Andrew Little buys into Hager and Dirty Politics

Andrew Litttle has bought into the Nicky Hager myths that dirty politics is just a John Key Government problem, and that Hager has a perfect record.

Responding to the Pacific spying ‘revelations’  from  Hager via NZ Herald Little was reported in ‘A MASS INVASION OF PRIVACY’::

Nothing Hager had said in the past had been proven to be false or incorrect, Little said.

That is a false and incorrect claim. Hager himself admitted making mistakes in “Dirty Politics”, and other accusations (notably about Rodney Hide and David Farrar) have been strongly disputed and remain (as far as I know) unproven.

Little has also spoken strongly against ‘Dirty Politics’, as in Dirty Politics: John Key ‘in denial’ over SIS report:

In a snap debate yesterday Mr Little said it would be easy for Mr Key and his Government to draw a line under what he described as “the dirtiest, filthiest, grubbiest, vilest operation we have ever seen in New Zealand politics”.

“Simply by having John Key stand up publicly and saying to all New Zealanders, I got it wrong. I should not have had a smear machine operating out of my office … please forgive me.

“Is he man enough to say I got it wrong? He won’t because he has been in denial,” Mr Little said.

There’s no denying that Key and his office have been involved to some degree in playing dirty. But is it “the dirtiest, filthiest, grubbiest, vilest operation we have ever seen in New Zealand politics”?

We’ll probably never know, but there’s a lot of competition for that dishonour. The Muldoon versus Moyle accusation in 1976 comes to mind. And Helen Clark and her office were not averse to playing political hardball, including underarm.

And Chris Trotter wrote in 2010 (back in the era that ‘Dirty Politics’ harks back to):

The Smiling Assassin: Pete Hodgson’s mastery of the dark arts of politics goes back a long way, but his latest scalp – Pansy Wong’s – was taken in a ‘sting’ operation that came pretty close to perfection.

And Hager’s involvement in dirty politics hasn’t been all white versus black ops either. His latest spying data sources were illegally obtained. His data sources for “Dirty Politics” were illegally obtained.

Hager has claimed the timing of last year’s book release was purely coincidental to the start of an election campaign. That’s hard to believe. And yesterday’s launch of his latest political crusade just happens to coincide with the start of a by-election campaign.

Of course Hager can time his revelations however he likes, but claiming elections have no influence on his timing sounds disingenuous. He was open about the intent of “Dirty Politics”, to inform the public about how bad John Key and his Government were. And it’s clear he wanted Key to lose the election.

Hager claims to be an investigative journalist, but that is shaded by his political activist hat.

Much of his work involves collating data, often illegally obtained. And due to the mass of data involved he has to cherry pick what he thinks is pertinent. Doing that it’s pretty much impossible to not pick the bits that suit your aims or agenda.

So while it could be claimed that it’s factual that Hager quotes material he has obtained there is often no guarantee what he is using and what he selects are facts. In the case of Slater’s data some of it at least was embellished bragging.

And a major problem with the Hager approach is deliberately avoids trying to check facts. He claimed that he didn’t do this before publishing Dirty Politics to avoid people taking action that might prevent publication.

So unlike good journalists he doesn’t verify his claims very well – he only seeks verification from people friendly to his side of the argument.

Some would call this one-sided approach lying by omission.

Back to Little. He is running a risk of his righteousness over dirty politics blowing up in his face. He at least has a pot/kettle problem.

Little has chosen to retain the services of Matt McCarten as his chief of staff.

Lind Clark on McCarten in  Matt McCarten: better red than dead last year (just after Cunliffe appointed him his Chief of Staff):

She also said, “I absolutely adored him. He was so charming, and he was such a terrific leaker. He would always tell you what was really happening in caucus.” I thought of that when I called Matt Robson. He had called McCarten “treacherous”.

Matt Robson is a now bitter ex-colleague. He commented in that same feature:

He stole other people’s ideas… He has a propensity for dishonesty…

He spent all his time running down the MPs, saying they’d sold out, and [were] not left-wing enough… Constant attacks… Constant intrigues…

Sounds much like dirty politics.

McCarten may have mellowed by retains close links with the harder left, plus now has obviously close links with Little and his office. This is a risk for Little, especially if he keeps complaining about dirty politics.

Just prior to last year’s election Richard Prebble wrote:

There is some evidence connecting Hager, Dotcom and Rawshark to one Matt McCarten in David Cunliffe’s office. Prior knowledge of Dirty Politics would explain the sudden and strange decision by Labour to campaign under the odd slogan “Vote Positive”.

Cameron Slater on McCarten about the same time:

Matt is an absolute cold blooded master at the Dark Arts, but even he knows the numbers aren’t moving the way they need to be moving for his golden boy to be in with a chance.

Slater in November in Correction:

The statement about McCarten being involved in Dirty Politics and the statement about people involved in Dirty Politics trying to kill me were separate and distinct.  The criminal conspiracy was large enough for some of them not to know what others were planning in parallel.

McCarten was involved in the whole sordid Vote Positive campaign that was to augment the release of the Dirty Politics book.  All of that was the product of criminal conspiracy.

Slater in December:

I’m glad he got the respect of staff and MPs…it will make it even more delicious when I tip him over for his role in Dirty Politics.

When someone has to take the blame I suspect it will be McCarten.

Who would believe a few cherry picked quotes from Cameron Slater?

Nicky Hager did. That is what his ‘Dirty Politics’ was built on.

And Andrew Little seems to have bought into this perfect approach to investigative journalism.

And he has also bought into McCarten’s expertise.

At his own risk. Dirt doesn’t always just go in one direction.

Leave a comment


  1. Mike C

     /  7th March 2015

    If Little Angry Andy keeps being one-eyed, then he will not be the Labour Party Leader in 2017. The man is making a idiot out of himself and a mockery of the Labour Party just like Cunliffe did.

  2. David

     /  7th March 2015

    Which brings us back to Slater actually giving what he has promised for six months now, his truth. One might speculate that Little and MCCarten can go hard on dirty politics because Slater has nothing and they all know it.

    • Yes. Winston Peters’ claims and threats are as empty as his big blue bus but Slater is proving to be almost as elusive from backing up his accusations.

      • traveller

         /  7th March 2015

        He claims subjudice doesn’t he? How much can Slater reveal during the process (assuming charges are laid)?


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