Whale Oil and Canon

Whale Oil is again at the centre of online angst after a hypocritical and highly questionable attack on Tania Billingsley and her associates. This in turn has prompted a questionable attack on Canon NZ.

One inappropriate blogger agenda doesn’t justify another.

Whale Oil won “best blog” at the Canon Media Wards in May – the blog itself was one of the most congratulatory – see Cameron Slater wins Best Blog at Canon Media Awards 2014and prominently displays this:

There was widespread criticism – Whale Oil is often controversial and confrontational (and political blogging is competitive and not without jealousies) – but as the dominant new media blog that sometimes breaks news it was deserved. The Len Brown story that broke just after last year’s local body elections was cited as influential on the judging decision.

In June NBR reported: Whale Oil flaunts Canon award as evidence he is a journalist

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater has presented his Canon Media Award to prove to the High Court at Auckland he is a journalist.

The blogger presented his arguments today before Justice Raynor Asher where he is appealing a District Court decision which ruled he was not entitled to the rights of a journalist.

In December, Judge Charles Blackie ruled Mr Slater was not entitled to rely on journalists’ rights to protect the identity of sources, as set out in the Evidence Act, and should disclose the identity of a confidential source.

Traditional media journalists have very mixed feelings about Slater’s journalistic claims.

I don’t don’t think there’s any doubt that some of what Slater does is journalist-like, but most of the posts on the blog tend more towards agenda based politics with many “magazine” type posts.

Slater has a reputation for pushing boundaries and is regularly accused of crossing lines of decency.

I’ve always had mixed views. As far as blogging goes Whale Oil has been ground breaking and some of it’s content is very good, while most is easy to ignore  and some is ill-advised at least, sometimes getting close to disgraceful.

Slater has well known links to the National Party but mostly at least operates independently. John Key has admitted having regular chats with Slater and Judith Collins is known to be a fan. On the other hand Slater is also very critical of National officials and some MPs.

On Wednesday Whale Oil posted Tania Billingsley and the Green and Rape Crisis fingerprints. A number of accusations and insinuations were made against Tania Billingsley and associates of hers.

I do not subscribe to the notion New Zealand has a culture of rape. I also do not subscribe to being told to stop asking questions in this particular matter lest this show insensitivity to rape victims in general.

I do not want to trivialise whatever really happened and how this has genuinely affected Tania.

But.

If Tania, Tabby and Jan Logie can use this event to push their agendas, then I reject their attempt at stopping people like myself placing the story under some scrutiny.

It was far more than scrutiny, it was a wide ranging assault on Billingsley’s credibility and character. It was widely condemned which I think was justifiable.

The problem remains: We have one side of the story, we have lots of unanswered questions, and we have a potential scandal that is much more explosive than an MFaT official possibly mishandling a powderkeg of a diplomatic situation.

I’m getting inundated with emails about this too. People are just not buying the official story.

I’ve seen a lot of the type of blog comments that will have been emailed. Many of them uninformed speculation and attacks on the alleged victim.

I’m not keen of the term “rape culture” but whatever the culture is that defends male behaviour that can be as bad as disgraceful, and attacks female victims and alleged victims, and puts the blame on them, has been widely represented on blogs. And by this post at Whale Oil.

I challenge Tania to make herself available to me for an interview.

I think Slater would be one of the last people Tania would want to do an interview with. Journalists tend to try and get both sides of a sotry before they publish, not post a one-sided rant and then demand an interview in public.

The public has heard the case for the prosecution.

That’s patently false. Neither “the prosecution” nor Tania nor Jan Logie have raised the facts of the alleged incident in public. They have raised political issues but that has been separate to the details of the case.

It deserves to hear the cross examination of the facts as they are presented.

Trial by blog. The approach deserves contempt.

And it’s highly hypocritical. When Tania went public with her 3rd Degree interview Whale Oil strongly criticised her for prejudicing the case against the Malaysian diplomat.

But now Slater wants to promote his agenda and promote his blog he doesn’t care about prejudicing the case.

There will be much more to this case than is publicly known, because we know little about it.

But to pick one side of the story using the worst of male rumour and insinuation is very un-journalist-like.

Slater is pandering to a macho male dinosaur domination audience with no care for finding the facts of the case. He is disgracing the journalist award he won.

Condemnation of this is justified.

But some critics have taken inappropriate action. They decided to criticise and attack Canon because of the award given under their name.

Canon is the award sponsor. They didn’t choose the nominees, nor did they have anything to do with the judging.

Holding them responsible for an award winner’s actions after the award was given is nonsensical.

A number of people approached Canon on Twitter.  Canon responded:

One of those criticising Canon was a competing finalist in the best blog award, Giovanni Tiso. Ironically he got a lot of attention (which will have contributed to him being chosen as a finalist) for a campaign against advertisers of RadioLive over some online comments over the ‘Roastbuster’ case.

His campaign was successful, prompting some advertisers to threaten to pull from RadioLive. This campaign was widely supported but some (including me) thought it was taken too far there was some criticism.

