to attack the obesity epidemic or plain cigarette packaging;
  • Attacks on the head of the Business Contractors of New Zealand (BSC), Patrick Lee-Lo a cleaning company that had government contracts which were lost aunsequent to an attack compaign;
  • There was talk via email of Slater getting a retainer from Ports of Auckland for his attacks on the unions and "over-paid, lazywharf workers  at the behest of the Ports of Auckland while they were trying to crush the union an bring in contract workers; 
  • Attacks on Auckland mayor, Len Brown and revelations of an affair with Bevan Chuang who was associated with National Party competitor, John Palino

Carrick Graham (son of National Party politician Doug Graham) worked with Slater, often writing attack articles in his name

"Chaos and mayhem" was the way in which Graham, Slater and others described their work.  "Below the line communication support" was the way in which Carrrick Graham described the articles he wrote under Slater's name or the comments written under pseudonoms.

This work with corporates allowed Slater to carry out what he regarded as his main work - attack politics for the National Party and other right-wing groups.

The Left was not his only target.  He either leaked details of "inappropriate emails" - dirt- on ACT leader, Rodney Hide (or he blackmailed him - it was not clear) to enable former National leader Don Brash to take the leadership role.

When, in turn Brash was removed as leader Slater wrote: "Poor Don, he's rooted...actually think it would be good if Don died next week"

The names connected with this in a major way were - Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham (son of respected National politician, Doug Graham), Simon Lusk, Matthew Hooten, David Farrar (both the latter favoured political "pundits" in the New Zealand media).

The former ACT MP Katherine Rich went on to represent the Food and Grocery Council - and the alcohol and tobacco industries and used the services of Slater and Graham to defend the corporate interest and attack anyone who threatened their interest.

The scandal went through much of political and corporate New Zealand - as well as the media, who also act as attack dogs.

The role of media

The media throughout played a major role in that they were willing to feed from the same trough and to play a role of amplifying the dirt uncovered by Slater in his highly unethical and often borderline-criminal manner.

What comes to mind is the line from William Congreve:

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," 

The media has turned on the slug, who they formerly depended on for so much of the dirt they liked to spread to discredit public figures in their ongoing role of 'manufacturers of consent' for the ruling elite.

To this extent at least, Slater is right in his disdain and lack of respect for journalists.

Ignoring the major part of "Dirty Politics" is not just ignoring the inconvenient truth of mainstream media's role in conniving with Slater to push a right-wing line.

It also allows the media, while at once attacking Slater, Key and Collins to continue "business-as-usual" and to distort reality in their own image.

Is it just innuendo to point out that the TV3 journalist Brook Sabin's father is a National Party MP. It might just go some way to explaining the younger man's attitude.

In the following examples it is not so difficult to discern the message "we can't let Kim Dotcom and Internet-MANA cross the 5 per cent threshold" 

Would it be inappropriate to point out that Chair of the Radio New Zealand Board of Governors is Richard Griffen, a long-time worker for the National Party? That could have nothing to do with the station's editorial policy (including a de facto climate change denial), could it?

Kim Dotcom came across really well in this interview. A bit of a coup getting the man coming on Radio New Zealand when he turned TV3 down

Kim Dotcom considered hiring investigator
Kim Dotcom has reiterated he had nothing to with the hacking of the Cameron Slater's communications, but revealed he did consider hiring a private investigator to monitor the blogger.

25 August, 2014

Computers belonging to Mr Slater - a right-wing blogger - were hacked in January, and some of the contents released in the book Dirty Politics by investigative writer Nicky Hager and on Twitter.

Mr Dotcom told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme he did not hack Mr Slater and he did not know who did.

"I have nothing to do with the hacking of Whale Oil, I'm not behind Whaledump, I've issued a press release some days ago about that and I can't believe these allegations are still live," he said.

He revealed he considered hiring a private investigator to monitor Mr Slater, but changed his mind after realising the surveillance would be similar to that conducted on him.

Mr Dotcom said he had had been preparing legal action against Mr Slater, and his legal team had monitored the Whale Oil website to build the case, using only publicly available information.

Controversy at Internet Mana launch

Internet Mana struggled to keep its campaign launch yesterday from being overshadowed by questions about Mr Dotcom and the hacked website material in the Dirty Politics book.

Mr Dotcom was repeatedly asked by reporters whether he had anything to do with the hacker dubbed Whaledump, who is behind the release of communications between Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and National Party staff and strategists.

At yesterday's launch in Auckland, the internet entrepreneur denied any connection to Whaledump. In his speech he talked of using his hacking skills when he was 19 years old in an attempt to ruin the German Prime Minister's credit rating.

"And I hacked our German credit ratings system and put our prime minister's credit rating to zero because I didn't like the guy," he told the audience. "And you have all figure by now that there's another prime minister I don't like."

When television reporters insisted on questioning him, party press secretary Pam Corkery reacted with an angry outburst.

"We've talked about jobs today and people living in poverty - you want to interview Kim, who said no interviews, about a 19-year-old story - you work in news, you puffed up little shit," she told a journalist.

