“Not as bad as Whale Oil”

Since the release of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ there has been much discussion and condemnation of what has been revealed – even though much of the dirtiness of Cameron Slater was already well known. He has boasted about his political uncleanliness.

Last year after the Len Brown revelations just after the local body elections Slater said on The Nation:

Mr Slater argued that Auckland politics was “a dirty disgusting despicable game”.

“It involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.

“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.”

(Frontpage)

He repeated this on his Whale Oil blog recently. He often quotes ” Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it”, along others from his list of ‘rules’.

Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

There might be a lot of people, especially politicians, giving serious consideration to rule 3 right now.

Slater’s personal attacks and vindictiveness are well known. There’s no one who comes close to his media prominence and dirtiness in New Zealand politics.

So all other bloggers can comfortably claim they are “not as bad as Whale Oil”. But that sets the bar very low and should not excuse lesser levels of dirtiness.

One of the more long serving and respected bloggers Russell Brown posted  We can do better than this at Public Address and concluded:

In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”.

Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this. And while the cynical side of politics is not new, I do believe that the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can, all of us, do better than this.

Russell is right, we’re “not all like that”. No one else is as bad as Whale Oil. I agree that “the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented” – although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Russell if he was aware of what Whale Oil has been doing for years.

But in comments Russell seems to think that the ‘all of us” in “We can, all of us, do better than this” doesn’t apply equally to all of us.

It’s over to you, Pete, to identify a left-leaning blogger with even a tenth of the venality and vindictiveness of WhaleOil.

I feel kind of icky agreeing with Pete (sorry, Mr. George) but if our baseline is “not as bad as Whaleoil” that’s a depressingly low bar you can clear without lifting your feet.

Which is really just a morally elevated way of saying “everyone does it”. It’s simply not true. What has happened in and around Whaleoil these past few years is actually of a different nature.

He seems to be claiming it’s not true that everyone doesn’t do it, despite calling for “all od us” to do better.

Some of what Whale Oil has done has been of a different nature” and of a more extreme nature, but there are many examples of dirt mongering across the blogosphere. Russell moderates Public Address fairly well but even his own blog shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. There’s dirt at different levels but there’s dirt – there were even mild attempts to attack me personally to divert from the issues being discussed on that thread (eg ScottY and Kracklite).

Public Address is relatively mild but still allows personal political attacks and dirty comments. The other major left wing blogs The Standard and The Daily Blog allow and promote a lot of abuse and attempts to emulate some of Whale Oil’s “success”.

Lynn Prentice (lprent) at The Standard often boasts about his nastiness:

That is because in my sysop role I’m deliberately a nasty vindictive mean old man with abuse of power issues, whose only redeeming quality is that he is too lazy to be bothered exercising those traits, but who often and almost randomly goes totally over the top when roused.

And as chief moderator that sets the tone for blog with support of a one sided attack culture.

And Martyn Bradbury is well know for over the top rants and abuse, as well as doing party promotional blog posting without revealing he is being paid by or seeking payment for his work, one of the things Slater is correctly criticised for.

Josie Pagan is very familiar with how nasty the left wing blogs can get, they have blasted her a number of times. She recently posted The politics of vilification.

Nicky Hager’s book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

I agree with that. Whale Oil is obviously the main culprit but Kiwiblog can be very nasty in it’s comments and I think the generally and widely respected David Farrar would admit to overstepping lines of decency at times (as most if not all bloggers do to varying degrees).

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with.

I’ve been suggesting to left wing blogs for a long time thatthey would be fdar more credible and effective if they cut down on the crap – I’ve been banned from The Standard for giving them advice along those lines.

At least Farrar recognises problems and has pledged ttake measures to try to improve Kiwiblog – Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Josie concluded:

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.

It’s hard to see Whale Oil changing it’s degree of nastiness but if we are to improve political discourse in New Zealand it’s up to all of the rest of us to do what we can to improve – bloggers and politicians.

Directing all the blame at the other lot and demanding action from them ignores those shitting in our own nests.

Yes Russell, we can, all of us, do better than this. ‘All of us’ means not opting out because we’re are not as bad as Whale Oil.

UPDATE: Russell has responded via Twitter:

Thanks for another droning restatement of what you’ve already said. I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it.

I replied: Try using your stature showing some leadership in the blogosphere in raising standards perhaps?

Kiwiblog steps up

David Farrar has stepped up to a major challenge and is promising improvements at Kiwiblog – see Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Farrar has always been one of the most open bloggers on disclosure, and he is are taking that even further. 

I receive up to a dozen unsolicited e-mails a day, suggesting stories to me. Most are from people who are not politicians or staff – just ordinary readers. Some are just links to stories, some make some points on a topical issue. I sometimes quote these e-mails in posts. I have always been very careful to distinguish between content I write, and content people may send me (which I quote as coming from a reader). But I’m going to go a further step and if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary, or political party staffer, source I will state so when using it. I will not name individuals, but if I quote someone I will include information on their affiliations, when relevant. You will find this is very infrequently.

The comments and commenters at Kiwiblog have a reputation for being many things, usually negative. There’s no doubt it can be a very abusive and insenstitive forum at times. Amongst the noise there are also many very worthwhile and interesting comments and commenters, but reputation focuses mainly on the worst.

After the election (ie when I have more time) I am going to consult on a tougher moderation policy for the comments. I want them to be robust and forceful, but focused more on issues than people. I have very limited time to read them myself, so probably will ask for some readers to step forward as moderators. We’ll have that discussion in October.

Moderation can be very time consuming, a difficult beast to confront. It’s a REAL SHAME that more responsibility and respect isn’t shown by commenters who are guests on Kiwiblog. This will be a challenge but it’s worth doing.