Tiso (and others) have continued their criticisms of Canon.

@gtiso

Bollocks to that: it’s entirely clear that Canon and the Newspaper Publishers’ Association do in fact condone Slater’s other writings.

Otherwise they wouldn’t have given him the award. That’s what condoning means, people.

There was a queue of people on the night telling me Slater was the rightful winner. Clifton and Currie eating out of his hand.

These people love him. Condoning doesn’t come into it.

And by the way, @canonnz’s implication that Slater somehow has only disgraced himself *since* then is utterly ludicrous.

I call bollocks to this. An award sponsor cannot be held responsible for everything every recipient of a past award subsequently does. They are not even responsible for what winners did prior to the award.

I think it’s fair criticising Slater and Whale Oil, especially on his Billingsley assault and his support of a very poor male culture of targeting and blaming victims.

But redirecting blame at Canon is as wrong-headed as redirecting blame at victims of sexual assault. One disgraceful agenda doesn’t justify another.

Whale Oil hypocrisy on ‘free speech’

It’s very ironic that when I tried to comment on a Whale Oil post The left HATE free speech I got this message:

 

Whale Oil blocked

More than a bit ironic.

They took offence at what I’ve also posted here: Why there’s anger, Murray

When saw content decided you taken enough from us @Whaleoil

Not a free speech thing, but upholding standards

Ironic on the same day they posted Tania Billingsley and the Green and Rape Crisis fingerprints.

We speak uncomfortable truth…

…and reckless speculation, but seem to be uncomfortable with alternate ‘truth’.

 

 

The desperation of political sockpuppets

Political bloggers push stories, they speculate, they try to score hits against their opponents. Some of them make things up – they lie.

Naitional linked blogs Whale Oil and Kiwiblog are major players.

Yesterday David Farrar posted Are Labour planning smear campaign on Shane Jones?

This is very unusual. Whale blogs about a poll being done, presumably on behalf of Labour, asking if people’s view of Shane Jones was:

  • Shane Jones delivered amusing one liners but his political career was accident prone and did not amount to much. The most attention he got was for using his parliamentary credit card to pay for pornographic movies.
  • Shane Jones was one of the few politicians who tells it like it is and with his attacks on Countdown has been the most effective Labour politician this year. He will be a huge loss to Labour especially amongst Maori and blue collar voters.

If the polling was being done for a media client, then the question would be sensible – it would be for a story on the impact of Shane Jones. But presumably the poll is on behalf of Labour (as was being done by their normal polling company) and the question is why would you poll on Shane Jones…

It’s easy to make the presumptions made here. UMR is Labour’s usual polling company and it’s a Labour related poll question. but it seems very unlikely it was Labour, as pointed out in UMR poll on Jones not Labour.

Farrar did some research, possibly taking Russell Brown’s word for it but he may also have checked through polling company contacts (he is a pollster and runs polling company Curia). He appended his post.

UPDATE: I’m told from a very reliable source that in this case Labour is not responsible for this question. So it will be fascinating to discover who is, if it ever comes out.

Later in the day Farrar put up another post at Kiwiblog – Is this photoshopped? This showed a photo of David Cunliffe at a rally at Parliament. While the photo did look unnatural the implication that Cunliffe had not actually been at the rally was lame. Farrar again updated:

UPDATE: Have had confirmed that was at the rally. So the image may be touched up, but is genuine.

This isn’t unusual. It’s common for bloggers to float ideas without full details or evidence, often to initiate discussion and try to flush out more information – sort of crowd-sourced story development.

Farrar can be provocative and devious – note his masthead statement: “DPF’s Kiwiblog – fomenting happy mischief since 2003″.  He is also relatively open about his interests in About Kiwiblog which includes disclosure statement is here.

He sometimes oversteps, notably with an attempted hit job on Winston Peters just before the 2011 election. But as he said on Facebook yesterday “Umm, everyone knows my viewpoint”. If they don’t know they can easily find out.

Later yesterday Farrar and Whale Oil’s Cameron Slater were blasted by their main opposition in the blogosphere, The Standard. The iron fist behind The Standard, lprent (Lyn Prentice) posted The desperation of the National’s sockpuppets.

National Party pollster David Farrar must be seeing some numbers he really doesn’t like because he is claiming that David Cunliffe photoshopped himself into a rally that he was really at! Yeah right – a doyen of the local net governing body failed to use google before making a complete dick of himself on the net. I expect we will see a lot more of National’s paid for bloggers acting like fools heading into this election because National only being good at putting us heavily into debt (again!) rather limits the good news they can write.

There are a number of ironies in Prentice’s post and comments. Desperation comes to mind, as does sockpuppet. Pot/kettle stuff. In the thread Prentice says…

As you might have picked up, I am pretty pissed off about the lying that showed up today at the sewer. It is stupid, shallow, and something that needs quashing as a political technique.

However I am pretty sure that it is simple to make up such mischief. Farrar will make quite a good target between now and the election. With a bit of luck we can see if he appreciates the attention enough to donate me some discovery time.

