On ‘The Whale’s model’

Danyl at The Dim-Post has posted on The Whale’s model.

You’ve got to give Cameron Slater credit – he is/was an innovator in the media space, creating a new and unique business model I think of as ‘defamation PR’. Lobbyists like Carrick Graham, Katherine Rich and who knows who else could collaborate with him to defame public health researchers doing work critical of their employers. No one else figured out how to monetise blogging in New Zealand.

This sort of monetising of blogging (or use of attack blogging by anonymous PR people) was already already known about but got substantial exposure in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics.

Unfounded and defamatory attacks by bloggers and is a serious issue, I know well as I’ve been on the receiving end from the likes of Slater and Lauda Finem.

I’m dubious about the benefits of taking defamation action due to the cost and the timeframe let alone the effectiveness, and some people seem to take advantage of this by attacking people due to the low risk of defamation action, like Slater.

And Slater is practiced at dragging things out. He has admitted misusing court processes to inflict costs on people or organisations (he openly admitted this  when trying to play down losing a bid to keep suppression on the case he got diversion on after he admitted attempting to procure a hack of The Standard).

But I can understand people getting fed up with his ongoing and at times over the top attacks with highly questionable motives behind them.

Slater is acting gung ho over the latest defamation action against him but on top of two others it will continue to wear him down.

He claims to be simply holding health researchers to account, but an interesting point was made on this in comments at Dim-Post, comparing Slater’s attacks with Eric Crampton’s critiques.


Whether you like it or not, Slater raises a valid point about “public health advocates” that are basically funded by the state and their zealous advocacy against “the sugar barons” against any other causes of why people get fat. How dare someone who gets tax payers money get questioned!


So much public health stuff that gets into the media are examples of the worst of social science, vast claims for at best modest results. Eric Crampton is very good on applying some very basic scrutiny to their claims.

Flashing Light:

“How dare someone who gets tax payers money get questioned!”

Are the researchers suing Eric Crampton for defamation? No? Then you see the difference between legitimately “questioning” research claims/policy advice and what Slater did, right?

This new defamation action may highlight the difference between Crampton style scrutiny, questioning and holding to account, which tends to be fact based, and Slater style attacks that may be funded by anonymous PR people like Carrick Graham, which has at times in the past aimed nastily at the people rather than giving counter arguments to the issues.

Eric Crampton posts at Offsetting Behaviour.

Cameron Slater (and allegedly Carrick Graham) post at Whale Oil.

Slater has posted on the new defamation action in Defamation? They’ll need to get in line where he got a wee warning in comments:

Unfortunately the ‘other side’s’ lawyers supported by judges take a very dim view of defendants posting claim and associated documents on the internet for the world to see and if appropriate to laugh at.

However Slater can be deaf to good advice.

I suspect it is being privately funded, I suspect a couple of people actually, which will make for interesting reading when that comes to light.


Truth and honest held opinion. The opinion one is fascinating. You can be completely wrong, but escape defamation if you believed what you said at the time was true based on the evidence you held.

But mostly the burden of proof in defamation rests with the defence, it is the reverse of criminal cases. Many plaintiffs forget this, and think they are going to run this long involved “prosecution” only to find out that defamation doesn’t work that way.

And in his post:

The Three Troughketeers have stated they won’t say another word about it until the case has completed. I won’t make such an unrealistic commitment. And I will continue to monitor and report on their public communications and spending while the case is before the courts. If they were hoping for their legal action to result in silence, they can chalk that up as their first strategic error.

However it’s on record that Slater does not have a good record in court actions. Nor on not being silent.

The Whale’s model is floundering somewhat.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  16th June 2016

    I hope Slater wins this as these three are continually called out by him and Crampton literally just making it up, DPF regularly calls them out too. The only difference is that Slater does it in a more robust manner and deliberately and rightly goes after them for being taxpayer funded. Sellman wanted cough medicine and mouthwash regulated for goodness sake and regularly and incorrectly says that National are funded by drink barons.

    • I don’t agree with many of the calls for regulation and banning of things, but there are reasonable and effective ways of questioning it, and there’s WO.

      • PDB

         /  16th June 2016

        I’d like to see where you think Slater has gone over the line in his posts on any of the three taking him for defamation?

        I don’t like the guy but I think there is more at stake here in terms of blogging then simply hoping Slater gets what is owing to him.

        • I have no idea where the three taking the defamation action think Slater has crossed the line. I haven’t looked closely at any of the possible posts and I don’t know which ones they are complaining about.

          It may not even be in posts, it could be comments.

          It’s impossible to judge when not knowing the claims.

        • jamie

           /  16th June 2016

          “I think there is more at stake here in terms of blogging then simply hoping Slater gets what is owing to him.”

          Yes, what’s at stake is the ability of the PR vultures to use idiots like Slater to promote sickness and death for profit.

          That’s why their sockpuppets are so busy right now.

          • PDB

             /  16th June 2016

            “PR vultures use idiots like Slater to promote sickness and death for profit”.

            Now you are ranting extremist nonsense Jamie – which is ironic when you sit on your high horse and make out you only post precise, well considered comment and then run away crying about other posters when regularly proven to be a hypocrite.

            If you think that opposing a sugar tax (that has proven not to work overseas), or banning wine in supermarkets is ‘promoting sickness and death for profit’ then you have a problem.

            Take the emotion out of the issue, take your big red hat off, lean a bit more from the left to the centre and look at the bigger picture here.

            • jamie

               /  16th June 2016

              Apparently you have never heard of the PR trio who refer to themselves as “The Merchants Of Death”.

              I can assure you that Slater has.

              I shan’t dignify the rest of your nonsense with any response.

          • David

             /  16th June 2016

            “Yes, what’s at stake is the ability of the PR vultures to use idiots like Slater to promote sickness and death for profit..”

            As opposed to the public health vultures who think Syria’s most pressing problem is plan packaging for cigarettes?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  16th June 2016

            @jamie, have a look at the defamation law and you will see that your last comment could well form the basis for a successful case brought against you by Slater. That should suffice to show you why the law is in serious need of adjustment.

            • jamie

               /  16th June 2016

              If Slater thinks he can sue people for calling him an idiot then he will have quite a list to work through before he gets to me.

  2. Slater, who is irrelevant and has had his fangs pulled by the DP hit by Hager as so many have said especially on the Left of the political spectrum, it truly is amazing that lefties just keep piling in on him. Shows they are no better than him really – same no holds barred tactics.

    What a joke – I hope Slater wins this one. If they people laying the defamation suit haven’t asked for an apology and retraction backed by facts as to why Slater was wrong in his posts then this is little more, imho, than an attempt at gagging someone via the courts.

    Hopefully in Dec 2017 we can say 3 more years after putting up with what is going to be 17 odd more months of desperate nasty mud flinging from Labreens and their associated dirty politics operatives…

    • Gezza

       /  16th June 2016

      Roy Morgan polls tomorrow, results Monday or Tuesday.

      • Its bounded to be all over the place as per usual unless it shows Labour on 38-40% nothing will have really changed…

      • I think Roy Morgan polling usually runs to a Sunday and is published later the following week.

        • Gezza

           /  16th June 2016

          Could be PG. I’m just going by what’s said on their website in the box beside their last two lots of published results. The last two said their next poll was on a Friday and the results were published by the following Tuesday morning.


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