Farrar is setting a higher standard for himself – now it will be interesting to see if the blogs to the left who have been busy claiming they are not as bad as those on the right step up and follow your example.

As Bunji has just posted at The Standard – Left wing blogs aren’t “the same”.

No, they are not the same. Are they willing to up their standards too? What about it lprent? 

UPDATE: Already The Standard has indicated where they stand on this, showing their hypocrisy in claiming the moral high ground – No Changes for Kiwiblog.

Whoever wrote and posted that didn’t even have the guts to disclose their name or pseudonym.

Dirty, dirtier and dirtiest

There’s no doubt that of the major political blogs Whale Oil has been the dirtiest. It seems to have been a surprise to many how dirty, but to any observers of the blogosphere it just confirms with some specific examples what was already well known.

Barry Soper alludes to this in The Soap Box: Revelations? Hardly!

Anyone who’s shocked by the dirty nature of the emails that have tried to paint a smear campaign by National of its opponents understand little about two things – the hate speak that Whale Oil Beef Hooked blogger Cameron Slater’s known for and the business of politics which is anything but clean.

What about the rest of the blogs and social media? Certainly not as bad but there’s plenty of other dirt mongering and dirt mongerers.

In fact the hacking of Slater’s data and using it to hijack the election campaign must rate near the very top of the dirt scale.

Bunji at The Standard claims Left wing blogs aren’t “the same”.

On Morning Report yesterday John Key was busy casting all sorts of aspersions, and refusing to say that clearly odious behaviour by Judith Collins, Jason Ede and Cameron Slater was wrong.

But some of the aspersions were against shock horror left wing bloggers!

As a left wing blogger I take personal umbrage.

There is no equivalence.

He’s right, they are not the same. There’s no equivalence to Whale Oil across centrist and right wing blogs either. Cameron Slater is one of a kind, along with his co-dirt-mongers.

But Bunji and many others who frequent The Standard, by participating or not taking umbrage, support an often dirty forum there. Similar to varying degrees for Kiwiblog and The Daily Blog and Dim-Post and Public Address – and other social media forums including Facebook, Twitter, the Trade Me boards etc etc

(To be fair Bunji isn’t one of the dirty ones at The Standard, but I haven’t seen him speak up against the in-house dirt their either).

Saying “we’re not dirtiest so we’re ok” is making excuses for dirty and dirtier. They can’t wash their hands of it like that.

Political forums seem to attract a dominant minority of people who are intolerant of opposing (or even non-agreeing) views. And they can be bullying, lying and very nasty. Not quite in Slater’s league but some come close.

John Key has been justifiably been criticised for make the “but they do it too” excuse.

It’s nearly as bad saying “but we aren’t as bad”.

I’ve been banned from Whale Oil because my opinions were contrary to their agenda.

I’ve been banned from The Standard for suggesting they would promote their political ideas better if they didn’t play so dirty.

I’ve also been banned from Dim-Post and The Daily Blog. 

David Farrar has often been criticised for allowing dirty commenting run rampant at Kiwiblog – but at least I’ve never seen him ban anyone for having a different opinion, and that’s a major. And he’s never banned me despite me being strongly critical of him, his blog and National at times.

Whale Oil may be dirtiest, but there’s plenty of dirty and dirtier about as well.

This all reflects very poorly on our political discourse. Of course that our top politicians lead the dirt mongering by example doesn’t help. And media are caught in this too – it’s difficult to avoid reporting on what is attracting attention (they shouldn’t) but it’s easy to get stuck in a dirt mongering rut.

Some are suggesting that politics is just dirty and nothing can or should be done about it. That’s one of Slater’s favourite excuses for his excesses.

I don’t buy that rolling over and let our democracy be savaged. 

It’s time enough good people stood up against it and made a difference.We don’t have to (and shouldn’t) accept degrees of dirt.

We should demand decency and dignity in our democracy. We can’t eliminate dirt but we should replace most of it with a decent political contest.

That’s sort of what Nicky Hager seems to have been aiming at, but his book is likely to make things worse in the short term.

The challenge is how to create something better once the carnage has died down.

Who is up for this challenge?

 

Apology to Stephanie

On the previous post Is The Standard “a mouthpiece for Labour”? I criticised The Standard for what I felt was inadequate disclosure statements about the authors. Authors aren’t identified and don’t make disclosures in the site’s ‘About’ or via other menu items.

Some authors sometimes (infrequently) make a disclosure on a post or in comments but if you miss it it can be difficult to find.

One of the authors, Stephanie Rodgers, was not happy with what I posted.

Stephanie Rodgers @stephanierodgrs
LOL Pete George is basically trying to dox the Standard’s authors. Congrats on compiling totally upfront, public information about me, troll

 

Keep spinning, Pete, especially when I DO give disclosure and you magically avoid acknowledging it.

God you’re a sad little liar.
bootstheory.wordpress.com/about/

I cannot be responsible for your inability to use the internet, Pete.

Long story, won’t go into detail but the end result is this – you can find Stephanie’s disclosure when she posts at The Standard.

  1. Find one of her standard posts where she links back to her own blog. I took a while to see this as it’s a link just under the post details:
    Stephanie Standard
  2. If you notice ‘Boots Theory’ and realise it could be is Stephanie’s own blog with a disclosure statement you can click on that.
  3. This is the current home page. I had to search for a while to find her disclosure statement.
    Stephanie Boots Theory
    I searched at the top for ‘About and also at the bottom but couldn’t find it. But I eventually discovered if you click the black square on the left it pops out a side menu which has a link to About on it, which has this Disclosure:

Disclosure statement

All opinions expressed on this blog are my personal views.