Threats of a blogger war, one way at least. In the post…

This looks like another odd attempt to smear a man that the Nats are clearly worried about. It looks David Farrar finally realised how much of a dickhead he looks as he goes from this incorrect assertion (ie a lie) with a touch of plausible deniability.

Irony keywords: smear, worried, dickhead, incorrect assertion.

And on to a series of justification about why he David Farrar really is not just a petty dipshit putting out this kind of nonsense and never bothering to check it. I guess he is trying to remember the glory days when he was the single big voice in the local blogs and could lie like this for his paymasters with relative impunity.

He pushes the paymaster/sockpuppet theme strongly.

But even weirder (as usual) is the under-employed Cameron Slater, a blogger with no visible means of support and with lots of friends in the Prime Minsters office, posting creepy, paparazzi style pictures of David Cunliffe eating his lunch at parliament.

This picture was prominent on The Standard yesterday:

The question one has to ask is from whom did the bloated moron get this photo from? John Key our Minister for Photo-ops or his personal blogmeister Jason Ede perhaps?

And accusations of the Prime Minister’s office being involved in it all.  More pot/kettle.

The previous day The Standard ran a Q&A for David Cunliffe. When someone said “@ Lynn – thanks for organising this” he responded:

I didn’t. The request came from Cunliffe’s staff. They did most of the work.

I just went to work early so I could go home early to moderate.

And Prentice often brags, like yesterday:

I’d also point out that I spent several decades in volunteer work working for and with Helen Clark across 7 elections (whilst usually in disagreement with her) so I have a fairly good idea what is required for the task.

But you only find out about things like this if you see them in the comments. The Standard has very vague and misleading disclosures. From ‘About’:

We write here in our personal capacities and the opinions that are expressed on the blog are individual unless expressly stated otherwise (see the policy). We do not write on behalf of any organization.

The Standard doesn’t disclose it’s own connections and it protects it’s authors’ anonymity – Prentice says they are not anonymous because he knows their identity, but most of the authors’ identities are either not publicly disclosed or are vigorously protected. Attempts to speculate on identities is discouraged with threats of bans – threats and bans are the standard way of discouraging questioning anything to do with authors.

Apart from Prentice who are the authors? They state:

Why don’t you say who you are?

Some of the authors here use their real names, but others choose to blog anonymously for a variety of reasons. Some of us have professional reasons for doing so, others of us are reluctant to expose ourselves to the kind of personal threats sometimes made online.

While there is no formal disclosure some details about authors have dribbled out over time.

Mike Smith is Prentice’s co-trustee of The Standard. Until recently he worked in David Shearer’s leader’s office.

mickysavage (Greg Presland) is closely associated with David Cunliffe via his New Lynn electorate committee and recently became known as the lawyer behind Cunliffe’s secret donations trust.

Ben Clark stood for Labour last election and is the brother of MP David Clark.

Stephanie Rodgers is “a member of the Ohariu LEC and campaign team I’m obviously very biased, but Ginny is a fabulous candidate and a wonderful person.”

Geoff has started to post and you can get an idea of where he’s coming from in Judith vs John and Moving Collins On.

Bunji is relatively mild but does his bit for the team. See John Key challenged!

Zetetic is unlikely to have been used by Trevor Mallard as some have alleged but has  fairly obvious intent. See Cabinet Club.

The ‘Eddie’ handle seems to be in remission at the moment but had strong hints of various internal hands.

Karol is currently the odd one out claiming to be a Green supporter.

James Henderson seems to have retired from The Standard but had close Green connections (which may have turned red again).

And the author messages are not to be messed with. Criticising authors is severely frowned on, proving them wrong usually invites wrath commonly leads to being banned.

Prentice illustrates this in his latest thread.

[lprent: That may be your opinion - and I'd say that it is impossible to tell. Go and raise your pet lies, assertions and conspiracies on your own post on your own blog or comment in Open Mike. Don't do it on mine, they really are just a diversion troll.

My post is almost entirely about David Farrar and Cameron Slater being a complete dickheads stalking Cunliffe with silly picture posts. ]

‘Diversion troll’ is Lyn-speak for questioning his bull and bluster.

But the post isn’t about the image it is about Farrar and the bloated moron being dickhead stalkers. So this is your warning. Try Open Mike for conspiracy theories.. or return to the banned… ]

Lyn is the only one who can refer to images apparently.

[lprent: I didn't say that you did. I said that David Farrar did? Is this a sockpuppet? But you didn't heed my warnings about what I the author considered this post to be about. Do not repeat the offense for which you got warned - banned 2 months. That is one fast way to de-amnesty yourself. ]

Lyn-speak translated means that if you say something they don’t want said you will be banned.

[deleted]

[lprent: Banned 4 weeks. ]

That one may have been fair enough.

As the most widely-read and influential leftwing blog in New Zealand, The Standard is a great platform to get yourself heard.

Only if you toe the line and are accepted as one of the comrades.

But there has been a significant change of tone at The Standard over the last few weeks. The resident trolls are protected from this sort of moderation for obvious reasons, anyone deemed a threat to Labour can be freely attacked, abused and harassed.