Ms Harre told Morning Report she was not comfortable with the handling of the media by Ms Corkery, who regretted her actions.

"She apologised for losing her cool with the media that had been pursuing her for some time in quite an aggressive way for an interview with Kim Dotcom which they were aware wouldn't be given and they were aware of that before the event."

The efforts of the media are to do everything in their considerable power to ensure that the message of Internet-MANA does not get heard and to make sure that they do not make the 5% threshold.

That's why they completely distort what Hone has to say.

His electoral office was shot at and the police did not respond or take an interest. My guess is that they were probably cheering from the sidelines.

Yet, within 24 hours of an accident that could have cost him his life and the police are considering charging him for 'dangerous driving'

Taking it to its illogical conclusion it sounds something like "we won't bother with charging anyone of attempted murder but we will charge you with jaywalking"

With the police refusing to investigate John Banks when Graham McCreedy was subsequently successful in his private prosecution; and with the former SIS director rushing to defend Key - and other examples - we have to start questioning the "political neutrality" of the organs of state power.

Attack politics on the part of the media continues unabated as the following distortion of Hone Harawira's word in the article below (and the questioning by Guyon Espiner) shows

Crash charges possible, Harawira says

The police are considering charging Hone Harawira with dangerous driving after he crashed his car in Northland last week, the Mana Movement leader says.
25 August, 2014

Mr Harawira crashed his car in the Mangamuka Gorge on Thursday.
He said the crash had left him with cuts and bruises but he still did not know what caused him to lose control.

"I must have sneezed or coughed or something but all of a sudden - I was heading home through the Mangamuka Gorge and the next thing I know I'm heading into the bushes, the car flipped and went straight down the bank, on its roof, and crashed into the tree before it went into the river.

"I'm very lucky, actually, to have come out of it alive."
Mr Harawira said he had met the police but had not heard anything more about charges. However, he was disappointed they were considering charging him over the crash when they were yet to conclude an investigation into shots being fired into his Kaitaia office.

"They rang me to say that they were thinking of charging me with dangerous driving. I'm not exactly sure because I was pretty tired when they rang ... but I do recall them saying something about charging me with dangerous driving."
The police had interviewed him within 24 hours of the crash, he said.

"I said 'look boys, I've got nothing to say, no offence to you guys, but you might want to go back and tell the officer in charge of the Kaitaia police station that if they want to come and talk to me about who shot up my office, I'm willing to talk, and then after that we might want to talk about the accident.

"In terms of priorities, it would seem to me that six weeks after my office got shot up is a little bit long to be leaving it."

The police have said they visited Mr Harawira's office within an hour of the shooting being reported and found three small shatter holes fired from a slug gun. There had been similar incidents around Kaitaia and they therefore did not believe Mr Harawira's office was specifically targetted.

As a matter of interest, this has just come through - from David Fisher of the NZ Herald -  who has done some of the better work on the Kim Dotcom and GCSB case.

What about some of his colleagues?

David Fisher: My history with Cameron Slater

25 August, 2014,

Cameron Slater was a contact of mine - Nicky Hager made this clear in Dirty Politics.

What also became clear is how politics is little more than a game to Slater. He says: "I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground."

The media are just players in the game, and bit players at that.

Looking back, Slater kept journalists like he would have kept hunting dogs - hungry, leashed and fed with morsels until they are ready to be unleashed after whatever game he was hunting.

To Slater, it all part of the game of Dirty Politics. About the time I felt I was being gamed, I decided to have nothing to do with the blogger.

This is how it happened.

I remember Cameron Slater seething with frustration that John Key wouldn't talk to him.

He couldn't understand how Key was shielded, not because he was Prime Minister but because Slater was the blogger Whale Oil.

That was early 2012. In Dirty Politics, it is alleged that during the previous election, Slater was working with political adviser Simon Lusk to swing a National Party candidate selection to pick his man.

That was the Rodney electorate and his man was Mark Mitchell, the former dog handler turned private guard who enjoyed enthusiastic backing from Slater through his Whale Oil blog which highlighted only the negative aspects of his opponents.

Lusk and Slater wanted to step up their 'Candidates' College', at which they charged political aspirants for lessons on how to win in politics. They had a vision for the future. In February 2012, a document written by Simon Lusk charted out a plan to entrench the right-of-centre 'Fiscal Conservatives' for years to come. It involved "taking over the public service" and the "blackballing of current National MPs".

A month later, National Party board minutes show they saw the danger coming.

The minutes record "a disturbing conversation ... with Simon Lusk that highlighted his motivations and a very negative agenda for the party". His agenda posed a "serious risk to the party" and "light needs to be shed on these issues with key influencers within the party".

The Lusk and Slater duo was clearly seen as a danger - they aimed to hold another Candidates' College in April in the South Island.

But Slater couldn't get cut-through to see the Prime Minister.

It would all change in the next two years, and the way it changed reflected the willingness of those who could have stopped Slater to enable his behaviour instead.