 

I work as a communications officer at the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.  I am a member of the Labour Party and have previously worked for Labour’s team in Parliament as a lowly receptionist.  Nothing on this blog should be construed as a statement made on behalf of any of these organisations.

Apology two – sorry for annoying you and not finding this on my own Stephanie.

I guess your day job as communications officer doesn’t apply in your political world.

I see that you have been a Labour staffer, I’ll update the details on the previous post.

 

Is The Standard “a mouthpiece for Labour”?

Lynn Prentice keeps adamantly denying that his Standard blog is a mouthpiece for Labour. Technically he’s probably correct – but there’s no doubt many mouths of Labour are active at The Standard.

The denials of being very Labour are bizarre. It’s not like Peter three times denying Jesus on one day. It’s more like the twelve disciples denying Jesus throughout the writing of the New Testament.

In a radio interview yesterday Prentice was at best blatantly misleading – see Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard.

Here’s a list of most of the current and recent Standard authors.

lprent (Lynn Prentice) – Standard trustee, editor, sysop, author  and chief moderator (banner of unwelcome opinions). Prentice is a long time Labour Party member, has often mentioned how much he helped Helen Clark in her Mt Albert electorate, attends Labour conferences but has pledged to vote Green this election. No disclosure on The Standard but this of the “brilliant blogger” is still at The Daily Blog.

lprent (also known as Lynn Prentice) is an ancient geek who fell out of management in the 90′s after getting irritated with accountants and doing an MBA and back into programming. During the process he became involved in real world politics as a reluctant socialist. He hasn’t really emerged from those twin obsessions since.

Lynn Prentice is Editor of The Standard, the largest left wing blog in NZ. Lynn is a brilliant blogger and resides in the high ranking Jedi Knight category. He likes Don McGlashan, a facebook page called Whaleoil Sucks and the Ponsonby Fish and Chips shop.

Currently he programs anti-collision devices in c++, linux, Qt, and touch screens. Since he also acts as the sysop of multi-author blog The Standard, that large left-wing nest of vipers that plague the NZ politicians of all hues. He finds the same predictive algorithms useful in educating the trolls who waste his time. Occasionally he finds time to write the odd blog post on whatever interests him.

Mike Smith – Standard trustee (since 2010) and current author. Retired as “the long standing party secretary of the Labour party in 2009″. Worked as an adviser in David Shearer’s leader’s office up until last year.

mickysavage (Greg Presland) – current author.  Former chair of David Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate committee and presumably still on the committee. He was the lawyer who set up Cunliffe’s secret trust during the Labour leadership campaign last year.

Bunji - current author and active Labour Party member.

I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland. That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Stephanie Rodgers – current author (also blogs elsewhere). On the Labour campaign team in Ohariu. Communications officer at EPMU.

Stephanie Rodgers is a communicator who lives in Wellington with her partner and two guinea pigs.  One of them was once the Dominion Post’s Pet of the Day (the guinea pigs, not her partner).  She is a communications officer at the EPMU and member of the Labour Party, but blogs in a personal capacity in her own time.  Opinions are her own.

UPDATE: Stephanie was grumpy at me because she has a disclosure statement – but it is on her own blog, not at The Standard. Some of her posts have a link to her blog ‘Boots Theory’ and if find a hidden menu with ‘About’ on it (the black square on the left) she has a different disclosure:

Disclosure statement

All opinions expressed on this blog are my personal views.

I work as a communications officer at the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.  I am a member of the Labour Party and have previously worked for Labour’s team in Parliament as a lowly receptionist.  Nothing on this blog should be construed as a statement made on behalf of any of these organisations.

Stephanie has been a lowly staffer working for Labour in Parliament but that was before she began as an author at The Standard (which was in February this year, she was working at EPMU last year).

karol – current author (since 2012). Strongly promotes Greens. Previously used the pseudonym ‘carol’. A recent ‘Disclaimer':

Disclaimer:  My primary political allegiance is to the Left. I am not now, nor ever have been, a member of a political party.  I don’t speak for any party.  I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election.  I will give my electorate vote to Carmel Sepuloni.

James Henderson – author April 2010 until December 2013. Closely associated with Greens. There have been rumours he was Clint Smith who had authored under the pseudonym ‘Steve Piersen‘ until March 2009 when he went to work in Parliament for Labour.  Smith switched to Greens as media and political adviser (of “Hey Clint’ fame), and then in April this year switched back to work for Labour.

Rocky (previously as Rochelle Rees until 2009) – past author, has just started posting again (last posts before this week were in 2012). Prentice’s niece. Political and animal rights activist. Prentice blogged in 2008:

My niece Rochelle Rees has uncovered some unsavory practices operated by element of the NZ Police directed at peaceful protest groups.

You can read them either by buying the paper, or by these links to articles from Nicky Hager.
Police anti-terror squad spies on protest groups
Who the police were spying on
The activist who turned police informer
How Gilchrist was found out:

Twenty-two-year-old Rochelle Rees got involved in politics as a schoolgirl, determined to do something about issues such as cruelty in battery hen farms.

Since then she has handed out leaflets, been arrested for locking herself to a shop selling clothing made with animal fur from China and made the news during this year’s election campaign for a cheeky “Google bomb” calling John Key “clueless”.

Ben Clark – occasional author.  Labour Party member. Brother of Labour MP David Clark. Stood for Labour in North Shore in 2011 and was 69 on the party list. Not on the 2014 list.