Some trolls are specialists at trying to initiate bans on people they decide are not welcome. They frequently make things up (lie). And the end game is for Prentice to use an excuse to ban them.

When Prentice posts about sockpuppets and desperation wry and black comedy (inadvertent) come to mind. There’s plenty of same old, but it seems to be deteriorating into sad farce. Debate on the left is dire.

The abuse will continue until the disillusioned absentee voters return to Labour. /wry

“What the hell?” indeed

An assault in Auckland has been reported: Police called to home of former Hell Pizza franchisee

An investigation is underway after a high-profile Auckland businessman needed hospital treatment at the weekend.

Police were called to a property in Greenhithe on Saturday night after reports two men were fighting and that a gunshot had been heard.

Matthew Blomfield has confirmed to RadioLIVE police were called to his home and that he was taken to North Shore Hospital with facial injuries.

The 38-year-old owned a number of Hell Pizza franchises until 2008, before they went into liquidation, and has been credited as being the brains behind the chain’s controversial marketing. 

Last year, Mr Blomfield took a defamation case against Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. The case is ongoing.

Mr Slater claimed he had the right not to reveal his sources and is appealing a judge’s decision that his website does not have the legal protection that is given to news media.

RadioLIVE

It was a little unusual that an unrelated  case (as far as has been reported) has been included in this.

This was commented on at The Standard, with a curious series of comments followed by a post.

mickysavage at 8.17 am

I wonder how Cameron Slater’s case with Mat Blomfield is going …
And if Judith Collins is busily distancing herself from Slater …

mickysavage at 12:29 pm

Well blow me down …

NBR is reporting that Matt Blomfield, the guy suing Cameron Slater in defamation, was attacked by a male on the weekend and may have suffered facial injuries from a gunshot.

That defamation case is going to get a whole lot of analysis now …

mickysavage at 12.41 pm

Nope fair dinkum article although it seems too bizarre to believe …

lprent at 3:10 pm

This is just outright weird.

(Quotes report as above)

Bearing in mind the number and severity of attempts that have been taken against Blomfield over the last couple of years, this looks pretty disturbing. The paid for (at least that is what it looks like to me) defamation campaign against Blomfield at Whaleoil in 2012 (and by assertions by the chronically moronic legally illiterate dickheads at Laudam Finen more recently) after ‘someone’ gave Cameron Slater his hard disk and documents to make copies from. Then the crap that has been going on with a defamation case arising out of it which has been characterised by Cameron squirming to not disclose where he received those stolen materials from.

I guess the police are going to have quite a lot to go on. Hopefully Cameron isn’t involved in the vendetta campaign this time. Bad look for bloggers. Maybe he is a journalist after all?

Then at 3.44 a post appeared - What the hell?

The NBR is reporting (behind the paywall) and now at TV3 news that Matt Blomfield, the person currently suing Cameron Slater in defamation, was attacked on the weekend by a male. A gunshot was fired and although it is not specified it is understood that Blomfield suffered an injury from the gunshot.

The police are investigating and seeking the assailant who left the scene after the gun was fired.

Mr Blomfield is the person involved in an ongoing defamation case with Cameron Slater. He posted on the Standard some of the background to the dispute at When the wolf cries boy

The police may have more than a passing interest in the defamation case and with the mystery of the hard drive that came into Slater’s possession. Cameron Slater has been trying to claim that he is a journalist to protect the source of who he received these items from. Mr Blomfield has asserted that these items were stolen.

No doubt they will want to talk to anyone who has discussed the case with Blomfield.

TS wishes Matt a speedy recovery.

A curious close.

There have been some predictable insinuations in the comments. I commented:

This appears to be a not very subtle attempt to connect two things for which no evidence of a link has been provided, already with a predictable reaction.

Why hasn’t the author put their name to this? It’s kinda easy to guess what might be going on but it seems more than a bit suspect.

lprent responded:

It was from several authors (including me) and most of it is a paraphrase of the NBR and TV3 articles. We don’t put a single author on when a group of us work on something or when we’re just paraphrasing entire news articles (we’re not the “Indeed” bloggers)

The media were the people who linked Cameron Slater to it which is what I presume you you’re objecting to. As usual you are a bit too coy to actually state what you object to sigh

I added the bit pointing out the prior criminality of the hard drive and documents.

And no, there are 4 things linked in this post (not 3) because the whole thing is just outright murky. You’ll have to go and read the contents of Blomfields post to figure out the missing bits.

But if I were the police I’d be damn suspicious of both Cameron and whatever source he is so valiantly “protecting”.

That’s a more direct suggestion of who could be responsible for the attack. I’ve replied:

You’re not the police, you’re a blogger. Police are not likely to investigate by reading a political blog. If you have suspicions have you contacted the police?

Yes, the media made a connection which as far as reported is unrelated, they do that a bit. But the media didn’t go as far as pointing suspicions from one event to the other. You’ve now done that, and as you are so experienced with blogging you will know what this post would be likely to encourage.