At some point after April 2012, Key went from blocking Slater to talking and texting with the blogger, and posing for photographs at his side.

It was also about this time I stopped dealing with Slater.

Before then, as made clear in Nicky Hager's book, I was speaking to Slater as a contact and source.

We spoke regularly from 2010 until early to mid-2012. Generally, but not always, I would quote him as a source if I wrote something from information he gave me. I did this when he came to me with the Labour Party website security failure. I had no idea anybody from the National Party was meddling in the background - Slater presented it as his discovery and his alone.

Information has power. Those with the greatest access to information are those in power. Slater's links inside National meant he had access to good information.

But as 2012 got underway, I began to wonder who was manipulating Slater and whether I was in turn being made to do another's bidding.

It caused a feeling of great unease.

It's not unusual for journalists to deal with people who have causes to push, or axes to grind.

But when you can't see who, ultimately, is pushing the cause or grinding the axe, you risk failing yourself and your readership.

I had been in the tent. It was a place where stories and story tips came easily - too easily.
I stepped back and found myself outside the tent.

That, I think, is why Hager wrote: "They later fell out when Fisher wrote stories Slater did not like."

If you're in Slater's tent, it's warm and cosy. There is information which only those well connected would know. Almost exclusively, the tips are for stories are good for National and bad for anyone in its way.

If you're outside the tent, which is where I fetched up, it is cold and hard. This is what journalism should be. You should work for your readers, and work hard.

But when I started writing stories on issues which went against Slater's interests, I became someone he wanted to "smash". At that point, I was away from the tent and out in the wilderness.

He launched a personal assault with what I believed were threats of violence and created an atmosphere in which I was personally and professionally denigrated. Those who post comments on his website made awful slurs. It is as horrible an online environment as you will find anywhere.

Among the slurs were claims my behaviour showed I was suffering withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol and drug addiction. On one occasion, when I rang a minister's spouse for comment on an issue he was involved in, he ranted at me that I was "a drug addict" and would not talk to me. The only place such an idea had been floated was on Slater's Twitter feed.

In almost two years, he has published about 120 posts in which I am featured. Some are extremely unpleasant. I am called a "shill" in the context of being a corrupt reporter.

Slater has invented nicknames for me. He called me "Gurnard", then sent me pictures of dead "Gurnard". He called me "Tainted" in relation to my coverage of the Kim Dotcom affair.

I've been accused of receiving stolen goods, had it suggested my performance at work was under question and had described sexual acts it is suggested might be inflicted upon me. I learned from reading posts about me that there is material on Whaleoil which is untrue, and much which so skewed it makes it difficult to discern what lies behind matters stated baldly as fact.

It is my opinon that Slater has cultivated on his blog such a nasty environment there can be no genuine benefit in dealing with him as a source.

I still interview Slater. When I do, he is courteous and gracious, giving time for questions and explaining his position in full. When I spoke to him a few days ago, he referred to me as an "ethical" journalist, and someone who was a "generous person".

I said to Slater: "You've called me ethical and generous in a conversation."

Slater: "Are you going to quote me? Are you going to quote me on that?"

I replied: "I might confuse your readers if I did that. They wouldn't believe I was actually speaking to you."

Slater said: "But remember there's a persona that's on a website and there's the persona of the person behind the website and they're two completely different things."

After two years of vicious abuse, Slater would have it that he wasn't really attacking me.

Instead, it was the mask he put on when he sat down at his keyboard.

He emailed after a story the other day, saying: "Time for all your emails to come out Fish".

It was my belief it was an attempt to dissuade me from reporting. When that was reported, he blogged: "Remember I still have my emails. Not sure David 'Tainted' Fisher is going to like those making their way public. Because the very thing he complains of in his stories he has participated in."

And, for a while, I did.

But once that feeling of unease came, I realised there would never be a story from Slater which was worth the cost.

Via Facebook

Dirty Politics and TPPA

Of course Dirty Politics exposed some dirty dealings on the TPPA! Go to page 97. 

A letter in February 2014 to Carrick Graham, PR man who ‘manages’ news and politics for big business, from a Washington based lobbyist. Forgive the length, but it is worth repeating the extract in full (especially if you still can’t get a copy of the book):

Here’s the situation. Ideally we’d like to find someone willing to author an oped that we could pitch for placement in a major newspaper. … I’m working on a campaign related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There is a TPP meeting in Singapore this week and a proposal has been [put] forward that would exclude tobacco from the TPP on the grounds that it’s ‘uniquely harmful’. The problem is that exemption would be applied to other industries and it’s fundamentally anti-free trade. If ratified, this proposal would mark the first time in modern history a specific industry was singled out [he forgets about armaments …] for special treatment in a trade deal. The author needs to have credibility (a scholar or economist type) on trade issues and – most important – be from a TPP country other than the United States.

To minister work for the author we could write an initial draft, which the author could then edit however he/she wanted to make it their own. We could also handle pitching the newspapers as well. … In terms of compensation, I could pay you $1000 US for an introduction that results in someone agreeing to work with us on this project

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