Irish Bill - past author (last post September 2013). Earlier in 2013 Prentice denied – “Labour party member”.In the words of a Tui ad – “Yeah right!” but IrishBill corrected him:

We’re a loose collective at TS. I’ve a policy of keeping myself to myself outside of what I write there but would like to correct a couple of things here. I am a Labour party member (and have been on and off for a long long time) and my call for joining up certainly wasn’t tongue in cheek – having seen what happens when the broader left walks away from the party I’m very keen to see as many lefties as possible sign up now – it’s more important for us to be in the party now than it has been since the dark days of the 80s.

Eddie – author until January this year. Seems to have been strongly connected to one of Labour’s factions – see a post from March last year Labour’s three factions. Many rumours since way back about the identity, notably that it is a pseudonym that has been used by a number of Labour insiders or staffers, both male and female. The name Jennie Michie keeps coming up back a few years. Always denied. From Dim Post in 2009:

It’s rumoured that Eddie, the author of the rumour is a senior Labour comms advisor so if there’s a story to be found here I think it’s that Labour are begging the gallery to start smearing cabinet Ministers.

UPDATE: Eddie and IrishBill from The Standard refute the rumour that Eddie is a comms advisor with the Labour Party.

Comments:

“Eddie is not a comms adviser. You need to quote her job title 100% correct then ask her and Irish to deny it again. That is the game they play.”

“Does anybody actually believe Rob and Jennie when they keep denying who they are via their nom de blogs? Ridiculous.
“Senior EPMU staff member and labour staffer spend all day trying to smear and build mountains from molehills. Quelle surprise.”

“So Eddie aka Jenny Michie senior Labour comms wallah and IrishBill aka Rob Egan, Communications Advisor of the EPMU are getting their nickers in a twist over being outed ? Why don’t they just come out of the closet, it really would be much easier for them in the long run.”

An article on blogging in 2009 got a response from ‘Eddie’ plus a counter claim.

Eddie: Sandra. Sorry that we didn’t get back to you on your email about us commenting for this article. Clinton used to handle the public stuff and he tells me he got your email when he was pulling out of the whole blog scene, forgot to pass on the email.

I’ll take this opportunity to clear up a few things.

The Standard is a broad-Left blog, about half the regular writers support the Greens and the other half Labour. We don’t toe party lines and we’re more likely to write critical articles on the parties of the Left than supporting ones.

You could have found this info on our About page and might be nice if you could edit the text to reflect them, at least noting we dismiss Hooton’s conspiracy theories.

Hooton’s got no evidence of any association with Labour, much less than any of us are paid by them. It’s simple lies from a man who has made a career out of spouting extremist rubbish. How’s his blog doing these days? Oh yeah, it died.

Roger: Eddie at the standard is Jenny Michie who is the communications officer at the labour party. When she says there are no labour party link with the standard that isnt credible.

Zetetic - current occasional author. Obvious Labour/left leanings. Rumoured to be many people including Trevor Mallard (I don’t think that’s credible) or associated with Mallard (feasible). Another denial from Prentice here, this time about Zetetic’s Labour-ness.

I can’t remember Zet ever mentioning unions and his posts that even mention Labour are usually somewhat disdainful. However as he mostly stirs in his posts it is frequently difficult to see the difference. He said he was voting for the Mana party in 2011 (and RAM in 2008).

But Zetetic was quite clear here early last year. In For a February leadership vote

No one in Labour can deny there’s a real issue with internal disunity. Not only is the caucus divided (and more than ever since the Shearer camp’s handling of the conference fallout), but there’s a major breach between the membership and the caucus. Unless this is fixed and we can get the party united we’re looking at another term in opposition after 2014.

Increasingly, people are coming to the view that the only way to heal this rift and unify the party is for caucus to take the leadership issue out to the membership this February so we can put it to bed once and for all. That’s what the conference was about. We wanted to make sure we were never ignored again. We simply want our right to vote, and whatever the outcome is I believe that will settle it.

Nearly all of these authors are proven to have close Labour links or are likely to have close Labour links. There are union links as well which isn’t surprising.

Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones (ex EPMU) and Rob Egan.

I’m baffled why Prentice and others keep trying to deny that The Standard is closely associated with Labour.

Sure it may be a group of semi-independent bloggers. But most of them have an obvious strong common interest – Labour.

Why do they try to hide from this? Prentice told blatant mistruths on Radio New Zealand about The Standard and it’s authors.

I would have thought they would be proudly promoting Labour, but they seem embarrassed or afraid of something.

They could be a very effective mouthpiece for Labour but they want to hide in semi-anonymity and denial. It’s bizarre. 

Note: I’ll amend this with any credible corrections or additions. Put in comments or email me at petedgeorge@gmail.com

UPDATE: Duncan Garner writes in Politics is a sleazy business – regardless of who is in power

Senior Labour  ministers and press secretaries rang to point me toward The Standard, a Left-wing blog, to read its vitriol on certain days. Who had written those posts? I’m told many were written under fake names by Labour staffers paid by the taxpayer.

More Labour connections

The Standard re-posts from Polity by Rob Salmond:

Rob has wide experience relevant to public affairs. He has been a Parliamentary adviser to two leaders of New Zealand’s Labour party (Helen Clark, David Shearer), and through Polity continues to work with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

They also re-post from Imperator Fish by Scott Yorke:

My name is Scott Yorke. I’m a lawyer, but this site doesn’t really have anything to do with my day job, because, really, what kind of twisted job would that be if it did?

This blog is my own, and the posts do not represent the opinions of anyone other than me.

Nor does anything on this blog represent legal advice. This is my hobby, not a job. I don’t give out legal advice over the internet.

Disclosure

Yes, I am a bit left leaning. But some of my best friends, etc. etc.

I am also a long-suffering member of the Labour Party. Now you can’t say I didn’t tell you.

Scott is also active in electorate campaigning for Labour.

These are both very good disclosures and they both do some very good posts, but it makes a nonsense of The Standard claiming no Labour input into their blog. 