That’s your call of course.

There’s something disturbing about the attack, whatever happened.

And something seems very odd about the response at The Standard. It could be just blog and political rivalry.

A sickness within politics

There’s a pervasive sickness that runs through New Zealand politics from top to bottom, from Prime Minister to grass roots. There’s an entrenched culture of nastiness and abusive behaviour that wouldn’t be acceptable in most parts of a decent society, but it’s practiced and aided and abetted by politicians, parties, activists, supporters, traditional media and social media.

Some in politics protest but that’s usually futile – in fact it commonly attracts even more abuse.

The public generally hate it and show their displeasure through the ballot box, with increasing numbers being turned off any participation in politics.

The major parties have long seen nasty attack politics as an essential tool in their arsenals, so there’s often more of a focus on negative, nasty and dishonest tactics than promoting their strengths. Even the normally principled Greens have been drawn into mild forms of it.

Traditional media aid and abet the worst of politics, following their wider ‘if it bleeds it leads’ approach. The media sharks swarm at any hint of political blood. They promote dishonest or speculatory accusations and praise the attackers as effective politicians.

Attempts to demean and discredit are common, aiming to provoke character and career destroying momentum.

It goes far beyond robust debate and holding to account.

Social media has long been touted as a more inclusive way of doing politics but it has taken on the worst of toxic politics, largely because of the involvement of old school party activists.

In an interview on The Nation last October leading political blogger Cameron Slater said:

Well Auckland politics is the same as where any politics is, in that it’s a dirty disgusting despicable game, and it involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels. And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.

Slater has long been involved in dirty politics and has pushed boundaries with his attacking abusive style. Prime Minister John Key demonstrated an acceptance of this when he said recently that he often talks to Slater. Ironically Slater has made an attempt recently to clean up the comments section of his Whale Oil blog.

Another leading blogger David Farrar doesn’t do personal abuse the same but he is often involved in attack politics. He also enables and allows a toxic environment at his Kiwiblog where stalking and abuse are common.

Both Slater and Farrar have close links to National but it isn’t confined to the political right. Personal attacks are common at The Standard and Dim-Post and to a lesser extent at the heavily moderated/censored The Daily Blog.

Lynn Prentice calls the shots at The Standard and often brags about how nasty he can be. This sets the standard. Another Standard author Greg Presland has close links to David Cunliffe. Presland attacks far less now than in the past but he still allows abuse to go unchecked.

In one thread at The Standard yesterday here is some of the abuse that was allowed as normal – it was done by a small number of commenters but this sort of behaviour is rarely questioned (I’ve seen similar degrees of abuse at Kiwiblog). Ironically this was on thread of a blog post complaining about the use of blogs for political smears.

You are a walking smear campaign, a gossiping whispering nasty little insect. Every single comment you make oozes dishonesty like pus from a sore.

Oh look, here’s some weasel slime pretending butter won’t melt in his mouth. What an asshole.

What a passive aggressive, boring, dishonest asshole.

You, Mr George, are really quite a horrible person.

The MSM are a product of human discourse, not the sum of it. Political revolution was possible with a printing press and analogue distribution methods, so it is possible with memes and social media.

Rock-Snot as i said yesterday is a fungal organism that attaches itself to any mode of transport from gumboots to twigs to enable it to enter an untainted waterway from there multiplying to pollute the whole expanse,

Such is Pete George…

You sound like right-wing scum,(now have a whine about abuse why don’t you)…

Your right SSLands, i agree with you that John Drinnan,(why does that name make me think of drain cleaner), should lay off the abuse, and, quite frankly i did not think you had the intellectual where-with-all to have noticed the convoluted writing style of Mr Drain Cleaner,(have you got your Mummy reading the comments and providing you an interpretation tonight),

No, wait…this just in: you’re an asshole Pete.

SSLands, read my comment below at 8.30pm, its al the answer you either deserve or are going to get other than to be told to fiuck off back to ‘wail-oink’ and share your syphillated drivel with the inmates of that particular zoo…

Several blog moderators were active through that thread, at times directly supporting abusive comments. This is just a small symptom of a much wider and deeper problem.

People who would regard themselves as intelligent and reasonable passively and actively allow this and often climb on the bash wagon.

Some see blogs and other social media as a grand opportunity to give ordinary people more of a voice in politics. By becoming infected the sickest and saddest of political behaviour they add to the problem rather than provide a solution.

The language is different to MPs in Parliament, due to anonymity and to a social disconnect.

Presumably most of this abuse would not happen face to face. The more intelligent would not think of allowing and participating in this manner in person, the others wouldn’t have the guts.

The aim is the same as MPs and parties – character assassination of perceived political enemies, although some may just use it as an excujse to be abusive. There’s nothing logical, democratic, decent or positive about it.

If this social and political sickness is allowed to continue then we will continue to have trouble attracting quality candidates and we will have diminishing voting percentages as more and more voters are turned off by the rot.

Unless it is dealt with from the top down – the top of parties and the top of blogs – the sickness will continue to vomit over our political discourse.

