The key unanswered questions in relation to the @Whaledump/Rawshark hacked data releases is how close to the action John Key was.
Key has tried to distance himself while notably failing to openly condemnwhat has been revealed. This may be as much to do with the timing as anything, he will be trying to minimise the impact on his election campaign.
But is a Key Rawshark bite yet to come?
Evidence revealed so far suggests not, despite Hager’s attempt to link this right up to the top of the political chain. His Key exposé could be a fizzer.
The revelations keep dribbling out. For obvious reasons centred on Cameron Slater the latest ones have inconclusive links with Judith Collins.
The major new interest is on whether Mark Hotchins bankrolled a smear campaign against the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Markets Authority while they were investigating him.
But the big question remains unanswered – what level of involvement did John Key have in the ‘dirty politics’? Was it an ongoing dirty political campaign as suggested by Hager in his book, either directed or at least mandated by the Prime Minister?
Or was it some peripheral players who inflated their level of influence in tandem with their egos?
Significant parts of Hager’s book – chapters two and three and the last two chapters – cover Key and Beehive involvement. This was obviously Hager’s biggest area of interest, but he was far from conclusive. There was no smoking gun pointing at Key.
There is a significant potential link through Jason Ede, but there is no evidence that he was a major part of Key’s communications. Hager referred to Ede as a ‘senior staffer’ in Key’s office who was leading ‘black ops’ in close association with bloggers.
Ede can’t have been that vital a part of Key’s office he has moved out and now works for the National Party. And I have doubts that liaison with bloggers would have been a top communications priority, blogs remain relatively small peripheral players in the world of political communications.
Despite Hager’s focus on Key using bloggers via Ede he failed to pin anything damning on Key. Hager has insisted he has seen all the data and was given all the political material. David Fisher reported at NZ Herald:
Hager says he spent weeks talking the person into letting him see the material and use it to build the narrative which became Dirty Politics.
The hacker, says Hager, gave him everything. “I’ve seen everything. I’m 100 per cent sure.” The hacker then expressed a desire to keep back some material for himself.
“We kind of negotiated how much,” he says. “I said ‘can I have all the political stuff’.” Hager got what he asked for and so, the book was written.
If Hager has seen everything, and was given all the ‘political stuff’, and his main target was Key, then surely he would have used the most damaging material and nailed Key if he could.
But there are some doubts Hager has seen everything. Rawshark seems to be drip feeding Fisher at the Herald and also provided Matt Nippert with a major story in the latest Sunday Star Times, but that targeted Hotchins – largely non-political material.
There are rumours that @Whaledump will release all the material related to the Key link, communications involving Jason Ede, but that’s not what @Whaledump has indicated.
On August 22 he tweeted:
Last last political post later today.
Yesterday (1 September) he announced a return from a week on holiday and tweeted:
Thank you for your patience. Like I said, this isn’t all about party politics.
He then released a few communications involving Mark Hotchins and followed with this tweet:
This is a corrupt network of politically-connected individuals who launder political & media influence for money, power & personal revenge.
He has specifically stated he has posted the last of his political material and Hager insists he had access to all the political material.
Unless @Whaledump/Rawshark has lied in Twitter and has lied to Hager and retained data that damns Key it would appear as if there is no key shark bite to come.
If that’s the case it would suggest that the hack missed getting evidence that would condemn Key – or Hager had more agenda than facts to back up his Key case.