 

Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard

Lynn Prentice from The Standard was interviewed by Guyon Espiner on Radio  NZ this morning.

Left wing bloggers defend their own work

Espiner: And joining me in the Auckland studio is Lynn Prentice from the left wing blogsite The Standard. Good morning to you.

Prentice: Good morning.

Espiner: Well, you heard Bill Ralston saying there that this has been happening for years and this is just the new form of it with websites. Is he right?

Prentice: Ah not for the left. Basically we don’t take material particularly from the parliamentary wing. We never have. other blogs might be we don’t.

Prentice doesn’t speak for “the left”. There are other major left wing blogs like Public Address and The Daily Blog – at the latter (which Prentice has been an author at) Martyn Bradbury was posting while a paid consultant to the Mana Party and while involved in the setting up of the Internet Party.

Espiner: So the Standard has never received any information from the Labour Party.

Prentice: We have but a long time back. If you go back you have to go back to the H-Fee back in 2008.

Espiner: So for the last, what, six years you’ve not received any information from anyone at all in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Mike Smith was General Secretary of the Labour Party until August 2009.  He became Prentice’s co-trustee at The Standard in 2010 and became an author. He was an adviser in the Labour leader’s office (in Parliament) up until last year. He is still authoring posts as of today. (Source L Prentice).

Prentice: We will often get stuff pointing at stuff that is already in public.

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right. The thing about it is…

Espiner: You’re in contact with the Parliamentary wing of the Labour Party surely?

Prentice: Yes.

Espiner: Yeah, ok. So you’re really just the left wing equivalent then of Whale Oil are you?

Prentice: No.

Espiner: What’s the difference?

Prentice? The difference is basically we sit there and write opinion, we don’t try to form it. We write our opinions about what we actually do, we don’t actually go off and try and say what everyone should be thinking. We’re not broadcasters in the same way.

Yeah, that’s an interesting explanation. They have even had a number of posts recently imploring people how to vote. See Get Out The Vote!

Espiner: Well that’s a fairly subtle difference isn’t it? You’re forming or making left wing opinions based on contact with the Labour Party at times. You’ve just said that.

Prentice: Not just the Labour Party, I mean we talk to the Greens…

Espiner: Other left wing parties.

Prentice: There’s maybe, I don’t know, fifteen or twenty people who’ve been active on the blog over time, some of them from the Greens, some of them just not affiliated at all like Karol.

Karol recently stated she was not a member of any party but “I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election” and has been strongly promoting Greens and voting left.

Espiner: Was it originally hosted on the Labour Party server?

Prentice: Ah hem. There was a server courtesy of a, that was donated to the Labour Party which then got ported onto an activist, and we were hosted on the activists running it, and that was for a grand total of about six weeks until we found out that that was actually the case.

Espiner: Right, ok. Why don’t people on The Standard blog blog under their own names?

Prentice: Why should we?

Espiner: Well because when you’re putting an opinion forward, putting your own name to it …

Prentice: Because the fast way to have Cameron Slater go and try and trace you down at work.

Espiner: Well, no…

Prentice: It, it’s actually in my current job I had to actually go off and tell them if Cameron Slater finds I’m here he’ll attack me.

Espiner: Ok, but you could say look, Cameron Slater, no matter what you think of Cameron Slater, you know who he is.  He’s the son of the former National Party president. You’ve got no illusions about where he’s coming from whether you like his material or not. Yep I’m looking at The Standard website now and I have a bunch of people, Rocky, who’s Rocky?

Prentice:  Rochelle Rees, my niece. She’s well known.

She may be well known amongst the regulars at The Standard but will be unknown to casual readers. I check out The Standard quite often and either didn’t know who Rocky was or didn’t remember. Being well known to Lynn doesn’t mean everyone else knows her that well, but they don’t seem to get that.

Espiner: Ok, who..

Prentice: There’s Mike Smith.

Espiner: Who’s um, you’re lprent I presume.

Prentice: Yeah.

Espiner: Who’s Bunji?

Prentice: Bunji’e just one of the guys from Auckland.

Espiner: Who is it?

Prentice: I don’t know.

Espiner: You don’t know who that is?

Prentice? Well, I do know but ‘m not going to tell you.

First he lies, then he won’t say. Fair enough for the latter, except that Bunji himself did say a bit today.

There’s much more and this must surely rumble on, but for a start can I say that I’m unaware of any passing of gossip and scuttlebutt to The Standard – even if I don’t know all the authors.  I know that a few times Labour policy has been sent to us as it was to journalists with an embargo so we can have stories ready and scheduled when it’s announced.  But nothing more than that.

So they have received material before it goes public. A repeat from above:

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right.

Bunji also said today:

People know where I’m coming from far more than whomever is doing today’s Herald editorial.

They know I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland.  That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Ok, so an active electorate party member. But again, ‘people’ don’t know this.  Some regulars will know but many won’t. I didn’t. Unless you happen to notice the comment amongst many that reveals a bit about someone you won’t know. None of the authors (or either trustee) has disclosures or any information about themselves that’s easily available.

Espiner: Ok, well this is the point though isn’t it, because people can’t make up their minds about…

Prentice: …about what they’re writing? Of course they can? It’s sitting right there on the page.

Espiner: Yes, but it’s anonymous, isn’t it.

Prentice: No it’s not anonymous.

Espiner: Well yes it is because we don’t know who these people are.

Prentice: No, but the thing about it is that it’s no more anonymous than the editorial of the Herald…

Espiner: Well let me put this to you.

Prentice: …who are completely anonymous, they don’t even put their names to it.