Confronting it simply invites more abuse. If I posted this at Kiwiblog or The Standard it is likely it would increase rather than decrease abuse levels.

I believe many MPs don’t like the standard of political and Parliamentary behaviour but they are drowned out and shat on by an entrenched minority of old school politicians who see and use dirt is their strongest weapon.

But this is a major weakness in our politics. It needs leadership to address it but our leaders are a part of the problem. David Shearer promised a better standard of politics when he became Labour leader but it became one of a number of failings for him.

If John Key really wants a laudable legacy he could lead a clean-up of caucus and party behaviour. It would do far more good for our democracy and our country than painting over the cracks of our flag.

Our democracy is flagging badly. Key has proven successful as a political manager but not yet as a leader. He could try leading by example.

Dotcom’s gagging order

Kim Dotcom has been granted an interim injunction to stop former security guard Wayne Tempero revealing anything about any of Dotcom’s (or his wife’s) business,  personal, musical or political details.

Court gags Dotcom bodyguard

Dotcom made a successful application for an interim injunction against Wayne Tempero in the High Court at Auckland yesterday. The action came soon after the Herald reported that Tempero was set to release “secret revelations” about Dotcom’s “mindset and megalomania”.

Tempero resigned from Dotcom’s staff in October.

Yesterday Justice Sarah Katz granted an interim injunction and ordered that Mr Tempero – and anyone else on his behalf – was “restrained from using or disclosing to any person, firm, corporation or entity, any confidential or trade information acquired whilst working for Kim Dotcom”.

The information included, but was not limited to, any information acquired by Mr Tempero “about Kim Dotcom, his role with Kim Dotcom, any information to do with providing services to Kim Dotcom and any other information whatsoever concerning Kim Dotcom, his businesses, his political party, his music, his family and friends, and all images of Kim Dotcom, his family and friends at any time”.

The order also prohibits Mr Tempero from disclosing computer software.

Mr Tempero was also ordered not to disclose any information about Dotcom’s wife Mona’s business or his other companies including Megaupload and Megastuff.

Peterwn at Whale Oil:

The judge probably adopted the lawyer’s draft order ‘as is’. The wording would cover his employees or anyone acting on his behalf. It would only cover Cam if Kim can show on the balance of probabilities that he was acting on Mr Tempero’s behalf – this would be an issue that Cam would need to consider but his sources go far wider than this.

I am surprised that Mr Tempero would do anything but have the utmost respect for his clients and ex-clients and keep things ‘in confidence’. His future engagements depend on it. I cannot believe he is disclosing such confidential information, seems to me Kim suspects he has, hence the injunction. The only other explanation is Kim is foul-mouthing him around the place and Mr Tempero feels a need to fight back to maintain his professional reputation.

Cam Slater responds:

Kim Dotcom already broke the confidentiality agreement when he spoke to Rachel Glucina about Temperos pay and conditions…game over after that.

This seems to relate to this from Rachel Glucina in NZ Herald last month (February 26):

Now it’s the Dotcom tapeKim Dotcom has been taped talking to an unpaid former staff member, The Diary has learned. It’s understood a news organisation is in discussions to air it. Dotcom is allegedly trying to stop it by enforcing non-disclosure agreements.

Dotcom came under fire last week from Kiwi small business owners who are owed as much as $500,000 in unpaid bills. A lack of funds was also blamed for longtime bodyguard Wayne Tempero’s exit.

The Megaupload founder told The Diary he could afford to pay his minder only half of what he was getting two years ago.Dotcom, who continues to embrace an opulent lifestyle, has pledged to pay his debts when he has the money. But when? Who knows? Yesterday he told The Diary he did not want to talk about the tape.

Gagging orders are risky. They tend to get journalists more interested in issues and more determined to dig.

Whale Oil is promising to reveal much more. NZ Herald obviously has information too. And media interest is likely to be stoked up by this gagging order.

Has Bryce Edwards manufactured news?

No, he has prompted some blog opinion and then summarised it.

Whale Oil is acting upset about Bryce Edwards asking for bloggers to write on a specific topic. Edwards tweeted on Thursday:

I’m writing a Political Roundup for tmrw on ‘National’s overconfidence problem’. Any bloggers wanna address this issue, so I can link?

That’s a bit unusual, Edwards usually does round-ups of news and opinion that’s already published.But more widely it’s common for journalists to seek opinions that go with a story they are doing, it’s a core function of journalism.

The resulting column went online at NZ Herald - Bryce Edwards: National’s overconfidence problem  -and NBR yesterday.

Whale Oil blogged Herald and Bryce Edwards manufacturing news again today:

So there wasn’t any copy for him to use on his chosen topic so he went out and begged for it…to create the impression that there was over confidence and arrogance amongst National. He had nothing..and so begged for copy. And so his dutiful obedient left wing followers all piled in to help him with his column.

And concludes:

Bryce Edwards might be ab academic, but with his columns for the Herald in election year he is increasingly partisan, and in this case he has manufactureed his content and aided conveniently by a compliant and obedient left wing of the blogosphere.