Not right – here are named people in editorial positions at NZ Herald.  No one is identified in About at The Standard, and rarely is anyone identified on posts apart from their pseudonym (with an exception or two).

Espiner: Yes, but we it could be couldn’t it that these people could be members of the Labour Party, could even be Parliamentary staffers for all we know, they could have very strong links to the Labour Party, so…

Prentice: Except I say they aren’t. Mike Smith says they aren’t, and we’re the people running the Standard.

That’s the Mike Smith mentioned above, who was himself an adviser in the Labour leader’s office not long ago.

Espiner: So none of these people are connected to the Labour Party?

Prentice: No, they might be connected to the Labour Party, they might be members, they might be supporters, but what you’re asking is are they MPs, are they staffers? Nah.

Espiner: Who are they?

Prentice: They’re basically people who’re interested in politics.

Like mickysavage (Greg Presland), who isn’t a staffer but works in David Cunliffe’s electorate committee and set up a donation trust for Cunliffe last year. And who else? No way of most people knowing.

Espiner: And why don’t they put their names to it?

Prentice: Because basically we’ve had people who go off and try to attack them at work, ok. And it’s a strange thing to do. If some of our people like Clint Smith for instance, basically went on as Steve Piersen on the blog, and eventually went off when he went off when he went off to work for Parliamentary Services. He just happened to be out in the open.

I’m not sure that he was out in the open. Clint Smith worked for Labour, switched to Greens (‘Hey Clint’) and earlier this year moved back to Labour. It had been claimed but wasn’t verified that Smith posted at The Standard as ‘James Henderson’ up until the end of last year, if that is true it was as a Green staffer.

Prentice: But the point about it is there’s a long tradition of being pseudonymous on the ‘net. That goes back thirty years…

Espiner: Ok, can I put a hypothetical to you. Someone comes to you with information which is hugely damaging to the National Party, and it’s four weeks before an election, around about where we are now, and what do you do, do you put it on a website?

Prentice: Ah, a lot of the time what we’ll do is just simply forward it to a journo.

A lot of the time?

Prentice: We’re not there to make news, we’re there to write opinion.

Espiner: All right, thank you very much for explaining that and for joining us, we really appreciate your time. That’s Lynn Prentice from the left wing blog site The Standard.

Some may not be interested in making news, but there is a lot of discussion at times about wanting to make news and to be noticed by mainstream media.

I think it’s fair enough that some people choose to use pseudonyms online. I don’t and being known makes me more of a target for personal abuse. I understand that some prefer to avoid that.

But using a pseudonym does alter perceptions of what is written, not knowing if it is just an ordinary unaffiliated person or David Cunliffe’s offsider.

Lynn hates getting advice (he bans people for it) but I’ll give him and Standard authors some – it would help if you had an ‘authors’ page (or add to ‘About’) with named authors with brief backgrounds plus authors with pseudonyms with brief descriptions of their disclosed background. It does make a difference if you know you’re talking to an active party member or a non-aligned individual.

The problem with avoiding saying anything about authors (apart from in comments scattered through the blog) is that it makes it much more likely people will speculate. If an author is hard out promoting a party but their background is unknown many people will presume they are working with or for the party.

They way things are at the moment there is doubt and there is mixed messages that are far from convincing.

UPDATE: Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones and Rob Egan.

There has been discussion about this at The Standard (including Prentice) and so far no denials. I’ll update if there is more on this.

Hi Bunji

Various people at The Standard are busy today defending their blogging integrity and pseudonimity.

micksavage posts:

To equate the Standard with Slater’s hate filled website is ludicrous.  Posts are policy and not personality driven and the only time personalities are involved is when there is a political angle to the story.

There’s a political angle to most stories on a political blog.

wtl4

I really don’t understand why there are so many people coming on here to defend the actions of Slater et al. If this had come from the other side (e.g. involved the Labour party and the Standard), I would be one of the first to criticise those involved. I’m sure many (but obviously not all) of the other regulars here would do the same.

That, I think, is what difference ultimately is between Whaleoil and the Standard, and those who frequent each site.

Left good, bad right. 

Bunji does a whole post that deserves some comment.

Hi Guyon!

So Bill Ralston and Guyon Espiner think it’s terrible this pseudonymous blogging.  And Lynn gave a good defence – but I felt I wanted to add to it…

The thing is being only pseudonymous (like much on the net), all the important details to my argument are out there.  People know where I’m coming from far more than whomever is doing today’s Herald editorial.

That’s quite a claim. Knowing who is making the argument and what their associations might be can make quite a difference.

They know I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland.  That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

That’s a major flaw in a common argument. Of course people who are very familiar with The Standard and follow a lot of discussions over time might remember details like this that relate to a particular pseudonym – but most readers are unlikely to have any idea. There is nothing that identifies the person apart from what may have been said scattered over months.

I watch The Standard quite a bit and didn’t know or couldn’t remember that Bunji was a Labour Party member from Auckland.

So people can take that background into my opinion.  But my words (like the Herald‘s editorial) should stand or fall by the argument on the page.  And the good thing about blogging to a wide community like The Standard, is that I have it wrong (or even any of the minor details…), it’ll be exposed within a few comments…

It won’t necessarily be exposed at all, if it is something that they want to hear.

I exposed something that was wrong once within a few comments at The Standard and I was harassed and banned (I was eventually able to prove it).

Why not say who I am?  Well, my employer’s not left-leaning and probably isn’t happy about me blogging left-wing propaganda in my lunch half-hour.  And while it might get me targeted by WhaleOil (how many people’s houses and addresses has he published over the years – usually encouraging people to turn up there.  It’s not just Nicky Hager & John Minto he targets…), it really wouldn’t add to my argument.  So why bother?

There’s valid reasons including employment and business for using a pseudonym. It’s not just people at Whale Oil who can threaten you with your personal details. 

Implying there are many people’s houses and addresses published is a claim that should be substantiated. It sounds like at least an exaggeration. 

Also Guyon, there’s quite a large difference between a blogger who is on endless personal vendettas (and not just against MPs) being fed personal attack and private information – as well as confidential Government information – versus us on The Standard (without the nasty personal vendettas)…

Yeah, nasty personal vendettas, The Standard – those who aren’t on the receiving end see nothing wrong with the frequent mob harassment and vendettas, or they don’t care and ignore it.

…getting the odd embargo-ed media release from sympathetic parties, or links to newspaper stories pointed out to us (and I’ve not had either of those since 2011, they’ve obviously forgotten me…).

Tips and information don’t just get given to you, you have to develop relationships and networks. Some of the Standard authors obviously have built up relationships with people able to provide interesting and useful information.

In the meantime on Newstalk ZB Wellington’s Friday Forum this morning, Josie Pagani disclosed that three senior Labour/Cunliffe staffers regularly and anonymously blog at the Standard. Names are on the audio file here:

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/wellington/listen-on-demand/audio/tf-friday-forum-pt1-15thaug2014

These are in addition to Mike Smith, Lynn Prentice and Greg Presland, who are identified authors with longstanding links with Labour.

Who’s been hacking?

This post follows the Hager precedent where it is ok to float a few bits of information and let others join the dots.

Cameron Slater has accused Kim Dotcom of being involved in hacking his email and Facebook data. Dotcom has stated:

For the record: I haven’t hacked Whaleoil. I have nothing to do with Hager’s book. There will be legal action against Slater & co

However that is a loose disclaimer. I asked for clarification:

Can you confirm that you had no knowledge of or anything to do with the hacking of ?

No response to that.So there’s an obvious possibility there.

The next dot – David Farrar claims I’ve either been hacked or spied on.

I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment).

A commenter ‘berend’ points out:

The source is an employee. Footnote 17 for chapter 9 says “Confidential source.” Footnote 18 calls him “The employee said”.

Next dot – as I posted yesterday, the gmail account I use for political correspondence and my Facebook account have been hacked.

What would I have in common with Slater and Farrar? They are big time bloggers with long and substantial involvement in politics and with the National Party.

I’m a small time independent blogger with scant political connections.

Another dot – suddenly another blogger who usually shuns mainstream media is going public – see Prentice irritated by Labour links and he was interviewed on Radio NZ this morning. Lynn Prentice, known as lprent.

Prentice and I have sparred online for years. He has made some funny claims like this last year in an ironic Pete George – an example of right wing blogging falsehoods (his grand entrance at The Daily Blog). He and many other left wing activists cal me a right winger. That’s very funny.

A post at The Standard (ironically on a post called Happy Labour Day):

The likes of Cam Slater, David Farrar, Brett Dale, John Key, Jami-lee Ross, Mike Hosking, Leighton Smith, Lucia maria (she also want to see the gays exterminated), Colin Craig, John Banks, Simon Bridges, Bob McCroskie, Gosman, Fisiani, Santi, Grumpy, Matthew Hooton Monique Angel, Pete George and all others that I have left off my list (sorry, will be here all night), are to trade unionists what the SA brownshirts were to the Jews in 1930′s Germany, common thugs who see those who belong to a trade unions (along with homosexuals) as vermin to be exterminated in a Final Solution.

Get ready folks, post 2014 we will see trade unionists streaming through our court system when National make joining a trade union to be a crime, and the PPTA outlawed in our schools.

Slavery, here we come.

That’s not an unusual view from the far left, anyone seen as an opponent is viewed as an enemy to be defeated by an means possible. 

Some of the Twitter respnses to Dotcom’s hacking denial are also indicative:

go get him kim, teach him a lesson the old fashioned way. Bet em’ at their own game! Eradicate the problem!

Slaters are nasty creatures. Slimy, greasy and sticky to stamp on.

Pete is missing the point. Whoever hacked WhaleOil’s computer deserves congratulation.

Back to a Standard stalwart, ‘felix':

felix

The thing that sticks out for me about the Slater boy, Farrar, and their unpaid intern Pete George, is that they all resort to variations of “He’s got to be more careful, there are some real scumbags out there who will twist his words against him at every opportunity”.

Hey dicks, that’s you guys.

No-one else gives a fuck.

And another:

Clemgeopin

@Pete George
The way you come across with your posts is that you are here to put down Labour and the left, and take the side of the right wing. That is irritating and mostly time wasting rather than genuine debate or discussion.

If your intention is to push the agenda of the right, your natural place to hang would be the well known right wing blogs, of Slater and Farrar.

And back to Prentice who links me with Slater

Leaving the perverted obsessions to Cameron Slater and even Pete George seems like a wise thing for us to do.

and the right wing

Appointing PG makes me immediately suspect the organisation is just another right wing shill like the Taxpayers union and other previous ones.

…etc etc – it’s fair to say I have irritated Prentice for some time and he seems to have had a habit of targeting me. And David Farrar. And Cameron Slater.

I have absolutely no evidence who hacked me. I haven’t seen any evidence who hacked Slater or Farrar.

There’s a likely connection between the hacking of Slater and Farrar. Who on earth would think to put me in that same basket of cases?

There is one piece of evidence linking lprent and the hacking of my gmail.

Got one of those this morning. Looks like PG’s email has been hacked. Virtually identical to several others over the years.

That’s just because he (and mickysavage) were in my gmail address book.

Who’s been hacking? I don’t know. But there’s as many dots here as in a Hager hatchet job.

In any case would lprent have the IT expertise or the desire to axe some opponents to resort to illegal hacking? 