So how bad was Edwards’ column? His opening paragraph:

Voters like politicians to be confident – and the National Government is certainly obliging at the moment with supreme self-assurance. In politics, however, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and any successful government risks tipping into overconfidence, with its associated pitfalls. It could be argued that signs of arrogance are emerging at the moment for National.

It can always be argued that a Government is showing signs of arrogance and overconfidence, right through their term. They are natural occurrences in a bubble of power. They are a potential danger in an election year so it’s reasonable to examine them.

Cameron Slater has long campaigned against standards at NZ Herald and this is a continuation, plus he makes the point…

I’m not upset, merely drawing attention to the double standards of people like Bryce Edwards who accuse me of manufacturing issues or stories and then go and do it themselves aided and abetted by useful idiots who can’t see when they are being manipulated.

Everyone commenting on politics constructs/manufactures their articles and posts. There’s just different ways of doing it. As Whale Oil well knows, he’s at the forefront of constructing political narratives.

See previous post: Overconfidence versus undercompetence

Herald claim about Judith Collins disputed

Both Cameron Slater and Judith Collins have disputed a claim made in the herald on Sunday in In bed with the bloggers:

The bloggers’ politics are fully disclosed. Bradbury has described Justice Minister Judith Collins as having “the bedside manner of a brain-hungry zombie on meth” and Key as a “cult of no personality”. As for Slater’s attacks on Labour and Green MPs – they just don’t bear repeating in a family-friendly paper.

They are rewarded for their loyalty with access at the highest level. The Prime Minister acknowledges phoning Slater regularly (“I speak to lots of blogsters,” he said last week, somewhat defensively) and Collins calls him a friend.

Indeed, when approached for comment for this article, she first called Slater to check whether she should return the Herald on Sunday’s call.

That sounded odd when I first read it.

Whale Oil in Nice try Jono, but you got some things dreadfully wrong [UPDATED]:

Milne also made up another bit…

They are rewarded for their loyalty with access at the highest level. The Prime Minister acknowledges phoning Slater regularly (“I speak to lots of blogsters,” he said last week, somewhat defensively) and Collins calls him a friend. Indeed, when approached for comment for this article, she first called Slater to check whether she should return the Herald on Sunday‘s call.

Judith Collins does not ask me for permission for ANYTHING, and she certainly didn’t do so in this case. Where Milne got that from is beyond me. I jibed at him on Thursday evening after the blog awards that he’d been phoning people but that is it. He really does his reputation no good at all by manufacturing claims.

Judith Collins tweeted:

Why can’t @HeraldonSunday tell the truth? When @JonoMilne wrote that I had checked with @Whaleoil if I could talk about him,that was Fiction.

Trained journalists need to tell the truth, not make up stories to suit the angle they want. Shame on @HeraldonSunday.

Let’s see if they’re professional enough to apologise.

UPDATE: Collins reports an apology:

Good that @JonoMilne from @HeraldonSunday just phoned me to apologise and has confirmed he will correct the record. That’s professional.

NZ Herald has now deleted the offending paragraph from In bed with the bloggers. Kudos to Jonathan Milne for promptly and professionally dealing with that.

Blogger linked to Cunliffe suggests incredibly vicious campaign

Blogger Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury has already had links to the Mana Party (as a paid consultant) and Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party (as a paid consultant) exposed.

Now NZ Herald reveals:

Bradbury says he regularly talks to Labour leader David Cunliffe, and his goal this year is to see Cunliffe elected Prime Minister.

No admission that Cunliffe or Labour are paying him.

Bradbury leans forward on his elbows at the cafe table: “The old rules are gone,” he grins. “This election is going to be incredibly vicious.”

Is he promising a vicious campaign on behalf of Labour or just out of the goodness of his heart? More likely it’s the only left wing party left for him to try and cosy up to.

Bradbury has separated from the Internet and Mana Parties and the Greens are unlikely to condone let alone utilise his firebrand of political activism.

What can we make of the Bradbury/Cunliffe/Labour connection? This is what Grant Robertson says about it.

Politicians can “manage the message” by talking through politically affiliated bloggers, says Robertson – whether that be Key talking to Slater, or Cunliffe talking to Bradbury.

“Bradbury is not someone I know that well, but I don’t have a high level of discomfort about him,” Robertson says.

Did Robertson say that knowing about Bradbury’s vicious intent?

It will be interesting to see how The Standard attacks this. They attacked John Key relentlessly for admitting an interest in Whale Oil.

  • KAROL: Dotcom snoopers: The “dirty, disgusting, despicable game”
    “This is looking like a sophisticated circular shell game.  Normally it’s thought that the PM’s office leaks stuff to right wing bloggers.”
  • ZETETIC: Rotten
    “We’ve always known that there were close ties between National and the abomination that is Whaleoil but now we know that the ties go right to the top.”
  • MICKYSAVAGE: John Key, Blogsters and the Dotcom leaks
    “And the confirmation that Key is regularly in contact with Cameron Slater shows how deep the relationship is between National and the Sewer is.  And there was the use of, as Key calls them, blogsters to smear opposition MPs with hints of corruption.”

With Bradbury admitting direct links to Cunliffe, an admitted lack of ‘discomfort’ from Robertson, The Standard should be horrified.

Waiting…

First response at The Standard, from ‘marty mars’:

I have to say that I am still struggling to get my head around the recent news that the prime minister rings slater up and chats – and the killer is, that is only if the lying dirty wanker is telling the truth – and he hardly ever does that! Dirty, dirty fight, dirty tactics, fight to win. Wake (further) up lefties the skirmishing is here.

He missed something.

Herald on bloggers – odd man out

Jonanathan Milne has done a profile of bloggers in NZ Herald – In bed with the bloggers. He looks at the biggest and the worst of bloggers and blogging but doesn’t look at the blogging scene in any real depth.

But is there a softer side to these abrasive, divisive voices? Nah, naff off.

He focusses mainly on the extremes, Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury, and misses the diversity of the blogosphere.

The leading bloggers trade on one core asset: the power of personality. They are loud, they are brash and they are, ahem, manufactured. The top ones admit creating personas that are more in-your-face than the real person.

David Farrar is mentioned but otherwise omitted – he is one of the “top ones”, one of the best established political bloggers. His knowledgeable and well-informed political commentary is widely respected. And he isn’t manufactured.

His Kiwiblog is his personal soapbox – he recently posted a series on a Tongariro tramp, he has just posted about Fringe Festival performances.

Sure, there’s plenty of load, brash and manufactered (and plenty more) in the comments section, but that isn’t Farrar’s domain.

Russell Brown only gets mentioned in a quote…

Slater wins.

He accepts the yellow trophy, and asks: “Is Russell Brown here? Any of you leftie suckholes who think I’m irrelevant? F*** off.”

…but has been around that long you can probably find him with Alta Vista, and seems to be his slightly snobby self. His political leanings are clear but far more subtle than the brash Bomber and way over the top Whale.

But the biggest odd man out in Milne’s lineup:

Public Address blogger Graeme Edgeler filed a submission with Parliament’s regulatory review committee demanding a change to draconian Teachers Council suppression rules.

Graeme Edgeler filed a submission! Demanding! How evil is that? Graeme pops up all over the blogosphere, always non-partisan, reasonable and willing to give advice on legal matters to anyone who asks. And in this case he was trying to improve the way we do our politics based on sound, sensible principles.

Graeme is one of the most respected and influential participants in the political blogosphere. It was good of Milne to mention him, but remiss of him for not differentiating the Edge from the loud and brash.

Back to the other side, the Herald headliners.

Whale Oil is well known for saying politics is a nasty business and he works hard to keep it that way. I disagree and have confronted him on this, we continue to disagree.

Bradbury leans forward on his elbows at the cafe table: “The old rules are gone,” he grins. “This election is going to be incredibly vicious.”

Maybe vicious is all Bradbury has got left, he lost a lot of credibility over his involvement with Dotcom’s Internet Party after party hopping from a paid position with Mana.

I don’t think the old rules are gone. Dirty politics just has a new forum, a new means of being nasty, smearing, trying to manipulate politics and power.

But it doesn’t have to be all dirty and vicious. There are some who are the opposite, like Edgeler. I’m also strongly opposed to dirty politics and to abusiveness on blogs, and often challenge and confront it. I often get abused for doing it, but that makes more determined to keep pushing for better standards.

There are other quiet achievers scattered across the blogosphere. They stand out for their sense and reason, if you care to look for it.

And there are signs of more political decency emerging,  with the establishment of Politicheck:

Politicheck.org.nz’s goal is to analyse all statements made during the election by all parties and say whether or not, based on evidence available, they are telling the truth. The website looks to operate in a similar way to the US political fact checking website Politifact.com - although we have no affiliation with that website.

It is in the interest of all New Zealanders that we hold our politicians accountable for what they say, or print- they are the voice of this nation chosen to represent us. All fact checking will be shown through a transparent process, open to the public, and ready for scrutiny.

There’s certainly loud, brash and vicious prominent in the blogosphere, but promoting facts and truth in politics is something that has been long called for and will be popular.

Politics must be strongly debated. But it can be done with decency. Social media can become a powerful force for promoting honesty and decency in Parliament.

Whale Oil and Bomber Bradbury are a new incarnation of old school politics, old boy dirty dealing, attack and destroy tactics.

The strength of the blogosphere can be accessibility and transparency. It is as easy to confront crap as it is to spew it. If enough people push for a far better – and more effective – political forum then we will get it. Political thugs will remain and will be loud, but it can be made much better.

And then more women might get involved more openly – most of half of our population can’t be bothered with the crap, or venture into the blogosphere with caution and usually under cover.

If enough people get involved and stand up to the loud and vicious and dishonest the old school bullies will become odd men out.

And our democracy will be the better for it. And if that’s something the Herald would like to see perhaps they will give more sides to their story.

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