 

Prentice irritated by Labour links

Why do Standard authors try to hide from Labour connections?

Lynn Prentice has been “getting irritated about some of the comments in the media by ignorant fools about The Standard and its authors”. 

Prentice has posted Irritated and up early at The Standard. He includes this reference to me.

Steven Joyce on Morning Report and the obsessively self-aggrandizing commenter Pete George come to mind as being particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants.

I did my first ever live radio interview with Checkpoint last night.

Being called “self-aggrandizing” by Prentice is very funny, as people who have seen his many self-puff pieces at The Standard will know. One of his nicknames is “the world’s best sysop”.

And claiming I’m “being particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants” is also funny.

Radio New Zealand has had a look at party connections with blogs in The Beehive and the blogosphere. This quotes Prentice – he usually won’t talk to media so this is a rare occasion.

Lynn Prentice runs The Standard – a left-wing blog often accused of being a mouthpiece of the Labour Party.

That’s one of the easiest ways to irritate Prentice.

He says bloggers on the site get their information almost entirely from public sources, library research, or their own knowledge from being in political parties for decades.

Yeah, right. And they all live as hermits with no contact with people in politics.

Greg Presland (mickysavage) has a close association with David Cunliffe via his electorate, and famously as his trust lawyer.

Occasional author and co-trustee (with Prentice) at the Standard is Mike Smith is a former general secretary of the Labour Party who worked in David Shearer’s office.

Prentice is actively involved in politics still, recently attending different party conferences.

“It is completely obvious in the posts where the information comes from because we always either link to it or state how we acquired it. We don’t have a “tipline” of ministers dishing the dirt on enemies.

Of course they don’t have a tipline of Ministers, Labour, Greens and Mana don’t have any Ministers.

But it is not always completely obvious where the information comes from – especially in the recent past when ‘Eddie’ and ‘James Henderson’ were posting.

Who is Zetetic (still posting)? They have been quite involved in some of the more political posts. Maybe a tipline of unionists.

And who is recent addition to the author ranks,’Rocky’? See for yourself if their latest post <a href=”http://thestandard.org.nz/but-the-door-was-open/”>But the door was open…</a> looks like it was sourced from the library.

“To be complicit in that kind of sock-puppetry requires the kind of compliant deference to authority that comes naturally to people on the right.”

Mr Prentice says the accusations by the National Party that The Standard is ghost written by Labour staffers is “bullshit”.

That may be true as of now.

Eddie stopped posting in January, James Henderson in December. Election year? Sure, it’s not certain if they had links to or were staffers, but their anonymity and the nature of their posts suggests they didn’t source all their content from library research.

Apart from self-aggrandizing Prentice says in his ‘irritated’ post:

The idea of being the “mouthpiece of the Labour Party” is a rather amusing. 

Irritated and amused in one post. 

Of course The Standard isn’t “the mouthpiece of the Labour Party”. It has a variety of authors with a variety of interests. Author ‘karol’ is a prolific promoter of the Green Party.

But there’s no doubt that some of the mouthpieces have strong Labour links, including Prentice.

“Some mouthpieces of a faction of the Labour Party” would be more accurate.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Why shouldn’t bloggers promote Labour Party interests. Labour is the preferred party of about a quarter of voters (according to current polls, Fairfax has them on 22.5% today) so it’s reasonable to assume there could be a quarter or so of bloggers with Labour interests.

Of course each blog author has their own reasons for posting and their own sources – and I doubt that many go anywhere near a library to source current political material.

What’s really funny is that Prentice gets so irritated when The Standard is linked to Labour. Why aren’t some of them proud of their associations and proud of supporting and promoting Labour?

But what would I know, I’m particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants, apparently.

I’ve also been hacked

A major part of the Nicky Hager ‘Dirty Politics’ book revelations is who hacked Cameron Slater and apparently illegally obtained emails and Facebook conversation data.

It would be an even bigger issue if the hacking was more widespread.

  • my Xtra email was hacked last year (Xtra were having major problems with email security)
  • at the end of last year one of my gmail accounts was hacked (the account I use for political correspondence only)
  • early this year my Facebook was at least flagged as under attack

I have no idea if this is related or not but one does wonder.

I have a fairly minor voice in the blogosphere and in especially politics in New Zealand, but I have been labeled by some as right wing alongside Cameron Slater and David Farrar, by people like Lynn Prentice at The Standard and Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog (in fact Prentice’s debut post at The Daily Blog did just that – Pete George – an example of right wing blogging falsehoods)

I’ve exchange a small number of emails with Cameron Slater of the years – and also with David Farrar of Kiwiblog, Prentice and other authors at The Standard, Bradbury and other authors at The Daily Blog, and other bloggers across the spectrum.

I’m not exactly on good terms with Slater (and never have been):

  • I’ve had a number of confrontations and debates with Slater on Whale Oil and in Twitter
  • I was banned from Whale Oil about a month ago with a trumped up excuse (I was arguing contrary to Slater’s views on issues around rape and cultures).
  • A few weeks ago Slater posted ‘Breaking News’ that tried to dump me in legal trouble over breaking name suppression.

While Slater has been ground breaking with his blogging/on line media and has had unprecedented levels of success – and I applaud him for that, to an extent – I have always been opposed to his dirty approach to doing politics and have argued against him on that.

But as stated some saw me as linked to the right wing conspiracy.

I would be flattered if I was the target of political hacking – but would also view it with extreme concern.

Data being stolen from Slater is a serious issue. If political hacking has been more widespread then it would be even more serious.

The hacking aspect of Hager’s revelations should get as much scrutiny as the dirty politics Hager claims to have revealed.

 

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